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Friday, April 28, 2017

Prometheus (Greece) - Consumed in Flames

Artist: Prometheus (Greece)
Release Title: Consumed in Flames
Year: 2017
Label: Katoptron IX Records
Genre: Old-School Black Metal
1. The Disgusting Tongues
2. Hand of War
3. Seth
4. Vulture All Black
5. Prometheus Rising
6. Hatesworn
7. Consumed in Flames
8. Hand of War

Long-time members of the scene, Greek black metallers under the name Prometheus have suffered plenty of issues in their decade-plus holdover from their demo days as a terrible motorcycle accident with the band members halted their progress considerably. Now finally at the strength required for their first release, the bands’ full-length debut was released April 28, 2017 on Katoptron IX Records.

Starting out on a strong note, the band decides to offer up a rather impressive style of influences to make for a rather rousing and enjoyable affair. Generally the attack falls into the second-wave worship of Norwegian style old-school black metal, featuring a full assortment of tremolo riff-work and fiery brimstone-soaked rhythms that retain the general hallmarks of the scene. This is fast, fiery and utterly frantic patterns that make for a rather explosive outing here generating some rather fun times, going from the blistering tremolo-styled frantic blasting to a more controlled mid-tempo series of rhythms that offers a great deal of variety in the music throughout here while giving these parts a special charge with the inclusion of a churning rhythm section courtesy of more death metal influences. The deep, rumbling grooves and stylistic drumming that gets carried out here makes for a wholly more vicious attack alongside the thrilling traditional black metal attacks. Given that the majority of the album focuses on this style of attack which produces these rather epic arrangements, there’s not a whole lot to dislike here as the album plays it straight for the most part, and it really only comes off with a few minor strikes here with the frequent low-tempo sections that plod along rather lamely more than anything, but this isn’t enough to really deter the album for the most part.

Given plenty of room to work through some rather impressive features here, this one manages to come across rather well without too many flaws overall and barely detrimental ones at that which makes this one a wholly worthwhile choice for fans of the second wave of Norwegian black metal.

Score: 91/100

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Fading Azalea - Maze of Melancholy

Artist: Fading Azalea
Release Title: Maze of Melancholy
Year: 2017
Label: Self-Released/Independent
Genre: Symphonic Metal
1. Rêverie funeste
2. In the Name of Justice
3. Heart of Darkness
4. Flames of Death
5. Surface
6. Time to Realize
7. Dying Paradise
8. Fall of the Mask
9. Here I Am Again
10. I Lost My Way
11. Burning to Ashes
12. L'ombre derrière l'âme
13. Where I Belong

Formed in 2013, Swedish melodic metallers Fading Azalea have set out to merge their hometown of Gothenburg’s famous style of pounding melodic fury alongside plenty of fiery rhythms that made the city renown to begin with over two decades earlier. Overcoming a host of lineup issues that has brought them down to a duo, their self-released debut effort was originally released March 1, 2017.

Attempting to impress immediately, the group manages to get a lot accomplished with their manner of strong symphonics and blazing melodies throughout. The predisposition to using the keyboard-based symphonics is the driving force here, utilizing the bombastic atmosphere and grandiose rhythms to give this one a great base for the rather striking melodic riff-work. These tend to work together rather nicely, going from the gothic-influenced sprawling melodies with full-on keyboards blaring alongside the tighter, more power metal-influenced rhythms that give this one a greater sense of variety here. That comes across rather well with the occasional dips into the frantic, blistering attacks throughout here with the frantic drumming and over-the-top symphonics of the keyboards matching the fiery and frantic rhythms utilized here and making for quite the nice amount of dynamics in the music here. While that does make for a solid time overall here, there’s still one big detrimental issue throughout here in that the softer, more mid-tempo arrangements here aren’t all that impressive, ranging from the light middling riff-work to simply letting lilting piano notes accompany operatic crooning which sounds impressive but leaves a sour taste for those wishing the rest of the music is as good as their up-tempo work. As well, the fact that the album is quite bloated and overlong with a few too many tracks, especially for a debut offering, makes it somewhat of a slough to get through and makes this one feel longer than it really should, although it’s still quite enjoyable overall with the caveat of this being a debut.

With plenty of solid Gothic-styled influences and an overall enjoyable symphonic atmosphere carrying this one along quite nicely, this one has some rather fun positives to overcome a few minor flaws and makes this a nice choice for those into melody-driven symphonic metal or female-fronted metal in general.

Score: 87/100

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Creeping Fear - Onward to Apocalypse

Artist: Creeping Fear
Release Title: Onward to Apocalypse
Year: 2017
Label: Dolorem Records
Genre: Death Metal
1. Life Denied
2. Divine Casualties
3. Swallowed by Death
4. Trenches of Desolation
5. Onward to Apocalypse
6. Spreading Disease
7. As Vultures Fly, Battlefield Bleeds
8. Soiled, Tainted and Merciless
9. Disposable Existence

Created in late 2011, French death metallers Creeping Fear have spent their time honing their skill-set with a series live dates and well-received demos that have set the group on the path to the present day as they’re finally able to put the finishing touches on their debut effort. With their work finally able to be exposed to the public, their full-length debut was released March 3, 2017 on Dolorem Records.

From the onset, this one offers plenty of utterly enjoyable elements that come about due to the bands’ rather strong and charging atmosphere. The album is fueled by strong, raging riffing that takes a ravenous, buzzsaw-style of riffing to the forefront while adding together a frantic beat to the proceedings, all of which adds together into a rather pummeling onslaught of more modern templates in the genre. When these are added together alongside more loose chugging rhythms and swirling riff-work rather than the tighter buzzsaw rhythms elsewhere throughout here, that brings for a crunchy variant to the faster efforts throughout here, letting this get some nice disparate elements into their sound. The problem is these are the bands’ more epic and overlong arrangements due to the slow chugging style in the riff-work, and these are on the whole far blander than they need to be since the band has plenty to like on the more plentiful faster tracks here so even with the more enjoyable tracks taking up a majority of the album these long-winded efforts aren’t that exciting on the whole. Still, this is a debut and that doesn’t strike as big a detriment as it really deserves to be since most everything else on the record comes off enjoyable enough to overlook this.

Despite having some problems with maintaining some interest in their longer efforts here with some overlong tracks, there’s plenty to like elsewhere here with the bands’ faster and frantic material that it should be appealing to those who prefer this style of thick, crunchy death metal and can overlook the few flaws here.

Score: 75/100

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Infernal Angels - Ars Goetia

Artist: Infernal Angels
Release Title: Ars Goetia
Year: 2017
Label: My Kingdom Music
Genre: Melodic Black Metal
1. Amdusias: The Sound of Hell
2. Vine: Destroyer of the World
3. Asmoday: The Impure Archangel
4. Purson: Matter and Spirit
5. Bael: The Fire Devour Their Flesh
6. Paimon: The Secret of Mind
7. Balam: Under Light and Torment
8. Zagan: The Alchemist
9. Belial: The Deceiver
10. Beleth: Lord of Chaos and Spirals

Continuing to usher their own devastating sound, Italian melodic black metallers Infernal Angels feature plenty of glimpses of pure aggression that are blended into parts of mournful, disturbing sonic extremity with sudden melodic grafts throughout here. Featuring several great guests on the album, the groups’ fourth overall full-length was released January 20th, 2017 on My Kingdom Music.

Once this one gets going, there’s plenty of fiery and ferocious music throughout here that continues to showcase the band at the top of their game. The album is based mostly on tight, ferocious tremolo riffing that produces a strong, thunderous base for the rest of the music to offer the frantic tempos and patterns featured throughout here. Generating plenty of intensity with the blistering drumming while remaining firmly aware of the tight, frantic buzzing melodies blazing alongside the raging music featured here, and overall there’s a solid amount of work displayed here that makes for a wholly enjoyable time. The one main problem with this one arrives in the fact that there’s just not a whole lot of deviation in the music which has a ton of opportunities to express any kind of variance here yet it doesn’t really offer that here. It’s all pretty much the same general buzzing tremolo melodies and rather tight, same-sounding rhythms for the most part, and that does tend to lower the impact of the album when it’s almost impossible to figure out where on the album you are. However, this isn’t that detrimental as there’s still a lot to like here.

While there’s plenty to like here with this one getting some rather enjoyable melodies alongside the striking black metal elements here, the minor flaws do lower this one somewhat slightly so that it appeals really only for those who enjoy this brand of melodic black metal or fans of the bands’ previous work.

Score: 85/100

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Rebel Souls - The Forces of Darkness

Artist: Rebel Souls
Release Title: The Forces of Darkness
Year: 2017
Label: Art Gates Records
Genre: Death/Black Metal
1. The Awakening
2. Descent
3. Acrimony
4. Decay of a God
5. The Elementar
6. Dark Forces
7. Fourfold Wrath
8. Doomsday

Formed back in the year 2000, German death/black metallers Rebel Souls initially never made it past the demo stage before splitting up, only to reform under a reenergized lineup a full decade later which has re-recorded most of their first demo for their newest release. Finally getting their full-length debut released, the effort was originally released February 24, 2017 on Art Gates Records.

For the most part, this is an exceptionally enjoyable outburst of quite a decent mixture between black and death metal that comes off rather nicely. Featuring plenty of churning riff-work and a rather strong, dynamic crunch that gives this one a pretty ferocious assault, the main attack featured here is given a strong enough base to work alongside the rumbling rhythms at play. This makes for a crushingly modern style of the genre which is then aided by the album’s twisting haze of rhythms that gives this a slight blackening of their riff-work, refreshingly opting for this approach rather than tremolo riffing to create that particular atmosphere. This clunky set of patterns comes off rather nicely overall here with the tight running time enabling the album to run by incredibly quickly, which is perhaps its’ one minor failing as there’s the feeling that this one really could’ve used an extra track or two to help round out the running time here as the compact manner of the album makes this one go by so quickly that it needs the six-minute epic to bring this even close to a half-hour album and it leaves the listener wanting more tunes more than anything. It’s the only thing really wrong here, and that’s not even that much of an issue at all compared to the enjoyment elsewhere throughout here.

While there’s a lot to like here overall, the fact that it’s over too quickly does hold this one up slightly so that it does feel too brief with all the quick, compact rhythms does manage to hold this back enough that this one is really recommended to fans of modern death and black metal.

Score: 87/100

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Töxik Waltz - Declassified

Artist: Töxik Waltz
Release Title: Declassified
Year: 2016
Label: Eventhink Metal Records
Genre: Retro Thrash Metal
1. Abduction
2. Thrash Metal Dictatorship
3. Beyond the Wall of Sleep
4. Island of Death
5. Politician
6. Srebrenica
7. Octogenarian Violence
8. Loudmouth
9. Thrashing Like a Maniac

Formed back in 2009, Spanish thrashers Töxik Waltz came together as Madhouse before adopting their current moniker following a slew of lineup changes that signified the bands’ current direction to deliver the most old-school sounding thrash in the scene. Finally able to expand beyond the boundaries of their home country, the groups’ debut full-length was initially released September 10, 2016 on Eventhink Metal Records.

Harboring the love for their old-school style, the group is clearly and obviously intent on exploring that style throughout here which makes for a rather impressive time. Focusing on tight, crunchy riff-work and a generous mid-tempo pacing for this series of patterns, there’s a wholly enjoyable series of rhythms throughout here due to the album generating this impressive style of old-school flavored attack. It’s pretty simplistic overall and really only generates any kind of special energy with the selected addition of fiery, frantic riffing that adds a much-needed sense of energy into the otherwise one-note rhythms elsewhere throughout the album which is what tends to be it’s lone minor downfall. The album contains plenty of tight, crunchy patterns and certainly competent performances, but otherwise, there’s not a whole lot else throughout here to get as worked up about considering the lack of variety in the overall presentation as the album tends to focus on the mid-tempo almost exclusively. This can make the album somewhat repetitive as it carries along, especially with all the tracks pretty much the exact same length of time overall, so this one gets a great attack that’s carried to excessive lengths of repetition here with the same riffing, and while this can be overlooked due not only to the enjoyment carried out here by the competence of their attack as well as this being a debut offering, it does lower this one slightly.

Although it does need a little extra variety and a series of different rhythms to help distinguish them from the pack, this is still an incredibly solid and enjoyable burst of old-school influenced mid-paced thrash that works well enough for devout followers of that style or those that enjoy the more mid-paced side of the genre.

Score: 75/100

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Lycanthro - Lycanthro EP

Artist: Lycanthro
Release Title: Lycanthro EP
Year: 2017
Label: Self-Released/Independent
Genre: Power/Traditional Heavy Metal
1. Crucible
2. Into Oblivion
3. Break Through the Fire
4. Ride the Dragon

Bringing their classic influences to the front, Canadian heavy metallers Lycanthro have come together to forge one of the most appealing and intriguing love-letters to the classic metal sound of the 80s with a strong, classy-sounding release. Coming together to usher their debut EP, the group releases this first glimpse of their sound with this self-released effort January 8, 2017.

Coming straight out of the 80s, the groups’ obvious and burgeoning love-letter to the old-school style of metal becomes quite apparent from the start. Firing off tight, explosive lead rhythms full of galloping tempos and brimming with up-tempo melodies, there’s such an entertaining display of old-school rhythms on display here. With the majority of these tracks allowing the riffing to feature stellar marching gallops or tight, furious speed metal-style picking, it allows this to really cement their old-school leanings once the group begins exploring a fine mid-tempo chug that develops an interesting bridge between the grand speed metal stylings and the different traditional metal gallops that all works together into a grand and glorious old-school homage. The fact that there are only a few tracks here does come up as a minor problem as it’s just getting interesting when it really just ends and there’s the feeling that you could’ve wanted more quite easily. Likewise, there’s the raw and pretty obvious low-budget feel to the recording that might rub some the wrong way as that does limit some of the old-school influences in the fuzz from the recordings, but that doesn’t pose as big an issue as the overall brevity.

While not as big or grand as it should be due to the obvious limitations of the budgeting constraints involved here, there’s still plenty to like here in terms of old-school style power/traditional heavy metal on display for fans of this particular style to pay attention to in the future.

Score: 70/100

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Of the Sun - Before a Human Path EP

Artist: Of the Sun
Release Title: Before a Human Path EP
Year: 2017
Label: Self-Released/Independent
Genre: Southern Progressive Metal
1. The Tightrope Mile
2. Nebulamorphous
3. Cantos
4. A Soliloquy
5. The Limbless God

Continuing to expand their brand, Texas-based modern metallers Of the Sun have sought out to refine and hone their self-described southern progressive metal tag that has allowed them to expand their standings in the local scene with more live dates and releases. Now fully cementing their touch, the three-piece prepares their self-released sophomore EP on April 14, 2017.

Offering their trademark style to the fullest, the album comes across as the truest culmination of their self-imposed genre tag with this offering. The main juxtaposition of the album is the progressive label, offering up a strong series of complex, technical riffing that offers plenty to like here, from sweeping atmospheric patterns to challenging math/metal styles and even featuring crushing grooves to offset these prominent elements. Likewise, the fact that these usually accompany that twangy style of Southern-tinged groove metal, the overall combination of influences is incredibly well-detailed and busy as the tracks usually offer varied exposure to each element. Due to the hefty track times for these few tracks, the ability to sweep it all together into these lengthy sojourns offers this one plenty of time to feature these varied elements as the thick grooves and airy post-metal breakdowns are featured prominently even though that, in the end, is the albums’ main weakness. The fact that this one is so busy and scattershot with its approach, containing so many varied and seemingly disparate elements into each and every track not only makes this one seem far longer than it really is but also too sonically varied to be really enjoyable as nothing is really cohesively conjoined all that well. This gives the feeling of being overlong for the sake of being able to cram all these influences together, and this could really use some shortening. Otherwise, there’s still some enjoyable elements here.

While it does have some problems with all the different elements present in this one being thrown together into a haphazard blender, there’s still some solid, likable moments here with their obvious technical skills and valid genre mash-ups that this one serves as a solid if unessential release for fans of modern metal in general.

Score: 66/100

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Striker (Ca) - Striker

Artist: Striker (Ca)
Release Title: Striker
Year: 2017
Label: Record Breaking Records
Genre: Retro Heavy Metal
1. Former Glory
2. Pass Me By
3. Born to Lose
4. Cheating Death
5. Shadows in the Light
6. Rock the Night
7. Over the Top
8. Freedom's Call
9. Curse of the Dead
10. Desire (Ozzy Osbourne cover)

Still flying the banner of the old-school, the Canadian heavy/power metallers Striker have adopted a slight change of pace in their sound as the band has gone a more streamlined, straightforward burst of their trademarked old-school sound. With a quick turn around to their new release nearly a calendar year from the last effort, the groups’ self-titled fifth full-length is released February 24, 2017 on their own Record Breaking Records.

Despite the slight sonic shift present, it’s still obvious the band is intent on going through their stellar old-school style here which remains prominent throughout this one. No longer featuring wild, lengthy rhythms or expanded instrumental sections as instead they go for a simple series of charging riff-work and straightforward patterns that go more for solid beat-downs than anything else throughout here. The same high-energy attack is still there, making for a much more energetic and engaging time here with the album simplifying matters without offering up much of a change in their formula bringing this one along quite nicely. It does offer a few minor stumbling blocks in places here where it slips in lighter rhythms and melodies from their power metal style that makes for quite a striking contrast against the raging traditional metal elements elsewhere throughout here, and it seems as though these were just the odd misshapen rhythms due to the rather strong manner they accomplished this work in the past so to suddenly see it lowered in this manner could very well be a minor fluke of the album. Still, it’s a noticeable flaw here and does bring this one down somewhat slightly even with so much else to like throughout here.

While featuring a few minor missteps here with the lighter melodies not generating the kind of enjoyment as their heavier tendencies, this one still packs in more than enough to like here with the streamlined style working more often than not and making for a nice addition to any fan of their past work or revivalist heavy metal acts.

Score: 92/100

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Grieving Mirth - Calamitosvs Omine EP

Artist: Grieving Mirth
Release Title: Calamitosvs Omine EP
Year: 2015
Label: Loud Rage Music
Genre: Atmospheric/Post-Black Metal
1. Malaugurio
2. Indelectatvs
3. Optio
4. Mille Facce
5. Abuso

Coming together in 2011, international post-black metal supergroup Grieving Mirth have brought their collective members’ experience together into a rather solid and enjoyable output of melodic and dreary atmospheric-tinged black metal. With the original recording done several years before vocals were utilized, the groups’ first EP was originally self-released March 18, 2015 before a re-release July 1, 2015 on Loud Rage Music.

By adopting this style of post-metal, the album comes off rather familiar and rudimentary quite easily here as it offers very few deviations for the style. For the most part, it’s basically a series of swirling tremolo riffing in a galloping mid-tempo push that gives this a style similar to a vast majority of the genre as it’s often paired with long-winded sections featuring the same buzzing tremolo riff repeating for some warm, rich melodies. While it’s paired nicely alongside blasting drumming and bombastic, epic keyboards for a generally massive sound throughout here, the simple fact that there’s not a whole lot else to really glean from this one does seem to hold it back somewhat as there’s only so much deviation done in these few tracks and it serves as effective and enjoyable if one-dimensional due to that. The chance to offer more tracks would push for some more deviation throughout here, but otherwise there’s not a whole lot else to find within this one.

Though there’s nothing that overtly wrong with what’s on display here, the fact that there’s room for more to work with in regards to their sound makes for quite an appealing effort only for the most devout atmospheric black metal aficionados or fans of the members’ other projects.

Score: 70/100

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Impalers (Den) - Styx Demon: The Master of Death EP

Artist: Impalers (Den)
Release Title: Styx Demon: The Master of Death EP
Year: 2017
Label: Evil Eye Records
Genre: Retro Thrash Metal
1. Megalodon
2. Styx Demon
3. Death Comes Ripping (Misfits cover)
4. Prowler (Iron Maiden cover)

Continuing to honor their past, Danish thrashers Impalers are furthering the bands’ explosion of old-school thrash influences that have long been a part of their work from the beginning of their existence and becomes the fuel for their charge going forward. Staying on the cycle of two-year breaks between all their releases, this new EP was released January 16, 2017 on Evil Eye Records.

Coming on strong, this new effort contains four tracks, two originals and two covers, that allows them to display their old-school chops quite efficiently. Concerning the originals, the main driving factor is tight ferocious thrashing with plenty of sharp, jagged rhythms and full-throttle blasting to continue their homage to the past. Filled with tight patterns, fiery soloing and their deep gravelly vocals, they offer up the sparkling best of the band in brief vicious spurts with plenty of enjoyable elements within as the charging paces makes for a highly impressive time. The covers are somewhat faithful interpretations wrapped into the thrash mold as they’re not entirely based on the genre and yet come off rather well even if it’s obvious they’re not original tunes in the slightest. There’s just not much else on offer here beyond these tracks.

Given that there’s just not a whole lot to really dissect here given the originals are blistering barnburners and the covers are fine and faithful adaptations, this EP tends to really find itself simply there for fans of the bands’ previous efforts or those looking to discover the bands’ style if they’ve slipped through the cracks in the listeners’ own attention to the revival thrash scene.

Score: 90/100

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Daemoniac - Spawn of the Fallen

Artist: Daemoniac
Release Title: Spawn of the Fallen
Year: 2017
Label: Xtreem Music
Genre: Swedish Death Metal
1. Intro / Macabre Eucharist
2. Regurgitated from Hell
3. From Depths of Hideous Chasms
4. Spawn of the Fallen
5. Intro / Procreation of Hatred
6. Cursed Hecatomb
7. Upon Golgotha
8. Cremation (Macrodex cover)

Formed just in 2013, Italian death metallers Daemoniac have taken immediate action to honor their chosen influences in the Swedish old-school death metal realm with a variety of impressive and rather obvious homages to that seminal group of bands. Taking their sound straight to the source of it at Sunlight Studios, the three-piece unleashes their full-length debut January 1, 2017 on Xtreem Music.

On the whole, there’s very little change or deviation throughout this one that strikes much of difference between this or any other group in the Swedish homage scene. This one goes for the same attack as so many employ, that grinding buzzsaw-style guitar attack and plenty of thrashy chugging beats which makes the majority of the overall focus here replete with that deep, churning groove so synonymous with this scene. It rarely lets up throughout here, ranging from the fast and frantic attacks to the slower, more melodic sprawling that comes complete with the more restrained tempos and enhanced melodic fireworks in the riffing. As the vast, overwhelming part of the album tends to remain steadfast in these elements, there’s really no surprises in store here in terms of presentation which is what ultimately lowers this one. It’s so simple-minded and straightforward in intending to deliver such rather familiar and played out rhythms here that have been done so often and with so many varied acts in the scene that regardless of how they play this material with such fervor and intensity it really just seems like the status quo for the genre. It’s fast, violent and intense but is like so many others out there that it feels like a real lost identity in here.

With this one being so overly familiar and not all that original, it loses a lot of its impact as the remainder of this one contains enough blistering material and ferocious rhythms that gets lost at times here which makes this one really only for the most undiscerning Swedeath aficionado or hardcore old-school death fanatic.

Score: 74/100

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Virulent Depravity - Fruit of the Poisoned Tree

Artist: Virulent Depravity
Release Title: Fruit of the Poisoned Tree
Year: 2017
Label: The Artisan Era
Genre: Technical Death Metal
1. Serpentine Messiah
2. Spineless Obedience
3. Your Demise
4. Desecrating Eden
5. Fruit of the Poisoned Tree
6. Bad Drug
7. Beyond the Point of No Return
8. Only Human
9. Mechanized Defilement
10. Crushed by Futuristic Filth

Formed just in 2015, Tennessee-based technical death metal newcomers Virulent Depravity have sought to bring their seasoned experience and whirlwind technical prowess that makes for such a devastating turn in the genre already saturated with efforts. Loaded with a stellar group of guest musicians to round out their impressive sound, the power-trio prepares its full-length debut April 7, 2017 on The Artisan Era.

Bringing their true intentions out early on, this here is a rather strong and blistering account of their style which makes for a truly dynamic and charging offering. This is mainly due to building a strong base of technically-challenging guitar-work full of ferocious speed-drenched patterns shifting effortlessly from thrashing progressive chords to dive-bombing rhythms and jangly lead-work that all produce a veritable soundscape fully capable of utilizing these strong rhythms. It’s all balanced out by the addition of furious blastbeats and highly technical drumming alongside spindly bass-lines to provide a finely-tuned, frantic blast of challenging material at complex speeds which generates this likably intense nature for the vast majority of the tracks. With all that already high-end material featured here, there’s room for more fun in the more epic tracks to engage in far more varied and unique approaches, from long-winded introspective intros to more relaxed tempos in order to offset a more melodic tone with more pronounced and obvious down-tempo sections to allow for swirling, sprawling leads and far more adventurous patterns that truly offer a more fleshed-out sound than the relentless blasting. They do, however, bring out the only real flaw in the album with its overlong and somewhat bloated second-half which seems to drag with these monsters all placed there to really beef up the record just before closing which has the distinction of making it seem to take forever to play through on its own. It’s not enough to derail the rest of the music but it is a somewhat disappointing effort considering how good it worked beforehand.

While it doesn’t really seem to need to be as long and bloated as it feels, the fact that the vast majority of the music otherwise manages to feature plenty of overwhelmingly enjoyable elements does lift this one up enough to give this a lot of appeal for any fan of technical death metal or fans of the individuals’ other bands.

Score: 92/100

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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Mutilator (Bra) - Immortal Force

Artist: Mutilator (Bra)
Release Title: Immortal Force
Year: 1987 (2016 reissue)
Label: Cogumelo Records (Greyhaze Records reissue)
Genre: Thrash/Death Metal
Tracklisting (original):
1. Memorial Stone Without a Name
2. Blood Storm
3. Butcher
4. War Dogs
5. Mutilator
6. Brigade of Hate
7. Immortal Force
8. Tormented Soul
9. Paranoic Command

Reissue Tracklisting:
1. Memorial Stone Without a Name
2. Blood Storm
3. Butcher
4. War Dogs
5. Mutilator
6. Brigade of Hate
7. Immortal Force
8. Tormented Soul
9. Paranoic Command
10. Evil Conspiracy (Demo)
11. Visions of Darkness (Demo)

Formed back in 1985, Brazilian death/thrash metallers under the name Mutilator were one of the handfull of acts at the forefront of the country’s extreme metal explosion that laid the foundation for the majority of acts to come in the later years to follow. One of the more important and influential albums in the original scene, the groups’ full-length debut was originally released in May 1987 on legendary Cogumelo Records before a variety of reissues including a vinyl version on June 10, 2016 on Greyhaze Records.

Given their time of activity and country of origin, there’s little surprise about what to be found in this release as it’s quite familiar in its approach. This offers up plenty of rabid thrashing rhythms in chaotic, frenetic patterns which offer barely-contained rhythms that explode in energetic outbursts after sections of quiet sprawling between these sections. This set-up, familiar to a large variety of bands from this scene, makes for quite a schizophrenic act with the rather ferocious, raw riff-work throughout here leaving the album full of fast-paced work with wild soloing and plenty of blistering drumming to accompany the frantic work within. Given all this frantic and wild material, there’s a lot of utterly vicious thrashing on display which is surely given a phenomenal boost by the atypical production work. This features that wild and raw sounding production which comes off making the material sound just that extra bit of sloppiness to appear unrehearsed and off-the-cuff like a typical jam session caught on tape, and yet for this album it works perfectly in letting the razor-wire riffing attain that style of speed and urgency which makes for a wholly defined sense of chaos within the music. This is one of the album’s strengths and helps to strengthen the connection between these acts and the more extreme works to come later on, giving this the feel of an important stepping stone in history while enhancing the enjoyment of the work isolated from its legacy. Some might not take that to mean much as it can come off sloppy and disorganized, but it makes for a great time here.

Being quite the impressive and truly vicious thrash release, this is one of the more important releases in the crowded scene from that time-period and works more often than not, making this one a rather influential release and this version of the album essential for all fans of raw, rabid early death/thrash metal.

Score: 95/100

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Cryptic Realms - Enraptured by Horror

Artist: Cryptic Realms
Release Title: Enraptured by Horror
Year: 2016
Label: Death in Pieces Records/Iron, Blood and Death Records (co-release)
Genre: Retro Death Metal
1. Enraptured by Horror
2. Doomed Cathedrals
3. In Mortal Distress
4. Total Demise
5. Sinister Force Descends
6. Vulgar Exhumation
7. Begging to Be Dead
8. Act of Derangement

Formed just in 2015, international death metal supergroup Cryptic Realms wasted no time in paying homage to the classics of the genre with their first release coming quite early on in their history leading to a crushing split release that pushed the band further. Now finally able to offer their first proper release, the bands’ full-length debut was originally released November 28, 2016 in a co-release between Death in Fire Records and Iron, Blood and Death Corps.

As befits their chosen sound, the group is quite clearly adept at their old-school mannerisms with all manner of devices throughout here to showcase this style. This is filled with efforts that showcase plenty of tight, deep churning riffing that carries plenty of variations between their pacing as the album’s straightforward nature makes for a somewhat one-note approach. Essentially being there just to showcase the swirling riff-work in various approaches, the album descends into simplistic, rather light chugging that carries the churning riff-work through these simplistic patterns with very little deviation, being played as nothing more throughout here at all as the whole album is so strictly by-the-numbers in here makes for a really dull time. It really leans into that camp so often with its rhythms and approaches that it feels too caught up in itself too easily and manages to really lose itself quite easily here as it’s quite hard to tell tracks apart from each other. Being caught in too simplistic patterns and rhythms makes it hard to figure out what’s happening, and it does take awhile to get over this and get on with the rest of the album.

Being way too simplistic and rather one-note for its own good, this is lowered somewhat from the relatively crowded retro death metal scene due to that even though it does have enough positive elements about it to be worth a look for those who are fans of the members’ other acts or non-discerning revivalist aficionados.

Score: 75/100

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Arcane Existence - The Dark Curse

Artist: Arcane Existence
Release Title: The Dark Curse
Year: 2017
Label: Self-Released/Independent
Genre: Melodic Black/Death Metal
1. Welcome to Storybrooke
2. The Dark One
3. Reshaping History
4. Magic
5. Bleeding Through
6. Somnumbra Atra
7. A Land Without Magic
8. Excalibur
9. To the Underworld
10. The Dark One (Dungeon Delver Edition)

Formed just in 2016, California-based melodic black/death metallers Arcane Existence have been taking their influences and running it through the deep lows and emotional highs as they adapt a storyline involving the TV show ‘Once Upon a Time.’ As the three-piece offering version of the band continues to expand and grow, the groups’ full-length debut was self-released January 6, 2017.

From the beginning, the group displays a rather adept and profound mixture of stylish symphonic elements within the melodic black/death realm. The fiery tremolo riffing is generally tight and up-tempo, raging along with a galloping pace which generates a rather fun and frantic charge here while engaging the blistering symphonics here. That is far more impactful throughout the album, going for grandiose elements that are far more dynamic than the majority of the riff-work featured here not only in terms of featuring the melodic flurries but also focusing on the massive orchestral sounds when placed alongside these engaging tremolo patterns. With the symphonics blaring along, it ends up gaining more steam along the way with the harmonies female vocals which help to greatly offset the vicious growling and deeper rhythms here and adding yet another solid melodic showcase for the band which makes for a wholly enjoyable offering overall. It does run into some minor problems here where it seems to really drop the intensity level of the arrangements around the female vocals which tend to approach Gothic style arrangements that are wholly underwhelming and take the sting out of the attack considerably as they don’t really sound close to the previous blackened arrangements. It’s something that can be ironed out over time, and being a debut this isn’t something to hold over them anyway.

Despite a few minor issues here and there that don’t really settle themselves quite easily, the fact that the over-the-top symphonic elements and melodic harmonies work so well alongside the fiery up-tempo work throughout here makes for a solid choice for fans of this kind of style or those into the melodic black/death metal style.

Score: 82/100

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Immortal Shadow - Horror Circus

Artist: Immortal Shadow
Release Title: Horror Circus
Year: 2017
Label: Self-Released/Independent
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
1. Thrill for the Hunt
2. Shadow of North
3. My Death My Liberation
4. Immortal
5. They Would Be Better Dead
6. Ragnarok
7. In Your Grave
8. Veil of Maya
9. Horror Circus
10. Fear in My Head

Formed back in 2006, Spanish melodic death metallers Immortal Shadow initially came together with the sole aim of playing metal with friends which has brought out a combination of the hard and heavy riffs with the melody of twin guitars that intertwined into the old style. Finally getting to their first release, the groups’ full-length debut was originally self-released January 23, 2017.

Once this gets going, there’s a rather pronounced and explosive melodic air throughout here that’s quite heavily accented in the music. This comes from the rather rabid twin-guitar riffing that propels the tracks throughout here, giving this one plenty of rather tight and condensed thrashing patterns that offer plenty to like here due to the speed-driven rhythms and pacing present. That brings out the melodic flurries incredibly well while letting the frothing intensity get worked up strongly to a much more frantic setting than expected with the riff-work getting into much deeper and blistering settings during the mid-tempo sections.being graced with a melodic accent during these frantic sections gives this the kind of balance due to these sweeping melodic accents over frantic, charging patterns. Given that this comes off with a lot more energetic punch than expected, the album does make a strong initial impression even with the fact that there’s a slight issue to be had with the albums’ condensed and shorter feeling. The tracks here are quite short overall, all being pretty much straight-up three minutes long and don’t offer up too many chances to really explore the genre all that well. It gets caught up in the brevity issue more than anything else here which would enhance the melody a lot more had the arrangements been able to breathe more than what’s on offer. It’s not that detrimental, though, and really doesn’t let a lot of the fun get diminished.

An incredibly fun debut offering, this one really offers a lot more than expected and gets some really engaging work in here and although it does have a few minor issues on display the fact that there’s more to like about it makes this a solid choice to explore for fans of intensity-driven melodeath or the genre in general.

Score: 80/100

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Warbringer - Woe to the Vanquished

Artist: Warbringer
Release Title: Woe to the Vanquished
Year: 2017
Label: Napalm Records
Genre: Retro Thrash Metal
1. Silhouettes
2. Woe to the Vanquished
3. Remain Violent
4. Shellfire
5. Descending Blade
6. Spectral Asylum
7. Divinity of Flesh
8. When the Guns Fell Silent

Continuing to evolve through the years, reactivated Los Angeles thrashers Warbringer have continued to utilize their continued expansion of progressive elements into their trademark sound to further their stance as one of the revival thrash scenes leaders. Now coming back to active duty following their previous lineup implosion, the groups’ fifth full-length effort was released March 31, 2017 on Napalm Records.

Taking the charge right from the beginning, it’s obvious that the break didn’t change their initial standings as the music still screams their classic vibe. For the most part, this features tight, ferocious riff-work and blistering paces that fully retain the chaotic vibe of the bands’ early material which is a prominent feature throughout here. Diving and buzzing through the various series of ravenous tempo changes featured here makes for an utterly blistering and pummeling experience, with the ferocious patterns coming from all sides and never relenting in their mission statement offering up this fiery brand of thrash. The only breaks from the all-out assault here come from the decision to drop the ravenous tempos in favor of more relaxed melodic chugging and extravagant leads that serve their heavy-handed rhythms and bombast quite nicely, giving this one an incredibly effective series of breathers that serve not only the full-throttle section of the album but gives this a rather sharp contrast to make for an even more effective work here. The brevity of the album as a whole might be something to get over, as it requires the ten-plus minute epic simply to reach a prominent length could be an issue, yet that’s really nitpicking this one and it’s quite an effective effort overall.

Full of raging, intense thrash and plenty of solid songs, there’s plenty to like and even something to love about this release which brings their legacy back to the forefront as one of the pioneers of the genre and makes for a no-doubt interest for those that liked their past work or any revivalist thrash fan as well.

Score: 99/100

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Guerra Total - Nihilistic Malthusian Manifesto (The Ouroboros Cosmic Indifferentism)

Artist: Guerra Total
Release Title: Nihilistic Malthusian Manifesto (The Ouroboros Cosmic Indifferentism)
Year: 2017
Label: Iron, Blood and Death Corporation
Genre: Black/Death/Thrash Metal
1. Overture- Endymion- Selene
2. Universal Misanthropolis
3. Nuclear Ancient Ritual
4. Nihil Malthusian Catastrophe
5. Interludium- Osario de Palonegro
6. Metaphysical Solipsism
7. Marching Towards the Beyond
8. Bethlehem Zombie God
9. Cthulhu’s Reign (Posesión III)
10. Nyarlathotep (The Black Pharaoh)
11. Postludium- Live Fast, Die Old

Still going strong after all these years, Colombian black/death/thrashers Guerra Total have offered plenty of traditional South American brutality including their style changeover on this album that settles into a less chaotic, more death metal-oriented take on their blackened thrash beginnings. Celebrating their twentieth anniversary in existence, the groups’ sixth full-length effort was released February 17, 2017 on Iron, Blood and Death Corporation.

Although the group does slightly shift their style, it’s hard to ignore the fact that their original sound is still very much evident throughout here. The riffing throughout here is the same utterly frantic, blistering volley of brimstone-soaked tremolo rhythms that offer forth a rather chaotic soundscape here as they’re quite adept at forging through blistering thrash tempos. The tight, furious speeds they’re played at allows this one to be utterly ferocious and dominating as it thrashes along to the razor-wire patterns in the majority of the tracks here, and once it carries these into that typically raw, blackened atmosphere in here this one gets even better with the raucous production style offering the chance for scores of sterling screaming leads and pounding rhythms to accent the blitzkrieg-style thrashing as well as serve as a base for the incorporation of the newfound death metal rhythm section throughout here. Despite the riffing being of a stellar series of thrashing madness, it still carries with it a deep, churning rhythm section that offers up plenty of depth and charging atmospheres to the music that provides a stronger, more dynamic offering throughout here. The fact that the album does tend to bleed together as the songs come off the same is still an issue within the music, and the strange influx of keyboards and theremins are quite odd, but overall this is still a pulsing, pounding offering.

Despite a few questionable elements and a rather tough-to-decipher tracklist, this is still full of the bands’ typically charging, explosive blackened thrash stylings which manages to make this one an easy choice for fans of their previous work or this frantic style in general.

Score: 85/100

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Monday, April 3, 2017

Sarkrista - Summoners of the Serpents Wrath

Artist: Sarkrista
Release Title: Summoners of the Serpents Wrath
Year: 2016
Label: Purity Through Fire Records
Genre: Old-School Black Metal
1. Intro
2. The Lurking Giant
3. The Gathering of Blackest Shadows
4. Summoners of the Serpents Wrath
5. Ascending from the Deep
6. He, Who Liveth and Reigneth Forevermore
7. The Sea pt. 2 (My Cold Grave)
8. Black Devouring Flames
9. Rituals of Flames and Skulls

Attempting to further their sound, German black metallers Sarkrista have taken their old-school influences that were present on their previous releases and splits to an even further degree throughout here which keeps the band firing through quite prominently in here. Finally returning from a five-year gap between full-lengths, the groups’ true sophomore release was originally released March 6, 2017 on new label Purity Through Fire Records.

From the outset, the band has chosen to adopt a far more cosmic and dissonant approach to the genre than many of their homeland contemporaries, creating a wholly effective experience. This is due to the main driving factor throughout here being nimbly tremolo-picked rhythms that offer massive, sprawling patterns in a wholly straightforward manner throughout here, rumbling along at blistering paces for the majority of the tracks. This full-on sprint makes itself known with the album rarely deviating from this pronounced format with the simplified riffing furthering the buzzing tremolo patterns for the tracks, and with the blasting drum-work and thunderous rhythm-section following suit the album carries quite an impressive streak. Once it breaks away from this style, there’s a little less to like with the bland tempos featured throughout here making it all the more obvious how one-dimensional the music really is which is the album’s singular detrimental flaw. The album is awash in intense, swirling tremolo patterns that are played are quite prominent gallops for the most part, and it never deviates into any form of enhanced technical aspects or rhythm changes which just makes the songs flow into each other quite easily. With only the minor of changes to differentiate each track from the others, it’s a huge blend of fiery, up-tempo tracks that just start sounding the same as the deeper it gets into the album, and with the second half featuring some rather extended numbers this is magnified even more so.

Although there’s still quite a lot to like here with this release in terms of fiery, engaging old-school black metal, the sameness of the delivery might be enough for some to get over that it really becomes worthwhile only to the most devout and hardcore followers of the Finnish wave of black metal or old-school aficionados in general.

Score: 82/100

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