ENCIRCLEMENT

“Vacio Sepulchral” CD EP

(Born For Burning Productions)

 

Encirclement comes out of California's extreme UG scene with ’Vacio Sepulchral’, which is this young bands debut recording. This release features eight tracks totaling twenty minutes of savage and brutal black death metal at it's finest. The guitars are a mix of powerful, heavy mid paced guitars and some faster more chaotic guitar passages. The guitarist does a great job performing both the faster and more controlled patterns with equal intensity and ferocity. The vocals are powerful deep death metal growls and some raw black metal screams that are used in a few of the songs. The drums are performed with extremely fast blasting drum passages that are done with power and skill. This is recommended for fans of barbaric brutal primordial war metal should definitely check out Encirclement today.  - Patrick

https://encirclement666.bandcamp.com/   https://bornforburning.bigcartel.com/     

 

 

EPOCH OF UNLIGHT

"At War With The Multiverse” CD & LP

(Dark Horizon Records)

 

This veteran band from Memphis, Tennessee returns with their fourth album, and the first full-length in 17 years! I say veteran band as they reach back to early ‘90s under different names before unleashing their first recording, in the form of a demo tape way back in 1994! As near as I can gather by doing a little reading up the band never officially ended, just was put on hold while other life priorities were focused upon. I must admit I almost passed up even listening to this when I seen the band described as “melodic black death metal”, the melodic part I was immediately imagining lighter works of Dark Tranquility, Children Of Bodom, Soilwork, In Flames and the like. But no, in my view Epoch Of Unlight is much more from the school of the brutality, where death metal is the most dominant element over the melodic ala Dissection, Swordmaster, Aurora Borealis, Necrophobic, Sacramentum type bands. Having said that, there was one sequence that was very Maiden-esque, but I loved the way they did it and it was quickly swallowed up again by extremity. The overall brutal nature and extreme speeds for me make the melodic side of things stand out stronger and have impact. While I would not call them a techno oriented band, their level of technicality nonetheless is a strong element in their sound and showcases the high talent level and songwriting prowess Epoch Of Unlight possess. I am really into the vocals of Scott Baggett, he has a deep charismatic growling voice with various acidic and higher accents, familiar sounding yet have this unique edge to them. Those main growl vocals is like a mixing of the vocals of Dave Ingram (Benediction), David Vincent (Morbid Angel days), and Karl Willets (Bolt Thrower). I am not the biggest fan of melodic death or melodic black death metal, so you know this must be a strong album to win me over and make me a fan.  - Dale

https://epochofunlight.bandcamp.com/   https://www.darkhorizonrecords.com       

 

 

ERIC WAGNER

“In The Lonely Light of Mourning” CD & LP

(Cruz Del Sur Music)

 

This is the solo album from the mighty Eric Wagner of the legendary doom band Trouble. It is amazing that this album which was four years in the making had been finished just weeks before Wagner’s untimely death in August 2021 at the age of just 62, due to complications from Covid-19 (apparently as I hear it he was opposed to getting vaccinated and that created tensions with an old Trouble band mate). As it turns out this sort of feels like a tribute to himself and/or a final gift to his many fans out there. It appears Wagner and his former band mate in Trouble Dave Snyder wrote the bulk of this album with various contributions from a cavalcade of guest musicians. Actually it is impressive with so many contributors that this album feels and sounds so cohesive in performance and even sounding stylistically too. This album in sound, atmosphere and execution is classic Trouble all the way, especially when they sort of entered that period where they took their great traditional doom metal style and incorporated a bit a of stoner doom vibe ala “Manic Frustration” and ”Plastic Green Head” albums era. Well okay, not the song “If You Lost It All”. Which is a meandering moody somewhat ballad-y song, but with prominent violin, it is the weakest song on here for me, but still a pretty good song (and the shortest) nonetheless. Eric Wagner is still in fine form with those amazingly elegant, haunting and magnetic pipes combined with his supreme talent of feeling for the best range and manipulation of his vocal timing, resulting in maximum emotive impact is still fully intact. There are some excellent, memorable songs on this record. It does feel like a lost Trouble album, but is it as good as those old classic records? Well, no it is not but it is damn good and would not be out of place quality wise with those great albums. A must for fellow diehard Wagner / Trouble diehards like me.  - Dale

https://cruzdelsurmusic.bandcamp.com/   https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/blog/   

 

 

ETERNAL EVIL

"The Warriors Awakening Brings The Unholy Slaughter” CD, LP & Tape

(Redefining Darkness Records)

 

Holy shit! Eternal Evil bust out of my headphones like a caged beast set free, hopped up on adrenaline rush and driven by extreme hate. You had better hold on to something or strap yourself down when you listen to this album, or it may possess you to tear apart your entire home in a headbaning whirlwind fury. I mean this is some excellent and ferocious black thrash metal, despite the lightning attack everything is steeped in an evil and dark aura that creates an atmosphere that I found spellbinding. I think all fans new and old will like Eternal Evil’s brand of thrash, but there is no denying they worship and produce metal that pays devoted homage to the early releases of bands like Destruction, Sodom, Kreator, Slayer, Dark Angel, Razor etc… I hope you are okay with metal that does not give you breathers, does not give you brooding emotion and the like because Eternal Evil never lets up from start to finish, take that to the bank. Despite this there is some excellent musicianship on here on here, even at those blitzing speeds, it is controlled chaos and the riffing and rhythms on here will wreck your neck through violence and finesse. With only one demo and an EP single under there belts, this you band have produced one hell of a debut album that will be sure to please old school fans of the genre that can not get enough quality thrash in their collections.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/eternalevil666/    http://www.redefiningdarkness.com/       

 

 

EVIL DAMN

"Necronomicon” CD, LP & Cassette

(Hells Headbangers Records)

 

Coming out of Peru's old school death metal scene is Evil Damn, who were formed back in 2004 and has released quite a few demo's, ep's and splits over the years. ‘Necronomicon’ is the bands debut full length featuring nine songs of well crafted and performed old school death metal that is both well executed and uncompromising in it's intense delivery. The music is played with skill and intensity; the guitars are done with fast and aggressive patterns. The guitarist does write some memorable guitar sequences with a mix of fast crazed passages and some calmer mid paced patterns. The vocals are a mix of gruff, raw old school death metal growls and some screams are used in a few songs. There are some deeper demonic growls used during a few of the songs. ‘Necronomicon’ is a great debut if you have liked the bands previous releases then be sure to check out this album when it is released you won't be disappointed.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/evildamn    https://hellsheadbangers.bandcamp.com/       

 

 

EXTINCTION AGENDA

“Inter Arma Silent Leges” Cassette EP

(Visceral Circuitry Records)

 

This is a re-release of this now long defunct Massachusetts bands 2005 & 2006 demos combined together for seven tracks and about twenty-one minutes of music. The band features the heart of what was the December Wolves, with all three members being part of that band. They play straight up ferociously fast and ripping, heavy mid to late ‘80s thrash metal that showcases some exquisite skill and craft some memorable songs. The riffs on here are massive and this band is a great riff machine. The drum works is superb as well, and the vocals of Scott Iconslaughter is excellent quintessential hoarse and gruffly yelled and sung vox that I found really infectious to listen to. Some bands that will surely spring to mind, in my opinion is early Exodus, old Kreator, Razor, Destruction, Infernal Majesty, early Slayer, Sacrifice, Dark Angel and other similar legend bands in the genre. Cheers to Visceral Circuitry Records for digging these demos back up and re-releasing them. I was around in the scene during this time (and long before that too haha) and still somehow I missed out on these killer releases. Thrash diehards who missed out like I did need this!  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/visceralcircuitryrecs/   https://visceralcircuitryrecs.bandcamp.com/     

 

 

EXTINGUISHED

“Vomitous Manifestations" Demo Cassette

(Caligari Records)

 

Coming to us out of Finland's old school death metal scene is the new force known as Extinguished that was formed in 2020 by members of Sadokist and Obscure Burial. The debut demo ‘Vomitous Manifestations’ contains four tracks of well delivered and executed heavy traditional death metal. The guitars are played with a great deal skillful writing with a mix of heavy mid paced guitar passages though the guitarist does speed up to a fast pace in a few of the songs. The guitars also feature some really well written and performed guitar solo's all through the songs. The vocals are done with ferocious heavy death metal growls and some gruff old school style growling is mixed into a few songs. This debut demo is a masterpiece of primitive and barbaric death metal that should please all fans of this genre - highly recommended by me.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/CaligariRecords    https://caligarirecords.bandcamp.com/     

 

 

FALL OF SERAPHS

“From Dust To Creation” CD

(Memento Mori Records)

 

This is this French bands debut album, which comes on the heels of an EP and a split EP with Trepanator, which were spread across the last six years or so. Fall Of Seraphs create some ominous and malevolent sounding death metal that produces a sinister atmosphere and musical extremity in spades. The music is not just brutal and relentlessly pounding, it is all of that, but there is also some interesting song construction on here that kept my interest up throughout. That is not even mentioning some of the guitar work on here, which is very good featuring some killer fills and succinct quick hit solos. The aforementioned relentless pounding comes courtesy of a workman-like and commanding performance on the kit courtesy of Vincent Roubière. I also really enjoy the vocals of Olaf (who interestingly for years in the past was the drummer of the UG bands Ossuaire & Malhkebre) has this deep, dark and murky growl that has a whispery nuance and he often elongates his voice alongside some roiling gurgles. ‘From Dust To Creation’ is a strong debut that should please fans of the classic earlier albums of old school legends like Morbid Angel, Vader, Sinister, Monstrosity, Immolation, Malevolent Creation and the like.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/fallofseraphsofficial   https://www.facebook.com/memento.mori.label     

 

 

FLESHROT

"Unburied Corpse” CD, LP & Cassette

(Me Saco Un Ojo / Desert Wasteland)

 

I am new to this Texas band that is a relatively fresh band releasing just their third output on the heels of a demo and split disc with Phantasmagore. The band play dirty, grimy and crushingly heavy death metal with just enough pounding and rolling riffs to induce you into headbanging, whether you want to or not. There is also small flourishes of rhythmic finesse that briefly rears it’s head from time to time in the songwriting, even through all the filth and brutality, thankfully just enough and not over done. I really dig the guttural growling vocals of Phil Graham that often have this deadly gurgling and maniacal undercurrent to them. I think Fleshrot would probably slide in nicely into the, in my opinion, killer movement of death metal bands combining key elements of classic American, British, Finnish and Swedish metal from the days of yore into one deadly sound. Some of the influences that pop to mind (and repeat themselves consistently in this style) are the earlier works of bands like Incantation, Immolation, Cianide, Timeghoul, Autopsy, Benediction, Bolt Thrower, Demilich, Rippikoulu, Abhorrence, Convulse, Demigod, Dismember, Grave and the like. They often have a production sound in this style similar to mixing the early US bands I mentioned with the Swedish guitar sound of the early to mid ‘90s. As I mentioned there are many newer bands doing this now and that movement of bands I see Fleshrot fitting into are bands such as Funebrarum, Disma, Cerebral Rot, Undeath, Church Of Disgust, Tomb Mold, Undergang, Anatomia, Disfuneral, Haalbuaer and more. I absolutely love it and just can not get enough of it, clearly! My only one minor complaint on this release is it seems like this is being seen as an album at just a hair over twenty-five minutes. I think personally the EP or mini-album tag is much more appropriate and just wanted those interested in buying know that. Because otherwise there is nothing to complain about here as this is a fantastic release by this young band that you really should check out!  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/fleshrottx   www.mesacounojo.bandcamp.com       

 

 

GALVANIZER

“Prying Sight Of Imperception” CD & LP

(Me Saco Un Ojo Records / Everlasting Spew Records)

 

Just to be clear, when you see two labels it sometimes means they are splitting the release straight up in all ways, other times like this one it is sort of a parent label that does all the distribution and promotion. The third reason is one label is releasing one format and the other another format, which is the case here Everlasting Spew is doing the CD and Me Saco Un Ojo is handling the vinyl version of this Finnish bands sophomore album. Galvanizer generate down ‘n dirty death metal bathed in darkness yet also dripping with filth and grindcore accents. They have a lot of that old Swedish death metal sound in their base, which I know a lot of bands are doing that sunlight sound these, but you know what I don’t fucking care I worship this shit and if it is done well it is right up my alley! As mentioned Galvanizer do mix into that Repulsion (American I know but a huge influence on those early Swede sound), Carnage, Grave, Dismember dm approach with some grimy sounding deathgrind influences as well ala stuff like early Impetigo, Carcass, General Surgery. The resulting wave of suffocating dark gutfuck riffs of sadistic grinding violence is a lethal combination that I found quite satisfying to listen to, and to mentally bathe in it’s audio gore. The vocals via the bassist Vili and guitarist Aleksi are fantastic, despite all being extreme it is a varied arsenal of growls deep and guttural, as well as high and nasal growling with a smattering of various other gurgles, yells and screams mixed in. There are also some succinct classic guitar sequences every now then, which add a touch of class to the overall sickness and depravity of this album. This release has certainly converted this listener into a Galvanizer fan.  - Dale

https://everlastingspew.com/    https://mesacounojo.bandcamp.com/music     

 

 

GATEWAY

“Flesh Reborn" CD EP

(Chaos Records)

 

Coming out of Belgium's death doom scene is Gateway with their newest EP. ‘Flesh Reborn’ contains a intro and three full length songs. ‘Hel’ starts off this release with a two minute intro to ease you into things; it is very well written and performed with some excellent musicianship. The first song is ‘Slumbering Crevasses’ which combines both heavy mid paced passages and some faster more aggressive drum and guitar patterns. This one man band delivers some serious intensity and shows mature writing abiliity. ‘Rack Crawler’ is up next and this song is more on the extremely fast realm side again with showcasing skill and good songwriting. The music does slow to a heavier mid tempo pace throughout the song, but this song is definitely the fastest on the release. ‘Flesh Reborn’ finishes off this release and is the bands slowest and heaviest track. The guitars are done with a mix of slow heavy mid tempoe guitar chords. The drums are in same vein with heavy slow drum patterns, mixed with some mid to faster paced drums used. It is hard to believe this was written by one man (Robin Van Oyen), who did a great job of combing death and doom metal together to create a massive release.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/gatewaydeathdoom    https://chaos-records.bandcamp.com/     

 

 

GOATTHORNSSKULLBONECRUSHER

“Fallen Tyrant” CD

(Plague Demon Records)

 

Goatthornsskullbonecrusher is a two man band rising out of Germany's abundant and strong death metal scene. ‘Fallen Tyrant’ is this duo's newest EP and third release overall as a band. It features four songs of barbaric and chaotic death war metal. Sgt. Jones handles the vocal duties, which are old school death metal growls that are done with a powerful and imposing vocal. There are some black metal screams that are used throughout a few of the songs. Machosias (Birkabein, Bunkerkrieg, Old Pagan, Thodtgehoelz, ex-Beyond Serenity, ex-Pagan Winter…) handles writing the music for the band which is primarily played with intense and extremely fast guitars and drum passages. There is some heavier mid paced guitar and drums used throughout the songs. This is my first encounter with Goatthornsskullbonecrusher, but if you are a fanatic for extremely chaotic death metal with some elements of war metal intertwined into the storm then be sure to pick up a copy of ‘Fallen Tyrant’ today.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/Plaguedemonrecords.net    https://plaguedemonrecords.bandcamp.com   

 

 

GORE BRIGADE

“Gore Brigade” CD EP

(Redefining Darkness Records)

 

This is Gore Brigade’s debut release yet it’s members are anything but new to the UG scene. This band from Umeå, Sweden appears to be the brainchild of Ludvig Johansson from the thrash metal band Defiatory, he recruited his Defiatory bandmate Jon Skäre on drums and great dm vocalist Jonny Pettersson (Massacre, Wombbath, Berzerker Legion, Gods Forsaken and many more!) to help bring Gore Brigade to life. The music on here while it pays slight nod toward the old Swedish bands I adore, it also pays more attention to the sound on classic releases like Carcass’ “Necroticism - Descanting The Insalubrious”, General Surgery, Napalm Death, Benediction, Exhumed, Ghoul and the like. The energy level is ultra high ala the Carcass album I mentioned, just a raging juggernaut of intensity and adrenaline smashing all in it’s path. The vocals are varied with some great deep brutal growling that has a lot of different inflection within those growls with some cool higher pitched nasal screaming accents. As the bio points out the recording on here feels more modern crisp and clean yet still retains that heavy crushing edge. Honestly the on here does feel more like a modern thrash metal album production to me, and I personally love the old dirtier style recordings, but they still pull off this sound and style pretty well despite that. It does sound a bit like you may assume from the background above like a modern thrash band trying their hand at old school death metal – it is so well done and with obvious affinity for it’s inspiration that it does work. Give it a listen you will probably dig it.  - Dale

https://gorebrigade-se.bandcamp.com/    https://shop.redefiningdarkness.com/   

 

 

GRAVE INFESTATION

“Persecution Of The Living” CD & LP

(Invictus Productions)

 

This is my first time listening to this young Canadian band, who presents here their debut album after releasing two demos in recent years. Grave Infestation produce dirty and grimy death metal that harkens back to times of old that I tend to worship and have a lot of nostalgia for. There are sections of songs on this record that I found myself almost involuntarily nodding my head to and even slipping into a headbang, when they give some catchier shit that picks up the pace a little. Some of the influences I hear are Autopsy, Repulsion, early Morbid Angel, Possessed, Pentacle, early Grave, Nihilist and as the bio rightly points out Necrovore and early Carcass also seems pretty spot on. I can not shake early Autopsy as a definite influence for this band, and even some of the vocals remind me to Chris Reifert, in a very good way of course. Yeah, those foul roiling growl vocals fucking rule on here! It is a real varied mix on here pacing wise, there are fast steam rolling flourishes, brutal hypnotic pounding, gloomy doom laden sequences and just eerie haunting slower to moderate segments that feel like an evil occult movie soundtrack or something. It is an extremely interesting mix, the band transitions between seemingly disparate stylistic elements well done and quite seamless way. There are even some cryptic yet brief haunting solos and fills on here that accentuate the music perfectly. This is for fans of the hallowed ancient bands mentioned above, as well as newer fans that just love filthy and oppressive brutal and dark death metal sickness.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/graveinfestation   https://invictusproductions.net/      

 

 

GRIEVE

"Funeral” CD & Tape

(Werewolf Records)

 

The Finnish Grieve are like a meteor ablaze in the ink black northern night sky, hot and bright spitting hellfire leaving their mark and burning out almost as quickly as they appeared. I use that analogy because put out a 12” vinyl EP and a split w/Morketida in 2020, and now in the first month of 2022 they now present us their third and final recording before splitting up. This horde is made up of the demonic duo of Werwolf on Guitars, Vocals & Bass (Gestapo 666, Knife, Orlok, Satanic Warmaster, The True Werwolf, Vargrav, Vritrahn-Werwolf, ex-Incriminated, ex-Horna, ex-White Death plus more) and V-KhaoZ on Drums & Keyboards (Druadan Forest, Olio Tähtien Takana, V-Khaoz, Vargrav, ex-Oath, ex-Azaghal plus more). They play explosive, driving and harsh early to mid ‘90s second wave black metal that produces a freezing cold evil atmosphere. You can definitely hear influences from the classic early albums of Darkthrone, Immortal, Horna, Judas Iscariot, Satyricon, Graveland and the like. It is very well done here though; the music is filled with so much energy, venom and spite. The vocals of Werwolf are biting and ruthless, throat ripping rasps that I could feel the audio daggers stabbing into my ears repeatedly. They may already be gone as a band, but Grieve left a memorable mark in a short period of time. Worshippers like myself who can not get enough of second wave early nineties black metal need a copy ‘Funeral’ in their collection.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/thetruegrieve/    https://www.facebook.com/werewolf.rex        

 

 

GUTVOID

“Durance Of Lightless Horizons” CD, LP & Tape

(Blood Harvest Records)

 

This is my very first foray into the world of the Canadian band known as Gutvoid. The band formed in 2019 and thus far has released an EP, a digital single, and another single song on a 4 way split. This young band features members of Fumes, Grotesque Mass, Intestinal Hex, Wexler’s Prime and Exsanguinate. The band plays a brutal yet quite meandering style (I mean that in a positive way), that is quite emotive and at times kind of introspective. They also create an atmosphere that is dark and suffocating yet despite drawn out nature of a lot of their material is, to me it never gets boring. It is not driving or direct music in an aggressive way yet I still feel a simmering barbarity emanating from it nonetheless. Despite how slow a lot of it is, despite how long the songs are (ranging from 7 to 15 minutes!), I don’t know that I would call their style doom death, but it would not be right off the scent to do so either. I like the growling vocals on here, they mimic the music wonderfully, drawing out the vocalist’s growls and at the same time injecting an inflection to his voice that draws out and reflects the reflective, poignant aspects of the slow moving gloomy aura that makes their style so imminently enticing and an absorbing listen for me. When I listen, despite Gutvoid taking their own spin on them, I hear a lot of influence from bands like Bolt Thrower, early Incantation, Demilich, Timeghoul, Gorguts, Blood Incantation, Tomb Mold and bands in that vein. This album is an impressive debut and has me interested, even eager, to see what comes next for them.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/gutvoidofficial   https://bloodharvestrecords.bandcamp.com/   

 

 

HAALBUAER

"“Mortal Ones Scream In Horror” MCD

(Caligari Records)

 

It is a true pleasure for an old underground metal bastard like me, when I find bands with young members who worship old metal and old school death metal in this case! I mean look at these guys they are so young, and one guy has an Infester shirt on, fuck yeah! This trio play primitive filthy death metal in the traditional vein on the early works of bands like Autopsy, Infester, Demilich, Repulsion, Incantation, Rippikoulu, Funebrarum. Some newer comparisons for them may be countrymen like Obliteration or Undergang. I hold all of those bands in high esteem, so it is probably little surprise I like the pounding, trance inducing audio brutality and suffocating atmosphere produced by Haalbuaer so much. Those chunky grinding guitars are so damn barbaric and those hammering drums are wrecking my neck listening to this, it brings back nostalgia for the early days when I put on a classic “Mental Funeral” album when it came out! The vocals of Stian “Masticator” Hjertvik (also editor of the new print fanzine Black Blood) are such great obscured shadowy growls, they add an aura all by itself and remind slightly me to again early Autopsy or maybe early Grave too – excellent. It all combines into a massive horrifying wall of sound that permeates everything with it’s darkness. I see this EP (or mini-album) at most listed in multiple places as an album. I mean call me an old goat, but 21 minutes is at least ten minutes short of the bare minimum of what I would class an album. I just wanted throw that out there so you know what you are getting. But do not let that deter you from getting this killer release!  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/haalbuaer    https://caligarirecords.bandcamp.com/       

 

 

HAUTAKAMMIO

“Pimeyden Kosketus” Digipak CD & LP

(Purity Through Fire)

 

Hautakammio comes from the supremely fertile Finnish black metal scene. This band is a triumvirate made up of guitarist/songwriter Grim666 (Grimirg, Kalmankantaja, Lathspell, Order of The White Hand, Seal of Beleth), lyrics & vocals by Vritrahn (White Death, Infernal Darkness, Vritrahn-Werwolf) and drummer Lima (Amberian Dawn, Azaghal, Lathspell, Wyrd) and as you can see they are very experienced men in the UG scene. The band has been in slumber after releasing two albums in ’13 & ’14 shortly after forming, but now have returned with their long awaited third full-length. Hautakammio have managed to skillfully marry old second wave black metal’s raw darkness and hate with the newer epic sweeping bm style to excellent effect. There are some really affecting rhythms that are serpentine-like as they slice through the cold audio fog, and run in between many sections of put your head down burst forward blazing speed sections. No worries there is no folk-y or progressive shit here, it is raw, forceful and hate filled black metal all the way. The vocals of Vritrahn are very much like his vocals in the band White Death. They are absolutely freezing cold classic black metal rasps that are so powerful and as smooth as a sharp dagger across flesh. If you are into relentless, icy black metal that also has a real depth and scope to it then you should give ‘Pimeyden Kosketus’ a listen immediately, if not sooner.  - Dale

https://hautakammio.bandcamp.com/    https://shop.purity-through-fire.com/     

 

 

HEADS FOR THE DEAD

“The Great Conjuration” CD, LP & Cassette

(Transcending Obscurity Records)

 

This is the third album for Heads For The Dead, which for those who do not know is one of those international bands with four members spreading across the globe from the US to the UK, Germany and Sweden. Their ranks feature members of well known UG bands like Sentient Horror, Just Before Dawn, Wombbath, Revel In Flesh, Massacre, Gore Brigade, Human Harvest and a bunch more actually! Their music is very active and high energy yet always with a mind towards horror movie soundtrack dramatics (almost like a death metal version of King Diamond, minus those diverse high pitched vocals of course) woven into the heavy brutality of their malevolent style. It is a real balance between those emotive creepy elements and the crushing barbarity/speed and the band seem to have really struck that balance very well on the majority of this album. I should probably mention the guitar work as well, as there is some excellent fills and some short smoking guitar solos along the way. The vocals of Ralf Hauber is another feature of this band I enjoy from his excellent deep mainstay growling vocals, to the cool array of accent vocals flourishes that include rasping screeches and disturbing spine-chilling howls. Despite them being in different countries and I am sure sending files back and forth, the music while not perfect in this area is more cohesive and flows better than you would think. This is for death metal fans that are really into bands like Entombed, Grave, Dismember, Bolt Thrower and similar sounding bands mixed with a love of horror movie soundtracks atmospherics and histrionics. It is a smooth ride until the last couple songs where they go off script and suddenly throw in some punky thrash crossover bits, which in my opinion stunts the flow of the good momentum they had built up on this album to that point. If you are more into just straight up death metal, you should still find plenty to like here, but things may get a little dramatic with a bit too much going on for your liking. It is a mixed bag at times, but still definitely worth checking out.  - Dale

https://headsforthedead.bandcamp.com    www.facebook.com/transcendingobscurityrecords     

 

 

HELLFROST AND FIRE

“Fire, Frost And Hell” CD & LP

(Transcending Obscurity Records)

 

This is the new band of vocalist Dave Ingram of the mighty Benediction. Something you may know already about me is that I am a big Benediction fan and I consider Dave Ingram to be one of the very elite vocalists in the history of death metal! So you might say I am coming into this review on a brand new band more than a little biased. Because of Ingram’s vocals it is hard for me at times not to think of Benediction. But besides the fact Hellfrost And Fire also play old school death metal, the music on here is fairly different than his main band. The music here is a little more groove oriented, a little more lively and energetic in the song construction yet still heavy and hard hitting. There are some great, tasty guitar solos on here courtesy of guest musician Scott Fairfax (Memoriam UK, As The World Dies) that add some depth to the proceedings. Then there is the vocals and they are as you might expect absolutely magnificent, such deep growling with good range and dripping with supreme charisma. It is a joy for me to repeatedly listen to a master applying his craft with such skill and conviction. I like the music, not nearly to the level of Benediction, but it is still really solid enough and enjoyable death metal. The vocals alone are worth the price of admission my friend – come for the music and stay for the vox.  - Dale

hellfrostandfire.bandcamp.com/    transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/    https://tometal.com/   

 

 

HELVELLYN

"The Lore Of The Cloaked Assembly” CD & LP

(Purity Through Fire Records)

 

Despite this British band having been around for a long time, a decade in fact since releasing their first demo and despite releasing an EP and a couple split EPs, this release marks their debut album. The five members of this band have not been dormant during those years however, no, they have been creating audio darkness in many bands like Morte Lune, Nefarious Dusk, Skiddaw, Thy Dying Light, Torver, Úlfarr, Volition, Whinlatter, Absinthropy and yes even more! The music is hateful and cold second wave black metal that gives off a snarling and caustic sound. The guitars have a slightly grittier and maybe metallic edge than some of the earlier second wave traditional bm music, but that great archetypical sinister aura is burning ever so bright here. Their songwriting has that creeping evil atmosphere, but often resides in the central pacing then speeding up and running headlong into the night for short bursts to strong effect. I do not often notice the drumming in a standout way within this old style of black metal yet I must say J.D. puts in a strong performance here. As does vocalist Damien Fowler who is a rasping and howling demon and really commands things with his acidic vocal emanations. If you are like me and hold great reverence for traditional second wave black metal, as much of it as you can get your claws upon, then I am certain you will like this strong debut album from Helvellyn. I do hope the long periods of silence from this band shorten, as I look forward to hearing more from this band sooner than later.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/helvellyn666   https://shop.purity-through-fire.com          

 

 

HORNA

“Kuoleman Kirjo" Digipak CD & Gatefold DLP

(W.T.C. Productions)

 

It is always a pleasure to get my hands on a new release from one of the true legend bands in the black metal scene! This Finnish horde regale us with their 10th full-length album (plus of course demos and countless splits and EPs in their 25+ year history) of musical majesty, which clocks in at over one hour of music. I got into Horna fairly early on in their existence with their second demo “Hiidentori”, and then I did my first of two interviews with the band shortly after their debut album was released in 1998. I am a bit of a bm purist at times and think bands should stick to their roots (or change their name if they want veer off in a completely different direction), and you can point to a band like Horna as a shining example of this. I mean sure they vary their patented second wave bm sound from time to time, from release to release, but they always keep that evil core as their anchor point. "Kuoleman Kirjo" while still the cold hateful black metal they have always been known for, it has a bit more of an epic feeling to it with free flowing melodious riffs that sweep across your mental landscape like a rapidly creeping fog. The main vocals are classic bm rasps with a slight ominous sounding husky undertone to them, vocalist Spellgoth does pull from his arsenal at times to accent that main vocal with a myriad of yells, hollers and the like. There are often some subtle guitar nuances going on here, if you are paying close enough attention that are quite enjoyable for me. Second quick one is while I enjoy the drumming on Horna releases, I rarely focus upon them or truly notice them specifically, but the drums and performance from LRH on here is a strong element on this album. This release is a bit less aggressive than some of their past material; it instead focuses on taking you on an all-encompassing melancholic and crepuscular cerebral journey. The main man, only founding member and chief songwriter & lyricist Shatraug just keeps endlessly marching along, prolifically creating great freezing black metal for Horna (among other bands he is involved with) for going on three decades! He has my utmost respect and admiration, hail Horna!  - Dale

www.facebook.com/HornaOfficial/    https://wtcproductions.bandcamp.com    http://www.w-t-c.org    

 

 

HOWLING

“Altar of Depravity” CD

(Blasphemous Creations Of Hell / Plague Demon Records)

 

Ohio's one man black metal band Howling returns with their debut full-length release. ‘Altar Of Depravity’ contains eight tracks of brutal and hateful black metal at it's  finest. Musically the band mixes both extremely fast black metal and some slower more controlled musicial passages into it’s songwriting. The guitars are played with some memorable patterns and feature skillful writing. The drumming is played with hyperspeed blast beats that are forceful, intense and violent in it’s delivery. The vocals are harsh, demonic black metal screams and stabbing screeches. Their are some gruff growls and screams also mixed in throughout some of the songs. If you are a fan of Howling's previous releases (demos or EP) then do not miss out on this massive debut album.  - Patrick

https://plaguedemonrecords.storenvy.com/    https://bchrecords.storenvy.com/   

 

 

HULDER

"Godslastering Hymns Of A Forlorn Peasantry" CD, LP & Tape

(Iron Bonehead Records)

 

Hudler is a one woman band from Oregon, but that woman who also goes by the same name as the band Hudler (aka Marz Riesterer) is originally from Belgium. She conjures up evil tremolo picked black metal that has that raw metal edge to it, which for me, puts it’s influences in the early ‘90s second wave of black metal. But it is more akin to the other side of the coin from that era, which means it is not the Scandinavian second wave, but rather the bm movement and sounds brought forth in the early works by bands like her countrymen Ancient Rites, as well as Varathron, Master’s Hammer, Kawir, Root, Mortuary Drape, Grand Belial’s Key, Kampfar etc… There are brief passages and an entire song like “Purgations of Bodily Corruptions” where there is more prominent melody mixed in than you would normally except from a band playing this sort of harsh style. I must admit that is my least favourite aspect of the Hudler sound, but it is not overused, so it is not a real problem either. The music as mentioned while raw and caustic, also mixes in a healthy amount of eerie synth as an adjunct whispering in the darkness throughout the album. Hudler’s vocals are most often a coarse yelled growling hiss mix, but is almost always accompanied with a freezing undercurrent of classic black metal rasp. I quite enjoy those vocals. This is a really impressive piece of work to come from one person, and I can see / hear clearly what enticed a great label like Iron Bonehead into wanting to release this enjoyable piece of dark musical art.  - Dale

https://www.hulder-official.com/    https://ironboneheadproductions.bandcamp.com/        

 

 

IFRINN

"Caledonian Black Magick" MCD & 12" EP

(The Sinister Flame)

 

Ifrinn are apparently from Scotland and for all I know a one man band even, it is one of those deals where we are not allowed to know anything about the band member(s). I am not a fan of this practice, but it is their choice. So this is the bands second EP and second release overall, the first self-titled EP came out five years ago. This extended player at hand consists of three songs and runs about twenty-five minutes. The music on here is hateful and aggressive yet woven throughout that odious emotion is a concurrence of majestic and memorable rhythms and sweeping riffs. It would seem those two things would be like oil and water, but here they melt together very well into one freezing conglomerate of black metal musical ceremony. The vocals themselves are one of the biggest elements of the enmity; as they are coarse rasping yells with a growling undertone that also occasionally reflect the more emotive side of the musical sorcery. I am not sure if we will wait another five years, but you can contemplate that while you enjoy listening hypnotically to ‘Caledonian Black Magick’ repeatedly.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/IfrinnOfficial/    https://sinisterflame.bandcamp.com/       

 

 

IMPALED NAZARENE

“Eight Headed Serpent" CD, LP & MC

(Osmose Productions)

 

The return of Impaled Nazerene! My experience with this legendary UG band goes back to almost to their very beginning. Impaled started out by releasing demo tapes way back in 1991. I had my first encounter with them when in late 1992 I purchased their “Goat Perversion” 7” EP, which believe it or not still resides in my collection all these decades later! That EP is one of my fave EP’s all time, it is so amazing and showed the band turning up their audio sickness, extremity and darkness to whole new levels that would be continued with their debut album the next year on Osmose Productions. Around this time frame I also tape traded for both of their ’91 demo tapes as well and bought their first album straight away. So you can see how much I am invested in this band since the early days. Yes okay, stop reminiscing and move on to more recent times now. ‘Eight Headed Serpent’ is the bands thirteenth full-length album, a new record from Impaled has become more of an event in the more modern history of the band, as this is just their second album in the last ten years. While other veteran bands of the scene have matured or expanded horizons or spread their wings and shit, or even got more progressive and/or sold out for a period of time or for all time. That is not Impaled Nazerene, not even for a minute, they only go one direction and that is fucking intense, dark and diabolical! They still play their patented brand of lightning speed black metal with some of the most severe accents of raunchy punk and dark death metal. It is an audio cacophony / tsunami if you will of violence, and caustic sadism that dismantles, destroys and brutalizes everything in it’s path! You know despite how barbarous their musical blitzkrieg is, it has this memorable and infectious quality to it still. This aspect is furthered through the main man and main force behind I.N., which is Mika Luttinen (aka Slutti666) through his amazing throat ripping and shredding vocals. Those vox manage to convey unforgettable yet lecherous debauched cruel lyrics that tattoo themselves to your brain like a creeping virus. He even still employs (much to my delight) some of those same screeches and bellowing beast growls I fell in love with in 1992 when I bought that seven inch. As an extreme metal devotee going way back, how can you ask for anything more than a band 30 years later that has stayed so true to their roots and still deliver that fatal musical stab to your heart?!! I say you can not ask or expect nothing more from this legend band. I stand in reverence of Impaled Nazerene and worship at their altar of darkness and evil.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/ImpaledNazareneOfficial    https://osmoseproductions.bandcamp.com/      

 

 

IMPRECATION

“In Nomine Diaboli” CD, LP & Tape

(Dark Descent Records)

 

I was and am a big fan of this veteran bands demo tape “Ceremony Of The Nine Angles”, which was released in 1992, which I tape traded for not long afterwards. The Texas band went on to release another demo and an EP, before calling it quits in the late 1990s. However, you can not keep true metal demons down forever as they reformed in 2009, and have been terrorizing the UG scene ever since. The news on this band is not all good, as “In Nomine Diaboli” is the final recording of founding member and drummer / keyboardist Ruben Elizondo, as he unfortunately passed away in 2021. Imprecation continues to stay true to the mighty and strong roots they set down at the start of the ‘90s this album. They still produce primitive, dark and gloomy death metal with that great old feeling that hits me with headbanging pangs of wistfulness and fury. They have always used keyboards as an accent, like a horror movie soundtrack for added effect in the background and they do it well. The drumming on here is a strong backbone for the band often transitioning back and forth with the music, transitioning from a brooding beat to flurries of ripping whiplash. Which also reflects their songwriting as a whole; it has a very ominous aura running through mid-paced simmering that eventually always gives way to short yet powerful bursts of neck wrecking speed. Another strong trademark of the bands patented sound is the shadowy, obscured and darkly emotive growling vocals of Dave Herrera. If you are an old fan of Imprecation or just a worshipper in general of ancient styled primal and sinister death metal then this will no disappoint.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/imprecationtx666/   https://darkdescentrecords.bandcamp.com/     

 

 

IN GRIEF

“An Eternity Of Misery” CD & LP

(Iron Bonehead Records)

 

While not all things created by or out of the pandemic, and the ensuing lockdowns (which Italy was well known for early on) are necessarily bad. As in this case with In Grief, that sudden shutting out of the world and lack of movement helped create this interesting band. They are a trio that is very active in the UG scene as their ranks features members currently or formerly of bands like Necro, Congenital Deformity, Yakisoba, Vulfehrie, Profanal, Black Oath and more. In Grief produce some excellent, emotive and heavy death doom metal straight out of the early to middle ‘90s. The guitar work and songwriting is extremely poignant and they get that classic guitar sound down perfectly, not just sound but tuneful intonation of it all. The vocals are excellent and just reek of early nineties Nick Holmes, and that is good thing because I love his vocals from that period. In fact, I was just listening to the “Gothic” album while grocery shopping yesterday by timely coincidence. There is no denying the heavy influence of The Peaceville Three (Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride & Anathema), especially the early works of all three bands, with Paradise Lost’s first few releases weighing in the heaviest. The bio also mentions the classic “Clouds” album by Tiamat and that is spot on reference as well with a lot of the emotional notes and cadence of the music and vocals. On the song “Demons” they suddenly employ clean vocals throughout the majority of the song, and they are decent but... Now I know this is just my personal taste and hang ups, as I love doom death and I also worship classic clean doom metal with clean vocals (you know ala Sabbath, Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus etc…). But, I am not a fan of either style mixing in growled vocals or clean vocals outside of a maybe a line or two, once in a while. As once you start doing that you move more into the category of the later works of Katatonia, Novembre or hell once again the Peaceville Three, but the later albums, it starts to feel like doom goth, ‘and I don’t like that’ as the Grandpa said in Lost Boys about his TV guide labels ripping the cover hehe. Okay I got that little nitpick out of the way, it did not however manage to affect how much I enjoyed this album. If you enjoy or even borderline worship like me, those classic death doom bands mentioned then you will love this, it is so well done and dripping with talent.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/ingrief/   https://ironboneheadproductions.bandcamp.com   

 

 

INANNA

“Void Of Unending Depths” CD

(Memento Mori Records)

 

Innana is yet another band from the plentiful South American UG metal scene and as with the band Suppression I just reviewed originates specifically Chile. They present to us their third full-length album, and I believe their first release with Memento Mori. The band produces some top shelf death metal that displays superb musicianship and well seasoned songwriting. The lyrical content seems often center around the great writer H.P. Lovecraft and his intricate fascinating lore, which seems to rightly provide a fertile breeding ground for metal lyrical inspiration. It feels like this album has some of just about everything and it all is done with a high skill level and a true penchant for strong, memorable musical composition / construction. I mean do you want breakneck speed brutality, do you want headbang riffs, do you slower moody sections, do you technicality and creative songs, do you want smoking guitar solos?!! If any or all of that is what you crave then in the immortal words of a infamous rock band ‘if you want blood, you got it’ with this album. It will make your ears and your mind bleed! It is no mean feat to include all those stylistic elements and not come across as convoluted, too cluttered or just be a musicians wankfest. Yet Innana has an ability to bring you all of these things without it sounding too busy and impressively everything has good flow to it, which is kind of everything to me, when attempting to combine a seeming dichotomy of elements. I am honestly kind of blown away at how good this album is, this band deserves more attention, so buy a copy and I am confident you will be singing the bands praises just as I am.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/inannametal   http://www.memento-mori.es/      

 

 

INTONATE

"Severed Within” CD & LP

(Willowtip Records)

 

Intonate rise up from the province of Quebec, which has a long and storied death metal scene history going back to the early days of the genre. Thusly producing some of it’s classic bands like Gorguts, Cryptopsy and Kataklysm (the tape trading nerd and patriotic side of me wants to throw in bands on that list like Dislocation, Gorelust, Lord Mortis, Necrotic Mutation, Neuraxis, Purulence and more! Haha). Intonate pick up this mantle and in some ways I can hear influences from all three of those heavy hitting bands I mentioned above, yet they put it all together and come away a slightly different sounding death metal style of their own. Intonate also form time to time, like to mix in slower and more atmospheric brooding sections into their usually epic length songs (ranging from 6 to 10 minutes each). It is actually a really nice juxtaposition to their mainstay of speedy brutality and intricate song structuring. There are so many little inventive nuances going on especially with the guitars that it will probably take you a bunch of listens for your ears and your cerebral cortex to drink in and absorb it all. I enjoy how guttural and abrasive the growling vocals are, as for me they add that bit of needed grit to all the polish and refined skill of the rest of the instruments on display. I have not mentioned the drumming yet, but if you are going to pull off a diverse technical death metal record, you need powerful and commanding drum work which Dominic Nucciarone brings all of to his kit. If quality techno death metal that is also deep and varied is your cup of tea, then you should look into getting a copy ‘Severed Within’ in your collection as soon as possible. Also keep a sharp eye on this promising young Canadian band, they are bound to really make a name for themselves going forward.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/intonateofficial    https://intonate.bandcamp.com/       

 

 

INTOXICATED

“Watch You Burn” CD & LP

(Seeing Red Records)

 

I had heard this Florida bands name many moons ago, but I figured this is probably a different, newer band now under this name as well. You can imagine my surprise when I found out this is the same band! Intoxicated started out in 1992 (!!!) yet did not put out any recordings until their 1996 demo tape, followed by a full-length self-released recording in 1997. I have not been able to find anything on them of them ever breaking up, but all the same they did not release any new recordings for 23 years! Most of the members were in a band called Pain Principle during this time who were somewhat active during that period, so that likely had something to do with it. Yes, if you read my reviews very often, you know I am really into band histories and cross pollinations and the like. Another bit of my endless trivia is this album was recorded in Morbid Angel’s old rehearsal studio, which was “rehabbed and converted into a state-of-the-art studio” to record this great sounding album. I know, finally on to the music, Intoxicated manufacture old school deathrash with a smattering of crossover thrash tendrils that weave in and out of their music at times. With the experience level of it’s members it is no surprise that the well thought out songwriting sounds very mature and smooth. It is catchy and memorable times yet always keeping it’s eye on the chugging heaviness of it all. Despite my talk above of maturity, adept song construction and skillful playing, make no mistake this album at times just flat out rages and you can headbang like a maniac to it! Being from Florida that is where I hear a lot of influences from with bands like Death, Malevolent Creation, Obituary, Monstrosity, Brutality with hints of the aforementioned crossover stuff like early Nuclear Assault, early COC, DRI, Cryptic Slaughter and the like. Vocalist Erik Payne puts in a whirlwind performance on the mic, with a fiery and forceful display of classic death and thrash vocals of the storied days gone by. I am not sure if all readers know the man behind Seeing Red Records is also behind the great Redefining Darkness label, but he has been hitting it out of the park lately and has great taste in music, as evidenced by this killer record. Check it.  - Dale

https://intoxicatedflorida.bandcamp.com/   https://shop.seeingredrecords.com/   

 

 

ISATAII

“Invoking In Darkness" CD

(Plague Demon Records / Blasphemous Creations Of Hell Records)

 

California's Isataii return with their second full length release, one of two this year alone for this prolific band. The album features nine songs of savage and brutal black metal at it's finest. Wvlfgar handles all the composing and writing the music for the band. For the most part the music is played with extremely fast and raw guitars that are done with a skillful writing ability. There are some slower, mid paced guitar passages intertwined within the songs. The drumming is done with hyperspeed blast beats that are performed with real intensity and some violent patterns. Lord T handles the vocals which are a mix of harsh and evil black metal screams and screeches. There are some gruff screams and growls used in a few of the songs as well. Isataii with “Invoking In Darkness” have unleashed a great full length release that should please all fans of chaotic and brutal black metal.  - Patrick

www.facebook.com/Isataii/    https://plaguedemon.storenvy.com    https://bchrecords.storenvy.com      

 

 

ISATAII

“Garden Of Rot" CD

(Plague Demon Records / Blasphemous Creations Of Hell Records)

 

‘Garden Of Rot’ is the prolific Isataii’s third full length release (and second album this year!), which features seven songs and a run time of 36 minutes. The music on this new release is still traditional black metal that Isataii is known for. But the music seems more controlled and mid paced in the delivery than their last album. Each song is crafted and composed with a great writing ability. The guitars are played with some extremely well performed mid paced gloomy passages. The guitars do speed to a faster pace throughout some tracks, which helps to give each a song it's own identity. The vocals are raw, grim black metal screams and deadly screeches. Isataii has released another masterpiece of black metal showcasing the bands ability to create traditional, straightforward yet ominous black metal music.  - Patrick

www.facebook.com/Isataii/    https://plaguedemon.storenvy.com    https://bchrecords.storenvy.com      

 

 

KATAKOMBA

“Katakomba” CD & LP

(Redefining Darkness Records)

 

Katakomba is a new band out of Stockholm, Sweden having in the last few years of their existence released an EP and a couple single songs on digital download. They now make the jump from that to a full-length album, which can be a lot for a young inexperienced band formed right out of high school. But let me tell you these Swedes are up to the challenge. The riffs on here are massively heavy, fuzzed out cruelty that batters and crushes you. This is backed superbly with some creative song construction that really kept my interest up; as well underneath the brutality they manage to intertwine sometimes brief yet always infectiously catchy melodies that do not to take away from the heaviness of it all. The growling vocals of Fabian Brodén are killer and inject a certain level of emotion and charisma to the sound that draws me to them and enjoy the hell out of them. Those vocals remind me slightly of Nicke Andersson’s on the classic “Clandestine” album. So speaking of influences I definitely hear some Bloodbath and Dismember with a strong dose of Entombed on here, but the secondary guitar work and some of the songwriting reminds me of old US death metal bands like Possessed, Morbid Angel, and Death. Speaking of that secondary guitar work above, it is in the form of some interesting nice fills and short but smoking solos. There is a cavalcade of guest spots on a few of the songs featuring either vocals or guitar solos from people like Mats Andersson (Skam & Wretched Fate), Adrian Selmani (Non Divine Sun & Wretched Fate), Niklas Sandin (Lik & Katatonia), and Tomas Åkvik (Nale, Lik & Bloodbath). For me this is a strong debut for this young death metal band, a band to keep an eye on in future, until then you should get your mitts on this.  - Dale

https://katakomba-se.bandcamp.com/album/katakomba   http://shop.redefiningdarkness.com     

 

 

KILL DIVISION

“Peace Through Tyranny” MCD & MLP

(Redefining Darkness Records)

 

The bio states Kill Division’s mission statement is to tear down and cut through the elements that divide us as people. It would appear with their album cover this task is focused mainly on America, but I am sure it can apply to other places as well. They make sure to say they oppose both the left and right politically, religion and other areas of society that seek to divide and pit us against one another. The band is made up of some really heavy hitters in the metal scene with members that include the drummer of Megadeth, the guitarist of Gruesome, as well as the former guitarist and vocalist of Malevolent Creation. The final member is interestingly Jeramie Kling on bass, which for those unaware he is the drummer for a number of bands like Goregäng, The Absence, Ex-Dio, Inhuman Condition, Ribspreader and Venom Inc. Okay, my fascination with metal band & scene lineage satisfied, finally on to the music itself which is raging fucking grindcore! The band is clearly big fans and want to keep the traditions going from old grindcore and deathrgrind bands of yore like Terrorizer, ‘90s Napalm Death, Repulsion, Brutal Truth and the like. You can imagine with this line-up of musicians that everything is top shelf from the performance to the execution and songwriting. The vocals courtesy of Kyle Symons (ex-Malevolent Creation, ex-HatePlow) are absolutely commanding, in-your-face and brutish growls that give Vincent with Terrorizer and Barney Greenway a real run for their money. Obviously you will have to love the bands mentioned above, and turn classic deathgrind and grindcore in general to want to get this release. But, if you do fit that bill as a grind devotee then I can not imagine you not having a mental world bending downfall, as you thrash about sending yourself straight into utopia banishment.  - Dale

https://killdivision.bandcamp.com/   http://shop.redefiningdarkness.com/      

 

 

KRIEGSZITTERN

“Kriegszittern” CD

(Chaos Records)

 

This bands name is the German word for Shell Shock, for those curious. I should get this out of the way, despite Kriegszittern only having released one full-length, this is a compilation release that contains said debut album “Yellow Cross”, as well as their recent “Stratofortress” EP plus a few unreleased songs recorded live. The sounds this German horde produce are very much old school death metal, somewhat primitive and convey a feeling of subterranean claustrophobic gloom. The music is generally middle paced, but does fluctuate often into slightly speedier realms, as well as down tempos into doom death territory. The whole thing has this aura to it I love; it reminds me to the atmosphere of the demos and early albums of the almighty Grave. I can definitely hear other influences besides Grave in here though, like strong smatterings of Bolt Thrower, Benediction, Morbid Angel and early Autopsy. The vocals here are great roiling growls and sound like what I imagine a disturbed demon would emanate upwards from deep down in the pits leading to hell itself. The production on the EP is so fucking thick and heavy! The guitars will reverberate in your chest! I love that sound, not that the sound on the album is not great in it’s own way, but damn it does hit you when that “Stratofortress” EP kicks in. The live song recordings sound good and fit in more seamlessly with the studio material than I anticipated it would. Yeah man this is my kind of fucking brutal death metal, the sort that has that old school flavour with an atmosphere of suffocating darkness along with a necrotic audio cocktail of purely sinister pernicious intent.  - Dale

https://kriegszittern.bandcamp.com/    https://chaos-records.bandcamp.com/     

 

 

KUUPYR

"Black Forest Path" CD EP

(Blasphemous Creations Of Hell / Plague Demon Records)

 

Kuupyr is a solo project coming out of the Michigan black metal scene. ‘Black Forest Path’ is the debut demo that was originally self released, but has now gotten a cd release through Plague Demon Recs. and Blasphemous Creations Of Hell. The first track "Black Forest Path" is fast, raging song with extremely fast guitars. The guitars, despite being played at such a lightning fast pace features some well executed patterns. The vocals are raw and grim black metal screams. "Blood Moon Arcana" is up next and continues the aggressive style with hyper speed blast beats. The guitars in this song are played with some blazing and crazed guitars, but there is some calmer mid paced guitar passages later in the song to give it a nice mix. "Taikuus" is the final track and is a little more calm and not as aggressive as the first two songs. But the music is raw and brutal in it's delivery. Musically Kuupyr plays raw and primitive black metal, but main man Oleh knows how to write and create some really devastatingly evil bm music that l for one look forward to hearing more of very soon.  - Patrick

https://bchrecords.storenvy.com/    https://plaguedemonrecords.storenvy.com/        

 

 

LORD MORTVM

“Diabolical Omen Of Hell” CD, LP & MC

(Helter Skelter Prod / Regain Records)

 

Lord Mortvm is a new one man band from Norway and it is an interesting one. When I say new, I mean really new as this full-length is their debut recording and already a record deal. The music on here is heavy dark doom metal with stoner doom touches that is mixed with black metal and occult influenced metal in general. Yes, I know on paper and in theory mixing those genres together should result in an absolute musical train wreck. It is mildly shocking to me that this not only works, but it works really well. I guess in the right hands, with the right vision, and keeping the core roots of each of those genres seems to be the right modus operandi to create something quality. Some of the guitar on here features some fantastic classic doom licks and appetizing guitar fills that won me over. I would say traditional doom metal is the prominent base layer, but the stoner sound and the black metal atmosphere alongside sinister vocals is all well represented in the songwriting. Lord Mortvm is talented at creating an aura of audio darkness while at same time also expressing strong emotive feelings of oppressive sorrow and bleak gloom that is a hallmark of doom metal. I can definitely picture the listener in a dark room with reddish glow from a far off lamp, smoking a joint, chanting an incantation and welcoming Satan’s embrace. ‘Diabolical Omen Of Hell’ for me was a pretty satisfying mental journey that combines some of my favourite sounds, styles and eccentric dark feelings. I would have to recommend this to those who are possessed by the music of bands like Black Sabbath, Pentagram, early Mayhem, old Darkthrone, Electric Wizard, Orange Goblin, St. Vitus and the like.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/lordmortvm    https://regainrecords.bandcamp.com/album/diabolical  

 

 

LVCIFYRE

“The Broken Seal” CD, Gatefold LP & Tape

(Dark Descent Records / Norma Evangelium Diaboli)

 

The shadowy and dangerous sounding Lvcifyre rise once again like dark fog out of the United Kingdom with their third album. This searing dyad is made up of active UG musicians guitarist/bassist/vocalist T. Kaos (Death like Mass, Sodality, ex-Hödur, ex-Sons of Serpent) and drummer Menthor (Bestia Arcana, Death like Mass, Enthroned, Epping Forest, Nightbringer, Voz de Nenhum). According the bio songwriter and main man Tom Kaos, despite some other releases along the way by the band, this album was seven hard fought years in the creation process and ‘the biggest mountain to climb so far’ in his many years as a musician. It is easy in some aspects to describe the bands sounds and in other aspects not so easy. The nucleus can be described as blackened death metal, but there is such a free flowing, spacious yet incredibly suffocating atmosphere and aura to the music. It is sort of like being covered in a huge wet audio blanket, shutting out all light and invoking a feeling of no escape. There is so much space for that gloomy ambiance to float, and wind its emotive self in between the simmering brutality that will suddenly pound you down. The growling vocals are great, they are so murky sounding as they transform and mutate between traditional deep growl, throaty dark whispering, some short expressive yelling outbursts, along with brooding and roiling growls. There are even obscured into the background sung/spoken word bits that remind me a little of something from the bands Root or Acheron “Rites Of The Black Mass” era. The music would not achieve it’s full effect, if those vocals did not possess the scope and range that they do as opposed to just straight up death growls. I am not saying Lvcifyre sound just like these bands, but all the same if you think you would like the idea of a very atmospheric, morose version of the earlier works of bands like Incantation, Morbid Angel, Immolation, Deicide, and some newer ones like Dead Congregation, Funebrarum then I think you will dig the hell out of this album.  - Dale

https://lvcifyre.bandcamp.com/    https://www.noevdia.com/    http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/     

 

 

MALFORMITY

"Monumental Ruin" CD, LP & MC

(Unspeakable Axe Records)

 

There is some interesting history to this Georgia band, and I am a sucker for band history trivia Haha. So Malformity was first birthed unto the UG scene way back in 1991 and released a couple demos over the next four years, before calling it quits. The two main members of the band from the start are Eric Snodgrass (bass & vocals) and Dan Ratanasit (guitar & vocals). Dan kicked around the scene in a couple bands like Amoebic Dysentery and Neuroblast, while Eric was even more active doing time in the bands Disillusioned, Vomit Froth, Eridian and more. Those two pillars of the band decided to revive Malformity in 2014, some twenty years later, bringing in Craig Vogel on drums and Glenn Sykes on guitars. Glenn’s name will likely ring a bell for some, he is a dual citizen of the USA and Sweden, Glenn has a long active history in the UG (going back to the start of the 1990s) in both countries having been in bands like General Surgery, Regurgitate, Coprophilia, Cardiovascular Sub-Hypothermia and more. Sykes himself in some ways reflects the music of this band, as it is a near faultless marriage of old school Floridian death metal and old school Swedish Sunlight death metal. I am big fan of both of those scenes and time periods, but Sweden during those earlier days of the genre for me is the pinnacle for my death metal worship. So it may be of little surprise that I enjoyed this long, long overdue debut album from Malformity. I am sure some newer dm fans will be expecting uber technicality, adventurous progressive song construction and/or all manner of outside of metal influences, and they will disappointed. Because what you do get much to my pleasure is skillfully written, proficiently executed high quality classic early/mid ‘90s death metal that is brutal and memorable. The dual growling from Eric and Dan are both deep, well done and differ just enough in tone to set each apart and play off each other nicely. As mentioned above the music is a wonderful mixing of old Swedish death metal and Floridian style that will have fans of the roots of genre howling and headbanging for more. That is what it did for me. Well done Gents.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/Malformity    https://unspeakableaxerecords.bandcamp.com/        

 

 

MAUL

“Seraphic Punishment” CD & LP

(Redefining Darkness Records)

 

North Dakota’s Maul despite only releasing music since 2018 have already built up quite an impressive arsenal of demos, EPs, splits and even live releases. So, this band has put in the work so to speak, and come up the right way (according to me at least), which wisely sets up the foundation to build their first album ‘Seraphic Punishment’ upon. The vocalist Garrett Alvarado jumped out at me on first listen; he brings it with a strong repertoire of extreme metal vocals styles, from the slightly higher pitched acidic style to various screeches and elongated roiling howls, to an underpinning of great deep sinister growls. Some of the songs have this creepy horror soundtrack type of stirring layer, which is not achieved through wall to wall drenching of synth, which only serves the music better in my opinion and is not the easy cheap way to do it. That sound produces a dark emotive element to their sound, when combined with their heavy riffing and overall brutality makes for a very enjoyable musical collective. Maul does seem to have a knack for creating that aforementioned emotion in a way that builds and crescendos very nicely within their crafty songwriting and pacing. They achieve this quite affecting style often in the middle to slightly faster range yet even manage to deftly mix in doomy elements at times. The more I listen the more guitar fills and nuances become quite satisfying to my ear. I suspect those components along with the underlying horror feel are going to make this album something I continue to return to in the future. Which is actually no mean feat considering how much I adore my old classics, not to mention how much new music I listen to on a monthly basis. I definitely have to highly recommend this to fans of early Incantation, Bolt Thrower, Demilich, Funebrarum, Tomb Mold, Disma, Dead Congregation and the like. You know the stuff I fucking love too. Check this out.  - Dale

https://maul701.bandcamp.com/   http://shop.redefiningdarkness.com/   

 

 

MAULE

“Maule” CD

(Gates of Hell Records)

 

Maule is a new band hailing from the west coast of Canada and after one demo, they now present us their debut full-length album. I have to say one of the first things that struck me was for a new band whose members largely have little to no previous band experience, their level of skill is high and their performance on their instruments shows off a smooth polish usually reserved for veteran musicians. This band writes some extremely lively, catchy heavy metal songs that stick in your head and leave an impression. The singer while he does not hit those crazy siren levels you sometimes see with this old heavy metal style, he has a strong enough range from clean to shouted, to screams with a charismatic sounding voice to really pull off this bands ambitious sound. It is, in my opinion, imperative to properly pull off traditional NWOBHM inspired sound / style that you have to have a really strong vocalist and Maule have found that in guitarist Jakob "Riddle of Steel" Weel. Some of the guitar work on here from the gorgeous fills to the galloping head bobbing riffing to the engrossing way it is all incorporated into the song arrangements. There are many great influences I hear on here, but none more prominent than Iron Maiden. Maybe you would just rather listen to the classic albums of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal than something new. But if you can not get enough of those amazing traditional sounds from the early ‘80s, then I have something here you really need to check out.  - Dale

https://maule.bandcamp.com/    https://www.gatesofhellrecords.com     

 

 

MEDIEVAL DEMON

“Black Coven” CD & LP

(Hells Headbangers Records)

 

I am pretty sure when I reviewed their excellent album a couple years ago (without looking it up) I wrote some version of what I will write now. I was / am a fan of Medieval Demon going way back to when I tape traded for their demos in the mid 1990s. Culminating in me getting their debut album in 1998, after which they suddenly split up and did not return until 15 years later! There is now only three members in the band, two founding members and the other man is a founding / long time member of Rotting Christ. That would be one Jim Mutilator who went back to start of Black Church in 1984, a band who then changed their name to Rotting Christ in 1987. Mutilator with my respect for doing so checked out of R.C. when they decided to sell out and get soft playing goth music. ‘Black Coven’ sees the Demon picking up where the last album left off, by continuing down the path of old school Greek black metal in the vein of the classic bands like Necromantia, early Rotting Christ, early Varathron, Thou Art Lord and that whole line up of classic bands from Greece. I would also throw in some non-Greek bands like Master’s Hammer, Mortuary Drape and Root for good measure stylistically. The music is moody and baleful music that focuses on a freezing black aura and atmosphere with the trademark bombastic flourishes, from time to time. During the tracks “Black Coven” and “Baptismal Blood” you almost have to hear it, to believe what I am about to tell you because I would be highly skeptical without having heard it myself. These tracks actually employ not only haunting piano sequences, but also saxophone and it blows me away how emotionally dark and evil they made the Sax sound on here, somehow it fits in perfectly with this gloomy and sinister record seamlessly. That is saying something for me to like it, a lot actually, as I often fancy myself as a bit of purist with metal sub-genres. The vocals of Sirokous is a strong feature of the band as he strikes with his clear yet raspy ‘n deep charismatic voice, which melts together with a dark obscure sounding hissy / echo-y growl that adds an eerie presence to the bands sound. These old veterans continue to grow their UG legend and keep the old flame burning bright a while longer.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/MedievalDemonOfficial   https://hellsheadbangers.bandcamp.com     

 

 

MEPHISTOFELES

"Violent Theatre” CD, LP & Cassette

(Helter Skelter Productions & Regain Records)

 

Well that album cover caught my attention and made me chuckle right off the hop, which I am sure is exactly what the band was going for. This is Mephistofeles fourth full-length album in addition to a slew of demos, EPs, splits and believe it or not even multiple live albums in their decade plus existence. When you think of Argentina, you probably do not think “Oh this band is probably a classic stoner doom metal band”, but that is precisely what you get and you get it in spades on “Violent Theatre”! It is fuzzed out and has that classic stoner sound and vibe to it, but the serious and sober doom element is strong here. The songs are heavy and rhythmic with an almost a hypnotic ritual vibe at times, yet at times there will be some smoking guitar in the fill-in areas of the song spaces. While listening to this some bands that spring to mind as influences is Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard, Orange Goblin, Cathedral, Sleep and old Pentagram. The vocals follow suit with singer Gabriel Ravera wafting out some classic doom style vocals that probably fall somewhere in the vein of ‘70s era Ozzy & Bobby Liebling crossed with say the vocals of Count Raven or the aforementioned Sleep. It is kind of extra trippy for me hearing this style of music and those vocals with Ravera singing about Satanism and ritual black magic. I love it. I mean hell their previous album is entitled “Satan Sex Ceremonies”, you just gotta love it Haha! Some of the songs are traditional general song of duration of 4-5 minutes, but Mephistofeles do definitely take you on extended mental journeys with a couple songs topping seven and eight minutes. Then the band go full balls deep epic length with the track “Communion Of The Vile”, which hits the 14 minute mark! So strap in, smoke up, turn your cross upside and enjoy the ride through a colorful kaleidoscopic of a musical expedition into evil ecstasy.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/mephistofelesdrone   https://www.helterskelterproductions.se/        

 

 

METALIAN

"Beyond The Wall” CD & LP

(Temple Of Mystery Records)

 

Holy hell! I had heard the name around the scene a bit, but hot damn, how have I not heard any material from this Canadian band up until now? I was very quickly blown away at how high quality and how good Metalian really is!! They are amazing, this is without doubt one of the best heavy metal records I have heard in the last decade probably. I was instantly grabbed and these metal demons refused to let me go, lobotomizing my brain and turning me into a zombie that kept hitting the repeat button again and again. This is classic heavy metal to the maximum! I swear each and every song feels like a future classic to me, it just has that sound and feel, sort of like I had back in the ‘80s when first listening to amazing album after amazing album were pumped out. Their talent on their instruments is strong and their ability to write interesting, memorable songs even out strips their technical ability. It is catchy, hook-y, but also heavy and all the material has this silky smooth flow and timeless quality to it. I am not sure if it is just the mind-numbingly superb soaring vocals of the uber talented Ian Wilson, or just the music, I honestly believe it to be both but they remind me a lot of one of my all-time fave heavy metal bands Grim Reaper. The funny thing is as much as I love Grim Reaper, I am not sure if that band had an album top to bottom this consistently fucking good. Some of the killer guitar work on here will definitely remind you of quintessential Judas Priest and Accept. If you are open to new old heavy metal, so to speak, and worship those old bands I mentioned then you will regret it if you miss out on this record. I have also just now (despite having a couple of their releases already) found out that Temple Of Mystery Records is owned / run by Annick Giroux! I was in touch with her many years ago with her great Morbid Tales fanzine, I think we traded print issues with one another actually. She is also the vocalist in the band Cauchemar, anyways you continue to have great taste in music Annick, keep up the great work with the label my metal sister! Get this right now!!  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/metalianz   https://templeofmystery.bandcamp.com/music        

 

 

MIRROR

“The Day Bastard Leaders Die” CD & LP

(Cruz Del Sur Music)

 

This is the third album from Mirror, a band with an international line-up. This is of particular note for me at least, as the ranks feature a talented musician on bass guitar named Tasos Danazoglou (vocalist of Satan’s Wrath on Metal Blade Recs., drummer of Friends Of Hell on Rise Above Recs. (Lee Dorian from Napalm Death / Cathedral’s label), as well as an ex-member of Electric Wizard)). Yeah I know I do that a lot, but I love band history shit and background as you know. Okay yes onward to the music of Mirror, who play traditional heavy metal of yesteryear in every way. I could see the vocals of Jimmy Mavrommatis being an acquired taste for some as they are painfully early ‘80s, being very high pitched soaring, even siren-like at times. There are enough bands these days playing that early heavy style, but not a lot of them port over that style of vocal along with it. I like those vocals even though there is some infrequent times where they fall short, but I still end up loving them as they have a certain timelessness for me and Jimmy possesses enough natural charisma for me to dig them. The music is very clean and smooth with strong songwriting that is a bit on the simple side yet still nuanced and catchy. They do speed things up from time to time to a galloping pace, a little more of that would be welcome in all honesty, not mention maybe a little more grit and darkness to their sound. Some of that might be due to the production needing a little in that lower end and bite within the mix. Yet the final two tracks “Sleepy Eyes Of Death”, and “The Day Bastard Leaders Die” might argue against my production theory as both songs happily have more of what I am hoping for, so maybe we see more of that going forward with Mirror? But those are minor complaints; the music is very solid, very enjoyable and even a touch infectious at times to boot. This is definitely worth checking out if you love early ‘80s melodious heavy metal.  - Dale

https://stareatthemirrorandweep.bandcamp.com/   https://cruzdelsurmusic.bandcamp.com/      

 

 

MYSTERIA MYSTICA AETERNA

"The Temple Of Eosphoros” CD & LP

(Iron Bonehead Productions)

 

Well I know what Frater Odium (drums) and Frater Noxathra (all other instruments, plus vocals), a duo that make up one half of the band Lunar Chalice were doing during the pandemic lockdowns. They were forming Mysteria Mystica Aeterna together and writing the music for their debut album. This new union seems to have created a strong enough foundation that they have carried the band forward and we are now presented with their follow-up album “The Temple Of Eosphoros”. Mysteria create and play ancient first wave melting into the birth of the second wave black metal. This is a time and style I personally adore. While listening I think immediately to the late ‘80s / early ‘90s first works of bands like Rotting Christ, Necromantia, Mortuary Drape, Varathron, Root, Fulgor, Morningstar, Mystifier, Ancient Rites, and maybe releases like Acheron’s first classic album or the Emperor’s demo. Anyways, I think that laundry list of bands give you an idea of what to expect on this solid release. Which features gloomy and evil middle to slightly uptempo black metal music, backed with a menacing undercurrent of baleful ritualistic synth  that flows like a creeping mist. The vocals are a great obscured mix of a partially clean, partially growled whisper-y voice that compliments the music perfectly and adds an extra cold aura to their sound. If you dig that aforementioned style and the early stages of the bands I listed then you should enjoy this album.   - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/spectralwhisper    https://ironboneheadproductions.bandcamp.com/          

 

 

MUNICIPAL WASTE

"Electrified Brain” CD, 12'' LP & Cassette

(Nuclear Blast Records)

 

Municipal Waste returns with a new album and I am excited for it. I do not follow a lot of thrash crossover over the years, but I do have a handful of favourites and a soft spot for this style. One of those current bands I like is Virginia’s Municipal Waste who have been around for about twenty years, but only got on my radar about five or six years ago. These guys play classic thrashing crossover in the grand tradition and tear things up with short burst songs that are all speed, adrenaline with ripping riffs and high velocity drumming. Like all good crossover they also write catchy songs that make you headbang and want to sing-a-long with the memorable lyrics, and even the odd gang sung chorus. The vocalist is great his voice and vocals are a mix of Kurt from DRI, Bill Crooks from Cryptic Slaughter, and John Connelly of Nuclear Assault. You will find those same bands showing up as musical influences too; in addition to a couple other bands that come to mind like Gang Green, early C.O.C. Plus some more recent bands like Toxic Holocaust and Power Trip. If you love archetypal traditional crossover thrash then Municipal Waste is for you my friends.  - Dale

https://www.municipalwaste.net/   https://shop.nuclearblast.com/       

 

 

NATTVERD

“Vandring" CD & LP

(Osmose Productions)

 

Norway's Nattverd return with a brand new release continuing the rich traditional Norse black metal style that was they have become known for over the last decade. But on “Vandring” the band seems to incorporate some cryptically epic and atmospheric elements into the music this time around. The musicians still keep the music in the traditional cold and hateful realm, but do add more melody and again epic flowing elements into their songwriting. The vocals are grim black metal screams and screeches that are spat out with a powerful delivery; the vocalist uses some deeper gruff growls and screeches in a few of the songs. The musicians never really slow down too much even when the music goes more to the atmospheric areas of their sound which I like. It seemed a lot of bands in the early 00's dropped the cold black metal style, and went all atmospheric and lame. But that is not the case here. Nattverd have incorporated both styles into their grim music to forge a great release that is recommended to fans of quality black metal.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/nattverdofficial/    https://osmoseproductions.bandcamp.com/     

 

 

NECROM

"Paths Are Left Here...” CD & LP

(Osmose Productions)

 

I normally never touch on anything political with Canadian Assault. But while listening to this bands debut album, who hails from Kharkiv, Ukraine it is hard not to think of their country being invaded by the filthy dictator Putin and his war criminal regime. This should be a happy and proud time for this band and instead for all I know they have weapons in their hands as I write this fighting to defend their homeland and fighting for all democracy around the world. The province of Alberta in Canada I grew up in for the first 23 years of my life has a very large Ukranian population, some of which have traveled to Ukraine to fight alongside. I have included a picture above of the Canadian Brigade badge that are now fighting over there. Okay I got that out of my system I think let’s move on to the bands music. Necrom is a relatively young band having formed in 2018 and only previously released an EP in 2019, they now are able to present their debut album. When I say young band it is a bit misleading, as the members have currently or in the past done time in many bands over the years. That list includes guitarist Knjaz Varggoth who was in the death metal band Suppuration who released a demo tape way back in 1992 (!!), which eventually changed the bands name to the well known Nokturnal Mortem. The music on this record is high energy brutal death metal which forcefully shreds everything in it’s path. It is old school death metal and while I hear various influences from the US and across Europe, possibly the strongest influence sounds to me is drawn from Sweden with the earlier works of bands like Entombed, Dismember and Grave. There is a level of melodicism mixed into the crushing brutality, just enough to make things interesting and keep anything from getting stale. Something else that is quite evident is the presence of well thought out songwriting on here, showcasing a talent for emotive builds and crescendos that pay off in a very satisfying way. I did not yet even really touch much on the killer guitar fills and rapid guitar solos, not to mention the commanding and powerful growling from vocalist Andrii Verovkin but suffice to say they damn good too. Hail Ukraine!  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/necromofficial/   https://www.osmoseproductions.com/       

 

 

NECROMANTICAL INVOCATION

"Dogme el Rituel de la Haute Magie” CD & LP

(Helter Skelter / Regain Records)

 

This is a one man band from Greece, and that one man is Echetleos (Caedes Cruenta, Ithaqua, Kawir, Opus Magorum, Walpurgia plus more) who is obviously a well known figure in the UG scene. This is the bands debut release and I believe this was first released as a demo on cassette, and now Helter Skelter & Regain Records have combined to release this on disc and vinyl. The music on here is total old school first wave style black metal, slower to middle paced, very atmospheric music that just bleeds audio darkness in a chilling yet hypnotic and ritualistic fashion. Some influences I hear are Necromantia, Varathron, Mortuary Drape, early Grand Belial’s Key, early Ancient Rites, and even King Diamond (especially on the epic fifteen minute title track) believe it or not. There is absolutely no getting around the Necromantia influence comparison on the ten plus minute song “Necromantical Ritual”, none, I mean this track sounds like a long lost and unreleased Necromantia recording from the early to mid ‘90s. So is that a problem for me? Absolutely not I fucking worship old Necromantia and that style, it is amazing, well done and captures that sound and spirit so completely, it is both frightening and invigorating for me to listen to. Necromantical Invocation most definitely keep the classic Greek bm traditions alive here. Both epic length songs are wrapped around with an intro / outro combination, and both sound quite different from one another, which I suppose could be a positive or negative depending upon your tastes. I really hope we hear more from this one man band in the not too distant future.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/necromanticalinvocation    https://regainrecords.bandcamp.com/       

 

 

NECROPHAGOUS

“In Chaos Ascend” CD & LP

(Transcending Obscurity Records)

 

This new Swedish band is a trio that includes Tommy Carlsson on Vocals & Guitar, Jocke Svensson (Birdflesh & Skogen) on bass and Martin Michaelsson on drums. As well these men have history together from the long running band Entrails; all three were in that band and seem to have all left at the same time, possibly to form Necrophagous for all I know. Something else they all have in common I would say is they are fans of old school American death metal, primarily from the early to mid nineteen nineties period of this magnificent genre. Some band influences surely are Suffocation, Morbid Angel, Dying Fetus, Immolation, Cannibal Corpse, Broken Hope, Malevolent Creation, Deicide and the like. They keep this traditional sound alive and well here with this record. The music is fucking brutal with those chunky guitars and riffs, which vary from pure pulsating pummel to adroit speed with some tasty little rhythms to add some spice. The drumming is commanding and powerful, keeping that backbone strong with some help from bassist Jocke. Tommy Carlsson nails those old traditional US death metal growling vocals with a demonic cadence nicely, it sounds like he is ripping his throat to shreds in the process. Yes, it is some retro worship, but everyone has their influences they are passionate about and some wear it on their sleeves more often than not. But when this traditional style is done this well and gets me headbanging like ‘In Chaos Ascend’ has managed to do, I am all about it.  - Dale

https://necrophagous.bandcamp.com/    https://transcendingUSmerch.com/    https://tometal.com/   

 

 

NEFARIOUS DUSK

“Nefarious Dusk” CD, LP & MC

(Purity Through Fire)

 

Hrafn is the mastermind behind the great Nefarious Dusk who release their self-titled second album through the well respected label Purity Through Fire. Hrafn is one very busy and productive man in the British UG scene as he is also in the bands Helvellyn, Morte Lune, Skiddaw, Thy Dying Light, Torver, Úlfarr and more past and present! I wasn't fortunate to hear the debut release, but this self-titled release consists of ten tracks of cold hateful black metal intensity. The music is delivered with a mix of extremely fast passages and some slower mid paced patterns that are done with skill and a great writing ability. There is also an epic flowing quality to the music despite being so frosty and bitter at the same time. The vocals are delivered with raw raspy black metal screams and screeches. If you are looking for a release that is uncompromising black metal then do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of the self-titled release today.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/nduk666    https://www.facebook.com/Purity-Through-Fire      

 

 

NEKCRIUM

“Black Metal Hordes” CD

(Plague Demon Records / Blasphemous Creations Of Hell Records)

 

‘Black Metal Hordes’ is the debut release from California's Nekcrium, which is a re-release of their debut (and only) album that was released over a decade ago with an extremely limited release. As you can see above this is a joint release through Plague Demon and Blasphemous Creations Of Hell, both American labels from the high north and the deep south. The band plays a brand of grim and unrelenting black metal similar to the mid 1990's elder gods of the bm scene. Each musician on this album knows how to create and write some good music with their own individual instrument; for the most part the music is played with raw and fast passages. The vocals are raw black metal screams and some deeper gruff screams are also used throughout a few of the songs. If you are a fan of well delivered and performed traditional black metal then be sure to pick up a copy of this forgotten and under appreciated release.  - Patrick

https://plaguedemonrecords.bandcamp.com/    https://bchrecords.storenvy.com/     

 

 

NEKROMANTHEON

“Visions Of Trismegistos" CD, LP & Cassette

(Hells Headbangers / Indie Records)

 

After a nine year slumber Norway's old school thrash maniacs Nekromantheon return with a brand new release. Some of the members have been active in the meantime as members of great bands like Obliteration, Black Viper, Flight and Audiopain. ‘Visions Of Trismegistos’ is the bands third full-length release in the last eleven years and features eight songs of intense and ferocious thrash metal mayhem. The guitars are played with skill and extremely aggressive guitar patterns and riffs. For the most part the guitars are played with insane and chaotic speed passages, but the guitarist does write some slower memorable passages even adding in some well written solo's. The vocals are traditional thrash metal screams that are delivered with tremendous power and intensity. If you are looking for a band that brings it with relentless old school  thrash metal then look no further then Nekromantheon.  - Patrick

https://nekromantheon.bandcamp    https://indierecordings.no/    http://www.hellsheadbangers.com/      

 

 

NOCTAMBULIST

"The Barren Form" CD, LP & MC

(Willowtip Records)

 

Creeping on up from the densely forested pits of Denver, Colorado is Noctambulist with their sophomore album and first on the excellent Willowtip Records. The individual members have been kicking around the Colorado scene for quite some time, doing time currently or previously in bands like Nicaraguan Death Squad, Cordyceps, Despise The Sun, Burn The Fleet, Twatrot, Expurgate and more. They play blackened and brutal semi-technical death metal with a high degree of polished musicianship. Their style is interesting despite them always keep things dark and very brutal, there are also numerous sequences smoothly mixed in that are very depressive, moody and brooding. Which when combined tends to create an intriguing, discordant emotive misery blend that is quite striking and appealing to me. The vocals of Sean McConnell are excellent deep growls that expand and contract expressing a lot of anger and rage, but also manage to mimic the depths of despair you can feel from the music. It is this strange alluring yet also disturbing mix of fury and despondency. It took me a few listens before this album went from a dark death metal album to something deeper than that as the top layers peeled back for me. I have not heard their debut album, but this second offering is something to behold if you are brave enough to really embrace it’s joy draining grasp.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/noctambulist303    https://willowtip.bandcamp.com/       

 

 

NUNSLAUGHTER

“Red Is The Color Of Ripping Death” CD, LP & Tape

(Hells Headbangers Records)

 

Unholy shit Nunslaughter return with their first full-length album in ages! I am so, so damn stoked for this thing. I am tempted to write an entire essay on how great the sadly departed drummer Jim Sadist is, who I was lucky enough to get to know a bit personally and even hang out with, but I will try to refrain. I will instead quote the bio who sum things up well in a briefer manner than I could “…at long last, the band's first album in seven years. Many are still mourning the loss of legendary drummer Jim Sadist (RIP), and while Red is the Color of Ripping Death is their first full-length without him playing on it, some of the 14 songs contained herein are unfinished / unrealized music that Jim and founding frontman Don of the Dead wrote years ago”. So, the patented black blood sadistic death metal the band is revered for is alive and well, surging and roiling along in classic fashion and this particular devotee of the band is exceptionally jubilant about it all. It also conjures up so many good memories connected to this band and it’s music. Don’s pipes are in fine form as his wonderfully gurgling and acidic growls, screams and howls creep into my ears and into my body into through violent headbanging gyrations. New or at least recently (you know you are an old goat when call 5 years new Haha) drafted drummer Wrath has a tighter, more technically precise style that is forceful and powerful. It definitely contrasts to an extent with Jim Sadists drumming that had more of, for lack of a better term organic and natural feeling, where the spirit of the music seemed flow through his sticks. While I do prefer Jim’s style a little more, the drumming here still kicks some ass and conveys the diabolic character of the music more than well enough. While there is little doubt in my mind during his 20 years in the band that Jim Sadist put his stamp heavily on Nunslaughter and indelibly changed and improved the music of the band, it is equally true that the true essence and heart of the band is Don of The Dead, who was there from the formation of this band nearly 35 (!!!) years ago. No matter whom Don recruits to join his blasphemic musical horde, it will always be Nunslaughter and it will always be truly great, uncompromising and evil metal of death, devil metal to the fucking core!  - Dale

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