"Pentagrammaton” Double CD, Double LP & MC

(Shadow Records & Regain Records)


The Swedish Ofermod debuted in the UG scene with an explosive and refined seven inch EP way back in 1998. This piece of vinyl really made ripples in the scene, so revered that this two song EP has been re-released on disc, vinyl and cassette no less than seven more times over the years. So it was surely puzzling to some, as to why it took no less than 10 years for their next release, a full-length album to finally surface. The answer to that is main man Michayah Belfagor, was in and out of prison for the next 12 years after the release of that EP. So, in between these stays in prison (for things like assault, robbery etc…) in 2005 word got around that Ofermod was working on and recording their debut album, but it never came out and Michayah went back to prison for a couple years with that recording never surfaced all of these years… That is until now, some 15 years later, that rumoured (and thought to be long lost) debut record now see’s the light of day and dark of night under the title ‘Pentagrammaton’. The album actually sounds great too, having just recently listened to the ’98 EP, this long player picks up right where that release left off even though it recorded so long afterwards. It is still the same high quality evil and hateful black metal with an undercurrent of dark death metal. This is listed as a double album, but the total runtime, for those interested is about 45 minutes long. It is interesting that Moloch from the Spanish band Teitanblood does vocals on the first half of the album, and Michayah Belfagor himself does vocals on the second half of the material. They both sound good to mine ears, strong and sadistically sinister black metal rasping with a growling whisper. I mean I can hear slight differences in cadence and tone, but if I was not trying pay close attention I would not have picked up that it was two different vocalists. It is cool that Shadow Records (run by Marcus Tena as of the band Triumphator) decided to dust off this no longer mythical recording and for me at least it does not disappoint.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/OfermodOfficial    https://www.shadowrecords.se/       




"Novus Lux Dominus” CD, LP & Tape

(The Sinister Flame)


Orthodoxy create an all encompassing, nearly impenetrable and thoroughly suffocating atmosphere with their brand of brutal, somewhat doomy death metal magic. This is one impressive debut album from this Spanish band, though do not let that fool you, as the band may be relatively new, but the members are veterans of the scene and come from past or current bands like Obscure, Domains, Profundus Tenebrarum, Whoredom, Pestkraft etc… This is pure traditional death metal, you will not find pretty melodies here, nor adventurous progressive song structuring or diverse cross sub-genre pollination – no this pure crushing fucking metal of death! The riffing on here is wonderfully repugnant and pulverizing, unrelenting yet doomy and the drumming is really powerful and precise. The vocals are enjoyable deep, acrimonious boiling growls that pour across the music like a river of black blood, complimenting perfectly the superbly evil smothering atmosphere of the music. I could definitely see fans of the classic death metal bands with doomy touches like early Incantation, Funebrarum, Morpheus Descends, early Sinister, early Immolation, Asphyx and Cianide etc… I am loving the hell out of Orthodoxy’s “Novus Lux Dominus”.  - Dale

https://orthodoxy.bandcamp.com/    http://www.thesinisterflame.com/      




"Voices Rooted In Blood” CD & LP

(Signal Rex)


This release for me personally is my introduction to this Finnish black metal collective. Which has been around for a decade now, and this is a good introduction to the band as it is a compilation album consisting of their demo, two EPs, a split EP and an unreleased track. The demo and EPs, span from the bands beginning in 2010 to an EP from 2018; so a pretty full look at their progression to date (no full length albums as of yet). Honestly, I could feel the development from the first song to the second; from the same debut demo as the band seems to have quickly found the footing of their sound. Which has a strong second wave black metal base, but they do like to slow things down by adding some gloomy epic atmospheres (to the point of sounding creepy King Diamond-ish in some moments) to the arctic aggression. They also keep some of their riffing a little heavier with a wee bit of gritty chug, compared to a lot of bm bands in this style. Pantheon do seem to have some skill and feel in the song building area on when to transition between these sounds and do so smoothly. The fifth track off of their split EP (with Creatura) sees them stretching their reach again by adding new elements to their guitar style and a dark death metal style growl on top of their usual raw, caustic rasping seen from the band so far. The final four songs from their newest EP “Pugatorial Awakening” sees them taking that raw, catchy riffing and streamlining it a little, the second wave bm influence is still vaguely present, though fading a little into the woodwork with the band focusing more on the emotive atmospheric tones and haunting melody. I have to be honest, I find myself starting to miss some of the rough, cruel more evil edge of the earlier material. I feel like the synth and harmonies are taking over a little too much, for my liking personally, so I would pass on this one myself. But, maybe that is more your cup of tea? Either way, this is a release for the completist Pantheon fans and/or certainly a good way to thoroughly introduce yourself to this band if they have piqued your curiosity at some point.  - Dale

https://pantheonofblood.bandcamp.com/    https://signalrex.bandcamp.com/          




"Sacraments Of Desolation” CD, LP & Cassette

(Hells Headbangers Records)


Gene Palubicki (Blasphemic Cruelty, ex-Angelcorpse) is the mastermind behind this band that was started back in 2009. ‘Sacraments Of Desolation’ is the bands third full-length, which contains eight songs of uncompromising and intense blackened death metal at it's best. The guitars are played with both an abundance of skill and the experience behind it showing through. The guitarist does write some well executed guitar passages, even adding some well accomplished guitar solo's. The drums are played at a hyper fast speed with some very well executed drum patterns. The drummer does slow to a more mid paced range in a few of the tracks, before going back to the non stop explosive blast beats. The vocals are grim death metal growls with some gruff growls and screams used in some of the songs. If you are familiar with Perdition Temple’s past work, and liked it, then do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this new album you will not be disappointed.  - Patrick

https://perditiontemple.bandcamp.com/    http://www.hellsheadbangers.com/          




"Portraits Of Mind” CD

(Redefining Darkness Recs (N.America) | Nuclear Winter Recs (Europe))


Make no mistake, this band of ghouls from Greece have a deep affinity for very late ‘80s and early ‘90s Floridian death metal, and on “Portraits Of Mind” it shows big time. I always find it interesting when overseas bands adopt an American style of music. There is, much like the earlier Death albums a classy, very musical guitar solo in every song, generally worked in skillfully and seamlessly. As tasteful as those solos are, and yes, as catchy and melodious as some of the riffing is on here, they do try hard to strike a balance of making sure heaviness and brutality remain a prime foundation of this record. I say that, while admittedly still finding myself every now and again saying no turn up the brutality and not the other way around hehe. That is how I am wired. Plague also, especially in the second half of the record slow things down a bit and focus a little more dark, moody tones creating a bit of a somber atmosphere at times. The vocals I enjoyed, as they are kind of obscure sounding whispery dm growls with fluctuating aggression and dark brooding pitch and tenor when the music calls for it. There is a strong melodious aspect to possibly attract some melodo death fans, but by and large, this album should really satisfy die hards of the old Floridian death metal scene and we know there are many of those out there.  - Dale

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




"Schöpfungswut” CD & LP

(Soulseller Records)


Porta Nigra are a German black metal band who will return in 2020 with their third full length release. “Schöpfungswut” is six songs of well crafted and composed music, which is rooted in Avant-Garde black metal, but does add some of the bands own musical style to the sound. The guitars are played with a high caliber of skill and experience through past bands and Porta Nigra’s near decade of existence serves them well here. The music goes from a fast pace to a more controlled mid paced guitar style that fits the musical style perfectly. The guitarist does perform some memorable guitar passages into each of the songs on here. The vocals are a mix of death metal growls and some black metal screams that are used throughout the release. I am not the biggest fan of Avant-Garde black metal music fan, but Porta Nigra has crafted a memorable and quality album here.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/PortaNigraBand    http://www.soulsellerrecords.com/      




"Dawn Of Reintoxication" CD & LP

(Soulseller Records)


After some seven years since their last album, this filthy drunken horde have once again crawled up out of the grimy sewers surrounding Stockholm Sweden, much like the old classic horror film C.H.U.D. to terrorize the city and worldwide UG scene beyond! Their audio pestilence is in fine form on “Dawn Of Reintoxication”, producing some truly dark and depraved music. Their brand of crushing death metal lovingly pays tribute to great bands from their homeland and from the United States. The bands I speak of are the early works of their Swedish brothers like Carnage, Dismember, Grave, Nihilist / Entombed mixed US bands like Repulsion, Impetigo, Eat My Fuk and especially the almighty Autopsy / Abscess. The lyrics and general concept of this band are wonderfully depraved and severely perverted, one only needs to look at the bands cover art and visuals for evidence. That is not to even mention the wonderful song titles such as “Vodka Til the Grave” & “Repulsive Erected and Anally Infected” Hahaha! The vocals on here remind me again of a mix of Matti Kärki of Dismember and Chris Reifert of Autopsy and the combination is pretty glorious, I must say. I enjoyed the hell out of this album, I am a little biased towards their sound as any long time reader will know, the early ‘90s Swedish death metal bands and style is my fave brand of death metal and Autopsy are one of my all-time fave bands from this period in the history of all metal music. If you agree and share that opinion then you need to get this thing right now dirtbag!  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/Repuked    https://soulsellerrecords.bandcamp.com/         




"The Brocken Fires” MCD & 12” MLP

(Iron Bonehead Records)


This release was originally put out last year on cassette only (limited to 100 copies) and now, cult label Iron Bonehead has picked it up for release on disc and vinyl. It may be a new band, but the members are old goat veterans of the UG metal scene in the form of Ustumallagum (from the old legend band Denial Of God from Denmark) and A.th (of Italian Occultic doom master Black Oath), who seem to be the driving forces behind the band that also includes drummer P. Guts (from the bands Krossburst & Necro). The music has a very ancient old school black metal feel, like it was before the second wave with Scandinavian bm style. This is first wave black metal with strong and mighty undercurrents of doom swirling through the music in between the more speedy and evil yet catchy back bone of their sound. The bio names some of the bands influences as Mercyful Fate, Death SS, Samael, Celtic Frost, Goatlord and Ripper. I can hear bits of all of those, but especially the Goatlord, Celtic Frost, Death SS and old Samael influences – so I will add a few of my own that I heard similarities to, such as the demos of Dream Death, plus a little sprinkle of Bulldozer and Mortuary Drape. Ustumallagam vocals are a sinister rasp that is very clearly annunciated and so it is easy to understand the lyrics, but that voice and rasp are coated in a dark and acidic undertone of a vocal equivalent of a continuously rotating saw that is cutting through bloody soft tissue and bone. For me, this is one of Ustumallagum’s finest vocal performances, which is saying a lot considering his extensive, quality work over these many (only about 30!!) years of spewing his deadly audio venom. I have even been around this scene long enough to remember his work in Gigum Xul, when that was first released. Speaking of the man…Did I ever tell you about that time, a couple decades ago, when Ustumallagum sent me a print fanzine trade package that included bloody animal teeth with bits of flesh and hairs attached? He really did, but never mind, that is probably a story for another time, so until then get this great fucking release right now! Expect their debut album around the end of the year – hell yes!!  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/The-Rite-band-page-219647875291113    https://ironbonehead.de       




"Morbid Realms” CD & LP

(Redefining Darkness Recs (N.America) | Testimony Recs (Europe))


Sentient Horror are from New Jersey and this trio’s individual members have been around for a minute in the UG scene currently or previously in bands like Dark Sacrament, Angmar, Sentience, Dark Empire and Beneath The Red Dawn. Not to even mention this is the bands sophomore release, having their debut and a couple EP’s already under their belt. The band from time to time like to just sit down on a catchy riff and just rock out with it, but never really for long enough that I would throw the melododeath or death ‘n roll tag on them. No the band sticks to the raw brutality and scathing nature of this great sub-genre of metal. There is a guitar solo in pretty much every song, not entirely uncommon in brutal death metal but close enough to it, but well done here. Again, like the melody injected in their music, it is not prominent and this element (solos) are mixed in in a way that compliments the mainstay extremity of their musical foundation. The vocals on here remind me a little to one of my fave dm vocalists of all time which is Dave Ingram of Benediction (who apparently after a decade away has just rejoined Benediction! Fuck yes!!), ex-Bolt Thrower and various other bands, which is never a bad comparison to have in my personal book. I am guessing this New Jersey band is pretty killer in a live setting, I do not get to live shows much any more, but this is one band I would I think I would dig live. I suppose this is where I could put the disclaimer that I am a fanatic for the Sunlight ‘90s sound and style of death, and can just never seem to get enough of. So if you are not that into that style you might not love this as much as me, but fuck who cares when a tried and true old sound is done this well, this skillfully?! Not me, this is some sexy old school Swedish brutal death metal madness! Oh, one last thing before I go, the cover artwork is amazing.  - Dale

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




"The Forbidden Arts" CD & LP

(Hells Headbangers Records)


I know this is the bands third album, but it is regrettably my first time hearing them. Shed The Skin play probably my favourite brand of death metal. I mean I am absolute fanatic of bands that blend the early to mid ‘90s Swedish death metal sound and style together with some of my all time fave American death metal bands from the late ‘80s / early 1990s. A couple bands I have in mind on the US side are early Autopsy and Repulsion (which to be fair especially with Repulsion were a big influence on the Sunlight Swedish style), and from the Swedish side some bands that come to mind are the demos and early albums of bands like Grave, Entombed, Carnage and Dismember. This band is made up of UG scene legends and long time grizzled vets that are or have been in bands like Incantation, Acheron, Crucified Mortals, Ringworm, Beyond Fear, Eustuary Of Calamity and many more. As you can imagine with that sort of talent and experience that everything on this album, from top to bottom, is top level quality. The songs are memorable, possessing a nice mix of melody and heavy as hell death metal brutality with some doomy undercurrents. They slow things down from time to time (a brief respite from the speed & brutality), steeping these sections with a brooding and gloomy atmosphere, a good example of this is the killer song “Veins Of Perdition”. They really vary the song structuring with a mind to keeping the listener engaged, and some of the guitar work with regards to the fills and succinct solos are pure gold and really resonate with me. The drumming on here is beyond reproach with a dynamic and powerful performance put in by Kyle Severn. This style of death metal, for me, needs to have quality, compelling and commanding deep death metal vocals and Ash Thomas brings that in spades! This album comes highly recommended from me.  - Dale

https://shed-the-skin.bandcamp.com/    http://www.hellsheadbangers.com/         




"Times Of Obscene Evil And Wild Daring” CD

(Cruz Del Sur Music)


At this point I have listened to this album so many times now; I got the album a while ago and listened to it many times, then I received a kind of a late arriving promo disc for this album some months later. So, it gives me an excuse to re-visit and promote this album and gladly so for me, as I am a fan of the record. Smoulder perform and produce old school heavy metal doom that is very traditionally composed, skillfully building a very emotionally affecting aura wrapped around their sound, which I enjoy the hell out of. There is some very tasteful yet subtle guitar work on this album that keeps that traditional heavy metal moving along slowly, but steadily and smoothly like a small and forceful creek washing over the listener like a warm mournful audio blanket. I absolutely adore the way vocalist Sarah Ann (who I knew of from Banger TV on youtube where she does a solid job as a reviewer and she is from the same province of Alberta in Canada and general area I grew up) enunciates certain words as she sings, emphasizing or elongating certain syllables, giving the words a distinctly different and cool feel, as opposed to just vocalizing them all in the normal and expected way. This helps give the vocals, killer lyrics and the music itself, as a trickle down effect more character and makes certain areas of songs I enjoy just stand out for me that much more. The main creative force behind this band seems to be guitarist Shon Vincent and vocalist Sarah Ann, but this is/was not entirely a Canadian band or production, as the duo recruited a couple American members and I believe this was actually recorded in a studio in Chicago. So, that must have been an interesting process to sort out, but the final result is very cohesive and resulted in one hell of a debut album. Fans of quality archetypical heavy doom metal style along the lines of Spirit Caravan, Solitude Aeternus, Candlemass, Reverend Bizarre will be sure to dig this record. Check it out ASAP!  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/SmoulderDoom    https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/         




"Purging Sacred Soils” CD, LP & Cassette

(Purity Through Fire)


Slagmark are a new black metal band coming out of Germany with their debut full-length. It may be a new band, but their line-up features members of Sarkrista and Totenwache. The music is laced with raw and grim black metal influences. But do not be fooled, as the musicians can write and execute some well written and performed skillful melodic patterns within that framework. For the most part the music is rooted in the mid 90's black metal style, but the band do add those aforementioned, slower more melodic black metal fluid passages, which fit the bands musical direction better than you might think reading my description. As fierce and fast as most of the music is, they do mix in accents of some slower, somber melodic passages, which add a wider depth to their overall sound. If you are looking for a new band that combines extremely fast black metal aggression with some measured melodic passages then be sure to pick up a copy of ‘Purging Sacred Soils’, it is worthy of your attention.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/Purity-Through-Fire    https://shop.purity-through-fire.com       




"Spectral Devastation” CD & LP

(Gates Of Hell Records)


After releasing a demo and an EP last year, Washington's Solicitor have inked a deal with Gates Of Hell to release their debut full length. ‘Spectral Devastation’ contains eight songs of well crafted and composed intense speed metal, along side some elements of heavy metal influence sprinkled in. The guitars are played with a lot of skill and memorable passages. The guitars are played with extremely fast patterns, but do slow to a heavier and slower pace throughout a few of the songs on here. The drums are played in the same vein with some crazed drum arrangements. The drummer can, and does, write some slower more mid paced drum parts that fit the band's music perfectly. The vocals are a mix of well sung traditional heavy metal vocals and some screams that are done with a lot of powerful and energy. If you are looking for a new band that plays a very impressive style of speed metal then do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of ‘Spectral Devastation’ straight away.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/solicitor.speedmetal/    http://www.gatesofhellrecords.com/       




Package Round Up

(Soulgrinder 'zine & Xibalba / Seol Productions)


Mithlond "Death for Those Who Worship" CD (Xibalba Productions & Seol Productions) Hailing from New Jersey is this depressive, ambient black metal band. Despite there of course being keyboards on here, Mithlond do not rely on them heavily like a crutch, no they bring out a lot of their eerie and despondent evil sounds through a lot of traditional instrumentation (i.e. guitars, bass, drums). The vocals are a series of obscure echo-y whispers, yells, rasps and anguished screams kept buried within the music never really standing out, melting in and out to help create that foreboding, gloomy feel. The playing at times is a little loose, the recording a little raw (intentionally so I think and I like it), but both help to make a more richly organic sound by my ear. It took me a few listens to really get into this, to grasp what this trio of demons is going for here. But once I did I grew to enjoy it’s malevolent, morose vibe more and more with each successive listen.

Soulgrinder Zine “Assault Volume 3” Compilation CD The new volume of this great fanzines compilation series is now out and in my mitts. Much like the ‘zine itself, this features a fairly even mix of South American and American bands. This volume leans heavily on thrash bands, alongside a few death / black / heavy metal & crossover outfits too. A listing of the bands on this 21 song disc are Krusifire, Cruel Bomb, Necropsya, Natthammer, Morbid Cross, Sepulcro, Shark Bullet, Vulture, Concussion, Sylent Storm, Final Judgment, Extinger, Deicidios, Murder Method, Hyena, Father of Sin plus more. This is a killer comp with quality bands and packaging including a booklet with all the bands. Get it ASAP!

Soulgrinder ‘Zine “Deadly Mosh Revenge” 6 Way Split CD This is called a split, but it is just one song from every band, which makes it feel a little more like a compilation to me, but that is just me I guess if it had multiple songs it would feel more like a split. Maybe Paul took his fave songs he had had earmarked for the compilation above and decided to feature them on more of a showcased release? The six bands on here are Fatal Agent (USA), The Donner Party (USA), Distruptor (Peru), Dick Vomit (USA), Paralysis (USA) and Azotador (Bolivia). All the bands play thrash metal, and honestly I thought every song on here, at least in my view is truly good to great. There is a lot of energy in each song and great headbanging / thrashing songs with lots of old school feel and attitude. The lyrics to Evil Dead’s “Tree Rape” scene are pretty hilarious with awesomely delivered vocals. Just like the packaging on his compilation everything is top notch, also comes with a booklet (full colour this time) and looks great. Please support Paul (Soulgrinder main man), who is an ultra dedicated UG metal supporter that deserves more recognition for all he does.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/soulgrinder.zine/    http://soulgrinderzine.blogspot.com/  

https://mithlond.bandcamp.com/    https://www.facebook.com/Mithlondband/  




"Neoconception" CD & LP

(The Artisan Era)


This record is Spectrum Of Delusion’s (featuring members of Cadaverous and Hyperconvolutor) sophomore album and my first time encountering this Dutch band. This appears to be a full concept record lyrically, and musically obviously, which seems to follow a planet that has a cataclysmic planet shattering extinction event and the gradual rebuilding of said planet into something new out of the old world over a countless number of years. The story is told through the lyrics sung with a cool myriad of deep death growling that I found enjoyable. There is also series of daisy chain, what I thought were possibly samples from a movie, but come to find out are apparently all clips done by voice actors depicting news reports and other story telling elements for added dramatic effect. I like the amount of these clips used, it is just enough to add flesh to the story and depth to the emotional elements of the music, but the band did not fall into the trap of over using this device. The band plays brutal death metal that is both intricate and bludgeoning at the same time. There are enough roots and foundation building blocks in Spectrum Of Delusion’s sound to please fans of old school brutal death metal. While at the same time there is plenty of innovation and progressive modern construction sensibilities within the bands songwriting to satisfy devotee’s of current forward-looking death metal modern approach. The bands music is also extremely technical and that should appeal to fans of bands like Spawn Of Possession, Death (later days of the band), Xythlia, Theory In Practice, Suffocation, Obscura and the like. Spectrum Of Delusion have been labouring on “Neoconception” for four years and it shows in the level of intricacy, conceptual connection of lyrics and music in a close marriage of vibrant technicality and ruthless brutality that stays true to their musical vision and roots. This is well worth your attention.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/SpectrumofDelusion    https://theartisanera.bandcamp.com/       




"Part Of A Sick World" CD & Tape

(Metalville Records)


I think this is my first review of a Metalville Records release. The label interestingly, to me at least, happens to be owned and ran by Holger Koch (manager of Doro Pesch) and Chris Boltendahl (vocalist / songwriter of the mighty metal legends Grave Digger!). This is also my first encounter with Surgical Strike who play a high octane brand of power metal and thrash, which is decidedly polished precise, both in performance and album production. It is impressive how seamlessly they meld those power and thrash metal influences together, it just switches back and forth with perfect flow like two large creeks converging into one smooth river current. The guitar playing on here is superb, whether it is the briskly paced melodic heavy chug or the lightning blitz of the aggressive thrash riffing it is sure to induce headbanging and sore necks. Surgical Strike also has an infectious, fuck you sort of raucous attitude that comes through their music and lyrics including includes some memorable choruses and gang sung sections. The vocalist Jens Albert, while singing in English throughout does not really try to totally lose his accent, as many Euro bands heavy metal and thrash bands do. So, I suppose that might be an acquired taste for some, but for me it is totally fine and he is a pretty killer singer for this style. I think “Part Of A Sick World” can be recommended to old school (late ‘80s, early ‘90s era) heavy metal / thrash fans, who do not mind a bit of a modern coating on their classic metal and an ultra clean (possibly too clean?) production job.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/surgicalstrikemetal    http://www.metalville.de          




"Shame Is Just A Word” CD

(Soulseller Records)


Norway’s Svarttjern return with, is it already their 5th album?! The band was originally formed by brothers HaaN and Hansfyrste, including HaaN there is now 3 members of Carpathian Forest in this band. Interesting album title aside, Svarttjern play what is these days a razor sharpened, battle tested style of hateful and vigorous thrashing black metal that can get you headbanging pretty hard. They keep their audio damnation at a high energy level, that does not always mean at maximum speed though as they often slow things down to a mid to semi-fast pacing, where they let their wicked riffing run free at times. It was not listed as such in any of my promo material or promo track listing, but I realized pretty quickly towards the end of the album there is even a “Bonded By Blood” Exodus cover, which has them showing their appreciation for their thrash roots in a literal sense. The band construct songs that are solid, but also straight forward in a formula that follows very much along the lines of song structuring from late ‘80s / early ‘90s cleaner, highly produced thrash metal bands. If you took a few of the musical touches and the black metal rasping vocals (and general imagery) away, replacing them with cleaner, gruff traditional thrash metal vocals then this really would be a straight up thrash metal record. But those black metal style elements are there; those bm rasps are there and are good with a pretty nimble delivery to keep up with the somewhat stylistically divergent music they are overlaid upon. I have to confess, I went into this looking forward to and expecting a full on black metal record, yet somewhere along the way I found blacked up thrash metal album, but it is a pretty good one so alls well that ends well with my listening experience.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/svarttjern    http://www.soulsellerrecords.com/          




"The World That Was” CD & LP

(Shadow Kingdom Records)


The purveyors of demise and slow motion disaster emanating out of Detroit, Michigan return with their third album, which is an immense slab of musical suffocating darkness. I have heard a lot about Temple Of Void, but this is my first up close audio taste of what the band is all about. Beyond my possibly silly way in my opening sentence of describing their sound, yes if it is not clear, Temple play doom death metal, and they do so in a crushingly brutal form. Yet at the same time, their sound has this engrossing hypnotic edge that undercuts the melancholy and gloom in just the right amounts. When I listen to this album with regards to the doomy side of the coin, I can’t help but think of early ‘90s doom pioneers like My Dying Bride, Anathema and especially Paradise Lost, before those once great bands generally “progressed” and as a result distanced themselves away from the great roots that to me made those bands special. Temple have picked up that mantle, they embrace and embody that sound faithfully and combine it with brutal death metal, which is more akin to this side of the ocean in their native country, once again in the 1990s tradition. All combined with superb quality and skill. Yes, this album absolutely crushes, steamrolling all in it’s unhurried deliberate path. The vocals by Mike Erdody (also guitarist in Acid Witch) are monstrously guttural, roiling elongated growls that are commanding as they weave in and out of the music like a thick and creeping fog. Those vocals are fantastic. Do you like early to mid ‘90s death doom metal of the highest order? If the answer is yes, then I have an excellent album you need to add to your collection that goes by the name “The World That Was”.  - Dale

https://templeofvoid.bandcamp.com/    https://www.shadowkingdomrecords.com/         




"Thy Dying Light” CD & LP

(Purity Through Fire Records)


This is my first encounter with the United Kingdom’s Thy Dying Light (assume the band name is an homage to Judas Iscariot), who now present their debut album after releasing 3 demos and a string of ep’s, so far in their four year existence. The members of this band are well traveled, as it’s three members having also featured in many other bands like Atra Mors, Blood Countess, Ethereal Forest, Cave Dweller, Nefarious Dusk Morte Lune and a handful more. Thy Dying Light play cold second wave Scandinavian black metal, while faithful to that base sound, also seems to have a root or two in the thrash scene with some big flowing riffs. Now, when I say thrash metal, not to the point I would call them black thrash, but more in the way that influence is clearly present in mid to late ‘90s Satyricon or post “Blizzard Beast” Immortal. Anyone who really knows me, knows I fucking worship second wave bm so when it is done this well, it is hard for me not to be on board. My only complaint is maybe the production, for my taste is too clean, too big and too crystal clear. I personally think their music would go to another level with a less sanitary, dirtier and gloomier heavy sound. But, that is just my hang up and probably not yours, so you should not hesitate to check out this very worthy piece of majestic yet hateful black metal.  - Dale

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




"Devil's Crisis” CD & LP

(Werewolf Records / Hells Headbangers Records)


Graf Werwolf, the mastermind behind this one man band among many other well known UG bands (ala Satanic Warmaster, White Death, Heavy Cross, Gestapo 666, ex-Horna and lots more!) he is a key member of. The True Werwolf was formed in 2002, the band has released many demo's, ep's and splits over the years. The “Devil's Crisis” is the cult’s debut full-length featuring seven songs of traditional grim, cold black metal. The guitars are played with a lot of skill, which are well written and performed guitar arrangements. The guitars tempos are slowed to a more mid paced range within some of the tracks to contrast the faster high energy base core of the music. Graf Werwolf, in addition to his acid black rasping vocals even adds some well performed keyboards that add an extra dimension to the music. If you are a fan of The True Werwolf's past releases, and second wave Scandinavian early ‘90s bm in general, then definitely do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this album soon.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/werewolf.rex/    http://www.hellsheadbangers.com/         




"A Resting Place For The Wrathful" CD

(Comatose Music)


Twitch Of The Death Nerve are a brutal, slamming death metal band coming out of the U.K brutal death scene. “A Resting Place For The Wrathful” is the bands second full-length featuring eight tracks of insanely fast extreme metal, which is both complex and vicious. The music is played with a lot of skill, highlighting the musician’s experience which shines through and rages on with extremely well written and performed passages. The vocals are guttural, low death metal growls that fit the bands style perfectly and command the listener’s attention. If you are a fan of brutal death metal, with some elements of technical death influences then be sure to pick up a copy of the new release when it is released.  - Patrick

www.twitchofthedeathnerve.co.uk/    http://www.comatosemusic.com/          




"Wrath Encompassed” CD & LP

(Willowtip Records)


Unmerciful hail from Topeka, Kansas (which is a city that automatically makes me think of one of my fave movies “Almost Famous”, fans of that film will know what I mean). Anywho, on to the review, the band play late ‘80s / early ‘90s brutal death metal to the max. Like from the time when this sub-genre was all about speed and brutality, before much of the technicality and melody was injected into this style. That lack of intricate or fancy time changes, and especially melody, I could see that turning off some newer death metal fans that are only conditioned to modern death metal. But for me, it does, I must confess take me on a bit of nostalgia trip. It even took an old UG goat (who was in and around the scene when it first started it’s embryonic steps and growth spurts) like me, a minute or two to shake my expectations of those elements listed above. But my love for the roots of dm took over and I got back into that primitive, battering mindset and got into this record a lot more on repeated listens. They do this style up well. If you have an affinity for very early days of straight forward death metal, during the amorphous and primordial stages when brutality was king, then you will enjoy this album, and if not you likely won’t.  - Dale

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




"Austrian Dukes Of Derangement” CD EP

(Xenokorp Records)


Well now that is one hell of a band name, no?! Haha. These Austrian audio serial killers bring the fucking heat and the depravity to their brand of ultra intense goregrind. The music is just total death grind, but fully drenched in gore with brutal head caving killer riffing, order from chaos whirling dervish drumming that sounds like machine gun fire. There are crazy background underlying synth music sample music that can only be heard now and then when the punishing musical violence lets up or pauses, which is not very freaking often. VxPxOxAxAxWxAxMxCx possess a true arsenal of verbal emanations, conjured up from the pits of hell might be a more apt description, rather than just calling them vocals. Some of the sounds presumably produced by human beings, such as the variety of totally indecipherable (are there even lyrics half the time?!) broiling & gurgling toilet growls, an insectoid alien from Doctor Who in it’s purely menacing, disturbing form, in addition to those I expect would be the sounds of an axe wielding backwoods killer to make as he is running down a shrieking victim with a hatchet, plus more!! Yes, the battery of wonderfully maniacal voices ejaculating is worth the price alone on this motherfucking EP!  I don’t listen to total goregrind a lot, though I do love it, but when I am in that mood for some, this EP will be among my elite collection of releases in this sub-genre for sure. I think fans of bands like Cock And Ball Torture, Dead, Gut, Squash Bowels, Dead Infection, Gore Beyond Necropsy and the like then you will dig the hell out of this release I am pretty certain.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/VxPxOxAxAxWxAxMxCx/    https://www.xenokorp.com/  




"Effigy Of Nightmares" CD, LP & MC

(Blood Harvest Records)


Ohio's Valdrin (previously known as Dawn Of Wolves from 2006-2010) return with their third full-length release, once again working with the dedicated Blood Harvest label. ‘Effigy Of Nightmares’ contains six songs of majestic, well crafted black metal music that seems to be rooted in the more melodic side of the black metal style. The guitars are played with a high level of skill with the bands experience showing through the mainly mid paced range music. But, it does speed up to a faster guitar pace throughout some of the songs. The drums are played at a high level of skill with mature drumming patterns that are done with some slow drum passages, but do speed up to a faster pacing in a few of the songs. 'Effigy Of Nightmares' for me is a masterpiece of well impressively composed black metal that is both flowing and fluid as well as majestic.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/valdrinausadjur    http://www.bloodharvest.se/         




"Damnation” CD, LP & Cassette

(Purity Through Fire Records)


Sweden's melodic black death metal band Vananidr return with their third full length release. “Damnation” contains seven well composed and crafted tracks, which mix raging fast black metal with a more controlled melodic style. The guitarist knows how to write and arrange some skilled, extremely fast and furious guitars, but also utilizes more of a restrained melodic guitar tone and style. This is my first time hearing Vananidr, so I can’t compare this to previous releases, but if you are someone who enjoys both fast, chaotic black metal with a healthy dose of melodic guitars and drums then do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of “Damnation” as soon as possible.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/vananidr    www.purity-through-fire.com         




"To The Death" DLP, CD & Tape

(Iron Bonehead Records)


This is this New Zealand bands third album; there has been a three year gap since their last record. But make no mistake they have not been resting on their laurels, as their efforts have produced this double album that clocks in at just over 65 minutes of music. You know, I would not call Vassafor a doom band, but rather black death metal band even though their mainstay pacing is slow-ish to middle pacing (with the odd short sped up bursts now and again). This combined with long songs ala the opener “To The Death” (12:03), “Eyrie” (10:35) & “The Burning íthyr” (9:17) and that relatively ambling pace give off a similar ominous, suffocating aura that a lot of doom metal tends to conjure up in the listener. Something that really shines through for me is the cold blackened darkness that permeates everything with a rhythmic, ritualistic atmosphere that almost puts me in a hypnotic state. This element of their begrimed sound reminds me somewhat to the great early ‘90s Greek black death style, mixed with hints of early Beherit and Blasphemy. The vocals on here are collection of obscure sounding yells, screams, hissing whispers and all manner of tortured spirit voices, all undoubtedly chanting evil incantations that weave into the tapestry like an air bound poison. The music and especially the production is more than clear enough for me personally, but I could see some thinking it is too raw and murky for their usual plastic pro tool’d to death sensibilities. This is a satisfying old school black metal album that while sticking to the genre’s roots has twisted and turned those classic sounds into something feels like an own sound, which is something that is not easy to do and be able to stand out in this day and age. This is recommended.  - Dale

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




"Riders of the Wasteland” CD & LP

(Hells Headbangers Records)


Finland's Violent Hammer play a vicious and violent form of old-school death metal with some aggressive thrash metal thrown into the musical mixed. After releasing three demo's in 2006, 2008 and the final demo in 2014 entitled “More Victims”. ‘Riders Of The Wasteland’ is the bands debut full-length album being released through Hells Headbangers on both cd and Lp. The drums are played with in a whirlwind of aggressive and unrelenting fast blast beats. Even though the drums are played mainly with blasting beats, the drummer does write some well executed and performed drum passages that mixes things up. The vocals are old school gruff death metal growls and some gruff thrash screams are used in a few of the tracks. The vocals really fit Violent Hammer's music perfectly. The guitars are played at an extremely fast whirlwind pace that is features chaotic and well executed arrangements. The guitarists do write some more controlled guitar passages that are done with skill and their experience shines through. If you are looking for a band that plays unrelenting and destructive old school metal, then do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of ‘Riders Of The Wasteland’ today.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/violenthammer    http://www.hellsheadbangers.com/       




"Open The Otherness” MCD, LP & MC

(Shadow Records / Regain Records)


Sweden’s Voodus (formerly known as Jormundgand for nearly a decade) have composed an interesting and well rounded mini-album here. They play black metal, some might even call it black death metal, but they combine those sub-genres quite smoothly with sweeping, emotive guitar passages. Those sections feel more like something from a progressive heavy metal band ala something you might hear from (again guitar wise in the more somber sections) Fates Warning, early Queensryche, Rush, Dream Theater, Savatage etc… It is a surprising combination and while the heavier, colder bm elements have an underlying melody, these two styles tend not to overlap yet the transitions (back and forth), as I alluded to above are smooth and relatively natural sounding in the flow of the song. When they are on the black metal sections they are quite cold, employing that old second wave early ‘90s black metal with a vocal that melds the bm rasp and a sinuous dark death metal growling undercurrent. I feel like when reading this back and thinking things over, this really should not work, but Voodus find a way to make it work and feel pretty natural. Despite this I can certainly see those with purist leanings (like myself) having a problem with that and being turned off. I feel this way to some extent myself, yet the music on here is strongly enough composed and constructed that it managed to win me over on this release.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/voodus666/    https://www.shadowrecords.se/         




"Altar Of The Goat Baphomet” MCD. MLP & MC

(Helter Skelter / Regain Records)


This is actually this Greek bands first release, in fact, it is essentially their demo that impressed Helter Skelter Records enough to want to pick up and release it on all three of the prevailing physical formats. They are a brand new band as you would expect from my preamble above, but the members are certainly not new to the UG scene as all three have previously done time in and/or are currently in a plethora of bands like Kawir, Nergal, Cult Of Eibon, Black Blood Invocation, Caedes Cruenta, Nargothrond, Funeral Chant and more! The 22 minutes of music is permeated with a sinister suffocating aura, and a sound that celebrates the great early ‘90s tradition of Greek black death metal with nocuous evil influences from the old South American war metal style. The music is the opposite of intricate, instead keeping things stripped down in the old tradition with emphasis on the overall malevolent atmosphere. It is dark and odious old fashioned warring black death with a perfectly matching raw, but still clear enough production on this recording that suits it. I am sure UG fans that worship elaborate (possibly convoluted depending on your tastes?), over produced modern style black death metal may well not like this, but I certainly do and I think diehards of the glorious early days of the scene will too.  - Dale

https://walpurgia666.bandcamp.com/    https://helterskelterproductions.bandcamp.com/       




"Subterranean Exile” CD & LP

(Cruz Del Sur Music)


These Australian Sorcerers keep the old flames burning bright with their brand of mixing old school NWOBHM with ‘70s and early ‘80s traditional doom metal. This is my first dance with these Occult metallers, even though this is the bands fourth full-length album. The vocals of Ol’ Rusty are really interesting and fairly unique sounding at times, they could well be an acquired taste for some, but I found I enjoyed them more and more with each successive listen. These guys write some really cool riffs and smooth harmonies that sucked me in and kept me engaged. The guitar work in general is so classic and quality, dripping with strong emotive virtues, and even feature the odd tasty guitar solo thrown into the mix. There is an array of excellent bands general sounds and music swimming in my head as listen to this, such as Witchfynde, Satan, Pagan Altar, Witchfinder General, Solitude Aeturnus, Warlord, The Sword, In Solitude etc… As usual Cruz Del Sur finds high quality bands that almost always satisfy my musical tastes, now you can add The Wizar’d to that list of bands. Check it out.  - Dale

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




"Immortality Through Quantum Suicide" MCD

(I, Voidhanger Records)


I must confess I know very little about Minneapolis, Minnesota native Nick Stranger (also of the band Ashbringer who have a few albums out) or his one man band Xythlia, but I now find that surprising that I had not heard of a guy with this level of musical abilities. I say that because Nick composes and plays everything on this album. The songs are extremely tight, intricate and super technical, but also very brutal feathered into progressive elements and structuring. This obviously speaks to the man’s ability on numerous instruments as well, of course, his song writing capability. The music of Xythlia is as caustic as it is skillfully nimble, it is hard to describe this music, but I will give it a go. The music is brutal death metal, intense bits of grind and techno thrash mixed with industrial sound elements / samples expressed through extremely agile and inventive song arrangements. I feel like some of the many influences I can hear in this large melting pot are things like Brutal Truth ala their first album, Voivod ala “Dimension Hatröss” era, Napalm Death early albums, later era Death, Coroner and Mekong Delta. Plus I also hear some new and old techno death bands like Gorguts, Nasum, Pig Destroyer, Decapitated, Theory In Practice, Spawn Of Possession and Neuraxis. As far as the industrial overtones (which may be partially down to an expertly programmed drum machine) I mentioned I would say it is along the lines of early Fear Factory and Godflesh material. The overall listening experience for me was both exhilarating and exhausting, as it pummels you into submission in a dynamic, lively fashion that will challenge your mind and ears to attempt to keep up with. It is striking that Nick is able to keep up this level of scathing brutality and speed while playing such ultra technical, intricate music within such acrobatic song writing. The final verdict for me is "Immortality Through Quantum Suicide" is an impressive (in more ways than one considering this all came from one man) debut that will be difficult to top.  - Dale

https://i-voidhangerrecords.bandcamp.com    http://i-voidhanger.com/