PESTILENT DEATH

"Chapters Of Depravity” CD, LP & Cassette

(Blood Harvest Records)

 

Chapters of Depravity is this Los Angeles, California band’s second full-length album featuring eight songs uncompromising crushing death metal. The guitars are done with a lot of skill showing some well written and performed guitar arrangements. The guitars are mainly played with fast pacing, but the guitarist does slow down to a more controlled mid-paced always possessing relentless brutality. The vocals are low death metal growls that further highlight the extremity of the music. I would say if you are a fan of primitive, filthy old school death metal degeneracy with some creative writing skills mixed in then do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of Pestilent Death’s newest attack.  - Patrick

https://pestilentdeathofficial.bandcamp.com/    http://www.bloodharvest.se/         

 

 

PULVER

"Kings Under The Sand” CD

(Gates Of Hell Records)

 

Pulver rise out of the German metal scene producing a really old, classic style of hard rock and heavy metal hybrid, which will likely bring to mind some of the earlier New Wave of British Heavy metal and hard rock bands like Demon, Uriah Heep, Tank, Holocaust, Diamond Head, Scorpions, Saxon, Witchfynde, Angelwitch etc… There is a dash of Iron Maiden now and then, but generally the music here is not quite as ripping and energetic as those bands I’ve mentioned above. The singer, who is very prominent has this really laidback, lazy vocal style that spreads across the guitars that are already chill and routine sounding in their own right, creating sort of a sleepy sound to my ears. The vocalist especially it feels like if you took a regular heavy metal frontman, gave him a handful of Xanax half an hour before the show and then shoved him out on stage. Dave Fröhlich is a good vocalist, but I guess those vocals are just an acquired taste, which I am having a hard time acquiring. Pulver are a talented band, they write some very solid yet kind of generic songs that I enjoyed, just not enough to really recommend this young bands debut album. But I will keep an eye on them and die hards of NWOBHM style that just want to get everything decent might still want to check into this one.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/PulverHeavyMetal    https://www.gatesofhellrecords.com/       

 

 

PUTRISECT

"Cascading Inferno” CD & LP

(Blood Harvest Records)

 

Baltimore seems to have a thriving death metal scene these days and Putrisect are no exception, adding that quality scene with their debut release. ‘Cascading Inferno’ is six tracks of heavy and dark death metal largely played in the mid paced realm, but the musicians do speed it up at times throughout the songs. The guitars follow along in the middle pace territory while even adding some well written and performed solo’s in some of the tracks. When the guitarist does cut loose and rip along with some faster, chaotic patterns sprinkled throughout the release. The drumming tight and strong with a mix of crushing heavy beats that do speed up to a more intense hyper-speed drumming patterns. The vocals are a mix of low death growls and some screams used throughout a few of the songs. It is a good brutal death metal album that fiends of the genre will enjoy.  - Patrick

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

 

 

RAVENSIRE

"A Stone Engraved In Red” CD

(Cruz Del Sur Music)

 

This is my first encounter with Portugal’s Ravensire who play an epic, traditional style of heavy metal. ‘A Stone Engraved In Red’ consists of seven songs of very well crafted and performed heavy metal greatness including a very well written and performed instrumental song. The vocals are sung with a lot of powerful screams that fit to the bands style to perfection. The vocalist does also blend in some stylish more melodic, clean vocals at times throughout the songs. The guitars really displays a level of experience and skill in this mid paced range mainstay, but also showing their range while skillfully transitioning to some faster tempo guitar patterning at times throughout the album. If you are a fan of classy epic, traditional heavy metal then get yourself a copy of this excellent release ASAP.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/Ravensire    https://cruzdelsurmusic.bandcamp.com/       

 

 

RECKLESS MANSLAUGHTER

“Caverns of Perdition” CD

(FDA Records)

 

I was excited when I learned about this release from what appeared to be a long-running German death metal band. The cover looked like something from the early 1990s, the logo is great, and the song titles were awesome. The music, however, did not hold up to my expectations. The sound is top notch, the vocals are powerful but monotone (along the lines of Chris Barnes), the guitars are heavy and decently played, so on the surface this seems like something that I would enjoy. However, there is a certain monotony in the songwriting that just leads me down the path to boredom. It’s like paint-by-numbers death metal – it’s creative, but it’s not outside the box at all. It sounds like an average mid-90s Floridian death metal band created this while they had nothing better to do. I could not get over the sheer averageness of this record and this is a band with several albums in their back catalog. It’s just uninspired overall. For a band that’s been around since 2010, I expected something much more mature. I’m not eagerly anticipating their next release, but if they release another, I’ll give it a spin in hopes that the bare bones of what they laid out on this record get some brand new rotted flesh on them.  - Andrew

https://recklessmanslaughter.bandcamp.com/    https://fda-records.com/en/    

 

 

REIGN IN BLOOD

"Missa Pro Disfunctis CD & LP

(Iron Bonehead Records)

 

Reign In Blood announced itself to the underground scene back in 2006 with their debut demo tape entitled “Black Metal Madness Till Death”, followed by a split 7” ep (w/Infernal Regency) & a second full 7”ep, then in 2009 their debut album and then abruptly the band settled down in complete slumbering silence. This year marks a decade since that first album, so this sinister German black metal entity has finally woken up and returned back to life with their sophomore album “Missa Pro Disfunctis”. Reign In Blood are not your usual black metal band playing the 2nd wave Scandinavian style bm, no the band is more akin to the first wave of influences that includes Czech bands like Root (a lot in their second & third albums), Master’s Hammer and other bands such as the Italian legends Mortuary Drape, alongside some Greek bands ala Thou Art Lord and early works by the bands Zemial, Necromantia and Varathron. Yes, it is that old sound of the late ‘80s / early ‘90s black metal bands that were starting to tread their own paths, yet still rooted in the first wave of black metal. I worship both the first and second wave, but the second wave is so common that it is a good change of pace to my ears to hear this early evil and eerie dangerous sound being employed in a way that keeps that ancient flame burning bright, all the while with Reign putting their own malevolent stamp upon it. The music has a very sinister freezing atmosphere, while still maintaining a level of melody within the bombastic audio sadism, which makes for an appealing dark listen that you can thoughtfully get lost in while still nursing a slow headbang. There is also some subtle, but very nicely done guitar work that does not stand out, but adds great depth and supports to the principle riff and musical flow. I am not the biggest fan of drum machines, but they hide it well, so fuck it I guess haha. The vocals definitely set Reign Of Blood apart as they are a maniacal sounding blend of hysterical out of control yells & shrieks, intertwined with a cleaner yet still gruff voice that is seemingly on purpose a fluctuating warbling in and out of deeper / higher tones and going out of key. It is hard to explain, but those vocals are so distinctive, tortured and different sounding that I love the fuck out of them! This release is highly recommended for those really old school black metal disciples who remember and admire the deeper roots of old bm, not just the hallowed Scandinavian later wave we all worship.  - Dale

https://ironboneheadproductions.bandcamp.com    https://shop.ironbonehead.de/en/       

 

 

THE RITE

"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       

 

 

RITES OF THY DEGRINGOLADE

"The Blade Philosophical” CD & LP

(Nuclear War Now! Productions)

 

I was pleased to see that Rites Of Thy Degringolade were returning with a new recording. I have been following the main man drummer / vocalist Paulus and his musical exploits for a very long time. In fact, I interviewed him twice for Canadian Assault, once back in 1997 in person (with his old band Sacramentary Abolishment) and then later again in 1999 during the early days of Rites. It is great to know Paulus is still going strong 20 years later! This release is this western Canadian bands fourth full length album and second for the ultra dedicated NWN! Productions. I would say there is less blitzkrieg speed and war metal style, nowadays, in the bands sound and structure. They instead focus more on an ominously heavy and moody atmosphere, with a more introspective vibe than the old stuff. Having said that, the band is keeping to their roots and musical integrity intact, there is still a cruel, violent edge to the proceedings. They have taken things in more of a superbly crafted dark death metal direction, with less of the black war metal approach, though as I said, some hints still remain. I feel like they are getting even more out of less now, and the continued maturity of Paulus, as a songwriter, and a musician in general is on full display with this album. There is some really nuanced guitar work going on on this record; they keep the main thread of each song, but add layers of depth through a healthy dose of refined guitar fills, as well as interestingly succinct and smooth diverse structural detours. Oh yes, I should not forget to also mention the often brief, but alternating classy and frenzied guitar solos, something I quite enjoyed. I really like Paulus’ darkened raspy & harsh vocals, which also somehow possess a hypnotic quality to them, achieved through tone and phrasing that I find quite addictive to listen to. Just focus on the infectious commanding choruses of tracks like “Above The Highest”, and the title track, or the vocal patterns utilized throughout the song “The Final Laceration”, if you do, I think you will understand where I am coming from with that description of the vocals. For me, as a listener, “The Blade Philosophical” is the successful realization of a powerful album, which is a satisfying, multi-faceted piece of musical art that will take you on an affecting mental journey.  - Dale

https://ritesofthydegringolade.bandcamp.com/    http://www.nwnprod.com/      

 

 

ROAD WARRIOR

"Power” CD & LP

(Gates Of Hell Records)

 

I gave this Aussie band a listen, and I was immediately taken by the bands stylish classic heavy metal sounds blasting out of my speakers! It immediately took me back to the mid ‘80s (yes I am old metal goat!), when this style ruled the roost and was laying waste to all in it’s path. I had already listened to this a couple times, and I was already headbanging and singing along to some of the lyrics. Then, after I hit play for a third round, I look at the line up and fuck me the leader of this band is an old contact of mine! None other than Denny of the eccentric and legendary black death metal band Stargazer (not to even mention his other bands like Cauldron Black Ram, Misery’s Omen, Martire etc…)! I had not kept up with Denny recently, but what a fucking pleasant surprise! Denny is one talented motherfucker, he plays drums, bass and does the vocals on here. Speaking of the vocals, they are clean, smooth and powerfully resolute, occasionally accompanied by some high screams or deeper gritty brusque emotional accents. This trio produce such quality vintage heavy metal that it blew me away, I mean this rivals some of those classic albums from back then, while at the same time having an own flavour to their sound. They keep things at a middling pace much of the time which suits the songs and their style perfectly. These tunes are slightly stripped down, but all are quite memorable, catchy and metal as hell filled with archetypal superb riffs. There are of course some nice guitar fills and solos sprinkled into metallic musical tapestry, which I enjoyed. There are no filler songs on this killer record; it is consistent in sound and quality, from start to finish. You also have got to love finally seeing an Australian band giving ultimate praise to the great Mad Max / Road Warrior movies, mixed with manly lyrical bravado to match! So, grab a brew, don your denim vest covered in band patches and thrust your spiked fist in the air as you headbang to some real heavy metal!! This is a must for fans of the NWOBHM and the middle ‘80s gruff & gritty American heavy metal that like it a little sleazy too.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/RoadWarrior1986    https://www.gatesofhellrecords.com/       

 

 

RUNESPELL

“Voice Of Opprobrium” CD & LP

(Iron Bonehead Records)

 

Nightwolf is the mastermind behind Runsespell, who play mystical black metal and are set to release this, their third full-length in September. The album features six songs of ’90 black metal with mid paced and some faster parts intertwined together skillfully to make a very interesting sound throughout. Nightwolf at some points composes and interjects some slower parts, which gives the music more depth and feel. The guitars feature both acoustic and electric guitars blended together seamlessly for a nice smooth mixture of tones. The drums follow along in the same vein, with some aggressive fast drum patterns and some slower to middle velocity drum arrangements. The vocals, when used are traditional black metal raspy screams. I must say Runespell play a very mesmerizing black metal style that reminds me of the early Greek and Polish black metal legends.  - Patrick

https://runespell.bandcamp.com/    https://ironboneheadproductions.bandcamp.com   

 

 

SACRAL RAGE

"Beyond Celestial Echoes” CD

(Cruz Del Sur Music)

 

Greece is well known for their dark death and black metal scenes, which have a rich tradition, but this is one of the first speed / thrash metal bands that come to mind from that country. The album consists of eight songs, which includes two instrumentals and the excellent finishing opus track that clocks in at nearly 15 minutes! Sacral Rage play extremely energetic and speedy tempo music, which is highly melodious and technical, yet kinda possessing a prog-y thrash metal edge to it. There are so many time signatures, change ups that will have your attention spinning, as you duck the many swift guitar fills and solos fly around. Soaring over the top of the music are high pitched, sorta whiney, ultra siren vocals that I like the more and more I listen to them. They could probably use a little lower register accents now and then, but fuck it I dig them, though at the same time I could see them as being an acquired taste for some. I mentioned John Cyriis of Agent Steel, early Fates Warning as reference points for these vocals, when I reviewed their record a few years ago and those are still fair I think. This album kind of sounds, to me, like a group of musicians coming from a melododeath style background who later decided to form a thrash band. As opposed to just die hard thrashers, but maybe some of that is just down to a production that reminds me more to that style of music? Their style reminds me of bands like Annihilator, Helstar, Coroner, Queensryche, Fates Warning but taken further down that melodic path and adding a little more emotional less heavy finesse flair, to that sound. There is a futuristic vibe like sort of like a space opera prog vibe, largely achieved through numerous synth accents and sound effects. I would say, that is one slight down note for me, but this is more just my tastes, that they may have went a little too heavy on the side melody and harmony this time around at the expense of just heavy riffing. The heavy riffing is there at times (ie – on the track “Suspended Privileges”), but some of the songs or sections of songs are begging for them to let loose with a headbang riff and just ride it a little. The song structuring and pace seem to often not allow for that to happen or maybe the band just does not want to rip it up, so to speak. But, if you love melody over all, and masterfully emotional passages mixed with some heaviness, and with some adventurous elements that borrows heavily from the past while making something their own that is also current sounding? Then you should definitely check this album out now.  - Dale

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

 

 

SEPTAGON

"Apocalyptic Rhymes” CD & LP

(Cruz Del Sur Music)

 

Septagon come to us out of the fertile German metal scene that seems to be deep in talent, and deep in just about every genre and sub-genre of metal. Septagon throws their hat in the ring of worthy bands from that country, how do they measure up? Let’s find out. There is really a lot to like here, honestly from the extremely adroit guitar playing (some wonderful fill and solo work), which brings to mind some of the classic bands of the heavy metal and speed metal ala Cyclone Temple, Annihilator, Sacred Reich, Znowhite, Wrathchild America, Ludichrist, Anthrax, Toxic Shock etc... I hear those influences, but Septagon are more often than not, not as heavy as those bands and rely much more on lighter melodic elements. Another of the bands strengths are courtesy of vocalist Markus Becker, who has a great voice that glides and soars around the music wonderfully. I really like those vocals a lot, not always when they are mixed with a lot of lower spoken or spoken sung type sections where he mixes things up, but also gets away from his mainstay vocal style which is his strength. I am not a fan of mixing politics and metal, but having said that with the song “P.O.T.U.S.A.” these Germans seem to have a pretty good grasp at the root of what is so wrong over here. All the individual elements on display here are of high quality, but all the same, I am not always the biggest fan of some of the song structuring and style. They often tend to stick on the wandering, light end of the scale taking on more of a commercial edge, rather than turning up the heavier riffing and running with it, like my own personal tastes want them to do. There is no denying the skill and talent on exhibit here even if some of the music is not my cup of tea.  - Dale

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

 

 

SKELETAL REMAINS

"Devouring Mortality” CD

(Dark Descent Records)

 

I knew the second I looked at that amazing cover artwork, it just had to be Dan Seagrave, and it was, seems like this great artist is having a bit of a resurgence with creating extreme metal covers again. Also, I can hear the skilled mind and fingers of master mixer Dan Swano, who helped make this recording sound heavy and crushing as fuck! Skeletal come to us out of the Californian (Whittier to be exact, was that not the home of Wild Rags! back in the day?) scene, and they write and perform devastatingly brutal and proficiently performed death metal. This record is definitely a bit of a throwback to the old school style, which you know I love, bringing to mind some of the best of the early to mid ‘90s superb output from bands like Gorguts, Pestilence, Sinister, Asphyx, Monstrosity, Brutality, Demolition Hammer, Obituary etc…  The band does inject some melody into the barbarism, at times, but they make sure to keep things predominantly brutal at all times. They also inject enough variation in the song structuring to keep things interesting; the guitar fills and solos are classy and emotive adding that extra dimension to complete the songs, and make it a real pleasure to my ears. The vocals are pretty standard mid-range, semi-decipherable growling, nothing too mind-blowing there, but they get the job done nicely and fit the music pretty well. This album comes recommended from me, fellow devotees of the above mentioned bands and old death time period will love this, as it is top shelf quality, top to bottom. I have to say before going that Dark Descent Records continue to prove themselves, as being one of the best labels in the scene, possessing a real ear for picking through the endless masses and consistently finding truly quality bands.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/SkeletalRemainsDeathMetal    http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/      

 

 

SKELATOR

"Cyber Metal” CD & LP

(Gates Of Hell Records)

 

Coming out of Seattle, Washington (after relocating from California at some point) is Skelator, who play a very unique and original style of epic heavy metal. They champion the old school metal lifestyle and look, intertwined with serious lyrical doses of fantasy sword & sorcery, this release in particular lyrically seems to be influenced a lot by Japanese Anime. Some the lyrics are a little cheesy, not going lie. But let’s move on the music. The band in addition to the aforementioned epic ultra melodic heavy metal, adds in some speed metal elements into the riffing and guitar work. The vocalist has a really good, smooth vocal range with some siren level high screams and hollering within some very well sung clean melodic vocal patterns. The vocalist Jason Conde-Houston has a distinctive, impressive voice and singing style, but I do definitely hear some Rob Halford and Geoff Tate in there especially in their early years. The music itself is extremely tight and silky with each instrument shining through with some excellent performances. If you are a fan of epic, melodious heavy metal with speed metal touches, then do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of ”Cyber Metal” today.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/TrueSkelator    https://www.gatesofhellrecords.com/       

 

 

SMOULDER

"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/         

 

 

SPITE

"Antimoshiach" CD

(Invictus Productions)

 

I can not help but wonder if the title of this album is homage to a certain infamous and revered black metal musician, shop and record label owner. I am immediately taken aback by the sinister electricity and gutsfuck high energy right from the opening song of this album. The sound on this album also heavy, gritty and crystal clear and real, for lack of a better term, something only a top notch analog recording can sound can achieve. For influences, I hear strong influence and parallels, to the earlier works from bands Immortal, Darkthrone, Mayhem, Satyricon, Carpathian Forest, Impaled Nazerene, Mortuary Drape, Ancient Rites, Root etc… As well as, I even hear some hints of early on Slayer, stealthily wafting throughout the evil and hateful maelstrom. The guitar sound, song structuring, and nearly headbangable melodies take this album to edge of not being purely black metal. However, Salpsan may be a little more versatile and dynamic, with regards to incorporating structural influences into the bm sound, but he always contains it within a harsh, freezing bestial black metal exterior which encompasses and exemplifies the time-honored ways of darkness and evil. The lyrics and concept follow suit, to me Spite are upholding the true black metal principles, which were set forth by the forefathers in the first and second wave of this sacrosanct and enshrined grand musical / conceptual movement. The vocals on here are fantastic, they are a semi-clear screams that are wrapped in a traditional black rasp with an obscure whispering undertone. They feel very much influenced by the early days of black metal, as the first wave and second wave met and began merging into an astonishingly ominous spiteful force that has possessed me and others for many years. This is highly recommended to old school die hard black metal devotees. Honestly, this easily has to be one of the best black metal records I have heard in the last year or so, maybe alongside White Death’s self-titled album.  - Dale

https://spitedesecration.bandcamp.com/    https://invictusproductions.net/      

 

 

SPECTRAL WOUND

"Infernal Decadence" CD

(Vendetta Records)

 

As soon as you plug in Infernal Decadence, Spectral Wound teleport you to a labyrinthine forest crowded with frosty-limbed trees and crispy autumn mulch. The further you explore, the more frightening the scenery becomes--twisting and turning into a vision of occult darkness that will have you losing yourself in its all-encompassing conceptualization. Spectral Wound conjure sonic imagery in Infernal Decadence that, for me, will always make up the defining sounds of black metal at its protean core: cold production that reinforces the serrated edge of the riffing, which itself often settles into a whirlwind of tremolo picking that creates a menacing yet ultimately cathartic atmosphere. Because Spectral Wound focus so keenly on these characteristic elements of the second wave, complete with throaty screams that soar like a bird of prey over the instrumentation, they do two things: (1) they truly hone their abilities to an impressive degree for this medium and by virtue of this propensity (2) they place constraints on their sound that restrict them from taking the genre in an innovative direction. That second point is not to say that Spectral Wound sound unoriginal--I would actually argue that I could certainly pick them out from the crowd in which they situate themselves. I do find Infernal Decadence to be a truly new album because of its creative transitions and tonal shifts that grip the listener from start to finish, but I cannot ignore that the general sound is something that is more customary than I would hope for it to be considering it was released on June 1st, 2018, not in the early '90s. Regardless of my perspective, however, Spectral Wound have produced an album here that shows their skill with refreshing what some might consider a tired genre--an album with a familiar atmosphere yet renewed vigor that is sure to please its target audience. I would call Infernal Decadence a warm, fuzzy blanket for black metallers, but it would be more fitting to call it an icy blanket of snow instead. Give this a listen if you find enjoyment in the side of extreme metal that revels in frigid blasphemy.  – Aaron

https://spectralwound.bandcamp.com    https://vendettarecords.wordpress.com      

 

 

STATIC OF MASSES / ZOGTHORGVEN

"Static Of Masses / Zogthorgven” Cassette EP

(Doomday’s Today Records)

 

There is not much to go on here, just one single song from both bands, so about 12 minutes of music total. But I will give it a good try here. The Static Of Masses track starts off with a distorted sci-fi pulsing mixed with like an old tv white noise type of sound with distorted, slowed down voices filtering in and out, in a trippy sort They Live tv transmission interruption signal. It is tough to make out the spoken word, likely taken from a movie or tv show, it is understandable at times and difficult to discern at others, but it is some sort of recount of a messed up traumatic event or something. It eerily repeats the song title “Just A Dream”, again and again and that is it, other than the background effects slightly changing up now and again. Next up, Zogthorgven with their single track that kind of picks up just like the above song, with wavy distorted sci-fi type pulsing, this time with some real vocals that are more sung and slightly growled, but more malevolent sounding than the Static song. Again, like the other bands track with the repeating, slightly different sounding white noise bits along with old sci-fi beeps and sound effects. There is actually more a of rhythmic music that comes in like a very stripped down version of an industrial bands drum beats. This is not really my kind of music, neither band tracks are really for the most part, but this one had a sci-fi feeling mixed with a slight Ministry moody vibe. As well, as I mentioned at times there is a little more musicality and was a little more enjoyable for me. Check it out if you like this sort of thing or think you might, traditional UG metal fans that read this might not like it much as there is no metal to found on this here.  Feel free to send orders of physical copies of this tape to either of the following: Doomsday Today Records, Eternal Darkness Creations, c/o Keith Dempe, PO Box 268, Coraopolis, PA. 15108 and also thru Ralph's Records, c/o Doug Stapp, 3322 82nd St., Lubbock, TX. 79423, USA  http://www.RalphsRecordsTX.com  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/staticovmasses/    https://www.facebook.com/zogthorgven/      

 

 

TEXAS METAL OUTLAWS

"Self Titled” CD & LP

(Heaven And Hell Records)

 

This is, I suppose, a project band of Robert Williams (Ignitor & Witches Mark) and features a cavalcade of friends/guest musicians who are currently or previously in bands like D.R.I., Bat, Watchtower, Dangerous Toys, Ignitor, Helstar, Manowar and probably every member of Agony Column. We are talking 20+ guest musicians! Some of the songs really reflect this revolving door, where things are going at very high speed and they have tossed in so many elements that there is little room to breathe or pay attention to everything. During those times, for me, the songs do not work as the manic pacing and vibe are kind of weird, there is wall to wall guitar fills and solos, it makes it hard to enjoy the overall song flow or lack there of. Back to the pacing, those parts or even whole songs, not sure how to get it across but it is very happy, upbeat and all over the place and those songs or sections just do not work for me. Now, I don’t want to sound too negative here, because I love all the elements that make up this heavy metal extravaganza, and every one of those elements display a high level of skill and often times creativity, but the overall song is not always there. However, later on in the album like I say there are songs that are not like that and work great the whole way through like the tracks “Black And Green” & “Within The Spell” for example are killer from start to finish. One of my other fave tracks I guess fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you view it is a cover song of “Running From The Law” by Riot. The lyrics follow suit with the music, there are some superbly penned lyrics that go together like hand and glove and are thoughtful, then other times they are super clunky, lame and awkward. Some vocalists have more than one song, the rest only one song, the album vocally though does not feel as a hodge-podge as the music, as there are some absolutely superb vocal performances on many of the songs on this album and is a real highlight overall. I found this album hard to review, you can not help but appreciate the elevated levels skill and talent in every song on this album, but that does not always equal great songs as a whole, rather than a lot of fantastic individual parts and performances. When the quality is at such a high level, it is hard for me to be this critical of it, but I feel I have to at least to some degree. It is a really mixed bag of an album here, but parts & performances occasionally equal quality song writing then the result is pretty magical.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/texasmetaloutlaws/    https://heavenandhellrecords.bandcamp.com/      

 

 

THIRD STORM

"The Grand Manifestation" CD

(Dark Descent Records)

 

I would like to know more about the history of the this Swedish band, as they started the band in their early to mid teens, played some shows and released a couple demo tapes in 1987 & 1988!! Then broke up, and the band was not revived again until 2014!! The band was rejuvenated by two original members vocalist Herval Bozarslan and guitarist Jimmy Eriksson, since then Eriksson recently left the band leaving only Herval (he is also longtime vocalist of the band Sarcasm), as the lone founding member. As is the case with many Swedish bands, the rest of the members have lots of experience in bands like Catatonic, Tyrant, Insision, Imperial Domain, Anguish etc… Since returning the band released only one EP, but now 22 years after their initial formation comes Third Storm’s debut album!! The band produce razor sharp speedy black death metal, with some doomy elements sprinkled in from time to time, to produce some nice contrast. These guys handle their instruments very well, showing off some excellent, sometimes intricate (at times even acrobatic) guitar work and superbly composed and performed drum work. After getting cut into strips by the speed and brutality of the first few songs, it is interesting to listen to the band direct their talents towards an epic length doomy and/or moody songs like “The Third Thought From The Sun” and “Forgotten Diety” that are steeped in slow, emotive mainstay passages. Having said that, even those two songs, somehow in a very flowing graceful transition manage to convert to short segments in those songs of racing heavy speed and cruelty. I have to give the band top marks for those two magnificent songs alone, as they successfully marry those two elements and not make it feel like two songs that do not belong together. Having said that, I am not sure I would want an entire album of that, it is the mainstay crushing velocity of the rest of the album, which makes disparity and contstrast of those two tracks that much more powerful and dynamic – sometimes moderation of one element that makes that element much more profound. The production on here is pretty flawless; it is almost too good, too clean for my liking haha. Such a weird nitpicky comment I agree, but I would not mind if the production was a bit dirtier and more organic sounding, just being honest. I did not mention the vocals of founding member Herval, but they are excellent and another highlight for me, he projects a dark rolling powerful growl that has a great dark whispery rasping edge that I find quite satisfying. There is not much else to say, Dark Descent Records seems to only be capable of finding and releasing some of the finest death and black metal bands on the planet, you can most definitely add Third Storm to the list of top notch quality bands on their roster!  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/thirdstorm    http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/      

 

 

THROUGH THE PATH OF DEATH

"Chapter One” 4-way Split CD

(Invictus Prod./Vrasubatlat/20 Buck Spin)

 

All bands on this four way split are from Peru and all the bands have four songs except W.O.D. who kick us off:                                                                                                                                                       Whisper Of Death is up first, so let me get this right, melodic doom death metal? I mean melodic, really? Well, I will try to keep an open mind about it, but doom and lots of melodicism - I have a hard time imagining them mixing well. I can tell you after listening to these tracks a few times, I feel justified in my apprehension and skepticism above. Honestly, only small parts of these long songs feel like doom death, those short parts are good and the bands best strength by far (I would have loved it if they just made straight up death doom songs instead). The other element that is doom death is the vocals, which are whispered growls I also enjoyed. The mainstay of their sound however is the melodicism, it feels like a tiny bit of doom death then stop, switch over to melodic, light and free music that slows things down (not in a good or doomy way) and despite the quality skill displayed in the playing, the harmonies are not that good, not that interesting or memorable. But, they do unfortunately serve to interrupt and water down the excellent, too sparsely used doom death elements that the band excels at.                                                                                                                                                                L.O.D. pick up the torch from their countrymen Whisper of Death and run with it, treating us to some dirty and raunchy heavy death metal with some thrash underpinnings and the odd cool crazy speed solo. This is more what I have come to expect out of the South American scene and what has made that scene legendary around the world. These guys keep things brutal and dark sounding, but they mix things up now and then with some bold and unorthodox brief guitar and song structuring accents. Oh fuck yes! L.O.D. bring the heat and get this release fully back on the rails! Good stuff.                               Tormented keep things rolling right along with some straight forward, but very enjoyable early ‘90s Floridian style death metal. I bet this band would great live, I think their songs would translate well in that setting. Tormented definitely bring out the headbang in me, big time with their brand of dark and suffocating death metal that rips along a great pace. The growled vocals on here are also very old school sounding, and I enjoyed the hell out of them. I already can not wait to hear more this great young band.                                                                                                                                             Distruptor put the final touches on this epic split album with some very high octane thrash with death metal touches. Have you ever seen an animal, like a puppy, that suddenly has this big growth spurt and they can barely keep up with these big, meaty paws and gangly legs? At times, this very young band reminds me of that, they are always playing at maximum adrenaline output, almost trying their best to keep up to themselves and the crazy energy speed pacing they set for themselves, but can barely handle. But it is great to listen to this entertaining thrashing blitzkrieg of a musical fireball. Just imagine the potential of this band when gain a little experience and maturity as a group. It could end up being something great. - Dale 

http://thrashirts.com/    https://www.facebook.com/thrashirts/           

 

 

TOMB MOLD

"Manor of Infinite Forms” Cassette Album

(20 Buck Spin)

 

In case the lovely reader has not heard this story before, Canadian death metal outfit Tomb Mold turned a shitton of heads last year with their harrowing debut Primordial Malignity. It made a lot of "Album of the Year" lists in the metal community due the band's professional adeptness with making old school death metal sound fresher than a (totally brutal) spring salad, and I personally found great enjoyment out of the demo they released in a similar vein last September, Cryptic Transmissions. That release in particular secured a slot on my list of favorite EPs and demos released in the year 2017, right next to Thantifaxath and Devouring Star's respective EPs. In short, Tomb Mold gained themselves well-deserved praise and thus a larger audience last year, setting the bar pretty high for future releases. Well, the future is here in the form of...infinite...forms. The first takes shape in the title track with winding doom riffing that curls like a dark vine through the rolling fog of drums and vocals. There are moments in this track where the vine drops you into the abyssal rhythm section before dragging you by the scruff of your neck back into varied riffs and new passages. In what is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, "Abysswalker" takes a more straightforward approach with riffing slightly reminiscent of Human-era Death with the affordances of modern production quality and an eye on obsidian Finndeath, often making the riffing bear the weight of a tank. With obvious and absolutely welcome loyalty to this vein of death metal comes equally welcome hybridization of genres--stewing together hook-laden doom metal and dank, murky death metal, Manor of Infinite Forms will bring just the right amount of fantastic filth to your sound system. Mark that Tomb Mold do not sacrifice velocity for their occasional doom inspiration; they instead expertly incorporate it into their riff construction while still keeping up the pace for a headbanging audience. If you are a fan of extreme metal that keeps brutality at the forefront of its ethos, then you should definitely give Tomb Mold's work a listen.  – Aaron

https://www.facebook.com/tombmold   http://listen.20buckspin.com/album/manor-of-infinite-forms        

 

 

TRIUMVIR FOUL

"Urine Of Abomination” CD, LP & Cassette

(Invictus Prod./Vrasubatlat/20 Buck Spin)

 

Coming out of the Oregon UG metal scene is Triumvir Foul, who play a heavy and destructive style of death metal. ‘Urine of Abomination’ is four tracks of violent and chaotic death metal that has an electric level of intensity to it. The vocal duties are handled by Ad Infinitum who does a great job of combining raw screams with some deep growling that compliments the music nicely. Ad Infinitum also handles the guitar duties, which are made up passages performed and played skillfully at lightning speed. The are some memorable and well crafted guitar patterns, the speed slow down at times to a heavier mid paced range throughout the songs. Cedentibus handles the drum duties, which feature extremely fast drumming arrangements that fits very well the rest of the musical elements and style. If you are familiar with Triumvir Foul’s previous works then do yourself a favor and pick a copy of ‘Urine Of Abomination’ as soon as it is released.  - Patrick

http://www.vrasubatlat.com/    https://invictusproductions666.bandcamp.com/          

 

 

VALDRIN

"Two Carrion Talismans” CD & LP

(Blood Harvest Records)

 

Valdrin are a band who come out of the legendary blackened death metal scene. Two Carrion Talismans is the bands second full length release featuring eight songs of majestic black metal with a healthy dose of death metal influence as well. The guitarist can write and perform both mid paced passages and some extremely fast patterns very adeptly, even adding some solos into a few of the songs. The drumming is done with both slower, mid paced tempos drum beats and elevating to a faster, more furious drum style. The vocals are a mix of raw black metal screams and some deep death metal growls used in a few of the songs. If you are looking for a new band that mixes a unique blend of blackened death metal with some other elements, then do yourself a favor and make sure you pick up this release once it is out.  - Patrick

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

 

 

VALGRIND

“Morning Will Come No More” Full-length Cassette

(Nihilistic Holocaust Records)

 

I must confess I do not know a whole about this Italian band, besides hearing their name from time to time over the years, and yes, there has been years passed indeed. As despite this being a re-release of this bands debut album, originally released in 2012 on CD, they had started way back in 1996 and had no less than 4 demos out on tape and that disc at that point in time. I am not sure what happened in the ten years between their last demo and this debut full-length. But there is an intro, followed by two decent but quite standard deathrash songs, which again were okay yet quite standard and forgettable quite honestly. Then the third track post intro, entitled “Dark Dressed Shepard” kicks in and suddenly the sound on the guitars is more brutal, more straight up good death metal. The riffs and song structuring suddenly possess more dynamic quality, variation and even feature some cool, brief guitar solos that really spice things up. What a turn around from those first couple songs, which left me a bit listless as a listener and wondering how this band was around for 16 years already at that point, then suddenly before I can write anything down the quality in nearly every aspect goes up a level. That was a pleasant surprise! Maybe the band thought let’s keep expectations low to start and then turn it up and hit them hard and don’t look back? Maybe they just put every song they wrote during that decade and just suddenly got way better? The growled vocals are solid, deep and decipherable and pretty classic sounding. I would say both the vocals are music remind me a lot to early to mid ‘90s Floridian death metal (excluding those couple early songs) that is catchy, heavy and features some really nice individual and collective performances in the playing and construction of these tracks. I don’t know what the two albums and ep released after “Morning Will Come…” sound like, but it feels like the band were starting to really find their sound and identity on this enjoyable release. I will have to check out some of their later works one day, but until then check out this unearthed hour long diamond in the rough.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/valgrindband    https://nihilistic-webzine-distro.fr/   

 

 

WOMBRIPPER

"From The Depths Of Flesh” CD

(Redefining Darkness Records)

 

I need to be up front, a little bit here, I am an absolute diehard fanatic for early to mid ‘90s Swedish death metal with that great archetypical production style. With that out of the way, what we have here is a young Russian death metal band on their debut album, where they express much the same affinity I have for that scene. They do the style very well here, a lot of Swede bands come to mind, but probably the two that come to mind the most are chiefly Dismember and also Entombed. Which is a-fucking-okay by me! Something that strikes me about the band, besides some killer riffs, is the high energy they play with energizes me as I listen. There is one thing the classic bands from Sweden all possessed, and that was dm vocalists that were very strong growlers with an ability to sing extremely powerfully. Not only that, but also an ability to convey a level of emotion and range (I know range with growling sounds strange to some, but a discerning long time fan knows that is a thing and knows what I mean), while still keeping the growl deep and brutal. So, with that in mind, the vocalist on here is good he and surely gets the job done, at the same time for me he does not quite put them over the top like their inspirations did. It is a bit of nitpick, but there you have it. Something related to that, which seemed a little out of left field was the song “Godless Slaughter (In The Name Of Doom)”, which feels a bit more Floridian death metal and the vocalist suddenly, just for this song does his best John Tardy impression and it is a very good one! Another thing that should not go unnoticed is the bands ability to inject some emotional dynamics into their structuring, which keeps things interesting and shows some depth to their sound. There is also some tasty guitar fills, which may go unnoticed by some, but not me. I realize some reading this might be more discerning and picky with style of dm, only wanting to hear the original classics or some new mind blowing new twist, I can understand that. Because I am that way with melodic death, where I only like the very best of the best and the rest I can usually live without. But, as I mentioned, I just can not get enough of this style of old school Swedish death metal!! Fellow fanatics check this shit out; it is pretty killer to me, to hear this from a Russian band. A final parting note, for buyers of the cd, you will be getting three (two unreleased previously) good bonus tracks not on the other version of this release overseas.  - Dale

https://wombripper.bandcamp.com/    http://www.redefiningdarkness.com/         

 

 

ZEALOT CULT

"Spiritual Sickness” CD, LP & Tape

(Blood Harvest Records)

 

‘Spiritual Sickness’ is the bands debut full length album featuring eight songs that are well crafted and performed death metal insanity. The band does a great job of crafting their own brand of death metal, with some influences from the excellent mid ‘90s time period of this genre. The guitar work on this debut is filled with extremely fast guitar riffing though the guitarist does slow down to a slower and guitar style at times. The vocalist does a good job of mixing both gruff old school growls and some deeper death growls that Zealot Cult’s style perfectly. The vocalist kind of reminds me of early John Tardy and Chuck Schuldiner, but they are not a complete rip off by any means. If you are looking for a band that pays homage to early US death metal, without copying anything, then be sure to pick up a copy ‘Spiritual Sickness’ when it is released.  - Patrick

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

 

 

ZOMBIEFICATION

"Below The Grief” CD

(Doomentia Records)

 

I first encountered this Mexican death squad several years ago, and they didn't make a huge impression on me for whatever reason. That has changed. Zombiefication belched forth quite the album with this new release, and it's solidly crafted and well-written death metal of the highest order. Stylistically it reminds me of a cross-pollination of mid-period Entombed (think To Ride Shoot Straight and Speak the Truth or Uprising) and old Desultory, and perhaps faster Asphyx material. There's a looseness to this that makes it sound so much more human than a lot of modern death metal, a violent swagger that not too many bands can own. The vocals are quite different, being more of a yell than a growl, which is refreshing. There is a little musical experimentation here, but the morbidity never lets up, and the twists and turns the album takes simply enhance the experience. The track order is paced perfectly, and the frenetic style they present adds even more character to the flow. Zombiefication has matured with this release, and I look forward to the next record. This is going to stay in my rotation for some time, and I dare say this is one of the best releases of 2018.  – Andrew Parrish

https://www.facebook.com/zombieficationofficial/    https://doomentiarecords.bandcamp.com/