OBSOLETE

"Animate//Isolate" CD & Cassette

(Unspeakable Axe Records)

 

This Minnesota band creates and plays ultra technical deathrash metal that is usually paced at breakneck speed too. I mean this is some high level stuff my friends. I am surprised listening to the high end and crafty musicianship that the members past bands (which seem to be more local Minnesota scene bands) are not ones I have heard of before, because they come across as talented seasoned musicians. I have to say in my view that it is not just technicality for technicality sakes here most of the time either, it is not wanking, and there is actual song flow and emotion in there. Which is not an easy thing to convey within such intricate and high velocity song structuring. There is so much going on in these songs at soaring speeds, it is very intricate but also there is a memorability factor to the music, it is heavy and you can headbang to it, which again speaks to the flow that I find important with bands that play techno metal. The drumming on here does not take a backseat to the amazing nuanced guitar showcase; the drums have their own impressive and elaborate web of patterns while staying extremely powerful. Another area that can get overlooked with this style are the vocals, which are very decipherable gruff growls that possess some range, and manage express an array of emotion reminding me to the great later day Shuldiner vocals in Death. Technical death metal bands have been on the rise in recent years, now it is great in my opinion, that some talented deathrash bands like Obsolete are also starting to take up the mantle. Fans of bands like Disciples Of Power, Demolition Hammer, Coroner, Hellwitch, Theory In Practice, StarGazer, Cynic, Sadus, later day Death and the like should really dig this marvelous debut album.  - Dale

https://unspeakableaxerecords.bandcamp.com/    http://www.unspeakableaxerecords.com/         

 

 

OBVURT

"The Beginning" CD

(Brutal Mind Records)

 

I have been a devoted follower of the Quebec (Canada) death metal scene for a very, very long time. How long? Well I had a few different tape traders I regularly traded with from Quebec from the early ‘90s and throughout the decade. One of those traders (Alexis Gagnon RIP) was an avid UG gig attendee and made quality recordings of gigs on a weekly basis, and collected video of the same, so I had literally around one hundred audio and video recordings of most UG bands from that province in my collection at one point. I ordered many demo tapes from bands (for example Lord Mortis, Dislocation, Necrotic Mutation, Gorguts (1990 demo tape) etc...). I wrote for a fanzine from there and I even helped facilitate three dates to fill in the gap (the guitarist told at the time the tour may have fallen apart otherwise) of Cryptopsy’s first Canadian tour to promote their as yet unreleased debut album “Blasphemy Made Flesh”. I know I am rambling here, but the flood of memories is overwhelming me right now, I could go on and on. But let’s turn our attention to Obvurt, who despite this being their debut release have some interesting history already. As this band started out as a solo project for main man Philippe Drouin, who was then in a car accident that badly damaged the dexterity of his right (playing hand), and he ended up re-teaching himself to play left handed player. That is impressive, and since doing that he has filled out Obvurt with band members Samuel Santiago (Agony, ex-Gorod, ex-Black March) on drums and on bass guitar Olivier Pinard (Cryptopsy, Cattle Decapitation, Akurion, Neuraxis). The music on here is semi-technical and very brutal death metal with that great old Quebecios traditional base I have enjoyed so much through these decades. It is not all brutality and blast beats though, as there are some stretches where they just let a memorable riff go for a bit of a walk and mix in some brief darkly emotive guitar fills and the odd manic succinct guitar solo. There is definitely a ‘90s feel to a lot of the songwriting, but there are moments that nod to the current movement in the UG scene with a lot of the technical brutal dm bands as well. The material on here is not stupefying in it’s greatness, yet it really is some strong headbanging, pit inducing skillful death metal barbarity that many diehards will appreciate.  - Dale

https://www.indiemerch.com/obvurt    https://brutalmind.bandcamp.com         

 

 

OFERMOD

"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/       

 

 

ORDER OF NOSFERAT

"Arrival Of The Plague Bearer” CD, LP & MC

(Purity Through Fire)

 

Order Of Nosferat are an international duo with members from Germany and Finland, ‘Arrival Of The Plague Bearer’ is the bands second release that showcases the bands ability to compose both dark, atmospheric passages and some grim traditional black metal elements to give the band their own style and sound. Usually I am not a fan of keyboards in black metal, but the band uses them to add another layer to the music and to give the music a dark and eerie sound. The two tracks that stick out to me are "Followed Path Of The Carpathian Wolves", which does a great job of showcasing the bands ability to write harsh black metal along with some slower more melodic passages mixed into the structure of the song. “Beyond Pitch Black Woodlands” is delivered with a more aggressive harsh black metal approach, but the song does add a good amount of atmosphere and slower more controlled patterns to give the song a mix of harsh and atmospheric blackness.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/Order-of-Nosferat    www.purity-through-fire.com          

 

 

ORTHODOXY

"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/      

 

 

OSSUAIRE

"Mortes Fables" Cassette Album

(Nihilistic Holocaust Records)

 

I reviewed a re-release of this bands 2005 demo tape about five years ago, which was also through Nihilistic Holocaust. The label has decided to finish re-releasing the bands entire catalog with ‘Mortes Fables’, the bands debut album from 2010 and their final output. Ossuaire produce dirty and obscure sounding death metal with definite roots in the embryonic years of the genre. I like the murky ambiance that saturates the entire album; it is a strong feeling gloom and suffocating darkness. While listening to this I get an impression of a more stripped down, slightly less technical sound similar to the early works of bands like Immolation, Incantation, Suffocation, Gorguts etc… They have some good riffs that propel some middle to slightly sped up songs at times, alongside some good rhythmic brutality. The vocals like the music are obscured boiling and gurgling growls with some varied supporting accent voices that fit the underlying music nicely. If you love old school death metal wrapped with a blanket of murky atmosphere in the ancient traditions then you need to get a copy of this tape for your collection.  - Dale

https://nihilistic-webzine-distro.fr/    https://nihilisticholocaustrecs.bandcamp.com/music          

 

 

OXYGEN DESTROYER

"Sinister Monstrosities Spawned By The Unfathomable Ignorance Of Humankind” CD & LP

(Redefining Darkness Records)

 

I am starting to think this Seattle, Washington band are chuckling at the thought of their record label trying to design those releases and promo material, while attempting to fit album title on everything Haha! Oxygen Destroyer refer to themselves as thrashing Kaiju metal, so along with their album name and visuals, you can guess their whole concept is built on a deep love for old Japanese related giant monster movies and lore. I mean even the band name refers to a weapon used against Godzilla. So what does the music sound like? It is a whirling dervish of speed, adrenaline and controlled chaos that should have been the soundtrack to the fight scenes in the Pacific Rim or Kong vs. Godzilla movies. But talking in terms the UG metal fanatics reading this would understand, it is high energy deathrash that is played at breakneck speeds and flirts with some wild techno song structuring. You can definitely bang your head to this music, but not for long for fear of whiplash as you will try in vain to keep up to the killer riffs and absolutely punishing light speed drumming. I am not sure how they manage it, but within that controlled chaos they still manage to find space for brief and frantic guitar solos. The vocals are somewhat nasally acidic dm growls, but also have that clearer gruff thrash edge and you can make out most of the lyrics with ease if you have an ear for it (like mine after 30 years of practice hehe). The mixture of death metal and thrash metal is within sight of being picture perfect with this talented band. If you have an addiction to old Kaiju monster movies and tech deathrash then tap that arm and tie it off, because I have your fix right here!  - Dale

https://brutalthrashingkaijumetal.bandcamp.com/    https://shop.redefiningdarkness.com/         

 

 

PANTHEON OF BLOOD

"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/          

 

 

PERDITION TEMPLE

"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/          

 

 

PLAGUE

"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/          

 

 

PORTA NIGRA

"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/      

 

 

REPUKED

"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 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       

 

 

SAD

"Misty Breath Of Ancient Forests" CD & LP

(Purity Through Fire)

 

You know, Sad has been around for right around 15 years and somehow they have managed to escape my attention. That ends now as I sink my audio claws into no less than their seventh album! When I read the band name, I automatically had thoughts of them being a Funeral Doom band, but no, make no mistake Sad conjure up utterly pernicious black metal in the mighty second wave early ‘90s tradition. This duo is made up of Nadir on vocals and Ungod who handles all instruments and is the main songwriter. Both of these men are also in the bm band Kvele, but Ungod in particular is a busy guy as he is also in bands like Slaughtered Priest, Steelwitch, Obsecration, Necrohell plus more! If that is not enough this busy Greek maniac also runs the Metal Throne Productions record label. Focusing back on the music here, it is freezing cold black metal cloaked in that old familiar sinister aura that is a trademark of second wave bm, which is something I must confess that I worship to no end. The music, as wintry and aggressive it is, still manages to have an epic feeling, flowing quality to it that is quite entrancing to me. The vocals of Nadir are as forcefully acidic and bitter rasping as you will hear in any black metal horde, it is a tour-de-force performance of emotional bile and dark rage. I now see that I have a lot of catching up to do with this excellent bands back catalog of releases. "Misty Breath Of Ancient Forests" comes highly recommended from me to fanatics and purists of the early to mid ‘90s black metal rituals and traditions.  - Dale

https://hordeavsad.webs.com/    https://shop.purity-through-fire.com         

 

 

SAGENLAND

"Oale Groond" CD & LP

(Heidens Hart Records)

 

Sagenland come out of the Netherland's pagan black metal scene is Sageland with their debut release. From what I understand the previously had only one release way back in 2005, a split album (w/Vargulf), but the label shuttered it’s doors very soon after the release was pressed and less than 100 copies were circulated. This album features all three songs from that split plus seven additional songs and after 15 long years of dormancy their debut album ‘’Oale Groond” sees the light of day through the veteran Dutch label Heidens Hart. The music on here is delivered with both skill and showcases some excellent writing ability. Musically the duo play very aggressive, and fast black metal, but these musicians do add some slower moody folkish elements into their aggressive music. The vocals are a mix of traditional black metal screams and some excellently sung clean vocal arrangements. Sagenland plays a high class brand of second wave black metal that is traditional yet very well progressive in its own way.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/SagenlandTwente/    https://heidenshart.bandcamp.com/         

 

 

SARVEKAS

"Of Atavistic Fury & Visions" CD EP & 12" EP

(Soulseller Records)

 

This release “Of Atavistic Fury & Visions” is the debut from these Finnish newcomers Sarvekas, which is being released through Soulseller Records. The music on here is definitely rooted in the Finnish black metal style, but the band does add some slower more melodic passages in with the faster more aggressive style core. The individual members of the band are skilled with their instrument with skill and show some songwriting talent. The drums and guitars are played with furious aggressive patterns. The vocals are traditional black metal screams and screeches that are done are powerful and feature some interesting vocal arrangements. I have admit for a debut release Sarvekas have unleashed a masterpiece of black metal by combing both the faster more traditional style with some slower interludes. You should check them out and keep an eye on this new band.  - Patrick

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

 

 

SENTIENT HORROR

"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/         

 

 

SÉPULCRE

"Ascent Through Morbid Transcendence" Demo Cassette EP

(Invictus Productions)

 

It is always interesting when a demo is released on a full fledged record label, then again releasing it on tape, at least to this old metal goat, with this format it does in fact make it feel more like a demo. There is three tracks plus an intro for fifteen minutes of dark and dusty old school death metal. Sépulcre play death metal the way I love in the traditional Swedish style from the early to mid ‘90s. They keep things brutal, washing everything in a very gloomy and sinister audio aura that is very reminiscent of the almighty classic first releases from Grave from their demos through the early albums. That necro atmosphere is just so evil and oppressive in the best possible way; the malevolent bestial growling vocals only further serve to add to the ominous ambiance. Despite how fucking heavy and crushing the riffing and music is, there is also a certain level of memorable hook to each song and there is some really enjoyable little guitar fills and nuances that keep thing interesting. After listening to this a half dozen times now, it is easy to see why Invictus wanted to be involved in this demo release and promotion. I honestly now find myself waiting in real anticipation for this bands debut album, whenever that shall be. I must say there has been some excellent death metal coming out of France in recent years, now you can add Sépulcre to that growing list.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/Sépulcre    https://invictusproductions666.bandcamp.com/          

 

 

SHED THE SKIN

"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/         

 

 

SHRIEKING DEMONS

"Diabolical Regurgitations" CD EP & Cassette EP

(Caligari Records)

 

Shrieking Demons is a new band rising up out of the Italian old school death metal scene. This debut EP release contains four songs of heavy, death metal in the vein of notorious bands as the bio rightly points out like Autopsy, Dream Death and Decomposed. Each song is displays intense and skillful songwriting ability that is delivered in the bands ferocious grimy approach. The musicians do speed things up to a faster pace throughout the songs, to give the music a nice mix of extreme speed, which is then countered by a slower, heavier approach at other times. The vocals are powerful deep death metal growls. If you are into death metal with an old school style and feel then definitely pick up a copy of ‘Diabolical Regurgitations’ today.  - Patrick

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

 

 

SILURE / FERETRO

"Silure / Feretro” Split Tape EP

(Nihilistic Holocaust Records)

 

Starting off this split release is France's Silure who deliever four songs of obscure and well performed old-school death metal. The music is played at a faster pace with some very well written and skillful musical passages. The guitarist even adds some well some enjoyable guitar solo's throughout the songs. Up next is Chile's Feretro who have released quite a few demo's and EP'S over the last few years. The musical style of Feretro is a very fast paced old school death metal with both powerful guitars and commanding drums. The guitarist does write some memorable guitar parts, even adding some heavier, slower guitar passages that fit the band's style perfectly. The vocals are old-school death metal growls that are done with some power alongside some gruff thrashy screams as well. Both bands possess a lot of skillful writing ability within the old school death metal sickness and cruelty. If you are a fan of well executed 90's style death metal then be sure you don't miss out on this killer split cassette.  - Patrick

http://nihilistic-webzine-distro.fr/    https://nihilisticholocaustrecs.bandcamp.com/music          

 

 

SKELETHAL

"Unveiling The Threshold" CD, LP & Tape

(Hells Headbangers)

 

When I think of the French UG scene I don’t think of any one style or sub-genre as a stand out of the scene in France. If anything for a long time it was known for black metal. But damn is it just me or has France not been producing a lot of really good death metal in recent times? I say yes, even though Skelethal is not a really new band, they are new to me with this sophomore full-length album. I reviewed an album by Bütcher earlier this year that I enjoyed, it turns out the drummer from that Osmose Productions band is also the drummer for Skelethal as well. He is a busy man. Skelethal compose some memorable brutal death metal with speedy and crushing riffs that wreck my head and my neck for that matter! There are some affecting and cool, but brief guitar fills and little nuances that pop up from time to time, which flesh things out without detracting from the brutality or blitzkrieg pacing. The growled vocals on here are classic sounding growls that enjoyed a lot. Anyone who reads Canadian Assault regularly knows I am a huge old Swedish death metal fanatic; it may be my fave style of death metal period to be honest. I just can not seem to get enough of it. So maybe it is not too surprising that I dig the hell out of this record, as that is the exact style Skelethal worship and play. They sound very much like one of my fave bands from that era of the early to mid ‘90s, which is Dismember and thrown in a dash of Carnage too for good measure. It may be far from original or breaking new ground, but when it is this well done and of this quality, Swede dm fellow worshippers of this sound will surely want to get their claws on posthaste.  - Dale

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

 

 

SLAGMARK

"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       

 

 

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/         

 

 

SOLICITOR

"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/       

 

 

THE SOMBRE

"Into The Beckoning Wilderness" CD

(Chaos Records)

 

This is a one man band and that one man is Maurice De Jong, who is originally from South America, but now resides in The Netherlands, and I am sure that is an interesting story all by itself on how he ended up there. But De Jong is a really interesting guy and very prolific in the metal UG scene with bands like Black Mouth of Spite, Caput Mortuum, Cloak of Altering, De Magia Veterum, Dodenbezweerder, Gnaw Their Tongues, Golden Ashes, Grand Celestial Nightmare, Hagetisse, Malorum, Obscuring Veil, Pyriphlegethon, The Black Mysteries and has done time in many more believe it or not!! The name of this solo project is a pitch perfect representation of the music it produces, it is very emotionally somber, cadaverous and melancholic like it is purposely draining you of all joy and optimism. It is not only the omnipresent dismal feeling, it is more complex than that, as I also I find it also invokes in me an feeling of tension and an oppressive vibe of dread that slow builds and sustains within me for a long stretches of time. The death doom music on here is also very heavy yet slow, so yes doom death that is heavily reliant on the doom end of that dual spectrum. The vocals do feature some relatively sparsely used spoken word or cleanly sung accents, but the main vocals are deep, obscured and cryptic whispery growling. I enjoy those vocals a lot as they manage to convey emotion and mirror the gloom of the music. I can surely recommend this quality album to fans of profound and cavernous doom death metal.  - Dale

https://gnawtheirtongues.bandcamp.com/    https://www.chaos-records.com/        

 

 

SOULGRINDER 'ZINE

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/  

 

 

SOULGRINDER 'ZINE

Package Round Up 2

"4 Way Split" + "Ultimate Power Corrupts & Concussion" 2 Way Split EP + "Skin Deep" 5 Way Split + Empathica Radio Vol. 1 Compilation CDs

(Soulgrinder 'zine)

 

Soulgrinder ‘Zine “4 Way Split” CD The almighty grinder of souls returns under the commanding direction of Paul Cravasi, a very dedicated man in the UG scene who puts out one of the best fanzines in the world. Paul also puts out some compilation and split CDs under his Soulgrinder banner. This time around on this split as the title suggest there are four bands which are Cruel Bomb, Ritual Moon, Concussion and Dark Zodiak. All of these thrashing bands get four songs a piece. First up is Cruel Bomb who is from my state of Pennsylvania and these guys play high octane, crushing riffed thrash metal with a healthy amount of crossover elements and influences mixed in. It brings to mind the big four ‘80s thrash metal bands mixed with stuff like Pro-Pain, early COC, early Prong, Sacred Reich etc… If you like riff heavy crossover thrash (though not much punk influence here) I think you would get into this band. Next up is Ritual Moon, who in some ways while still probably a thrash band is a little different than the other bands on here with more of a black thrashing style. There are even some death metal touches that show up now and then, but they are at their heart a thrash band. They could maybe use a bit more low end, but still some quality material here for sure. Next up is Concussion who also much like C.B. above play pounding thrash with absolutely crushing riffs and booming bass that I enjoyed here. These guys also have some crossover tendencies like Cruel Bomb, but maybe not quite as pronounced and they definitely mix in a little death metal influence in the pounding and grinding moments. The yelled coarse vocals may be the biggest part of their crossover influence bringing to mind a less insane vocal style similar to The Accüsed with some hardcore influence and a little Macabre thrown in. Holy shit Concussion bring the adrenaline and in your face brutality yet marry it with technical sequences and inventive song structuring. I mean the first two bands are good, but Concussion take things to a whole other level, these guys are the real deal! I need to keep a close eye on this fucking band let me tell you, best extreme band I have heard out of New York City in a long time. Finishing up this so far fantastic release is Dark Zodiak. They play a thrash heavy style of death metal. The vocals are half clean yelled and half growled, but not at all extreme or guttural, in fact pretty accessible sounding for a wider audience appeal I suppose. I would not go as far as to say the way the vocals are delivered and the way the lyrics are crafted are rap style, but it is not that far off to me, there is call and answer stuff and lot of rhythmic rhyming lyrics. I have to be honest I disliked pretty much everything about the vocal arranging, delivery and lyrical style. The music at times follows along and mimics that and those parts I was not into either. Having said that there are some heavy, killer riffs here and there that were good, so a real mixed bag for me. They should have ended the disc on a high note with Concussion because those guys fucking kill and are worth the price of this disc alone. But you do get a lot of music on here and Cruel Bomb + Ritual Moon deliver quality as well. Check this out ASAP and remember the name Concussion and that you heard them on this release first.  - Dale   

https://cruelbomb570.bandcamp.com/    https://ritualmoon.bandcamp.com/  

https://www.stabbyhamlet.com/    http://soulgrinderzine.blogspot.com/ 

 

 

Bonus Reviews: Okay yes I got excited while listening to Concussion above while writing up the review, so I fired off a message to Paul of Soulgrinder raving about Concussion. He wrote me back quickly saying he had released two different releases with Concussion and he is putting the second one in the mail, that package contained that release plus more and now grows this review into a robust Round Up Review!!
Soulgrinder ‘Zine "Ultimate Power Corrupts & Concussion" 2 Way Split CD EP I was chuffed at that news and here it has arrived. The only slight downer is I thought the Concussion material would be all different material, but it is the same four amazing songs on the 4 way split above, so I have covered that already above and it is extremely great. This disc is a 2 way split CD and like the 4 way disc above each band gets four tracks. Ultimate Power Corrupts is from my current home state of Pennsylvania and these guys play steamroller, forceful thrash metal to the max. They do have some death metal touches here and there, but it is straight up thrash for the most part with some old school crossover tendencies mixed in. These guys know how to create some massive killer riffs and memorable songs that you can really headbang hard to! I have to say this is an amazing, absolutely top shelf thrashing split EP and it may be an EP, but you probably get close to 30 minutes of utterly great music from start to finish from both of these bands. Concussion is a really hard act to follow, but Ultimate Power Corrupts put up a valiant and commendable effort of holding up their end of the deal. If you want to discover the best thrash the UG scene has to offer then you need to follow what Paul and Soulgrinder ‘zine are doing. You can thank me later. 

Soulgrinder ‘Zine "Skin Deep" 5 Way Split CD I am not sure if I have heard of a release like this before. It is a five band split and all five are all female bands. If you want to discover and support women in the underground scene, this is a disc you need to have. All the bands have 3 songs to showcase their stuff. First up on the release is Auxiliö from Los Angeles, California. They play thrash crossover sounding music with heavy punk and hardcore influences. It is fast and violent and I am sure pit inducing live. The music is stripped down, rough and kinda loosely played stuff, but it also has that old style punk / hardcore delivery and captures that vibe nicely. Next up is Psycotic Scum (also from the LA scene) who seem to have my kind of attitude from what I can tell and there is a killer clip of them on their fb page inducing a hot and sweaty pit live. They have an album out entitled “Cuntaminated” with great cover artwork that actually reminds me of some past Canadian Assault artwork I had done. Anyways on to the music of Psycotic Scum, it is heavy riffed thrash that much like the first band are a thrash crossover band with strong influences from the punk and hardcore scenes. When it is this heavy, fast, sadistic I have no problem whatsoever getting into this and headbanging to it. I find it interesting how much there seemingly is death metal inspired vocals sprinkled into these two bands even though their music is not dm influenced. I like it it adds an extra dimension over most thrash crossover/punk/hardcore bands. Damn Psycotic Scum are fucking relentless in a good way and keep bringing that in your face attitude I love. Band number three is Sepulchral Rites from Chile. They really stand out from the first two bands as they play brutal, chunky riffed death metal that definitely brings that evil sounding South American dm vibe. The music is largely mid-paced with sped up accents to get your head nodding. S.R. is a trio and the ladies go by great nicknames like Hellwitch, Speed Blast and Satanic Lust. Speaking of Satanic Lust she produces great ominous and dark sounding echo-y growls that will chill you. They keep things heavy and pounding and I found their darkly emotive aura infectious. There are some thrash metal touches here and there, which I guess kind of ties them to the overall theme thread of this release. Rolling into the fourth spot in the line up is Ritual Moon, once again from Los Angeles like the first two bands. I am happy to report unlike the two releases Concussion is on, Ritual Moon’s three songs on here are different from the ones on the four way split above. They continue in the same vein as their other material which is some solid blackened thrash. Their material is simple yet effective and they are successful in creating a dark, sinister aura throughout their music that is enjoyable and has a slight melancholic feel as well. Finishing up this epic five way split is Harlequin, who hail from, you guessed it Los Angeles. Who knew the female extreme UG scene was so rich and diverse in LA, not I. Harlequin produce brutal death metal that definitely wins the award of the best bottom end in their music out of the five, it is generally lacking in the others and the bass guitar is pretty good here. I like the juxtaposition of the vocals with guttural growls and higher nasally yelled vocals in some spots. These ladies are also probably the most talented on their instruments out of all the bands, and there is some interesting and well done songwriting. A quality and interesting release (including a fold out digi package with pics & info on the bands) you should check out ASAP.

Soulgrinder ‘Zine Presents: Empathica Radio “Hail To The Underground” Volume 1 Compilation CD I was not sure what exactly to expect with this disc, I mean I figured it was a compilation album. But it is also from some kind of online radio style podcast, so does it have commentary from a DJ/host(s) in between tracks? That would have been kinda cool, but no it is a straight up comp of upcoming bands they play on their show I assume. There was no bio or explanation included in the package so I am guessing here. This is put out by Soulgrinder ‘zine, but I don’t think Paul who runs it is part of the radio podcast just judging by their facebook page. If you are interested in discovering unsigned UG bands that play all forms of metal as well as hardcore and punk then look and listen here as that is what this show and this disc are all about. You get 19 of those bands here including Gravehuffer, Macabre Eternal, Basilisk, The Downstrokes, TxBxDx, The TV Dead, Spit of The Sin, Christ Dismembered, Autumn’s Silence, Ulvkult, Season of Evil, Haaze and more.  - Dale

https://concussionbk666.bandcamp.com    https://ultimatepowercorrupts.bandcamp.com  

https://auxilio-la.bandcamp.com/    https://www.facebook.com/psycoticscum/  

https://harlequin1official.bandcamp.com/    https://www.facebook.com/empathicaradio/  

https://www.stabbyhamlet.com/    http://soulgrinderzine.blogspot.com/ 

 

 

SPECTRUM OF DELUSION

"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/       

 

 

SPORAE AUTEM YUGGOTH

"The Plague Of The Aeons" CD EP

(Personal Records)

 

This release is on the newly minted Personal Records, a Mexican label owned / run by Jacobo Córdova from the long running bands Majestic Downfall & Zombiefication. So much like their label Sporae Autem Yuggoth from Chile is a young entity as well, in fact, this EP is their debut release. The band plays truly gloomy yet brutal and primordial doom death metal that brings to mind some of the classic doom death bands from the early to mid 1990s. Despite the tempo of the music being very slow, it also is steady if that makes sense, like the forward motion is continual even if it is at a glacial pace. The music is crushing in it’s own way, but also it feels very ominous yet introspective and emotionally overcast. The vocals are mainly a slow moving elongated and obscured sounding whisper growl, the vocals do occasionally pick up their speed in those rare instances that the music speeds up, ala sections of the song “Cathedral Of The Abuser”. All of the four songs on here are not surprisingly epic in length, averaging 7-8 minutes a piece. This release may not have blown my doors off metaphorically speaking, but I also can not deny that this is some strong doom death, which fans who like the old school sounds of this sub-genre will likely really enjoy.  - Dale

https://sporaeautemyuggoth.bandcamp.com/releases    http://www.personal-records.com/          

 

 

STARGAZER

"Psychic Secretions" CD, LP & MC

(Nuclear War Now! Productions)

 

These Australian avant-garde occult black/death metallers have been doing this for a very long time, so I do not lump them in with the current trend of progressive extreme metal bands the last few years. I would instead claim them as one of the fathers and originators of this sub-genre, as they started doing this in the mid-90s when very few if anyone else was. So full disclosure, I go into this release as a long time StarGazer devotee, I even ordered a band tshirt that had, if memory serves, the cover artwork from their ’99 split album with Invocation. The two original members of this trio are The Great Righteous Destroyer on bass/vocals & The Grand Inquisitor on guitars/vocals are currently or have been in a ton of bands you should have heard of like Misery’s Omen, Cauldron Black Ram, Mournful Congregation, Martire, Road Warrior and more. The music of StarGazer is always cloaked in a dark and sinister aura, but the music and the playing is always so smooth, precise and as classic metal sounding as one can imagine. They do have a lot of inventive songwriting, but one of the things I love about this band is they never let things get out of hand by splicing flowery melodies, or just silly sound effects and samples to let those do the work for them at being avant-garde. StarGazer makes everything sound very shadowy and do as much as possible with traditional instrumentation. They stay as true to the evil sound and intentions of the pioneering days of black/death as a central thread, while pushing envelope in dynamic ways that I find infinitely entertaining. The talent and song crafting vision is thing to behold on “Psychic Secretions”, as it invokes in the listener feelings and emotions of malevolence and introspection thusly taking you on one hell of a mental journey. Pay your respects to one of the inventors and masters of this musical concept / sub-grenre by ordering a copy of this excellent album posthaste, if not sooner.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/StarGazer-292821067421712    http://www.nwnprod.com/         

 

 

SURGICAL STRIKE

"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          

 

 

SVABHAVAT

"Black Mirror Reflection" CD & LP

(Eisenwald Records)

 

Svabhavat are a duo rising out of the dark forests (not the ones recently ablaze one would hope) pacific northwest of the United States. As far as I know this full-length is not only their debut album, but also their debut recording. Svabhavat play cold, harsh black metal that does have a slight or not so slight epic tone in their style. But they mainly produce cruel black metal, devoid of the sugary rhythms and riffs, and/or adventurous song structuring that has crept into a lot of modern black metal. Some of the influences I hear in the bands music are Judas Iscariot and Horna mixed with some early Darkthrone & Immortal, maybe to a lesser extent also bands like Black Funeral, early Mayhem, early Marduk, Nargaroth, Moonblood, Graveland etc… The vocals follow suit on of the influences I mentioned above. There is also some secondary tortured, lunacy filled screams and yells that remind me a little of Lust from Canada or the early Burzum releases. Both of those styles of vocal emanations are tremendous and add to the menacing evil atmosphere. This will probably not please newer black metal fans that love the incorporation of heavy flowery melodies, folk influence and “progressive” song structuring. I suspect the band is none too worried their music does not appeal to that crowd. No this is fucking black metal of old; it is sodden with freezing malice, always threatening darkness and evil around every dim corner. Fellow devotees and worshippers of the second wave of black metal, like myself, should take note of Svabhavat and "Black Mirror Reflection".  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/MalumInSe/    https://www.facebook.com/Eisenwaldofficial/         

 

 

SVARTSYN

"Requiem" CD & LP

(Carnal Records)

 

You know, it seems like most if not all Scadinavian black metal bands that have been around since the early days of the second wave of black metal (early ‘90s onward), seem have a strong cult following and are held in very high regard around the UG scene. Then you have a rare bm band like the Swedish Svartsyn, whom I became a devotee of in the mid ‘90s, which has been around even longer than that as Chalice (1991-1993 releasing a demo & a killer split Demo EP w/Illska) before changing their name to Svartsyn in 1994 and releasing their first demo tape under that moniker. That is why I am a little perplexed that Svartsyn is not uttered in the same breath as Darkthrone, Burzum, Immortal, Dark Funeral, Emperor, Graveland, Root, Ulver, Horna, Impaled Nazerene, Satyricon, Enslaved, Marduk etc… etc… I mean this band have never went away and have been releasing great second wave Scandinavian black metal all these years! They have released 9 demos, EPs & splits over those years, in addition to no less than 10 full-length albums!! Yeah I don’t get it honestly, they are surely criminally underrated in my view. But enough of that, how are they sounding these days, nearly 30 years after they arrived in the UG scene? Well, I will tell you with “Requiem” they (well Ornias for many years has essentially has run Svartsyn as a one man band with long time session drummer Ignace "Hammerman" Verstrate) are staying absolutely true to their roots! Svartsyn still conjures and performs potent black metal that is freezing cold and emanates an evil aura at all times. Their form of wintry black metal features flowing riffs dripping with hate, darkness and sinister malevolence. The drumming on here is extremely powerful and commanding. The traditional (yet unique in their own fashion) black rasps that emanate from Ornias’ tortured throat and spirit are among some of the best in the history of black metal in my opinion. Svartsyn unlike some of these black metal bands that have been around since the early days, have always stayed true to their black metal (and it’s) roots. Possibly another reason they have always stayed on smaller cult record labels to stay true to their path, Ornias has utter respect from me. This comes highly recommended from me. Support these Swedish UG legends!  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/svartsyn666    http://www.carnalrecords.com/         

 

 

SVARTTJERN

"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/          

 

 

SXUPERION

"Auscultating Astral Monuments” CD & LP

(Bloody Mountain Records)

 

Sxuperion is a one man band (who is also a member of Valdur, Weverin, Oreamnos & Garden Of Hesperides) from California. That one man has produced some really dark shadowy black death metal that has an evil aura to it at all times has a hypnotic tremolo picked rhythmic quality, yet always stays brutal as well. That obscured fog of an atmosphere is omnipresent, but is quite often accented in both subtle and not so subtle ways by a plethora of sound effects alternating haunting and creepy, or in other instances have a cosmic space effects like the sound of lasers, klaxon siren and the like. When I write that I read it back and say that does not sound like a good combination, but somehow Sxuperion make it work and make it sound natural and at times even mildly unique. Speaking of obscure earlier, that term also applies nicely to the various sinister voices and growling vocals employed on here, they are all very murky and ethereal sounding like they are coming from nowhere and everywhere at the same time. I am not sure if this will be everyone’s cup of tea, but it definitely is taking an old great style and doing it well, staying true to it’s roots and still making something different and distinctive sounding.  - Dale

https://bloodymountainrecords.bandcamp.com/    http://www.bloodymountainrecords.com/          

 

 

SZARY WILK

"Wrath" CD & LP

(Putrid Cult)

 

This secretive Polish band apparently take their musical witchcraft seriously, not to even mention their pagan roots, and the roots of the great early days of black metal terror that spawned in their country in the early 1990s. There were some great bands in those days that I can say I was actually into back then, such as the earlier works of countrymen Graveland, Veles, Infernum, Behemoth (no not the later days of the band, the early days were different, I ordered their “The Return of the Northern Moon” demo cassette from Pagan Records in 1993, it is to this day still one of my most cherished bm releases). Szary Wilk play harsh second wave bm and mix in heavy doses of flowing epic riffing that glide across the darkness like a silky and sinister spirit. Actually, considering how harsh and evil some of the nucleus elements of their music is, there is a higher level of memorable melody than you might expect. I could actually go for the freezing callous side to their music to take on an even more prominent grip on things, but that is just my personal tastes. Having said that, there is enough there for me to enjoy and the more melodic side is well done and enjoyable in it’s own right. They certainly do create an atmosphere that is interesting. I still think the hatred and cold rawness could be turned up a notch or two on this album. But if you like that old black metal severity mixed with some free flowing melodic melodies and moody epic style then you will probably get into this album even more than I did.  - Dale

https://putridcultproductions.bandcamp.com/    https://www.putridcult.pl/         

 

 

TEMPLE OF VOID

"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

"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/          

 

 

THE TRUE WERWOLF

"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/         

 

 

T.O.M.E.

"I-III” CD

(Spread Evil Records)

 

T.O.M.E. (Tome Of Misanthropical Experience) from Finland is one of those mysterious initials only bm bands. This collective turns out very atmospheric black metal, now I know what you are thinking atmospheric that must mean wall to wall synths, samples, angelic voices etc… Well you should forget those thoughts. This band creates deep encompassing atmospheres through traditional instruments mainly; okay there are a few wind samples and sounds, but mainly traditional instrumentation. The band while traveling along moderate guitar driven pace, like to then transition slower and slower, before you know it it is one note hanging in the frigid winter air like steam, moving but barely moving. Then things usually speed up eventually reaching a full on hateful, speedy second wave black metal velocity and this build up and mixing has a emotional timing and feel to it that is near perfect. The emotion and brooding anticipation this slowly creates is pretty delicious in it’s own sinister fashion, which makes the delivery of the stormy black metal outbreak that often follows very satisfying and invigorating. Some will be tempted to label this band in the depressive black metal category, not sure they belong there, their music feels like something else, something with a more malevolent intent. Despite all the foreboding gloom and black blood freezing aggression there are brief sequences, now and then, where they are actually verge on slightly rocking and headbanging territory. I know that flies in the face of what I have described, but it is there and somehow they make it work in their own dark manner - It should not work, but it does anyway. The vocals should be mentioned here as well, they are all manner of evil shadowy voices, ominous howls (similar to early Burzum perhaps) and emanations dripping with depraved, haunting passion that are mixed with excellent traditional black metal rasping mainstay vocals. I am not sure if this will be a band going forward or a one off release, as T.O.M.E. have released only one demo over a decade ago and it would appear the music here is the same as that release possibly with some fine tuning and updating. Either way, even if this is the bands only legacy, this is very worth having for any black metal devotee that worships atmospheric black metal with a hefty wintry primordial old school feel.  - Dale

http://www.mikseri.net/artists/tome.69189.php    http://spreadevil.net/         

 

 

TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE

"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/          

 

 

UNMERCIFUL

"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/          

 

 

UNFATHOMABLE RUINATION

"Decennium Ruinae" CD EP & 12" EP

(Willowtip Records)

 

This Brit band is a collective of very active long time UG musicians that have done time at one point or another in bands like Inebrious Incarnate, The Body Farm, Fleshrot, Bloodshot Dawn, Drenched and more. They play brutalizing and violent death metal with this release featuring nearly twenty minutes of it. Unfathomable Ruination is able to strike a good balance between out and out murderous brutality and headbang inducing catchy riffs and song structuring. I would not label the band as technical death metal, but all the same there are some brief intricate sequences, and the extra attention to detail with nuanced elements / accents give off that vibe all the same. The growling vocals are exceedingly powerful and commanding as they boil and churn the audio waters leaving a violent wake. I like Ben Wright’s vocals a lot; they are an example of quintessential death metal goodness and a cut above most. Not to be out done is Doug Anderson’s drumming, which is a whirlwind of precise hammer blows that pummel and batter your headphones with both dexterity and unmerciful brute force. I can not believe that I have not heard any of this UK bands material before now, because I am duly impressed and now feel the pull to check out their previous releases (which include a demo, EP and three albums). I suggest you order a copy of this, and if you are like me, awaken from slumber and pay closer attention to this killer band.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/Unfathomable.Ruination.Official/    https://willowtip.bandcamp.com/         

 

 

VAGINAL PENETRATION OF AN AMELUS WITH A MUSTY CARROT

"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/  

 

 

VALDRIN

"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/         

 

 

VANANIDR

"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         

 

 

VASSAFOR

"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/         

 

 

VIOLENT HAMMER

"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/       

 

 

VOODUS

"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/         

 

 

VULTÖR

"Visões do Fim" Compilation Cassette

(Murder Records)

 

As you can see from the title above, this release is a full-length compilation of all of the bands releases so far, which consists of their 2018 demo cd, 2019 demo tape and a 2019 7” EP. This is a really cool and eclectic mixing of influences from this Brazilian band. The bio really nails it on their influences and sound when they say it is a mix of Motorhead and Venom with a myriad of old school punk and hardcore influences. The result is a very enjoyable and fun listen that is a ballsy, fast and raunchy ripping blend of ripping hard rock and dirty metal punk. I found the music to be very infectious, catchy and full adrenaline from start to finish. The vocals are a similar mix like Lemmy mixed with a thrashy gruff style and tinge of crazy ala The Accüsed maniacal vocals. It all works well together with a sound that induces headbanging fury in the listener. There is some really killer guitar work and fills in here too that flesh things out. The only tiny complaint from me is the sound / production, while clear enough is not heavy and as in your face as it needs to be in my opinion. Having said that, honestly as things go on in their discography that area gets better seemingly with each release and by the last handful of songs the production improves. I definitely would recommend this for old school Venom & Motorhead fans that also dig aggressive hardcore and punk bands from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.  - Dale

https://vultor.bandcamp.com/    http://www.murder-records.com/         

 

 

WALPURGIA

"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/       

 

 

WHARFLURCH

"Shitslime" CD EP

(Personal Records)

 

The Floridian band Wharflurch is new to me having formed in 2019, they previously released a demo and an EP prior to this four songs, fifteen minute ‘Shitslime’ EP picked up by Personal Records. The music is very rooted in the old school UG metal tradition yet they also have this quirky edge (but not in a goofy or trying to just be progressive way) with hard to describe little touches and accents that give off that vibe. I am talking about things like tossing in a super catchy headbang riff, a dramatic guitar fill (ala start of the song “Intergalatic Death Spectrum Vortex”), a catchy sped up short section of a song seemingly out of nowhere or just a strange sound effect or sample, which is kept brief yet impactful. I can tell the band is very careful that these elements do not distract from their core sound, which is very much extremely heavy, sewer level guttural death metal with a suffocating slowed aura wrapped around it all. Their base nucleus sound to my ear is a mix of doom death metal, ala Bolt Thrower and especially early Autopsy mixed with just ultra brutal riffing and pummeling drums, but when things speed up it reminds me a lot of early to middle ‘90s Floridian death metal. It is all done so well though. My first couple listens this did not grab me that hard, but with successive listen afterwards their infectious grip tightened around me until I could no longer resist and submitted to it’s suffocating embrace.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/wharflurch    https://personal-records.bandcamp.com/         

 

 

WHEEL

"Preserved In Time" CD & LP

(Cruz Del Sur Music)

 

Classic and classy sounding heavy metal doom music is what you get from the German band Wheel, and you get it in spades. I was struck pretty quickly by these fellows penchant and ability to convey so much emotion through the structuring of their music, with the guitars taking a lead role in this and some of the riffing and playing are so enchanting and hypnotic. Arkadius Kurek has down the quintessential vocal style for traditional doom metal, it is tried and true for a reason because it fits this genre like a proverbial glove. But it takes talent, timing and the right vocal tone to pull it off as well as Arkadius does on this album. It does help the vocalist along the way to have quality lyrics to work with to be up to the challenge of singing to such dramatic and epic music. Some influences that spring to mind when listening to ‘Preserved In Time’ is a mix of bands like ‘70s era Pentagram, ‘80s era Candlemass, Saint Vitus, ‘90s era Solstice (UK), Reverend Bizarre and possibly more than any of those is the great band Solitude Aeturnus. I mean all of those influences as a real compliment; they take in some of the best elements of those bands and produce something that I think all fans of those bands and the time-honored archetypical doom metal would gladly welcome to their collection.  - Dale

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

 

 

THE WIZAR'D

"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/         

 

 

XYTHLIA

"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/