"Sermon To The Snake” CD EP

(Horror Pain Gore Death Productions)


Obscene are a new death metal band, coming to us out of Indianapolis, Indiana with their debut EP. “Sermon To The Snake” features four tracks of death metal with some elements of thrash guitars mixed in with their brutal style of music. The band plays mainly in the mid paced range with some fast guitar sections mixed into some of the songs. The drums are performed with both extremely fast drum patterns, but he does slow down to calmer more mid paced beats now and then. The vocalist is the only thing I don’t care for on this release, as the vocals I feel, just do not really fit well with the music. The music itself is done with a lot more maturity than most new bands, due to the members of this band having done this before in other bands (Black Goat Of The Woods, Acheron, Summon The Destroyer etc…), and their experience bleeds through with some well thought song structuring. If you are a fan of old school death metal, with some thrash influences, then be sure to give Obscene a listen today.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/obsceneDM    http://www.horrorpaingoredeath.com/       




"Esperalem Tkane” CD

(Arachnophobia Records)


Godz Ov War Productions strikes again! That wonderful label, who support their scene like no other, have once again sent me a large package of discs, not discs they released, but rather from labels and bands from their country they wish to support and promote. That is what I call the true underground spirit. Alright, on to Odraza, like all the bands in this package, they hail from Poland and play black death metal. This may be the bands debut album, but it is clear upon listening, there is a lot of skill and maturity present, it makes one think they are not newbies at all. This suspicion is quickly confirmed correct upon looking up the two members. They are both from the band Messemord, which has been around a decade or so, plus they have both had stints in or are currently are in a number of other bands. “Esperalem Tkane” is an interesting album, it is not all speed and brute force, no this is a well thought out and crafted album, by two men that possess skill in both their chosen instruments, as well as possessing a talent for arranging music. There is a lot going on here, it is not you’re every day black metal, there is a lot of variation and dynamic, worked expertly within their chosen genre. The envelope is constantly pushed, but their black metal roots are never pulled from the soil, if you get my meaning. The music is very dark and evil sounding, it is brutal as well, yet it is filled with very emotional brooding elements, which add such depth to their musical landscape. Yes, it can send you on an introspective journey, but you will not get too lost in it, because there lays violence and barbarity lurking around each and every corner. This is an impressive album, if you like your black death metal on the slightly adventurous side, but also music that takes care not to forget the dark aggression and barbarism spawned it, then I can strongly recommend that you pick up this great album. Now if you will excuse me, I suddenly have a strange craving, to smoke some cigarette butts off the floor and suck on some lovley old Gilf titties.  - Dale

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2-o2Zfv4b8i_xxHPzktRyw   www.arachnophobia.pl      




“Visions From Beyond” CD

(Chaos Records)


Russia’s old school death metal band Old Chapel returns to us with their third full length release. The album features nine songs of early to mid nineties death metal with some doom elements mixed in to some of the songs. The guitarist knows how to write and perform heavier mid paced style and sound, but also is adept at a faster paced style in a few of the songs. The drumming is done in the same vein going from thunderously heavy to smoothly mixing together middle paced and faster paced beats. The vocals are totally old school death metal growls that fit well. If you are a fan of the mid ‘90s US death metal scene then you will definitely add this album to your collection.  - Patrick

https://oldchapel.bandcamp.com    http://www.chaos-records.com    




"Old Mother Hell” CD

(Cruz Del Sur Records)


Cruz Del Sur leave no stone unturned, in their search of traditional heavy metal and doom bands, the world over. This time around, they landed their all seeing eye upon Germany, holding up Old Mother Hell like the gleaming shield of a brave armor clad warrior engaged in some ancient battle. So, even though I threw in the doom tag here, as does the band and record label, an element of their sound which is indeed present, like a whispering thread of audio smoke wafting throughout proceedings. But, having said that, Old Mother Hell are mainly a classic heavy metal band, largely employing a pacing which is often a little more brisk and invigorated, than what you would think of when you see the doom label attached. Dare I say, they even rock out now and then, inducing a little headbanging and air guitar from me. Speaking of the guitars, they are very stylish sounding with a real smooth grace to the playing and structuring, which produces quite a contemplative yet heroic and affecting medieval atmosphere, to match the lyrical content. The vocalist has a rich stouthearted tone, with a slightly trembling, but highly emotive quality, which I dig an awful lot. I think die hard fans of ‘70s and ‘80s heavy metal with doom touches, will like a little of this particular hell, in their lives and their record collections.  - Dale

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




"Towards Eternity” CD

(Horror Pain Gore Death Productions)


This is my first time hearing Ordoxe’s music, the band combines elements of aggressive and melodic black metal, even throwing in some death metal influence in a few of the songs. The guitarist knows how to write, and play various speeds and styles, going from a fast black metal guitar to a slow to more mid paced guitar pace in a few songs. The vocals are a mix of harsh black metal screams along with deeper growls. “Towards Eternity” is a good mix of both melodic and forceful blackened death metal, so if you are a fan of Ordoxe’s past releases, then be sure to pick up a copy of the new release today.  - Patrick

https://ordoxe.bandcamp.com/    http://www.horrorpaingoredeath.com/          




"Calcified Trophies Of Violence” Cassette EP

(Blood Harvest Records)


Portland Oregon’s newest emerging death metal horde Ossuarium as they release their previously self-released demo tape out officially now on Blood Harvest. “Calcified Trophies Of Violence” features three songs of dense, dark medium paced death metal. The vocals are low death growls with some raspy screams sprinkled through a few of the songs. The drums range from a fast, crazed drum style to a more controlled steady style. I believe there will be a CD version of this release through Blood Harvest later in the year. But if you are a fan of early Incantation and Autopsy, as well as, other similar bands of that ilk then you should most definitely give Ossuarium a listen today.  - Patrick

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




"Execration Diatribes” CD

(Lavadome Productions)


Pestifer have unleashed their debut album of barbaric and brutal South American death metal with some thrash elements intertwined in the guitar sound. The guitars are played at a high rate of speed with some well written and played patterns. The guitars are mainly played with non-stop riffs, but the guitarist does slow up to a mid paced range in a few songs. The drums are played with fierce and violent drum beats that are mainly blast beats with some slower drums mixed into the music. The vocals are raw screams and some deeper growls here and there. If you are a fan of well played, barbaric death metal with some thrash elements mixed in, then be sure to pick up Pestifer’s debut cd today.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/pestiferofficial    http://www.lavadome.org/     




"Cascading Inferno” CD & LP

(Blood Harvest Records)


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

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




"What Passes For Survival” CD

(Willowtip Records)


Disjointed pieces of a formless whole punch you from all sides during the initial moments of this album, immediately introducing the feral nature of Pyrrhon’s approach to technical death metal. Now, when I think of popular technical death metal, immediately what jumps to my mind are cleanly executed complex guitar passages, quicker-than-a-sudden-avalanche drumming, absurdly convoluted yet controlled bass playing, and vocals that span variable ranges. I find that many contemporary bands will be tech for tech’s sake, though, kind of like as if these bands use this subgenre to produce metal’s take on aestheticism. Pyrrhon does not construct their music in so superficial a manner—quite the opposite. For example, one of the most noticeable facets of What Passes For Survival is the depth of the production quality—sonic hierarchies permeate the waters of this album, at times punching you from all sides like I mentioned occurs at the outset of the introductory track, and at times sustaining a caliginous atmosphere into which you can dive and get cathartically lost like in “Tennessee” and “Empty Tenement Spirit.” My favorite track at the moment is “Trash Talk Landfill,” however, because of how audible yet densely produced the composition is. Give it a listen, and you’ll hear all of the complexities that you wish to hear in a technical death metal album played with a formidable, tangled, and determined momentum. This momentum does not rest for several tracks either. You’ll think you get a moment to breathe, but then Pyrrhon undermine that instance of peace by tossing you straight back into the fray. What Passes For Survival quarrels with itself and its listener if he/she does not succumb to its oftentimes erratic, but always-vigorous and spirited energy. It’s a challenging, yet very much so rewarding listen. I highly recommend this album for anyone that enjoys technical and progressive constructions of extreme metal, but also relishes a heavy fucking dose of ruthless brutality. – Aaron

https://pyrrhonband.bandcamp.com/    http://www.willowtip.com          




"Beheading Tyrants” CD

(Cruz Del Sur Music)


Hailing from Sweden this band has been dormant for 16 years since the release of their debut album “Aelin”. What have the band members of this trio been up to all these years you ask? Well, two of the members carried on with another more prolific band, by the name Mortalicum who have released four albums in the meantime. I seen an interview which said some of the material on here is from many years ago just after the debut album. Anyway, enough background, on to the music which I would probably call epic heavy metal or maybe even dipping into the epic hard rock territory (ala Queensryche “Operation Mindcrime” vibe) with slight doom touches. I would say their sound is a very niche one, even among heavy metal fans, it is focused into the smaller dedicated cult following that worship bands like Cirith Ungol and especially Manilla Road. Which, for some heavy metal fans might be a little too laid-back, chill and introspective for what they normally go for. But for those of you that can get into that this,  it takes you down a reflective emotional path, where you can enjoy just getting lost in the flow and letting the currents gently guide you down this musical journey. I mean there are brief moments of get up and go, such as the opener “Daughters Of Eve”, where the tempo is turned up a little and there is a cool brief energetic solo. But make no mistake, the mainstay pacing and atmosphere is definitely even keel and unhurried, just easy going. I mentioned Queensryche on “Operation Mindcrime” earlier; I would also throw in the moodier sections of Fates Warning “A Pleasant Shade Of Grey”, now I am referring to those records vocally here. The performance of vocalist Goran Jacobson reminds me at times of those records, not that I would put his range as a singer on the level of Geoff Tate or Ray Alder, but those mid-range, spoken/sung parts and feel from those guys. Anyway, probably not getting my point across here very well and rambling, the vocals are good, how about that? Haha. The record itself is good too, nothing mind-blowing by any means, maybe even a bit of an acquired taste too but I enjoyed it.  - Dale

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




"War” CD

(Innerstrength Records)


Rig Time is a hardcore metal band coming out of the Wisconsin UG scene. The music on here is a mixture of middle tempo heavy material, but does speed up to a faster pace in a few of the songs on “War”. The guitar work is a combination well written and performed mid tempo riffing. The vocals are a mix of the tried and true hardcore hollering along with some rawer screams to spice things up. I should admit that I am not the biggest fan of the metallic hardcore style, but if you enjoy this type of music, then you should definitely give Rig Time a listen as they are pretty solid at doing what they do.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/RIGTIME/    https://innerstrengthrecords.bandcamp.com/         




"Mai-Zang” CD & Cassette

(Craneo Negro Records / Necrolatry Records)


Andrew Lee (ex-Disincarnation & Draghkar) is the mastermind behind this Californian one man band, who is set to release his new bands debut album. “Mai-Zang” features eight well written songs of old school death metal and some thrash elements are blended throughout this recording. Ripped To Shreds play a nice mix of mid paced death metal, but Andrew does let loose and kick the speed up in some of the tracks. Andrew’s guitar work is amazing; fluctuating between some well written middle paced guitar patterns and some extremely fast patterning. The vocals are gruff growls and some screams combined throughout the music. This album is a very good release of solid old school death metal, if you are a fan of early Bolt Thrower, Entombed and the like then do yourself a favor and pick this up today.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/rippedtoshredsband    https://www.facebook.com/ixcraneonegroxi       




"The Blade Philosophical” CD & LP

(Nuclear War Now! Productions)


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

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




"Power” CD & LP

(Gates Of Hell Records)


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

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




“Kargeras” CD

(Paragon Records)


The Root re-releases continue, it was not long ago I was reviewing a series of re-releases done by I Hate Records. I could be wrong but I think this may be the third time this album has been released since it first saw the dark of night back in 1996. I have immense respect for this band, obviously many labels have the same reverence and worship I do for Root. I became obsessed with this band I think it was some time around 1991/1992 when I managed get my hands on the original vinyl release of their debut Zejeveni album out on Zeras records from a distro. It is close to my most prized vinyl to this day and a masterpiece album of raw, hateful, distinctive black metal. Which brings us forward as the band slowly moved away from that black metal sound and the extremity, bit by bit over the next few albums bringing us up to Kargeras. The bands 4th album sees them further along this path as the band create their first concept album of a land, a time, a people entirely from the mind of mainman and UG scene legend Big Boss. The immense amount of work and pouring over every detail to make this record as perfect as possible is evident, I believe the band worked the longest on this record than on any other. As mentioned this album is no longer black metal, it is like some dark emotional epic heavy metal music. It is truly a poignant and moving album that creates an atmosphere, a mental musical landscape for you mind to wander through. As always is the case with each Root album, the vocals of Big Boss are as important and probably more important than any other instrument or musical element on a Root record. His vocals are so unique and wonderfully charismatic, they always reach into my brain and massage it into ecstasy with a powerful and deft touch. Just simply amazing. I do not know that I could put many more words to this review that would do this record justice. I just do not think Root are even capable of making anything short of a superb album time after time. This is simply a must own as are all Root full lengths. I almost forgot to mention there is an 11 minute bonus track simply entitled ‘Demos’ so there is that treat for the Root die hards!  - Dale

https://myspace.com/rootcze   http://www.themetalunderground.com/  




"Beyond Celestial Echoes” CD

(Cruz Del Sur Music)


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

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




"A Funeral For The World" CD

(Cruz Del Sur Music)


Cruz Del Sur just keeps pumping out quality bands, generally of the heavy metal doom variety, with an emphasis on the doom side of that equation, in most cases. This is once again the case with Sanhedrin, but they lean much more in the classic heavy metal (and hard rock) direction, alongside occasional sprinklings of more modern day sounds than much of the labels staple roster. The production on here sounds and feels quite modern and current as well despite their love of old bands. The band is competent at song crafting / structuring, but they are not trying to impress at how clever or aggressive they can be in this area. The band are definitely much more concerned with catchy hooks, rhythms with songs purely focus on feel in between their rocking grooves. The seven plus minute opus “Collateral Damage”, placed at albums mid-point is a rather moody, solidly impressive song, which shows the band really wearing some influences on their sleeves with heavy doses of more modern Iron Maiden and classic Queensryche, bleeding through with touches of class and skill. Speaking of Queensryche, vocalist Erica Stoltz has a classic ‘80s heavy metal side to her voice, but I can not shake the Geoff Tate comparison when listening to her effortlessly belt out those great vocals of hers backed by high-quality range, control and poise. I am huge fan and believer in Cruz Del Sur Music, they have superb tastes in music and find impressive bands consistently. So, while Sandhedrin for my tastes, is not necessarily the cream of the crop on their roster, this is nonetheless still a solid record that fans of the murky emotional stylings of bands like Queensryche and modern Maiden mixed liberally with NWOBHM (along with American bands in that style from the mid to late ‘80s) in an updated package should find this right in their wheelhouse.  - Dale

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




"Unutterable Horrors” CD

(Horror Pain Gore Death Productions)


Rising out of the Boston, Massachusetts UG scene is brutal death metal band Scaphism. “Unutterable Horrors” is the bands second full length featuring eight songs of violent old school brutal death metal music. The vocals are old school growls, as well as, some more gruff death metal growls mixed into a few of the songs. The drumming on here is top notch employing some hyper-speed blast beats, but the drummer also writes and performs some mid paced drum patterns, which are a high skill level. The guitars are played in the same vein with some extremely fast guitars and then peppering in some slower middle paced guitar sections. If you are a fan of well built and solidly played old style brutal death metal, then be sure to pick up a copy of “Unutterable Horrors”, when it is released in January.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/Scaphism    https://hpgd.bandcamp.com/          




"Echoes Of Dismemberment" CD

(Unspeakable Axe Records)


Delaware’s old school death metal band Scorched have released their debut full length cd, featuring ten songs of brutal, heavy old school death metal. The guitars are played with a lot of skill and good patterns, going from a mid paced heavy old guitar style, to a crazed fast speed. The guitarist knows to really write and play, extremely tight material, whether playing exceedingly fast or at a controlled pace, he even is great while playing some well crafted and played solos in a few of the songs. The drums are played with a lot of power and skill, going from a slow to mid paced range to a faster more brutal drum style throughout the songs, to give a nice mix of mid paced and faster music. If you are a fan of mid ‘90s brutal death metal scene, then be sure to check out and buy a copy Scorched’s debut today.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/scorchedde/    http://www.unspeakableaxerecords.com/        




"Ungodly Forms” CD

(Testimony Records)


New Jersey’s Sentient Horror have unleashed their debut album, featuring twelve songs of aggressive, well played Swedish inspired death metal. Though Sentient Horror are heavily influenced by the Swedish dm scene, the band can write some original and well played death metal that is not just a clone. The vocals are deep death growls that really fit the bands sound very well. The guitars are played with a level of skill and are impressively performed. The guitars range from an extreme and crazed speed, to a more controlled mid paced level. If you are a fan of the early Swedish death metal sound, played by a band with the ability to write and perform a brand of death metal with their stamp on it. Then be sure to check out this album ASAP.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/sentienthorrorofficial/    http://testimonyrecords.bigcartel.com/        




"Vol. III & IV: Cult of the Void" CD

(Art of Propaganda)


Let me tell you about an album that I have not been able to quit listening to ever since I found it at the top of the “best-selling” metal albums section of Bandcamp a few weeks ago. Seer (a.k.a. Seer BC) released Vol. III & IV: Cult of the Void on July 7th of this year through the German label Art of Propaganda. There is an evident divide in the album between these two volumes with “Volume III” being the first four doom-laden tracks of the album and “Volume IV” being the last four, acoustic and more lax, tracks. If you are headbanging while listening to the album, you are probably still caught in the thick, captivating webbing of the third volume, which begins with the nine-and-a-half minute track “Ancient Sands (Rot Preacher) that moves from riff to riff without a single stutter. That track hooked me into the album immediately. It shows all that “Volume III” has to offer like an overture of themes to come: entrancing clean vocals, blackened harsh vocals to contrast, groovy riffs, and a rhythm section that plays an integral part in keeping the compositions tight and moving with forward momentum as well as providing accenting features that fill the periphery. I must also mention the literary quality of the lyrics throughout this album—they construct a story involving the Cult of the Void and its disciples from another world in a sort of modernist science fiction form. For me, the lyrics were just as enthralling as the instrumentation, so I highly suggest following along with them as you listen to the album. This suggestion is most pertinent to the fourth volume because the first three tracks of this volume contain lyrics, but they are not vocalized. The overall effect of the album with its parts combined takes the shape of a journey, guiding the listener through the pained experiences of this cult from their pilgrimage to their pyre. I highly recommend Cult of the Void to any doom metal fan that enjoys hearing extreme metal qualities in their doom as well as acoustic cool-downs after the headbang fest.  – Aaron

https://seerbc.bandcamp.com/    https://www.facebook.com/seervancouver       




"Apocalyptic Rhymes” CD & LP

(Cruz Del Sur Music)


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

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




"Demo Collection 1987” Compilation Cassette Album

(NoVisible Scars Records)


I was pretty excited, to find out this was the first band of the almighty Stevo, from the legendary death metal pioneer band Impetigo. I love everything, with the packaging it looks great, a very nice job done by the label with the cassette and inlay. I can definitely hear some influences here like SOD, Misfits and DRI. First up, is their 1987 demo, which is then followed by two rehearsal sessions from the same year. Honestly, the demo is not that good, the playing is kind of terrible, the songs sound like they just tried to play fast, without actually playing much of anything, just let’s make noise. One thing I liked right from the beginning and throughout is the add ins of army related songs, drum patterns and sing songs etc… That stuff is great, done with a party attitude, adding some great atmosphere in the musical tornado. The rehearsals, for the most part for me sound much better than the demos, they still lack direction at times, but they slow down a little bit actually trying to play songs at times, and rock out on some infectious pit and headbang inducing sections, filled cool merrymaking teenage angst and energy. Those elements are fun and saved this release for me, as something I can sit back listen to and enjoy, as opposed to having it, just for the historic novelty of this being Stevo’s first band. During the rehearsal stuff, there are friends there and they are all just having a party and playing, so yeah just fun. The military theme is well represented, for people who love that stuff, from the bits of army culture and lore I mentioned above, to songs with titles like “Combat Boots”, “Foxhole Blues”, “Rambo”, “Military Time” etc… Also one of my favourites “My Friend Lost His Face” hehe. I could see some getting this for the novelty, as I mentioned, but there is definitely some good times to be had if you look beyond the car crash moments. This is limited to only 150 copies, I believe currently there are a few left, but if those run out, you can get the digital download version for only three bones. So check it out.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/NoVisibleSacrs   http://novisiblescars.bandcamp.com/     




"Devouring Mortality” CD

(Dark Descent Records)


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

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




"Ouroboros” CD

(Lifeblood Records / eOne Music)


Boston’s Soul Remnants come out of the gates like an angry caged bear set free on a rampage. Yes, what is old is new again, Soul Remnants weave old school American death metal (Morbid Angel, Suffocation etc…) and thrash aesthetic and influences into a modern structured stylistic flow and feeling. A combination which dug it’s claws into me pretty quickly! The song construction and performances have this dynamic energy to them that keeps me really interested and engaged. Plus, it is extremely catchy, while also being extremely brutal, which is a combination I love and is not often pulled off with the proper balance for my tastes. By that, I mean I see this more as real melodic death metal that is brutal dm with some melodic elements rather than the usual stuff that is called melodic death these days, where it is heavily melodic music with a little kinda watered down death metal music mixed in. There always needs to be a level of brutality in there, for it to even really be dm at all, in my opinion (think things like At The Gates “Slaughter Of The Soul”, Dissection “Storm Of The Light’s Bane” etc…). Sorry for that little sidetrack rant, back to the music at hand. The band speak of Scandinavian black metal influence in their music, I do hear it a wee bit, but honestly I think it is more Scandinavian melodic death elements, so I think anyone buying it for the black metal elements might be a little miffed. Despite the aforementioned melodic dm element rant, and slightly contradicting myself here, one of my fave tracks is a slightly prog-y instrumental, a three plus minute brief divergent path of a song entitled “Wall City”, which simply bleeds poignant emotive atmosphere. I loved the great affecting guitar fill in the middle of this excellent track. The music on here sounds and feels so fucking tight, I can only imagine the work put in until they feel they have what they feel is perfect and rehearse the shit out of music so it is super snug, when it is time to hit the recording studio. I am not saying it is the most amazing death metal album I have heard, but I will say this is a really solid, even excellent dm record, that I can fully recommend.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/SoulRemnants/    http://www.lifebloodinc.com/          




"Antimoshiach" CD

(Invictus Productions)


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

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




"Infernal Decadence" CD

(Vendetta Records)


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

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




"Static Of Masses / Zogthorgven” Cassette EP

(Doomday’s Today Records)


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

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




"Self Titled” CD & LP

(Heaven And Hell Records)


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

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




"The Grand Manifestation" CD

(Dark Descent Records)


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

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




"Manor of Infinite Forms” Cassette Album

(20 Buck Spin)


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

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




"The Red Queen” CD EP

(Transcending Records)


Transylvania Stud is a solo band from Andrew Godrey, who previous I believe had made his bones, as a musician in a commercial radio rock band of some sort; sorry I do not follow that scene at all. This ep is obviously a bit of a departure for him, it is slightly fuzzed out stoner hard rock / metal as I think of it, or as they often now call it desert (I assume this term stems from Kyuss desert music videos / general visuals?) hard rock. It is fairly interesting stuff, they have the guitar sound and stylings down pretty well, the title track on this three song (plus bonus tracks) disc has a solid, addictive hook and is pretty memorable. The vocals are sort of in this desert / stoner style, but honestly they are a little more on the lighter side of things, in comparison to the usual vocals in this style, and honestly the vocals were my least favourite thing, but I could see fans of more commercial hard rock digging them more than I did. I do like some stoner and I guess desert rock (yeah not a fan of that term personally), so I think I have a relatively strong grasp on what Andrew was going for here. But, I sort of feel like, he did not or could not, manage to jump in with both feet with it. Maybe this was exactly what he was going for, but rather than desert rock, it feels like the Tragically Hip or U2 or similar musicians listened to some Kyuss, Fu Manchu, Queens Of The Stone Age, Alice In Chains albums. Then said, “Hey I wanna give that a try”, and it still ended up sounding more like their original band and style they were attempting to step away from. Like I said, maybe he wanted to merge his scene and roots with this other style he likes now, I don’t know, maybe I am just not a fan of taking and mixing it in with the stoner hard rock sound, it just lightens it up and waters down it’s potency a little too much. To clarify further, there is just not quite enough bite and fuzz in the guitars, and the vocals are too softened and clean around the edges to appeal to my tastes. Having said that, if you are really into both of those worlds and like idea of marrying the two, then I think you will like this because it is well done for what it is and there is clearly some talent behind it.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/Transylvaniastud/    http://www.transcendingrecords.com/        




"Urine Of Abomination” CD, LP & Cassette

(Invictus Prod./Vrasubatlat/20 Buck Spin)


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

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




"Yeth Hound" CD

(Gates Of Hell)


Gates Of Hell, is a sub-label of Cruz Del Sur Music, and this is a review of the new cd / lp of Tyfon’s Doom. This is a one man band, that one man being Tommi Varsala, who handles everything for this project. The music is in the late 70s rock style, with some mid 80s hard rock influences. It goes from a raw, dirty loose guitar sound, to a more streamlined and structured well played style. The vocals are a blend, which consists of hollering and screams, to a more controlled singing voice in a few of the songs. I would say, if you are a fan of semi-raw and dirty hard rockin’ metal, then you be sure to this album up as soon as possible.  - Patrick

http://tyfonsdoom.bandcamp.com/   http://www.gatesofhellrecords.com/       




"Emperor’s Path" CD

(Gates Of Hell Records)


Finland’s Tyfon’s Doom presents to us their debut full-length, entitlted “Emperor’s Path”, through Gates Of Hell Records. Tomi Varsala handles the vocals, as well he writes and plays all of the music doing a good job of writing some memorable heavy metal. The guitars are mainly palyed in the mid paced tempo. There are some creative guitar patterns and some nice solos mixed in to a few of the songs. The vocals are heavy metal screams, along side some hollering vocals that really fit Tyfon’s Doom musical style. I would say, if you are a fan of traditional heavy metal, be sure to check out this debut album ASAP.  - Patrick

https://tyfonsdoom.bandcamp.com/    http://www.gatesofhellrecords.com/      




"Heading Below” CD

(Arachnophobia Records)


Ulcer comes out of Poland’s old school death metal scene and hit our ears with their third release to date entitled “Heading Below”. There are nine songs of dark and heavy death metal with hints of Swedish dm influence on the nine songs featured here. The guitars are played with extremely fast and chaotic patterns. The guitarist is not all speed and aggression though, as he does slow down to a slow to a more mid paced, heavier style, in a few of the songs. The drumming is played with some superb patterns, going from a heavy middle paced range, to an all out high-speed assault on the drum kit. The vocals are low death growls intertwined with some gruff spoken type of vocal patterns. If you enjoy old school Swedish death metal like early Entombed, Grave or the first Dismember album then you will definitely want to add Ulcer’s “Heading Below” to your collection now.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/Ulcerdeathmetal    http://arachnophobia.pl/         




"Temple of the Abyss" CD

(Profound Lore Records)


Old school death metal is a subgenre that sometimes can be limited by its own title. Simply tagging on the words “old school” evokes a sense of being stuck in the past. Vacivus remains unconfined, though, rather bringing this style into a modern setting that utilizes production quality (not spotless, but translucent) to its advantage. They also don’t secure themselves to singularly death metal tropes, but rather employ lessons learned from post-first wave black metal and plodding doom to their advantage. Temple of the Abyss grounds these influences in an adamantine OSDM foundation. The album commences with “Premonitions”, which conjures an atmosphere populated with creepy sighs, gasps, and faint instrumentation entering your ears intermittently. It feels like blinking wearily, waking up after being knocked out and dragged into a hidden site of some demonic oracles’ séance. This track sets an eerie tone for the rest of the album, which occasionally plays on this worshipful theme by inserting chanting vocals into such tracks as “Black Flame Serpent” and “Temple of the Abyss”. In terms of the elements more often heard in this album, Vacivus presents a well-executed traditional guttural vocal approach that is accented by relatively higher-pitched shrieks, which can be heard in tandem (and in my humble opinion, at their most awesome) in the fifth track, “Cosmological Necroticism”. These vocals front instrumentation that keeps the listener on their toes—taking them through passages that use spacing to their advantage and sometimes appear straightforward, but have abyssal depth. For example, “Filii Inferos” sticks with an initially super-charged pace before the two-and-a-half minute mark where a plodding section occurs, emblematic of their doom influence. Then, the track progressively quickens, building up to a moment of mania that guides the listener out of the track and into the final stage of the album. If you enjoy hearing such dynamism and exploration within roots-based metal subgenres, definitely give this album a listen.  – Aaron

https://vacivus.bandcamp.com/    http://www.profoundlorerecords.com/         




"Two Carrion Talismans” CD & LP

(Blood Harvest Records)


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

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




"Death Is Proof Of Satan’s Power" CD

(Hells Headbangers)


If you looked at this bands imagery, song titles, logo and so forth, you would immediately think it has to be a black death metal band, you would wrong. I mean sure, there are some elements of influence from those two sub-genres, but this is purely evil and satanic heavy fucking metal! Let’s start off the with the vocals, they are handled by the duo of Esteban Walpurgis & Alucarda Bellows (aka Vanessa Nocera of Wooden Stake, Razorback Records) give a real tour de force vocal performance on the mic here. All of the various styles of vocal in the extreme metal pantheon are employed here, encompassing almost everything from deep garbled growling, decipherable growling, slower spoken word kind of growls (ala Impetigo), higher and lower high pitched nasal growling & screams etc… It would be cool to hear / see those two doing this during a live gig. The music draws inspiration from classic metal bands like Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Iron Maiden and some other bands I can I know I hear, but I can not quite put my finger on them. The difference here is, it is heavy metal music, but it is constructed in a way that is not traditional heavy metal all the time, more like heavy metal composed in a black death metal style, if that makes sense. The result is pretty cool, rather frantic giving a different energy and aura to conventional heavy metal, taking the old sounds and creating something new sounding and different, but in a good way. There are keyboards used as more of an accent and underlying atmosphere, again here it feels very black metal influenced in style and deployment. I applaud this approach by the band; they stay true to the roots of all of their various influences, yet blend them in an interesting and somewhat unique way. Which I do not have to tell anyone, the term unique does not often apply in the metal scene, where it feels like everything has been done a thousand times over. This is set to be released on Halloween, it seems very fitting for this fine lethal cauldron mixture of sinister heavy metal, to be unleashing it’s evil on the day of the dead.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/vaultwraith/    https://shop-hellsheadbangers.com/        




"Deviant Castigation Liturgy" CD

(Osmose Productions)


Originally Venereal Baptism started out as a one man band, but over time there were more members added, to create a great blackened death metal band. They are coming out of the Texas UG metal scene, bringing us their debut album, featuring eight songs of devastating and violent music. The vocals are a mix of gruff screams and heavier death metal growls that really fit this bands style well. The drums are chaotic blasting drum patterns. With “Deviant Castigation”, Venereal Baptism, have unleashed a truly barbaric and vicious black death metal masterpiece.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/venerealbaptism/    http://www.osmoseproductions.com/      




"Utopia/Dystopia” CD

(Horror Pain Death Gore Records)


What do you get when you mix grindcore, (frequently technical) death metal, hardcore, and just a sprinkle of jazz? You get Utopia/Dystopia from the Californian band by the name of Violent Opposition. No punch line, and no pulled punches--just a lot of really fast, brutal shit here. Utopia/Dystopia begins at a breakneck speed that seldom pulls back on the reigns, despite occasional efforts by the drums that last only for a short period of time, such as in the first track “Controlled Opposition”. At first listen, this track does not feel controlled at all, with Garna’s hyper-technical bass skills being a leading factor in that, but the drums take it down a notch or two for the listener only momentarily before returning to the speedway. Violent Opposition digresses on this path far from the commonly assumed hierarchy between guitar as melody and bass and drums as solely rhythm by giving these instruments near-equal representation in the fields of melody and rhythm. The guitar can often be found playing rhythmic riffs while the bass is exploring other territories, which frequently includes noodling around, but in a way that serves a purpose unlike some bands in technical subgenres of metal. Instead of being irritating, the relatively unorthodox bass playing actually takes charge of the quick pacing of the album, ensuring that no track is lacking in severity or urgency. This supercharged pacing makes the 36-ish minutes of runtime on this album fly by quicker than you can say nosebleed. Brace yourselves—this one accelerates to attack speed.  – Aaron

https://hpgd.bandcamp.com/album/utopia-dystopia    http://www.horrorpaingoredeath.com        




"The Cursed Travails Of The Demeter” MCD

(Dark Descent Records)


Coming out of Ireland’s blackened death metal scene is Vircolac with their newest four song MCD. The music is played mainly in a mid paced style, with some well written and played and played faster arrangements used throughout the songs. The guitars are performed with middle tempo patterns and chords, with a few faster parts. The guitarist does seem more comfortable playing the heavier mid tempo guitars, but does speed to a faster pace in a few of the songs, with some well written and performed guitar solos and patterns. The drums are played with a nice variety and skill, going from mid pace beats to faster drum patterns. The vocals are raw, grim screams with some deeper death growls mixed in. If you are a fan of this band or you enjoy well written and executed blackened death metal then be sure to pick this disc out as soon as possible.  - Patrick

https://vircolac.bandcamp.com/   http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/store/       




"Where The Time Dwelt In” CD EP

(Gates Of Hell Records)


This Italian power metal band seems to have been born, out of the ashes of death thrash band Necromancer, with three of the four members having been in that band. Yes, my friends this is 1980s heavy metal incarnate, you will want to take note in particular if you are a die hard of the genre, as this band digs deep into some of the more obscure cult roots from past. I listen to this 27 minute ep, and hear influences from bands like Maltese Falcon, Rage, Oz, and the early works of bands like Liege Lord, Omen, TT Quick, Agent Steel. I would say, maybe even some influence, from the first couple albums of the legends Iron Maiden. The recording honestly sounds like it was recorded 30 years ago and it sounds great to my ears. The music on here overall is on the simple side, but it is very effective, catchy and pretty memorable which is a rarity all by itself these days. They write some good infectious ripping riffs and the there is some really great smoking emotive guitar fills and leads. You can definitely headbang hard to this; these boys really captured that triumphant spiked fist in the air ‘80s power metal feel. The vocalist spews hellfire passion out of vocal chords, superbly matching the bombastic music. He even hits those old school heavy metal ranges, with the high siren vocals every now and then, at one point at the end of a couple crazy screams it sounds like an eagle’s screech! The vocals are killer. I liked that the band made sure to make it clear there is no damn synth on the record haha. This is just a great throwback record that fans of early to late 1980s power metal need to own!  - Dale

https://vulturesvengeance.bandcamp.com/    http://www.gatesofhellrecords.com/     




"The Grey Eminence” CD

(Greyhaze Records)


This is the American Warfather, who are getting ready to release, their second album “The Grey Eminence”. This record features some masterful guitar playing, courtesy of Steve Tucker (ex-Morbid Angel vocalist/bassist), this is my first time hearing Warfather, but the band knows how to write, and perform, some really solid death metal. There are nine songs power, and heavy death metal, similar to the mid to late nineties death scene. The guitars are played with both mid tempo sections, and some faster, chaotic guitar speed patterns. The drums are performed with flawless playing, staying in tone with the guitars, ranging from a middle paced tempo to a heavier semi-fast drum pacing. If you are a fan of Warfathers first album, or if you are just a fan of well performed solid death metal, then be sure to pick this up when it is released.  - Patrick

https://www.reverbnation.com/warfather    http://greyhazerecords.com/       




"From The Depths Of Flesh” CD

(Redefining Darkness Records)


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

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




"Spiritual Sickness” CD, LP & Tape

(Blood Harvest Records)


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

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




"Kingdom Of Nothingness" CD

(Duplicate Records)


Zifir are a two man band who comes to us out of the Turkish black metal scene. They start things off with a short intro and the music kicks by hitting the ground running at a speedy pace. I noticed the guitarist right away, as he does a good job of crafting some well written sequences, which feature an all out assault of fierce, fast riffing. But the guitarist does slow things down to more of a mid tempo style at times; he even adds some atmospheric elements to the music. The vocals are gruff and raw screams with some raspy talking vocals. To wrap things up, I would say Zifir plays a very unique and creative style of black metal worth your time.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/zifirband    http://www.duplicate-records.com      




"Ritual Miasma” CD EP

(Blood Harvest Records)


Ziggurat come out of Israel’s slowly, but surely growing black death metal scene, bringing their debut “Ritual Miasma”. This EP features five tracks of vicious blackened death metal music. Mork handles the vocal duties on this release, he does a great job of mixing both death growls and raspy screams. Both of these vocal styles fit the bands music very well. Tohu handles the bass and guitar duties, combining both furious fast guitars, but also can change it up and play a slower mid paced style. Zigguarat play a very solid and interesting blackened death metal style, if you are a fan of mid ‘90s black death, then you should definitely give this band a chance and buy this release today.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/zigguratband666    https://bloodharvestrecords.bandcamp.com        




"Below The Grief” CD

(Doomentia Records)


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

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