"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/         




"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         




"She Loves The Pain" CD

(Plague Demon Records)


Old Pagan are a band coming out of the German black metal scene. ‘She Loves The Pain’ is the bands newest and fifth full length release in the bands twenty five year career. The music features skillful writing ability that mixes both fast paced and a more controlled mid paced range in the songs. The guitars are played with aggressive, fast patterns that are executed with high intensity and destructive guitar parts. The guitars do slow to a more mid tempoed range throughout the songs even adding in some memorable passages. The vocals are a mix of grim black metal screams and some gruff old school growls are used throughout the recording and that fit Old Pagan's music perfectly. The drums are done with powerful and furious drumming that is delivered with excellent drum patterns. If you are a fan of Old Pagan's previous releases then do not miss out on ‘She Loves The Pain’ it will please both long time fans and new ones that are into quality dark black metal.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/groups/oldpagan    https://plaguedemonrecords.storenvy.com/          




"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          




"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          




"Metal Attack” + “Swords And Axes” CD’s

(Regain Records - Reborn Classics)


Regain Records through their new Reborn Classics sub-label continues to dig up gems that need to be discovered by new metal fans or reminded to old metal dogs like me. These two albums by the Swedish Overdrive were released in 1983 with the debut “Metal Attack” and the following year in 1984 with “Swords And Axes”. Now somehow I missed and never managed to track down their debut album, but “Swords…” on the other hand I bought this cassette back in 1985 (Only 25+ years ago!!), it was released on Banzai Records in Canada. It is cool to hear their debut album, finally, all of these years later and it is fantastic example of classic early ‘80s heavy metal. An album while relying fairly heavily on the NWOBHM, it is not only extremely well done and showcases these young fellows talents and sound, also shows them honing in on mastering their craft. They would really perfect their craft on the second album, which is a true classic in my opinion. I have not listened to the “Swords And Axes” album for probably over a decade. I believe I even reviewed it in my classics section of the print issues of CA at the end of the 1990s. I could not believe the waves of nostalgia I experienced when I hit play on this album, back in the ‘80s & ‘90s alone I listened to this album hundreds of times! I swear every note, nuance, hook, siren scream and lyric immediately pulled up out of the recesses of my brain! I had not listened to this record in probably 15 years at least, yet I knew everything that was coming next in each and every song before it came out of my speakers. I mean the constant chills of goose flesh upon hearing tracks like ‘Black Revenge’, ‘Burn In Hell’, ‘Mission Of Destruction’, ‘Swords And Axes’ – well fuck honestly I could name every song on this album, they are all great. Okay, yeah I should emerge out of my nostalgia fog long enough to let you know these releases are deluxe to the max, with thick booklets and both discs feature a half dozen bonus tracks for die hards like me to fawn over. If you love classic eighties heavy metal and do not have this in your collection yet, then you must have it! I want to give a personal thank you to the label from me for re-releasing these albums. - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/OverdriveMetal    https://regainrecords.bandcamp.com/music       




"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/         




"Oath of Unholy Sacrilege” Tape Album Promo

(Nihilistic Holocaust Records)


Pazuzu rise up out of the mountainous and often picturesque country of Costa Rica and have been plying their trade as a band in the UG metal scene with releases since 2017. This tape is a compilation of sorts, it includes all of the bands tracks from their various split EPs over the last few years (plus a bonus live cover of Nihilist’s “Carnal Leftovers”) for a total of just over 30 minutes. Pazuzu produce a very morbid and macabre death doom metal style of music. Their sound while extremely brutal is also produces a really suffocating and oppressive atmosphere that is both punishing and compelling to listen to I find. The doomy parts are crushing and steam roll the listener slowly into dust, but when they do speed things up you can really headbang to it too and just bleed with it. The recording and the music is extremely raw and primeval, which really suits the music and helps create a gloomy aura. That aura calls back to some of the early classic bands and albums of the genre (Autopsy, Grave, Immolation, Rippikoulu, Disembowelment, Abhorrence etc…). They definitely wear their hearts on their sleeves with some of their influences, but I am okay with it when it is done this damn well. Considering these tracks came from three different releases that came out over a period of a few years, it all comes off feeling very cohesive and I enjoyed it a lot. It makes me want to pull out some of those classic to listen to some more. This is a really good looking release, it comes on silver cassette with a beautiful fold out (like a mini-poster size) 12 page booklet. But I believe it has been limited to only 201 copies, so you better get on your horse and ride quickly to make sure you can secure a copy of this excellent release. You can thank me later.  - Dale

https://pazuzu.bandcamp    https://nihilistic-webzine-distro.fr    https://nholocaustrecs.bandcamp        




"Basom Gryphos” CD, LP & Cassette

(Nuclear Winter / Sentient Ruin / Goat Throne)


I like when record labels band together to produce, release and promote a single band together, it is great for all involved in my view. Just to clear up who is doing what you have Nuclear Winter releasing the CD, Sentient Ruin is co-releasing the vinyl and Goat Throne will unleash the cassette version of this album. The riffing and rhythms on this release while always staying heavy and brutal have this infectiousness to them, it is done in quite an alluring and interesting way without crossing over to what I would call melodic territory. I can not remember hearing very many bands do this, at least in this way and maintain such an ominous and morbid atmosphere to their sound. The overall music tends to operate at a temperate speed with rhythmic pounding drums that are hypnotic especially in concert with the winding serpentine structure of the riffing. The drumming is a more prominent and driving force on ‘Bason Gryphos’ than you will find with the majority of their contemporaries. It is interesting to me that Pestilength can create music that is somehow so driving and intense yet the pacing is largely slow to middling with just the occasional speedy outbursts, which often come from the percussive portion of this horde. The vocal performance on here is pretty impressive as well, the amount of gloomy and creepy emotion put into those growls is notable keeping them that obscure and severe yet having more range than you would ever expect. This is some superb vocal work in my view on this recording. If I had to describe their music it would be dark and evil death doom metal and it comes highly recommended from me. I do not get to review a lot of bands from Spain these days, but Pestilength is doing that UG scene proud and representing well.  - Dale

https://pestilength.bandcamp.com/    http://sentientruin.com/    https://nuclearwinterrecords.com         




"Chimaera” CD, LP & Cassette

(Nuclear Winter Records)


Denmark has been such a sparsely populated country in the UG metal scene over the past couple decades or so. I mean there are notable exceptions (ala the mighty veterans Denial Of God), a fact which always surprised me with their neighbor Scandinavian countries of Norway, Finland and Sweden being unstoppable hotbeds for UG metal. But I have noticed recently, like just in last couple or few years Denmark is making up for lost time and seem to be exploding on to the scene with many good bands like Deus Otiosis, Sulphurous, Undergang, Ascendency, Deiquisitor, Konvent, Tongues, Septage, Shamash, Solbrud, Taphos and more. Now I would like to add Phrenelith to that list, even though they have been around for about five years as a band, it is more recently they have begun to really make their mark and their second album ‘Chimaera’ is here to really plant their flag. This band conjures up some monolithic old school death metal with that great ‘ole suffocating necro atmosphere permeating everything, like so many of the classic bands in this genre reveled in. Some influences that immediately jump to mind for me are the early works especially of Immolation, Incantation, Disciples Of Mockery, Autopsy, Funebrarum, Banished, Morpheus Descends and the one lone Euro band Grave. It is a great list of influences from bands I loved back in the day and still love now. Phrenelith put all those influences in a melting pot, sprinkle in some eyes of bat and tongue of demon to brew their own doomy brutal death metal concoction that will burn your ears, fry your brain and wreck your neck. Followers and worshippers of the ancient death metal ways you need to check into this band.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/phrenelith    https://nuclearwinterrecords.bandcamp.com/          




"Ceremorphosis” Digital Album

(Blood Blast Distribution)


This is my second review of an album released through Blood Blast, which is connected to Nuclear Blast Records, where they help bands I guess that they like (or is it just a straight hire out thing?) with advice, PR and digital distribution. I would think there is going to be some physical format releases as well, but I have not been able to find any definite confirmation of that so far. This band features members of Through The Eyes Of The Dead, Cognitive, We Are The Romans, and Aronious (spread out across various points in the United States). It is striking immediately how much skill we have going on with the members of this band, and their years of playing and extensive recording experience is immediately apparent. The band plays extremely technical death metal that features some exceptionally slick and skillful songwriting and song construction. The fear I always have with bands like this, are they so fucking techno oriented that the plot is lost with song flow, thus devolving into a dick measuring wank competition. I am happy to say POYWTO adeptly avoid falling into this trap, despite the massive technicality on here, the songs have a strong musical current, they are heavy and brutal and you can headbang to this shit for sure! That last statement is one of the best compliments I can give a techno death metal band in my view. There is a lot of cool variation in the songwriting as well, they keep things really entertaining, whilst being a total crush fest in the barbarity department. The vocals of Shane Jost follow suit with the music, he brings a superb and highly entertaining arsenal of deep brutish imaginative growling, husky shouts, high pitched voices, squeals and lengthy screeches that will pierce your ear drums and drop you on the spot. He even sings all about Dungeons & Dragons, so that is a definite plus too. This album is an extremely impressive debut that diehard fans of bands Gorguts, Suffocation, Origin, Cryptopsy, Theory In Practice, Nile, Necrophagist, Obscura and the like need to get posthaste.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/POYWTO   https://poywto.com/product/ceremorphosis/        




"Skulls Of My Enemy” CD

(Pure Steel Records)


I have to admit I was surprised this band has such a long history behind it, since this is my first time listening to their music. I mean despite this being their fourth album since then started using the name Resistance in 2002. Their history reaches much further back (all the way to the late ‘80s!!) than that, when they used band names like Heathen (no not that one, but they probably caused the first name change), Caustic Visage, and Anarchy Divine. So are they yet another retro heavy band? Well yes, they are but that matters not to me when music is this good, the songwriting this quality, and the songs this strong and memorable. The band tears through 40 minutes of ripping classic heavy metal, which features hook-y yet heavy riffs and some great smoking guitar work nuance in between those catchy riffs and infectious song construction. I really dig vocalist Robert Hett, he has that archetypal ancient heavy metal style ala like a molten mix of Udo Dirkschneider of Accept on the gritty end mixed Chris Boltendahl of Grave Digger and Eric Adams of Manowar. There is another, what should be an obvious vocal influence there that I am having trouble putting my finger on. I guess my only small pet peeve is the recording is almost too clean, and these songs would go up yet another half notch if the production was a little heavier and dirtier. Yet, having said that I have heard other albums that have even cleaner, more pristine computer plastic coating on the production, so do take that as a very minor complaint. Otherwise, this is a really solid traditional heavy metal record that old diehard fans will enjoy.  - Dale

http://www.resistanceusa.com/    https://www.puresteel-shop.com/          




"Decade Of Savagery” CD & LP

(Inhuman Assault Records)


Coming out of Thailand's brutal death metal scene is Savage Deity with their third full length release. This is my first encounter with the band, so I can’t comment on the music of their previous releases. But the music on ‘Decade Of Savagery’ is well executed and powerfully delivered old school death metal that is intense and filled with many well written musicial passages. The guitars are played with skill and high level writing ability and range from extremely which fluctuate from fast patterns but does slow to a heavier more controlled guitar pace. The vocals are powerful old school death metal growls that fit Savage Deity’s music perfectly. This bands new release is highly recommended to those who enjoy quality death metal.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/savagedeityofficial/    https://inhumanassault.bandcamp.com/      




"Recollections Of The Insane” CD & LP

(Redefining Darkness Records)


This quartet rises up out of Antwerp, Belgium and despite Schizophrenia only releasing their first recording (a single track) a few years ago. They have been around a while starting out as the band Hammerhead, they put out a couple EPs under that name before changing their name to Schizophrenia. Since unleashing that single three years ago, it was followed up with a CD EP two years ago and now comes their debut full-length. This album features nine tracks of slickly produced heavy, driving and skilled old school death metal with thrash touches. A number of influences pop into my mind while listening to this like earlier works of bands like Sepultura, Demolition Hammer, Ripping Corpse, Slayer, Malevolent Creation, Pestilence, Sadus, Morbid Angel, Possessed and the like. The vocals kind of walk the line between death and thrash metal styles, and also like the music lean heavier on the dm side of things, but they are good husky yelled growls that fit the music well. There is some excellent guitar work on display here with some smoking guitar fills and solos. All of that is neatly nestled within some thoughtful and interesting song writing. This is a real solid first album, it has me looking forward to what comes next as this talented band continues to come into it’s own.  - Dale

https://linktr.ee/schizophrenia.official   https://shop.redefiningdarkness.com/         




"From Beyond The Burial Mound” CD & LP

(Soulseller Records)


After releasing a couple demos and an EP, this triumvirate from Spain unleashes their debut album. They may be a relatively new band, but their influences are deeply entrenched in old school death metal. Some ancient bands of inspiration for them in my opinion are the earlier works of Dismember, Autopsy, Impetigo, Ancient Rites, Pestilence, Slaughter, Obituary, Entombed and the like are thrown in a fiery melting pot. They end result comes out with some quality brutal death metal that is wrapped in a dark and oppressive cloak. Having said that their music is often a bit of a dichotomy to me, you have this gloomy morbid aura yet a lot of the music is very upbeat and energetic, even catchy at times. When I read that back it feels like those things should not work together, like oil and water, but somehow Sepulchral mix it together and make it work for them. The vocals are absolutely killer growls like if you mixed Lemmy with the vocals from the old days of bands like Autopsy, Impetigo and Bolt Thrower together – all with an evil whispery undertone. Also there is a truly killer cover of “Blood Freak” by Necrophagia on this recording that people need to hear. This album is a solid debut and I look forward to more from this promising band.  - Dale

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




"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/         




"Psychodelic Death” CD & LP

(Edged Circle Productions)


This band from Chile is a serious change of pace that is an interesting and peculiar yet menacingly sinister musical experience. I believe this is largely a one man band and had been that until just recently, when main man Witchfucker (also in the bands Dekapited & Invocation Spells) after doing their demo by himself has brought in Thoth from Denying Nazarene to handle the drums for this debut full-length album. The band is labeled as black speed metal and I think that is a fairly apt description, but it is all presented through a psychedelic audio lens. Though not the cool hippy psychedelia trip with all the colours, bongs, lava lamps and shit – no this is a dark hallucinogenic musical trip that is disorienting and sadistically evil. This is going to be hard to review and describe, but fuck it I will give it a try. Besides the creative and strange off-kilter rhythms of the riffing, there is also a lot of the time put into this effect on it where it sequences sounds similar to an old, stretched out malfunctioning wobbly sounding cassette tape at strategic times. You might think that sounds annoying and it may to some, but for me the way they did it and only apply it lightly it actually cool in this quirky unique way. Then at times things will switch on the higher toned guitar parts, and then is off on the heavier secondary riff to bring this mix of traditional metal sounds and eccentric sounds to create a pretty unique idiosyncratic sound. This extends in a similar way to the vocals where you have the more traditional yet crazed yells, screamed and growled vocals with a range of metal genres employed. Then there is this second set of warped vocals courtesy of a harmonizer distortion that like a cross between an evil menacing alien and a demon straight out of hell (the label bio sites "very early Carcass, Impetigo, or Carnage" to give you a general idea of the vocal processing used here) - all of this gives the vocals a wide spectrum of depravity for a really varied interesting to listen to in my opinion. You are probably wondering about some influences well they are a huge cauldron mix of some great first wave black metal, thrash and speed metal bands like Venom, Mortuary Drape, Hellhammer, Necromantia, Master’s Hammer, Warfare, Bulldozer, Motorhead, early Bathory, early Destruction and many more. There are even hints here and there of extreme hardcore / punk bands like G.I.S.M., Amebix and GBH. If you are looking for something different, something filled with darkness and evil yet dripping in traditional metal worship then you really should take a ride on this bizarre depraved musical trip.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/signofevilchile   https://edgedcircleproductions.com/  




"Self Titled" CD

(Plague Demon Records / Blasphemous Creations Of Hell Records)


Sisters Memon are a duo with members from both the Poland and the U.K black metal UG scenes. The self titled debut release features eleven tracks of well crafted songs and shows some amazing musicianship. M.W. Daniels who lives in the U.K handles the songwriting and performs all the music on this old school black metal release. The guitars are played with high intensity and skillful deftness with a mix of mid tempo guitars and some faster and more extreme passages. There is some very well executed and performed solo's which in turn create some memorable sequences that you don't always hear in a black metal release. Natalia Sara (also vocalist in the band Aura) handles the vocals for the band and she produces some old school screams and demonic shrieks that are done in an impressive vocal style. This bands self titled debut recording is a must have for all fans of quality black metal.  - Patrick

sistersmemon.bandcamp   https://plaguedemon.storenvy.com    https://bchrecords.storenvy.com  




"I, The Witch" CD

(Plague Demon Records / Blasphemous Creations Of Hell Records)


I, The Witch is the second full length from the duo known as Sisters Memon. Natalia handles the vocal duties; the vocals are a mix of grim old school screams and some very original gruff growls and screams. Natalia has some of best vocals I have ever heard and one of the best performances to be recorded on a release. MW handles all of the music side things, and once again this is composed and written with pure musical genius and his experience shines through. The guitars are performed with a mix of fast paced structuring that is played with intensity. MW does slow things down to a more controlled mid pace guitar range at times in the songs. Both the fast and mid paced passages are played with quality and a skillful writing ability. If you have never heard Sisters Memon and are a fan of quality and original sounding black metal I very highly recommend I, The Witch.  - Patrick

sistersmemon.bandcamp   https://plaguedemon.storenvy.com    https://bchrecords.storenvy.com         




"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/        




"Monuments Of Grief” CD

(Chaos Records)


Here again I return to The Sombre, who I have become a fan of thanks to Chaos records re-releasing the bands 2019 debut album “Into the Beckoning Wilderness”, around a year ago. This time around it is an album of all new material released through Chaos Records once again. This is a solo band of one Maurice de Jong, who is a long time veteran (his first band released a demo in 1989!!) of the UG scene and an extremely prolific musician. Some of his current or past bands, the majority of them one man projects include Black Mouth of Spite, Caput Mortuum, Cloak of Altering, Coffin Lurker, De Magia Veterum, Dodenbezweerder, Gnaw Their Tongues, Golden Ashes, Grand Celestial Nightmare, Hagetisse, ex-Atrocious, ex-Soulwound, ex-The Nefarious Cult, ex-Cauteror. Those are not even all of them, there are probably another half dozen or more, most of his projects near as I can tell are various black metal related mixed with a lot of noise, experimentation and such. Okay, I am an absolute sucker for band history related stuff as you probably know by now. Finally working my way to the music of The Sombre, it is not black metal at all, but rather we are talking classic doom death metal. The material is of course very slow, but not in a crushing way, as it is extremely depressive and sorrowful in a contemplative soul wrenching fashion. It is utterly joyless music lacking any aggressive qualities, just an all-encompassing and oppressive blanket of hopelessness. The bio rightly points out the so-called ‘Peaceville Three’ as a strong influence, which of course includes Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and Anathema. Not to worry though, we are talking their early works and not after they went all soft and mushy later on Haha. The one thing that differs here in my opinion is the vocals, Maurice’s vocals on here are very obscure sounding gruff growls that almost seem, when I think about it, like they should not work with the deep emotions of this music yet somehow they really do and do not distract from what is going on and add to it. If you are a fan of melancholic, mournful doom death then you should give The Sombre a try.  - Dale

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




"The Great Seal” CD & LP

(Svart Records)


Being the doom metal hound I tend to be, it is surprising to me that this is my first encounter with the long running Finnish band Spiritus Mortis, which started releasing demos back in 1990!! I am not sure I would call their style straight up doom, more like traditional doom and classic heavy metal mixed together to pleasing effect. You get the slow gallop heavy doom riffs and the skillful, finesse heavy metal guitar intricacies and melodies under one banner. I could go for even more of the heavier plodding riffs than are present here, but they do a pretty good job of mixing it up, they have a penchant for the moody, even slightly melodramatic emotional moments. Kimmo Perämäki does an admiral job of conveying the deep introspective tones of the music through his vocals, as he shape shifts his silky voice to mimic the poignant musical affectations. As much as I am digging Kimmo’s vocals on here, it also gets me wondering what their past two albums sounded like, as they featured the vocalist Albert Witchfinder of the infamous (now sadly defunct) doom band Reverend Bizarre. I guess I will have to look into their past works now to find out, hey? I think I shall. Until then I will keep enjoying the moody and somber heavy metal doom sounds on this solid album. An album that I am sure fans of bands like Candlemass, Reverend Bizarre, Manilla Road, Omen, Solitude Aeturnus, Count Raven, Pagan Altar and the like will enjoy. Give it a try if that applies to you.  - Dale

https://spiritusmortis.com/   www.svartrecords.com         




"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/         




"Labyrinth Of Veins” CD & LP

(Peaceville Records)


If you have read Canadian Assault for any length of time you know Autopsy is one of my all-time favourite bands in any genre. You say but there are a lot of bands these days influenced by them, well this is different because this new band features Chris Reifert, the drummer / vocalist of that same said legendary band! Okay, but does it sound anything like early Autopsy and the answer is a resounding YES!! I mean there are differences here, but musically, stylistically and sound wise it is probably 70% classic doomy Autopsy, and Reifert’s amazing growling vocals are one hundred fucking percent early Autopsy! Oh it is glorious my friends, those vocals are in such fine form, it is almost unbelievable how good that man’s vocals still sound – I have chills literally. His vocals added to that music are like some sort of arcane musical rite that only Chris can master with that charisma, perfect inflection and brutal yet clear enough to understand growl. I do apologize that I have yet to mention the other half of this two man band, which is Greg Wilkinson (owner / operator of Earhammer Studios as well as being in bands such as Deathgrave, Brainoil & Leather Glove) on guitar / bass. The production on this album is clear yet not clean, everything is incredibly heavy and powerful. Static Abyss create death doom metal at it’s finest, at it’s most grimy and necro with that quintessential old ‘Mental Funeral’ (also known by me as the masterpiece album) sinister aura wrapped around everything. As mentioned there are differences like the pounding sections like in the song “Jawbone”, which will compel you to headbang on command before it transitions into this extensive gloomy emotive section that is wonderfully hypnotic, then snapping you out of it once again to briefly to finish with another neck wrecking fury. Yes different and not so much old Autopsy sounding touches, but also very good and welcome sounds that are seamlessly transitioned in and out of with aplomb. This is honestly a great album in it’s own right, and in my opinion an absolute must have for fellow Autopsy diehards like myself. This is not even mentioning that I am sure many fans of bands that are heavily influenced by them like Incantation, Immolation, Funebrarum, Undergang, Disma, Dead Congregation and similar bands will love this. Speaking of which, like I have not mentioned Autopsy enough in this review, they also added this same Greg Wilkinson to their classic line-up and are working on new music as we speak! Will it sound more like Autopsy than Static Abyss?! I am not sure, but I can not wait to find out!! Until then get this ASAP.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/staticabyss/    https://peaceville.com/            




"Existential Realism” Cassette EP

(Nekrassious Tapes)


It was good to find this in my mailbox, and it is always great to be in touch UG maniacs from France. This band however is from Chile and this twenty-two minute tape is the European version of this release, which first came out in 2019. The music on ‘Existential Realism’ good ancient darkened death metal with thrash roots, like taking Possessed and Morbid Angel then mixing them with classics from their homeland like the early works of Sepultura, Sarcofago, Mutilator, Pentagram, Atomic Aggressor, Vulcano etc… That should give you a good idea of what you have in store when listening to this release. The music is filled with punishing, weighty riffs that will force you into a headbanging fury whilst violently stomping you into the ground. The production on here is perfect; it is heavy and gritty while still being clear enough to hear everything well, especially the killer guitar work on here. The arsenal of caustic growls, gruff yells and  gritty screams all delivered with a nice creepy whispery, echo-y undertone courtesy of vocalist Impetigo. This is some pretty killer stuff I must say. I believe Suffering Sights have just released debut album just recently, but a little birdie told they think the music on this EP is even better than the new stuff. I will let you decide on that. The cassette from Nekrassious is very limited, so hurry up if you want a copy, and if you really love old school deathrash metal and can not get enough of it then you should own this.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/sufferingsights   https://nekrassioustapes.bandcamp.com/music      




"The Black Mouth Of Sepulchre” CD, LP & Tape

(Dark Descent Records / Me Saco Un Ojo Records / Desiccated Productions)


Sulphurous hail from Denmark, despite only being a duo they produce a very big and full death metal sound. M.F. handles the Guitars, bass & vocals (he is also in the bands Ascendency, Had, Hyperdontia, Sort Sind and Taphos), while the drums are handled by Tuna (Apparatus, Eldjudnir, Eternich, Hyperdontia, Redivivus and Witchburn). As you can see both men have been very active in the UG scene for many years. Sulphurous’ songwriting is sort of a structure within a structure, by that I mean they have that old school brutal death metal foundation as the skeleton and flesh it out with a lot of newer death metal creativity. That flesh and those organs musically speaking are vibrant and at times almost busy, there is a lot going on with the individual instruments that is interesting and presents a real energetic drive that keeps things compelling. Yes, there are a lot of sub textures, interesting fills and patterns whilst never losing sight of that dark crushing brutality. I like all of that and you will not get bored whatsoever listening to this band. In addition to a very strong performance on the drum kit by Tuna, I also very much enjoyed M.F.’s somewhat obscured evil, commanding and aggressive yet not too aggressive growling that fits the music well and adds that touch of cruelty and audio depravity to the aura of darkness their music is enveloped within. For me, the band delivers well on their sophomore album and it is worth your attention.  - Dale

https://sulphurous.bandcamp.com/    www.darkdescentrecs.com/    https://www.mesacounojo.com/    https://desiccatedproductions.com/         




"Ylem” CD & Cassette

(Willowtip Records)


Sunless hail from the not so sunny, heavily forested and often snow covered landscapes of Minnesota. This sophomore full-length shows itself as very technical, often creative and sometimes quirkily structured rhythmic death metal music. I think to give you a general audio picture of their sound you can reference influences like later day Gorguts, Gigan or maybe a little less brutal / aggressive version of the music on recent albums from Deathspell Omega, Ulcerate and Pyrrhon. You can tell at times the band want the instruments and their songwriting to do the talking, so to speak. I say that as there are growling vocals on here, which are a dual layer mixing of deep growls and slightly higher pitched cleaner growling, though good they are sparsely used for long sequences to allow the underlying music ample breathing room. I feel like I should mention the drum work on here as well, it is superb in it’s own technical yet nuanced fashion. Despite the level of technicality, much like say Gorguts there is an emphasis put on an oft times moody, emotive and introspective atmosphere through the album. It is a bit of an onion type of album, not always immediately accessible yet the more you listen and the more you absorb I think the more you will get out of ‘Ylem’. If you like the bands mentioned above and imaginative and busy technical death metal with a slight lean toward pensive tonal touches then you should really give Sunless a chance.  - Dale

https://sunless.bandcamp.com/    https://www.willowtip.com    https://willowtip.bandcamp.com/         




"The Sorrow Of Soul Through Flesh” CD & LP

(Unspeakable Axe Records / Dark Descent Records)


Suppression hails from South America, the absolute hotbed for extreme UG metal, more specifically in this case the country of Chile. Their debut album (even though they released a demo in 2012 and have been going ever since!) features some excellent death metal music that possesses a decided undercurrent of thrash metal darkness. Their influences clearly originate in the early to mid 1990s death metal scene and you can hear influences from that time period like Death, Pestilence, Obituary, Sadus, Gorguts, Skeletal Remains etc… I might even throw Pungent Stench in there for those little off-kilter guitar fills which rears it’s head from time to time. The old school death metal description is a very apt one here, not only do they have those old school influences, but the songwriting and structure itself is very early nineties, and I for one dig it. There are some little inventive yet quirky underlying guitar nuances like in the song “Unperpetual Misery” that are kept subtle yet they really add an extra dimension and make things interesting. I mean really some the guitar work on here in general may not jump out at you upon first listen, but with repeated listening you can really start to appreciate the thought and skill put into a lot of those impressive passages that dot the landscape. The good growling vocals on here, also like the music are death metal yet have that dark yelling gruff air of thrash style vocals. This is of particular note for diehards of that classic deathrash metal of early days of extreme metal.  - Dale

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




"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/          




"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/         




"Daudens Kalde Auge” CD

(Blasphemous Creations Of Hell / Plague Demon Records)


Thale comes out of the long running and rich in history Norweigan black metal scene. ‘Daudens Kalde Auge’ is the bands debut containing five tracks of raw black metal, but the band does add some elements of modern black metal into the music to give the music a twist. Mainly the music is played with mid paced guitars and drums that are played with some really powerful arrangements and furious intensity. The musicians do speed up throughout the songs to give a more aggressive and destructive feel. The vocals are demonic shrieks and blackened screams that fit the music like a glove so to speak. Thale deliver a great debut of melodic black metal with some aggressive passages intertwined within that framework to give each song it's own identity.  - Patrick

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





(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/         




"Shock To The System” CD & LP

(Cruz Del Sur Music)


I have heard the name of this band around in recent years, but this album, their second is my introduction to this New York City quintet. The music itself is fast and catchy and great, but hot damn the vocal performance of vocalist Sarabeth Linden on the opening (and best) track “Blood Moon” is so over the top fiery and explosive is amazing and needs to be heard! The energy and power she put into that first song is ridiculous and she leaves it all out there on the floor so to speak. That is not to say her performance on the rest of the album is lesser, because it is fantastic throughout, but yeah she went above and beyond to kick things off. The band has a knack for writing memorable hook-y songs that keep up the speed, while still leaving enough breathing space for some classy emotive guitar work and tasty little guitar fills. The song structuring and vibe does a pretty nice job of mixing things up and they keep a varied style from song to song as the album progresses along. I would say the band musically, in my opinion, ranges from just decent to pretty good, but it is the vocalist that puts Tower over the top and pushes them to a higher level. You should check this out if you are a fan of both old and newer schools of heavy metal.  - Dale

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




"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/         




"Lurkers In The Capsule Of Skull” Digipak CD & Double LP

(Transcending Obscurity Records)


This US band has been around for a while, releasing a number of albums. I have heard the name around yet I have not had the pleasure of listening to their music until now. Veilburner I guess you would call them progressive or even avantgarde black death metal that manages to stay both dark and brutal at the same time. There is some really off-kilter, seemingly wonky, deformed and unconventional rhythms, riffs and eccentric song writing that can be a roller coaster ride at times. I am generally not a fan of roller coasters both literally and figuratively in the musical sense, but this one I can dig. The band takes their extensive old school death metal roots and influences, throws them in a blender while mixing in all sorts of unusual outside influences like Laibach and other intense shit. So many so-called progressive metal bands, in my view, go so far down the progressive path that they become lost and forget where they started from. I mean before long you can hardly even call them heavy or extreme any longer, but I can tell you this band keep a rope anchored to their brutal death metal nucleus at all times. Which in turn, makes me trust them, and is why a purist leaning old goat like me can buckle up and go along for the wild ride. Veilburner take the weirdness and adventurousness of old bands like Pungent Stench, Disharmonic Orchestra, Pan.Thy.Monium, Sigh, Dodheimsgard, later Deathspell Omega and put their own spin on it. Possibly an argument can even be made that they take it all a step further on this album. It is impressive that somehow Veilburner has managed to musically stick a square peg into a round hole, and in doing so created a fascinating audio journey along the way. I find myself endlessly amazed at the amount of promotion and sheer volume of merchandise (discs, vinyl & special vinyl versions, shirts, hoodies, patches, badges, coasters, cards, box sets and extensive packaging) that Transcending Obscurity put into every band and every release! It must cost a fortune, but they clearly believe in the bands and the music they create. Veilburner is yet another example of the many quality bands they support; this is well worth your time.  - Dale

https://veilburnerband.bandcamp.com/    https://www.youtube.com/TO    https://tometal.com/          




"Monomanía del Inexorable Vacío” Digipak CD & LP

(Lunar Apparitions & Altare Productions)


A scene that I do not give much attention or generally think of as a thriving one is the UG metal scene in Spain. Which is where this band rises out of, and which I am finding out has more quality than I thought. Velo Misere features members with ties to bands like Aversio Humanitatis, Eohl, Eterna Penumbra and Primigenium (man I remember fucking loving their ’94 demo tape when that thing came out back in the day). They build their sound on a foundation of epic black metal, despite that epic flowing nature; they manage to concentrate their song compositions and pacing on a heavily moody and creepy aura. It is kind of strange you could almost swear the songs are extremely long, but that is not the case, apparently they just fit seamlessly together from one to the next, as the song lengths only range from less than five minutes to a little over six minutes. It is interesting even though it is epic black metal heavily filtered through an ambient fabric, somehow I can still feel that trademark old school freezing cold hatred rear it’s dark head at times. The vocals are well done and haunting bm rasps and obscured screams that fit well with the evil yet gloomy nature of the underlying music. As you can tell from my description (hopefully haha) Velo Misere while always staying extreme and on task with their core sound, they also have some range to their music. Which touches many facets of the black metal sound and the sinister emotions and atmospheres this musical movement richly and vividly creates.  - Dale

https://velomisere.bandcamp    https://www.nebularcarcoma.com/    https://lunarapps.bandcamp         




"Exhortation To The Impure” CD & LP

(Iron Bonehead)


Verbum from the Chile hotbed UG scene have released only one demo in 2016, everything has been silent since then until now with their debut full-length suddenly appearing via Iron Bonehead. The music on ‘Exhortation To The Impure’ is crushing slow doom death metal with a ominous aura that saturates you, creating a constant foreboding feeling of creeping death upon the listener. Some influences that spring to mind are Disembowelment for sure, but also a couple others like Evoken, Winter and the slower doomy sections of bands like Rippikoulu and Cianide for example. Having named those influences, Verbum crafts that style of music and adds small songwriting quirks, sudden subtle changes in emotion or interesting creative vocal accents that add some of their own touches to that traditional death doom sound I adore. An example of this is in the track “Abrahamic Sedition” the guitars speed up, then the drums suddenly speed up but the guitars slow done to more severe slow-mo for a bit, then the guitars speed up again while the drums start dialing back the pace. It is a cool dynamic and creates a lot of atmosphere, especially when wrapped before and after (in this seven minute song) with super plodding and snails pace destroying heavy doom. The sluggish roiling demonic murky growls and the secondary elongated throaty growling, plus the occasional mordant acid yell accents. This myriad of vocal elements all combine to add another excellent layer of suffocating, evil ambiance on top of the instruments to create a superb and mind-bending torturous experience. I highly recommend this to old and new extreme death doom fans. Chile delivers once again in spades.  - Dale

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




"Succumb To Chaos” CD, LP & Cassette

(Rotted Life Records)


Though this is the bands second album, it is my initial foray into the sounds of the Californian band Vrenth. Though I have heard Ruin, which shares no less than three members with Vrenth, and musically there can be no denying the similarities betwixt the two bands and that is not a bad thing at all. There are enough differences as well that you can easily distinguish between the two both bands. Another thing that jumped out at me (as you know I love band member history and lineages) is the drummer is in a bunch of bands like Ascended Dead, Chthonic Deity, VoidCeremony and the mighty Funebrarum – who surely is an influence on Vrenth as well. This album is filled with dank, dark and gloomy brutalizing death metal that often mixes in doom death elements into their massive music at times. It is quite an overall experience that batters and envelopes you with its oppressive and crushing sound. I am a huge fan of what feels like a movement (ala the old styles called the Sunlight sound or Floridian dm sound) in the UG scene in recent years and I have often commented on it in recent times. I am talking about this growing list of bands that combine some of my absolute fave old school bands and sounds, mainly from the early to mid ‘90s scenes of the USA, the UK, Sweden and Finland. I am thinking of the early works of old bands like Autopsy, Incantation, Immolation, Cianide, Bolt Thrower, Benediction, Dismember, Grave, Rippikoulu, Demilich, Abhorrence, Demigod, Convulse. This brings me back to Funebrarum in the early 2000’s, as in some ways that band probably started the revival and movement of combining those particular country / scene specific influences into one dm style. I just need to think of a name for it Haha. The current crop of bands is expanding by the day it seems and some newer bands I see in this style consortium are Tomb Mold, Disma, Dead Congregation, Undergang, Anatomia, Church Of Disgust, Krypts and lots more! As I have said I fucking worship this movement and the original bands and classic albums that spawned it. Vrenth is another top quality addition to take up the mantle of these cult sounds. Give a try I think you will be glad you did.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/VrenthBand/   https://rottedlife.bandcamp.com/  




"Parallaxiom” CD

(I, Voidhanger Records)


Columbus Ohio’s The Wakedead Gathering is the solo project of Adam Lampe, who does a number of one man bands like Echushkya, Invultation, Longbarrow, and one lone band named Acrid Tome with other members. All of Lampe’s bands seem to reside in the black and death metal realms. ‘Parallaxiom’ is T.W.G.’s fourth full-length album, and the first in half a decade, but keep in mind this is one busy guy, so the distance between releases is not entirely surprising. This album lyrically, and obviously by extension musically tells of a dystopian sci-fi future where potential criminals are predicted and weeded out at birth. Naturally this system and social law is less than perfect, it leads to cracks in the system, a rebellious element is fomented and sets out to destroy authoritarian regime. The music on here is dark death metal with a certain moodiness that fluctuates from brooding and downtrodden, to aggressively stirring and blithesome triumph. Some of the guitar work, fills, and the like remind me a lot to the early Floridian death metal style and there are some killer riffs and rhythms going on here that got my head nodding. The obscure sounding and shadowy evil growling vocals are so good and mix in with the sinister aura produced by the music perfectly. I would definitely call The Wakedead Gathering a straight up death metal band, yet there is this doomy edge to their sound at times which enhances the murky feel the music often produces. This is a good album that I think many or most death metal hounds, especially those with a leaning towards the early days of death metal will find something to enjoy here.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/thewakedeadgathering    https://i-voidhangerrecords.bandcamp.com         




"The Wolves Howl To The Moon” CD, LP & Cassette

(Signal Rex)


Wampyric Rites hail from Ecuador and despite only being in existence since 2019, they have an extremely plentiful release history already for a band this young. I mean at a guess they probably have put out over 20 demos, EPs, splits and ‘The Wolves Howl To The Moon’ is their second full-length album. They play vigorous, somewhat raw and decidedly freezing cold black metal in the second wave early ‘90s tradition. They do a good job of mixing in other elements now and then from sound effects, chants and keys to flesh things out. Yet, those extra elements are always employed as accents with the flowing, hatefully glacial archetypical bm sounds at the Wampyric Rites core. It is not all mindless straight ahead raw black metal either, though I like that too, but rather Wampyric have that as the mainstay while varying the songwriting in ways I found interesting and almost trance inducing. The vocals are purely classic second wave rasping acidic vocals, the kind that I admire, there is some screeching, tortured and bellowing accented accompaniment as well to garnish these sinister vocal emanations. Some bands that spring to mind would be the earlier works of bands like Immortal, Darkthrone, Burzum, Judas Iscariot, Horna or some newer bands like Inferno Requiem, Armagedda, Craft, Vampirska etc… If you, like me, worship early ‘90s style black metal and traditions and can not get enough, then you should give this album a try.  - Dale

https://wampyricrites1.bandcamp.com    https://signalrex.com    https://signalrex.bandcamp.com         




"Night of the Desecration” CD & LP

(Iron Bonehead Records)


The black metal scene from Greece has always been a quality one with a lot of history. It was for me on the same level in the early 90s through the mid ‘90s, alongside Scandinavia as the best and more important in the underground…period. That rich history of the Greek scene is brought to life and carried on in grand tradition by some select newer bands from that country, and for me it is safe to say you can place Wampyrinacht in that collective. The traditional Greek sound has never been about lightning speed or explosive bombast, no it owes it’s roots more to the first wave of black metal than the second wave of their aforementioned counterparts. This sound generally ranges pace wise from slow and brooding, to middle paced with speedy flourishes to add contrast and keep things that much more interesting. This old style is chiefly in service of the song and the atmosphere first and foremost. There is and often was underlying background use of keyboards and piano, but it is not what you are probably thinking, it is not pretty or melodic shit, it is horror soundtrack style stuff again a staple of the old Greek bands tradition. Now when I mention this movement of bands and sound, who are some of the bands I speak of? That would be the earlier works of bands like Rotting Christ, Necromantia, Kawir, Nergal, Thou Art Lord, Zemial, Varathron and a few others. I am always tempted to throw in the non-Greek legend band Mortuary Drape from Italy as part of this movement, as they came along around the same time and share so many traits with those ancient bands from Greece. Certainly Wampyrinacht (who surprisingly to me put out their debut recording a demo in way back in 1996, followed by an EP and then lay dormant for 20 years!) fits right in with those bands and does a fine job carrying all of that forward here on their second full-length release. So, in case you have not figured it out by now, this should be of expressed interest to any fellow diehards of the mighty Greek black metal scene of old, and to any who want to get a taste of what it was about.  - Dale

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




"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/         




"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       




"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/