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ABACINATE

“Genesis” CD

(Epitomite Productions)

 

American death metal though not of the old school I come from and tend to like. No Genesis resides in new school sounds mixing death metal and hardcore in the breakdown kind of style. There are even some traces of the melodo Scandinavian metal ala In Flames or Children of Bodom ilk. Some of the growling vocals are actually really good, but every now and then they get kind of rhyme-y and rap like, which rapidly loses the plot for me and turns me off completely. I like Abacinate best when they put their heads down and just rip full force ahead with their heaviest death metal riffing. Those moments are generally interrupted with the breakdowns and hardcore sections. I have nothing against hardcore, I like it, but not that many death metal bands are adept at combining the two in an interesting way. The melodic power metal influence at times does help to cut down on the awkward transitions from dm to hardcore and add a touch of class to proceedings. A mixed bag here, I think you really have to dig the metal core thing or whatever they are calling it these days (hey I am an old man I might be out of touch here), to enjoy this album, at least it does not delve too far into the lame mallcore thing. We must be thankful for small favours sometimes haha.  – Dale 

http://www.myspace.com/abacinatenj  http://www.epitomite.com/  

 

 

 

THE ACCURSED

“Seasons of The Scythe” CD

(Locomotive Records)

 

This record hit me early and hit me hard right from the first listen. If I received a bio with this, I somehow lost it. So it is not that surprising that it was not until after my initial listen that I realized and remembered I had heard The Accursed before. A long time ago a contact of mine (who I used to hang out with from time to time at metal fests) George Pacheco the bassist of this band sent me their demo back in 2002. I must say these boys have come a long way since then. Apparently I missed out on this the first time (no surprise George and I lost touch quite a while ago – get in touch brother!) in 2005 when it was originally issued by Screaming Ferret records. It gets a new life through Locomotive Records. These boys know how to their instruments that is for damn sure. You do not often hear this many guitar solos and fills on a death metal record even if it is a little thrashy. But they make it work well within the context of the song, nothing seems forced and it does not come off as a wank session, amidst some great heavy head bang riffing. The vocal styling alternates between the main gruff ones, that are part 80s raspy yells and more modern death metal growling, along the with the more sparsely used (thank you for that) clean vocals which are not very good. The Accursed showcase the bass guitar more than most. In fact the intro to “I am Famine” is played on the bass and is a real nice touch sounding great. A few of the songs on “Seasons of The Scythe” could use a little more flow but otherwise this is just an excellent album I can honestly recommend to you.  – Dale  

www.locomotiverecords.com   http://www.myspace.com/theaccursed 

 

 

ACID WITCH

“Stoned” CD

(Hells Headbangers)

 

Classic intro mainstream documentary type clip on Satanism, that gives off that Rosemary’s Baby sort of atmosphere. These clips continue to pop up throughout the album. Some will see that as cheesy I am sure, but I like it. Raunchy and evil fuzz death/doom/stoner metal is what you get on Stoned. I automatically find myself thinking of great American doom band Goatlord. The bio throws in Deep Purple as an influence, maybe the pacing here and there but otherwise I do not hear that at all. I like the mix of horror / Satanism alongside the stoner aesthetic, it is different you have to give them that much. The vocals are clear and understandable but also vomiting and deep, it is a nice combination which works well with the music. The pacing is good with the rhythmic ritualistic repetition interspersed with more rocking and upbeat sections ala St. Vitus at times I suppose. Some killer guitar fills and short soloing which really adds to the atmosphere. There is nothing especially stand out or amazing about Acid Witch. But they are a little off-beat and they roll out some powerful fuzzed out death/doom with that sinister touch. I found myself enjoying this album.  – Dale 

http://www.myspace.com/acidwitch    http://www.hellsheadbangers.com/ 

 

   

 

ACID WITCH

“Witchtanic Hellucinations” CD

(Hells Headbangers)

 

I am not sure if this just fell out of print from the excellent label Razorback Records or what? But the album goes from strength to strength and sees a re-release now through the almighty Hells Headbangers Records. It did not take me long to find out why this album is highly sought after by such quality labels. Acid Witch play a very cool and unique brand of death doom metal. The base riffs are slow motion bulldozers ripping up the ground like it is weak flesh from bone, so heavy, added to that are these crazy spaced out guitar leads all backed with out of this world sound effects. The vocals are really deep, slow but intelligible growls that give me a classic feel; you do not hear that many newer bands doing cool vocals like this anymore. This album sort of makes me think if you took the first My Dying Bride album, sent those bands members out to space and got them hopped up on LSD the resulting album would be Witchtanic haha. About the only bad thing I could possibly say and it is a minor complaint, would be some of the keyboard / organ and sound effects are kind of piercing and a tad high in the mix at times. But really it is a petty little complaint as this is an amazing death doom album. I dig it a lot, for me it actually blows away their follow up sophomore album.  - Dale 

http://www.myspace.com/acidwitch  http://www.hellsheadbangers.com/    

 

 

ADRENICIDE

“Drunk With Power” CD

(Thrashard Records)

 

I was not sure what to expect from these British blokes. I was pleasantly surprised when hitting the play button. I was greeted a fistful of raunchy attitude and a side order of raw sloppy metallic soup. It is some tasty shit too. But I mean wow this has to be first new crossover band I have heard in a decade at least! As music styles go crossover I find is a love it or leave it alone style. It does not always appeal to metal purists or die hard punk and hardcore fanatics. Crossover generally does not display the depth or emotion some look for in their music. But it is catchy, energetic, rocking and heavy and it is memorable, it always has the ever important head bang factor. I like the production on here. It is good in general but definitely has a little bit of the old school organic feel to it and I like that a bunch. This is the way it was meant to be. I will take this raw gritty feel over pro tool overdub to death stuff any day and twice on Sunday. Adrenicide would be aces live I am sure. I am sure the adrenaline would be pumping and it would be rather difficult not to sing along with these crude and in your face lyrics and signature choruses. I think fans of DRI, Cryptic Slaughter, Gang Green, early COC and the like will be well pleased with Adrenicide. It is a simple recommendation you know how scarce good crossover is so you know what to do.  – Dale 

http://www.myspace.com/adrenicide1   adrenicide@googlemail.com 

 

 

AETHERIUS OBSCURITAS

“Viziok” CD

(Paragon Records)

 

Aetherius Obscuritas descend upon us from the mists of Hungary. This is essentially a one man band with a studio drummer. So that quickly answers my first question and always a general fear when you hear the term one man band. That would be does it employ a drum machine? No to that question is a good start off on the right foot with me. What did get me worried was the bio claiming that Ancient “The Canian Chronicles” as a large influence. Thankfully it is not that noticeable, in fact, I actually think A.O. sound a lot more like Burzum on here and that I can deal with. “Viziok” is not a bad album though neither is it particularly good either. It is decent yet just average black metal and a tad run of the mill. It has it’s moments here and there and some quality material is to be found among whole if you are listening for it. So I would say if you are not too picky and like to grab just about everything you can get your hands on in this genre. Then you will not go wrong adding this as well. If like me, you do not fall into that category, then just go play some of your fave black metal albums. As you likely already own this album in some form or another spread across your record collection.  - Dale  

www.paragonrecords.net   http://www.arkhorrl.hu 

 

  

 

AETHERIUS OBSCURITAS

Black Medicine” CD

(Paragon Records)

 

Hungary's Aetherius Obscuritas have released their fifth CD "Black Medicine". The bands core sound seems to have its roots in early 90's Black Metal whether it is the cold-raw Burzum sound or the more melodic, dark Dissection, Ancient influences. Main songwriter Arkhorrl (vocals, instruments) has created a dark masterpiece. But also proves throughout the songs on this release he is not afraid to add some variety to the already dark, and unique sound of Aetherius Obscuritas. Mixing in Black Metal screams, some spoken word passages as well as clean male vocal lines. The guitars are fast and brutal riffs and solos with some rawness mixed into the production. The drums which are performed by Zson who does a magnificent job on the drums. If you are familiar with Aetherius Obscuritas past releases then you know this band unique approach to Black Metal. If you have never heard the band and you are a fan of dark, Black Metal with some atmosphere then check out this CD now.  – Patrick 

http://www.paragonrecords.org  http://www.myspace.com/aetheriusobscuritas  

 

 

 

AETHERIUS OBSCURITAS

“Ventus” 2012 CD

(Paragon Records)

 

I did not realize, as I just looked it up that it has been like 5-6 years since I last reviewed a release by this band. Now looking back and reading that review, I was a little lukewarm on this Hungarian black metal band back then. Aetherius play pretty slick bm with keyboards adding a lot of the atmospheric element, to honest I think a lot of their songs would be better off without the synth. Generally speaking though this is some solid black metal, fairly standard but well done with some good riffing. At times they are really trying to push the aggression but for me it does not seem to translate that well, I do not feel it if you know what I mean, it doesn’t burn with that feeling. I would say some of the riffing and sound are a little more traditional metal sounding and cleaner, also slower in pace than a lot of black metal in this style. Which is not necessarily a bad thing when it is done well and AO pull it off with very competently. The vocals are good and remind me of older style bands like maybe on the first Immortal mixed with maybe a hint of a less screechy Cradle of Filth influence. The drum work on here is pretty hectic and powerful. This band improved quite a bit in the last five years and I went from being lukewarm / down on them to enjoying Ventus, no not an amazing album, but a good album worth the attention.  - Dale 

http://www.arkhorrl.hu/   http://www.themetalunderground.com/    

 

 

AGATHODAIMON
“Blacken The Angel” 1998 CD

(Nuclear Blast USA)

 

This band spews forth solidly written, tight and nicely produced melodic Euro black/death metal. Do you know what my problem with that is!? In this day and age there are so many bands doing this style (i.e.- Dawn, Sacramentum, DarkTranquility, Night In Gales and the list goes on) and doing it well. You have to be better than just good There are a few guitar parts like those in “Tristetea Vehementa” and “Near Dark” that jarred me & stand out. Agatodaimon have to add something to their sound to stand out above the pack. On a side note the layout and photos chosen for each page of lyrics are superb.  – Dale

 

 

AGE OF AGONY

“War, Hate, Blasphemy” Cassette

(Karpathia productions)

 

Ahh, the Carpathians, a world of wonder of isolation and elemental unfound dark forces emanating around me. Home of Omega wolves, a netherworld of uninhibited by man stretching to the frosty skies and mists untrodden in Ukraine not unlike the dark greetings of the rockies in North America. Vocally, the Hungarians remind me of Massacre meets “Maximum Violence” era Six Feet Under and forget Napalm Death already! High produced and more talented than many bands already signed, old school riffs, early Death leads behind the killer drums that lay waste like early Immolation and old Suffocation, a real black and decker pecker wrecker. This is what death metal is all about and it’s the incredible vocals of unmatched brutality that makes the album fly or die, don’t miss out on this or you’ll be kicking your own ass otherwise. Bigger things are going to happen to AOA if labels have to the brains to help them. My copy is 110 of 333, it will likely be sold out when this is printed. Make contact anyway, you never know. – Clayton 

misanthrop@freemail.hu   http://synaptx.hu/agony/ 

 

  

 

AGNOSTIC FRONT

“Warriors” CD

(Nuclear Blast Records)

 

I should start off mentioning the fact I became an Agnostic Front fan back in 1992. During that time period for a few years my pathetic hardcore collection consisted of and did not travel much beyond bands like Agnostic Front, Sick Of It All, Black Flag and a scant few others. I was on a strictly metal trip for the most part. But when I bought the then brand new “One Voice” I was pretty well fucking hooked ever since. In the years since I have gotten my grubby paws on most of their back catalog and in my mind A.F. are hardcore legends and help define what is hardcore. While they are hardcore as fuck. They have always been a fast band and driven by rather metal guitars and they are not ashamed of it or to my knowledge ever strayed from it. Agnostic just always hits you hard with massive pounding drums, razor heavy riffs and the vocals that emanate Roger Miret’s throat are without any doubt some of the most distinctive hardcore vox ever! So you ask what has changed with Agnostic Front in the last 15 or 20 years? The answer is not a whole fucking lot and I must admit I like it that way. They are still just as energetic, pissed off and these old bastards still hit you harder than most. A fair warning that you will have those chant choruses ringing and bouncing around in your noggin for hours after hitting the stop button. I have nothing but respect for these pioneers.  - Dale 

www.agnosticfront.com   www.nuclearblastusa.com

 

 

ALTAR OF OBLIVION

“Grand Gesture Of Defiance” 2012 CD

(Shadow Kingdom Records)

 

I was a little surprised initially to find out this band was made up partially from the remnants of other Danish bands like Victimizer and Church Bizarre. Those are extreme brutalizing metal bands. While Altar of Oblivion are a slow paced, melodic heavy metal band, I hesitate to call them doom metal, yet they do remind me of Candlemass and they are a doom band, so let’s call a spade a spade here. So melodic heavy metal doom band it is. Now normally when you see classic doom automatically people tend to think of Black Sabbath and bands like this, but Altar sound nothing like that and do not have those big crushing riffs. Their music produces in me more of an epic, yet somber mood and if you can get in that mindset, it is an emotional journey Grand Gesture… will take you on. Despite the obvious Candlemass influence the vocalist does not have the emotional or dynamic range of Messiah Marcolin, he has some range but it is more of a monotone, hypnotic delivery and I do like the vocals. I can hear influences mixed within their doom sound such as Manilla Road, Gothic Knights, Solitude Aeturnus and the like. As I said this is a journey, not just a crush and grind you to bits with slow motion doom riffs, nothing wrong with that of course, but Altar of Oblivion spread that power out across each instrument and that glow stretches across you like a wet blanket that just encompasses you in warmth and despair. To sum things up, this is a damn fine album, which I very much recommend and the scene in Denmark continues to show it’s quality with this excellent young band.  - Dale 

http://www.myspace.com/altarofoblivion  http://shadowkingdomrecords.com/     

 

 

ALVERG

“Elde” CD

(Soulseller Records)

 

We have some black metal of the Norwegian persuasion. I do not know a lot about the band. But apparently they formed in 2002, signed with a label, but never released an album and then went on hiatus for some four years. Elde represents their return to the scene for the first time since their demo in ’03 and of course is their debut. It seems like each song starts out really mid-paced and sort of atmospheric or melancholic then shifts gears in the second half with some quickening in the speed. The vocals from Loge are very vague sounding whispered growling/croak and just sort of melt into the background not standing out, which I am sure was intentional. The drums back everything up well but are maybe more cymbal laden than many bm albums. The riffing can really be hypnotic at times and sets my mind wondering through misty landscapes and mountainous areas covered in forest play in my subconscious. That sounds a little corny I know but that is what Elde seems to do to me. I have a feeling the band would not be unpleased by having that effect.  - Dale

http://www.soulsellerrecords.com/  http://www.myspace.com/alverg   

 

  

 

THE AMENTA

Flesh Is Heir” 2013 CD

(Listenable Records)

 

The Amenta are probably one of the few bands from Australia that I just don't like or at least can't get into that much {there are some good riffs here and there} but then again the band is not total metal either. The Amenta for those who don't know mix some metal riffs with industrial noises and a lot of harsh noise influences to create a very chaotic and dark soundtrack. Honestly the band is hard to pin point in one certain category or genre as it changes from minute to minute. This is good for what it is but honestly not my style of music so if your a fan of experimental, industrial, harsh noise with some metal influences. Then give The Amenta a listen, but you might not like this if you’re a die hard metal-head that only likes metal your gonna hate this.  - Patrick 

http://www.reverbnation.com/theamenta  http://www.listenable.net/     

 

  

 

ALDAARON

“Nous Reviendrons Immortels” CD

(Paragon Records)

 

Aldaaron have been in the black metal underground for a few years now. Releasing one demo {2007's "Des Legend Et Ancients Dieus} and one listen to the new cd and you will understand why paragon records picked them up for this release {and hopefully more in the future!} as the music created is simply brillant. Eight tracks of early 90's styled fast black metal with a lot of memorable and well used atmosphere blended in nicely. The drums are furious and pounding away with so much force and aggression. The guitars are just as fast with intense riffs and blazing speeds. All mixed in with the whirlwind of guitar riffs are some great sounding and placed solo's. Aldaaron is a band that is a must hear for fans of {early} Dissection, Emperor and even a little Immortal can be heard within Aldaaron's dark sound.  – Patrick

http://www.paragonrecords.org  http://www.myspace.com/aldaaron  

 

 

ALIENATION MENTAL

“Psychopathicolorspectrum” CD

(Khaaranus Productions)

 

Here we have some death metal with some grind elements dredging up from the mirth and might of the Czech Republic. There are some great brutalizing riffs on here and some killer dynamic drumming. But I must confess over all Alienation Mental is just not really my thing. The flow of the songs and structuring remind me a little too much towards the boring metalcore sound that has flooded America in recent years. Some have even taken to call this mallcore. I do not really keep up on the hip terminology of youngsters. But if this is mallcore then it sounds like metalcore to me and almost no bands in this style interest me very much. If you like this sort of thing then Alienation is probably as good as most of the bands out there that play this way. The album is kind of short at just over 30 minutes including a final track that is just sound sampling. From what I understand their old material was pure grind. They should have stuck with this way, it is what the mighty Czech scene is best at!  – Dale  

http://www.khaaranus.wz.cz   http://www.alienationmental.com/ 

 

 

ALL OUT WAR
“For Those Who Were Crucified” 1998 Cassette LP

(Victory Records)

 

I have to agree with my bro, Mike Rogers, from Sociopathic Despair fanzine. That All Out War in the riffing department are unabashedly Slayer clones, but damn are they heavy and rippin’! I know they are on Victory, but make no mistake this is a metal band! The vocals are hardcore-ish with a hint of death growl minced in. In no way original but in every way bad ass and blasting! Fans of Slayer “Season In The Abyss” take note.  – Dale

Victory Records, P.O. Box 146546, Chicago, IL. 60614, USA website = www.victoryrecords.com 

 

 

 

AMBRAZURA

“Kravia” CD

(Tunes of Torture)

 

I am surprised I have not heard of this band before. This is without doubt some of the best death metal I have heard in the last 5 years. I mean these Ukranian wizards of brutality are just not fucking around. They have the whole package really. Except for one, key flaw, in my opinion or in my tastes, depending upon your view. That is their usage of synthesizer. I am generally not a fan of their use anyway and especially in a heavy handed way. On “Kravia” if they were used just a little more sparingly as an accent then I would have no problem with it. However, it seems in some songs they have synth stuffed into them come hell or high water, no matter the consequence. Okay I got that out of my system, I am probably being a little stubborn here. Ambrazura do an amazing job of riding the line between traditional death metal (I mean the brutal as all hell variety). All the while being very adventurous and almost progressive in their song structuring and time changes etc… The intense control they maintain is impressive as well. What I mean is it is difficult to produce such powerful dynamics while staying ultra heavy and produces a very dark and suffocating atmosphere that keeps troops marching in lock step. Oh, did I mention, the killer guitar soloing? Just get this fracking thing already and you will be impressed too. – Dale  

www.ambrazura.ru   torture13@gmail.com 

 

 

AMON AMARTH

“With Oden On Our Side” CD

(Metal Blade)

 

Personally, I was disappointed with these Viking nostalgic's last outing 'The Fate Of Norms'. Hegg and company just were not making admirable songs of DM worthiness. W.O.O.O.S. changes that with Brutal Vocals, shorter and faster songs, and lyrics that are quite vicious. The songs are very memorable, and aside from the 6 song bonus disc that is not worth mentioning here, this is a killer album. It may not be ground-breaking, but with half the DM out there these days, it's stand's out like a fucking sore thumb...it's about fucking time! Buy it or burn it, you'll surely be cranking this one up either way  - Clayton 

www.metalbladerecords.com

 

     

 

AN AUTUMN FOR CRIPPLED CHILDREN

“Lost” CD

(ATMF Records)

 

That long and kind of over dramatic band name had me thinking this might just be a straight goth band. With second lingering thoughts of an atmospheric, sort of dreamy, emotional metal band with some black metal style mixed in. I was wrong on the first count, but nailed it with the second wave. AAFCC (sounds like an electrical term or something) are full of moody atmospherics, but can be heard with the odd burst of aggression and speed, via traditional instrumentation from time to time. At first I was not sure I was a fan of the fuzzy guitar tone, but it has gradually has begun to grow on me. It surely beats the plastic, carbon copy sound that has been all the rage in recent times (though maybe I am just showing my age and old school nature here?). The vocals are fairly standard fair for the style, you know the obscure yelled rasps, floating in the background like a muted, far off Varg Vikernes or some such. Some of the guitar harmonies do it for me, yet much of the music is too far on the soft and trance like side of things to realize their full potential. They could probably learn a few things in this arena, from label mates Semen Datura, who are a wonderful band. I may be being a tad harsh on them, as for the most part this is a good record and they have a good grasp on what they are trying to achieve. I probably just would have them take a slightly different path and that is probably more down to personal taste, than anything else. If you like this style of music you could do worse. I find myself left wanting just a little more, as I think the band have it within them to give more. They are a young band so… we will see.  – Dale 

http://www.atmf.net   http://www.myspace.com/crippledchildren2009 

 

 

 

ANCESTORS BLOOD

When The Forest Calls" EP

(Heidens Hart)

 

This Finnish band play a brand of pagan black metal. Having released a handful of demos, a full length, a best of (already?), and a split, this EP came out in 2009. There are keyboards mixed in amongst the melodic black metal - very nice production on the instruments on this release. The vocals are very weak, though - black metal inspired despair yelling. As I sit here listening, I like the music part of the band but the vocals don't really fit in with it. Either the band needs to get more old school raw black metal for the vocals to work or the singer needs to start actually singing to keep up with the rest of the band.  Decent.  - Mark 

http://www.heidenshart.nl.nu/  http://www.myspace.com/ancestorsbloodfinland  

 

 

…AND OCEANS .VS. BLOODTHORN
“Finland .VS. Norway” 1998 Split CD

(Season Of Mist Records)

 

…And Oceans play a simplistic and flowing black metal that is destroyed by overuse and smothering of keybored’s! Bloodthorn seems to play pretty much in the same symphonic vein as …And Oceans. But, throw in some trendy operatic female vocals. This is a goofy release, each band has 4 songs that break down as 2 originals, 1 cover (each) of GGFH and 1 cover of each others songs. Also it sure makes it more evil for me when a black metal sings about either track running or car racing (…And Oceans) and on a military strategic move (Bloodthorn). Fans of symphonic black metal will eat this up for sure. As for me, it’s not my goblet of black blood and besides that cover picture makes me feel like I have walked in on some sort of uncomfortable moment during a mating ritual.  – Dale

Season Of Mist, 24 rue Brandis, 13005 Marseille, FRANCE  Email = season@worldnet.fr 

 

 

ANGMAR / The True ENDLESS

Split CD

(Bestial Burst Records)

 

Angmar – 3 hymns of punishing Finnish black metal from each band. Angmar’s music is really loose and pretty rough around the edges but the atmosphere of hate and darkness manages to shine through. They actually remind me a little towards a lot of American black metal bands. “The Act In Worship” even has American death metal riffing running smack through it. They need work but pretty good nonetheless.

The True Endless – An epic sort of feeling from these Italian black metal beasts. By that I mean long songs that have monotonous riffing with little to no dynamics or variation. Which is a formula that can really work sometimes ala early Burzum but I would say Endless miss the mark a little here. I like obscure vocals but on here they have been so over hidden in the mix, to the point of near non-existence. I would pass. – Dale  

www.bestialburst.blackmetal.fi/   bestialburst@blackmetal.fi

 

 

ANGUISHED

“Cold” CD

(Hammer Of Hate)

 

Well this is something new under the black sun for me. We have all seen and heard hundreds of one man bands. But have you ever before heard of a one woman band?! I have not and I have to admit I am intrigued by an individual of the female persuasion being this dedicated and hard to the core in the bm realm. Her corpse painted photos throughout the cd booklet are fantastic and mirror the music perfectly. Also believe it or not after all of these years and bands, she does some poses in those photos I have never seen before. The depressive and suicidal lyrics only intrigue further. This Finnish woman goes by the name Possessed Demoness and is joined only as a session drummer by some fellow going by the name of Mental Penetrator. The vocals are hysterical, I do not mean that in a mocking way, she sounds completely hysterical and maniacal with her tortured and yes anguished screams and hollering. Think of the vox from the first Cradle of Filth but turned up a notch on the intensity and more out of control. I find myself to be fascinated with them and can not stop listening. Every now and then she slips in a clean but still dark sounding vocal, no angelic type stuff, just spoken / sung bits. The music is solid, often mid paced almost introspective black metal. The silence is shattered from time to time with some raging speed and frantic darkness that runs headlong through the mist with tortured hate. I could see the riffing and some of the sound being akin to Judas Iscariot or a rougher, looser Horna type sound. I could see due to the love it or hate it type vocals, that this is probably a polarizing sort of band. As for me I enjoyed this album quite a bit.  – Dale 

http://www.hammer-of-hate.com/  http://www.myspace.com/anguished666  

 

 

ANTESTOR
“The Return Of Black Death” 1998 CD

(Cacophonous Records)

 

I can’t tell you much about this band as no bio or other information were supplied to me. Having said that, I can tell you about the music within. Antestor are masters of droning blackened goth metal w/ heavy atmosphere from the guitars. They also show off their Bathory viking-era, Katatonia gothic overtones and influence of the Gothenburg sound. Yes, Antestor are a good band when not bringing their gay keyboards to the forefront and taking away from excellent subtle epic guitar harmonies. With regards to the album title they must be referring to the lyrical content, as musically this is no return to black/death metal. Solid release, nothing more.  – Dale

Cacophonous Records, 231 Portebello Road, London, W11 1LT, ENGLAND

 

 

APOPHIS
“Heliopolis” 1998 CD

(Morbid Records)

 

Woah… I had heard this bands name before, but I had no idea they have been kicking around since the late ‘80’s! They put out a couple demos and this is their 3rd album. This record does display, this German band’s, maturity as they create a multitude of emotive layers. They do so by combining fast guitar sections with slow plods, tasty lead work and throw in some speedy blasts. The vocals are deep semi-decipherable gruff death growls and top things off with some odd sprinkling of keys in the background. All is structured very solidly. Death fiends check into this.  – Dale

Morbid Records, Postfach 3, D - 03114 Drebkau, GERMANY

 

 

ARCKANUM

“Fran Marder” CD

(Debemur Morti Productions)

 

During the early days Arckanum was written off by some as nothing more than a Burzum clone. While there is no denying a similarity in sound and style. I feel that is selling Arckanum a little short. There is a lot more depth there and it is not like they came on the block a decade later like many bands worshipped these days. The first demo (spell) was cast upon us in 1993. Just in case there is anyone reading this that does not know of Arckanum. I should mention this is the debut album and of course a re-release with more to come. One of the areas people sell them short, in my opinion, is the overall emotion and dark atmosphere this album and band exude. It grabs you and grows on you, it envelopes you like a swallowing mist and takes you into a trance state. The guitars on here are fantastic and just flow with a melodic quality to them that keeps your attention fixed. Shamaatae’s vocals are great, quite abrasive hoarse yelling with a touch of the black metal rasp. Despite the uncompromising and rough nature of the vocals it does not distract too much from that trance-like spell the music holds over you. In fact, it is a welcome counter point to it all. I really like this album and it is very good for a first release, especially if you consider when it was released. This debut album does not have the perfect production for the Arckanum style, but it is good anyway. It could be a little more raw instead of being as clean as it, but it is still good nonetheless. I am thinking this must have been one of the early recordings at the soon to be famous Abyss studios? It seems like the perfect amount of time has passed for a set of Arckanum re-releases. It is surely an underrated band that deserves to be well known once again in the scene.   – Dale 

http://www.arckanum.se/   http://www.debemur-morti.com/ 

 

 

ARCKANUM

“Kostogher” CD

(Debemur Morti Productions)

 

Listening to these re-releases of old, reminds me to the early days of Arckanum. It was when the so called black metal mafias were running around and pointing fingers at all who were not true. I recall bands like Fluerety and Arckanum labeled as the untrue and unserious. “He runs around with a paper mache mask in the woods, pretending he is a troll!” It is all humorous for me to think about now. Anyway, on to the topic at hand, this is the 1997 sophomore follow-up for Arckanum. The sound here for my taste is much more suited to the band. It is more heavy and raw and powerful, it suits the guitars very well and the drums have more ‘umph’ too. As I am sure some fans will mention an Arckanum album must be listened to as a whole to get the full experience. Just picking out a song or two in isolation produces a great disservice to Shamaatae’s seamless vision. I would say the pace on here is more intense and aggressive than the debut album. You would think that might kill some of the atmosphere from the first album, but really it just morphs it into a new feeling or aura. An aura you soak in through your skin and not just your ears. Shamaatae seems to really be perfecting his tortured spirit, emotive yelling and rasp to perfection at this point in the Arc evolution. With the lyrics all having been written in ancient Swedish, it definitely gives a vibe all it’s own with the distinctive vocal style and pronunciation. Something I have always respected about Arckanum is the organic nature of it all and the resistance to take the thin and easy way out with synthesizer all over the place. “Kostogher” for me is an important release in black metal with real vision and is surely a must own album.  – Dale 

http://www.arckanum.se/   http://www.debemur-morti.com/  

 

 

 

ARES KINGDOM

“Return To Dust” CD

(Nuclear War Now! Productions)

 

When you make a lasting and let us not split hairs here, legendary mark upon the scene, for better or for worse that legacy follows you around and becomes the measuring stick by which all future accomplishments. Your new bands cock is only 6 ½ inches but your old band is a porn star worthy 9 inches of raging meat & muscle. Of course I am referring to Order From Chaos, the classic band of wonderful chaotic torment, whose members Chuck Keller and Mike Miller propelled into prominent position of the metal history books. It will always linger around them like the after taste of fine wine (or a cheap vintage depending upon the view), matching that wonderment is a lofty goal likely pushed into the back of their minds. A new day is dawning and amusingly enough, despite a somewhat paltry output, Ares Kingdom has been around at this point about as long as Order From Chaos. How does A.K. fair to these biased ears? Pretty damn well by my measure and I am not new to Ares as one of my best friends released their demo tape (not to mention a 7 inch from Chuck’s other post OFC band Vulpecula) in wonderful pro packaging (Keith Dempe where are you my friend?! The Dark Lord whispers your name!). A much more middle paced and introspective yet harsh (yes I know those do not go together but you need to listen to this music to see what I profess!) sound that peel back the flesh and meat, one sinew at a time rather than just beating you over the head with a shovel ala OFC, they protract your pain before unconsciousness. Vocalist Alex Blume belts out his sandpaper howls with emotion and brute force, it really adds a rough around the edges quality which juxtaposes itself nicely on top of Keller’s wonderful guitar work (some of those piercing solo fills had in ecstasy)  and flowing structures. Speaking of the guitars they are heavy as hell itself and roll over you full force but with an underlying finesse and reflective aura which wonderfully counterpoints the blunt force trauma. It is true one minute you headbang and the next you are swept away to some distant plane letting your grey matter go for a swim in the calming seas of eternity. This is mandatory and should do any OFC die hard proud with it’s quality. No surprise it is on a great label like Nuclear War Now, you know what to do, get this and the D.H. vinyl too. – Dale 

www.areskingdom.com   www.nwnprod.com

 

 

ARES KINGDOM

“Incendiary” CD

(Nuclear War Now Records)

 

When I see that album title, it reminds me of one my fave movies Almost Famous. If you like that flick then you know what why. It has been almost 4 years since the last Ares Kingdom album. I must say, it was well worth the wait. The band has taken their sound to new heights I had not imagined. You can tell they used that time to perfect their craft and give the material the attention it deserved. AK has never been ones to rush things before their time, as evidenced by Incendiary being their second record since their 1996 formation. They have taken the time honoured tradition of thrash metal and molded it into something most remarkable. I was not provided with lyrics, but I can make many of them out and as can be expected from these fellows, they are intelligent and well thought out. I love the lyrics to “Abandon In Place”, it is about the Chernobyl meltdown and includes an actual emergency call from the event. Which is all brilliantly executed and the emotion in the music reflects the lyrics and the incident itself. It is not an easy task to marry all of these elements in unison, but Ares Kingdom do so masterfully. I enjoyed Alex Blume’s vocals and his growls are clear and decipherable and at times remind me to early Grave (and I fucking love Grave). They are not all over the place, but there are some amazing guitar solos/fills on here that absolutely smoke and yet add poignant emotive depth to the music at the same time. I would be remiss not to mention the superb and tasteful drum performance from Mike Miller. He supports the guitars wonderfully and leaves enough room for the compositions to breathe. I like the epic feel to Incendiary and how they kept things on the straight forward side and not get tangled into too many riffs or a run away train speed. It is not just epic in scope though. There are also a number of quite somber and melancholic sections that really add emotional dynamics to the whole. I know it is early in 2010, but Incendiary for me, already has record of the year candidate written all over it.  - Dale

http://www.areskingdom.com   http://www.nwnprod.com/

 

 

ARGHOSLENT

“Hornets Of The Pogrom” CD

(Drakkar Productions)

 

I have been a fan of Arghoslent for many a moon – probably around 15 years now! That means I am old and it goes back to my tape trading days when I traded for their demo tapes. They can be called death metal, but at times in their history I have had a hard time nailing that down. Some of their stuff seemed very traditional heavy metal influenced to me despite always having vocals that never fit that mold. In the past they have had some really obscure sounding vocals that melt into the scenery. Though not any longer, now they have more of classical death metal growler not from the belching school, but rather from a Euro deep brutal origin. One thing that has never changed is they do not give a fuck lyrically and image wise and always stick to their guns. “Hornets…” is a fairly quickly paced album and it is heavy, but also there is a lot of melody and memorable structuring to be had. Yes this album is probably one of the more easily digestible Arghoslent records and I think it shows hints of European influence more than in the past. The antithesis of in the past was part of the charm for me with Argho, but nonetheless “Hornets…” is growing on me. Just because it is so easy to get comfortable with does not mean it is not good. This is not my fave ‘slent work, but it is staying in my collection, let me put it that way. Before I go, I need to mention the guitar work on here is so good and worth the price of admission alone. A really emotional performance that just tore at my soul. Just one listen and you know I speak the truth. A quote from their bio that sums up the band up “…yielding to no one, apologizing to nobody, and offending everyone.”  – Dale  

www.drakkar666.com   http://drakkar666.com/arghoslent/ 

 

 

ARMOUR

“Armour” CD

(Hells Headbangers)

 

It is probably an understatement to say this is something a little different for the mighty Hells Headbangers label. Armour might be on the lighter end of the scale for many reading this. But I have always been a fan of certain bands in this style. The first song Rock ‘n Roll Tonite, would be a mixing of what you could hear on a Loudness, Dokken, Sword or Accept record back in the day. The following song The Time is Right has a massive Keel sound and feel to it mixed with a dash of old Grave Digger. The third track is a rocker by the name of Sex Demon, you can hear the WASP influence coming through here, maybe some Tank as well. Are you sensing a pattern here? Yeah these guys are none too original, they wear their influences on their sleeves in a major way and the style they emulate or immolate (depending upon your opinion) fluctuates from song to song. Some will surely find this a little too cheesy for their tastes and make no mistake it can be cheesy. Not to mention some of the stuff is probably a little too close to so called hair metal for many people’s tastes. For me I love stuff like WASP, Accept, old Grave Digger etc… So a lot of the stuff on here is okay with me, not to mention that they keep things just serious enough and heavy enough to keep me listening. You always read reviews like this is not just another retro band, well in my opinion you probably could call this just another retro band. But it is a good one and it seems very clear to me that these guys just bleed this style of music as fans. It is hard not to tap into some of that infectious devotion. If you like some or all of the above bands you will dig this one too. These guys would totally win VH1 Rock ‘N Roll Fantasy camp battle of the bands hands down haha.  – Dale 

http://www.myspace.com/metalarmour  http://armour.hellsheadbangers.com/  

 

 

ARYOS

“Maitre Des Dominations Cerebisles” CD

(Exh Goetie / D.U.K.E.)

 

I can not endure listening to this over and over, but I’ve learned that with enough patience and perseverance you can fuck a cat. This isn’t atmospheric noir black art orchestrated metal entwined with ceremonies as your tricked to believe. I believed Cradle of Filth was the worst band ever, what the fuck is this? Seriously, what I think of France is what Huskies think of poodles; that they belong to some kind of weird chainsaw worshipping cult. It feels like I’m walking admist some tinker-bell gay parade, namely the pianist. This is the commercially saturated shit balloon band that us true metallists see scourging our beloved metal commands today. Soft voices and a vocalist that sounds like a Raptor being corn-holed. The piano / keyboards / effects is un-metal and perpetual shit that is really pointless. This album makes Dimmu Borgir and Ancient sound extreme which is sadder than hell. It’s all in French lingo too and gives me more reasons to hate this poser crap. At least in Quebec, Canada those French acts know their shit. Lock and load and eat lead you assholes! The other day I had severe food poisoning and felt like I would die. After hearing this I wish I had! This is over priced at free! – Clayton 

http://richardperel.free.fr/

 

 

ARS MACABRA

“Hate Induced Trance” CD

(Sinister Sound)

 

Italian black metal. Four piece band. A throaty shouted vocal delivery.  Musicianship is decent. I can't really find anything wrong with this release. But, I also can't find anything right about it. It's not bad but it doesn't have that extra spark to make it something special. There are so many bands in the scene, I wouldn't be able to pick Ars Macabra out from the rest of them. I would recommend riding a few of the riffs out instead of constantly changing them. The album goes by in a blur. Mediocre release bordering on good.  - Mark 

http://www.arsmacabra.com/  

 

 

ASTEROIDS
“Burning Out In The Atmosphere” 1998 CD

(Bishop Records)

 

Well, as I understand it, Mark from Asteriods read my mag before sending this and still sent it anyway. So I guess he gave me the benefit of the doubt, so I will do the same. I just am not a good person to review this though, I listen to metal pretty much exclusively a metal band this is not. Asteroids play a upbeat adventurous rock in the vein of a happier Rush or Jethro Tull. Great singer, talented musicians but I still don’t like it at all, sorry.  – Dale

12 US to: Bishop Records, Box 81488, San Diego, CA. 92138, USA  

 

 

ASTRIAAL

“Renascent Misanthropy” CD

(Obsidian Records)

 

This album was actually released originally in 2003, but has now been given new life through Obsidian Records. This time in digipak format with a bonus of a live video of the song “Arborescence” as well as a photo gallery in CD-ROM format. I guess one thing you will notice immediately is the recording is pretty much picture perfect. I often like a little rougher recording with my black metal, but it does seem to suit Astriaal just fine. The music is generally pretty harsh and fast, but always keeping an element of melody ala the old Dissection style yet a little cleaner and slick. It is clear to me a lot of thought and work was put into this album as it woven with a lot of emotional tapestry and hatred. The vocals are done in the classic raspy, shrieking black metal way with the occasional use of cleaner vocals. I can see why this received a re-release, this is some quality music, well worth checking out. Probably even more so these days as the scene does not seem to be as flooded with bands playing this style as it was in the past. Apparently the band has been “on hold” for the last six years since this albums release – I wonder why?  – Dale 

www.obsidianrecords.com   http://www.elementalist.net/astriaal/

 

 

ATRIARCH

“Forever The End” CD

(Seventh Rule Recordings)

 

This disc came with no information whatsoever. I mean not even a website or even an album title or clearly marked record label that released it on the packaging. I had to do some digging to find that contact information for those reading this review, no clue why none of that was included with the disc or on the packaging. This album is out on disc and LP by the way, which I always love to see for fellow vinyl hounds like myself. There are only 4 songs on here, yet this is a full length album, with songs ranging in playing time between 6 minutes and 14 minutes. I guess you could call these songs and the album itself a slow burner of sorts and some patience is required. The band calls their music blackened death rock doom metal. Which is probably a fair description, but the death rock title made me cringe and is probably a bit misleading to some, it is not hokey like that term might suggest. Atriarch are a dark doom metal band, they travel the less beaten misty path and do so at a sluggish and measured pace. The vocals sound like some far off yet all encompassing musings from an introspective spirit and you can never quite locate their source. Just really vague sounding but they fit with the music nicely and help set the atmosphere. Forever The End washes over you producing within you waves of grief and melancholy and forlorn. It is entirely up to you to decide if you want let those deep feelings take hold of you and take you on the journey. I know I did and the experience was a powerful one. Doom hounds might want to make a trip to Seventh Rule for another fix.  - Dale

http://www.myspace.com/atriarchmetal  http://www.seventhrule.com/  

 

 

 

AUDIOPAIN

“The Switch To Turn off Mankind” CD

(Vendlus Records)

 

This would have to be, hands down, some of the best thrash I have heard in the last 5 years. I think I need to play some catch up with their back catalog now. As I mentioned Audiopain is definitely a totally pure thrash band. They do not sound much like this band or that band. You can hear some general influence but they have a sound of their own which is a good and rare thing these days. “The Switch…” is really good straight ahead dark thrashing that keeps the foot tapping and the head nodding in mini-headbang. I am really digging Sverre Daehli’s high throaty rasp vocals as they take me right back to my roots in the 1980s. Which is a welcome and comfortable place for me. Not to mislead anyone as the music is not retro made to me but rather is modern thrash made by some dirty old Norwegian thrashers. This is some high caliber music that you will not soon forget. Now my only 1 small problem with this record is it is only 26 minutes, which is a little short, to be passing off as a full length record. I need to hear more from these guys soon.  - Dale 

www.vendlusrecords.com   http://www.myspace.com/audiopain 

 

 

AVE MARIA

Chapter 1” CD

(Ahdistuksen Aihio)

 

After listening to Ave Maria's debut simply titled chapter one a few times. I have to say this is one of the most impressive and well-written dark, black metal masterpieces I've heard in years. And another impressive fact is this is just the bands debut release! The music is played slower almost black/doom to a more mid-paced black metal pace. The guitars have the harsh, screechy sound in parts but also there is a lot of really good solo's and well played structures. The drumming is top notch while keeping up with the guitars never really going full on blasting. Which is good cause I think Ave Maria have a great style and sound within the mid-paced realm {although as mentioned earlier this is the bands debut so who knows the band might speed things up in the future} Ave Maria are not strictly black metal clones and add a little variety {ugh usually a horrible a word when describing black metal music in my opinion} with some psychedelic and melody and somber moments to add an extra layer of darkness to the bands already dark sound and feel. Ave Maria are definitely a band influenced by pure black metal but are also not afraid to mix in melody or different elements. Highly recommended to all who listen and enjoy blackened, dark metal.  - Patrick 

http://www.ahdistuksenaihio.com/  http://airameva.bandcamp.com/  

 

   

 

AVENGER

"Bohemian Dark Metal" 2012 CD

(Deathgasm Records)

 

I think if I had to describe this Czech Republic band it would be as doomy black death metal. I know that covers a lot of bases, then again so does this album. Maybe some might just call this dark metal, hence the album title. I am not sure but it is an interesting record, nothing groundbreaking, yet Avenger do have a fairly distinctive sound in this day and age when that is a hard thing to do. I really got into it when they were doing their more doomy, atmospheric material mixed with the extremity. But during the longer sections when they went all out speed and hate, surprisingly to me I kind of lost focus and interest a little. Not sure why as it is well done. Either way overall I like what Avenger is doing and can only see them getting more and more interesting on future releases, just have that feeling. If you like doom and black metal first and foremost and do not mind the mixing of the two, you should definitely check out into Bohemian Dark Metal.  – Dale

http://www.myspace.com/avengerofficial  http://www.deathgasm.com/    

 

 

AVSKY

“Scorn” CD

(Moribund Records)

 

By Satan’s hairy nutsack, is there ever an end to Swedish black metal, in the classic old style? The answer of course is no and I fucking love that answer! This is all assuming of course, that it is good and coming across lousy bm from Sverige is a rare enough occurrence, at least in my experience. Avsky label themselves as ‘malignant black metal’ and that is apt term. They incorporate some more slow, moody and alternating rocking parts than many black metal bands in this genre. Yet they never lose the trademark cold and evil atmosphere that is always a welcome slow down of the blood pumping in my veins. “The Beyond” is a fantastic gloomy and haunting instrumental. Which is not something you hear a lot on bm albums. But it fits here nicely. This is definitely one of the better black metal albums I have heard in a while.  - Dale

http://www.myspace.com/avskyband   http://www.moribundcult.com/

 

 

AZAGHAL

“Teraphim” 2009 CD

(Moribund Records)

 

I would suspect most people reading this have heard the Finnish Azaghal by now. They have been doing it a long time now. They formed in 1995 and released their first demo tapes in ’98. I will admit this is the first Azaghal release I have got in hand and in my head in a few years. It is good to see they are still delivering harsh, fast and dark black metal like always and as was masterfully set out in the old days. The vocals are striking and slashing classic black metal rasps, but they help keep the atmosphere cold and mean. There are some sections where Azaghal get a little too liberal with their use of synth, but thankfully those times are short-lived and well spread out. “Teraphim” is a cruel record but there is also plenty of melody woven into the hate. A song like “Filosofi” is an excellent example of this, some great texture and melody, but keeping the dank atmosphere strong. You will be presented with ambient moments and dramatic passages, but it all serves the greater good. That greater good being a heaping plate of excellent black metal with great emotional depth. I guess the quality after eight albums should be this high, but I greatly appreciate excellence nonetheless.  – Dale

 www.moribundcult.com    www.blackterrormetal.cjb.net

  

   

 

AZAGHAL

“Nemesis” 2012 CD

(Moribund Records)

 

Azaghal are old goats by now in the black metal scene, having released demos, eps and albums since 1998 at a steady pace. I believe is their 9th album. I am a fan of some of their past works. Nemesis changes nothing for these great old bm stalwarts, they have not progressed or started adding a bunch of useless frills that would only serve to dilute the purity of their sound. No Azaghal, much like their countrymen Horna, just continue to raise their goblets, dripping with blood towards the classic early 90s black metal that I know so well and worship so thoroughly. This is some cold and cryptic music with rasping screams adding a layer of frosty anger to the flowing river of darkness. For those of you that do not follow the 2nd wave of bm closely or only like to listen to the classic albums, then this not for you as there is nothing new to see or hear here. However, if you are like me and can really never get enough of this style of music then Azaghal never disappoints and you will be pleased with Nemesis.  – Dale 

http://www.myspace.com/azaghalterrorcult  http://www.moribundcult.com/