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SACRIFICIAL SLAUGHTER / ENFUNERATION

"American Deathrash" 2011 CD

(Horror Pain Gore Death Productions)

 

I love split albums now and then and this release from Horror Pain looks to be an interesting one. First up is Sacrificial Slaughter and they bludgeon you over the head right out of the gate. SS play brutal death metal but with a real thrash underpinning. A reference band that immediately jumped to mind is the great old deathrash band Demolition Hammer. There are bands out there playing deathtrash, but I would have heard very few these days playing it this way. It is sort of a throw back to a time when thrash fans and bands were getting adrenalized for this new thing called death metal and you could hear the merging of the two distinct styles, sort of like hey that thrash band plays some sickening death metal. That is what you get from Sacrificial Slaughter and I like it. Oklahoma’s Enfuneration on the other are a more polished and modern sounding death metal band. They also hit you hard in their own way with razor riffing and deep rolling growl vocals. The drummer stands out as well on these tracks, a very controlled, precise and commanding performance turned in on the kit by drummer Rodney Cochran. All in all a great pairing and a must have type album for brutal death fans. I lean a little more towards Sacrificial, but both bands bring the goods, on five songs a piece and punish your ears.  – Dale

http://www.myspace.com/championsofmetal  http://hpgd.comoj.com/index.html  

 

 

SACRILEGIOUS IMPALEMENT

"Cultus Nex" CD

(Hammer Of Hate)

 

Some speedy Finnish polished black metal with a strong death metal undercurrent is what is on tap here. The production is heavy yet slicker than I generally care for or look for, I have heard worse though mind. The members of this band are involved in many different Finnish bands, such as Uncreation’s Dawn, Evil Angel, Satanic Torment, Tuonela etc... All of which I am mostly unfamiliar with, but might be a point of interest to those reading this that are fans of said acts. The vocals are a deep black rasp juxtaposed with a cavernous death metal base and fit the music well enough. I feel like Sacrilegious do not manage to create anything of an own sound and come away sounding like so many other overproduced Scadinavian black death bands, spewing out one after the other in the last decade or so. Maybe that is your thing though? So many bands like this get signed and spread around, so clearly there are many out there who worship things done in this fashion.  – Dale

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

 

 

SACRILEGIOUS IMPALEMENT

“II – Exalted Spectres” CD

(Hammer Of Hate Records)

 

I actually thought this was going to be a death metal band based on their name alone. But what we have here is a Finnish black metal band. Reminiscent of (Sweden's) Dark Funeral in places, this sounds like something that would of come out of the late 90's or early 00's. A four piece on this recording, the songs are unrelenting with enough studio polish to make them raw but produced. An intro plus eight tunes. A solid effort but in such an over saturated, been there done that, market, it's hard for any black metal band to stand out. Sacrilegious Impalement are a decent band but hardly remarkable.  - Mark

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

 

 

SANGUINARY MISANTHROPIA

"Loathe Over Will” 2012 CD

(Supremacy Through Intolerance Rec.)

 

After a couple of e.p's and demo's Australia's Sanguinary Misanthropia release their debut full-length. Loathe Over Will is nine tracks of traditional satanic black metal. Raw, thin guitar riffs, aggressive blasting drums with some mid-paced breaks to keep the music interesting and the listeners attention. The vocals are demonic screams and screeches and fits nicely with the bands old-school primitive sound. I know a lot of bands are doing the "old school" sound way too much these days but Sanguinary Misanthropia do a great job of creating and playing traditional, raw black metal without sounding too much like one particular band. Definitely recommended to old-school fans who enjoy their black metal raw, primitive and ugly.  - Patrick

http://www.reverbnation.com/sanguinarymisanthropia  http://shop.supremacy-through-intolerance.org/   

 

 

SARCASM

“A Touch Of The Burning Red Sunset” 1998 CD

(Breath Of Night Records)

 

Not sure if you can call this an album or just a discography collection. Included are the bands 2 demos, ‘92’s “In Hate…” and ‘93’s “Dark” tapes. I always wondered what happened to this band, who play a well balanced combination of melodious and memorable structuring with a courseness of harsh speed, all fully steeped with passion and hate. Cult darkness!

Breath Of Night Recs., P.O. Box 54, Dekalb, IL. 60115 - 0054, USA  Email = akhenaten@niu.edu

 

 

SARGEIST

The Rebirth Of A Cursed Existence” 2013 CD

(World Terror Committee Productions)

 

One of my favorite black metal bands from the Finnish black metal underground. The Rebirth Of A Cursed Existence is seventy two minutes of raw, vicious Satanic black metal that only the masters can provide. Fourteen rare tracks from Sargeist's vault originally released on vinyl's, cassettes, or compilation songs used over the years. I have been a fan of this great bands music over the years which has never changed or let me down with their traditional, raw vicious black metal. The thin guitars are fast and screechy played with a lot of extreme cold and hateful riffs, but there is also has a lot of talent mixed in with the hateful blasphemy. The drumming is precise and chaotic at the same time going from mid-pace to all-out blasting assaults on the drum kit. Sargeist are one of the best black metal bands ever to be unleashed into the scene and thanks to the great W.T.C  label you now have a chance to own some of the bands hardest material to find. Highly Recommended to all Sargeist fans and anyone into classic raw, hateful black metal.  - Patrick

https://myspace.com/sargeist   http://www.moribundcult.com/  

 

 

SARRATUM

"Flagellation Of A Saint” 2012 CD

(Nekrogoatheresy Productions)

 

Sarratum is a black metal band featuring Martin Ciappara {Prayer Of The Dying, Black vulture} who handles the drums and keyboards in the band. Sarratum seem to stick to the more primitive, raw straight forward style of black metal and do it well. The guitars are raw, simplistic yet have some catchy riffs. I'm not sure how long martin has been drumming for but he seems to be pretty good behind kit going from mid-to fast beats. And the band does show somewhat of an "atmospheric" side with their instrumental track Beyond The Helios before picking up with the demonic harsh blackened vocals and black metal attack. Fans of early Emperor, or early 90's Norse black metal in general should check out / enjoy Sarratum.  - Patrick

http://www.myspace.com/sarratum  http://www.nghproductions.net/index.php?cPath=2      

 

 

SATANIST

“Sadomasochrist” CD

(Negativity Records)

 

Hailing from the far North come Satanist and their grim low-fi “Sadomasochrist” debut album. So black metal from Alaska? I already feel an unpleasant cold chill run down my spine just thinking of that combination. I suppose I should clarify here that Satanist are a speed metal and black metal combination. Which for me is just great and I would like to see more of it. It reminds me to the early days of the second wave of black metal when bands generally had more of their own sound. They were definitely black metal but incorporated speed, thrash, heavy metal and doom type elements into the bm sound. I think to bands (and their early works) like Mortuary Drape, Necromantia, Morning Star, Acheron etc… etc… The visuals that this record is wrapped in are in your face with the cover portraying a crucified christ flying with bat wings and possessing marks of Satanic desecration and mutilation upon his skin. Then you get a bonus poster inside of a naked nun pissing on a holy bible. The vocals on here are excellent in my opinion. They are kind of more akin to dark heavy metal or thrash vocals but sung at sort of a mid-pacing and while they are evil sounding you can certainly make out everything that is sung. They have ambient synth type interludes here and there and that reminds me of the classic “Rites of The Black Mass” album by Acheron. Though here it has a little different feeling to it, more modern and not quite as classic and creepy as “Rites…” Apparently these ambient sections have been contributed by the band Absynth whom I know very little about. The guitars on here are so speed metal that it almost aches but in a good way for me. It is well done and despite this (speed guitars) they always manage to turn in a cold black atmosphere on it all. “Sadomasochrist” is a good album that I can recommend. For me though the only real drawback is the drums, which are a programmed drum machine. Now I have heard them done much worse but in general I detest drum machines and that was an unfortunate black mark on the album. But do not let that deter you from giving this a try because it is worth it.   - Dale

http://www.negativityrecords.com/   http://www.myspace.com/satanist666  

 

 

SATAN’S HOST

"Power – Purity – Perfection 999" CD

(Moribund Records)

 

These guys are still around?! I have their 1986 album “Metal Hell” from my tape trading days of old. I knew there was a Satan’s Host around, but I had no clue that this was that same one! I am guessing with the gap in releases between 1987 and 1999 that they were broken up during that period. I just paused to read the bio, apparently they broke up back then because drummer D. Lucifer Steele was murdered. For those that do not know, this was the band of Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin of Jag Panzer fame. But, he is no longer with the band, not that that is a surprise. Yet, they carry onward today, as far as I can tell guitarist Patrick Evil is the only founding member left. Now of course they do sound a lot different now than that old debut album. A record where they displayed, as you might have guessed a classic and dated sound, but still solid darkened power metal. Nowadays you they play a form of death/thrash metal sounding music still with a definite old school heavy metal backbone running through it. The vocals come off sounding the usual current black metal rasp mixed with some dm growling undertones. Satan’s Host like it heavy, but also pretty melodic in between the bouts of horrific brutality. The production is good, really forceful and captures the power and hateful emotion of the band. All in all, a well crafted record that has enough dynamic to separate it from the masses in this style.   – Dale

www.moribundcult.com   http://www.satanshost.com/  

 

 

SATAN’S HOST

"Assault On Evil…666” DVD

(Moribund Records)

 

I always have trouble with trying to review Metal dvd’s. I mean generally it is a live dvd of material that has been released previously over multiple past releases. So there does not seem to be much point in reviewing the music. As far as the disc contents go... You do get a 7 song live show basically. It is all very well done, Moribund should be commended for their work here, as you get nice quality video shot with multiple camera angles. The sound is crystal clear with nice separation so there is no problem there at all. There is a horde of bonus material present, including a bunch of bootleg videos shot by fans at live shows. I am not sure the average black metal devotee will necessarily want this, though I may be wrong about that, but surely those who are already fans of Satan’s Host will get their monies worth. A side note of interest for those who did not know that Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin of Jag Panzer fame was in the band in the 80s and reportedly recently re-joined!  – Dale

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

 

 

SATAN'S HOST

“By The Hands Of The Devil” CD

(Moribund Cult)

 

Harry "The Tyrant" Conklin, of Jag Panzer fame's, old side project that has been resurrected for 2011. Pretty straight forward heavy metal with Conklin's typical soaring vocals. In some ways it's nice to hear this type of Maiden/Priest type of metal - brings me back to the early 80's scene. Solid riffing throughout, time signature changes, and elements of more modern metal are mixed in for good measure. In other ways, there's no escaping the dated sound of the style of metal (with modern production of course). But, having said that, I'd much rather hear a band like this than metalcore crap any day of the week and twice on Sunday.  - Mark

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

 

 

SATURNIAN MIST

Gnostikoi Ha-Shaitan” 2011 CD

(Ahdistuksen Aihio Records)

 

Finland's Saturnian Mist  have created an interesting release with their newest album mixing black metal, industrial, and even some heavier progressive guitar riffs. All of the members of Saturnian Mist are good at their instruments and I give the band a lot of credit for trying to be original and creative {something that is lacking in music today} but in this case I think Saturnian Mist have bitten off more than they can chew. Maybe if they only combine two elements together like prog and black metal or black metal and industrial it might be more memorable. This might appeal to the newer fans of black metal but as for me I say pass.  - Patrick

http://www.ahdistuksenaihio.com/  http://saturnianmist.net/  

 

 

SATURNUS

“For The Loveless Lonely Nights” 1998 CD

(Euphonious Records/Voices Of Wonder)

 

Saturnus are a melancholic doom band with gothic overtones. When I read the description I was worried, but this is not too bad I actually got into some of it. It seems obvious to me that Saturnus are very talented and play with emotion. This disc is produced by Flemming Rasmussen (Morbid Angel, Blind Guardian, early Metallica), so you know the sound is nice. If melancholy is your poison, I have a fix for you.  – Dale

 

 

SEAR

“Lamentations of Destruction” CD

(Dynamic Arts Records)

 

Yet, another fix of Finnish barbarity, to the tapped vein courtesy of Dynamic Art. Sear are an interesting band that manage to play some good extreme death metal. Despite the brutal nature of their music they always seem to administer a strong air of stark, somber, almost psychotic atmosphere to their sound. To create this kind of feeling threaded throughout a severe death metal album is both unique and admirable to mine ears. I mean seriously when was the last time you could put on a new album bang your head, punch a fist through the wall all the while feeling like you are hearing the soundtrack to a graveyard horror movie?! It has been a long time for me. Finland is really starting to assert itself as the new UG metal super power in Scandinavia.  – Dale

www.officialsear.com   www.dynamicartsrecords.com 

 

 

SEASON

 “No Cure, No Feeling” 1998 CD

(Wild Rags!)

 

Imagine if you will a looser, less melancholic and riffier “Bloody Kisses”. Slow to mid-paced passages with Peter Steele-esque, ‘I’m too sexy’ vocals. Season, are not the most original but they do play this style well. Too bad I hate gothic like it is the plague  – Dale!

Website = www.webmedia.pl/hardgothic/index.htm

 

 

SECTIONED

“Purulent Reality” CD

(Paragon Records)

 

Sectioned introduce themselves with a solid salvo of old school death metal. I can not tell for sure if they are based out of England where the band had its origins. As there are full time members from the US and Hungary it would seem. They do apparently get together and play live gigs from time to time as well. Anyway, this album should conjure influences of old greats (at least in my view) such as Grave, Morgoth, Dismember mixed with old Floridian bands like Death, Malevolent Creation, Resurrection and the like. I borrowed from the bio on a couple of those influences, but they really nailed it so… The riffing on here is fucking great, straight ahead ripping speedy riffs that are catchy and memorable. You also get a dose classic, well suited to the music guitar solos that really add some depth to the compositions. The vocals alternate fairly evenly between nice low guttural growling to higher gruff rasping vocals that are more decipherable. I can see where those gruff vocals might be an acquired taste for some, but for me they are excellent and really fit the music. I must say this is some really quality stuff and especially if you are an old school dm devotee as I am. Sectioned has to be one of the best bands out of the UK since the almighty Bolt Thrower and Benediction.  – Dale

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

 

 

SEMEN DATURA

"Einsamkeit" CD

(Aeternitas Tenebrarum Music Foundation)

 

This is the third album from Semen Datura, but my first taste of their music. Good god how does one go about even describing this record? I suppose the base would have to be undoubtedly residing in the black metal arena. But there are so many small bits borrowed from other genres like thrash, traditional metal, industrial (mostly in some of the vocals) and I swear some crust type stuff. But it is just little tidbits and it is so seamlessly incorporated that it is kind of a mind job. I mean when I read back what I just wrote above I would think that sounds like shit. But truly, believe me, it is so brilliantly done and integrity of the music and the flow of the atmosphere is never compromised. It is remarkable how atmospheric this record is despite some of the intense, caustic heavy (and *gasp* even catchy) riffing and various elements. Semen Datura stay in your face, but manage to produce a certain melancholy and foreboding throughout their expertly crafted compositions. This is also evident in the vocals which can be coarse and raw and even going at times with the aforementioned processed industrial style vocals. You would think this would destroy the atmosphere of the music, yet somehow it compliments everything wonderfully and the deep emotion stays intact despite the violence. It is also sung in pissed off sounding German which sounds extraordinary to my untrained ears. Sort of in the same way clips on death metal albums from Spanish horror movies somehow sound that much more frightening. The variety on “Einsamkeit” is pretty impressive and even more impressive that Semen made it all work to perfection. You will never be bored and they will always keep you guessing while blissfully bathed in pure evil. None of the elements, riffing, vocals or drum play anything you have not heard before. Yet they take those unremarkable fundamentals and somehow manage to shape it all into something exciting, progressive, regressive, organic sounding and original.  – Dale

http://www.atmf.net/   http://www.semendatura.com/  

 

 

SEPTEKH

"The Seth Avalanche” 2012 MCD

(Abyss Records)

 

I didn't really know what to expect to from this Swedish band of metal fanatics. The band plays a very a chaotic, frenzied style of death, thrash metal with some punk rock mixed in the insanity. The guitarist likes to keep the listeners attention with heavy, mid-paced riffs, to hyper speed whirlwind riffs. Vocals are more in the black metal realm with raw screams there are some death metal growls used to keep the listeners attention {but as fast and chaotic as Septkh play keeping the listeners attention should not be a problem}. If you enjoy and appreciate chaotic, raw death/thrash with some punk and even rock influences then Septekh is a band worth checking out and adding to your collection!  - Patrick

http://www.myspace.com/septekh  http://www.officialabyssrecords.com/     

 

 

SEVENTY SEVEN

“High Decibels” 2011 CD

(Listenable Records)

 

Something different than the norm for me on offer here. Seventy Seven are basically AC/DC knock offs. Which is okay I suppose, if they at least do it well, and I think you have to to stand out doing this. But High Decibels is honestly fairly pedestrian stuff, lacks balls, and definitely lacks that high voltage energy and emotion that good AC/DC has in spades. It is just sort of there, meandering its way around, no really catchy, high energy riffs, sometimes they start to really rock for a second, then just take their foot off the gas and go back to sleep. The vocalist follows suit, he just passable, kind of a thin voice without much range or power and he follows along with the music and does not put much energy or umph into his performance. They can play their instruments fine and seem to be fans of this style, but lack seriously in song writing and need to learn to bleed of their art a little more.  – Dale

http://www.listenable.net/     

 

 

SERMON

“From Death To Death” 1998 CD

(Wild Rags!)

 

This was originally released in cassette format on the Russian label Hobgoblin Records. Sermon play solid and stylish melodic death metal with black overtones. The music and playing are really smooth and well put together. In the end though, it is not very memorable.  – Dale

 

 

SETH

“By Fire, Power Shall Be…” 1998 CD

(A.M.S.G. Label)

 

A very nice looking release visually, by a young committed label. All the elements of a good black metal band are here. Rapid fire drums, sweeping guitars, venomous whispers/screams. There are some, synth accompaniment, which I can usually throw out but it isn’t really forceful here. All on here is well done and this is a good album but nothing really beyond intense or really stands out. The album is 3 tracks and 30 minutes and the songs do tend to drag on.  Die hards will want this but anyone else could probably take or leave it.  – Dale

AMSG, Centre MBE 175 - 82, Rue Jeanne D ‘Arc, 76000 Rouen, FRANCE

 

 

SHADOWCASTER

“Temptation + Psychoelectronic Experience” 1998 CD’s

(Wild Rags! Records)

 

Wild Rags is a cool label but shit they have a good share of crappy bands as of late. I put these two albums together, as they sound pretty much totally alike to me. In fact, I bet they were both written on the same night. It says in the bio this preferably listened to “under the influence of LSD…”. I can where you would have to be under the spell of a hallucinogenic drug to like this! Mikael formerly of Buried Beneath (a band I liked) and apparently these 2 CD’s are his 2nd and 3rd albums (The first to be recorded in a studio). Yes, 2 LP’s of synth music in a spacey kind of style with a few spoken word vocals whispers and lame effects. That sound like they are sampled from some cheesy video game or  maybe a tv show like Doctor Who or some shit. I guess this is supposed to be evil and surrealistic but I don’t get that feeling even listening to it in the dark! The only synth music I can get into at all is the first Mortiis album and the original Halloween movie soundtrack, now that is creepy!  – Dale

Shadowcaster, P.O. Box 174, North Greece, NY. 14515, USA  website = www.frontiernet.net/~mikael

 

 

SHADOWS OF MICHEALANGELO

“Magazine Compilation # 2” 1998 CD

(S.O.M. Productions)

 

This is an accompaniment to issue # 5 (reviewed in the Fanzine Assault section) of S.O.M. and is a nice promotional tool for bands the mag likes. So here is a run down of the good, the bad, and the okay bands as they pertain to my tastes. Ragin’ bands: Lividity, Morbus, Neuraxis, Disciple, and Insatanity. Next are the decent but unspectacular acts: Thorn, Zeus, Mysophilia, Imperial Foeticide, Godless Truth, Scabmaggot. Last and certainly least: Epidemic Cause and Undercurrent. As you can see a pretty solid comp and it comes free with the first 1,000 who order issue # 5.

 

 

SHADOWS IN THE CRYPT

"Beyond The Grave" 2011 CD

(Self Released)

 

U.S. black metallers Shadows In The Crypt have released their debut cd Beyond The Grave. You get seven songs of raw, fast uncompromising black metal that the fans of this genre will either love and beg for more or totally hate and despise. Starting off with some raw, blasting drumming and thin screeching guitars the band rarely lets up with the intensity throughout the songs on this release going straight for the kill and leaving little for the imagination with their violent approach and sound. The band does have a few slower breaks in a few of the songs but that’s probably to let the musicians and the listener catch their breath. The vocals are inhuman shrieks and very well done and just as intense sounding as the other instruments. A lot of people in the black metal scene don't seem to go for this violent primitive, rough style {not like they used to anyways}, so it's great to hear band doing this again.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/shadowsinthecrypt  https://www.reverbnation.com/shadowsinthecrypt      

 

 

SHADOWS IN THE CRYPT

"Cryptic Communications" 2012 CD

(Horror Pain Gore Death Records)

 

Wow is this the same Shadows In The Crypt? It surely is the band has definitely improved a lot from their debut Beyond The Grave. But before any long time fans write them off as sell-outs or anything don't worry the band is still as aggressive and violent sounding as ever. There are nine tracks of cold, vicious black metal with blasting drums, fast guitars and very well done black metal shrieks. But this is not just a rehash of the band's debut; no this time around the band has also added a little more "atmosphere" within their songs giving the Shadows a little darker sound within raw, violent sound. There are even a few vocal lines of clean singing, chanting that really add another layer to Shadow In The Crypt's great sound. If this band keeps going the way it is I see great things for them, definitely worth checking out!!  - Patrick

https://www.reverbnation.com/shadowsinthecrypt  http://hpgd.comoj.com/index.html    

 

 

SHATTERPOINT

“Dead Presence” CD

(Power Play Records)

 

Shatterpoint are, a Canadian band that are, new to mine ears. I suppose you could call this a modern thrash core band or something similar. They claim Slayer and The Haunting as major influence. Yet I hear fast enough or heavy enough to really justify such a claim. To my ear a fairer comparison might be a diet version of Skinlab and Machine Head. A point of interest may be that in addition to this album you get a 2004 ep, tacked on as a bonus. I will give them their due where they deserve it and that is on track 5, “Torn Apart”, with a really nice solo / lead guitar fill. For their style the recording on “Dead Presence”, does the record very little justice. Overall it is just too weak and not heavy enough and the beefy riffing falls flat. I believe I would be just fine if Shatterpoint and myself never crossed paths ever again. – Dale

PP Records, Box 571, New Hampton, NY 10958, USA   www.powerplayrecords.com  

 

 

SHEAVY

“The Electric Sleep” 1999 CD

(TMC/Rise Above Records)

 

Don’t let the goofy name fool you! This is the best Black Sabbath inspired act to come along since the mighty Sabs themselves! Described in their bio as Sabbath meets Kyuss in a ‘70’s kind of style. Drop the Kyuss tag and add how blissfully heavy and mind-warping, they are and I am in full agreement. I didn’t even mention singer Steve Hennessey who sounds almost more like Ozzy on the first 5 Sab albums than the man himself! In closing I will tell you they steal nothing directly from Sab like some other groups and their Canadian so what more do you want!? Put aside your lava lamp, and go buy this.  – Dale

Sheavy, P.O. Box 1262, Station C, St. John’s, New Foundland, A1C 5M9, CANADA  website = www3.nf.sympatico.ca/ren.squires

 

 

SILENCER

"The Great Bear” 2012 CD

(Vanity Music Group)

 

This is Silencer, the new age thrash metal band from Denver, Colorado. Not to be confused with the now split up, and also vastly superior atmospheric black metal band Silencer from Sweden. I am honestly not sure how this band got signed, this is some of the most simplistic, slowed down and ultimately very boring thrash I have heard in quite some time. The drumming is pretty good, but outside of that the riffs are uninspired in both creation and performance, they sort of sound like some guy pulled out his riff cassette tape out of the closet that was recorded only for himself and decided to make an album out of it on short notice. The vocals are lame and limp, seems like they are caught between trying to decide if they wanted to be heavy metal vocals and/or commercially friendly vocals, there is an undertone of both, but both lack style or any real emotion, it just sounds like the vocalist is going through the motions to be honest. I do not think I have been this hard on an album in a while, might be getting soft in my old age, but screw it, this is a piece of shit guys, avoid this like it is going to spend all your drinking money and give you herpes to top it all off. I even find their logo and cover artwork to be dull and bland.  – Dale

http://www.myspace.com/20483365  http://vanitymusicgroup.com/     

 

 

SHROUD OF DESPONDENCY

"Dark Meditations in Monastic Seclusion” CD

(Self-Released)

 

Shroud have released nothing for the last six years. Now suddenly they release two new full length albums as well as a live album. When the inspiration comes, and the iron is hot you have to strike I suppose. The album opens with a lengthy acoustic track and some sparse, weak and cleanly sung vocals in the final minute. However do not be tricked into thinking this is a stripped down folk album throughout or something of that nature. The first track is quickly followed up by a dirty and dark metal style played at a brisk pace with shouted/growled vocals and a nice guitar solo or two. I like the obscure and organic sound to the guitars on this record. The song “Parting Of The Way” is interesting, it is some guy telling about how he felt isolated, had his final walk and cigar. Then went home and attempted suicide in the Dr. Kovorkian fashion, but at the very last second as he was drifting off his hand (he makes it sound like it had a mind of its own) pulled the plastic bag filled with gas off his head. It is quite creepy and poignant and a little depressing. An apt description that could probably be applied to this album as a whole. Dark Meditations… is probably going to be an acquired taste for some, it is an emotional journey that can come across as a little unconventional at times. I personally found it to be worth the patience required to explore this well crafted album.  – Dale

http://www.myspace.com/shroudofdespondency    

 

 

SINISTER REALM

World Of Evil” 2013 CD

(Shadow Kingdom Records)

 

This is my first encounter with Allentown Pennsylvania's Sinister Realm and what a band! Sinister Realm embody all that is great with traditional metal and that keep the fires of pure metal alive. Sinister Realm plays a mixture of melodic heavy metal and more traditional heavy metal. The guitars are done to perfection between the whirlwind fast riffs and more galloping heavy metal riffs with some really well played solos mixed throughout each song. The drumming is played all over the place going from slower beats to mid-paced beats and drum solos to the more aggressive heavy metal. The vocalist is amazing reminds me a little of Ronnie James Dio but then has more of his own original deeper scream vocal. Fans of Dio, Judas Priest, Maiden, and original traditional heavy metal are urged to check out Sinister Realm today.  - Patrick

http://www.reverbnation.com/sinisterrealm  http://store.shadowkingdomrecords.com/   

 

 

SILENTIUM

"Amortean” CD

(Dynamic Arts Records)

 

The opening song kind of threw me off track. It had sort of an epic symphonic heavy metal feel and pace with the clean female vocals over the top. A good track actually, but not an indication of what was to come both in style and quality on the rest of the album. The rest of the album is more mellow and resides roughly somewhere in the gothic symphonic category with a heaping helping of Cello if you believe that. I think the only thing I really liked about the album was vocalist Riina as her vocals are much deeper and less sappy than most female fronted bands in this genre. Having said all of that this style of music is honestly not my thing at all. Silentium do what they do very well, but I still do not care much for it I am afraid and will not be listening to it again. Those that like and follow this genre will likely enjoy it.  – Dale

http://www.silentivm.com/  http://www.dynamicartsrecords.com/    

 

 

SINISTER

“Aggressive Measures” 1998 CD

(Nuclear Blast America)

 

I have been a Sinister fan for a long time, ever since buying their ’91 split 7” w/ Monestary (side band w/ members from Entombed and Sinister), and shortly after tape trading for their ’89 demo “Perpetual Beginning”. I totally missed their debut LP “Cross The Styx” but reveled in their sophomore effort “Diabolical Summoning” & follow up to it “Hate”. Which brings us up to speed, I really had visions of a Grave “Hating Life” abomination due to the loss of their original songwriter/vocalist. “Aggressive Measures” is a decent affair, with a lot of cool riffs but gone is the unrelenting juggernaut brutal and technical attack of “Hate”. Now replaced with a less technical, simpler approach, that while good does not match the pummel of days of old. New throat Eric keeps things deep but with a higher degree of decipherable edge that I can take or leave really. Excuse, me if you will, I’m going to put on “The Diabolical Summoning” and sit this hand out. I suggest you do the same.  - Dale

 

 

SINNER

“The Nature Of Evil” 1998 CD

(Nuclear Blast America)

 

I’ve heard this bands name in the past, never heard their stuff though, apparently they have been kicking around since the early ‘80’s! Mainman Matt Sinner is also in Primal Fear as you will read in that bands interview elsewhere. Sinner play straight forward, classy heavy metal that is a bit on the accessible side. There are some great riffs on here sprinkled with some keys that do spice the music up without holding it back. Sinner’s best asset is the emotional and richly textured vocals of Mr. Sinner himself. I really enjoyed the guitar solos on here as well. Beyond that I must say much of the music falls flat and doesn’t really have the punch and intensity that is called for here.  - Dale

 

 

SKINLAB

“Eyesore” 1998 Limited Edition MCD

(Century Media)

 

This is limited (5, 000 copies) and has 5 tracks that go as follows 2 new songs, a demo tune, a live one, and a Brujeria cover tune “Raza Odiada”, this song is the best on here, too bad it isn’t even their own. If you will recall I ripped this band a new one in my debut issue in a review of their first CD. They still sound like a Machine Head (who also suck!) rip-off with the deep Alice In Chains styled deep spoken word and slow guitar breaks. *YAWN* More lame tough guy commercial  power thrash crap, still can’t believe Steev Esquivel (former creative force behind thrash ragers Defiance) has sunk this low. If you liked Skinlab on “Bound, Gagged And Blindfolded”, then ‘jump’ up and down to store ‘cause your in for a treat!  - Dale

 

 

SKINLAB

“Disembody: The New Flesh” 1999 CD

(Century Media Records)

 

If you read Metal Maniacs lately this is the new great hope for the scene. HA! Yes, I hate Skinlab and this is exactly like their old releases rehashed but they have toned down on the Alice In Chain-isms a bit. Lost Souls, Machine Head, Korn ect. fans take note ‘cause you’ll love this. For some unexplainable reason each time I listen to this, the title of that cheesy ‘80’s tv show “21 Jump Street” springs to mind?  - Dale

 

 

SKYFIRE

"Esoteric" 2009 CD

(Pivotal Recordings)

 

Well a melodic death band from Sweden. Who would have guessed it? I like this style, but I find I only ever listen, to the absolute cream of the crop, in this genre. In other words; I am not just into every band that comes along and they have to be damn good for me to give them the time of day. There is some quality material on here, you have heard it all before, but still some solid stuff nonetheless. It is a hooky affair and the flow in the guitars is nice. But where I have a problem is with the peripherals or at least what should be the peripherals. The synth and orchestral elements are too over the top, much too busy and too loud in the mix for my liking. If used at all it should be a compliment, rather an overpowering fight for center stage or the plot often gets lost. One of the only albums I can think of, where these elements were this prominent and the album was good, would be Tad Morose’s “A Mended Rhyme”. When we stack “Esoteric” up against a high watermark like that, it falls painfully short. The growling vocals from Joakim Karlsson are excellent though and guitar solos/fills are quite fantastic and prolific. If I could recommend this album it would be for those two facets of this musical piece that grabbed me. It is worth a listen, and for those who can not get enough of this genre, you will be pleased. But for the more critical follower of this style, you will lose no sleep by passing on this one.  – Dale

http://label.pivotalalliance.com   www.myspace.com/skyfiremusic  

 

 

SLIME IN THE CURRENT

"Pissed On Resurrectine” CD

(UW Records)

 

Apparently this is a re-mastered and re-released version of the bands 2009 full length demo CD. Pissed On Ressurectine is a black metal album that is a low key, heavy and dark record. Every now and then they abandon that laying in the weeds or creeping mist approach / pacing and hit you over the head with a dose of grinding blast beat sections. To be honest those rapid fire interludes for me do not really fit the music, they are used sparingly however, so I can not complain too loudly. The vocals of Null I really like, they hover between mean yells and really obscure sounding whispered growling. Much of this record is driven by the riffing, which is kind of epic and keeps the mind wandering in an old Burzum-like fashion. Though Slime do like to throw in some unconventional parts or jolting bouts of aggression and song structuring that do keep you guessing a little bit and add some dynamics to the experience. Not you’re every day mundane black metal band and this is a good album that is worth a listen. Are UW Records going get a proper website? They are putting out a nice roster of releases lately, but still only have this clunky long address of a facebook page and an Email address to get the album from. Hopefully they will be a little more accessible in future.  – Dale

http://www.myspace.com/slimeinthecurrent  uwrecords@cox.net    

 

 

SLUMBER ROOM

"Slumber Room” 2012 Cassette Album

(NoVisible Scars Records)

 

Bill Connolly from NoVisible Scars never ceases to amaze me with the different, very cool layouts on his tape releases. This one is no different, I hope the pictures accompanying this release do it justice, because the finished product in your hands looks even better than in the picture. There are 5 songs on here, but they are all long songs and equal roughly a short full length album. This stuff is different from what I have been getting for review lately. The write up on this band compares them to “Filosofem” from Burzum, “Slow Deep And Hard” from Type O and Mysticum. I can hear a little bit of all of that. This is some really moody, brooding atmospheric metal, generally going at a slower blackened harsh metallic pace, then switching to a meandering introspective clean string plucking intermingled with piano. The industrial tag is thrown around with this band too, to be honest I do not hear that much to be honest. I mean the vocals they use remind me of the some of the 90s industrial metal bands, you know those pitched kind of vocals, albeit with a black metal undertone, I guess that is where that comes in, otherwise I do not really hear it. This album definitely has some interesting and good elements going for it. But I would be lying if I said this bowled me over or completely floats my boat. Fans of the above mentioned bands and albums would probably want to give this one a listen though. I believe this cassette is still available (limited to 100 copies, so act very fast) for only $7 or you can download it for $5.  - Dale

http://novisiblescars.bandcamp.com/album/slumber-room-ep  http://nvslabel.blogspot.com/     

 

 

SORGELDOM

“Inner Receivings” CD

(Nordvis Produktion)

 

The second full length release from this Swedish atmospheric black metal group.  I hesitantly use the term black metal for this band as they are more in the vein of a metal band infused with folk metal, progressive metal, and ambient elements. I'm mixed about this release.  Parts of it work well - bringing the listener along this path of longing.  Other parts of it are just filler.  I get the sense the band is trying to find it's sound but this album is one of the releases that is caught in both worlds.  Not black metal but not a pure atmosphere album either.  The production is lacking as the instrumentation is all over the place.  They really need someone to help them bridge all their sounds together to create a cohesive piece of music.  – Mark

http://www.nordvis.com/  http://www.myspace.com/sorgeldom       

 

 

SOUTHWICKED

"Death’s Crown” 2012 CD

(Abyss Records)

 

Southwicked are Floridian death metallers featuring one of the founding members of the movement in one Allen West. You know that guy from Obituary, Massacre and Six Feet Under. I seen one review say this album is super similar to the first Six Feet Under record, I would not really know as I honestly never tried to get into that band. As for Death’s Crown it is some solid death metal that is a cross between a muted, less awesome Obituary sound mixed with the Swedish death metal sound of old. The combining of those two on paper actually sounds pretty damn exciting to me. I love Obit and worship old Swedish death and you know this is a pretty good album, but really that is all it is, just pretty good. I guess I was just expecting a little more with that sound mix and having it involve Allen West. Maybe I project unfair baggage and expectations Mr. West, but that sort of comes along with him, whether he likes it or not, the price of being a legend in the genre. If you can keep your expectations out of the sky where mine were I think you will probably really dig this album. It is certainly growing on me bit by bit with each new listen.  Still has a ways to go to get to great album status for me though.  - Dale

http://www.reverbnation.com/southwicked  http://www.officialabyssrecords.com     

 

 

SPEEDWOLF

"Ride With Death" CD

(Hells Headbangers)

 

This is some of the better Motorhead worship I have heard since the mighty Superchrist burst onto the scene like an artillery shell. Speedwolf seem to like the Motorhead stuff that has the most punk-y type elements to it and a little of that GBH / Amebix type of flavour. The song titles should give you a further feel of what you get such as “I am The Demon”, “Up All Night”, “Out on Bail”, and “I Can’t Die”. This is total beer swilling, chopper riding hard rock and metal party music. No nothing remotely ground breaking or bringing anything new to the table and yes it is full on retro. But I am full on retro myself and a classic sound is a classic sound for a reason. But it is also a fun ride and devotees of all things Lemmy Kilmister like will dig this.  – Dale

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

 

 

SPEKTR

"Cypher” 2013 CD

(Agonia Records)

 

Spektr have created a very interesting but also kind of disturbing and morbid sounding release at the same time. The French band mixes elements of experimental black, industrial and even ambient music. There are some fast, chaotic guitar riffs blended with industrial noises and sounds that create a very harsh sound but at the same time the band blends all these elements together for a really good outcome. The band mixes in some aggressive metal heavier industrialized soundscapes throughout the entire cd. It's hard to pick one favorite song as all the songs are really well done and blend together and it's better if you listen to Cypher from start to finish. Spektr is definitely not a band for everyone to enjoy but if your a fan of industrialized, experimental black metal with some melodic ambient interludes then you might enjoy listening to Spektr's vision on cd known as Cypher.  - Patrick

http://www.agoniarecords.com/  http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Spektr/18228      

 

 

SPELLCRAFT

"Yersinia Pestis" 2012 CD

(Xtreem Music)

 

After a few years I can honestly say this was well worth the wait! If you are like me and have been lucky enough to hear/follow this bands earlier e.p's you know the quality {yet equally as violent sounding} black metal Spellcraft can create. Yersinia Pestis is Spellcraft's full-length debut and the songs range from 4-7 minutes but the band has enough creative ideas to give each song their own identity and life so they don't become boring or repetitive. The guitarist stays within the mid-to fast pace range for the most part but are not all about the speed as there as some really well-played and done obscure, and melodic guitar patterns that give a dark atmosphere to the overall sound. Midgard's vocals have never sounded better as he mixes demonic screams and raspy, whispery vocals. Spellcraft also use keyboards but like so many other bands that let the keyboards outshine the other instruments. Spellcraft intertwines the keyboards with the guitars, drums perfectly to make a dark atmosphere within the violent black metal storm. Spellcraft have released one of 2012's best black metal releases buy this if you consider yourself a fan of black metal!  - Patrick

http://www.myspace.com/spellcrafthell  http://www.xtreemmusic.com/    

 

 

 

SPETALSK

Self-Titled CD

(Unexploded Records)

 

It has been some time since I have heard some real Swedish black metal in the old traditions. Just when I feared Sweden was getting soft. For the trivia buffs, Spetalsk is Sverige for “Leprosy” and the band features members of Terrorama, Satanic Slaughter and few other bands. Three bands per member, yes it must be Swedish. This self named platter was recorded at Pure Dechristianizing studios with by Magnus Devo Andersson (Marduk), so you know it is sick sounding. Without any doubt in my mind this debut album fits into the Marduk, Funeral Mist, early Dark Funeral & old Darkthrone classic Scandinavian mold. For some I know it will seem a little unoriginal but for a maniac like me that worships it it is absolutely bestial and great. The music is mainly straight ahead blitzing darkness and brutality, yet the riffs, are catchy you can actually head bang to them. Another thing I like about this album is the quick and squealy guitar solos that act as a counter point to the rushing chaos. The real highlight though just may be the drumming by Endymion. Who turns in a forceful and commanding performance that can not go unnoticed. I feel like I just received a 35 minute beating while engulfed in darkness. – Dale

http://www.unexplodedrecords.com    

 

 

SPHERE

"Homo Hereticus” 2012 CD

(Masterful Records)

 

I have to give a shout out to Gods Ov War Productions. They are supporting the scene in their country and surrounding areas, that label is the one that sent me this album, as well as the Mass Burial, Centurion, Stillborn, Embrional releases and others from other labels and bands they support. That is the true underground spirit, I am happy to see some still remember it and still live it! I have heard some compare Sphere to their fellow countrymen like Behemoth and Vader and those are probably pretty fair comparisons. This is some pretty raging death metal and there is a fair bit going on if you listen closely. The vocalist is like a bear locked in the cage, attempting to batter ram his way out. A lot of the music is straight ahead visceral onslaught but they do change things up and add some interesting dynamics and tempo variations to keep you from getting bored. I can definitely headbang to it and that is good thing. I don’t think there is much to fault with this record, it did not completely blow me away but it is a damn solid and a strong example of Polish death metal done right.  - Dale

https://www.reverbnation.com/sphereband  http://www.masterful-records.com/     

 

 

SLEEP

“Jerusalem” 1999 CD

(T.M.C./London Records)

 

This album is one 52 minute long song of stoner doom rock. The band were, dropped from their former label and this almost never came out. I wouldn’t have minded if it didn’t! “Jerusalem” serves up Sab worship in the form of slow, undynamic, unheavy, unchanging boredom with no identity, thoroughly mediocre. Fucking awful.

 

 

SOCIETY’S BURDEN

“Self - Titled” 1998 CD

(Elmergod Records)

 

It says in their brief bio that these boys have been around for 7 years, in all honesty the cohesiveness and maturity that should accompany this is sorely missing. This actually is limp simple rock/metal that is full of groovy rhythms that sound kind of forced, as the tunes seem to really go nowhere. The vocals are a little dry and strained sounding. These boys are trying but it is just not there for them. The bio also says they have released 5 demos, maybe a 6th before a full album would have been a good idea.

Society’s Burden, 5312 Manson Road, Julian, North Carolina 27283, USA

 

 

SOILWORK

“Steel Bath Suicide” 1998 CD

(Listenable Records USA)

 

I have oft heard this act compared to At The Gates. I would disagree, what I hear is more of a Carcass “Heartwork” mixed with some ‘80’s Bay area thrash and general heavy metal (Accept, Lethal and ect...) of that era as well. None too original but damn this is well done and contains plenty of quality material.

Listenable Recs. USA, 554 Warburton Ave., Yonkers, NY. 10701, USA Website = www.listenable.com

 

 

SOLSTICE

“New Age Dark” 1998 CD

(Misanthropy Records)

 

I was looking forward to this one. I haven’t heard any good classic doom metal for a while now and this band comes in billed to be just that. What I got from this (now former) doom act is a couple upbeat heavy rockers (though not as limp as the last couple Cathederal efforts). Things really go downhill fast as the album progresses to it’s middle and latter stages as things degenerate into music that sounds like some European hippies sittin’ on a hillside playing. If this makes sense it sounds melancholic and disparate but in a very unsad and uplifting fashion. If you want the short form review this album is fuckin’ shite! Straight up.

Misanthropy Records, P.O. Box 9, Hadleigh, Suffolk, 1P7 5AU, ENGLAND Email = amazon@misanthr.demon.co.uk

 

 

SOLUS

“Our Frosting Hell” 1998 MCD

(Skinmask Productions)

 

Solus is a name I have heard kicking around the Canadian scene for years on comps and thru their ’96 album “Slave Of Mind”, which was sort of a thrash/death with a hint of the ‘jump metal’ style. Now, gone is the ‘jump’ crap in favor for a more chunky, brutal melodic death metal style with some very stylish and well written  & executed slower clean sections (reminiscent of the old Canadian act Disciples Of Power). Vocally they employ a thick growl, cool nasal scream/rasp and some sparsely used but integral clean voices. Great improvement from their album and I see them only getting better.

Solus, Box 271, Stn. B, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 2W1, CANADA website = www.skinmask.com/solus/ Email = solus@skinmask.com

 

 

STALWART

"Manifest Of Refusal” 2012 CD

(PRC Music)

 

Upon hearing Manifest of Refusal the most lasting impression I come away with is their anvil destroying brutal backbone. Yes these Russians are not quite your usual death metal band, they mix in some minor influences from time to time from the industrial genre and goth sounding bits and weird synth. The goth type tidbits are few and far between, which is a good thing because they are out of place, sound a little forced and are distracting. When Stalwart hit straight on, albeit in a technical fashion, they are at their best and this is the mainstay of the album. Just fucking raging death metal that brings to mind things like old Napalm Death, Strapping Young Lad, Carcass, Meshuggah, Theory in Practice – though these guys may be slightly more brutal and not quite as technical as some of those influences I mention. All in all this is a pretty impressive record, some of the material might not be the freshest sounding stuff you heard, but the way it is presented does sound fresh to these ears.  – Dale

http://www.myspace.com/stalwartmetal  http://www.prcmusic.com     

 

 

STENCH

"In Putrescence" CD

(Agonia Records)

 

I like the energy and often manic pace on this record. The Stench is emanating from Sweden and play rancid death metal. Maybe the first thing you think of when reading that is classic early to mid 90s Swedish death metal. Especially after reading band name, knowing they are Swede’s and hearing the opening riff of the song “The Blackness”, it quickly became clear that such assumptions were quite valid. Those lovely oceans of rolling chainsaw riffs fans of this style love so much are present here. The band I think of most when listening to them is Dismember, but I am sure you could throw a number of others from back in the day in the pot as well. The vocals themselves are not too far many of the old Swede bands with that raspy shouted growl. Stench know the value of a catchy heavy riff and slow down the pace from time to time just enough to add some extra depth to their sound. I have to say personally I enjoyed this record, but should probably throw in the caveat that I am a massive die hard fan of this style. I would say for those that like old style Swedish dm, but are picky with it; you could probably pass on this. I just can not get enough of it myself.  – Dale

http://www.myspace.com/swedenstench  http://www.agoniarecords.com/

 

 

STEPHAN FORTE

"The Shadow Compendium” 2011 CD

(Listenable Records)

 

I have never been much of a follower or a fan of guitar shred or guitar virtuoso albums. I might have two that fall into this category, which I actually listen to once in a blue moon. I was all ready to dislike this and crap on it. But Stephan Forte has managed to capture my imagination and attention with The Shadow Compendium. I think upon listening to this one would call Stephan a guitar virtuoso, yet this is no shred or guitar wank fest. No every guitar riff, every sweeping guitar sequence fill and noodle, actually means something, it actually propels the song along and most importantly for me, it conveys immense emotion and atmosphere. I find myself mesmerized one moment by the playing and the next I forget all about the playing completely and am whisked away on cerebral journey. This is one of the few albums I have ever listened to that I was glad there are no vocals on it, quite honestly that would ruin the experience. What a fantastic work of art this album is, one that I can wholeheartedly recommend to metalheads that are fans across many sub-genres. Please check this out.  – Dale

https://www.facebook.com/stephanforte  http://www.listenable.net/   

 

 

STICKY BOYS

"This Is Rock ‘N Roll" 2012 CD

(Listenable Records)

 

I am not going to lie when I heard this French bands name. I thought what a lousy band name, it sounds like the title of a man on man porno movie. Either that or they are big, big fans of sticky cinnamon buns. I am happy to say either way that they managed to clean off those sticky hands and use them to play some good rock ‘n roll son. I mean this is no frills, non-technical just rocking music that might bring to mind influences from bands like AC/DC, Thin Lizzy and the like. I can not call them AC/DC clones, but they really take on that style and it is the best way to get across to you what you will hear. They have a good vocalist, which is really important to trying to pull off this type of music, he has a slight accent but also has a certain charisma that pulls it off. It just goes to show you once again you can not judge a book by it’s cover, just on the band name alone I fully expected to hate this and rip it a new one, instead it ripped me a new one. It’s not metal but if you old school rock in the AC/DC tradition then give this one a try. - Dale

http://stickyboys.bandcamp.com/  http://www.listenable.net/     

 

 

STILLBORN

"Los Asesinos Del Sur" 2011 CD

(Ataman Productions)

 

Yet another piece of heavy Polish darkened Death metal, what an intensely stuffed package of goodies Gods ov War Productions sent to me. Stillborn play some really heavy, chugging metal and the production is crystal clear and sharp, almost riding the line of over produced but never quite sticking their toe across that line. If you like good, clean ‘n crisp as the morning air in the dead of a cold winter, I have an album for you. Los Asesinso Del Sur has some interesting things going, they play at as expedited pace and I do not think anyone can accuse them of not keeping the song structures fresh and constantly moving. About the only thing I could say is at times they try to do a little too much and could sit down on a cool section and milk it a bit, get a little bit of headbang reaction going. But that is a small gripe; this is generally a very finely constructed and produced death metal album. I had no idea the Polish dm scene was this diverse or had this much depth, it is surely a scene to be reckoned with. Check this album out for all fans of stuff by countrymen Vader, Behemoth and the like. I could not find a website for this label, but apparently the excellent veteran label Pagan Records are their official distributor.  - Dale

http://www.myspace.com/naturalborndestroyers  http://www.pagan-records.com   

 

 

THE STONE

"GoletCD

(Folter Records)

 

One of Serbia's most well respected and known bands return with their best release to date!. Golet is the latest release from the stone and shows the band still creating complex, uncompromising and above all original black metal. The bands sound is firmly set in the roots of black metal but is very hard to pin point a certain band they sound similar to. The songs are mid-paced range but do speed up but usually move back and forth between mid-range and fast as hell black metal keeping the listener interested as to what the band will do next. The band keeps their production somewhere in the middle not the most crystal clear sounding band  {personally black metal should never sound like this to me}  but it also does not  have a real primitive, rehearsal type of sound like so many of the early bands of the genre had. The Stone has been going strong since the mid 90's and one listen to their latest release Golet you will understand why. All hail the stone and Serbian metal!!  - Patrick

http://www.myspace.com/thestonehorde  http://www.myspace.com/folter666    

 

 

STONE MAGNUM

"From Time…To Eternity" 2013 CD

(Rest In Peace Records)

 

The second Stone Magnum release From Time To Eternity was a nice surprise to my ears why? Because usually traditional doom bands bore me and I loose interest after a few songs, but this isn't the case with stone Magnum. Heavy Sabbath like riffs roll over you like a tank, slow pounding drums and new vocalist Nick Hernandez has amazing vox that have awesome vocal range / tone. Magnum are definitely a doom band by sound and heart but the guys are not afraid to use more uptempo, bluesy riffs and some classic rock influences. I haven't heard Stone Magnum's previous release so I can't compare the two in sound but I can say that From Time To Eternity is flawless in all it's doomish glory.  - Patrick

http://www.reverbnation.com/stonemagnum  http://www.restinpeacerecords.us/      

 

 

STYGGELSE

“Heir Today – God Tomorrow” 2010 CD

(Unexploded Records)

 

An amusing album title, which received a smirk from me. Then the music hit and it wiped that grin right off of my face. I mean it is really simple stuff if you strip it down, but holy shit is it ever angry and heavy like a spiked fist to the face. The vocals are fuming with hatred and are coarse, gruff sort of yelled growling, you can make out everything said yet is still extreme sounding. The vocals are honestly great and big part of the Styggelse sound and effect. The first few songs on the record had me kind of jacked up on the energy and fury. I must admit though it starts to wear thin after that initial gut reaction. As I mentioned it is very simplistic stuff, it all goes at one middle to fast paced speed, it never changes up, never really adds much dynamic. Which as the album winds on makes it sound quite repetitive and seems to have a hard time maintaining my interest. Styggelse for me are a one trick pony, they do that one trick pretty well, but when you are listening to that same unchanging thing over and over for more than half an hour. Well it grows stale.  – Dale

http://www.myspace.com/styggelse  http://www.unexplodedrecords.com/

 

 

SUBVERATOR

“Cryptobiosis” 1998 CD5

(Wild Rags!)

 

Well, this band lists their influences as Cryptopsy, Katakylsm, and Suffocation. Though I don’t hear any of those here and their skills are not on par with them either. Having said that I loved the first 3 songs of heavy but not brutal death metal and they know how to work a good memorable rhythm with some decent leads and cool echo style death growls. The last 2 cuts are where things break down and while the fourth song is cool it is ruined by an awful sounding instrumental intro, but if you can get past that it is a solid enough tune. The final track “Anoxibiosis” features a acoustic intro with birds chirping in the background that is pretty lame and makes it hard to like the song that follows. Guys tighten things up a bit and forget those intros they are embarrassingly bad.

Wild Rags Records, 2207 W. Whittier Blvd., P.O. Box 3302, Montebello, CA. 90640 - 8602, USA. Band contact: Subverator, Casilla 158, La Pax - Bolivia, SOUTH AMERICA

 

 

SUPERCHRIST

"Holy Shit” 2012 CD

(Hells Headbangers)

 

I am a Superchrist fan I can tell you that up front. It should be no secret though; as with Autopsy Kitchen Records, the label I co-founded with Jeffrey Kusbel, we released a Superchrist album haha. Superchrist has changed up their sound a little since those days though, back then they were more of a really killer, talented punk-y Motorhead mixed with Iron Maiden clone. They also had quite the raunchy, fuck you I will spit beer in your face attitude. The attitude is subdued but pretty similar, the sound on the other hand has taken more of a melodic metal, hard rock and punk (well the punk was there before but different influences now) directional turn. I mean you can still hear small hints of Maiden and Motorhead, but I also am hearing influences like Bad Religion, The Ramones along with maybe stuff like Saxon, The Rods, Thin Lizzy and Diamond Head. Definitely musically they have gone in a friendlier, less raucous direction. I gotta admit it really does work for them and I enjoy what I hear. I might like their old sound a little better, but this is good too. There is definitely more of a light melody driven punchy air to their sound and pacing now. I mean the closing track “Beer Metal” reminds me a little more of their old sound and that is a cool track. Yes it is a new direction but if you like the influences I mentioned (I realize some of the extreme metal fans reading this are cringing right now haha) about then you can always be sure Superchrist will deliver it all with quality and conviction. Check it out.  - Dale

http://www.hellsheadbangers.com/  http://www.hellsheadbangers.com/     

 

 

SVARTAHRID

"Sadness and Wrath" 2007 CD

(Soulseller Records)

 

The bio for Svartahrid was an interesting read. I admit I had a chuckle and yet was not surprised to hear the band lost their keyboardist some years back. They carried on as trio and went in a more grim black metal and gothy sympho label Napalm Records promptly wanted nothing more to do with them. They said fuck it and went onward to record their 3rd album on their own during 2002 and 2003 but never found a record label to release it until now. Enter Soulseller records, a fine label in my opinion. That opinion was only further enhanced when I realized the man sending me the promo was my old friend Daan from Damnation records (RIP, check out their old interview I did for issue 4 of the print zine), who is helping out with promotion - hails! Also of note for some I do suppose is the 2 founders of this band Istar and Forn also played in Mactatus and Nocturno Culto of Darkthrone penned the lyrics and sang on the song "Intensjon: Krig!". The music itself delivers as promised. Grim black metal with a pure dark heart and while speed is something held in high regard they are not afraid to counter point it with some slower doomy and heavy parts that almost have an old Celtic Frost feel to them. I must say I rather like what I hear. As for the vaunted Nocturno song it has more of a meandering pace with an epic vibe and heavy interludes. The vocals by Nocturno here are really strange and cool, something you would expect to come out of the Grim Reaper's decaying throat if you should be (un)lucky enough to receive his visit. If you liked stripped down black metal in the old way then receive my council well and order yourself a copy. – Dale

http://www.soulsellerrecords.com 

 

 

SVARTAHRID

“Ex Inferi” 2010 CD

(Soulseller Records)

 

We have some Norwegian black metal on the block. It is always a pleasure to get a bm band from ground that was so fertile and important in the second wave of black metal in the early to mid ‘90s. After a bombastic build up intro, we get hit with some harsh and straight forward bm that possesses that cold feel mixed with a lot of energy and a little keyboards. I never tire of this sound and you can definitely hear some influence from early albums of Darkthrone, Immortal, Marduk, Horna, Graveland type sound. I guess you could say the guitars have a hint of a more heavy metal tone than some of those bands. The vocals have that harsh classic bm rasp but I would say Svartahrid’s singer annunciates his words a little more slowly and clearly and you can plainly make out most of the lyrics. It is quite an excellent job on vocalist Finn Tore’s part. The recording is good it rides the line between having a touch of that old raw sound and the newer era clarity, without going too far that way. It is good to see some Norwegian bands keeping the old flame burning bright, despite the freezing winds.  – Dale

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

 

 

SVARTI LOGHIN

"Drifting Through The Void” CD

(ATMF Records)

 

I will give them this much, this is different than the usual fair that comes across my plate. There are some black metal style elements or sections here, though sparsely used much of the time. The main body of the Svarti Loghin sound is emotive flowing indie rock (some might even cite british shoegaze influence). A style which is not something I generally care to listen to or enjoy. Yet I can at least admit they do what they do well. Svarti do have a poignant dreamy feel or atmosphere that draws you in. There are times this mix works well and others where it comes off awkward, and they seem to be trying too hard to mix the vastly differing styles. The vocals on the title track I found annoying and it sounded like they were trying extremely hard to be Pearl Jam. In fact that whole title track, you could throw out the window and the album would be all the better off for the subtraction. That song is just all over the place and even feels a little country in some spots. I mean how, do you have softened Burzum like sections on the same album as that? It just should not work and it does not work. The “Spirit Caravan”, Black Sabbath cover, they use to end the album was a nice touch and a fitting way to end. On the one hand I want to recommend this for the originality and atmosphere. But on the other hand, I expect most reading this will find the annoying elements too hard to overcome. It is a mixed bag for sure.  – Dale

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

 

 

SVYATOGOR

"Doctor Veritas” 2012 CD

(Svarga Music)

 

It is a really is a treat for me to get some very quality looking releases from a Ukranian label like Svarga music. I think this is the first time I recall getting anything from a label in that country and it is clear looking at everything, that they are a serious label that puts a lot of attention into promoting their bands. Wow this album is all over the fucking place and more often than not that can be annoying and clunky. But Svyatogor seem to pull off this patch work quilt spanning many genres off with aplomb. I suppose you could call the base of their sound black/death metal, but the progressive heavy metal, saxophone jazz elements and folk stylings are strong and also fight for their place on center stage. Before you imagine that this is super technical math metal or something, it is not, the elements are intricate but the palate they paint is actually uncluttered and not technical. I mean I think that is one of the things that makes me like this release, when there is a progressive metal bit they go for that, yet they always come back the brutal and heavy backbone, as mentioned that is the thread that holds Doctor Veritas together and prevents it from unraveling. I know when you read this you will probably think how is the that so with the jazz elements and folk elements, but they are not done in a wimpy or fruity way and as I say aggression and the weight of the metal is not forgotten or swept under the rug for long periods. Another thing I must mention is the vocalist Master Alafern (who is also in Thunderkraft), who sings mainly in a raspy, mean and cold black metal vocal gives a great emotionally harsh performance and puts the whole album over the top. This comes recommended from me.  - Dale

http://www.myspace.com/svyatogorband  http://www.svarga.eu/    

 

 

SYBREED

"The Pulse Of Awakening" CD

(Listenable Records)

 

I have had no prior contact with the Swiss Sybreed. I must confess coming from a long-standing traditionally extreme label like Listenable records. It was a surprise to hear them release a record this commercial and mainstream sounding. There are (nu)metal like rudiments from time to time. That is about as heavy as “The Pulse Of Awakening” gets I’m afraid. But mainly it is pop-ish, modern sounding rock with some industrial sensibilities. There are minor and sparsely used slight growls and filter effect vocals. But the main ones are very radio poppy with the exception that they are quite annoyingly and heavily nasal sounding. It is distracting in its awfulness. I mean do not record an album when you have a severe head cold mate. Think of the more commercial clean material from Fear Factory mixed with radio rock bands, the kind that fall all over each to suck up to MTV. Then, you will start getting a picture of what Sybreed are all about. Personally if I never hear this album again it will sit just fine with me.  – Dale

http://www.listenable.net   http://www.myspace.com/sybreed