"Animate//Isolate" CD & Cassette

(Unspeakable Axe Records)


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

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




"The Beginning" CD

(Brutal Mind Records)


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

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




"Cult Of The Witch" CD

(Blasphemous Creations Of Hell Records / Plague Demon Records)


Ocutos is a solo project coming out of Brazil's black metal scene, and this is a review of the debut demo that is getting a CD pressing for the first time. ‘Cult Of The Witch’ contains a intro and outro, along with three full length songs, which is essentially their demo plus a seven minute bonus song. The release starts off with a short the intro, which consists of drums and nature sounds. The first song is “Goat And The Moon” that starts off with some semi fast guitars and drums, accompanied by raspy, raw black metal screams and screeches. The title track is up next and is a little faster paced with fast paced guitars, and drumming that is executed with intensity and blasting strikes. The vocals are more raw, grim black metal screams that fit the music perfectly. After the outro comes their is a bonus song "The Lunatic Melancholy”, which is a slower mid paced song that is created and delivered very well musicially. Ocutos plays satanic old school black metal that is expressed through some strong memorable passages. If you are a fan of black metal, then I highly recommend picking up a copy of ‘Cult Of The Witch’ today.  - Patrick

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




"She Loves The Pain" CD

(Plague Demon Records)


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

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




"The Defeat Of Humanity” Cassette EP

(Nihilistic Holocaust Records)


I have been a admirer of this labels works over the years, more often than not Nihilistic Holocaust finds bands that play death metal in the old ways. Those bands tend to be lesser known bands that are hidden gems and the label shines a new light on their works. That is not the case with this release, as Oldskull is a new-ish (especially with regards to overall releases) band, and this EP is new music being released upon the scene. The one constant that this bands fits with is they appreciate the old metal history and it reflects their influences, shaping them in their own way and creating new music for us to peruse. I am not sure I would call Oldskull a deathrash band, as their overall sound and style is surely death metal, nevertheless I find some of their style and song construction reminds me of middle to late ‘80s thrash. It is sort of like when some thrash bands in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s started to transform their style and sound to death metal. There is a strong emphasis on often mid-tempo heavy riffing, and memorable songwriting that exudes a feeling of dramatic yet ripping death metal goodness. By that I mean the key is the song structuring that brings out emotion, conveys action and brutality inside a package you will remember after you have finished headbanging and hit stop on your player. The vocals of Seb I quite enjoy on this release, his growls are powerful, measured and very clearly enunciated with that classic dm vocal style and feel. It seems to me this music is designed to not only grab the listener, and hold them, but also created to be a killer experience in a live setting. Some French UG diehards that have watched this band live can attest to whether or not I am correct (I am confident that I am) in this assumption. This may be an EP, but it is a meaty one that weighs in with six songs and just under 30 minutes, so you will get real value with this purchase. I now hope the wait for the next Oldskull release will be much shorter than in the past.   - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/oldskulldeath/   https://nihilistic-webzine-distro.fr/          




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

(Purity Through Fire)


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

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




“As The Ashes Settle” CD

(Transcending Obscurity Records)


Orphalis hails from Germany, I must admit I had only heard their name in passing previously, so I was a bit surprised they have been around for over a decade. This is the bands fourth album in that time, their first for the impressive and prolific Transcending Obscurity label. Orphalis for those unaware plays extremely technical yet brutal death metal, that also somehow manages to incorporate a decent bit of melody into their style. Some of the riff patterns almost seem non-linear, like they are a wild audio swirl or some shit, it is pretty interesting, but only used in spurts otherwise that could disorienting haha. There is a ton going on in some of these songs, so many layers, smooth yet sudden incremental at the same time, all the while the songs almost fall forward in a controlled chaos rush. I mean, it is true the songs feel very busy at times, such as “The Wolves Draw Near”, for example there is so many facets to this song, so many changes in flow and the emotion created is a bit of a wild roller coaster ride. I could see it being too much for some, hell there are times when it is almost too much for me too. Having said that, the band does have a talent for knowing when they are starting to go too far, and briefly quiet down the audio swarm of murder hornets to give you a precious breath. This album will take you many, many listens to drink everything in, and to be honest it is such a whirlwind workout for the listener to pick through. I find I can only listen to this album once thru and then it is time to cleanse the mental listening palette, so to speak, for a minute. The vocalist Thomas Szczecina in some ways is the traditional anchor in this complex sound storm, he employs some nice commanding death growling accompanied by some varied higher and lower accents. The vocals despite all going on, do manage shine and it is a good overall performance. I would say if you like frantic, ultra techno death metal that still brings the heavy, and the brutality then you should look into getting this striking album.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/Orphalisband    https://tometal.com/          




"Mortes Fables" Cassette Album

(Nihilistic Holocaust Records)


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

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




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

(Regain Records - Reborn Classics)


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

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




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

(Redefining Darkness Records)


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

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




"Oath of Unholy Sacrilege” Tape Album Promo

(Nihilistic Holocaust Records)


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

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




"Demo 2021" CD

(Masters Of Kaos Productions)


Pestferd is a four man band coming out of Italy's black metal scene. This is a review of their debut demo, which previous to this was only available in digital format. It is now receiving the physical CD treatment from the excellent and prolific label form Colombia, which has been making quite a mark on the UG in it's short existence. The four tracks presented on this debut release from the band are quite raw with a dark and diabolical sound. The guitars are fast paced and cut with a razor sharpened edge. The drums are played with extremely fast beats, but also mix in some mid paced patterns to flesh things out. The vocals are very grim and raw black metal screams. This release is recommended to those out there who are fans of primitive, dark old school black metal it it's best.  - Patrick

https://mastersofkaos.bandcamp.com/    https://www.facebook.com/Masters-Of-Kaos         




"Basom Gryphos” CD, LP & Cassette

(Nuclear Winter / Sentient Ruin / Goat Throne)


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

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




"Chimaera” CD, LP & Cassette

(Nuclear Winter Records)


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

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




"Of Madness And Evil Whispers” CD

(Personal Records)


The Pit from Mexico has a long, winding road as a band, having formed way back in 2004 they released a split EP in 2006, followed by their debut album in 2008. The band then entered a 13 year period of inactivity with no releases. This included line up problems, but they eventually settled on the current line up in 2019, which despite over a decade of no momentum and those line up woes, this five man unit still manages to have kept three of the original members from the early days. The Pit now regrouped, bring to us their sophomore album, which from what I understand is heavier, and more brutal than their early works, which focused more on a thrashy melodeath style. I am not disappointed to hear about this change, because honestly there are not a lot of melododeath bands I like, or even the style in general. I like my extremity, I like my brutality and the old school heathen in me likes some old school purity in my death metal. Which, “Of Madness And Evil Whispers” delivers upon, not gore grinding extremity, but the music is dark, heavy and brutal. There is some good attention to detail, feel (a bleak, evil aura, and flow with songwriting where they keep things interesting and moving along with a crackling yet not quite ready to explode energy. The vocals have a lot of charisma to them and remind me of some classic dm Swede vocalists of the glory days of yore. Speaking of which, stylistically The Pit to my ear draw from old school ‘90s bands from the US (ala Incantation, Morbid Angel, Immolation etc…) mixed together with the aforementioned Swedish death metal (Dismember, Entombed, Grave). The wait for their follow up album was far too long, but the result is a solid album worth your time.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/ThePitMexicanDeath   https://www.personal-records.com/  




"Ceremorphosis” Digital Album

(Blood Blast Distribution)


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

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




"Beliefs Of Dead Stargazers And Soothsayers” CD, LP & Cassette

(Memento Mori Records & Rotted Life Records)


I must admit that band name gets me, and brings a smile to my face. The title is not so bad either. Speaking about the record itself, it is this Australian bands debut album, a relatively new band having only previously released a 15 minute EP. Pustilence produce heavy as all hell, crushing death metal with that old chunky, punishing barbaric sound and production. They just pummel you with rhythmic steam rolling riffs, wild ‘n spastic quick hitter guitar solos, sadistic hammer to the head drumming and some rumbling bass. You are also treated to some really killer classic inhuman death metal growling, courtesy of Taylor Burnett, who puts in a commanding and ruthless performance on this recording. Okay, I am not going to lie; listening to this gives me some sweet nostalgia tingles. The overall style and songwriting remind me heavily to a great period of time in my life and the scene, we are talking the first few years of the 1990s, when the UG metal scene was like an amazing new onion. An onion that kept peeling back layer, after layer of pure awesomeness with fanzines, demos and albums of this burgeoning new fucking amazing genre known as death metal. This was the explosive period of time with those early ‘90s bands in the US scene, which Pustilence is a product of, in my opinion. It was a time period you had brutish death bands like Morpheus Descends, Incantation, Morta Skuld, Rottrevore, Broken Hope, Monstrosity, Gorguts (okay yeah not American ;)), Malevolent Creation, Oppressor, Suffocation and the like. Yes, I said it, this gave me nostalgia pangs, but that does not mean it is not really fucking well done, in it’s own right, but it does sounds honestly sound like a long lost classic from those days. Die hard dm fanatics like me, who adore those embryonic days of the will dig this one. FYI the CD and tape are releasing right now, but the vinyl version will come out later in the year via Rotted Life Records.  - Dale

www.facebook.com/PustilenceAus/    https://www.rottedlife.com/   http://www.memento-mori.es/  




"Greedy Gory Gluttony” CD EP & 7'' EP

(Willowtip Records)


The Italian band Putridity has been gutting it out in the UG scene for nearly two decades now. Their first release was a demo in 2005, followed by a second demo the next year and then followed that up with three full-length albums and this EP. Lately though it has been pure silence from the band, but doing a little digging on their history I suspect line up problems had something to do with this. Putridity as you may assume from the perfectly descriptive name, plays vicious old school death that will stomp a mud hole in between your ears. The brutality on here is pretty glorious and relentless, that is not to say the songs do not possess a level of intricacy or interesting song construction, because that is also part of this pummeling package. The vocals from Andrea Piro are guttural, throaty and varied emanations that are sprayed across their songs with an almost constant array, which I found quite satisfying. I think you will pretty quickly pick up on some of the bands core influences such as Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse, Deeds Of Flesh, Disgorge, Brodequin, and label mates Defeated Sanity. It has been eight long years since Putridity’s last album, though after very much enjoying this five song EP, I certainly hope their releasing drought is about to end and a fourth album is on the way soon.  - Dale

https://putriditydeathmetal.bandcamp.com/   https://willowtip.com/  




"Skulls Of My Enemy” CD

(Pure Steel Records)


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

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




"Praeparet Bellum” CD

(Memento Mori Records)


Well now, Rigor Sardonicous, now there is a name I have not heard in a very long time! You will find reviews of this bands 1999 (’05 re-release version) debut and their 2008 album “Vallis ex Umbra de Mortuus”, elsewhere on the Canadian Assault site. I was not even sure they were still going, but it is pleasant news to hear that they still are well above ground and kicking. I am pretty certain way back in the day, like we are taking close to 25 years ago, I hung out with Joe Fogarazzo (guitarist/vocalist), one half of this duo at some gigs way back in the day. It is good to see fellow UG goats like Joe still scratching at the dirt and locking horns after all these years! This band has not changed much over the years, thankfully in my view, as their brand of dank, dark and gloomy doom death metal is a massive and all encompassing audio fog that suffocates you into submission. Their music is so heavy, so brutal that it just crushes the listener in slow motion, while creating such an eerie aura which seeps through it all. Joe’s roiling evil growl vocals are so perfect for this style; they are guttural yet have this sinister whispery undercurrent to them that melts into the music, so effectively. It has been a very long wait for me since I last heard Rigor Sardonicous, but with this album it was worth the wait! I think death doom diehards who worship heavyweights such as Evoken, Thergothon, Winter, Disembowelment, Hearse and other cult bands that create doomy death funeral music will need to get their hands on this record.  - Dale

https://rigorsardonicous1.bandcamp.com/   http://www.memento-mori.es/          




"The Astral Gloom” CD & LP

(Iron Bonehead Productions)


I have not heard anything from this band since their early days with their debut recording, the very good “The Brocken Fires”, about four years ago. This is largely an Italian band, but these demons of Italy wisely brought a heavy hitter into the band on vocals, which is Ustumallagam of the almighty UG legend band Denial Of God. Did I ever tell you about trading fanzines with Ustu, and he sent me bloody animal teeth with flesh and hair still on them? Good memories. Staying with the Italian side of the line up it is also a rather experienced lot as well, which features members of bands like Black Oath, Gosforth, Morbus Grave, Macabro Genicidio, Funest and more. But on to this band at hand, and their music, I think The Rite would immediately appeal to diehard followers of Denial Of God. This band plays a somewhat similar style, which brings in elements of black/death metal while never being afraid to heavily display their heavy metal influences and roots. I mean everything is covered in audio darkness and shadow; there is also a blanket of doom metal thrown over the top of their sinister sounds. The music often has an emotive gloomy feel, which fluctuates in and out of acidic black metal evil aura that is quite delicious in my view. It should come as no surprise that Ustumallagam, one of the best vocalists in UG metal scene, puts on yet another amazing performance with his dark, grating, coarse vocal emanations that are at once filled with utter darkness and malevolence, his voice is absolutely dripping with haunting horror! The music and the vocals are a near perfect marriage of brooding ambiance, cruelty and wickedness. I very much enjoyed this second album from this band, and I can only simply recommend that you grace your ears and mind with this excellent album.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/therite   https://ironbonehead.de/         




"Shores Of Nastrond” CD & LP

(Iron Bonehead Productions)


I have kept up with the Australian band Runespell off and on over the band’s existence of just over a half a decade. Yet I believe, if memory serves this is the first time I am reviewing them in Canadian Assault. It has been easy to follow them as they have been on the great label Iron Bonehead since the start, and this is a label I have known and followed since the very start (I believe I got copies of all the first dozen or so releases as they came out). This Aussie bands ties to Germany do not end at their label, as the third member of the band bassist Irrwycht (Grabunhold, Baxaxaxa etc…) is also from Deutschland. Runespell used to be a one man band from main man Nightwolf, who has decided to expand to a full band in the last couple of years. Runespell for those unaware plays an ambitious flowing style of black metal, which sweeps and spreads out seemingly endlessly, especially if we are talking about the epic title track that spans eleven minutes in length. Having said that despite that being the longest song, it is a good representation of the rest of the album, as most of the tracks are in the seven to nine minute range. Despite playing such darkness musically, they are also quite tuneful and inject some introspective emotion in their blackened style. The playing on here is smooth and skillful, displaying a strong talent of feel and flow, within their song construction with a strong atmosphere that ebbs and flows with purpose. It is all the more impactful when there is brief bouts of harshness, which only highlights the strong fog of ambiance that wraps around it. The vocals are as sinister and mysterious as the music itself, they are obscure and vague whispery rasps and sinuous yells that never quite rise to the surface. Those vocals instead melt into the background atmospherics, adding depth, but like a stealthy assassin that never quite emerge from the shadowy depths to reveal themselves. If you enjoy first wave black metal merging into the second wave, with a high emphasis on fluid flowing music and pensive atmosphere. Then you will want to look into this band and this album as soon as possible.  - Dale

https://www.instagram.com/runespellofficial/    https://ironboneheadproductions.bandcamp.com/       




"From Which Nightmares Crawl” CD, LP & Cassette

(Chaos Records)


After releasing a demo a few years back this Salt Lake, Utah band have rounded out their line-up, and now unleash their anticipated debut album. Sacrilegion show a pretty high level of skill on their instruments, and some strong proficiency in memorable songwriting ability on this record. The music on here displays some heavy and driving death metal, backed with a dark atmosphere yet always possessing a strong melodic thread running throughout. There is a lot of transitioning between the catchy melodicism, the heavy brooding pummel and sudden bursts of breakneck speed. Some of the bands like The Chasm, Demigod, Shub Niggurath, At The Gates, Cenotaph, Darkness Eternal and the mighty Edge Of Sanity count among the acts that come to mind as influences  on this release. I really dig the vocals of Connor G. Carlson, they fit the music perfectly as he puts in a nuanced performance featuring an array of voices, yells and growls that accentuate and pull out the darkness and emotive elements of the music. This is a solid debut album that is worth your attention.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/Sacrilegion/   https://www.chaos-records.com/         




“Midnight Assassin” CD & LP

(Goat Throne Records)


This California band has only been around about three years now, but they already have a couple EPs out, their debut album, and now this their second full-length album. They even managed to go to the UK for a tour. Yeah, these guys are not messing around. The band plays a blend of first wave black metal (Venom, Bulldozer, Celtic Frost) mixed with ancient heavy metal and speed metal greatness. The music features loose, somewhat untight songwriting yet still very cohesive, with great playing (they are very skilled despite my description) and that looseness is part of the intentional, infectious charm of what they are doing here IMO. It is all very memorable, catchy and if you don’t involuntarily headbang to this music, then you might want to check if you still have a pulse. The riffing on here is just monstrous, as is the wild short fills and guitar solos. Which brings me to the vocals, which are good traditional gruff thrash vocals, but have a slight death metal edge growl to them, like just a little undercurrent that makes them all the more menacing and vicious. All of which, sounds all the more fantastic when the lyrics are inspired mainly by true crime and slasher movies! This album is like a metallic party album, but it is also heavy as lead and somehow maintains a dangerous aura that goes for the throat. It is a party held in blood and body parts, evil and depravity and it is all a delicious blast to listen to. You need to check this out if you worship old school metal, but a take of their own and an interesting mixture of everything us old goats love about metal. If you love these bands keeping the old flame burning, I mean if you are a fan of newer bands like Wraith, Midnight, Toxic Holocaust, Bat and the like, then you need to check these guys out ASAP.   - Dale

https://sadisticforce.bandcamp.com/   https://goatthrone.com/         




"Destroyer Of All Dreams” 12'' EP

(Boris Records)


Some of you UG scene long timers might remember this band from way back, yes it is that same Sadistic Vision, they started up at the start of the ‘90s in Louisiana when they released a couple early ‘90s demos. They disappeared in the middle 1990s sometime, before relocating to my home state of Pennsylvania (the area of the state known for potato chip factories) and the band was revived in 2013, they have been going strong since. Just take a look at their facebook page and you will see the bands plays live often, all over the Northeast and other places around the country, from time to time. I should mention as well it is great to see this come out on Boris Records, I dig this label, the guy who runs it is a dedicated dude that has always been cool to converse with. The music on here, created by this trio is some heavy and ripping death metal that shows a high level of skill and some thoughtful, interesting song construction. At times the bands thrash roots show through, especially in some of the songwriting where they sit down on a heavy riff and give you chance to get a slow headbang going, before turning up the heat and speeding full steam ahead and back again. This recording features death metal which has a very classic feel to it, it feels like it could easily have come out in the early to middle ‘90s, and I am here for it. This is good stuff. The vocals of Beau Chollett follow this style perfectly and is a marriage of the traditional gruff thrash yell / bellow and a classic boiling dm growling undertone. I am not sure I would go so far as calling Sadistic Vision a deathrash band, but all the same I think they have a lot of elements that will please fanatics of late eighties thrash within their early nineties death metal mayhem. I bet these guys tear shit up live.   - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/svforlife/   https://borisrecords.bandcamp.com/          




“The Shadow Inside” CD, LP & Cassette

(Nuclear Blast Records)


They have not released a new album in 17 years! It is only a two man band, both are original founding members. But, notably, bass guitar wizard Steve DiGorgio is absent, presumably a little busy being a long time, full-time member of thrash legends Testament. So, with all of that in mind, I think it is fair to be a little skeptical about what these old codgers (that is not meant as an insult, I am only a half decade behind them) have left in the tank? The short answer is, a lot, they are a long ways away from running on fumes. I was not ready for the music on this record, to be this good, to be this vicious and invigorated sounding. Sadus has not forgotten how to write good songs, at lightning speeds with those classic trademark rip roaring riffs. The music is memorable, it is heavy and dark, vicious and punishing. Within that hailstorm is some good nuanced guitar work, infused with emotion and atmosphere, the cumulative effect is a pretty powerful and well rounded thrashing metal listen. Vocalist Darren Travis’ vocals sound amazing, they have really held up well, with his signature, charismatic gruff voice being in fine form. I feel like his vocals are more savage than they have ever been, and he has managed to inject a darker edge into his classic style. I am not saying this album is on the level of their classic early ‘90s albums, but I will be damned if “The Shadow Inside” does not come close to those lofty heights! Yes, it is that good and these old metal goats have done themselves and their legacy proud.   - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/sadusguy   https://www.nuclearblast.com/          




"Aamongandr” CD, LP & Tape

(Werewolf Records)


The man of the black metal underground known as Werwolf (Grieve, Knife, Krüel Kömmando, Orlok, Satanist Terrorist, The True Werwolf, Vritrahn-Werwolf, ex-Horna, ex-White Death and more) returns with his (solo) band Satanic Warmaster, which he is arguably most known for. Satanic Warmaster does not release albums very often, as this is their 6th album in the last twenty-two years, this time around it was an eight year wait! Though to be fair during this long existence S.W. has released nearly 30 demos, EPs and splits, not to even mention a handful of live albums, so this band is never dormant for too long. But let us move out the bands history and into the moment at hand here. The opening hymn “Bafomet” is a less frosty and little more mildly melodic, especially with regards to the guitars, than I was expecting when I hit play. Yet those deathly and dangerously acerbic vocals I admire were exactly what I had hoped to hear from the start. A solid track yes, though not entirely what I hoped to hear, but my apprehension was quickly erased and never returned for the remainder of the album. As the hateful, sinister archetypal second wave Finnish filtered black metal only grows and strengthens as this strong record progresses. That cold and spiteful black metal continues to drive hard through this musical snowstorm and winding through it all like a writhing serpent is a healthy dose of timely, well placed eerie synth work that brings in some malevolent arcane atmosphere. Werwolf’s lethal and bitter bm caustic rasping vocals are some of the best in UG scene in my opinion, a superb welcome knife to the brain! I worship this stuff and can never seem to get enough of it, but was it worth the wait? Well is any release worth waiting eight years for? Probably not, but that does not mean it is not excellent, because this album is indeed. The vinyl version of this is not due until later some time in 2023, but whatever your preferred choice of format, if you love Satanic Warmaster and good second wave bm then you need to get your mitts on this.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/satanic.war.terror   https://www.werewolf.fi/          




"Decade Of Savagery” CD & LP

(Inhuman Assault Records)


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

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




"Recollections Of The Insane” CD & LP

(Redefining Darkness Records)


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

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




"From Beyond The Burial Mound” CD & LP

(Soulseller Records)


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

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




"Cursed Ways Of Sheol” CD EP & 12'' EP

(Invictus Productions)


This band was born out of Demonic Oath, which was the prolific musician Kevin Desecrator’s solo band whose name changed when he decided to go with a full line-up and Sépulcre was born in 2020 (only releasing a demo prior to this release). I wrote musician above because despite Kevin D. being the guitarist / vocalist in this band, he is also the drummer of the mighty Destroyer 666 and plays guitar / drums in Iron Bonehead Productions band Venefixion, not to mention all those instruments in prior bands. That is what I call a real musician to do all of those instruments at a high level. But the band now has 3 other members and those guys bring some of their own experience in prior bands into this line-up. Sépulcre create dark heavy death metal that gives off an emotive gloom and dank aura that I find quite an enticing listen. They also keep things driving and memorable with some good riffs and some strong varied song construction, which is reminiscent of earlier releases of bands like Morbid Angel, Incantation or newer bands like Tomb Mold, Funebrarum and Sedimentium. All of those influences are good thing in my book and very well done here with some talent and vision behind it. The shadowy and somewhat obscured shouting growl vocals that possess a whispering underbelly to them adding to the sinister air of the music and blend nicely. If you like quality death metal and are fans of the bands I mentioned above I think you will find much to like about this album. Also, you can add Sepulchre to the growing number of quality death metal bands in recent years coming from the French UG death metal scene.  - Dale

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




"Diabolical Regurgitations" CD EP & Cassette EP

(Caligari Records)


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

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




"Psychodelic Death” CD & LP

(Edged Circle Productions)


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

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




"Nuances Of Life” CD & LP

(Scarlet Records)


The Silent Rage from Greece is not the most prolific band, considering this is only the bands second full-length album (plus a few demos), despite releasing their first demo release over fifteen years ago. It is very debatable whether the long distance between releases is worth the wait. But, that does not mean this is not a good album, because it is a banger. The band creates some extremely memorable and classic sounding power metal (minus the heavy synth and fluff of some modern bands), which delivers some great musicianship across the board, not to mention a flawless production. Literally every song has great riffs, and catchy songs that will stick in your head as you nod along singing to the triumphant sounding choruses. You need a top level, high quality singer to pull off a good power metal band. These guys have that with Michael Rinakakis and his silky, powerful voice that glides seemingly effortlessly across the spectrum from sleek yells to soaring air raid siren. As an added bonus for long time metal fans of this metal genre, you also get guest appearances by Stu Block (Into Eternity, Annihilator, ex-Iced Earth), Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin (Jag Panzer) and Bob Katsionis (Stray Gods, ex-Firewind). You can definitely hear some of those same bands influences of the guests bands coursing through this talented bands veins. If you are a fan of American melodic power metal new and old (think the Sanctuary, Judas Priest, Helstar, Liege Lord etc), you might want to give The Silent Rage a spin.  - Dale

https://thesilentrage.bandcamp.com/   https://scarletrecords.it/      




"Self Titled" CD

(Plague Demon Records / Blasphemous Creations Of Hell Records)


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

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




"I, The Witch" CD

(Plague Demon Records / Blasphemous Creations Of Hell Records)


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

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




"Violent Creed Of Vengeance” CD & LP

(Cruz Del Sur Music)


I am pleased to have the new sophomore album of this Canadian band come across my desk, so to speak, once again. I think I have reviewed everything this band has put out now, save for their initial demo tape, which came out about half a decade ago now. Smoulder comfortably, and skillfully, reside within the realms of epic heavy metal and classic doom. They write classically structured music with emphasis on memorable, catchy song hooks, while always keeping in the forefront of mind, an epic and triumphant aura and smooth forward flow. I feel like their debut album had a moderately strong mournful element to their music, this to me at least, has slowly melted away with that heroic, driving confidently into battle feel taking over more and more. Which I am cool with, I like both approaches, but they are very good at this aspect, and of course it fits the lyrics and general loose concept of the bands releases perfectly. Smoulder is neither overtly slow, nor fast, technicality is not their thing either; they are all about letting the strong and straight forward songs stand on their own. There is some really tasteful riffs and guitar work in general going on here; in particular, the timely guitar fills really showcase the bands emotive charisma. I can not talk about these aspects without talking about the fantastic vocals of Sarah Ann, she has a real feel for this musical style and wraps it in a warm drawn out vocal embrace, in a very effective and affecting way. I find her vocals an addictive listen, honestly. I can easily see die hard fans of bands like Solitude Aeternus, Candlemass, Gatekeeper, Reverend Bizarre, Manilla Road, Crypt Sermon, Cirith Ungol, Eternal Champion, Omen and other excellent bands of that stripe. I am very happy to see this band still going strong.  - Dale

https://smoulder.bandcamp.com/merch   https://cruzdelsurmusic.bandcamp.com/          




"Into The Beckoning Wilderness" CD

(Chaos Records)


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

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




"Monuments Of Grief” CD

(Chaos Records)


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

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




"Natt Av Tusen Dödsfall” CD, LP & Tape

(Werewolf Records)


Sorgetid is the solo band of the well known veteran UG Finnish musician V-Khaoz, who has done and been in many bands over the years like Vargav, Druadan Forest, Hellkult, Grieve, Oath, Azaghal and more. As for Sorgetid, as far as I know this debut album is also the bands first release period. The music is absolutely freezing cold black metal that is dripping with a malevolent acid aura. It will remind you immediately to the, for me, glorious days of the second wave of black metal out of Scandinavia from the early to middle 1990s. It was surely a time when most creating this music were coming from a release place of dedication to darkness and evil rather than just a style. I immediately have the nostalgia of stir of the early classic releases bands like Darkthrone, Immortal, Mayhem, Emperor, Enslaved, Marduk and then bands that soon followed on their heels like Horna, Graveland, Dark Funeral, Judas Iscariot etc… There is some sound effects like wind howling, wolves baying and synth interludes, but for the most part it is icy and biting traditional black metal greatness with just enough baleful melody to keep dark musical river flowing. V-Khaoz’ vocals are fantastic archetypal rasping vocals that will send a chill through you at night. If you worship, as I do, second wave Scandinavian black metal and again like me just can not get enough then this album deserves your attention.  - Dale

https://shop-hellsheadbangers.com/sorgetid   https://www.werewolf.fi/  




“I Skyggen Af Livet” CD & LP

(Nuclear Winter Records)


This band is another of the bands of Mathias Friborg, this time it is a solo band. This busy man is of course also a member of some very good bands like Ascendency, Had, Hyperdontia, Sulphurous, and Taphos. Sort Sind unlike his other bands, which are all various shades of straight up death metal, is a black death metal band that is rooted pretty firmly between both genres. The music on here is a marriage of the suffocating, brooding brutality of death metal with the seething darkness and hate of black metal. The result for me is quite enjoyable, as they have managed to harness those emotive qualities of both quite nicely. You can revel in the freezing evil, or the smothering barbarity in equal measure. This guy definitely knows how to craft songs that are not too busy, and possess qualities that produce memorable sequences. The kind sequences which a lot of long time fans of both genres can grab on to and enjoy. An important part of this album is the consistent, strong atmosphere that spreads like creeping mist across the entire release. The vocals predictably follow the music, though I suppose they lean a little more death metal growl, than black metal hiss/cackle, but there is undercurrents of that. Yeah, personally, I like the vocals on here. This record is nothing mind blowing, but if you are a fanatic for traditional sounds of black death metal mingling, this is a really solid entry to satiate your lust.   - Dale

https://sortsind.bandcamp.com/   https://nuclearwinterrecords.com/shop/  




"Skin Deep Vol. 3” Compilation CD

(Soulgrinder ‘Zine Records)


This comp has 3 songs from each of the five bands. Naitaka (Canada) starts off with a clear, almost too muted production on their thrash metal mixed with melododeath style. Their songs feature some solid musicianship with vocals that are all over the place from a bit of a gruff thrash voice, a tinge of a death growl and suddenly out of nowhere clean siren heavy metal vocals. A bit uneven vocal performance to me, although there is a lot of talent and potential bubbling under with this band, but they need a more in your face production IMO. Next up is Narcolepsia (Argentina) and they have the heavier, grittier production that the previous band needs. They rip things up with some intense, energetic straight forward death metal littered with some thrash leanings. They have short songs like a punk band, but they are not a punk band. I like the dark growling vocals from this band too. Good stuff. Now comes Jenner (Serbia) who plays speed / thrash metal and it is good shit. Some nice galloping riffing, smoking fills and leads on guitar backed with some pounding drum work. Aleksandra Stamenković has some great vocals and good voice; she can do the clean soaring style, then seamlessly transitions to deeper and even slightly coarse gritty vocals. This is a very strong appearance by Jenner on this disc and maybe the top highlight in an overall strong line up. Strujen (Argentina) slides in next and they are duo that plays death metal grindcore sorta mince style. Maybe it is because this is coming on the heels of such high end musicianship and good songwriting by the previous band. But this feels very rough, raw, simplistic and has it’s brief moments, but otherwise honestly I found this to be very so-so stuff at best. Finishing up this interesting compilation is Apofenia (Argentina) which is another duo that is again raw and simplistic yet much more effective than the last band in their primitive death metal style. Maybe a sound that brings to mind a looser version of the early demo days of Swedish bands like Unleashed, Nihilist and Carnage. I have a soft spot for this style and enjoyed these songs. Something all of these bands share in common is all have at least one female member or as is the case with Jenner, Narcolepsia and Apofenia are all female bands. So, that may add an extra element of interest for some out there I suppose? At this point females in extreme metal is now fairly commonplace, so it is just another band for me. Which is good thing in my book as the UG metal scene is progressing fast and I am sure that is what female bands want, to be seen as being no different for better or worse than any all male band and judged solely on their music only and not their gender in any way, shape or form. There is many kick ass dedicated and talented women in the scene the world over these days for damn certain. As always with Soulgrinder comps, they do an excellent job with the packaging and you get a nice looking foldout inlay of band logos, pics, web links. Check this out and support the great Soulgrinder!  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/soulgrinder.zine/   http://soulgrinderzine.blogspot.com/  




"The Great Seal” CD & LP

(Svart Records)


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

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




"Psychic Secretions" CD, LP & MC

(Nuclear War Now! Productions)


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

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




"Labyrinth Of Veins” CD & LP

(Peaceville Records)


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

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




"A Mother's Curse” CD, LP & Cassette

(Dark Descent Records)


This is surprisingly, to me, this Danish bands debut full-length album. I say surprisingly because the band has been around since 1997. Though as you might imagine there are huge gaps of silence between releases, as during the last 25 years they have only released 2 demo tapes, one 7” EP and a CD EP. This trio of musicians that make up this band have many other bands past and present bands that kept them busy, some of which include Undergang, Cerekloth, Procession Of Headless Angels, The Cleansing, and Usipian. The music on here features some nice guitar fills in there, a little melody too, but just enough to add depth and keep things interesting to augment the brutality of it all, which stays firmly in the driver’s seat of this album. The vocals of Martin Leth Andersen is something I enjoy very much about Strychnos and this album, he has an extremely magnetic traditional growl that bends and shape shifts around the underlying music like a serpent. I also like the epic length strident, boiling yell near the start of the song “Regiments Of The Betrayed”, and this song is a fine example of Andersen’s ability elongate his vocal chords and convey good emotion. Speaking of emotion, the music is always extreme yet showcases a real talent for building deeply emotive sequences into satisfying crescendos and mental journey’s. I am not saying Strychnos sounds overly like them, but their talent in this area is very reminiscent to me of the magnificence of the middle ‘90s Edge Of Sanity albums. That is high praise coming from me, as a diehard fan of that period of E.O.S., and in turn speaks to Strychnos’ strong songwriting abilities and feel for song flow. The artwork and lyrics are about a famous story of a Danish author written in 1847 and the music wonderfully conveys the range of despair, sadness and tragedy of the woman the story focuses upon. As debut albums go, even despite the long wait for this one, it remains one hell of a debut record that I would recommend.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/strychnosterror   https://www.darkdescentrecords.com        




"Existential Realism” Cassette EP

(Nekrassious Tapes)


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

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




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

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


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

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




"Ylem” CD & Cassette

(Willowtip Records)


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

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




"The Sorrow Of Soul Through Flesh” CD & LP

(Unspeakable Axe Records / Dark Descent Records)


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

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




"Auscultating Astral Monuments” CD & LP

(Bloody Mountain Records)


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

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




"Wrath" CD & LP

(Putrid Cult)


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

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




“Typho-Tantric Aphorisms From The Arachneophidian Qur'an” CD & LP

(Iron Bonehead Records)


Damn, these guys need a editor, badly. I mean talk about being too wordy with titles, all the song titles are ridiculously long, most of the song titles on this album are small paragraphs!! I thought I had a tendency for being too wordy, and having run on sentences, these blokes make me look like a lightweight. Haha! You think I exaggerate? Here is one of their song titles “Mandelbrot Scarab of Fractal Manifestation Trapped in the Arachnid Webs, Spun Above the Hidden Pathways Into Non-Euclidean Interbetweenness” - all of them are long like that!! Okay, I had to get that out, now on to other things from this band out of India, with regards to their second full-length album. The music is busy as fuck too, but unlike the song titles they keep things tight, concise and to the point with shorter and therefore, in my opinion, much more impactful songs as a result. Something I can not help but wonder, can these three guys pull this off live? Because if they can, and do it well, then that is impressive. As, the sound they create is a massive yet pinpoint accurate wall of barbaric, blazing noise with a technical aplomb that belies the savagery of it all. They take the warring death metal roots of influences like Blasphemy, Impiety, Angelcorpse, Revenge, Archgoat, Black Witchery and the like, to new levels. They take those sounds, and add touches of technicality and musical nuance to that maelstrom, and by so doing expand the boundaries of that sound. Which, is all in good ways, they manage to not sacrifice any of the blackened ferocity while better controlling the chaos of this style. This album is an enjoyable workout, I have to be in the mood for unrelenting assaults like this one, or the bands mentioned above, but I find this impressive album a little more rewarding than many who ply this sub-genre’s trade. I want to also mention the vocals of M. Opium, which are fantastically deep and commanding growls that bring to mind classic Karl Willetts from Bolt Thrower. If you are into evil war death metal, which stands out a little from the pack, and is presented with precision and character then you should really give this a try.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/tetragrammacide    https://ironbonehead.de/         




"Daudens Kalde Auge” CD

(Blasphemous Creations Of Hell / Plague Demon Records)


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

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




“The Enduring Spirit” CD, LP & Cassette

(20 Buck Spin Records)


Canada’s Tomb Mold burst upon the UG scene about a half dozen years ago. They hit the ground running releasing an EP, and three albums in the span of three years. They have been mostly silent on the release front for the last four years. Who can blame them for taking a breather, between their earlier torrid pace of album releases, and the pandemic, thrown in for good measure. But what, if anything has this done to their songwriting having so long to think about, write, and shape their new material? Actually, honestly quite a bit by my ear, they have taken a large step into the technical death metal direction. I can see where they might disappoint some fans of the band, that just loved the old school musical blend and straight up, straight forward brutality. As often happens with extremely technical bands, some of that ferocity, and brutality does suffer on here, not to a large extent. But, it is still noticeable, in my opinion the production on here does not do too many favours for them in this direction. Yet, maybe they wanted that extra clarity, for the fine detail in the added complexity and increased busyness, if so they achieved their goal, I suppose. I guess luckily for me, there is still more than enough heavy (a little rawer production would not make me complain one bit however haha.), and I also happen to like both straight forward ripping dm, as well as ultra technical death metal. The home run stretch of the album with the two final tracks, does see the band dialing that busy back a skosh, stretching their legs by leaving a little more space and letting their emotive, atmospheric side sprawl and flow. The final song is an epic, clocking in at over eleven minutes, you could probably make an argument, though it is an impressive song, that they got a little too indulgent in this case. I would probably make that point it went a tad too far. But there is some really tasty guitar work on this record, some stylish fills and guitar leads that brought me some extra enjoyment. One area that has not changed is the vocals, if you always dug the shadowy, obscured growling of Max, he is in fine form here. I will be interested to see how this album goes over with the faithful followers of the band, it could turn some off, or maybe I am out to lunch on that and the transition will be seamless. Hell, they might even get some techno dm fans interested with this new direction. Either way, it is hard to deny that this is a solid piece of work by this talented band  - Dale

https://linktr.ee/tombmold    https://www.20buckspin.com/         





(Spread Evil Records)


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

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




"Shock To The System” CD & LP

(Cruz Del Sur Music)


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

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




"Inferno XXXIII” CD & LP

(Scarlet Records)


Ulvedharr come to us out of the Italy, it is my first time listening to this band, despite them being veterans of the UG metal scene, as “Inferno XXXIII” representing their 5th album in the last decade. I was pretty quickly taken aback upon hitting play, as I was awash in a rapid fire, rip ‘n tear busy barrage of high octane deathrash metal! It was easy to very quickly get caught up in this quality blitz attack. One of the most immediately striking things about this band, after the shellshock of the ripping music, would be the distinctive vocals on here. They come courtesy of Ark Nattlig Ulv, and they are quite different than any other current death or thrash metal band I can think of, currently. Those vocals are an interesting mix death growling with elements of crossover thrash style vocals, incorporating little tendrils of hardcore/punk. Yes, I know it is not something that should mix together well, but Ark applies those influences to his distinctive and charismatic voice, and for me, much to my surprise it really works. Just to give you a general idea think of the growled vocals of Paul Speckmann of Master, Dave Hewson of Slaughter & early Chuck Shuldiner coalesced with Gary Meskil of Pro-Pain & early Tommy Victor of Prong. I told you it is interesting, and different from what you normally hear these days, but extremely well done too. Okay, I gave you a general idea of the vocals, but how about the musical influences? I would throw out bands like Demolition Hammer, Righteous Pigs, Unleashed, Possessed, early Prong, early Vader, Morbid Angel, old Sepultura and the like. It definitely shreds with intricate yet heavy memorable song structuring and massive headbanging riffs interplayed with some smoking guitar solos. Ulvedharr is most definitely a change of pace, compared to what I have been reviewing lately, a fresh breath hitting my lungs like the crisp air on a icy, frigid morning. I mean that in a good way, a very good way. You should check this out if you love the olden days of the bands mention, and that era of extreme metal Ulvedharr burst forth.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/Ulvedharr   https://scarletrecords.it/  




"Decennium Ruinae" CD EP & 12" EP

(Willowtip Records)


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

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




"Spear Of Creation” CD & LP

(Redefining Darkness Records)


Coming on the heels of their first release (a four song demo EP) as a band, we now have the debut album of the promising Vadiat. They may be a new band, but their members have been around the UG metal scene block, a time or two. This quartet collectively have seen time in bands like Shed The Skin, Vindicator, Shok Paris, Abdullah, Soulless, Ringworm, Terror, Funeral Pyre, Blood Of Christ and more. Yes, their experience levels stretch back to the late ‘80s (!!), for some members in thrash bands like Civil Disobedience and Alterrik. Vadiat play straight up classic death metal from the embryonic days of the genre, their influences while rooted in the US scene of old, you can also hear strong hints from the early works of classic bands from Scandinavia, and Britain as well. While there is some real doomy elements to the bands sound, to very good effect, I am not sure it is strong enough that I would call them a doom death band. Yet, the more I listen I go back and forth, and think yeah man this is definitely a doom death band lol! As the band does often chug along at a slow to middling pace, while mixing in a lot of tasty, even moody guitar fills and leads into their heavy plodding music. There is a definite aura of darkness that spreads across and blankets the music, which I find quite infectious, and even a little addictive to listen to. This darkened doom death sound further deepened, and solidified by the gloomy, elongating and roiling growl style to the vocals that really adds to the atmosphere created by the music. If I have one nitpicky complaint about this album, it would be that it is almost over produced, their style could use a little dirt and grit, but honestly this is a minor point, it sounds too good Haha! Man, this is a superb debut album, maybe somewhat unsurprising coming from this skilled, veteran collective of musicians, but nonetheless they really deliver with “Spear Of Creation”. They even top everything off with a cool dm cover of the classic song “Pray For The Dead”, from the legends Trouble (RIP Eric Wagner) to finish things off nicely here.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/Vadiatmetal/    https://shop.redefiningdarkness.com/      




"Zorn Und Hass" MCD & 12" MLP

(Purity Through Fire)


Coming out of the German black metal scene is Vampyric Tyrant who plays a 90's style of raw vampyric black metal. ‘Zorn Und Hass’ is the bands latest release which is comprised of four tracks of cold and well executed black metal music. "Vereinsamung" starts off the release with a cold mid paced guitar and drum patterns, which is performed with some nice skillful songwriting. The vocals are raw black metal screams and a few traditional hollering lines are used. The title track “Zorn Und Hass" is up next and is a much faster and aggressive track that goes for the throat. The guitars and drum patterns are played with a faster more intense pace in their wicked delivery. "Ein Traum" is a instrumental track that is very well played with a mid pacing and produces some atmospheric elements on this song. The final track "Totschlag" is a good song that is played with a mix of fast and mid paced passages to give the song it's own identity. On this track the vocals are more of a gruff screaming style and growling mixture that is done with intensity and power. This is my first encounter with Vampyric Tyrant, but the band does a great job of creating memorable traditional cold black metal. If you are a fan of this style then I highly recommend you picking up a copy of this strong release.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/vampyrictyrant    https://shop.purity-through-fire.com/en/          




"Encircle The Spectral Dimension” MCD

(Werewolf Records)


I must confess I am a fan of a number of this bands two main songwriters Werwolf (Satanic Warmaster, Grieve, Knife, Krüel Kömmando, Orlok, Satanist Terrorist, The True Werwolf, Vritrahn-Werwolf, ex-Horna, ex-White Death and more) & V-KhaoZ Stormrage (Druadan Forest, Olio Tähtien Takana, V-Khaoz, ex-Oath, ex-Azaghal plus more). Though of course there is no denying they are currently in, or have been in many, many bands over the years Haha. Clearly these two demons fit together well musically though, as evidenced by their strong work together in this band and in Grieve. While both these men musically come out of the mighty second wave of black metal. Grieve is cut more from the cloth of the earlier works of Darkthrone, where as Vargrav definitely has a much more of an older Emperor bent. Vargrav produce some truly evil sounding, freezing black metal with a strong backing of cryptic synth, which helps to create a black wall of sinister atmosphere. The music is razor fucking sharp, fast and aggressive with a constant attacking, current flowing to the torrent of riffs, battering hammers and caustic blackened rasping vocals propelled forward to create a feeling of intense impending doom. The only thing that smoothes it out at all is that haunting, baleful synth, which gives off a creeping audio fog that grounds the attack with moody ambiance. So, rounding out this four song release you get a superb cover of one of my favourite Emperor songs “Ancient Queen”. That is surely the song that probably made me an Emperor devotee, when I heard their demo in the early ‘90s, a real masterpiece. The final track on here is a live recording of “Netherstorm” from 2019 at the Steelfest. So, essentially you get one new track, the title track, which is set to be released again on their upcoming third album. Then you get two re-mastered tracks, which were only previously released as a bonus limited 7” with their debut album, the Emperor cover, and finally the live track (that apparently is only on this CD and not on the digital version). I hope I explained all of that right, I believe I did. This release is a damn good one, even if there is no real exclusive material (though those two seven inch tracks are probably fairly rare up to this point), save for the live track. Anyways, I know I enjoyed this five song release.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/Vargravofficial/    https://www.werewolf.fi/         




"Inward To Gethsemane" CD, LP & Cassette

(20 Buck Spin Records)


I have heard the name and some buzz about California’s Vastum for a long time, but I have not investigated further, until now. They play a brand of death metal that has been quite the rage in recent years. You know the bands that have a mixture of classic bands from the US (ala Autopsy, Incantation, Funebrarum), the UK (Bolt Thrower, Benediction) and Finland (Demigod, Adramelech, Demilich, Convulse etc…). It is, in my opinion, a superb mixture of death metal styles, and bands, which I am quite pleased it has been spreading and propagating in the UG scene. That said, Vastum is no johnny come lately in this regard, they have been pounding out a variation of this mixture for well over a decade. They are very deadly on this album, it is a dark and gloomy journey into crushing, brutally emotive doom-y death metal. I find it quite fantastic just how heavy their middling paced flow chugs along, while maintaining such a horrific and sinister murk atmosphere, at each and every turn. The deep growling vocals of Daniel Butler have a charisma to them, it is very enjoyable, as is the punchier yet still ominous secondary yelling growls from guitarist Leila Abdul-Rauf. The production (Courtesy of Greg Wilkinson of Autopsy at his Earhammer Studios) on this album is pretty perfect, it is forceful and clear, while still having a gritty edge to that suits the music very well. If you love cream of the crop traditional death metal, which is craftily combined and shaped into a modern update of real audio goodness.   - Dale

https://vastum.bandcamp.com/    https://www.20buckspin.com/         




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

(Transcending Obscurity Records)


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

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




"Monomanía del Inexorable Vacío” Digipak CD & LP

(Lunar Apparitions & Altare Productions)


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

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




"Exhortation To The Impure” CD & LP

(Iron Bonehead)


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

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




"Horror Vacui" CD EP

(Plague Demon Records / Blasphemous Creations Of Hell Records)


Void Of Apep is a solo project coming out of Portugal's UG black metal scene. ‘Horror Vacui’ is the debut release featuring four tracks of mid paced black metal. “Tenbris in Lux” starts off the release and is played with mid paced guitars with strong drum passages that are done with skillful writing. The vocals are harsh black metal screams. “Ex Imperato Averno” is up next and starts off at a bit faster pace that is done with some very well played guitars and drums. The vocals are grim black metal screams that really seems to work well with this band. “Lapsit Exillis” is a heavier and darker song that has a variety of faster and mid paced melodies that create eerie melodies. This EP finishes off the debut and is done with a sinister guitar style that is mainly played with mid paced guitars. Void Of Apep plays a style of occult black metal that is rooted in the 90's. But is not a clone by any means and creates a dark and haunting masterpiece. This has me for one looking forward to hearing more this band.  - Patrick

voidofapep.bandcamp.com    plaguedemonrecords.storenvy.com    bchrecords.storenvy.com         




"Succumb To Chaos” CD, LP & Cassette

(Rotted Life Records)


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

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




"Parallaxiom” CD

(I, Voidhanger Records)


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

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




“Our Hands, Your Throat” CD

(Transcending Obscurity Records)


I have seen Walking Corpse listed in many places as a straight up grindcore band, maybe I am splitting hairs here, but for me they are a death metal band, or a deathgrind band. I guess to be fair the grindcore force with this band is strong, and can not be ignored, not in the least. Yes, Deathgrind it is. This is the Swedish bands second album, and first for the prolific Transcending Obscurity, a label which leaves no stone unturned when promoting their band in every way possible. A quick side note for an UG band history, cross pollination of members junkie like me, it caught my eye that drummer Magnus Dahlin is the live drummer for Snowy Shaw’s (ex- King Diamond, ex- Mercyful Fate) solo band. Okay, enough of that, on to task with “Our Hands, Your Throat”. The music on here immediately smacked me in the face with the maximized intensity level, it is full on raging beast, and takes no prisoners in the process. As mentioned the death metal is the core of their foundation, and that foundation is fucking brutal and crushing. As evidenced with some monstrously heavy riffs, and classic dm metal double hammer pounding from the drums. It chugs along at a fast, devastating space, and then the grind insanity will kick the doors down with blitzkrieg lightning ferocity. It is impressive how quickly this band smoothly, seamlessly transitions from one to the other, showcasing some strong song construction. I can only imagine when this bands plays live, they must be exhausted from an entire set of this adrenaline dumping rampage! I mean this is the musical version of a thousand Piranha in a river, frenzy feeding on some unfortunate human bite cushion. Walking in lock step with the music is vocalist Henrik Blomqvist, whose mad yells, frothing growls, and unhinged screeching resemble a caged and enraged beast. Despite all of this big ball of a deadly, buzzing musical maelstrom, there is actually some slightly nuanced and slick guitar fill sequences that the band manages to find room for. Which, fills out their sound, and brings another level of enjoyment, for me at least. These guys are a real force to deal with in the deathgrind realm, and if you dig that kind of thing, you need to hear this album.   - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/WalkingcorpseGbg    https://transcendingobscurity.bandcamp.com/         




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

(Signal Rex)


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

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




"Night of the Desecration” CD & LP

(Iron Bonehead Records)


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

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




"Shitslime" CD EP

(Personal Records)


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

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




"Preserved In Time" CD & LP

(Cruz Del Sur Music)


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

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




"Carnal Heresy” CD & LP

(Redefining Darkness Records)


This is my first encounter with this young Swedish band, on this their sophomore album, and honestly it hit me like a runaway truck. I mean this is some truly ferocious and battering death metal yet there is also a strong level of technicality and finesse within the music. It runs like a blitzkrieg freight train engine, while it pummels, it also pays much attention to detail with highly precise involved songwriting, performed with impressive nimble crispness. The varied and emotive, deep growling vocals on here also quite impressive. The vocals remind me of nuances from some of my all-time fave dm vocalists such as Matti Kärki, Ola Lindgren, Dave Ingram, David Vincent, Corpsegrinder and so on. It is a striking vocal performance on this album to go along with superb music. Despite the wreckage and carnage the speed/brutality creates, the band does at times manage to slow down just long enough to build up some brief brooding atmosphere, as evidenced on a song like “Upon The Weak”. This facet of their sound only adds depth and range to their techno barbarity. I feel the base of this bands sound is indeed rooted in the classic Swedish bands of yesteryear, such as Dismember and Grave yet there is also a heavy injection of old school American death ala Morbid Angel, Sufocation, Cannibal Corpse and like. Additionally, I feel like I hear a some ultra technical dm influences of intricate bands like Practice In Theory or Gorguts, at times, swimming around in this lethally layered musical cocktail. I think you can tell, I love this album, if you are into the bands I mentioned above then I can not imagine you not liking this killer album as much as I do.  - Dale

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




"Immortality Through Quantum Suicide" MCD

(I, Voidhanger Records)


I must confess I know very little about Minneapolis, Minnesota native Nick Stranger (also of the band Ashbringer who have a few albums out) or his one man band Xythlia, but I now find that surprising that I had not heard of a guy with this level of musical abilities. I say that because Nick composes and plays everything on this album. The songs are extremely tight, intricate and super technical, but also very brutal feathered into progressive elements and structuring. This obviously speaks to the man’s ability on numerous instruments as well, of course, his song writing capability. The music of Xythlia is as caustic as it is skillfully nimble, it is hard to describe this music, but I will give it a go. The music is brutal death metal, intense bits of grind and techno thrash mixed with industrial sound elements / samples expressed through extremely agile and inventive song arrangements. I feel like some of the many influences I can hear in this large melting pot are things like Brutal Truth ala their first album, Voivod ala “Dimension Hatröss” era, Napalm Death early albums, later era Death, Coroner and Mekong Delta. Plus I also hear some new and old techno death bands like Gorguts, Nasum, Pig Destroyer, Decapitated, Theory In Practice, Spawn Of Possession and Neuraxis. As far as the industrial overtones (which may be partially down to an expertly programmed drum machine) I mentioned I would say it is along the lines of early Fear Factory and Godflesh material. The overall listening experience for me was both exhilarating and exhausting, as it pummels you into submission in a dynamic, lively fashion that will challenge your mind and ears to attempt to keep up with. It is striking that Nick is able to keep up this level of scathing brutality and speed while playing such ultra technical, intricate music within such acrobatic song writing. The final verdict for me is "Immortality Through Quantum Suicide" is an impressive (in more ways than one considering this all came from one man) debut that will be difficult to top.  - Dale

https://i-voidhangerrecords.bandcamp.com    http://i-voidhanger.com/