OCUTOS

"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/  

 

 

OLDSKULL

"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/          

 

 

ORPHALIS

“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/          

 

 

OXYGEN DESTROYER

"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/         

 

 

PESTFERD

"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         

 

 

PETRIFICATION

“Sever Sacred Light” CD & LP

(Svart Records)

 

How about that amazing cover art, very nice. This is my first time listening to this Portland, Oregon band, but they have been around for a minute. Having released a demo EP back in 2017, which Sentient Ruin Labratories ended up releasing on cassette and as a 7” EP. Which is a pretty nice label to get right out of the embryonic gates, so to speak. They followed up that EP a year later with their debut full-length album on the same label on tape and vinyl, but this time around they are also getting a CD version by Momento Mori. That is a tidy bit of work for a new band in my opinion. There has been a six year silence since then, the band now re-emerges with their sophomore album and new, strong label backing them with Svart Records. I was pleased when I hit play on this promo, Petrification is not the usual fare for this label who release a lot of more commercial oriented stuff yet from time to time, they do release faster and heavier shit. Such is the case here as Petrification unleashes a massive audio wall of old school death metal that reeks of a sweetly sick and necro atmosphere. That atmosphere is all encompassing yet manages to convey an oppressively emotive quality, which I enjoy. Their brand of death is a sharpened and honed version of the classic sounds from bands like early works of legendary bands like Autopsy, Bolt Thrower, Incantation, Grave, Dismember, Demigod, and Convulse. As well as some slightly newer bands like Funebrarum, Disma, Krypts and the like. But they do this style so fucking well, it is so crushingly heavy and infectious to listen to. The vocals also feel very old school with these great yelling, echo-y growls courtesy of Jason Barnett. The production on here even kind of feels like older, traditional recordings with that more organic feel, it sounds like it could have been recorded in the early ‘90s. This is a really cool album and you classic death metal fanatics, like myself, need to check this monster record out.  - Dale

https://petrificationdm.bandcamp.com/    http://www.svartrecords.com/en         

 

 

THE PIT

"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/  

 

 

PUSTILENCE

"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/  

 

 

PUTRIDITY

"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/  

 

 

REVERSED

“Wildly Possessed” CD & LP

(Invictus Productions)

 

Rising up out of the imposing yet beautiful area of Western Canada (yes, I am biased as I grew up there) comes Reversed. I thought I knew pretty much nothing about this band. That was until I looked up the members I realized I know some of them from current or past bands such as Spell, Blood Star, Havoc, Archspire and Mitochondrion. This is the Reversed debut album, which was preceded by two demos over the previous five years. These guys play a lethal brand of black death and thrash metal mix that is steeped in dark sinister atmosphere. They don’t just ape the those old classic sounds, these guys do know how to write some killer riffs, and construct interesting and infectious thrashing songs. There is some tasty secondary guitar work to fill in those gaps and keep things interesting. The bio makes a good point that this bands style originates in the mid to late 1980s when the labels black, death and thrash were quite interchangeable and less defined. Where a band that sounded like Reversed may well be listed by any one of those descriptors independent of the others. It was an exciting time that, as the old goat I am, I can proudly claim to have lived through first hand in the extreme metal scene (even if I had not quite yet discovered the UG scene of flyers, tape trading, demos etc… It was on the horizon). I really dig the vocals on here courtesy of guitarist/vocalist Restless Grave. They are an amalgam of spoken word, slightly growled yet very decipherable delivery with a slightly obscured black rasping undertone. The lyrics just scream great old metal tradition that just oozes darkness and evil in a charismatic and devilish fashion. This album is a hell of a debut and a very pleasant surprise for me.   - Dale

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

 

 

RIGOR SARDONICOUS

"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 RITE

"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/         

 

 

RUNESPELL

"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/       

 

 

SAD

"Black Metal Craft" CD & LP

(Purity Through Fire Records)

 

Sad is a two man band coming out of the legendary Greek black metal scene. Those two men are vocalist Nadir (Kvele), and Ungod (Anti-Flesh, Kvele, Necrohell, Obsecration, Slaughtered Priest, ex-Necrochakal) on all instruments. They have been putting out a variety of EP's, Splits and full lengths since 2005. Now, they return with a brand new full length, album, which is their eighth album. 'Black Metal Craft' is eight tracks of cold and traditional black metal that is crafted with skillful songwriting. Ungod handles writing the music that is filled with fast paced drums and guitar passages. He handles each of the instruments with aplomb and favours a mix of fast paced passages, alongside more controlled mid paced sequences, his skill and execution is impressive. This music just crackles with energy and atmosphere. Nadir handles the vocal duties, which are a combination of harsh black metal screams and shrieks with some deeper growls / screams. Sad plays uncomprimising old school black metal that does the Greek UG scene proud, and should please all fans of this genre.   - Patrick

hhttps://www.youtube.com/user/PurityThroughFire   https://shop.purity-through-fire.com/         

 

 

SADISTIC FORCE

“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/         

 

 

SADISTIC VISION

"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/          

 

 

SADUS

“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/          

 

 

SAEVUS FINIS

“Facilis Descensus Averno” CD

(Transcending Obscurity Records)

 

“Facilis Descensus Averno” seems to be this bands first released recording, as well as debut album, at least as near as I can tell (and I did look around) as information on this Portuguese band seems scarce. I do know they are a triad and a couple of the members have been in bands in the past like Concealment, and Wells Valley, both of which I have never heard. These three men create a real cavernous and smothering brand of rumbling death metal, which is steeped in a dark, imposing atmosphere. The music is often slow, though not always, I would not so much call it doom death, it is more of an audio version of a giant steamroller of brutality and dissonance. The songs are ever moving, slowly stalking with angular, slightly skewed riffing that cuts through supreme heaviness like a jagged knife. The music is matched by the, again rumbling, echoing and elongated growled vocals that are extremely menacing. Those vocals only further contribute to the all encompassing, suffocating ambiance of the music on this album. If you do not mind your brutal death metal to be on the slower, mid-paced side of things and love the earlier works of bands like Incantation, Autopsy (“Mental Funeral”), Immolation, Morbid Angel, and Funebrarum mixed with hints of black metal then you should give this a listen.   - Dale

https://saevusfinis.bandcamp.com/   https://transcendingobscurity.bandcamp.com/          

 

 

SAHON

“Blood Shall Be Paid” Digipak CD

(Brutal Records)

 

This is first time I am ever hearing the name Sahon. Though they are a band from South Korea that has been around for 20 years, but until now released all their stuff on more local labels from their country, it would seem. “Blood Shall Be Paid” is no less than their sixth album, and it is being spread overseas through their new label Brutal Records. Sahon play mean, pummeling and brutalizing deathrash metal, and I would put a bit of an emphasis on the thrashing end of that sub-genre duality equation. I mean I can hear some of the more out of control, barely controlled chaos energy of early Slayer influence on here for sure. The music on here is decidedly rough, raw, and unpolished. It is brutish and primitive, yes. But that does not mean these guy can not write good songs, because they surely do here. The songwriting is loose yet often memorable and catchy, not to mention some heavy massive riffing. Riffing that drives this music like an audio equivalent of one of those crazy, spiked armoured cars from Mad Max shredding all in it’s wake. The vocals are just as intense as the music as Yong Ho Lee wrecks his throat with some Araya tinged gruff and hoarse bellowing yells, there is also a growling undertone that showcases a menacing and commanding performance. You do not want to mess around with a dude that sounds like that haha. I dig this, you would think they might be a little slicker and polished by their sixth album, but you know what? I am glad they are not, as their freight train threatening to go off the track style really hits the spot for me. I can only imagine these guys are a blast live.   - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/thrashsahon/   https://brutalrecords.bandcamp.com/          

 

 

SHADU-NAR-MATTARU

“On Pathways Macabre” Digital Album

(Self Released)

 

Any seasoned reader of Canadian Assault knows I am a Shadu fan, and I have reviewed nearly everything they have released. Which includes 15 (!!) EPs, and an album in their four year existence. Well, now you can add their second full-length album, “On Pathways Macabre” to that total. This record weighs in at a hefty 52 minutes in length, spread across a dozen tracks. The artwork associated with this record is also plentiful, and well worth having a long look upon. This Canadian duo (consisting of cousins Clayton and Chris Shaver), in addition to their blood ties, have had a musical relationship off and on, which stretches all the way back to the end of the 1980s (with their underrated yet mighty band Morbid Darkness). Their trademark heaviness, and darkness is ever present here, but I feel like the songs on here maybe have this moving along quickly, constant motion feel to them, more than recent releases. Sort of like they could not slow down even if they wanted to, because the metallic adrenaline driving inside them just would not allow for it during the songwriting sessions for this album. One thing you can always count on from Shadu is they are always changing and morphing. Some releases are more old thrash, some lean heavier into the death metal direction, while others show a black metal penchant, and they do not forget about doom death either. Sometimes you can pick out a larger portion of heavy metal influence in the guitar work, too. It is all there, yet the old school metal core always remains at the heart of everything they do. These guys know old school metal, in and out, because they lived every minute of it in lock step. They also remember from those times, how to write memorable songs. Another area Shadu often likes to play around with is different sounding productions. They keep die hard followers of the band on their toes, while being careful to never them sell out. Speaking of that heavy metal / thrash influence, with regards to the guitar work, especially the secondary fills and solos, really make their presence known on this release. I mean interlaced within that crepuscular aura, and crushing impulsive riffing is some really tasty, nuanced guitar work that adds a certain addictive depth to their sound. Something I have always been a fan of is Clayton’s great vocals, always thought he had a magnetic voice that he applies a deep melting pot battery of growling, gurgling yells, shrieks, and gruff shouts into. Chris on many Shadu releases has provided backing vocal accents, and shorter sequences. Well Chris steps forward out of the shadows, and spreads his demon wings vocally on this recording. It only deepens and furthers the dynamism of the bands vocal arsenal, the vocals alone on this album are worth the price of admission, at least in my opinion. As I have posited so often in the past, I feel like the lyrics, their placement, phrasing, choruses and just strength of the words are among the best in the UG metal scene. I can not recommend this sophomore album, from my favourite Canadian band (in recent years) enough. Get this! Also, you need to check out their youtube channel, they have some great stuff including a killer music video of the song “Haunted Tracks” from this album.   - Dale

https://shadu-nar-mattaru.bandcamp.com/    www.youtube.com/@shadu-nar-mattaru         

 

 

THE SILENT RAGE

"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/      

 

 

SISTERS MEMON

"Hail The Satanic Daughters" CD

(Plague Demon Records)

 

The U.K./Poland duo known as Sisters Memon return with their most impressive and original sounding release to date. ‘Hail The Satani Daughters’ is the bands third album and it is comprised of thirteen songs. The music on here is mainly mid paced black metal with some very diverse and experimental influences, which are intertwined within the music. There is still enough raw black metal influences and soundscapes to keep the listeners attention in it’s grasp. Each song is composed and presented with enough diversity and rawness to deliver a great release. The guitars and drums are played flawlessly, whether it is the more controlled mid paced style or the more chaotic fast paced passages. Sisters Memon has released another quality release of old school black metal while mixing in some experimental elements to create a very unique and creative release.I suggest you do not sleep on this band and give this one a try.   - Patrick

https://sistersmemon.bandcamp.com/   https://plaguedemonrecords.storenvy.com/  

 

 

SMOULDER

"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/        

 

 

SORT SIND

“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/  

 

 

SOVEREIGN

“Altered Realities” CD, LP & Cassette

(Dark Descent Records)

 

After releasing a demo tape, and a cassette EP, the Norwegian band Sovereign now finally unleashes their debut full-length album. I say finally, but if what I read in the bio was correct, they actually recorded this album in early 2022, and it is just now being released by the great Dark Descent, some two years later. This band features members of bands like Dødskvad, Den Saakaldte, Eternity, Execration, as well as two ex-members of Nocturnal Breed. Sovereign play some tasty old school death thrash metal that is a really solid blend of heavy and intense music mixed with catchy yet moody elements that hit home. You can really tell they focused on that element with the song construction to get this balanced mix of that ripping riff heavy gallop with memorable, emotive sequences to round out a dynamic sound that will really hook you in. There is some great guitar work on here that may get lost a bit within this pounding adrenaline attack. The drum sound is a little strange here, at first I did not like it, but it is growing on me like a fungus with each infectious, newly repeated listen. The vocals from Simen Grong is fantastic, it is a commanding performance, his forcefully gruff yelled and growling reminds me of a mix of John Tardy, Martin Van Drunen, early Chuck Shuldiner and Jeff Becerra. If you love classic deathrash in the vein of stuff like early Death, Possessed, Demolition Hammer, Dark Angel, or say early Sadus then you need to get your mitts on this killer record.   - Dale

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

 

 

STRYCHNOS

“Armageddon Patronage” CD, LP & Cassette

(Dark Descent Records)

 

Denmark’s Strychnos return to the pages of Canadian Assault with the follow up to their debut album a couple years ago. It is, in a way, notable for this band that they did follow up that first album. I say that as their history shows they formed in 1998, released a demo tape plus a 7” EP, then broke up, before surfacing again decades later in 2021. Which can naturally lead to questions of are they back this time for real? Did they reform just to record old material that never came out? The answer is they is they have come back for real, and appear to be back here to stay for the long haul. Despite that long absence it is not like their members were not busy with other bands. Which currently include Undergang and Cerekloth, as well in the past members have spent time in bands like Koldborn, The Cleansing, Usipian and Corpus Mortale. As near as I can tell, unlike their debut album, this record is not a concept album. Which was an ambitious undertaking for a bands first record, and not something you want to get locked into, I do suppose, unless you are a master storyteller like King Diamond or some shit haha. Strychnos musically pick up right where they left off on that album. Which showcases their strong songwriting, and song structuring abilities that they put to good use in building and paying off those emotional builds as they progress through their quality songs. I mention their talent in this area, even though they are a darker, harder band they do still remind me to classic Edge Of Sanity. They are not quite as melody driven as E.O.S., but all the same their ability to bend and shape emotive qualities in their black / death metal music feels similar. The atmosphere on this album has a pleasing dark feel to it, what it lacks unbridled ferocity and vitriol, it makes up for with an affecting and ominous aura. I don’t want to downplay how heavy their brand of death is at the same time. The one song “Winds Warning The Final Storm” reminds me a lot of a Swedish band I liked, which I have not heard in a long time called Afflicted. Anyway before wrapping this up, I really should mention the growling vocals courtesy of founding member Martin Leth Andersen, as they are absolutely fantastic. They are very deep, while also being highly decipherable and he changes his pitch while elongating words to superb effect. Yes, the music is excellent and to have such great vocals to go with them really elevates this band above many of their peers. Strychnos is here to stay, they are making a statement with this album and I for one can not wait until the next release by this Danish band.   - Dale

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

 

 

STYGIAN CROWN

“Funeral For A King” CD & LP

(Cruz Del Sur Music)

 

The bio describes the band as coming from a foundation of death metal. But upon my first spin of this album, I was left thinking what the hell are they talking about? There is nothing, to me, that is remotely death metal with is California band on their sophomore album. Upon further investigation, I am assuming they said this as some of the members (mainly drummer Rhett A. Davis) is in the bands Gravehill and Ceremonial Decay, as well as bands like Morgion, Fatalist and Crimson Relic. Also, I hear Bolt Thrower thrown around often as a big influence for Stygian Crown. I am a big Bolt Thrower fan, and have been listening to them since around 1990, and I do not hear Bolt Thrower at all on this album. Anyways, I had to get that out of the way, just because that is how I am Haha. When addressing the music on this album it is excellent traditional doom metal that while heavy is also extremely emotive and moving. These guys know how write classy, and classic sounding metal that keeps things moving at a brisk enough pace, while still bringing on that impending feel of doom. They keep things just melodic enough, catchy enough to make the songs memorable and interesting. There is some tasty guitar work mixed in there, with regards to the fills and affecting solo work. The drumming on here is commanding, and does a solid job of striking a balance of staying busy yet letting those all important slower, doomier epic guitar sequences breathe. There is also some sequences that use violin, and piano, though I have to say the way they did it was perfect, nice little brief accompaniments that are never at the forefront of things. The vocalist Melissa Pinion has a superb classic clean doom metal voice. She delivers the power, along with some range, but stays more in the middle register, not too siren high or overboard deep. Honestly, if you did not look at her name or picture, you might think it is a male singer you are hearing. Now, some might take that as some kind of offensive comment, but it is made with quite the opposite intent. I love her vocals and they fit the music extremely well. There is one exception to this opinion, that is the seventh track on the album, named “Blood Red Eyes”, where Melissa stretches her vocal wings, singing in a much more poignant feminine style and while it is good and well done, it is maybe my least favourite track on the album. Apparently, this album was recorded in five different studios (even outside the continental US), it amazing how smooth and consistent the production is, it sounds fantastic, maybe a testament to the skills of the person who mixed it? Apparently, the band purposely took three years to write and record this album, with the intent of escaping the sophomore curse. I would say they made a Houdini level escape in that regard with this excellent album.   - Dale

https://linktr.ee/StygianCrown   https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/      

 

 

SUFFER

“Grand Canvas Of The Aesthete” CD & LP

(Wise Blood Records)

 

I listen to a lot of albums, but only choose a handful to review in any given month. There are always reasons for that choice, which encompass various things from my current tastes this month of what I want to hear, to overall music quality and even band history aspects of the band. All of those elements came together with this one, something I wanted to hear, quality upon sampling and definitely the history of the band. You see, I tape traded for a demo by Suffer back in the mid ‘90s and immediately wanted to hear what they were up to these days. I had thought them long gone, with good reason as they broke up in 1999, then reformed in 2013, then broke up again five years later. It is also easy to lose track when things go this sort of way, not to even mention how many bands have used this same moniker over the years and I have been into a couple other ones. But enough of the history, let’s move forward as this Suffer reformed yet again in 2022, with two of the three founding members (and the third rounding out the trio joined in the late ‘90s on bass). They put out a new EP last year and now have came right back with their first full length, since, well just about a decade ago. Suffer play brutal death metal that I think you could probably call their style old school, but still sounds current to me. That may be because so many newer and younger bands these days reflect their love of classic old school death, and fuck who could blame them, those sounds became the classic for a reason. As heavy and brutal as this album is, there is a lot of solid guitar work going on here with some great secondary fills going on beneath, and in between the those crushing riffs, not mention some brief yet tasty soloing. Suffer also manage to inject some solid emotion into their song construction that adds some nice depth their collective sound. I will bring up this band again shortly, but there is no doubt the second and third Carcass albums in particular, serve as a real influence for Suffer. Those two albums are two of the best in history of death metal, so not a bad influence at all gents. Having said that it is not the only influence or similar sound, you can throw bands like Carcass, Asphyx, early Autopsy, Bolt Thrower, Suffocation, Demilich, Exhumed also whispered through my mind whilst I was headbanged along. When I say that this, this band formed in around the same time frame as those legend bands, so keep that mind here. One of the elements that attracted me into wanting to review this album, besides the (my) history with the band, was the vocals on this recording. There was some definite thought put into the wide range of extreme vocals, not to mention some talent and feel for their timing. The array of vocals cover the death metal spectrum from deep growling, spoken bellows, gurgling style, higher nasal acidic screams and black metal style evil rasping malice. It is a real myriad of vocal emanations, all extreme, from brutal death to classic Carcass sounding vocals all put together in a very satisfying way for me. I can certainly recommend this release to past fans of the band, or fans of the bands mentioned above, as well as followers of guitarist/vocalist C.R. Petit and bassist Jason Ellsworth two other quality bands Empty Throne and Angerot.  - Dale

https://suffersd.bandcamp.com/    https://wisebloodrecords.com/         

 

 

TERRORIST

"Dawn Of Lucifer's Light" CD

(Born For Burning Productions)

 

Coming out of the Texas black thrash metal scene is Terrorist with their newest (and fourth) full length. This trio as a band has been around a long time, having formed way back in 2005. This release consists of nine tracks of extreme black thrashing metal at it's best. The guitars are played with skillful writing and features some savage fast paced guitar passages along the way. The guitarist does create some well delivered and skillfully played guitar parts that even manage to add in some well written solo's in a few songs. The vocals are grim and raw scratchy screams and some deeper evil shrieks. There is some some raw black metal screeching also used throughout the songs to give the music a solid variety of vocal attacks. The drumming is extreme and chaotic with some fast paced patterns that is some quite powerful and commanding work from Miguel Trejo. 'Dawn Of Lucifer's Light' is a furious and aggressive beast of an album that should please all fans of this style of music.  - Patrick

https://terroristthrash.bandcamp.com/    https://bornforburning.bigcartel.com/         

 

 

TETRAGRAMMACIDE

“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/         

 

 

TOMB MOLD

“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/         

 

 

TZOMPANTLI

“Beating The Drums Of Ancestral Force” CD, LP & Cassette

(20 Buck Spin Records)

 

This album and this band has to be one of the more interesting, very familiar, while still being quite unique at the same time band I have heard for a while. Tzompantli’s foundation style is a massive, brutal slow-mo wall of great sounding doom death metal replete with a graveyard aura washing over everything like a thick poison fog. They mix traditional elemental accents of indigenous Mayan music, instrumentation in very clever ways. The transition to these sounds feel very smooth and organic to me, as I tend to lean on the purist side of things, me feeling that way should illustrate how well done this is. It never takes away from the mammoth doom death metal, those indigenous sounds successfully add to the dark and foreboding atmosphere that the music invokes in superb fashion. As you might imagine it also has a ritualistic feeling at times, you can feel the passion that might lead to human sacrifice upon altar, on the temple mount at any moment. It takes that traditional death doom sound you know from bands like those of the early extreme works of Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Anathema, Autopsy, Bolt Thrower and mixes it with a lethal cocktail of Disembowelment, Evoken, Rippikoulu and Hooded Menace. Maybe even a tiny dash of Moritician. Then blend into that all of those expertly crafted traditional cultural, yet frighteningly savage sounds and you have a very interesting and different sound. It is honestly hard to describe this melting pot, which kind of needs to be heard to properly understand. It is all very faithful to both the extreme metal tradition and the indigenous traditions without diluting the potency of either. I can not stop listening to this album, it is that good and that infectious, and affecting for me. You need to hear this.   - Dale

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

 

 

ULFARR

"Orlegsceaft" CD & LP

(Purity Through Fire Records)

 

Coming out of the U.K. black metal scene is the duo known as Ulfarr. These two men are very busy as they also are in bands such as Exvoidxist, Forvitnast, Helvellyn, Mort, Morte Lune, Nefarious Dusk, Thy Dying Light and more. Ulfarr was formed in 2011, the band has released quite a few demo's, Ep's and splits over the years. 'Orlegsceaft' is the debut full length, it starts off with an ambient style intro, but it doesn't take long for the music to get more intense and harsh. Musically the band is rooted in traditional 90's style black metal that pays homage to the gods of that era, but the band also adds their own identity and style for a unique listening experience. The band does a good job of writing and performing a mix of furious and fast guitars, with commanding drum passages to match. But they do manage to also add some well placed nad delivered mid paced patterns into that mix. Both the faster and mid paced musicial styles are showcases some skillful writing. The vocals are deeper and little gruffer bm (reminds me a little bit of some Big Boss from Root deeper vocals) yells and howls than your usual rasping style, though there is an element of that in there too. Ulfarr has crafted a great debut album of quality songs that should please fans of this band and style.   - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/ulfarr666   https://shop.purity-through-fire.com/  

 

 

ULVEDHARR

"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/  

 

 

UNFATHOMABLE RUINATION

"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/         

 

 

VADIAT

"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/      

 

 

VARGRAV

"Encircle The Spectral Dimension” 2021 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/         

 

 

VASTUM

"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/         

 

 

VERBUM

"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/          

 

 

VRENTH

"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/  

 

 

THE WAKEDEAD GATHERING

"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         

 

 

WALKING CORPSE

“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/         

 

 

WAMPYRIC RITES

"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         

 

 

WHEEL

"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       

 

 

WRETCHED FATE

"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/          

 

 

XYTHLIA

"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/