Sunday, February 26, 2012

Deströyer 666 – Unchain the Wolves [1997]

‘allo ladies. It’s Vagabond from Witching Metal Webzine. I figured it’s about time I got around to posting something on here, so here’s my first review for Nightmare Reality.

Deströyer 666 is one of the first Australian extreme metal bands I got into, and still one of my all time favourite bands. “Unchain the Wolves” is their debut album which was released in 1997 and featured K.K. Warslut (Corpse Molestation, Bestial Warlust) on vocal and guitar duties, Ballistic Howtizer (Gospel of the Horns) on drums, Ian Shrapnel (Adorior, Razor of Occam) on guitars and Phil Gresik (Bestial Warlust, Hobbs’ Angel of Death, Mass Confusion, Long Voyage Back) on bass. It’s often (and rightly so) considered a classic album by fans.

Stylistically the songs are a mix of early black metal with melodic sensibilities a la Dissection and more straightforward blackened speed metal, definitely influenced by early Bathory. Lyrically, mainman K.K. focuses on subjects such as war, drinking, killing, fucking, blasphemy and nihilism. There’s plenty of variety to be found on “Unchain the Wolves” which can be noticed almost instantly with the huge difference in styles between the opening 10 minute epic “Genesis to Genocide” and the 4 minute thrashing anthem “Australian and Anti-Christ”. Every song on the album has its own flavour, with my favourites being the aforementioned first two tracks, “Satan’s Hammer”, “Tyranny” and the title track.

What else can I say about this album, really? It’s an absolute classic and my favourite Australian metal album. If you’re a fan of extreme metal at all and haven’t heard “Unchain the Wolves”, I suggest you stop what you’re doing right now and track down a copy. Seriously, stop reading this review right now and go buy it.

If you’re not hooked after hearing “Genesis to Genocide” then there’s really nothing I can do for you. But since Lister is a wanker and expects a highlights list, you should go look these up on youtube now:

“Australian and Antichrist”
“Satan’s Hammer”
“Unchain the Wolves”

Final Rating:
Legendary [10/10]

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Abhorer - Zygotical Sabbatory Anabapt [1996]

This album is obviously not as raw as the very awesome "Rumpus of the Undead" demo, instead it's much more concise and dare I say "matured." I don't mean mature as a way of saying that Abhorer decided to start furiously masturbating to the uber-technical death metal albums that were being churned out or that they decided to mimic Coroner on "Grin," but the structure of the music was definitely better and provided some memorability to the chaos captured on "Zygotical Sabbatory Anabapt."

While the song titles are all completely bombastic, the music itself is pretty simple. The riffs range from razor sharp death metal tremolo bursts that are incredibly fast (Although, a lot of that speed comes from the intense drumming) which is made apparent as soon as the intro track is over and "Concubinal Celibatic Myrmidonian Whores" shreds through the speakers, to crushing midpaced riffs that would bring down the Wall of China (Get it? Because they're from Asia) most specifically on the song "Dom Abaddoniel Abysstic Demonolatry." There's also some melodic sections, but they're downright evil and are guaranteed to leave goosebumps. "Hymeneal Altar of Messianic Salicitation" meshes together the sinister melody with Crucifier's morbid vocals flawlessly for a dark atmosphere that isn't unwelcome at all. 

That is pretty much the whole story on "Zygotical Sabbatory Anabapt," and aside from the one doomy riff in "Dom Abaddoniel Abysstic Demonolatry," most of the music here follows the same sound. This is definitely a standout album of the black/death genre, mainly due to it not being as extreme as bands like Bestial Warlust and Blasphemy, but just for being all around brilliant and adding to Asia's extreme metal scene.

"Concubinal Celibatic Mymidonian Whores"
"Phlegethonic Sybartical Demimonde"
"Dom abaddoniel Abysstic Demonolatry"

Final Rating
Awesome [8.8/10]

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Nuclear Death - Bride of Insect [1990]

You know that whole "Don't judge a book by its cover" cliche? Well, if you were to judge this album by its cover back in 1990 before we had the benefit of the internet (and Metal-Archives), would you take these guys seriously? That cover is extremely cheesy (I mean that in a good way) and is a perfect reflection of Nuclear Death's music. The songs on "Bride of Insect" are all pretty similar and if you're a fan of grindcore and/or the more bestial black metal bands like Conqueror, Bestial Warlust, Von, etc, then this album should be a fun one. 

There isn't anything out of the ordinary here, just 12 songs that were made to break necks and shatter skulls. The riffs here, for the most part, are relatively incoherent as they're masked by the insane drumming, but when the drummer isn't taking his ADD-riddled rage out on his kit, riffs like the sweet one in "Necrobestiality" and the one at the beginning of "Stygian Tranquility" show that Nuclear Death is capable of weaving in some catchy riffs in between the absolute chaos of the rest of the music. Lori Bravo's vocal performance is a definite highlight here, as he sounds like a cross between Sean Killian and Don Doty (Two of the craziest vocalists that define that over the top sound) only a lot more aggressive and at times just downright vicious. The bass playing is also top-notch as it is audible during the moments of the music that isn't being berated with blast beats, and provides some nice fills. 

As I said before, every song here pretty much follows the same patterns and they all mesh together to make "Bride of Insect" a highly enjoyable listen, though the track "Fetal Lament: Homesick" does serve as the outlier of the album as it conjures up a sinister feel with its chilling clean intro and darker riffs later on. Overall, any fan of grindcore or just all around spastic and crazy music should have no problem welcoming Nuclear Death and their horrifically tacky artwork into their collection. 

"Stygian Tranquility"
"Fetal Lament: Homesick"

Final Rating
Awesome [8.6/10]

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Arachnid - Arachnid (Demo) [1992]

Probably the greatest thrash band to not record a full-length album. Yeah, these guys are that fucking good. Arachnid's only release is this seven track self-titled demo, while unfortunate, the empty void that these guys left could be filled by simply listening to this demo over and over because it doesn't wear itself thin and can sustain multiple listens for years to come. As you can tell by the release date of this demo, thrash was pretty much a dying breed and death metal was becoming the prevalent force in the metal underground, but that didn't stop Arachnid from delivering one of the finest offerings (to never be heard by the amount of people it should have) to the thrash realm. 

Sure, these guys could have hopped on the death metal banwagon, or even incorporate some death metal elements to their music, but aside from the evil sound on this demo, this is pure, raw and aggressive thrash that wasn't made for the weak. This is basically what Morbid Saint would have sounded like if they took that sinister sound from records like "Altars of Madness" or "None Shall Defy" and threw some minor glimpses of technicality into their riffs. The vocals sound near identical to those of Pat Lind, as they rip the listener to shreds with such a brutal force. On the track "Beyond Torment" it almost sounds like this song could have been a track off of "Spectrum of Death" due to the insane vocals and the intense riffage that backs them. 

The main aspect of Arachnid's music that separates them from the legendary Morbid Saint would be that looming, dark and murky atmosphere that is present pretty much throughout the entire demo. The clean intro on "Fears" conveys the song title perfectly, as the sound that is created is haunting and is amplified more as the track builds up with heavy powerchords and guitar solos. "Water Burial" also has a clean intro, though this one isn't as dark as the other one, it creates a different kind of feeling that isn't common with your typical brutal thrash act. The audibility of the bass is another great part of Arachnid's music, as it almost serves as the focal point of the music at points, especially when it serves as a fill over the echoing powerchords like on "Webs of Doom.

There are also some moments of technical brilliance from these guys, but not enough to consider them a technical thrash act like Artillery or Coroner. The riffs in songs like "Beyond Torment" and "The Witching" all have a subtle technical edge to them that doesn't take away from the sheer aggression of the music, but adds a sense of catchiness that will have the listener replaying the track several times. And of course Arachnid can get your headbanging with my personal favorite for such occasions, "The Reaper Within," which has one of the catchiest breaks I've ever had the pleasure of hearing. Simply put, it's demos like this one that makes the countless hours spent hunting down hidden gems of the past so worth it. 

"Beyond Torment"
"The Reaper Within"

Final Rating
Masterpiece [9.2/10]

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Funebre - Children of the Scorn [1991]

When people talk about death metal from Finland, the names that are always brought up as the best are the usual culprits of Demigod, Convulse, Amorphis and Demilich, but what about Funebre"Children of the Scorn" is the only full-length album that Funebre ever recorded, which is unfortunate because this album is great and severely underrated. I'm still not sure why these guys aren't as cherished by the metal underground, especially since this album preceded any of the now legendary records that those other aforementioned bands released. 

At first I thought it might have been the glimpses of technicality and general weirdness of some of the riffs and basslines that might have turned people off from this record, but Demilich is pretty technical and a lot of pretentious death metal fans love to wank to "Nespithe." The riffs and the craziness that ensues with a lot of them throughout "Children of the Scorn" are stellar (though, some are cool for a listen but not all that memorable), especially on songs like "Congenital Defeat" and "Walls that Held Screams." Instead of taking the same approach to constructing some dark music by adding numerous tremolo passages and downtuned, doomy passages, Funebre delivers some crazy sounding riffs which add a nice sense of chaos to the music, placing significance on the actual music rather than trying to sound evil. 

Don't get me wrong, these guys definitely can conjure up some vile sounding music when they want. While not settling for the usual heavy and muted tremolo bursts, Funebre goes for that eerie sound by using some higher notes for their weapon of tremolo picking assault, with "Walls that Held Screams" and "Slumber End" being two of the best instances of this. And of course there are the melodic parts that death metal bands from Finland have made so essential to their morbid sounding music. The melody near the beginning of "Waiting for the Arrival" should have no problem in sending chills down the listener's spine, while the melodic passage of "Blood on White" is exactly how melody should be integrated with death metal, and not like that shite from Gothenburg. 

In between the crazy weirdness that Funebre does so well and the darker parts of their music, there are some heavy riffs ("Grip of Insanity" and "Redeemed From Time") that compliment the other parts well and give the listener an opportunity to bang their head. There really isn't much else to discuss regarding "Children of the Scorn," other than the riff in "Grip of Insanity" which sounds a lot like the riff on a certain Death song. This album isn't as great as "World Without God" or "Slumber of Sullen Eyes," nor does it have a lasting effect like those two albums, but it definitely deserves to be mentioned alongside them because this is a damn fine slab of filthy death metal. 

"Waiting for the Arrival"
"Redeemed From Time"

Final Rating
Masterpiece [9.0/10]

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Omen - Battle Cry [1984]

For those of you that have the misconception of power metal being some sissy genre full of pansies frolicking around a campfire telling tales of dragons and fair maidens, look at that album cover and then go through the that thought process again. Omen's "Battle Cry" is far from a lightweight of a metal album, and 28 years later, this record still kicks copious amounts of asses. A pretty decent, one-sentence descriptor of this band would be Dianno-era Iron Maiden on crack. 

Kimball's vocals aren't quite as epic or melodious as those of Warrel Dane, Hansi Kursch or even Rob Halford, but they suit the music perfectly. Kimball's vocals are definitely a bit more rough than the singers that were just mentioned, but that reflects Omen's music perfectly as they aren't as melodic as bands like Sanctuary or the European power metal bands, they were just fast, heavy and catchier than your everyday metal band. Just take a listen to the chorus of "Dragon's Breath" and within minutes of hearing that song the riffs and vocals will be stomping through your head, forcing you to replay the song to hear "Give us all, Sanctuary! Dragon's Breath! We Fear!" 

Another amazing aspect of "Battle Cry" is that there isn't much variation that goes on throughout the album, yet every song is memorable and doesn't bore the listener. A lot of the songs feature some melodic pieces, though they are usually faster, like on the intro to the track "Last Rites," mixed with some nice riffs that aren't anything too special, but they get your headbanging and mesh with everything else perfectly. The Maiden influence on this album is definitely prominent, but being a massive Maiden fanboy I see no harm in that. The riff that kicks off the song "Die By the Blade" absolutely reeks of "Killers" influence and a lot of the standard riffing that goes on like on the song "Death Rider" really owe a lot to the British masters. 

"Battle Cry" is definitely a landmark album, for not only US power metal, but the entire power metal genre in general with its more violent approach to the lyrics and artwork, as well as its undeniable catchy, anthem-like choruses and riffs. If this album isn't one that you have got to yet, or one that you found to be entirely unenjoyable, then you had better lock your doors because the Axeman will have you bound and gagged. 

"Death Rider"
"Last Rites"
"Battle Cry"

Final Rating 
Masterpiece [9.4/10]

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Axetra - Demo 1991

You all know that feeling, when you find a demo from a band from back in the day and it kicks you in the fucking jaw and you couldn't be happier with it? When going through several demos that range from terrible to mediocre, but then you come across that one hidden gem that makes it all worth it? That would be Axetra's only release, the 1991 demo, and what a tremendous five-track demo of raw power-thrash we have here.

Hailing from the desert of Arizona, the same home of thrash favorites such as Flotsam and Jetsam, Atrophy and Sacred Reich, Axetra probably resembles Flotsam and Jetsam the most, with their brand of catchy power-thrash. The somewhat quirky, high-pitched vocals that soar over the music, the terrific solos and melodies, and everything else here is all in top form. While there aren't many riffs on this demo that are to die for (although the riffs on "Stand Up and Fight" are pretty close), they mesh together so well with the rest of the music that having amazing riffs in every song just isn't necessary. Take the track "IOU" for example, the riffs aren't anything overly special, but they'll get your headbanging, while you sing along with the insanely catchy choruses and air guitar to the stellar solos. The bassist also does a really fine job on this demo, especially on the song "Nowhere to Hide." The bass playing during the intro, and even later on the song is fantastic and adds another dynamic to the already impressive music. 

Sadly these guys would never record anything else after releasing this awesome demo, and had these guys gone on to record a full-length, it wouldn't surprise me if that record, or the entire band of Axetra would be considered underground legends. But, speculation aside, this demo is one hell of a good time that any fan of power-thrash could enjoy as they drink several beers in their denim jackets while riding a top their dragon to save a princess, or something like that. 

"Stand Up and Fight"
"Blind Evil"

Final Rating 
Awesome [8.8/10]