Thursday, May 31, 2012

Iron Maiden - Powerslave [1984]

There's not a single metalhead out there that hasn't heard of Maiden and at least a few of their most essential songs, if not whole albums. Going strong and growing stronger with each release, Maiden forged an unbreakable barricade of classic albums, consecutively releasing five albums within just five years, starting from 1980's infamous ''Killers'', to this, their eternal and timeless classic, ''Powerslave'', an album so majestic that it's condemned to stay a virgin for infinity. Maiden already found the sound that would use for the next 9-10 years with ''The Number Of The Beast'', but on Powerslave, everything is established perfectly and every single detail is worked out masterfully; from Steve Harris's bumping, groovy bass line, to Nicko's simple yet balanced drumming, to the beautifully worked out harmonies and eccentric leads and melodies, to Bruce's dominating voice that soars over everything.

The songs are nothing extremely intricate really, but they're displayed so extravagantly that's its hard to omit them. The clean, warm atmosphere and production quality provides viability for the riffs and renders them clean, and melodies sound sharp and vigorous as they're calm and melodious, beautiful. Most verse sections of the songs are driven with power chords and typical NWOBH gallops and chugs, but an occasional narrating melody also seems to be prominent during certain passages. The luminous effect of the melodies is what makes this album so special, but the delivery is also fantastic as the songs never lack life energy or any sort of garnishment to improve themselves. The music is as soft as it can get, so there's really no need to add anything decorative into the mix, and as mellow tides of harmonious melodies effortlessly, swiftly roll into a catchy little gallop, you'll be too concerned with the efficiency of the music to give a fuck.

As important as encompassing aspects are, it's obvious that its the real musicianship here that makes the music special and the perfect adjustment of the delivery that disables any nitpicking. Seriously, how can a band be so effectively balanced and coordinated... and Maiden aren't even trying to be pretentious here. It's hooks are gripping yet so polite that you'll basically allow them attach themselves to your flesh, doubtless just another piece of meat out of many, many others who have fallen into the hooks of ''Powerslave''. The epic side of Maiden kicks in substantial amounts of time on this album, which is another difference from all the other albums, because on ''Powerslave'', copious amounts of riffs are choruses are driven into epic territory, and we have Bruce's amazing vocal work to thank for that. Take the chorus on the title track for example. A  canorous quartet of back up vocalists murmuring, while Bruce's voice soars on top of the main material, which is basically three durable power chords. Three fucking power chords, two back up vocalists and one, ear piercing tone soaring with resonance. Three fucking chords, people! It's absolutely perfect yet so simple, and you can't top that, no matter how hard you try.

The durability of the album keeps renewing itself as the album progresses, and you even keep the enhancement as you will be too baffled a listener to even notice. ''Aces High'' is an exceedingly robust start for the album, wherein thundering melodies of swiftly channel in and forth, as if moving on butter. Yes, butter. And its chorus has to be one of the best metal choruses ever written both music and lyric-wise.

''Run, live to fly, fly to live, do or die
Won't you run, fly to live
Live to fly, Aces High''

''Two Minutes To Midnight'' is a glamorous 70's metal flick, its swaggering array of bluesy riffs and excellent bridges never failing inconsistent, as well as pumping the old metal spirit up. ''Losfer Words ''(Big 'Orra) is a basically a beautiful churning of an abundance of melodies, sharp and is crisp all the time. ''Back In The Village'', ''Flash Of The Blade'' and ''The Duelists'' all embrace the catchy momentum of classic Maiden songs, each flailing out a nifty riffs with a slightly different demeanor of its own. The title track is dripping with mystery and cryptic hints of heavy metal, and most importantly, it stands as the first ever song to entwine with Egyptian subjects, hinted in both the lyrics and the music. The title track is dotted with tiny segments of groove laden arabic riffs and scales, and even Bruce's voice has adopted a sort of mystical, ominous tone to accompany the music. And the journey ends with a rather long exploration into the ocean with ''Rime Of The Ancient Mariner'', guiding its hefty body and over thirteen minute structure most delicately, swaggering with mid paced riffs, attached to each other with subtle melodies, right before breaking into a brooding, queer hiatus. Such a classic an timeless album this is, and there's no way it can lose its virginity, not in this world. You cannot call yourself a metalhead without listening to ''Powerslave'', this is the quintessence and essence of heavy metal, responsible for influencing a large amount of the genre. It will never die.

''Tell my I had to be a Powerslave
I don't wanna die, I'm a god,
Why can't I live on,
When the Life Giver dies,
All around is laid waste,
And in my last hour,
I am a slave to the Power of Death''

''Flash Of The Blade''
''Rime Of The Ancient Mariner''
''Two Minutes To Midnight''
''Aces High''

Final Rating
Legendary [10/10]

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Interment - Where Death Will Increase [1991] (Demo)

Some may know Interment from their recent album, and some may know them as one unknown pioneer of early Swedish old school death metal from their demo days. Interment was formed first as Beyond in 1988, then they changed their name and released three killer demos right before a lengthy hiatus, and today they're basically putting out the same stuff they were in the 90's, only maybe more intricate. While all of their demos are classics and imperatives in the Swedish death metal scene, it wouldn't be wrong to say that they didn't much of a diverse aroma to the scene as bands like Unleashed, Dismember and Entombed were already putting out superb release. Their first demo, ''Where Death Will Increase'', stands out as their most favored release among the small group of underground DM nerds, and it stands as the most important release in their career, too.

I feel many have already suffered the same old groove laden incursions of pure face melting punk-driven chainsaw madness, and scores of entrails have already been spilled to the floor by similar acts. It engraves itself upon a crusty pattern of morbid, ghastly death metal, and from its skeletal seat, it commands its freshly revived ghouls to strike and butcher all that is not morbid. The production is a fairly convincing as the demo prevails within the abyss created by it. The atmosphere is crucial here, and while the demo has little ambiance, there's still some left for the album to breathe blood and filth, so new riffs can spawn healthily. The crypt of ghouls now stands before you, and there's no turning back. The first track ''Morbid Death'' shakes you and pummels you into dust while it spreads some infectious grooves. The drum chokes are also worked up pretty well, and the riffs offer a beefy tone as well, so they sound hefty at all times. The music is extremely accessible as the main focus of the riffs are maiming thrash driven grooves and classic tremolo descents.

''Where Death Will Increase'' should butter you up easily as soon as it arrives but don't expect it to offer anything more than straightforward, thrash-injected Swedish death metal. Fans of Entombed, Grave and Nihilist will certainly love this little spectacle of nostalgia, dotted with a few queer twists and even some exuberant synthesizers delving into the demo. Interment crafted their weapons with simple, but cold and hard steel, no more inventive than the scores of bands out today, but this certainly does crush a good number of Swedeath worshipers, allowing the morbid atmosphere prevail throughout. Get this demo now and close your eyes so that you can be slammed into the graveyard dust, and just let yourself flow as putrefied cannibal ghouls and crypt fiends eagerly feast on your flesh.

''Morbid Death''
''Cranial Putrefaction''
''Infestering Flesh''

Final Rating
Awesome [8.4/10]

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Disciples Of Mockery - Prelude To Apocalypse [1999]

The late 90's weren't half as bountiful as the early 90's in terms of old school death metal, and that timeline mainly consisted of bands basically copying their elder masters and repeating the same style, and the funny part is, they weren't really pockets of bands coming out from the abyss. Some followed the path of the Swedish death metallers while some liked to toy with the despicable aesthetics that were originated by the almighty Incantation, a band which sprayed death and blasphemy throughout the 90's. My first impression of Disciples Of Mockery was simple: Incantation. But little did I know that the band actually consisted of former members of Incantation. Now, these are people who helped write and construct the astonishing masterpiece of horror and evil, ''Onward To Golgotha'', and obviously, much of early Incantation's style and haunting maliciousness flows in the veins of ''Prelude To Apocalypse'', so yes, get your hopes high about it.

It truly does fit in perfectly, ''Prelude To Apocalypse'' could have been the continuation of the infamous masterpiece, because it follows the exact path that ''Onward'' did, only with some nuances and slightly differing production quality. The riffs and riff patterns are blatant if you're familiar to Incantation (and who isn't?), spastic tremolo pickings with dual guitars performing eerie harmonies on top of the dense, chubby production quality. I can't say whether riffs stand out or not, though I can say that they vary from time to time. The shadowing tremolo sections may reign supreme as they outshine and outnumber any other style or aspect of the music, but sludgy passages of doom laden death metal is also a popular trend that keeps jumping into the intensified music. ''An Endless Pursuit For A Satisfying Pain'' is such a track where the whole of the riffs are set to move upon a sludgy track them lowers their velocity to turtle speed. And the third most prominent element used in the construction of the riffs is that black metal influence, a fluctuating current of chaos and sheer melancholy, but sections like these are limited compared to their counterparts.

Some may find the album too overwhelming and too boring or may tend to loose focus when aggression is omitted, especially when doom metal sections are preferred more, but for heav'n's sake people, that's the beauty of it! Passion is just as critical as brutality in albums like this, and its much harder a task to perfect it than perfecting aggression and raw energy. You get as brutal as you like, but if one attribute is excluded from the mixture of passion and melancholy, your whole experiment dies at your feet. ''Dogma'' is one track I have to suggest for death-oriented black metal fans, as it embraces the ancient art of black metal with a hint of death metal savagery and some additional heft. The drums is another notable gear while making the clockwork move viscously, they tend to create some excellent fills to link doom laden chords together. Overall, I doubt any fan of hefty doom, death or maybe even doom-driven black will hate this. ''Prelude To Apocalypse'' is yet another lost gem that bestirs doom, black and death metal bombastically.It's blasphemous, melancholic and filled with disdain. ''Onward To Golgotha 2'', I would say.

''Literal Upheaval Of The Earth''
''God Of Love''
''Behold The Holy Virgin Whore''

Final Rating
Awesome [8.8/10]

Monday, May 28, 2012

Utumno - Across the Horizon [1993]

Utumno are quite the oddball death metal band to say the very least. Hailing from the land of death metal, Sweden, you would expect for them to at least sound somewhat similar to the majority of the punk-driven bands there, but they don't. Not one damn bit. This band is more likely to be compared to groups like Ripping Corpse, Sepultura, Revenant and Morbid Angel than they are Grave or Entombed. It's a shame that these guys never got anywhere past this six-track debut record, "Across the Horizon," because the amount of promise and talent that is found here is remarkable and likely could have pushed them to relative success in Sweden's death metal scene. 

With only six songs, Utumno does a fantastic job of mixing in so many different sounds that the shortness of the album becomes completely irrelevant. The opening track "The Light of Day" features some decent thrashy riffs that eventually turn into sludgy powerchords that are later accompanied by a grim narration and sinister melody, before turning into a riff-fest that encompasses early-Sepultura-like thrash riffs, insane bass lines and midpaced riffs that are damn-near as catchy as those produced by bands like Terrorizer and Bolt Thrower. "I Cross the Horizons" is one of the more "weird" tracks thanks to its eclectic mix of techy riffs and melodies, very similar to death/thrash legends like Ripping Corpse and Revenant. And "In Misery I Dwell" and "Saviour Reborn" are both death metal tunes of the highest caliber, as Stalhammar's vocals slay (His vocals sound a lot like a less gruff Max Cavalera), and the violent riffage crushes. 

Had the last two tracks "Sunrise" and "Emotions Run Cold" been as stellar as the four preceding tracks, then "Across the Horizon" would have undoubtedly been a pinnacle in the Swedish death metal scene. With so many bands trying to catch up to the giants in Dismember, Entombed, Unleashed, etc, Utumno was perfecting their craft of thrashy, yet atmospheric death metal that spanned the metal spectrum without sounding like a clusterfuck of influences. Had the band moved on to create a sophomore album, their ascension in the metal world would have been inevitable, and what a wonderful world that would be. 

"The Light of Day"
"I Cross the Horizon"
"In Misery I Dwell"

Final Rating
Awesome [8.7/10]

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Anal Vomit - Sudamerica Brutal [1998] (Demo)

When people think of old-school South American metal, they often look towards Brazil, with its rich and sparse underground scene, ranging from the obvious legends Sepultura and Sarcófago to underground black metal horde Mysitifier and death metal acts such as Krisiun and Headhunter D.C. It seems that a lot of metal fans have forgotten there are other countries in South America that feature great underground scenes, one of the most prominent being Peru; home to the filthy and barbaric underground horde that is Anal Vomit.

Anal Vomit has been around for a long time, forming way back in 1993 when I was a wee toddler and releasing their first demo tape in ’93 and still pumping releases out to this day. “Sudamerica Brutal” is their fourth demo, which was released in ’98 and was subsequently rereleased the next year on the “Sudamérica Brutal 1” split with Funeral (from Paraguay) and Carnarium (Argentina). It was also rereleased once again in 2011 on CD, featuring new artwork and two bonus tracks; this is the version I actually own, and so for the purposes of this particular site, I won’t be mentioning the bonus tracks again in this review.

Anal Vomit play a very raw and old-school blend of straightforward South American black/death/thrash, most obviously influenced by Sarcófago and Vulcano as well as the other usual suspects. The music is really filthy and energetic, featuring one of the most insane drummers I’ve heard, the guy is a total maniac! The riffs are all over the place, yet still follow the song structures, having a “controlled chaos” type effect on the songs. The bassist/vocalist reminds me of the possessed missing link between young Tom Angelripper and Wagner Antichrist, having one of the most bestial and aggressive deathrash voices I’ve ever come across! It’s these very elements that have allowed Anal Vomit to become a recent favourite of mine. 

The production is exactly what you would expect from this type of bestiality: filthy, raw and completely merciless! The mix is surprisingly bass-heavy, which strives to help Anal Vomit stand out from the other rotten hordes paying tribute to ancient South American death cults. Whilst the mix is very raw, you can still hear every instrument clearly and tell what’s going on in each track. What more could you want from a band that worships at the altar of Sarcófago, Vulcano, Possessed, Sodom and the like?

Anal Vomit is a must-listen for fans of old-school South American terror. It is bands like this that separate the men from the boys and put hair on your pasty suburban chest. Falses need not entry.

Into the Eternal Agony
Slaved Mind
Kingdom of the Cruelty

Final Rating:
8.5/10 Awesome.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Beherit – Drawing Down the Moon [1993]

Finnish black metal legends Beherit formed in 1989 and have since released a ton of demos and EPs, a couple of compilations, two dark ambient albums and three black metal albums. “Drawing down the Moon” was their first full length released, but their “official” debut album was “At the Devil’s Studio 1990”, which finally saw the light of day in June 2011. A confusing discography, I know, but bear with me as I discuss their most well known album “Drawing down the Moon”.

Recorded in between April and September 1992 but released in November 1993 and produced by the bands’ guitarist, vocalist and keyboardist; Nuclear Holocausto Vengeance, “Drawing down the Moon” is a bit of a departure from their earlier, more straightforward and bestial, work featured on “The Oath of Black Blood” and “At the Devil’s Studio 1990” in that it’s mostly mid-to-slow-paced as opposed to the more fast-paced songs displayed on previous releases and features ambient interludes previously not present. 

The music itself is pretty unique compared to most other black metal released around the same time, and very different to anything that was going on in Norway and Sweden at the time. The guitars often take a step back and mix in with the vocals and drums to produce a “wall of sound” type effect, and there are also moments where slow and mournful melodies are used to pull the listener into a different state of mind before changing it up and assaulting you with more violent bestiality. Special mention has to be made for the vocals, which are generally low the mid-range growls mixed in with some weird clean sections and ritualistic chanting as well as the occasional spoken word piece. The influence of bands such as Sarcófago, Blasphemy and Sadistik Exekution are still ever-present in the music and always an underlying factor in the slower parts and ambient passages, which just goes to show that Beherit were generally more forward-thinking and experimental than their peers at the time, having crafting something that still employs a barbaric and primitive approach while creating a very eerie, dark and sinister atmosphere channeling different techniques such as keyboards and ambiance effectively.

This album is truly something special to behold, and is best viewed as a singular epic piece of music rather than a collection of individual songs. An essential black metal classic if there ever was one!

Salomon's Gate
The Gate of Nanna
Werewolf, Semen and Blood

Final Rating:
10.0/10 Legendary

Blasphemy – Fallen Angel of Doom… [1990]

Blasphemy is one of Canada’s most legendary bands, and one of the most influential and important black/death metal bands of all time. Formed in 1984, the band have unfortunately only ever put out four releases; their first demo “Blood Upon the Alter”, their debut full length “Fallen Angel of Doom…”, sophomore album “Gods of War” and a live album, each one a cut above the rest in terms of barbaric savagery. Right now, I’m going to ramble on about their amazing debut album…

Before going on, I will issue a warning: If you can’t handle raw and primitive black metal fueled by a healthy dose of death metal, extreme power and pure hatred, stop reading now. “FAOD” is by far one of the most primitive and extreme sounding records of all time, and it’s not for the faint of heart. To a lot of listeners, this album WILL sound like mush, due to the low-budget production job, but after spending some time with it you’ll begin to notice little details such as the bass heavy guitar tone, the pounding drum work, some of the sickest and most hateful vocals ever and the killer solos spread between some really interesting yet still primitive as fuck riffs. These songs are clearly the product of an eerie obsession with Sarcófago’s “I.N.R.I.”, the first Possessed album, mid-80’s Sodom and early Bathory. 

It’s impossible to deny the influence of such a great record. Songs like the title track, “Desecration”, the often covered “Ritual”, “Demoniac” and “Goddess of Perversity” really speak for themselves and there’s not much more to be said about “Fallen Angel of Doom…” except that it really is a must hear for a serious underground black or death metal fan and quite possibly the greatest extreme metal album of all time.

Goddess of Perversity

Final Rating:
Legenadary 10.0/10

Vulcano – Bloody Vengeance [1986]

Vulcano may not be as well known as their Brazilian comrades Sepultura, but they may be just as, or even more, important to the evolution of extreme metal, having often been cited as the first band from Brazil to play a style of black/death metal in the 80’s. Having started in ’81, you could actually say that Vulcano would have influenced their peers and possibly inspired them to pick up their guitars in the first place. After having released a few obscure traditional metal demos and a live album they unleashed their debut full length, the legendary “Bloody Vengeance” upon the world.

Recorded in a mere 24 hours, the production isn’t the best, but it fits the evil and chaotic sound nicely. Once you’ve heard the opening track “Dominios of Death”, you’ll see what I mean and you’ll either be flailing about like a mad man or reaching for the stop button. The music itself is a blend of Venom-esque speed metal and chaotic early Brazillian death/thrash metal; it’s nasty, rough, raw and evil. Songs like “Spirits of Evil”, “Ready to Explode”, “Holocaust”, “Death Metal” and the slower closing title track provide a fine example of primitive extreme metal and the foundation of the early Brazilian scene.

There’s not much else that can really be said about a full length album that clocks in around the 23 minute mark, but “Bloody Vengeance” is an untouchable and undeniable classic of South American evil and a must own for any serious fan of black, death or thrash metal.


Dominions of Death
Spirits of Evil
Death Metal  

Final Rating:
 Masterpiece 9.0/10

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sarcófago – I.N.R.I. [1987]

You will be hard-pressed to find a fan of underground extreme metal who doesn’t acknowledge or respect the influence of the late 80s/early 90’s Brazillian scene. Bands such as Sepultura, Holocausto, Mutilator, Chakal, Impurity and so on made a global impact on death and black metal that is undeniable. Today, I am going to focus on Sarcófago’s legendary debut album “I.N.R.I.”…

Released in August 1987 following a few demos and the legendary “Warfare Noise I” split (also featuring Mutilator, Chakal and Holocausto), “I.N.R.I.” still stands today as one of the most primitive and evil albums ever recorded. Most songs plow ahead at full speed; chock full of blast beats that smack you in the face like a nail board to the fucking face, intense tremolo riffs that cut through the soundwaves like a mad chainsaw killer unleashed from a mental institution hidden deep within the South American jungle, bass that’s only semi-audible yet still beats you over the head every now and then, and the sickest, most evil vocals ever; imagine “Obssessed by Cruelty” era Tom Angelripper experiencing a psychopathic break and you’ll come pretty close to how Antichrist sounds.

The production is raw and ugly, and may take a few listens to get used to, but once it sinks in you won’t regret spending so much time with this record. Some of my favourite tracks are; “Satanic Lust” which opens the album and instantly goes for the throat, “Nightmare” where the band decides to slow the speed down a notch at the beginning leading up to a barrage of intense madness at the end, “Christ’s Death” which contains some of the most inhuman vocals of all time and is an extremely twisted track in itself, and finally “Deathrash” which contains the ultimate South American battle cry of “if you are a false don’t entry”.

To say that this album is just as important as early Sodom, Bathory and Hellhammer would be a fair statement, in my opinion, if you haven’t heard this gem of sloppy and imperfect brilliance, you really are missing out.


Christ's Death

Final Rating:
Masterpiece 9.5/10

Caustic Affliction - Demo [1988]

The huge thrash explosion that occurred in the mid-early 80's gave birth to hordes and hordes of thrash metal bands with almost no distinguished sound of their own, and during the late 80's and early 90's, there were so many bands that it was impossible to keep count. Lost of good bands got lost in the violent stream of bands, yet now, with the help of the internet, people are able to discover hidden gems and demos that were buried deep within debris and rubble. Caustic Affliction are such an obscure act (though no surprise since they only released only one demo and then disbanded) that even many hardcore thrash fans wouldn't have heard of them, and the truth is, their awareness wouldn't really provide them any valuable information, but a demo like this is nothing more than a simple, enjoyable listen and nice little addition to your library of old school rarities.

Caustic Affliction carry simple influences and simple aspects in their music, the sort of savage and chord driven attacks of the likes of early Kreator, Armoros and even Morbid Saint. The songs are all concise and very pleasuring, thus the riffs are made of good material, but this material is material that anyone can attain with ease, and Caustic Affliction simply reflect the primitive, bestial thrash metal stylings of early Kreator, with a hint of crossover energy. Every track is short of storm that never fails to devastate the listener with its sheer speed and violent array of simplistic riffs, sharp and crushing, though most of the quality of the riffs get gnawed and corroded once they collide with their own own speed. It's very fast, no doubt, and the adrenaline is just over the top, but like many metal bands that incorporate a little too much speed into their riffs, the riffs on this demo loose their efficiency and their flashiness while in a desperate urge to speed things up. The introduction instrumental ''Refuse To Die'' is a diverse little track, where the speed doesn't occasionally tend to be uncontrolled. And ''Caustic Affliction'' has some wicked melodies and catchy grooves to make up for that loss of quality, and they do succeed, but not for the most part, unfortunately.

The demo speeds up so much that it sometimes adopts a speed/thrash sound, and while I normally love speed/thrash bands, Caustic Affliction fail to achieve the same sort of robust sound when brutal riffs mix with faster ones. That's just one formula that has to be done right, or else it would be pretty meaningless. Had these thrashers written more tracks like ''Caustic Affliction'' or ''Refuse To Die'', then I would have liked this demo more than I do now. Of course, don't take my word too seriously if you're a fan of fast, pulverizing thrash, because you may never know unless you try it. The simple and painful truth is that this just isn't constructed well enough to be an effort to be taken very seriously, and more diversity is always an essential if you want some spiky, dynamic music. This demo's pretty damn catchy, and it's definitely worth a listen once in a while, so do check it out, because you may like it more than I did.

''Caustic Affliction''
''Refuse To Die''

Final Rating
Mediocre [7.8/10]

Monday, May 7, 2012

Purtenance - Member Of Immortal Damnation [1992]

As you may already know, the Finnish death metal scene was a scene just as monstrous as the Swedish and American scene, yet for some reason, Finnish bands never got the recognition they needed. Although many Finnish bands sounded similar to Swedish bands, little notice that they actually have a distinctive sound of their own, and maybe that was the reason they despised and excluded. Purtenance, a band which was formerly known as Purtenance Avulsion, is a band that can easily add up to that list of unappreciated yet awesome death metal bands. Truly, Purtenance carry out that vile, atmospheric, melancholic Finnish DM signature sound perfectly, and this a record that definitely should be praised more as it carves out that gnawing, crushing death/doom tone and fuses it with the melancholy of the Finnish trademark sound.

This album's depressing, filthy and rotten, and it's certainly not for the weak. Each blow of each riff is a drowning mammoth, a huge foot that buries the listener deep within it's inundating atmosphere, and each riff is just as crushing as it's depressing. The raw production quality and gnawing chainsaw guitar tone is also highly prevalent, yet, surprisingly, none of the instruments drown one another in that filthy mix since all of them are given equal amounts of space to consume, and the vocals are another tasty aspect that bludgeons the listener with grindcore-ish pukes and gnarls.  One great thing about these Finnish death metallers is that they always tend to incorporate a fair amount of sinister melodies to increase the diversity of the riffs, and Purtenance is no exception. During the sequences which adopt more of a doom metal sound, brooding melodies fly in the air and spread chaos upon the riffs, giving a beautiful sense of feeling and passion to the listener while still haunting him/her. Not up for sluggish riffs? Well, don't worry, because ''Member Of Immortal Damnation'' has lots of fast paced riffs in store, just as much as it has doom laden passages. ''In The Misty Morning'' is one galloping death/thrash monster that bestirs that raw guitar tone with some Asphyx crunchiness and a hint of Bolt Thrower grooving. Yummy indeed.

The best quality of the music here is that the speed of the riffs constantly change, so you've got lots OSDM tremolo bursts, and numerous death/doom sections. Everything on this album is totally obscured and every aspect is altered by the atmosphere, which may actually put off lots of people, but that's just the way the Finnish DM scene rolls. What else can I say? ''Member Of Immortal Damnation'' draws influences from many variations of death and doom metal, from the depressing lament on ''Black Vision'', to the mid paced Bolt Thrower grooving found on ''In The Misty Morning'' to volatile barrage of tremolo pickings on ''Crown Waits The Immortal'', each track comes with its own beauty, its own bitter aroma that's good enough to compete with even the biggest of Finnish bands like Convulse or Demigod. ''Member Of Immortal Damnation'' is definitely up there, up there with all the exalted releases that helped build death/doom.

''Crown Waits The Immortal''
''In The Misty Morning''
''Deep Blue Darkness''

Final Rating
Masterpiece [9.1/10]

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Warlord - Deliver Us (EP) [1983]

When people think of Los Angeles and metal, it's usually the glam scene that people think of. Or just a little later down the line, people may think of Megadeth, Dark Angel, Evildead, etc, but what about the power/heavy metal group, Warlord? These guys might not be the greatest band to ever come from LA, but they definitely deserve more recognition than the little they have, because the music on their debut EP "Deliver Us" is solid to say the least. And when you consider that this EP was released before power metal classics like "Metal Church," "Ample Destruction" and "Battle Cry" that surely has to serve as another reason why these guys should have been bigger. 

"Deliver Us" came out before the aforementioned power metal classics, but I wouldn't call this EP straightforward power metal as it definitely leans towards heavy metal and even classic rock at points, but there is absolutely no denying that some of the music here sounds like Omen or Savage Grace. The track "Lucifer's Hammer" is a catchy, midpaced number that was more than likely a live favorite, and "Deliver Us From Evil" takes a little more of an epic approach with melodic choruses featuring soaring vocals that sound a lot like some of the Euro-power bands that would pop up later. "Child of the Damned" is some grade-A Judas Priest worship that comes complete with the melodic, upbeat riffage and opening screams, while "Winter Tears" is a melodic song that perfectly conveys the emotion of the lyrics while retaining a great amount of memorability. 

Unfortunately, the second half of this EP just doesn't live up to the first and that drags down the overall quality of this recording. Had "Penny for a Poor Man" and "Black Mass" been on par with the earlier tracks, this would have undoubtedly been a masterpiece, but the lack of catchy passages and the unnecessary keyboards which made the band sound more akin to a band like Rush or Boston (Not that I have any problems with those bands, but I prefer it when keyboards stay the fuck out of my metal) rather than the very capable heavy band that they were. Luckily everything else on "Deliver Us" is terrific, from King's stellar vocals that are highly soothing to the ear, to the fantastic drumming, all the way to the solos. This comes with a high recommendation if you're into any of the other bands that were mentioned earlier on, and if you don't find yourself enjoying this then you might want to slip into some spandex and head out to a Motley Crue show. 

"Deliver Us From Evil"
"Winter Tears"
"Child of the Damned"

Final Rating
Awesome [8.4/10]

Friday, May 4, 2012

Iron Cross - Iron Cross [1986]

The power metal scene in America during the eighties was easily one of the best scenes around. These bands, whether it be Omen, Jag Panzer, Attacker, or Metal Church, were all capturing the catchiness of the traditional heavy metal acts around, but they also had a lot of faster material that was more akin to the thrash bands that began to sweep the world. Iron Cross is another one of those bands, though, these guys really stand out because of their underlying evil tone. Bands like Slayer and Kreator were innovating with their takes on brutality in the metal underground during 1986, but they didn't have that dark feeling that Iron Cross could seemingly conjure at will with nothing more than a few melodies, some occult song topics and some stellar vocals that all make their self-titled debut a masterpiece of the genre. 

The album opener "Demon's Disciple" opens with some feedback and the eventual thumping bassline that serves as the prelude to a chugging riff that alone isn't anything special, but then the vocals come in. These are definitely not the kind of vocals that a typical power metal listener would be accustomed to, simply because they sound a little demented which adds to the creepy and sinister feel perfectly. The track "Bloodlust" is even crazier as the vocals are completely unhinged and the addition of sadistic laughter and slow, vile melodies makes for an extremely fun listen. "Dark Dreams" and "Mistress of the Dark" are two basic power metal tracks that don't stray away from the norm, but both songs still rule with an iron fist, the latter track being one of my personal favorite power metal tunes of all time (The catchiness is fucking ridiculous). 

Along with the more upbeat power metal tunes and the more chilling material, Iron Cross shows off some of their versatility with the tracks "Demons" and "Fantasy World," both of which feature clean guitar passages and clean singing, which ordinarily would be completely normal, but in contrast to manic songs like "Bloodlust" and "Demon's Disciple" it's incredible to see the band slow things down for some more relaxing songs that are just as great as the other songs. Aside from everything already praised about this record, there isn't much more to say, except that even guitar virtuosos would drool over the lead work here. The solos are mindblowing, and the epic solos that serve as the ending to the track "Fantasy World" are masterful, which really reflects this work as a whole. Masterful. 

"Demon's Disciple"
"Mistress of the Dark"

Final Rating
Masterpiece [9/10]

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Paradox - Heresy [1989]

Germany is the Sweden of thrash, a place where you would find hordes of thrash bands. All particularly vicious and savage, the German thrash metal bands were altered and influenced heavily by their most primal countrymen like Kreator, Sodom and Destruction. This trio shaped and respectfully  embodied the German scene, thus constructing into the scene that it is now known as. Paradox, however, were a slightly peculiar group, displaying much different influences and sounds on the table than the already present  unpolished, vicious form of thrash that seemed to flow in the vein of all the German bands of the 80's and early 90's. Everyone brags about their debut album, a relatively fun piece of techy speed/thrash that was already highly present, or their later offerings which still aren't bad offerings, however, these people ought to be informed that ''Heresy'' is their true magnum opus, their most influential, their most effective and their sharpest. ''Heresy'' introduced even more melodic riffing and here, Paradox churned together Bay Area-oriented thrash with power metal most successfully. This is album is gleaming and teeming with energy, and its definitely something that Bay Area thrashers or old school power metal nerds should check out.

Usually well composed songs and simple song architecture doesn't catch my attention right off, but on this album, every aspect is put into place in a very organized manner, so the typical verse-bridge-chorus structure actually becomes an enjoyable experience because you can actually sing along with the catchy choruses and remember the riffing whenever in explodes once more. Every riff is just razor-sharp, and Paradox manages to constantly absorb the listener with a diverse assault, without even being so technical or heavy, showing that a simple, crushing riff isn't the only thing that fuels the fire of a thrasher. Like I said, the album is teeming with energy and vigorous bursts of pure melodic, Bay Area influenced thrash which comes in an abundance. Speaking of melody, I think Paradox is one of the first bands that successfully merge power metal with thrash metal, and not only that but also add some technical spunk on top of the riffs to boast their quality. The power metal influence is inserted in every element of the music is a healthy dose, but certain riffs have a more epic side to them, showing that the power metal influence is the main thing that keeps their blood boiling. The leads are also stellar, dual guitar harmonies, with shredding passages, and the much common sound of the groaning tremolo bar, screaming and shouting, as if being tortured.

The vocalist is an obvious reminiscent of Joey Belladona circa ''Among The Living'' era Anthrax. His style is perhaps a little more high-pitched than the famous thrash frontman, but it only complements the music better as power metal is all about screaming your lungs off with intense energy in the vocal department. There's a vast array of technical and melodic thrash riffing on the title track which tends to live slightly longer than any other song on the album, and ''Search For Perfection'' starts where the title track left, carrying out the robust thrash energy with some more simple riffs, and ''Killtime'' introduces some lower fret tremolo descending and  even more melodic spikes constantly battering the listener. ''Massacre Of The Cathars'' is one of the albums most stellar highlights, gathering all that has been previously done in one package and then displaying them in a most eruptive way. Just as it produces some expeditious power/thrash riffing, it also follows the same path as its primal German ancestors, bringing forth some engaging thrash crushers, while still keeping the the substance sturdy. Paradox truly concentrated and worked hard on this album, because while many people are blindly adore the primitive death/thrash aesthetics originated in Germany, their eyes cannot endure the flashiness of this masterpiece, rendering it a true underground gem.

''Search For Perfection''
''Massacre Of The Cathars''

Final Rating:
Masterpiece [9.2/10]

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Nocturn - Estranged Dimensions [1991]

There are a lot of people out there who take any random underground band and their album, then proclaim them to be the greatest band ever and then try and compare them to legends of the genre, which is highly stupid and usually is nothing more than some fan trying to be cool by being able to namedrop an obscure act. This also tends to happen a lot with death/thrash bands, as I've seen just about every band out there being praised by someone, while they slobber all over about how "random death/thrash album" is just as good as "The Awakening," "Final Holocaust," and other masterpieces. However, Nocturn is a band that I feel is pretty close to being worthy of such admiration, as their brand of music is stunning to say the least. Coming from the Netherlands, they were already in the shadow of the death/thrash masters in Pestilence and the incredible Thanatos, but Nocturn's music was definitely different. The music on the band's debut (and only full-length) album "Estranged Dimensions" isn't focused on the brutality aspect, rather they evoke a very dark atmosphere. 

A simple descriptor for the band and the songs on "Estranged Dimensions" would be something like a much more evil sounding Morbid Saint. While Nocturn aren't as vicious and hostile as the "Spectrum of Death" creators, they make up for it with the dark aura that is found throughout the record. The title track that opens up the album starts with some heavy powerchords and a grim sounding melody before the abrasive vocals eventually find their way through. A lot of death/thrash songs are usually fast and aggressive, but the song carries on at a very slow and creeping pace as the melodies bring that eerie feel and the very harsh vocals crush the listener, making for a nice change of pace. "Delirium Tremens" and "Shades of Insanity" also deviate from the path at certain points, with their gloomy, yet beautiful melodies and stark, heavy riffs. 

The only thing that held this album back from being better was the length of some of the songs. I have no problem if bands want to write longer material, but they had better be able to hold my attention. Nocturn, did not accomplish this on every track, with "Delirium Tremens" and "Century of Execration" being the two best examples. Both songs featured some great riffs and stellar moments, but there were also points in the songs where they went nowhere or repeated themselves. Had those two tracks been more like "Altered Evolution," a song that clocks in at just a little over eight minutes, then "Estranged Dimensions" would definitely have ranked higher, as this track had plenty going for it: the aforementioned riffs, melodies, and everything else simply worked here and kept my headbanging for the whole duration. Nocturn comes with the highest recommendation as their music will easily please fans of acts like Ripping Corpse, Revenant, Infernal Majesty and other thrash bands who brought the extreme aggression, as well as some unfathomable darkness. 

"Altered Evolution"
"Graveyard Without Crosses"
"Morbid Shining"

Final Rating
Damn-Near A Masterpiece [8.9/10]

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Creepmime - Shadows [1993]

Progressive death metal (or progressive anything for that matter) is a genre of music that I actually go out of my way to avoid. It's just boring to my ears, and I'd rather be pummeled by Bolt Thrower-like grooves, submerged by the doomy excellence of Autopsy or mesmerized by the phenomenal music of a Dismember or a Convulse. But, there are always exceptions to any rule, and the Netherlands' own Creepmime is the exception to my own personal preference. There aren't any keyboard solos or piano interludes on "Shadows," nor are there any intricate structures that seem to go nowhere or terrible clean vocals thrown in, just incredibly solid death metal that compliments the Netherlands scene nicely. 

While Asphyx are the kings of death/doom over in the Netherlands, Creepmime manages to conjure up some great melodies and riffs that have a very doomy edge to them. In fact, this whole record is based around midpaced riffs that are highly driven by melodies. "Soon Ripe, Soon Rotten" and "My Soul Flayed Bare" both have intros that feature fantastic melodies that are both memorable and atmospheric, while "The Fruits of Ill Virtue" and "Chinese Whispers" command the listener's attention with stellar midpaced riffs that are interwoven with top-notch melodic passages throughout. As with any band that tries to create a sort of aura, Creepmime does a brilliant job of bringing forth a dark and gloomy feeling that is most present on "Gather the Shattered," but there is also a subtle upbeat and almost happy vibe that can be heard throughout, and that's mainly because of the insane amount of melody present (And I don't mean that melo-death, Gothenburg kind of melody, that's terrible). 

As you would expect from a progressive band, the bassist and drummer both get in some decent to great fills, but they never really command the music, as it should be. The soloing on this album is also fantastic, again as expected. The vocals are typical death metal fare, and they sound damn-near identical to Dave Ingram during his performance on "The Grand Leveller." Overall, "Shadows" isn't the most premier death metal album around, but it definitely stands out and is worth giving a listen if you're a fan of bands like Autopsy, diSEMBOWELMENT, Winter, Amorphis and the like. 

"The Fruits of Ill Virtue"
"Suffer the Shadows"
"My Soul Flayed Bare"

Final Rating
Awesome [8.5/10]