Thursday, October 18, 2018
UNEARTHLY TRANCE / PRIMITIVE MAN split
Here's a split release with one band I've always liked and one which mostly has bored me over the years. Now past readers will easily figure out of to whom I like and do not. But for you now well I'll digress. This release starts off with a minute long intro which supposedly has both bands collaborating on. It's just a wash of noise which bleeds into PRIMITIVE MAN's first of two tracks, namely "Naked". This cut lumbers onward like a drunken SUNN O))) until this Denver sludge trio kicks into gear with their crush kill and destroy signature style.
Their second cut, "Love Under Will", is a subdued piece starting off as echoing extracts to what you might hear if they were going full bore. Think of it as listening to PRIMITIVE MAN while on Thorazine at the precise moment of your death from cancer. Is that a good thing? Nah it ain't, in fact it's kinda boring. I believe these are throwaway cuts from 2017's Caustic full length.
Next up are four cuts from UNEARTHLY TRANCE who most readers should know I really like. Also I've made it perfectly clear in the past that I like their short form releases (EPs and split releases) more than their full lengths. Looking back at their last full length, 2017's Stalking The Ghost, I thought four out of the eight cuts were good. On here their first two cuts, "Mechanism Error" and "Triumph" come at you like a filthy distorted sludgey doom version of HELMET. I've always wanted to use that analogy comparison because it fits.
Third cut "Reverse the Day" starts off great in a sludgey grunge of distorto filth reminiscent of late 80's / early 90's noise rock. My favorite cut on here but then it ends or better yet segues into a "418" which is just noise distortion and painful screamed vocals. Basically it's filler. But hey in the end it's the UNEARTHLY TRANCE tracks that make this a must have for you doom and destruction fans.
ARCHGOAT - The Luciferian Crown
Debemur Morti Productions
I took an oath to this goat back in 2006 with their debut full length Whore of Bethlehem. Since then whether it's their full lengths or short form releases, this Finnish black metal institution never disappoints. ARCHGOAT does something which is a rarity in metal and that's they get better with each new release without any dramatic changes to their sound. They advance but at their own pace which is carefully calculated.
The Luciferian Crown is an album of all positives for these necro Finns. The production/sound quality is much clearer. They've added more depth by slowing down to a mid tempo approach on certain cuts. Albeit they still know how to push the slash and burn aesthetics. There's more computerized choir added on here which gives it a added gothic / somewhat symphonic appeal. The vocals are still in the growl mode, Riffs still punish and new drummer, Goat Aggressor, easily fits right into this bands patented sound.
ARCHGOAT wears this crown well and this is, in my not so humble opinion, their best album by far.
FUNERAL MIST - Hekatomb
Norma Evangelium Diaboli
I was kinda wondering where MARDUK's creative balls went on their last album and here they are. When Daniel Rosten, under the name Mortuus, joined Marduk in 2004 he revived that band from their played out thrashy attack into a more diverse sounding black metal act. Of course their Panzer Division holdouts never got it. Then again they never got into the true and blasphemies sounds when that same man went by the name Arioch in FUNERAL MIST.
So it's been nine years since the last FUNERAL MIST release and this is not a reliving of past greats like the Devilry, Salvation or Maranatha. In fact this is what was expected of MARDUK. But here you go with an extreme attack. Far more aggressive with completely filth ridden riffs, solid tremolo picked guitar rage, bloody vocals and an explosive-ness in production which is why hiptards could never get into them.
Good black metal will always be under one's own interpretation. For me the best comes when it's not only threatening to the average laymen's perception but brings about a tense feeling. Sweden's FUNERAL MIST have always been a band that makes your average BM fan uncomfortable. On this latest one Arioch continues pummeling away at the listener with his tried and true approach while still adding a few twists along the way. Definitely one of my favorites this year.
DEGRAVE - Self Titled
A few weeks ago a kid at work was playing METALLICA. It was a couple of songs off of Ride the Lightning. He was also playing some other thrash acts of the past. I was like, "hey cool finally some decent music." Then the inevitable comeback ensues as in "Yeah I only like their first three albums and that's it." I wouldn't argue against that point. But there is something significant in that stance.
The original reign of thrash metal lived and died by it's own rules; aka: loud hard and fast. After four years that was about it. The bands moved on to explore other avenues or just called it quits. The thrash revival from a decade ago was shorter lived obviously since they were copying the past. Albeit some were not that bad at it and allowed for a few enjoyable moments.
And so here we are a decade later and I'm listening to the second album by DEGRAVE, a four piece thrash act from Jefferson City, Missouri. Well moreover I'm listening to a band highly influenced by MEGADETH and VOIVOD. Not an odd pairing of influences at all and obvious noticeable from their first song onward. Still as the release played out I have to say it never got boring.
I give em credit for capturing the essence of their predecessors without wanting to turn them off and reaching for the original thing. The power components here are wild soloing, inventive song craft and basic thrash style riffs that are familiar. One cut even has a opening bass solo. The vocals have that early hardcore harshness sound to em. Yeah I bet their live shows involve a lot of slam pit action. Some big label should sign these guys. As far as that kid from work, well after the thrash he put on some rap so fuck him.
HELLISH - The Spectre of Lonely Souls
Unspeakable Axe Records
OK so since I'm on a South American extreme metal kick (and I'm not even discussing Greyhaze Records reissues). Here we have another blackened thrash act from Chile. HELLISH has been kicking it around their native country since 2010. I first learned about through a South American PR guy back in January 2017. He sent me their Grimoire full length which came out in the Fall of 2016. I checked it out but decided not to write anything about it because of the three month's old timeline. Which is probably why he cut me off for six months.
As far as this, their second full length goes, I'd say labeling this as straight up blackened thrash would be an insult to the genre. Although not as insulting as all of those recent Joel Grind produced generic blackened thrash acts. That's the second time I've mentioned Joel Grind in a month. Hey honestly I like TOXIC HOLOCAUST, but as a producer he tends to make bands sound like him instead of themselves. He's not the only one of course.
Be that as it may when I listen to The Spectre of Lonely Souls my first thought is hey these guys are better than some of those other SLAYER worshiping bands in the thrash revival from ten years ago. Along with SLAYER these guys also love some Teutonic thrash ala DESTRCTION. With that combination it's easy to overlook the rehash and settle in on the primal rage the band sends forth.
Monday, October 15, 2018
FLESH HUNTER AND THE ANALASSAULTERS - The Plague
Hammer Of Damnation
From an older fan perspective when it comes to blackened thrash I'll take the Teutonic sounds of early SODOM and DESTRUCTION, Norway's AURA NOIR, early CELTIC FROST and a ton of South American acts over the present crop of over saturated retro acts. Sure some of the new school acts, mainly from the states, wear their influences proudly on their vests but that's about it. They just play by the numbers of a formula they have little connection to other than they own the repress versions of past classics.
With that said here we have a band who's existence actually has a connection to the genre's history. FLESH HUNTER AND THE ANALASSAULTERS hail from Chile, a nation known for (and that I've written about many times) has spawned some of the evilness sounding acts from below the equator. With the exception of Brazil and Columbia, Chilean metal is basically harsh and extreme. Although the members of this three piece act, who started out in 2010, cite their biggest influences to be late 80's Brazilian blackened extreme acts.
After blasting this on and off for a few weeks (I apologize for the backlog, my regular job is taking a lot of my time) I get the Brazilian influence but these guys also add some Scandinavian and an occasional nod to CELTIC FROST. Secondly it doesn't have that modern and generic produced by Joel Grind sound to it. On this their second full length FLESH HUNTER AND THE ANALASSAULTERS have shot for a sound from yore and nailed it.
The Plague is eight cuts, mostly all furious blasts with the exception of an instro classical guitar cut near the end. Expect some serious pitched black tremolo riffs, maniacal blast beatings, acid tinged vocals and an overall barrage in sound. I guess there's an arguable point to make as to what this actually is, black metal or blackened thrash. Then again all the above isn't a bag tagline for something this cool.
Sunday, October 14, 2018
ESPIONAGE - Digital Dystopia
Can I just say this is one of the best true metal releases of 2018 and be done? Hmmmm, I guess not. OK imagine if you will IRON MAIDEN and METALLICA meet up in Germany (the home of power metal) and do a whole Wacken moment. Look here people, a couple of songs into this release I was won over.
ESPIONAGE is an Australian four piece metal act who started out in 2014, released a single and an EP in 2016. Since I never heard those releases this their debut full length (and self released) came in and of course hey let's see if the PR info passes muster because half the time it doesn't. But this time it does.
Digital Dystopia is one part excellent sounding traditional heavy metal (aka: True Metal) but with a foot firmly planted in the modern era. The vocals are fantastic. Song structures are have a dynamic and exciting quality. The band wear their influences proudly but don't weigh themselves down in retro sounding shtick.
The bottom line is that Digital Dystopia is a great release for fans yearning for true metal as it's suppose to be. Nuff Said.