Friday, July 27, 2018

UTBURD - The Horrors Untold review

UTBURD - The Horrors Untold

Satanath Records

This is the second full length from Vitaliy Goryunov (aka:Tuor) the one man composer of the black metal project UTBURD. As far as this goes musically this is a punishing attack of second wave black metal with a cascade of atmospheric touches. Pain drips from this individual's ideas put to blackened themes.

This falls into that category of incredible as far as black metal goes. Hailing from Russia, Tuor has tapped into an old vibe but does not play copycat in his execution of the old ways. Musically this is all together captivating black metal. Satanath Records allowed me to check this one out months ago and I had it on the back burner because of it's complexity to overwhelm. 

There are a ton of black metal acts pushing the stretched nineties black metal aesthetic. Most of em I find OK but Tuor gives things an extra emphasis. Listening to this is like experiencing the tortured soul as well as nightmares of an individual with a bloodied throat via vocal output and a musical marching order to a fan or two.

LYKHAEON - Ominous Eradication of Anguished Souls review

LYKHAEON - Ominous Eradication of Anguished Souls

Godz Ov War Productions

Welcome to a blackened maelstrom of hellish proportions. This band, a three piece act, hail from Switzerland but you would believe they come from the same cavernous regions PORTAL reigns from sound wise. Then again they have caverns in the Alps as well. 

Since H.P. Lovecraft has become a major fascination meme of metal then these two cuts conjure up an entrance theme to the old gods. Bring out the sacrifice, strip her naked and pillar her to greet the master of the universe. I say her because Chthulu doesn't want to see a naked hipster dude. But anyways I digress.

Ominous Eradication of Anguished Souls is two long songs on an EP which carries a religious touch with the spoken wordings which fall in with the wall of fuckin noise this act evokes. This is their second release over all. In 2015 they put out a self released full length, Tanz der Entleibten. One wonders, after listening to this blackened religious testimant, what that would be like.

VOMITOR - Pestilent Death review

VOMITOR - Pestilent Death

Hells Headbangers Records

If you're going to do thrash in 2018 you better make it fuckin hateful. And yeah few do it better in 2018 than Aussie legends VOMITOR. Yes legendary they are. Pestilent Death is the fourth full length by VOMITOR who have been around since 1999. In the past they were always an off shoot act from their two GOSPEL OF THE HORNS members. And yeah their last album came out 2012 but hey welcome back.

Put away your party thrash trash or hipster retro speed metal and welcome in some hate. This is death thrash with no redeeming qualities other than to disturb people. This ain't music, it's the noise of war. Pestilent Death is around thirty two minutes of savage blasphemic fury that only these Aussie vets could produce. I've been blasting this for a week straight and I feel like it's bored holes into my skull. No wonder I haven't been writing of late.

SOLILOQUIUM - Contemplations review

SOLILOQUIUM - Contemplations

Transcending Records

A statement from the promo info reads "Fill the void of the KATATONIA hiatus." Whoa there now because that's a bold statement if any. And I thought I was guilty of hyperbole every once in a while. But anyway this is the second full length by SOLILOQUIUM a swedish death/doom act that started in 2011. Originally it was just a side project by two guys, Stefan Nordstrom and Jonas Bergkvist, both of whom are in the bands ENDING QUEST and DESOLATOR. Now it's a full fledged band and with a drummer.

Now to just get the elephant out of the room, yes this is very KATATONIA influenced as well as a few nods to many other melodic death doom acts from Sweden or England. But is it good on it's own? Well I'll say yeah. The songs are very moody, partly depressive with a mix of clean and guttural vocals. Music wise you've got your crushing rhythms, jangling guitar leads, atmospheric breaks, etc. In other words you know the drill and you'll probably like it.

GWYDION - Thirteen review

GWYDION - Thirteen


Viking metal from Portugal, OK? Yeah well I've always admitted my being a fan of the whole viking / battle metal genre. I know it gets mocked from time to time but my answer to the naysayers is simple, Go Fuck Yourselves. Viking metal is cool as fuck and these these Portuguese warriors do a killer job on this release.

GWYDION started out back in the mid 90s but didn't hit pay-dirt until 2008 with their first full length Ynys Mon. Since then they've been peppering fans with a few more full lengths, this being their fourth overall. And what's cool about this one is that it's a viking themed release with so much fuckin metal genre styles in your face. It's not Nordic historian melodic death metal although there's some melodic death metal here. There's a lot more going on.

GWYDION likes to add in plenty of folk structures as well as symphonic black metal touches. Add to that their songs are not "Hey we're Vikings, listen to us sing about fuckin shit up." No they're pushing odes to the past with stories and history. Most of the time the vocals are sung in a heavy death metal style but then they're sung clean like what TYR does.

All in all this is an amazing release. There's an interesting character about it which leads the listener onward since there really is no repetition as far as song structure. It's basically one piece of music that's exciting like a viking tale. This is why I love this genre of music and GWYDION are damm great at it. HAILS!

Friday, July 20, 2018

HALLIG - A Distant Reflection of the Void review

HALLIG - A Distant Reflection of the Void

Talheim Records

I've made it clear many times that I consider what people call black metal's first wave to be more of influences than an actual genre creation. It's black metal's second wave when things came together. So we're looking at a 30 year old genre that's been stretched thin as well as repeated over as far as it's varied sub-genres go. Now whenever I look at it today I find it rare to find bands that push beyond their predecessors but just do well at it. 

Germany's HALLIG do quite well at creating melodic black metal that takes hold of you. For me it's the twin guitar usage and how the melodic song structures flow. It really grabs you to the point where you are not going to lose interest or predict their outcomes. The drum work on here is penetrating as well as equal to the string instruments. Sometimes it does take a back seat.

The only thing which stands out from tradition are the vocals or at least the way they're projected. There's an array of styles being pushed here were you're left wondering is it one person or multiple persons. You've got viking grunts and harsh screams along with clean caustic singing. There are times when it all comes across as that Euro battle metal using blackened death as it's base.

HALLIG started out in 2010 and prior to this released a full length in 2012 and followed it up with an EP in 2016. Obviously they've worked hard on this latest one, A Distant Reflection of the Void. To me musically it's a masterpiece of epic melodic black metal proportions. I'm not too keen on the vocal styles being implemented but hey that's just me. Others might find the variety for more interesting.

CRAWL - Rituals review

CRAWL - Rituals  

Transcending Obscurity Records

When I saw this was death metal from Sweden I kinda was optimistic. Then I gave it a listen and well my attitude changed dramatically. CRAWL does feature a group of musicians firmly rooted in death metal by way of their other bands or former bands. One of those bands is DEMONICAL who I know well. A couple of others are DECOMPOSED and DISCARNATE. But musically CRAWL is a fusion of death metal and hardcore.

That style is nothing new in fact another cool band from this label, the Rogga Johansson/ Dave Ingram project DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN, does a damm great job at it. DISFEAR makes a career of it when they're not trying to resurrect AT THE GATES again. Even the early days of Swedish death metal have some elements of hardcore as well as thrash in their sound. CRAWL actually bleeds out hardcore grooves that reminds me of the late 80s / early 90s style which the new kids called crust (we just called it all hardcore back then).

As far as the death metal attributes CRAWL brings forth I'm thinking latter day DISMEMBER. By the way this is CRAWL's debut full length. They put out a demo and an EP in 2015. I'm guessing this is just a cool side project by a couple of guys who wanna play something other then straight up death metal.

LURK - Fringe review

LURK - Fringe  

Transcending Obscurity Records

The first time I listened to this was when I was getting ready for work. Ah no couldn't do that one. Music like this should not be coercing through one's mind when they're dealing with people. So when I got home later that evening I popped a beer, pushed play and settled in to the unsettling sounds from this release.

LURK hail from Finland, a nation that's certainly producing a lot of wild sounding extreme music this year. While I was listening to this my thoughts were of depicting myself lost in a hellish menagerie. During the opening cut I was wondering what if PROFANATICA were an atmospheric sludge metal act? Of course as the release continued on other doomish textures exposed themselves.

On this the band's third full length LURK have a few undeniable underlining influences that are blackened and deathly. But for the most part they're firmly planted in sludgey doom that's heavy handed as well as distorted. The vocals vary from harsh screams, cavernous growls as well as haunting vocals. Eight songs in 44 minutes which at times are horrific trance inducing.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

IMMORTAL - Northern Chaos Gods review

IMMORTAL - Northern Chaos Gods

Nuclear Blast

Well the big metal news for 2018, at least from the mainstream metal media, is that IMMORTAL are back. BUT Abbath is not with them. Well so fuckin what, right? I mean there are plenty of fans who lost interest in the band back in 1997 when guitarist Demonaz had to stop playing because of severe tendinitis. Although he did stick around as songwriter and most likely inspiration but the band did become Abbath's vehicle from then on.

1999's At the Heart of Winter, which saw Abbath take over on guitar marked the point when IMMORTAL went from grim & frosty black metal to grim, frosty & thrashy BATHORY influenced metal and eventually turning into a northern darkness version of KISS. Look I'm not cutting it down, seriously I'm not, but one wonders what would the band's career have turned out if Demonaz never left.

Of course when Demonaz came out with his solo album, March of the Norse, in 2011 the answer was made. It's because of the greatness of that offering I kinda knew what to expect on this one. So after one listen to Northern Chaos Gods my first thought was that this could've been At the Heart of Winter 2. Better yet, if Demonaz did not come down with tendinitis back then we would be heralding this as an iconic release from the 90s instead of today. 

Basically this release carries the ethos of Battles in the North and the mythos of Blashyrkh. It's all in the same vein of what IMMORTAL moved onto but with epic tracks like "Mighty Ravendark" and "Gates to Blashyrkh". It just feels like what it had should have been. Nailed to that you've got thrashy blackened cuts like the title cut plus "Into Battle Ride" which will get you to go fuckin nuts. You will be bouncing off the fuckin walls. You'll also be (if you're a fan) remembering every nuance this band has done over the years. 

Speaking of the band (aka: IMMORTAL 2018) Demonaz's guitar work is thrashy in riffage as well as power chord roughness. It ain't the old ways but hey give the guy a break. He ain't the greatess guitarist from Norway anymore but is still worthy. Vocal wise he's a harsh causer singer which is a fresh breath from Abbath's evil frog style. Horgh is back on drums and is super incredible. Long time friend and producer Peter Tagtgren of HYPOCRISY takes on bass duties.

Can I just say I love this record?

BACKWOODS PAYBACK - Future Slum review


Small Stone Recordings

Waitaminute I thought all Small Stone Record's bands had at least one ex- ALABAMA THUNDER PUSSY member. OK I better check the bands on the t-shirt I got years ago. But something of interest, this band's drummer is Erik Larson and I've probably seen him more fuckin times performing in bands than you can shake a stick at. 

I've seen him play in AVAIL at a house party here in Raleigh, NC. many years ago. Actually they set up in a dirty back yard. Then KILARA played the first Scumfest in 1997 at a punk/metal club I use to work at called the Caboose. ALABAMA THUNDER PUSSY played there as well many times. And THE MIGHT COULD played a show years ago in downtown. I bought their CD off the guy.

But anyways here's his new band, well he's been involved in it since 2016. Basically this is a three piece made up of Mike Cummings on guitar and vocals. Jessica Baker on bass and Erik Larson on drums. Musically this points in the direction of stoner rock but there are times when it comes across as Sub Pop 1988. Can you say Grunge Revival?

This is the fourth full length by this Pennsylvania power trio. Yes it has that early grunge element but not in that bad way we all remember it. There's a low-fi gritty feel to their songs. Add to that some vocal trade-offs from Cummings and Baker. They even slip in some punk rock influences. All in all an enjoyable release that will rekindle some past memories.

SAHON - Chanting For The Fallen review

SAHON - Chanting For The Fallen 

Transcending Obscurity Asia

Korea has been in the news of late so hey why not check out some South Korean metal or more to the point, thrash. Full disclosure on my part, I am ignorant as far as Korean metal goes. So this was an education to say the least. First off SAHON have a history. They've been around since 1999, have five full lengths and an EP prior to releasing this one here. 

Now before I go any further I need to ask you all a question. Can you name a thrash band today whose been around for twenty years and still has a sound that ferocious as well as dedicated to the genre basics? Take all the time you need. OK that's enough because you'd be hard pressed to come up with one. Right now I wanna check out this band's debut release Made in Judecca from 2002 or their follow up Kill But Shut Your Fucking Mouth from 2003. Just to see what they were like then because this one is killer.

Chanting For The Fallen is full on old school thrash and I'm on the fence as to where this band takes their influences from. I'm leaning towards that they've created their own style. Then again I do hear some Teutonic thrash style in a few songs. They also like MOTORHEAD. But in the end they've learned to filter it all to fit their own thrash vision. I think that's pretty cool. 

MARDUK - Viktoria review

MARDUK - Viktoria

Century Media Records

When the label dropped the song "Werwolf" weeks ago I was like "Ah have they gone punk and what's with the kids singing the chorus?" To say I was surprised is an understatement. Of course when I finally picked up my copy of this, the surprise element was gone. It was replaced by complete dissatisfaction. 

I guess the obligatory personal history overview of this band and I needs to be written. Yes I am a long time MARDUK fan. I've stuck with em through each of their eras. I love their old straight up black metal material. The Panzer Division era was fantastic. And when Mortuus of FUNERAL MIST took over on vocals I thought they'd become a lot more interesting. I don't have favorites because I've liked all of it.

Now I'm not saying bias is in effect when listening the various MARDUK releases. They have some superb releases and plenty of decent ones. Viktoria definitely falls into that latter category. I'm also being nice about it since it took plenty of listens to win me over since there's a lot of problems with it.

Let's start with the obvious, it's a short release at a running time around thirty-three minutes. Of course their more recent albums have been much longer. So this is definitely a step back for them. The opening track / single "Werwolf" is a throwaway cut for me. It sticks out like a sore thumb and could've been part of an EP. MARDUK are very familiar with putting out EPs. Out of the nine songs on here most are of the fast mode ala Panzer Division Marduk style. There's plenty of recycling of riffs.

As far as the slower tracks that are supposed break from the monotony, they seem to be incomplete as if this recording was rushed. And that's the rub I get from this. It's as if hey they're on tour and need a full length out to sell along with all their other merch. Throw some suggestive cover art on the release as well to go with their latest jaunt with infamy from their naysayers. It all seems more of a corporate ploy than true black metal.

CRIMSON RELIC - Purgatory's Reign Reissue review

CRIMSON RELIC - Purgatory's Reign Reissue

Dark Descent Records

Most people into extreme metal and it's history know about this release, especially if you're a death/doom conissuer. I first learned about it around a decade ago because of it's GRAVEHILL connection. Prior to being in GRAVEHILL, Rhett Davis was in the band MORGION at the time and plays drums on this. But for the few of you out there here you go.

This originally came out back in 1996 and released on Radiation Records which was/is a Nuclear Blast sub-label. Prior to this release these cuts were supposed to be for the previous band DIVINE EVE's full-length debut. That band didn't work out so mainman Xan Hammack (guitars, bass and vocals) moved from Texas to California, hooked up with drummer Rhett Davis to record this and the rest is history.

Musically remember this was in 1996 but Xan Hammack was thinking old school before the term became cliche. Imagine a some demo era old Swedish death metal faves mixed with CELTIC FROST. Xan even lets out a Tom G. grunt here and their in the vocals. Speaking of vocals Xan reminds me of Don of the Dead from NUNSLAUGHTER.

So hey the rest is history and a one off of great death doom is back for your consumption. Sound-wise it's on the low fi demo quality meter as well as the vocals being low in the mix. But otherwise Dark Descent Records resurrects a gem from the past which people need to check out.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

AXIA - Pulverizer review

AXIA - Pulverizer 

Selfmadegod Records

When I saw this was twenty-one songs in thirty-two minutes of Portuguese grindcore I had to admit I was not up for it. Honestly I've got one of those Summer colds that seems to be lingering on. So being unwell is pulverizing enough. But hey then I gave it a listen and was fairly surprised.

Pulverizer is the debut full length by AXIA, a four piece act whose members all come from various bands in the Portuguese extreme metal scene. Basically these guys all like death metal, black metal and of course grindcore. But the music on here is not all full on grind for the sake of grind. (hey that sounds like an album title.)

Now AXIA does lay down some punishing grind throughout on this release but they also included some other extremes in order to break the monotony. There's a smattering of death metal groove, a touch of doom and a hint of sludge. The vocals kinda remind me of old school hardcore barking and at times there's a hint of harshness.

Instead of individual songs I look at this as one whole piece since it's much of an enjoyable listen that way. There's a violent ebb and flow to this release. And when the band takes a left turn and hits you with something different, but not too out of place, it just makes it all better.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

SATHANAS - Necrohymns review

SATHANAS - Necrohymns  

Transcending Obscurity Records

I have many reasons on why I love doing SFM666. Most of those reasons wouldn't appeal to other people in the mainstream music media. Listening to this, the tenth full length release by Pennsylvania's SATHANAS, is a damm good reason. You see doing this blog is enjoyable in many fuckin ways but one important reason is that it's an education.

Case in point here we have a US band that have been creating extreme music since 1988. This is my first time hearing em and I'm fuckin floored. To all of you people out there into the new stream of blackened thrash, forget your faves and listen to THIS. SATHANAS are a three piece act who, at least on this one, twist BATHORY and VENOM into a blackened thrash and death mixture of blood, vomit and great music.

What is not to love hear? You've got the say you love Satan lyrics, the harsh flamed vocals, that bees nest guitar sound plus cutthroat solos. The eight songs on here have that NWOBHM dynamic meets pure fuckin evil. Something else of note, this is not generic sounding modern day blackened thrash. This band has a sound that's not tainted by trends. These guys are veterans who've honed their sound over many years. And that's why it's damm good.

GAEREA - Unsettling Whispers review

GAEREA - Unsettling Whispers
Transcending Obscurity Records 

Well despite what the promo info on this band says, "(the band) have turned the genre of black metal on its head." Basically what we have here is another black metal act who incorporates outside of genre influences into their overall sound. GAEREA hail from Portugal and last time I heard that nation is still connected to the rest of the world in that they're not out of the loop.

As far as black metal goes this nation is far from being a stranger to the genre. One of their oldest BM bands, DECAYED, has a new album out (which I will be writing about in the near future). I think another old band, IN THY FLESH, is still around. And of course there's CORPUS CHRISTII who I learned about in 2007 from Moribund records with their Rising full length. A few years after that they released Luciferian Frequencies on Candlelight no less which I think got a lot of BM fans (and others) scouring the internet in search of more from that nation.

But getting back to GAEREA, as far as bands with outside influences go in black metal, get in line. Specifically this band incorporates a variety of influences into their sound that at times I wondered if they could even be considered black metal since it's one of many things played within their cuts. I mean early on there's goth, doom, sludge, death metal, caustic hardcore vocals as well as bloody throat-ed guttural barking. Of course there's the tremolo picked riffage, blast beats and melodic rhythms that glue things together

Now some listeners (and music critics) might deem all of that as challenging. And of course they would if they were only listening to black metal for the past ten years. Seriously people, incorporating new sounds and expanding the black metal template started in the mid-90s. Some acts stayed on the template while others dove off the edge. Then in the late 2000s a new breed entered the fold which were bands who incorporated black metal into their sound. Which they took as street cred as in "hey we're black metal too". To which fans proclaimed "ah no you're not, you're hipsters."

After listening to this release by GAEREA for a while now I think they need to be listed with those great Portuguese black metal acts I named earlier. Oh you weren't expecting that one were you? Yeah well the second part of this release is so steeped in blackened fury and anger that it won me over. Hopefully their next full length won't take as much time to get into.

Friday, July 6, 2018

NIGREDO - Flesh Torn / Spirit Pierced review

NIGREDO - Flesh Torn / Spirit Pierced  

Transcending Obscurity Records

Of late I've been exposed to a lot of cool black metal from Greece. Here we have a side project by two members of RAVENCULT, a band I've been a fan of for a while now. Specifically there's A (aka: Alexis Papatheofanous) who handles vocals, guitar and bass. The drums are handled by ex-RAVENCULT member Maelstrom who's also in some incredible Greek extreme acts like DEPHOSPHORUS as well as EMBRACE OF THORNS.

Musically this is similar to RAVENCULT if they leaned more towards thrash. What's cool about this project is how the song structures within take on unpredictable directions. The band is shooting for blackened thrash but forgo the boring traditional trappings. Things are flat out exciting and vicious sounding throughout all eight cuts. Seriously I was waiting for a lazy cut to sink in but hell no.

Flesh Torn / Spirit Pierced is this project's debut full length. They've got an EP, Facets of Death, from a few years ago which seems to be an obvious pick to check out as well. As far as this one goes it rides the line sharply between straight up black metal and it's thrash sub-genre. To me that's important since too many jack-legs take on the latter as a derivative of punk than metal. Secondly you've got two well accomplished and respected musicians from the Hellenic black metal scene creating this gem. Absolutely one of the Greek blackened scene's top acts.

Thursday, July 5, 2018


It's time to honor a few choice releases that will be remembered not only at the end of this year but to remind YOU the reader of some great extreme metal that would feel right at home with you.

FERVENT HATE - Tales of Hate, Lust and Chaos

Satanath Records

Death & Roll from Peru who mix DISMEMBER with  touches of AT THE GATES and a lot of swagger.

HUMAN COMPOST - Exhumations Of Death And Horror

Horror Pain Gore Death Productions

Imagine the third cousins of CARCASS discovering  IMPETIGO. This is a compilation of everything they've done.

FETO IN FETUS - From Blessing to Violence

Selfmadegod Records

Polish grind merchants unleash a cauldron of chaos

DEIQUISITOR - Downfall of the Apostate

Dark Descent Records

There's a battle raging on here by these Dannish scene vets who appreciate the old ways of death metal's  destroy and conquer actions.

JUDAS PRIEST - Firepower

Columbia Records

A mixed bag of sounds old and new. The best album they've done since the 1980s.


Craneo Negro Records

A flawless homage to old school Swedish DM by one man from California. Can I get a hell yeah?

HUMAN CULL - Revenant 


Old school Grindcore done by new school hellions who will rip your face off in eighteen minutes.

RITUAL NECROMANCY - Disinterred Horror

Dark Descent Records

Seven years is worth the weight for death metal greatness like this.

SINAYA - Maze of Madness

Brutal Records

Reminds me of early Angela Gossow era ARCH ENEMY. That's a complement by the way. 


Transcending Obscurity Records

ENTOMBED meets BOLT THROWER meets late 80's Hardcore.