21 Jul 2014

Malichor - The Serum [Single] (2014, Self-released)

Ah yes, here we are again. We find ourselves once more in the company of Malichor from Australia, brandishing the proud tradition of blackened thrash metal. Malichor's previous releases have left me expecting nothing but the best in ruthless metal riffing and music from lovecraftian hell. With equal measures Re-Animator and From Beyond we're being spoiled with a take on lovecraftian tales that don't involve the standard Cthulhu/Nyarlathotep schtick.

Side West kicks things off with what is arguably the bands fastest piece yet, their violent tunes rip-and-tearing their way into existence with savage ferocity. Great tempo is achieved through impeccable tremolos and brutish blast beats, a time-tested recipe perfected and distilled into a fine spirit of Malichor. Side Tillinghast dogmatically preach that humans are such easy prey, and promptly makes a reality of their threats to prey upon you. The release is a single, of that there can be little doubt, and it effectively eliminates any meandering and thoughtful lingering that might have found its way into their earlier songs, not once leering its ugly head for fear of being swiftly decapitated in true Re-Animator style.

Some aspects of songwriting come at the cost of other prime elements. On The Serum, the riffs seem to have taken somewhat of a step down from the high quality of the previous material, and in general most of the songwriting has taken a back seat in pursuit of faster speeds. The Australian band's modus operandi has always been a simple one, mixing almost elementary riffs and straight-forward drumming with absolutely exquisitely intense compositions. That method has only been made more apparent when Malichor took the step forward into faster tempos, but a rather uninteresting sound that lacks force results in only a vague interest in getting to know the material. The two tracks presented on side West and side Tillinghast are thoroughly deserving of almost the same praise Malichor's previous material has had, but at first it warrants nothing but a cursory glance. 7/10 guitars.

1. The Serum
2. Easy Prey

Malichor on Bandcamp
Malichor on Facebook

11 Jul 2014

Menschheitsdämmerung - Cleaver of Skies and Tenets [EP] (2013, No Sleep Till Megiddo Records)

I lament the direction many black metal groups have taken. In an attempt to achieve atmosphere in the name of depression and deep dark forests, many have taken to ridiculous amounts of distortion in what seems almost a deliberate attempt to obscure their own inability to write compelling material. Burzum's Filosofem had crystal clear production with every instrument standing out, the compositions easily holding their own regardless of sound. Xasthur's Telepathic with the Deceased may well be the album that for many people has incited this infatuation with thick shrouds of noise and an abundance of effects on vocals as well as strings, but even this modern classic has obvious hooks and captivating songwriting.

But thankfully, a band like Menschheitsdämmerung comes along, showing us that not all one-man black metal project are bedroom DSBM wannabes. The style is so far removed from this whole ordeal, focusing largely on huge, swarming riffs in a thrilling environment of envigorating compositions, tempo changes aplenty and variation coming out the ass. Cleaver of Skies and Tenets offers us long-stretched black metal opuses in the spirit of Carpathian Forest, Immortal and other northern acts, revelling in the same groupings of blast beats overtaken by commitment and vigor. It's a veritable surfeit of great, genre-loyal tracks, gripping you right by the balls, pulling you in with sheer force rather than enticing you with long streaks of ambience and atmosphere.

Cleaver of Skies and Tenets is a half an hour of black metal, distributed equally into five tracks. Those thiry minutes are well spent, as there's almost never a dull moment in the company of Frederik, Menschheitsdämmerung's sole member. It has more or less become an artform of knowing when to stop. Slayer should've quit years ago, and the same goes for countless other bands. This release stops just short of becoming an uninspired, watered down shadow of its glorious self. There are times when the progressions come off as predictable and re-used, and the vocals could be clearer in the mix as they mostly remain far in the background to the point where they at times seem almost pointless, contrasting so vividly against the effortless riffing produced on the guitar. Do not cheat yourself out of listening to this. This is black metal with finesse and brutality in equal measures. 8/10 guitars.

1. The Pick
2. The Hunt
3. The Catch
4. The Kill
5. The Feed

Visit Menschheitsdämmerung on Bandcamp
Visit No Sleep Till Megiddo Records

3 Jul 2014

Armagedon - Thanatology [Full length] (2013, Mystic Production)

Go digging around in Poland's heavy metal history and you'll come up with quite a few gems. Only a few Polish metal bands exist in the mind of the general populace, some of the more prominent ones being Behemoth, Vader, Dead Infection, Graveland and Kat, only a few of which have their roots in the 80's. Then there's Armagedon from Kwidzyn, Poland. Their carreer originally stretched from 1987 to 1994 where they released a few demos and the album "Invisible Circle". In 2006 the original members, the Maryniewski brothers, again picked up the mantle of Armagedon, going on to release the moderately appreciated "Death Then Nothing" album in 2009 and finally "Thanatology" in 2013.

Aside from an introductory section of the opening track, Helix, which sounds like something lifted from a Paul W.S. Anderson film, the new incarnation of the band offers brutally chiseled death metal, carved from the same material that gave us Vader, Sphere, Embrional, Empatic and Hate. The album reflects a certain respect for where death metal has come from, but also a desire to show where death metal should go. Through a presentation of highly kinetic songwriting and commendably immersive production the various fluctuations between grave melodies and simpler, more primal elements the Thanatology album achieves the fine balance between various subgenres to make the release an everflowing stream of interesting and modern angles on a genre that has already been thoroughly mapped and explored.

There is a certain duality to be found within the music of Armagedon. This schizophrenia comes mainly at the hands of the many different elements brought to use in their tracks. Where songs like Cemeteries focuses on eerie, drawn out aspects, a shorter opus like Self Destruction feels significantly more primitive and primordial in both its composition and its delivery. Slawomir's hollow growls neatly puts the finishing touches on the glorious monument to death metal created by the effective rhythms and gruesome riffs provided by the rest of the band, convincingly showing off the internal dynamics achieved between the band members. But - Because there's always a but - in the long run and the grand scheme of things Thanatology lacks hooks. The album deserves a few listenes from any death metal fanatic, but it never soars above being merely thoroughly enjoyable. The grueling song Altar of Death and Vultures both have the gist of classics in them, but common between all the tracks is that they arbitrarily shift between tremolos, chugs and various melodies set to blastbeats or double-pedal punishment at the drummer's discretion. The inaudibility of the lyrics makes it feel like the lyrical content doesn't matter at all, and when held to the incredibly high standard set by many of their peers, Armagedon just doesn't quite compare. 7/10 guitars.

1. Helix
2. Vultures
3. Cemeteries
4. Self Destruction
5. Altar of Death
6. Black Seed
7. Corridor
8. Tragic Journey

Visit ARMAGEDON on Facebook or at their official site
Visit Mystic Production

23 Jun 2014

Lord Impaler - Babylon Whore [EP] (2013, Self-released)

Since 1998 the greek trio known as Lord Impaler have unleashed grueling black metal upon the world, culminating in their 2011 album "Admire the Cosmos Black". Lord Impaler have no permanent drummer, resulting in each release using a different session member filling in roll of drummer; On the Babylon Whore EP from 2013 the title befalls George Trakas, who normally kicks ass in Mass Infection. Lord Impaler's primary body of work consists mainly of demos and generally smaller releases, and indeed the two songs found on the Babylon Whore EP were also released as a split wither Athos, another Greek black metal band.

Babylon Whore and The White Dream of Ziz blast away with immediate and unrelenting explosions of blastbeats and tremolo riffs, which paired with the traditional bleak sound creates an overall pretty standard take on blasting black metal. And in that sense the EP has it all, and little else. Babylon Whore is by all means a tribute to and a study in black metal ruthlessly beating your mind, and it excels in just that.

For the tracks to go on for four and five minutes respectively Lord Impaler end up repeating themselves over and over. The White Dream of Ziz has a slower, quieter part about halfway through, providing a glimps into more thoughtful songwriting territory, but when it almost immediately culminates in a return to the main riff the atmosphere almost built seems entirely unnecessary. This is the sad story of how most of the EP goes. The riffs are monstrously enjoyable, but when repeated ad nauseam it gets too much - There are simply too few riffs, resulting in many repeat offenses. As such the Babylon Whore EP, one of the Greek band's newest offerings, is fit only for sparse enjoyment. The material warrants more focus on variety and feels like it should instead be condensed into shorter tracks where the melodies could moreso come into their own and take the spotlight place they deserve, instead of being condemned to hatred at the hands of repetition for the sake of making the songs longer. 5/10 guitars

1. Babylon Whore
2. The White Dream of Ziz

Lord Impaler on Facebook
Lord Impaler official site

13 Jun 2014

Deus Otiosus - Rise [Full length] (2014, Deepsend Records)

Deus Otiosus represent the comet-like carreers of some contemporary death metal acts. Since the release of their first album, Murderer, in 2010 - only 4 years ago - the seasoned Danish group have toured extensively in Denmark and have signed with Deepsend Records. For those unfamiliar with Deus Otiosus their mission statement has always been returning to the roots of thrashy death metal through a more modern sound and production. The members' involvement in various other prolific Danish metal bands has previously meant a generally high quality of songwriting, valuing tormentingly ruthless content.

Long-time fans of the group will be pleased to find that Rise continues in much the same style and quality of the prior albums, Murderer and Godless. Newcomers should likewise easily be able to appreciate the dauntless riffs, the punishment of the drumkit, the powerfully booming bass and the hoarsely growled vocals which all make up the signature sound of Deus Otiosus. And this is exactly what the band is all about; While they are highly derivative of classic death metal their material never quite comes off as a complete rip off. Listening to tracks like Breeding Maggots or Iron Rule feels like greeting an old friend you forgot you had, sounding familiar while still adding various musical chunks giving it that modern aftertaste.

Staying in the spiritual neighbourhood of old school death metal means there's only so much you can do to experiment while still finding yourself within the frame of mind set by those standards. As such the third album sometimes feels unadventurous, often depending on the same elements and build-ups over and over again. That recipe is effective in live settings, providing ridiculous amounts of head-banging circle-pitting material, but when you've got the music all to yourself at home it has a habbit of making the listening experience a bit tedious over time.

Having early on adopted a way of enticing listeners with get-the-job-done lyrics like "Don't fuck with the dead, or the dead will fuck with you" the by now well known Danish band aren't exactly focusing on virtuosity or groundbreaking musicianship, and in that lies the very appeal of Deus Otiosus. They're not trying to be something they're not and they stick to what they know: Effective ass-kicking death metal. 7/10 guitars.

1. Rising War
2. Iron Rule
3. Don't Fuck With the Dead
4. Breeding Maggots
5. Vultures
6. Walk the Shadows
7. Stand Up and Fight
8. Will and Fear
9. Fall of the West

Visit Deus Otiosus' official website
Like them on Facebook
Check out Deepsend Records