Vampire – Vampire (2014)

“AT MIDNIGHT I’LL POSSESS YOUR COOORPSE!” Vampire, another entrant in the revival of thrashy death metal from Swedeland, finally released their debut LP.

Take the raw aggression from the all the classic 90’s Swedeath bands home, throw in a bit of thrash, add some filth. Baby, you’ve got a Vampire stew going!

As mentioned, Vampire reminds me a lot of the more current Swedeath bands like, Repugnant, Tribulation, Degial, Necrovation, Verminous, and so forth. Lyrically, Vampire is the B-grade horror movie of the bunch; they focus on the typical death, gore but if the name wasn’t any indication,  also horror and zambies!

I think what sets Vampire apart, is that they’ve got a bit more bite to them. It certainly isn’t the rawest out there, but there’s still a lot of grit on this record: reverberant, barked vocals, bouncy guitar riffs, powerful drums, and  muddy bass (hey, it works!). A lot of those bands focus on atmosphere as well, but Vampire would fit right in as the soundtrack for the night of the living dead.

You can find CDs, vinyl, and t-shirts here!

Favorite tracks: At Midnight I’ll Possess Your Corpse, The Bestial Abyss, Jaws of the Unknown

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Vektor – Outer Isolation (2011)

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Holy shit. This is some of the most intense and interesting progressive thrash metal I’ve heard. Vektor is definitely the most interesting band to have come out of the new thrash wave that was popular in the late 2000’s/early 2010’s, playing a sort of proggy thrash metal that takes heavily from Voivod and Obliveon while retaining a rather large originality. Outer Isolation, Vektor’s sophomore studio effort, further solidifies this position that they managed to create with their debut, Black Future.

The 8 songs on this album surround the theme of a man lost in space and the thoughts that race through his head as he deals with his situation and human existence. The songs are somewhat lengthy, with 5 tracks at 5-6 minutes in length and 3 tracks running at 3, 8 and 10 minutes.

Each song flows between intense, headbang inducing thrash and non-pretentious proggy sections which is lead by some immaculate, shredding leads, catchy rhythms, encapsulating bass and intense drumming (blast beats and otherwise). And those vocals, my god those vocals; David DiSanto’s vocals have to be the most notable thing about Vektor purely because of the sheer absurdity of the pitch and tone that he screams out. There are numerous times throughout this album that the vocals seem to extend into sheer unhuman highs, including the vocal intro to Tetrastructral Minds (video below) which, no exaggeration, is this generation’s Angel of Death (in regards to that scream). What these vocals manage to do is to not only retain a level of intensity that the riffing and drumming invokes but also manage to remain surprisingly intelligible, catchy (thanks to some superior song writing) and awe-inspiring, layering the album with more outstanding elements to whack Vektor ahead of the re-thrash mob.

The instrumentation during the thrashy parts of the songs (as mentioned above many times) is intense and will do more than just satisfy any person who deems themselves a thrasher while the proggy sections actually complement the thrash parts well, retaining a level of intensity and strangeness (the intro to Venus Project for example) that Voivod would be proud of, and at their least intense manage to keep above pretension and produce the most haunting sections of this album. It is all tied in extremely well with a solid level of production quality that sits perfectly with the type of music Vektor plays (which needs a high production to not drown any instrument out) without breaching into over polished.

There’s nothing really overtly wrong with this album (nor the debut for that matter), although the vocals will be a surprise for anyone expecting basic thrash vocals since they combine elements of black metal shrieks, thrash shouts and inhumane screams.

This album is perfect for anyone craving Voivod inspired progressive and intense thrash and is highly recommended for anyone who is seeking a little more out of the new thrash movement (that is dying off at the time of writing). Seriously watch this space for more killer Vektor releases, these guys should have some sick stuff up their sleeves.

 

The Oath – The Oath (2014)

Doomy, girly newcomers, The Oath, have finally released their long awaited, self-titled debut on  everyone’s favorite doom, stoner label, Rise Above Records.

Contrary to what the album cover would have you believe, it’s not an all female band! The two females of the group handle the vocals and guitars, and actually, this record features Simon Bouteloup from Kadavar on bass.

I should probably stop talking about how they’re girls and get to the actually music at some point. Anyhow, The Oath plays a lot like a concoction of Pagan Altar meets Mercyful Fate, whom both smoked too many cigarettes together in a grimy bar. Is that descriptive enough? I think so.  (For you genre sticklers: heavy/doom metal/hard rock)

You can find a stream of the album on their bandcamp.

Favorite tracks: Night Child, Black Rainbow, Psalm 7

Sun Worship – Elder Giants (2014)

Sun Worship - Elder GiantsFor a band called Sun Worship, the material presented here far from bright and warm and is instead pretty fucking dark. This German black metal group have laid out a 4 song, just under 37 minute long descent into sheer depression and melancholy on this impressive debut.
Sun Worship play a heavily atmospheric style of black metal in a somewhat minimalistic nature, similar in style to the US’ Cascadian black metal scene combined with the icy harshness of Europe’s more atmospheric black metal bands (Burzum and the like); the music here is atmospheric in the sense that everything about this album oozes burden, depression and despondency. These atmospheres are conjured up through the use of slow, sorrow laden tremolo picked riffs, fast drumming that hangs in the back of the music (adding to and emphasising the despondency of it all) and some extremely depressive and wretched black metal shrieks. Sections of each song flow between tremolo riffs and blasts to slower and crushing chords/drums effectively and without feeling jarring, helping the general depressing atmosphere feel more dynamic without slipping into poor song writing standards.

The song writing appears to be focused purely on creating the dark feelings that leak out of the album and as such the 4 songs don’t have any real distinction between them. That isn’t to say that each song is a carbon copy of another (aside from the last track, which is a dark synth atmospheric track) nor does it feel that way, but rather that each song is less an individual element and is instead a smooth progression from the previous. This leaves the album feeling cohesive in its progression which allows the album to crush any light from your world unhindered. The album doesn’t suffer from any production issues and each instrument is distinctive but not overruling of any other, which is always a good thing to see happen with a band’s debut.

This an extremely strong debut from a band that has basically no underground recognition, most likely due to the fact that no information about the band members or anything really seems to exist and is such to an extent that this album almost entirely leaped out from thin air to surprise the few people paying attention. There are no major flaws resting within this album as far as I can tell; there’s no production issues, the song writing is up to an extremely high standard, the instruments and wretched vocals invoke the perfect despondency for what Sun Worship are trying to achieve and the band crush all issues with unoriginality (there’s no real new concepts presented here, musically or otherwise) by invoking such a fucking dark and depressing album so well.

A highly recommended listen for people who have a burning desire to slowly stifle out the light in their life with a perfectly crafted black metal album.

Starkill – Fires Of Life (2013)

Starkill - Fires Of LifeWith an 80’s styled album cover consisting of a barbarian standing on an icy mountain shooting lightning out of his hand, this album could easily be mistaken for an epic themed Power Metal album and while the epic atmosphere is evident, Starkill combine elements of Melodic Black and Death Metal and filter into them about 20 tons of synth and symphonic elements. What results from this is probably the most fitting description of epic Metal that I’ve ever seen.

The 10 songs presented here are half reworkings of previous material from previous reincarnations of this band (as Ballistika and then Massakren) and half new material. This is the official debut of Starkill although the band (with a different bassist) had released a debut under the moniker of Massakren.

The song writing on this album is immensely grandiose with Starkill knowing just when to place a soaring solo, when to dive into a ferocious double kick , speedy riffed passage, when to add a spoken word pre-battle speech and when to slow a song down and build it up again with synth and symphonic elements. It is said about a lot of music that attempts the epic battle style of aesthetic but Starkill really truly make you want to pick up a sword, slay the hounds of hell and stand upon their corpses bloodied but victorious.

It helps that for such a young band their playing is extremely tight; the neoclassical lead work and solos are fucking impressive and they don’t push into Malmsteen douchy territory, the rhythm guitar switches between vicious extreme riffing (of both melodic death and black metal sorts) as well as ‘epic’ chord progressions, the vocals dance craftily between Melodic Death Metal growls, blackened shrieks and spoken word while the drumming can lay out heart pumping double kick laden sections as well as heavily emphasis the more grandiose and rousing parts of these songs. The synths that are featured in this album are extremely effective at holding the atmosphere together, like some sort of musical glue, and for the most part they don’t layer the album in an oozing cheese (cough cough Wintersun cough cough) and the lyrics are pretty top tier Good Vs Evil themed: “This is our battle, this is our day!” for example.

In saying that though, this album does suffer from exuberant cheese on the very rare occasion, especially in a couple of sections where Starkill’s Melodic Death Metal elements strike eerily similar to Dethklok’s works as well as some of the synth work having a very MIDI, Summoning-esque sound to them (it works with Summoning’s material but not here unfortunately). Luckily these blemishes are few and far between and the general grandiose atmosphere of the album manages to stay nicely on the middle point between far too serious and far too cheesy, leaving the listener with a fun, blood-pumping but well crafted Symphonic/Melodic Death/Black album.

Extremely recommended if you feel you haven’t been getting your daily dose of monster slaying Metal and you don’t want to have to crack open that mouldy case of cheesy Power Metal.

 

Teitanblood – Death (2014)

That’s right, they’re baaaaaack. Spanish blackened death metal demolitionists, TEITANBLOOD, finally release their second, long-awaited LP, aptly titled Death.

If you’re not familiar with Teitanblood, they play a style of not-quite-black metal but not-quite-death metal, instead meeting at the dark, seedy place where the two genres hooked up after they got a little too fucked on Devil Juice. That’s Teitanblood.

Death is their second full-length record, after 2009’s Seven Chalices. Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of them before; enjoyable, but not really grabbing my attention. It had all the promise: extremes, the atmosphere, OCCULT!, but I just never got it. However, I think they’ve perfected their, admittedly, already great formula. If the death metal influence wasn’t apparent at first, it definitely is on this album. “Anteinfierno” gets straight to kicking you in the chest and crushing your ribs. The production on this album suits their music perfectly: an oddly clear, but still extremely cacophonous, hurricane of metal, heading straight for your earholes.

Favorite tracks: Sleeping Throats of the Antichrist, Burning in Damnation Fires

 

Witchsorrow – Witchsorrow (2010)

Witchsorrow - WitchsorroThey’re English, they’re on Rise Above (Lee Dorian of Cathedral’s label) and their band is called Witchsorrow; this should be a clear indication of the type of metal this could be, either traditional Heavy/Psychedelic or slow brooding Cathedral worship. Witchsorrow sit firmly in the latter category, also citing Electric Wizard as massive influences as well even being invited by Jus Osbourne to play at Roadburn in 2012. For a band that is as obscure (and new, starting in 2005, with their s/t debut in 2010) and not well known amongst metalheads, these are some pretty top quality endorsements to have under your belt.

Musically these guys can be compared to a combination of Cathedral and a much less fuzzed (but still bloody fuzzed) Electric Wizard, playing a style of brooding evil Doom that extends over long songs, the five tracks on this album ranging from 6 minutes to just under 12 minutes. Expect plodding  fuzzed out chords, bassy guitar tones and deep rumbling bass guitar and drums as well as gruff, brooding vocals from Necroskull to hammer at your ears over this 45 minute debut. As well as the music style, the brooding mentality is applied to the lyrics, centring heavily on witches and witch trials, including some pretty dark natured lyrics like: “They will judge, they can’t understand the reasons why they forced your hand” and “Tricked by witchfinders, the great deceivers! Accused of witchcraft…”

Between the fuzzed out guitars, the lyrical content and the brooding vocals, the atmosphere created by this trio is entrancing and dark, and it’s a real sort of dark atmosphere, there’s no cheese to be found in this album. Despite this though, the album seems to suffer from some production issues in small sections of the album, taking away from the dark and deep brooding tone of the album as well as a few lacklustre sections of songs which desperately lack the evil brooding sounds that other sections employ. The longest song; Thou Art Cursed relies heavily on the tri-tone, which, over the almost 12 minutes runtime becomes a little overplayed though is effective in adding to the overall atmosphere  despite this. The underwhelming sections of the songs, while few and far between, can at times make the album feel like a laborious listen although this tends to be rare.

Despite the above complaints, this album is an interesting and entrancing listen, and does the dark, brooding witchy atmosphere with as little fondue as possible, and besides, if Jus Obsourne willingly invited this band to play in the section of Roadburn he was curator for (2 albums in for Witchsorrow at the time), this album cannot have been a terrible debut. This debut is by no means a bad one but just happens to suffer a few blemishes which seemed to have been polished out on their sophomore release.

An album that, despite the minor flaws, is still recommended for people who desire a brooding, dark and slow Doom album, that truly lives up the genre name.