Irkallian Oracle – Grave Ekstasis (2013)

Irkallian Oracle - Grave Ekstasis

 

There is a recent resurgence in black/death metal that is aimed at producing sounds that reflect the sheer unknown, abstract horrors that these bands tackle lyrically; a resurgence that Irkallian Oracle have co-opted with such high calibre on this debut album (originally released March 2013 as a limited tape release and saw a vinyl rerelease February 2014). Continue reading

Luke’s first, actual review! Beneath – The Barren Throne (2014)

The Icelandic death metal quintet, Beneath, have returned with a follow-up to their 2012 debut album, Enslaved By Fear. Everywhere you read, you’ll see them described as “brutal death metal,” which I have a beef with. I think it’s because their quality is miles above what is normally tagged as BDM. Mostly, just the vocals and some lyrics that allow that tag to be slapped on. In my eyes (ears), they have much more in common with either technical death metal or the crushing, plodding style of DM a la Immolation, Incantation (Immolation especially so). They keep right in line with their original debut release: a constant, unrelenting onslaught of riffs, hammering drums, occasionally punctuated by very short, ambient or acoustic interludes. Controlled, yet utter aural chaos.

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Mammoth Grinder – Underworlds (2013)

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When people mention combining death metal and hardcore punk, thoughts instantly flicker to the often bashed deathcore genre, however with Mammoth Grinder this combination eschews that sound and follows the left hand path similar to bands combining sick concoctions of crust punk and death metal. The interesting aspect about Mammoth Grinder is that their original musical formula was sludge/hardcore punk, which was switched up to a Swe-death (less HM2 worship) with hardcore punk and some remnants of their sludgy days on their 2009 album and continued through to this release.

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Disma – Towards The Megalith (2011)

Disma - Towards The Megalith

Towards the Megalith is an extremely appropriate title considering the sheer monolithic heft that Disma have presented with this death/doom debut, with the music invoking images of vast caverns of pitch black and gigantic pondering mechanical structures. This sort of cavernous death/doom style appeared to be the other route for revival death metal bands to take that wasn’t Entombed worship, and for the most part Disma seem to have avoided pigeonholing themselves into a mere revival band with this 8 song debut. Continue reading

Ringworm – Hammer Of The Witch (2014)

Ringworm - Hammer Of The Witch

Jesus fucking Christ, Ringworm are certainly pissed off and it shows. Ringworm’s recent slab of thrash/hardcore (not in a crossover thrash sense) has to be one of the most aggressive releases I’ve heard recently.

Everything about this album oozes a level of subtlety similar to a body builder bashing you face to a pulp with a house brick; it’s relentless, it’s crushing and my fucking Christ is it good. The opening track starts out with a bit of a slow death introduction before crushing you with one of the album’s mid-paced songs and the album the pounds you for one song to the next over the 40 minute track length. Musically Ringworm combine guitar riffs similar to Slayer passing through groove central, along with thrash solos and heavy hardcore elements, an absolutely hammering drum and bass combination and some extremely vicious and sheer rage filtered vocals that are shouted over the top of the music. The riffs switch between chug heavy hardcore elements and intense thrash riffs and you’ll find yourself headbanging along like the riffs themselves are grabbing your hair and yanking your head, while the drums incite some pretty mosh worthy beats and the bass chugs along threatening to beat you within an inch of your life. Not too mentioned that the tone on both the guitars and the bass are just so bloody well suited for this hardcore/thrash combination and churn out the right level of aggression and sheer weight (guitar and bass respectively) that the riffing elements are amplified to be that much more devastating.

The songs are mostly mid-paced but flirt between slow, crushing sections and intense, thrashy fast sections, which are both placed perfectly around the album to make all three paces effective and brutal. This is one of the positives of the song writing, so much so that the 40 minutes of relentless aggression don’t stay past their welcome (seeing as most hyper-aggressive albums stick to around the 30 minute mark) without losing out on the hefty impact that the aggression on the album gives off; the album is one dimensional but is aggressive and interesting enough to keep a listener’s interest. There’s no inherent issues with the production quality either, as mentioned above all the instruments are audible and seem to sit just right in the mix in order for them to do what they need to do, and do it bloody well. To top it all off, Ringworm have not just created a 40 minute devastator but have also managed to keep out all of the douche-bro elements that both thrash and hardcore punk are prone to having, which is just fucking excellent.

This album is highly recommended for anyone looking for the intersecting point between thrash metal and hardcore punk that leaves you aching, sore and reading to go another round in the pit with the most aggression and intensity that both genres have to offer.

 

Vreid – V (2011)

Vreid - V

Vreid is the result of the members of Windir moving on after the tragic death of band mate and front man Valfar (who passed away in 2004).The strange thing about Vreid as a band is that they didn’t continue to play a black/folk Viking metal style but rather melodic black metal (this style change doesn’t stop Metal Archives from redirecting to Windir when I search for Vreid though). Originally the band contained 3 members from Windir plus a new guitarist although he was later switched out for an ex-Windir guitarist (in 2010, in time for this album).

V, Vried’s fifth album is a solid offering of melodic black metal that focuses heavily on melody while still retaining much of its black metal chops. The guitars play a mixture of crushingly heavy riffs, passages of black metal styled tremolo riffing, which more often than not adds a melancholic tinge to the melodies played on this album, as well as crushing power chords interlaced with melodic guitar leads. For the most part the vocals are mid-pitched black metal shrieks (sometimes piercing into the higher pitches) and for the most part are drenched with a particular sort of melancholy which suits Vreid’s thematic content of cold, darkness and WWII themes. There are certain passages in the album where the vocals, as well as the rest of the music play a very Enslaved styled clean section and some late era Woods Of Ypres styled passages in Slave. The bass is surprisingly high up in the mix for a melodic black metal band and provides an extra layer to the whole album, providing a much fuller sound than one would expect in a genre known for its high-end EQ. The drumming also adds more layers to the album by amplifying the intensity, the atmosphere of the album and the emotional power that the album provides.

The production quality on this album is beefy and does all the instruments, including the bass guitar justice (as mentioned above, the bass is surprisingly high up in the mix). Don’t come in expecting standard lo-fi black metal production quality, as it wouldn’t really work well with Vreid’s style of melodic black metal.

As for the song writing, well it is pretty top quality as well; all of the straight up black metal parts of the songs feel vicious and befitting the genre while each melodic section sprinkles the right amount of melancholy, solemness and darkness to the music. The songs aren’t lengthy (aside from The Others And The Look) and none of them feel repetitive, outstay their welcome or become disinteresting and some tracks are just straight up god damn catchy.

Definitely a recommended album for people who crave black metal with a hefty focus on the melody without feeling like the black metal is being castrated.