First Fragment – Dasein (2016)


Author: Gay For Gary Oldman

Artist: First Fragment

Album: Dasein

Genre: Technical Death Metal

Label: Unique Leader Records




It’s not always easy to sell me on Technical Death Metal. On the surface, I should be clamoring at the chance to hear an album in the vein of Cryptopsy, Suffocation or Atheist. But in a post-Necrophagist world, and especially on Unique Leader Records, with the likes of Rings of Saturn, Spawn of Possesion and Fallujah under their belts, the term can condemn a band to sterile, over-produced and senseless guitar-wankery. However-many exceptions I have to this rule in that I thoroughly enjoy Archspire and Beyond Creation, it was really guitarist Phil Tougas who had sold me on this release, in that his other project Chthe’ilist is still hovering up around the top of my end of year list, largely in part due to the lead guitar work.  Continue reading


Gorod – A Maze of Recycled Creeds (2015)


Author: Bloodshot Grub

Artist: Gorod

Album: A Maze of Recycled Creeds

Label: Listenable Records


I’ve never bought into the notion that technicality is necessarily a trade off with expressiveness, or that the majority or even a substantial number of technical metal bands are guilty of focusing on showing off their chops rather than on writing good music. On the contrary, I find technical death metal to be one of the more emotionally engaging death metal subgenres. Gorod’s prior albums are an excellent example of what I’m talking about: virtuoso musicianship used to access a spectacular and entirely expressive approach to melody that draws from classical and jazz music. The reason that A Maze of Recycled Creeds falls flat is not because they’ve spent too much time practicing their sweep picking and not enough time on their songwriting, because the level of musicianship hasn’t changed from prior albums. It’s still top notch, and I don’t think this would be a better album if they had backed off on the technicality. More likely, it would be a worse one, because many of this album’s really enjoyable moments are also jaw-dropping displays of technical ability. For whatever reason, the songwriting just isn’t there on this one. Continue reading

Zillah – Serpentine Halo (2015)

Author: Bloodshot Grub

Artist: Zillah

Album: Serpentine Halo

Label: Sea of Corruption Records

This slab of technical death metal comes to us courtesy of Edinburgh’s Zillah. They’ve been around since 2000 but prior to this have only released two full-length albums and four EPs, none of which have garnered any significant attention or acclaim. This one, however, has crossed my radar several times, prompting curiosity about what exactly it is that they’re up to. The answer is, nothing special, but still plenty enjoyable. Continue reading

Nile – What Should not be Unearthed (2015)

Author: Jan Jakobsen

Artist: Nile

Album: What Should not be Unearthed

Label: Nuclear Blast Recrods

Nile will forever hold a special place in my heart. As strange as it may sound, Nile was the first extreme metal band that really captured me. I still remember the first time I stumbled onto In Their Darkened Shrines on YouTube and an entire world of death metal opened up to me. After I got my hands on Annihilation of the Wicked my mind was set, death metal was the genre for me. I played those two albums to death, nearly every day for god knows how long, and I owe Nile and their Egyptian themed technical death metal a lot in terms of ‘finding’ myself when it comes to musical preference. I fell off the Nile bandwagon after the release of Ithyphallic though, not only because I had moved on musically, but also because Nile had abandoned some of that raw brutality in favor of a much more technical and atmospheric approach which I felt other bands simply outshone them in doing. The production on the last three albums has been weak as well, lacking that thick guitar tone that especially Annihilation of the Wicked had. Continue reading

Pyrrhon – Growth Without End (2015)

Artist: Pyrrhon

Album: Growth Without End

Label: Handshake Inc.

Reviewer: Crono

Last year Pyrrhon released their sophomore album, The Mother of Virtues. It was the first time I heard them, and since then, I haven’t gone back and listened to their previous album. The Mother of Virtues was weird, very dark and heavy, and the 10-minute closing title track was great. Following that, I was lucky enough to go see Pyrrhon live (playing with fellow-New Yorkers, Artificial Brain!). That show was a revelation for me. I enjoyed Pyrrhon’s album, but I don’t think I quite understood the music the way I was supposed to. But seeing them perform their songs live, especially The Mother of Virtues, was insane. The vocalist, Doug Moore, was a freak. Dressed in a plain white t-shirt, he didn’t quite look the part, but as soon as he leapt into his savage snarl, bellowing out his disturbing, misanthropic vocals, I understood what the music was supposed to be. The bassist did so much more than I thought he did, holding together the songs along with the drummer, and the guitarist spent most of his time playing the strangest sounds, shredding away at his guitar with his back to the crowd. Continue reading