Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Spina Bifida - Iter

SPINA BIFIDA - Iter (GODEATER - CD 2015)
So, the horror tale of old death metal bands that are exhumed from the crypts is continued with Spina Bifida from Holland. Well, this band was never in the centre of attention and I dare to say that they were almost forgotten through the years. The fact that “Ziyadah”, their 1993 album (released on Adipocere) was difficult to find did not help. But some maniacs kept them in their memories and that even led to re-release of “Ziyadah” in 2014 on Memento Mori from Spain. In the meantime most of the original members who recorded the only Spina Bifida album 20 years ago decided to reform their old band, with new vocalist William Nijhof. Well, for me this news were nothing exciting, to be honest, it wasn’t something I was looking forward to hear, but that’s only because I’ve never heard of Spina Bifida until couple of years ago, when someone introduced me to “Ziyadah”.
So, I started to listen to “Iter” with no high expectations, but damn, I must say that this CD really crushed me badly. It just sounds so damn good! One of the best things about “Iter” is that it really sounds like something recorded in the early 90’s and the time never moved all those 20 years forward. It’s like someone found an old Spina Bifida demo or EP and decided to release it on CD! The production is so classic, harsh and heavy, perfect for the old school death doom metal of the old days. And musically it is also traditional stuff, in the vein of early Paradise Lost, Decomposed or Eternal Darkness. You can also mention Mystic Charm, Sempiternal  Deathreign, Castle because we must mention some Dutch doom death bands haha. Of course the music is sloooowww, it’s very dark and mournful, with slight hints of melody which makes it all better and yes, it also has the low, depressive vocals. With five songs it’s all enough to keep me highly interested and excited, as the songs are all really good. And luckily Spina Bifida didn’t come up with one hour long album, which would be tiresome and overlong. It’s perfectly balanced and the songs may sound monotonous, but with 30 minutes on the clock I cannot think of any fragment of “Iter”, which would bore me. It’s just heavy, mournful death doom in its most classic form. And surely it’s a nice return for Spina Bifida. I’m not gonna compare this CD to their old album, as more than 20 years between them both makes such comparisons a bit silly, but I’m sure that all of you who love “Ziyadah”, will also like “Iter”.
Standout tracks: “Awe”, “Silent Fields”

Final rate: 75/100

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Bolt Thrower - Warmaster

BOLT THROWER - Warmaster (EARACHE LP 1991)
I have a friend, who’s big death metal maniac and who keeps saying that “Warmaster” is in his opinion a complete and perfect death metal album, without even one bad song, one bad riff or one dull moment. Damn, I have to agree with him, even if it’s not my favourite Bolt Thrower album. But this album’s biggest strength is that from start to finish we’re bombarded with excellent riffs, great, powerful drumming and fantastic, vicious vocals of Karl Willets. All songs are killer, the riffs and arrangements are so damn nice here… And above everything else Bolt Thrower has their own style, which on this album has crystallized fully. This style was only beginning to form on the previous albums, on “Realm of Chaos” there were songs like “World Eater” and “Eternal War”, which combined the powerful, massive heaviness and that sort of groovy riffage, even with a small dose of melody. “Warmaster” brings that all, but multiplied and perfected. At the same time this album basically leaves behind all the crust or grind influences, which were a part of Bolt Thrower style on the earlier albums, “In Battle There’s No Law” especially. In my opinion “Warmaster” is a pure, old school death metal record, which sounds like the bombers were dropping the bombs over the city or a squadron of tanks was coming, destroying everything on their way. This is how the music of Bolt Thrower sounds, according to me.
And of course war is a main lyrical theme for Bolt Thrower albums. But in case of “Warmaster” it’s more like a social theme, with rather pessimistic lyrics dealing with the problems of modern civilisation, technologies that the people are using to erase their kind, sicknesses of mind, fears, end of the mankind, wars…  I suppose that only “Rebirth of Humanity” is more optimistic saying that “from the wreckage of civilisation, through the ruins of this world, man shall rise to power and grow in strength once more. But will man seek to destroy…”, which is also like a warning.
But let’s back to the music. Bolt Thrower was able to create that very characteristic sound and aura, which makes them very recognisable and outstanding band. Their music is rather simple, it’s not super technical and fancy shit, but this is also why it’s more straight forward, brutal and neck breaking. Their riff style is unique and the whole is far from being monotonous and one dimensional, with lots of variations between all songs. There’re some faster tracks like “The Shreds of Sanity” and “Rebirth of Humanity”, which may still have that very, very slight grind core influence. And there are slower, massively heavy monoliths like “Profane Creation” and “Final Revelation”. But the majority of the album is played in crushing mid paced way. Some traces of melody can also be heard, like in “Cenotaph”, which surely is the most known song from the whole record. I still remember that I saw the video for it in MTV’s Headbangers Ball and it was the first time I heard Bolt Thrower music. Damn, “Cenotaph” is such a strong song and one, which sums the album perfectly.
The greatest thing about “Warmaster” and Bolt Thrower is that they put a great care on the powerful sounding, heavy, beastly riff. Their music is not as technical and complex as Suffocation’s or Cannibal Corpse’s, it’s actually very straight forward, quite simple, almost kind of groovy old school death metal, but this is probably why it’s so easily listenable and why it punches so hard. And it’s memorable, catchy, which is even more stunning if you consider how heavy and brutal this record is. I guess the only thing that I don’t like so much about “Warmaster” is the artwork. I mean it’s OK, but it would fit some gay power fantasy bands rather than brutal death metal act. It’s nice artwork, but I would rather see something different here, especially that I also don’t like this logo they started to use with “Realm of Chaos”. I love the old logo much more!
Standout tracks: “Cenotaph”, “Profane Creation”, “The Shreds of Sanity”

Final rate: 85/100

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Torturerama interview

TORTURERAMA interview!

Hi there Raf! Damn, it took me a long time to prepare these questions, “Close Encounters of the Morbid Kind” has already been released months ago… so you probably have some distance to the album already, tell me then what do you think of it today? How happy are you with the final result and the reviews this CD is getting around the globe? Hopefully Godeater is doing a fine job also, when speaking of the promotion!?
Hi there Marcin! About “Close Encounters Of The Morbid Kind”, we are still very happy with the end result. Of course there are always things we could have done different but as a whole the record sounds great in our ears. We thank Fredde (from Dirty Bird and Massive Assault / Sledgehammer Nosejob) for that. We are happy with our collaboration with Godeater. We already played some nice gigs and we have some cool ones scheduled.

Awesome! But I wanna start with a bit of the past… and first ask about the bandname! Ha, I wonder who came up with this moniker? I mean when I heard of Torturerama for the first time, I used to confuse it with Terrorama a lot haha! Stupid I am! 
Well it was kind of a joke and actually had nothing to do with Terrorama. At one point in the beginning we were sitting in our rehearsal dungeon brainstorming about a band name and this is what we came up with. Belgian beer is pretty strong you know!

The band was formed in 2008 and back then this whole explosion of new wave of old school death metal wasn’t so popular, although few bands were doing it for some time and with a killer result (bands like Repugnant, Kaamos, Necrovation, Verminous, Paganizer, etc). It got really crazy later. But I wonder what made you create a band, which would play such style of music and feel that special affect to the classic Swedish sound? Did it just came out naturally or it was something you planned on doing for some time?
Well it was Christophe, our drummer, who approached me to start this new band in 2007 already. He just came from the ashes of extreme death metal band Prejudice and was kinda sick of the super technical and super brutal genre.
Fuelled by a Dismember show around that time and of course the releases from bands such as Repugnant, but also Death Breath and many others helped fuel that idea. It was a clear choice to go for the chainsaw sound because no one was doing it anymore at the time. Of course coming from other bands at the time we had to search for our own style within the genre and that took some time. I think it comes out best in our latest release. 

The first demo was out in 2010. Some great tracks are there, like “Merciless Exsanguination” and “Last Piece”. Damn! I really like it a lot! How limited is this CD? How do you remember recording it, as it could have been a first time in the studio for some of you?
Thanks for the kind words! Let’s say there is a limit to amount of copies but that limit has not yet been reached :D I remember recording very well. We headed out to MTM studio in Dessel with a shitload of gear and we tried our best to recreate the legendary Sunlight Studio sound. I remember using amps and guitars I don’t own anymore right now. It was a great time! For me it actually was my very first recording experience in a studio, but that did not affect me in any way. There was beer and we had good fun. Hard work though, after that we changed our recording method. We now record everything ourselves. Not that we weren’t happy with the end result., it just seemed more logically to do it ourselves because that gives us more time and less stress.

How did you manage to get Eric Danielsson to do the artwork for your first demo? Damn, I must say that it looks killer. And more so, you had Skogsberg mastering the music, which is another prolific name on the list! How did this idea come up to you? Don't you think that to use names like Skogsberg or Swano is kind of risky, as it immediately puts you into the category of "Swedish death metal band"? 
Well, actually we wanted Riddick to do our artwork but because he was unavailable at the moment we looked for other options. We mailed Eric and that’s how simple it was actually. He was very positive about our little project there.
With Sunlight Studio and Skogsberg it went the exact same way. He even said he was glad to be doing some death metal again because he was swamped in rock’n’roll bands at the time. We hope to work with him again someday!
And about the Swedish death metal stamp, well we were kind of aiming for that with our sound as well.

The second demo, "It Begins at Birth" came through Dolorem Records. And it is even better than the first one! I love the melodic and aggressive patterns in “Sheppard of a Secret Realm”, “Necromantical Tendencies” is also fantastic. Well, some may argue or moan if people need another band playing this style, but who cares? Are you bothered about being original sounding band or whatever? I think that it's killer music, nothing else matters. Any plans to make another edition of these sold out demos? 
“It Begins At Birth” was first released by on tape by ourselves in a limited 100 copies edition. They are sold out. But our little endeavour awakened the interest for our morbid tunes at Dolorem. They were starting at the time with their underground label and wanted us to re-release “It Begins At Birth” on CD through Dolorem. We still have a couple of CD’s left but they won’t last forever. Grab it while you can! About the style, well when we started no one was doing it. Some of the younger (and more ignorant)  kids said to us they didn’t like our style of black metal. We laughed for a bit. Now there is a whole new revival thing going on with some of the younger kids (who finally moved on from the thrash revival). We are not bothered by any forms of criticism. We do our thing and we love doing it. In the end we make this music for ourselves because that’s what we want to do. 

I was eagerly waiting for the debut Torturerama album… and it finally arrived from Godeater Records. First, I want to ask about this label. I have some of their other releases and I appreciate this label a lot, but how do you feel being in such small and limited label? I mean there are some underground labels, which have better recognition these days, like FDA or Dark Descent, where Torturerama would fit perfectly also. So, why Godeater? What did they offer that you decided to release “Close Encounters Of The Morbid Kind” with them? Have you heard any of their previous releases, etc? 
Well, Godeater showed interest in our music and we had a shitload of songs already finished to record from the “It Begins at Birth” time. So recording the new album was done pretty quickly. Of course, if any of the larger labels like FDA or Dark Decent are interested to work with us in the future we would be happy to work with them. For now we are happy with Godeater and having a label definitely has given us the boost we needed. We all knew Godeater through Michel of Entrapment. They released a demo compilation on Godeater. So we knew wat GODEATER was all about. 

And then we have Juanjo Castellano doing an artwork for the album. I like his works a lot, although I also feel like he’s terribly over explored these days. Anyway, he did good job for “Close Encounters Of The Morbid Kind”. Did you give him some ideas for the art or just used what he had prepared before? How did the cooperation with him look like? 
He’s a busy man, that’s for sure. He did a whole new design for us and we are very pleased with the results. We gave him some pointers but nothing too much. He knows what he’s doing.

Just by looking at the lyrics, you can be sure there’re no happy things in there. Horror, gore, a lot of creepy stuff, you know, with titles like “Reduced to Fecal Splatter”, “Revel in Disgust” or “Flesh Ripping Sounds” (which is a good title to describe your music haha!). I wonder if it’s the only lyrical subject in your opinion that should be used in bands like Torturerama? I mean, would you ever write more social related lyrics, similar to what bands like Gorefest did years ago for example? I must say that I do enjoy gore lyrics, especially that often they have also that humorous and grotesque side, which is quite cool and far from the dead serious occult or satanic stuff. Your opinion? 
Well, we kind of stay away from political messages because politics is full of bullshit anyway. Satanism is overly covered by a lot of other bands and just being the next band yelling “Hail Satan” isn’t our objective. It’s possible our lyrical themes will evolve to something else but for me personally that’s not really a goal. Although there are many ways to write about horror, gore and creepy stuff. The mind of a human can be the darkest place of all. So maybe that’s a way we could evolve lyrically. I’m not really busy with what the “message” of our music is. We just want to make kick ass songs.

When writing about topics like death, diseases, sickness, it is usually influenced by old horror movies… but damn, sometimes you can wonder what the fuck would you do if one day you woke up and saw the TV headlines about a deadly outbreak, which is changing people into fuckin zombies! Ha, imagine you’re there! What would you do to survive?! And damn, what do you think about people, who actually prepare themselves for such Armageddon, collecting food cans, water, batteries, weapons and everything they would need in critical situations? Are they crazy or wise? 
Ha! What a notion. Yeah, those people are a bit off. Let’s not say they’re crazy, but there’s certainly something wrong with their vision of the world we live in.
Let’s say that really happens,  it might be so that they survive a bit longer, but not much. What is a year when you are going to die soon anyway. We as a species lack the skills to survive in a situation where all of our daily comfort is ripped away. And the good news is, our planet will easily recover from the cancer that humanity is for the earth. We are a society that values knowledge, very specific, useless knowledge that in the case of an apocalyptic event won’t do you much good.  Even in the case of a new global conflict like a new world war a lot of people these days will have to realise that they actually have no valuable skills to sustain themselves and even rebuild society afterward.

I don’t think you would feel angry if I say that “Close Encounters Of The Morbid Kind” is heavily Swedish death metal influenced album. Because it is! It’s obvious that Torturerama takes a lot of influence from the old bands, such Entombed, Dismember, Desultory, Grave, but also from non-Swedish acts like Autopsy, Asphyx, etc. But I wonder if there are any newer acts that you feel inspire you in similar way as the old legends? Do you think that any of these new bands will be as remembered in twenty years as the old legends are or the music became such a “fast food” product that it’s just passing by with time, each new album is replaced by something newer and quickly forgotten? 
In general the whole metal scene is in need of new “hero’s”. If you see today’s headliners on the big festivals you have to acknowledge that most of the headliners are bands the have been in this position since the 80’s or even longer.
Together with the fact that music in general is becoming more of a consumption product in general instead of a valued art form, I don’t see this evolving in a positive way. The metal scene is a bit more conservative in that way but there still are similar problems. Of course we appreciate a lot more recent bands in many different sub genres but I don’t immediately see them rising to be the new Entombed, Carcass or anything else. And that is certainly not due to the face that these bands aren’t working hard enough of don’t possess the talent, but rather to what music and the “industry” has become today. So yeah, your fast food analogy is a pretty good one.

Are you bothered that reviews compare you to some other, usually the same group of bands and some even accuse you for being unoriginal and point this out as something negative? How much does being original and unique matter to Torturerama?
Or reviews seem to be pretty positive lately. And I don’t see it as a negative thing that we get compared to the usual suspects. We aren’t reinventing hot water here. If we are unoriginal, all bands that do death metal, or any other kind of metal, in a similar way are unoriginal. This is what we do, like it or leave it. 

OK, you know how much I enjoy your music… And there are many more killer bands these days, which perform death metal just like it was late 80’s / early 90’s and it’s awesome, as I love this sound… but then on the other hand isn’t death metal becoming too predictable, too repetitive these days? You know, how many similar albums can you listen to every month? On the other hand I suppose the older, die hard maniacs would rather have troubles with finding anything worthy in bands that bring something different and more original to this style, like personally I just can’t stand very technical death metal bands or symphonic death metal like Fleshgod Apocalypse! 
When the first wave of extreme metal hit the scene’s all over the world people went crazy because it was something fresh and it had bite and even more aggression. But a few years on this evolved into something of a race to become the most extreme, fastest, most technical, most blablabla band / music / artist. The whole revival thing just came along because people want to rock out
again at gigs instead of standing there listening to very complex, technical music that doesn’t make you want to thrash the place up. So the return to the basics death, but also thrash and heavy metal, will result in bands evolving into something new and exciting. Just like the bands in the early 90’s did. Some will disappear and others will evolve to bigger acts. For instance bands like Morbus Chron or Tribulation already show a mutated form of death metal that I find very interesting.

And what do you think about the long running death metal bands like Obituary, Grave, Unleashed, Deicide, Cannibal Corpse or Malevolent Creation? Do they still have anything to offer? Is it still possible to really enjoy their music, especially when they all did their best stuff in the early stages of their careers? You know, I feel like each next album is like a routine for them and just something that gives them a reason to do another tour. As much as I love Grave for example, I did buy their last album "Out Of Respect For The Dead" and it’s a solid record, but after having so many of their LPs in collection, I started to have thoughts like “hmm, maybe this is my last Grave album I bought, as they just don’t have anything else to offer me?”. What’s your opinion on that?
Me personally, I’m one of those fucks who says stuff like “only the first album is good”. I can be pretty annoying that way, hehe. In general, as a musician / band, if you are capable of writing one or more great albums that’s one hell of an achievement. Of course you will always try to do better, but there always comes a time to realise the end near. But as for these older bands releasing new albums, that’s a survival strategy. With a new album they can tour and survive as a band. I respect that but I’m not running out to get every new release from every band  that once released a great album. Most of these bands survive on their live shows these days, not on the record sales. That also explains the ridiculous prices for bigger acts and their merchandise for instance. I went to a show recently where a shirt costs 35 euro and a hoodie 55. These prices are a bit over the top if you ask me but they have to find new ways to survive because of the lower record sales.

I wonder how is the songwriting like in Torturerama? There's five mates in the band, so plenty of heads to create ideas, I suppose? Do you glue them all together and then make the songs or each of you is individually responsible for composing? Did you ever feel while writing the music that "damn, this riff sounds great... but hold on, it also sounds familiar, but I can't figure out now where it may be coming from?". I always think that the more music you listen to, the more possible it is that accidently you’ll repeat someone else's music haha. 
Actually it’s just 4 sick fucks now. And it’s been that way for quite some time already. When we make songs usually someone comes with one or more riffs and we build on that and see where it leads us. But of course we all do it together. So we write songs as a band. Lyrics usually come from our singer and we adjust if necessary. It’s really a team effort, go team!

I know you’re all playing also in other bands, playing some other styles of metal… what does it give you, to be a part of few projects and play different stuff? 
It’s all extreme music in its own way. For me personally it is a way to ventilate my creativity and also it’s just good fun playing in a band. It’s a hobby, but a very special one. Playing live, recording… I like it all.

Bathsheba released a debut EP for Svart Records. It is pure doom metal stuff, released on 10” vinyl. And I’ve given it a listen on YouTube, well… it just sounds great! It’s very dark, eerie, fuckin “witches music”. What feedback did you get so far with “The Sleepless Gods”? Are people liking doom metal, with such female vocals? Oh, and what would you say are the differences between Bathsheba and Death Penalty, which is another doom band you play in?
Thanks! We actually are getting some very good reactions to Bathsheba. Also Svart Records came out of the blue and offered us a deal. So without much effort this seems to get a lot of attention with a certain audience, and that is very nice for us! Btw, we are getting ready to record a full album that will also be released through Svart. The vocals and the music have gotten a bit more extreme and we are experimenting with different instruments and sounds. So let’s hope the end result will be something to be proud of. The differences between Bathsheba and Death Penalty are quite obvious. Bathsheba is a lot darker and heavier, we function as a band. Whilst Death Penalty is Gary “Gaz” Jennings, former Cathedral riffmeister general, new band, where he makes all the music. It’s more accessible, exactly what Gaz always wanted to do, but could not be done within the concept of Cathedral. So you will find Cathedral style songs and riffs but also faster and catchier songs. So it can be doomy but also more classic heavy metal.

How come we’ve never heard of real killer death metal bands from Belgium? When giving a full objective look at the European death metal from the late 80's up to nowadays, it is noticeable that Belgium has never been able to deliver a bigger number of great, influential bands. Of course there were some underground acts like Blasphereion, Morbid Death, Exoto, later you had Aborted... but damn, this is nothing when compared to the scenes from Holland, France, Germany, Poland, Sweden. How would you explain this? How do you view the old death metal scene from Belgium? Are there any bands, which I may not know and which you think I should? Any old fanzines really recommendable? 
Maybe it has something to do with the scene not being big enough? Belgian bands always have to struggle to get noticed abroad. And everybody knows that Germany is the scene where you have to try and make a mark. But all bands are trying to do that, so it’s really hard to get noticed. 

But these days there are some great bands, for example Resuscitation, Carnation, Pek, Disinterred and Torturerama of corpse! It got better! 
Thank you, but we still have a long way to go. Also remarkable that you know Pek! Some bands get no recognition in Belgium itself at all. Resuscitation and Carnation are doing pretty well I think. Disinterred has slowed down a bit recently. Let’s hope they come back with full force! The scene has always been alive, or undead if you will. We will see what the future will bring us.

Damn, do you remember Detest Records? They were Belgian and man, this label released some of the best bands ever, when speaking of the new generation of death metal. I suppose everything they released turned into new classics and all bands like Morbus Chron, Krypts, Stench of Decay, Swallowed, Ataraxy or Miasmal are now leaders of the scene. Were you familiar with this label? I must say that Torturerama would fit their roster perfectly! 
I think we emerged into the scene too late to get noticed by Jerry. Too bad really.  He had a really cool thing going there! Some really great releases. I gave him a lot of my money; that’s for sure!

How do you see an importance of the so called social medias as a help to spread the name of the band and promote the album? I guess profile on facebook and such have basically replaced the more traditional websites. YouTube became an important tool as well. Also, what’s your view on such crowdfunding or pay to play things, which personally I have hard time to understand and tolerate.
Well Myspace kind blew itself up by sucking beyond belief. Facebook took over. A lot more people on there as well. So for promotional purposes it’s great. But everything becomes clickbait. But that’s the general trend. Promotion becomes easier
on one hand, but it’s harder to get noticed in the avalanche of bands / shows… And then there’s Twitter, Instagram, and so on and so on. I’m on Facebook but lately I’m kind of getting sick of it. Too much opinions that aren’t really relevant. Too much bullshit and shitloads of ignorance, racism, prejudice… The whole crowdfunding idea hasn’t really come off the ground in the metal scene, or at least not in Belgian metal scene.

To end this interview, one more question. How important is the format, which your album is released on? Are you tape, CD and vinyl collector and want to see “Close Encounters Of The Morbid Kind” on all these formats or you just don’t care and it could even been a digital file or bandcamp, as long as people listen to the music? Cheers for the answers, Raf!
Of course the format matters. Real metalheads buy hard copies! Tape, CD or vinyl, doesn’t matter. The whole streaming business has a valuable contribution, but hard copies are the real stuff. Supporting (underground) music is done by going out to see the bands and, if you like it, buying their stuff! I’m gonna have myself a couple of beers now, cheers!

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Gutted - Bleed For Us to Live

GUTTED - Bleed For Us to Live (REPULSIVE ECHO - CD 2015)
This won’t be a real review, to be honest, since I already written my proper review of Gutted’s classic album “Bleed For Us to Live” four or five years ago. But here’s a special occasion to remind you about this album, because it’s been re-released on CD by Repulsive Echo. It’s definitely great news for death metal fans, especially those who would love to have this album, but just couldn’t imagine spending so much money as the vultures from Ebay or Discogs actually ask for it (200 euros?? Come on! It’s just CD!). Now you can forget about getting bankrupt and fights with your wife (“so, how much did you spend on CD? Are you fuckin crazy??!!” haha) and get… hmm, I don’t wanna say a cheaper replacement, because it sounds stupid. But let’s say that if you’re not a crazy collector, who says “only first press is real” and other such bullshit, then do yourself a favour and grab a copy of “Bleed For Us to Live” from Repulsive Echo. Definitely this label did a killer job with this reissue. I like the packaging a lot, with better quality artwork, nice digipak package and fold out booklet. The quality is perfect! And the music… damn, just listen to this album! It’s crushing old school US death metal! Originally released in 1994, it may have never got the recognition it deserves in my opinion, but I personally think it’s just as killer as Morta Skuld, Baphomet, Demented Ted, Morpheus Descents, Morgue, Accidental Suicide and other great acts from the old days. Gutted had very, very good songs, with such hits like  “Death Before Dismember” or “Skeletonized”, they had fantastic presentation and basically everything sounds crushing. So, why they never got more popular? I suppose this question is so easy to answer that I don’t have to do that here. Anyways, for me personally “Bleed For Us to Live” is among my favourite US death metal albums from the old era, I like it more than many records from the death metal stars like Obituary or Suffocation and surely will always recommend it. I have the original press CD of “Bleed For Us to Live”, but it’s just so great to see this album re-released now. And I do hope to see a vinyl version one day also.
So, contact Repulsive Echo, grab a copy of this CD and enjoy it!

Final rate: 90/100

Creeping Flesh - Rising Terror

CREEPING FLESH - Rising Terror (Self financed CD 2015)
So, what we have here? Another Swedish death metal band? Sure, why not?! I will never have enough of good, crushing sounding Svensk Döds Metall, you know that! This band is called Creeping Flesh (after the old English horror movie with Christopher Lee, I suppose??) and “Rising Terror” is their second EP. Sadly I’ve never had a chance to hear their 2014 release “Unravelled by War”, but I do hope I will catch up on this one sometime in the future. Anyways, “Rising Terror” are five songs of traditional sounding, not even tiny bit original, but still damn nice to hear death metal. Their music is just as ordinary as it can only be, to be honest, you may have a strong feeling of déjà vu many times and feeling like those riffs have been played multiple times before and not just by the old bands, but also some newer ones, like Puteraeon, Facebreaker, Paganizer, Revel in Flesh, Blood Mortized, Malfeitor and so many more. Everything sounds quite foreseeable, even the vocals and the production of “Rising Terror” are something you would exactly expect to find. But you know, I am not gonna moan at all on that aspect of typical and unoriginal death metal, because first of all Creeping Flesh came up with some really cool songs and that’s what matters the most, I think. There’s not even a single moment of boredom, but just great riffs, with few that are really memorable and harmonious, and tempos that range from few blasts to the dominating slow / mid tempo. I suppose that “Terrorize” is the song that sounds the most aggressive and ruthless, it’s just very nice indeed. But I think that all five tracks here are on the same level, when speaking of their quality. And each has some fragments that I like a lot. “Airborne” for example sounds almost epic, so does “Fields of Rotting Flesh” (very much in the vein of such Just Before Dawn, to be honest, so it’s melodic and heavy!). Certainly Creeping Flesh still needs to bring a little bit more extra to really distinguish themselves from the rest of similar bands, but if you call yourself a fan of this particular sound and style of death metal, then “Rising Terror” should interest you from the very first second. I surely enjoyed this EP a lot, played it quite many times and definitely I wanna hear more from Creeping Flesh in the future.
Standout tracks: “Airborne”, “Terrorize”

Final rate: 70/100

Monday, 8 February 2016

Brutality - Sea of Ignorance

BRUTALITY - Sea of Ignorance (REPULSIVE ECHO - CD 2016)
So, Brutality is back for good, it seems. 1996 was the year, when they unleashed their last full length album (“In Mourning”). Then they split up for few years, even tried to come back several times, but it wasn’t until 2013, when “Ruins of Humans” EP came out and was their first officially released new recording in 17 years. And finally in January 2016 Repulsive Echo putted out “Sea of Ignorance”, which is a fourth Brutality album! Good news, although such comebacks from the grave will always bring a lot of scepticism. And we have right to feel that way, you know? Some of these comebacks are just pointless and nothing but unnecessary waste of time and money. There are many examples, but I will be kind enough not to mention them here. But not all are shit and some reunions actually brought us a crushing piece of death metal, with new albums as good as their 90’s stuff. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to hear “Ruins of Humans” EP, so on one hand I was also quite sceptical towards Brutality comeback, but on the other I was also approaching the album with clear mind, with not much expectations. But I kept saying I won’t comment it before I hear the album fully. And now, after few days of playing “Sea of Ignorance” I can say just one thing: welcome back, Brutality! This new album is just really damn good, it surely is not a waste of time, it surely is not a waste of money and more so, it let me feel that these guys still know how to compose some killer death metal tunes.
From the very first song, up to the final minutes we’re dealing with crushing, absolutely perfectly composed and performed death metal. My first thought on this record was that it’s surprisingly melodic. It has quite many harmonious leads, many slower, kind of calmer passages, which only make the music more interesting and varied. Oh, just take a listen to such fantastic piece as “48 to 52”. How great is this song, almost epic sometimes, damn! I love some of these almost memorable, catchy, melodic riffs, as well as these slow, heavy parts. And that guitar solo near the end – masterpiece! Oh, what a pleasure is to hear this band in such a good form! The title track is another one, which brings so much pleasure to my ears, also because of these awesome fast, blasting parts. Well, if you listen to this album carefully, then you’ll realize that it basically has everything we all love about death metal and is very well balanced. It’s fast (“Sea of Ignorance”, “Fatal Cure”) and slow (“48 to 52”, “Perpetual Resolution”), it’s brutal, but other time it’s melodic and very catchy. It is technical, but not too technical, so it still has this old school feeling here and there, which I personally can only compare to Disincarnate and some of the earlier Death albums. The vocals are beastly, drumming is precise as fuck… and well, did I mention those fuckin killer guitar solos and almost progressive touch here and there? Yes, I did, but James Murphy must feel envious haha! The songs are never monotonous and one dimensional, they’re always filled with many different tempos, riffs, ideas, etc.
I just love how everything sounds here. Not only the song structures seem to be far from typical and banal, but the riffs are just crushing and the whole album sounds very interesting. On top of everything, the production of “Sea of Ignorance” is just splendid. Of course it’s nothing like the old Morrisound productions, which I guess many would love to hear. Instead “Sea of Ignorance” sounds very modern, very heavy, powerful and tight. When you play this album loud, then you literally can watch the walls crackling and windows shaking.
Oh man, I must say that I am very, very pleased with “Sea of Ignorance”. This is almost perfect death metal album and I would never guess that my impression towards Brutality anno 2016 will be so positive. I had the same feeling last year, whe n I heard Morgoth’s “Ungod” LP, for which I also had rather bad feelings about, but which turned out to be simply fantastic. “Sea of Ignorance” is even better, I guess this may be my favourite Brutality album, although it’s hard to compare the old days and present time, compare “Scream of Anguish” and “Sea of Ignorance”. Two different times, basically two different bands, even if the logo is the same. Fuck it, who cares. I can sincerely recommend this new album to all death metal maniacs. You will not be disappointed, I can guarantee.
Oh, one more thing I have to say. Technically this album is rather short, as it’s just around 30 minutes, which is not much, if you hear seven killer songs and want more. Another, additional 10 minutes though come with… Bathory cover. Well, I must say I didn’t expect to hear something like “Shores in Flames” here. As much as I love old Bathory, this song just doesn’t fit death metal and lyrics dealing with modern social problems like overpopulation, diseases, religion, etc. On the other hand though I have to say that Brutality performed this cover just fantastically. They did it their own way, but kept its epic atmosphere and even some of the necessary clean vocals lines, which were sang very well by… sorry, but I have no idea if Scott Reigel sang these parts or someone else did, but they do sound very close to the original Quorthon’s tone of voice. So, the cover is generally very, very good, but it just doesn’t fit to this album, in my opinion, especially as it’s not the last, but one before last song, which is even odder. Anyways, if this cover was to make the album even more varied, then it did great job. But I’ve already seen that many comments, which share my opinion, so… it’s here though, so let’s leave this discussion aside.
Haha, I have one more conclusion – this album sounds so much fresher and better than most of the albums that in the past years were recorded my long running death metal bands. what does it mean?
Standout tracks: “48 to 52”, “Sea of Ignorance”, and more!

Final rate: 85/100

Redgrin - Strength in Death

REDGRIN - Strength in Death (Self financed CD 2013)
This CD I got recently from Markus, singer of Redgrin. He’s really cool dude, who in the 90’s used to be a member or thrash / death band called Odious and death metal band Uncreation. Redgrin though is completely new thing, formed few years ago and “Strength in Death” is the first album of the band. I have to say that I never even seen any reviews or any other info related to Redgrin, so I am not sure how many people would know them, but maybe this review will make some of you interested.
Surely they’re good and worthy band, but only in case if you like groovy, kind of modern sounding thrash / death metal, with almost sort of core’ish vibe in some parts. And well, I have to be honest – personally I’m not so much into such kind of music, especially as that death metal influence is just minimal in my opinion haha! But I can hear some good riffs and songs on “Strength in Death” anyway, so at least I cannot say that the time spent on this album was wasted ha! Nope. Definitely there are quite few moments, when Redgrin reminds me early Fear Factory, with some of these heavy groove and specific riffs and rhythms, even the way Markus combines growls with clean vocals. On other time it can sound like Grope, Konkhra and from death metal scene I can probably mention Gorefest from “Erase” album. I’m not an expect from such stuff, but I hope I came up with comparisons that actually make sense.
Well, as I said before, I quite like some of these songs, but generally I’m not so much into this sort of riffs or vocals (which combine growl, scream and deep, cleaner vocals). When played loud though, this album gets a nice powerful and energetic feeling, which is underlined by very good production of “Strength in Death”. And of all the songs, “Sperrfeuer” is my favourite track. It’s killer piece, which even has a small Swedish death metal influence (Grave) mixed with the mentioned Gorefest and the result is heavy as fuck. Also such “Rebellion Proof” belongs to the tracks, which I liked the most. On occasions the band starts to sound a bit repetitive, to be honest, or I’m just tired with the formula of these riffs they play, but that’s just me. All in all, decent album it is.
Standout tracks: “Sperrfeuer”, “Rebellion Proof”

Final rate: 60/100

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

La Sanche - Death Magick

LA SANCHE - Death Magick (GRUFT Prodüktion MC 2014)
La Sanche is a weird name for death metal band, you have to agree, but their music is damn better than you would expect. They’re from Texas and all three members were involved also in some other acts. It’s enough if I say that Bjorn Haga was involved also in fuckin Necrovore, right? Also such names as Blood Storm, Thornspawn and Hod are in their biographies. “Death Magick” is for La Sanche a debut recording, putted out on cassette by Polish Gruft Prodüktion. And damn, I am so happy to have a copy of this quite rare piece of death metal, as the music shreds.
There are just four tracks, but their intensity and viciousness are impressive. And like I wrote in the other review of mine: I like atmospheric metal a lot, but there’s nothing better, when the music really kicks you in the face and knocks you out with pure aggression, wickedness and ferocity. La Sanche does the job brilliantly. Their music is often so fuckin fast, so brutal, sometimes almost on verge of fast black metal, but with growled vocals... They can shred with something fast and then come up with Morbid Angel-like slower piece and believe me, it just all clicks perfectly. And yes, Morbid Angel can be La Sanche’s influence, but it’s great that the band has something more to offer than just that. You’ll even hear a bit of melody here and there, but the majority of their stuff is just pure, relentless aggression, furious and fast as hell quality death metal. I love songs like “Beneath the Cold Azure Waves” (which is a fuckin tornado!) and “Paladine Transference”, which are on side A, side B’s “Vascellum Daemone” is also killer. And only “Blood and Soil”, which is sort of bonus song, is a bit weaker, maybe due to rawer production, which surely is not as powerful as the rest of the stuff from this cassette. I mentioned Morbid Angel, I guess I should also add Vader, Diabolic, etc to that list. Whatever dude. I just love their riffs, sharp as razor, brutal and furious and that dark, sinister aura of the music. Excellent!
And you know, I’m surprised that such a good material has only been released on small quantity cassette. It deserves more attention and vinyl and CD version also, so maybe someone from my contacts who have record labels will be interested in putting this killer out? Kurwa, you definitely should. It’s also shame that the band doesn’t show up in the underground more often, either in the zines, webzines or wherever. I have no idea if they’re just not interested in any promotion or what? Anyways, I sincerely like “Death Magick” a lot. It’s great stuff and I can only hope that La Sanche will get more attention soon.
Standout track: “Beneath the Cold Azure Waves”

Final rate: 80/100

Sinister - Hate

SINISTER - Hate (NUCLEAR BLAST - CD 1995)
Mid to late 90’s was a shit time for death metal maniacs. Not many bands were spoiling them with truly killer records. Let’s be honest; majority of bands wimped out badly, some changed their style too drastically, some other just couldn’t deliver albums, which would be as impressive as their earlier recordings… Obviously there were still few bands around, which were capable to deliver real goods, but they were mostly bands from the second row, like Dismember, Fleshcrawl, Vomitory, Vader, Monstrosity, to name just few… and obviously also Sinister was still very impressive. Previously they released two absolutely killer albums and finally in 1995 the time came for “Hate”! Just before this CD was released, there were some line up changes, sadly this is also the last album, which Sinister did with the original vocalist Mike van Mastrigt, who left just after “Bastard Saints” EP… So, maybe this is why I also think that past-“Hate” Sinister is no quite as good anymore… OK, “Aggressive Measures” is still damn strong, but I cannot say the same about some other stuff Sinister did. So, “Hate” is also the last Sinister album I really, really like a lot.
There are some absolutely fantastic tracks here and some of the most vicious and aggressive, evil sounding pieces that Sinister ever did in their long career. Already the opening track “Awaiting the Absu” is a real crusher, starting with a killer blasting part that immediately puts Deicide from that same era to a shame. But this song is not only about blasts; there’s a lot of diversity, so there are some slower, almost melodic parts also (well, listen to the ending parts of this track! What an obscure, occult atmosphere has been created there!), some almost catchy bits, including a killer chorus, where I always growl along with Mike haha! And most importantly, this is truly a powerful song. When played loud it really unleashes fury, aggression and destruction. Damn, it’s among my favourite Sinister tracks for sure. Another killer is “To Mega Therion”, whose description should basically be the same as for “Awaiting the Absu” – the atmosphere in this song is also very dark and satanic and the riffing is simply brilliant, so is the chorus part also. Finally I need to mention “The Cursed Mayhem”, another savage and beast of a song…
Some other truly awesome songs are “Embodiment of Chaos” and “18th Century Hellfire” – very characteristic for Sinister, when speaking of the riff / arrangement style, but I feel like they’re even more vicious, venomous and nasty than the stuff from “Diabolical Summoning”. They sound really raw, even if the production is quite clean, but damn… this is so powerful and energetic, so often deadly fast, so it’s like an unstoppable beast… but even slower song like “Art of the Damned” is simply impressive and I consider it to be one of the best tunes here. On the other hand, if I was going to mention more mediocre track, then it would probably be “Unseen Darkness”- not a bad song, but maybe not quite as brilliant as rest of the album.
Anyways, twenty years later “Hate” still sounds damn impressive and strong. This early Sinister era was just unbeatable and I consider it to be one of the best, most vicious and aggressive European bands of the time. I can comeback to their early albums many times and never feel fed up with these sounds. So sad I cannot say the same about the recent records of this bands, which are solid, but not even close to the brilliance of “Cross the Styx” or “Hate”.
Standout tracks: “Awaiting the Absu”, “To Mega Therion”, “The Cursed Mayhem”, “Art of the Damned”

Final rate: 90/100

Funebre - Children of the Scorn

FUNEBRE - Children of the Scorn (SPINEFARM - LP 1991)
Finnish death metal… Yes, back in the old days this country had as many killer bands as Sweden or Holland! I am not even gonna bother to name my top three favourite releases from there, as it’s just damn impossible – there are so many! But Funebre would surely be on the podium! They were among the first death metal bands in Finland (formed in 1988!) and released couple of earth shaking and damn brutal demos. And these demos are cool, but not even half as killer as “Children of the Scorn”, which is the debut LP! Oh yeah… this album is just sweet!
And so damn diverse, as I think almost every song brings something different and generally Funebre was like a combination of few Finnish death metal bands plus they also had some traces of the Swedish death metal, like Afflicted, what gave the music not only more atmospheric touch, but the harmonies made it more easy to listen to and more memorable. For sure Funebre was not as brutal as some other Finnish acts like Disgrace, Demilich or Purtenance, not to mention the sick grinding of Xysma. But they were having a lot in common with bands like Demigod, Adramelech, Convulse… So, there were quite many quite technical riffs, many broken rhythms, some weird stuff (not as weird as Lubricant luckily!). Maybe I am far from calling their music as very complex, but such songs as “Walls that Held Screams” or “Sinners’ Eve” had that multifaceted touch to it. Funebre was surely not a band, which liked simple stuff, so even within a single song you could find a lot of diversity and as a whole the albums covers fast death metal, slow death metal, technical stuff, as well as melodic bits… almost everything. I should probably mention songs like “Shiver”, “Slumber End” and “Blood on White” – and believe me, each is different from the other. The music sounds savage, aggressive, sick, but still quite memorable. Hardly ever it’s extremely fast, although such “Slumber End”, which I already mentioned, has some such parts. But I also mentioned “Blood on White” and this is among my true favourites on the LP. It begins with nice, melodic, doomy piece and later transforms into crazy riff, which is breaking the rhythms almost like Afflicted haha… The mid part is again slower, with a harmonic leads giving it a nice atmosphere and yeah – the whole sounds a lot like Swedish death metal! Some other songs also have those melodic accents and definitely they make Funebre songs more interesting. But generally this band had a great gift to come up with killer riffs and arrangements. I truly fuckin love their style of playing and to be honest, there’re maybe just a couple of fragments, which I like least, but the rest just slays ruthlessly. And even when the band performs some more technical and complex parts, with broken rhythms and riffs, like in “Shiver” (where are also some blasts, doomy riffs, nice leads… just everything is there, so diverse is this track!), it still sounds damn good. And somewhere in between that sick death metal ferocity you’ll find “Spirits Bewail” – a soft, melancholic acoustic theme, which sounds almost odd and out of place, but have its place as an intro in between two of the most ravaging tracks.
If there’s anything that I would really want to change to this album, then it would be the guitar sound. It’s not bad, but it’s just so fuckin thin and not brutal enough. Especially when the first song begins, I’m always like “damn, what a buzz”! Also in some faster tunes like “Redemeed from Time” it gets so noisy, instead of just being fuckin crusher. I can get used to it after a while, but it’s just not quite right. I don’t know if the remastered version from the CD/LP re-release sounds better, but that’s not even something I am interesting, as I hate to hear classic albums, which have changed sound. And also there’s one more thing I would change – I just hate the way “Waiting for Arrival” begins, straight to the vocal lines. It just sounds like someone cut some parts from this song haha!
Oh, on the final comment I must also say that it’s just pity that the lyrics for this album were never published. I would really love to read them. Also, I’ve seen the artwork of the CD/LP reissue of this album and even though it’s different, it’s really cool also, as it’s done to look similar to the original (no idea why they could not use the original artwork anyway?!). But if you ever have a chance to buy the original LP from Spinefarm, do not hesitate. I don’t think it’s extremely expensive, at least not as much as some other Finnish death metal classics. And it’s just better to have the first press. All in all, definitely “Children of the Scorn” is among my favourite death metal LPs from Finland, if not in my top three, then surely just behind. Totally recommended.
Standout tracks: oh, too many to mention again

Final rate: 90/100

Epitaph - Seeming Salvation

EPITAPH - Seeming Salvation (THRASH Records - LP 1992)
Swedish death metal! Is there anything better than that? I think not! I love this music, I love this sound and always preferred the Scandinavian bands over American death metal for instance (with few exceptions obviously!). And Epitaph was one of my favourites back in the early 90’s! Of course I liked Dismember, Grave, Desultory, Entombed or Necrophobic the most, but at some point I also bought (blindly, without knowing anything about those bands, but I loved the artwork haha) licensed cassettes with such albums like “Passage of Life” and “Seeming Salvation” – both on Loud Out Records – and for me these smaller and lesser known bands were just as great as the big names everyone knew. They were both clicking all the right boxes about “what I like in the Swedish death metal”, and more so, there was also this feeling of satisfaction that I got two bands, which none of my friends knew about, so I could brag about finding new death metal killers haha! Anyways, it’s now over 20 years later and I still come back to these albums quite often. I have that original LP of “Seeming Salvation”, released on Thrash Records, which I bough around 2005 for quite small price – and laugh seeing how much people want to pay these days not only for the original CD or LP, but even for the repress CD. It is just hilarious! I am not even sure, if this album is worth so much? Probably not, because let’s be honest – it’s great record, but nothing really special or groundbreaking for the Swedish death metal in general. It’s not “Left Hand Path” or “Like an Ever Flowing Stream”, if you know what I mean. Epitaph were just adopting to what other Swedish bands already created. Sure, they had a great demo “Disorientation” from 1991 (also released on the split LP with Excruciate) and this full length is also killer, but in the scale of the entire scene, they were just as common and typical as most of the other bands. There was nothing what would really differ Epitaph from the likes of Cemetary, Mastication, Excruciate and so on. Which is nothing wrong, as now we all love these bands even more than we did twenty years ago haha!
So, let’s see what is this album like. One thing, which I think did not survive the test of time is the production of “Seeming Salvation”. I think this is one of the weakest Sunlight Studios recorded albums. The sound is quite clean, maybe too clean, the guitars are thin as fuck and just not aggressive at all. Of course Epitaph had that characteristic guitar tone, which most of the Sunlight bands had, but these guitars are not heavy enough and not so downtuned as on the demo or as most of the other Swedish bands tuned. For example it doesn’t sound as aggressive as “Passage of Life”, which was recorded in similar time.
But I have to admit that I love “Seeming Salvation” despite all its drawbacks. Musically, this is just a killer record, from start to finish it offers great melodic, atmospheric death metal songs and even though I’ve listened to this album hundreds of times, it still doesn’t bore me at all. Epitaph had good skills to come up with great, memorable songs and infectious melodies that shall stick in your head for good, but at the same time you will bang your head like crazy, because this is still a ravaging death metal. Yes, melodic stuff, but Epitaph was not forgetting about having many killer, vicious parts and incorporated even some blasts here and there, so it’s very diverse material. It begins with “Chastity”, which is sort of doomy intro with spoken words. It smoothly transforms into the title song, which is a classic stuff, comparable to Cemetary, Desultory, Gorement or Excruciate. It is all midpaced, with great guitar work on the harmonious riffs, also with nice melodic leads, but still keeping that aggressive side intact. Meanwhile the next song “Prey to Dismay” belongs to the most noticeable as well as diverse pieces, as you have there some blasts in the opening part, which suddenly changes into a slow, doomy and melodic theme. And again there’s this great guitar solo and even a nice acoustic piece in the middle… This song has just everything what I like about Swedish death metal, so yeah, for me it’s one of the best songs on the album. If you like more aggressive stuff, then I recommend you track called “The Twisted Grace”. It’s damn killer song, with few faster parts, but again with a necessary dose of harmonic riffs here and there. Or “Self Inflicted”, which is also very obscure and brutal. These two are definitely the most aggressive tracks here.
Obviously I can mention more songs and each would have something characteristic about them; there are some, which are more focused on the aggressive death metal, some other are more doomy and melodic… but the whole album is just a very good listen. “Seeming Salvation” may have its drawbacks, but when speaking of the songwriting, it’s very proper and well composed album. All songs are killer, in my opinion, even if quite predictable and typical, but maybe Epitaph just picked up all the best ingredients of killer Swedish death metal and glued them together?? So, it’s great, classic album for me and for sure it’s in my top then of Swedish death metal of all time.
Standout tracks: “Prey to Dismay”, “Seeming Salvation”, “The Twisted Grace”

Final rate: 85/100

Lifestream - Post Ecstatic Experience

LIFESTREAM - Post Ecstatic Experience (EMANATIONS Productions - CD 2015)
This is another release from LADLO Productions, this time from their sub label called Emanations, and it is a French band called Lifestream. They were formed really just a couple of years ago and only did one recording, which is this album titled “Post Ecstatic Experience”, released in December 2015. The artwork for this album reminds me actually another French band, Deathspell Omega from their “Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum” LP, but it doesn’t matter. I don’t even think many people would notice this also?
To be honest with you, I kind of had problems with “Post Ecstatic Experience”. I played this album several times, but just couldn’t get into it properly. First time I played it I was distracted and couldn’t focus on the music properly. Few days later I played it again and again, but something wasn’t clicking here. I mean, my first thoughts on Lifestream were “well, it’s a decent album, this band is good, but I cannot say that it’s something what would really blow my mind off and intrigue me, make me want to come back to this album every now and then with passion and hunger”. And you know what? Again few days passed and my opinion didn’t change. Yes, “Post Ecstatic Experience” is a solid album, it delivers a good listen, but I cannot say that I feel intrigued and really obsessive about it. And I cannot even say why. “Post Ecstatic Experience” is surely a bit too long for me. This album is over 50 minutes long and the music gets a bit monotonous and one dimensional after a while, even if it’s not really, but the way Lifestream plays will make you feel that. But it would be unfair to call “Post Ecstatic Experience” a boring and unimpressive, because Lifestream has some great fragments and potential for sure. Yes, fragments, not necessarily the whole songs.
I definitely like how the band builds their music around harsh, raw sounding black metal mixed up with the dark, atmospheric stuff. There are many keyboards, not just used as a filler in the background, but often as a main part of the song. There are also some melodies, calmer pieces, and generally I must say that I like those atmospheric parts the most. They sometimes even remind me old Emperor, but obviously in much less exciting and blood freezing way. And on occasion, when Lifestream plays some faster shit, they even remind me some Mayhem, like in “Introspective Maze” for example, which is brilliant opener, or “Lifeless Solace”, which does sometimes sound like mid era Mayhem, minus the keyboards though (love the opening riffage in it!!!). “Sad Thoughts Overdose”, which is an instrumental song, is also among my favourites, it’s very nice melodic piece, which really stands out here, same as another instrumental song called “Banshee”.
So yes, definitely this album has many really fantastic fragments, but as a whole I kind of feel a bit tired with Lifestream formula for the music. I get lost in these long songs, I don’t think the band has enough great ideas to keep me personally interested through not just a ten minutes long composition, but through the whole fifty minutes long album. I can pick up a killer riff here, great idea or something else there, but hardly ever a whole piece. I don’t know if it’s just my personal impression or what… or maybe it’s just the fact that if there are so many truly killer black metal records released lately then something what is only solid can be just easily forgettable as well. “Post Ecstatic Experience” is still enjoyable, I’ve played in enough times to appreciate it… but I leave it to you to decide if Lifestream is worth anything more than that.
Standout tracks: “Introspective Maze”, “Lifeless Solace”, “Sad Thoughts Overdose”

Final rate: 69/100

Monday, 1 February 2016

Katechon - Man, God, Giant

KATECHON - Man, God, Giant (Nuclear War Now! - CD 2013)
I do admit that I discovered the music of Katechon pretty late, but as they say “better late, than never”, right? Sadly I missed the vinyl version of  “Man, God, Giant”, but at least I have the CD and have been spinning it countless times in the past week. And damn, I can only agree with opinions, which say that Katechon are another great Norwegian black metal band. Yes, they are and that makes me think that the scene in this country is again so damn exciting. I’m not gonna even mention all these new names and one certain record label, which is strongly responsible for all the attention and hype for new Norwegian bands, but it surely is something exciting. Anyway, Katechon hit strongly with “Man, God, Giant” and surely deserves your support and interest.
The band comes from Trondheim and is a five piece, but to be honest, there are no well known names in the line up, even if some of these guys had smaller or bigger episodes in bands like Sarke, Thorns or Wallachia. It’s interesting though that when I listen to the music, I don’t really sense that many similarities of Katechon sound and style to what comes from Norway usually. Frankly speaking, I would rather connect this band to the North American extreme bestial death / black metal scene… but who cares, right? The music is definitely damn savage, vicious aggressive and harsh as fuck, sometimes with almost punkish simplicity. And for sure it originates in bands like Darkthrone (“A Blaze…” era!) on one hand and Blasphemy on the other, with some essential influences of very old Bathory. I am quite surprised, positively though, with the relatively cleaner, but still on the obscure side, production, which fits well the sounds that Katechon spits forth with cruel, sadistic passion. And even if you cannot say that “Man, God, Giant”  is anything extra spectacular or original, the album kicks ass brutally and with no mercy, delivering a bunch of great, straight forward tracks that shall crush you instantly. Their recipes for each song are quite simple, the riffs are not technical, Katechon doesn’t show off with fuckin guitar solos (OK, there are few, but not in the virtuoso way, if you know what I mean), instead it’s just straight forward and violent music. Simple, but effective.
And if you’re not into fast, raw and bestial sounding, morbid death / black metal, then don’t even try to remember the name Katechon, as it will have no use for you. But in case you do worship such sounds, then “Man, God, Giant” should be a very interesting recommendation. Check this album, released on cult Nuclear War Now!, there’s also a second full length released recently (called “Coronation”), which I definitely need to grab… but in the meantime it’s “Man, God, Giant” blasting loud.

Final rate: 70/100

Mordbrand / Rite split

MORDBRAND / RITE - Split 7"EP (DOOMENTIA Records - EP 2015)
Looks like some of these newly founded old school death metal bands don’t know the meaning of the word “rest” and work hard on another and another release, even if some of them are just singles. Mordbrand is one such band, with three EPs, two split 7”EPs and one full length album all released within three years. Good, I’m not gonna complain, as I like this band’s music a lot. On this recent split with Rite, putted out by Doomentia Records, they have song called “Order of the Formless”, which is just as good as their previous stuff. Good, classic style of Swedish death metal, which should tick all the right boxes if you wanted to make a precise description of this style of death metal. Of course it’s not the best song you’ll ever hear in this style, it’s probably not even in the top hundred, but damn it, it’s good enough to crush your head and tear some guts out. I like these riffs a lot, especially the one that opens the song is so fuckin heavy and damn awesome that the ears are bleeding! And Per Boder still sounds like a beast and surely this song is not tiring and repetitive as some moaners would wish it to be. Expect to hear just solid, great sounding death metal, that’s it!
I was not familiar with Rite at all, it turns out it’s black metal project, not death metal! But I know that Per Boder likes a lot of black metal (including many Polish bands haha), so I am not surprised if Mordbrand releases a split with black metal project. Rite is also Swedish and they’re OK, really. They play quite harsh and heavily distorted music, with really cold and hateful aura, there are some faster moments, as well as some slower ones and generally it’s just typical noisy Scandinavian black metal. Again I can say it’s nothing innovative, nothing spectacular, but damn solid and worthy piece of music. I played this song few times and surely need to find some more releases from Rite now.
Nice split 7”EP then!

Final rate: 75/100