Wednesday, 22 March 2017

F.O.A.D. - Birth of Extinction

F.O.A.D. - Birth of Extinction (DEFENSE Records / MYTHRONE CD 2016)
don't really follow what's going on in the thrash metal scene and to be honest I don't care about old bands' new albums or even worse, about new bands and their useless releases. I just think that most of the thrash sound boring these days and this style of metal is not able to offer me what I want to hear. So, I don't buy thrash bands, I listen to it very randomly and mostly just some old records. This is why I would not bother to check bands like F.O.A.D. and normally I would not give a listen to their CD if I didn't get it for review. Would I miss anything or have this feeling of my life being emptier without it? I doubt. Because "Birth of Extinction" is just generic and rather uninspiring thrash, which hardly is able to impress me. It does have some good moments, especially the first part of "Birth of Extinction" is not bad at all, but I cannot feel much passionate about such playing. I gave quite many listens to this album, I wanted to get into it fully... but I failed, it goes in one ear and out the other, quickly and painlessly.  
But let's start from the beginning. The band is located in Västerås, Sweden. This country spawned many fantastic death or black metal bands, but thrash? Fuck, not so many I guess. I love Hypnosia, they were bloody amazing band. Anything else? Nothing I remember. "Birth of Extinction" is F.O.A.D.'s debut album – and it compiles seven tracks plus their entire 2014 demo "Demo-Nical".  
Definitely the main part of "Birth of Extinction" is more interesting and also diverse, because here and there F.O.A.D. steps away from the characteristic thrash patterns to deliver something different. And that's good, so there are some not bad songs for sure, like "Avoid the Smell of Semen", which is nicely fast and aggressive tune. "Legion of the Dead" is also noteworthy, I like its chorus, with great clean vocals parts in it and again a lot of nice, vicious riffs. My fave though is the slowest and most obscure and dark sounding song here, "Doomed Rebirth of Christ". Its atmosphere is almost sick and eerie as hell, I like it a lot, especially that the riffs are more doomy slow than thrash fast. This track is surely a highlight and a nice surprise on the album and it's quite cool that it appears in two versions, as it was also a part of "Demo-Nical" demo, which is included to the album as a bonus. On the other hand I cannot say that I liked songs like the crusty "Deathcamp VIII", with weak vocals and forgettable music or really mediocre "Holiday in Armenia".  
So, "Birth of Extinction" is not one of those albums, which would keep you fascinated for the whole duration. There are better and worse songs, some I can easily skip, when I play the CD. Some of you will like the fact that "Birth of Extinction" contains "Demo-Nical" demo 2014 as a bonus, I am not really bothered about it, especially because out of three songs from the demo one is really weak and the other two have been re-recorded for "Birth of Extinction". So I assume that "Demo-Nical" has been featured to get longer album than to bring you more killer material. I don't care though... I gave it all enough listens and I'm afraid I won't be coming back to this album that often. 
Standout tracks: "Doomed Rebirth of Christ" 
Final rate: 60/100 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Bullcreek - Osschaert

BULLCREEK - Osschaert (RAW SKULL Rekordz - CD 2017)
Bullcreek – surely it’s an odd name for the death metal band. But this is how this newly formed Dutch beast was called. It’s interesting that it features some members of old Dutch bands Burial and Mordancy, but even if it didn’t then it would not matter, because the music is able to defend itself. Yes, I like this album! I do admit that I expected it to be great, because it was released by Raw Skull Rekordz and so far I loved everything this label released, but I think it exceeded my expectations. “Osschaert” is 45 minutes of stunning epic death metal with strong doom metal influence, which should interest everybody – those who like old school death metal but do not avoid it when it’s bit more melodic and less nastier. And those who like their metal to sound epic, quite catchy, melodic and heavy at the same time.
I have to say that first time I started to listen to “Osschaert” I just sat down and let these sounds devour me. This album impressed me immediately. A lot of these slow paced, doomy or epic death metal bands turn into boring nightmare. Let’s take that shitty Amon Amarth for example. Bullcreek is much, much better. The opening song “Woods of Wiezel” reminded me this Swedish band a little, but luckily it’s nowhere close to boredom and repetitiveness of Amon Amarth’s music. Another bands that quickly came to my mind were Just Before Dawn and Hypocrisy. And finally all those doomy fragments, especially in the closing track called “The Monastery” reminded me bands like Novembers Doom, although in less emotional and sorrowful way. Bullcreek music is atmospheric and it does bring such emotions as melancholy and sadness, but there’s also aggression and fierceness to it. All in all, I think that the whole “Osschaert” is great, diverse album that is far from being monotonous and boring.
It’s very easily listenable, instantly catchy and memorable music. It’s almost pleasant, even though it’s death metal, with growls, heavy sound and some blasting parts. But the melodies, atmosphere of the music and powerful sound do not make the listening difficult. I have to say that the music is very well written, whether we speak of more aggressive, yet harmonious songs like “Woods of Wiesel” and “The Serpent’s Egg” or massive sounding, crushing beasts like “Dorset Ooser” – it’s all so damn nice! The song called “The Monastery” will surprise you even more, especially when you’ll hear some female vocals. But it’s a positive surprise and I like “Osschaert” from start to finish. For me personally it’s always a nice change from all this obscure and vicious stuff that I mostly listen to. It’s good sometimes to listen to something more harmonious and catchy, just like Bullcreek.
Standout tracks: “Dorset Ooser”, “The Serpent’s Egg”

Final rate: 75/100

Imperium Infernalis - Imago Dei

IMPERIUM INFERNALIS - Imago Dei (SCHATTENKULT Produktionen CD 2017)
Schattenkult Produktionen is one of those small record labels, which introduces little known bands to the underground and I have to say that quite many of their releases turn into pure black gold. This Greek legion called Imperium Infernalis is one such great discovery and their second full length “Imago Dei” definitely belongs to the best releases from Schattenkult so far. I have to say that I’ve been spinning this CD many, many times during past week and the music impressed me a lot. Such a great surprise, especially if you don’t have any expectations from a band, which you’ve never heard about before. But believe me or not, “Imago Dei” can be one of the strongest black metal releases of the beginning of 2017. Well, for me it already is.
This is actually second Imperium Infernalis album, but I have no idea what “Choking on the Stench of Mankind” from 2013 was like (definitely though I’m putting this debut CD on my wantlist now). The band is from Greece, but personally I cannot find anything they would have in common with traditional, classic Greek black metal sound. Or if there’s anything, then it’s in small doses, so do not expect Imperium Infernalis to sound even close to Rotting Christ, Necromantia or Varathron. Actually, instead of sounding old, “Imago Dei” sounds interestingly modern, when speaking of their black metal style. There’re quite a lot of progressive sounding parts, sometimes it all has almost sort of dissonant style of riffage, other time it’s getting this hypnotizing feeling, when speaking of long instrumental passages… and it’s all perfectly combined with harsh and aggressive sounding black metal that can be influenced by Mayhem, Deathspell Omega, Keep of Kalessin (from “Angst” album), even Dodheimsgard’s “Satanic Art” (but without sounding weird) or a lot of these newer black metal bands like Acrimonious and more. They make smooth transitions between these different styles, with a lot of interesting arrangements, ideas, great tempo variations…
Definitely “Imago Dei” sounds like a smart, very well thought through album, which was not rushed during composing. Every detail had to be polished and in the right place. And damn, they did excellent job. There’s so much going on here, every song bursts with great energy and ferociousness and has great dynamics. All tracks have something new and fresh to offer, sometimes the band even had guts to put a smashing dose of blasting and utterly vicious black metal next to something what can be described as calm, almost post black metal sounding parts. I’m sorry if I’m using this post BM tag, but I do so for lack of better description. But believe me, “Imago Dei” is still a pure black metal album, only it seeks for something fresh and exciting rather than overused and boring. Even those longer songs like “The Horror of Recursive Realities” and “The Obsidian Kosmos” have no trace of dullness and no need for repetition, each being a great journey into something eerie and unknown.
It’s very good technically, with great performance from every band member and more so, I am very impressed with Charon’s vocals, he did great job on every song, coming up with as diverse performance as the music itself. And finally the production of “Imago Dei” is strong and powerful, so there’s basically nothing what I would personally want to be different. From start to finish this Imperium Infernalis album sounds truly impressive and I dare to say that there won’t be many better black metal records this year. Absolute recommendation.
Standout tracks: “The Obsidian Kosmos”, “Embrace the Savior”,

Final rate: 85/100

Infatuation of Death - Code of Impiety

INFATUATION OF DEATH - Code of Impiety (DEFENSE Records / MYTHRONE Promotions CD 2016)
If feels weird to review newly released album of the band, which already split up few years ago. But just before they called it quits, Infatuation of Death managed to record “Code of Impiety”. It would remain unreleased if it wasn’t for the helpful hands of Defense Records and Mythrone Promotion, who decided to save the album from oblivion. Definitely good idea, because it’s solid and worthy music and it would be shame to let it perish.
It’s been ages since I’ve heard Infatuation of Death last time. I got to know them in the times of their first demo “Heretic Hellspawn Holocaust”, which I got for review in 2003. The same demo was later released on split CD with Putridity called “Ten Acts of Death Metal Terror”… I haven’t listened to it in many years, I don’t even remember anymore how did Infatuation of Death sound like back then. But I remember I gave it positive reviews and that the band was very active in the Polish underground and appeared in quite many fanzines… but then disappeared. They were about to come back with “Code of Impiety”, but shit happened again and for some reason Infatuation of Death split up. Did they split up for good or maybe the fact that their long delayed album is finally released will bring an idea to exhume this corpse from the grave? I don’t know the answers, but I know that I do like “Code of Impiety”, even if not necessarily it’s my most favourite style of death metal.
But it sounds not bad at all and Infatuation of Death offers a good quality slab of vicious death metal. Their music feels like combines both old and new – there can be traces of traditional US death metal in the vein of old Morbid Angel, Immolation, Angel Corpse, but sometimes I can also spot a bit of modern styles alike a bit to mid-era Behemoth for example (although I know that it became such a stupid cliché to compare Polish bands to Behemoth) and the production is far from old school. Actually the production is something what I don’t like so much, because I wish it was a bit more harsh and dirtier, more obscure. It feels a tad too clean, in my opinion. But it’s a minor complain, nothing relevant.
Generally Infatuation of Death had very solid songwriting and many good ideas for the music. I like the technical aspect of their songs, with many great riffs, some very nice arrangements and some really nice details they had in the music. It all sounds professional and solid enough to bring no shame, so the more happy we can be that this album was finally released. When the title song opens the album and its fierce, opening riff blasts off, I am into this music right away and stay focused to the very end. The music – with all its aggression and violent nature – is somehow quite memorable, maybe due to such parts like the melodic guitar leads in the mentioned title song… or maybe it’s just because the band knew what sort of riffs they should play to get into our heads easily. Anyway such “Left to the World”, “The Essence (Lead Us into Temptation)”, “Infatuation with Death” (I LOVE those opening riffs in it!!! What a killer!) or the very Deicide-ish “Icons of Impurity” are my favourite songs. As I said before, the music sounds good, not the most brilliant and spectacular death metal you’ll hear this year, but very solid effort from this Polish band.
And for all those, who missed Infatuation of Death demos, there’s a multimedia section on the CD with both of their old recordings, including the scans of booklets and everything else (hey, I’m on the thanks list for the second demo, cool!). I’ll be very happy to listen to “Bestial Devilized Hell” myself, because I’ve never heard this demo before. And for sure I will also want to hear “Heretic Hellspawn Holocaust” again after all these years.
Standout tracks: “Left to the World”, “The Essence (Lead Us into Temptation)”, “Infatuation of Death”

Final rate: 70/100