Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Album Review: NO FUNERAL/LIVID Split LP

Live Fast Die Recordings
I unexpectedly got wind of this split full length through an email from Live Fast Die Recordings, a U.S. label dealing strictly with doom metal, sludge metal, crust punk and experimental noise. The bands who contributed songs, No Funeral and Livid, were chosen to represent the doom and sludge metal scenes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Just last year No Funeral released their full length Misantrope in digital format, this is available for streaming and purchase at Bandcamp. It was likewise released on two cassette pressings of 100 copies each and a small CD run. Livid’s debut album Beneath This Shroud, The Earth Erodes came out this month through Prosthetic Records, likewise in digital format, CD, vinyl and streaming on Bandcamp. Live Fast Die Recordings was founded last year and at their outset are distributing full length and demo releases from NF and a full length release by another Minneapolis band, Circadian Ritual. These are the first Minneapolis bands I am hearing about of late, and this far two of them are a fitting introduction. I became acquainted to sludge metal listening to Carnivore’s classic LP Retaliation and a few years later listening to Winter the first sludge metal band from Long Island who formed at a time when sludge was barely heard of and has zero popularity locally. Nevertheless I gravitated toward them for being in direct opposition to the easy route to popularity, depicting the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic in a way that had not been tried. My first impression of No Funeral was much like hearing Winter for the first time. The distortion and feedback laden intro to their song Disease Brought By Depression for example gave me a clear vision of a devastated wasteland with nothing as far as the eye could see except for ruins, ruins and more ruins. If after all this time I could have my imagination sparked by a band I didn’t know about a month ago this was a release worth the time and effort to track down. As the feedback and distortion goes into grimy guitars, heavily distorted bass, piercing drum hits and tortured, rasping vocals it becomes self-evident this is no band for the faint hearted or listeners ill equipped to withstand the agonizingly slow dirges. This cut is a visit to deep depression it may be difficult to recover from. Backing up to the first No Funeral song, Infection, it begins with isolated notes I’d expect from a good black metal or DSBM album. To discover this is the foundation of the entire track was a profound moment. No Funeral is in no way an uninspired Black Sabbath clone; while paying homage to the Sabs they revitalize doom and sludge so well you have to hear it to believe it. Livid’s contribution to this split goes even farther to prove sludge metal’s continued validity. False Hope is an eighteen-minute journey into the innermost cosmos of solitude, emptiness and despair, played with a little more melody and an atmosphere that surrounds the vocals as well as the guitar, bass and drums. It’s a song with repetitive note progressions, but this doesn’t become too tedious as they’re designed to enhance the deep emotions presented. These bands are pure underground with no effort made to become palatable for mainstream consumption. And this split is not a bad start if you want to know more about doom and sludge from Minneapolis. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. No Funeral - Infection
2. No Funeral - Disease Brought By Depression
3. Livid - False Hope

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

CD Review: LAVA INVOCATOR Mörk

Mörk
I will start out by saying this album is amazing. Fans of NARGAROTH, GORGOROTH, MAYHEM, and any lesser-known underground black-metal bands are sure to fall in love with this album once they listen to it. The guitars are great and the drums viciously pound along with the intricate bass guitar work. All instruments are ''more than good ' but the bass guitar is what jumps out at me the most. I have been listening to underground music for years, and I have found that the majority of black-metal bands are treble oriented, but with this release, the bass is well recorded and highly pronounced, which is a good thing. The vocals range from piercing highs to low-end gutturals, but my favorite vocal work on this album would have to be on ''Totenkamph'' as the change in vocal style was unexpected but highly enjoyable. I have not heard much Russian black-metal, but this proves that they can chug along with the best of the best. I highly suggest that you check this album out, as it is a great piece of dark, musical art. I may be getting a bit off-topic, but this is the type of music that makes me want to climb mountains, or alternatively, drink fancy red wine alone in my bedroom as I wear a tuxedo, consumed by the smoke that surrounds me. A ''must listen'' for black-metal fans. -Devin Joseph Meaney

Track list:
1. Awaken
2. Empyrium Et Nihil
3. Gestapofallos
4. Black Dawn
5. Dark Thunder Sky
6. Totenkampf
7. Mörk

EP Review: CERNUNNOUS Self-titled

Self-titled
As it is one of my favorite one-entity black-metal projects, I am very pleased that I can present to you CERNUNNOUS. Horned god of the underworld and pagan god of fertility and the hunt, CERNUNNOUS is sure to tickle your dark-side with bleak riffage, chaotic vocals and well thought-out drum tracks. Unearthed from the fossilized remains of a pagan eon, CERNUNNOUS, the infernal beast cries out ghastly cackles into the night sky. This self-titled EP contains five vicious tracks, each one just as destructive as the last. Did I mention that there will soon be more to come? Yes, it's true. Within the next few months, there will be a new EP. Even darker and more bleak than this. But, whilst you are waiting, enjoy these delightful musical abominations as they are. Pure. Raw. Astral. Enjoy at your own risk, but I promise, the demons will be most pleased. All recordings property of the underworld. -Devin Joseph Meaney

Track list:
1. Darkness Rules The Light
2. Upon Black Wings Of Destiny
3. Behold The Blizzard
4. The Stag Of Seven Tines
5. Horned Is The Hunter

EP Review: SLEEP TOKEN Two

Two
I'm just waking up, and I was sent ''Two'' by ''the masked musical collective'' SLEEP TOKEN. This is far from my normal listening material, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this. The tracks are depressingly beautiful in that sense that they spark both positive and negative emotions, warming the heart, yet giving off lonely vibes at the same time. It's hard to explain, in the same way that the bands genre is hard to pin-point. It ranges from soft, beautiful and melodic to heavy and crushing in parts. The band is said to be '' the mortal representatives of the ancient deity known only as sleep’’, led by ''the masked and cloaked figure appointed VESSEL.'' Angelic voice and demonic riffs collide in this deeply unique EP, out now on BASICK RECORDS. Long live the cult of sleep, I hope you enjoy these tracks just as much as I did. The crushing guitar and the gorgeous ambience fit together like two pieces of the same fantastic puzzle. Do you believe in the great deity? I do. -Devin Joseph Meaney

Track list:
1. Calcutta
2. Nazareth
3. Jericho

Sunday, July 23, 2017

CD Review: PREDATOR Born In Blood

Born In Blood
Available at Amazon
As indicated from Damien Lee Thorr’s interview last March, Predator was formed as an alternative to what he perceived as overdone satanic themes in underground metal. Seeing it as mostly a gimmick for shock value since Black Sabbath in the ‘70s. he says Predator was intended from the start to have a reality based outlook. Openly atheist despite their manager’s advice, Damien addresses religion and its present governmental role and push for the separation of church and state. One point of his I relate to is religion is brought into schools to discourage teaching about evolution: a form of controlling young students under religious guises (another example of using religion through legislation is the PMRC and the attacks they launched on metal and music in general). Predator don’t whitewash their views on religion as a means of control; there is more to read if you missed the interview’s first posting. The band formed in Florida in 2007 releasing a self-titled debut in 2009 and Born In Blood in 2011. If you like Iron Maiden, Armored Saint, Agent Steel, Candlemass, Riot and Krokus you should check this out as Predator take a straightforward approach to playing with the same functioning liveliness bands had in the 80s. Listening to Born In Blood is like discovering the classic era all over again, and you often hear classical guitars reminding you of Randy Rhoads’ playing on Ozzy Osbourne’s debut outing. While those bands (with the exception of Ozzy) use lyrical themes relating to horror, fantasy and the occult Predator write Slave, Days Without Rain, Born In Blood and Far Beyond Death which place belief in oneself over blind faith. But unlike early death metal in which the lyrics were written to reciprocate threats of eternal damnation Predator take a neutral approach and allow the listener to decide the weight of their message. There is another song here called Ingrid Betancourt based on the true story of a Colombian activist who was captured and held prisoner for seven years. Back to the musical aspects of the band, Thorr and Victor Meneses’ frequent dual guitar solos are similar to Dave Murray and Adrian Smith; which helps define Predator’s sound as much as the classical guitars. Vocalist Nestor Aguirre has a fitting voice for the material, hitting high notes as John Cyris (Agent Steel) and Joey Belladonna (Anthrax) did in their prime. Bassist Scott Opiela and drummer Ed Greseley form a solid anchor as the band’s rhythm section. The final mix of Born In Blood could have used improvement production-wise but the material is strong enough to shine through it. Predator is preparing to record a live album with a new lineup including Thorr, Meneses, bassist Mike Heremana, drummer Darrin McNair and vocalist Rick Mythiasin (Pantera, Steel Prophet). Visit Thorr on Facebook for news and updates on the band and visit Damien Guitars for information about his custom guitar work. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Days Without Rain
2. Ingrid Betancourt
3. Slave
4. Born in Blood
5. Burn
6. Far Beyond Death
7. XXV
8. Home
9. Die Not My Hopes
10. Bitch
11. Die Not My Hopes (acoustic version)
12. Caprice 16

Saturday, July 22, 2017

EP Review: INHUMAN ENTITY Kingdom Of False Divinity

Kingdom Of False Divinity
This four song EP is the first ever release by Chile’s Inhuman Entity, not counting the advance single for Imposing Inhuman Aberration. Inhuman Entity formed last year and wasted little time composing four brutish songs for Kingdom Of False Divinity. The single for the track mentioned earlier was released last March, two months prior to the EP’s official release. The Bandcamp stream of Kingdom was passed to me by vocalist Raul E. Gonzalez, who is also a graphic designer running an independent company specializing in artwork and logos for extreme metal bands (Raul EGH Artworks & Logos). He is joined by Gonzalo Sanchez (who is also the guitarist/vocalist of the Chilean slam/gore grind band Carniceria Grotesca) and drummer Manu Acevedo (of the Chilean slam/brutal death metal band Hail Caligula). At the time of Kingdom’s release they haven’t hired a working bassist; you’d have to write to ask if the position is still open. As crushing as this is I can imagine how crushing Inhuman Entity would sound performing as a full working unit. The lack of bass admittedly hinders the impact Kingdom Of False Divinity could have, and it’s mostly for Sanchez to carry the songwriting and put the brutality factor across. To be fair Inhuman Entity isn’t the first to record under similar circumstances, and many bands have pulled off the task presenting the material as is. Sanchez’s riff progressions dominate the songs as the lineup seems to have given him reign to write as much as he wanted. He plays with a deep, dark, malevolent sound somewhat likened to Morbid Angel’s Altars Of Madness, only with more distortion. Sanchez helps construct a decent sound as EPs go, and Acevedo’s precise, impossibly quick blast is an important factor in reinforcing his work. Gonzalez’s vocals often head into gore grind territory, utilizing a few different styles when it’s called for. Some of Sanchez’s riffs likewise venture into goregrind territory, which helps give Crucified And Eviscerated and Neron that certain sense of sickness goregrind is known for (think of early Carcass). The lyrics generally range from sacrilegious to pictorially disgusting, as if they’re testing both approaches to lyric writing. In retrospect Kingdom Of False Divinity is a promising start to the band’s recording career. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Crucified And Eviscerated
2. Imposing Inhuman Aberration
3. Neron
4. Monuments Of Putrid Flesh

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Video Review: GRANADA Sincronizado

GRANADA
Sincronizado
From their 2017 full length Sincronizado (Satanath/Symbol Of Domination) released June 23
Distributed by Icarus Music/Blacktape Unorthodox Records
Released in June, Sincronizado is one of two promotional videos Granada filmed for their most recent release. The second video for La Serpiente was released this month. The Buenos Aires band got started opening for Black Dahlia Murder as their first performance. In 2010 they released a demo (Tocá Metal, Cagón) which was followed by a steady string of full lengths (Historias in 2012, Apocalyptic Metal in 2013, Prisionego in 2015 and Sincronizado in 2017). As you may have surmised, Granada write their lyrics entirely in Spanish. This is nothing new for South American metal but here it sounds as volatile as the first bands to do so. As Granada was founded by two guitarists (Manuel "Manolo" Mauriño and Guillermo "Guille" Estevez who is also the band’s vocalist) the crunch and groove is laid forward with gratuitous vehemence from the earliest notes. The dual guitars’ cutting, scraping production goes further to express how caustic the band is capable of being. The drums played by Marcos Edwards are more foundational than usual in pushing this cut forward and while Matias Brandauer’s bass is mostly in the background it offers many absorbing variations on the riffs. Edwards and Brandauer played together in another BA thrash band called Khumeia. This band leaned closer to thrash-death metal as opposed to the thrash-groove of Mauriño and Estevez, so those two dole out much brutal heaviness as the rhythm section. The chorus is fetching with a memorable hook. To offer some words about the video, it shows the band playing in a shady setting and fleeting images of what appears to be a deranged taxidermist and his test subjects. It’s unclear who this taxidermist is or what his purpose as shown in the video is, but these scenes rely more on implied violence than outright gore. This video and the video for La Serpiente are at Granada’s Youube site linked above. -Dave Wolff

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Video Review: BURY THE MACHINES Beneath My Wrath

Beneath My Wrath
From their current full length Wicked Covenant (Midnite Collective)
I feel like this video and song shows a bit of the truth of who we all are. The monster, the rage, the WRATH we all have inside. Even if it is well hidden, it is there. Watching this video and listening to the song, you feel like the songwriter is sharing a piece of his tortured soul with you. Like he is pouring out his heart and showing you what devours him, driving him mad. Therefore making you think about your own monsters, feeling your own madness. The lyrics and imagery on this one expose so much of the raw honest truth, and makes you really think and start to feel your own wrath. Bury The Machines is a stoner metal band from Chicago IL, by way of Los Angeles CA. John E Bomher Jr- obscenities, guitar, bass, synth, and vocals. Mark Serpico Jr- drums. -Deanna Revis

EP Review: MUTANK W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T.

W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. by MUTANK without a doubt provides the listener with a barrage of short catchy thrash-metal creations. The majority of the songs are short, but the last track D.E.A.T.H is your standard length thrash metal. W.H.A.T.S.T.H.A.T. (We Have Alotta' Thrash Song That Have Abbreviated Titles) is awesome thrash, but I am also hearing some hardcore/punk influences to round it off. I could be wrong. Whilst reading the credits, I noticed that this EP was recorded by TOPON DAS of FUCK THE FACTS. As always, Topon has done a wonderful job on this. MUTANK has provided me with some of the best underground metal that I have heard from QUEBEC in quite some time. As a guy who listens to a ton of grind, the short length of these tracks might appeal to fans of grind. These recordings reeled me in pretty quick. Listen to this EP. Buy it. Make love to it. Pass it down to your children. For fans of thrash and underground metal, this release is sure to pacify any feelings of rage that might be nestled deep within your cranium. Enjoy it (I did). -Devin Joseph Meaney

Track list:
1. L.I.F.E.
2. I.D.I.O.T.
3. P.O.P.U.L.O.U.S.
4. F.O.G.
5. D.E.A.T.H.



CD Review: MORTAL PERIL The Legacy Of War

MORTAL PERIL
The Legacy Of War
Independent
The German thrashers Mortal Peril, based in the city of North Rhine-Westphalia, have been active since 2010, during which time they released the EP Of Black Days and Cruel Alliances (2012) and the full length albums Walking On Hellish Trails (2015) and The Legacy Of War (2016) besides making an appearance on the Metalmessage VI compilation (2015) with Senor Wampo (a track taken from Walking On Hellish Trails). Mortal Peril have gotten rave reviews for drawing from the classic thrash era; here they display the crunch of Exodus and Sacred Reich with the proficiency of Destruction and Death Angel and hints of hardcore and power metal. The Legacy Of War, while retaining a certain amount of their traditional rawness, generally struck me as cleaner and more subdued in comparison to their previous releases, and at first it sounded average. However there are several moments where they hook you with catchy song structure, honest lyrics and a sense of avidity in the vocals that has lasted since Of Black Days and Cruel Alliances. Here the band is apparently endeavoring to push their upgrowth by showcasing their songs in more of a polished format, though I felt they would have carried more weight with production similar to their past efforts. Again this doesn’t reflect on the band’s songwriting or capacity to write as Generation Hate, Psychotic, Air Attack (When Death Flies Silent), War Is Hell, Creeping Apocalypse and Machete illustrates. I read in Damnation Magazine that the band recorded The Legacy Of War with the analog tape method rather than record it digitally; when I consider this it does give the material its organic sound rather than coming across as too polished, For this Mortal Peril get additional kudos for making a decision they felt was right for them and what they thought would best do their material justice. The band has a Youtube profile with a promotional video for Inglorious Bastards (also from Walking On Hellish Trails) and several live clips including Air Attack and a cover of Cro Mags’ Hard Times. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Generation Hate
2. Gladiator
3. Psychotic
4. Air Attack (When Death Flies Silent)
5. War Is Hell
6. Seed of Hell
7. Creeping Apocalypse
8. Machete
9. The Legacy of War