Wednesday, 28 September 2011

**SPECIAL FEATURE** Black Metal Special - Part 1

Part 1

For years the UK Black metal scene remained very stagnant, not much of a scene to really call our own. There were the obvious torch bearers, but they remained few and far between, beginning to move away and morph into something far different from their black metal beginnings. The UK scene was always going to struggle on the international stage, fellow European countries forging extremely strong scenes and followings, supported globally by the international music press. However, the UK was never going to settle for a dormant scene, to be outdone by our European cousins. Some years ago like-minded musicians began to form bands with a passion for extreme metal, a passion for black metal and hence a new black metal scene was born. It is now that these bands are beginning to see the fruits of their labours, penning deals with the bigger respected extreme metal labels and this in turn has spawned a whole new wave of Black Metal hopefuls. Having seen that UK black metal can be successful, the underground is now healthier than it has ever been, and all manner of Black Metal bands are being formed, honing their skills of the live gig circuit and releasing some really great Black Metal. From one man misanthropic Black Metal bands to full Symphonic bands, the UK currently has a lot to offer and can now match, if not better a lot of the more established global Black metal scenes. Only intended as a brief guide to the UK Black Metal scene and not a comprehensive ‘who’s who’ there will be something for everyone in this ‘Special Report’ who enjoys Black metal:

ICONIC DESTRUCTION is a misanthropic one man BM band, the man behind this black metal solo project being Zac Broughton. Zac is single handedly producing some very tortured, haunting and atmospeheric black metal. There is a suffocating atmosphere being created on ‘Godstained Perfection’ (Malignant Manifestation Productions 2011), a real feeling of desperation and despair with a very bleak outlook on life. The finish is as you would expect of the genre, a bottomless pit of a production, reverb cascading throughout, especially on the vocals and drums. Buzz saw / lo-fi guitars like razor wire tearing through flesh. Suicidal black metal, raw but very catchy, original and never repetitive…pure black metal hell.
Iconic Destruction - Embrace Extinction
CHRISTGRINDER is a two man Satan worshipping outfit from the West Midlands. Harsh, sweeping riffs are backed up by solid, technical drumming, all topped with harsh black metal vocals which work very well together on their debut e.p. ‘Smoke Crack, Worship Satan’ It is a blackened assault with some leanings towards death metal and some grind. There is a lot to the band’s sound, incorporating acoustic guitars and synths in amongst the buzzsaw, and sometimes grandioise but harsh Black Metal riffing. Raw, yet melodic, Christgrinder will appeal to those who like some variety in their extreme metal.
Smoke Crack, Worship Satan by Christgrinder
CULTFINDER are an unholy blackened thrash assault which blasts straight from the pits the hell, with the emphasis being placed heavily on thrash. There’s a simplicity to the bands song structures which is endearing to the sound and the rawness of their music. Black metal style vocals layered with reverb and echo creates the ‘blackened’ element to the band’s sound, spewing messages of Beer and Satan (great combination!!). The band describe themselves as black metal, but not really in the ‘traditional’ sense of the term, the guitar riffs taking their influence heavily from thrash, but a very filthy and ugly thrash sound. It’s nasty Satan worshipping, beer drinking black thrash assault. It’s simple, to the point, filthy and rotten black metal nastiness!
Cultfinder - All Conquering Death by cultfinder
NINKHARSAG have only been together as a band since early 2011 but already have a 2 track demo written, recorded and released; and what an impressive introduction to the band this is. Lurking firmly in the ‘old school black metal’ vein, the band has produced some absolute quality old school, grim, necro black metal. The bands influences instantly obvious as there is an overall feeling of ‘Mayhem’ (De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas era) here, the guitar sound, the drum sound all suggesting that the afore mentioned masters of black metal are a massive influence on the band. Having said that the bands aren’t just Mayhem clones, they hold their own brilliantly, crafting some very memorable songs which really grab your attention. Vocals are scathing and hateful as you would expect, spouting demonic tales of woe. Their demo ‘Destroyed By Design’ shows great promise for such a young band.
OLD CORPSE ROAD play atmospheric black metal, drenched with keyboards and acoustic interludes which more often than not have a very ‘folky’ feel to them. Their split with fellow BM band The Meads of Asphodel ‘The Bones Of This Land Are Speechless’ only featuring three tracks, but with the shortest of the songs being nearly 9 minutes long, there’s plenty of music on offer. Comparisons can be made to very early C.O.F, having a very organic sound and being very well orchestrated and composed, the classical and folk elements prevalent throughout. Maybe even a hint of Bal Sagoth to their sound. There’s a real old school feel to the bands brand of Black Metal, the harsh tremolo picked riffing fitting perfectly alongside keyboards which almost lead the songs. Melodic yet harsh, folky and symphonic, there’s a lot to their sound and probably something to appeal to most BM fans.
The Witch of Wookey Hole by Old Corpse Road
HAAR are based in Scotland and describe their sound as “Progressive Black Metal”, however their debut e.p ‘Haar’ shows very little of the ‘progressive’ element the band describe. On offer is slow, tortured and hateful black metal that retains a sense of melody under a swathe of ice cold melody. A mix of genres, with doom and black metal being entwined to create real atmosphere. The music being drenched in reverb as is so common in the genre, the slow and heavy sections always manage to retain an element of black metal through the use of ice cold harmonies and melodies. Tracks are lengthy, but remain interesting without fear of becoming one dimensionally repetitive. Hatred and desperation etched into each track.

NECRO RITUAL are creating melodic black metal, their riffs sweeping back and forth which make a bleak and blackened atmosphere. The tempos remain slow throughout, sometimes venturing to mid-paced territory but then returning to the slow, melodic and mournful tempo. When the band really speed things up, venturing into familiar Black Metal blast sections they are reminiscent of Marduk. Variety is added to the vocals by using the standard high pitched ‘black metal’ screams which are drenched in reverb as well as guttural death metal growling. The riffing remains melodic and very memorable, many of the tracks are very similar in their structures, based around harsh, yet melodic black metal riffs. The changes in tempo work well, never allowing the songs to become one dimensional as can be the case with a lot of black metal. The band is producing some quality melodic black metal with real passion and atmosphere.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Living With Disfigurement - Thrill To The Terror Of Death

Self Released 2010

1.The Dissemination Of Human Suffering 2.Better Living Through Surgery
3.Grotesque Side Effects 4.Preserving The Guinea Worm

Blending modern sounding metal with an old school influence isn’t anything new, but LWD manage to get the balance just right and when spiced up with some blast beats and sick as fuck dual vocals the energy and enthusiasm on show is infectious . The production hits you like a fist to face, all the boxes being ticked; heavy guitars, all well balanced and suitably mixed. ‘The Dissemination Of Human Suffering’ sounds monstrous especially when the band up the pace and add blast beats it all makes sense and really comes together brilliantly. However, the majority of the opening song remains mid-paced which suits the old school feel extremely well. LWD aren’t afraid to add in guitar solos either and  thankfully they don’t over-power the song, the rhythm guitars holding their own under the solos. ‘Better Living Through Surgery’ sees the band adding an old school Swedish death metal influence, sounding a lot like early ‘Dismember’ but with added groove and melody. Don’t be fooled by terminology of ‘groove’ and ‘melody’ though, because at the core of the band’s sound is heavy as fuck old school death metal. Ed’s vocals really stand out here, the ultra-guttural vocals used alongside some really sick, screamed vocals which are really addictive and a real pleasure to listen to.
One over-riding feature is the catchiness of the songs, for all of the bands old school ethic the songs remain extremely well written, varied and ultimately memorable. ‘Grotesque Side Effects’ carries the theme of the two previous tracks, remaining mid-paced but with a touch more melody introduced, again making the track extremely catchy. One surprise from this track was the injection of an almost black metal sounding section, scathing riffs backed by blasting drums and again all topped off by those sick screamed vocals. It didn’t sound out of place amongst the barrage of death metal and it added to the songs appeal, a real cohesion of styles.
‘Preserving The Guinea Worm’ closes the e.p. in great style with a real sense of urgency. A barrage of frantic riffs and blasting drums mixed amongst more Swedish inspired old school death metal guitar work. Solos are again re-introduced and as before, work really well. It’s just a shame there’s only four tracks to this e.p. as LWD have really captured something unique here. It’s extremely well played memorable and very catchy modern (with an old school influence) death metal which is highly recommended!
8 out of 10

Friday, 23 September 2011

Cryostorm - Destroyer Of Ardor

Pipers Retreat Music 2011

1.Cryostorm 2.Solacing 3.Destroyer Of Ardor 4.Beyond Victory
5.I Am Anomaly 6.Furnacing (I Defrost)

An onslaught of no holds barred melodic death/thrash greets an unsuspecting listener, the bands intentions clear from the outset. Opener ‘Cryostorm’ is a fury of Swedish inspired death/thrash metal  with heavy doses of melody to keep things interesting and varied. Lead guitars are used brilliantly over the melodic assault and the sound is then maximised with some almost sing along chorus lines. The scene is being set for some first rate extreme metal. The song sets a furious pace, breaking temporarily for a melodic guitar interlude, then returning to the sonic barrage. ‘Solacing’ is very similar to the opening track, lead guitars again at the forefront of the sound, twin guitar harmonies very effective and again, very Swedish in their structure, composition and sound. Take the melody from early In Flames and mix that with the brutality of Dimension Zero and that’s pretty much what Cryostorm are producing. It’s an intriguing mix which works extremely well with a good mix of melody and brutality to keep most extreme metal fans happy!
‘Destroyer Of Ardor’ shows the bands more brutal edge off, blast beats introduced over the brutal, yet melodic riffing. The musicianship on show is outstanding and the guitars really begin showing their class when the leads are introduced. The pace continues to be unrelenting with ‘Beyond Victory’ and the drumming that thomas delivers really begins to bring the songs to life and keeps the brutal nature of the tracks to the fore which enhances the guitar work. ‘I Am Anomaly’, sees the band at their most brutal and technical, it’s a whirlwind of a track, the death/thrash onslaught really pushing the sound to new limits. ‘Furnacing (I Defrost) closes the cd, a new sound being incorporated to give sections a slightly industrial / rock feel which actually sits quite well amongst the blazing guitar work. Lead guitars particulary prominent and really showing off the talents of the band.
All six tracks are faultless, the production a highlight and an absolute monster which adds a lot of power to the tracks, the double kick drums absolutely thundering out of the speakers. Cryostorm are a very talented bunch of individuals who have come together to produce some absolutely outstanding technical, melodic death/thrash metal played flawelessly and very appealing. Cant recommend this highly enough.
9 out of 10

I Am Anomaly by Cryostorm

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Filial Cannibalism - Guttural Congregation

Self Released 2011

1.A Psychpath's Descent 2.Porcine 3.Smashed Up Kids
4.Necrocannibalistic Artery Consumption 5.Kitchen Slut Dismantlement
6.Wake Up Missing 7.Writhing In Carnivorous Larva 8.Regurgitation Of The Stillborn
9.Vicious Excrement 10.Severed Intestines 11.Guttural Congregation

With an intro sounding like it's taken from an epic film score you’d generally be expecting something alot different than morbid, old school and nasty sounding death metal. ‘Porcine’ really does sound like your worst nightmares, disgustingly simple, buzz heavy guitar lines crawl along morbidly with unintelligible and ultra-guttural vocals spewing nastiness at every opportunity. ‘Smashed Up Kids’ follows a similar formula, the slow crawling riffs dragging each song into a cesspool of horror. Structures and riffing remain very simple, the morbid old school production suiting the simplicity perfectly (no high budget ‘shiny’ production here!). The song ends with a spoken passage, the deranged ramblings of a murderous cannibal admitting his crimes against the girl that he ate. Grim stuff indeed! ‘Necrocannibalistic Artery Consumption’ sees a slight variation, the pace being upped slightly with  more melodic and accessible guitar riffs introduced which does inject some distinct variety. However, this doesn’t last long, the familiar gore soaked crawling pace returns. The mix of the ultra-slow with the faster, blasting passages isn’t anything new, but works well because of the morbid old school production. When FC slow things down bands such as Rottrevore, Embalmer and Mortician spring to mind in the sense that the production is raw and nasty, the vocals as mentioned, are ultra-guttural and it all reeks of old school Death Metal.
Very surprised by ‘Wake Up Missing’ which is an extremely melodic guitar interlude with spoken death metal vocals over the top. A bit different yes, but adding nothing as FC are at their best when it’s ugly, nasty and stinking. And at over 3 minutes long, it’s very easy to hit the fast forward button, the track doesn’t lead anywhere; it just exists as something very different to the rest of the cd. Sticking to the formula already used in the opening tracks, the remainder of the cd offers us nothing more surprising, but that shouldn’t be taken as a negative. It’s all great stuff with the air of horror retained throughout, mainly due to the reverb heavy vocals which sound disturbingly monstrous and suit the music perfectly. Pig squeals and gargles also introduced which only add to the overall horror. Having praised the old school ethic to this release, one minor point is the drum production. For all of the cd’s nasty old school influence, the drum sound is awful. Not sure if a drum machine was used, certainly sounds like it. Especially bad when the pace is increased where rolls and fills are introduced. Sounds too clinical and precise which is a shame as it detracts from the atmosphere being created by the guitars and vocals. That aside ‘Severed Intestines’ is a monstrous track, crawling along at an extremely slow pace, the vocals really impacting here, giving the whole song a feeling of utter terror. ‘Guttural Congregation’ is a 9 minute outro of samples, way too long and uninteresting – maybe fitting 2 or 3 more tracks to the cd would have been a more appealing proposition. Disgustingly morbid with an amazingly disturbing production, it’s a gore fans wet dream and is recommended. This is how death metal should sound!!
7 out of 10

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Haar - Haar

Self Released 2010

1.Whisper Serenities Eve 2.To Forgive An Enemy 3.Without Form Or Void

Reverb echoes back and forth, the drums quite literally ‘thundering’ during the intro to ‘Whisper Serenities Eve’. You’d almost be forgiven for thinking that Haar are a doom / funeral doom band, the beginning to the song very slow, feeling tortured and quite haunting. It’s only when the main body of the song starts that the black metal sound is introduced, vocals scathing, the pace upped into familiar brutal black metal territory, furious drums and tremolo picked guitars. However, the slower side to Haar’s sound is re-introduced, the guitars being surprisingly heavy in the slower sections yet still managing to retain that air of black metal through the great use of harmony and melody.
‘To Forgive An Enemy’ continues this theme, starting slowly, building the atmosphere whilst retaining an overall sense of being black metal. The vocals especially holding their own, scornful and hateful never straying from screamed BM style, albeit in a very deep, gravelly voice. The mix of doom and black metal working especially well, mixing heavy slow sections with the more familiar ice cold blast which is a great combination. The guitars taking on the familiar high pitched, almost buzz saw sound when being played at their fastest. For such a long track (9m17) it remains interesting throughout, never feeling drawn out or one dimensionally repetitive.
‘Without Form Or Void’ feels slightly different, discordant riffs introduced to give a schizophrenic feel to the e.p. The band describe themselves as ‘Progressive Black Metal’ and maybe the beginning to this track is where they get the ‘progressive’ description from, other than that I can’t hear where their progressive edge is. When the track finds its feet, normal service is resumed with more melody added to the faster sections. Ending the e.p. as it began, the slower doom like riffing is re- introduced, every hit of the drums reverberating back and forth, vocals spoken yet remaining hateful. Summing up it’s slow, tortured and hateful black metal that retains a sense of melody under a swathe of ice cold melancholy. Only 3 tracks on offer but that is more than enough, the overall sound suffocating and full of despair. Worth your time and money for a well packaged and presented self-released digi-pack cd.
7 out of 10

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Cultfinder Interview

UKEM caught up with Black Thrashing horde Cultfinder to discuss all manner of topics surrounding their take on Black Metal.

Whos’ Who in Cultfinder and what is their role?
I'm Rob Himself and I handle vocals, guitar and write the majority of the songs, Necroskull throws down the bass gauntlet and occasionally chucks some riffs in and Wilbers is a ridiculously killer drummer who gives us our chaotic energy. Necroskull and Wilbers also play in Witchsorrow and Wilbers in XII Boar too, so they're pretty busy!

Lyrically, what are the bands inspirations and what topics do you deal with?
I started out wanting to do a black-metal band around an English historical concept, but gave that up before even writing anything, so it's basically just Satan and hellfire. I try to mention Beelzebub as many times as possible in every song.

 There’s a definite old school vibe to your sound, where do you guys draw influence from?
The main influences are Nifelheim and the first few Bathory albums, but also a bit of Venom, Sarcofago, recent Darkthrone and more bestial metal like Black Witchery and Blasphemy.

You have released a demo on tape, how has this been selling?
Pretty well! We got 50 copies done and minus 10 or so promos we've got a handful left 6 months later, so not bad.

Why was the decision taken to release a tape rather than cd or digital download?
It would never be anything other than tape. The next demo might be on CD-R, as it's easy, but I'd rather put out another tape or step up to vinyl with our next release.

What has reaction been like to the demo, favourable reviews?
Yeah had a few good ones including your good selves. Sent copies out to magazines as well but never seen anything in there. I've never been too hot on self-promotion, so I think the majority of our growth has been word of mouth which I prefer in a way. One dude bought five tapes and just gave them to his mates as they were so cheap!

Do you guys gig and what can we expect from you live?
Played two shows so far - one local gig at a youth club to test the waters, then our first proper show was in Birmingham last month with Necro Ritual and a host of killer bands. Went down much better than expected, people were singing along to songs they'd never heard which is what I like to see! Our live show is pretty straight up thrashing terror, minus the usual corpse paint and spikes, which doesn't really suit three middle class lads from Hampshire. I'm ugly enough! Someone at the Brum gig thought we were going to be an AC/DC tribute band! I guess we don't look quite right - hopefully that'll make us stick out.
Merch is always popular, what does CF have for sale and how / where can we get hold of it?
We haven't got the cash or the following for shirts or anything yet, but if it counts as merch, you can get the last few tapes for a mere one pound at

What are your thoughts on the current underground BM scene and do you feel a part of it?
A few months ago I would have said no, I wasn't sure people would ever catch on to what we're doing, but lately, particularly after the Birmingham gig, things are picking up and the scene - which is still a pretty small one, revolving around a handful of decent, credible bands: Funeral Throne, Necro Ritual, Craven Idol etc - seems to have taken us under its wing a bit. We've got a gig coming up in London in December which feels like its going to be pretty awesome.

Thanks once again for speaking with us. Any last words you wish to share with our readers?
Keep it steel! Black thrashing terror eternal!

Cultfinder - The Devil's Whore by cultfinder

Achren - The Forgotten King & Impaled At Bloodstock DVD

Ceol Dorchas Productions 2011

1. Impaled 2.The Way Of The Twilight...Or The Aura Of Flies
3.Bastards On The Gallows Or Bastards On The Rack 4.F*ck It Hard
5.Fury Of The Northmen 6.The Forgotten King 7.Darkest Day 8.Manuel's Mile
9.Wings Of War 10.Pestilence

Achren make a statement from the outset, their thrashy death metal laced with groove crushing everything before it. ‘Impaled’ shows a variety of influences, everything from thrash through to black metal. There’s a cohesion to these influences which stops their sound becoming a mess and sounding cobbled together and shows the strength in their song writing skills. ‘The Way Of The Twilight…Or The Aura Of Flies’ shows even more groove, the song bouncing along in a mid-paced frenzy, vocals both scathing and guttural, the usual combination as so heavily used by every band nowadays. A good combination nonetheless.
‘Bastards On The Gallows Or Bastards On The Rack’ opens up in a haze of Swedish Death / Thrash inspired riffing which is used as a chorus and when accompanied with the vocals really gets the toe tapping. Not overly convinced when the guitars drop out and the bass, drums and vocals are left to their own devices. Sounds a bit dated and doesn’t do the rest of the song justice. ‘F*ck It Hard’ sees a simplicity to the bands song writing which actually makes things sound more brutal – no need for over complicated riffing or drumming, letting the ‘fist in the face’ metal show the way. ‘Fury Of The Northmen’ passes by offering nothing new but the simple song structure and drum patterns actually threaten the song, for although its adds to the raw energy, it never really feels anything but safe, never venturing from the security of slow to mid paced normality. The slow fast slow fast structure starting to sound overused and lacking originality.
However ‘The Forgotten King’ stands out, catchy and brutal and a real sense of urgency to the track and ‘Darkest Day’ continues this theme, the paced upped, again Swedish style Death metal riffing setting the tone perfectly and a welcome relief from the normality of the previous tracks. Rescuing the cd somewhat. The bands sense of melody on show on ‘Manuel’s Mile’, catchy lead guitars giving the track an epic sound, the bass really punches through here, thumping along with the drums, the rhythm section adding some heaviness under all the melody. When Achren speed things up things get interesting, the songs gaining a sense of urgency, a sense of purpose. It’s just unfortunate that many of the songs on offer slip into a mid-paced nothingness. That aside, the majority of the songs are well structured and well played, nothing we haven’t heard before but if you like good solid death / thrash metal with a heavy dose of melody, then you could do a lot worse than listen to this. Not going to set the world alight, but worth a spin.
6.5 out of 10

Impaled at Bloodstock Open Air 2010 DVD

1.Wings Of War 2.Blood Soaked Banner
3.The Way Of The Twilight...Or The Aura Of Flies
4.Fury Of The Northmen 5.Forgotten King
6.Bastard On The Gallows Or Bastard On The Rack 7.Impaled

Professionally filmed and with a direct live recording, this DVD features the bands set at Bloodstock 2010 which eventually earned them the ‘Metal To The Masses UK Metal Initiative’ winners title. The quality is everything you would expect from a pro-filmed DVD; multi angle camera’s catching the band in all of their live glory. The bands brand of mid-paced thrash / death metal coming across better in a live scenario than it does on cd. The band obviously in their element in a live setting, enjoying being on stage and giving a great performance, real effort being put into the delivery of every song. The drums and bass, as with their studio cd, really punching through, at the forefront of the sound and providing a great back up to the melodic guitar work. The energy being pumped out by the band eventually works its way to the crowd, who give the band a better response the further into the set they play. Maybe a bit too early for some to be so enthusiastic as the set was filmed at 12 noon. Hangovers may be to blame.
Achren - Impaled
The band is definitely a better live acquisition when they up the pace, the sound taking on a more extreme edge. If you enjoy Achren on cd, this will be right up your street, seeing the band in a live environment. On offer is a self produced, self released DVD with professional titles, a set that has been professionally filmed and with extras such as photos, biography, discography and links. When browsing the photos sections, tracks from their cd are being played, so you get the best of worlds, hearing live and studio versions of the band on one DVD. An extremely professional release and recommended
8 out of 10

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Torture Garden - Dead Romantic

Self Released 2011

1.Sacred Heart 2.Torture Garden 3.And Hope To Die 4.The Call Of Nature
5.S.O.S 6.Yet Never 7.Sympathy For The Monster

Eerie acoustic guitar intro sets the atmosphere perfectly for opening track ‘Sacred Heart’. Sorrow filled doom bleeds desperately from the speakers. Adam’s vocals have grief etched into every word with an almost chant like expression. Guitars are mournful, grief stricken but retain a sense of purpose, a sense of melody. This is definitely the music to end your days on this filth ridden planet listening to, mulling over life’s regrets, all your dreams crushed as you breathe your life last breath. The main clean, sung vocals are backed up every now and again by some rasping, almost Black Metal type screaming, which seems a strange combination, but works well. The more extreme vocals are used to end the track, turning the track from grief stricken doom, to almost sounding like a raw and lo-fi black metal song. The Guitars do retain their sense of ‘doom’ however, so the continuity of the song isn’t lost. This isn’t for the faint hearted, clocking in at nearly 13 minutes of depressive, suffocating music.
 ‘Torture Garden’ has a different feel to the previous track, slightly more black metal injected into the sound through the guitars and vocals. Haunting, tortured screams take over the track, the music dropping out. Definitely the sound track to your own personal hell! When the music resumes, there’s a bit more pace added, unfortunately the drum programming lets the track down. A human drummer needed to add feeling as drum machines, if not programmed properly, can more than often sound clumsy and clinical, which is apparent here. ‘And Hope To Die’ see’s the doom (funeral doom, definitely not happy upbeat 70’s inspired doom) element re-introduced, female vocals used to add even more depression to the overall sound. TG’s sound is definitely an acquired taste, this song being the longest on offer, at over 16 minutes. Prepare to be dragged down into something very nasty indeed! TG’s sound is very English, reminiscent of bands who were at the forefront of the genre back in the early 90’s, think (early) My Dying Bride, (early) Anathema, Chorus of Ruin, Solstice maybe. Then add a hint of Black Metal and you’re just about there with what the band are creating. It’s definitely the guitars which keep things interesting, a real overriding sense of despair, but for all the melancholy on display they remain remarkably catchy, well written and mature.
‘The Call Of Nature’ continues the theme of depression and brings back the Black Metal sound slightly, acoustic guitars used over the heavy guitars to great effect, the track taking on a more raw feel the further into it we get. There’s even a blast beat introduced which actually sounds ok in amongst the raw, bleak black metal sounding music. ‘S.O.S.’ opens up strangely, the words “Heaven Help Me” spoken, then nothing, absolute silence for an uncomfortably long time. Obviously trying to create something a bit different, but ended up sounding a bit wrong. Things don’t improve when the song eventually gets going either, soft acoustic guitars complemented by soft ,sung vocals which aren’t the best sung vocals, sounding strained, almost out of tune – it’s not pretty, but maybe that’s the intention! ‘Yet Never’ is as funeral doom as the band have sounded so far, crawling along, guitars allowing the riffs to stretch out endlessly, the drums as simplistic as is possible, barely even been hit, just enough to keep a simple beat. Growled vocals used which sound great over the depressive music. Maybe if this style of vocal had been used a bit more, the whole cd would be a bit more appealing as the sung and spoken vocals can become hard to listen to. ‘Sympathy For The Monster’ ends this marathon of depression and as with a lot of the music on offer is very unforgiving, feedback and noise introduces the track and then sung, almost monk like chanting begins, the vocals doubled up to sound almost choir like. It creates an exhausting atmosphere and would not be classed as ‘metal’. That is until the thunderously heavy guitars fade in, heavy as fuck, extreme as fuck. This works really well, the tension building, then being instantly released. It’s a fitting finale to 66 minutes of suffocating, depressive, haunting and grief stricken creations. This isn’t going to appeal to everyone, it can be hard going at times, but if you’re in the mood to be depressed, this will appeal. Different, but strangely appealing.
6.5 Out of 10

Friday, 9 September 2011

Celtachor - In The Halls Of Our Ancient Fathers

Self Released 2011

1.Nemed's Wake 2.Rise Of Lugh 3.In The Halls Of Nuada
4.Riders Of The Fomor 5.The Sons of Tuireann And The Blood Fine
6.The Wavesweeper

Celtachor don’t place themselves in any ‘known’ genre, choosing to describe themselves as ‘Irish Mythology’, musically influenced by Black Metal, Doom and Folk Metal. All three genres accurate as opening track ‘Rise Of Lugh’ will testify. The guitars are Black Metal in nature, with a slight groove added but with a real raw and natural sound. The song jumping from the harshness of the BM to the more doom orientated heavy riffing, Irish Whistles used effectively and almost acting as leads in place of the expected guitar leads. The whistles are typically Celtic in sound and composition and are a great accompaniment to the guitars. ‘In The Halls Of Nuada’ opens up with more of the Whistles, guitars fading in slowly, creating an atmospheric intro to the song. Somewhat slower than the previous track, more groove is injected into the BM style riffing, giving a harsh yet melodic feel to the track, the sound becoming very epic in places.
‘Riders Of The Fomor’ starts where the previous track left off, the melody used again to create real atmosphere. This track doesn’t work as well as its predecessors, not flowing quite as naturally, stumbling along somewhat. There’s also a distinct lack of the whistles which is disappointing as this is the bands unique selling point, the whistles really make the band interesting and stop them becoming just another mid-paced BM band. Luckily, the whistles return on ‘The Sons Of Tuireann And The Blood Fine’ and when added, really make the track stand out, a different and interesting sound. However, when the guitars are at their most scathing, most BM they really get lost in the mix, the vocals and drums overpowering what are some really great, well written melodic Black Metal riffs. This lets the demo down because as previously mentioned, the mix of the harsh Black Metal guitars work really well when the whistles are added. Unfortunately when the whistles are added, they too overpower the guitars.
‘The Wavesweeper’ closes this demo, the pace being upped slightly in places which adds some welcome variety. There appears to be a hidden track as only six tracks are listed on the inlay, but a seventh track has been added to the disc (not sure if it’s an original song or a cover, certainly don’t recognise it). Doomier with a slight groove added, it sounds somewhat different to the six previous tracks, a real heaviness to the guitars not previously seen. There’s even some 70’s rock / doom sounding riffs added which don’t really do anything for the song. Sort the mix out and tighten things up and Celtachor could really stand out. It's nothing thats going to set the standard, but it does show signs of great potential!
6.5 out of 10

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Engraved Disillusion - Embers Of Existence

Self Released 2011

1.Wither Away 2.As Life Fades 3.The Forgotten 4.Fragments Of A Memory
5.Disengage 6.Epitaph 7.Embers Of Existence
8.Under Blood Red Skies 9.Unhallowed Eyes 10.Solitude

Industrial intro with winds swirling and metal clashing slowly fades in then out, giving way to catchy, thrashy riffing in opener ‘As Life Fades’. Guitar harmonies and leads used to great effect, this is really catchy melodic thrash tinged death metal. Dual guitar leads working effectively to create an epic atmosphere. Kind of In Flames meets Amon Amarth if any reference points were needed. ‘The Forgotten’ follows a similar structure, more Swedish melodic death metal sounding than the opening track. Already it is obvious the ED know how to write a good song, heavy in essence but also swathed in melody, not afraid to use extremely melodic guitar solos. There’s a real passion on display here. ‘Fragments Of A Memory’ another fine example of a band on top of their game, mixing heaviness and melody perfectly, the melody being at the forefront of this track, dual lead guitars again been used effectively. If you didn’t know better, you’d think these guys were from Sweden, their sound so reminiscent of many a band from that country.

In an age where extremity seems to be everything, where bpm counts and where it’s all about the blast beat, it’s refreshing to hear a band that does actually rely so heavily on melody and catchiness. Tempos remain slow to mid-paced, never needing to be anything but that, the songs and melody do the talking rather than the speed at which the band are playing. ‘Disengage’ is a monster of a track, guitar solos at the forefront of the songs melodic structure. Vocals are used sparingly, taking a back seat to the guitars which are the over-riding important ammunition in the ED arsenal. The emotion and atmosphere captured within the songs is nothing far of outstanding, there’s a real sense of sorrow in some of the lead work. I’ve got a feeling that Toby and Mark had just been dumped by their respective partners just before they wrote the leads to these songs. Emotions all over the place, desperation and despair etched all over the music, mournfully melodic.
 Breakdown is a word which sends shivers running down the spine of many extreme metal fans, and ED do use them, but use them to accompany lead guitar work, so the breakdown doesn’t actually sound like one in truest sense of the term. ‘Under Blood Red Skies’ opens up with some breakdown type riffing, but they are mixed with guitar harmonies, typically Swedish in their sound, so that once again, the breakdown doesn’t actually sound like one, but more like another riff. Time and time again whilst listening to this disc Amon Amarth springs to mind, Chris’ growled and gravelly voice especially reminiscent and the perfect accompaniment to the melodic and heavy guitars. ‘Solitude’ ends the cd, once again all of the bands influences on show, the heavy guitars all backed up with great lead guitar work, the melody and atmosphere taking the song forward (into battle!).When you think you’ve heard the band at their catchiest, they open up with another even catchier melodic riff and guitar solo. Be warned, if you have recently been dumped, don’t get drunk and listen to this…you will cry! That’s the atmosphere and emotions which are being stirred. Faultless production and excellent musicianship, stirring emotions, epic in its delivery, this is melodic death metal at its best and comes very highly recommended.
9 out of 10

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Revokation Interview

UKEM spoke to Reuben, Warren and Bernard from Leeds based Death / Black metallers Revokation about music, bands with similar names and fighting!

For those unfamiliar with you guys, tell us more about the band.
Bernard - We are 4 spiffing young chaps who play death/black metal

There is of course another band under the same name, spelt differently of course. Does this have any sort of impact on the band? Do fans get the bands mixed up? Does this draw in extra people to you guys?

Reuben - It doesn’t bother either band, it seems only to be a problem for internet trolls. Once people have heard us, they soon realize we are both very very different.
Warren - the only “problem” is the odd spelling mistake on a flyer.

Lyrically, what are the bands inspirations?
Bernard - The main lyrical influence is H.P Lovecraft, although I use this as a springboard into other areas. Its mainly rambling philosophy about the human condition, and my mistrust of organized religion.

Musically, where do you guys draw influence from?
Reuben- I don’t particularly draw influence from anything, I pick up my guitar, and what comes out comes out.
How has the e.p. ‘The End Ablated’ been received by people?
Bernard - The early buzz has been really positive.      
Reuben - the reviews we have so far have all been good.

The e.p. was self-released, do you prefer to self-release so you have more control over all aspects?
Reuben - We like the DIY approach, we feel it suits us.
Bernard - The main thing is getting the music out there.
Reuben - but if Def Jam want to talk, we are open to offers.

What releases do you have planned for the future? Any plans for a full length cd?
Reuben - we are planning on having 5 tracks ready to record at the end of the year, for the new MCD, no plans as yet for a full length.

You guys are active giggers, what is a Revokation gig typically like? Will you play shows anywhere and everywhere?
Warren - Before we play, we heckle the other bands, enquiring as to what their songs are about. When we play I get naked, Bernard walks around in circles, after Reuben likes a drink, and Rich complains about how badly he played.
Reuben - we will play anywhere and everywhere (a bit of petrol money helps the cause)
There seems to be gigs everywhere these days, what are your thoughts on the UK gig scene at the moment?
Warren - The uk is like the rest of the world, plenty of gigs, just not enough people showing.

Band wise, the UK is currently producing some absolute monsters, what are your highlights, who are you guys into?
Collectively - to keep it short, Wodensthrone, Kastrated, Foetal Juice aaaaaaaaand The Afternoon Gentlemen.

Who would win in a fight, Revokation or Revocation?
Reuben - we are lovers not fighters, but just in case it all kicks off, Bernard could talk a glass eye to sleep.
Revokation - The End Ablated Sampler

Thanks once again for speaking with us. Any last words you wish to share with our readers?
Cheers for reading, check us out at

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Final Silence - We Are This For A Reason

Casket Records 2011

1.Jaw Ripper 2.Collapse 3.You Wanna Rape This 4.I'm Just Like You
5.What Have We Done 6.What The Hell Is This Crap Suppose To Be
7.Justice For Once 8.Riding A Redhead 9.Wired At The Heart 10.Self Deliverance
11.I'll Die Fighting 12.Riding A Rehead (re-mix)

Describing their sound as “Heavy Groove Metal”, Final Silence aren’t far off the mark with their description. “Jaw Ripper” is a very melodic affair, certain Pantera influences on display as well and maybe a bit of Killswitch Engage to spice things up slightly. There’s not really an ‘extreme’ edge to the bands sound, the tracks flowing at a ‘nice’ pace, never really daring to be anything more than mid –paced. ‘Collapse’ is another generic affair, variety being injected into the sound by use of varying vocal styles. The main ‘screamed’ vocals being backed up well by some deep guttural vocals, but then the ‘radio friendly’ clean sung vocals are added – obviously a necessity with this style of music ‘cos everyone who plays this style of music has them! ‘You Wanna Rape This’ has a slightly more metalcore feel to it, the obligatory breakdowns used amongst more generic and melodic riffing. It’s all beginning to feel a little safe, the screamed vocals being the only ‘extreme’ edge to the band’s sound. Having said that, the band don’t describe themselves as extreme, so maybe they’re right on the money with what they are trying to achieve.
‘I'm Just Like You’ see’s the tempo being increased slightly, giving the track a more heavy metal feeling, some of the riffs being slightly Swedish melodic death metal in their feel which is a welcome break from the relative safety of the generic and melodic riffs that each song is based around. The musicianship can’t be faulted, these guys are good at what they are doing. However, one question has to be asked of these guys and that is are they as good as the hundreds of other bands doing similar? Maybe, maybe not, it’s really hard to say as they sound like every other band playing this style of music. They have been signed to Casket Music, so someone see’s the selling potential in what they’re doing. The aptly named ‘What The Hell Is This Crap Supposed To Be' is awful, the beginning of the track a bad example of what a rock / groove track should sound like. It just sounds wrong, sounds a long way from being ‘metal’. Thankfully the song improves somewhat, but only in the sense that it returns the melodic and generic structure already so heavily used. Things become even worse on ‘Justice For Once’, the acoustic, American rock anthem / ballard feels well out of place. Definitely a track for the girls (please raise your lighters now and have a hanky ready!). Not sure what the band are trying to achieve with this track, maybe get it heard on the rock radio stations and TV channels, but those who like their metal with balls and some extremity better press fast forward really quickly! The band do show some promise when they up the pace, the double kick drums do get a good work out at times, but as ever, the pace drops in typical metalcore / groove fashion, beatdown-esque riffing used time and time again, the ‘safe option’! I’m not really sure the band should have sent the CD to be reviewed by United Kingdom EXTREME metal, as there isn’t a lot of extremity to their sound, Kerrang will probably love this and lap every track up, the kind of thing Scuzz would also have on their play list. Yes, it’s well played, well produced and the guys all handle their instruments very well, but at the end of the day, it’s not extreme ('Wired At The Heart' has one blast beat in), there’s no danger to their sound, it’s all a bit too nice. There is obviously a market out there for this groove / metalcore influenced music, I’m certain most people reading this blog won’t be in the market for this though. Their bio ends by saying “Peace Dudes” – we don’t want peace, we want all out fucking war!!!!!
5 out of 10

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Blind Spite - Dethrone The Earth

Self Released 2011

1.Oblivion Embraced 2.Epoch Of Despondency 3.This Is Our Abomination
4.Deus 5.Dethrone The Earth

Cumbria’s Blind Spite open this e.p by blasting with an ice cold and frozen feel; ‘Oblivion Embraced’ arriving with hyper fast black metal guitars and drums which destroy everything in a harsh sonic barrage, taking you by surprise; alebit a very welocome surprise. An extremely fast pace is set throughout, mixing black metal and death metal to great effect. The riffing borders on the frenzied, guitars not giving the song time to ‘settle in’, which is only right. It’s a whirlwind of brutality, the mix of DM and BM just right, creating a very brutal and very interesting sound. Nothing unique but the pace and feel of the song keep the listener well engaged, not been given any time to take breath. ‘Epoch of Despondency’ again mixes the two styles of extreme metal really well, giving the track a very Swedish Black/Death sound, riffs becoming very melodic and memorable (think Gates of Ishtar, The Moaning). We also see the band at their most Death Metal on this track, becoming extremely heavy in places, but then the BM element is re-introduced, the two styles creating great variety. Tempos are then slowed to a minimum, the bands more melodic edge on display which again works really well in amongst the more BM riffing.
‘This Is Our Abomination’ begins with an almost heavy metal intro,  a little surprising as the track then takes on the familiar blackened death metal feel. The really fast tremolo picked riffs extremely catchy and working well with the screamed BM stlye vocals. It’s fair to say that some of the riffs start to become ‘epic’, real passion has obviously been put into writing this song. The varied use of vocal stlyes works especially well in this track, both styles fitting well over all of the riffing, the majority of the riffs being in the BM vein. Opening up somewhat clumsily is ‘Dues’. Somehow the intro to the track doesn’t work but fortunately the track then regains it’s composure and we are treated to some more of the bands excellent blackened death metal – or should that be deathened black metal, as the BM side to the bands sound seems to be the dominant feature. This is quite an unusual track, the tempo slowed somewhat and a dischordant guitar solo used to end the track. As with the beginning of ‘Deus’, the end of the track didn’t really feel right, almost sounding out of place but not especially wrong.
Blind Spite - Oblivion Embraced
 Luckily title track ‘Dethrone The Earth’ saves this e.p. from ending on a low, the blasting BM opening the track up to the epic sound found earlier in previous tracks. A relentless pace is set, the song starting to sound very Absu-ish and showing real promise. Unexpectadly the track changes tempo abruptly and we are greeted by melodic guitars and drums (as so heavily used by Norwegian BM titans Immortal). Unfortunaltey it just sounds like Immortal, only not quite as well structured and played which is unfortunate as it began with such promising start. Things do end on a high however, returning to the bands familiar BM and DM sound rather than copying someone elses. If you enjoy ice cold BM with DM added for variety, you will really enjoy this well played e.p. There may be a few minor negative points, but these are far out-weighed by the overall positives on display. If the band release more of the same with a little more refining, they won’t go far wrong. Comes very professionally packaged for a band who  have self released it and also comes recommended.
7 out of 10