Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Wrapped In A Sheet - Vultures

Vultures – Self Released 2011

1.Harshest Winter 2.Vultures 3.John Proctor
4.Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch vs the Marquis De Sade
5.An Absence of Mirrors 6.The Thundering of A Distant Piano 7.Throats
8.November Aria I: In Memorium 9.November Aria II: Of Frozen Earth
10.November Aria III: Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa 11.Vultures (Reprise)

Wrapped In A Sheet, a one-man outfit from Derby, Scarecrow being the driving force behind this black metal assault. Some people may be put off by the whole ‘one man band’ thing, but don’t be, the eleven tracks on offer could have easily been produced by a ‘full’ band. ‘Vultures’ is primarily a black metal album, but there is so much on offer throughout all eleven tracks. WIAS does tend to sit in the melodic / symphonic end of the black metal scale, and there are moments of pure hate showing through, especially in the vocal delivery (very reminiscent of old school UK act Morstice when they flirted with the black metal on their third release). Synths are used effectively throughout, never over-bearing, more used as an accompaniment to the guitars that release some extremely well written and memorable riffs. Shifting from harsh black metal, into melodic passages and then into piano led, almost gothic interludes, it all works very well.

An ice-cold atmosphere has been created throughout, the slower more melodic, gothic sounding sections fit perfectly alongside the black metal rawness. The atmosphere becomes truly haunting when Scarecrow adds clean, sung / spoken vocals into the mix, using them sparsely (but effectively) throughout so as not to become predictable. I’m not sure ‘catchy’ should be used to describe black metal, but when the likes of ‘November Aria II; Of frozen Earth’ is blasting from the speakers, its hard to find another word to describe it, the main riff will have your head nodding and foot tapping and you wont want the riff to end,  that’s how good it is! As much as I have praised this release, there are some negative points which need to be highlighted, one being the production, very vocal heavy with the guitars been very low in the mix which tends to see them getting lost under the harshness of the high-pitched screaming throughout. Also, the drum sound isn’t great and the drum patterns used are very simplistic, a bit too simple at times which is unfortunate as the songs would truly grab you by the throat with an accomplished drummer behind the kit, but being a solo project, this is unlikely to happen. However, the positives far outweigh the minor negative points. Overall, this is an excellent release from on one man who clearly knows his stuff and is an extremely competent musician. Well recommended.


Thursday, 23 June 2011

Taken By The Tide - There Is No Such Thing As An Athiest In A Foxhole

Bad News Records 2010

1 Intro 2.Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea 3.The Circling
4.She Looks Like A Dead Heat In A Zeppelin Race 5. And The Sharks Took The Rest.

Eerie sampled intro breaks out into a sludge-laden crawl and discordant riffs burst from the speakers giving opening track ‘Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea’ an almost schizophrenic feel, crawling around in a swamp of nasty riffs and tortured vocals. It’s quite heavy going for an opening track, the usual time signatures ignored in favour of something very different. More 'stop start' madness than 'four-four' normality! ‘The Circling’ pretty much follows the same path, crawling along, buried in a tangled mass of sludge-laden guitars and pounding drums. ‘She Looks Like A Dead Heat In A Zeppelin Race’ breaks the mould, introducing blast beats and guttural vocals which are a welcome change! The song opens things up and shows TBTT’ s more death metal approach to song writing whilst retaining the ‘tech’ edge but never feeling quite as claustrophobic’ as the previous tracks. If any reference point were needed, then Soilent Green springs to mind.
Final track ‘And The Sharks Took The Rest’ returns to the overpowering sludge once more. Each track on this e.p. has a tortured feel, the band are obviously taking out life’s frustrations on their chosen instruments. Metalcore and Thrash were mentioned briefly in the bands press release, but neither of these genres are present throughout the duration of the disc. However, the press release then goes on to say that TBTT are more ‘forward thinking’ in the way they construct songs, which is true, each track shows intelligence, shows a band not just willing to throw a bunch of riffs together and call it a song. This e.p. won’t be to every extreme metal fans taste, mainly due to the genre TBTT have placed themselves in (Sludgy Tech Metal). However intelligent the song writing, none of the songs ever fully opens up or ‘gets going’, but there again, that’s the nature of the beast! Intelligent, enthusiastic and well played things do become suffocating when listening to this, but maybe it was TBTT’s intention to suck the life from you anyway!
6 / 10

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Merciless Terror - Perpetual Devastation

Bad News Records 2011

 1. Shattered Existence 2. Vortex Of Death 3. Perpetual Devastation 4. Antagonistic Slaughter 5. The Dead Crimson Skies 6. Severance
Its raw, its ugly, its old school, straight from the Death Thrash School of metal. This six-track e.p. took me back to the early 90’s when I first began listening to extreme metal. Simple song structures throughout, with the backbone of the songs being thrash orientated, but with added death metal elements. The intro to ‘Shattered Existence’ actually reminded me of ‘From Beyond’ era Massacre, which is about as old school as it gets. Even the vocals are old school in their sound and delivery (reminiscent of Obituary and Morgoth in places), although vocalist Dale isn’t afraid to mix it up now and again, even venturing into ‘pig squeal’ territory on ‘Antagonistic Slaughter’.
Songs remain mid-paced throughout, riffs being thrash led with the death metal element to MT's sound ever present. There are one or two added ‘blast’ sections for variety, which alomost venture into grindcore (early napalm death era) but to me these felt slightly out of place given the overall feel to the songs. Last track ‘Severance’ is a fitting finale to this e.p, the pace slowed down to create a chilling old school atmosphere, which makes for a catchy, memorable song. The production is raw and suits the music well. The drums are too high in the mix and aren’t the best sounding in the world, but they don’t need to be really given what MT is trying to achieve.
Overall a good effort! If MT are trying to be old school, to remind us of how extrme metal use to sound, then they are succeeding.

Abomnium - Rites Like Chains

1. Bless The Machine Cult 2. Hope Is An Anchor 3. Devils Trap 4. On The Banks Of The Swift Black River 5. I Am Summoned 6. Survived By The Shadowthrone 7. Rites Like Chains
8. Bullets 9. Assassin

Dual Harmony guitars blazing straight out of the pits of hell in opening track ‘Bless The Machine Cult’, thrashing violently throughout. This opener is a real mix of metal influences; thrash at the core of what is being achieved. However, it would be wrong to tag this as thrash, as there is a sinister undercurrent of Abyssic black metal lurking in the background. ‘Hope Is An Anchor’ demonstrates the bands black metal edge perfectly; scathing guitars are matched with blasting drums to create an unholy racket that sounds very ‘Norwegian’ (think later Immortal). Vocals are varied, never becoming one-dimensional which can be so often the case in some extreme metal. We’re treated to screaming black metal, guttural death metal, and even spoken ‘chant like’ vocals throughout each and every track. As mentioned previously, thrash is never far from the core of the songs, many of the songs dipping in and out of both thrash and black metal, (not that it is blackened thrash), the music is an entity in itself. The musicianship is first-class. This is demonstrated throughout the entire disc in the various guitar solos that appear in most songs. Mature and not too over the top, they complement the style of music (being played) really well. Title track 'Rites Like Chains’ mixes things up again, adding a folk edge to the bands thrashy black assault, German band 'Andras' sprang to mind while listening to this. If variety is the spice of life, then Abomnium will be for you. The bands press release described their sound as “a ferocious bite of death, black and thrash metal” and “ a vicious, splattering deluge of pure heavy fucking metal” and I agree - Intelligent, well played extreme metal with thrash and black metal at its core, and as with many of the bands coming out of the UK at the moment, this is highly recommended

Christgrinder - Smoke Crack, Worship Satan

Smoke Crack, Worship Satan - 2010

1. The Faceless Monarch 2. Smoke Crack, Worship Satan 3. Neitzschenesis 4. Angelflesh Tapestry 5. The Grinding of The Christ 
This five track e.p. opens up with 'The Faceless Monarch' which begins with a slow, menacing passage that then bursts into a barrage of melodic death metal, with heavy leanings towards the black metal end of the musical spectrum. Harsh, sweeping riffs are backed up by solid, technical drumming, topped with harsh black metal vocals which all work very well together.  ‘Smoke Crack, Worship Satan’ is a far more blackened assault, showing CG’s black metal song writing qualities off excellently. This track also shows the band are their most grandiose, slow acoustic passages are complemented with piano / synth sections, weaving in and out of each other to create an air of ‘Dimmu Borgir’. We also see the band venture into faster sections, using the more traditional black metal sound, fast tremolo picked riffs with the now commonly used ‘buzzsaw’ guitar sound and blasting drums.
 ‘Neitzschenisis’ starts up with an almost industrial feel, but we are then taken back into frenzied black metal shown on the previous track. ‘Angelflesh Tapestry’ continues the theme, accoustic intro, then blast into menacing blackened death metal. Riffing continues to be harsh, but with a melodic edge that creates good, memorable songs. Another point of reference, especially on ‘Angelflesh Tapesty’ is (later) Satyricon, mainly due the vocal delivery which leans towards an industrial black metal sound. Final track, ‘The Grinding Of The Christ’ follows on in the same vein, an industrial feel to the track, but never forgetting the black metal theme. There’s quite a lot on offer on this e.p, melodic death metal, harsh black metal, industrial metal, but, when all put together it works really well. Each track is well written, memorable and will convert to a professionally produced full length CD extremely easily. If you like some variety to your (blackened) extreme metal then CG will suit you well. A worthy effort that deserves your attention.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Iconic Destruction - Godstained Perfection

Malignant Manifestation Productions - 2010

1. A Moment of Revelation 2. Disgorge Upon Existence 3. Resigned To In-Existence
4. Embrace Extinction

Iconic Destruction is a one-man (suicidal) black metal outfit (namely Zac Broughton, front man with Oblivionized). This release is a split with Teeth And Thorns (Italy) and the atmosphere created here is utterly haunting, tortured, bleak and suicidal. ‘A Moment of Revelation’ kicks things off, setting the atmosphere for the rest of the disc, not so much a song, more of an introduction to the horrible world that surrounds ID.
‘Disgorge Upon Existence’ opens up with harsh, tremolo picked guitars, slow tortured drumming and scathing vocals which continue to tread the same path throughout the entire song. ‘Resigned to In-Existence’ follows the same torturous path, creating emotions and feelings of desperation and despair, it is utterly captivating though, never sounding repetative or unoriginal. With such a bleak outlook on life, it’s amazing how catchy (not a word normally associated to suicidal black metal) each track is, every riff being harsh, but memorable. Last track ‘Embrace Extinction’ again follows on where the previous track left off, never faltering from the air of despair that has been created. We’re even treated to some lead guitars in this track that works surprisingly well, given that there’s nothing to be happy about at all in ID’s world.
The finish is as you would expect for the genre, a bottomless pit of a production, reverb cascading throughout, especially on the vocals and drums and the guitars are as harsh (buzz-saw / lo-fi) as ever, like razor wire tearing through flesh. ID definitely stand’s up to the other players in the genre and Zac has managed to create the soundtrack to your suicidal thoughts, highly recommended


Towers Of Flesh - Interview

UKEM delved into the murky world of Towers Of Flesh

For those unfamiliar with you guys, tell us more about the band.
We are a Blackened Death Metal band from the West Midlands with an agenda quite unlike many others.....

Musically and lyrically, what are the bands inspirations?

Lyrically the inspiration is centred upon the occult and the forces which exist externally and independently to ones self. They reflect our outlook on the world and as we are growing as people and delving deeper the lyrics are becoming even darker and more genuine than ever.
Ones perception of the lyrics will of course to a point be subjective as is always the case but if there was any linear “Concept” or notion behind them it is outlined above (and below)
Musically our inspirations are vastly varied as we all listen to different types of music but I’d say these were some of the key musical figures in our inception:  Dissection, Behemoth and Arkhon Infaustus
How has ‘The Perpetual Paradox’ been received?

The CD has been received amazingly – it truly exceeded our expectations.
It landed on blogspots all around the world. Interviews with small fanzines based in Algeria, Singapore, and Germany have followed also we were even featured in the September 2009 issue of Terrorizer Magazine and our name was accredited on the front of the publication.
Even now I am still posting out merchandise orders all over Europe... considering we have only played live five times this is quite an achievement.

The Perpetual Paradox was released on your drummer’s label, ‘Dissected Records’. Was this a decision taken so the band has more control over the release?
Well I was originally working hard to find a label for the band – contacting every A & R person I could and searching high and low for any prospective offers. Despite vague and brief correspondences with some larger labels and production companies it became apparent that we were simply not going to find a record label.
The only natural conclusion was to push on with full conviction and to find an alternative means of releasing the CD – so obviously Dissected Records came about organically from that point. Although I can’t talk of the future i.e. where we might go or what we might sign - I do know that currently I am 100% comfortable with controlling my own finances, distribution and music so I’ll continue to do things my way for as long as I possibly can.

What releases do you have planned for the future? Will any future releases be on Dissected Records or would you hope to move to a bigger label?
Well we are currently in June 2011 and the new album is well over halfway completed. However we are in no rush as such as previously mentioned we are signed to my own independent label so no pressure or deadlines are involved. We have a very organic view to writing music and do not see any point in rushing ourselves. The idea of being on a bigger label is very much a give or take scenario for us. As we know people involved in bigger bands, bigger labels etc and we have really seen firsthand the soulless nature of the: MUSIC BUSINESS.Subsequently you see bands moving up this ladder ending up more concerned with money, personal kudos and other egotistical rewards rather than the nature and message of their music. Our music is not a product, but an expression.
Do the band actively gig and what is a T.O.F show generally like?
We have some more live dates in the works at the minute and we’ll be embarking upon a short tour later on this year.  It’s just difficult for us to organise lives dates properly at the minute as geographically our members are situated quite awkwardly with some studying and others working.
But generally we conjure a bloody, violent, dark and intense live atmosphere so within this our members express themselves openly and this recently landed us amidst some controversy. As basically we were booked to play a show and apparently we breached some vital health and safety issues during the performance and some equipment was also damaged during the set etc. So subsequently we often have people complain that they aren’t “Impressed” on “Shocked” by the bands on stage actions but that is good because the simple fact is:  they’re not meant to be. Most live extreme metal bands of today have lost any vigour or sense of conviction – if they ever even had any at all.  However instrumentally capable their actual performances are placid, stale and uninteresting.... However for us playing live is the ultimate catharsis– and the stage is where our everyday inhibitions are truly lost.
How would you guys describe ‘your sound’?
Elitist Esotericism from the Midlands Satanic Terror Unit
What should we expect from the band in the near future?
New Album – 2012
Thanks once again for speaking with us. Any last words you wish to share with our readers?
Salutations to you for the interview and a massive thanks to all those who support us
“Though we are enclosed within the limits of our short earthly-life, we aspire to the infinite” – D. A. Berthelot
(Conducted with Anil Carrier)

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Basement Torture Killings - Interview

UKEM entered the basement to try to understand the deranged ramblings of BTK's Tarquin!
Thanks for speaking with UNITED KINGDOM EXTREME METAL, how are things with you?

We are good thanks, our basement is stocked with fresh meat from our recent shows with General Surgery, Desecration and Abaddon Incarnate. The turn outs were really good so we had a good supply of fresh victims to play with.

For those unfamiliar with you guys, tell us more about the band.

We formed in the Winter of 2007 in Stockholm. Brother Bertrand and I had been to a Grave show and drew inspiration from there really. We are more than just a typical band as we also utilise a large visual element to what we do. The band features 4 sadistic fucked up killers who go by the names of Bertrand, Taruqin, Prof K and The Fourth Killer. The easiest way to describe us i guess is that we are part band and part horror theatre.

Introduce each member and their role in the band.
 Bertrand is the filthiest member of the band and likes to taunt his victims before subjecting them horrific prolonged torture. He is an orator and also caresses razor wire.

 Tarquin is the most uncontrollable of the group, he gives into fits of rage which leads to horrific mutilations, he will play with body parts and nothing is taboo to him, Severed Head Felatio is a favourite for him. He also serves as an orator to the band as well as manipulating twisted sinews.
Prof K is the academic and is the most controlled of the band. He likes to use words to cause pain to his victims. He is also very adept with needles and acids. Prof K is responsible for the low end bowel evisceration in the band.

Number 4 or The Fourth Killer is the glue that holds the unit together. He owns a vehicle repair shop and likes to go to work with spanners and clubs. He is responsible for Angelic Face Batterings.
Lyrically, murder is obviously a number one topic, what are the bands inspirations? Do you research your subjects, or is it all just in your minds?

We draw inspirations from a variety of sources. Some is from the true crime section of the library, The Wests, Ted Bundy and Ivan Milat have featured in songs so far. We also have a clip from Denis Rader (BTK Killer) on the beginning of Pretty Woman. Horror movies have also played there part in our lyrical approach. Cigarette Burns (Short film part of the Masters Of Horror series) and Switchblade Romance have all lent there wait to our gorgasms. Although we also draw on our own inspiration as well and we always add our own twist on everything we do. Its boring just regurgitating tales about serial killers, plus Macabre already do that way better than we ever could.

Musically, where do you guys draw influence from?

We draw musickal inspiration from a variety of areas. Mainly its old school death stuff, bands like Deicide, Carcass, Entombed, Death, Napalm Etc. But we also draw inspiration from a load of other bands, the things is there are very few bands that we all like out side of the classics although we all get off on General Surgery, Haemorrhage, Exhumed etc. For me I also like a lot of Black Metal stuff, early Mayhem, Emperor, Dissection, Arkhon Infaustus have all left a mark.

Your style reminded me of Aborted, is this a fair comparison?

I really like Aborted but the others aren't so keen. I think they are a fair reference point but I wouldn't say we sound that much like them really. There early stuff was great. The one thing we have got in common with those guys though is that we both really like to have awesome art work. I think they use some of the best imagery in all of the genre.

How has ‘The Second Cumming’ been received?

Really well so far. We have received really good reviews outscoring a lot of our peers such as Negrophagia, Vomitory and even Cerebral Bore so on that front it’s all good. We have also nearly ran out of our first pressing so demand is high.

What releases do you have planned for the future? Will any future releases be on Arcane Promotions or would you hope to move to a bigger label?

Our deal with Arcane is a one album deal so the door is open, but in all honesty they have done everything we could have asked so far so it would have to be a very good offer for us not to stay with them. We are just about to start writing the next album, although I would really like to do a split if possible as well. I have 3 or 4 song ideas already and I am really happy with them so whatever we do should be ace. We do have a working title of "Gorgasmic Movements In The Dark" although whether that changes is any ones guess.

For those that haven’t experienced BTK live, what can we expect?
A full on barbarous orgy of murder blood and guts! The shows are really full on, we don't have any in between song banter or anything like that. We play a fast and furious set and the characters get to explode.

How would you guys describe ‘your sound’?

Gore Obsessed, Serial Killer Worshippin, shit inducing, death fucking metal. That was easy, we did it as our first shirt back print!

What should we expect from the band in the near future? Any tour plans?
We are playing a double event in June with Deicide at London Death Fest and the we are playing a Terrorizer Grindhouse night in Birmingham. We also have a 3 date tour with Cancerous Womb and Amputated, we are also playing the Altars Of Death festival as part of that bill. Then we have dates in Newcastle and Edinburgh (Blastonbury) in October. We will also be squeezing in some Irish dates before the end of the year as well so things are fairly busy for us.

Thanks once again for speaking with us. Any last words you wish to share with our readers?

Remember, killing is big and clever haha. Thanks for the interview and good luck with the site.