Monday, 27 February 2012

Inner Fortress - Inner Fortress

Self Released 2011

1.Murdering The Innocent 2.The Pariah 3.Ophidian's Tongue
4.The Fate You've Sealed 5.My Malice

‘Murdering The Innocent’ begins life as a gnarly and very nasty sounding beast, the bass especially horrible having a rumbling and gravelly sound to it which adds a very heavy sound to the guitars. The term ‘cave man’ death metal has been used a lot to describe bands over the years, but it’s probably an apt term to use when describing I.F’s sound. Straight for the throat, simplistic death metal is being offered up here. No frills, no wanking about, it’s all about the metal here! ‘The Pariah’ starts with quite a clich├ęd guitar intro before the song opens up properly in a pit of natstiness. The whole production sounds dirty here, a very basic finish to the instruments sounds and the vocals are typically hateful, being predominantly screamed, almost Black metal in delivery. The riffing is fairly standard, nothing that really pushed the boundaries of death metal, but then again, they’re really not meant to be. There is some melody under all the nasty production, with some riffing actually starting to sound ‘epic’ with the ending to this second track becoming very catchy and memorable.

‘Ophidians Tongue’ begins where the previous track left off, catchy yet straight to the point riffing. It’s actually the vocals which add a lot to these songs, being very well structured and adding to the overall catchy feel to the track. Deeper growled vocals are introduced and makes for a nice mix of vocal styles and giving the track a more death metal feel. The nasty bass mentioned earlier really punches through the production on this track, again giving it a really dirty feel. However, having heaped praise on the vocals there does seem to be too many of them used on this track, every riff seems to have vocals over it which, for all their excellent delivery, suffocates the song at times. ‘The Fate You’ve Sealed’ is very similar again, vocals seemingly layered over every riff which can become very hard listening as they are mixed really high and are the prominent feature rather than complementing the other instruments. ‘My Malice’ see’s the tempo upped slightly, the song starting off in quite brutal fashion, an almost punk feel beginning to take shape. The track does then return to the mid-paced death metal seen in all of the previous tracks. Nothing really new on offer, this track sounding quite similar to everything that been heard previously.

Summing up, it’s quite standard mid-paced death metal, nothing that is going to ‘push the boundaries’ of extreme metal and nothing that really makes you sit up and take note. Reading the bands biography they claim to be a Death/Thrash/Metalcore band which is a strange combo. Listening to them, yes, there is definitely death metal there, nasty at times but ultimately a quite standard breed of death metal. Not sure where the Thrash of Metalcore comes from, those influences not apparently obvious upon listening to this e.p. This is the band’s first release and it’s a fair first attempt, but more work is needed if the bands predictions are correct:- "Inner Fortress are hotly tipped to make it count in the next few years, this golden shit has only just begun".

6 out of 10

Friday, 24 February 2012

Sanhedrin - Salvation Through Sin

Self Released 2010

1.Unrestrained Soul Of Leviathan 2.Now I See The Truth
3.The Holy Sons 1: In The Gardens Of Gethsemane
4.The Holy Sons 2: In The Fields Of Akeldama 5.A Deceptive Dreamlike State
6.Salvation Through Sin 7.Eternal Battle Of Faiths
8.Into The Emerald Dream 9.Of The Infernal Legion 10.The Second Coming
11.Utterly Bereft Of Life

Sweeping synths cascade back and forth, accompanied by some melodic, yet menacing guitar work on opening track ‘Unrestrained Soul Of Leviathan’, the momentum slowly gathering and creating the atmosphere (and acting as the albums intro) for the following track ‘Now I See The Truth’ which is another menacing creation. Musically the band are driven by death metal with hints of black metal added, especially through the use of atmospheric keyboard work. The pace remains slow to mid-paced but this is what creates the eerie and menacing feel  seen here. ‘The Holy Sons 1: In The Gardens Of Gethsemanne’ is a slightly more black metal affair, razor sharp tremolo picked guitars prevalent throughout much of the track and as ever, the vocals are typically hateful and scathing. There’s a lot of melody injected into this track but it never loses it black metal feel. Keyboards used very sparingly, but when used only add to the atmosphere extremely well.

‘The Holy Sons 2: In The Fields Of Afeldama’ continues the theme seen in the previous track and if anything is as black metal as the band have sounded so far. Ice cold riffing accompanied by blasting drums and the keyboards once again injecting the eeriness very subtly in the background. ‘A deperitive Dream-Life State’ is atmospheric keyboard interlude, a very short piece and breaks up the tracks well. ‘Salvation Through Sin’ begins almost as a continuation of the previous interlude, opening up with melodic keyboards and bass guitar. This doesn’t last long however, the ‘Dimmu Borgir’ esque riffing and keyboard work really beginning to shine here, no clones however, the band definitely have their own sound. ‘Eternal Battle Of Faiths’ has a slightly more death metal feel, some of the guitars particularly heavy and although different from the previous tracks, doesn’t sound out of place and actually complements the more black metal sections well. There’s a real epic feeling being created, the tension in the track increasing the further into it you delve…a sense that something nasty is about to happen which unfortunately it doesn’t. No surprises or massive finish to the track, the pace is increased slightly, but that’s about it. ‘Into The Emerald Dream’ is another keyboard led short interlude with accompanying guitars and drums and whilst all well played ends up sounding something and nothing, heading nowhere other than a pause before ‘Of The Infernal Legion’ opens up. Another slow to mid-paced affair to begin with until the pace is upped into more familiar black metal territory, blasting drums and blazing guitars. A lot of maiden-esque riffing on display which is really good and shows off some of the bands childhood influences maybe.
‘The Second Coming’ begins with more melodic and atmospheric classical keyboard work before blasting in with thrash tinged black metal riffing, a real ice cold feel here, especially when the keyboards are introduced, pure evil atmosphere! Things really start to get brutal as well, something that should maybe have been used a lot more to really make the whole cd kick you in the face, something many of the previous tracks just didn’t do. ‘Utterly Bereft Of Life’ acts an outro, keyboards used to the max and probably the right way to end this album, a haunting air of desperation being created. This cd is an older release from 2010 and is the band’s debut album which is maybe what makes some of the tracks feel like they’re having an identity crisis, not really knowing what genre to sit in, death metal or black metal? It’s not so much a criticism, just maybe an explanation and a pointer to a band finding its identity through  a multitude of different influences.  That said, it’s a great introduction to the band and a very respectable debut full length of promising black (with some death) metal.

7 out of 10

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Infernal Creation - The Serpent Seed Doctrine

Self Released 2011

1.We The Serpent Seed 2.Cataclysm 3.Plague Upon Plague 4.Omega Cult
5.The Faceless Phrophet 6.Angel Of Endless Hunger 7.Cruciatus Vobiscum
8.War Is Worship 9.The Insidious Gospel 10.Serpent Messiah

A very epic sounding beginning to opening track “We The Serpent Seed”, hints of slower and more epic Nile on show. It’s a very good start and the track continues in a mid-paced epic theme, aspects of black metal present within the guitar riffing. Vocals are spiteful and hateful, tending to be in the “screamed” almost black metal range. When the pace is slowed, variety is added vocally through the use of sung, almost chant like passages, again very epic sounding and again reminiscent of Nile. ‘Cataclysm’ showcases even more of the bands black metal influence, mixed perfectly with a hint of death metal and the result is excellent. The track takes on a very Swedish black/death metal sound – Necrophobic anyone? Some of the riffing is extremely catchy and what makes IC stand out is the pace. It would be very easy to blast over the ice cold blackened riffing, but instead the band stay in the slow to mid-paced bracket and it works really well. Not falling into that “just another blasting non-descript extreme metal band” trap.
‘Plague Upon Plague’ see’s the band delving into even catchier, yet still black metal as fuck song writing. There’s a great mix of black and death metal and again the pace is ‘held back’. The guitar tone really begins to shine through on this track; a heavy almost gravelly tone used which suits the Swedish influence to their song writing perfectly and gives them a definite Swedish sound. Death metal forms the back bone of ‘Omega Cult’, sounding slightly different from the previous tracks and a more melodic approach is undertaken, even the bass can be heard ‘doing its own thing’ under some of the really melodic passages. The chorus lines sound monstrously epic here, extremely catchy and as seen before, almost chant like in approach.  ‘The Faceless Prophet’ takes a slightly different theme and sadly falls a bit flat compared to the high standards set in the tracks before it. It’s not a bad track by any means, just doesn’t quite live upto what has already been witnessed. Thankfully ‘Angel Of Endless Hunger’ blasts in and ‘normal service is resumed’. There’s a real spiteful feel to this track, the vocals once again leading the barrage of hate. A totally different feel once again on ‘Cruciatus Vobiscum’, the pace being slowed to a crawl, a blackened nasty heaving pit of unpleasantness but ultimately black metal and although slow, immensely epic and brutal. Even more melody is introduced through the use of acoustic guitars which works extremely well and adds to the overall sense of hate and melancholy.
Big surprise as ‘War Is Worship’ opens up! Blast beats blazing in a storm of hate and over some hateful black metal riffing. The blasts are used sparingly, but to great effect and adds some variety into the album.  ‘The Insidious Gospel’ up’s the pace slightly and the melodic black/death metal again used to great effect, the guitars sound heavy as fuck here, especially in the slower sections. However, as ever, the black metal influence is not held back for long and adds to the atmosphere created throughout the whole cd.  It also sees the band at their catchiest, mixing melody with an epic feel to create some real ‘head nodding’ extreme metal. Closing proceedings is ‘Serpent Messiah’, an absolute monster of a track, the melodic blackened death metal in full use here; it’s a great way to close an amazing cd. Hatefilled and scathing, this final track has many twists and turns, but is a fitting finale. Really can’t rate this highly enough, yet again we see a shining example of the really high standard being set in the UK extreme metal underground. First class black/death metal, full of hate, melody and evil, this disc comes very highly recommended. Even more appealing is the disc design, extremely professional and setting a high standard for an unsigned band. Take note, this is how it should be done!
9 out of 10

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Party Cannon - Promo 2011

Self Released 2011

1.We Prefer The Term Living Impared 2.Big Tasty 3.Everyone Is Dead To Me
4.Battle Of The Spidermen

Brutal blasting death metal / grind from the outset. Frantic drumming and twisting, grinding and slam orientated guitars whip up a frenzy almost immediately. The pace throughout opening track ‘We Prefer The Term Living Impared’ is utterly relentless, an absolute storm being produced by these crazed Scots. The pace is broken up with ‘slam orientated’ sections, vocalist ‘Stony’ belching out some sub-human nastiness which suits the backdrop of the music perfectly.  ‘Big Tasty’ begins differently, a slightly slower pace set and with a very old school dirty death metal feel to it, think Rottrevore and you’ll get the idea. The change of pace is definitely welcomed, adding variation to the band’s sound which prevents them from falling into the “sounds all the same” trap as can be so easy with this genre. Pace is injected when needed, but tending to be used sparingly and acting as a reminder that they are brutal as fuck! There’s a slightly unusual (for this genre) end to the track, a very old school sounding guitar lead, reminiscent of Obituary and other such old school veterans. It actually works though, being presented under a slamming, if somewhat slightly more melodic riff compared to those seen earlier in the track. Extremely creative and shows off a band willing to experiment and break away from the perceived norms of the death / grind genre.

‘Everyone Is Dead To Me’ is a good mix of the styles seen in the previous tracks, the old school element mixed with the slam and blasting grind sections is a great combination and works really well and is a refreshing change from a lot of the one dimensional bands similar to Party Cannon. Not sure about the intro to the track, but that’s something and nothing, soon forgotten when the track blasts in! The vocals are a real highlight here, ultra guttural and really well presented, being spewed forth from a seemingly deranged mind. Dare the word ‘catchy’ be used when discussing death / grind, but this is the catchiest of the four tracks and a real pleasure to listen to! Ending the ‘party’ is ‘Battle Of The Spidermen’, which is another lesson is precisely played death/grind, the bass guitar really punching through here and really adding to an overall sense of heaviness. We see a variation in the vocals, a more screamed vocal taking the lead which again works really well, adding yet more variation….bands like Exhumed and Impaled are instant comparisons if any were needed. As the track begins to wind down, that old school feel seen earlier is re-introduced, some quite melodic riffing again on show while an equally melodic guitar solo is played over it, actually creating quite an atmosphere. This slowly fades and an acoustic guitar outro takes over. Quite a bizzare way to end a death / grind release, but as with many of the experimentations the band introduce, it works really well. Forget the stupid film samples and what we have here is extremely well played, precise death / grind with an underlying old school feel and with some melody added for variation. Comes highly recommended. Looking forward to the split they have planned with fellow scots Laceration and Agonised Deformity.

8 out of 10