Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Ethereal - Revelation Beast

Self Released 2011

1.The Withered Hand Of God 2.Revelation Beast 3.Crown Of A Thousand Horns
4.Bloodstained Martyr 5.Apocalypse Of The Spirit

Mournfully ‘The Withered Hand Of God’ presents itself, the keyboard intro setting a creepy tone before all hell is unleashed in an unholy barrage of ice-cold, scathing black metal. The pace is unrelenting throughout, guitars high pitched with fast tremolo picking as you would expect from the genre. Keyboards are used frequently but are used in the background, as an accompaniment rather that overpowering the music as can so often be the case with bands in a similar vein. There are moments of ‘Dimmu’ on display, especially when the pace drops slightly and the vocals take on a more growled and spoken stance. No rip off by any means, just a hint of their influence showing through. Just as the track began, so it ends, a mournful and sombre atmosphere created through the keyboards. But as with the beginning of the song, it doesn’t last long and ‘Revelation Beast’ blasts open in a torrent of abyssic hate, ‘Diesekrator’s vocals really tormented here, pain etched into every sentence, scornful, scathing and malice laden – a real highlight and reminiscent of French black metal troupe Anorexia Nervosa. Slightly more melody is injected into the sound and again, comparisons can be made to Dimmu Borgir, the band easily able to match the Norwegians titans.
As ‘Crown Of A Thousand Horns’ opens up its all too clear that Ethereal really know how to write a good song, this track has taken on a slightly different approach vocally, the growled and spoken vocals re-introduced and used heavily throughout the majority of the track. The pace is slowed and melody used to really build the atmosphere with guitar solos and sweeping keyboards enhancing the melodic edge and seeing the track to its atmospheric end, great stuff! ‘Bloodstained Martyr’ begins where there previous track left off, the beginning to the song slow, but atmospheric, clean spoken vocals used to add variety before the band once again lets loose with their compelling brand of brutal, yet atmospheric black metal. There is a different ‘feel’ to this track, not being too different from the previous tracks to make it stand out as being different. Maybe more of the bands influences on display, the whole song sounds more ‘UKBM’, reminiscent of early C.O.F and Hecate Enthroned in places, not clones of the said bands by any stretch of the imagination though! Final track ‘Apocalypse Of The Night’ is a fitting end to a first rate release from yet another great UKBM band. All of the atmosphere, variety in pace and influences are on display, the band throwing everything ‘into the pot’ to end things and really leave their mark on the listener, the ‘big ending’ and spoken sample sounds really epic and ends the e.p. perfectly.
This is a beautifully presented self- released digi-pack and the professionalism of the packaging is equalled by the black metal on offer, there’s no faulting the bands material at all. Yes, there are comparisons to bigger names in the genre, but Ethereal are no rip off merchants, they are a band that are producing some of the best melodic, atmospheric yet brutal black metal in the UK at this moment in time. Every effort has obviously been made to ensure that no detail has been overlooked. From the design, to the presentation through to the music on offer, it all reeks of professionalism, produced this way to intentionally stand out from the crowd, which it manages to do perfectly. Five tracks of atmospheric, melodic yet brutal and scathing black metal; ‘Revelation Beast’ really deserves your attention and is highly recommended.

8.5 out of 10

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Nathicana - Demo 2012

Self Released 2012

1.Entity 2.Devour 3.The Evil That Lurks Upon Us

Yes, the band did rape their name from that excellent 1349 song; however upon a first spin of the cd, there is a creepy old school vibe that greets the listener. When ‘Entity’ opens up, there’s a real heavy dose of melody injected into the bands sounds, whilst it manages to retain a sense of grimy, bog lurking old school death metal. The kick drums have been mixed perfectly to suit the music on offer, offering a really heavy, organic sound which really thumps at the chest. Tortured vocals accompany the death metal vibe; however, they sit more in the ‘Screamed Black Metal’ bracket, but suit the music really well. Differing styles used to maximum effect, almost a grindcore delivery, just not with the frenzied, blast beat laden delivery with the band preferring to take on a more ‘mid-paced’ approach. ‘Devour’ continues the murky, dirty old school theme perfectly, the faster sections very reminiscent of the more melodic old school Swedish death metal bands, with a slight hint of black metal injected into the guitars. Some of the faster sections do sound a little ‘out of control’, the band almost struggling to stay in time, but they do manage to hold things together so as not to lose the song completely. Third and final track ‘The Evil That Lurks Upon Us’ begins life at a crawl, once again the old school feel really brought to the fore here, not doom by any means, but slowed down, down tuned stinking death metal. These slower sections have a hint of ‘Soilent Green’ to them, only very slightly however. Reading through the bands lists of influences it is hard to see where these influences manifest themselves in the songs, as many of the bands listed are technical, extreme metal, quite the opposite from what is on offer here. This demo is Nathicana’s debut outing and is a good solid effort, but there is a naivety to their song writing which does show through. As mentioned, some of the faster sections sound a little out of control, and not ‘fully together’ as a band, but we can forgive a little sloppiness given that the band haven’t been together too long. Shows potential, not bad by any means, the band just needs more time to develop as a unit and mature their song writing skills.

5.5 out of 10

Monday, 2 July 2012

De Profundis - The Emptiness Within

Kolony Records 2012

1.From The Depths... 2.Delirium 3.Silent Gods 4.This Wretched Plague
5.Twisted Landscapes 6.Release 7.Dead Inside
8.Parallel Existence 9.Unbroken (A Morbid Embrace)

‘From The Depths’ is a monumental ‘intro’ building the tension up perfectly for ‘Delirium’.  From the outset it’s clear the De Profundis are accomplished musicians, there is a real professional feel to the track and it’s only just started! There’s a definite over-riding sense of melody, the guitars providing a perfect atmosphere. Even when blast beats are introduced, the melody is never lost, brutally melodic! Describing themselves as ‘Extreme Progressive Metal’ pretty much sums up the band’s sound. A melodic break half way through the track introduces the band’s progressive element, acoustic guitars layered  with a bass that is ‘doing its own thing’ and cleaner spoken vocals all point to a band that aren’t afraid to mix things up, experiment and show off their excellent musicianship. Faster blast sections re-introduced to end what is a superb opening track. ‘Silent Gods’ opens up in a relatively brutal fashion, courtesy of the drums setting quite a pace. Sounding reminiscent of earlier SEPTIC FLESH and just as good. Guitar harmonies and solos are used to great effect, taking the track into extremely catchy territory. Once again a melodic interlude is used to add variety to the track and used to retain the compelling atmosphere. Blast beats then introduced again, returning the track to the brutality seen at the beginning. Acoustic guitars are again used to introduce
‘This Wretched Plague’, the bands progressive edge in full swing here, drums, guitars and bass all seemingly doing something completely different to each other, whilst working together perfectly. This theme continues throughout the remainder of the track, especially the bass guitar which at times almost leads the track. Nestled in amongst all the progressive sections are faster, blast beat led elements which sit alongside all the progression really well, neither element sounding out of place or over-used. ‘Twisted Landscapes’ follows on is similar fashion, albeit a slightly faster affair. Vocally there is great variety throughout, the main guttural death metal vocal style being backed up perfectly with the screamed, more black metal vocal style and not forgetting the cleaner, spoken type vocals – variety the name of the game. When ‘Release’ opens up, bands such as ATHIEST immediately spring to mind, PESTILENCE maybe. The band’s technical ability more than obvious here, once again the bass guitar cutting through the guitars, well up in the mix as it should be as there’s a hell of a lot going on! As the track slows, and takes on a mournful, almost sombre feel, a cleaner vocal style of singing is used which adds something more to the band’s sound, yet another element which isn’t over-used, just added for a short time to bring something new ‘to the table’ so to speak. No sooner has the track started to take on a real black metal feel, with the tension and atmosphere rising, then it ends in an all-out free form jazz blast. Different! ‘Dead Inside’ returns the album to a more extreme, death metal format, once again, if comparisons were needed, then SEPTIC FLESH would again be a relatively accurate comparison. Black metal influenced riffing introduced which sits really well against the very progressive, melodic sections. Ending the track the band have opted to really up the pace and it sounds really brutal, again starting to take on a black metal stance and yet it still manages to retain a progressive edge. Great finish to the track!
‘Parallel Existence’ is an instrumental and is yet another master-class in how to play well composed, melodic, technical and progressive extreme metal, the band really pushing the boundaries here. It all sounds very self-indulgent, but why the fuck not when you know you can play this well, show people what you can do. Technically its first rate, every band member really pushing themselves as the track slowly builds up in pace, ending very brutally, probably more brutal than anything seen in the previous songs. Ninth and final track, ‘Unbroken (A Morbid Embrace)' is a monster of a track, the longest on the entire album, clocking in at 9:07. Its surprising how quickly the track passes by though, there’s so much to keep the listener engaged that you find yourself becoming engrossed in it all. As the track slowly reaches its finale, “Unbroken” is being sung repeatedly using dual vocals and it’s very very catchy, fading out as an acoustic guitar fades in then out to end the track. I remember reading a post from the band, complaining about constantly being labelled a doom band. And with good reason, whoever described De Profundis as doom needs a good slap and a lesson in the extreme metal genres. ‘Extreme Progressive Metal’ sums the band up brilliantly, but add to that ‘Technical’ as the music on offer drips technicality, oozes atmosphere and is second to none. All nine tracks offer up compelling compositions, flawlessly executed and utterly addictive. There is a lot on offer, a lot of influences and musical styles blended together to create something very unique to the UK. An album that is easily able to match those playing a similar style on the international scene with something to offer to the majority of extreme metal fans, ‘The Emptiness Within’ comes very highly recommended…you really should be putting this on your ‘to buy’ cd list!

9 out of 10