Friday, 31 August 2012

Necro Ritual - Nerthus' Demise (2012)

Iron Age Records - 2012

1.Warpen Waelgifru 2.Warcry 3.Pagan Might
4. Severing The Throats of The Voiceless Christain Scum
5.The Passing of The September Moon
6.Call of The Nocturnal Army 7.Beyond The Sword
8.Nerthus' Demise (Lament For The Fallen Angland)

**Album has been re-issued through Iron Age Records, originally reviewed some time ago but the band were good enough to send the re-issue, so re-posting the original review**

Opening up with an eerie windswept into, I was expecting first track ‘Warcry’ to open up in an inferno of unholy blast beats and scathing guitars – I couldn’t have been more wrong with my expectations. Instead, the track is introduced in a relatively gentle manner, melodic black metal riffs sweeping back and forth, creating a bleak and blackened atmosphere. The tempo to the opening track remains slow, venturing to mid-paced temporarily, then returning to the slow melodic and mournful tempo. Variety is added to the vocals, using the high pitched ‘black metal’ screams drenched in reverb as well as guttural death metal growling. There is a good mix between the two styles, each complementing the other well. There are also some ‘spoken’ passages which help add more variety to the song.
Second track ‘Pagan Might’ sees the band upping the tempo, moving into a more familiar brutal black metal style, blast beats used sparingly, but effectively (some of the faster sections reminiscent of Marduk). The riffing remains melodic and very memorable and as with the previous tracks creates a very bleak and haunting atmosphere. The melodic guitar solo near the end of the track works extremely well, never losing the black metal feel of the song, retaining a sense of despair’. ‘Severing The Throats Of The Voiceless Christian Scum’ and ‘The Passing Of The September Moon’ are very similar in their structures, based around harsh, yet melodic black metal riffing with the tempo dipping from slow tortured sections, to all out blasting, then returning to the slower tempo. 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 remaining tracks don’t offer us anything new from the formula already shown on the opening tracks, but they don’t need to as the formula NR are sticking to works well. The band is producing some quality melodic black metal with real passion and atmosphere.
This release should appeal to a lot of BM fans as the band mix differing styles of the genre; melody, harshness, depressive and brutal, there’s a lot on offer! This cd will also be a good introduction to BM for those that have never heard it but are considering treading the left hand path. ‘Beyond The Sword’ stands out against the other tracks. Some of the riffing is so catchy, instantly memorable, melodic yet harsh, definitely one to throw the horns to whilst denouncing everything pure \m/ Recommended.
7.5 / 10

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Rat Faced Bastard - Rat Faced Bastard

Self Released 2012
1.Meathead 2.Branded Supremacy 3.Defiled
4.Gary Busey's Restraining Order 5.Crushing The Weak
6.Meat Harvester 7.Blind Devotion 8.Rat Faced Bastard
A torrent of abuse greets the listener as ‘Meathead’ blasts forth in a frenzy of punk infused grinding madness, blast beats, frenetic guitar work and mixed guttural/screamed vocals all make up for an absolute whirlwind of an opening track and a great introduction to self-proclaimed  ‘death/grind dickheads’ Rat Faced Bastard. At only 52 seconds it's over in a flash before ‘Branded Supremacy’ follows on, slowing the pace somewhat compared to the previous track. The punk, metal, grind framework is still there however. ‘Defiled’ is a full on grinding assualt, another haze of blast infused madness, the guitars an absolute haze of death/grind riffing and the pace is utterly relentless. The band sound particularly ‘tight’ in this track considering how fast the track is. The pace is slowed slightly towards the end of the track, but the scathing screamed vocals ensure that an edge of brutality is retained.  Clocking in at only 8 seconds, ‘Gary Busey’s Restraining Order’ is as you would expect, 8 seconds of grinding, blast beast ridden sillyness, enough said! ‘Crushing The Weak’ starts life with a really old school death metal feel, mid paced with a real sense of grove to the opening riffs. The punkier riffs are introduced alongside the old school riffs and it’s a good mix, both styles quite obviously complementing each other and giving this song a different, but welcome feel to the track heard previously.
The full on grind assault returns in ‘Meat Harvester’, RFB sounding particularly venomous here and to be honest, brutal as fuck! We’re treated to more of the groove inspired old school death metal again, giving the track a really catchy sound. ‘Blind Devotion’ sees the band at their most brutal, an absolute torrent of manic death/grind, the song filled with blast beats, frenzied guitars and hate filled vocals…what more do you need from your grind? Ending this debut e.p is the title track taken from the band’s name ‘Rat Faced Bastard’ and yet again, it’s a relentless mix of punk inspired death/grind, executed brilliantly and a great way to end this all too short debut offering. These guys are active giggers (go see them, it’s entertaining stuff) and the hard work seems to have paid off in the recording process as RFB have produced 8 tracks of punishing death/grind, catchy, well played and to the point. Death/Grind dickheads? No, more like Death/Grind heroes. The CD version of this release sold out very quickly, but the tape version is in the process of being produced. Grab a copy while you can, as I suspect they won’t be available for long either. Highly recommended.
8 out of 10

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Aeternum - Through Death We Ascend

Self Released 2012

1.Beyond The Valley 2.As The Last Kingdom Burns 3.Non Serviam
4.Sons Of The Fading Dusk
5.The Lightbearer 6.Invocation

Mournful and atmospheric keyboards introduce us to London extreme metallers Aeternum with intro track ‘Beyond The Valley’. A tried and tested way to introduce a demo/e.p./album etc., it is what it is, a short keyboard intro, sets a nice tone for the first real track, ‘As The Last Kingdom Burns’ which is a barrage of brutal blackened death metal, blast beats are plentiful, dual screamed and growled vocals used often and to great effect. Tempos are varied throughout, switching from the hellish blast sections into slower, more morbid sounding parts. There is a very heavy dose of ‘Watain’ to the band’s sound, mixed with a more old school feel, if more references were needed then think Necrophobic and you won’t be far off the mark. ‘Non Serviam’ follows on in similar fashion, albeit with a slightly more black metal feel, the guitar work tending to be higher up the fret board. Again, tempos are varied and acoustic guitars are introduced which add variety and set a different tone. There’s a real catchiness starting to creep into the bands song writing now and the ‘Watain’ influence becomes a lot stronger, but the band are no mere rip-offs, their songs are definitely their own, and what great songs they are! ‘Sons Of The Fading Dusk’ see’s the band delving even deeper into black metal territory, the high pitched screamed vocals taking the lead, being backed up now and again by the deeper growled vocals. The blast sections seen in the opening track have all but disappeared, the band preferring to sit in a ‘mid-paced’ territory which actually seems to suit them better, the atmosphere of the guitar riffs leading the song rather than speed ‘doing the talking’. Acoustic guitars again introduced and again adding to the deep and brooding atmosphere already created, great stuff.
‘The Light Bearer’ begins life as pure ‘Dissection worship’ before we are once again greeted by a frenzy of what can probably be described as atmospheric black/death metal, with the emphasis being placed heavily on black metal and atmospheric! Finishing things off is ‘Invocation’, a much more melodic track compared to the previous two or three offerings. If any more comparisons were needed, there are hints of ‘Thus Defiled’, especially vocally when the high pitched screams are in a full, throat shredding assault. On this final track the band have opted to incorporate all their influences, tempos, arrangements etc., everything seen in the previous five tracks fully incorporated into this closing song, and it all pulls together extremely well, the band sounding utterly punishing, devastating and becoming epic in sound, a great way to end what is a great e.p.  For a debut recording, this is an extremely well played, professional and sometimes breath taking assault, real passion on display from a band that have developed a sound which will appeal to many. There’s obviously been a lot of hard work done in the practice room and it has all definitely paid off. Brutal, atmospheric and compelling blackened death metal, all executed with a real passion. Be very interesting to see where the band go from here, because judging by this performance, it shouldn’t be too long before someone sits up and takes note of the band….highly recommended

8 out of 10

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Lockersludge - Falling On Our Faces

Self Released 2011

1.Face The Future Now 2.Grinding To A Halt 3.Green Army
4.Strenght, Honour & Pride 5.Hiding Emotions

Hardcore, sludge and doom metal might at first seem a strange combination, but Lockersludge have managed to combine all three in this, their second studio recording. Opener ‘Face The Future Now’ leans more toward the Hardcore end of the bands sounds, although the other influences are there, the sludgy, groove orientated guitar riffing preventing the song from being an all-out Hardcore anthem. Vocally, it’s probably as you would expect, strained, shouted vocals with ‘gang style’ shouted vocals used in choruses. ‘Grinding To A Halt’ begins in similar fashion to the opener, the tempo pulled back to a groove laden crawl, whilst remaining heavy with ‘ball busting’ attitude and at 2:19 it’s the shortest track from the five being offered up. ‘Green Army’ see’s the band upping the tempo slightly, the ‘gang style’ shouted vocals again used, but more frequently and they really bring the choruses to life, complementing the more Hardcore/metal guitar work really well. There’s a real ‘fuck you’ attitude on display here, almost like the band are spoiling for a fight. As the song slows slightly and a guitar solo is introduced, the doomier side to the band’s sound rears its ugly head, but it doesn’t last very long however, which is a bit of a shame as there isn’t too much of the bands doom influence on show so far.

‘Strength, Honour & Pride’ is a fine example of how to blend differing genres in one song, again mixing the more metal and Hardcore riffing with some of the groovier sludge influenced sections, and to be honest, it works really well. The production is a big factor in the success of the songs as well, very heavy guitars with full on ‘in ya face’ drums that when combined, pack a real punch. Final track ‘Hiding Emotions’ has an altogether different sound, all due to the vocal delivery. A more guttural, almost death metal voice introduced over some really catchy guitar work which is predominantly Hardcore in its delivery…it works though and definitely gives the band a more sinister undertone. Not all fans of extreme metal are going to enjoy this, but if you are a fan of Hardcore, sludge or doom (or all three) then chances are you ‘ll get into this very easily. Packed full of well played, catchy guitar work, a vocal delivery which is as pissed off as you’re likely to hear, these boys are definitely worth checking out. They appear to be doing everything righton this release, let’s see how far it takes them eh?

7 out of 10

Flayed Disciple- Death Hammer

Grind Scene Records 2012

1.Bringing Down The Hammer 2.The Westboro Massacre 3.Interceptor
4.Feast In The Forest Of Impaled Bodies
5.Exodus 6.The Shrine Of Dahmer 7.Bleaching In The Sun
8.Torsofucked 9.Ejaculate While Killing 10.Pig

A short burst of someone screaming in agony greets us before ‘Bringing Down The Hammer’ opens up. It’s plain to hear where the bands ‘Death/Thrash’ tag comes from already, both genres heavily represented in this opening track, the thrash element forming the backbone of this brief instrumental opener. It’s only when ‘The Westboro Massacre’ reveals itself that the death metal side to the band’s sound really introduces itself, mainly through the use of guttural vocals with the drums adding some blast beats here and there to spice things up even more. What sets this track apart from a lot of the more standard death metal is the use of relatively melodic guitar solos which sit alongside the thrash orientated riffing extremely well. As the track comes to an end, the band sound very reminiscent of Germany’s own extremely talented purveyors of Death/Thrash, Dew Scented. Great machine gun outro!
‘Interceptor’ begins life somewhat slower than its predecessor, but this allows the track to set itself apart, and begin to the build the pace and extremity, keeping itself firmly in ‘mid-paced’ territory. Again, blast beats are used in short sharp blasts and used very sparingly. You would be forgiven for thinking that ‘Feast In The Forest Of Impaled Bodies’ was going to be an orgy of gore soaked death metal; quite the opposite in fact, tearing it up from the outset with full on thrash orientated riffing. The band do mix it up with some heavier death metal sections, especially when the pace is slowed and the guttural vocals take over, a real contrast from where the song started from. ‘Exodus’ see’s the band at their most brutal so far, opting for blast beat laden riffing, mixed with some quite technical guitar work and more overall variety, high pitched ‘screamed’ vocals introduced and accompany the main guttural vocals really well. When the band mix up the death metal side to their songs with the thrashier elements they actually start to sound like very early Deicide in places. No clones, just reminiscent in places, the style and structure of the riffing similar. Following on, without drawing breath is ‘The Shrine Of Dahmer’. It’s at this point you begin to realise that Flayed Disciple are sounding less thrash, and more technical death metal, even though the thrash element is never completely lost. This song sounding particularly brutal and ‘all over the place’ but in a well-crafted, precisely executed kind of way! The same could be said for ‘Bleaching In The Sun’, another bass heavy slab of pounding death metal, slower in delivery than a lot of material on offer, but music doesn’t have to be fast to be brutal and punishing, both of which this track is. Heading to the end of the track the pace does increase but the track never loses any of its appeal, blast beats once again introduced to ensure everything it kept as death metal as possible, with “Bleaching In The Sun” being belched out repeatedly, ending the track perfectly.
‘Torsofucked’ as the title suggests, is another brutal offering, and as seen in the previous track, a lot of the thrashier riffing now dropped and the heavier, brutal death side taking over completely, “You have been torsofucked” rage the vocals…not sure about that, but my ears feel slightly battered, taking a real pummelling, it’s all great stuff, the album really feels like its developed a sense of purpose and sounding a lot more brutal and ‘to the point’ than was witnessed in the opening tracks. This point is proved perfectly in ‘Ejaculate While Killing’, a real sense of urgency on display, a real need to fuck you over completely and leave you covered in the bands stinking spunk (musically speaking of course, not meant literally…unless that’s ‘your thing’ of course’). There are moments of ‘Cannibal Corpse’ beginning to creep in during this track, but again no clones, just some elements to the band’s sound reminiscent of the death metal masters.  Closing the album is ‘Pig’ which see’s all of the bands influences on display, everything we have heard throughout the entire album utilised in this final track and it’s a great final track to what is ultimately a great album. A great blend of genres, all played flawlessly with a production that jumps right out at you, mixed perfectly to let each instrument really complement the other. There’s no faulting ‘Death Hammer’ at all, it reeks of professionalism, is never dull and is a CD you really should have in your collection. Once you have listened to it you feel the need to press play again, such is its appeal. Very Highly recommended!

8.5 out of 10

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

**Featured Band** Witchclan

Having been around in one form or another since the very early 90's UKEM decided it was
about time to delve into the mind behing UKBM band Witchclan. Mainman Matt gave us
an insight into the vision behind the band!

For those unfamiliar with the band, please give us a brief history of the band?
Well the history of Witchclan actually dates back to 1990. The band was formed by Peter Leathley who was the original drummer and vocalist and Sharad Anand who played guitar. The band was originally called Crypt, then the name was changed to Curse, then to Hellgrind before finally settling on Witchclan in 1992. I joined the band in 1993 and two demo tapes were released. At this time we were all really young and pretty inexperienced but those tapes still sound reasonably good today - the sound and style back then was more of a mixture of Bathroy, Venom, Slayer and Possessed.

In 1994 Peter and Sharad left the band and I recruited Dave Howell on bass, Jon Lee on guitar, James Pruden on guitar and Nick Parton on drums. We suffered from poor musicianship and recorded one demo which was never released, then in 1995 the band split for good.

In 2009 I decided to exhume the band but as a solo project so I started to write new material and in 2010 I released the bands 3rd demo 'Descend Into Darkness' which was received pretty well and started to get the Witchclan name out there again. Come 2011 I had interest from a Canadian label called The Northern Cold productions who wanted to sign me for a full length but this fell through so I released a promo tape of rough demo songs which I sent to a few labels. In May 2011 I signed to Darkness Shade Records here in the UK and released the bands debut album 'Misanthropist' on 31st October which was limited to 500 CD's. That's just about the history of Witchclan so far.

You have recently released your debut cd, what has reaction been like to its release?
The reaction has been really good actually. I was a bit unsure of how people would react to be honest because I produced everything myself and it was the first time I had tried any kind of mixing or production. The only negative comments I have heard refer to the production and mixing, but musically everyone seemed to be really into it so that was a good result for me.

Are you happy with the album, or is there anything you’d do differently?
I suppose in hindsight I would have got someone else to do the mixing and production because that lets it down a bit, and the drums sometimes sound a bit too high in the mix but otherwise I am quite pleased with the way it turned out.

Are there any new releases on the horizon?
Yes. I have another band called Deadman's Blood for which I have been recording a new CD so my concentration and efforts have been on that so far this year but that's complete now and will be released later next month so now I can get back to Witchclan. By Winter this year or perhaps early 2013 there will be a new mini-album released via Darkness Shade Records and will contain probably five brand new tracks which will be a huge step up from the 2011 material.

Musically, who influences you, if anyone at all?
Well I suppose I draw influence from a lot of different bands but I guess the main ones who have been a strong influence in the last three years since Witchclan returned would be early Darkthrone, early Bathory, Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult, Urgehal and also Old Corpse Road from here in the UK.

What themes and topics do your lyrics deal with?
My lyrics are mainly anti-religious and that's not some cliche Black Metal thing, I write lyrics that are personal to myself and that reflect my own true views on life. I am a misanthropist and this reflects also in much of the lyrics I write. At the time of recording 'Misanthropist' I was feeling pretty anti-human due to a few things in my life and this came out in a lot of the songs such as 'Despised Existence'. Some of my lyrics occasionally lean more towards fiction though. For example, there is a song on the 2010 demo called 'Holy Cunt', which is actually a re-recorded version of a song we did in 1993. The lyrics in that song are about digging up the corpse of a nun and having sex with it before defiling and dismembering it. There is a song on the album called 'Succubus Of Dark Desires' which is about sex with a demon who then gives birth to a half human and have demon child. So you could say my lyrics deal with many different subjects, fact and fiction.

Composing songs can often be a frustrating process, how do you go about it?
Well one of the things I like about being a one-man band is the fact that I don't have to worry about anyone else's input. One of the main problems we had when we were a five piece would be that on some occasions we would turn up at rehearsal and we would be without a bass player, or a drummer so that made it very difficult to write and practice songs. I like to be able to take my time and do exactly what I want. I usually have most of the riffs and guitar parts worked out in my head already so I start with the drums and get those tracks laid down, then following with the guitar parts and the bass. The last parts I do are the keyboards and finally the vocals. Then it's just editing and tweaking of the final version of the song.

Being a one man band, gigging can be a daunting, if not logistical nightmare. Any plans to play live?
No, I never plan to play live. Initially I make music for myself. I play the music I like to hear myself and if other people like it then that's just an added bonus. I don't work particularly well with other musicians because I am quite a selfish person when it comes to music, everything has to be done my way and I think I would get frustrated with people if I were to have session members or live members. Withclan and Deadman's Blood are both studio bands and it will always stay that way. I have no need to play live.

Plans for the future?
Well this mini-album will be the initial focus for me over the next few months, and then I think there were talks of doing a split 7" with Unholy Deathcunt from Scotland but nothing has been finalized at the moment.

What merch do you currently have available and where can we get it?
Yes there are patches, t shirts, longsleeves, hoodies, girlie shirts etc all available via the official website at - and of course the album is available from the website too.

Any final words?
Thank you to you for this interview and for the valued support.

Darkness Shade Records 2011

1.Enter Darkness (Intro) 2.Through Nordic Lands
3.Of Hatred And Despair 4.Veil Of Darkness 5.Conqueror 6.Heaven Abhorred
7.In The Pentagram 8.Despised Existence 9.Misanthropist
10.Succubus Of Dark Desires 11.In The Shadow Of The Horns 11.Exit Light (Outro)

There’s a definite growing sense of anticipation as ‘Enter Darkness (Intro)’ slowly fills the speakers with an eeriness and gloomy feeling which is the perfect way to introduce ‘Through Nordic Lands’. Harsh, yet melodic riffing and rasping, screamed vocals introduce us to Witchclan’s brand of black metal, or ‘bestial Hell Metal’ as Matt (the one man behind this band) describes his band. Musically, this opening track is reminiscent of the first wave of Scandinavian black metal, under-produced and lo-fi and although the drums are programmed, they don’t sound out of place, too precise or badly programmed. ‘Of Hatred And Despair’ begins life very differently, extremely melodic keyboards introducing the track, with a melodic guitar solo leading the way, but that’s where the melody ends thankfully, the fuzzy lo-fi guitars and hellish screamed vocals taking over proceedings and once again it all has a very old school feel. The remainder of the track then mixes the melodic with the harsh, kind of losing its identity and never making its mind up what it wants to be, not necessarily a bad thing as it shows a willingness to experiment and incorporate variety. ‘Veil Of Darkness’ has a catchy ‘folk’ feel to it as it begins, almost ‘Mithoyn’ esque in its delivery, before the black metal seen earlier really lets rip, raging forth in a torrent of hellish blasts. Yet another track which sees a lot of the bands influences incorporated, the pace slowed right down, giving the track an almost death metal feel, the heavy guitars add some groove to keep it from being an all-out DM riff, not all bad, but the song does lack identity. ‘Conquer’ settles the ship somewhat, returning the album to its BM foundation, never straying from this formula, a massive hint of the groove to the guitars bringing a welcome return to form and really benefiting from the low production.
‘Heaven Abhorred’ continues in similar fashion, with added symphonic keyboard breaks, never pompous, more mysterious sounding, gloomy even. When the pace is upped and blast beats introduced, the band begin to sound devastating and dangerous and ‘In The Pentagram’ begins life in such fashion, creating a real harshness, Matt's vocals really adding to the overall black metal aesthetic with the early 90’s BM influence again on display and as evil as the band have sounded so far. The keyboard intro to ‘Beyond The Grave’ changes the whole feel to the album once again, injecting melody whilst the pace is slowed to a crawl with death metal style growls used throughout the majority of the song. As the pace begins to gather, the more familiar sound begins to show through, but then slower heavier guitars are introduced adding real emotion, especially when incorporated with the death metal growls. The problem is it sounds like a completely different band, beginning to sound somewhat like early Septic Flesh when they slowed songs down. ‘Despised Existence’ then changes the mood completely, returning to the harsh BM seen in earlier tracks. After listening to the previous track, the re-introduction of the harsher BM doesn’t quite work and feels a little flat, which is unfortunate as the band were beginning to sound quite devastating at times. Title track ‘Misanthropist’ is yet another example of two very differing styles being incorporated into one track, as seen before the song begins life as a melodic BM affair before the more death metal style is used and again, the track never quite making its mind up what it wants to be! The same can be said for ‘Succubus Of Dark Desires’ although the harsh BM does tend to lead the track, darting from slower paced sections with lightning speed in to the faster BM blasts. Adding variety into songs can sometimes be a bands downfall, as it muddies the waters, bringing a mixed message to the listener and can ultimately turn the listener off. That’s not to say all of these tracks do, it just makes you question the identity of the band, asking questions of them, which side of the extreme metal fence are they sitting, BM or DM? ‘In The Shadow Of The Horns’ is a classic Darkthrone song and is given the care and attention it duly deserves. ‘Exit Light’ is an eerie outro and would have probably been better suited closing the bands own material, with the Darkthrone cover following on, but that’s only a minor criticism. Summing up, this is not a bad album at all, there is a definite lack of musical identity throughout a lot of the songs, the difference between the lo-fo harsh BM and heavier death metal sections just ‘too different’ and not really mixing particularly well. The band may not thank me for saying so, but the highlight for me was ‘Beyond The Grave’, a real passionate emotion behind the track, sounding completely different to the majority of the music on display, but played with absolute conviction. If Witchclan are to succeed and really make an impression on the UK underground scene then maybe a little more planning and identity seeking is required. All the key ingredients are there, they just need absolute clarity. An album with a lot of interesting ideas, and Matt is clearly a talented individual, but his vision may not necessarily appeal to everyone.

6.5 out of 10