Thursday, 29 November 2012

Fires Of Tartarus - Interview

UKEM Records has has some dealings with Brutal Old School Death Metallers 'Fires Of Tartarus' so we thought it was about time we found out what makes this brutal oufit tick......
For those unfamiliar with the band, please give us a brief history of the band? The band in its current incarnation was formed in August 2011. Scott (Vocals), Dean (Guitar), Josh (Bass) and Andy (Guitar) came together from another local metal band, and Nick (Drums) was an old friend of Scott’s. We spent a year writing and recording our demo EP and getting out there on the gig circuit. In October we parted ways with Andy and decided to continue forward as a 4-piece. We’re currently working on a new EP and gigging hard.
You have recently released your debut cd, what has reaction been like to its release?Overwhelmingly positive. The CD was self-produced and financed, and was the first thing we’ve done together as a band. Everyone has been really impressed and we had some great reviews from online ‘zines and reviewers. Most people are blown away by the epic bass rumble!
Are you happy with the release, or is there anything you’d do differently? There are always things you want to change in hindsight, especially since we controlled every aspect of it. But overall very happy. The new material we’re working on is even stronger, and we’re looking to get it recorded professionally.
Are there any new releases on the horizon? Yes, we should have a new 3 track EP out around spring 2013. It is a progression from the sound on our first CD, still brutally heavy, but more developed melodically and technically. The CD has a theme based on ancient Greek philosophy... but we’re not giving too much away at this stage!
Musically, who influences you, if anyone at all? It’s a cliché, but we try not to be too influenced by any particular bands. That said, a lot of people compare our sound to the melodic death metal of the Gothenburg scene (At The Gates, In Flames, Dark Tranquillity), and we’re happy with that. Between us we have a huge range of musical influences (from progressive to extreme) and they all creep in from time to time.
What themes and topics do your lyrics deal with? Lyrically we deal with some pretty epic concepts. They are about understanding humanity, exploring the darkness within and around us; transcending our mortal existence and finding ultimate salvation. Often we use metaphor which is based in Greek or Roman literature, as well as H.P. Lovecraft and other “dark” reading material...
Composing songs can often be a frustrating process, how do you go about it? That’s changed quite a bit over time. On our first CD, the songs were mainly written in the rehearsal room with one band member contributing all the music, and one completing lyrics. What we’ve done recently is to start collaborating more, with ideas for riffs, beats, vocals etc. coming from all 4 members of the band. The new material is coming much easier and it’s a lot less frustrating. We are literally brimming with ideas!
You guys are active giggers, what could we expect from one of your live performances? We are insanely passionate about our music and what we’re trying to represent. There is a huge amount of experience and ambition in this band, and that shows in our performances. We’re serious about pulling off an ultra-tight performance of what you hear on the CD, and try to be as intense and energetic as possible. We often get people say “I’m really not into extreme metal but you guys had me hooked” and that kind of thing.
Plans for the future? Priority is completing our 2nd EP to release early next year, and as many gigs as possible.
What merch do you currently have available and where can we get it? We have T-shirts and CDs available at gigs, or online at
Any final words? Thank you for the support, what UKEM is doing for the scene is phenomenal! Please check us out, come say Hi at a gig (we are not that scary, really), and hit us up on Facebook @

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Shores Of Attica - Transitions

Self Released 2012
1.Taken 2.Deal With The Repercussions 3.Amen 4.Lost 5.Transitions
6.Respect Cant Be Bought 7.See The Divide 8.Changes
Scottish metal outfit ‘Shores of Attica’ open up this 8 track e.p. with ‘Taken’, their intentions immediately obvious as the bass heavy and buzzy guitars open up in a real rage with a heavy dose of groove streaking through them. There are very heavy melodic leanings to the band’s sound, especially when the cleanly sung melodic passages are brought to the fore. Quite standard composition for this genre however, stop start guitars, breakdowns a plenty, add in the cleanly sung passages and all the genre clichés are there. Not that it’s badly played or composed, this style and genre became so over saturated that it all started to sound the same and is always going to be a favourite of the Hardcore fans rather than the extreme metal fans. ‘Deal With The Repercussions’ is more of the same, only with a lot more melody on display in amongst the breakdown heavy riffing. As with the opener, it’s all very well played, each member handling their instruments extremely well and vocally the screamed scathing vocals spit venom at every opportunity with the accompanying cleanly sung vocals doing their job very well, adding some emotion to the song. Again, the Hardcore kids will be lapping this up, but from an extreme metallers point of view, the songs have yet to “really get going”, seemingly stuck in first gear (pace wise) which I guess is another of the core elements to this genre. ‘Amen’ opens up in very ‘Caliban-esque’ fashion, the pace upped slightly before returning to the slower, melodically driven guitar work and more cleanly sung passages. Much the same can be said about ‘Lost’ beginning as it does by increasing the pace to open the song up before the ever so prevalent breakdown heavy riffing takes over the song, more cleanly sung melodic passages added and another song has passed that hasn’t really stood out or sounded wholly original. The same tried and tested ingredients being over-used time and time again, as many of the bands in this genre do. It's maybe why a lot of people walked away and stopped listening to this style of music, because it all became very uninspiring. The genre in general, that statement not specifically aimed at the band.
‘Transitions’ passes without any great effort, sounding the same as everything previously. You barely notice the change in track if being brutally honest. Not sure what the band were trying to achieve in ‘Respect Can’t Be Bought’ by adding in a really silly short musical break around two minutes into the track, because if they were trying to be ‘a bit different’ they failed massively – I fear they were trying to inject a bit of humour into proceedings which is very hard to do, unless you’re a grind band who don’t give a flying shit! ‘See The Divide’ begins as many of the tracks have, melodic harmonies flying around left, right and centre under breakdown based rhythm guitars, all ‘stoppy starty’. And then when the band re-introduce the melodic passages with the cleanly sung vocals the standard formula and composition so heavily relied on in general (in the genre) again fails to impress, all one dimensional and quite standard (albeit well played, these lads are obviously accomplished musicians in their own right). Eighth and final track ‘Changes’ is quite aptly named, as I would certainly have welcomed some, unfortunately I would be sadly disappointed. It’s just more of the same, with nothing new or exciting to report! It’s going to be unfair of me to score this and I nearly didn’t review it, because UKEM is all about extreme metal, which this release is not. It’s emotional Hardcore/metal which might appeal to some, but I think a lot of extreme metallers will not go anywhere near a release like this. Each member handles themselves well, but in a genre which became over saturated, tired and repetitive a very long time ago it takes a hell of a lot to truly stand out! The Hardcore and emo kids will no doubt lap this up and pour scorn on the review, but it’s about honesty, which this review is, honest. Sorry guys, not sure UKEM is the place to showcase your talents.

Friday, 16 November 2012

The Infernal Sea - Call Of The Augur

Self Released 2012
1.A Prayer For Cleansing 2.Malevolence Of Our Lord
3.Sermon Of The Augur 4.Catastrophic Reprisals 5.Condemned To Psychosis
6.The Gathering 7.Ritual Incantation
No grandiose, over the top or lengthy intros here, ‘A Prayer For Cleansing’ rips open from the outset in a hail of harsh yet melodic black metal nastiness. There’s a real intricacy to the bands guitar work which is death metal at its core but with a massive dose of black metal added in for good measure. There are very heaving leanings towards a Dissection influenced sound, but what sets the band apart from the Swedish masters of blackened death metal are the vocals, being more scathing, more black metal in their delivery, harsh high pitched screaming preferred. There is also real catchiness to the guitar work, which showcases an added slice of groove that gives some of the riffs a slightly more death metal sound, but which never wandering too far from the black metal sound either. As ‘Malevolence of Our Lord’ blasts open, the Dissection influence is once again very apparent; the opening riffs could have almost been taken from ‘Storm of the Lights Bane’. Not to suggest the band are copying that masterpiece, merely paying homage to it in their own way. The drumming stands out as particularly effective here, blasting along at a hell of a pace.  The double kicks really pummelling and adding to the songs brutality, enhancing its overall effectiveness. The track does however take its own original path, the bands own style opening up and really beginning to show their talent off perfectly. Ending with more ‘Dissection Worship’ this proves to be an outstanding track.
‘Sermon of the Augur’ is a relatively short interlude track; acoustic guitars are used and accompanied by eerie, almost industrial samples and soundtracks, which to be honest only acts as a filler and the samples are really high pitched and annoying and somewhat unessacery. Leaving the acoustic guitars to their own devices would have been a much more attractive and more listenable approach. ‘Catastrophic Reprisals’ returns to the vicious blackened death metal, and what an excellent return it is. The sense of urgency has returned, as have the blast beats and full on extreme metal attack, brutal yet catchy blackened death metal played outstandingly. This is definitely the most original sounding track so far, the bands song writing skills and talent fully evident, showcasing the fact that every band member is more than capable of handling their instruments superbly and as ‘Condemned To Psychosis’ bursts forth furiously, there’s no let-up in the extremity on offer. There’s more of the same again, scathing and scornful with melody added to really make the songs burst to life. Again, it’s another extremely brutal track, blast beats ravage the song from start to finish, which at only 2:53 proves to be a very short sharp and precise piece of music. ‘The Gathering’ is similar to ‘Sermon of the Augur’, being a short interlude of eerie samples, with slightly growled vocals sweeping back and forth in the dense atmosphere being stirred, almost sounding like something Nile would compose and add to an album as an intro of filler. It is what it is, an interlude. Closing this e.p. is
‘Ritual Incantation’ and what a way to finish things off! By far the best track on this release, the guitar riffs being very ‘Swedish death/black metal’ in composition, with lots on melodic tremolo picking. The track is extremely epic, extremely black metal and really brutal. It offers everything you need from extreme metal and is very ‘listenable’ indeed. A slightly new approach is taken a few minutes into the fourteen minute monster, the track slowing right down with acoustic guitars and cleanly sung, chant like vocals taking over the track completely. It’s actually a good change in direction, offering the listener something different to all of the other tracks. As the acoustic guitars drop out, the chanting vocals and ‘wave/water samples’ are left to their own devices to end the track (for what seems like an eternity). 'There are only so many waves crashing you can listen to, but I kind of get why they left them running for so long, to keep the brooding and creepy atmosphere going for as long as possible. One point that really should be brought to your attention is the packaging, which is absolutely stunning! Hand bound luxury cardboard booklet which includes several pages of amazing, mediaeval artwork. A lot of (probably costly) effort has been put into the presentation, which really deserves top marks alone. Musically there’s no real faulting the band either, fans of Scandinavian inspired death black metal will love this as it ticks all the right boxes and fans of Dissection will certainly get where the band are coming from. The guitars were a little low in the mix meaning the songs became very drum/vocal heavy at times, but it’s a minor niggle. Overall, The Infernal Sea has produced an excellent e.p. which comes well recommended, if not for the excellent music, but also for the great packaging!
8 out of 10

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Abomnium - Coffinships

Self Released 2013
1.Taint 2.Hymn To The Tombs 3.Black Canyons Of The Living Dead
4.Coffinships 5.Conclave 6.Horde 7.Epoch
8.Cast Down 9.Sunfire
As opening track ‘Taint’ slowly fades in then bursts into life, there’s no denying the fact that Pete, the one man behind Abomnium is in no mood to hold back, the punishing and brutal production is the first thing that hits you straight in the face, especially the production on the kick drums, pounding and hammering away, thumping at the chest. It’s an extremely brutal way to open what is Abomnium’s second full length. Sitting between death metal and black metal very comfortably, with maybe a stronger black metal influence showing through a lot of the razor sharp guitar work. ‘Hymn To The Tombs’ starts melodically before all hell breaks loose once again in an absolutely scathing assault of blackened death metal, Pete’s vocals particularly effective when he mixes the higher pitched black metal style with the lower, guttural and more death metal approach – standard fare in extreme metal terms but done well here. As the song breaks from the brutal onslaught, a Middle Eastern sounding section is introduced, chant like vocals accompanying this melodic and very Nile-esque passage. There’s a really epic and haunting feel to this section, heavy thunderous guitars punching through and really allowing the guitar solo to flood out from the speakers. So effective with the epic feel to the track being continued to its conclusion, great stuff! ‘Black Canyons of The Living Dead’ continues in the Nile-esque atmosphere, especially vocally. Musically, there’s a slightly different approach undertaken, whilst remaining utterly death metal, a slight hint of Thrash has been added. Only a slight hint, just enough to add something new to the track but not make it sound out of place from what has already destroyed your ears so far! Title track ‘Coffinships’ see’s the black metal side to the band’s sound been given a hefty airing as the song bursts forth, hints of newer ‘Immortal’ on display, melodic undertones drifting through the black metal feel of the guitar riffs. The pace has been slowed slightly for a lot of the song, the atmosphere of the track taking precedence over speed and when the song slows right down and the lead guitars open up alongside the re-introduced chant like vocals, its sounding epic as fuck, with a real catchiness on display. No fucking around as ‘Conclave’ opens up a whirlwind of furious blast beats and frantic, yet precise blackened death metal – brutal? Of course it is sounding utterly devastating with the hate filled scathing black metal vocals taking the lead once more. There’s no let up at all, truly punishing and even when the song drops its pace slightly, the devastation continues relentlessly through several guitar solos. The track then draws to an unbelievably brutal conclusion, fading out slowly in a punishing finale.
‘Horde’ fades into life slowly, a creepy intro used to good effect before this tracks pummels the listener once more, the slight thrash element re-introduced into the hellish black/death metal onslaught, the chorus of “Rise Horde” enough to get the fist firmly banging in the air, extremely catchy whilst retaining the overall brutality of the album. ‘Following on in similarly brutal fashion is ‘Epoch’ , similar in structure to its predecessor with the thrash element again mixed in amongst the brutal black and death metal. Pete has seemingly mastered the art of slowing a track down and injecting some epic, catchy sections into a song, as he again does here, mixing it perfectly with all the aggression and brutality. As the track begins to end, the sense of determination is more than apparent, the guitar absolutely frantic whilst remaining fully in control, precisely executed. As if to prove the point made earlier regarding slowing the pace and adding melody and catchiness, ‘Cast Down’ does just that, the pace being slowed to a minimum through the use of Egyptian sounding lead guitar work played over hellish black metal riffing. A simple approach; but one that is marvellously effective here. Nothing too complex, it’s all about atmosphere and what a haunting, yet devastating atmosphere is created. Closing proceedings is ‘Sunfire ‘ which see’s Pete bringing back pace to the album, the furious blast beats re-introduced over the catchy, yet evil blackened death metal riffs. It’s very ‘Swedish Black Metal’ sounding at this point, which let’s face it, is never really going to be a bad thing! Clocking in at 52 minutes, it’s quite a lengthy album, but one that is packed so full off well written, well-crafted songs. Pete has definitely improved in all areas of his work with Abominium and ‘Coffinships’ is testament to that. He has produced an absolutely punishing album packed full of quality black/death metal played flawlessly. There are several influences (Thrash, Egyptian/Middle Eastern) introduced into what is an overriding black metal sound which work very affectively and give this album that ‘bit extra’ to stand out. It’s a real step up from his debut ‘Rites Like Chains’ and comes very highly recommended, you really should have this in your collection when it is released in early 2013.
9 out of 10
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Thursday, 8 November 2012

Nordland - Nordland

Glorious North Productions 2012
1.Voscara 2.Thule 3.Morth 4.Messenger Of The Vortex Winds
5.Lord Of The Great Dwelling 6.Nordland 7.Nord Uliima
There’s a real sense of melancholy as ‘Voscara' slowly begins to crawl into life, an extremely creepy and eerie intro setting the tone perfectly before the black metal onslaught furiously spews forth in a hellish barrage. For all the savagery on display there is a real sense of melody to the music, melodically harsh. The Scandinavian influence apparent from the outset, harsh tremolo picked guitars are accompanied by simplistic, almost militaristic drumming and scathing, harsh and scornful screamed black metal vocals, apparently being belched from a tortured  individual, namely Vorg, the one man behind Nordland. Tempos range from a doom laden crawl to all out bestial blasting, and everything in between which all adds to the appeal and certainly adds variety (not a word commonly attached to harsh black metal of this nature). When tempos are slowed, windswept samples are introduced under the music which only adds to the atmosphere. An amazing opening track and as it draws to its atmospheric conclusion, those Kvlt Norwegians Kvist sprang to mind, Vorg producing something very similar in sound. ‘Thule’ begins in similar fashion to the opener, atmosphere introducing the track before all hell breaks loose in a barrage of bestial black metal blast beats and frenzied, but melodic lead guitar work. Again, tempos are varied to suit the guitar riffs perfectly. Unusually for this style of black metal, the bass really grinds through in the production and is more prominent in the faster sections, adding a really grimy, sludgy edge to a lot of the riffs. The sense of urgency being pursued in this track (as it ends) is enthralling, the guitar riffs are monstrous, picked at lightning speed with the devastating atmosphere being retained throughout, the track fading slowly away amongst a windswept themed sample.
Beginning in mid-paced territory, ‘Morth’ sounds slightly different to the two tracks before it, the chosen pace being used heavily throughout; rather than chopping and changing tempos, Vorg opting to stay in or around the same pace throughout the entire track which actually gives it more appeal, granting the listener something a bit different whilst retaining the familiar atmosphere and delivery of sound. Vocally, the delivery is very reminiscent of Shagrath of Dimmu Borgir fame; musically its opposite ends of the spectrum from Dimmu. Having said that, there is still the very heavy Scandinavian black metal feel to the band’s sound. A similar pace greets the opening to ‘Messenger Of The Vortex Winds’ with the barren windswept samples again being introduced to retain the cold, sparse and wintery atmosphere being created. The track begins to take on a really epic feel and sound, the harshness of the guitars and bass really adding to the bleakness of this track, the sense of despair really being brought to the fore. It’s almost as if Vorg is preparing for his own untimely demise and wants everyone to know about it, such is the atmosphere. There’s no let up in the punishing onslaught as ‘Lords Of The Great Dwelling’ spews forth its bile ridden message. Re-introduced are the faster blasting sections which when mixed with the more mid-paced approach sound amazingly brutal but which manage to retain the haunting atmospheres. The re-introduction of the faster pace is welcomed as it breaks from the suffocating melancholy so prevalent in the two previous tracks and it once again allows some harsh melodic riffs to lead the song to a dramatic and utterly brilliant conclusion. It’s all about worshipping at the altar of the Scandinavian black metal forefathers once again, and what a fitting tribute this is!
‘Nordland’ is the longest track on the entire album, being 11:41 you just know this is going to be another brilliant, yet punishing journey and Vorg has once again decided to implement the slower suffocating tempos which as ever, never lose the sense of harshness and melody, but instead drag you down into a pit of pure black metal hell, albeit a fucking extremely catchy one. There’s so much on offer in this track, it’s quite remarkable how quickly the time passes. You’re never allowed to get bored or wander off in a mire of normality, the music just doesn’t allow such behaviour. Ending with ‘Nord Uliima', a five minute ‘outro’ comprised of eerie samples and simple melodic guitars it’s a fitting end to an album that oozes atmosphere from every note, every hate filled scream. Coming from one man; as this album does, is testament to Vorg’s talent and ability to craft and create an utterly devastating album of atmospheric black metal of the highest order. Having reviewed some amazing black metal releases already this year, ‘Norldand’ sits right up there as being one of the best black metal releases of the year so far. The harsh, yet melodic atmospheres created throughout are utterly captivating, bordering on the epic. Heavily influenced by Scandinavian black metal, but no mere copycat, ‘Nordland’ is probably going to be as good a black metal album coming from the UK that you are likely to hear for quite some time. This comes very highly recommended.
9 out of 10