Monday, 25 March 2013

Celtachor - Nine Waves From The Shore

Self Released 2012
1.The Landing: Amergin's Conquest 2.The Battle Of Tailtin
3.The Kingdom Of Bodh Dearg 4.Sorrow Of The Dagda 5.Tar Eis An Sidhe
6.Conn Of The Hundred Battles 7.Annan: Ermme's Daughter
As opening track 'The Landing: Amergin's Conquest' slowly gathers momentum the pacey black metal leads the track, with not much of the bands folk element to be heard so far. When Stephen's harsh screamed black metal vocals are added, this only takes the bands sound further into the melodic, yet harsh black metal sound. It's only with the introduction of the whistles further into the track that you can begin to appreciate the other side to the band, namely their folk and Celtic musical inspirations which really sit comfortably amongst the heavy black metal music. There's a massive hint of groove in the guitar work as well which really gets the head nodding, especially when the haunting sound of the whistles are added. It builds quite a unique atmosphere. It's good that the band has decided to use the whistles sparingly, not over-burdening the song. 'The Battle Of Tailtin' begins in similar fashion to the opener, heavy yet melodic guitar riffs really give the start to this song an epic feel. It's almost like you could ride into battle listening to this, sword aloft charging at the enemy. The song does actually break out into a whistle and drum interlude with the sounds of battle in the background, swords clashing and warriors screaming. Very short, but very apt given that the song the returns to the epic sound heard earlier. Tempo wise, its slow to mid-paced which suits the overall sound and groove to the guitars. Blast beats just wouldn't do the music justice at all. 'The Kingship Of The Bodh Dearg' is a little different, beginning with a whistle and drum introduction. This is where the Celtic/Folk element to the band is undoubtedly in full flow and this theme is continued throughout much of the track, especially the whistles which tend to take a leading role here, being used as leads almost (where most metal bands would use lead guitars/solos). For the most, a slower pace is utilised well and again, the groove to the heavier rhythm guitars remains black metal, but set to a slower, almost doom like pace. This pace is also well suited when the whistles are introduced, allowing them to build the haunting and enchanting atmospheres.
Acoustic guitars introduce 'Sorrow Of The Dagda', building the tension of the song nicely which allows the heavier black metal styles to come bellowing in brilliantly. Musically, this track is as Black Metal as the band has sounded so far, there seems to be a real harshness to the riffing and the vocals are definitely delivered with more spite, anger and hatred in them. This also works well when the whistles are added sporadically, very different musical entities being brought together very well. As before, the pace is again slowed right down and as before, this slower paces works well, adding a really epic feel to proceedings. There is almost a sense of despair, a sense of loss and grief to this track, definitely one of the more sombre moments to this album. 'Tar Eis An Sidhe' acts as a melodic interlude, acoustic guitars taking the lead and being accompanied by the whistles every now and again. As a stand alone piece of music it works very well, providing something slightly different from the rest of the album. However, when brought into context, as a song on this album, due to the stripped back nature and simplicity, it lasts for a very long time (nearly six minutes), maybe a bit too long.
'Conn Of The Hundred Battles' is a very groove laden affair, some of the guitar riffs having an almost 70's rock sound to them which might not sit too comfortably with black/folk metal fans but to be fair,the groovier sections do sit well in amongst the more black and folk metal orientated guitar work. And the screamed vocals obviously ensure that the song does remain extreme. Closing the album is 'Anaan: Ermnes Daughter' which is a really epic sounding track and a great way to end proceedings. The pace upped slightly to give this final track a real sense of urgency. And even when the band drops off the pace, the epic nature of the music keeps your attention. Celtachor have certainly succeed in mixing paces and styles brilliantly, moving from the faster mid-paced sections to the slower, more epic doom sounding styles well and this makes for an extremely entertaining album. There are as many folk elements to this album as was expected, whistles are used throughout but in just enough measure so as not to over-power the songs and take the attention away from the bands brand of black metal. Folk metal may not be to everyones taste, but Celtachor keep their music well into the melodic black metal genre and thus will not alienate fans of black metal with the 'Folk' tag. Nine Waves From The Shore proves itself to be an extremely well written, well played black/folk metal album which is packed full of atmosphere and emotion. An enjoyable listen which should be considered if you're 'after something familiar, but also a bit different', it comes well recommended.
8 out of 10

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Cruelty's Heart - Rex Anglorvm Saxorvm

Wodfreca Records 2012
1.Rex Anglorvm Saxonvm 2.The Blood of the Wyvern
3.Haraldr Sigurðsson 4.Over the Rainbow Bridge 5.A Ship Bound for Thule
6.In King Hroðgar's Hall
From the opening riffs of 'Rex Anglorvum Saxorvm' there is a real sense of bitterness and despair as the harsh, yet tuneful guitars tear open, accompanied by Bloodletter's scathing screamed vocal delivery. In amongst the mournful passages are scattered some very brutal, blast beat heavy sections that are a full on black metal assault on the senses. When this opening track does slow for the chorus sections, the sense of despair returns with an extremely melancholic atmosphere being produced. There is also an underlying folk element to the guitar riffs, almost Mithotyn like in their delivery and sound. Being a one man band, drums have been programmed and its actually a joy to hear drums that sound 'realistic' with a great production that suits the black metal style of playing brilliantly. As 'The Blood Of The Wyvern' slowly comes to life there is an impending sense of doom before all hell is unleashed in a barrage of harsh black metal. Melody is once again introduced through the use of acoustic guitars which are layered over the main riffs. This makes for a good break in the song especially as these sections are accompanied by the harsh vocals, sounding slightly Immortal, but only very slightly! Musically, Cruelty's Heart are some way off the Norwegian black metal titans. We're even treated to some 'Maiden-esque' dual lead guitars which, for all the harshness of the black metal on offer, fits in very well as there is always an underlying sense of melody to the bands music. The track slowly draws to a close utilising more of the Maiden style of riffing and lead guitar work.
'Haraldr Sigurðsson' is another slower, melodic affair with more of the Maiden guitar work introduced. Spiced up with the harsh black metal vocals it's a partnership that works really well, the combination of the melodic music and harsh screamed vocals combining perfectly. The track suddenly breaks for the introduction of a very melodic, acoustic section which is only short, but adds variety to the song and is extremely atmospheric and very black metal in delivery and composition. If comparisons were needed again, then Immortal wouldn’t be far off the mark. Continuing the melodic and acoustic theme, 'Over The Rainbow Bridge' begins in such fashion, acoustic guitars are backed up by some simplistic drum patterns, there to keep the time more than anything else. But in all fairness that’s all that is needed. Harsher guitars and vocals then pour scornfully from the speakers, returning the listener to the more familiar black metal. The pace is kept to a minimum here, the atmosphere being created more than enough to keep the listener engaged with the song. The slower guitar riffs are an unusual combination, having an underlying folk element to them but also sounding similar to early Emperor style riffs. Here though, its a combination that works very well! 'A Ship Bound For Thule' opens up with a more traditional sounding, tremolo picked black metal riff before the song then breaks away into more melodic and slower guitar work. No need for faster, blast beat heavy drumming here, the morbid atmospheres, the sense of loss, the sense of pride more than enough to carry the song. What is enjoyable is the fact that a lot of the time you can understand certain words and lines from the lyrics, Bloodletter telling tales of Anglo-Saxon history, of times now past, mere folklore now brought to life through the bands music. This is an absolutely epic song, dripping atmosphere and played/sung with absolute conviction. The lead guitar/harmonies providing a spine tingling atmosphere that really captures the imagination – Definitely the stand-out track of the entire e.p based on the atmosphere it creates, the emotions it stirs. Closing proceedings is
'In King Hroðgar's Hall' which sees a return to the more traditional black metal sound, in terms of pace and delivery. However, melody is never far from the bands sound, the song breaking out into yet another acoustic and melodic section being accompanied by whispered vocals which only adds to the atmosphere being created. This is probably as melodic as the band have sounded so far but don’t let 'melodic' put you off as its all about the atmosphere here, as is black metal generally, be it as heard here, melodic, or a harsh blast beat deadly delivery. The song does return to the harsher black metal sound with some more epic riffing. As the song slowly draws to a close, the acoustic guitars take over to end the track superbly, giving the e.p a very mournful sounding finale. In summing up, I think its going to be fair to say that Cruelty's Heart have produced an absolutely amazing piece of music, sounding fully original and full of conviction. The dense atmospheres really draw the listener into the bands world with the harshness of the black metal really adding to the overall appeal of this release. It's another black metal release which really stands head and shoulders above a lot of release out there and coming from one man, it's testament to Bloodletters ability to write a worthwhile song. Harsh black metal that oozes atmosphere and has a melodic, folk inspired musical core, this is about as good as it gets and is yet another release that (if your a BM fan) should be on your “to get” list. But hurry, word is there aren’t many copies left available to buy. Comes extremely highly recommended
9 out of 10

Monday, 18 March 2013

Decimation - Bound For The Chamber

Self Released 2012
1.Utter Chaos Reigned 2.Desiring The Dead 3.Ineffective 4.Depopulate
5.Revulsion 6.Expelled To The Furnace 7.Bound For The Chamber
8.Honour Killing 9.Degrade The Body 10.Paraphilia
11.The Proliferation 12.Slave To Faith
Review by Chris
Smashing straight in with frantic guitars and blast beat laden guttural nastiness, Cornwall's Decimation show from the outset of 'Utter Chaos Reigned' that they aren’t here to take any prisoners, rather pummel your head in right from the beginning with this, their début album. There's no let up at all, American influenced death metal ala Malevolent Creation blasts mercilessly at quite a pace, mixing mid-tempos with all out blast beat heavy sections perfectly. 'Desiring The Dead' follows on in suitably brutal fashion, there’s an absolute torrent of blast beats on offer which really give the band that killer edge and is where the band sound at their best and most deadly. They’re not afraid to add melody into the mix either, through the use of guitar solos which have a very traditional sound which suits the brutal death metal of the rhythm guitars very well. When the band slow the pace, its pinch harmonics all the way, giving the song an even more American death metal sound and feel. There's a real sense of urgency to 'Ineffective', beginning as it does in the slower mid paced territory before opening up in a brutal salvo of savage blast beats. As heard in the previous track, guitar solos are used to great effect, slowing proceedings down slightly and giving the listener time to gather breath before the faster blast beat heavy sections are re-introduced. 'Depopulate' is another bruising song, the pace and sense of urgency more than retained to once again make for an extremely well constructed and well played slab of brutal death metal. The band actually sound a lot like German death/thrashers 'Dew Scented' here, the style of riffing deployed would not sound out of place amongst one of their albums. The production to Decimation's album is actually very similar to 'Inwards' by Dew Scented, so if you own that album, have a listen and you wont be far off the mark with Decimation. 'Revulsion' continues the theme heard in the previous track, the American brutal death metal style beginning to take a back seat to the more European style of death/thrash metal, again Dew Scented instantly spring to mind, melody becoming far more prevalent, but used at faster paces which makes for a great sound.
'Expelled To The Furnace' mixes U.S and European styles of death metal really well, the brutality of American death metal with the added melodic death/thrash of European extreme metal works well; snapping from all out blast beat heaviness, to the slower more technical sections. It has to be said, the further into this album you listen, the more the band sound like Dew Scented at their most brutal, which is not really a bad comparison is it? Vocally there is variation, the main guttural death metal vocals are the prevalent style, but when the harsher screamed vocals are introduced, it makes for a good change in style and adds variety to the album. Not that there needs to be much added as there is a lot going and its all really well played, the songs being very well constructed and sounding surprisingly original and interesting and very entertaining. Title Track 'Bound For The Chamber' is a short sharp lesson is brutal death metal, a whirlwind of frenzied blast beats and even though its well over three minutes long, it passes in lightning speed and is over before you know it and next up is 'Honour Killings' which slows the pace right down for the most but which never loses its intensity and the track then finishes in a barrage of blast beats and manic riffing. 'Degrade The Body' is yet another punishing song which mixes tempos and styles and has quite a technical sound and style to it, choppy riffs stop and start with great precision giving the band an extremely tight sound. 'Paraphilia' sees the band return to the European death/thrash sound used earlier and again the band chop and change from slower sections through to mid-paced and into faster blasting sections in an instant, Andrews drumming a particular highlight here, he sounds like he's giving his kit an absolutely monstrous beating.
'The Proliferation' begins so intensely, there's no let up in sight and we're now on the eleventh track, Decimation never sound like there waning or adding in album fillers, every track so far has been massive, fucking absolutely pummelling the listener and leaving them for dead, the aggression captured in the music is second to none. Closing this 43 minute monster of an album is 'Slave To Faith' which more or less utilises everything heard so far, paces chopped and changed, differing styles of death metal mixed well to create another well played, well constructed piece of brutality. The American style of death metal being the predominant style used to end this album, and what a fucking album it is. It has taken Decimation along time to release their début album, but it is definitely worth the wait. The band have obviously wanted to hone their skills as song writers before unleashing the brutality onto an unsuspecting underground scene. Brutal death metal that absolutely goes for the throat from the outset and never really lets go, loosening its grip slightly in places to let you draw breath before re-affirming its deadly hold. Its pure brutal death metal from start to finish, well played, interesting songs that pack such intensity that you really don’t want the album to end. A stunning, intense and massively brutal début album that comes extremely highly recommended.
8 out of 10
Band Page: Here

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Overoth - Kingdom Of Shadows

2010 Forbidden Realm Records
1.Kingdom Of Shadows 2.I Am One, I Am All 3.A Cry To The Fallen
4.Summon The Cursed 5.The Serpent Of Old 6.Led To The Slaughter
7.Pathway To Demise 8.Obsidian Blade 9.Upon The Altar
10.The Forbidden Realm
Review by: Tom
The album opens with 'Kingdom of Shadows', which is atmospheric for a short while before the opening riff comes in and then the track opens up and smashes you in the face. No messing around here! The first track is mid paced with a heavy sounding production and the vocals are death metal all the way. While the track is unrelenting and brutal, there is also a very dark atmosphere ever present. There is enough in this opening track to keep the listener interested throughout. 'I am One, I am All' starts off with a catchy riff and is slower than the opening track but lacks none of the savagery. It soon picks up with some blast beats and heavy riffs aplenty. There is definitely an old school death metal influence here and it oozes from every note played. 'A Cry To The Fallen' begins like the first track, by building a very dark atmosphere with keyboards and soundscapes. It is a very short intro to the next track and reminds me of Norwegian black metal greats Emperor. Just as the atmosphere has surrounded the listener, 'Summon The Cursed' begins immediately and has me thinking of Morbid Angel with the riffing. Another mid-paced face smasher that keeps you interested with every note played. A good use of blast beats and a fast tremolo picked riffs before bringing you right back to the mid-paced riffing again. Overoth also use solos to dramatic effect and it gives the song a really well crafted feel. 'The Serpent of Old' gives you no chance to catch your breath and comes storming in with the kind of power and pace that I have already come to really enjoy from these Belfast death metallers. This song is a little faster than the first few but doesn't stay that way all the way through, with some good heavy headbanging moments to keep you interested. Again a brilliant use of solos to keep your interest. Overoth have mastered their craft and mastered it well.
'Led To The Slaughter' has picked the pace right up with a different sounding intro riff and then some full on blast beats before descending into a heavy fucking riff that has me sat here banging my head. There is so much going on in this song, that it will take a few listens to take it all in. I will be listening to this alot more anyway, so no problem there. This song also has a much more black metal feel to it than any of the others but the vocals always keep the music grounded in it's death metal roots. 'Pathway To Demise' grabs you by the face and drags you once more into the savage world of Overoth. As this album progresses it seems to be getting faster. The production sounds organic and fills your head with sounds not from a computer, but from some talented fucking human beings. The blast beat shows itself more and more as this album continues and the song seems to end just as quickly as it has started. Leaving you wanting more! If it's more you want, then 'Obsidian Blade' delivers instantly. Going back to a more mid-paced feel, although not all the way through. I am again reminded of Morbid Angel. Before you have really had the chance to take everything in you are thrown another crushing riff. It could never be said that Overoth don't give you plenty to think about during each song, with this one ending with atmosphere being forced upon you. 'Upon The Altar' starts with a heavy sounding riff that Black Sabbath would be proud of. After listening to the rest of this album I am left under no illusion that this will be another slab of darkness and I am not disappointed. If I hadn't shaved all my fucking hair off, I would be windmilling right now. This song sounds filthy and dare I say it, has a groove that is present in the rest of the album but played out alot more in this offering. If you don't like solos then maybe Overoth aren't for you. I happen to think that the solos fit perfectly with the overall vision that Overoth have created. Final track is 'The Forbidden Realm' and this one starts with a dark atmosphere that made me think of Melechesh. As the song kicks in, it again reminds me that Overoth have absolutely hit the nail on the fucking head with this release. Savage and brutal from the moment it kicks in. Once i have finished this review, I am unplugging my headphones, pouring a pint and putting this on again from the beginning through my stereo speakers. My neighbours may not appreciate what Overoth have produced here, but I certainly do. If you are a fan of old school sounding death metal then make sure you get yourself a copy of this. One of the best releases I have heard in quite some time.
10 out of 10
Band Page: Here