Saturday, 17 May 2014

Barshasketh - Defying the Bonds of Cosmic Thraldom

Wolfsvuur Records 2010
1.Entzauberung 2.Imprisoned in Flesh 3.The Whisper of Abyssal Winds
4.Pantheon of Traitors 5.Penetrating the Unplumbed Darkness 6.Illuminated by Shadow
7.Upon the Ashes of the Betrayer
Originally hailing from New Zealand, black metal band Barshasketh have re-located to the Scottish capital Edinburgh. Featuring members of Falloch, Cnoc An Tursa and Haar, the bands black metal credentials are beyond reproach but how did their debut album "Defying the Bonds of Cosmic Thraldom" turn out? On first hearing this album I wasn't overly moved but having given it three or four repeat spins and I have to confess there is a lot on offer. Opening track "Entzauberung" is a mid paced, almost cautious opening gambit that showcases thoughtful riff based melodies, subtle tremolo rhythms and guttural rasping vocals all being pushed forward by minimalist drumming combined with frantic blast beats. As if getting over stage fright, "Imprisoned in Flesh" feels like a more confident affair and sports some endearing cold melodies as well as more subtle guitar tones further into its repertoire. Slower, more intense blasts of icy northern black metal are produced suggesting that this once southern hemisphere band has truly embraced its new northern pastures.
Tracks such as "The Whisper of Abyssal Winds" and "Pantheon of Traitors" have a very traditional black metal feel, the latter of which feels like a bleak shaft of light through the dense gloom of night before exploding into a bout of hostile, fast paced black metal belligerence, often tempered with almost graceful acoustic wanderings. "Penetrating the Unplumbed Darkness" is a ravaging spree of aggression and hostility leading to moments of brooding calm and more sinister onslaughts to follow whilst penultimate track "Illuminated by Shadow" is yet another twisting and turning medley of rampant speed and intricate, soft guitar tones. Finishing with "Upon the Ashes of the Betrayer", Barshasketh bring to a close an extremely complex and diverse album, one worth experiencing but more than once for it all to sink in!
7 Out Of 10 (Luke Hayhurst)
Band Page: Here

Friday, 16 May 2014

Aetherium Mors - Drenched in Victorious Blood

Self Released 2012
1. ons of Men 2.Luciferian March 3.Dreadlord 4.Kingdom of Shadows 5. he Fall of God
6.Order of the Talion 7.Annihilating Fire
Based down in Plymouth, Aetherium Mors are a melodic death/black metal duo who are inspired by the battles of centuries ago fought with sword and axe. "Drenched in Victorious Blood" was released two years ago and intended I'm sure to be their Viking saga epic! Opening track "Sons of Men" is a black metal rampage that leads to more melodic passages further in that sadly unmasks the bands simplistic and amateurish drumming style. I found the guitar play throughout to be absorbing and matched up well to the grim vocals. Some of the more intense guitar based melody is truly thought provoking and enjoyable but when the heaviness levels drop below blast beats the drumming is decidedly average! Still, it is nice to hear a band with such high song writing skills and a penchant for diversity so all is far from lost! Sporting a slower, more thoughtful sound, "Luciferian March" adds a touch of the macabre and the menacing to proceedings but has a simplistic feel too much of it whilst "Dreadlord" continues the bands rampaging momentum whilst adding little more to the album.
My problem with Aetherium Mors is the deceiving nature of the album as the title gives you one impression yet a lot of the bands work seems to be mired in the old clich├ęd satanic lyrics. Also when playing at full pelt they are impressive but when the tone gets slower and the music more melodic the band really don't have the skill to back it up and so the end result is simple and weak. Four tracks in and "Kingdom of Shadows" is proving now that things have become processional and whilst for the most part the album stays decent, from now until the end the problems I've mentioned re-occur. Essentially what Aetherium Mors suffers from is a talent level that doesn't cover their expansive and melodic thoughts. A plus for imagination, C minus for execution.
6 Out Of 10 (Luke Hayhurst)
Band Page: Here

Ascaris - Initiation

Self Released 2014
1.Debt of Sacrifice 2.The Pitiless Cycle 3. Sins of the Flesh 4.Crimson (Demo)
Gloucester trio Ascaris have unleashed their debut offering, a four track EP entitled "Initiation". Featuring one member of recently reviewed Body Harvest (Chris Barton) Ascaris base their music around a smorgasbord of cerebral contexts from a hatred of humanity and religion, philosophy and just for good measure some good old fashioned Lovecraft worship. Opening with "Debt of Sacrifice" the band make a fast and frantic start with raging drumming, maniacal riffs and a venomous vocal display and within the melee find time to include some malicious melodies too. In truth “The Pitiless Cycle” offers much of the same but the bands intensity is to be admired although some of their play feels a little thin at times and the booming cacophony I’d want to hear from this band isn’t produced. That said the bands cold, hard rhythms are endearing and that is half of the battle won!
“Sins of the Flesh” begins the downhill slide towards completion and I say downhill because there is now a professional quality to this EP that would really grate on the nerves if it was a longer release. However this sixteen minute release ends fairly soon with a demo version of “Crimson” which oddly enough through a lesser standard of production actually hits the right tempo of aggression and fuller bodied sound that I’d want to hear from the rest of the release. If the bands future endeavors match up to “Crimson” there may be hope for them yet!
6 Out Of 10 (Luke Hayhurst)
Band Page: Here

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Body Harvest - Futile Creation

Grindhouse Music 2014
1.Sadistic Existence 2.Condemned to Suffer 3.Failed Oppressor 4.Deluded Thoughts
5.Mind Rape 6.Bound to the Sky 7.Systematic Genocide 8.Human Death Quest
9.Into the Pandemonium 10.Death Sphere
Bristol's Body Harvest have unleashed their debut album "Futile Creation" through Grindhouse Music, ten tracks of punishing death metal fury! Opening track "Sadistic Existence" kicks in with some horror flick ambiance and crushing riff based savagery as the band kick things into gear with a cautiously paced intro leading to flat out aggression channelled through the thunderous drum beats and rumbling bass lines of Chris Barton and Alex Manghan respectively. With a sound lodged firmly in the camp of early 90's US death metal, Body Harvest nail their colours to the mast early on and never once do they deviate! Personally I'm more of a fan of the slower, more brooding Stockholm style of death metal and whilst I find this Cannibal Corpse inspired death metal a little cliched and flat, there can be no doubt that Body Harvest bring to the table a sense of raw, urgent intensity! 
For the most part each song is a short sharp shock of brutal, hostile death metal power but consequently I found the lack of variation dragging heavily against what I'd choose to listen too. However as tracks such as "Condemned to Suffer" and "Failed Oppressor" so rampantly demonstrate, Body Harvest are a band who know their instruments well and play with a confidence and certainty that makes their ravenous flurries of break neck riffing a worthy experience! In all honesty if standard US inspired Death Metal is your thing then Body Harvest are going to be right up your street. For me though whilst technically a very talented band there is little effort being put into the song writing and as an end result "Futile Creation" is a processional slab of one dimensional extremity!
6 Out Of 10 - Luke Hayhurst
Band Page: Here



Forneus - Sampler 2014

Self Released 2014
1.Order: Exterminatus 2.Embrace The Covenant
3.The Nine Gates Of The Kingdom Of Torment 4.Blood Eagle (The Exile)
After remaining quiet for a number of years, Forneus returned in 2012 with an e.p. and then followed with a split release the year after  so now 2014 sees them unveil this four track promo cd. Opening up with ‘Order: Exterminatus’, a sinister tone is being set, dense atmospheres are slowly being created, brooding in anticipation of the hell-storm that is about to be unleashed, and unleashed it certainly is! The song breaks out into an unholy barrage of raw black metal, scathing and snarling in a torrent of rabid blast beats, snarled vocals and raging, yet melodic black metal riffing. The more melodic element to the band heard at the beginning of the track is re-introduced and the pace dropped to a slower crawl which really allows the vocals to take centre stage and tell their story. Ending the track in a hail of blast beats, it’s a good start and the remaining three tracks promise plenty! Following seamlessly on is ‘Embrace The Covenant’ which begins life in groove leaden mid paced territory, reminiscent of Satyricon, even down to the production, being bass heavy and dirty. The melodic aspects to the band’s sound is never lost in amongst the nasty black metal which is probably what makes the music stand out as being so good.
‘The Nine Gates Of The Kingdom Of Torment’ starts with eerie keyboards, almost sounding like something from a 1940’s horror movie. As this sample fades out so the guitars are slowly brought to life, fading in with a haunting and devilish sound. Extremely effective and a great way to introduce the song. Musically, it’s very similar to the previous song, remaining mi-paced throughout. The guitars are more black metal here than they have been so far, really atmospheric while remaining sinister and ice cold. There is a real sense of determination on show here; the song is beginning to build in momentum as it starts to draw to a close. The faster blast beats are re-introduced sporadically which adds to the momentum and sense of anticipation. It’s an absolute beast of a track, being 11m 39s long, some might say too long, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way when listening to it. The band managed to keep the listener well engaged throughout, through variety and ultimately well written and well performed black metal. ‘Blood Eagle (The Exile)’ closes proceedings, and again it’s another absolute monster in terms of length, being 10m 39s this time. The pace is slow, almost doom-laden yet remaining black metal in essence. Being such a long track and played at a slow pace, it gives off a suffocating and exhaustive atmosphere which isn’t bad by any means, you just need to prepare yourself mentally for what you’re about to listen to! For those that are new to the band, this is a superb introduction to their world of harsh, violent and melodically aggressive black metal. These four new tracks show a band capable of writing mature and unique black metal which really stands out and is well worthy of greater attention.  It wouldn’t surprise me to see the band gaining that greater attention if they continue following their current (left hand) path such is the promise Forneus seemingly offer. A great new sampler that definitely deserves your attention and comes well recommended.

8 out of 10
Band Page: Here

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Beyond Grace - Mounstrous

Self Released 2014
1.The Chronophage 2.Inhumanity 3.Invasive Exotics
The brand new "Monstrous" EP from Nottingham death metal quintet Beyind Grace is here and set to give you something to think about!  Opening track "The Chronophage" is a catchy, absorbing testament to this with the rumble of double kick drumming combining well with the bands torrent of technical flourishes on the guitars, crushing rhythms and deep bass laden growls and ravenous hostile shrieks! "Inhumanity" is a savage lyrical blast at those who commit atrocities all over the world for their insane beliefs or for the benefit of their citizens alleged well being. Its raw sounding technical edged death metal vibes are exacerbated by lyrical themes of mistrust and loathing for those in power who take a huge dump on the worlds people every single day! With a little touch of historical theatrics about it, "Invasive Exotics" begins with the rallying call of "Cry havoc and slip the dogs of war" (Julius Ceasar by William Shakespeare) and proceeds into a softer track in spells musically but with deep running tones of hardship, suffering and bloodshed throughout the centuries! "Monstrous" is a compelling release that highlights the true cruel nature of man and spits in the face of our cruelty! Expect more great things from Beyond Grace!
7/10 (Luke Hayhurst)
Band Page: Here


Merciless Terror - Vile Extinction

Devil's Clause Records 2013
I. Omnicide 00 00 2. Doctrine of Malevolence 3. Circle of Contempt 4. Enraptured
5. Baptized in Blood 6. Hateful Abomination 7. Process of Eradication 8. World Desolation 9. Imminent Death 10. Dystopic Visions 11. Existence Denied
It has been quite an impressive last eighteen months for UK death/thrashers Merciless Terror, touring japan, playing shows with the likes of Warlord UK and playing Bloodstock Open Air last year. It got even better when the bands debut album "Vile Extinction" was finally unleashed upon us and the only downside was that following all of this Merciless Terror was put on ice, I sincerely hope not permanently! Something that instantly caught my attention about this is album is the track “Doctrine of Malevolence” which on top of the bands more trademark death/thrash sound has a really spiteful streak of black metal running through its core. Oddly enough it only appears on this one track for the most part and soon enough Merciless Terror are slamming through tracks like “Circle of Contempt” and “Enraptured” whilst displaying all the grace of a car wreck! When Merciless Terror are not pummelling you with savage drumming then they are berating you with speed freak like riffs and a vocal style that will make lesser music fans cower in fear!
“Vile Extinction” is an album that just refuses to slow down and soon enough in no time at all the band have hammered out four tracks and “Baptized in Blood” is soon rampaging onward until the unthinkable happens, the pace slows, the intensity increases and the slight black metal tinge creeps into proceeds to give the track a deeply malevolent feel. couple that with the early Sepultura influence to the bands sound and especially the guitar solos and I think you’ll all be pleasantly surprised. Whilst it lacks somewhat for variety, we all know that bands like Merciless Terror don’t play to be varied and whimsical, they play to destroy and tracks like “Hateful Abomination” and the crushingly heavy “Process of Eradication” do just that. From start to finish this album is dominant, plain and simple!
9/10 (Luke Hayhurst)
Band Page: Here

Flayed Disciple - Flayed Disciple

Bethlam Records 2014
I. Sick Abomination 2. The Maniac 3.The Gates of Bedlam
Anybody who heard the debut album "Death Hammer" from UK death thrashers Flayed Disciple two years ago will know they are a force to be reckoned with. This year sees the Taunton quintet return to the studio for this three track vinyl offering that demonstrates where the band are currently at sound wise as well as teasing a little about what is yet to come! Opening track "Sick Abomination" is a frantic affair sporting flurries of maniacal guitar wielding, ravenous drumming and hostile rhythms and grooves, all topped off with the deep guttural growls of death chuggin Tim Whyte whose lyrics are appropriately gore orientated and repulsive! despite Flayed Disciple's penchant for out right power and extremity you'll find room here for bouts of all out catchy riff-age and beats, sharp blasts of guitar wankery in the form of exquisite solos and a general aura of a band completely at ease with their sound and style and with the confidence to explore its outer reaches! Expect no quick pop like tracks either as "Sick Abomination" is a lengthy, gruelling prospect of unrelenting proportions!
Faster and more brutal, the hungry onslaught of "The Maniac" is a savage devolution into flat out aggression and insane technical licks as Flayed Disciple keep the momentum going by blasting out  more furious rhythms! Keeping up the death and horror theme "The Maniac" is a filthy blood soaked tome of pent up rage, psychotic thought process and vulgar action, a shorter shock factor of a track designed to punish and wreak havoc! Finally "The Gates of Bedlam" round things off with and ending of the records theme, the final passage or chapter of the disturbed played out through more fast paced thrashing and death metal chugging! A stunning return from Flayed Disciple, one of the UK's most under-rated but highly promising bands.
8.5/10 (Luke Hayhurst)
Band Page: Here