Friday, 27 June 2014

Ifing - Against this Weald (2014)

Album | Against this Weald
Country | United States
Genre | Atmospheric / Pagan Black Metal
Label | Blood Music

Mythology can be really inspiring and Ifing are a living example of the matter, as they are mainly influenced by Scandinavian tales without themselves originating from there. The band's debut and only release so far Against this Weald revolves around concepts like that and consists of three tracks with a total length of thirty six minutes, during which the listener goes through a variety of atmospheric / folk sounds.

The record was nicely produced and gives a nice sound to the compositions, which are carefully combining folk with black metal in the vein of classic bands like Viking-era Bathory and Agalloch. The two guys behind Ifing have played together before in a short lived melodic death metal band, meaning they're no strangers with each other's songwriting and that is obvious in Against this Weald, which is well written and intriguing.

The opening track is a four minute instrumental, which is simplistic and dark, synth driven ambient, containing melodies that can be found in styles like dungeon synth, setting the mood for the album. Since Against this Weald has three tracks only, the introduction is equally important, unlike other occasions when intros / outros are quickly skipped. After that, there are two main tracks  lasting thirteen and eighteen minutes each, which contain most of the band's musical ideas.

“The Stream” starts off with a pounding guitar melody that reminds a lot of the American atmospheric black metal scene, provoking the same aura around the record as well. There are legit whispering / screaming vocals and various acoustic guitar parts, as well as samples with sounds of nature, offering the track the diversity is needs to keep the attention going. The band isn't scared to use clean vocals too in some moments, which are also really satisfying.

Along with the intense black metal, the folk sound is achieved mainly with keys like that in the first minutes of the long “Realms Forged” as well as the ending of the song, synth lines reminding a little bit of Summoning. The acoustics are melodic and approach the style of Enslaved, constructing a distinctive but not replicated sound for the record and the band. Musically, Against this Weald aches for atmospheric synths and riffs, as well as calm parts and sufficient ambiance, in a familiar but pleasing way whatsoever.

Ifing's first offer is a good sign of the band's intentions and presents notable work for fans of the genre. The band isn't experimenting with unused sounds in their music, knowing very well what they aim for and succeeding in creating it. Even if I wasn't comfortable with the album's structure at first, which looks incomplete at first, the content is great on it's own anyway.

DAMAGE: [7.5/10]

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Sunday, 22 June 2014

Verivala - Voittomme (2004)

Album | Voittomme
Country |
Finland
Genre |
Black Metal
Label |
Autistiartili Records

~ There is a fluttering flame ~

The two members of this project have been involved in many projects and most of them sound nothing like this one. Verivala was founded in 2003 and the first album was released only a year later, named Voittomme, which should be "profit" in Finnish. All the song titles and lyrics are in Finnish and the front cover resembles the logo only, a really nice logo indeed. As far as obscurity goes, this act is ideal and it turns out the music is just the same. Verivala serve a ridiculously traditional sound of unfiltered punkish black metal in the vein of early Bathory and Darkthrone, true opposers to anything permissive in the genre.

With a main focus on black metal, there are a few punk and thrash metal elements in the tracks, mainly in the middle-fast paced riffs they use that remind a lot of the genre's early era. This does not change as the album progresses, the band chooses to keep the same style for as long as it lasts and the result is a foul record that belongs to the early nineties, and to the likes of the more angry fans of the scene. Voittomme clocks at half and hour of edgy and lively black metal against it's time, with as simple characteristics as possible in terms of music and lyrics (going with satanism and the occult).

As Verivala are probably a side project of the members, who give more attention to their main bands, Voittomme might have been recorded and composed really quickly. Yet, it's a very good continuation and addition to classic albums, being great listening to even if the references are quite strong. The production of the album is noisy but really balanced, as you can hear all instruments including the bass, which is not left out but present at all times. The sound of the guitars is cold and cutting, creating the distinct sound of the album as well.

I think the most remarkable aspect of this record is the disgustingly painful and agonizing vocals. If pure hatred and severity can be expressed by a voice, this man's here is surely a great example, to a point that it makes the record even more difficult to approach on a first level. It pushes the intensity of the record to the edge of the cliff and is the main element that makes Voittomme a more personal and crooked effort by the band. Their music reminds a lot of bands like the ones mentioned above but it still is unique, and a refreshing piece of two lunatics' fury.

Bands like Verivala are always interesting to listen to, especially when black metal has taken so many different directions after the 00s. Goat Tormentor, one member of the band, has also played in Swallow the Sun and Barren Earth, while Atvar is also in Circle of Ouroboros and Prevalent Resistence, their talent can't be ignored. Voittomme flows nicely once you get the grip of it and pass over the vocal barrier and after that, it's a true beauty for all black metal freaks. The best tracks here are "Liekkeihin (Into the Flames)" and "Sasta (Filth)", while the last is named "Jeesuksen Muistolle", which means "In the memory of Jesus". Way to go there.

DAMAGE: [8/10]

Friday, 20 June 2014

Vorkreist - Sabbathical Flesh Possession (2003)

Album | Sabbathical Flesh Possession
Country | France
Genre | Black / Death Metal
Label | Xtreem Music

~ Dawn of terror ~

Being one of the main bands of the modern French black metal scene, Vorkreist were born in 1999 and released their first demo in 2001, named Sermons of Impurity. The debut full length would come two years later in 2003, an album that has one of the most amazing titles ever, Sabbathical Flesh Possession. It is undeniably a strong statement and while the music isn't that perfect itself, it makes a great package along with the edgy cover and titles. The band had been working on it for some time and it got them up to a certain level, featuring the female bassist LSK who would commit suicide ten years later, in 2013.

Sabbathical Flesh Possession flows as easy as it is to pronounce it and it offers the same aural pleasure as well. The band did not aim for a flawless, superb record from the start, as the crush would be much harder if they did and failed. Instead, the passion and freedom they had during their early years is a major motive and positive characteristic, bidding on legit black / death metal the ensured way. Listening to the record will not probably bring the apocalypse in your musical standards, but it is really enjoyable due to it's honesty and immediacy.

The production of the record is relatively good but still quite dirtier than their later records. It definitely is audible for a fan of black metal and offers a boost on all the bass sounds, transforming it into something more of a constant magnitude while listening. I have gone through much worse recordings in my life and I'm sure any person that has reached to Vorkreist has as well, so it's safe to say this is an album with enough noise to get the job done, keeping up it's repellent beauty.

While the band is labeled under the black metal be, as it should, the music on Sabbathical Flesh Possession has several death metal elements, providing a mixture of black / death with elementary components. If a death metal band inserted enough black metal guitar melodies, as well as shrieked vocals and a satanic concept / attitude, with the proper talent it would result in Vorkreist, the above being pretty much what this record sounds like. Some of the best moments in here are into the tracks "At the Side of the Beast" and "Iconophobia", which are also the most memorable of all.

At first listen, this might not seem as the best record ever written and it definitely doesn't have a protagonist role into the French scene, which has martyred some true diamonds of extreme metal. However, Vorkreist achieve the purpose they had set before it's release, to create a capable and robust piece that would remain good enough to make the listener dig it enough. It is mostly fast-paced, spitting nice riffs above the smacking drum lines, resulting in an enterprising effort that might not have specific brilliant moments, apart from one or two, but is strong as a whole.

Vorkreist would later go with a more characteristic playing, having members who are included in the top acts of the country today. Sabbathical Flesh Possession always pleases me with it's direct approach and solid musicianship, which provides the musical variety as well as the core of what I mostly enjoy in the genre, aggressive music and unfriendly atmosphere. It is not a whole view into the underworld, just a good glimpse.

DAMAGE: [7.25/10]

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Cancer - To The Gory End (1990)

Album | To The Gory End
Country | UK
Genre | Thrash / Death Metal
Label | Vinyl Solution

~ Legacy of his tragedy ~

There were a lot of bands with tremendous potential back in the early nineties, who faded away with time and all we have now is the legacy of their first years. I'm not sure if Cancer is a good example of the fact, but still their first records are more or less amazing for their kind, especially for fans of a more thrashy version of death metal in the nineties. Their debut To the Gory End is exactly that, a good dose of impulsive thrash / death with a sweet retro feeling of what was shining back then.

The simplistic and direct cover of To The Gory End pretty much describes the title of the album, with graphics reminding of low-budget horror movies of the eighties. The band was still young and it's highly possible they were influenced by films like that, when the artwork actually points towards the beloved blade of Jason Voorhees and was based on 1978's movie Dawn of the Dead, a personal favourite as well. The lyrics revolve around such movies and gore, death, witches and the likes, so their attention can be projected there anyway.

The record lasts thirty four minutes, which is a standard length, and it contained nine tracks in total. The production does not differ much from was being released then and it contains all the punching and intimidating moment an album like that should have. 1990 was the year death metal was starting to open it's wings towards the sky of metal, yet Cancer did not fully adjust their sound to immaculate brutality, blending enough thrash metal elements into their music to show the world where all this originally started, as well as the band's tastes, to a certain level.

Given that, it's not difficult to recognize the thrash metal riffs in the vein of bands like Nuclear Assault at some songs, as well as the fast paced riffing and group shouting lyrics often used in the genre. Apart from that, the vocals, done by John Walker, at times have a Carcass-ish tone in them and the compositions themselves include both genres enough. The music of Cancer could be in favor of the early Sepultura records, in the Schizophrenia - Beneath The Remains era mostly. I can't say there is a bad track in To The Gory End, in fact everything in here is splendid.

The guitar work includes enough riffing in each song, as well as a couple of solos here and there, focusing mainly on heavy sounding melodies, and less but enough on very fast / speed jamming. Great work has been done in the changes of the lines and the record doesn't get repetitive, while a short sample (in the self-titled track) and clean guitars (in "Sentenced")  are used in a couple of songs. Needless to say, that the main chorus of the second track "cancer fucking cancer" is catchy enough to randomly scream it while walking days after you have listened to the album.

I was very pleased with the steady vocal work in the album, offering great harsh, spitting word screams. The drum work is affecting enough, while the bass isn't that present to the front lights generally. For a debut, it's a great release by the band that dragged them into the club of the many talented bands of their years, compiling a bunch of amazing records for us to listen today. Notable and not to be missed, highlight tracks are "Imminent Catastrophy", "To The Gory End" and "Body Count".

DAMAGE: [8/10]

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Saturday, 14 June 2014

Necrophagia - Ready for Death (1990)

Album | Ready for Death
Country | USA
Genre | Death Metal
Label | Embalming

~ Infecting thousands by the day ~

Necrophagia is one of the veteran bands in the genre of death metal, because they formed as early as 1983. The band also introduced the horror elements to their lyrics, a catchy subject later adapted by many a band, showing the efffect these guys had to this day. The band released their first and iconic album Season of the Dead in 1987, even though Ready for Death consists of even earlier recordings. The tracks for their second album, which was officially out in 1990, were actually made in 1986 and the label refused to release them. Now, why is that?

If you think other material by Necrophagia are primitive, wait till you listen to this. The barbaric sound of this bootleg album characterizes it's cult status as one of the sickest recordings of the genre, praised by the most extreme death metal fans. However, I don't want to give it more credit than it deserves, as it clearly isn't the best effort they have made and not the most influential album by them either. By 1986, it seems like Necrophagia had a relatively long way to go, which they wishfully did in a year before their ravenous debut.

The production of Ready for Death is up and down shitty, but not completely unbearable. Imagine listening to the first Impetigo records, but with a lot less grind elements. Labels often fought against the bands trying to get even more extreme because it was still uncertain economically and I'm glad these guys waited until Season of the Dead, which is an improvement in all aspects. Necrophagia's style is not yet distinctive in Ready for Death, as there are plenty of thrash metal elements, along with a bit of black metal in the vocals, as they are similar to early black metal recordings of the late 80s. I guess all extreme metal was one back then.

The compositions feature a couple of pure death metal riffs here and there, but mostly are an unsteady blend of playing with not much to give to the listener of today. In fact, there is often a jam rage, with repetitive high hats and shreddy riffing, making the songs even more fuzzy. Ready for Death is not an album for purely musical interest, as it is more agressive and unfriendly, especially for it's time. Apart from that, the album will be an awesome ride for fans of dirty death metal, early grindcore, goregrind or anything similar. The lyrics are graphic enough, at least the ones available.

Two tracks were later used in Season of the Dead, "Ancient Slumber" and "Mental Decay", while the rest of the tracks were used in a compilation released later in 2000 titled A Legacy of Horror, Gore and Sickness. Necrophagia's Ready for Death isn't that special, being an early and sloppy recording by the band. It could easily be their debut record but it seems fate was on their side, offering a more complete work only a year later. All Necrophagia freaks out there need this too though.

The name on the grave on the right is Edward Gein? Great.

DAMAGE: [4/10]

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Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Disma - Towards the Megalith (2011)

Album | Towards the Megalith
Country | USA
Genre | Death Metal
Label | Profound Lore Records
 
~ We are the proprietors of the abyss ~

I always think death metal should be a merciless, soul crushing experience. Traditional death metal bands are brutal, but not always do they achieve something further than shreddy riffs and guttural growls, which always sounds good anyway. That explains why I loved Incantation from the first listen, as well as the bands that follow the same path with them these years, like Disma. This is the first and only full length by the band so far and it definitely was one of the best albums of the year 2011, since it has thrilling compositions and a "dismal" atmosphere that few bands have today. It was also an awaited listen, since the band's first demo in 2009 and the small taste of an EP in 2011.

There are eight tracks that collect up to fourty six minutes of music in Towards the Megalith. Most of the tracks have been used in previous releases but there are also a few new compositions, which is really a pleasure, since I was eager to listen to their early stuff with the sound they deserve. The production of the record is finally more than worthy of listening, thick and powerful, as the tracks themselves. The guitars and the drums build the first layer of the sound, where the inhuman growls come and go above, creating a deathlike aura from start to finish. The excellent cover artwork visually describes the music too, as a road towards a big gate into the underworld, along with death wizards and necromancers and around a sickly-green main colour.

Disma's style has a lot of doom / death metal elements, as they often slow things down and keep simple riffs, rhythmic drum beats and even slower vocals in various parts of their songs. It feels great when such parts come in, since they are well made and give even more strength to the faster parts (i.e. the transition from the end of "Chasm of Oceanus" to the intro of "Spectral Domination" is like being hit in the face by a sledgehammer) and emphasizing the solid structure the album has. Many would think of Autopsy during the gloomier moments, but still Autopsy are more traditional American death and don't step towards a darker sound like Disma. In Towards the Megalith, the drums sound organic and not squashed out of existence like in most records of the 21st century, which is very cool to listen to. The bass has a dose of distortion in it (check the track "Vault of Membros", which is also masterpiece).

All in all, I took exactly what I expected from the debut of Disma, which is something relentless and gloriously heavy. The band gave all they had to offer in here and no listener is safe when listening to it, being a flawless effort in it's entirety. The band's style is certain but not repetitive, and all the melodies are down-tuned and straightforward, giving a pummeling vibe as  background where all hell breaks loose with each track. I definitely recommend Towards the Megalith to ANY fan of underground death metal, any person who aches for some actual brutality when the genre it taken too far melodically, lyrically and in terms of modernity today, so that more people fit in and like it. Towards the Megalith is strict and and dangerous, if found in the wrong hands.

DAMAGE: [9.25/10]

Monday, 9 June 2014

Paganizer - Cadaver Casket (On a Gurney to Hell) (2014) [Ep]

Origin: Gamleby, Sweden
Genre: Old School Death Metal
Label: Cyclone Empire

Paganizer is the most characteristic band of Rogga Johansson, the man responsible for many extreme metal acts in the Swedish scene today. While all are inclined towards the traditional sound of their country, his inspiration seems to be never-ending and this EP was a direct sequence of their last album “World Lobotomy”.

The band’s sound has a specific wavelength and “Cadaver Casket” is exactly what one would expect, meaning direct Swedish death metal. The classic compositions with a fairly clean production and full sound, do not deviate much from the latest releases of the band and contribute one more mini album with more of Rogga’s music, which will not leave the ones who dig it any room for complaints.

Strangely enough, I liked this EP more than their last two albums, maybe because the original drummer Matties Fiebig returned to the line-up. The tracks here feel a bit more energetic than before and might be some of the best in quality the band has offered the last four years.

There is the horror movie picturesque both at the cover (a work of Daniel “Devilish” Johnsson) and the song titles, giving an even more beautiful facette to the record, which is intended mainly for pleasure and fun. Many bands continue what Entombed and Dismember began two decades ago, and Paganizer is definitely one of them.

DAMAGE: [6.75/10]

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Satariel - White Ink: Chapter One [EP]

Album: White Ink: Chapter One
Year: 2014
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Origin: Sweden

Despite being one really important band for the genre and it's time, Satariel never amazed me until this release, which is really awesome. Three cohesive, well-written and heavy compositions mark their return and I definitely look forward to a new album or something. More spicy information, the last track "Ending Circle" reminds a bit of Ghost Brigade's "Clawmaster". Both are awesome tracks.

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Monday, 2 June 2014

Disma - The Manifestation (2011) [EP]

Origin: New Jersey, US
Genre: Old School Death Metal
Album: Disma / Winterwolf
Label: Doomentia Records

In 2011, Disma went on with three releases, a split with Winterwolf, this EP and their debut full length Towards the Megalith. By then, all fans were possibly waiting for the full album when this arrived to their hands, which was a really good taste of what was about to come, but not much to deal with on it's own. Since Towards the Megalith was released about a month after this EP, it's not but a minor release.

The Manifestation contains two tracks, both of them were new back then and only one was used shortly after. The band still moved to the same pace as in their first demo in 2009, only with a clearer and deeper production (a main issue before, if you ask me). The tracks are a mixture of a fast and slow pace torment and the demonic vocals create one bit of an aura for death metal.

Even though they tracks are decent, I listened to this in a chronologically wrong way and it was already damned by the following release of the band, it felt a little bit uneccessary to me. Don't hesitate to check it though, especially if you're a fun of the band, as "The Manifestation" is only featured here.

DAMAGE: [6/10]