Demo Roundup vol. 1 (Hex Morbidity, Dragkhar, Disincarnation)

There are a handful of excellent demos that I’ve stumbled across or been directed towards recently that I want to bring to your attention as worthy of your time and support. Hex Morbidity hark back to earlier times with evocative, old-school black metal on their self-titled EP. Draghkar spew forth cavernous, morbid death-doom metal, and Disincarnation wield aggressive, surprisingly melodic death metal in the vein of At the Gates. Read on for links and more! Continue reading “Demo Roundup vol. 1 (Hex Morbidity, Dragkhar, Disincarnation)”

Review: Rebirth of Nefast – “Tabernaculum”

It has been nine long years since Rebirth of Nefast‘s last record, Ex Nihilio, a split album with fellow Irish black metal group Slidhr. A lot has changed since then. The black metal project’s mastermind, Irish-born Wann (aka Stephen Lockhart), has since moved to Reykjavik, Iceland and set up the Studio Emissary recording studio, founded the Oration Records label, and put on two successive and successful extreme metal festivals in the heart of Iceland’s capital. He’s been responsible for producing, mixing, and mastering some of the most exciting names in contemporary black metal: Svartidauði, Sinmara, Zhrine, Abominor, Almyrkvi, Mannveira, and Draugsól, as well as Mortuus Umbra, Dysangelium, and Slidhr. He’s also recorded and performed live with Sinmara and Slidhr. The resplendent full-length album Tabernaculum is the culmination of nine years of hard graft; of writing, recording, and producing some of the best extreme metal around, and learning and growing as a writer and a musician. Continue reading “Review: Rebirth of Nefast – “Tabernaculum””

Review: Venom Prison – “Animus”

Hailing from South Wales, Venom Prison combine death metal brutality and hardcore aggression in a way that is both completely unlike ‘deathcore’ as we’ve come to know it, and completely fucking awesome. Their debut album ‘Animus’ was released in October of last year, but it’s never too late to recommend good music.  The sturdy death metal core of this band’s sound is complimented by a serious dose of hardcore punk, thus the result is perhaps comparable to what might occur if Power Trip played death metal instead of thrash. Rage permeates every layer of this record, but it’s a directed fury that knows its target. An earth-shaking statement of intent, the album art features a castrated rapist being force-fed his own genitals, and over the album’s half-hour runtime vocalist Larissa Stupar tackles religion, sexism, and humanity’s treatment of animals. Venom Prison invert death metal’s tropes, weaponising the gore and violence and turning them against oppressors. Continue reading “Review: Venom Prison – “Animus””

Review: Uerberos – “Tormented by Faith”

The brutal death metal unleashed on Polish band Uerberos‘ debut album Tormented by Faith is as merciless as it is calculated. The technical frenzy of this piece of death metal is performed with perfect precision, aimed at the utter annihilation of all that stands in their way. Stylistically there is some overlap with their Polish brethren in Vader, but the sheer blistering aggression of their craft also reminds me of Hour of Penance, Desecravity, and Aborted at times. Guttural bellows rail against organised religion and the hypocrisy of so-called Christians: Not a new topic for death metal perhaps, but one that is particularly powerful and important for a band from the deeply Catholic nation of Poland. Their debut album Tormented By Faith is an astonishingly technical accomplishment, visceral and unforgiving, violent and grim. Continue reading “Review: Uerberos – “Tormented by Faith””

Review: Draugsól – “Volaða Land”

Volaða Land is the debut record from the recently-formed Icelandic group Draugsól. The band describe themselves as black metal, and by and large that’s accurate, but to my ears there’s a whole lot of death metal influence going on here as well, with a prominent low-end sound, heavy palm-muted guitar riffs, and guttural vocals. In some ways the texture of influences on this album almost reminds me of a way heavier, more death metal-influenced Enslaved. The tremolo-picked guitar passages and aggressive percussion are here as well of course, but Draugsól venture well beyond these conventional genre boundaries. The songs are constructed around powerful melodies, rhythms and motifs, with some incredibly tasteful, understated guitar solos and jazzy, varied percussion. Continue reading “Review: Draugsól – “Volaða Land””

Review: Deitus – “Acta Non Verba”

It’s always a delight to discover new local talent that remind you that your nation’s metal scene has plenty to offer the world. London-based black metal group Deitus gave me just such a reminder recently. Truth be told, I actually first became aware of them some months ago when they opened for Dead Congregation in Manchester alongside Incarceration and Wode, and while I came away impressed with their live performance, it was only recently that I really gave their 2016 debut album “Acta Non Verba” a proper listen. The album title translates to “Deeds not words”, and should be understood as a statement of intent: Deitus sound absolutely bloodthirsty, hungry to leave their mark on the world with their melodic, aggressive style of black metal. Continue reading “Review: Deitus – “Acta Non Verba””

Review: Devouring Star – “Antihedron”

Devouring Star’s new EP ‘Antihedron’ is the sound of worlds collapsing in on themselves, a black hole devouring a solar system. Antihedron describes “negative planes and shapes”, and discusses the three central concepts of birth, existence, and death. Each song serves to highlight a separate facet of the human experience, as beings whose experience extends across each plane of existence. The crushing, abrasive weight of Devouring Star‘s sound serves as the perfect vessel for the cold, malicious Satanic energies they channel through their music. Antihedron is Devouring Star‘s finest moment to date, and a forceful reminder of the power a record can wield when the music is given purpose through its message. Read on for the review.

Continue reading “Review: Devouring Star – “Antihedron””

Martröð – “Transmutation of Wounds”

Martröð is the collaborative project of an international group of musicians united by their shared musical and ideological goals. Featuring Wrest (of Leviathan), D.G. (of Misþyrming), Alex Poole (of Krieg), and others, their pedigree is impressive, but their music ought to stand by itself, and with such an incredible line-up it’s only natural that expectations are high. Thankfully, those expectations have been met, and Martröð really have crafted a very special release with ‘Transformation of Wounds’.

Continue reading “Martröð – “Transmutation of Wounds””

Plebeian Grandstand – “False Highs, True Lows”

Back with a fairly late review of last year’s excellent record “False Highs, True Lows” by the French black metal band Plebeian Grandstand. False Highs, True Lows is one of the great metal albums of 2016. This raging cacophony of violent negativity is almost too much to take in on one listen, and certainly demands repeated, careful listens with an open mind. The core of this French band’s sound draws on the legacy of their country’s vibrant black metal scene, but despite its concise runtime, the band also explore a surprisingly diverse range of musical textures and forms from raw, harsh noise and thundering beats to drone metal. In the hands of Plebeian Grandstand, guitars are turned into contorted, terrifying instruments; the chaotic, dissonant chords and riffs turn order into chaos and then both are lost to the swirling madness at the heart of this record. This extreme sensibility is compounded by the frenetic blastbeats and unpredictable fills, as well as the unhinged vocal-work of Adrien Broué.

Continue reading “Plebeian Grandstand – “False Highs, True Lows””

TERRA: Interview and Album Review

That Cambridgeshire simply didn’t have any good metal bands was a sad fact I’d come to accept. When I’m not at university here in York, I live in the small cathedral-city of Ely, a short drive from the county’s namesake and hub of Cambridge. Musically, it’s an utterly desolate landscape. Friends of mine who live and study in Cambridge have confirmed as much. So when I learned that Cambridge was now the home of TERRA, an atmospheric black metal band along the lines of Wolves in the Throne Room or Ash Borer, my heart leapt. And while TERRA certainly do draw on these bands, they forge their own path on their second full-length album ‘Mors Secunda’. Continue reading “TERRA: Interview and Album Review”