Dec 22, 2014

Arson Awards 2014: Top 100 metal albums [Part I]

Dividing the list into four pieces, including artwork and links, is always better than a long text list. Maybe it's less likely to completely ignore the albums too, but I've never gone down that path, really. Once again, 2014 left us with a fuckload of music and you never have the time to listen to everything, so for this year I will not include any worst album lists and the likes so that i'll stick to being positive. It's all great, everything's great. Don't forget to autistically knock your head over a wall while listening to each and every one of these records, as a token of appreciation for me doing the same thing all year now just to compile this list.

Dec 20, 2014

Arson Awards 2014: Top 12 non-metal albums

It felt wiser to seperate the metal from the non metal albums this time, even though I like keeping year lists with all kinds of music at the end of the day. There were more albums from which I enjoyed a couple of tracks only and these didn't make it to the finals, I hope you already know there are countless more amazing records than twelve for this year. Each one has their favourites:


12. This Will Destroy You - Another Language
Genre: Post-Rock

One of the bands that introduced me to this genre released another great record. Atmospheric, laid back and warm, with some excellent compositions like "Dustism", "The Puritan" and "Mother Opiate".

11. Bassnectar - Noise VS Beauty
Genre: Electronic / Experimental / Dubstep
Listen [1] [2] [3]

I'm really into the style of this producer more than anything else I've come across in EDM, mainly because of his eccentric, colourful and artistic approach to the craft of music.

10. sleepmakeswaves - Love of Cartography
Genre: Post-Rock

The essential band that led me into post-rock. Maybe I was really lucky because them and This Will Destroy You released albums this year. Love of Cartography deserves all the joy you can spend on it.

9. Wovenhand - Reftactory Obdurate
Genre: Indie / Alternative Country

I had no idea about this until I found a Youtube link with the whole album. I shouldn't introduce these guys to anyone, only gonna say their music hasn't lost it's strength.

8. Nadja - Queller
Genre: Drone / Shoegaze

This whole record is amazing, an aural journey into immaterial landscapes. Maybe the closest to metal in this list, even though they have reduced such elements in Queller. Beware of the thick guitars though!

7. Worm Is Green - To Them We Are Only Shadows
Genre: Electronic / Ambient / Trip-Hop

I didn't know this band and gave it a listen because of it's name and album title. It was the first tracks that moved me and it's after all a spectacular effort.

6. Tuomas Holopainen - The Life and Times of Scrooge
Genre: Atmospheric Rock
Listen [1] [2] [3]

I have explained here how close to the core of my heart this stuff resides. Majestic music and one of the best concept albums ever. Oh, and look at this picture.

5. I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness - Dust
Genre: Indie Rock / Post-Punk

I had completely forgotten about this band and didn't know about a new record. I used to give them often and several spins some years ago and the new album turns out to be even better than their early material.

4. Bob Mould - Beauty and Ruin
Genre: Alternative Rock

A veteran rocker that jams with more heart than most artists in his area today. I get a feel like Bob Mould is an unsung hero but anyway. Flawless album, all tracks great.

3. Musk Ox - Woodfall
Genre: Chamber Folk

Came around listening to this after a suggestion from Don Anderson of Agalloch and it turns out to be magnificent. This band has classical guitars, violins, cellos and it is the definition of beauty.

2. Lethe - When Dreams Become Nightmares
Genre: Avantgarde / Electronic / Trip-Hop

When Dreams Become Nightmares might be the first record I listened for 2014 and by then I knew it would be a good year. Lethe is a project of Tor-Helge Skei from Manes and Anna Murphy, who sings in Eluveitie. The two musicians created an album beyond reckoning. Anna's ethereal vocals fill your lungs with euphoria and the smart electronic compositions of the duo are pure awesomeness. Recommended for every person on the planet.

1. Villagers of Ioannina City - Riza
Genre: Stoner / Folk Rock [Ηπειρόκ]

This band has attracted huge attention within the borders of the country. Even if you don't understand Greek, ckeck out Riza for it has a truly addictive sound. Villagers of Ioannina City took traditional Greek songs and fused them with strong Tool elements and traditional instruments, it seems like it is the recipe to success.

Dec 18, 2014

Arson Awards 2014: Top 12 EPs

I know I've been around here a lot less than I used to, but I'll keep coming back every year for this shit, for sure. I've moved my reviewing thoughts and general music updating to a webzine named Metal Invader, and that might explain something. Anyway, off we go!

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12. Baths - Ocean Death
Genre: Minimal / Electronica / Glitch

11. Mormoan - Empyreal Wisdom
 Genre: Funeral Ambient / Dungeon Synth

10. Trepalium - Voodoo Moonshine
Genre: Swing Death Metal / Jazz

9. Mournful Congregation - Concrescence of the Sophia
Genre: Funeral Doom Metal

8. Vermin Womb - Permanence
Genre: Grindcore / Death Metal

7. Kever - Eon of Cycling Death
Genre: Death Metal

6. Vuyvr - Incinerated Gods
Genre: Black Metal

5. Satariel - White Ink: Chapter 1
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

4. Inter Arma - The Cavern
Genre: Black Metal / Sludge / Post-Metal

3. Svartidauði - The Synthesis of Whore and Beast
Genre: Black Metal

2. Worsen - Blood
Genre: Black Metal

1. Skelethal - Deathmanicvs Revelation
Genre: Old School Death Metal

Nov 2, 2014

Doombringer - The Grand Sabbath (2014)

Origin: Poland
Genre: Black / Death Metal
Label: Nuclear War Now! Productions

Ever since listening their demo Abhorrent Dreams of the End in 2010, I patiently waited for a full work because it was and is among my favourite demos of the recent years. It seems and sounds like I am going to be all over it for some time, new scars have been carved for this year's lists for sure. Side project of Cultes des Ghoules / Bestial Raids members!

Oct 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Latest releases:

Nightbringer - Ego Dominus Tuus [Listen]
Winterfylleth - The Divination of Antiquity [Listen]
Darkspace - Dark Space III I [Listen]
Mare Cognitum - Phobos Monolith [Listen]
Inter Arma - Sky Burial [Listen]
Young And In The Way - When Life Comes To Death [Listen]
Horsehunter - Caged In Flesh [Listen]
Obituary - Inked In Blood [Listen]
1349 - Massive Cauldron of Chaos [Listen]
Bastard Sapling - Instinct Is Forever [Listen]
Occultation - Silence In The Ancestral House [Listen]
Ascension - Deathless Light [Listen]
Energumen - Void Spiritualism [Listen]
Den Saakaldte - Faen i Helvete [Listen]
Sempiternal Dusk - Sempiternal Dusk [Listen]
Under the Church - Under the Church [Listen]
Heresiarch - Wælwulf [Listen]

Which classic albums should I listen today?

* Epicus Doomicus Metallicus by Candlemass
* Them by King Diamond
* Season of the Dead by Necrophagia
* Dark Medieval Times by Satyricon
* Blood Fire Death by Bathory

Which classic horror films should I watch?

* Inferno (1980)
* Black Sunday (1960)
* Hellraiser (1987)
* Carnival of Souls (1962)
* Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Which Arson Café reviews should I read?

* Ravencult - Morbid Blood (2011)
* Warbringer - War Without End (2008)
* Abigor - Fractal Possession (2007)
* Nordor - Erga Omnes (2012)
* Gorgoroth - Pentagram (1994)


And don't forget to listen to the end of this world:

Oct 11, 2014

How to go to shows alone

Casually lean against walls.

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Stand in the front row during sets so at least you feel involved enough in the sense that you are actually really 'seeing' the bands. Also,  you can pay close attention to the bands and try to learn something by watching people play.

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Involve yourself in something pocket-sized between sets (small book, notebook, calendar, flyers etc...)

***

Read everything on the walls around you. If you act interested, you might find that it actually is really interesting.

***

Send a couple of funny texts to friends from out of town about your bleak social life or make a couple of phone calls between sets. BUT it's important not to be on your phone too much because you want to remain present (otherwise, what's the point?)

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To strike up brief conversation with neighbors, ask: "What band is this / is next?" or "did ____ already play?" etc.

***

Remind yourself to stand tall, convince yourself via internal monologues to feel proud and dignified in the fact that despite loneliness and social anxiety, you are doing good things with your time and you are at a show for the music, a.k.a. the most important reason. Plus, you are brave and strong and loners are mysterious anyway and maybe someone has a crush on you or wants to be your friend because they keep seeing you at every show and they are starting to wonder about you.

Source: Here (THANK YOU)

Jul 21, 2014

Mortals - Cursed to See the Future (2014)

Album | Cursed to See the Future
Country | United States
Genre | Sludge / Crust / Black Metal
Label | Relapse Records

Coming from New York, the all-female trio Mortals release their second full length record Cursed to See the Future under the Aegis of Relapse Records, which is also the first release of the band through a certain label (all their previous records were self-released). One can't say Relapse hasn't proven itself exemplary these years and here is another valuable newcomer band they found and promoted, as this record fuses the unconventional parts of sludge and black metal naturally and perfectly as they are.

The tracks of the record range from four to nine and a half minutes and clock up to fourty seven minutes in total, making Cursed to See the Future the longest and most important release of the band so far. The production here is very clean and pleasant, giving the distorted guitars and the vocals a bit higher attention into a direct and full sound. The album carries a unique essence when it comes to it's content, flowing perfectly as it progresses and constantly offering divergent moments as well as memorable parts.

Mortals grew from a metal / punk outfit to sludge / hardcore and now something like blackened sludge and their earlier steps still have a spot in their music. There are plenty of hardcore and sludge elements in Cursed to See the Future, mainly in the prolific and distinct riffs of the tracks that are aimed to bulldoze the listener with their heaviness, as one of the finest characteristics of the record. The guitars sculpt the characteristic sound of the record and the switching of lines is so natural as if it was meant to be, a truly remarkable effort compiled of a bunch of amazing riffs, not a poor one included.

The turn towards black metal is also apparent in the album, unfolding during it's very first moments in the opening track “View from the Tower”, which also serves as a first taste of the devastation the album causes. There are sparse moments and sparse riffs inside the various guitar melodies, while “Series of Decay” is a composition strongly into the black metal temperament. Mortals have a gift in creating solid compositions the same way as the all powerful Darkthrone and that's what makes this record so easy listening and organic.

Apart from the guitars, another amazing point of the record is the screams of the vocalist, high pitched screams moving between black metal and crust, they are accurate and legit through the whole album. Mortals did a great job with Cursed to See the Future, which has elements of various genres very well mixed together. 

DAMAGE: [8.5/10]

Jun 27, 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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Jun 22, 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]

Jun 20, 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]

Jun 17, 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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Jun 14, 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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Jun 11, 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]

Jun 9, 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]

Jun 7, 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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Jun 2, 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]

May 31, 2014

Disma & Winterwolf - Split (2011)

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

Seeing these two bands combined in one release was something to be excited about, since I really like them both and have material they have released. This split was released in 2011, making it the second official release of Disma after their successful demo "The Vault of Membros", and the last release of Winterwolf to date. Both bands are regular smashers in the rest of their major releases, but this was something of a hurting failure.

The one and only aspect of the split that absolutely crashes and burns everything around it, is the shitty production. This is some annoying, fuzzy sound that almost steals the bands from their music and leaving nothing but a horrible buzz behind it. The guitars loud and painful to listen to, hardly leaving the rest of the instruments their sound, like the squashed drums and no-bass. I wish it had better production, as the tracks themselves are not that fucked up.

Each band offers one track in the split, and Disma's side with has " Of a Past Forlorn" which was included in their record Towards the Megalith, so there is no need for you to damage yourself with this version. Winterwolf have a new song "Eaters of the Cross" which is hard to appreciate under such circumstances, even though I can definitely say Cycle of the Werewolf is what you need to hear if you want to know this band.

All in all, this is a rather worthless release that happened just for the sake of happening. My view of each band is not any lower than it was before listening, since I know they are both good bands, but hell this here is not at all good. Solid bands of retro death metal with great material on their backs, both of them, yet I suggest you turn otherway here. At least the cover is cool.

DAMAGE: [2.5/10]

Disma - The Vault of Membros (2009) [Demo]

Origin: New Jersey, US
Genre: Death Metal
Album: The Vault of Membros
Label: Independent

I found out about Disma from their full length in 2011 and it was the reason I decided to search more about this band, and the fact that it seemed like my ears enjoyed apocalyptic, unearthly death metal even more than it's straightforward form. The band's debut release is this demo and it was released in 2009, containing three tracks and seventeen minutes of music in total.

The band's sound is thick, heavy and agressive in a way that not many bands achieve, giving away the feeling of bands like Dead Congregation and Funebrarum. Despite being a demo, it has a fairly legit production and the sound is drilling into the ears, bleeding it's way to pleasure as the first riffs unfold in "Lost in the Burial Fog", all great signs for a newcomer band that it was back then.

Getting drawn in their atmosphere, each track has plenty of deep melodies, with the touches of doom / death present at times (i.e. in the second track "The Vault of Membros" which also has an awesome bass introduction) that of course remind a darker side of Autopsy, while the changes are accurate and the musicianship is quite solid, with breathing growls, blasting drums and powerful riffs, as well as a couple of solos.

Disma show their intentions right away it they're not to impress with technicality or win a fanbase of the modern sound. They play a kind of spotless old school death metal, which should have made the anticipation of their massive Towards the Megalith hard enough. All three tracks would be used in the full length and the band stated their place with confidence after this really good demo.

DAMAGE: [8.25/10]

May 5, 2014

Spectral Lore - III (2014)

Album | III
Country | Greece
Genre | Ambient / Atmospheric Black Metal
Label | I, Voidhanger Records

| In my dreamland, I am strong and unbending |

Spectral Lore is rightly of the best current projects in Greece, having a nearly decade-long, quiet and remote path with more than notable releases to date. This project of Ayloss is moving in strong atmospheric waves that inspires dreaming and thinking, making his music a fairytale, even spiritualistic. III is the fourth full album of Spectral Lore and approaching close to a half hour in length, divided into two chapters , making it as the longest album so far .

The skills and the talent of Ayloss can be appreciated if one has heard older material of the band, as well as if one is really in the style of bands like the Swiss Darkspace. With this new record, new principles are based in atmospheric black metal, coming from the combination of musical elements executed naturally and accurately, provoking all the feelings of the listener in it's duration. Where other bands tend to get tiring with one-hour releases, Spectral Lore show the comfort they have with their lengthy compositions and leave III to flow perfectly.

The disc begins with an intense riff in the introduction of "Omphalos", which transmits the necessary "blackness" from the first seconds. However, the songs here often change style, going into more epic or rejuvenating post-black lines, as in parts of "The Cold March To Eternal Bright" and "A Rider In The Lands Of An Infinite Dreamscape". The two instrumental tracks they also have their own personality, with the first "Drifting Through Moss and Ancient Stone", having classical acoustic guitar parts and even reminding of acoustic rock at the beginning, while the outro "Cosmic Significance" being a very beautiful piece of minimalistic ambient.

The variety in the vocals on each track , which draw influences from many different genres. There is a balance between screams, growling and measured clean vocals, offering the rest of the orchestration more strength and morale. The ambient and synth parts of the album play an important role in the atmosphere of the album, having a medieval connotation in some moments. The unique sound of Spectral Lore expands the horizons of the entire genre and the aural experience of III as a whole, is certainly worthy of praise . This album is innovative, interesting and staggering when it needs to be, undoubtedly the best offer so far.

| Bandcamp | Last.fm | MI |

May 1, 2014

Idolist - Lord of the Heavenly Dwelling (2014)

Artist: Idolist
Origin: Iowa, US
Genre: Black Metal / Ambient
Album: Lord of the Heavenly Dwelling
Year: 2014
Label: Transpiritus Records

1. Lord of The Heavenly Dwelling
2. Spiritus Sancti
3. Warmth
4. Neglection


Really cool album that comes in a really neat tape package, get your hands on this.

Apr 18, 2014

Woman Is The Earth - Depths (2014)

Album | Depths
Country | United States
Genre | Atmospheric Black Metal
Label | Init Records

Supporting the all growing US / Canadian scene of atmospheric black metal, Woman Is The Earth offer their third full length album to date as a follow up to 2012's This Place That Contains My Spirit. As the genre has a certain bit of twisted, natural romance, this album also contains a dark and enigmatic cover behind a thought provoking band name, fitting perfectly to it's territory. At first, I was surprised that this is a full length release, as it only lasts twenty four minutes, which is rather short and strange for such records.

For those into the atmospheric black metal sound, Woman Is The Earth sound exactly like what you expect them to, almost identical to older, influential bands. They don't hesitate to get on into the main body of the record with "Crown & Bone / Dreamer", which is interesting but simplistic and limited. It has an average effect to the listener, coming from it's deep atmosphere and repetitive guitar riffs, covering the whole compositional palette with their and murky sound. The drums are decent, if not a little loud and there are typica whispering screams above everything, maintaining one every day atmospheric black metal record.

There are clean acoustic parts scattered in between the tracks, as well as in the second "Lifted" which is sort of an instrumental built on melodic riffs and distortion-less lines. I wouldn't mind an interlude in the record if there was more music in general, as in that case it is placed between the only two songs of the album, which would be perfect for and EP but not a full album. Apart from that, I would say it's also musically indifferent, having few interesting points as it is.

The last track "Child of Sky" undergoes the same pattern, only including a clean voice chanting introduction, also clocking up to nine minutes. The musicianship of the record is somehow limited to the basics but legit in composing, still I would prefer to listen to more from this in quantity instead of quality. Depths has an accurate structure, bonding each of the tracks together for the changes to sound more natural, as well as making them flow more easily. A pale synth can be listened behind the rest of the instrumentation in the whole album, as if it is it's background basis, helping a lot to the atmosphere.

Depths is not the worst atmospheric black metal album I have ever heard, yet I don't think it has any new elements to give out, at least to people already into bands like Wolves in the Throne Room and Xasthur. Moreover, it's not really a full length as it states, as it only has material for an EP, despite the fact that the previous releases of the band were significantly longer, as they should. I enjoyed the first and last track because I like this genre, but I don't think this is anything glorious after all.

DAMAGE: 6.25/10

Apr 14, 2014

Daemon (Bru) - Hellstorm (1992) [Demo]

Album | Hellstorm [Demo]
Country | Brunei
Genre | Death Metal
Label | Self-released

This band comes from Brunei, which was part of England until 1984, before becoming an independent country. Named Daemon, they released two demos in the beginning of the nineties and then split up, which was a wise decision if one is to judge from this really bad demo. Hellstorm was self-released and included six compositions, lasting only fourteen minutes in total.

The band is historically important, since it's one of the first extreme metal bands out of Brunei. The influences from Deicide are obvious, especially in the anti-religious / satanic lyrical themes, if not the music itself. Despite that, I can't say I listened to something even close to a mediocre demo, being completely dreadful from start to finish.

Opening with the ultra famous melody of the intro "Resurrection", the awful sound starts with the first track "Fester the Souls". All the instruments sound extremely noisy and horrible, with various recording mistakes, distant sound and overall shitty production. I doubt these dudes spent a minute more in the mixing sessions, after just recording the rehearsals a tape recorder. Even if the music was good, it would be impossible to enjoy with such false sound.

Apart from the production, the band lacks identity in the compositional part as well. From what I managed to hear, there are repetitive riffs, typical worn out growls and poor, boring drum lines. There are not even a couple of moments  for anything to appear a little higher than the average flood, making Hellstorm more like being a shitstorm for the listener. For DIY bands of that time, it is understood, but still it's an atrocious result.

It's obvious that Daemon did nothing right with their puberty back then, especially with their musical attempts. The only thing I enjoyed in this demo were the intro and outro, which are instrumental samples / recordings taken from other famous pieces instead of the band itself. I doubt anyone out there would enjoy listening to this demo, except if you are a member of the band and just remember the fun you had making it.

DAMAGE: 0.25/10

Apr 13, 2014

Epitome (Pol) - Engulf the Decrepitude (1994) [Demo]

Album | Engulf the Decrepitude [Demo]
Country | Poland
Genre | Death Metal / Grindcore
Label | Guzzler

| Incarnated of morbidity |

The very first release by the death metal / grindcore band Epitome came out in 1994 with a title of Engulf the Decrepitude, and it's the only one that doesn't emphasize the word "rot", as one might quickly notice looking at their discography. These guys have been active since the beginning of the nineties and there is a new album coming out this year, meaning that they have been around for a long time.

For a first demo, this one has a rather below average production, without being completely bad. The songs display a standard and somehow simplistic form of death metal, based on a couple of riffs and repetitive fast drums. It's not anything overwhelming and it doesn't achieve much as a whole, even though under the perfect circumstances, it would be considered as solid. Epitome don't overcome the basic level of techicality and variety either, meaning it's just a typical demo.

Straying from the regular death metal vocals, there are a lot of grunts and guttural vocals here, as well as a couple of weird screams / yells at various points. It's the one thing that makes it a little more unusual than one might guess, yet they are not always done in absolute perfection. Listening to Engulf the Decrepitude, I hear an immature band with a few musicianship problems, trying it's luck for the first time.

While the tracks are repetitive, the sixteen minutes of music that can be found here are tight as a whole. Epitome play a little imperfect and dull, showing their low playing level for a first demo. Yet, since the band has a whole discography after all these years, it's possible that they have improved and moved forward as a band. Once I listen to the rest of their stuff, I'll know.

DAMAGE: 4/10