Sunday, September 25, 2022

Aura Mortis - Aion Teleos Review

It's been almost a decade that Aura Mortis have been active and it's just now that we get our hands on the band's debut full length album Aion Teleos, two years after they released Tractates of Initiation, a compilation of all their early material from the 10's. Their first complete statement features seven songs and 38 minutes of music, it's pretty clearly well made and with a composed direction. I hear several influences from orthodox black metal, fast paced Scandinavian structures, occult lyrical themes and plenty of fire in the songs of Aion Teleos, which initiates and moves on at this certain territory. The vocals are also wonderful and the tracks have nice changes, nice guitar work and several fairly memorable moments: "A Dove In Shackles" is an overall great piece, "Towards True Providence" is quite powerful and wonderful melodies unravel in "Mirroring the Maladies", which had me thinking that this band is also quite well expressed in terms of lyrical content. There are some moments of minimal dark ambient / noise passages, like the introduction "The All-Shrine" and the middle part of the longest track "In Being Engraved", which add a bit to the flow and don't disturb the otherwise straightforward black metal palette of the band. The presented approach has all the needed elements at a decent level, and Aura Mortis finally put a whole album together, that hopefully will generate some more friction. There is not much to complain about in Aion Teleos, which is quite solid release and representative of the current state of black metal in its traditional form, and if it doesn't totally win you over, it will definitely at least make its case for the time it lasts. It has a fine production, great tracks and of course, a wonderful cover art! [3.5/5 - Great]

Origin: Serbia
Label: Schattenkult Produktionen
Release date: 04.09.2022
Listen: Bandcamp

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Bones - Sombre Opulence Review

After a series of really well-marked mini albums and after a decade of activity, the debut full length album of Belgian band Bones is finally here and it weighs well. Deeply rooted old school death metal, Sombre Opulence channels forces a la early Morbid Angel, with a continuous streak of scourging riffs, explosive solos and heavy growls through its organic production. The record is technical enough but doesn't overdo it, its thick sound and interesting twists and turns of the compositions make it rather interesting to listen to and totally enjoyable for what it is, as if you still know what you're going to listen to but keep getting surprised by how well and by the quality of the ideas. Most of the tracks run up to three or four minutes, and they are pumped with energy and anger as Bones and this genre is characterised by. Still, there are two pieces that run quite longer and they are both brilliant: "Deserts of Eternity" and "Great Altars of Ascension", where Bones exert pressure through sometimes slower or middle paced lines and by putting even more emphasis to soloing and a bit of groove, before jumping into high speed madness again. The only more quiet but still ominous moment in Sombre Opulence is its two minute interlude "Withering", which could have also worked as a nice introduction for the album and leaving the rest of the material compact, but there's full mode chaos before and after that. Tracks like "Execration Rites", "Primordial Idolatry" or "Composite Deities" are just a treat to listen to, while the closing track "Formulas of Condemnation" leaves the place in pieces. Sombre Opulence is a fine crafted old school death metal record, excessively offering great ideas and what the fans would love the most: unadulterated brutality. Bones showed positive hints up to this point and they not simply continue on the right track, but they have put together one of the best death metal releases of the year. [4/5 - Excellent]

Origin: Belgium
Label: Invictus Records
Release date: 09.09.2022
Listen: Bandcamp

Thursday, September 08, 2022

Vermin Womb - Retaliation Review

It's been six years since Vermin Womb's relatively decent but undeniably heavy debut Decline, and the band has returned with a vengeance in 2022 with an equally smashing work. Retaliation clocks at just 18 minutes (shorter than before), and takes no breaks, as all weapons in their arsenal are thrown at once from the first second. I am not sure if such approach has been more and more common among new bands that attempt extremity in their sound the last few years, or that I have been oblivious before, yet there's nothing less than non-stop hammering of violent riffs, ugly growls and background noise throughout the whole of Retaliation, which feels like the tree trunk feels when going through the wood chipper. Once you dig behind the aural malevolence, the guitar work is not groundbreaking, consisting of simplistic black / death / war metal lines, sometimes in irregular timestamps, the vocals - while brutal enough - barely change and the drums sometimes miss out, which clears out a tactic followed in Retaliation, the use of the production. The aim of this work is to create a thick layer of fast, uncomfortable and stressing music, making it more of a texture rather than a set of compositional undulations, and that's why the record can often sound a bit flat or indifferent if you look at it closely. I understand Vermin Womb have clear goals in their mind and negativity blisters everywhere in the essence of their work, which should go hand in hand with the material itself, yet I would have seriously prefered more insight in terms of musicianship. That being said, Retaliation has everything to be praised by fans of this extreme style, but do a test for yourself: play the tracks in shuffle and then see if you can tell one from the other. Nevertheless, the band's latest work keeps it up and is a solid effort that is worth listening, but if you enjoy it, then maybe you missed the point. [3/5 - Good]

Origin: United States
Label: Closed Casket Activities
Release date: 02.09.2022
Listen: Bandcamp

Sunday, September 04, 2022

Necrohell - Ravishing Funerals Review

For some bands, time is frozen at a specific moment in the past. While Ungod is a pretty active individual in the Greek underground scene, with projects and an independent label, he is always punctual with a new Necrohell record every four to five years, maintaining an audience through a network with a chosen direction, instead of complete promotion everywhere with a hope of as much listens as possible. That's why I almost tend to miss their new albums, yet it's always one that I will go through when I get the chance. With Ravishing Funerals, you should immediately know what you're getting with half a glance, but there are a number of points that I enjoyed more this time than the average Necrohell albums. Yes, it's pure second wave black metal with strong Norwegian influences and early Darkthrone written all over it, both in the aesthetics, in the titles and the compositions. The production is a major plus this time, as it provides great sound for all instruments and especially the bass, the tracks levitate between melodic and more melancholic parts, with a lot of tremolo picking and of course, as characteristic vocals as you can imagine (including a handful of moments with cleans). There's nothing new introduced in Ravishing Funerals, as it serves its only purpose decently: being a solid black metal record made more from fans of the genre than musical visionaries. All the tunes are enjoyable (with some nice highlights in the flow of "A Grave in the Vast Forest") and it is clearly aimed for people who enjoy black metal rather than experimentation or new twists in the existing, well-known formulas. There is overall better material in Ravishing Funerals than older Necrohell albums, some of which were more prone to dullness, yet this time Ungod hit a good one. Again, you are not going to be surprised and you shouldn't be. The album doesn't fall flat despite its predictability, while still being extremely defined within certain borders. [3/5 - Good]

Origin: Greece
Label: Christhunt Productions
Release date: February 27th, 2022
Listen: Youtube