Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Albums of the Year 2023

It’s always the case that this procedure tends to seem easier than what it eventually is. All the preparations throughout the year, all the careful archiving of listens and albums from the first day, does not reduce the perfectionist’s angst for a conclusive round-up of the 12 months that just passed by. Or smashed through. I have to admit that keeping up with this, at this speed and at all the different directions it takes, becomes harder and harder the same way it’s more and more of an effort to stay up all night when you get older. I’m probably slowly turning into the aged grumpy man, sticking to a few favorite classics, and shaming all the youngsters and their non-knowledge.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Top 15 Greek metal albums of 2023

15. Wothrosch: Odium | Hammerheart Records
14. Διχόνοια: Στη Γκρίζα Πολιτεία | Self-released
13. Thromvosis: Proclamation of the Smegmatic Warcult | Self-released
12. Heretic Cult Redeemer: Flagellum Universalis | III Damnation Productions
11. Apovrasma: Archid​é​mon | Self-released 
10. Deviser: Evil Summons Evil | Hammerheart Records
9. Head Cleaner: The Extreme Sound of Truth |
8. Allochiria: Commotion | Venerate Industries
7. Thlipsis: Dawn of Defiance | Floga Records
6. Menace: Open Fire | Razorbleed Productions
5. Drakon Ho Megas: Έλευσις Αντίχριστου | Floga Records
4. Συντρίμμια: Repulsive Inexpression | Self-released
3. Varathron: The Crimson Temple | Agonia Records
2. Auriferous Flame: Ardor for Black Mastery | True Cult Records
1. Thy Darkened Shade: Liber Lvcifer II: Mahapralaya
World Terror Committee Productions

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Top 15 split releases of 2023

15. Arallu & The True Werwolf: Arallu / The True Werwolf | Israel / Germany, Narbentage Produktionen
14. Fistula & Contaminated: Apex C.H.U.D. / Nigromancer | United States / Australia, Blood Harvest
13. Dead and Dripping & Prophecy of Suffering: Dead and Dripping / Prophecy of Suffering | United States, Lord of the Sick Recordings
12. Mortuary Ghoul & Blood Rage: Horror Worshipping Death | United States / Wales, 
Frozen Screams Imprint
11. Disillumination & Temple of Nihil & Angr: Ex Mundi Ad Nihil - Gnosis of the Unbeing | Russia / Russia / International, Self-released
10. Feral & Crawl: Made as Those Who Are No Longer Alive | Sweden / Sweden, 
Transcending Obscurity Records
9. Grabunhold & Circle of Shadows: Lamentationen | Germany / Austria, Iron Bonehead Productions
8. Azaghal & Black Faith: Immortalized in Luciferian Blood | Finland / Italy, Nero Corvino
7. Galvanizer & Morbific: Galvanizer / Morbific | Finland / Finland, Iron Corpse
6. Gormanudr & Hergandrom: Morbid Sorcery Under the Battle Moon | International / International, Narbentage Produktionen
5. Ancestors Blood & Heimdalls Wacht: Ancestors Blood / Heimdalls Wacht | Finland / Germany, Heidens Hart
4. Worm & Dream Unending: Starpath | United States / International, 20 Buck Spin
3. Heretic Cult Redeemer / Svartulven: Path of the Undead Ichor | Greece / Greece, Self-released
2. Undergang & Spectral Voice: Undergang / Spectral Voice | Denmark / United States, Dark Descent Records
1. Nefarious Spirit & Herald: The Omniversal Pulse | Greece / Greece, Death’s Ovations

Monday, December 11, 2023

Top 15 compilations of 2023

15. Execration: Excreted Guts | United States, Doomed to Obscurity Records
14. Blinding Sun: A Parade of Horribles | United States, A Parade of Horribles
13. Celestial Bloodshed: Blood Stained Evocations | Norway, Death Revelations
12. Funebre: Demo Tapes 1989-1990 | Finland, Morbid Cellar Records
11. Pestilength: Paragon of Necrotic Origins | Spain, Self-released
10. Putridarium: An Exploration of Burial Perversions | Germany, Headsplit Records
9. Attack: Human Souls | Czech Republic, Darker than Darkness Records
8. Torture Rack: Pit of Mutilation | United States, Headsplit Records
7. Sorcier des Glaces: Sous La Lune Noire | Canada, Osmose Productions
6. Kêres: Black for Blood / On Virgin Wasteland / Traitor's Mask | Finland, Satanik Requiem
5. Carnal Dissection: Complete Discography | United States, CDN Records
4. Hacavitz: Jun K'aal Xiutin | Mexico, Anti-Human Productions
3. Wombbath: Brutal Mights / Several Shapes | Sweden, Old Skull Productions
2. Immortal: The Northern Upir's Death | Norway, Darkness Shall Rise Productions
1. Morta Skuld: Nascency of the Prolific | United States, Sewer Rot Records

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Top 15 EPs of 2023

15. Anéanti: Poison - Les formules diaboliques | Belgium, Death Prayer Records
14. Luxmori: Luxmori | Finland, Self-released
13. Undegang: De syv stadier af ford​æ​rv | Denmark, Me Saco un Ojo Records
12. Cave Moth: Paralytic Love | United States, Self-released
11. Wolves in the Throne Room: Crypts of Ancestral Knowledge | United States, Relapse Records
10. Aeon Furnace: Providence Desends | Finland, Ancien Culte
9. Mortual: Evil Incarnation | Costa Rica, Nuclear Winter Records
8. Hate Forest: Sowing with Salt | Ukraine, Osmose Productions
7. Ascendency: A Manifest of Imperious Destiny | Denmark, Me Saco un Ojo Records
6. Xibalba Itzaes: Under the Pyramids | Mexico, Self-released
5. Carcinoid: Encomium to Extinction | Australia, Me Saco un Ojo Records
4. Fluisteraars: De kronieken van het verdwenen kasteel - II - Nergena | Netherlands, Eisenwald
3. Hyperdontia: Deranged | Denmark, Me Saco un Ojo Records
2. Melissa: II | United States, Self-released
1. Spectral Lore: 11 Days | Greece, Self-released 

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Notes and echoes - November 23

The night unfolded in a cloak of shadows as he trudged along the dimly lit alleyways, his footsteps echoing the percussive beats of the underworld he adored. The streetlights flickered, but his eyes burned with the fire of a thousand broken sigils. His thoughts, a tempest of disdain for the feeble imitations and diluted strains that dared call themselves metal. The leather jacket, worn and adorned with patches of obscure bands, creaked in tandem with his determined pace.

Arriving home, he entered a realm that echoed his soul: a sanctuary where the air was thick with the musty scent of aged vinyl. The room, a catacomb of sonic relics, housed a dusty desk beneath a flickering bulb. With the precision of a ritualist, he carefully selected vinyl from his sacred collection, the ones that spoke the language of ugliness, of unyielding brutality. The turntable whirred to life as he lowered the needle onto the grooves, each pop and crackle a prelude to the impending sonic onslaught. 

And the needle dropped.


  • Aeon Winds - Night Sky Illuminations (2023)

Quite synth-loaded, aiming for a symphonic / atmospheric black metal template. Okay until some dull guitar solos appear here and there. Aims for epicness but only half-delivers. [3 out of 5]

  • Anal Stabwound - Reality Drips into the Mouth of Indifference (2022)

Creative song writing, but all over the place. I don't feel the brutality sometimes. [3 out of 5 - Good]

  • Ceremonial Bloodbath - Genesis of Malignant Entropy (2023)

You have to try a lot more if you want to sound heavy. [2 out of 5 - Below average]

  • Chaotian - Effigies of Obsolescence (2022)

It's how things should be. [4 out of 5 - Excellent]

  • Galvanizer - Sanguine Vigil (2019)

This band should have been found way earlier. Deathgrind worshippers dripping with the traditional sound of early Carcass, General Surgery, Sadistic Noise, all in a blender. [3.5 out of 5 - Great]

  • Imprecation - In Nomine Diaboli (2022)

Ugly and brutal. Constantly improving band for the last decade. Production slightly too clean here, but it's fine. [3.5 out of 5 - Great]

  • Minenwerfer - Nihilistischen (2012)

The only bad thing here is the damaged drum sound. Hostility and aggression flows through it nonetheless. Great band. [3.5 out of 5 - Great]

  • Precambrian - Tectonics (2020)

Covered it when it was released, it still slams. Avanalche album from start to finish. [4.5 out of 5 - Brilliant]

  • Stabbing - Extirpated Mortal Process (2022)

Plastic sound, and deplorable cover art. Some tracks are decent, and their newest demo is promising. Not this though. [2.5 out of 5 - Average]

  • Ymir - Ymir (2020)

Raw-ish black metal, with some atmospheric elements. However, extremely standard and predictable. [2.5 out of 5 - Average]

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Amorphous transmutations - Interview with Cryptworm

A lot of stench thrives in the underground death metal scene, if you're willing to get your hands dirty. Cryptworm's their first steps in 2017 with a potent demo were already promising. After a handful of mini releases for a few years, the band released its debut in 2022 named Spewing Mefitic Putridity, a delectable dose of 90's death metal and filth. Mainman Tibor had a short conversation with A.C. about the status of the band the exciting news for the near future.

Saturday, October 07, 2023

Our struggle reflects hope - Interview with Thlipsis

Thlipsis (from the word θλίψις, meaning sadness) is a relatively new name in the underground scene but its band members are no rookies. After a formidable short EP in 2021, the project's debut full length Dawn of Defiance came out just some weeks ago and constitutes one of the best Greek black metal releases of the year so far. Pumped with scourging melodies, fantastic musicianship and an intimidating presence, the record is worth your time both sound-wise and lyric-wise. The band discussed with Arson Cafe topics around its release, ideology and current status.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Gam - Alt Hans Væsen

Black metal from Denmark.
Album out in 2023 through Den Ottende Kunst.
From the Rites of Pestilence Y.T. channel:
Gam's fiery debut full-length, arriving oen year after their first demo, "Hvisken fra Skyggernes Vrå".

Despite the greatness of their demo, "Alt Hans Væsen" is truly a triumph and step up from their previous work, indeed and "escalation on all fronts", this album takes on the old school approach of their previous record, reminiscing to me with bands like Helwetti or early DsO, but adds more elements and is definitely heightened by songwriting prowess.

A tremendous hymn of pagan fury and proudful heritage, Gam honors their ancestry through a no-fringes delivery of pure old school BM sound, definitely with some of the more Punk-ish, galloping elements of their compatriots in Skinliv and the Korpsand circle however. The Black Metal majesty is only interrupted by beautiful Folk passages, but indeed its musicianship is uncanny on all fronts, with the guitarwork remaining ever engaging and powerful, the drums having an absolutely barbaric but spot-on performance, and the vocals especially delivering with full fury on moments of unabashed assault, as well as might and epicness in moments grandeur.

Definitely one of the best old school Black Metal records to come out this year, which should not come as a surprise, having been released on tape through the excellent Den Ottende Kunst.

The A.C. report:

Music: 3.5
Production: 3
Vocals: 3.5
Text: 3
Cover art: 3.5
Originality: 3.5
Instrumentation: 3.5
Atmosphere: 3.5
Flow & cohesion: 3
Impact: 3
Replayability: 3.5
Innovation: 3

Overall: 3.3 out of 5 [Good / Great]

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Ushangvagush - Pestmo'qon

Black metal from the United States.

Album out on September 22nd, 2023 through Realm and Ritual.

From the band's Bandcamp page:

The separation of the human mind and natures spirit has caused the starvation of this planet. The disconnection of earth and mind has destroyed the connection between humans, animals, and plants.
The growth has diminished creating starvation across a planet that is no longer home. The fear of a non-existent future deteriorates the mind, allowing the starvation of the human vessel.

We have reached a point of no return.


Pestmo’qon is the second full-length release from indigenous black metal project Ushangvagush. Composed of a monolithic 45 minute track, Pestmo’qon ( “Starvation” in the Mi’kmaq language) is a dense slab of obsidian darkness lamenting man’s ongoing destruction of the earth and the complete disconnect between the human mind and the spirit of nature.

Ushangvagush’s sole member, D, screams through grit teeth over furious guitars and pummeling drums, “scorch & take, doe, retreat back to the stolen world. the spirits no longer bathe. gatherers flown, fear for nothing. uncertainty awaits the putrid towers.” The raw anger only subsides in momentary waves throughout Pestmo’qon, with the last gasps of beauty fading in sun-laced ambient passages before being snuffed out and returning to bitter misery. Pestmo’qon is a painfully realized album, an immersive and emotive journey through destruction and loss–of nature and of culture–to the end of all things.

The A.C. report:

Music: 4
Production: 4
Vocals: 3.5
Text: 3.5
Cover art: 4.5
Originality: 4
Instrumentation: 4
Atmosphere: 4
Flow & cohesion: 3.5
Impact: 3.5
Replayability: 3.5 
Innovation: 3.5

Overall: 3.8 out of 5 [Excellent]

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Thorn - Evergloom

Doom / death metal from the Unites States
Album out on September 15th, 2023 through Transcending Obscurity Records
From the label's Bandcamp page:
Underground death metal heroes Thorn conjure up their third full length which is easily their most mature and immersive one yet. They've elevated their unique style of barbaric old school death metal blended with emotionally-charged atmospheric parts which very few bands are able to pull off convincingly. As if reminiscing about bittersweet memories, the music instinctively oscillates between angry, bludgeoning parts and poignant, wistful tunes. This contrast works beautifully for their kind of doomy death metal music, and even better so on this album which has more pronounced death metal influences along with comparatively more fleshed out structures. Interestingly, the songs on the album start getting more violent after the initial comforting lull, drawing in unsuspecting new listeners and preparing them for the ritualistic slaughter, after which they go back to their dreamlike state, closing with the triumphant title track which perfectly encapsulates their sound. Thorn have come up with a refreshing and fulfilling album that's just as powerful as it's evocative, and one that will be talked about for aeons to come.

FFO: Desecresy, Intestine Baalism, Edge of Sanity, Desultory, Fumes

The A.C. report:

  Music: 3.5
Production: 3
Vocals: 3
Text: 3
Cover art: 3.5
Originality: 3.5
Instrumentation: 3
Atmosphere: 3.5
Flow & cohesion: 3
Impact: 3
Replayability: 3 
Innovation: 3


Overall: 3.2 out of  5 [Good]


Sunday, September 17, 2023

Mortuary Ghoul - Friends with the Dead

Region: Ohio, United States
Genre: Brutal Death Metal

September 2023, Dismal Fate Records

Track listing:
1. Day of Horror 
2. Mummified Ma 
3. Obituary Indication
4. Friends with the Dead
5. Gore Decor
6. Fatal Reminder
7. Farmhouse Decay
8.Wages of Sin
9. Defiler of the Dead
10. Deranged

Strictly for fans of Mortician

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Dvorac - On the Wings of Unknown

Region: Croatia
Genre: Black Metal


1. Descent
2. Black Wall of Sleep
3. When the Moon Brings Light in Darkness
4. Freezing in the Mountain Cave of an Ethereal Being
5. On the Wings of Unknown
6. Pawn King's Thoughts
7. Witch on the Moon

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Ascendency - A Manifest of Imperious Destiny EP

Region: Copenhagen, Denmark
Genre: Black / Death metal


1. The Triumph of Draconian Might [4/5]
2. Victory - In All Its Emphemeral Glory [3/5/5]
3. Domitor Invictus [3.5/5]
4. A Manifest of Imperious Destiny [4/5]


Summer 2023, Me Saco un Ojo Records / Dark Descent Records

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Iskandr - Euprosopon

Region: Nijmegen, Netherlands
Genre: Atmospheric black metal


1. Vlakte [3/5]
2. Regnum [3.5/5]
3. Verban [4/5]
4. Heriwalt [3.5/5]


Autumn 2018, Eisenwald Records

Sunday, July 09, 2023

Serpent Column - Kathodos

Region: United States
Genre: Avantgarde black metal


1. Departure of Splinters [4.5]
2. Kathodos [4.5]
3. Night of Absence [3.5]
4. Dereliction [3.5]
5. Anodos [3.5]
6. Seinsverlassenheit [3.5]
7. Splinters of Departure [4]
8. Wind and Fog [4]
9. Pathlessness [3.5]
10. Offering of Tongues [3.5]
11. Desertification [3]


Autumn 2020, Mystískaos

Tuesday, July 04, 2023

Panopticon - Cedar Skeletons


"This track is from the new album " The Rime of Memory". It features guest vocals by my friend Victor Sanchez and a choir comprised of many of my collaborators ( Andrea from Exulansis, William from Dalla Nebia, and Andy ,whom yall know as the bass player from our live band.) Patrick Urban (Dämmerfarben) wrote and performed Cello, Charlie Anderson returned to collaborate on this album on fiddle, and we had a great time recording and arranging together.

This is being released today because SO many of you wrote the county commissioner to advocate for the continued permit issuing for FIRE IN THE MOUNTAINS...which is one of the best outdoor metal festivals in the world. So thank you so much!
I hope you'll enjoy the song and thank you again.
Pre orders for the album will be coming towards the end of summer, and expect a release right around when the snow returns to northern Minnesota...late fall ...."


Friday, June 30, 2023

Ebony Pendant - Ebony Pendant

Will o' wisps reflecting in the lake
Ephemeral glow ever looming
Across the shimmering pools of time and fate
Until that bright light fades from view



Monday, June 26, 2023

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Helleruin - Devils, Death and Dark Arts

It befalls the night with doom
Now cease the voice that's always there
And behold the moon
The light crying to shine


Sunday, June 11, 2023

Undergang & Spectral Voice - Split

A mute prayer of annihilation
Falls into life, as inward prayer
To expel presence

Craving final impasse
Emancipation from time


Released on June 9th, 2023 through Dark Descent Records

Monday, May 29, 2023

AI answers: Altars of Madness or Scream Bloody Gore?

As the use of AI has skyrocketed this year with all kinds of applications, you can present it with as complicated or as simple answers as you want. Since I am quite simple myself, I am wondering what the machine overlords think about extreme music, and it gets especially interesting when I am requesting a pick between two choices. 

In this case, we are looking into two classic death metal albums from the United States, Altars of Madness by Morbid Angel and Scream Bloody Gore by Death. All words possible have already been written and said about these two releases, but maybe it's time to put the final nail and a verdict to the dilemma. Let's see:

- AC: Which do you think is better, Death's "Scream Bloody Gore" or Morbid Angel's "Altars of Madness"?

- AI: As an AI language model, I don't have personal opinions or preferences. However, both Death's "Scream Bloody Gore" and Morbid Angel's "Altars of Madness" are highly regarded albums within the death metal genre and have had a significant impact on the development of extreme metal music.

"Scream Bloody Gore" is considered a seminal album in death metal history, released in 1987 and recognized for its raw and aggressive sound. It showcased the early sound and songwriting of Death, which contributed to the establishment of death metal as a distinct subgenre.

"Altars of Madness," released in 1989, is often cited as a groundbreaking album that helped define the sound and style of extreme metal. It features Morbid Angel's intense and technically proficient approach to death metal, incorporating elements of thrash and black metal as well.

Both albums have their own unique qualities and have been influential in shaping the death metal genre. The preference between them ultimately comes down to individual musical taste. I would recommend exploring both albums and deciding which one resonates more with your personal preferences and musical interests.

- AC: Let's say you are a music critic and have to pick one for your magazine's column this month. Which one and why?

- AI: As a music critic, if I had to choose one album between Death's "Scream Bloody Gore" and Morbid Angel's "Altars of Madness" for a magazine's column, I would consider the following factors:

Historical Significance: "Scream Bloody Gore" holds a special place in the history of death metal, being one of the pioneering albums in the genre. Its impact on the development and evolution of death metal cannot be understated. This historical significance could make it an intriguing choice for discussion and analysis.

Musical Innovation: "Altars of Madness" pushed the boundaries of extreme metal at the time of its release. It showcased technical prowess, intricate song structures, and a blend of various metal elements. The album's innovative and influential nature could provide ample material for an in-depth analysis.

Overall Impact: Considering the lasting impact on the metal scene and subsequent influence on other bands, both albums have made significant contributions. However, "Altars of Madness" is often regarded as a landmark release that helped shape the extreme metal landscape in a profound way.

Given these factors, if I had to choose one album for the column, I would lean towards Morbid Angel's "Altars of Madness." While both albums are highly influential, "Altars of Madness" stands out for its technicality, genre-blending approach, and the lasting impact it has had on the extreme metal genre. Its complex song structures, aggressive sound, and powerful compositions could provide a rich and captivating subject for a column, appealing to readers who are interested in exploring the evolution of extreme metal music.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Brutal Truth - Need to Control

Need to Control, released in 1994, is the second studio album by American grindcore band Brutal Truth. Known for their extreme sound and uncompromising approach to music, the album remains a landmark in the grindcore genre. Clocking in at just over 30 minutes, Need to Control is a relentless assault of ferocious riffs, blistering drumming, and caustic vocals that showcases the band's technical prowess and unyielding intensity.

From the opening track, "Collapse", Brutal Truth grabs the listener by the throat and refuses to let go. The guitar work of Brent "Gurn" McCarty is furious and dissonant, while the rhythm section of Dan Lilker on bass and Rich Hoak on drums forms an unyielding backbone. The combination of their tight musicianship and raw aggression is awe-inspiring. The album's production is intentionally raw, adding to its raw and primal energy, making it sound like a visceral live performance.

Lyrically, Need to Control delves into a range of societal and personal issues. Tracks like "Displacement", "Choice of a New Generation” and "Judgement" tackle themes such as political corruption, consumerism, and societal decay. Kevin Sharp's vocal delivery is a mix of guttural growls, aggressive shouts, and venomous screams, capturing the frustration and anger that permeate the album's lyrics.

One of the standout tracks on the album is "Godplayer". It opens with a menacing bassline before erupting into a furious frenzy of grinding guitars and relentless drumming. The song perfectly encapsulates the band's unrelenting aggression and showcases their ability to seamlessly shift tempos and incorporate complex rhythms. The guitar solos, though brief, add a touch of melody to the chaotic onslaught, displaying moments of musicality amidst the sonic chaos. The album also includes a cover of The Germs' "Media Blitz." Brutal Truth's rendition injects the song with even more fury and aggression, serving as a nod to the band's punk influences and showcasing their ability to take a classic punk anthem and make it their own.

Need to Control is an unrelenting assault on the senses, and its impact on the grindcore genre cannot be overstated. The album's intense energy, technical proficiency, and politically charged lyrics make it a significant release in the world of extreme music. While its sound may not be for everyone, it remains a testament to the band's uncompromising vision and their refusal to conform to musical norms.

In conclusion, Need to Control is a monumental album that solidifies Brutal Truth's status as pioneers of the grindcore genre. It is an uncompromising and relentless musical statement that pushes the boundaries of extreme music. If you are a fan of abrasive and uncompromising music, Need to Control is an essential listen that will leave you battered and exhilarated. Brace yourself for a sonic onslaught that will test your endurance and push the limits of your musical sensibilities.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Deeds of Flesh - Trading Pieces

Before the modern day studio effect pollution, this is how death metal albums used to sound like. Debut by now legends Deeds of Flesh came out as organic and as thick as they could make it, in about the middle of the best decade ever. 

All instruments sound perfectly organic, it's quite technical, the production is perfect and the drums are way above average. Simple and ugly lyrics throughout, and lot's of tempo changes as well as great guitar riffs.

Good first step for the band, especially after an equally juicy EP a year earlier, Gradually Melted. Trading Pieces can be there for all your death metal cravings. [4/5 - Excellent]

1. Carnivorous Ways
2. Born Then Torn Apart
3. Trading Pieces
4. Hunting Humans
5. Impious Offerings
6. Acid Troops
7. Deeds of Flesh
8. Erected on Stakes
9. Chunks in the Shower
10. Blasted
11. Outro

Autumn 1996, Repulse Records

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Bullet Ratings - May '23

Blood Ceremony - The Old Ways Remain [3.5/5 - Great] 
% good marks here

Cattle Decapitation - Terrasite [3.5/5 - Great] 
% better than Death Atlas, cringe still works in their favour somehow

Drain - Living Proof [2/5 - Bad] 
% is this what kids listen to today instead of thrash metal?

Grave Desecrator - Immundissime Spiritus [3/5 - Good] 
% fine as is

Hasard - Malivore [3.5/5 - Great]
% thick

Impetuous Ritual - Iniquitous Barbarik Synthesis [3/5 - Good]
% 15 years of what's going on

Krallice - Porous Resonant Abyss [3/5 - Good] 
% you'll probably enjoy this

Morkera - Aggravations [4/5 - Excellent] 
% sharp like a venom bite

Nefarious Vermin - Abolition of Tradition [2.5/5 - Average] 
% the definition of average

Sacrilegious Impalement - IV - Infinite Victor [2.5/5 - Average] 
% maybe this is fine, but it's all the same

Sunday, May 07, 2023

Absu - Tara

Arguably great album, as are their previous ones and with a kickass cover as well. It was the turning point before the band stopped its activities for a while, before coming back with their self-titled album in 2009 in a bigger label, Candelight Records. 

With Tara, I have the same problem I always have with Absu, their type of raging playstyle eventually becomes repetitive for me, and gets me tired.

A few tracks here are awesome, like for example "Pillars of Mercy", "From Ancient Times" and the longer one "Stone of Destiny", which features classic King Diamond worship screams.

Still, 52 minutes of this was too much for me. Definitely good, but I could live with half of it. [3/5]

1. Tara
2. Pillars of Mercy
3. A Shield with an Iron Face
4. Manannán
5. The Cognate House of Courtly Witches Lies West of County Meath
6. She Cries the Quiet Lake
7. Yrp Lluyddawc
8. From Ancient Times (Starless Skies Burn to Ash)
9. Four Crossed Wands (Spell 181)
10. Vorago (Spell 182)
11. Bron (Of the Waves)
12. Stone of Destiny (...for Magh Slecht and Ard Righ)
13. Tara (Recapitulation)

Spring 2001, Osmose Productions

Saturday, May 06, 2023

Covenant - In Times Before the Light

Covenant were wise to change their name into The Kovenant to separate the time they were unique and beautiful with the time they went completely off the rails. 

I can't believe they also went on to pick this fine piece of work and slaughter its soul in 2002 with that horrendous re-recording. 

Apart from that, one of the most amazing symphonic black metal albums from Norway and maybe generally, full of memorable tracks and great production exactly to fit its time and the perfect medieval cover. 

Possibly overlooked, it's one of the classics of the late 90's and there's a few more around there that you might have also missed. [4.5/5]

1. Towards the Crown of Nights
2. Dragonstorms
3. The Dark Conquest
4. From the Storm of Shadows
5. Night of the Blackwinds
6. The Chasm
7. Visions of a Lost Kingdom
8. Through the Eyes of the Raven
9. In Times Before the Light
10. Monarch of the Mighty Darkness

Monday, May 01, 2023

Top 5 Greek brutal death metal albums

I consider the Greek brutal death metal scene a relatively secluded little island with a few inhabitants, not really getting bigger or smaller, but still with its own identity and impact on the rest of the world. It’s not nearly as populated as, let’s say, black metal, but some of the bands within, active or not, have reached numerous of the bigger labels dedicated to the genre.

The first and more distinct work in this direction has been, in my opinion, Inveracity’s first demo Defeated Humans Raped in 2000. There were slight hints in the 90’s as well, but never amounted to a full length album, mostly demos like for example Disembowel’s Uncurable Wounds in 1995 (very fuzzy guitars, growls and general feel that reminded of early Suffocation) or the early attempts of Atavism, a goregrind project with heavy sample use and grooves in the likes of Mortician.

Things took real form when Inveracity’s debut full length album Circle of Perversion came out in 2003 through Unmatched Brutality Records (who also handled Brodequin and Cerebral Effusion at the time). At that point, there were some more bands already with mini-releases, like Vulnus, Extreme Violence and Fleshart. Notable is another full record one year earlier than Circle of Perversion, Evade’s Beyond the Logical Patterns of Thought. Not with the traditional brutal death metal topics or visuals, but still fitting if one considers the dusty production, a handful of familiar patterns and the record’s length of mere 17 minutes.

By now, the number of bands with releases during the last decade are enough to conclude that there actually is a brutal death metal scene in Greece. Below are the personal top 5 albums from a pool of around 40 that I am aware of, and hopefully will find out more in the future.

5. Cease of Breeding - Sounds of Disembowelment

2010, Amputated Vein Records

I don’t remember when and where, but it might be the case that I came across Cease of Breeding even before Inveracity, without even knowing there were Greek bands like that. Sounds of Disembowelment sounds exactly like what I expect from such a record. Knuckle-bleeding production, violent and ugly, it feels like watching classic horror on Valentine’s day.

4. Remnants of Flesh - Degenerated Human Cells

2009, Sevared Records

Unfortunately short-lived, Remnants of Flesh had a short EP out in 2007 but it’s this album that basically shows what the band is about. Quite heavy and fast-paced death metal with gory lyrics, some pig squeals and harsh enough sound. Members of the project have been involved also to a few names that will be dropped just below, and later.

3. Abnormal Inhumane - Consuming the Infinity

2016, New Standard Elite

They made their mark with their debut Disgusting Cruelty of Homicide in 2011, and the second album Consuming the Infinity showed how they had progressed. Top-notch musicianship all across, seriously brutal and exploring new lyrical themes of the universe and science fiction.

2. Birth of Depravity - The Coming of the Ineffable

2012, Inherited Suffering Records

Under this name, they have also released an incredibly good album in 2017 named From Obscure Domains, yet I still remember the blast I had the first time I discovered The Coming of the Ineffable 10 years, with the greatness starting from the stunning cover. The record’s serious highlight is also the vocals, and the excellent lyrics.

1. Inveracity - Extermination of Millions

2007, Unique Leader Records

My lists are always one album per band and that’s why Circle of Perversion is not at no. 2, but generally speaking, Inveracity has always been one league ahead in terms of brutal death metal in Greece. Exceptionally technical, excellent flow, extremely heavy, but almost even easy to listen to and with a lot of memorable tracks. Not only a landmark album, but a must mention when it comes to modern extreme metal from the country.

Some unmentioned releases that are also recommended:

  • Aceptic Goitre - The Purging (2017)
  • Blasted Pancreas - Pathogenic Organisms in Blood (2022)
  • Birth Through Gore - The Culmination Conquest (2015)
  • Embryectomy - Flamethrower Ecdysis (2020)
  • Extreme Violence - Ecstasy in Pain (2005)
  • Fleshart - Art Brut EP (2002)
  • Human Rejection - Decrepit to Insanity (2009)
  • Incineration - Blasphemous Theologies (2007)
  • Mortal Torment - Cleaver Redemption (2015)
  • Obscence - Screams of Agony EP (2001)
  • Obscene Evisceration - Despotism of Lust and Death EP (2019)

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Hacavitz - Venganza

Debut album by this still unknown act from Mexico, honoring the classic death / black metal recipe that always works as a test pill for old school freaks to test if the rest of us are posers or not.

Lyrical themes include darkness, evil forces, hatred, also in nahuatl, the native language of their area. Furious riffs, angry attitude, quite good album.

For fans of Morbid Angel and anything underground. 

Track listing:

1. Nightwinds
2. Ultimate Covenant
3. Tsita Ndäte
4. Fathom Thee Eerie
5. Old Rancor
6. Lusting the Dead ov the Nite
7. Venganza
8. Mixtla Miquixtli
9. Lighting Bolts ov Dead
10. Viaje a Mictlan

Monday, April 24, 2023

Perished - Seid

On today's episode of old Norwegian black metal you might have missed even when you thought you had listened to everything, the host's suggestion looks into a lesser known band with not a lot of releases but a hell of a lot of wit. 

Perished from Hommelvik, only put two full length albums out, a couple of demos and a couple of neat EPs, with Seid being the final but most complete work. In the vein of early Enslaved, Gehenna and Hades, there's even distant death metal riffs sometimes and a good dose of folk / pagan parts.

By members of Bloodthorn, Wurdulak, musicians who played in the band later found spots in other bands after Perished broke up, doing live sessions for the likes of Ragnarok and Whoredom Rife

LP re-release of Seid soon on Dusktone, as it has been out of print for about a decade.

Track listing:

1. Storm of Fall Delight
2. Dance of the Elves
3. On Wings of Desire
4. As Water Turns to Ice
5. Forged to Bloodshed
6. Departure of Cosmic Union
7. Untouched by Mortal Life
8. Burning Heart of Ice

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

VoidCeremony - Threads of Unknowing Review

It took me a while to realize that this band is comprised of a few highly skillful and talented individuals, who sometimes do not go down the regularized death metal framework in their musical projects. Having been (and still until now) oblivious of their debut full length album Entropic Reflections Continuum: Dimensional Unravel, released in 2020, I was drawn to this new work initially because of its vividly purple colored front cover (done by Juanjo Castellano). 
With that in mind, one of VoidCeremony's composers is the guitarist also involved in Worm, Atramentus, First Fragment and Chthe'ilist, yet under this name the compositional aspect blows out of proportions when it comes to complexity and technicality. Structures are completely dismantled in Threads of Unknowing, where each track is chopped into a lot of pieces and then all are seemingly glued back together into a random order, yet there lies the splendor of such exceptionally well thought material. Jazz elements luxuriate the album and strongly drive the tracks  towards the baffling orbits that it resides within, resulting in superlative and grossly expressive pieces. 
These playing techniques are especially obvious in the masterful bass work as well as the guitar solos, which feel like the first time one would listen to the solos from Destroy Erase Improve. Main guitar lines squeeze dismal energy from distant sources, like the cutting riff fluidity of Immolation or the procedural temperament of Demilich, as Threads of Unknowing might as well leave the listener starstruck if one does not expect this kind of musicianship from the band. 
Lyric-wise, the record is also quite creative and offers intriguing text to dive into, going great along the vile but harmonious instrumentation. VoidCeremony combines the two aforementioned genres brilliantly, without losing sight neither of the necessary brutality nor the technical playing style, and in a way it clearly sounds as death metal but with a powerful convolution inside jazz, stemming from the band's impressive instrument abilities. 
I would only potentially skip the instrumental piece "At the Periphery of Human Realms (The Immaterial Grave)" in future listens, but interest is replenished by the following, closing and also longest track "Forlorn Portrait: Ruins of an Ageless Slumber", which is spectacular at 11 minutes length. On the other hand, Threads of Unknowing opens with a short and sweet, fantastic track "Threads of Unknowing (The Paradigm of Linearity)", at only 3 minutes, but generally VoidCeremony show that they can create solid tracks under any context. 
While other records try hard to be as heavy as possible, this one provides pure pleasure just by listening to the guys playing, and is additionally quite heavy in the process. There's not much to complain for the album, it is exquisite and of high quality across all aspects, then it falls on personal taste how much to indulge in it.

Out on April 14th, 2023 | 20 Buck Spin

DAMAGE: 4/5 [Excellent]

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Dødheimsgard - Black Medium Current Review

Extraordinary, avantgarde post-modernism undulating between inconceivable boundaries, Norway's Dødheimsgard unveil their latest labyrinthine construction Black Medium Current after the monumental previous work A Umbra Omega from 2015. With terrifically unique musicians and an astonishing trajectory over the last 30 years, the band presents a record that is strongly personal and rightfully so, awfully multi-layered. Expertise and sophistication shines through, it's guaranteed you haven't heard anything like this before except from the band itself and it's one of the cases of a piece that deserves the term "experimental" in a very wholesome manner. 

Black Medium Current clocks at 1 hour and 9 minutes, about the same duration like A Umbra Omega, so it constitutes another hefty chapter in Dødheimsgard’s discography, that needs its time for the dust to settle once a first session is through. Uncommon becomes common with this band’s music, and the listener is trained to not be thrown off balance by anything that comes their way, as it’s a the general order of things that you don’t know what’s around the corner with Black Medium Current. At the same time, the record makes it easier to draw comparisons with other subgenres, something highly unusual for Dødheimsgard

Opening with the highlight “Et Smelter”, which has a handful of different sections that are all wonderful and sets an almost post-black metal tone (apart from the wacky ending), the same tempo continues on the second track “Tankespinnerens Smerte”. The first really turbulent moment of the album is at the end of third track “Interstellar Nexus” and especially its connection to the almost 80’s sensuous clean guitar, middle-paced introduction of “It Does Not Follow”. 

A clearer black metal direction is found at “Set Tomme Kalde More” which is to me, another highlight. Less interesting to me were the slower moments, especially in tracks like “Hallow” and “Abyss Perihelion Transit”, and the piano segments “Voyager” and the final track “Requiem Aeternum” are excellent, but in both cases vocals on top were really unnecessary. In a way, Black Medium Current feels a bit less otherworldly than previous material of the band, but that’s only because previous material has been extremely otherworldly. 

I can never say Dødheimsgard surpassed themselves with this record, but it is packed, interesting and full of twists and turns. Since A Umbra Omega’s contained inspiration and particularity is unparalleled, one should rather approach this as a completely new body.

Out on April 14th, 2023 | Peaceville Records

DAMAGE: 3.5/5 [Great]

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

S​ó​l án varma - S​ó​l án varma Review

A collective of numerous infamous individuals from Iceland has been formed under the moniker S​ó​l án varma (= sun without radiance), which, even though it has been active since 2023, it's just now that a first full work comes to fruition. It is fully worthy of the label "full" as this self-titled record has a drawn out, stretched duration of 1 hour and 7 minutes, with 12 tracks, making it quite a piece to listen to and automatically placing it at the territory of albums that require longer attention span than your average extreme metal album. 

As always, the aesthetics are overwhelmingly beautiful and the production is not simply ideal, but characterizes the dreary and thrilling epicness of Icelandic black metal, especially coming from these musicians. All the tracks are titled with the same word "Afbrigði" and follow Latin numbering, containing exceptional lyricism in the band's native language. The juiciest part of S​ó​l án varma is the compositions themselves, though, which exert terrific potency once the record builds up its pace and establishes itself. 

It actually starts slowly, with the first 2 pieces being long and featuring tense dark ambient / noise meandering, in between some sparse distorted guitar sections (even though, when the pummeling riffs in the middle of "Afbrigði II" kick in, they stamp an immediate album highlight). Then, S​ó​l án varma spreads its winds and covers the sky by its massive presence, coming in the form of apparently ridiculous inspiration from the band to create this material. 

The clearest sibling is Misþyrming, with D.G. being a founder and main songwriter, as his characteristic top-notch vocals crowning the instrumentation. "Afbrigði V" even closes with growing momentum the same way as the aforementioned band's track "Orgia", with a riff that is almost the same. The opener "Afbrigði I", as well as "Afbrigði IX" & "Afbrigði X", hit more slowly, while the introduction of "Afbrigði XI" almost gives out chills of the same kind as Deathspell Omega's last record The Long Defeat from last year. 

Anyhow, simply put, this record is a packed masterpiece. The sequence from "Afbrigði IV" to "Afbrigði VII" includes the most compelling and most captivating black metal of the year so far. But even apart from that, there's memorable melodies and moments throughout the whole span of this generally lengthy record, which manages not to fall under its towering duration. There's so much in S​ó​l án varma, and all of the best kind of Icelandic black metal, which right now equates to the best kind of black metal as a whole. 

Out on April 7th, 2023 | Ván Records

DAMAGE: 4.5/5 [Brilliant]

Thursday, April 06, 2023

Kommand - Death Age Review

Death Age is the second full length album by primitive, dusty death metal band Kommand from California, after a rather well-received debut in 2020 named Terrorscape. Its band members are involved in various underground metal / hardcore / d-beat bands in the area, but under this moniker a clearer approach is taken, even though such elements sometimes make an appearance as well. 

This follow-up record has the same, stripped down and down tuned character of the first release, but maybe with a less surrounding sound and generally thinner production, which makes Death Age easy to listen to on one side, but not so complicated to be fully engaged on the other side. The album’s duration remains at the lower end of the scale, clocking up to 26 minutes with 6 tracks, and all of them feature very distinct, familiar elements: clogged, hefty riffing, cavernous vocals with an ounce of reverb and a tempo dance between fast paced death metal and middle paced groove fiestas. 

There’s not a lot of moments in Death Age that would make it stand out, but most parts are properly written just enough to not discard the record, and it contains a certain level of rawness and heaviness that would appeal to fans that dislike works that are too polished. The one-dimensional production doesn’t give justice to the already average instrumentation, making a lot of the riff-driven parts of the record feel quite empty and  the whole outcome slightly unstable and not efficient enough, in general terms but as well as compared to Kommand’s generally more detectable first release. 

“Fleeing Western Territories” is one highlight that stands out as it maintains some compositional coherence, as well as the closing piece “Collapse Metropolis” and some moments in “Final Virus”. Yet, in other sections like the slow-moving “Global Death” or “Polar Holdout”, things are pretty standard, or to put it better, substandard. 

Death Age somehow barely floats after its conclusion, however it doesn’t have something that would keep the listener hooked or to remember to come back to Death Age later, without just thinking that Terrorscape was simply better. For death metal, it at least has the ugliness and some partial brutality, yet it lacks the merit. I would not discourage someone to listen to it, but there’s better fruits on the market for you. Pick a couple of tracks that you like from here, and move on to the next chapter of your playlist.

Out on March 31st, 2023 | 20 Buck Spin

DAMAGE: 2.5/5 [Average]