"У Залізних Обіймах Лещат" CD-R 2019
Three years passed since the release of Обрій's debut 4-track material and with slight changes to their line-up the quintet puts out another EP consisting of five songs. Have to admit these newer tracks sound more mature and finally to the point concerning the band's predefined style. Therefore, the previously announced Bolt Thrower effect is now beginning to unfold in their music. Just listen to the songs "Дволикий", "Ad Civitas Solis" and "За Небокрай" and you'll agree without a word with me. On the other hand, the doom metal vibe is still strongly represented there, very good examples to that are the opening track called "Лещата" and the middle part of "Ad Civitas Solis". These 2 tracks have been massively influenced by Paradise Lost. But there's a tight connection to the forefathers of the doom metal genre itself (I mean the musicians of Black Sabbath here), which you can lightly witness by listening to the starting and ending riffs of "Королівство Зачинених Брам". In overall terms it's a very enjoyable admixture of styles that I want to recommend for the fans of old-school death metal, doom metal and even to the devotees of groove metal! All in all, keep following this band in the future as their next material can easily turn into something special!!!
"Onwards The Mystic Paths Of The Dead" CD 2020
(Witching Hour Productions)
Obsecration's recent creation is the 7th long play in the row. This time the Greek trio dug deep into their past and returned with an exceptional blend of thrash & death metal. Their obscure yet maximally old-school sounding masterpiece has been divided to 11 sections. The music itself is also about praising the good old times, hence the resulting ideas and riff-combinations are kind of really enjoyable and nostalgic, which can easily hit the listener at the very first listen. I would even risk to say, this album will be going to please anyone who is into the above genres. During my first listen I've found these pioneers to be influential on Obsecration's repertory: Slayer, Sepultura, Sarcófago, Death, Possessed, Massacre and Benediction, though there are surely more of them. The recording assembly was the following: C. Dead V. (vocals), Ungod (drums/guitars), Drakhon (bass) and El (lead guitars) as a guest musician. This nearly 48 minutes long album is a real trendkiller, a hard slap into the face of all the wannabe posers!!! I've received the 8-panel digipak CD version, which by the way was quite tastefully designed. It also includes a separate 8-page booklet filled exclusively with lyrics. Oh, and let me tell you at the end that the impressive cover artwork of Trifon S. perfectly fits the atmosphere found on "Onwards the Mystic Paths of the Dead"!!! Highly recommended sonic devastation!!!
"La Maldición" CD 2019
Oniricous is a rather creepy death metal horde out of Spain. Their latest 6-song EP is called "La maldición" (i.e. "The Curse"). Both music- and sound-wise we can enjoy a great old-school vibe that disposes with the attitude of the 90s. The EP starts with an ominous intro, which all of a sudden explodes into the thrashy opening riffs of "Exhumando el horror". It is followed by "El extraño", "La cabra negra" (my fave track) and "La maldición". All these four pieces are about the glory and invincibility of death metal. The EP ends with a mystic keyboardish outro and the spoken summoning of Yog-Sothoth. As you might have understood, their lyrics are filled with horror and Lovecraftian themes. By the way, that content was awesomely supported and illustrated by the cover artwork of Raúl Mortuus. The circa 19-minute EP will most likely please all those diehard death metal maniacs that once and for all have been sworn to the roots of the genre. On this record Oniricous was: Chuster (lead guitar & vocals), Mazo (lead guitar), Al-Wars (rhythm guitar), Tony (bass) and Tillo (drums). Besides the regular CD version, you can get this freaking awesome stuff on 12" vinyl and two types of cassette as well. Warmly recommended!!!
ORDER OF THE EBON HAND
"VII: The Chariot" CD 2019
(Satanath Records/More Hate Productions)
Most of the Greek black metal hordes took a completely different approach to the musical ingredients of this genre and, of course, the sound of their materials were different than usual, let's just remember the early records with Rotting Christ, Necromantia, Varathron or Thou Art Lord, for example. Well, this is only partially true for the 3rd full-length album of Order of the Ebon Hand, because what musically awaits you on "VII: The Chariot" is mainly executed in the plains of Scandinavian black metal. Also keep in your mind that the hellish crew led by Merkaal (vocals/bass) propagates an archetype form of Luciferian black metal. Eight ruthless yet tenebrous compositions in almost 44 minutes is what you will get if you take the fatigue and listen to the new record by these Greeks. Production-wise everything is fine there, it is a top quality record, so to say. Moreover, you can hear the voice of Sakis Tolis aka Necromayhem from Rotting Christ in the song called "Sabnock". However, I found a bit monotonous and simple their music, but this is how orthodox black metal should sound and look like, isn't it? I think this stuff is specifically for the band's steady fans. But in case you want to teleport back to the 90s, then this material will be a very good choice, that's for sure!!!
ORNAMENTOS DEL MIEDO
"Este No Es Tu Hogar" CD 2019
Angel Chicote (all instruments & vocals) formed Ornamentos del Miedo in 2017. The music on his debut album is very atmospheric. It comes from the most melodic kind of doom metal, perhaps I would mention My Dying Bride as the main impact. The six bulky compositions offer wonderful musical solutions and the sound production is unspeakably beautiful. At times the tempo is so slow that it's almost sedative, so I'd definitely recommend this type of music for relaxation, reading and contemplation. The growls are deep, convincingly hypnotic and perfectly fit all the masterful creations found on "Este no es tu hogar", which in translation to English means "This is not your home". The nearly sixty-two-and-a-half-minute record is full of profound emotions, fascinating guitar riffs & keyboard melodies that naturally were propped up with extremely slow drum beats & fills. There's a major ambient-like side of the album too, where the special effects and the ethereal harmonies play the big role. In total, it's a very interesting and cozy album! Already can't wait to listen to the next chapter!!!
"Rebirth In Darkness" CD 2019
(Satanath Records/More Hate Productions/The End Of Time Records)
Ragnell has been founded in 2011 and "Rebirth in Darkness" is the second full-length album of the Mexicans. The black metal trio has the following musicians: Eduardo (bass/vocals), Mauricio (guitar/vocals) and Dave (drums). The new stuff contains seven songs plus two bonuses taken from the band's debut EP titled "Black Requiem" (2013). The album tracks are of the so-called orthodox black metal kind with a slight touch of melodic death metal, understand here the Scandinavian hordes of the mid-90s. It's enough grim, incorporating lots of hammer blasts and shrieking vocal parts, but also features a big number of Nordic melodies and patterns we used to hear many times before. Don't get me wrong, this is a decent release supported by a good sound production, but frankly speaking nothing new or innovative was created by the Mexican combo there. Nevertheless, it has its bright moments likewise, for example I personally liked a lot when the screechy vocal parts were paired with clean vocals. The songs from the EP are more brutal and raw, definitely less melodious. If you crave to know how a Mexican band would play the Scandinavian type of black metal, then have a listen to Ragnell's new record!!!
"Anguish... I Harvest" CD 2019
This Portuguese death metal band was formed in 1991 and "Anguish... I Harvest" is their third long play record that was originally released back in 1999. Now it has been successfully excavated and reissued with a newly designed layout plus 6 bonus tracks out of their rehearsal demo from 1997. All the tracks for this reissue were remastered in 2018. The 10 album tracks display a kind of experimental death metal with odd futuristic-like keyboard passages that partly reminded me Pestilence's 3rd and 4th records. The musicians masterfully handle their instruments and show their skills off in almost every song, but the programmed synthetic drum sound is annoying and killing the overall production. Still I found those songs good enough, well-structured and professionally executed. I am sure most of the old-school thrash & death metal fans enjoyed it 20 years before and the new ones will also be going to like this forgotten piece out of the European metal history! The rehearsal bonuses sound dirty and totally raw, the way it was used to be recorded and spread around two decades ago. Sacred Sin's sixth full-length album "Grotesque Destructo Art" was released in 2017, so hopefully shortly we can listen to their fresh album as well!!!
"Legends Of Kazakhstan" CD 2020
(Satanath Records/Murdher Records)
SevenSins is a murderous black/death metal trio coming from East Kazakhstan. It was founded in 2008. "Legends of Kazakhstan" is their third full-length album up to now so far. It has eight chapters with a playing time of over 33 minutes. Their music is varied enough, thus besides the accustomed fast double bass attacks and blast beats you will be able to hear there a lot of catchy guitar riffs and killer grooves. Of course, most of the time their songs storm with a menace, but plenty of great mid-paced passages are also featured there. The screams of Walter are filled with rage and hate, they sound absolutely misanthropic to me, but then we have moments where his bloodthirsty screams turn to clean-singing and mystic talks. The lyrics come in Russian language and there are six of their own. By the way, at the end of the disc, the band pays tribute to an old thrash/death metal band from East Kazakhstan called Суицид. They've covered the song "Спи моя справедливость" from the band's sole record "Философия жизни" (1996). Needless to say, they've done a good job with it, as atmosphere-wise it perfectly fits the album. If you are a big fan of the Scandinavian black metal hordes, then I warmly advise you to listen to "Legends of Kazakhstan", it won't disappoint you!!!
"Bed Of Snakes" CD-R 2020
Shallow Waters is an unmatched post black metal combo hailing from the Basque Country. It was born in 2018 and "Bed of Snakes" is the first fruit of the musicians' triumvirate. The almost 50-minute long debut album consists of 9 dark yet melancholic compositions, which were masterfully structured and performed. The overall vibe is rather relaxing, but still extreme sounding. Musically you'll find lots of experimentations there, like for example the addition of spectral female vocals in the song called "The Tears I've Shed". Their music is fully built upon (inner) emotions, thus the soundscapes you're going to visit there are mostly displaying a meditative character. The essence of their repertory, as it was mentioned above, is black metal oriented, though the trio easily wanders to other subgenres of metal. As examples, in songs of "My Hidden Friend" and "Scars on Your Chest" you'll discover elements of gothic metal. The album's line-up is: Pablo Egido (vocals), Andrés Pestana (clean vocals/guitars) and Tristán Iñiguez (guitars/bass). By the way, Tristán was in charge for getting "Bed of Snakes" the most suitable and best possible sound production and let me tell you he nailed it from start to end! It sounds tough, but also quite meticulous. If you're searching for an ultra-melodious post black metal album with deep emotions then here it is, grab it!!!
SHAPED IN DREAMS
"Echoes Of Eldren Deeds" CD 2019
(Immortal Souls Productions)
Martin Matiaovic the composer and founding member of Shaped in Dreams is ready to hit the masses with his debut album "Echoes of Eldren Deeds". For this record he recruited some top-notch musicians, as Marc Dzierzon (drums), Linus Klausenitzer (fretless bass), James Dorton (vocals), Tom "Fountainhead" Geldschläger (oud), Matthias Preisinger (violin, viola, acoustic piano), Mikolaj Suchanek (electric piano), Christina Rotondo (female vocals) and the team of Harmonia Nova. No need to say, the outcome is simply mesmerizing. Martin (guitars, French horn, songwriting, lyrics) and Tom did a meticulous job creating and arranging the 9 songs of the album the way they come to us through the speakers. Musically, the core is melodic death metal that was spiced up by the elements of progressive, avant-garde, classical and medieval music. The resulting fusion sounds fresh and innovative enough to impress the fans of technical death metal as well as the ones who are exclusively into progressive music. Me personally is very fond of the four instrumental pieces, but the other tracks are worth the attention too. Awesome start with awesome musicians, so can't wait to listen to the continuation!!! This 47 minutes long CD comes with a tasty 16-page booklet and can be ordered from Immortal Souls Productions!!!
"A Dark Shining Light" CD 2020
(Funere/Weird Truth Productions)
Two years passed since the release of the debut "Eremozoic" album and Eugen Kohl, the only member behind Sinister Downfall, is ready to offer another portion of desperate sadness in the form of five lengthy pieces. The sophomore 51 minutes long album continues the well-proven traditions of the funeral doom metal genre and the development of the "Eremozoic" path. Therefore, all the soundscapes and patterns found on "A Dark Shining Light" will cause the effect of a continuation or let's say natural progression. Eugen firmly handles all the instruments, while his vocal parts sound totally frightening and deathlike, thereby providing for the resulting sound production a very rough glaze. The sonic transitions he creates are all abandoned and full of melancholia. Then there are those simply sounding keyboard melodies, which give the ultimate unearthly touch to the album as a whole. The vibe is freaking awesome there and I can't really stress enough how huge it is, so better make sure to listen to it!!! The titles of the songs are: "A Dark Shining Light", "Shape in the Mist", "Reach for the Dead", "Bury Your Thoughts" and "Behold Darkness". This release was issued in a laconic 4-panel digipak with a 12-page booklet including all the lyrics. Great record and that's for sure!!!
"What Remains" CD 2020
(Satanath Records/Exhumed Records/More Hate Productions)
Skarz is a new death metal formation hailing from Greece and "What Remains" is their debut release consisting of eight old-school hymns. The Greek duo, Kostas Sarcastic (guitars/vocals) and Dimon's Night (drums/bass), maximally focused on Death's "Leprosy" album, thus the result is similar in all aspects to that classic, except minus any kind of originality. This band pays tribute to Chuck's heritage and in general to the 90s death metal movement, which, of course, is a good thing. The sound production is rather enjoyable and reminiscent of those 90s recordings too. I am not sure about the success of this release at all, as I personally would better listen to the old classics instead of "What Remains". Anyway, if you want to listen to over 35 minutes of death metal music that will 70% remind you of the early materials of Death, Obituary and Cynic, then surely go to the link below and give a listen to Skarz! Also interesting to me, will this album be followed by another one or just a one-off release. Well, time shall tell us...
"Lucifer Hominum Salvator" CD 2020
Let me tell you at once that Javier Rodríguez Prendes aka Conspirator, the only member of Skjult, is a hard-working black metal musician, he has been around in different extreme musical entities for twenty years now. "Lucifer Hominum Salvator" is Skjult's third full-length album. It consists of eight cuts and continues the well-established path of its predecessor "Progenies ov Light" (2018), which means you will get a broad variety of Nordic style guitar riffs, angry vocals and blasting drum parts there. The song-structures most of the time are mid-paced yet fast and destructive, though one would find a couple of great technical moments there as well. The album sounds very good and well-balanced. Plus, the all-around icy vibe is sort of inevitable ingredient for the music of Skjult. If you are into ferocious black metal music with anti-cosmic lyrics, then definitely give a listen to "Lucifer Hominum Salvator". By the way, there was another Skjult stuff out this year, titled "The Voyage", which besides the title track had also five cover versions included there. Oh, and there was a split cassette release with Inhottavuus too. Now you are clearly understanding what I meant under hard-working musician. Skjult is cult!!!
SUN OF THE DYING
"The Earth Is Silent" CD-R 2019
The doom/death metal scene of Spain is getting stronger by every year. Lots of worthy bands appear under the crystal clear sky of Madrid and start spreading their wings wide and rather confidently. We've got exactly this winner formula in the case of the six followers of the finest doom metal arts initiated and influenced by such timeless formations as My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost or Anathema. "The Earth is Silent" is the 2nd long play album by Sun of the Dying. It embraces 7 well-thought-out compositions in over 45 minutes. The music found there is so beautiful, epic and breathtaking that the listener can easily dive into and flow by the streams of the endless sorrow, feel the bleak touch on the skin and dream about the silence, which waits us all at the end of the road. Majestic sounds from a 6-piece band we surely have to remember and follow on from now on!!! The skilled and talented members of the Sun of the Dying are as follows: Eduardo Guilló (vocals), Daniel Fernández Casuso (guitar), Roberto Rayo (guitar), José Yuste (bass), Diego Weser (drums) and David Muñoz (keyboards, backing vocals and programming). Art of Propaganda from Germany made a good job with this recording, so you can buy it on both vinyl and compact disc formats as well. Eagerly looking forward to the 3rd full-length album from this promising Spanish band!!! Fans of doom & death metal music are warmly encouraged to get their hands on this masterpiece!!!
TEMPLE OF NIHIL
"Schadenfreude" CD 2019
The following Russian black metal horde is originating from Kaluga. It was established in the year of 2015. Prior to this release there was only a 4-song EP, "Soul Extremist", issued in 2016. "Schadenfreude" consists of 10 cold-blooded black metal pieces kept specifically in the Nordic manner. Musically, no innovation was made on the nearly 48-minute record, everything was executed in the strict canons of the genre itself, presumably this was the plan. The trio came up with a quality material, but they didn't even consider the slight addition of originality. It's really a pity that no interest was shown for innovation as there's already tons of so-called quality black metal hordes out there with grey releases and zero ideas. Enthusiasts of Immortal, Satyricon, Marduk or even Dimmu Borgir can try to give a listen to their songs, but I can hardly imagine myself to listen to this album again. Unfortunately, here we have the typical case of a well-produced grey black metal release. So before entering the temple of nihil make sure you like its sounds as well!!!
THE BASTARD WITHIN
"Better Dead Than Friends" CD 2019
(Immortal Souls Productions)
This international grindcore coalition is going to smash your head with their 22-song debut CD. The over 30 minutes of "Better Dead Than Friends" will provide you a devastating course on how to create a full speed ahead grindcore alloy these days!!! The Bastard Within lineup is: CN Sid (vocals), Gianluca Sulpizio (guitars), Davide Stura (bass) and Kevin Talley (drums). The quartet storms like a sonic hurricane and leaves no mercy for the unprepared listener. It's fast, it's relentless and packed with explicit lyrical content, the way it should be! There's a maximally into your face and blast as fast as you fuckin' can attitude! The album also features some killer guest vocals by Trevor (Sadist), Jason (Misery Index, Asphalt Graves), Mâra (Mâra), Stefania Minervino (Too Late, Cave, Spoiled) and Juri Bianchi (Addiction Crew, Any Face, Hayma). To all this you should add the crushing mix provided by Federico Lino and Dan Swanö's brilliant mastering. In a word, we've got a perfect masterpiece here, which I would warmly recommend to all the diehard fans of Napalm Death, Terrorizer, Repulsion, Lycanthrophy, Dying Fetus and Misery Index!!!
"Legions Of The Dawn" CD 2020
(Satanath Records/More Hate Productions)
This Swedish-German co-alliance reminded me musically very much Spawn of Possession, as they likewise try to mix the US brutal death metal style along with the enchanting melodies of the Swedes. The duo, i.e. Claudio Enzler (vocals) and Hubeister Liljegren (guitars/arrangements), knows precisely how to make their stuff sound in a top-notch way with a crushing manner. The riffs of Hubbe are coming out of my loudspeakers in a crystal clear form, which fact I appreciate quite a lot. Their material is also fairly technical and modern with lots of killer twists and awesome growls. I believe last time I've heard this kind of formula was on Decrepit Birth's "Axis Mundi". Let me assure you, "Legions of the Dawn" is a huge debut record that fans of Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal, Nile, Suffocation, Origin, Cannibal Corpse, Terrorizer, Dissection, Soulreaper, Naglfar will surely going to like and admire from the first note. The nearly 33 minutes long CD is divided to nine chapters and is constantly about the relentless energies combined by graceful guitar melodies. The Malice is a 100% sophisticated death metal squad, which was recently extended with session musicians to perform this brutal beast of a masterpiece on live shows as well. My fingers crossed, so hope to catch them live in the near future!!!
THE METAL MUSIC GLOBALLIANCE COMPILATION
"Vol. 4" CD 2020
The 4th chapter of The Metal Music GlobAlliance Compilation is finally ready to hit the masses. This time you will be able to discover exactly 18 bands from 13 countries. Even though there's a few constant or let's say recurrent performers in this compilation series I found the actual volume pretty diverse and captivating. The opening track "The City Feeds on You" by the French Unseelie is an unbelievably well-chosen one as it hits immediately and also guides us into the most sentient world of gothic metal. It has everything that a good song has to own plus I really can't express in words how beautiful the vocals of Anne-Emmanuelle Fournier are. You must hear it to believe! It is followed by another female-fronted band Access Denied. They're from Poland and "Go, Go, Go" is a song off of their third full-length record. It is a great punchy sounding tune that correctly mixes the 80's hard rock and heavy metal. Japanese hard rockers of Black Sweet continue with an ultra-melodious, technical yet groovy piece titled as "The Lights". Obviously we have a deal with four masterfully skilled musicians there, just listen to the awe-inspiring soloing work and you'll understand what I mean. Sound- and production-wise it is maximally polished and as soft as possible. The fourth band is Ravenclaw and as you might already know their vocalist Matej Valiska is the initiator of this compilation. The Slovakian quintet presents us "The Way", an epic and rather relaxing power metal song that to my big surprise incorporates even elements of flamenco and estrada. Next we have Garden of Sinners from France and their song "Ignition", which is fully dedicated to the traditional forms of heavy metal. So if you like the catchy riffs to be tweaked by hymn-like vocal parts, classy guitar solos and sci-fi lyrics, then definitely give a listen to the band's debut album "Truthsayers". The sixth cut has been provided by Luke Lambregts' solo-project called TheMetalian. The Belgians picked out the song "Nightmare in Paris" that will kindly teleport you back to the majestic times of the mid 80s, especially if you take into account the sound production, the riff structures and the vocal parts as a whole. It's all about the confluence of heavy and power metal there with a suitable attitude! Afterwards we can relish to the epic melodies of "When the Snow Cover the Ground" by Celtic Hills from Italy. The gothic-sounding heavy metal trio rips through the battlefields, fights bravely and takes no prisoners! The second band from Slovakia is Slight Lie. They present the title track "Countdown" from their 2nd long play, which music-wise can be described as futuristic heavy metalcore. For a better understanding, you have to imagine the shuffle between the classic heavy metal of the 80s and the metalcore of the 21st century plus be sure to add those inevitable breakdowns of the latter one. Let's go onward to the 9th song titled as "Planety". This super melodic keyboard-dependent composition is executed by Czech defenders of heavy metal, i.e. Power 5. Zealous followers of Stratovarius, Edguy or Masterplan will be going to adore it, I am sure. The next song is called "Hire Gods" and it comes from Bulgaria. Its creators Ghost Warfare let us dive into a bunch of spooky melodies and a really atmospheric solo in their special musical surrounding called occult metal. The mysteries seem to follow further on in the oriental kind of heavy metal song "Gods of the Nile" by V-HAJD from Germany. The quintet delivers a classic mid-paced track with catchy grooves and skilled vocal parts. Bolivian Alcoholika L.C. is the one to continue with their industrialized folk metal piece "I am Bolivia". Believe or not, but it almost sounds like a partying wedding song, despite their lyrics tell about rebellion. The 13th track "Los Muertos de Hambre" is offered by Absorb from Germany. They play an old school type of death metal with the addition of clean vocals. Also interesting is the fact that it was formed in 1989. It is followed by the 3rd Slovakian band Astarot. Their cut is called "Znamenia" and it is also about death metal, but the kind that is full of experimental and progressive elements. Then we have Polish deathcore pirates from Vane, whose "Row, Ye Scallywags!" will definitely going to surprise you with its amount of melodies and grooves used there. Track number 16 is reserved for Blood of Angels. The US 4-piece death metal unit unleashes "Miscreant Deeds of Loki" upon us. It is full of blasting drum patterns and brutal growls. Next on the list is Suicide Machine from Morocco. Their kind of melodic yet technical death metal is heavily influenced by the masterworks of Death, Cynic and At the Gates. So you're going to hear that special cohesion in "The Samaritan" added by a few elements of their own. The closing track is given to Humanicide from Uruguay. Their song "Why?" sounds pretty raw as if it was recorded right at the rehearsal place. Nevertheless, they blend the motifs of thrash and death metal rather well, so it would be awesome to listen to this song later with a professional sounding as well. This compilation lasts over 77 minutes and is perfect for promotional use!!!
THORNS OF GRIEF
"Anthems To My Remains" CD 2019
(Satanath Records/Dying Sun Records)
Thorns of Grief is a Polish funeral doom/death metal project shaped by Nebiros of Mystic Rites in 2018. He performed all the instruments and recorded all the vocal parts on "Anthems to My Remains", which is in fact the debut release of Thorns of Grief. The CD lists 5 songs and lasts over 47 minutes. The music found there is truly funeral-like. I mean it is quite sad, slow (except a few fast parts) and extremely atmospheric. What's more, in several places I felt the impact of Evoken's debut album "Embrace the Emptiness", which is a good thing, taking into account that is my favorite album from the US undertakers. Needless to say, every composition of Nebiros has a very deep emotional charge that is permeated by melancholy, therefore thus exclusively vibrating the tones of despair and death first to the listener's ears and then to its subconsciousness respectively. It is a remarkable doom/death metal album, where the affection of longing for death is included by default. Already can't wait to listen to its continuation! But until then, let me infer to you once more that "Anthems to My Remains" is a flawless creation of art and hence warmly recommended for the followers of both musical genres!!!
"Hollow" CD 2020
The Israeli band Tomorrow's Rain (ex-Moonskin) was shaped in Tel Aviv almost two decades ago, nevertheless only this year they've managed to record their long-awaited debut album. "Hollow" and its nine songs were definitely worth to wait for. The six-piece band Yishai Sweartz (vocals), Raffael Mor (guitars), Yoni Biton (guitars), Yaggel Cohen (bass), Shiraz Weiss (keyboards) & Nir Nakav (drums) kind of consciously decided to create a record they would buy as fans as well. Did their aim materialize properly? Yes, it seems to me so. The musical compound they present through the over 56 minutes long material can be characterized as a fine-tuned mix between dark gothic rock and melodic doom/death metal, of course with the inevitable addition of oriental elements here and there, something that fans of Orphaned Land, Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Katatonia, Fields of the Nephilim or The Sisters of Mercy will be going to highly adore. Professionally recorded stuff is this, which sounds absolutely magnificent and intriguing in some ways. There was also a vast number of guest musicians involved there, namely Aaron Stainthorpe, Greg Mackintosh, Sakis Tolis, Kobi Farhi, Fernando Ribeiro, Mikko Kotamäki, Jeff Loomis, Spiros Antoniou, Anders Jacobsson, Shlomi Bracha and Lisa Cuthbert. Impressive list so to say and what's more, there's also a fantastic cover of "The Weeping Song" from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds plus an acoustic version of the song called "Fear". In a word, you have to give a listen to "Hollow" to believe! An interesting fact to add is that the band prepared a Hebrew version of the album too, which means the importance of their material is above all!
"Willkommen Im Unheil" CD 2019
(Satanath Records/Black Metal Propaganda Deutschland)
Trond is the newly born black metal project of Tino "Fluch" Thiele, whose name should be familiar from other dark gangs, like Abigorum, Wulfgar, Phreneticum and Metamorph, just to name you a few. Tino, the sole creator of the 10 pieces found on "Willkommen im Unheil", handles pretty well all the instruments plus his vocals are of those extremely harsh ones. The black metal he performs is mainly aggressive, but here and there you can bump into meditative, ambient-like patterns too. Who knows why, maybe due to the presence of the German language or the programmed drums, but I felt his compositions quite militarized and industrialized. I have to say, the 42 minutes of Tino's debut material rushed over me rather swiftly, almost with the speed of the northern wind. Moreover, his repertory has a strong monotonous character. For me, it felt like it was only one song there that was divided into 10 chapters. The CD itself has a nice pit-art and comes with a 6-page booklet including all the lyrics. It's a potentially good release, which I would recommend for fans of totally grim and frostbitten black metal!!!
"...Temná" CD 2019
(Parát Magazine & Productions)
This CD was coming as a bonus to the 90th issue of Parát magazine. V.A.R. (Vratislavice Alcoholic Roar) is an old Czech thrash metal band formed in the year of 1989 and "...Temná" is their 7th full-length album to date. It consists of 9 tracks with a nearly 43 and a half minutes of playing time. The quintet, i.e. Berun (vocals), Shoopy (guitar), Pepнno (guitar), Vyczka (bass) and Jeny (drums), performs a 100% time-tested mixture of heavy and thrash metal. They play and create with routine, so the result speaks for itself. Catchy tunes all the way through supported by an 80s sound production. The lyrics were written and sung in Czech, but fortunately their song titles have been translated into English on the back, so here they are: "Dark, You Gonna Be Murky Dark", "I'm Touching Heavens", "Lower Town", "At the Wolf Mountains Range", "Balt the Wind", "Cyanide", "Special Atrocities", "Devil and Maria" and "Oratory of Decay". I do believe that fans of old-school will appreciate the songs of "...Temná", because this stuff was maximally written for you!!!
"The Darkest Age Live '93" CD 2020
(Witching Hour Productions)
Without any doubts this is the ultimate re-issue of Vader's first official live album "The Darkest Age Live '93", originally released only on CDs and cassettes in 1994 by Baron Records. The live show itself was recorded at the Corona Hall in Kraków on the 13th of December, 1993. Actually that was the penultimate concert of the "World Incantation Tour '93". Needless to say, this live album was given the deserved cult status years ago. Besides being fully remastered by the Wieslawsky brothers at Hertz Studio the 13-track material has also been flipped panorama-wise. It's an awesome live show that features Vader's diehard yet evergreen classics as "Dark Age", "Vicious Circle", "The Crucified Ones", "Demon's Wind", "Decapitated Saints", "Chaos", "Reign-Carrion", "Testimony" and "Breath of Centuries". These songs were appropriately spiced and intermediated with three intro/outro pieces plus a rad cover version of Slayer's "Hell Awaits". The CD lasts 51 minutes and captures the magical vibe of Vader's classic era. Pure awesomeness so to say!!! I've got the 8-panel digipak edition, which looks totally mind-blowing and comes with a great new graphic design with unpublished photos and a killer 2-sided poster. Enough said, buy it right now or cry later!!! By the way, for the first time ever it is also available on vinyl. The gatefold double vinyl edition was remastered especially for the 45 RPM audiophiles. So hurry on as only a few black copies left!!!
"Dungeons Of Grotesque Symmetry" CD 2019
(Satanath Records/Murdher Records)
Vehementor is a groovy thrash/death metal formation from Macedonia. Its hometown is Kicevo. The quartet Darko Nasteski (vocals), Nikola Pejoski (guitars), Ljupco Stefanoski (bass) & Zoran Stefanoski (drums) started in the year of 2013 and "Dungeons of Grotesque Symmetry" is their debut release. It consists of nine songs and if I had to describe what kind of music they play I would definitely mention you a mix between the latest records of Machine Head, Slayer, Carcass, God Dethroned, Kataklysm and Amon Amarth. They masterfully combine the catchiness of heavy guitar riffs with tempting melodies and scratchy vocals. The pace is mainly slow just to provide the biggest power and dynamics possible for all the hooks. There's a lot going on in the about half an hour of material, but somehow I still found their tracks pretty boring. I truly hope they can squeeze in more variety and originality into their forthcoming stuff as nowadays to play and sound in a professional way is really not enough!!! Don't get me wrong it's a very decent debut album, but the metalheads in the 21st century crave for more, especially to be more unique!!!
"Lorn Echoes" CD 2020
(Slovak Metal Army)
"Lorn Echoes" is the debut long play by the post-apocalyptic Victims coming from the Czech Republic. The 7-piece deathcore oneness, i.e. Hospi (vocals), Venca (vocals), Málci (guitar), Mára (guitar), Ondra (bass), Pinky (drums) and John (synthesizers), masterfully forges extreme music's ferocity with their futuristic visions. The over 26 minutes album has been divided into 7 songs. They are all about complexity, crazy tempo-changes, weird synthetic patterns, angry vocals and things that are common for deathcore and metalcore bands. The album sounds massive and devastating. It's way unmerciful and yet blasphemous to the core. Their stringed instruments were consciously tuned down to hell, so expect some of the most disturbing low ends to come out of your loudspeakers. Their repertory storms with the speed of the light in a take-no-prisoners mode, except for the last track called "Smells Like Death", which is a short, but very relaxed instrumental piece. In terms of originality they still have to progress, in my opinion, even though they've done a good job with the songs of "Lorn Echoes". Let's see what the future holds for them...
VICTIMS OF CONTAGION
"Lamentations Of The Flesh Bound" CD 2019
(Satanath Records/Rebirth The Metal)
Being formed in the far 2005 this is actually the first full-length material from the Pittsburgh-based technical death metal brigade Victims of Contagion. Prior to this, they had the self-released "Parasitic Unborn" EP in 2014. Musically, we have a polished mixture between technical death metal and deathcore. During the over 38 minutes stuff the following band names popped in my mind: Death, Cynic, Morbid Angel, Obscura, Spawn of Possession, Psycroptic, Fleshgod Apocalypse and The Faceless, just to mention you a few. The recording line-up Chris Edison (vocals), Chuck Forsythe (rhythm & lead guitars, singing bowl, piano & synth), Jon Haden (rhythm & lead guitars), Anthony Zello (lead guitar), Justin Gizzi (bass) and Mike Rush (drums & vocals) – is in the knowing of how to use their skills in a proper way, therefore the six resulting songs are of a flawless production. Their song-structures are enough sophisticated, nonetheless I miss the real innovations, memorable harmonies and own ideas there. I really dig how the CD sounds, it's simply huge, but from my musical point of view these six compositions give nothing intriguing to the listener of the 21st century. I believe the band is still in search of their own style and where to go musically. So let's wish them tons of luck on that road and hopefully with their next release we can witness those innovations altogether!!!
VITAM ET MORTEM
"El Río De La Muerte" CD 2020
(Satanath Records/Exhumed Records)
Since 2002 the Colombian Vitam et Mortem has managed to release quite a lot of materials. "El río de la muerte" is their sixth long play so far, where Julián David Trujillo Moreno (vocals, guitars & keyboards) and Julián Felipe Rodríguez Montoya (drums & screams) continue to spread the ultra-melodic death/black metal kind of theirs. The 10 songs on the album were precisely arranged and executed, so the listener will be going to enjoy it from start to finish. The vibe is mainly Nordic there, with influences coming from the records of Dissection, Mayhem, Emperor and Unanimated, which fact is really sympathetic to me. But lots of other great bands had the impact on their songwriting skills, like Vital Remains, Immolation, Deicide, Behemoth or Hypocrisy, just to name you a few. The use of their native language also adds a vast mystical touch to the entire repertory, the same way as the otherworldly lyrics about death and the dead. Besides the new songs there are also two special tracks there, namely "Yo soy el siguiente muerto" from the band's second album, of course, in a new interpretation, plus a cover of Masacre's classic "Ritos de muerte". This is dark music and that's for sure, so only the blackened souls should get their hands on this record!!! I have spoken!!!
"Vofa" CD 2019
The music of Vofa (i.e. ghost) is as mysterious as its line-up. All we know that there are four members behind the Icelandic funeral doom metal entity and it was established in 2017. Their self-titled debut album came out in 2019 with three lengthy songs ("I", "II" and "III"), each over 12 minutes. Vofa's horror-filled music at one hand tends to be freezing cold and desperate, while on the other hand it is full of mysticism and heart-felt art. Of course, it wholly builds up from the basic and canonical elements of funeral doom metal, yet I feel very much special about their alloy, since in my opinion, the quartet evolved this sub-genre of doom metal to another level. The next thing that amazed me in their repertory is concerned to the vocal parts. They are pretty specter-like and chunky from start to finish. And believe or not, but that ingredient gives an extra dark vibe to the stuff. During the over 37 minutes long material you will be able to wander to different places, shades and soundscapes of surrealism. One would ask, is it masterful or unique? I think both, but you have to hear it and judge for yourself. Me personally, is eagerly looking forward to the continuation!!!
"A Gyertyák Csonkig Égnek" CD 2019
WitcheR is an atmospheric black metal entity hailing from Hungary. It was founded in 2010 by Roland Neubauer (vocals, guitars, drums) and Karola Gere (keyboards). "A gyertyák csonkig égnek" is their second full-length album that consists of five monumental phases with over 40 minutes of playing time. The duo masterfully forges the enthralling keyboard melodies together with the crudity of the guitar parts and the harsh manner of the vocals. The sort of black metal they display is rather relaxed, profound in melodies and emotions. If I had to compare their music to others in the business, I would definitely pick up in the first place Summoning, because WitcheR has that special hymn-like medieval epic ingredient too, just listen to the beginning of "Az utolsó utamon" and you will understand the rightness of my thoughts, then I have to mention Cradle of Filth as an influence or inspiration for the gothic patterns found there. The first four songs have been created by Roland & Karola, while the last one titled as "A hattyúk tava Op. 20. 1. Jelenet" is their kind of dedication to the great Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Beautiful cover version it is that perfectly fits the WitcheR's conception. The CD sounds good and comes with the classy artworks and layout of Anvil Kvlt. To cut it short, if you are in desperate search for a bewitching alloy between classical music and black metal, then immediately pause all your searches as this material will satisfy your needs!!!
"Néma Gyász" CD 2020
2020 marks the 10th anniversary of WitcheR. So for that occasion the band has decided to re-release their "Néma gyász" EP and to expand it with a lengthy bonus song "Keresztúton", formerly to be found on the split with Velm. Originally, both materials were recorded back in 2012, the EP in spring, while "Keresztúton" in the fall. But let me assure you right away that this isn't the cheap-sounding or -looking sort of re-release. First of all, because the four tracks of the EP were carefully remixed, thus providing them a new aural birth. Secondly, the remastered musical content was supported by a tasty 6-page booklet including all the lyrics, an archive band photo from 2012, two previous covers of the EP plus a completely new cover artwork by Anvil Kvlt. The nearly 43 minutes long CD with its five keyboard-dominant epic black metal compositions will surely going to impress the fans of Summoning, Burzum and Nokturnal Mortum. This re-release is kind of a great gift to all the diehard WitcheR fans, which, by the way, was coming along with an awesome anniversary T-shirt and long sleeve prints, so don't waste your time, order it immediately or cry later!!! Hereby I would also like to wish Roland and Karola success on their musical path for the next decade and even beyond!!!
"Bonded By Beer" CD-R 2019
Kyiv retro thrashers known as Zombie Attack are finally returning with their 2nd long play. The fresh 11-song onslaught is continuing to spread the metal madness, however this time the quartet tried to align their music even more to rock'n'roll. You say Motörhead? Definitely yes, but let's add there a pinch from the Malignant Tumour vibe too. So the partying formula seems complete and trust me it is crushing damn well and the right way! The half an hour album has a lot of memorable twists and turns, plus it comes with a well-balanced, very enjoyable sound. If you like thrash metal, black humor, beer, partying all night and Satan then this record should be in your collection!!! By the way, the cover artwork and all the other graphical illustrations in the booklet are strictly connected to the lyrics, which I found pretty awesome! Vsevolod Zolotarev of V.Z.artwork did a hell of a great job! Me personally prefer better the second half of the album, which has faster and more complex songs so to say, like "Virtual Reality", "Slave Doll" and "Non Serviam" for example. In addition to all written before I have to mention the influence of Tankard, which is still undeniable in the repertory of Zombie Attack, and bands like Destruction, Exodus or D.R.I., as they all had a big impact on the songs of "Bonded by Beer". Recommended stuff!!!