27 Apr 2012

Sphere - Homo Hereticus [Full length] (2012, Masterful Records)

"Absolutely hellish death metal" was my immediate thought when "Forever Sworn to Blasphemy", the first track of Sphere's Homo Hereticus, toned in on my speakers. However you can never judge a band from just one track, but Poland's SPHERE is no one-trick pony. Having adopted elements from both technical, brutal and melodic death metal aswell as grindcore they make it quite clear that they aren't going to let their music become stale or monotonous. That said, Sphere aren't exactly revolutionizing the genre. They do, however, play some tight fucking death metal.

Switching from simple thrashy riffs to more technical and intricate riffs are among the many strengths the polish band have. The drummer is great at varying his speeds and compositions and the production of everything from the lingering bass to the demonic lead vocals is just genious. They're certainly not afraid to throw in some blistering blastbeats into the mix, and tracks like Sadistfucktion has its' grindcorey moments while the third track "Third Scent Carcass" is borderline brutal death metal. Homo Hereticus is definitely some great shit for the lovers of fast death metal.

Usually after listening to an album a few times one will have found their favourite tracks, but on this 2012 album it's really hard to pick favourites because every track is just plain awesome in its' own right. I imagine Sphere is a great live band, and if they aren't it certainly isn't the music's fault. 9/10 guitars.

1. Forever Sworn to Blasphemy
2. Godless Profanity
3. Third Scent Carcass
4. Sadistfucktion
5. Homo Hereticus
6. Holistic Paralisys
7. Psalm to the Dark One
8. Grave's Cold Darkness
9. Vengeance's Core
10. Devil's Reunion
11. Beyond Madness of Gods
12. War

SPHERE official site
Masterful Records official site

23 Apr 2012

Countess - On Wings of Defiance [Full length] (2011, Barbarian Wrath)

Usually when I listen to music to review I like to give a few listens before I write it, but in the case of Countess' newest album "On Wings of Defiance" I had to give up after a mere two listens. That's all I could bear.

I could go on and on about what's wrong with the album... So that's what I'm going to do: First of all the guitar tone is completely atrocious, sounding more like a failed attempt to play Dire Straits à la Satan than... Well, any metal genre really. The album starts out with an 8-minute epic with insanely monotonous and single-tracked drums which begs the question if Orlok, the sole member of Countess, knows anything about drum-programming. Vocal-wise he doesn't fair much better, and half-way into the first track I'd already grown bored and slighty irritated with his generic, incessant barking.
Apparently Countess' idea of a great album is an hour long pile of completely unvaried, beginner-level black metal riffs with equally unvaried vocals and drums. The only thing that comes close to variation on "On Wings of Defiance" is the entirely arbitrary changes between Scandinavian and Mediterranean sounding melodic riffs.

Enough of the senseless ranting. Boiled down to a few sentences, Countess' 2011 album is little more than unvaried sub-standard Bathory-influenced black metal with cheesy MIDI-keyboard sounds. I remember there was a time where I thought all one-man bands were awesome, but some of my more recent acquaintances have certainly made me rethink that notion.

I admire a band that can be persistent, and Countess has released a multitude of albums over the years since its' creation in 1992, but if all of those releases are equally lacking as On Wings of Defiance things are looking grim... And not in a good way.

But it's not all bad, I actually moderately enjoyed the song Foggy Dew, the 8-minute 6th track of the 11 track album. But if I had to choose between Bathory, by whom Countess is obviously inspired, I would always choose Bathory, even if Quorthon also had his dodgy moments when it came to vocal performance. Orlok's Countess merely feels like a watered down Bathory with the same boring riffs played ad nauseum. 4/10 guitars.

1. Where Eagles Die
2. I am the Infidel
3. Let the River Run Red
4. Invictus
5. At the Hot Gates I Stand
6. Foggy Dew
7. Sermon of the Devil Preacher
8. An Emperor's Stand
9. On Wings of Defiance
10. Night of the Demon (Demon Cover)
11. In League with Satan (Venom Cover)

COUNTESS official site
Barbarian Wrath official site

20 Apr 2012

Neftaraka - Morts [Full length] (2012, Eldritch Lunar Miasma Records)

Black metal has really found its' way to the furthest corners of the Earth. Well, maybe except for Antarctica, which is arguably the grimmest place on Earth. With its' roots in Northern Europe it's amazing to see a genre like that travel around the globe to South America, Alaska, Russia, Japan, Australia and even Malaysia like Neftaraka.

Before I even started listening to Neftaraka's "Morts" album I noticed the completely over the top awesome artwork. Many metal albums have really shitty artwork, but Morts is one of the coolest covers I've ever seen. It would look glorious on 12" vinyl.
As I listened to the album I realized that this would probably take a few listens before I'd get into it. And I was right, it did take a couple of sittings before I could really appreciate the moods set by the band with their Scandinavian-style black metal. By taking inspiration from such legendary acts such as Darkthrone and Burzum they've chosen som tough names to live up to, and while their riffs may not match that of Transilvanian Hunger or Lost Wisdom they've taken an age old recipe and made it their own.

But let's not make it more than it is: Classic black metal with a tiny bit of raw and depressive elements once in a while just to mix things up a little. They've even incorporated the close-to-mandatory dark ambient piece in the song Anttarra Solitude, which, despite my words, is actually a pretty damn solid track.
This goes for the whole album. It's strong black metal and it makes for a satisfying listening experience with a ton of good riffs and a near-perfect production that satiates the thirst for both filthy black metal and black metal of a more modern kind.

Neftaraka have released a throng of demos and splits and even an album in their 16 year long carreer and Morts certainly shows that the band have a lot of experience in the unholy arts of black metal. That said it sounds like the best songs are gathered in the first half of the album, which makes for a small lack of flow, but this is easily overlooked because Morts as a whole is really good. 8/10 guitars.

1. Rituale
2. Sufferance
3. Morbid
4. Legions (Silverian Kvlt)
5. Pandemonium
6. F.O.A.D.A.
7. Anttarra Solitude
8. Morts

NEFTARAKA official site
Eldritch Lunar Miasma Records official site

17 Apr 2012

Vielikan - A Trapped Way for Wisdom [Full length] (2010, Self-released)

Progressive death metal is a rare sight compared to technical death metal. Some would say that all technical death metal is progressive or vise versa, but I disagree.
Many bands sacrifice accessibility for progressiveness and as such become rather esoterical. But with the Tunisian death metal band Vielikan this is not the case. Their personal style of metal is enjoyable to fans of regular death metal and progressive metal alike.

Comprised of seven otherworldly tracks of alien horror "A Trapped Way for Wisdom" is a collection of Nocturnus-esque death metal with lots of progressive undertones aswell as showcasing great skill in both songwriting and sense of pace. The talented growls of the vocalist leads me to think of such singers as Mikael Åkerfeldt in his hayday and the other Swedish growler Peter Tägtgren.
As I mentioned earlier I don't think progressiveness and musical technicality needs to go hand in hand, and Vielikan perfectly demonstrates that progressive death metal doesn't need to have billion notes per minute or run in speeds of 230 BPMs. The album has everything you could ever want from a death metal album, maybe except for blistering speeds. They've got malevolent aggressiveness, eerie chilled out slow parts and ominous atmospheres all around.

The third song, Zero Affection, to me is the absolute climax of the album. Some might say it's an early climax, but it works great as a mindsetter for what's to come. The mighty ascending roar around 2 minutes into the 7 minute song is plain genius. As far as album art goes the cover sets the mindset of how the music sounds: Eerily dark, spacey and esoteric. Vielikan are obvious masters of lengthy songwriting leaving almost nothing to be wanted. During the time where I listened intensely to the album I never got bored. After having listened to the album a few times it really grew on me, especially as I started noticing the bass that always seemed to linger in the background, adding to the sense of dread and intensity.
Listen to this if you're into Bloodbath, Nocturnus, Augury, Obscura or Gorguts. Give it a few listens and you will not be disappointed. 9/10 guitars.

1. The Beginning of All Remorse
2. A Shelter of Flesh in the Void
3. Zero Affection
4. Black Marsh
5. A Vertiginous Fall
6. A Trapped Way for Wisdom
7. Celestial Autumn

VIELIKAN official site

12 Apr 2012

Endometritis - Dehiscent Purulent Abdominal Viscera [EP] (2012, Self-released)

Thing's are going great for slam all over the world. The scenes in the US, South America, Japan, Southern Asia, Germany, Russia and even Scandinavia are doing great with numerous talented bands doing their part with great EPs, demos and full lengths to further fucking SLAM.

Tracks of a length of more than 3 minutes is more or less an unusual sight in slamming brutal death metal. However, of the three tracks on Endometritis' demo "Dehiscent Purulent Abdominal Viscera" two of them are of a length greater than that benchmark, the longest one clocking in at a stunning 6:09 minutes. This track, which insidently is also the first one, sets the tone for the next 13 minutes with a murderously slow exhibition of brutal death metal.
Continuing in the same crushing manner the German band delivers a gorey torrent of killer riffs and some of the most well-performed and most varied vokills I've ever heard in a slam band. The second track "Squelching Postcoital Contraception About Ovarian Cysts" is a monumentally fearsome piece of slamming brutal death metal and really is the EP's main centrepiece, where it feels like Endometritis have really given it all they've got.

The last track, Ulcus Durum, is probably the EP's weakest track, and it feels like it's only there as a kind of filler track.
Despite all the commendable features of the "Dehiscent Purulent Abdominal Viscera" demo EP I wish they had a more aggressive, heavy and organic guitar tone. The drums could also be a little more crispy without losing brutality, and I feel Endometritis' music deserves the best sound available.

In short, Endometritis might be one of the next big things in German slam. They're playing a death metal/grindcore festival in Denmark this summer (2012) and, if I remember correctly, have some new material coming out soon. 8/10 guitars.

1. Disgorging Foul Excrements
2. Squelching Postcoital Contraception About Ovarian Cysts
3. Ulcus Durum

ENDOMETRITIS official site
Download the EP and listen for yourself HERE

6 Apr 2012

Putrified - Neurotic Necrotic [Full length] (2012, Hellthrasher Productions)

Mostly the bands of the modern metal world can be divided into two groups: Traditional revivalist bands and modern bands. You see tons of bands that do nothing but copy their favourite bands from the 80's, and especially death and thrash metal have had a huge resurgence in the scene these last few years.

Old school Swedish death metal is no exception. There are numerous great bands who have their inspirational roots in the old Swedish bands like Grave, Dismember and Entombed, but of course there are also a lot of really mediocre bands, and even some that downright tarnish the otherwise good name of Old School Swedish Death Metal.
Putrified is more or less one of those bands. For a band that has a demo, an EP and now two full length albums on it's record you would expect them to have found a good and solid recipe for metal, but unfortunately the one man project that is A.Death's Putrified is a sad husk of uncreative 80's worship.

Allow me to elaborate; Other than being nothing out of the ordinary, "Neurotic Necrotic" from 2012 is a collection of not-too-thoroughly worked through tracks of varying quality. The guitars are way too fuzzy for a non-stoner band and doesn't leave much room for aggression or the morbid power that imbued the old death metal classics. Some of the tracks can have good bits, like a nice riff or something like that, but ultimately Neurotic Necrotic lacks flow and a climax. It's like the songs individually and the album as a whole never really get to their respective climaxes, and that's what I meant by not thoroughly worked through.

A.Death presents little to no variation and the tracks mostly sound the same as every song sound like small variations of the same riff. The vocals are terribly unvaried and just not good enough to justify not doing anything else. If I would have to mention two good things about the album it is that the slow headbanging parts are alright and some acceptable riffs now and then. But it's not nearly enough to warrant more than 4/10 guitars.

1. Neurotic Necrotic
2. They Speak
3. Behold the Butchered
4. Havoc
5. A Chamber Beneath
6. The Flesh of God
7. Temple of Vomit
8. Await the Slaughter
9. The Arrival
10. Monolith
11. The Land of the Pharoes
12. These Forsaken Lands
13. The Return of Ashes

PUTRIFIED official site
Hellthrasher Productions official site