29 May 2012

Deus Otiosus - Murderer [Full length] (2010, FDA Rekotz)

Death metal is by far one of the most popular metal genres in Denmark. The legends of the scene like Iniquity, Illdisposed, Dominus, Konkhra, Exmortem, Panzerchrist and Corpus Mortale were in more recent years followed up by equally prolific bands such as Hatesphere, Dawn of Demise and Thorium, and bands like Cerekloth and Undergang have given old school death metal a resurgeance in recent times.

Playing that very style we have another Danish band, which is more or less an allstar lineup. Featuring members from Church Bizarre, Cerekloth, Victimizer and Hideous Invasion the band DEUS OTIOSUS is by no means comprised of newbies, and their heritage from the other bands really shines through on this 2010 debut album. The album "Murderer" is an 8-song showcase of how you write fucking awesome old school death metal without shitty production.

There are catchy riffs aplenty when the primal roar of the first track sets the tone. Immediately Deus Otiosus make it clear what they're about: Death metal like our moms used to make it (well, not really, but you catch my drift) with a twist of thrash and a production that makes the music heavy as fuck but still has plenty of room for crystal clear sound. Only rarely have I heard a debut album with as good a flow as Deus Otiosus' Murderer. I admit it took me more than one listening to get into the album, but when I took the time to really listen I was rewarded with a beyond satisfying listening experience.

Production-wise every is as it should be. Audible and perfectly balanced, the vocals neatly binding it all together in a writhing mass of noxious death. Normally I would say 8 songs is a bit short for a death metal album, but the length of the tracks fully justify the small number of songs as most clock in at more than 5 minutes.
Despite all my praise, there is one thing Murderer lacks. I said there are plenty of catchy riffs, and I stand by that statement, but ultimately the album isn't as memorable as some of the albums that Deus Otiosus have likely listened to. But Murderer is an album that is so masterfully put together, so solid and so deserving of appraisal that I'm forced to give it an 8/10 guitars.

1. I Have Seen Him Slay
2. Thousand Arms of the Dead
3. Wall of Violence
4. Ye Pigs of Little Faith
5. Whore Limbs
6. No Life
7. Ash World
8. Murderer

DEUS OTIOSUS official site
FDA Rekotz official site

25 May 2012

Skjaersild - Skjaersild / Damned Roots [Demo] (2005 / 2007, Xaphan Records)

When it comes to black metal it's easy for an outsider to think all the bands sound alike, and the veritable hordes of so-called bedroom black metal bands aren't exactly helping.
I this review I will be taking a look at the Spanish black metal band Skjaersild and their first two demos, Skjaersild from 2005 and Damned Roots from 2007.

Skjaersild, the band who's name I keep misspelling, offer some fairly mediocre, slow-moving atmospheric/depressive black metal on the first demo. The two tracks, "Blinded to See the Most Inhuman Pain" and "Rotten Nature", feature little more than heavily distorted and rather simple guitars playing some moderately enjoyable riffs thick with melancholia.
The lack of drums and, well, any other instrument actually, on the first track makes the music sound depth-less and doesn't really leave much to the imagination or so to speak.
When drums are finally intruduced on the second track, the 10-minute opus "Rotten Nature", it is in companionship with the same bland guitars we heard on the previous track, only to occasionally be interrupted by what kinda sounds like the clean guitar MIDI-sounds from Guitar Pro with a ton of reverb.
When it comes to the structure of Rotten Sound the parts of the track are simply too incoherent and seemingly unrelated to each other to justify throwing them together into one long torturous track.
The fact that the cover is nothing more than the name written in capital, white gothic letters and a Mitsubishi-logo on a black background doesn't really make the demo feel more worked through or serious.

The 2007 demo "Damned Roots" pretty much features the same unexciting guitar work and, most notably, even more of those harrowing MIDI sounds that plagued the first demo. Little has changed in the two years that it apparently took to complete this 3-track demo, and pinpointing differences is almost completely impossible, one exception being the fact that the last song, "Looking at the Emptiness" actually has a couple of layers instead of just being guitar and drums. But as with Rotten Nature from 2005, Looking at the Emptiness suffers from the same problem: A total lack of coherency and continuity. It's basically just a bunch of completely unrelated bits put after one another. And these parts are everything from what sounds like stuff ripped from the Diablo II soundtrack to Burzum-inspired ambient-ish stuff, which by the way is more or less completely ripped off of Burzum's Gebrechlichkeit.

All in all both demos are very lacklustre and none of the tracks feel like they're particularly cared for or worked through, and it makes the final outcome seem unfinished and unpolished like a work in progress. It simply isn't a very wholesome listening experience. 4/10 guitars.

Tracklist (Skjaersild):
1. Blinded to See the Most Inhuman Pain
2. Rotten Nature

Tracklist (Damned Roots):
1. Looking at the Emptiness
2. Is Not a Voice Anymore
3. Go Away

SKJAERSILD official site
Xaphan Records official site

16 May 2012

Snaegr - The Hordes of Chaos [Demo] (2011, Self-released)

To me Swedish death metal is probably the most easily recognizable branch of death metal. From the chainsaw-guitar sound, the slow, thrashy riffs, the menacing atmosphere and the filthy production makes it stand out anywhere.
Without reading the band biography beforehand I casually put on Snaegr's newest demo "The Hordes of Chaos", and before the one minute intro song was even half over I thought to myself "they're definitely Swedish". And correct, Snaegr is a Swedish death metal band doing their best to follow in the footsteps of bands like Entombed, Grave and Dismember.

Other than their blatant worship of the Swedish legends you can also find hints of other bands, namely the British band Bolt Thrower. This is evident in both the way they construct their riffs and their inspiration from the fantasy boardgame Warhammer, from which their name is also taken.

For a 4-song demo one cover-song and a pretty straight forward intro track is just too little effort. It's almost impossible to get a complete view of the band on what is essentially two real tracks. If the band's other two demos are equally short I would've preferred if they had compiled all the tracks and put them on one release. What I got from the rather short demo was really what I also mentioned above: That they've listened to a LOT of Swedish death metal, and that they've played a lot of Warhammer.

In terms of musicianship the band's riffmaker Christofer Davidsson is a moderately good guitar player and riffateer, and band's second member, the vocalist Fredrik Johansson, is a pretty decent growler. The production is like it should be: Gritty, filthy and at times you can even catch the fragrant stench of death in your nostrils if you let the music take you to the bands' insane state of mind.

Ultimately The Hordes of Chaos feels like a half-assed effort with too few tracks that don't always seem as worked-through as I have come to expect from demos nowadays. While Snaegr have some cool things going for them, they're still just clinging a bit too much to a genre that has seen hundreds, if not thousands, of bands of varying quality come and go without really doing anything out of the ordinary. 6/10 guitars.

1. Risen from Below
2. End of All Things
3. The Hordes of Chaos
4. Born for Burning (Bathory Cover)

SNAEGR's facebook page

13 May 2012

Pictures deleted

For some reason Google decided to delete the entire photoalbum connected to the blog. The pictures will be put up again in chronological order starting with the newest. Obviously this will take some time, but I recon I'll be done in a few days.
Other than that I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who's been reading my blog, giving me feedback and every band who've been brave enough to send me their stuff!

Keep spreading the metal, and thanks for reading!
-Jakob Goul

10 May 2012

Stillborn - Los Asesinos del Sur [Full length] (2011, Ataman Productions)

Having listened to and reviewed all these great Polish bands these last couple of weeks has made me think Poland doesn't have bad metal bands. Let's just say that Stillborn isn't going to change my mind;

Boasting a severe arsenal of semi-technical and fast blackened death metal with a ton of blast beats this fourth album from Stillborn is by no means a light-weight in terms of brutality. Their evil sound and focus on blasphemic themes fits perfectly with their choice of genre, and they do what they do very well. In conjunction with the pretty good vocals, the good production and the tremolo-based riffs this makes for an overall great recipe for fast-as-hell blackened death metal.

What the album Los Asesinos del Sur really lacks is hooks. Getting into it took me quite a few listens, and even then I'm having troubling remembering the individual songs from time to time, even if these are really good in their own right. Other than Antonym, which I feel is Stillborn's best effort on this album, the tracks tend to be "listen-and-forget", probably because they mostly follow the same formular all the way through. It simply isn't as catchy as I would've liked, but then again some may argue that blackened death metal isn't about catchiness.

To boil it all down to a few sentences, Stillborn's Los Asesinos del Sur is a worthy and above average effort in the genre. They should be proud of themselves and I'd recommend listening to Stillborn if you're into blasphemous, malevolent death metal with a twist of black metal. 7/10 guitars.

1. Overture .966
2. Hymn of Destruction
3. Diamonds of the Last Water
4. Antonym
5. Son of the Holy Motherfucker
6. Blood and Dust
7. Kot Wolanda
8. Los Asesinos del Sur
9. Stillborn II
10. Whore of the Whores

STILLBORN official site
Ataman Productions official site

6 May 2012

Pandemonium - Misanthropy [Full length] (2012, Pagan Records)

Blackened death metal has also, to me, seemed like a genre much less appreciated or widespread as other genres like death, black or thrash metal. Only a select few bands like Belphegor, Zyklon, Akercocke, Behemoth and to some extent God Dethroned and Necrophobic have gotten "big" in the scene.

Like their fellow Polish country-men in Behemoth the four man large band Pandemonium play blackened death metal with an emphasis on the death metal part. Also, like Behemoth their current sound is very modern with a huge focus on good production. I could go on about how it kinda sounds like Pandemonium wants to be Behemoth, but instead I will try to let the album "Misanthropy" speak for itself.
The songwriters of Pandemonium do have a certain knack for writing some genuinely enjoyable metal, but only rarely does the music exceed the relatively high standards created by other bands of the genre. While the great production certainly does good things for the band I can't help but feel that there are several things not quite up to par. For instance the vocals are tremendously lacklustre and mostly sound like the drunken ravings of a homeless vodka-enthusiast.

Another thing that bothered me was that Pandemonium seem to be stuck in one tempo. Almost all songs run in the vicinity of the same speeds, and only rarely does the band leave their apparent comfort zone and speed things up a little. This has the effect that most of the tracks can be very hard to distinguish between, and the songs don't really have the necessary build-up to create an actual climax.

Among the highlights of the album could be mentioned the fifth song "Avant-Garde Underground" which has a really memorable riff and is probably also one of the more atypical efforts on Misanthropy along with the melodic tracks "Only the Dead Will see the End of War" and "Misanthropy", which feature some juicy ancient-ish sounding stuff.
All in all Pandemonium's fourth album isn't that bad. Like I mentioned earlier it's a pretty good compilation of what the band themselves call "Satanic Dark Metal", but I think Misanthropy lacks the spirit and enthusiasm that made Behemoth big. 7/10 guitars

1. The Black Forest
2. God Delusion
3. Necro Judas
4. Stones are Eternal
5. Avant-Garde Underground
6. Everlasting Opposition
7. Only the Dead Will see the End of War
8. Misanthropy

PANDEMONIUM official site
Pagan Records official site

1 May 2012

Empatic - Gods of Thousand Souls [Full length] (2010, Wydawnictwo Muzyczne Psycho)

Thrashy semi-melodic death metal is more or less the national metal genre of my home country Denmark, so listening to the Polish band Empatic's newest album, 2010's Gods of Thousand Souls, was almost like listening to bands from home like Hatesphere or Aphyxion.

Like mentioned above, Empatic plays some nice and heavy thrashy half-melodic death metal with a good sense of pace and structure. The 10 original tracks of the album feature some pretty snazzy chunks of metal that beg to be headbanged to. But what the Polish band have in talent for flow they lack in hooks and memorable riffs. Though they are obviously talented musicians I'm missing something truely memorable about the music. The songs simply blend in too much with each other, making the album a bit repetitive because it's hard to distinguish the tracks from each other.

That said their Randy Blythe-esque vocalist goes great with their more ruthless riffs and the tight-as-fuck drums. Songs like False Friend or The Game start out really heavy but then mellow out during the middle until they climax in the end. After a few listens I get the feeling that Empatic has only two settings: Crushingly heavy and melodic flowy stuff, mostly because all their songs have these two modes incorporated in some way. Though this tendency isn't very noticable or prominent, it's still enough so that it can halt an otherwise great pace.

In general I'd say that Gods of Thousand Souls is an honest, down to earth piece of death metal with varying musical tendencies. It's not something blindingly special, and Empatic don't seem like they're trying to create something new and exciting, but they've succeeded in compiling a solid set of songs for metalheads to enjoy. Apart from the hideously out-of-place cover song in the end of the album, Gods of Thousand Souls is pretty good work. 7/10 guitars.

1. Green Mile
2. G.O.T.S.
3. False Friend
4. The Game
5. Tomorrowland
6. VS
7. So What
8. Dreamer
9. Fulfilled Dreams
10. Empatic
11. Enola Gay (OMD Cover)

EMPATIC official site
Wydawnictwo Muzyczne Psycho official site