24 Jun 2012

Denial of God - Death and the Beyond [Full length] (2012, Hells Headbangers)

Black metal is often, if not mostly, affiliated with satanism and anti-christianity, so believe me when I say I was surprised to find that Denial of God, despite their ungodly name, has very little focus on those subjects.
Denial of God is a Danish band that is locally well known. They've released one album and a slew of EPs prior to Death and the Beyond, but I never really got around to checking them out. For those unfamiliar with the Danish trio, they have surprisingly little in common with your typical, garden variety black metal band. They seem to be more inspired by King Diamon and Mercyful Fate than other bands in the genre, and their sound and structure certainly aren't as chaotic and tremolo-based as many others, and lyrically "Death and the Beyond" leans alot less on the typical satanic material as I had expected, especially because their previous album had satanic themes.

Death and the Beyond boasts a wide variety of material. Starting out with the mood-setting piano-piece Veni Spiritus and ending with the 15 minute black metal epic Pendulum Swings the 45 minutes in between features everything from the melancholically uplifting and almost ballad-like Behind the Coffin's Lid to more traditional black metal tracks like Black Dethe and The Cursed Chamber.
Of Denial of God's second album can generally be said that it relies heavily on holding single notes rather than shredding away at 200 BPMs aswell as atmospheres that can mostly be described as cemetary or crypt-like. Their focus on sombre melodies like in the tracks Funeral and Bones Turn to Dust makes for a truly alternate take on Scandinavian black metal in 2012.

In regards to musicianship it goes without saying that Denial of God may not be the most technical band around, but their particular style of black metal suits a more simple songwriting much better. Death and the Beyond is a simple and effective album and is easily one of the better black metal releases I've heard this year so far. Ustumallagam's sepulchral vocals in conjuction with the despairing guitars of Azter and the great drumtracks of Galheim makes up a recipe for brilliant and different black metal. What can I say, finally a black metal band that doesn't just ape everything their Norwegian counterparts do. 9/10 guitars.

1. Veni Spiritus
2. Funeral
3. Behind the Coffin's Lid
4. The Cursed Chamber
5. Bones turn to Dust
6. Black Dethe
7. Spectral Lights
8. Pendulum Swings

DENIAL OF GOD official site
Hells Headbangers official site

18 Jun 2012

Total Desaster - Warfare Noise [Demo] (2011, Metaltifus Productions)

Black and thrash metal have always seemed to go well hand in hand, and the Colombian trio Total Desaster (named after the Destruction song) takes this old kinship and combines it, making for some fairly uninteresting blackened thrash metal. Right off the bat I could tell it would be heavily black metal inspired, but Total Desaster (formerly known as Devastation) aren't reinventing the genre.

First of all the riffs, catchy as they may seem, are incredibly short which results in incredibly monotonous and repetitive song structure. In all honesty it's just boring to hear the same three riffs over and over for the duration of a song. The drums aren't exactly helping in that regard as they're slight variations of the same d-beat over and over and over.
One thing that has a little appeal about the Warfare Noise demo is that it's raw as fuck, but unfortunately having only one guitarist this also results in some solos that completely ruin any flow they might have put forth.
I've gone rather slavishly over all aspects of the 2011 demo except the bass and the vocals. The vocals are pretty uninteresting when you can even hear them. They're just too low in the mix making them little more than background noise, and the bass really varies in quality. It fits alright in Dive Bomber, but on Armies of Death it sounds terrible with its almost off-beat picking. It could probably be compared to having your face slapped repeatedly with a limp dick.

In closing Total Desaster's Warfare Noise is a demo that just has too little work put into it. It doesn't feel like a proper effort and probably won't anytime soon dethrone bands like Deströyer 666 as the top bands of the genre. The production, while gritty, has too little warmth and sounds too much like Burzum's earliest recordings. That said, the drumset actually sounds pretty good compared to the rest. 4/10 guitars.

1. Intro
2. Dive Bomber
3. Hell Attack
4. Devastation
5. Armies of Death
6. Antichrist (Sepultura Cover)

TOTAL DESASTER official site
Metaltifus Productions official site

10 Jun 2012

Centurion - Serve No One [Full length] (2012, Wydawnictwo Muzyczne Psycho)

Centurion takes inspiration from a great variety of bands, but once in a while something shines through, like "Cut the Throat" which has a certain Cannibal Corpse feel to it in the verse parts, mainly because of the really fast vocals. In general it seems the Polish band's focus is on speed maybe rather than riffing, and this results in a very uniform and even album. Come to think of it, it seems many moderne death metal bands are this way. While many of the original death metal acts were also rather fast for their time, I can't help but feel that these bands were superior in the way that they didn't sacrifice listenability and sweet riffs in order to go all-in on speed.

One of the things I have against Centurion's otherwise very good album Serve No One is that it's sort of a one trick pony. Sure, they mix things up from the blast beat powered death metal with the occassional sinister riff now and then, but unfortunately it's not enough to create a varying and diverse album experience.

Serve No One is a phenomenal album if you enjoy fast-as-fuck death metal with a shit-ton of blast beats and well-executed vocal sections, but ultimately those factors, in my book, aren't quite enough to create a great death metal album. This second album from the Polish deathdealers comes ten years after their first one, and from the lack of variety on Serve No One I'm going to assume they didn't use all those years on refining the riffs or polish their sound. Make no mistake, Centurion aren't novices in the terms of death metal music and Serve No One is a text-book example of modern death metal. And maybe even a little too text-book example for me. The band show little personality and doesn't stand out from the crowd enough, and I only hope that they on future releases will be more distinct from the hordes of other bands in the genre.

In closing, Serve No One is a good and fast death metal album. I've heard a lot of death metal since I started listening to metal, and Centurion are certainly above average. Just not sufficiently so to be excellent. 7/10 guitars.

1. Total Terror
2. Ego Ultimus
3. Sacrilege
4. Gateways to Condemnation
5. Cut the Throat
6. Desecration of the Holy Kingdom
7. Thy Portal
8. Under the Black Banner
9. Ritual Massmurder
10. No One to Serve

CENTURION official site
Wydawnictwo Muzyczne Psycho official site

4 Jun 2012

Embrional - Absolutely Anti-Human Behaviors [Full length] (2012, Old Temple)

It would seem the Polish are very big on death metal, 'cause here's yet another death metal band from Poland. However the four-man strong band Embrional have a niche a tad bit different; Progressive death metal with some strong black-ish tendencies.

Their sound is utterly chaotic and sounds like the soundtrack to psychosis. The near constant blast-beats mixed with the choppy and incredibly precise guitars makes the music sound a bit segmentary and hacky, but it serves the important purpose of focusing the attention on blistering speeds and intricate riffs.
What this, in turn, affects is my enjoyability of the music. Embrional, like so many other progressive and technical bands, have sacrificed variety, groove and hooks in the pursuit of intricateness and technicality, thereby losing a lot of appeal.

And yet, even if Absolutely Anti-Human Behaviors lacks catchy riffs and variety, it kind of grows on you. You start noticing the little things, and the atmosphere isn't half bad. I feel that Embrional needs to mix things up a little, but more melodic tracks like the instrumental Necropolis does help a little in that regard. Yet the fact that most of the songs are incredibly similar actually makes those kind of tracks feel more odd and out of place. However, the fact that the quartet's music sometimes has a certain black metal feel makes it a little more interesting - It gives the music an extra advantage over many of the other bands of the genre, like how Augury's use of clean vocals and Fleshgod Apocalypse's use of classical music makes them stand out.

To round up, Embrional is a promising Polish band with 2 albums on their rap sheet. Their own personal brand of death metal features blistering fast blast beats, technical guitar riffs and deep, growling vocals. Though a bit lacking in variety, they do their thing in a satisfactory manner and Absolutely Anti-Human Behaviors is an honest and damn solid attempt at the genre. I don't care particularly much for progressive death metal because in my experience most of the bands focus too much of their energy on being "intelligent", but I found Embrional's second album to be worthy of several listens. Their guitar work and vocal efforts especially are strongpoints in this band. 7/10 guitars.

1. Possessed by Evil
2. Disgraceful Enslavement
3. Absolutely Anti-Human Behaviors
4. Necropolis
5. The Last Step into Nothingsness
6. Beyond the Abyss
7. Maniacal Madness
8. Bestial Torture
9. Dismal Sign
10. Mankind's Decline
11. Vermin of the Earth

EMBRIONAL official site
Old Temple official site