23 Jun 2014

Lord Impaler - Babylon Whore [EP] (2013, Self-released)

Since 1998 the greek trio known as Lord Impaler have unleashed grueling black metal upon the world, culminating in their 2011 album "Admire the Cosmos Black". Lord Impaler have no permanent drummer, resulting in each release using a different session member filling in roll of drummer; On the Babylon Whore EP from 2013 the title befalls George Trakas, who normally kicks ass in Mass Infection. Lord Impaler's primary body of work consists mainly of demos and generally smaller releases, and indeed the two songs found on the Babylon Whore EP were also released as a split wither Athos, another Greek black metal band.

Babylon Whore and The White Dream of Ziz blast away with immediate and unrelenting explosions of blastbeats and tremolo riffs, which paired with the traditional bleak sound creates an overall pretty standard take on blasting black metal. And in that sense the EP has it all, and little else. Babylon Whore is by all means a tribute to and a study in black metal ruthlessly beating your mind, and it excels in just that.

For the tracks to go on for four and five minutes respectively Lord Impaler end up repeating themselves over and over. The White Dream of Ziz has a slower, quieter part about halfway through, providing a glimps into more thoughtful songwriting territory, but when it almost immediately culminates in a return to the main riff the atmosphere almost built seems entirely unnecessary. This is the sad story of how most of the EP goes. The riffs are monstrously enjoyable, but when repeated ad nauseam it gets too much - There are simply too few riffs, resulting in many repeat offenses. As such the Babylon Whore EP, one of the Greek band's newest offerings, is fit only for sparse enjoyment. The material warrants more focus on variety and feels like it should instead be condensed into shorter tracks where the melodies could moreso come into their own and take the spotlight place they deserve, instead of being condemned to hatred at the hands of repetition for the sake of making the songs longer. 5/10 guitars

1. Babylon Whore
2. The White Dream of Ziz

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13 Jun 2014

Deus Otiosus - Rise [Full length] (2014, Deepsend Records)

Deus Otiosus represent the comet-like carreers of some contemporary death metal acts. Since the release of their first album, Murderer, in 2010 - only 4 years ago - the seasoned Danish group have toured extensively in Denmark and have signed with Deepsend Records. For those unfamiliar with Deus Otiosus their mission statement has always been returning to the roots of thrashy death metal through a more modern sound and production. The members' involvement in various other prolific Danish metal bands has previously meant a generally high quality of songwriting, valuing tormentingly ruthless content.

Long-time fans of the group will be pleased to find that Rise continues in much the same style and quality of the prior albums, Murderer and Godless. Newcomers should likewise easily be able to appreciate the dauntless riffs, the punishment of the drumkit, the powerfully booming bass and the hoarsely growled vocals which all make up the signature sound of Deus Otiosus. And this is exactly what the band is all about; While they are highly derivative of classic death metal their material never quite comes off as a complete rip off. Listening to tracks like Breeding Maggots or Iron Rule feels like greeting an old friend you forgot you had, sounding familiar while still adding various musical chunks giving it that modern aftertaste.

Staying in the spiritual neighbourhood of old school death metal means there's only so much you can do to experiment while still finding yourself within the frame of mind set by those standards. As such the third album sometimes feels unadventurous, often depending on the same elements and build-ups over and over again. That recipe is effective in live settings, providing ridiculous amounts of head-banging circle-pitting material, but when you've got the music all to yourself at home it has a habbit of making the listening experience a bit tedious over time.

Having early on adopted a way of enticing listeners with get-the-job-done lyrics like "Don't fuck with the dead, or the dead will fuck with you" the by now well known Danish band aren't exactly focusing on virtuosity or groundbreaking musicianship, and in that lies the very appeal of Deus Otiosus. They're not trying to be something they're not and they stick to what they know: Effective ass-kicking death metal. 7/10 guitars.

1. Rising War
2. Iron Rule
3. Don't Fuck With the Dead
4. Breeding Maggots
5. Vultures
6. Walk the Shadows
7. Stand Up and Fight
8. Will and Fear
9. Fall of the West

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10 Jun 2014

Bone Fragments - Blood Spatter Bone Scatter [Full length] (2013, Self-released)

Through a carreer spanning eight years Bone Fragments from moonshine country Virginia have produced a demo and three albums of black metal with the theme of... Clowns and carnivals? I could scarcely believe what my eyes beheld in the promo material; A bunch of youngsters in varying degrees of clown-like get up, synth-based metal melodies washing ashore somewhere in the borderland between eerily cheery and creeping melancholy. My immediate thoughts were something along the lines of "you have got to be fucking kidding me".

But no, they are not kidding. While Bone Fragments at first glance keep a healthy ironic distance to their chosen themes, the amount of work put into their third album tells an entirely different story. Disturbing synthesized ragtimes take the helm while start-stop guitar grooves lazily hang back in search of something better to do, only to emerge on pseudo-virtuosic soli every once in while whenever the guitarist feels like it. Once or twice the Virginian band brings to mind the works of Emperor or perhaps Arcturus, but these moments are - regretably, I might add - few and far apart.

The project known af Bone Fragments is essentially a take on black metal that wants so hard to be boundary-pushing, different and modern that instead it comes off as comically bad, which wouldn't be so bad if it didn't seem like there had been so much work put into making it sound good. The production in itself is quite commendable with everything balancing out nicely, but why anyone would waste the sound's potential on music so wholeheartedly awful is beyond me. Their exploration of a silly gimmick does not seem to stem from musical wanderlust, but moreso like a vain attempt at being different in some way that their skills as songwriters does not permit.

This is especially evident in the fact that almost every track is incredibly long without needing to be. There are only two reasons for a track to be very long; Either you are experimenting and exploring vast vistas of instrumentation or melody, or you're building atmosphere. The songwriting on Blood Spatter Bone Scatter does neither. Most individual passages of instrumentation go on forever and ever for the sake of meandering through samey synthesizer melodies. I get it. You thought it'd be funny to make a melodic metal album rife with synths over a joking gimmick. You didn't have to make it an hour long.

Where do you go when you have no good ideas? Well, maybe you can come up with a terrible one that is at least original! That seems to be exactly what the ensemble known as Bone Fragments did. Maybe they were too hopped up on moonshine to realize there's a reason no one ever thought it was a good idea to make a clown black metal band. Either way, Blood Spatter Bone Scatter is an underground piece best left unattented. And for the record, no, I don't think I take music too seriously. I just think that gimmicks mostly serve as placeholders for actual talent. 3/10 guitars.

1. Laughing as You Get Sick and Die
2. The Weeds, the Reeds, and the Muck
3. Cryptosporadic
4. Kathleen
5. The Frail and the Demented
6. The Lure
7. Would You Like Some Candy?
8. Aliens and Clowns
9. The Clown with the Bleeding Eyes
10. Euphoric Delirium
11. Even More Deranged
12. Solstice
13. Island of the Dolls
14. The Boneyard

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4 Jun 2014

Cvinger - Monastery of Fallen [EP] (2013, Self-released)

It is not often Slovenia makes itself heard on the international metal scene. Indeed there seems to be barely over a hundred active metal bands today, according to Metal Archives. Among these one hundred bands are Cvinger; A band that remained a trio from its conception in 2012 until 2014, where founding member Lucerus gave up his bass-duties to focus on vocals, the roll of bassist being filled by Skalph.

Traditionally schooled, their reliance upon the by now almost archaic customs of second wave black metal weighs in as the most prominent feature of Cvinger. Monastery of Fallen builds confidently on a foundation of cascading torrents of furious blast beats set to the devout teachings of ruthless tremolo riffs, with Lucerus' vocals chiming in with the raw doctrines of every black metal curse and lyrical subject in the book, including - but not limited to - death, anti-christianity, blasphemy, darkness and misanthropy.

Cvinger's gravitation toward the old news of black metal means there's little enjoyment from originality to be had on Monastery of Fallen. Incessant pyres of hatred and decay aside, the 20-minute EP doesn't so much feel like the satanic apex predator it appears like as it does an aging beast nearing extinction, lazily dangling around at the bottom of the food chain, whilst leisurely grazing at the once-green pastures of tirelessly re-used ideas.

The faintest gusts of originality come at the behest of the rich monk-like chants that intermediate and close the EP. It is an element that comes a bit more unexpected than the rest of the obvious second wave worship presented on the release, and it is a very welcome sight on the sea of generic blast beats and mediocre tremolos that Cvinger have set sail upon. Even so, with all their fervor and all their might, the eight tracks of unholy black metal on Monastery of Fallen have not produced one single noteworthy song. Cvinger relies too heavily on elements that are only great when paired with arduous songwriting, and the roaring riffs found here linger only for seconds in their boring habitat among the deepest notes on the fretboard, never daring to seek the adventures of higher notes or more audacious melodies. 5/10 guitars.

1. Chapter One: Into the Depths of Arcane Sanctuary
2. Blaspherion
3. Among the Crucified
4. Salvation in the Darkest Wrath
5. Chapter Two: Of Ashes and Dust
6. In Thy Kingdom's Shadow
7. Monastery of Fallen
8. Chapter Three: Amen

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