Rivers of Nihil – The Conscious Seed of Light

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Unleashing a debut album which intrudes upon and explores the psyche, UK progressive death metallers Rivers of Nihil is a band with a ruinous sound built with superbly accomplished textures. The Conscious Seed of Light is a captivating confrontation which as it devours and stretches the senses you can only have the feeling that its creators are at the start of a certain ascent to major recognition. The release is a demanding and intrusion affair, one which needs numerous encounters to truly reap all of its rewards, but a release which constantly stimulates and ignites imagination and passions.

Formed in 2009 by vocalist Jake Dieffenbach, guitarist Jon Kunz, and drummer Ron Nelson, the band from Reading, Pennsylvania, was soon gripping attention locally with their dark heavy explorations. Extended to a quintet soon after their first live shows by the addition of guitarist Brody Uttley and bassist/vocalist Adam Biggs, Rivers Of Nihil subsequently released a pair of well received EPs, Hierarchy and Temporality Unbound in 2010 and 2011 respectively, whilst extending their live performances through shows and tours throughout the East Coast and Midwest as well as appearances at events such as Midwest Fuckfest with Dying Fetus, Misery Index and Arsis, and Akron Deathfest with Complete Failure. As their stock rose the band continued to reap praise for their live performances which saw them going on to share stages with the likes of Suffocation, The Faceless, Despised Icon, Revocation, Beneath the Massacre, Dysrhythmia, Decapitated, Six Feet Under and more. September 2012 saw the band sign to Metal Blade Records before entering the studio earlier this year with Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal, ex-Morbid Angel) at Mana Recording Studios (Cannibal Corpse, Goatwhore, Exhumed) to record The Conscious Seed of Light. The result is an intense and dramatically agreeable death metal violation, a confrontation which is as abrasive as it is magnetic and as destructive as it is violently seductive. With essences of the likes of Morbid Angel, Gojira, and Decapitated to its uncompromising depths and presence the album is a release which cries out for attention, and you suspect will eagerly receive it.

      The Conscious Seed of Light is planned as the first of four related albums, each reflecting a season with Spring the theme of the band’s Coverdebut which explores “various themes concerning new beginnings, growth, and an attachment to the natural world in a post-human Earth.” It opens with Terrestria I: Thaw, the track a short instrumental which sets out the soundscape for the release to expand upon. The melodic breath and progressive endeavour of the piece is an instant if not quite dramatic draw which builds up its pressure and intensity to flow into the torrential assault of Rain Eater, its rhythms and vocals a squalling tempest of malevolence and creative causticity. Dieffenbach has a nastily grazing delivery which easily pleases and makes a great rub upon the sonically melodic enterprise which spawns from the guitars. As emerges across all songs, there is plenty going on within the vicious maelstrom, a wealth of invention which needs time to reveal its full suasion but provides potent and exhilarating rapacious flights each and every time.

The impressive start flows into the equally compelling Birth of the Omnisavior and Soil & Seed, both unbridled individual creative predations which leads senses and thoughts on a savage stalking of emotions and a dark damning aural storm. The second of the two is especially a bestial inventive ravaging which hints of directions across its sinewed flank but persistently just as you think you are on course with its intent twists down new avenues, its craft and mastery making for one of the major highlights of the release.

Across an album which holds its imaginative heights at lofty levels throughout, further immense pinnacles come with the dangerously addictive riff chugging Mechanical Trees and the intensive sonically scalding Human Adaptation with its Meshuggah like air splintering malefaction, whilst closing track Airless is a lasting voracious transgression which invites the listener to take the sonic tsunami of The Conscious Seed of Light all over again.

Not exactly an easy listen at times and a release with moments where distinction between tracks is lost without a really deliberate focus on the encounters the album is nevertheless an exciting provocation from a band you just feel has explosive horizons ahead of them. Rivers of Nihil is a name we will be hearing draped in acclaim starting with The Conscious Seed of Light.

https://www.facebook.com/riversofnihil

8/10

RingMaster 17/10/2013

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Scordatura – Torment of the Weak

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Let us cut to the chase and announce that quite simply Torment of the Weak, the new album from Scottish band Scordatura, is one of if not the most impressive death metal debuts of recent times. It is a monstrous declaration of an emerging potency which already consumes and ignites the senses like a veteran destroyer of souls. It is a bestial rage of unadulterated death metal which preys on, takes up the chase against, and devours its victims in one devious swoop. The band do not stretch existing boundaries it is fair to say upon the album but instead give the genre a fresh and invigorating passion wand enterprise which leaves the deepest, hungriest satisfaction.

Consisting of vocalist Daryl Boyce, guitarists Owen McKendrick and Dave Coia, drummer Tam Moran (all founding members), and bassist Mark Scobie (joined 2011), Scordatura  have built an intense reputation around their local scene and beyond. Since forming in 2007, the Glasgow quintet has wreaked their heavy toxicity across the UK supporting the likes of Cryptopsy, Misery Index, Aborted, Beneath The Massacre, Malevolant Creation, Fleshgod Apocalypse, and Condemned as well as also joining Cerebral Bore on tour in 2011 and making their own successful tours around Scotland before that. Earlier demos and the Open Skies EP as well as their live album Live in Edinburgh [Deadhaggis Deathfest] earned a building acclaim and presence for the band but Torment of the Weak should be the key to full nationwide recognition whilst taking the band to the fore of the extreme metal scene in the UK, and with the self-released album also having distribution throughout North America and Canada by Blasthead Records, maybe the world will be making their calls upon Scordatura very soon too.

Recorded in 2012 with Scott Fuller of Abysmal Dawn doing the mixing, the eight track Torment of the Weak scorches the senses coverimmediately as opener Necromantic Disposition emerges from a sampled piece of cinematic blood soaked mayhem. Their songs are themed lyrically by serial killers and gore bought with an open black humour and the first track brings it all into devastating play. Once the rolling film and final dreg of live has been taken the track explodes into a savage assault of exhausting riffs, suffocating intensity, and crippling rhythms all ridden by the excellent guttural malevolence of Boyce. There is an instantly contagious pull which is impossible to resist within the carnally bred tempest and for all the predacious riffing and cage fighter beats from Moran, groove is king and twists around the spine of passions with intrusive majesty. This addiction causing weaponry is as lethal as the corrosive aspects of the songs and gives no respite from the merciless proceedings despite its impossibly tempting claws.

The following Visceral Disembowelment is bred from the same rapacious heart and also takes a mere moment to clamp its jaws around the ear and send snarling lashes of riffs through its defenceless throat whilst the bass of Scobies prowls in the wake escorted by the continuing to impress bone splintering rhythms of Moran. The track crawls and sizes up its recipient, crowding and provoking with compelling intimidation rather than going all out to ravage all life from the body. With again irresistible grooves littering its path to seduce whilst the rest of the song chews further into the psyche it continues the impressive start with riveting ease.

Both Neurotic Aberration and the title track bring their equally dramatic and distinct rabidity to work, the first with a jackhammer provocation merged with a thick oppressive intensity and its successor through a maelstrom of blood soaked textures and primal hunger brewed into an annihilatory tsunami of violence. As throughout the album the guitars of McKendrick and Coia have a craft and guile which leaves undiluted riffing as potent as the melodic and sonic imagination and they as ruinous as the insidious riffs.

Incestual Convulsions is sheer momentous filth, a sonic irreverence in league with an inexhaustible brutality that turns those toxic grooves into pure venom within the vicious storm. It is a glorious confrontation which uses the intense platform of its excellent predecessor Back to Crack, a song which softens up every aspect of the mind, to launch its merciless grievous tirade.

Completed by the scintillating disorientating pestilence of Sutured Flesh and finally the virulently poisonous jeopardy of From Chin To Hole, the immense Torment of the Weak leaves a blissful shattered wreck in its tumultuous wake. It is a staggering introduction to Scordatura, a band bringing the essences of the likes of Suffocation and Dying Fetus into something new and thrilling. With more tours throughout the UK and Europe ahead, including a tour with Fleshgod Apocalypse, and an appearance at The Northern Darkness Festival  in December alongside bands such as At The Gates, Decapitated, Napalm Death, Graveworm, and Hour Of Penance, 2013 looks like the year Scordatura will stake a claim to sit at the top table of death metal.

https://www.facebook.com/Scordaturaofficial

9.5/10

RingMaster 30/07/2013

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Utopium – Vicious Consolation / Virtuous Totality

Utopium_1

If you are looking for nasty then Vicious Consolation/Virtuous Totality from Portuguese grindcore annihilators Utopium will feed your desires and then some. It is a fearsome atrocity of sonic viciousness and intensive malevolence but equally a compelling and deceptively contagious violation of primal enterprise and howling malice. The band bring an additional brawling hateful crust and sludge animosity to their grind driven destructiveness and though arguably it takes a few listens to truly make its persuasion the album is one you cannot refuse or escape.

The quintet from Lisbon formed in 2007, making their presence known strongly at home with their first demo Rehearsal the following year and their audience wasting live appearances. A few line-up changes came across the years but Utopium has gone from strength to strength, their strongly awaited debut EP Conceptive Prescience in 2010 easily living up to brewed expectations whilst receiving impressive acclaim, and a 7” split release with Lifedeceiver the following year only enhancing their growing status within extreme metal, as did their shows alongside the likes of Rotten Sound, Misery Index, Despised Icon and Wormrot as well as festivals appearances at places like Bracara Extreme and Milhões de Festa.

Released via Bleak Recordings, Vicious Consolation / Virtuous Totality has all the armoury, invention, and ‘charm’ to lift the utopium_coverband to the next level of recognition. From the opening torrent of aural abuse of Null Rousting through to its last primal second, the album is not an experience for the weak hearted or kneed but from start to finish it leaves an exhausted but certain intense satisfaction in its place. The opener arrives through dark intimidation, its corrosive breath wrapped around a lumbering oppressive energy and pressing hungrily upon the senses. The bass offers a resonating growl alongside serpentine vocals and sonic squalls, all brewing towards the expulsion of malicious unbridled destruction. Into its now octane fuelled charge the track rips the ear apart, its riffs searing flesh and rhythms cracking bone but it is all ok as an impossibly addictive groove spines and seduces the whole annihilatory confrontation. The climax of the song returns to the intense heavy massed rummage through emotions whilst its lingering sonic farewell leads the senses right into the fury of Lodging In A Rut. It is mere seconds in presence, every one a blight upon the ear but equally a very pleasing scourge.

The song is like many, barely around long enough to blister the senses even once, though that is all most need to make a lingering impact and it has to be said that the varied range of lengths from seconds to at most four long tortuous minutes, only emphasise and brings further light the wealth of imagination and inventiveness beneath the constant ruinous attack. It also allows eighteen venomous predators to wreak real potent havoc across the sonic battlefield that is Vicious Consolation / Virtuous Totality.

The likes of the excellent Held Tombstone, with its thick black tar embrace gnawing away with each vehement driven riff and crippling rhythm soaked by punk rage, leaves disorientation and greedy hunger for more whilst the contagiously grooved Jarred Into Newtons recruits any remaining doubt and resistance with carnal bred ease, its insistent and sharply honed riff driven scything another irresistible violation.

The first nine tracks hold their own with those mentioned the biggest highlights but the Virtuous Totality portion of the release is its most compelling stance and immediately makes that declaration with the monstrous Dissolution, its carnivorous rabidity merciless and demanding especially through the throaty bass prowl and sonic searing unleashed. It is powerfully backed up by the spiteful Retrace and Rummage, all of its thirty eight seconds a scalding toxin, and the ravenous Thrive A Starch, a track which towers above the senses with leviathan intensity and iron clad metal aggression and proceeds to enflame the passions with caustic aural irreverence and undefined but unavoidably addictive grooves from guitar and bass.

The best track follows soon after in the black-hearted shape of Owner of A Kept Abidance. From an ear plundering slow vindictive consumption with vocals dripping malignancy with every intelligibly growled syllable, the song explodes into a torrentially driven flume of rancor sculpted sonics and similarly bred rhythmic abuse. It is a maelstrom of hostile intensive virulence and vitriolic grooves which are irrepressibly seductive as is its open enmity, and by far the best track on the album.

With the likes of Revamp The Disinfection and the brilliant Thin-Skinned Skill ensuring Vicious Consolation / Virtuous Totality finishes on a pinnacle of vitriol, Utopium has delivered one of the best extreme releases this year. If the likes of Brutal Truth, Nasum, Extreme Noise Terror, and Terrorizer do it for you, then this will surely thrill.

www.facebook.com/utopiumgrind

8.5/10

RingMaster 13/05/2013

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Six Feet Under: Unborn

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    Approaching Unborn the new and tenth album from Tampa death metallers Six Feet Under there was a mix of expectations after hearing the songs making up the release were written around the same time as those on their more than decent previous album Undead of last year. Would they be tracks which were deemed not good enough or suitable for their previous album or could they stand alone with equal or superior results? It does not take too long to realise they certainly have the strength and quality to match those on the last album though equally they do not leap beyond it in standards or engagement either. It is basically a sister release to Undead, a sideways step or second part depending how you look at it which leaves one more than satisfied but devoid of any fired up passion towards it.

With a new line-up of guitarists Ola Englund and Steve Swanson, bassist Jeff Hughell, drummer Kevin Talley (Dying Fetus, Misery Index, Chimaira), and the distinctive corrosive tones of band founder Chris Barnes (ex-Cannibal Corpse), Six Feet Under return to the scene of ‘the crime’ satisfyingly created with Undead to give arguably a more vicious and visceral musical breath to the again Metal Blade Records released Unborn. The songs making up the album again are borne from when Barnes wrote with a group of guitarists/songwriters in Ben Savage (Whitechapel), Rob Arnold (ex-Chimaira) and Jari Laine (Torture Killer), a union which has brought rich rewards across both albums.

The album makes an initially gentle approach with inviting guitar caresses to open up Neuro Osmosis but is soon opening up itsSix Feet Under - Unborn muscles and intent with dramatic grooves and caging rhythms whilst Barnes exploits every syllable of his delivery with a corruptive and intimidating abrasive primal growl. The song whips and scores the ear with accomplished and inventive sonic intimidation crafted into barbed lures which equally seduce and threaten. It is a pleasing start which captures the imagination ready for the following encounters starting with the prowling Prophecy. The track swaggers with spite and devious intent knowing its weaponry of sinewy riffs and hungry rhythms is a seduction hard to resist. The song does make the keenest persuasion and ticks all the boxes a musical appetite has but its failure to find anything unique to really excite slightly defuses its promising strengths a little.

It is a good start though and leaves one more than happy to delve deeper into the release with an immediate reward from the outstanding Zombie Blood Curse. The track stomps with confidence and magnetic unrelenting purpose, the guitars chugging with a greedy hunger and bass adding extra raptorial malevolence to the rampant endeavour. Mid-way the track slips into a sonic enticement which initially feels wrong but soon leaves an appealing flavour before the song returns to its carnally conceived romp. It is by far the best track on the album and a rival to the greatest moments on the previous album too.

The likes of Decapitate, the carnivorous Fragment with Barnes at his most venomous, and The Sinister Craving with crippling drum skills from Talley carving up the senses, all make their mark though without lighting any rages or fires inside. Despite that the album continues to satisfy and pull the listener into its firm grip squeezing with extra thrills through Alive to Kill You and Psychosis. The first of the two chews and exhausts the senses with a riotous and eager bloodlust honed by the vocals and sharp guitar scything across the ear whilst the second moulds and perverts emotions with fiery sonic teasing and imaginatively destructive guitar confrontation.

Unborn is certainly a strong and pleasing release which alongside the last album sees Six Feet Under finding a much more widely palatable and impressive presence with vital grooves and moments of inciting invention to those not already persuaded by the band. Whether it will convince all that the band is their new passion is unlikely but neither will the album leave any depth of displeasure in its wake.

https://www.facebook.com/sixfeetunder

7/10

RingMaster 19/03/2013

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Chariots of The Gods: Tides of War

Chariots of the Gods -Tides of War official (group)

     Exploding out from the depths of the underground, Tides of War the debut album from Canadian metallers Chariots of The Gods, is quite simply sensational, a metal album of the highest order. It offers no indulgency or pretences to mislead on paper or aurally, but openly knows what it is good at and delivers those aspects with a passion and force which few other bands certainly recently have matched. Fusing diverse textures and sounds from melodic metal, thrash, and death, their music and album is simply a tour de force of metal.

Formed in 2007 by guitarist Mathieu St-Amour alongside bassist Christian Methot and guitarist Christian Carrière, the Ottawa band grew into a quintet with the addition of drummer Rich O’Neil and vocalist Renaud Jobin. Soon impressing live, the band released to very strong responses their Reverence EP in 2010. The release pushed them onto another level locally and sparked better opportunities live for the band, though the end of the same year going into the next saw the departure of Methot and Carrière. Moving forward though Chariots of the Gods brought in long-time friend and guitarist Dimitri Gervais and bassist Payam Doryani and set about laying waste with their towering sound. The band has bruised stages alongside the likes of Misfits, Voivod, Despised Icon, Kataklysm, Blind Witness, Misery Index, Martyr, Fuck the Facts, Blackguard, Neuraxis, and The Agonist, over the years and now burst into the world with their triumphant first full length release.

The Glen Robinson (Gwar, Annihilator, Queensryche, Voivod) produced album is a thrilling tempest of insatiable riffs, rhythms Tides of War - Cover - High Reswhich make demands no one should be forced to take but do willingly, and deliciously confrontational vocals. Spread throughout there is also a melodic and sonic enterprise which burns like an invigorating furnace and combined the result is one of the most impressive metal albums in recent years. Self released, Tides of War immediately from its dramatic and compelling opening instrumental Overture has a hold over the ear and thoughts. It is brief yet the perfect atmospheric lure into the epic intensity and drive of the album starting with the ravaging Seventh Weapon. The first seconds consists of thumping beats and sizzling guitar twists around the ear before expelling a ferocious breath through the squalling scowls of Jobin and an avalanche of rhythms. Now settled into its fearsome charge the track towers over the senses with the intensity and expansive reach of a storm. Across its bristling sinews and colossal breath, the track unleashes a whip lash triggering attack from O’Neil, exceptional and fiery melodic persuasion from the guitars of St-Amour and Gervais, and an irresistible raptorial vocal devouring.

As in the first full song, Blind Assassin reveals the prowling might of bassist Doryani; it is not always an aspect with as much clarity as the other elements but removed would undoubtedly leave a big gaping hole and when the heavily consuming notes find clarity of voice, the songs just bulge with impressive shadows. The third track is a less forceful entity than its predecessor with a sonic elegance which lays rough caresses over the ear, though it is not lacking any demanding spirit or heart either. It arguably pales a little against the previous track but outshines so many efforts from other artists.

Each and every track is immense and in varying degrees offers hints of the influences which vein the sound. Within the likes of Ambrosian Wings, the Russian Revolution inspired pair of the crushing Revillusion (1905) and the voracious Severing the Bloodline (1917), and the violently smouldering Red Skies, as examples, essences of the likes of In Flames, Norther, Testament, Lamb of God, and August Burns Red are apparent and add extra spice to the rich sonic menu of the band. As to be expected some songs reach the highest pinnacles and the biggest highlights on Tides of War come firstly with the title track. It is a thunderous rampage of sizzling guitar magnetism and invention driven by again the tumultuous and outstanding rhythms of O’Neil.  It is the perfect blend of aggression and melodic persuasion which chews up the senses whilst treating them to a fine dining of sonic imagination. Further lofty heights come with the senses grasping and obliterating Collapse of an Empire with its delicious spearing flames of melodic intrigue, and the corrosive and glorious Unbound which also features Aleksi Sihvonen from Norther.

The album is not just intensity and brawling aggression though as to perfectly break up the onslaught there are a couple of compelling instrumentals in the enthralling shapes of Snow Falls On The White River (1914) and Nebula, both beautiful pieces of music in their very different guises and far from interludes and fillers.

Tides of War is an exceptional creative ambush for the heart with a rage of the fullest rewards and an expressive depth of unbridled undiluted metal. You may not have heard of Chariots of The Gods before now but that is sure to change very soon as their album is exposed to the wider world.

http://www.chariotsofthegods.net/

RingMaster 29/01/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Aeon: Aeons Black

by Fredrik Wallin

Unleashing a torrent of destructive irreverence and corrosive annihilation, Swedish death metallers Aeon return with their staggering fourth album Aeons Black. Released through Metal Blade Records, the release finds the band at its mightiest yet, in aggression and venom as well as in craft and imagination. The sound which rips apart the senses is that which the world has come to expect from the band but now rippling with a variety and groove veining which is elevated and maturer than ever before from the quintet. It is a colossal album and without doubt one of the very best genre releases in a long time.

Since forming in 1999, the band has experimented with and stepped aside of old school death metal for greatly inventive results which has shattered minds and captured the imagination. From their early demos and 2005 debut album Bleeding the False through the following Rise to Dominate and Path Of Fire, in 2007 and 2010 respectively, the band has reaped acclaim and plaudits from fans and media alike. Tours and shows alongside the likes of Hate Eternal, Misery Index, Mayhem, Cerebral Bore and Flyed Disciple to name some, only cemented their reputation for merciless sounds and their ferocious delivery. Recorded with Ronnie Björnström (Garageland Studios), Aeons Black is their greatest moment yet and opens the deepest pit of satisfaction possible.

The album swoops upon the ear with blistering sonic outrage and unbridled blastbeats within They Still Pray, to immediately begin a violation which numbs thoughts and emotions. The riffs from guitarists Zeb Nilsson and Daniel Dlimi churn up the senses whilst the additional tight acidic enterprise sears the flesh wonderfully, and alongside the raptorial expertise of bassist Marcus Edvardsson and the towering rampage of drummer Arttu Mallki, sends pleasure into overload. Led by the bestial fury of vocalist Tommy Dahlstöm, his passion as oppressive as the intensity preying around him, it is an outstanding entrance from the album expanded upon throughout the untethered debilitating outpouring.

The sonic charnel pit of The Glowing Hate ruptures the synapses next with its twisting predatory groove and abrasive storm of riffs, the track another delicious furnace of spite lyrically, musically, and emotionally. It erodes the defences like a sandstorm upon skin, the caustic rub an incessant riot which finds a slight restraint before bleeding into the emotive piano led instrumental The Voice of the Accuser.  It is a brief beauty settling the spawn disorientation before the rabid malevolence of I Wish You Death opens up a new unbridled flood of snarling violation. As with most tracks, the song is an unpredictable canvas of evocative melodic and sonic mastery within a ravaging scourge of sound which fires up primal energies and hungry ardour. Four tracks in and the album stands as a titanic encounter and the immense quality and angry violence just keeps coming.

Tracks like Garden of Sin with its intense gnawing sonic ravishment and the rapacious Nothing Left to Destroy which ends with a compelling and chilling insidious whisper of a reclamation, continue the irresistible brutality to trigger greater passion before the merciless effacement whilst the title track is malice and poison given tumultuous life. The track crawls and consumes the whole body to lay seeds to an aural festering and sonic manipulating which extinguishes all light before drawing out the fullest rapture to its nasty and rewarding presence.

Before its departure Aeons Black lets loose other crippling treats in the shape of the bruising cyclones Dead Means Dead, Sacrificed, Blessed By the Priest, all increasing the vindictive pleasure given, and then closes on the twin barrage of noise and malignancy of Maze of the Damned and Die By My Hands to suck out and destroy any hope possibly left intact. By the end, every aspect of the body is smarting from the insatiable hate and aural extirpation but glowing from the incisive and impacting enterprise within. It is a giant of a release and one which is without question essential investigation for all extreme metal fans.

https://www.facebook.com/aeon666

Ringmaster 20/11/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Six Feet Under: Undead

To be honest the enthusiasm going into the new album from death metal giants Six Feet Under was not at an all time high. This is a band that has not really lit any personal fires or imagination since their emergence leading into the mid nineties most predominantly from the dislike of the style of vocalist and founder Chris Barnes, something the attention to his previous band Cannibal Corpse also suffered when he was fronting them. It is purely personal taste and without any reason, just an aversion to his vocals as simple as that. This has led to only fleeting acquaintances with their previous eight albums until now. It has to be said Undead again did not cause any mass jubilation or a breakout of unbridled passion with the initial contact relatively underwhelming. But it is a sneaky little beast and given the deserved time and multiple chances to state its case the album proves to be a bit of a slow and persistent burner. It still does not have flags flying but it is a feisty little piece of pleasure that proves its worth even with Barnes as distinct as ever.

Released via Metal Blade Records, Undead is the first release with new guitarist Rob Arnold (ex- Chimaira), who we are led to believe also contributed the bass parts too as new bassist Jeff Hughell joined after the recording. Alongside Arnold and Barnes the album also sees long time guitarist Steve Swanson and drummer Kevin Talley (Dying Fetus, Misery Index, and Chimaira), also new to the band. The album has been quoted by Barnes as “…a rejuvenation, it’s a rebirth of Six Feet Under, and fans will definitely latch on to my excitement and how focused I am in the lyrics I’ve written.” Whether it is down to the energy and creative input of the new members or not there is certainly a freshness and intensity to the release that had vacated some of the previous albums. Arguably originality is still not in full force but allowed the attention and time to express itself the album is certainly rewarding and at times rather impressive.

The opening bomb that is Frozen at the Moment of Death from a first feeling of this is good but… evolves into something additive and openly hypnotic. With a groove that churns up the senses into a tight knot and riffs beating it around the ear the track grows more essential and striking the more it meets the ear. As assumed the vocals stoke up the expected personal preference immediately though once realisation that he sounds just like the Judoon out of Dr Who emerged there was an extra sense of fun attached. As said Barnes is a strong if unvaried vocalist with many others far worse around and it is merely personal taste involved but saying that as the album progresses even a warmth to him emerges or is it submission.

The following Formaldehyde is a blistering assault upon the ears whilst 18 Days with its striking waspish persistent groove sends sparks through the senses. By this point Talley has left nothing but an immense impression upon the music and thoughts, he is a literal machine but with organic instinctive passion and invention. The guitars of Swanson and Arnold too impress as they bustle and cut through the ear with fine play and intensive sounds to ensure each track is intriguing and gratifying, whilst Barnes is Barnes, you always know what you get with his brutish guttural delivery.

Whether the band have worn down the defences or there is a sudden vein of something new the best two tracks on the album by far step up to challenge and inspire next. Firstly the Molest Dead collapses on the ear like a juggernaut of death and destruction, its sprawling fetid breath soaking every note with an atmosphere of dread and violation. This is immediately backed up by Blood On My Hands, a song from an initial predatory crawl which envelopes its host in a soak of spiteful malevolence completes the malefaction with a scorched melodic entrancement and groove which blisters every surface it consumes.

It has to be said by this point and entering into the last third of the album one is hooked especially when the obvious but irrepressible and irresistible Reckless rumbles across the ear. With the most wanton of grooves and an insatiable infection the track rummages through thoughts and darkened corners with eagerness.

     Undead is far from a classic but it is an album that in hindsight ignited a few more flares of passion than at first thought and the more times shared the hotter they become. Six Feet Under did arguably find a rejuvenating essence for the album and it turned out quite striking if not stunning.

RingMaster 24/05/2012

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