Ferium – Reflections


Parading a roaring muscular sound built from numerous metallic essences around a death metal spine, Israeli metallers Ferium more than lives up to the brewing buzz around them with debut album Reflections. Twelve slabs of creative brutality and imaginatively skilled endeavour, the release is a formidable and striking big step into the wider metal world, one which hits hard and impressively initially but only truly reveals its depths and strengths and those of the band across numerous exploits with its intrusive presence. The quintet delves into the rich wells of groove, technical, general extreme metal and more to enhance their core viciousness and persuasion, a fusion as proven by their first full-length which is something not exactly unique but definitely seizing attention and a hungry appetite as it starts setting its own path now and for the future.

Ferium was formed in 2006 taking initial inspirations of Pantera and Lamb Of God into their intent though that expanded over the years with influences from the likes of Textures, Gojira, and Death adding to the fuel driving their invention. Equally growing up in Haifa and the situation in their country has added depth to the lyrical and musical side of their emergence. The band does not directly or openly explore any aspect of the conflict and climate they grew within and felt personally but it is scenery which has brought a raw and uncompromising breath to their sound and presence. Their first release, The New Law EP in 2009 took the band into a strong spotlight at home and further afield, helping to lead Ferium to appearances at big home events such as Summer Carnage and Hallejujahas well as those abroad like Wacken 2009. Last year saw a more intensive time for the band, tours supporting The Agonist, Threat Signal, Mors Principium Est, and Dawn Heist around Europe and the UK following a show opening for Gojira in Israel. The end of 2013 was marked by the band signing a deal with Transcend Music and the worldwide distribution for the 2012 recorded Reflections, a release you sense could open up a highly receptive hunger for their presence.

Opening track By The Book lays an initial abrasive guitar coaxing upon the ears, a sonic wind brewing alongside it before being punctured Reflections Coverby the heavy probing rhythms of drummer Ron Amar. It is an intriguing start, one offering various options of where the song and album might go without revealing anything too soon. It is not long though before the drums increase their pressure, the bass of Yoni Biton closes in with dark intensive shadows, and the guitars of Elram Boxer and Guy Goldenberg sculpt a weave of tight grooves and searing riffs to transfix thoughts and emotions. With the harsh yet welcoming vocal abrasion of Tiran Ezra unleashing the first narrative, the track wakes up eager attention early, leading it into a magnetic fascination which in turn ignites the imagination. The thrilling song does not really explode at any point but is a constant blaze of invention and technical prowess which is stretched to more dramatic adventures across the album, in fact right away with DownHill From Nothing.

The second song entwines the ears in an infection fuelled groove from its first breath, the guitars seducing with full potency as bass and drums badger the senses into another swift submission. Again the vocals graze and roar with an unbridled causticity but only to accentuate the virulent lure of the song. The bass of Biton prowls and growls with understated but open ingenuity throughout the tempestuous offering yet it is the work of Boxer and Goldenberg which more often than not steals the focus upon the song, the melodies and emotive designs from their strings richly colouring song and imagination. Like the first it has an inescapable contagion to its enterprise and especially its grooved bait, and like its successor draws a greedy appetite for its invention.

Both The Very Existence and Mirror exploit an already eager attention with their individual persuasions, the first creating a weave of djent seeded technical manipulation with an almost thrash spawned antagonistic fury of death metal with metalcore bred essences. It is heavier and more intense than its predecessors without dismissing any of the melodically nurtured sonic exploration which marked their success. With a strong evocative ambience also washing the canvas of the song it is a thought provoking and longer to convince encounter, as is its successor though both refuse to relinquish the grip already seized by the release. The second of these two squall over and ravage the senses with again a stronger rabidity; vocally and rhythmically the track an abusive suasion whilst sonically it sears air and flesh, the combination another offering to feed the hunger inside.

The entrance of Side Effects is exceptional, an intimidating but irresistible gentle tempting from the guitars and the perfect lure into the spiteful aggression to follow. Its gait is almost stalking the ears whilst the outstanding bass hook and acidic guitar toxicity steals the passions below an unreserved rhythmic provocation. Its masterful adventure is replaced by the instrumental The Black Eyes, a piece ripe with classical keys elegance and scuzz surfaced energy. It is music which builds its size and intensity across its skilful narrative, inviting the imagination to cast its own tale though it is less successful with the passions especially with the bestial Lust Fool bursting in right away. It is a bear of a song, muscles holding sway within the black density and throat of the onslaught whilst the guitars lash and rhythms pummel the senses around the ever malicious vocals. It is a drama fuelled, adrenaline driven monstrosity of an encounter and thoroughly scintillating.

After the similarly predacious Caustic Value, an intrusion which easily feeds wants without lighting fires, the album takes another upturn with the brilliant Change Of Winds soon matched by Business On Demand. The first of the two romps with and dancing over ears and senses with grooves and jagged riffery from its first second, the track gnawing, jarring, and disorientating senses magnificently whilst Ezra riles syllables and tones for an equally malevolently textured assault, his variety in delivery a constant pleasure. The track twists and lurches wonderfully, all the time depleting energy and scything slices from the synapses until an exhausted pleasure lies in its wake, one soon re-energised by its successor. An open and familiar groove leads the way under the persistent cosh of rhythms and barracking riffs, the temptation recruiting full allegiance for the subsequent savagery vocally and musically which envelops the still dominant groove cast toxins.  Both tracks provide the pinnacle of the album and the band’s songwriting in brutality and epidemic seduction.

The album is concluded by Blood and its title track, the pair insatiable trespasses bringing an outstanding release to a mighty end, the first of the two an insidiously nasty demonic capture of ears and beyond whilst the last song simply churns up and suffocates emotions with mouthwatering invention and crippling intensity respectively. Wrapped in excellent artwork from Eliran Kantor (Hatebreed, Sodom, Atheist), Reflections is extreme metal of the highest order and shows Ferium as having the potential of forging truly major horizons ahead whilst giving a rather breath-taking treat for the now.



RingMaster 07/04/2014

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Dichotomy – Paradigms

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Turning the air into a whirling dervish of sonic antagonism and invigorating confrontation, Paradigms the debut album from Irish technical death metallers Dichotomy, is an introduction not to be taken lightly. The eight track tempest of skill and aggression instantly sets the Dublin quintet as one of the most formidable emerging predators within European metal. Veined by acidic melodic enterprise which leaves breath a rare commodity and superbly crafted intrusive riffing offering intensive but welcome scars the album is a scintillating piece of creative corrosion that marks the band as a dramatically promising and already accomplished force.

Formed in 2010 by guitarists Rats and Andy Kealy with the idea to merge the technicality of death metal with the groove and defined essences of other genres whilst feeding off the inspirations of bands such as Death, Necrophagist, Gojira, and Opeth, the band was soon making a strong impression in the Irish underground scene. With vocalist Kev O’Connor and drummer Dave Fay alongside the pair, Dichotomy was an immediate attraction and with a line-up soon completed by bassist Neil Coburn the five-piece was earning an intense reputation for their live performances and scintillating sound.  Recording their first release in the summer of 2012 at the esteemed Westland Studios in Dublin, Dichotomy is set to extend their success over the widest arena with the unleashing of their self-released beast of a record. As brutal and seductive as you could wish Paradigms is set to enslave the passions of legions of new followers one suspects, certainly leave them basking in its annihilatory wake.

The album opens with the brief instrumental Empyrean, the tender guitar led piece giving no hint of what is to follow in sound or Dichotomy Album Coverintensity. It is a nicely composed welcome but to be honest underwhelming, certainly in hindsight once The Sentient Oppressed opens its jaws of aural fascination and technical manipulation to sucks senses and thoughts into its heavy consuming heart. From the first seconds riffs are scrubbing the surface of the ear whilst mini grooves tease within the brewing wounds. Compounded by the hard fisted rhythms of Fay it is a startling trap eagerly devoured and explored by emotions. Into its textured depths with the vocals of O’Connor scowling with a squalling maelstrom of malevolence, the guitars of Rat and Kealy parade incisive flames of melodic venom and sonic toxicity to ignite further satisfaction whilst the Bass of Coburn prowls and adds greater shadow to the contagious blaze, though there are moments here and through the album where he sinks within the thick assault to be a presence rather than a strong flavour though admittedly making up for it when he is coaxed with clarity.

It is a staggering full start which as the album evolves its temptation only gets better. Both All-Seeing Eye and Polarity have emotions grinning broadly, the first expelling a torrent of vocal causticness over a deliciously niggling sonic guitar persuasion and the unbridled and exhaustive rhythmic barrage of Fay. Like its predecessor it is an immediate titanic lure before which defences crumble and hunger takes on predacious heights to match the intensity and creative greed of the song. The song mixes up a fluid unrelenting attack with mighty swipes at the senses brought by concrete riffs and steely beats crossed by the sabre like technical invention and flames of the guitars. It is a thunderous pinnacle swiftly matched by its successor. The song is a more deviously considered encounter, a rapacious pack like approach from the songwriting and sounds challenging the ear and beyond in comparison to the tsunami savagery of the previous track but not lacking in the artillery to flatten walls and doubts before letting the bewitching guitar play and imagination to scorch the debris.

Vocally O‘Connor deviates very little from his core delivery but where others may push limits and patience, here it works as another bestial string to the creative bow and ruinous sonic resourcefulness, the voracious No Catharsis the next destructive proof. Once more the guitar work is a tantalising almost bewildering furnace of pleasure and open ingenuity caged by the most vicious and explosive rhythmic avalanche of venomous skill and rapacity. Mere words cannot truly relay the potency and power of the song, or release come to that, but it powerfully confirms the earlier suggestion that the release just gets zealously better and more impressive, this song taking top honours on the album closely badgered by the likes of the primal Covenant of the Foresworn and the evocative instrumental Alea Iacta Est, a piece that unites beauty and a sonic beast for an enthralling and imagination lighting narrative.

The senses burning malefactor Of Strife Of Discord completes an exceptional and intoxication debut from Dichotomy. As savage as it is aesthetically wondrous, Paradigms simply declares its creators as one of the most exciting new antagonists to widely hit European metal this year.



RingMaster 14/08/2013

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Spheron – Ecstasy of God


Hailing from Ludwigshafen in Germany, technical death metallers Spheron has announced themselves in fine brutal style with their debut album Ecstasy of God. Released via Apostasy Record, the twelve track attack of sadistic and adventurous extreme metal is an imposing and dynamic introduction which leaves no question whilst exciting the passions that the band is one with a rich imposing future ahead of them.

Formed in 2008, the quintet certainly drew strong attention with their previous EP To Dissect Paper in 2010 which followed their demo of two years earlier, but Ecstasy of God finds them ripping into even greater invention and imagination with their diverse blend of technical and death metal loaded with many more flavoursome essences. Though arguably it is not an album to probably challenge best of lists come the twilight of the year it certainly is one of the most thrilling and impressive debut full lengths of recent months which whilst satisfying every want in extreme metal still suggests there is plenty left for the band to explore and develop within themselves.

Produced with Christoph Brandes at Iguana Studios, Ecstasy of God impresses immediately with the instrumental A Means to cdarc011_spheron_eog_300dpian End, its inviting and drama suggesting melodic enterprise a potent persuasion drawing thoughts and senses into its rich embrace before allowing the following predatory The Beheaded Coachman to go for the jugular. Opening with a deliciously menacing and inventive bass stalking from Matthias Minor as the guitar of Tobias Alter sprays irresistible sonics across the sky of the impending storm and Mark Walther employs his contagious riffs, the second song is an instant big hook which once having caught the passions allows a raging tempest of concussive rhythms from Tobias Blach and deep drilling riffs to dance insidiously through the ear. It is a burning and scintillating fury with the guttural rapacious vocals of Daniel Spoor ruling venomously. It is also unafraid to tease and torment with unpredictable and fascinating melodic asides, almost breathers of beauty sent to taunt within the continuing torrent of exhaustive and aggressive invention. It is an outstanding beast which maybe is never quite matched but certainly given a continual close run for its money across the album.

The bestial Prestige of the Mortals savages the senses next, another exceptional bass confrontation coring the heart of the breath stealing avalanche of crushing rhythms and destructive riffing. Once again the band twists into the fire excellent sonic ingenuity and melodic flames which scorch the already bruised flesh of the ear and beyond as the varied vocal onslaught complements the invention with relish. It tenderises senses and thoughts throughout before passing on its victim to Saturnian Satellites and Clasp the Thorns to explore and manipulate even further and deeper. The first is an incessant fevered blaze of sonic colouring within a serpentine dark dwelling intensity whilst its successor smoulders initially with melodic evocation and sonic weaves caged in occasional rhythmic expulsions. Across its length that slow burning engagement is a constant invitation though once more the band infuses it with a constantly enthralling and explosive inventive intent, in sound, imagination, and pace.

The evocative melodic ‘interlude’ Prelude to the Misery is a soothing if sinister kiss within the ferocity though soon a distant memory as the voracious Five Degrees returns the album to a ravenous unpredictable storm. Further major highlights come with the corrosively intense Tragedy of the Clerics and another expertly imaginative melodic escape in Anthropogenic. The second song leads into the closing slow lumbering prowl of From Glint to Crackling, an intensive and air consuming finale which leaves a lingering and potent mark on the senses, just as the album achieves with the passions.

Ecstasy of God is an excellent excursion through destruction bred shadows and merciless malevolence but equally seduces with some of the finest melodic and sonic toxicity heard in extreme metal. Spheron is undoubtedly an emerging force which their debut suggests will be stealing our souls sooner rather than later.



RingMaster 07/07/2013

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Lecherous Nocturne: Behold Almighty Doctrine

lecherousnocturne 2013

    There is always a keen sense of anticipation when first approaching a band from South Carolina as too NC, the states the givers of so many impressive and startling forces especially within metal. Greenville death metallers Lecherous Nocturne is no exception in its individual way. Their new album Behold Almighty Doctrine is a record which raises debate within thoughts and emotions; across its length it either seducing the senses without any room for indecision or leaving them flat and almost underwhelmed. For all of that though the band is compulsive listening and ignites the need to investigate and repeatedly immerse within the destructive brutality of their new album. The release does not especially stand as a challenger to the top contenders for album of the month or beyond, but it certainly works under the skin to leave the want to feel its insidious endeavour on a regular confrontation.

Founded in 1997, the quintet of vocalist Chris Lollis, guitarists Ethan Lane and Kreishloff, bassist James O’Neal, and drummer Alex Lancia, has released an album which builds on an already intense reputation of the band for their intrusive and impacting sound. From the release of their self-tiled EP, Lecherous Nocturne has gone from strength to strength, the band signing with Unique Leader Records on the back of the release. Fusing the darkest venom of black, death, technical, and thrash metal, into raw sonic scourges the band set a mark for themselves within extreme metal with their last album The Age Of Miracles Has Passed and with Behold Almighty Doctrine continues the ferocity and accomplished sonic violence they have become renown for.

Topped and tailed by related evocative instrumentals the album explodes into full view with Ouroboros Chains, a track which 400426_369365549800719_1028778023_ninstantly carves its presence into the senses with carnivorous intensity, malicious riffs, and rhythms from drummer Lancia which flails the ear with hateful precision and unbridled malice. The track is a maelstrom of energy and corrosive interplay between the rhythms and the lethal guitar spite, with a spine of predatory bass encroachment watching all. It is a fiery tempest which touches upon bedlam but just retains control at all times and with the abrasive growls of Lollis a squalling furnace of anger, the song is a solid start.

Bring The Void and Archeopteryx continues the hellacious start, both a storm of at times startling technical accomplishment wrapped in a caustic cyclone of disarming sonic violence within the asylum of unbridled ideas and mayhem. Both tracks are again like the opener, richly agreeable contusions upon the senses but again without sparking any strong fires of passion They do strike with a lure which wants you to explore their annihilatory purpose more though and that is a strength in itself many others fail to hold a rein on.

The first real highlight of the album steps forward in the brutal shape of Those Having Been Hidden Away, a collision upon emotions of intriguing grooved sonics and a tsunami of beats and primal rhythms from Lancia and O’Neal respectively. To be honest it is hard to pin point what it is about the track which elevates it from its predecessors but with a hellacious altercation it ignites a burning flame towards its uncompromising company.

After an unexpected and impressive piano instrumental in Prelude #2, the album immediately devours the ear with the heightened hunger and excellence of Judgments and Curses, a track which scars and scores with the horde like fervour of a pack of wolves . It is another song which triggers stronger responses with wilful and manic sonic dissension to leave thoughts and satisfaction reeling in pleasure.

Across the remaining tracks Lesions from Vicious Plague, Caustic Vertigo, and Creation Continuum, the band offers more of the same raptorial technical violence in blistering tornados of explosive and seemingly uncontrolled devastation. More of the same also is unfortunately accurate when it comes to the similarity across the tracks, the trio and arguably album for the main, lacking any real surface individuality and side by side occasionally blurring into one singular scorching of the ear.

It would be amiss though not to say that with determined focus and full immersion into the tracks there is an inspiring diversity underlining the songs but whether most listeners will take the mission to explore deeper into the testing and uncomfortable listen is debatable, which is a shame as there is plenty on the album which suggests the band has the potential to deliver an awe-inspiring classic at some point. Behold Almighty Doctrine may not be it but it is easy to recommend to anyone who wants something different and unconventional in their extreme metal.



RingMaster 20/03/2013

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Sin Of God: Limbus


Canadian label PRC Music have really pulled out the stops to make the end of year a brutal yet special time for death metal. Firstly they have re-introduced the world and genre to the outstanding album Reign Of Lunacy from Quebec legends Goregust with its re-release and on the same day shown that current bands can be just as impressive and inspiring with the release of Limbus from Hungarian band Sin Of God. If you were struggling of what to ask for from the fat bloke in the red suit than you could do far worse than plumping for either titanic releases.

Limbus is exceptional, a bruising and intimidating encounter which rises to outright brutality and startling enterprise throughout, well for all of its presence to be honest. The band blends a sensational mix of technical death metal with old school with no reluctance in offering a groove or two which are more contagious than any viral outbreak. Sin Of God is recommended to all who like bands such as Nile, Behemoth, Immolation, and Morbid Angel, but they offer plenty more which is sure to capture the imagination of all extreme metal fans. It is a striking hybrid which merges the true essences of varied genres into something which ignites imagination and passion alike.

The based quintet was formed  by guitarist/vocalist Laszlo Pall and drummer Balázs Botyánszki , expanding to a stable line-up in 2009. The following year saw the recording and release of first release Satan Embryo which brought the band strong recognition in the Hungarian underground scene. It was just the beginning as the band went from there to touring with Brazilians Infested Blood, being placed in the top ten out of 400 bands in the Talentométer competition, and becoming one of the biggest forces in the underground scene in their homeland. It was at this point guitarist Szabolcs Molnár joined the band as well as a new vocalist. Sin Of God went on to share stages with the likes of Benighted, Nethirbird, Smashed Face, Krow the Sanatorium,the Scorned, and the Casketgarden before next recording debut album Limbus and signing with PRC for its release. Once into the ears of the world it is doubtful things will be the same for the band again, Pall, Botyánszki, Molnár, bassist Ferenc Vörös, and vocalist Balázs Lévai surely finding 2013 will be a year of demands and more acclaim upon their inventive heads.

The first thing to note with Limbus is the outstanding vocals, the malevolently soaked impressively cultured guttural growls and limbus_lowblack hearted squalls quite brilliant. The bio for the band leads one to think Lévai joined after the recording of the album and if so it is a shame we could find no credit to the actual singer as he is a staggering force and talent, and if it is Lévai than all praise to the man. Not that he is the sole talent on show, the craft and ingenuity of the guitarists is breath-taking and imaginatively resourceful whilst the drums of Molnár leave a wasted husk in their skilled and destructive wake. The bass of Vörös too inspires only immense accolades in his direction, the band and release triumphant in all aspects from songwriting, its interpretation and delivery to sheer ferociousness.

From a brewing intro with an inviting guitar lure and telling bells the title track seamlessly leans in, the album seizing instant hold on thoughts and ears; the soon smothering assault of concussive drums and sonically twisted riffs soon  quite irresistible. The track is an abusive delight with grooves which lick the senses with serpentine tongues and an intensity which leaves one overwhelmed and shell shocked. Actually it is probably not the most brutal confrontation  you will encounter but from its towering power and invention is sheer erosion to devour.

The following Kill The Irreligious equals the start with its flesh scorching sonics and rapier like rhythms though both are exceeded by the excellent Demonshrine. It is a ravenous brawl on the psyche, unrelenting for its first third before showing respite…in the shape of a nasty yet delicious grooved spear of sonic manipulation soon joined by the again storm of intensity. It is a magnificent violation blessed throughout with fiery guitar weaves and poison vocals.

The likes of the senses worrying waspish Eucharist, the violently carnivorous Bloodlust, and especially the brilliant Yearn Of Lesions too reach the highest pinnacles though without fear of contradiction every song on Limbus is well within their triumphant heights. The last of the three and maybe best song on the album, though the choice changes with each listen, is another treacherous yet seductive testy malefaction  which irritates like a giant hornet whilst bringing the fullest sonic orgasm of pleasure.

The release also comes with six bonus tracks which we sadly did not have access to but there is no reason to doubt that they will only enhance the already staggering release. If you had doubts whether modern death metal has any heart or imagination left in it than just dive into Limbus to alleviate those fears. Sin Of God is going to be huge!


RingMaster 03/12/2012

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Abiotic: Symbiosis

There is no doubt that Symbiosis, the debut album from Florida technical death metallers Abiotic, is an album which will split opinion. For those it fires the passions up within there will be an immediate reassessing of best of year lists whilst those for whom it sparks the opposite reactions there will be a just as immediate consignment to the best forgotten bin. Obviously taking a listen is the only way to decide with any band but especially with one as explosive and impressively destructive as Abiotic, but to deny them the opportunity to plead their mesmeric and malicious case would be a big mistake.

Symbiosis is glorious, an overwhelming and disorientating onslaught of skilled musicianship, breath taking intensity, and knee buckling imaginative exploits. Each song is an insidious web of enterprise and technically blinding invention, a dehabilitating fury which leaves one struck down and sprawling on the floor of a sonic abattoir. There are many bands which rip up the rule book and forge their own maelstrom of death metal malice and multi flavoured additives but very few come to mind as accomplished and simply as impressively in control of their inferno driven bedlam as Abiotic.

Formed in 2010, the Miami quintet of vocalist Ray Jimenez, guitarists Johnathan Matos and Matt Mendez, bassist Alex Vazquez, and Andres Hurtado on drums, took no time in garnering strong attention and responses through their blistering live performances and the release of two singles and the seven track EP, A Universal Plague. This soon led them to the attention of Metal Blade Records who release Symbiosis. The album is a sonic confrontation which makes the term highly abrasive seem like a gentle oil massage, but within the unbridled storm the band unleash some deliciously mesmeric and melodic elegance, though always twisted into their own excruciatingly imaginative and sensational design. It is not an easy listen but with no reservation can be acclaimed one of the most rewarding.

From the words of the band, “Lyrically, this record embraces several sociological, anthropological, and philosophical perspectives. We’re interested in themes that will enable us to explore patterns and paradigms of culture, religion, and society, among other aspects”. To be honestthat we will have to assume until the written lyrics are seen as vocally it was impossible for these well punished ears to find clarity to the deliveries, though the dual attack was immensely pleasing and invigorating. Each song is a perpetual duel within the crushing sounds between a guttural swine driven onslaught and venomous serpentine squalls, both standing upright against each other and in a unified malevolence.

From the opening building atmospheres of Metamorphilia, the opening track has all focus in its direction. It is only a brief intro and despite not being anything particularly staggering still manages to ensure that the senses are primed for the attack of the excellent Vermosapien. A rabid creation of grazing sonics, crippling rhythms, and lashing riffs, the track sears the ear as it skewers the brain with brutal incendiary expertise and invention. The guitars transform notes into spears of vicious pleasure whilst the bass of Vazquez just hypnotises with its expressive manipulations and ingenious heart. Everything on Symbiosis is of the highest skill and enjoyment but Vazquez arguably steals the overall show.

As the likes of A Universal Plague, To Burgeon and Languish, and the stunning Hegira rampage and redesign the synapses, the seductive sonic treachery is in full control, the corruption unstoppable but lustfully welcomed by the heart. Only midway through the album you are feeling like you have been mugged by a colossal aural kaleidoscope and the only thought is to ask for plenty more which the following Conquest of Gliese, The Singe, and The Graze of Locusts to name just three of the mighty violations, are only too happy to satisfy.

Symbiosis is wonderfully varied which just a surface engagement maybe disguises a little but with bravery and endeavour to crawl beneath the devastating conflagration, the striking invention and diversity is openly apparent and rewarding. If the thought of a sizing up between The Faceless and The Black Dahlia Murder is appealing then Abiotic is the band to investigate. One can only see great things ahead for this titanic band.


RingMaster 23/10/2012

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Ophidian I: Solvet Saeclum

Technical death metal is having an impressive flourish of releases right now with already the outstanding new album from The Faceless and the excellent more progressively toned release from Over Your Threshold having enthralled the ear these past few weeks. Now there is a third to excite and intrigue the debut album from Icelandic metalers Ophidian I. Though it feels like an apprentice alongside the two mentioned in some ways, Solvet Saeclum is an impressive and powerful release exuding great promise and dealing in nothing but satisfaction. The album takes no prisoners but once within its muscular grip, its nine tracks light up the senses with skill and enterprising invention. Arguably it is not bursting with the most groundbreaking sounds but it is hard to fault its imagination and passion.

Formed in 2010 and featuring members of Severed Crotch, Beneath, and Angist, Ophidian I were soon in the studio recording demo tracks, the band returning to Studio Sýrland in Iceland for the recording of their album the following year alongside Jóhann Ingi (Beneath). The band signed with Russian record label SFC Records the same year as plans were laid for their debut to be unleashed in 2012. Now it is here, it is an album which shows all the rewards of hard work and intricate detail, its sound a compulsive consumption which leaves sonic trails in the air with its melodic technicality and bludgeons flesh through aggressive intensity.

The release opens with the guitar fingering of Mark Of An Obsidian, its introduction a slow tease upon the ear and a breath which is warm and welcoming. As the guitars unveil their sonic heart the track evolves into a surging onslaught of barbaric riffs and combative rhythms. Drummer Tumi is a storm of crippling beats whilst bassist Þórður prowls the track with an evil glint to his play, both combining to bring a menace and depth to the expressive technical skill of guitarists Símon and Unnar. With the vocals of Ingó a guttural fury throughout song and album, it is a mighty confrontation the band offer behind its progressive artistry, though the song does not explore this element as much as later tracks do but still offers a mesmeric heat within the sprawling oppressive energy.

Shedyet followed by the title track, both stretch themselves more than their predecessor as the band get into their creative stride. The first of the pair surges between rampant attacks and dazzling prog lilted asides which make seamless and evocative interludes between the overall enveloping tempests of intensity. It is a beast on the prowl despite its eager attacks whereas the following Solvet Saeclum leaps at the senses with an incessant eagerness and sharp ideation to ensure nothing but focus and interest in its direction.

All the songs are strong and inventive brutes but the trio of Tectonic Collapse, Ellipse, and Ethereal Abyss, stand apart from the others. The first is a serpentine violation which festers within the senses with corrosive inventiveness. It is abrasive and disorientating through its ravenous intense energy and heady melodic conjurations, the guitars twisting the air with ingenious blackened skill and mischief whilst the rhythms chew on the ear with unrelenting aggression. It is the outstanding track on an impressive album though the other pair are not left wanting in their effectiveness. Ellipse is a technical mischief to excite and ignite the heart whilst Ethereal Abyss is a song with a maelstrom of flavours to its glorious body, its death cored heart veined with jazz and progressive essences which entwine around a black metal groove. Arguably it is the most inventive song on Solvet Saeclum and only enhances the deep promised the band and release inspire.

Solvet Saeclum is a great release which fans of the likes of The Faceless, Necrophagist, and Obscura will lap up. Ophidian I may not have reached the top rung with their album but with a release this strong it is certainly on the cards at some point.


RingMaster 28/08/2012

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The Faceless: Autotheism

The first thought listening to Autotheism, the new and third album from tech death metalers The Faceless, is that the band must have great memories to play the ever shifting rapid fire torrent and maelstrom of sounds and ideas which comprise the songs on the album. It is a perpetually evolving seemingly restless storm of intensity, energy, and imagination. The Faceless has always been unprepared to stick to expectations and push their boundaries but now they have unleashed a whole horde of inventive demons.  The album is schizophrenic that is fair to say but with all aspects and identities in full control of their ingenuity and direction. The Faceless has returned to shock, surprise, intrigue and most of all impress.

With their 2006 debut Akeldama, the band stood apart from other technical death metal bands whilst its successor Planetary Duality two years later, took the band to higher plateaus and respect as they pushed their boundaries far beyond their introduction. Autotheism takes an even bigger leap forward as The Faceless emerges after four years with new rampant progressive and melodic endeavour to their sound. It is still as brutal and corruptive as ever but now is locked in a maniacal storm of progressive enterprise or insanity. Since the last album the band has under gone changes with departures and subsequent new members in the form of vocalist Geoffrey Ficco, guitarist Wes Hauch, and bassist Evan Brewer joining drummer Lyle Cooper and guitarist/vocalist Michael Keene.

Released through Sumerian Records the album immediately grabs attention with the introduction to first track Create, the cinematic and building climactic atmosphere leading into the heart of the song with power and compulsive intrigue. The track is the first part of an overall piece called Autotheist Movement and as it spreads its arms immediately hits with the first surprise. The clean and it has to be said impressive vocals of Keene which heat the air with expressive tones. He is prowled around by the hungry guttural growls of Ficco for a great contrast and union, the music complimenting with a predatory stalking through riffs and energy within a slow burning melodic flame. The track is unexpected bringing a sound which the likes of Tool or Deftones would not turn their nose up at and with an underlying menacing snarl to keep things on an edge. Long time fans of the band will possibly be split on the new directions within the album but already the opener offers even in its relatively straight forward guise something wholly unexpected yet impressive.

The track has an abrupt end but before you can think about a breath Emancipate explodes its venomous presence forcibly into the ear. Nightmarish and with a breath dripping hellish ambience the track crawls and festers within black corners and malevolent shadows before fusing in intricate progressive surges and melodic distractions. Once more the bile spewing growls of Ficco swap with the vocals of Keene this time backed by female vocals, they have not so much a duelling companionship but an exchange of extreme whispers. The guitar of Keene leave scorch marks across the sky of the song whilst Hauch blisters flesh with riffs as dehabilitating as the intensity spawn all backed by tight muscular rhythms from Brewer and Cooper.

Autotheist Movement is completed by Deconsecrate, a song which finds the equivalent of Mike Patton in an incestuous barbed bed with 6:33, Textures, and Between the Buried and Me. The track surges through death metal and progressive invention to jazz manipulations and metalcore fingering, the senses a playground for the consistently shifting and twisting imagination at large. The track caresses and serenades, but equally cripples and molests with barbaric force, something the whole album can be accused of and acclaimed for.

The likes of the stunning Accelerated Evolution and The Eidolon Reality, a track which sears itself into the ear with a sonic branding which leaves one breathless, throw further towering and aggressive turmoil upon the senses, majestic and vicious in equal measure and for the fullest satisfaction. As each song confronts more and more deviations of sound and ideas are unleashed to make every visit new and incendiary to the emotions. This vast diversity emerges with one negative aspect; the creativity within songs never allows a breath or real digestion of the immense sounds and invention at large so that no song leaves a clear impression of its shape and body. Yes certain elements stick like the metallic incision and orchestral synth weaves of Ten Billion for example or the melodic dark grace of In Solitude, but in hindsight it is hard to recollect complete individual identities. It is strange as the album is outstanding and every element only inspires full pleasure and satisfaction but within the unbridled tempest it is where everything stays.

    Autotheism is an excellent album which the term technical progressive death metal hardly covers. The Los Angeles based quintet has set a new bar for others to contemplate let alone emulate with an album sure to split views, then again The Faceless are probably used to that.

RingMaster 17/08/2012

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Negativa: Self Titled EP

Arguably like a blob fish, an ugly baby, or Shane MacGowan, the beauty within the self titled EP from technical death metalers Negativa, is one which only a mother can see and love. Well her and those of us who find discord and chaotic imagination the only truly fresh thing in music today. The release really is a thing of beauty, a corrupted and disfigured beauty for sure, but still something starkly beautiful and intrusively stirring.

The three track EP first came out in 2006 as a limited release of 1000 copies, making physical copies highly sought after and near impossible to find. Now re-released through PRC Music, the release shows the band not only ahead of their time but probably still streets ahead of what mass consumption is ready for.

The Canadian band was formed by guitarist/ vocalist Steeve Hurdle (Gorguts ,Purulence)and guitarist/ vocalist Luc Lemay(Gorguts). The EP also sees drummer  Etienne Gallo (Augury, Neuraxis, Aborted) and bassist Miguel Valade (Ion Dissonnance) bringing their distinct imagination and skills to the canvas that was Negativa. The music the quartet spawn is staggering and in just a trio of tracks leaves most other bands struggling to match ideas let alone their realisation. The band since the original release of the EP has seen line-up changes with Lemay one to leave, but all things found true perspective with the passing away of Steeve Hurdle in May of this year aged 41. The release is an impactful and impressive aural monument to Hurdle and the band which leaves a saddened pleasure to its colossal magnificence.

Opener Chaos In Motion preys on the senses immediately with crippling scythes of guitar dishing out blistering destructive discordance. With rhythms from Gallo expelling the breath from the body through its vicious and disorientating attack and vocals as abrasive as high grade sand paper upon the ear, the track is an immoral and delicious sonic cluster bomb of intent and originality. Though a completely different genre the track takes one back to bands like The Fire Engines and Diagram Brothers from the eighties, two more who use discord as a full ingredient , exploring its textures and properties. Negativa go much further igniting its life and shadows with a madness of creativity which envelopes and challenges every synapse and a power which is equally demented and far reaching .

The following epic Thedium Vitae is a monster of a track. It crawls and prowls all over the body disrupting all senses, thoughts, and emotions. The track throws a spanner into rational thought and emotional safety to confound and cripple sanity during its venomous mesmeric assault. From its consuming energy the track intensifies into a brawling clash of rhythms, riffs, and indecipherable but wholly contagious scarred notes. The track is ever evolving, a seemingly maniacal improvisation, but all is perfectly and ingeniously structured to singe and scorch deeply with intense thought and imaginative creative malice the conjurors. The sounds and release as a whole, is a nightmare in sonic form giving no escape and perpetually incessant in its intent, and most of all simply blackened annihilatory beauty.

Closing with the slightly jazzy Rebellion, if that term can be applied to sounds which almost defy description, the release is incredible. This song treads and ultimately stomps over the debris already left in the wake of its conspirators to unleash its own dazzling and dehabilitating majesty. The EP is confrontational and inspiring, ruinous and so refreshing, and without doubt one of the most impressive things heard in a long time. Thank goodness there has been another and for some of us a first chance, to enjoy its towering brilliance.

Negativa is tagged as progressive death metal primarily but this goes far beyond that to have its own unique stature and world. As stated earlier the kind of references and comparisons which come to mind are far from being death metal bands, those earlier unique sounds added to by at a push the likes of Kunz, Coilguns and Dope Body, maybe even Morkobot to try and give some idea of the genius at play on the EP, but it is something distinctly different and special. If you want something to bring back the thrill, danger, and menace which has been generally lost in music, then go and let Negativa do their glorious worst.

RingMaster 15/08/2012

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Altar of Pain: Severe Scourge

Severe Scourge is the latest EP from Portuguese death metalers Altar of Pain, a release which drives its festering consumption with a technical skill to match the destructive passion. It is also another example of the quality of bands and music bursting out from the country, every way you turn there is a not only another band waiting to be announced but one with a craft and invention to step out from the masses. Altar of Pain is no different and though Severe Scourge feels like an above average demo it is a mighty and impressive release which only fuels further promise from the band ahead.

From Madeira, the quartet of Elder Abreu (vocals), Guilherme Abreu (guitar, keyboards), Zé Rodrigues (guitar), and Marcelo Rodrigues (bass guitar, synth-fx), formed in 2010 with the intention of making heavy brutal death metal based music. Inspired by bands like Vader, Death, Morbid Angel, Asphyx, and Cannibal Corpse, the band first drew wider attention with their debut album The Ritual Has Begun of last year. Severe Scourge continues their fine progress with a storm of expansive and imaginative ideas fuelled by a blackened and skilled intent. There is nothing healthy about the sounds of Altar of Pain but nor is there anything dismissible, each song a stirring and concussive enjoyment which is so easy to return to again and again.

The EP is a release with only one real issue to contend with, the drums. They appear and sound as if they are all computerised. Though the band overall just get away with it, there are times it is a niggling itch which diminishes the quality elsewhere. The sound does not really integrate into the organic playing of the band and makes for an irritant which can distract too much at times. The thought though is that if the band find a strong and skilled drummer there will be no stopping them.

Opened by the senses crippling Death By Exsanguination, the release takes no time in igniting the fullest attention. Triumphant Pantera like riffs slash the air whilst a groove dripping in infection, twists around the ear with fangs sunk deep. The song is a breathtaking expulsion of energy, the band unrelenting in their bruising and exciting of the senses. The guitars scythe fiery patterns with their razor sharp play whilst the bass stomps and prowls around with a rabid menace for a combination which is impossible not to fall eagerly before. With the varied guttural growls of Abreu flinging words like plague ridden carcasses on top, it is a storm only pleasure can spawn from.

From the impressive opener Fatal Disease and The Fleshless Goddess offer their own unique corruption as the band explore and unleash further inventive play, the guitars especially in the first scorching the atmosphere with explosive solo work and scarring riffs. The pair keeps things boiling but it is with the latter part of the release where greater highlights lay in wait.

Infected is a corrosive beast which sears the synapses with crushing intensity and acidic guitar enterprise. Arguably less infectious as other songs, its deep rooted groove is merciless in its lure whilst the vocals and energy is a dehabilitating oppression allowing no place to hide.  Again the band shows their songwriting is expansive and unafraid to explore which brings freshness to each and every song.

Top track award goes to Scriptorium, a song which is aural addiction. From an almost lumbering start it explodes into a raging rampage of battering corruptive riffs and incendiary melodic hooks, both leaving whiplash and adoration in their wake. With vehemence oozing from every syllable of the vocals and piercing sonic lashing accompanying the melodic contagion, the track is nothing but immense. Stick a live drummer in there and we are talking probable classic.

With only the earlier mentioned issue to throw at its hide, the Severe Scourge EP is an impressive slab of melodic death metal which genre fans will relish. It is surely only a matter of time before Altar of Pain is given the opportunity to unleash themselves in a full studio with all its armoury, when it happens watch them bring a real explosion to the corruption.


RingMaster 14/08/2012

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