Vinterblot – Nether Collapse

Building on the acclaim deservedly gathered from their debut EP, Italian pagan death metalers Vinterblot return with their first album Nether Collapse to confirm that initial promise and realise it as a mightier and more powerful monstrous and deeply satisfying entity. The album thunders across the senses equalling battering and gracing the ear with acidic melodies and coarse guitar intrusions all powered by intimidating unstoppable riffs. Behind the intensity there is an impressive creativity and diversity going on, at times mesmeric and always inspiring the carefully crafted melodies and expressive sounds give a real depth to each song even if there a few times one has to focus through the assault raging above them.

Formed in 2008, Vinterblot were determined to bring traditional European death metal in a merger with black metal and darker atmospheric and ambient sounds. The quintet from Bari of Phanaeus (vocals), Vandrer (guitar), Fjorgynn (guitar), Eruner (bass), and Wolf (drums) released their For Asgard EP mid 2010 to as mentioned strong response and acclaim, backed up by impressive live shows throughout Italy. Nether Collapse released via Rising Records lifts the band to the forefront of melodic death metal, its diversely spiced black sound surely the breakthrough to place Vinterblot on a multitude of extreme metal playlists.

The album starts with the stunning instrumental ‘Prelude’. Darkly acoustic the track is an expressive and visual piece of music. Its peace and melodic creativity weaves a calming atmosphere tinged with a feel of something impending. That feeling is soon found in eruption of ‘Upon A Reign Of Ashes’ which leads straight on from the opener. Concussive rhythms, antagonistic riffs and sharp guitars beat and force their relentless intent through the ear. Despite the harshness and deep intensity, the track and the album come to that, is not particularly violent upon the senses, its enormity and heavy oppression  more intimidating, unforgiving and challenging.

From here on in the album really gets into its stride with firstly the excellent ‘Council of Trees Beholder’, a track merciless in its firm grip and constantly badgering as burning melodies scorch the ear. Unsettling and persistent it weakens defences for the might of ‘Remembrance’ and the staggering ‘Howling Shadow ‘. The first of the two makes the relentlessness of its predecessors on the album seem lightweight compared to its bestial intensity. Drummer Wolf is outstanding throwing up an unbridled creative energy to keep the track’s onslaught continuous whilst bringing impressive diversity. Like a monster storm awaking the song consumes down to the last cell of its victim.

One would have made the song best on album but even its majesty has to make way for ‘Howling Shadow ‘. From first note the track stomps across the senses, its militant rhythms and battalion like groove unstoppable and thoroughly irresistible. It defies anyone not to be swept up in its call to arms anthemic sound, and even if there is not a chorus or vocal part to become one with the track engages and instigates complete compliance and participation. The vocals of Phanaeus are as formidable as the music, dragging tones from the deepest pit within him; they are venomous and dripping malevolence to infuse this and every track with a menace and foreboding in league with the intent of the sound.

Apart from another stylish and beautifully crafted instrumental in ‘Sol Invictus (Ritual Act)’ the album continues to pummel and explore with the likes of the more metal toned ‘Whispers to the Headless’ and the striking ‘As Sleipnir Rides’.

Nether Collapse is a tremendous album, it does take a little work at times but the reward is very satisfying though your tattered and bruised senses might disagree at first. Vinterblot are ready to take metal by the scruff of the neck, keep listening.

Ringmaster 09/02/2012

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Allerjen – Equilibrium

Equilibrium the new album from UK metalers Allerjen may not have the brute force to bring down nations but it will leave plenty of casualties with numbed senses and weakened knees. Already renowned for their ferocious sound and instinctive grooves the Manchester quartet has hoisted up their intensity and aural intimidation with Equilibrium, bringing ten mighty tracks to accost and abuse the ear and beyond.

Formed in 1999 as Sphere, it was after their evolution into Allerjen in 2002 that things started to pick up for the band including a relatively settled period line-up wise, their earlier years seeing much instability. Through sharing stages with the likes of Sepultura, Amen, Man Must Die, Biomechanical, Skindred, Khanate and Forever Never, festival appearances such as the Damnation Festival and the Godless Festival the band brought strong support, acclaim and marked themselves as a rising formidable band in UK metal. Their recordings have further accentuated the band’s reputation, the early EP’s Lies, Allerjen, Progression Of Direction, and Resurrection grabbing attention and debut album No Guts, No Glory of 2008 proving the band was on a constant and strong rise despite at times a stop start journey. Over the years the band’s sound has hardened to become even more abrasive and rugged until this point when with Equilibrium, Allerjen have unleashed a bestial album of deathcore, metal and technical intrigue and more to take one down a heavy and brutal road graced with insistent grooves and fine creativity.

Released February 20th via Brutal Elite Records, Equilibrium slams fast and hard into the ear from the opening note of first track ‘Destroyer Of Worlds’. Commanding rhythms back up the striking guitar play. It turns out not to be the most powerful track on the album but with muscular riffs determined to occupy the ear and razor sharp melodies permeating the senses it is an excellent track. It comes with a diversity and thoughtful creation, the edgy melodic side matching the strength of the bruising power. As the whole album proves the guitars of Paul Wilkinson and Audie Harrison are not content with straight forward yet impressive displays but they stretch themselves and the songs with unpredictable changes, directions and refined creativity.

The brilliant ‘Treachery Be Thy Name‘ takes over next to rile up the pulse and excite the heart. Drummer Paul Tarbuck guides the track firmly as bassist John Dower solidly completes the formidable rhythms attack. Again though it is the guitars forming and providing instinctive grooves and insatiable riffs that make the track irresistible. Shifts in pace, time signatures and some delicious discordant guitar play give options to the unrelenting riffs and commanding beats. Dower’s vocals spew bile and malevolence all over the track, again something every song offers. His harsh growls like having one’s ear caressed vigorously with gravel mercilessly to overwhelm.

It is consistently the grooves and intelligent play that makes the band shine. Within the likes of ‘The Process To Being’ with a partial hard rock feel, the predatory threat of ‘Hunter’, and the best track on the album ‘Achieving Equilibrium’ the band offer so much more than other like genre bands, Allerjen provoking themselves and us with thoughtful and inventive songwriting and performance. The third of these tracks is a merciless searing attack intent on grounding one into the dust whilst feeding acidic and appeasing melodic intercourse. Unrelenting it grinds the senses into submission to revitalise with their melodic and inventive flair.

The album is deeply impressive but it does carry one negative that restrains it from greater heights. The vocals of Dower as mentioned are uncompromising and severe which is fine, and they are great at times. The problem is his delivery across the whole album is one pace, and unvaried. Often this works but in others the songs creativity is crying out for a disruption and ingenuity within his delivery.

Truth is though Allerjen have returned with an album that reinstates them as a definite force within UK’s metal scene. Equilibrium is a fine release with an ingenuity and thrust that hits the sweet spot whilst bludgeoning the ear. Simply just check out Allerjen.

RingMaster 09/02/2012

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