Despite Exile: Re-Evolve

As one stands before the mighty destructive storm that is Re-Evolve, the new three track release from Italian metallers Despite Exile one can only be impressed and left swollen in their inferno of sound. The release is a tumultuous mass of bone shattering and merciless power, each riff and rhythm an iron jab and every melody a scything flash of intrusive creativity, and though it may be slightly lacking on originality it more than defuses that with a skill and passion which welcomingly overwhelms and deeply pleasures.

Re-Evolve follows debut album Scarlet Reverie and marks a sure progress in the Despite Exile sound and songwriting. Arguably more melodic, definitely more technical and certainly more aggressive the release shows a maturity and tighter control in its nothing less than blood racing sounds and unbridled promise for things ahead. The quartet from Udine of vocalist Jei Durisotti, guitarists Sanchez Santini and Carlo Ferraro, bassist Giovanni Minozzi, and Sasha Veselinovic on drums has already won over their homeland with their prog/technical metal/deathcore blend as well as leaving it wasted with their live shows which has seen them share stages with the likes of Heart In Hand, It Prevails, Hopes Die Last, and Ready Set Fall. Their debut only went to garner further recognition and acclaim but Re-Evolve feels like being the trigger to wider acknowledgement and interest. There is a persistent flood of strong and impressive bands, something which will never dry up but few leave such a dent and lingering assault upon the senses as Despite Exile whilst making it truly pleasurable.

The EP opens with the immediately psyche stretching Oscillate. It eagerly winds up the pressure and intensity with a firmly gripping intrusive groove whilst the rhythms leave one punch drunk.  It is not all out war the track preferring to build the intensity through deliberate precise riffs and scouring melodic slices of steel. The vocals of Durisotti crawl through and rage against the ear dripping venom with his every breath to match the intrusive effect from the puncturing riffs and twisting melodic guitar invention. Though not the fiercest fire on the EP you can still feel flesh withering from the sonic heat of the track and one cannot ask for or expect a better opening to a release.

Perfection Neutralized ignites a raging inferno next with its blistering energy and numbing intensity. With impressive breakdowns and melodies to scorch every cell the song has a slight schizophrenic nature. It is agitated, openly venomous, whilst assuming nothing but submission before its might. With melodies like blades through the ear and imaginative rhythms offering no sign of respite the track is a monstrous glory; even the emotive progressive element cannot defuse its snarl and ravenous heart.

Despite Exile end Re-Evolve with the excellent Mechanical and allow their softer side to emerge. Well one says softer but as ever each and every note, thought, and second is a brutal annihilation of the senses; it is just here the band bring an extra melodic grin to their intent. Ever evolving within its skin the track ventures into and awakens places untouched by others. It is nasty, vindictive and purse excellence, a song to leave women and children cowering and men on their knees. It is a beast of ingenuity and compulsive sounds which leaves one damning the band for there being only three tracks on the release.

With more than a spice of Meshuggah, Whitechapel, and Veil Of Maya to its blood Re-Evolve is a storm of fury which brings the most gratifying satisfaction. Despite Exile might have been a mere unheard whisper before in the ears of many but surely they will soon be the loudest and most welcome scream.

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RingMaster 29/05/2012

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Moonloop: Deeply from the Earth

With a name to offer up many suggestions other than that of a death metal band the first full length from Spanish band Moonloop is ultimately a very rewarding and impressive surprise. To be fair the Barcelona quartet are not your straight forward example of the genre, their creativity emerging in a striking progressive death metal blend with influences in the form of bands like Opeth and Gojira openly on its sleeve. Deeply from the Earth is a bit of a slow burner, the immediate impression is good without being striking but as it progresses the realisation of how deeply it has begun to register becomes apparent. Though probably not destined to dent many top ten lists as the year closes its eyes, the release nevertheless stands tall and is sure to have a lingering place in multiple ears and hearts.

Formed in 2001 the foursome of Eric Baule (vocals, guitar), Juanjo Martin (rhythm guitar, vocals), Raul Payán (drums), and Vic Granell (bass), unveiled their debut demo Things Can Change in 2004 with the same year seeing the band opening for Anathema. With second demo Release from Duality finding critical acclaim the year after and the band playing at the Sant Climent festival in 2006, Moonloop was becoming a noticed force within the metal scene of their homelands. A year on and the band began recording third demo True Nature Revealed as well as lighting stages at Riells Death Metal Fest, Burning Hell Fest and the Move Your Fucking Brain Festival. From that point shows and tours took precedent, the band demoing live many of the tracks that would appear on debut album Deeply from the Earth.

Recorded in 2011 the album is finally released on Listenable Records and with its wealth of quality and thought let alone great promise, Deeply from the Earth is an album that deserves focused attention.  The album like some previous releases is based on Mother Earth as well as life experiences. It has a depth and inventive heart lyrically and most noticeably musically to elevate it above the majority of releases this year and though it and the band struggle to avoid the Opeth comparison especially it is a compliment rather than a flaw ultimately.

As mentioned the album is slow to get going though this is not to say the first couple of tracks lack any quality or endeavour. Awakening Spirals Of Time and Beginning Of The End both seize the ear with accomplished skill and melodic power, the first a brief and exotic instrumental with an atmosphere sun scorched and dazzling whilst the second is a bruising and heated envelopment of the ear. From the coarse blistered vocals of Baule to the colourful and incendiary guitar play the track licks like a flame around the senses though ultimately it does not kind an ignition point. It is hard to pinpoint which element is missing to deny it the chance to let it truly ignite but it is still a satisfying and welcome treat upon the ear.

As third track A Life Divided wraps itself around the senses something clicks and the album and band trigger something deeper. Whether from the firmer muscular intent, the less fussy melodic play or possibly its shorter length the track hits the mark and steps forth as best on the album. It also marks the first appearance of clean vocals and they bring an instant lift to the song though it is the persistent and insistent groove which really hits the spot.

Fading Faces with further excellent clean vocals against battering rhythms and a resonating intensity leading to numbness, is an outstanding continuation of the immense sounds from its predecessor. As the album moves through the impressive likes of the destructive Legacy Of Fear and the wonderful progressive melodic/semi acoustic/intense darkened blend of Wailing Road the intrigue and pleasure continually outweighs any negatives which arguably exist within the release.

To be over critical at times Moonloop over stretch their progressive passages and solos whilst the longer songs lack the concise touch of the less lengthy tracks but to be honest there is not much to criticise really. Once the band finds a unique sound with its own distinct breath there will be no stopping them.

Ringmaster 29/05/2012

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Abhorrence: Completely Vulgar

A thorough treat for death metal fans this month comes in the form of the album Completely Vulgar from Finnish band Abhorrence. Acclaimed as the true pioneers and masters of Finnish Death Metal the album sees their only releases together with live tracks and on the 2 record vinyl version of the release a rare rehearsal demo, Macabre Masquerade. It is an album which not only marks the seeds of a scene but still has a place and potency amongst the genre today, sounding surprisingly fresh and definitely with an influence still to share.

Abhorrence began in early 1989 and in its brief existence released the demo Vulgar Necrolatry, and a self titled EP, both as mentioned the heart of Completely Vulgar. Initially playing under a few names before settling on Abhorrence, the band shared stages with the likes of Xysma and Funebre and played across Finland building a reputation to stay with them long after the band split in 1990. Guitarist Tomi Koivusaari went on to play in Amorphis who themselves recorded and have often played live the Abhorrence track Vulgar Necrolatry. Though almost a fleeting moment in the history of death metal the line-up of Koivusaari , fellow guitarist Kalle Mattsson, bassist Jussi Ahlroth, drummer Kimmo Heikkinen, and vocalist Jukka Kolehmainen, laid a big piece of foundation for what was to come with their striking and powerful sounds, something this release more than provides evidence of.

Release by Svart Records it is impossible not to be overwhelmed by the tracks on Completely Vulgar, their power and inventiveness mountainous whilst the heavy and oppressive feel of the production only adding to the consuming atmosphere and intensity created. Opening with intro The Cult, the album brings forth the tracks of the EP first and immediately has the senses reeling. From the destructive sounds of Pestilential Mists with its almost tortuous melodies and abrasive grumbling bass plus a groove leaving deep scars across the ear, through the mighty pair of monstrous beasts in Holy Laws of Pain and Caught in a Vortex one is exploited and exhilarated by the creativity before them. These last two tracks really epitomize what the band was all about and even now match anything current bands have to offer. The ear piercing corruption of Disintegration of Flesh finishes off the opening violation of the senses, stepping aside for the tracks that made up the demo.

Vulgar Necrolatry, Pleasures of Putrid Flesh, and Devourer of Souls all only go to confirm the importance and influence of the band. With an even more suffocating production than on the EP the tracks seek out and consume every corner of the senses and thought with strength and impressive skill, the mugginess of the sounds adding to the oppressive violation.

The live tracks on the release are from a 30-minute live show from Turku, Finland in 1990 and easily with their raw unpolished sound pull you right into the atmosphere of the time.  The same can be said of the again openly raw cuts of the five-track rehearsal demo Macabre Masquerade which appears on the vinyl version of Completely Vulgar only. With a mini-gatefold cover and a booklet crammed full of memorabilia, lyrics and liner notes from all band members accompanying the CD whilst the limited vinyl version has an even more massive booklet and a gatefold jacket, Completely Vulgar is a real and honest treat.

If Abhorrence escaped your attention originally then now is the chance to hear and feel the beginning of a sub genre. With an atmosphere and musical prowess as heavy and aggressively consumptive as you dare ever wish for Completely Vulgar is a must investigation for all death metal fans.

RingMaster 29/05/2012

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