Various Artists – Operation: Underground

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There are nowhere enough compilations albums around these days especially when it comes to unleashing and promoting the potency of the underground scene. The seventies and eighties saw a plethora of important collections bringing impressive introductions to hordes of bands and often making a springboard for those propositions to find healthier and stronger horizons. Today it seems almost a rare treat to be presented with such an encounter, though amongst those which have emerged there have been many impressing releases. Adding to that list of triumphs and setting a template and example for others to follow is Operation: Underground, the new release out of New England independent label Bluntface Records. Consisting of 27 of the most potent attention grabbing extreme metal bands from the world’s underground, it is an outstanding slab of creative hostility and malicious introductions. The fact that it is released as a free download only adds to the might and weight of the uncompromising incitement.

Created and sculpted by label owner Otto Kinzel, himself renowned for his solo work and with his band Chemical Distance, Operation: Underground it is fair to say has no real fillers in its body, something else few releases of this size can claim. It comes with a showcase of quality and talent which demands close attention, exploring everything from black and death metal to grindcore and other varied extreme provocations. The album quite simply goes for the jugular from its opening moment and is unrelenting until the last pleasing violation of its final track.

Operation: Underground gets off to a voraciously impressive start through its opening pair of bands. Hailing from New York, brutal death metallers Abdicate make the first blunt incision with their track Burning Ascendance. Taken from the album Fragmented Atrocities, it is a furious decaying of the senses with grind seeded carnality. Clad with inescapable malice driven by gutturally spewed vocals which themselves are aligned to rampant riffs and a violently rhythmic tenacity, the song instantly chains and enslaves ears and thoughts with its hellacious intensity and scintillating causticity. Perfectly raw and loaded with exciting potential, it is an immense start soon left in the wake of the following Human Decimator. Uncaged by Massachusetts five piece Carnivora, the track from an opening sample lure wraps ears in a venomously addictive groove and angrily cantankerous rhythms. It is a staggering start swiftly pushed on by the outstanding vocals and magnetic signs of guitar and predatory bass baiting. Subsequently entwining groove and thrash in a unique explosion of flavoursome toxic metal, song and band instantly take a swing at top track honours and to be honest never relinquish their hold despite numerous challenges. From the Danvers hailing band’s excellent Eternal album, the song with its predecessor sets a high marker for the album which to be fair it never really strays too far from.

Ireland’s Legion of Wolves comes next with their death metal spawned track Kings Of Tyranny. Taken from recent release Legio Luporum XIV, the song prowls ears and imagination with a black hearted demeanour and similarly coloured sounds. There is a pestilential air and intimidation to every riff and swing of sticks as well as with increasing malice the gruff vocal squalls, but also an emerging melodic craft which transfixes as it tempers the enmity of the track. From the Irish success both US band Goreality with the rapier like corrosiveness of Skin On, Skin Off and Florida’s Echaton keep imagination and satisfaction high, if not quite matching the early songs. The first of the two creates an incessant thrash fuelled death metal rapacity which is as easy crawling over the senses as it is discharging an adrenaline lit trespass whilst its successor with Behold The Nexus offers a more technical premise compared to its barbarous predecessor. Do not expect to have things easy though as the song roars and scythes with jaundiced respect and impressive individual prowess over the senses and into the passions.

Markradonn come next with a track from Final Dying Breath EP called Internal Hate Unbounded. One of metals most individually sounding propositions, the Florida band create an experimental tapestry of death and black metal filtered through a progressive and symphonic rapacity, resulting as the song shows in a startling imagination fuelling encounter. Its ferociously compelling presence is left a little pale though by the caustic sonic irritancy of The Seventh Trumpet Sounds from Arkansas duo Critical Dismemberment. The song is an abrasing and unpolished smog of bad blooded death metal soaked in inventive rancor and appealing potential proving ears with healthy pleasure.

Maine’s Sacrichrist suffer from an unflattering production to their song No Savior to really impress though it does not fully smother a promise which suggests more than it delivers. Nevertheless the track grows in strength and persuasion over time to make the band one to keep an eye on alongside extreme heavy metal quintet Wrathsputin. The Massachusetts band unleash a gripping fury of sonic nastiness and rhythmic bullying in their song A.N.U.S. (A Nation Under Satan), to create another riveting moment in the album, especially with the potent enticement of contagious grooves and melodic spillages which litter the excellent song.

     Green Army from Bangladesh is another to have a diminished success thanks to the poorer recording quality of their song Reborn of the Blackened Phenomenon, though again to be fair it does not stop the accomplished and adventurous skills of the band shining through before The Slip from the excellent Garbage Can takes over. A two-piece from Ottawa, the Canadian band creates an irresistible savagery of slam grind which manages to seduce and scythe through the senses with equal attraction. The song is another setting the loftiest pinnacles on the album definitely not matched for personal tastes by Malcontent Manifestation from Inverticrux. Actually from its first gothic clad doom brewed musical seconds the track flirts with the imagination to reasonably strong success but vocally the New Hampshire band leaves emotions cold and unconvinced, that aspect a maelstrom of textures and styles which will either click for you or not.

Another Irish band in the tasty shape and sound of Syphor step up next, their track For What Remains, from the album of the same name, a predatory blend of thrash and death metal courting many other textures and spices in an 10625117_10202114872106082_8340698001833330811_ninfectiously gripping web of riffs and grooves hosted by great serpentine vocals. The Dublin band easily set themselves as another to explore further as does the ear grabbing Solium Fatalis who follow them. Dead Sands Of Time is a beast of a track, its tone bestial and weight trapping whilst its strenuous grooving and rhythmic animosity spins an inescapable web for thoughts to bask within. Maybe their sound is not rife with originality but certainly the band leaves a hunger for more as insistent as the imposing sounds which breeds it.

Infested Prophecy also fails to a light fire in ears and imagination with Abandon Departure, though there is plenty musically to spark a watch of the Massachusetts band once their blackened malevolence is given a willing production to aid the trio’s musical talent and adventure. Certainly as all the bands they are not lightweight in their offering to the album, the same easily said of both Canada’s Accursed Spawn and Florida’s Prophecy Z14. The first of the pair sear ears with a sonic and rhythmic violence through their song Burned Into Sterility which is as warped and psychotic as it is ridiculously captivating. If wanting some new Cryptopsy or Dying Fetus like sounds then turning to the Ottawa five would be a rewarding move whilst the following protagonists roam and hunt down the senses with a weave of technically driven death metal annihilation to matching success. With a swing and swagger to every element of its tempestuous onslaught, Torn from the Flies is a thought provoking proposal, not as dramatic in its capture as maybe it should be but providing a wholesome and mercilessly ravaging exploit all the same.

New Yorkers Gutted Alive lifts the lid off another stretch of commanding and impressive offerings with their track Force Fed Acid. Arguably the most brutal track on the album it is an addiction fuelled tempest of cruel rhythms punctuating sonic and vocal spite complete with a delicious nagging slingshot of grooves and flesh stripping riffery. The song is a masterful temptation to embrace and fear simultaneously which is matched stride by violent stride by Infection of the Masses from New York sextet Assault on the Living. It also niggles its way in to the psyche, repetitive textures and grooves only adding to the virulent bait and lure of the expansively flavoured sound. One of many bands you immediately feel will not be a secret for much longer they are swiftly emulated in might and quality by My Missing Half. Another foursome from Massachusetts, the Bostonians forge an enthralling canvas of melodic death metal in Empty Dreams which is as enticing with its sonic and melodic colour as it is through its rigorous design of sinew built antagonism. With essences of The Black Dahlia Murder and Between the Buried and Me bringing hues to an otherwise fresh sound and presence, the band add another name to the busy check out list inspired by the album.

Italy’s Symbolyc provide their very palatable style of extreme incitement next, blastbeats and grooves as binding as the alluring vocal predation and melodic veining the stormy heart of 300 Demons. Their fury is as potently enticing as that of German metallers Spreading Miasm and their sonic pestilence The Harvest, a track which is unfussy aural toxicity with every enjoyable twist and violation wished for in an accomplished slab of extreme metal. It also finds an unpredictable invention which lifts a strong song into a great encounter, something not quite discovered by Texans Core of Desolation in their track The Return of Death’s Glorius Design, though it also is not blessed by the most understanding of productions which smothers the chance of greater success as certainly hinted at within the still enjoyable offering.

Operation: Underground begins its closing run with symphonic black metallers Aberration Nexus, the solo project of Chris Meyer from Victoria in Australia. The erosive and immersive embrace of The Solvent That Cleanses The Earth immediately smothers the senses in a melodic expression filtered through a thick atmosphere and sonic rabidity. It is an absorbing if uncomfortable experience pointing to a potential which will flourish ahead with the right touch and scenery for Meyer to grow within. Its strongly satisfying presence makes way for the Egyptian influenced death metal of Romanians Horus, their sound a warm melodic wash over a hostile frame, governed by deep throated vocals. Their track Revelation is an imaginative entwining of symphonic seducing and menacing landscapes which again lays seeds to a keen appetite to learn more before it in turn is followed by the similarly imagination capturing Suffer The Winter from Ohio metallers Vengeance Within. Without courting open originality, song and band cast a shadowed and intrigue rich terrain of potent melodies and jaundiced intensity which casts a widely flavoured and lingering presence to entice more investigation.

The album is closed by Terminality from Californians Dark Measure, yet another band on the release unafraid to explore a merger of styles and ideation to create a fiery and richly appetising conclusion to a tremendous doorway into some of the best emerging bands in extreme metal. Operation: Underground is a thrilling project from a label which lives the independent scene and really does support the cause.

Operation: Underground is available from Tuesday August 26th for free download @ www.bluntfacerecords.com

9.5/10

RingMaster 25/08/2014

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