Humangled: Odd Ethics

By the third track on Odd Ethics by Italian death metalers Humangled, there was only one direction to go after the completion of this review and that was straight to their back catalogue. The four track EP is the first introduction to The RR of the band but did not take long in ensuring it would not be the last. It is a deeply impressive release offering something different and fresh to a genre admittedly bursting with strong and powerful releases right now, though it is fair to say no one has the distinct smell and taste of Humangled.

From Pisa, the band began way back in the nineties with their first demo Anatomic Butchery appearing in 1996. Though it was well received the band broke up soon after, but in December 2006 vocalist Andrew Goreds and guitarist Luke Scurb joined up once more and Humangled was revived. The following year saw the Refoetalize EP and its unexpected storm of brutal death metal with electronic-industrial rhythms unveiled. The release was well received and after the release of the MCD Edge of Beyond in 2008, the band started work on their debut album Fractal, its acclaimed release coming in 2010 after the band signed with Abyss Records the same year. With guitarist Vhell Miscarriage, bassist Frank Nichols, and drummer Fred Valdaster alongside Goreds and Scurb, Humangled return again on Abyss with another impressive slab of their immense and enterprising metal. Produced and mixed like the album by Dan Swano, Odd Ethics is an imaginative and brutal corruptive pleasure.

Opener Needles Of The Blind takes no time in raging and stomping through the ear with juddering riffs and explosive rhythms, immediately demanding and getting full attention. It is a highly charged mix which ignites all the passions instantly, something not many death metal offerings manage to achieve, usually they have to wear the defences down a little first. With drops and surges in pace and energy, the track is an ever shifting onslaught rife with tumultuous riffs, finely crafted additive grooves, and inspiring imagination. Though it is arguably the most straight death metal track on the release the song is an innovative fury of diverse flavours to fire up the heart. Vocally Goreds conjures a mix of heavy guttural attacks and a caustic blackened delivery for a challenging and compulsive abrasion as direct and pleasing as the music.

The following Skinned, To Feel All opens with a hive of waspish riffs wrapped in a groove which burns on contact, its scorching touch upon the ear acidic and hypnotic. Musically the track is an eccentric blend of doom and sludge metal milked through a death driven rock n roll filter. It is a triumph, an insatiable and incessant grind upon the senses as addictive as any forbidden pleasure can be.

Smells Acrid steps up next to claim its chunk of flesh. As with its predecessor the song opens with a persistent and insistent shower of riffs, all drilled home with a hunger which cannot be appeased. Less rampant but just as forceful and eager as the song it replaced, the track creates a maelstrom of energy and intensity which is the nastiest yet and the most contagious.

The release closes with Deny Your Creed , a song whose initial presence suggests a slower more intense breath at the ear. Intense it certainly is but restraint is never on the cards as it fires a spiral of venomous riffs and spiteful grooves through the eagerly awaiting cavities. Though it shifts from gear to gear throughout, the song with breath stealing energy, bombards with thrash powered riffs and blood boiling sonic ferocity. It is a glorious finish to an exceptional release.

It would be amiss not to spotlight the musicianship within the band especially the skill and sheer brutal might of Valdaster. He is an unbridled beat tempest at times with the control and rhythmic leadership of a master, his skilled frame work and driving energy inspiring the rest of the band to ignite their individual craft.

    Odd Ethics is immense, Humangled even greater, nothing else to say except go check them out.

https://www.facebook.com/Humangled

RingMaster 29/08/2012
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Fester: A Celebration of Death

Returning after 17 years with an album of new material Norwegian blackened death metalers Fester show they still walk the shadows and bask in the filth coated dark. Their new album A Celebration of Death is a malevolent corrupting beast that lurks in nightmares and fuels inner sinister maelstroms, a release that shows the band can still hold hands with evil and call the shots.

The last appearance of Fester, one of the instigators and forerunners of Norwegian black metal came just with the release of their 1994 second album Silence the band splitting up not long after, though there was a ‘false start ‘ of a return in the early 2000s. Then 2010 saw the band reunited with the line-up of original members Jon Bakker (bass), Thomas Andersen (vocals) and Bjorn “Tiger” Mathisen (guitar/vocals) plus the addition of Audun Kleive (session drums), Raymond Pellicer (additional guitars, programming and synth), Eivind Aarseth (additional guitars), Guido Saint Roch (guest vocals on “Metalized”) and Mortiis (Dark Converter) for the album. Released via Abyss Records, with a limited edition cassette version (100 copies only) with Total Holocaust Records and vinyl edition through Flooga Records, A Celebration of Death is a satisfying statement that the band has not lost any of their invention and bitter venom over the years.

The album brings a festering (excuse the pun) mesh of black, death and thrash metal lined with heavy metal and other striking flavours. It is an album that dares you to step within its darkened halls and challenges the senses to stay there, but stand tall in the face of its test and one finds a rewarding and striking release. A Celebration of Death does not send the emotions into a frenzy to be honest but it offers plenty to keep them and the ears intrigued.

The opening track Rites of Ceres strolls in with confidence and head held high, its riffs sending ripples of nastiness through the ear whilst vocalist Andersen releases every word with spite dripping from every syllable, his delivery a crawling scourge upon the ear with a patient but wholly vindictive intent. The song infiltrates every corner of the mind with lingering intrusive fingers twisting and violating as it runs its length. Listening through its course one hears the band have not left their original old school sound but brought it up to date with thoughtful interpretation and fresh vehemence.

Throughout the album the levels stay high with a diversity underlining the surface blackened energy and intensity. The persistently niggling The Black Tower with its scorched melodies and grumbling bass riffs, and the unrelenting stalking drive of I’ll Hunt You Down being two fine examples, both eager to manipulate and leave the senses floundering in their own filth but brought with a diverse attack that ensures nothing ever drops into predictability.

The highlight of the album is Metalized, a song as sturdy and muscular as its title suggests. The track marches through the ear with sturdy rhythms and uncompromising riffs. From the vocals though to the drums, everything has a heavier mass and the song a much deeper formidable flow to it, a sound aided by a dark industrial lilt throughout.

A Celebration of Death is a fine album and strong return from Fester, both something their fans will be writhing in bliss about. It is hard to claim the album offers anything remarkably new or stirring, the release missing a certain spark and failing to ignite one within the heart but it is a satisfying listen and one that invites frequent returns.

RingMaster 21/03/2012

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Desultor: Masters Of Hate

Masters Of Hate is a wonderfully devious album, a sneaky beast that immediately introduces itself with some fine urgent metal to engage the senses with relative ease. It is after departing its powerful charms though that one realises all the time it has worked far deeper than first imagined, the triumphant brute reappearing in the head from nowhere with riffs that deny all other thoughts and melodies that hungrily stir the mind. Swedish progressive death metalers Desultor have created one of those releases that initially grabs attention and nodding praise upon first listen but is all the time leaving deeply laid hooks and lures to reel one back in whenever it wishes. A dark satisfying and exhilarating experience that never stops bringing forth flavoursome pleasure each time it plays with the ears.

       Desultor consists of drummer Michael Ibrahim and guitarist/vocalist Markus Joha, the duo forming the band in 2007. After an acclaimed demo and promo in 2008 and 2009 respectively Masters of Hate is their debut album and first with US death metal label Abyss Records. With the label one would expect another traditional death metal release but Desultor bring much more to their sound though the base is seeded in the heart of the genre. With intelligent guitar work, striking progressive invention and melodies, and excellent clean fuelled vocals the release is surprising, unpredictable, and thoroughly infectious. Muscular and intense the album holds its violence in check to consume with an incessant wearing attack. This makes an album that takes its time to command the senses but once inside the experience is thoroughly fulfilling.

Split into two chapters, each marked with a well crafted instrumental, Masters of Hate recorded and mastered by Sverker Widgren at Sweden’s Necromorbus Studios, takes no time in overwhelming the ear. First full track after the opening haunting instrumental Black Monday thumps on the door with heavy drums and energy before bursting through with thunderous riffs and harsh caustic guitars straining at the leash. As the thrash powered sound expands and the rock vocals of Joha fill the song wonderfully, the unexpected kicks in and one takes time to adjust as the dawning of something special sweeps over the senses.

Throughout the album the guitars craft a wall of sound that wears down the defences whilst at the same time bringing concise and varied ventures into progressive sounds, their creativity tight and sharp. Songs like the passion driven And So We Bleed and Caged, a track that runs with the senses like a wild animal, stand tall with destructive intensity and antagonistic contagious energy. The skill and diversity within Masters Of Hate is as impressive as the sounds the duo rile up the senses with, inventive and startling the album blindsides expectations beautifully making the release rise above the majority of death metal powered releases elsewhere.

One imagines there will be differing favourite tracks for individuals due to the high level of creation within the album, but here the title track and the magnificent Denied stand tall amongst the giants within the album. The first bristles with bulging riffs and assertive intensity as its call to arms anthemic energy drills as deep as the intense groove that spines the track whilst the latter of the two is pure rampaging potency. Denied holds dominion over the ear and beyond with its masterful annihilatory power, the senses feeling like the legend of Canute.

Masters Of Hate is a triumph of an album, a pleasure to feast upon as one constantly finds new spices with every delving. It is a release that needs more than one visit to fully experience all of its wealth but the rewards are deep and invigorating. Desultor are a band to set the heart racing and to give death and progressive metal an inspired shot in the arm.

RingMaster 20/03/2012

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Thousand Year War – Tyrants And Men

The new album from Alaskans Thousand Year War creates a very satisfying blend of old school melodic death and black metal with other classic metal flavours resulting in an interesting and at times enthralling array of powerful and direct sounds. Tyrants And Men may not be exactly rippling in originality but it delivers metal that stirs up the senses with creative essences alongside its pummelling assaults.

From Anchorage and begun in 2008, Thousand Year War for this album is guitarist and vocalist Hiram Lohr with session musicians Kellen on bass and drummer Fredrik Widigs. Released via Abyss Records, Tyrants And Men took time to find its way into the world’s ears. While working as a commercial fisherman to finance it the album was recorded by Lohr at Garden Studios in Anchorage with Kellen, it was then upon the failure to find a skilled drummer at home sent across to Fredrik Widigs (The Ugly And Desultor) in Sweden summer of 2009 to lay down a drum track. Once passed on then to be mixed and mastered by Fredrik Lunneborg of Primecut Studios in Sweden, the album was presented before Dan Ferguson of Abyss Records leading to the band being signed and its release in September of this year. It may have taken time but has proven well worth the wait.  

The album, as a great many others have also said has a distinct Amon Amarth flavour to it and if a fan of their striking and powerful sounds Tyrants And Men will be a definite winner.  Rampant riffs, striking flowing guitars and incisive solos, plus a vocal mix of guttural growls and higher pitched screams fly from the tracks with ease and strong ability. Though the album does not venture often too far from expected melodic death metal sounds and craft it is definitely one of the more accomplished releases lately in sound and production.

Lyrically the album deals with the duality and opposition between the ruling evil elite running the world and the people, who are constantly battling to turn the world we live in around with truth, not power and wealth. The theme is as powerful as the sounds and adds a good deeper dimension to the release.

There is a good strong level across the album, each track holding its own and giving great satisfaction but some moments really show the band as a future force as well as a more than decent band right now. ‘The Sea’ is a lively blend of great melodic guitars and grooves rippling beneath the intense vocals and drums, and its successor ‘No Gods, No Masters’ an irrepressible blast of dark rock ‘n’ roll that eagerly pounds away with enthused energy. It may not be the more original track on the album but it is undeniably one of the more exiting. The one song that lifts its head highest is ‘Open Casket’, breaking out on a classic rock riff not out of place in a Maiden song the track brings in some smart and intricate guitar play that lights up the dark mood fuelling the song. Every song on the album has its moment though and it is impossible to find a weak track anywhere.

The downside to the album? There is not much apart from the previously mentioned lack of anything really new or unpredictable.  There is also an overall sameness across some of the tracks but with honesty could not that be levelled at the majority of releases these days to some degree? Thousand Year War has produced an album that more than can hold its own against any other and makes the thirty five minutes plus a very worthwhile and agreeable use of time and that can easily be repeated again and again.

www.facebook.com/tyrantsandmen

www.thousandyearwar.com

RingMaster 31/10/2011

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Maax – Unholy Rock N Roll

Whilst listening to the new album from Indianapolis blackened thrashers Maax the image of a musical pentagram with them in the middle as a focal point drawing on five distinct flavours plays in the head. With Unholy Rock N Roll the band even more so than before suck the flavours from rock ‘n’ roll, black metal, thrash, punk and classic rock to forge their own relatively unique sound. As the tracks unveil the band acts as a link between classic rock and the likes of AC/DC, punk sounds like Wednesday 13, the trash energy of a Kvelertak, the rock power of a Motorhead or even Status Quo, and the blackness of Venom. The resulting sound is one that works in varying degrees but with constant frequency leaves a smile on the face and adds fun to the day’s energy.

Unholy Rock N Roll released via Abyss Records is the follow up to the band’s Six Pack Witchcraft EP and comes with a definite thrashier flavour especially when compared to their debut album of 2009; Dawnbringer which was a colder black metal toned release. It shows a strong and definite evolution in sound and direction from the bands formation in 2006 and one that is very welcome, the band firing with more energy and accuracy with this spread of influences and ideas. The album was written and recorded with new addition Jeremy Starkey (Necrophagous) on bass joining founder members guitarist Kyle Kreider and drummer Jeff Brown (since replaced by Dave Dalton (Legion, Ratzkrieg, SoSayeth)) plus vocalist Tim Green and guitarist Brett Schlagel. The album shows arguably an even steadier and more purposeful feel from this line-up than before, a power that is impossible not to be dragged along by even if the flavours at times do not always quite hit the mark. 

Maaxe (pronounced May-Axe) know how to have a good time and that comes out on the album from the opener ‘Coldest Steel’ complete with  relentless riffs and eagerness right through to the closing attitude soaked ‘One More Time’, the album thrusting forth its dirty whiskey fuelled black thrash n’ roll with efficiency and glee. The band never reach levels that threaten the sanity of senses with their attack but do give them a thorough working over with their rock ‘n’ roll swagger and dirty intent.

The consistency across the release is strong but a few songs lift the album from a good listen into one that instigates a more regular attention. The title track has an infectious anthemic appeal that means it is hard not to punch they air as its gang shouted chorus calls out whilst ‘Maax’ with all the subtlety and insistency of a red hot poker laced with punk venom stands firmly in front of the face and unleashing some alcohol loaded intensity. Alongside the best track on show ‘Black Thrash ‘Em All’, the trio make Unholy Rock N Roll worth more than a glance. This track leaps into the ear with striking guitars and black edginess that border on lechery, with dirty growls and infectious rhythms.

To be honest there is not one song that lingers after running its course though this is not to say they are less than satisfying but though they admirably do not go for obvious hooks and tricks the songs are missing that spark and addictiveness to make one return often. Unholy Rock N Roll is a good solid release but there is the question of it being too varied and up against other more genre dedicated and sterner intense albums elsewhere it will get lost in the metal ethers, hopefully not as it does entertain and bring good sounds and attitude.

www.myspace.com/maaxmetal

RingMaster 20/10/2011

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