Merciless Terror – Vile Extinction

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A venom fuelled rage in the ear which soon makes its way to thoughts and passions, Vile Extinction the debut album from UK thrashers Merciless Terror is a self-perpetuating sonic pestilence which leaves a certain hunger for the band and their sounds ahead whilst making one striking and synapse wasting confrontation in the now. Like so many releases around it is not stalking new fields of invention for thrash metal or preying on the senses with undiscovered inventive maliciousness but it comes with an attitude and creative freshness which sets the album apart from most of its contemporaries.

The Nottingham quartet formed in 2009 using the inspirations of the likes of Slayer, Malevolent Creation, early Sepultura, and Bolt Thrower to fire up their imagination and invention. Their sound creates a magnetic maelstrom of thrash and death metal which from its first touch takes a firm grip on attention and over numerous excursions through its vitriolic presence, as shown with Vile Extinction, ingrains itself for stronger reactions. Theirs is a sound which consumes and crushes with a torrent of riff rabidity and rhythmic destructiveness but one which is unafraid to venture through more imaginative and violently enterprising scenery than most. From their acclaimed first EP Perpetual Devastation in 2011, the band despite several line-up changes has cemented and stretched their opening recognition through their live performances which has seen Merciless Terror aurally terrorising fans across the UK, Europe, Japan, and Scandinavia whilst playing alongside bands such as Bolt Thrower, Benediction, Malevolent Creation, Bonded By Blood, Desecration, Cerebral Bore and many more, and with their Eternal Decay EP of last year. Now the foursome of vocalist Dale Linsdell, guitarist Luke Tasker, drummer Michael Brush, and bassist Dan Oldcorn take it up many levels with the Devils Clause Records released Vile Extinction.

Opening atmospheric instrumental Omnicide 00.00 sets up the premise and theme of the album, “The damnation of humanity, the Front Cover 300imminent fate that will consume us all and lead the remnants of civilization to fight for survival, the result of mankind’s own doing by unnecessary wars because of religion, over harvesting, over spawning like a cancerous infection upon the earth and depleting the world’s life force.” It is an ominous if slightly underwhelming menace which is soon trampled beneath the rapacious entrance of Doctrine Of Malevolence, the track and vocals roaring with guttural animosity from its opening breath. Grooved riffery scorches the air whilst the drums provide a tsunami of breath stealing intensity and violence, and with the vocal squalling buffeting the senses whilst the sonic enterprise singes synapses like a shower of hot coals, it is a scintillating assassination of the thoughts and resistance.

From the tremendous start things only become more intensive and sonically carnivorous as firstly Circle Of Contempt rampages with a bestial craving to its rhythms and the inventive assault of guitar alongside bass rabidity to be swiftly followed by the unbridled predation of Enraptured. Merciless and loaded with a hunger rhythmically and sonically that simultaneously suffocates whilst tearing strips from the senses with its acidic toxicity and virulent intensity, the track is one of many distinct pinnacles upon the album with a vocal ferocity which simply dares you to disagree.

Both the outstanding ravenously addictive Baptized In Blood and the pulverising assault of Hateful Abomination brings blood and appetite to the boil, vocals and rhythms as potently vindictive and destructive as at any point on the album drawing an instinctive rapture which is lustful in its submission. The band continues to unleash a thrilling torrent of mouthwatering corrosive thrash cored violence through the adrenaline raising Process Of Eradication where the guitars sculpt a web of riffs and grooves which triggers greed drenched ardour and the exhausting World Desolation where nagging swarming riffs and equally addictive grooves prowl and hunt the senses as the rhythms cage their prey in sinew clad insistence before a sonic fire of a solo brings the heart of the song to the fore as another sumptuous tempest of annihilation reaps havoc.

From next up Imminent Death, a sub two minute intensive brawl on the senses, the album unveils evocative instrumental Dystopic Visions which though arguably for personal tastes is positioned wrongly in the track line-up for the best effect is an enthralling colour drenched melodic slice of creative beauty. It does bring the senses time to settle and relish the upcoming closing storm Existence Denied. The track has a more restrained launch at the ears but is soon thundering through their doorways to gnaw upon the senses whilst employing and crafting constant twists and enriching flavours for what is possibly the strongest and most inventive song on the album, if not ultimately the favourite. It concludes in Vile Extinction, an album of aggressive deeply satisfying thrash metal. It is not rippling with originality or threatening new avenues for the genre but Merciless Terror instead make it a confrontation with a balance of passion and ruinous intent which is extraordinarily skilled and exciting.

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8.5/10

RingMaster 10/10/2013

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Spiritual Holocaust – Kingdom Of Cadavers

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    Kingdom of Cadavers is one of those releases which takes time to make its fullest persuasion though not from being a slow burner of a tempter but as one which needs extra attention to absorb the most potent elements of its persuasion. The four track EP from Finnish death metallers Spiritual Holocaust once given the opportunity and time to work its sadistic charms though emerges as a strikingly promising and satisfying confrontation. It does not come with the intent to create new boundaries for the genre but sculpts a web of intrigue and raw destructive potency through its death driven slabs of intensity which captivates the imagination and transforms initial appreciation into a more impacting response.

Hailing from Raahe and formed in the latter part of 2010 out of the ashes of death/thrash metal band Point Blank, Spiritual Holocaust soon built a strong local fanbase which was strengthen by the release of demo CD Salute the Death last December. The end of the year also saw the new line-up of band founders vocalist Tomi Vähäkangas, guitarists Janne Satokangas and Jaakko Ulanto, bassist Marko Launen, and newest member Ville Yypäanaho in place and contemplating on their debut EP Kingdom Of Cadavers. Released by Grindhouse Music the new release unleashes a consumption of old school death metal which without being distinctly different to the sound and flavours bred by inspirations such as Morbid Angel, Bloodbath, Grave, and Cannibal Corpse, stands aside of the majority of other genre origin fuelled bands. Add in thoughts of the likes of Bolt Thrower and Suffocation to spice up the mix and you get a good idea of where Spiritual Holocaust come from and are going with their own individual design carving out the narrative.

The EP stirs from within a sampled bloodbath of torment, guitars and bass awakening their venomous intimidation to emerge as a cover_spiritualholocaust_kingdomofcadavers_1000x1000pestilence of sonic toxicity and rhythmic stalking. Once into full malevolent flow Forgotten Horror crowds the ear and forces its venomous temptation upon the senses with accomplished rabidity and intensive might. It is not startling or structurally spellbinding but with a rawness which corrodes with every note and a serpentine breath that is magnetically suffocating, the track makes a compelling introduction; especially when it parades a ridiculously contagious acidic groove, a temptation which niggles and scores the senses until it is a lingering ingrained toxin.

The title track is like an aural plague from its first insidious note, its tsunami of attractive poison and melodically fouled intensity a smothering cloak of dark destruction around a skeleton of rhythmic bone which equally takes no prisoners. Once more irresistible grooves make their plea from within the thick swamp of malicious virulence though it is a greater intensive blanket compared to the first song. A lumbering brutality with a predacious spite to its gait, the track takes the strong opener of the EP up another level and enriches the already spawned open promise of band and sound.

From the apocalyptic landscapes of the previous pair Born of Hatred seems a more personal or certainly is centred on the more personal side of human nature, its sounds as reflectively provocative and internally baleful as the lyrical growling. There is no softening of the destructive essence and hate seeded air of the encounter though, it’s testing and twisted engagement no less a torrential animosity than the other trio of tenebrous tempests as shown by the closing Death is Alive. Gnawing upon and devouring every last gasp of the senses and spark of imagination, the track takes them on a ruinous tirade of sonic and rhythmic annihilation which in turn ignites the same entombed aspects of the listener. With riffs and grooves veining the assault and bass as ever providing the strongest predatory provocateur whilst the vocals in league with the sounds scowl and turn air into a vitriolic Cimmerian expanse, the song brings an equally sepulchral release to an enjoyable close.

As mentioned Kingdom of Cadavers is not grinding out or exploring new ventures but is pure old school death metal which leaves the senses and appetite fully satisfied. Spiritual Holocaust is a band, on the evidence of their first EP, at the beginning of what looks like being an eventful and fulfilling blood drenched journey.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Spiritual-Holocaust/159862980694493

8/10

RingMaster 08/10/2013

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Dew-Scented – Icarus

In the 20-year anniversary of its formation, German thrash metal band Dew-Scented return with a new line-up and their ninth studio album Icarus. One of the established European heavyweights of the genre, the new release shows the band has lost none of its hunger or ability to create thunderous and impressive sounds.  The album does not see the band smashing through walls of originality but still easily and satisfyingly defends their position as one of the most accomplished and influential thrash bands this side of the big pond.

Following on from previous album Invocation of 2010, Dew-Scented continued their renowned work ethic with numerous European tours alongside the likes of Nile, Melechesh, Heaven Shall Burn, As I Lay Dying and Suicide Silence, Bolt Thrower and Rotting Christ, as well as their own headlining shows again all over Europe and appearances at festivals such as Hellfest, Wacken, Neurotic Deathfest, and Brutal Assault to name just a few of many. This period also saw the entire back-catalog of the band reissued as limited-edition Digipaks by Metal Mind Productions leading to further intense focus and intensive work for the band. This proved too much for some members and late 2011 saw a drastic line-up change in the band. Remaining founder vocalist Leif Jensen teamed up once again with guitarist Marvin Vriesde (Severe Torture, Blo.Torch) who had previously stepped in as a replacement live guitarist for tours in 1996, 2002 and 2005, as well as featuring as a guest on the Issue VI album. Vriesde was given the landscape to assume full songwriting duties and assemble the rest of the band which was brought with the addition of drummer Koen Herfst, bassist Joost van der Graaf (ex- Creepmime and Sinister), and after the album was recorded second guitarist Rory Hansen ( ex- Blo.Torch), all three also performing together in I Chaos. This immediate and already established tight understanding is easily apparent on Icarus, the band a thrusting and tumultuous force with a power and control only able to be brought by a unit fully integrated and as one.

From the opening full track Sworn To Obey the album makes blood vessels bulge and the pulse rate fly. It is a thumping mix of raucous vocals, destructive rhythms and riffs which whip the air and ear like leather straps, their effect continual immense slaps on the senses. The song is a persistent and forceful slab of metal with the growls of Jensen filled with vehemence as deep as ever whilst the guitar of Vriesde lights up the senses with some fine acute melodic play within the driving ear rupturing riffs of he and van der Graaf.

From that excellent start the following Thrown To The Lions with its busy grinding riffs and the outstanding Storm Within raise the game even higher. The first of the pair finds grooves and melodic enterprise to explode the already incendiary intensity the track brings whilst the second with its insistent niggle of an opening flexes heavyweight muscles to deliver a stomp of belligerent riffs and punchy rhythms. It too has a groove to lick ones lips at whilst its bruising energy leaves nothing but full satisfaction.

Only halfway in and the album is a winner but following songs like Gleaming Like Silver, the stunning Reawakening with its slowly tenderising assault, and the chugging feast which is A Final Procession let alone arguably the best song on the album The Fall Of Man, only enforce and enhance what went before for the greatest enjoyment.

To be picky at times there is a similarity across some of the songs and ideas but as it is so good anyway it is easily forgivable and not really an issue. Produced by Jörg Uken at Soundlodge Studios (God Dethroned, Suicidal Angels, Sinister) and featuring guest appearances from Dan Swanö (Edge Of Sanity, Bloodbath) on Reawakening and Sacrifice vocalist Rob Urbinati on Gleaming Like Silver, as well as guitarist Dennis Schneider (Retaliation, Final Breath), Icarus is an excellent return which even with the disruption the band went though shows Dew-Scented still head the fore of European thrash with skill and determination.

RingMaster 30/07/2012

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Acephalix: Deathless Master

What to say about Deathless Master the debut album from US death metallers Acephalix. It is singular in attack, sound, and intent, it is relatively unadventurous and it is unremarkable in changing the genre or thoughts of its followers, most of all it strikingly impressive and deeply satisfying. The album does nothing but stoke up the fires and passions that lurk in every dark recess of the heart and mind. It is a release that barely strays from its core and a blistering album uniformal in sound, quality, and enjoyment.

Out of San Francisco, Acephalix formed in 2007 with originally a crust punk surface to their death metal sounds. Taking influences such as the likes of Celtic Frost, Cro-Mags, Discharge, and Bolt Thrower to add to their ideas the band has evolved into what is bursting out from Deathless Master, a spiteful venomous old school tainted death metal band. Last year saw an upturn in attention their way with the bringing together of their two cassette demos in one limited edition CD called Interminable Night through Southern Lord. The 2,000 strong pressing sold out swiftly and brought them to the fore of underground metal. Shows in support of the release did them no harm either whilst their part in the Power of the Riff 2011 tour with the likes of Undergang, Black Breath, Winter, Noothgrush, Eyehategod, and Pentagram only increased the acclaim.

Again through Southern Lord, Deathless Master seals the full transformation of the band and their sound though there are still tones of their initial punk driven energies veining the tracks within. As heralding chords open up the album and starter Bastard Self and guitars blister the ear the sense of something powerful and vicious approaching is immediate. The track does not leave it long to bring confirmation as tumultuous riffs flatten all defences and the rhythms leave the ear quaking in the aftershock. The track is not a full on assault though, it is more premeditated and picks at the nerves with razor blade melodies and a groove to strangle all life it touches, and with the festering corruptive filth claiming to be vocals outstanding the track lays waste.

It is a staggering start from arguably one of the weaker songs on the album, if the word can be used in any context regarding a release this powerful and aggressive. Things do take a further upturn though with the following duo of the title track and Tomb Of Our Fathers. Deathless Master surges upon the senses like a rabid scourge, incessant and merciless it is a ravenous assault of thumping drums and malicious riffs. With a death knell ambience to the cleaner spoken vocals behind the full pit borne gutturals creations that lead, the track is a crushing pleasure. Tomb Of Our Fathers picks up where its predecessor left off, its raging rampage hypnotic and the caustic groove that follows in their wake vehement in intent and mesmeric effect. With an added solo which sears deep furrows within the senses it is an unstoppable joy.

Already one is aware that diversity is not the order of the day though each track offers something a little different to be numbed and violated by. Because the base and intensity of what the band does offer is so immense and gratifying it really is not an issue. Tracks like the outstanding On Wings and Raw Life just leave one a gleeful spent husk from their irrepressible consumption. The first of the two is a song staggeringly effective in simplicity of vocals and attack, its smothering fetid aural stench a contagion that reeks of malice and foul intentions. The latter is a mesmeric piece of putrefaction, its decomposing breath a smog of sonic evil. From an initial prowl and taunting air the song slowly shifts its muscular might into the expected charge that fuels each track but always it offers the tease of a respite to snatch it away with pure devilment.

Blood Of Desire, In Arms Of Nothing, and the great closer In Hunger ensure the album retains its high level from start to finish. The uniformal heart of the album means every second of the album is an incessant and very satisfying annihilation devoid of lulls. Obviously you have to have that level set at a high to make it work and Acephalix definitely achieve that. Like ordering eight slabs of quality steak for consecutive meals you know what you will get, there are no surprises, but it is a guaranteed feast of flavoursome and undeniably tasty pleasure each and every time. Deathless Master is the same, enjoy!

RingMaster 24/05/2012

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