Sabbatory – Endless Asphyxiating Gloom

sabbatory band pic

Openly bred from the origins of death metal, Canadian metallers Sabbatory is a proposition which on the evidence of debut album Endless Asphyxiating Gloom has plenty more in its arsenal than just a sound spawned from the genre’s first pestilential blooming. The release is an unrelenting brew of adventure and ideation in which each song is a full to the rim continually revealing web of fascination and creative malevolence. Its tracks expand and breathe with a riveting adventurous intent; it is not jammed with ground-breaking offerings but certainly exposes a resourceful endeavour which gives a fresh strain of toxicity to vintage death metal.

Hailing from Winnipeg and consisting of vocalist/guitarist Kier Keating, guitarist Marshal Fries, bassist Nick Tober, and drummer Dan Ryckman, Sabbatory has earned a strong reputation at home for their impressive live performances. Including members who have played in numerous other local bands including death thrashers Besieged, the quartet is poised to take their sound and potent presence into the jaws of the world with Endless Asphyxiating Gloom and it is hard to see them failing to ignite a more intensive spotlight upon their emerging cast of inventive sonic ferocity.

A rabid assault of drums marks the entrance of opener Being, Thy Eternal Perplexor, a potent lure soon joined by ravenous riffs sabbatory coverwhich in turn sparks a tsunami effect in the attack of Ryckman who not for the last time impresses strenuously. Entwining grooves need little encouragement to colour the expanding tempest next whilst vocally Keating is as grizzly in tone as he is malevolent. It is a gripping persistently evolving incitement which though as mentioned it hardly strays from established landscapes, it is as unpredictable and intriguing as you could imagine and wish within its impressive template. Though within five minutes in length the song, and album as a whole, is a blistering and exhaustive web of predatory design and skilful sonic narration easily sparking imagination and passions to delve deeper.

From the outstanding start the album kicks up another gear with Hypnotic Regression, its opening punk infused opening of bass and drums veined by a sonic toxin instantly irresistible. Still retaining that initial animosity and bait, the track proceeds to unleash a rapacious stalking of wonderfully niggling riffs with groove linked hues whilst Ryckman again uncages a torrent of skill and hostility which leaves the mouthwatering and senses reeling. Crawling, prowling, and charging head down within again a persistently shifting premise, the track simply seduces and enslaves thoughts and passions through skilled and imaginative enterprise. It is a weave which is not over indulgent or too hungry to impress but does so nevertheless because of its modest yet ferocious adventure and ideation. It is the best track on the release and combined with its predecessor reveals the strength and some of the still untapped potential of the band.

The intensive Corrosive Decay, whose presence definitely is described perfectly by its title, comes next and though maybe and inevitably it pales against the previous songs, the track and all its attributes converges on ears and senses like a devouring sonic banshee. Within its insidious deathly howl though the track explores rhythmic scenery which is hypnotic in its spite and craft whilst its barrage is wound around by an acerbic tapestry of grooves and acidic hooks which dig and linger venomously. The song makes an absorbing and invigorating venture to bravely immerse within before Infantasy steps forward to reveal its own scornful uncompromising incitement. Again it is a track which easily impresses but lacks the richness of invention and adventure of the first two, though in craft, passion, and intensity it is more than an equal.

The title track finds another startling strength of rancor and noxious beauty for its body and sound; guitars and drums seemingly drilled in rabidity whilst the seamless and dramatic switches in urgency and gait bring a predation to the ears which again find new strength and purpose within the album. A great short solo flame from Keating sears the air from within the oppressive and thunderous weight of the encounter but it is the sheer brutal mass and intimidation of the song musically and vocally which seduces without restraint, though again it fails as all tracks after the first pair of songs to be honest, to find that early plateau set.

Both The End of a Pessimistic Voyage and the closing Orbiting Obscuron provoke and feed imagination and passions healthily, the first a thick cloud of insatiably addictive riffs and animated grooves gripped by another rhythmic ferocity to be keenly admired and its successor a provocation which emerges from a doom bred swamp of intensity and emotion into a more thrash steeped sinew clad canter which is as bestial and baneful as anything on the album. The pair easily enflame an already rampant hunger for the album as they bring Endless Asphyxiating Gloom to an imposing exhilarating end. The album is top heavy in many ways but that is down to the sheer might of the first few songs than any defect in the rest whilst the production at times is not as rewarding to the invention it wraps as maybe it could have been, but from start to finish the album is a captivating and commanding enjoyment marking out Sabbatory as a band more than able to make a big impact on world metal.

Endless Asphyxiating Gloom is available via Unspeakable Axe Records now with distribution through Dark Descent Records!


RingMaster 27/05/2014

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Gravehill – Death Curse


For a pestilential onslaught of black, death, and thrash metal, moulded into one voracious tempest of raw and dirty metal it is unlikely many releases will surpass the new uncompromising ravaging of US corruptors Gravehill. The band’s third album Death Curse is a bestial examination of the senses; savaging violations soaked in causticity and stripped to their primal bones and intent. At times an anthemic contagion and in others simply a predatory gnawing of the senses, the album is an increasingly potent annihilation which evolves an initial strong showing into a truly impressive and exhausting incitement. There is no wastage of frivolous trickery or excessive showing off just concentrated undiluted primeval metal at its best.

The Californian band was formed in 2001, a trio which took little time in unleashing debut demo The Practitioners of Fell Sorcery; it was short lived triumph though as Gravehill disbanded soon after. 2006 saw the band reform, original drummer/founder Rhett “Thorgrimm” Davis linking up with vocalist Mike Abominator. A second demo Metal of Death in 2007 was followed by the EP Metal of Death/Advocation of Murder and Suicide the following year from the quintet. First full-length Rites of the Pentagram was next uncaged on Enucleation Records to strong reactions in 2009 as also its re-release in a package with a third outing from the band’s first demo via Ibex Moon Records a year later. The line-up saw a change in 2011 with guitarist Matt “Hellfiend” Harvey (Exhumed, Dekapitator, Repulsion) joining the band before second album When All Roads lead to Hell on Dark Descent Records. The next year saw another shift in personnel with both Hellfiend and fellow guitarist Rob “Bodybag Bob” Babcock leaving due to extensive touring demands with Exhumed to be replaced by CC DeKill and Hell Messiah.

With the new members slotting in with ease alongside Thorgrimm, Abominator, and bassist J.T. Corpse, Gravehill set about creating what CDBO04.pdfhas emerged as their most ferocious and destructive triumph to date. Again out through Dark Descent and featuring guest appearances from the likes of Chris Reifert and Eric Cutler of Autopsy as well as Kam Lee (Massacre, Death and Bone Gnawer), Death Curse is a masterful protagonist of the senses from the exceptional artwork provided by Christopher Moyen (Incantation, Blasphemy)to its last lingering venomous note. Though the introductory opener Gates of Hell does not show the storm to come, its epically sinister portent of sonic certainly brings an intimidation to bear on the senses, a brewing threat soon realised with the explosive entrance of the title track, riffs and rhythms a merciless rampage whilst the coarse even rawer vocals scar air and ears. Eager in its thrash driven gait and acidic in the eruptions of sonic enterprise, the track is a magnetic encounter which maybe does not trigger an immediate hunger but with good variation to the vocals and a resistance proof groove certainly has full control of attention.

At Hell’s Command is much swifter in taking a submission from senses and passions, its yawning sonic bait from the first second irresistible and the spark to an incendiary examination of a brutal rhythmic battering and a venomous and compelling sonic intrusion. There is an insidiously commanding element to the song, and subsequently the album, which manipulates the imagination and emotions into subservience either instantly or over time as in the case of other songs, but always succeeding in its intent. The guitar toxicity of CC DeKill and Hell Messiah is especially impressive and tempting, their designs as in all aspects of the release, skilled and striking but never dosed with a wasteful indulgence.

The following Open Their Throats emerges from the fluid gothic like link between it and its predecessor to prowl around the ear with a doom bred stance. The song stalks with venom dripping from its rhythmic jaw and slavering riffs whilst the guttural intense vocals add further insatiable predation. Intensity and violence waits in the shadows before being freed from their reins for a fiery antagonism driven second half of the impressive rage, vocals and guitar craft again formidable lures within an equally compelling rhythmic enticement.

Both Fear the Reaper and Unending Lust for Evil take release and passions to another level, the virulently contagious drum and bass entrance to the first opening a doorway to thrash anthemic glory within a death seeded animosity whilst its successor digs deeper inside itself for a blacker toxin with which to infest song and listener, its constantly shifting attack and creativity a ridiculously infectious almost salacious offering. The pair of tracks marks the pinnacle of the album, though to be fair its whole range is never far from the lofty filth encrusted heights of the two as proven by the rapacious malevolence of Black Blood Rising, the blackened scourge a welcome primordial predator in modern extreme metal.

The album is at its strongest in its latter half with the final two songs continuing the intensive potency and senses gorging maliciousness of the last few offerings. Crucified is the loudest boldest anthem on the album, an irritable nagging soon recruiting full allegiance with its group vocal baiting over heavy booted rhythms and riffing. Speared by excellent sonic craft from the guitars, the song is a leader of rebellious intent igniting the pulse rate ready for the closing doomy weight and thrash swing of The Ascending Fire to exploit with its equally anthemic power. The song makes an outstanding last assault to an addictive treacherous plague, a Death Curse which violates and thrills with even voracity.


RingMaster 02/04/2014

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Craven Idol: Towards Eschaton

Craven Idol pic

From the outstanding cover art to its last ravaging note, Towards Eschaton the debut album from UK metallers Craven Idol is quite simply impressive, a full explosive introduction to a band which has already been grabbing good acclaim and attention. Unleashing a sound which sits somewhere between thrash driven black metal and black soaked death, the London based quartet creates an exhausting tempest of invention and enterprise upon their album, it a thrilling scourge which cleverly employs existing genre weaponry in an equally rich blaze of originality. The result is a torturous triumph which threatens and excites whilst parading a presence which suggests Craven Idol is a band with a rather potent future.

Making their first ‘appearance’ with a self-released demo tape in 2006, a limited to fifty copies release which was greedily consumed before receiving a re-release via Starlight Temple Society, the band made their attention grabbing mark with the six track mini CD Ethereal Altars four years later. Released through Hammer of Hate Records, the record ignited a strong appetite for their harsh black metal sounds. Now with a darker, heavier twist to invention and sound, Craven Idol set loose Towards Eschaton, an intensive sonic predator which takes early promise to greater depths and ruinous excellence.

Released through Dark Descent Records, the album slowly stirs its breath and presence through the opening dark ambience of To Craven Idol cover hi resSummon Mayrion. It is a cavernous scene with vocal chants lighting the shadows before guitar and bass stretch their sonic narrative alongside crisp restrained rhythms. It is a respectful if intimidating start which takes little time in changing gear with eager riffs niggling away at the ear driven by a carnivorous rhythmic intent. The thrash core of the sound soon takes control and ignites the emotions whilst vocals squall creatively across their charge. It is a riveting encounter which explores its corners and textures with imaginative guitar exploits and a sinew loaded rhythmic incitement.

The unreserved predation continues through Sworn Upon the Styx, the track a magnetic fury of cutting rhythms and scorching riffs skirted by a sonic searing which tenderises the senses and lights up further the already awoken appetite for the album.  It is a swift corrosive assault which is immediately equalled by Golgotha Wounds, another blaze of rapacious enterprise and consuming energy. The core riff clad groove of the song is very similar to that of its predecessor to raise arguably the only real niggle, though with flames of sonic adventure adding excellent creative colour to the savagery and a wholly contagious swagger and call especially in the latter half of the track, it emerges as something individual and a major highlight in the thoroughly compelling release.

Both Craven Atonement and Codex of Seven Dooms push the limits of the album and its flavouring, the first seemingly coming in two ‘parts’, the first a brawling vicious ferocity with drums and guitars intent on punishment. A false end to the start soon makes way for the grouchy bass to crowd the ears in its gnarly sound, a delicious bestial temptation soon joined by heated flights of melodic acidity, lofty vocal harmonies, and the ever serpentine torrents of the main rapacious vocals. It is a track which needs time but earns strong positive responses across numerous takings of its harsh scenery even if falling short of pushing those passions already bred by previous songs. Its successor makes the same strength of persuasion; a sturdy and impressive offering of uncompromising and at times uncomfortable spite veined by another infectious groove, it misses sparking up the strongest emotions though the following Aura of Undeath has little resistance or trouble in that area. The melodic start is a lethally alluring introduction which is soon in league with another ferocious storm. It might be rigorously intensive and voracious but there is equally no stopping the ridiculously virulent addictive grooving and lethal hooks being bred and thrown across the song, some coated in a folk metal like spice.

The album is closed off by the savagely appealing Left to Die with its guitar spawned exotic sultriness making an overwhelming temptation and the swarming thrash stomp of Orgies, both tracks leaving emotions and release on a high. Towards Eschaton is an excellent statement of intent from Craven Idol, a release which suggests the band is at the start of a mighty ascent within UK metal. Wrapped in the stunning artwork of Paolo “Madman” Girardi, this is one important investigation to undertake.


RingMaster 15/10/2013

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Besieged – Victims Beyond All Help

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Originally a self-release limited to 300 copies in 2010, Victims Beyond All Help the debut album from Canadian thrashers Besieged is getting its worldwide unleashing via Unspeakable Axe Records, the new sub-label of Dark Descent Records. After allowing the seven track tsunami of rapacious riffs and flavoursome aggression to rampage relentlessly over the senses it has to be said about time too. The album is a terrific release, a hungry ravaging of the ear which leaves you exhausted but fully immersed in satisfaction. With a more than open tint of death metal to its rapacious creative appetite, the album is prime thrash metal with plenty of further added  spicery and though it maybe does not leave as many lingering memories as you would wish, it is a towering fury of merciless and richly rewarding provocation.

Hailing from Winnipeg, Besieged first released the Visions of Pain demo in 2004 to good responses with the first appearance of Victims Beyond All Help equally commanding. Across the years the thrashers built a strong and fevered fan base in their home town and beyond, especially sourcing eager passions with their stage performances which has seen them share stages with the likes of Death Angel, Dayglo Abortions, Razor, Dying Fetus, Toxic Holocaust, Inepsy, Anonymus, Hellacaust and many more. Wrapped in its original old school artwork painted by the legendary Ed Repk, the re-issued album is set to deservedly take the band to ears far beyond their continent and even saying so amidst the suggestions elsewhere that the band is no longer with us, hopefully it will be a trigger to more and greater things from the band.

From its first breath opener Internal Suffering flies for the throat, drums crippling and caging any thoughts of evasive manoeuvres whilst riffs flail the ear in a torrent of finely crafted sonic lashings. As the vocals offer their own intensive provocation the track is a bruising insatiable predator which without veering from its prime directive employs enough psychotic grooves and sonically honed temptation to secure the strongest attention. This is not the breaking down of barriers or moving into new realms for thrash or metal but simply the enslaving of greedy expectations with refreshing and undiluted passion bred aggression.

Both the following Death and Buried Alive continue in the same ferocious vein, though each with a little concentration has their individual intent and volatile characters. The first is a raw tempest of caustic energy and provocation, a track which is unrefined vocally and melodically charged at its guitar crafted heart and a blistering adrenaline fuelled corrosive scrubbing of the senses. Its successor takes a less demanding stance…well for the first mass of seconds before again flipping into an intensive stomp though arguably for the first time on the album there is a more deliberate inventive twist and switching of intriguing aspects, as well as a punk breath to its drama clad hooks mid-way.

The formidable start is just as impressively continued by The End, even if it is initially not quite as striking or unpredictable as other songs though it does evolve into something stronger with numerous confrontations. It continues the pressurising of the senses with ease and marks the beginning of the strongest part of the album. The title track as you would expect is no slouch in predacious riffing and excellent rhythmic irritation but to this it infuses an adventurous and skilfully developed melodic and imaginative enterprise. There is a familiarity to the alluring grooves and melody soaked additives but nothing you can define or label, and it all adds to the adventure of the enthralling song.

From the infectiously virulent Trapped Inside with its addictive grooves and hardcore vocal expulsions along its raucous course, the album offers up its pinnacle with the closing Black. At its core the track savages with prime thrash venom and animosity but around this mighty assault the band seduces with a persistently shifting maelstrom of epidemically inducing riff devilry, melodic flames which soar over the constantly at work intensity, and a sonic nagging with its just irresistible. The best song by far on Victims Beyond All Help amongst nothing but very good tracks, it is a potent antagonist to want and hope to hear more from this incredibly promising band. Whether we will time will tell but if it is to be their solo moment of glory it will leave a deep mark with their name on it.


RingMaster 08/07/2013

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Birth AD – I Blame You

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    Rampaging and snarling with a potency and aggressive attack which recalls the richest essences of the likes of Suicidal Tendencies, Black Flag, Municipal Waste, and S.O.D., US antagonisers Birth AD and their debut album I Blame You, is one riot to be in on at the earliest opportunity. Fusing hardcore, thrash, and the angry heart of punk, band and release unleash ferocity of attitude and sound which simply riles and ignites the senses in a welcome storm of destructive might. Part nostalgic, recalling the eighties pinnacle of their seeded inspirations, but forged with fresh 21st century spite, the trio from Austin, Texas is an exhausting and fully invigorating confrontation and their album an equally thrilling adversary.

Formed in 2008, the threesome of vocalist/bassist Jeff Tandy, guitarist/backing vocals Brian Morrison, and drummer/backing vocals Mark Perry, took no time in becoming a bludgeoning and potent force across their home state, firing up a loyal and ever growing fan base. The following year saw an eleven-date tour of Japan as the band’s inaugural live outing as well as debut EP Stillbirth of a Nation, the release making an indelible mark on not only the local scene but further afield, which the new Alex Perialas produced album will only brand into the skin of punk and metal even deeper. Released via Unspeakable Axe Records, an offshoot of Dark Descent Records, I Blame You is a honed and instinctive furnace of passion and anger carved into mutually malicious and senses searing sound.

The eighteen track explosion gives no respite from start to finish, the flesh charring intensity of opener Mission Statement with cover artits uncomplicated and forceful declaration starting the furnace of virulent sonic and emotive antagonism which holds its potency and strength right through to the equally barbed and lethally aggressive closer Blow Up The Embassy. In between there is no let-up but within the tempest of corrosive and barbarous fire there is as much diversity and violating enterprise as you could wish from a crossover thrash cluster bomb of violent energy and intent.

In nothing but highlights, maybe something of a surprise in an album of such a large number of tracks, the biggest peaks will focus the review but those not mentioned are only just behind personal preferences and as worthy as any other on the outstanding release. The brawling Failed State seizes the ear with a hurricane of vocal dispute with a repetitive barracking of the senses but it is the niggling grinding groove which steals the event, its insidious presence driving the force and brutality of the rhythms like a sadistic snake charmer. The track is the start of an especially impressive part of the album with its immediate successors Bring Back The Draft and This Scene Sucks also raising the fiercest fires within. The first of the pair consumes with a ravenous appetite and sonic hunger with samples of battlefields adding their energy to the controlling rhythms and scarring riffs, whilst the second taunts with a throaty bestial bass sound before expanding into a predatory and urgent assault with the vocals, singular and en masse, carving their own venomous and anthemic hooks into the irresistible presence.

Tracks like No, Man with its Dead Kennedys like hooked contagion and the title track continue the exhaustive but impossibly addictive lure of the release, the latter of the two barracking the ear vocally whilst a tight thrash lashing smarts but excites, probably more than is legally allowed, around them whilst the excellent Kill Everybody is as savage and uncompromising as the title suggests, the chorus especially a vicious assault to spark the strongest ardour.

Tracks like Wrong Again, No Jobs (Don’t Work), and Cause Problems, though failing to quite ignite the passions as those above, still leave nothing but a full on greed for more and the deepest satisfaction, something which honestly applies to every track on the release. Ok I Blame You is not breaking down new barriers for thrash, punk, or metal, but that is not the point of its existence, the band and album using existing armoury but tuning it with their own precise tools into a striking force which stands aside from most of the other similarly gaited aggressors. A mention for the excellent Parasites Die must be made, the song the emerging favourite here with its prowling groove and teasing stance coring an aural dogfight between sound and ear, of course there is only one winner.

If the likes of the bands mentioned at the top of the review are for you then open your arms for one exceptional collision with Birth A.D.

RingMaster 8.5/10

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Krypts: Unending Degradation


    A heavy aural suffocation of the senses, Unending Degradation the debut album from Finnish death metallers Krypts is an overwhelming sonic consumption which simultaneously sucks the light and breath from body and emotions whilst invigorating the very same aspects. It is intensive smog of overbearing erosive atmospheres caged in a framework of merciless ravenous sounds and doom sodden intent, and a thoroughly compelling treat.

Unleashed through Dark Descent Records and via Me Saco Un Ojo on vinyl, Unending Degradation has been a highly anticipated release from the band which formed in 2008. Their reputation and presence within the metal underground has grown through their Open the Crypt Demo of 2009 and self-titled EP two years later to an extent where there is definite excitement around their first album. The release is soaked in the origins of death metal, the heart and essence of the time the corrosive air to an album which ravages the listener with atmospheric brutality as demanding and persuasive as the towering and oppressive sounds created by impressive musicianship. Once engulfed in its cavernous black expanses there is no light to aid escape or relief, just unbridled onerous ugly beauty.

The album starts to slowly immerse the ears and beyond with the laboured Introeon: Perpetual Beyond, an instrumental whichCover1 smothers every pore and emotion with heavy seductive yet imposing shadows brought through predatory rhythms and riffs which sway and mesmerise like a cobra, resisting the urge to strike but just teasing until submission to their intimidation is given. The destructive crawl leads straight into Blessed Entwinement, a track immediately gnawing on the senses though a murderously snarling bass, a wonderful feature of the whole release, and a grinding insidious sonic groove from the guitars from within the grasping stifling breath of the riffs and song. The vocals of bassist Antti Kotiranta are as venomous and deadly as his basslines to stifle any remaining hopes for the listener of escape and with everything combined it is a ruinous confrontation which leaves one magnetised.

The excellent Open The Crypt steps forward next with muscles pulsating and intensity as voracious as a pack of starved beasts. The guitar of Ville Snicker is unrelenting in its caustic persistence upon the senses whilst drummer Otso Ukkonen brings an unpredictable and diverse raptorial attack to leave one fully engaged and cowering. The song again is never prone to unleashing its aggression and vehemence into an explosion of violence but does shuffle its gait and pace constantly to provoke and bully to intense satisfaction.

Through Dormancy Of The Ancients and Inhale… the band never offers any sign of mercy from their continuing stifling satanic embrace, both songs without finding the lasting riches of their predecessor, leaving emotions and appetite primed for further deep reaching violation. The second of the two with its heavy earth sodden atmosphere an exhausting mass upon the listener, feels like being buried alive with the realisation of no escape adding a richer claustrophobic dread to the encounter.

The following track The Black Smoke is another pinnacle of the release, its unpredictable and melodic slights deeply entrenched in the thick intensity little glimmers of light soon snuffed out by the lumbering and carnivorous decayed sounds and intent of the excellent slab of mental jeopardy.

Finished off by the maelstrom of energy and invention within Day Of Reckoning, a track which is for want of a better word anarchic with its devastating chaotic ferocity, and Beneath The Archaic with its titanic atmospheres, Unending Degradation is an album sure to bring a torrent of pleasure to death metal fans, doom favouring ones too. If old school death metal snuffs out your candle of discontent then Krypts is a mausoleum of corruptive atmospheres to immerse deeply into.


RingMaster 21/02/2013

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Vorum: Poisoned Void


   Released via Dark Descent Records and Woodcut Records, Poisoned Void is the long awaited debut full length album from Finnish death metallers Vorum. In 2009 the quartet unleashed what has been called as one of the best underground death metal of recent times with Grim Death Awaits, so anticipation for this first album was keen to say the least for a great many and it is hard to imagine they will be disappointed with its merciless intent.

Formed in 2006, Vorum has earned a notable place within Finnish death metal and the genre as a whole mainly through that first EP and also a split release with Vasaeleth entitled Profane Limbs of Ruinous Death in 2010. Whether Poisoned Void has built on or actually managed to equal that first triumph is debatable but the new album certainly is a striking and ravenous confrontation which does the reputation of the band no harm at all and will surely lead to a wider recognition. It is a dangerously aggressive and unrelenting violation which uses existing tools of the band and genre in an accomplished and pleasingly violent way. From first track to last the album is a dynamic and thunderous brute of a release which swamps the senses with dense hungry intensity and destructive riffs whilst offering an enterprise which grabs the attention. The album misses out on igniting a real fire for its impassioned insidious consumption but still leaves one satisfied and willing to be violated often again.

Impetuous Fires opens up the carnage with exhausting rhythms and debilitating riffs all presented with a merciless pace and Vorum_Cover_Netenergy. Vocalist Jonatan Johansson spills venom with every rasping syllable whilst his and Matti Jalava’s guitars grind and sear flesh away from the ear with nasty irresistible riffs and sonic grooves. The rhythmic onslaught from drummer Mikko Josefsson is numbing whilst bassist John Finne bruises with every predatory note; it is an impressive start to the release which leaves no one wondering why the band has earned the acclaim they have.

The following Death’s Stains and Rabid Blood continue the impressive work, the first with an initial grooved sonic twisting which evolves into a storm of exhausting massive riffs and an intensity which smothers with thick relish whilst the second gnaws and chews on the senses with a malevolence which gives the devil himself a bad name. Though both are distinctly different they have the same effect of bringing their recipients to their knees and begging for more whilst whimpering under the barbaric annihilation. Arguably especially in the second, the glorious melodic twists of sonic flames do not feel at ease within the tempest and the tracks are more secure and insatiable when left to devour the listener. It is a minor niggle but one which does leave the album wanting against its predecessor.

Thriving Darkness is a stalking piece of persistent malice with a delicious groove to match, its presence an intimidating disease eroding away the senses and igniting a replacing consuming rapture. Like the album the track is a real slow burner which emerges as certainly favourite track if not the best on the release. It passes its evil baton onto the sonic demon Evil Seed, a song which burns and disfigures synapses like a sonic acid. It is pure sin, an injurious wash of malicious invention and intent. Like its predecessor the track takes time to make its carnal persuasion but succeeds with relative ease, though again the heated melodic spears of craft do not necessarily settle as easily upon thoughts as they would wish.

In Obscurity Revealed and Dance of Heresy offer further pleasing crippling ravishment whilst the closing title track is a final deep scarring to leave one blissful yet sore. From vocals to the heart driven sounds, track and album are certainly impressive if falling short of the very high standards Vorum had already put in place. It is with ease  though a cut above a great many of the other emerging underground death metal releases to appear over the past twelve months or so, and a must investigate for genre fans and those of the likes of Autopsy, Asphyx, Incantation and Convulse.

RingMaster 26/01/2013

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Anhedonist: Netherwards

This is a week which has treated Death/doom metal fans to a depth and richness of quality that has been absent within the genre over recent times. There have been two albums unleashing their dark expansive compulsive consumptions to excite and inspire far beyond any other releases from like minded bands that have fed upon our shadows. Firstly there is the stunning debut from Australians Inverloch in the shape of Dusk I Subside, a release that marks a new deep vein of power and ingenuity for the genre and now we have the excellent Netherwards from US band Anhedonist which equally sets down a distinct and remarkable marker within the genre.

Released via Dark Descent Records, Netherwards is a ravenous lumbering and contagious pit borne nightmare that feasts with a thick expanse upon every shadow and darkened thought inspired from its recipients. Four tracks prowling over forty minutes leave the listener gasping for air and grasping for light as weighty thunderous riffs and venomous spite coated melodies extinguish every spark of hope and joy. It is a haunting release that leaves depression soaked paws on each of the senses, a lingering unavoidable mesmeric dark entity that coaxes forth things that one had consigned to the shut off corners of the mind.

The opening Saturnine emerges through an ambience of cold stark atmosphere and emotion, its slowly dawning breath ominous, intimidating and reeking of a dark presence. It is wonderful and the perfect lead in to the flesh whipping groove that follows, the guitars predatory and taunting whilst guttural aural bile disguised as words pierce and consume the heart. Where there was at times a kind of warmth to the Inverloch release, Anhedonist only leave cold ice behind their down tuned crawl through emotions and senses. Flexing into a heavier and pacier might at times the track tunnels deeper whilst the intensity shifts into new heavier and crushing positions. The irresistible unrelenting essence the quartet devours with from the first chord of the EP to the last departing note of the final violation, is sheer malignant poetry.

Estrangement is an even more haunting piece of soundscape, its subterranean cavernous expanse ringing with schizophrenic echoes and malignant disorder to which one is sucked in deeper and deeper note by note. Beneath this mass of tumultuous turmoil on the song, and throughout the release, there is a distinct variety and creative diversity in sound, atmosphere and intent which is openly laid out to feast upon as they themselves absorb and ravish the senses slowly and deliberately. It is masterful and an experience that needs to be given time, attention, and full submission.

The remaining tracks Carne Liberatus and Inherent Opprobrium continue the intense experience and overwhelming oppression. The first is an even more aggressively virulent contagion, its muscles, riffs, and groove rippling with violent intent and evil craft whilst the closing fifteen epic of Inherent Opprobrium strips the listener to their rawest state before lifting them up with caustic manipulations and acidic melodies. It is the perfect ending to the release and experience, the beast leaving its listener a deeply contented and wasted carcass.

The chances of Anhedonist and Netherwards finding an audience outside of death and doom metal is slim but for fans of these genres this is a release to inspire and enflame any heart.

RingMaster 13/04/2012 Registered & Protected

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Anguish – Through The Archdemons Head

With a thick pervading breath and heavy oppressive mass the debut album from Swedish doom metal band Anguish takes hold of and consumes ears, heart and soul. It is that simple and if it doesn’t win over the latter two with one it will still surely leave an indelible mark upon the senses. Through The Archdemons Head is a formidable release that demands and grabs attention, an album that ensures at the very least a hefty slice of one’s emotions as its muscular riffs and sonically scorched melodies twist and wind senses around their black intent until they are ready to snap.

From Uppsala, the quartet of vocalist J. Dee, guitarists David Eriksson and Kribbe (Christoffer Frylmark), and drummer Ralle (Rasmus Jansson) have feasted upon and been inspired by their influences to create a brutal beast that tests and stretches the listener but ultimately gives strong satisfaction and dark pleasure. It is not one for those looking for light and warmth, its eight tracks spawn from the darkest bitter pits with rivers of venom and bile, but it certainly stirs up feelings, thoughts and the pulse rate. Released via Dark Descent Records on February 14th Through The Archdemons Head is not without flaws but for a debut it is a strong and intriguing promise of what Anguish can and undoubtedly will unleash ahead.

Formed in 2007 the band bring their influences to their sound, the likes of Candlemass, Pentagram and Black Sabbath openly flavouring the bestial doom cacophonies that fill the release. Initial demo from the band in 2010, Dawn Of Doom drew attention their way but it will be with this album that they make their first solid mark, the first of many one suspects.  The album is veined with mountainous and heart pounding riffs induced from the ‘beginning of time’, their immense power and presence making Anguish and their sound impossible to dismiss even if their overall consumption is not for everyone.

The lumbering start infused with dark menace of the title track sets up the release to over whelm and search out every corner of the senses. It prowls and bristles within the ear, slowly forcing its way through to pummel and give notice of what is yet to come. From the off the riffs are treacle like, the rhythms bestial, and the sound marching to the call of death’s funereal pace. This brief beginning leads into ‘Book Of Fox’ without a breath taken in thought or pace. By this second track the first challenge is apparent in the vocals of J. Dee; his grating caustic tones a harsh scraping upon ear and senses. This is not a problem as such, though it takes some getting used to but his delivery carries little variation making it difficult at times to look behind his gut formed sound.

The album lurches from one deliciously riff laden doom leviathan to another, their length and intensity deep and long. The mighty ‘When The Ancients Dare To Walk’, the dark dolorous descent of ‘Dawn Of Doom’, and the almost vibrant Lair Of The Gods’ where there is an irresistible groove that almost sees the album offer an upbeat moment, all stand out and show the impressive ability of the band musically and in creating exhaustive wicked consumptions. The final track ‘Morbid Castle’ though probably overlong is a tasty exercise in permeating ears and beyond with a suffocating oppressive atmosphere and monumental predatory riffs plus perceptive guitar formed melodies. It is the most varied and diverse track on the album and an indicator that the band are at their best when they try to expand their sound.

The closer also highlights the other slight negative about Through The Archdemons Head, the similarity across the tracks. Without a break they could easily play as one epic movement, their pace, constructs and intensity even but relatively samey until the final song. It is not a fatal flaw but for the band to find their promise realised one feels diversity certainly vocally and in their songs structure will aide them. Despite that Through The Archdemons Head is a fine debut and Anguish a band to watch closely.

RingMaster 06/02/2012 Registered & Protected

Anguish – When The Ancients Dare To Walk


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Horrendous – The Chills

The title of the new album from US death metalers Horrendous perfectly sums up the dark sinister content within. The Chills is a lingering invoking essence of blistering dark menace and pit sourced intent that devours and punctures the senses with venom and malice. Most of all it is a rampaging thrill of commanding riffs, insurgent blistering grooves and spiteful intensity to engage and excite any black heart.

Skewered with striking veins of Swedish and US death metal alongside doom essences the release delivers pretty much what you expect from an old school influenced band but Horrendous fuel it with essential rampant grooves and incisive razor sharp guitars. Formed in 2009 the band’s demo was recorded and sold on CD-R through the band’s Myspace page in the same year leading the band to the attention of Dark Descent Records who co-released the demo Sweet Blasphemies with Skeleton Plague Records the following year. With the initial limited amount of 200 copies sold out within a couple of months they made a second pressing, released early 2011 as acclaim and fans grew in a rapid rate. Anticipation for The Chill again released via Dark Descent Records has risen equally and with the constant assault of uncompromising riffs, pummelling rhythms, and darkly coated melodies all appetites will be surely sated. 

Opening track ‘The Womb’ slowly creeps in on a dark ominous trail of guitars and sinister chime like sounds to alert the senses before the track erupts into an onslaught of impetuous galloping riffs and piercing grooves. Spined by a strong deep bassline and ear slicing guitars the guttural spewing of guitarist Damian Herring drip through them with menace and venom from every growled word. Throughout the album the vocals are harsh and at times contrary to the music whilst in others the force thrusting the aural intensity deeper but always they effectively add to the intensity and grab attention.

Each track blisters the ear with intense aggression and caustic energy from the scorching acid of ‘Ripped to Shreds’ through to the ambient heat and malevolent instrumental ‘Sleep Sickness’. The album is solidly varied beneath the aural assault with tracks like the inspired out of control and desperate feeling ‘The Somber (Desolate Winds)’ with its colossal consumption of the senses and the corrosive guitar soaked ‘Fleshrot’ where Herring brings up his bile seeping innards vocally, just two examples of on the surface  similar violations brought forth by diverse creativity.

Two songs stand out to make sure the album is an essential visit, ‘Altars’ and closing track ‘The Eye Of Madness’. The first is an unrelenting determined buffeting of riffs and red hot guitars that incite and ignite limbs and senses alike.  The latter a wonderfully meandering almost experimental track from the band. A nightmarish bedlam of sounds and screams wrapped in hypnotic bass riffs and rhythms the song disturbs and invites in equal measure showing the band have much more to offer than straight forward old school death metal.

The Chills may not be groundbreaking or an album to inspire new directions within others but it and Horrendous certainly brings a raw freshness to the genre and give nine tracks of aural intense pleasure.

RingMaster 18/12/2011 Registered & Protected


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