Critical Solution – Sleepwalker

 

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If evil is looking for a new soundtrack it might not be too far from the mark to suggest that Sleepwalker might be in line for adoption. The new album from Norwegian horror thrashers Critical Solution is a glorious slab of visceral rock ‘n’ roll; a blood-letting drama and insatiable anthemic adventure rolled up into one seriously galvanic slab of ravenous metal. The band impressed with their debut full-length two or so years back, but Sleepwalker is a whole new thrilling beast from a band exploring new plateaus of imagination and flavour rich confrontation.

Formed in 2015, it is fair to say that the Helleland hailing quartet began really grabbing attention from 2011 when they, to use their bio’s words, “got serious”. It was at this point the band began working with Andy LaRocque in his Sweden based SonicTrain Studios, especially impressing fans and media with their first album Evil Never Dies in 2013, which followed the Evidence of Things Unseen EP of two years earlier. The encounter was a more thrash heavy proposition fuelled by the kind of horror storylines and sounds that helped shape the gripping presence of The Death Lament EP in 2014 and now their concept album Sleepwalker. The band has also earned a strong reputation for their ferocious stage show honed over the years and alongside bands such as Diamond Head, W.A.S.P, Marduk, and Grave over the years; an intensity and energy equally rampant within the band’s new blood show.

It opens with The Curse, the establishing of the evil coursing through the album’s character and narrative through atmospheric hauntings, intimidating tones, and a bedlamic theatre of sounds. With the imprecation in place the album unleashes its title track, Sleepwalker immediately slamming ears with meaty beats as guitars tantalise, it all the prelude to the insatiable charge of the song to come. As riffs and rhythms bound ruggedly through ears, Christer Slettebø’s guitar sends spicy slithers of bait into their midst before his vocals stir up their own kind of anthemic persuasion. It is a thumping incitement soon revealing its resourcefulness as it twists into seductive prowls and dynamic torrents of inventive tenacity. Like Metallica meets Chainfist initially and more creatively devilish with each passing minute, the track raises the ante in the album’s superb start.

Critical-Solution-Album_RingMaster ReviewWelcome To Your Nightmare ensures things are only more gripping and exhausting next, its Anthrax scented thrash tirade irresistible from the first breath and only increasing its lusty allure as it releases its devil. Driven by the slamming beats of drummer Egil Mydland, the song alternatively stalks and launches itself at the listener across its hellacious contagion. The guitars of Slettebø and Bjørnar Grøsfjell arouse as they abuse whilst the bass of Eimund Grøsfjell is aural predation at its barbarously seductive best.

Melodic and evocative caresses bring Blood Stained Hands into view next, their gentle and reflective tempting the surface to a brewing and gradually building intensity and aggression. Enjoyably even that is caught in the ebb and flow of the song’s energy, being held in check to act as a tease from within the captivating and infectious roar of the song. There is a slight taste of melodic rock aligned to grungy essences at play too, Gruntruck coming to mind in certain moments as the song leaves appetite lustful and ready to devour on the sultry haunting of Murder In The Night. It too cages listeners in a melodic embrace; warm kisses of guitar and their sonic trails of temptation a rapturous suggestiveness encased in a sinister atmosphere. There is danger and menace lurking in the shadows of the track’s slightly portentous air; a waiting incitement which bursts as the floodgates open to fiercely nagging rhythms and predacious riffs within the imagination sparking instrumental.

Ending on a news report harkening darker deeds and threats as events twist and turn, the track masterfully leads to up the barbarous revelry of Evidence Of Things Unseen, its successor swiftly a merciless assailant drenched in hostile intent and virulent persuasion. Again it is hard to escape a Metallica/Megadeth like comparison, though every swinging stick and pulled string breeds a fresh and dramatic strain of enterprise unique to Critical Solution.

The heavy lumbering Sabbath-esque entrance of LT. Elliot soon has ears surrounded and imagination enthralled as its doom soaked theatre gives a bird’s eye view of the last moments of its title victim. Crawling with insidious glee and equipped with expulsions of raw catchiness, the outstanding track is as cinematic as it is murderously compelling and swiftly matched in drama by the epic exploration in length and emotion of Dear Mother. Bringing some respite to the dark turmoil before it, its tortured reflection comes entangled in a volatile landscape of dense shadows and fiery infection loaded revelry. Through every second of its ten minutes, it is masterfully unpredictable and increasingly enthralling, like being locked in the mind and emotions of torment itself as it track spellbinds as powerfully as its predecessor.

The Death Lament just tears into ears with its rapacious horde of riffs and legion of barbarian bred rhythms next, the violation thrash fuelled anthemic metal at its primal explosive best enslaving ears before letting Back From The Grave bring the chain of bloody events to a close. Featuring guests in Michael Denner and Hank Shermann (Mercyful Fate), the final infestation of the senses and body is similarly pure thrash butchery and openly majestic in its crushing, rabid way.

There will no doubt be many voracious metal releases thrilling ears this year but already it feels safe to say few will surpass Sleepwalker and its thrash horror malediction.

Sleepwalker is out now via Punishment 18 Records across most stores.

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Pete RingMaster 27/01/2016

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Hereza – Misanthrope

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Offering a thickly promising and swiftly engaging slab of groove infested death metal, Croatia band Hereza make a rather appetising introduction to their presence with debut album Misanthrope. It is not a release to set a cat amongst the pigeons of extreme metal but with additional punk encrusted tenacity and blackened fury, it certainly makes for a very flavoursome base for the band to push on from.

Formed in 2014, the duo of Slobodan Stupar (guitars, bass, drums, backing vocals) and Ivan Kovačević Kova (vocals) take their seeds from the old school origins of death metal but vein their creativity with the potent essences previously mentioned resulting in a familiar but persistently enticing onslaught. Seemingly embracing the inspirations of bands such as Entombed, Entrails, Misery Index, and Marduk, Hereza take little time in gripping attention with Misanthrope and its opening title track.

The song flies at the senses with sonic nostrils flared and rhythms hungry to inflict intimidation. It is a furious and pleasing proposal enhanced by grouchy vocals and emerging predatory grooves, each a fresh threat from the song’s malevolence. With especially its intensive beats ringing in ears, it makes way for the similarly voracious tempest of Grob. Leaving little time for a breath to be swallowed, the track is a hell for leather assault with the skilled craft and enterprise of Stupar impressing. There is a potent rawness to song and indeed album which accentuates the hostile and unforgiving nature of release and sound, an intensive tonic emulated in the broader caustic rock ‘n’ roll of Kraj and the darker toned Unholy Flame of Eternity. The blend of both sets of vocals amidst a spicy melodic adventure lures potently within the first of the two songs whilst the second is marked by a more classic metal infestation of hooks and a contagious swing to beats and riffs alike.

We Are the Disease provides a major pinnacle to the album, its feisty and lighter swagger of sound and character instantly anthemic without defusing the vicious roar and violent heart which HEREZA_Misanthrope_COVERlies within its infectious breast. Grooves are just as insatiably addictive too, and though the track is really barely scratching the surface of something truly new it rocks like a bitch taking body and emotions with it. Its catching infectiousness is matched in Objesen which emerges from a sinister intro to flex muscles and rhythmic animosity with bestial potency. Grooves again make the difference between a good and a great song but are in turn impressively backed by the vocals and simply the energy of the track to swiftly recruit eager submission to its lures.

    Whole World Burn with its opening Michael Caine sample stalks ears next, lurching over and snarling at ears with predatory maliciousness while both the corrosive hardcore corruption that is Bullet Storm and the tangy sonic adventure of Cancerous Demise keep album and satisfaction boiling quite nicely. All three offer some inventive and appealing twists to their savage bellows, each individual to the next and employing well used but in the band’s hands, tasty creative ingredients.

That variety continues in the punk driven Pills, the song taking the genre’s raucous antagonism into its death metal foraging of the senses with a furious chorus to match, whilst Noc Zivih Mrtvaca unearths a delicious dirt encrusted bass rapacity to prowl its bruising and volatile belligerence fuelled rock ‘n’ roll. Each leave healthy impressions and pleasure in their grudge loaded wake, the rhythmic lure of the latter powerful bait, before the excellent Death Army March stomps over senses and into the passions with a heavy footed animus. Another peak of the album, it is pure militant bad blood with vocal and creative spite to match.

Closing with the outstanding Erase the Disgrace, a song with the best entrance by far, a haunted sepia lit climate which subsequently erupts into a voracious tempest of aural ravishing, and finally the peddle to the metal charge of Mud, the album inspires full satisfaction with its proposal. Misanthrope is not loaded with surprises apart from being a striking unexpected debut, but succeeds in igniting only good feelings and reactions to its potential soaked presence, and that is more than enough to warrant an investigation by all extreme metal fans.

Misanthrope is available now via PRC Music @ http://www.prcmusic.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=1242

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RingMaster 11/02/2015

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Fornicus – Storming Heaven

Fornicus Promo Photo

If the hordes of the hell lay siege to the pearly gates above you can be sure US black metallers Fornicus will be to the fore sound-tracking the whole apocalyptic event with their incendiary debut album Storming Heaven. The self-released onslaught is a vicious torrent of sonic and pestilential animosity bound in compelling craft and inventive hostility. It is also a collection of individual triumphs combining to create one mouth-watering and blasphemous assault giving not only American but world black metal a refreshing shot in the arm.

It is fair to say that Storming Heaven is not a template to undiscovered realms within its genre but Fornicus has sculpted it with a tenacity and ingenuity that cannot avoid being some sort of inspiration to fans and bands alike. Hailing from America’s Bible belt, the Kentucky quartet emerged in 2013 and took little time in creating thrilling violations with a ferocious blend of black and thrash metal veined with a healthy staining of death metal insidiousness. Their first year was spent creating and honing their sound and songs before Scott (guitar/vocals), Chris (bass), David (drums), and subsequently Kelly (lead guitar), settled down to recording Storming Heaven in Scott’s own studio. Themed and driven by “a bold statement chastising Christ and his blind sheep for their “righteous” ways with the ultimate goal of destroying God’s Kingdom”, their album is a sonic pyre of discontent, malevolence, and hellacious enterprise which either sets the passions blaze or has them smouldering greedily, but never leaves then less than thoroughly satisfied.

The album opens with an intro called The Pledge, cinematic vocal samples and threatening atmospheres merging to intimidate and spark the imagination before We Are Sin launches a toxic web of whipping beats and caustic riffery. It is Fornicus Storming Heaven Artworkintensive and appealing bait which is enhanced by husky vocals squalls spraying venom with every syllable. The track soon strides with greater infectious enticement, riffs roving with relentless resourcefulness employing similarly addictive acidic grooves whilst vocally the varied voices of hell seem to have their gripping say. It is a masterful declaration of sound and intent brewing up a hungry appetite and intrigue for the devil inspired irreverence to come.

The following Pallium Mali intensifies the merciless infectiousness spawned in its predecessor, luring in the passions with a thrash seeded rampancy of riffs aligned to an addiction forging groove. There is an overall swagger to the blaze of persuasion too which is as open in the rhythms and guitar as in the caustic delivery of Scott. The track is an irresistible and mighty anthem of intent and uncompromising antagonism, but also casts a net of melodic endeavour and creative flames through the guitars which leave thoughts and passions greedier. It is the first major pinnacle of the album giving King of Egoists plenty to live up to. It makes a powerful fist of the challenge by coating its individual swing of beats and riffs with a hostile festering of abrasive maliciousness and corrosive rabidity. The track scars and entices with simultaneous and equal success, raging as it purposefully meanders with magnetic enterprise through its riveting and exciting tempest, only as its predecessor, the closing fade out a little annoying.

Both Into Obscurity and Thirst for God enthral and please with impressive effect, the first a maelstrom of spite and demonic demanding seared by a sonic and vocal enmity. It is an even more intensively imposing track than previous songs, a raw storm veined with inviting temptation whilst its successor is a doom leaden prowl preying on ears and emotions with erosive weight and ravenous ferocity. Neither song has quite the potency to inflame the heart as earlier tracks but both provide another depth and rigorous shade to the album which only adds to its strength and appeal.

An impressive cover of Sepultura’s Antichrist which comes next, the song painted in a black hearted tone and a bracing voracity which challenges the original. Its excellence is soon forgotten though as the brilliant title track sets out on its scintillating violation. From an opening avalanche of vindictive rhythms and a blazing sonic squall, the song hits the senses in a furnace of harsh causticity which in turn evolves into a ridiculously contagious, groove amidst a just as gripping charge of riffs. It is another track which intermittently goes for the jugular or slowly preys on ears and psyche, it’s stalking and rampage a fluid and constantly interchangeable treat.

The album is concluded by The Beckoning, the gates of hell and the band’s inventive hostility swung open for a final furnace of exhaustive and insatiable destructive antipathy. It is a mighty close to a tremendous release, one as suggested earlier with all the quality and bad blood to push Fornicus into a potent spotlight. Storming Heaven is an encounter for fans of bands like Marduk, Goatwhore, and Emperor but also the early settling of the band into its own distinctive corner, and well worth everyone’s investigation.

Storming Heaven is available digitally and on CD @ http://fornicus.bandcamp.com/album/storming-heaven-2 now

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9/10

RingMaster 17/08/2014

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Hollow – Mordrake

Hollow - Press Photo

There are some debut albums which impress, some which raise a depth of excitement sparking a long term connection, and then there are some like Mordrake from Canadian death metallers Hollow which simply have you shouting feverishly from the rooftops. The release is an extraordinary maelstrom of startling invention, mouthwatering imagination, and enslaving hostility which simply blows thoughts and passions away. There has been talk of great things about the Montreal quartet from their live performances and previous release, the six track EP Cynoptic Eschaton, but it is fair to say we were not expecting something so devastatingly brilliant for our first introduction to the band.

Formed in 2009, Hollow has earned a fine reputation and potent presence across Québec and Ontario moving across their homeland through their live incitements which has seen them excel alongside the likes of Voïvod, Suffocation, Sword, Jungle Rot, Iwrestledabearonce, Blackguard, The Agonist, Beyond Creation, Marduk, 1349, Tyr, Orphaned Land, and many many more. Cynoptic Eschaton drew further strong acclaim and attention with its release in 2010 which Mordrake is sure to emulate in much greater strength and expansion. Bringing new character to some of the tracks on the previous EP and plenty more new breath-taking encounters within its twelve song body, the Kevin Jardine (Slaves on Dope) produced, with Dan Lauzon (Entropy) and the band, album was recorded with an uncluttered ‘analogue’ like approach which brings a raw and honest dimension to the proposition allowing music and individual craft to paint a stunning fiercely textured adventure.

Opener Lament Configuration emerges upon a sonic prowl which is almost lumbering in its gait and thoroughly engrossing in its Album Cover - Hollow - Mordrake 2014 - smallsearching sonic exploration over the senses, the fingers and strings of guitarist Cadaver already capturing firm attention. Pungent rhythms add to the portentous tension brewing within the dramatic coaxing whilst orchestral melodies and harmonies soak the oppressive atmosphere lying thickly over the evolving scenery. Eventually the band step from the initial evocative smog with a surging stride of riffs and concussive beats from Blaac which vocalist Mott roars over with every muscle of his malevolence. It is an impossibly contagious charge which is just as compelling in its imaginative twists and enticements, not forgetting individual skills, as in its turbulent catchiness. The track is the thrilling declaration of things to come, a tempest of bewitching ingenuity and lethal aggression within a blackened pestilential beauty of sound and creative intent.

It is a staggering start which both Cryptic Howling and A New Life explosively reinforce. The first is a voracious torrent of rhythmic rabidity matched by an unbridled hunger in riffs and outstanding vocals, Mott gloriously unpredictable in his venomously corrosive varied delivery. Within the scourging onslaught, bassist Snow finds an even more intensive bestial voice from his strings to add to the hellacious web, a tone which is as at home sculpting a carnal texture to the vitriolic attack as it crafting deliciously haunting lures to the enthralling melodic hues which seduce robustly later in the track. The track is a severe examination of senses and psyche with more riveting rewards in its single body than most death metal bred albums offer across their full lengths, a treat repeated by its predecessor. Entwining ears in a climbing vine of sonic imagination which is soon under a tsunami of pungent antagonistic intensity and ravenous enterprise, the track adds to its surprises with contagious grooves which lead to a heavy metal endeavour beneath a symphonically seeded elegance. This is all around a heart which is predatory in the extreme and soaked in a simply irresistible rapacious appetite.

It should be noted that whatever description tracks are given here they only hint at the whole picture, so much going on and being sculpted that it is impossible to truly represent their brilliance and impossible to take all in on just a few encounters ensuring the album is a constantly giving proposition with every assault. The next up rampage of Landscape is instant proof, its ferocious vehemence in sound, vocals, and imagination a senses eroding, thought provoking ruin which wrongs foot with majestically flighted harmonies of keys casting seducing melodies. As ever it is just a twist in the soundscape of the song’s blisteringly shaped and exposed narrative, the track a purposeful sublimely designed meander that chains mind and soul from start to finish, whilst lorded over by the just as impressive vocal diversity of Mott, more of which coming later.

The pair of Iscariot and Sunriser throws senses and imagination into further exacting furies, both again intensive weaves of addictive hooks and toxic grooves upon exhaustingly adventurous and demanding canvases. As with every track on Mordrake, each is a distinct individual with the first finding a poetical grace in the keys within a uncompromising plague of voracity whilst Mott brings a brief but just as impressive clean twist to his vocals amidst another range of guttural and poisonously squalling growls. It is a glorious track which is followed by the just as staggering triumph of Sunriser, clean vocals given another outing whilst standing in a storm of demonic toxins from the raw throat of the frontman. The bass of Snow is also a real highlight in the foreboding drenched climatic air of the song, though to be fair to all the encounter is a scintillating blur of inventive animosity and imaginative pestilence for which all deserve the outmost credit.

     The emotively driven Vlad comes next, a track we assume inspired by a former band member from the band’s first days who passed away unexpectantly. With keys and violins an insatiable seduction, the song is another which rabidly suffocates as it inflames senses and emotions before making way for the provocative epidemic of sound and fascination that is Anomie, a track bringing orchestral flumes into an entanglement with heavy metal wantonness; keys, bass, and guitars conspirators in a savagely hued, magnetically cultured creative virus.

Generally in an album so incredibly gripping and awe striking there are going to be lulls or weaker moments but honestly Mordrake holds no such inventive languor, the following innovatory alchemy of both the chilled Snow where those cleaner tones of Mott are given extra time and the hypnotic maze of Birth, rhythmically and sonically as spellbinding as anything on the release. The same applies to closing tracks Hate and Death, two final incendiary expanses of fertile minds and musical ingenuity.

Mordrake is simply remarkable, one of the most promethean debuts in a long time and certainly within death metal this year, though Hollow have a sound and presence which you cannot confine to a single genre or singular mind-set. A brilliant album from a brilliant band, what more do you need to know?

The self-released Mordrake is available via http://hollowcanada.bandcamp.com/album/mordrake

http://hollowofficial.com/

10/10

RingMaster 30/05/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Burial Hordes – Incendium

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    Spiritually dark and sonically ravishing, Incendium the new album from Greek black metallers Burial Hordes is a captivating tempest of threatening imagination and corruptive craft which leaves the deepest satisfaction in its venomous wake. A release which at times makes you work for your rewards but perpetually intrigues and excites with unpredictability and incendiary adventure, the album easily fulfils and satisfies the anticipation which brewed for its arrival. There are moments which slightly labour alongside other towering and scintillating offerings on the album but from its first toxic note to the very riveting last, Incendium is a recommended immersive treat.

     Since forming in 2001, Burial Hordes has earned a respected potent place within European underground metal. Two well-received and acclaimed albums in the voracious shapes of debut War Revenge and Total Annihilation in 2005, which received a re-release via Pulverised Records three years later, and its successor Devotion to Unholy Creed also in 2008 and again through Pulverised, pushed the band’s presence along with demos, subsequent splits, and further releases into greater awareness. Now the new Devo Andersson (Marduk) produced album is primed to take things to another level with a shift in sound and maturity which only puts the band under a spotlight.

    The first rapacious violation on the Hellthrasher Productions released album comes through Unleash Havoc, thumping beats and galloping riffs bringing the opener immediately into compelling view before a melodically honed sonic weave of imagination and skill paints an evocative and enticing invitation. Once secure in its mission the track explodes into a ferocious scourge of suffocating intensity and ravaging riffery driven by the malevolent guttural squalls of vocalist Cthonos. It is a predatory seduction which enthrals without making grand hook gifted gestures thanks to the persistent, almost nagging, and inventive guitar and bass craft of N.e.c.r.o and Psychaos.

    The strong start is soon cemented by Horns of Consecration, its entrance also a scourge of pestilential energy and vocal spite but with an even stronger expectations avoiding exploration to its intrusive design. Like its predecessor the song is not setting down raging flames in its corrosive tracks but again provides a tumultuous engagement of invention and enterprise which seduces and grips the fullest attention whilst raising a real appetite from thoughts and imagination. That hunger is impressively taken care of with scintillating endeavour from here on in, starting with Nailed Curse. From its first breath a groove is dangling irresistible bait from its lure whilst a rhythmic barracking only weakens and absorbs any possible resistance. A stomping provocation with the strength of a battalion and ingenuity of an alchemist, the track casts a maze of twists and detours within a riveting expanse of fierce atmospheres within an annihilistic evocation.

   Both Path of Bloodshed and Abomination keep the album foraging senses and thoughts on this new lofty plateau. The first combines melancholic and cantankerous emotiveness into a slowly pervading and consuming temptation which seduces and menaces simultaneously whilst unveiling an ever increasing and infectious weave of barbed melodies and caustic grooves. Insatiably addictive the emotional entrapment is soon exceeded by its outstanding successor, again bold adventure and virulent grooves adding potent temptation and thrilling enterprise to the niggling black hearted incessant call of the song. The best slice of deleterious mastery on the album, it sparks greater rabidity in the appetite for the song and the release itself which the emotionally intensive Scorned (Aokigahara) reaps. Near on eight minutes of scholastic teasing, injurious sonic adventure, and mouthwatering ruinous majesty the track is a gloriously evolving and investigative aural examination of theirs and our imaginations. It is epidemically contagious at times and ominously malignant in others to match the previous imperious peak on Incendium.

    Black Shrouds of Depravity and the album’s title track almost come as an anti-climax having to follow the stunning quartet of tracks before them. Both are impressive and uncompromising slabs of blackened pestiferous excellence but more straightforward and direct without the spark of adventure which elevates the previous treats. Nevertheless they complete an impressive and commandingly satisfying provocation with a centre which sparks up moments of rapture in return for their brilliance. Burial Hordes has turned into one of the new essential investigations within modern black metal and Incendium the undeniable reason why.

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8.5/10

RingMaster 22/01/2014

 Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Vreid: Welcome Farewell

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    Following up their immense 2011 album V, Norwegian melodic black metallers Vreid have in Welcome Farewell unleashed another impressive and enthralling encounter. Whether it is the equal of its stunning predecessor is debatable but certainly the new nine track journey of enterprise and invention is a masterful confrontation of the imagination and thoughts as well as the instigator of another wash of passion for the ingenuity of the quartet.

Across their impressive albums the band has shown that tagging them as merely melodic black metal is short changing their invention as the band weave a web of sounds which court varied flames of rock and metal across numerous decades. Often referred to as Black & Roll their sound once more upon Welcome Farewell explores and re-invents a varied spicery to create songs which are consistently compelling and perpetually thrilling. Since forming in 2004 out of the demise of Windir, the band has been a blur of releases and touring, Vreid having performed over 300 shows in 22 different countries across 3 continents, lit up numerous festivals, played alongside the likes of Enslaved, Pestilence, Marduk, Unleashed, Eluvetie, Belphegor, Einherjer, Paradise Lost, and Kampfar, and released acclaimed albums in the shape of Kraft (2004), Pitch Black Brigade (2006), I Krig (2007), Milorg (2009), and of course their tour de force V.

Released via Indie Recordings and produced by bassist Hváll (Jarle Kvåle), Welcome Farewell brings the senses into its arms with01framside the opening melodic mists of first track The Ramble. It is a gentle beckoning which before long opens up its muscles with rumbling rhythms, a seductive groove and sultry sonics weaved into a hungry rampant surging gait. The bass of Hváll growls with hungry saliva dripping from its carnivorous tones whilst the beats of Steingrim (Jørn Holen) jab, punch, and roll over the ear with merciless intent. Carved into compelling shape by the exceptional craft brought to bear by guitarists Strom (Stian Bakketeig) and Sture (Sture Dingsøyr) whose vocals grasp and rasp over the senses with serpentine malevolence to temper and compliment the heated melodic wash, the track commands attention and rewards with a mix of uncomplicated and finely crafted sounds.

From next up Way Of The Serpent with its rampaging breath and slight folk metal whispers, the album lights up thoughts and emotions with a perpetual cascades of flavours and invention. The following Devil’s Hand opens its claws with an energising punk rock abrasion ridden by venomous vocals before merging thrash and rock n roll into its blackened touch whilst the title track offers a classic metal and prog embrace within the intensive ravaging which breathes within the track. It is a continuing and enthralling blend of seamlessly entwined spicery which sets each song apart from each other and Vreid distinct within black metal.

The magnificent Sights of Old takes the album to one of its loftiest pinnacle, a song which challenges and rewards with fiery invention. From a slow stroking of melodic licks the track explodes into a furnace of vicious insatiable rhythms and a spiteful twisted groove which seduces and spears the senses with sabre accuracy. Across its corrosive journey the song evolves and shifts its character to ignite intrigue and unrivalled focus upon the tempting twisted wash of predatory and mesmeric splendour. It is a song you cannot predict one note of and continually keeps the listener off guard and absorbed with the dawning shifting landscape.

The virulent Black Waves also ignites the deepest richest rapture with its goth/blackened swagger and riveting aural shadows armed with lethal barbed hooks and melodic mischief. From drums to bass, guitars to vocals, the song entices and recruits the passions with a lure as catchy and as destructive as you could wish for.

Offering a final almighty slab of muscular grandeur in the best moment on the album, the brilliant At The Brook, Welcome Farewell is simply sensational. This outstanding song is another which breeds an addiction in the listener with its predatory stance and voracious groove amidst an all devouring and insatiable acidic progressive glaze. It with ease leads you right back to the start of the album as after its esurient rewards resistance to the band is impossible.

If there is to be a better black metal release this year than Welcome Farewell it will be something quite spectacular as Vreid yet again has set the benchmark impossibly high.

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http://www.vreid.no/

9/10

RingMaster 25/02/2013

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Hellspawn: The Great Red Dragon

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    Uncompromising and ravenously destructive, The Great Red Dragon from Polish death metallers Hellspawn takes no prisoners sonically or in intent. It is an album which ravages the senses with impressively accomplished craft and merciless corrosive energy to leave one exhausted and reeling under its weight of sound. It is also admittedly a release which seemingly refuses to take adventurous avenues within the genre or break down existing ideas into something truly distinct, yet from start to finish it leaves one wholly satisfied and unreserved in wanting to stand before its confrontation time and time again.

Hailing from Wieluń, Hellspawn formed in 2003 and by 2005 with a settled line-up had their first record, Demo 2005 released via Chilean label Infernal Overkil and Nihilistic Holocaust in France, the second as part of a split release. 2010 saw debut album Child of Hell released through Exploratory Drilling Productions to strong responses, reactions which have been surpassed by The Great Red Dragon upon its unleashing via Wydawnictwo Muzyczne Psycho last year. An album apparently heavily influenced by the work of William Blake, it is a release which though having been released last year deserves to be in the awareness of all extreme metal fans. As mentioned it does not offer anything new but the release is undoubtedly a thunderous engagement with sounds derived from the likes of Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal, Behemoth, and Marduk and one which leaves no one bored.

The album demands attention immediately with the initial thumping rhythms of The First Banner In The Fields Of Devil and its9696_327937233949105_1666372934_n caustic guitar scraping of the ear. It soon collects all its elements for an explosive torrent of crippling rhythms from drummer Robert Kolman and tight cutting riffs from guitarists Marcin Garyga and Daniel Drosiński, whilst bassist and vocalist Mariusz Konieczny unveils the deepest shadows with his intimidating lines and heavy vocal squalls. The track evolves into a maelstrom of sonic guitar mastery and hungry intensity rhythmically and vocally, the heavy growls of Konieczny malice drenched.

The following Word Becomes Flesh continues the formidable start with its own primal violation and sonic torrent of aggression. Like the first, the song ripples with ideas which though not exactly new keep the song fresh and intriguing whilst in its overwhelming company. It has to be said even at this point that once a song departs it is not that easy to remember anything in particular about them when looking back, and that also applies to the album as a whole, but within their tumultuous battle they do not let anyone or any appetite down.

The likes of Hellspawn, Diabolic, and the title track blast the senses and thoughts with more unrelenting malevolence and undeniably skilled enterprise, the last of the three a particularly carnal ravishment which sears the flesh with its acidic grooves  and callous riffing not to mention barbaric rhythms.

It has to be said the second half of the album is its best started by Intro To The Revelation, the gate way into the most creative heart of the release. The shimmering instrumental makes way for the highest point of the album, Revelation Of The Great Red Dragon. It is a colossal compassionless scourge with viral grooves, captivating sonic imagination, and pillaging violence, and the one song which does linger and prompt memories after its despoiling of the senses, though it is equally matched by The Dice Are Cast, another herculean ravage upon the person and psyche. Both tracks show how good the band are and could be with a richer uniqueness to their presence which conversely does leave the rest of the album looking less impressive in some ways.

The album makes sure every song is at least within its companionship something which leaves scars of spite and pleasure, the final tracks The Greatest King Among Demon and An Obelisk Of The World no weak exceptions. Both drive to infiltrate further within the listener if not with invention than with sonic violence as presented by some great guitar solos and piercing fire branded notes. The Great Red Dragon is without doubt a brief, at less than thirty minutes in length, but great album, and if you are looking for a release extremely well done but prowling familiar extreme metal territories then this is one not to be missed.

http://www.facebook.com/Hellspawn.Metal

7.5/10

RingMaster 15/02/2013

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