Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Afterbirth- Four Dimensional Flesh

Afterbirth is a brutal death metal band from New York making strides to add new layers to the genre. The band released one 4 track demo back in 1994 only to vanish into obscurity shortly after. After a long hiatus they reformed and dropped another demo back in 2014 and followed it up with a well received album in 2017. The year is 2020 and Afterbirth make their triumphant return with Four Dimensional Flesh. Don't let the band name fool you, these guys are playing some brutal death metal but it is far from a run of the mill, dime a dozen releases that seemingly drop everyday. Four Dimensional Flesh while still bringing the brutality, almost feels like a journey of sorts.

"Rooms to Nowhere" is my personal favorite from the album, although I will say it is very hard to pick just one. The strange guitar part towards the mid-section of the track has been forever embedded in my memory since first listen. There's little moments like this sprinkled all throughout the album that really make it stand out from the pack. The band effortlessly keeps the listener guessing and manages to build an atmosphere while still staying in the realm of a genre that is built almost exclusively on crushing the listener at all costs. The drumming is masterful and really the backbone that holds everything together. The whole album gives the feeling of rushing through a maze where every corner holds another monstrosity, but, occasional you take a turn and run into something beautiful. Well, maybe not beautiful exactly, but there is some refreshing breaks from the controlled chaos occasionally spattered in there for good measure.

Overall Four Dimensional Flesh is a breath of fresh air for the genre. While I've always loved me some knuckle-dragging brutal death, it's nice to see a band coming to the forefront offering something much more dynamic than what one would normally expect. The band manages to add progressive tinges to one of the most brutal a primitive styles of music known to man. This one may even be a good gateway album for someone looking to get into the subgenre, as I could see many people who typically don't gravitate towards the more brutal stuff finding something to love here. If you go back and listen to their 1994 demo it is shocking to see the development Afterbirth has had since then. All too often we see bands that vanished into obscurity in the 90's come back and release a subpar album. Afterbirth bucks that trend and I think most would be hard pressed to find another band make a return quite like they have. The demo they'd released back in the day was pretty awesome, especially for the time, but these past two full lengths are a whole different beast altogether. I highly recommend anyone into extreme metal in genre give this a listen along with the previous full length! It will be very interesting to see where the band goes next. Definitely a name to keep a look out for in the future! GET IT!!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Carve the Earth- Blood Magik


Carve the Earth is a blackened thrash band out of Oregon. The band has been around since 2015 and dropped one EP in 2016 prior to this release. Blood Majik clocks in at a mere 25 minutes and the band does not waste a second of your precious time. Right off the bat the band comes to the ritual table bringing forth their brand off thrashy, black metal tinged riffs. Blood Magik shows off a near perfect blend of the two styles. The black/thrash metal subgenre is easily one of my favorites and compared to most other bands claiming this genre tag (in my experience at least), this band seems to lean more  towards the black metal side of things in the songwriting department. This makes for a healthy dose of atmosphere coupled with the balls of the more aggressive side of thrash, marrying into a perfect storm for metallic greatness!

One of the stand out features of the band is the vocals. Jerin Smith delivers a very wide variety of different vocal approaches and it really keeps the listener guessing what kind of wretched delivery he'll be dishing out next. Throughout the six tracks there's a healthy dose of putrid shrieking, some standard screams, and oddball growl, and a nice hearty yell here and there. "Eve of the Blood Magik Rite" is the first appearance of what may be his most unorthodox sounding performance. These odd vocals are sprinkled throughout the EP and while it may be a little off-putting to some, to me, it gives the band a truly distinct sound. Smith's delivery overall keeps the album feeling fresh and helps the runtime fly by with ease.

Blood Magik spends a good amount of its time throwing out killer riff after killer riff. Most of the tracks here do an amazing job creating an epic atmosphere without sacrificing the savage nature of the music. Tracks that lean into the black metal influence full force like "Forging the Hammer" and the closer "Perverse Creation" prove to be standout songs. Carve the Earth do a stellar job when playing the speedy, disjointed sounding tremolo sections. Overall the whole album showcases a band in their sweet spot. Not a note of filler to be found front to back, just killer songwriting and awesome performances to back them up. Each track has it's own, fleshed out identity and many elements that make them stand out. The production here is also great. Another release that has the bass sitting high up in the mix and it benefits the sound greatly. On the track "Eve of the Blood Magik Rite" the bass even gets a little solo moment that leads into an awesome build up.

Overall Blood Magik is a quick listen and one that is well worth your time. Fans of the genre will not be disappointed in the slightest. This is yet another example of 2020 already being an amazing year for metal and we haven't even hit the halfway mark yet! If you're on the fence I'd recommend giving "Forging the Hammer" and "Hypnotica" a listen, and if you like either of those take the dive and soak in this fantastic slab of metal.  'Hypnotica" ends with the catchiest riff on the album, and the ending of "Forging the Hammer" is no joke either. Anybody into thrash or black metal that's more riff based would be a fool not to give this one a shot. Anyone out there just into interesting, energetic vocal performances would be wise to give it a spin as well. This is really one of those albums you can play front to back, then when it's over, hit the play button once again and enjoy just as much as you did prior. Replay value through the roof, riff writing through the roof, audible bass that is badass, all the ingredients needed to concoct a killer metal album that will slay you repeatedly. GET IT!!!

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Live Burial- Unending Futility

Live Burial is a death metal band from the UK. I nearly skipped this one because the album cover just didn't exactly leap out and scream "awesome death metal" at me, but upon listening I quickly realized what a mistake that would have been. The band features members of Horrified (whose first album I recall enjoying quite a bit) and this is their second full length offering. They manage to dish out that nasty old school sound without getting trapped into the [insert band name here] worship category. From the intro with it's soaring leads followed by a tremolo laced barrage to the near ten minute epic closer "Cemetery Fog" Living Burial are here to flex their death metal muscles and bury any weakling listening alive!

Upon first listen the main thing that stood out immediately was the mix. Everything is balanced out so perfectly here. No instrument is completely dominating and the bass isn't just following the guitar in the same old boring fashion. The two stringed instruments mesh in a way that paints a picture of a dungeon crawling battle that perhaps for the poor fellow on the cover just ended poorly. "The Crypt of Slumbering Madness" truly sounds FUCKING MASSIVE. When this track came on the album really caught my attention. The bass stands out and almost takes the spotlight on this one. Some of the songwriting here is very strong to say the least. The leads that close this track are icing on the metallic cake as well. When the band slows down with their more epic, lethargic approach everything really works to great effect. "Rotting on the Rope" is a great example of Live Burial doing this to near perfection. It's followed up by the beautiful interlude "Winds of Solace". The fretwork here is breathtaking and it works incredibly well with the pacing of the album and it's placement.

The vocals are delivered in a way that really adds to the attention grabbing nature of the album. The playing isn't overly flashy from anyone but definitely has some nice, memorable noodly passages sprinkled in for good measure. As mentioned before the bass really does add a refreshing layer to everything else in the mix and really makes a big stride in making this album stand out from the pack. Everything just comes together in a way that gives "Unending Futility" an insane amount of replay value. It's been in rotation for me for a hot minute now and anytime I find myself going to play a single track I quickly find myself playing the album in full without a second thought. With all the quality stuff that has been dropping lately this statement truly says something about how well put together this project really is.

Overall Unending Futility is a pretty killer death metal album. Upon going back and checking out the first one this is a big step up for my ears. All of the tracks here that break the five minute mark are the cream of the crop. The band does an amazing job creating a foreboding atmosphere with a lingering feeling of dread to top it off. This one comes highly recommended for anyone looking for some good mid paced death metal jams. Don't get me wrong, the album is heavy and has it's fair share of nasty, headbang inducing riffing, but, they also spend a decent chunk of time in a more subdued, crawl of anticipation lurching towards this moments of full-blown badassery. If you plan to be lazy and just skip the album, please at least hit some streaming site and give the opener "Seeping into the Earth" a shot. I feel like anybody with a single death metal loving bone in their body would be hard pressed to not dive a little deeper after hearing that epic slab of metal goodness. Very excited to see what Live Burial comes out of the woodwork next to decimate us. JAM IT!!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Imperial Savagery- Lashing the Feral Swine

Imperial Savagery is a vicious death metal 4 piece from Chicago, Illinois. The band is chock full of vets in the metal scene and they dropped their debut album back in 2014. The debut was an amazing slab of death metal so upon seeing this released I was stoked to say the least. I got to discover this band at a small fest some years back and they dish out pure mosh inducing madness. Guitarist Flannagan rocks a stinkface that gives the impression that he might just snap his guitar in half and eviscerate some poor audience member at any moment. It's clear when listening that the band had taken that 6 year gap and honed their craft to unleash this somehow even more menacing beast of an album. Clocking in at 27 minutes of all killer no filler Lashing the Feral Swine is everything that most death metal bands wish they could be.

The album comes barreling at you like a freight train of brutality straight out of the gate and doesn't let up in the slightest. The weak will have no luck here... "Churchgate Proclamation" kicks off with a sample that sounds like blades sharpening, a fitting intro as the band quickly assaults with jagged riffing to cut the listener down to size. With most tracks lingering just above of below the 3 minute mark there's absolutely no fat to be trimmed here. The runtime flies by and the riffs come aplenty. It's hard to pick out highlights when an album is damn near flawless like it is in this case. The all out drum attack on "Frozen Ritual of Shame" springs to mind though, which on all fronts sounds like a firing squad dumping lead into your ears. The contorting riffs featured on "From Advent to Casket" are certainly no slouch either. Like many of the greatest albums in the genre this thing feels like it could derail at any moment, spiraling out of control and injuring nearby bystanders. "Claiming Dominion" is a perfect example of this barely controlled chaos at its finest.

The self titled debut was already a monster on it's own but this album expands upon the foundation they'd set and ups the ante in every way imaginable. The vocals are even more ferocious, the riffs are even more tangled and crushing, the drums are just pure insanity through and through. The bass also seems to be a bit louder in the mix, which adds to the brutality of the pummeling tenfold. With all of these elements combined each little contortion of the instruments hits the listener with an adrenaline rush that feels as though some kind of ancient power is coursing through your veins. If I were to punch a wall with "Vengeance Over Virtue" blasting in the background I assure you, the building it was a part of would be rubble in an instant.

Overall Lashing the Feral Swine is a quick demonstration of pure death metal mastery. This year has been pretty solid for metal so far but after a few listens this easily took the number 1 spot for now. I don't think there's a single fan of the genre that could possibly be disappointed in this offering. This thing is even uglier than the debut and it pulls no punches. It's rare to find an album that so perfectly incapsulates a genre pushed to its limits. There is not a single dull moment or wasted note to be found front to back. Highly recommended that anyone out there that enjoys death metal gives this at least one listen and I guarantee you, it will stay in rotation from then on. Kudos to Horror Pain Gore Death for always releasing top notch stuff and giving these guys a launching pad for this attack disguised as music! Weak death metal bands take notes, or catch the lashing like the feral swine you are! JAM IT NOW!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Skadefro- Minna fra Nordland


Skadefro is a black metal band hailing from Norway with some definite influence from the doom side of the spectrum. This is their first full length following up and EP released in 2017. Skadefro dishes out a slow to mid paced brand of black metal that has an almost garage rock style attitude coursing through a good majority of the tracks here. Very much so no frills and straight to the point riffing. Minna fra Nordland clocks in at just under 30 minutes and manages to leave a lasting impression in that short period of time.

The album kicks off with "Ditt farvel". This track is a good indicator of what to expect moving forward through the tracklist. The first notes have a nice effect on the guitar that set a nice abstract, almost haunting tone. "Min siste ferd" follows and it does a great job creating a real triumphant/epic atmosphere. Simple riffing aplenty makes for a good steady groove that the band consistently creates with ease throughout the entire runtime of this album. After this the band really hits their sweet spot and from this point forward the remainder of the album absolutely flies by. From the first note of "Dødsdåp" to the final note of the title track the band squeezes in a number of different types of tracks in such a short span of time. "Dødsdåp" probably ties with the closer as the highlight of the album. It's without a doubt an energy filled anthem with such an infectious riff driving it into yet another track with an infectious riff and this cycle doesn't end until the album does.

The vocalist dishes out a nasty shriek throughout the album and while there is very little variation it fits pretty well with the instrumentation and given the simplistic nature of the music a more flashy approach probably would have been more distracting than anything else. There is a cool little manic, whispery spoken word section tossed in on the epic closing track however. Speaking of the closing track man this one is an absolute monster! It clocks in at just under 10 minutes and not a second of it is disposable. It pops in with a crushing man riff and creates a dreadful atmosphere that is oh so sweet. For a band that had only been in existence for a year at the time of recording this it is almost shocking how well fleshed out they had gotten their sound already. There sure as hell know how to close an album and I highly doubt anyone who's given this one a shot would even considering arguing that point.

Overall Skadefro have offered up a really solid slab of rocking black metal with this album. Anyone craving some riff based nastiness should be pleasantly surprised with this thing. Don't let the mention of doom influence have you thinking this is some lethargic bore-fest either. There's plenty of drive pushing most of these tracks along and the speedier sections of this thing are done with skill. The band really seems to hit it's stride towards the middle of this album with highly replayable jams like "Under stjerneklar Himmel" and "Dødsdåp" . The slight increase in pace truly ramps up the feeling of these tracks and then when those slower moments hit it happens with much greater effect. There's no complaints to be had here. If I were to get pretty nitpicky the only suggestion would have been to throw on a couple more tracks. I'm all for a short album but when this really gets going it feels like it comes to a close fairly quickly afterwards. Another 10 to 20 minutes being added would have been more than welcome. Another thing I wouldn't mind hearing more of is a little more of those tasty leads featured on the title track previously mentioned. That was only a brief section of this album but it's obvious that guitarist Gundersen truly shines here. This one comes highly recommended for anyone into riff based black metal and anyone into doom that can handle the harsh vocal approach. Really if you like riffs in general there's no reason you shouldn't have a good time jamming this. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Jumpin' Jesus- The Art of Crucifying

Jumpin' Jesus is a very overlooked German death metal band that formed in 1989, but didn't release anything until the early 90's. With only one demo and one full-length they failed to make a noticeable mark in death metal history, but that's not to say fans of the genre won't enjoy this record. 

When the vocals kick in on "Out of the Unknown" you know you're in for an evil satanic treat. The vocalist pounds his style into your head throughout the record, his vocals aren't anything particular special, but he does have a rather wide range compared to most death metal vocalist from around this time. He mainly sticks to growls and screams, but occasionally a raspy falsetto will find it's way out of his throat, along with some more traditional thrash style vocals. 

The guitar work on the album is noteworthy. It is easy to see that this department was heavily influenced by thrash. There are some fairly complex riffs to be found here, and the distortion is set just right. For the most part the record is played at a break neck pace, but Jumpin' Jesus isn't afraid of slowing down, this is best shown during "The King of Worms" when a fairly slow, epic riff kicks in, it doesn't stay long due to it being interrupted by a face melting solo, but it plays to be one of the most effective riffs on the record, and trust me it has some healthy competition. 

This album is also one of the few death metal records where the bass is audible throughout! Sure, a lot of the time the bass is just backing the guitar but every now and then you'll hear a little jazzy bass going on in the background, when this happens it only boosts the song's level on the metal meter. Without the bass being audible the record may have came off as hollow, but with it there and firing on all cylinders the album has a nice high end, low end ratio. 

The album has some odd effects peppered in. At times it seems as though you are listening to a cheesy 80's synth filled horror movie soundtrack, but these moments are short lived, due to the low end growls intruding and the neck snapping speedy riffs that are tearing the amp to shreds. Along with these odd effect and overtones are some really cool, eerie acoustic intros. Examples of this are "The King of Worms" and "Chaingang", the intros to these songs really create a great atmosphere for the old school chaos that is about to ensue. 

The drumming actually is pretty brutal as well, it isn't just non-stop blastbeats. It definitely isn't the most groundbreaking work either but there are some complex drum patterns to be found in the albums run-time. With all that being said, every single instrument has it's fair share of time to shine. The production is very clear for it's time, which was also noticeable on their demo. 

Bottom line: Go get yourself a neck brace and find this record ASAP. It's a shame this band didn't continue after this record was recorded, it and their demo show boat loads of potential. Any fan of death metal, especially die-hard old school fans must hear this album.

Resurrection- Embalmed Existence

Resurrection was a band that formed in Florida in the early 90's and broke up shorty after releasing their old school death metal opus "Embalmed Existence". This album isn't for everyone, but it will have fans of the old school Florida scene on their knees praying to their overlooked gods. The band reformed in 2008 to release the album "Mistaken for Dead" which also failed to get noticed.

The thing that sticks out most on the album is the wicked vocals and guitar rhythms. Songs introduced by the sinister noises that come out of Paul Degoyler's mouth give the album an overall creepy feel. Resurrection created this album with one thing on their mind, to sicken the weak with some old school crushing death metal, and at that they did not fail. The production on the album is very crisp unlike some older death metal records, this gives the overall sound a great boost which is always a good thing. The guitar parts are fairly varied changing from very fast riffing to slow apocalyptic infectious riffs. The solos on the album kick mutiple asses, ranging from fast and shredding, to slow melodic solos. Both are done skillfully and would be a tear to the eye of a guitarist.

The vocals have a snarl to them, they are not quite the typical death metal growl, if compared to anyone though, it would be Malevolent Creation vocalist Brett Hoffmann. The spoken word introductions work effectively, some do find them quite annoying though due to the fact that they are used on nearly every song. I can see why some would find this tedious but it feels as though it creates the atmosphere for the song. 

The bass for the most part is inaudible, on occasion it leaks it's way into the mix but when this does happen it is brief and nearly unnoticeable, which is a shame because when the bass does creep into songs it sounds sick and would of really added to the album if it stayed throughout. The drumming on the album is also consistent, constant double bass pounds throughout the album, this style of drumming would typically become boring but on this album it is not the case. The constant pulse pounding beat blends all too well with the riffs and atmosphere. 

There really isn't one weak song on the album, none of the songs drag nor does the album as a whole. The only track on the album that has been openly complained about is "War Machine" the KISS cover song. This song gave the album a good change in pace but I don't like it's placement as the last song on the album, it would of been more fitting to put it in the middle, as a kind of break from the blistering thrash influenced death metal riffing, overall it is still a good song though. The majority of the songs do have the same structure, but each individual song manages to remain fresh sounding and entertaining.

The bottom line is if you are in need of death metal with that old school fresh into the 90's feel this is the cure for the itch, the album maintains it's fury and manages to create a fairly punishing sound, but for some reason it failed to be noticed in the death metal scene that Florida had going. While this isn't exactly the most creative album you'll ever hear, it is a damn good one and should be heard by any fan of the genre. Overall I give this album a firm 4.5 out of 5. Coming from a person who is obsessed with death metal as a whole, I can say with pride that this would most easily make it into my top 10 death metal albums of all time. Check it out now.