Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Ruinous - Graves of Ceaseless Death (2016)

This album would be SO much better if it wasn't for the retardation of the vocals. I mean, seriously, what the FUCK is going on here with that shit?

Musically, this is could easily have passed for the "next" album by Funebrarum since it showcases the riff-writing of two of that band's former guitarists. Honestly, this album sounds like the logical "next step" after The Sleep of Morbid Dreams.

Being that these guys are from the Jersey/Philly area, you can pretty much expect the typical toxic sludge o' doom drenched death that is inherent to that area (Incantation, Deteriorot, Solemn, Mortal Decay) to come oozing fourth from your speakers and as usual, drummer Shawn Eldridge delivers yet another astounding performance. One thing's a guarantee, if this guy's name is on it, you can rightly expect the drum performance to be legendary. Sure, he can blast with the best of them but more importantly, he knows his way around the kit and I've never heard a bum beat in answer to anything thrown his way.

Back to the vox, I'm not sure how to even describe them. I'm fairly certain my man was going for some sort of unhinged black metal shriek type of thing, but instead it comes across more like some sort of attempt at deathcore which becomes increasingly unbearable to endure once that thought enters your mind. The lows are decent enough and had he stuck primarily with those, we would have had an undeniable winner on our hands. Instead, I can only assume that the guys from Asking Alexandria decided to give "this death metal thing" a go. Unfortunately, the riffs are just a little too "underground" for the goth girls to hop on board as well.

Overall, this is one of those "could've, should've's" that, had it not been for the slap-monkey behind the mic, would've easily went down in legend. Maybe next time 'round they can enlist someone holding a cattle-prod to stand next to the vocalist while he's in the studio doing his thing and every time he gets outta line with that shit, "ZAP!"

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Eviscium - Underneath the Buried (2003)

Some pretty devastating shit right here from past and present members of Rottrevore and Derketa.

Not only was I pleased but I was also shocked at how low tuned and heavy this machine was! So many times have I seen those that were once involved in earlier bands dating back to the late '80's/early '90's come back and just not have a fucking clue as to how to put the pieces back together. That was certainly not the case here with Eviscium.

Again, this thing is fucking HEAVY, and along with Mark's trademark ghoulish grave-slop vocal style, I'd be hard-pressed to believe that this was released at any time beyond '93. There's more of an emphasis on chug-laden catchiness and I'd even go as far as to say that Rottrevore could be considered as being technically clinical by comparison. That's not a bag on Rottrevore, I'm merely emphasizing just how primitive and straightforward this monster truly is. This is my kind of death metal all the fucking way!

My only gripe is the tinny production. This ep could have benefited heartily from a little more bottom end. Hardly cause for alarm, though, as historically many of the greatest death metal releases do not have the best sound quality (Magus - Ruminations of Debauchery, Crematory - The Exordium and Wrath From the Unknown demos, etc).

For some weird and unknown reason this ep, hell, the band itself has largely went unnoticed. Perhaps that has to do with the time of its release as the early 2000's were not exactly banner years for "old school death metal". Maybe that's why they decided to call it quits so early in the career. I was also a little bummed that Mastro didn't have anything to do with the reunion of Rottrevore a few years back (which produced a rather worthy three song ep) for whatever reason. Thankfully, though, I noticed that as of 2016 Eviscium has been reanimated and hopefully some new material will soon see the light of day.

For those who lack the proper amount of grave-slop in their diet, by all means, check Eviscium out at their Bandcamp page.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Bolzer - Hero (2016)

Out of all of the complaints I've seen fired at this album the one that perplexes me the most is that of the production, which, to me, not only sounds full and colossal but also manages to stay true to the aural aesthetic of the band's previous work. If anything, that would be the one true victory this time 'round for Bolzer. That, of course, is not to say that I deem 'Hero' a failure on any level. Hardly. It is just that there are those elements that I can clearly see others being thrown off track over, such as the various vocal nuances that have been brought out to the forefront instead of being relegated to mere "guest appearance" status as they have previously been.

Again, that shit doesn't bother me in the slightest. It's not as if the band "all of a sudden" decided to employ and incorporate clean vocals into their arsenal. They've been doing that shit since day one. It's just that this time around they decided to add a little more. Injecting them into areas where they saw fit. Fine by me. I happen to like them. There is something mighty, almost Grecian, about them to me which, of course, only adds to flavor of the lyrical content as well as the windy atmosphere and ensuing onslaught of the music itself.

There are slight gripes to be had, for sure, such as the first half of the album having a "same-y" sort of feel to it, not to mention that the riffs themselves aren't particularly the most inventive ol' KzR's conjured fourth. However, things begin to get mighty interesting around the intermission and beyond and that's really where the album's best songs come out to do battle. The riffing on a few of these tracks is downright bizarre and not far removed from that which you would hear on an Immolation album, which could never be a bad thing!

The only other flaw that can be construed is the lack of KzR's deeper growl. Starting with his work with New Zealand's Witchrist, he began to employ a slightly higher, raspier cackle, which, in and of itself sounds great, yet I am also as fan of the behemoth howl of old found on Bolzer's previous work so it would have been a treat to have heard a little more of them on this album. Nothing to fret over, though, as the vocal manifestations here are quite competent on their own and certainly get the job done.

Aside from these few and truly minor criticisms, I remain in awe of this band and, again, find myself rather puzzled as to the amount of angst and flak they have received from their supposed "fans" for this album. I hear no real deviation from earlier outings and it certainly stands out amidst the sea of technical chug-fests that is in no danger of drying up, The only thing I can come up with is that the metal scene has indeed been flooded with a newer, whinier type of "fan" that persists upon pissing and moaning over any perceived slight against their precious and oh so delicate sensibilities. Ironically, I've noticed that fanatically ousting someone as being a "hipster" is a tactic employed by... hipsters!

Anyway, fuck what the underground kvlt hipsters tell ya, Hero is a great album indeed filled with more good ideas than not and I definitely look forward to what comes next from the band.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Immolation - Atonement (2017)

I know in the past it may have appeared that I've been a bit hard on Immolation, and to some extent that may be true but that is only because they are one of my all time favorite bands (dating back to 1991 when I first heard Dawn of Possession) and their first four albums are more or less untouchable to me. I mean, that's quite a fucking run, really. In the 'death metal' world, at any rate. Sure, there have been some hiccups, which I can only surmise was due to the fact that their creative fires burned so bright for so long that there was bound to be a stretch of darkness along the way to immortality, yet nonetheless, these motherfuckers have earned their place among the gods for having held high the flag of evil death metal for so long.

Whatever the band's perceived shortcomings may have been, it's clearly irrelevant in hindsight as they have been on an absolutely vicious tear for the past seven years or so starting with 2010's colossal 'Majesty and Decay', followed by the excellent 'Providence' ep and 2013's 'Kingdom of Conspiracy', an overall great album slightly marred by the deafening sound of the drums. All of which brings us to 'Atonement'.... Holy.Fucking.Shit.

First and foremost: The songwriting on 'Atonement' is placed safe and snug beside Immolation's post-'Unholy Cult' body of work, meaning there are scant moments of rampant technicality to be found, if any. The focus here is on simpler, smoother and more straightforward song structures, with, of course, Immolation's signature bizarro tendencies abound. Yes, this is the work of a band that never creatively "sold out", yet has been relentlessly on the hunt for "the perfect riff", casting aside the urge to mindlessly meander along the fretboard (not that that was ever the case, mind you). I'd be lying if I were to say that I do not miss the salad bar of rhythmic fluctuations the band had employed back in the '90's/early '00's, however, this new album is so good that I am completely willing to go wherever it is the band takes me and believe me, listening to and experiencing this album is one hell of a ride!

Speaking of bizarre intricacies, Bob is really firing on all infernal cylinders here! It would seem that he has rediscovered his love for harmonics as they are in full flurry and abound and their inclusion really cements in my mind that they are truly the rotten cherry on top of any evil riff.

I read somewhere that Ross was starting to show a bit of wear this time around. Whoever wrote that must be high on that homemade speed. You know, the kind that meth-zombies with ZZ Top beards out in the backwoods of Texas make by spraying RAID on a screen and shocking it! That motherfucker needs to go Frankenstein a new pair of ears because Ross not only sounds AS good as he has in the past but better. Even the drumming is on point in a way it hasn't been since Alex Hernandez was in the band. It's still not as deliciously kooky in its delivery as it was in the days of old but my man has certainly made it a point to divvy things up a bit instead of answering the guitars in the most mundane way possible.

The album is surprisingly mid-paced, overall, with a few fast and furious moments thrown in for good measure. It kind of reminds me of Morbid Angel's 'Gateways...' in that sense, proving that you don't have to constantly blast like a retard to effectively deliver a sound beating. It also has the feel of a concept album, in the spiritual sense, of course, where everything sort of works together building up to a dark and monumental conclusion.

At this point in the game I feel that Immolation (along with maybe Nile) are at the top of the heap in terms of quality and consistency and as always, I will be impatiently awaiting their next excursion into darkness.

Ritual Chamber - Obscurations (To Feast on the Seraphim) (2016)

More lame tremolo picked bullshit that unimaginative dweebs have already compared to 'Onward to Golgotha'. Please, dweebs, please STOP with that bullshit!

First off, Incantation (or more accurately, John motherfuckin' Mac and Cheese!) actually WRITE RIFFS!! They don't sit there chilling on the E string trying to jack it off as fast as they can and then palm it off as being evil and atmospheric. There's actually thought given to the process which in turn produces a variable landscape of ups and downs... nooks and crannies, so on and so fourth. One thing I always hated about black metal as well as this blackened death bullshit is that people insist that mediocrity somehow translates to atmospheric. It does not. Playing like this just means that you suck and lack creativity. Plain and fucking simple. This is the kind of shit a 12 year old whips together and records on his cell-phone after an all-nighter consisting of large doses of adderall and jacking off to Transylvanian Hunger, you know, for inspiration.

To sum it up... I'll never forget a good friend of mine who was a 'zine editor and college radio station DJ back where I'm from telling me (half jokingly) that I should start a black metal band. His reasoning? "you don't even have to know how to play!"

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Malignancy - Ignorance is Bliss [demo] (1997)

As they have progressively lost me throughout the years by way of their increasing technicality, Malignancy's 1997 demo 'Ignorance is Bliss', for me, remains the band's crowning achievement.

Ignorance is Bliss sounds like some bestial offspring of Mortician and Immolation (both of whom are also Yonkers natives). The retardation of how ridiculously heavy the guitar sound is and many of the slower, more "chugging" sections immediately bring to mind Mortician while the faster and more bizarre tremolo/harmonic acrobatics remind me of Immolation. Of course everything over in Maligville is taken WAY the fuck further out into left field and the end result had me hypnotically listening over and over, etc al. At that point, in my mind, this band could do no wrong.

Unfortunately, Malignancy would opt for a more technically progressive approach as the years weaned on which, frankly, doesn't do a whole lot for me. Don't get me wrong, a few of their releases, (notably the string of 'ep's' that bridge the gap between their first and second albums) are absolutely on point, but the primal war-machine of old had clearly run its course and has sadly been left unattended and seemingly forgotten.

Trust me when I tell you... there aren't many bands aside from Bolt Thrower themselves who can so effortlessly convey images of apocalyptic battle as Malignancy had on this masterpiece. Make no mistake, though, this isn't merely a roller coaster ride through a kaleidoscope of violence and chaos. There are some genuinely haunting and moody passages clustered throughout that really place this in a category of it's own, although it could be argued that the misty graveyard sequences that pop up (most notably during 'Your Life is Shit') are some sort of inherent characteristic of bands from the Hudson River Valley (Incantation, Immolation, Morpheus Descends, etc.). This doesn't imply that Malignancy are aping their stats from other bands. Hardly. If anything, I believe there to be a case that they may very well be the most original sounding death metal band from their area, hell, the US, for that matter.