This might be the last week of Helliday reviews, but that doesn’t mean that the reviews for 2014 are over either. Expect 2014 Purge Lists to appear in heavy frequency until doomsday, which is February 1st. As much as I loved 2014, the 2015 records are literally biting me in the nose right now and I’ve got to post them soon!
Necropoli – I (2014) – Necropoli are an utterly outstanding mix of experimental death metal and atmosphere and it’s guaranteed that this short paragraph just won’t be enough to describe their awesomeness. While musically launching forth massive torrents of death/doom and exponential bouts of technical and somewhat melodic death metal, these guys prove that they have more to offer than bands that only perform just one of these genre styles. The songs on I are quite lengthy with nearly all of them breaching the ten minute marker, but within these gigantic pieces there are periods of dense atmosphere which seems to add to the performance, aside from the band’s well-structured approach to gloomy death metal. Some might say that at the heart, Necropoli are mainly doom/death, but I’ve heard glimpses within the album that show me Necropoli can and will be so much more in the future. I expect to hear some truly tremendous things with this band, as they’re one of the only real doom/death acts of a funerary nature that doesn’t succeed in making me drowsy (that’s not to say that the genre doesn’t offer some killer melodies which are often times well worth staying up for, and the bleaker acts of the genre do work well during certain games) and that’s a bold accomplishment in my eyes. Without going too much into the fan category, I can honestly say that I truly fucking love these guys and it goes without saying that I highly, highly, highly, recommend that you get your ears on the gloomy darkness and intriguing experimentalism of I. They’re not quite there yet as far as a perfect recording goes, but this is pretty damned close. We highly recommend I. It definitely offers something new, different and certainly still familiar to fans of both death/doom and experimentalism.
(5 Tracks, 55:00)
Machinergy – Sounds Evolution (2014) – A product of four years hard work, this sophomore record by Portugal’s Machinergy seems to mix thrash along with death metal, a bit of melody and even some industrial in areas. I’m actually getting a little bit of a Bolt Thrower feeling for the album and even though it’s a bit raw, it is nonetheless quite punchy. The drums are heavily displayed amongst the chugging guitar and the ravenous vocal approach. The problem is, at least for me, is that there isn’t really all that much variation in the songs except for a few sections here and there which are wholly welcomed and do well to break up the monotony. There’s no doubt that brilliant guitar work can be found in some of these sections and it shows me that Machinergy certainly have a relevancy among other Portuguese acts. But for the most part, Machinergy seems to be a death/thrash album that delivers ripping portent after portent of blazing thrash and if you look at it in that context, rather than the industrial sense that you might ascertain from the band’s moniker, then you’ll find something to like here. If I picked this record up at the used record shop and didn’t know much about the band beforehand, I think I would probably dig this one a lot. It’s not the best record I’ve ever heard in the death/thrash category, but I don’t think you’re going to be complaining too much about it after the first listen… unless you don’t like female vocal chants, which do appear in just one of the cuts here on the disc. But I can’t and won’t fault them for that experimentation. Neither should you.
(10 Tracks, 42:00)
Hate Division – Order Of The Enslaved (2014) – This is the second release from brutal death metallers Hate Division, and whether or not they actually believe in the elite conspiracy or are just trying to profit from it is unknown. But whatever the case, that album cover does a great job of describing my thoughts on it. But let’s throw the lyrics aside for a minute and discuss the music. Basically, what we’ve got here is a highly technical form of Origin, Dying Fetus and Man Must Die styled death metal just as Canada is known for, filled to the brim with memorable melodies that help the harsh vocal approaches to stand out much better than if it were composed of a bunch of regular old death riffs. Don’t get me wrong though, as the record still fills with plenty of chugs and razors and still manages to let loose a couple of passionate guitar solos. But for the most part it’s an intelligent thrashing that is well-concocted enough to matter. It’s probably better than the new Job For A Cowboy record at any rate, even though I’ve yet to hear Sun Eater. I can say that the vocal approach here is going to be a great deal more traditional to death metal than the one used in Job however. Additionally, Hate Division have a warm and slightly raw approach to the production here, which makes it sounds less polished and more natural. You might have to turn it up a little, but chances are you’re going to be doing that anyway. It is death metal after all. By the way, there are few moments on the record which break up the heaviness like “Dawn Of Quiescence 4:04” for example, but you can always skip them if they’re killing your buzz. But maybe you want to give your head and neck a break too… No? Well, suit yourself.
(13 Tracks, 47:00)
Headcrusher – Let The Blood Run Red & Burning Black Skies (2014) – This is a collection of the previous two albums from Columbia’s Headcrusher. These guys mix death, thrash and hardcore together in a way that sounds ultimately crushing and quite fierce at the same time. Seriously folks, these guys aren’t fucking around with this mix of loud abrasive guitars, pummeling drums and angry Spanish vocal lines. Imagine Ill Nino if they were a hell of a lot heavier and the frontman had more of a bite instead of all those clean vocal choruses. I’m also hearing the Sepultura/Soulfly influence here too, but that’s expected as those bands are a heavy influence on many acts from that part of the world. That kind of tribal backbone exists within this music and there’s absolutely nothing like it on the planet earth. Fans of Sepultura, Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy’s latest thrasher will simply fucking love this thing, as it seems to take all three of these approaches and combine them into one horrific chugging beast that doesn’t give up until there’s blood on the ground. I personally like Burning Black Skies over Let The Blood Run Red, but that just goes to show how much this band is evolving with every album. These guys simply come in, punish and pulverize and then walk out leaving your head spinning and your ears ringing. It is a sound that leaves you bruised and battered and you’ll be sure to come back for another dose of this tribal assault, and then another and another. It’s short, but it doesn’t take much for this record to leave a long lasting effect that you’ll be feeling for quite a while. Need an ice pack?
(11 Tracks, 41:00)
Serpentine Path – Emanations (2014) – What is that awful unholy racket coming from my speakers now? Well, it would seem to be that down in the doomy dumps of gloom and despair act, Serpentine Path. Obviously you already know what the doom sounds like here, because it sounds like doom riffs that go back to Sabbath and were later perfected by Candlemass (arguably, of course) but then we have the absolutely horrendous vocal utterings of the frontman, who seems to inhabit the very spirit of dread as he spits forth his fiery vomit onto each and every riff and melody on this recording. It’s not the kind of album that ever really changes tempo, but I don’t think we’d like it if Serpentine Path started playing any faster. This is meant to be a sludgy slog in the muck that demons would enjoy in their dank and cavernous underworld and it seems to carry with it the filth and regret of a thousand damned. Alternatively, it works pretty damn well as a slow headbang and I think if you’re looking for incredibly fierce doom (like we make sometimes) than I think you’re really going to dig Serpentine Path. The guitar solos on the record manage to add a little bit of light to the dungeon, but it’s still very dark and even with that classic rock spirit, this thing is still quite fucking evil. I’d almost call it black/doom, which is as you know; a genre I’m quite fond of. Emanations manages to convey the spirit of the genre quite well. The Grim Tower definitely recommends it.
(7 Tracks, 44:00)
Omnihility – Deathscapes Of The Subconscious (2014) – With an album cover that reminds me of the old Doom (the best one, in my opinion) these four long haired death metal men are making exactly what you’d expect four long haired death metal men to make. The record will definitely knock you on your ass with its thick and heavy style, but it’s also got a few slightly technical parts in lieu of all the brutality. Problem is it’s kind of a jumble. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with getting your face blown off by all of the technicality, barreling drums and thick chugs, but the record doesn’t seem to offer all that much more. Some of the riffs are actually lost in the mix at times as well, so that’s never good, but if this is a debut I guess I can accept that. I’m more along the lines of assuming that it is the band’s first, so I’ll let some things slide as it does show some promise. This becomes clear especially in the light interludes, which show me that these guys are capable of more than just head over fist brutality for the sake of brutality with technicality for the sake of technicality. The majority of these songs are quite lengthy, but they don’t really show enough meat for those extra-large lengths with the exception of a few choice selections here and there throughout the album. If you’re looking for a mix of brutal and technical death metal, then I’m not so sure that I could recommend this one over that Hate Division record that I reviewed earlier; but it’s not a complete wash either. Give it a listen and tell me what you think. Is it really just too chunky for its own good, or am I just being too picky? You decide.
(9 Tracks, 43:00)
Slutvomit – Swarming Darkness (2012) – Slutvomit are three guys who love to mix black metal in with a little death and high-speed thrash action. There’s no doubt that you’ll hear the glory days of Venom here, making you wonder if you can still fit into those tight leather pants that you wore back in the old days. Probably not, but Swarming Darkness definitely raises its horns to the metal gods in more ways than one and manages to offer a fitting tribute to acts like Sarcofago and Possessed among others. This recalls the era when the genre lines were blurred into a non-recognizable state and no one bothered to categorize it as they would now. Even the recording itself has that same amount of warmth and static that made a classic metal record, even though the performance here is not nearly as dated as it sounds. While some feel that dated is a bad term when referring to anything, if you look at modern metal trends, you might consider this outdated recording a new classic. There’s no doubt that Slutvomit will remind you what true heavy metal music used to sound like and they’ll do it with a mighty sledgehammer to your face. It’s just as vile and revolting as you’d expect with sound that’s also just as ear-ripping as you’d expect. Swarming Darkness is quite an expectable album, but it’s the kind of thing that we don’t mind expecting and we’re not one bit upset about its lack of surprise. It’s a “what you see is what you get” kind of situation and that’s perfectly fine with me.
(11 Tracks, 35:00)
Rippikoulu – Musta Seremonia (2014) – Finnish death metallers Rippikoulu already need a little bit of work and that’s just from the beginning. Now I’m not sure how much went into this disc as far as the production is concerned, but things just sound a little bit flat. I get drums, I get a slight hum of guitar in the background as well as a thick uttering of vocal gravel, but I feel that I’m just not getting the full picture. These guys seem to sound best when the drums are blazing, but then the guitar gets drowned out to a bare non-existence. So once again, we’ve got a metal band with very little guitar to be had in favor of the drums and vocals. Musically, they seem to combine death/doom with brutal death metal but it’s all so thin that it becomes incredibly boring after a short while. The lyrics are in the band’s native, but that’s no real issue for me as the performance is what I’m judging here and it’s not the greatest I’ve ever heard. There are some synths that work their way later on the album and that shows a bit of intrigue, a bit of promise; but the raw approach of the material is just too much for me to trudge through again. I’ve already listened to it once and it went in one ear and out the other, so not surprisingly this second listen proved the same effect. I won’t say that Rippikoulu are terrible, but they just need a little bit of work and experience will manifest as the band grow and mature over the years. There are still some moments of interest here however, but I’m afraid that it’s just enough to push the album over the four mark and into a mediocre 5/10. It’s not exactly terrible, but I can think of much better records in the genre that have come out this year. If you’re still interested in what these guys have to offer though, give it a shot. As I said, it gets better towards the latter end of the disc.
(6 Tracks, 32:00)
Profetus – As All Seasons Die (2014) – Boy, did I ever hit the jackpot this week. We have yet another death/doom offering from Profetus who perform a thick sort of doom and gloom and death, loaded with you guessed it – melody. But these melodies are so crystalline and pure in composition that they manage to brighten up some of the darker tones on the record, even though for the most part it is a very slow trudge through the darkest corners of human existence. It is an album, even by track title alone, consistent upon the very death and decay of the four seasons and of time itself. As all things do age and wither with time. Additionally, there aren’t too many songs on the disc and it’s just a few minutes over half an hour, so you won’t have a long time by which to mourn. But all things considered, it’s still a rather dark and depressing performance that you can play if you’re not feeling in the greatest of moods and need a little time in which to brood and mourn the destruction and decay of our world. All Seasons Die is most definitely the sound of a funeral wake funneled through doom metal that doesn’t forget to bring in the church organ. If you’re in the mood to mourn, then Profetus provide a haunting and beautiful soundtrack in which to do that in the private peace of your own home. This is a record best listened to by candlelight.
(4 Tracks, 36:00)
Powerlord – The Awakening (2014) – Powerlord are an extremely rare act who never managed to take off in the eighties, sounding like a mix between Savage Grace and Slayer, yet I’m also hearing the sound of pure classic 80’s metal with a British sensibility here and that’s a great thing. You know folks, this is all we have of Powerlord since they never really got off the ground and even though a German label tried to reissue the album, most of the band’s original photos and what not simply went missing. So we don’t have much to remember these guys by except for this recording, which literally does sound just as good as the press release would you have you believe. It’s funny, but I’m also hearing a sort of Sabbat vibe in the material here, especially in the frontman’s vocal approach. There’s only a little over a half an hour of music to be had here, but considering how close these guys were to King Diamond and Manilla Road and Sabbat, there was obviously something here. I highly recommend this one to classic metal fans worldwide, because Powerlord seems to be one of those bands that we all seem to have missed out on. I mean, you had it all – powerful solo efforts, a formidable drum presence and a vocal command that was nearly second to none. These guys made a record that sounds exactly like what heavy metal is, the very definition of the genre in its purest form. It’s a bitter shame that this is all we’ve got… ever. Bands like Black Veil Brides can produce four or five albums and amazing acts like Powerlord barely even got this one out of the gate. Oh, metal! Where hast thou gone wrong?
(6 Tracks, 31:00)