“Poisonous Existence is Reawakening” is, for me, a pretty weak opening track. The mid section, in particular, drags. Sammy’s riffing seems to be buried under a cloak of static, Ben’s vocals are barely audible, and the drums are muffled. “Unrevelling Paradise,” with it’s speedy tremolo picking, and funeral march-like guitar melodies is a bit more interesting. It also boasts some good drum work. “Baring Teeth for Revolt” starts in bluesy territory reminiscent of New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands like Diamond Head and Saxon. Unusual territory for a Death Metal track, but it works. Things shift into more Thrash influenced territory around the 1:50 mark. The guitar solo is well played and sounds nice, but is horribly buried in the mix. “Reanimated Sacrifice” kicks things off with a tremolo picked thrash riff over a four beat snare pattern before transitioning to a half time feel for the first verse. This little change feels a bit unnecessary as it doesn’t really alter the momentum or feel of the song in any measurable way. The latter half of the song has some interesting tom fills with a nice spread across the kit, but they are (once again) somewhat buried in the mix. “Heaven’s Crumbling Walls of Pity” starts with a dissonant arpeggiated guitar figure and some simple, effecting tom tom work before giving way to a speedy 3/4 black metal affair. The verses lean on a straighter double time 4/4 thrash beat and the ubiquitous hyperblast. A decent song on the whole, but the rhythm guitar is so up front in the mix that it practically crowds out everything else.
“Cold Earth Consumed in Dying Flesh” begins with a synth laden intro rounded out by a “watery” sounding guitar. The full band comes in around the 1:00 mark playing a slow, sludgy motif. The low, guttural vocals go a long way in helping craft a dark, foreboding atmosphere. Unfortunately, the fast section at the end feels a bit tacked on. “Fbs” is a thrashy mini epic with guitar solos and rhythm changes all over the place. The highlights for me, though, were the busy riff in the opening and closing sections, as well as the bit from about 1:26 to 1:45. “Nocturnal Conjuration of the Accursed” begins with a “locked in” guitar/drum work out. The rest of the song is a mid tempo affair, but it never falls into the hokey territory of “groove metal.” The sound is a bit crisper, at least to my ears, when compared to the other tracks on the album, enabling all of the instruments to be heard clearly. This works out especially well for the drums, as there are some ride cymbal patterns that would sound horrible without a decent production. “Schadenfreude,” with its mid rangey guitar, piercing melodies, and dissonant arpeggiated sections could almost pass for straightforward Black Metal if not for the few Death Metal passages that sounded kind of forced into the song. The relentlessly fast and tight “externalize This Hidden Savagery” is a perfect closer to the album. The band shift musical motifs seamlessly without ever missing a beat or having anything sound forced together. On the whole, Constricting Rage of the Merciless is a good album, but it is held back by a muddy, muffled production. The rhythm guitar tracks just seem to overpower everything in the mix, and where the hell is the bass? There’s practically no low end on this album.
Key Songs: Baring Teeth for Revolt, Heaven’s Crumbling Walls of Pity, Externalize This Hidden Savagery
Ashes to Ashes is the full length debut by Luna. It consists of a single track called “Ashes to Ashes.” With something of this length, repetition is the enemy, and that’s what we have here: the same musical themes are repeated several times over with some hacky funeral march sections sort of arbitrarily tacked on. This is the problem of one man bands, no one is around to tell you that your ideas are horrible. What this little exercise in musical hubris yielded was 56 minutes of completely unbearable garbage. If you’ve ever wondered why music critics and “haters” exist… this is the reason why.
Key Song: the sweet silence when this thing is finally over
The Abysmal Horizon is the debut full length by Detroit, Michigan’s Konkeror. The band is classified by Metal Archives as “Progressive Death Metal,” although I think the term Melodic Death Metal would suffice. They are technical, no doubt about it, but I don’t hear much of the way of Progressive Rock influence in their music. The music itself is well composed with everything flowing seamlessly. The arrangements exploit the bands dual guitar lineup to full effect, frequently employing counterpoint and harmonized melodies. The group seems to be at its best when crafting faster tracks such as the opening “I, Monolithic” and the closer “…And the Cosms Flow Eternal” as well as “Usurpers of the Primal Womb.” I can’t help but feel that their more mid paced numbers drag a little bit. The production job helps the music very well. Every note the guitars play can be heard clearly and the drums and cymbals never blur together into an indecipherable mess.
Key Songs: I, Monolithic, Usurpers of the Primal Womb, …The Cosms Flow Eternal, Creator/Destroyer
You know that sound you make when you’re on the toilet after you’ve had a few too many boiled crawfish and perhaps a bit too much Barq’s Root Beer? Did you ever wonder what it would sound like if it were set to music? Well, wonder no more because Germany’s Infecting the Swarm are here to answer that question for you. I generally try to have these reviews maintain at least some semblance of professionalism, but in this case I have to make an exception. Despite having some decent guitar riffs in a few parts and pretty servicable drumming… once the vocalist comes in things lapse into a mess that sounds like flatulence over the entire contents of a restaurant kitchen thrown down a 60 story flight of stairs. Avoid this album at all costs if you can.
Key Songs: ???