Starting off this set of reviews is a solid Death Metal release from Vomiting Corpses. After a brief intro that sounds like some sort of new age whale song nonsense, things descend into chaos really fast. Aside from the obligatory profusion of tremolo picked riffs and blast beats, there is plenty of variation to be found here. Many of the songs follow a linear progression as opposed to the standard abacab format. Those with the ear for this type of music will also find lots of dark, melodic bits and the odd use of counterpoint. The production is clear, allowing every instrument to be heard in the mix as well as letting nuances come through. This is especially prevalent on the drum track. Double strokes and buzzes all sound clear and accent strokes can be clearly differentiated. The vocals are also clear and intelligible (relatively speaking, of course).
Key songs: Dogmas Ignored, Si Vis Pacem
“To Hold a Sabre” starts off with some spoken word nonsense in what sounds like a Dracula voice through echo. The riffing is decent, but the vocals are all over the place veering from a tuneless pseudo-operatic delivery to something that sounds like Paul Stanley doing power metal to a death growl. The drum work is respectable with the fills featuring a seamless interplay between the kick drums and tom toms. “Bloodrush” is a mid tempo Power Metal affair sort of in the vein of Iced Earth. The clean vocals are delivered much better this time around, but I feel the song could have gained a little something from losing the death growls. “Paradigm” lost its build on some memorable riffing, but lapses into a sort of vocal overkill. There doesn’t seem to be any point at which some type of vocal isn’t being delivered. What’s worse is the constant shifting between Power Metal vocals and death growls. “The Magician’s Birthday” is a weighty 8:02 and starts with some light, arpeggiated, acoustic work. During this stripped down section, the vocalist’s limitations really show. Thankfully, it doesn’t last very long. Some of the riffing from the first double time section sounds reused from the previous song. Short solo interludes showcase some fluid, articulate legato figures. Unfortunately, the production does the drums a disservice by seemingly sucking any nuance out of the performance. This is especially evident during some of the busier snare figures during the latter half of the song which, while well executed, sound flat. The title track is an incredibly mixed bag. It is particularly strong during the bits where it is attempting melodic Death Metal, but falls lifeless during the more traditional parts. “There is no Tomorrow” is possibly the album’s strongest track. A locked in Prog/Power Metal affair that sounds along the line of early Evergrey. “Where the Ashes Fell” is a dark, brutal Power Metal song that finally finds the band’s dual vocal arrangement working. The first solo seems a little out of place over the slower clean section. “Vengeance” leans on slower tempos and a light triplet feel. The death growls are kept to a minimum and it works to the song’s advantage. After a chaotic, thrashy intro, “Until We Expire” settles into an arpeggiated clean section before transitioning into a “groovy” mid tempo section and a finally a double time verse. It’s a well put together intro and the band don’t miss a step. The guitar solo is a little sketchy, but the dual lead that follows is catchy and cleanly played. The album closes off with “Mother;” another track of substantial length. With its mellow acoustic guitars, and occasional ringing, distorted power chords, it is unquestionably the obligatory metal ballad. It’s not a badly written track, but the near 9 minute run time causes it to suffer somewhat. On the whole, an interesting album that makes a valiant, if sometimes awkward attempt to meld the pomposity of Power Metal with the brutality and technical prowess of Death Metal. The band seem to do best when they keep the song lengths down a bit.
Key songs: There is No Tomorrow, Until We Expire
Warfuck “Neantification“ (2013)
An album of few notes can best be summed up in a review of few words. This sophomore release by French Grindcore duo Warfuck is at equal parts unsettling and catchy. The riffing often times leans more heavily toward the punk side of things than the Death Metal side of things. And the voice… I don’t know what the hell they were doing to that guy during the recording, but he may want to go have himself checked out for testicular torsion. To put it succinctly, Neantification is a quick and often times fun listen.
Key songs: Douleur & Vices, Abusey
This self-titled debut album comes to us from Mexico. This tongue twister of a self-titled debut consists of 9 tracks, each structured as sort of a mini epic. Structurally, the songs lean heavily on the linear style of arrangement. Each track consists of multiple themes that segue seamlessly into one another with few of them (if any) repeating. While the instrumentation and delivery is somewhat chaotic and primitive, the arrangements lend the songs a certain amount of density and bombast. The riffs lean heavily on tremolo picked figures played in a relatively high register, often in quick triplet rhythms, lending this Death Metal act somewhat of a Black Metal feel. Especially given the prevalence of 3/4 and 6/8 rhythms on the disc. While the snare drum and bass drums have a tendency to sound sort of artificial, the actual drumming is incredibly precise and definitely stands out as a positive feature. The vocals are delivered in a sort of middle range shrieking growl with a Latin-American accent, almost reminiscent of Max Cavalera in his prime. All of this leads to a concoction that is highly enjoyable and more than worth a listen.
Key songs: Leviathan’s Coronation, Necropolis Rising
Up next is an album/demo reissue by a Dutch Doom/Death Metal band named after a congenital defect of the spinal cord. What the hell is that? Is someone scratching a chalkboard? Now we’ve got what sounds kind of like someone hitting a stringed instrument with drum sticks. Oh right, it’s an intro. “Witchfire” is a slow, chunky affair reminiscent of the sound of early 90s sludge metal. “Reverse,” while still a sludgy, plodding tempo, has a bit more of a groove to it. There’s some solo work about two minutes in, unfortunately it’s practically buried under the rhythm guitar. “Purest Queen” is a lumbering behemoth of layered guitars set over a half-time groove. There’s not much variation in the song, but at only 4:30, that doesn’t really become a problem. Clocking in at almost 6 minutes is the lumbering mini epic that is “individual.” With a strong groove and plenty of riff variations, both slight and drastic, it does much to keep the listener’s attention. “Aimless” milks a single heavy riff for the entire duration. It’s not necessarily a bad song, but it’s not exactly memorable. “Gotterdammerung” is an airy number build around thick, ringing power chords. I can’t help but feel it would have benefited from the drums being a little bigger. “Verdict” has a moderately progressive arrangement that features a couple of tempo shifts. Everything flows cohesively, making it (to the ears of this reviewer) possibly the strongest track on the album. The band end things on a fast (by Doom Metal standards) note with “Die.” A good track for the most part, but the guitar sounds a little out of tune. “Outro” ends things with the reappearance of the strange theme that sounds like somebody playing a stringed instrument with drumsticks. What follows the outro are some demo tracks of “Witchfire,” “Verdict,” “Die,” and “Purest Queen.” I’m not going to bother reviewing them as they’re essentially the same as the album tracks with only some minor differences and poor production. On the whole, this is a good release which could benefit from better production. Particularly where the drums are concerned. There are songs on this album that are screaming out for a big, bottom heavy snare drum, and a sub woofing Cozy Powell-like bass drum sound.
Key songs: Verdict, Die, Individual
This “atmospheric” Black Metal release starts off in disappointment with the first track featuring an odd segue from a boring sound collage backed by a mid paced groove into something that sounds like Rammstein attempting to do Black Metal. The middle section of the song features some further attempts at being atmospheric and brooding, but just comes across as corny. Everything, from guitar to voice, is run through so many effects that it reminds one of that friend you had at 13 who started playing guitar and had to have every effects pedal in his chain active at all times. The second track starts off decently enough with a lively 12/8 figure. Some nice staccato figures come in between the first and second verse and then occasionally drift in and out behind the melody line. Track three starts with an ear-pleasing mid tempo instrumental section, before making a segue (albeit somewhat awkwardly) into a bombastic wall of reverb drenched guitars. Unfortunately, it drags somewhat during the middle section. The band would have done well to make this bit a little shorter. Aside from an odd bit in the middle that sounds like a monk chant over a clean guitar and a piano, the fourth (and self-titled) track maintains a bit of heaviness and shifts throughout and features a few rhythm shifts. The final track wastes its first minute with a sound reminiscent of Darth Vader trying to sneak up on someone in a back alley. In its heavier moments, the song showcases some nice wall of sound-like bits, as well as some occasionally technical riffing and some quick, clean drumming. There’s even a pretty good bass solo for those of you who are into that sort of thing.
Key songs: Ars Moriendi, Verite, La Singuliere Noirceur D’un Astre