Monday, 23 June 2014

Helegion - Ritualis

HELEGION - Ritualis (ATAVISM Records - MC 2014)
OK., here I have an offer for all those, who worship black metal of the old, played in its minimalistic, almost kind of primitive and harsh, raw and cold way. This is a debut release of French band called Helegion, which the ever active Atavism Records just released on cassette. Well, I must say that sometimes I do like to comeback to some of these old materials, which bands like Infernum, Judas Iscariot, Thule, Ungod, Graveland, Osculum Infame and so on and on (too many to mention) recorded and released back in the 90’s. And I mention that because “Ritualis” is reminding me such old bands / recordings… Even if stylistically it is not always exactly the same stuff, then the atmosphere and general feeling are totally like on the classic black metal releases from the 90’s! So, if you’re into them, then Helegion is for you.
And my review of “Ritualis” shall be rather short, because there’s not much to say. Cold, raw sounding, simple, minimalistic black metal, played in the classic way, mainly mid or slow paced, but also with some typical up tempo parts here and there, which will remind even some early Darkthrone... This is Helegion. What I like about “Ritualis” is that the classic black metal has been played here with passion and Helegion has enough ideas to make some interesting songs, not just a boring one tempo / one riff crap. There’s enough variety in this demo, to make it interesting; from fast parts to almost melancholic and sorrowful moments. Yes, it is simple, but not annoying primitive, if you know what I mean. With the classic Beherit cover “The Gates of Nanna” (what a boring choice, really) the whole “Ritualis” is a great offer to die hard black metal maniacs.

Final rate: 69/100

A Canorous Quintet - Reflections of the Mirror

A CANOROUS QUINTET - Reflections of the Mirror (Temple of Darkness Records - 7"EP 2012)
I’m sure most of you remember in the mid 90’s and the awesome roster of No Fashion Records. This label gathered several Swedish bands, which all played kind of melodic, but often furious black / death metal… Let me just remind you such acts like Dissection, Vinterland, Lord Belial, Sacramentum, Throne of Ahaz, A Canorous Quintet, Dawn, Ablaze My Sorrow, Decameron, The Moaning and so on and on… Obviously some of these bands were better, some worse, but generally I really liked this style and sound. A Canorous Quintet was one of the most intriguing of all, with two truly awesome albums and also quite good MCD… They split up in 1999 and then formed The Plague / This Ending, but I still like to listen to the albums of A Canorous Quintet, especially the truly amazing debut full length album “Silence of the World Beyond”. And just when I thought that I will never ever have a chance to hear anything new from those Swedes, Temple of Darkness Records puts out a 7”EP titled “Reflections of the Mirror”. The story behind this single is quite cool. It contains two songs, which were found on the old 1995 rehearsal tapes of A Canorous Quintet, when the band was composing and arranging the material for their first album. Somehow, both tracks were left behind and not included on the album and almost forgotten, until recently when they were found. Linus Norbrant (guitars), Fredrik Andersson (drums) and Marten Hansen (vocals) – the core of A Canorous Quintet - decided to record these songs finally and save them from oblivion. Damn! I think this is just excellent decision!
Why? Well, I like “Silence of the World Beyond” a lot, but I think that the songs from “Reflections of the Mirror” are probably the best, which A Canorous Quintet has ever composed / recorded! I really have no idea why both have been left behind and weren’t included to the album, but in my opinion it was a mistake, as both tracks are truly excellent. The more glad I am then that they have been recorded finally and that I was able to get a copy of this 7”EP. Yes! What an awesome stuff! The thing, which I like most about this EP is that it truly sounds like material, which could have been recorded back in the mid 90’s. The sound quality – perfect for this style in my opinion – is so characteristic for these Swedish bands I mentioned above that you couldn’t mistake it with anything else. Over 15 years have passed, but the sound of “Reflections of the Mirror” is still almost identical and it truly reminds me such “Welcome to My Last Chapter”, “The Somberlain”, “Far Away From the Sun” and obviously also “Silence of the World Beyond”. And it is awesome, because this sound was so special and corresponded perfectly with these melodic, but harsh and aggressive playing.
And I am totally happy that the time didn’t have an impact on the music and it just sounds like old classics. When recording these songs in Autumn 2011, A Canorous Quintet didn’t try to make them sound more modern and like the stuff from more recently recorded albums. “Reflections of the Mirror” feels like it was recorded back in 1995 at The Abyss Studio or Unsound and that is the only way I want them and A Canorous Quintet to sound like! Finally I must admit that both tracks, speaking of the riffs, melodies, arrangements, are just AMAZING! It is perfect melodic death / black metal, in the vein of Dissection, Sacramentum, Lord Belial, Vinterland and others… The title song is so damn good! I love how memorable it is, with the killer melodic theme, which opens the song and then when it speeds up… it is a perfect blend of aggression, ferocity and mournful, melancholic black metal. And the second track, “The Offering”, starts with an acoustic theme, which will remind you Dissection, but again, it has some killer fast parts, as well as some slower and more melodic… For me this is the essence of the old melodic black / death metal from Sweden. And all fans of the bands, which I mentioned in this review must get “Reflections of the Mirror”. I dare to say it is the finest piece of such music, which was released every since the late 90’s.

Final rate: 90/100

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Dawn - The Eternal Forest - Demo Years 91-93

DAWN - The Eternal Forest - Demo Years 91-93 (CENTURY MEDIA - LP 2014)
And yet another compilation, which gathers early demo recordings of an old, long time inactive band. Yes, I know that some of you may feel already pushed away by all those reissues, etc, but who cares… nobody stands there with a gun pointed to your head, forcing you to buy this stuff. I personally like many of these compilations, old album reissues, boxes or whatever, so I also buy many of them. Not all, as some are of bands, which just don’t mean anything to me, but quite few are just worthy to get reminded. Here Century Media picked up an old Swedish crew once called Dawn. And once I have found out that there will a demo compilation of Dawn I knew I will have to get a copy… Why? Well, I really like Dawn’s “Slaughtersun (Crown of the Triarchy)” album! And also the two previous to “Slaughtersun” materials are great. But I know Dawn as a melodic black metal band, so I was really curious about their beginnings, about the three demos, which they did before “Nær Sólen Gar Niþer For Evogher” album – an album, which brought a change of style, from typical death metal to more black metal stuff. I never had a chance to hear any of Dawn demos until this compilation was released, so this is why I just had to get myself a copy. “The Eternal Forest - Demo Years 91-93” came in various versions, starting with the CD and two vinyl versions, one of which I got for myself. The vinyl may not be released in any special way; it is very simple, actually, contains just an insert with the demo covers, info about them plus several archival photographs. Nothing more, really, but I guess it is decent enough… So, let’s check what was Dawn like in their early beginnings!
“The Eternal Forest - Demo Years 91-93” exhumes three demos: “Demo 1” from 1992, “Apparition” from 1992 and “Promotional demo” from 1993. The second of these demos was also released as a split with totally unknown Mexican Pyphomgertum and for this split it was renamed to “The Eternal Forest”, so now you know where is the title for the whole compilation coming from. In total we have 45 minutes of old school stuff, so let’s go!
Everything starts with “The Eternal Forest / The Apparition” demo and damn! This is just amazing, godly stuff! I have heard many positive and great opinions on this demo and I can finally hear what these people meant. It truly is a superb material, it is vicious, aggressive, often fast but also relatively melodic and dark death metal, which I think I can compare to such bands as Uncanny and Fulmination and even slightly to such Swedes as (early) Dissection and Sacramentum, which is no surprise I guess. Anyway, this is a superb demo, for example the first song “In the Depths of My Soul” sounds so damn awesome that I can only say it sounds perfect to me. And then there are also another great hymns like “Incantation of Unholyness”, which starts with great melodic theme and then speeds up into some fuckin furious death metal. I guess that when I listen to “Incantation of Unholyness” I can mention only one thing, which I think could have been done better and that is the sound and loudness of the snare drum in the fast moments. It is not totally wrong, but maybe if it was more quiet then it would be better. Anyway, “The Eternal Frost / The Apparition” is great. All songs sound fantastic, I love the riffs, the arrangements, the atmosphere and ferocity of the music of Dawn on this demo, so yes, even if it was only for this one demo, this compilation is already worthy to get. And if you like melodic, but vicious and fast death metal in the classic Swedish vein, then it will sound awesome to you as well.
Side B brings the two remaining demos, starting with “Promotional Demo” from 1993. This demo sounds alike to “The Apparition”, so the similarities to the melodic death / black metal and bands like Uncanny, Fulmination, Sacramentum, A Canorous Quintet and even to a very early Marduk will be audible, of corpse. I must say that I again like the music a lot, but also production here is just awesome, as this time the band recorded their songs at the famous Unisound Studio with Dan Swano and that was always a sign for something great! “In the Depths of My Soul” is the best song here, I think, but the entire material is impressive and classic Swedish death metal demo from the old days.
Finally the last demo… well, this one sounds most rough and archaic, if I can say so. The sound quality is typical for the old death metal demos and also the music is very typical for these old days. When compared to the future recordings, you’ll realize there are no melodies as much, no harmonies or black metal atmosphere, but the whole is just a shredding brutality (as their old flyer was saying hehe!), sometimes it’s almost kind of grinding death metal. It is in the same vein as demos from Abhorrence, Convulse and all the other Scandinavian stuff. There are just two songs on that demo, but I like it a lot. I like the feeling of such old demo tapes. They don’t need to be original or professionally recorded; usually it is the atmosphere and that energy, what makes them sound so damn awesome and special. And it definitely is the case here with Dawn’s debut demo.
To conclude then – yet another fine compilation. This LP may not be released in such an impressive way say Abhorrence “Completely Vulgar”, but who cares… The music is truly awesome here!

Final rate: 80/100

Necromantia - The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven

NECROMANTIA - The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven (DOCKYARD 1 Records - CD 2007)
Necromantia is a band, which I think every black metal maniac must know and worship. Yes, you must, because this is one of the most unique, characteristic and genius bands that the scene has ever spawned. I always liked them more than all other Greek devil worshippers and even if the Scandinavian scene is my favourite, then this one band is also in my top favourites list. I truly worship all their early recordings, finishing off with the brilliant “IV: Malice”… Sadly, after this album I lost Necromantia from the sight for few years, so I have never been able to hear the stuff they released in the 2000’s. But finally I managed to get “The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven” album – not on vinyl, which I would love to have, as I collected all early Necromantia stuff on LP – but on CD, but it’s better this way than nothing. I had huge expectations towards this album and so, did Necromantia meet them? Well, not entirely.
But let’s clear all things out. I am not saying that “The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven” is bad album. No fuckin way! It is still damn cool, classic Necromantia stuff! One can recognize the band’s style from the first minute; style, which is so characteristic, so unique and also so influential and possessing. They always had their own style and sound; using two distorted bass guitars (one of which is 8 string bass!), instead of the typical guitars must force a special way of playing, special arrangements and finally also a special, exceptional sound. This way of playing was crafted already in the band’s early demos and then only perfected through the years. On “The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven” Necromantia still sounds like the same band, but obviously they have progressed a lot and on this album their music is first and foremost way more symphonic than in the old days. The classical, symphonic music must have influenced the band in a great way, so “The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven” is filled with orchestral keyboards, some quotes from the classical music (already in the opening, title, track you can hear one)… The song structures and arrangements are closer to the classical music than to black metal… a lot is going on in every song, the music is not as simple and it may not even be an easy listen, it does require few listening sessions if you want to comprehend everything and get devoured by these sounds... but in the end it all works. Maybe not with the best results in Necromantia history, but surely they didn’t go below the high level of quality, which was raised high already in the early 90’s.
I guess that the style of nowadays Necromantia can bring two reactions: first is the enjoyment, as the band really creates some brilliant and amazing songs. But two, would be that the style deprived Necromantia of that evil, occult and truly damn dark atmosphere, which was present on their early albums. Surely, the band still base the whole concept on the occultism, alchemy, Satanism and such, but if you listen to the early LPs such as “Scarlet Evil Witching Black” you just feel HIS presence, the atmosphere of this record is just possessing… “The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven” may not have that… It doesn’t mean it is a bad album, it is just slightly different. There is a collection of great songs, starting with the very classic Greek black metal anthem “Order of the Black Sphinx” and later going through some more excellent and memorable songs, of which I especially like such “For the Elder Magi: I - Eibon the Necromancer”, which also the fans of such Septic Flesh will like totally. Or listen to the genius of “Knights of the Black and White Eagle”! There is a lot going on in every track; orchestral parts have been mixed with some furious black metal, all played in the Necromantical way… keyboards are playing a huge role in the music and fill up the entire atmosphere in great way. Finally the vocals are mainly a typical shriek of the Magus Wampyr Daoloth (I do admit that on this LP not always they sound that good…), but here and there it is mixed with more choral, clean singing to underline the epic side of the music. All in all, Necromantia once more has provided us with a good album, which is so different to the majority of stuff, which is released nowadays. I cannot say that it is my favourite album of the band, it has many ups, but also some downs, but generally I think it truly is good effort. Such songs as ‘Knights of the Black and White Eagle” and “Les Litanies de Satan - Act II: From Hell “ are prove for Necromantia genius.
Praise to the mighty Eibon!
Standout tracks: “For the Elder Magi: I - Eibon the Necromancer”, “Knights of the Black and White Eagle”, “Les Litanies de Satan - Act II: From Hell”

Final rate: 70/100

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Thunderbolt - Inhuman Ritual Massmurder

THUNDERBOLT - Inhuman Ritual Massmurder (AGONIA Records - LP 2005)
At some point, back in the early 00’s I thought that the black metal scene is slowly dying, bringing less and less really exciting and worthy bands. Of corpse the history turned out totally different and now I can say that the devil’s spawn has bred a lot of totally killer and amazing bands, but back then… well, only very few were that good. Things started to change first in Sweden, then also in some other countries, like Germania and Norway… and finally also Poland has spawned some killer troops of hell! And Thunderbolt is one of the best bands that this country has ever spat out. And their 2004’s album “Inhuman Ritual Massmurder” belongs to my top three of the best Polish black metal records ever! Yes! Of corpse this is already Thunderbolt’s third LP and the two previous ones are also damn killer, but I feel like with “Inhuman Ritual Massmurder”, musically, the band reached a new level. Everything, what you can hear on this album sounds fantastic and is simply a sign of great development and progression in Thunderbolt’s music. I don’t know if it’s due to the line up, which recorded “Inhuman Ritual Massmurder” and especially the addition of Necrosodom, who’s written half of this record together with Paimon… and you know, Necrosodom is a killer dude, who’s been blessed by the devil with ability to create some killer, furious metal – proven in such bands as Anima Damnata and Deus Mortem. Anyway, “Inhuman Ritual Massmurder” does sound a level above the earlier albums. The production is way better, more professional if I can say so, as it is cleaner, but remains aggressive and harsh at the same time. The whole performance of the band is so tight, so precise, especially when Thunderbolt plays these furiously fast songs… and damn, most of this album is fast he! Is just feels like it’s not that sort of totally underground, primitive, cold black metal anymore, but it’s a new quality and also something more original, with its own style, what only makes the whole listen of “Inhuman Ritual Massmurder” more enjoyable.
One of the greatest strengths of “Inhuman Ritual Massmurder” is how powerful this album is. It really is a total blast, a real fuckin punch in the face. This music erupts with energy and its intensity will wake even the dead. As I already mentioned a great part of the record is fast and I mean FAST! The band is excellent at what they do; killer, sharp riffs, furious vocals of Paimon and fast, precise drumming of Stormblast. Damn, it just couldn’t be any better in my opinion. The album is quite technical for black metal, in a way that there’re fairly few tempo changes within every song, plus the arrangements are not so simple and basic anymore… just listen to the guitars, the drums… And unlike bands such as Marduk or Setherial, which at some point sounded all the same and with no diversity, Thunderbolt offers a mixture of different parts. So, it is not just a sonic attack, but there’s plenty of room for slower fragments, some, which even hold more harmonic riffs here and there. And some even have keyboards (like “May the Dead Rise and Smell the Incense”, one part in “Chaos Reigns over Megiddo” and so on and on)… But this instrument plays more a background role, luckily, so it is nothing like orchestral black metal or whatever, but just simple tones, which are playing a second role to the wall of guitars, to fill the gap and underline the atmosphere of Thunderbolt music. There are even two purely acoustic, instrumental songs, on each side of the vinyl, so they are moments of calmness and time, when you can capture a breath before another unstoppable attack of uncontrolled, furiously fast black metal will erupt and cause some devastation. Finally there are even these slower songs like “Impious Bewitchments of Aberration” and “Ashes to Ashes… Death to All” (OK, this is half slow, half fuckin fast track! hehe), which are insanely possessing and it is almost impossible to resist to their riffs, their atmosphere and everything else. At some point I even dare to say that some fragments of “Inhuman Ritual Massmurder” are almost catchy or at least memorable, so they possess you and will stay in your mind for long!
All in all I must say that I am highly impressed by “Inhuman Ritual Massmurder”. It’s been ten years since the release of this excellent album and it still makes a huge impact, being one of the strongest black metal releases in the history of Polish extreme music. It’s an absolute must to own, if you ask me and damn… Do I need to write anything else? No, it’s enough. Join the ritual then and sharpen your knives. At the same time I do must admit that the album seems to be criminally underrated and I feel like not many black metal maniacs know the band, remember it and this album (especially from outside of Poland!), which is a shame. You have no idea what you’re missing.
Standout tracks: “Inhuman Ritual Massmurder”, “Ashes to Ashes… Death to All”, “Impious Bewitchments of Aberration”, “Warmageddon (Genocide Cult)”

Final rate: 90/100

Hazael - When the Sun Is Dead

HAZAEL - When the Sun Is Dead (BARON - MC 1996)
Let’s go back in time, to the early 90’s… I must say that in the years 1991-93 I was hugely impressed by some Polish death metal bands. OK, I probably still am hehe, but back then these Polish cassettes were cheaper than imported ones, so I tried to get almost every tape from such Carnage Records. And loves all those demos and albums from Ghost, Betrayer, Violent Dirge, Vader, Hazael, Armagedon, Hate, etc. Hazael with “Clairvoyant” and “Thor” really became one of my real favourites. But the common opinion is that the band has finished with “Thor” and that after this album, when they got signed to Century Media, they just lost it and didn’t have anything interesting anymore to offer. Well, I suppose it is all a matter of everyone’s taste, but I would not agree with this theory fully. Sure, the best what Hazael had to offer was already on “Clairvoyant” and “Thor”, but the follow up, mini album titled “When the Sun Is Dead” is still damn good. And definitely it is not unworthy, in my opinion. And definitely it is way better than “The Kiss and Other Movements”.
I already mentioned that Hazael has changed after the “Thor” album. And yes, they rally softened their sound. The way Hazael developed and changed since the “Thor” album reminds me actually the progression, which you could notice in some Scandinavian bands; such as Cemetery and the way they changed between “An Evil Shade of Grey” and “Godless Beauty” albums. Or how some Finnish bands were changing, like Amorphis, Convulse… Changed into softer, more melodic and way less brutal and less death metal sound.
And the same can be said about Hazael. Luckily, there are still some traces of the past style of Hazael present on “When the Sun Is Dead”. So, it is still a music slightly influenced by the classic Swedish death metal and this is why I think this EP is still worthy to be listened to. Most importantly I think “When the Sun Is Dead” contains a re-recorded / re-arranged version of the song titled “Wyrd”, which originally was on “Thor”. I am not sure for the reasons of re-recording of this track, but damn… it is truly fantastic tune and I love it. Both versions – from “Thor” and from “When the Sun Is Dead” – are excellent, both are totally infectious and memorable, with this brilliant main melodic theme, which sticks in the listener’s mind for good… Great arrangements, great ideas and just incredibly good song. Also the following track “In-Tro-Out” is an instant classic, again with a killer melodic theme and some very good riffs and arrangements. Sure, the vocals of Tomasz Dobrzeniecki may not be the aggressive growls anymore – and that is another similarity to the bands I mentioned above, like Cemetary and Convulse, who swapped the death metal growl for more understandable and less brutal vocals… But I can honestly say that I am not so bothered about that, as it still sounds pretty good, at least on most of the tracks from “When the Sun Is Dead” (I think I can say that only some vocal arrangements in “My Blood Is…” are bad).
So, these two are my favourite songs. But also such “Pride-a-Morphosis” and “Behind My Mask” are cool… On the other hand I really don’t like “My Blood Is…”. Partly for the vocals, what I mentioned already. But this song has just uninteresting riffs and really doesn’t bring anything what I would enjoy. It is close to the Swedish band called Furbowl, I think, but nowhere as good, really. Luckily the very last song, “Revenge Desire” is great again, one of the best on the EP and it’s kind of melodic stuff, in the vein of “Godless Beauty”.
So, the change in the sound of Hazael did happen. The band didn’t progress in good direction, in my opinion, I definitely like their “Clairvoyant” demo and “Thor” CD more than the last recordings, but “When the Sun Is Dead” is still worthy and interesting, in my opinion. This EP has some moments of pure genius, some totally memorable and thrilling parts… but let’s be honest, there are also some less exciting fragments. In the end though I think that the fans of earlier Hazael recordings should still like it. I do.
Standout tracks: “Wyrd”, “In-Tro-Naut”, “Revenge Desire”

Final rate: 70/100

Monday, 16 June 2014

Macabra / Father Befouled - Split EP

MACABRA / FATHER BEFOULED - Split EP (Chalice of Blood Angel Productions - 7"EP 2013)
This 7”vinyl split was something what I wanted to get for quite a while now and it wasn’t so easy, especially as the vinyl is limited to barely 300 copies. Finally though I found one and didn’t even think twice, just bought it immediately! Here is a 7” split between Macabra and Father Befouled, released by Chalice of Blood Angel Productions in 2012. And I don’t hide the fact that I wanted this piece of bone white wax mainly because of Father Befouled, who are such an awesome band! And Macabra is more like something additional for me, but it is always cool also to find out new bands, so here was a chance for me, because I have never heard their music before.
And with Macabra I want to start. Well, the band – formed by Mark Riddick – surprised me quite much, with their eerie death metal. “Sacerdote Perverso” is brutal and heavy; more so, here and there it’s fast but mainly just slow and doomy with some almost mournful melodies… And immediately it creates this atmosphere of obscurity and horror. Damn, it is really cool. Macabra uses some extras to enhance the sound, with some choral vocals, keyboards, church bells, etc, even the Spanish lyrics make it sound unique. So, really everything here is just damn nice and if you’re a maniac of doomy, obscure, sinister death metal, then I bet this band will intrigue you immediately. It did me!
And as for Father Befouled, the first and most important thing, which we must say here is that their song “Profane Grace of the Trinity” was the first recording ever they did with Antichristus, to whom this EP is dedicated (ex drummer, who committed suicide in 2009). The song itself is quite typical for Father Befouled, which means I love it! Hehe! It has the obscure atmosphere of other recordings of Father Befouled, it is again mainly based on slow pace, mixed with some faster parts, what all together sounds like truly monumental, dense, crushing wall of sound. And I don’t even have to remind you about the disturbing, kind of sacrilegious, obscure atmosphere it evokes… All in all, Father Befouled is just killer.

Final rate: 80/100

Archives of the Dead part XIII: Acheron - Promo 1992

Archives of the Dead part XIII: Acheron - Promo 1992
Line up: Simon Dower (vocals), Tim Aldridge (guitars), Justin Warnes (bass), David Abbott (guitars), Craig Bailey (drums)
I am sure that everyone is familiar with the US death / black metal cult called Acheron. But I wonder how many of you know about an Australian Acheron? Not many, I suppose. But if I mention Abramelin, then some may have a better clue, as Abramelin released two decent albums back in the 90’s. Acheron is more or less a predecessor to Abramelin; they were spawned under this name back in 1988 and released a demo and 7”EP, finally they also recorded this Promo 1992 and then changed the name to Abramelin and released another demo. It is obvious that the American Acheron, who at the time already had „Rites of the Black Mass” released, forced this change of the moniker. Let’s be honest though – neither Abramelin and Acheron have ever got a huge fame. In my opinion they were just one of many decent, but relatively mediocre bands. And this demo proves me right, really.
Yes, it is solid and decent slab of classic death metal but nothing more, nothing less. Very typical music, very typical arrangements, harsh, not really impressive production… I guess there are too many of these “typical” and “good, but mediocre” things, which I can say about this Promo. Surprisingly though this recording was saved from perishing and I even enjoy listening to it now, over 20 years after its recording. I’m not blown away, but an enjoyment is there. I guess that the biggest problem with this demo is that the riffing is sometimes just dull and unimpressive, so… hmm, almost boring sometimes and it lacks that spark and powerful touch, which every death metal recording should have. But after some listens I can say that the whole “Promo 1992” is not so bad… a typical relict of the old days, which nowadays sounds archaic, but nice. Among all four songs especially “Final Biopsy” caught my attention, for its truly awesome slow, heavy, chunky opening theme, which later turns into some nice brutal, sometimes also fast death metal monster. “Human Abattoir” has also some really nice moments there, it is filled with brutality and thick, massive riffing.
All songs, which were recorded under the name Acheron has recently been exhumed and together with the entire Abramelin catalogue have been released on compilation CD/LP “Transgressing the Afterlife”, in case you wanted to check what was this “Promo 1992” and other Acheron recordings like. More so, two of the songs from this “Promo 1992” has later been re-recorded already under the Abramelin name on “Transgression from Acheron” EP and “Human Abattoir” was even on their debut self titled debut album from 1995. 
Final rate: 65/100

Archives of the Dead part XII: Abyssals - Demo 1994

Archives of the Dead part XII: Abyssals - Demo 1994
Line up: François Dauvergne (drums), Michel Dumas (guitars), Eric (vocals, bass)
Recorded and mixed by Didier Boyat and Abyssals in June 1994 at the AGLCR studio in Bourg-en-Bresse, France.
Here is a band, which I totally recommend and which is worth being exhumed from the old, perished coffin. And it’s a band, which before I honestly had not a great knowledge about, as they only did just this one and only demo recording, which was done back in 1994… and that was the first and only sign of existence of French Abyssals! A small research helped me to find out that the roots of Abyssals go back to the mid 80’s, when band Mutilator was formed / later known also as Mutilated. This group has released some more demos, before changing the name in 1993 for Abyssals. More so, I managed to contact the guy from all these bands, Michel Dumas. Nowadays he plays in new band, The Seven Gates. He told me that the whole Abyssals material contains riffs and bits from the Mutilated days, like for example the song “Evil Scriptures” was already written when the band was still called Mutilated. Anyway, I definitely must find out some more about the whole history, I also need to get a compilation LP of Mutilated titled “In Memoriam”, which was released in 2013! Why? I feel truly impressed by this Abyssals demo and would love to get to know more about this mysterious act. Yes! This demo is one of those amazing jewels from the old days, which are so unknown and almost forgotten, but which I’m crushed by and it doesn’t matter if the band is so unknown and anonymous or that they never were signed by a label and achieved anything spectacular. For me the music counts and in case of such bands as Abyssals and their 1994 demo, I can only speak in excitement for this music was KILLER!
When listening to Abyssals, everyone will have the right to think of one killer legendary band, which must have influenced those French maniacs in extreme way – Morbid Angel! Yes, and I obviously mean Morbid’s early recordings – demos and first two albums. Anyway, it doesn’t matter to me if Abyssals sounded so extremely unoriginal, almost copied some of the Morbid Angel’s characteristics. Damn, even the production of this demo is very alike. What matters to me is how awesome and killer this demo is, how awesome it sounds, how lethal it is. Aaarrrggghhhh! I just love those riffs, that dark, evil atmosphere, amazing drumming, killer riffs, sick solos and vicious vocals. It is “Altars of Madness” and “Abominations of Desolation” once again! For me such “Altars…” is the BEST death metal EVER, so if a small band like Abyssals managed to record a demo back in 1994, which is so infected by it and more so, quality wise it is so brilliant, I have nothing more to desire. Maybe if it only had more songs, as there are just three anthems of death! But such tracks as “Evil Scriptures” and “Scarified” are the essence of such evil, utterly devastating Morbid Angel-esque death metal. Let me write this again – Abyssals did excellent job here; these riffs are so powerful, great solos, vocals... Very well arranged and composed death metal! How come then something so superb has never been taken anywhere further, I mean why Abyssals has never released an album? Nowadays if we get a band which plays in this style of music – like one of my favourites, Coffin Texts – then we are all dying in excitement and they get killer reviews around. But it seems like maybe back in the mid 90’s no one was as impressed by it, strangely. Because really Abyssals was not just another mediocre band, in my opinion.
Yeah, Abyssals along with such Purulence, Arius and Beyond Fear belong to my greatest discoveries of the recent months, when speaking of the ancient demos of little known bands from the old days. So, totally recommended stuff! Listen to their awesome music! And I am in search for the Mutilated demo compilation now! Arrrghhhh!
Final rate: 90/100

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Bestial Raids - Reversed Black Trinity

BESTIAL RAIDS - Reversed Black Trinity
I don’t hide the fact that the so-called bestial war black / death metal or however you call it, has never been my truly favourite thing. OK., there are several bands from this music, which I like a lot, but most are irritating me, because like no other subgenre of metal, this one gathers lots of useless crap, dickheads, who have nothing interesting to say and more so, this music becomes repetitive and boring like no other. Not to mention the fact that so often it is just unlistenable due to chaotic, primitive production (but that again depends on the music – if the music is good and fits such production, then it can be something truly killer). So, only very few bands are there, which I honestly like… And Polish Bestial Raids is one of them! Yes, I am mostly a fan of their second full length album “Prime Evil Damnation”, but both demos as well as the debut LP “Reversed Black Trinity” are also truly killer.
And here I want to write some words about “Reversed Black Trinity”. But this review will be rather short, as such music doesn’t need many introductions and too many words of wisdom to describe it. If I simply call it total black metal devastation, sonic annihilation, chaotic and barbaric, violent black / death metal, composed by many vicious, fast and chaotic means with horrid, ghastly vocals, then it will be enough. Of corpse “Reversed Black Trinity” is not fast all the time, there are many killer slower parts, which for me are the essence and best pieces on the album, especially such as the chorus part in “Unholy Spirit Diabolos”, with the words “rise… rise… rise… Diabolos!” – that just sounds awesome. But “Reversed Black Trinity” has more such phenomenal moments… and all in all I just worship this evil, obscure atmosphere, which Bestial Raids creates in their music. For me their music is way more interesting than 99% of the bands from this style and I don’t really care whether you agree with me or not. I say so also because the production here is raw and filthy, but not too primitive… it is heavy and powerful and you can still understand what Bestial Raids is playing. And such anthems of death as “Unholy Spirit Diabolos”, “Throne of Satanas” (killer opening theme!) and “Order of Doom” are just killer. Enough! Submit to Satan, obey the Beast!
Standout tracks: “Unholy Spirit Diabolos”, “Throne of Satanas”
Final rate: 80/100

Incarnated - Try Before Die

Some of you may be familiar with the scene in Białystok, Poland, which brought us many, mostly grinding, extreme metal bands, especially the legendary Dead Infection. Among all those bands there’s also Incarnated… I guess they are not so well known, especially outside of Poland, but they have been bringing slaughter and bloodbath already for few years and released several cool materials. And would you believe if I say that their music is heavily infected by the Swedish sound hehe? But don’t worry, Incarnated is not yet another band, which wants to jump on the wagon of the current trends… they’ve been playing this already for a longer time. There’re two albums released back in 2001 and 2006, some splits… And here is their newest effort, an album titled “Try Before Die”! And it is great news; the timing for the release of “Try Before Die” couldn’t be better and more so, the album is so solid and good that it may give Incarnated some more recognition in the scene. Which I hope they’ll get! I like the album… and probably just one thing bothers me and it is a truly awful artwork. I never understood what is the point in having all these nasty, gory, a’la early Carcass photos on the cover. It just looks bad. OK., some ultra brutal gore, grind bands may find it as suitable, but why Incarnated?? Will need to ask them about it hehe. Of course black metal bands will have a typical satanic image, old school bands will often have a typical horror / zombie artwork… There are many characteristic things for every sub genre, but I just don’t like the artwork for “Try Before Die” – period!
Luckily musically the album is top notch. You must realize though that it may not actually be a typical Swedish death metal affair. Sure, Incarnated has the classic sound – just listen to the killer guitar tone. It is Sverige! But then musically if you would expect to hear the typical Swedish harmonies, atmospheric parts and riffs in the vein of Entombed, then you may not find them here. Incarnated is more like a mixture of the Swedish sound, with some Swedish riffs and even a bit of groove with the brutal death metal, even grind. And with the music, which they have recorded on “Try Before Die” they actually remind me especially one band… which is also Swedish hehe! And they are General Surgery – my personal gods of grind! So, expect a total, fast and brutal death metal. Expect an unstoppable riffing slaughter, expect your ears to bleed! Yes, Incarnated doesn’t waste time for sweet, atmospheric music and just grinds like crazy. Every song on the album is uncompromising, is brutal and is able to rip the guts out, with these riffs and low, repulsive vocals. From the first song “Zombieland” till the last one it is a constant massacre. You know, we have this nice word here in Poland, which fits this music perfectly. This word is “nakurw”. No idea how can I translate it into English to give it its sense, but for me “Try Before Die” is a constant, killer “nakurw”, from start till finish. Some may point out that quite often the music seems to be too one dimensional, with the same tempos, similar riffs and vocal arrangements… maybe yes, but it isn’t something what could affect the whole listening experience too much, at least in my opinion.
And that’s all you really need to know about new Incarnated. Brutal, grinding death metal with Swedish sound, reminiscent of bands like General Surgery, Grave and a little bit Dismember (but with way smaller accent on the melodic side of this music)… A headache for your neighbours guaranteed, hehe!
Standout tracks: “Zombieland”, “Second Side (Out of Mind)”, “My Brother Cain”
Final rate: 70/100

Monday, 9 June 2014

Entombed - Crawl

And here is something special and something what is really perfect for the current times, when so many bands, so many labels, zines and maniacs adore new bands, which rip the flesh of old styled death metal. It’s special, because even though many, many of these newer bands are totally killer and I support them, still there’s nothing better than the originals! And here is one of these original jewels recorded by one of the most important and greatest death metal bands from the old days. This is “Crawl” EP of Entombed! Not necessarily the most obvious choice from this band (most of maniacs will rather pick up “Left Hand Path” or “Clandestine” or demo plus Nihilist demos), but I suppose that the true collectors of all these ancient death metal relics will have this MLP and will agree that it really is one of the best Entombed releases. Sure, these were quite hard days for the band… they had a killer debut album released, tours were played and all of a sudden a disagreement between LG Petrov and Nicke Andersson happened, what led to the split up with the vocalist. For “Crawl” the band hired Nirvana 2002 vocalist Orvar Safstrom… and you know what? I like his vocals so much that I wish he actually stayed with Entombed for longer, maybe recorded also “Clandestine” with them and later also some other albums… who knows how would the band sound then? But no, Entombed had to hire the useless Johnny Dordjevic, who couldn’t even sing on the album (by the way, I think that Nicke Andersson did good job on “Clandestine”). But that’s another story. Here we’re talking about “Crawl” and yes, for me this MLP, along with “Left Hand Path” is the best stuff, which was released with Entombed logo.
There are just three songs here, but what classics are they! Side A contains the title song and definitely for me it is one of the best songs in the entire Entombed career. So damn vicious, brutal and memorable; so killer riffs and vocal parts! It is a perfect death metal tune! And more so, I must say that I even like this MLP version of it more than the one, which you can find on “Clandestine” album! And then side B contains “Forsaken”, which is kind of exclusive song for this MLP – very good one, indeed, classic Entombed! – and a new version of “Bitter Loss”, which originally appeared on “Left Hand Path”. I’m not really sure for the reasons why Entombed decided to record this song, not something different, but who cares… it is another classic Entombed tune for me and in this version with Orvar on vocals it just kicks ass! And that’s all I really want to say about “Crawl”. It is a fantastic material, quite difficult to get on vinyl, but I really like it a lot and consider it to be one of the best Swedish death metal jewels from the old days.
Final rate: 90/100

Markiz de Sade - Jeckyll and Hyde

MARKIZ DE SADE - Jeckyll and Hyde (Self financed demo 2014)
Markiz de Sade is Polish heavy / thrash metal band, which originally was formed way back in 1984 and then split up in 1987, only to return in 2008. Old, old history! Back in the 80’s they’ve released only one demo, while now in the 00’s they already have couple of demos and a full length album, so this is a serious comeback, not just the one off thing. And “Jeckyll and Hyde” is the newest recording of Markiz de Sade, made four years after “Sen Schizofrenika” album and after some serious line up perturbations. And the band sent me a copy of the demo for review, so here I am listening to their music… And to be honest, I’ve never actually listened to Markiz de Sade music before, but I knew what sort of music they perform… And well, I also knew that it may not really be my cup of beer… and I was right hehe!
I don’t want to say that I don’t find anything entertaining in “Jeckyll and Hyde”. First off, I really like the production of the demo, which I think fits great to such thrashing metal devastation. Nice guitar tone, cool drums… Yes, good! Then there are some truly fine and great riffs, in basically every song there’s a part, which I really like, especially in the title song or in “Radio”… but then there are also many moments of boredom, especially when Markiz de Sade goes into slower or more melodic playing. And finally I really have some doubts about the vocals. It really takes time to get used to them, but also I don’t think that every part sang by the only original Markiz member Andrzej Mrowiec, is that good and sounds right… Sometimes his voice is almost annoying. Not terrible, but also not quite in my taste.
So, all in all, “Jeckyll and Hyde” has its ups and downs. Some cool, thrashing, sharp as razor riffs, but also some disturbing vocals and moments of boredom. All together, the demo contains four tracks and I am happy about that, as a longer material would be more difficult to swallow by me. I guess though that die hard thrash maniacs may like it way more than I do.
Final rate: 60/100

ProFanatism - Painful Incarnations out already!

ProFanation - Painful Incarnations is out on CD!!!
I have already reviewed ProFanatism’s debut material “Painful Incarnations” few weeks ago, before it even was released, as my good friend Hidden sent me a copy of unreleased material. Finally though Dark Omens Productions has released the whole demo on CD and I can really recommend you this stuff! It is damn great black metal, in the Norwegian way, reminding me some of the last Gehenna albums, so you can expect something cold, harsh and kind of misanthropic, with some awesome riffs (especially the first two songs), which do not avoid also the melody… So, it is not just about harshness and devastation, but also about creating a proper, dark atmosphere… Which I can say that ProFanatism succeeded totally. Well done material, sadly only three songs are here, but it is enough to convince me and to wait for some more cool stuff from the band. Recommended. Order your copy at Dark Omens Prod, then!,

Monday, 2 June 2014

Coldblood - Chronology of Satanic Events

COLDBLOOD - Chronology of Satanic Events (DISTRO ROCK - CD 2013)
Another fine and fierce Brazilian attack is coming, straight from the pits of Rio! Damn, I thought that all what people do in there is dancing samba, looking at and fucking bitches and more so, playing football on the beach. But no, there are also many die hard maniacs, who don’t care about all that and would rather spend their time in the filthy basements, playing some killer death metal. And yes, the number of brilliant death metal bands in Brazil is truly impressive. And here is yet another fine name, which I want to recommend and which you need to support – Coldblood! But I am quite late here, because this isn’t a new band at all. Fuck, “Chronology of Satanic Events” is already their second full length album, on top of which Coldblood has also released several demos and splits and EP! It is me then, who’s late and who never heard them before. But as they say “Better later than never” and now I can truly enjoy some crushing, lethal sounds!
To define the style and sound of what you can find on “Chronology of Satanic Events” is pretty easy, I suppose. Obviously the band holds some of these Brazilian death metal values, which bands like Krisiun, Abhorrence, Rebaelliun, Nephasth and some others have shared – and it is this dark, satanic atmosphere, this feeling, certain harshness and really violent, relentless attitude. And then there are the influences from not just these Brazilian crews, but also from such more popular bands like Morbid Angel, Deicide, Vader, Monstrosity and Immolation. Some traces of each of them you could fine here and there, depending what song we’re talking about, like for example “Hell Transcendental” reminds me of Vader, while the title track is closer to very speeded up version of Immolation meets recent Deicide. But comparisons aside, all you really need to know in the first place is that Coldblood performs some truly devastating death metal and with that satanic aura, which surrounds their music they just take no prisoners and shred from start to finish.
I guess I can only speak in superlatives about “Chronology of Satanic Events”. And if Coldblood doesn’t discover anything new and extraordinary, then it is not something what I would care at all. What matters is the quality of death metal on the album. And that Coldblood really built a great wall of destructive and powerful noise, which blows out of the speakers with no mercy, taking no prisoners. I just like these throat cutting riffs, that brutality and atmosphere of “Chronology of Satanic Events”; especially as Coldblood has the aggression, power and ferocity which are so important for such death metal record. And then they also have riffs or parts, which are memorable and which will stick in your head for damn long, making sure you’re banging the skull like a fuckin’ maniac or some other freak. With the arrangements of every instrument, as well as the vocals and finally also with damn good production, “Chronology of Satanic Events” feels almost like a complete death metal beast. And as such, I can only recommend you these Brazilian fuckers. I know that many of you may already be familiar with their music, but if it’s the first time you hear about Coldblood and you really feel like you’re in the mood for some neckbreaking, crushing South American death metal – this is a damn good offer for you. Full recommendation!
Standout tracks:
“Hell Transcendental”, “Anti-christian Neo-Sectarianism”, “Cross Inversion”
Final rate: 80/100

Celebration - Performers My Soul

CELEBRATION - Performers My Soul (BLACK FOX - CD 2014)
We live in times, when record labels take a part in rat race; they want to exhume more and more of old recordings, from the 80’s and 90’s, digging them out of the graves, giving them the second life, reminding us some forgotten bands… A lot of old demos, EPs, even full length albums have been re-released on CDs or LPs. And here’s another such relict of the past. The band is called Celebration and they’re from Bialystok, Poland. Well, unlike such cults as Betrayer, Hazael, Ghost, Violent Dirge or Armagedon – which back in the early 90’s belonged to my true favourites – my attitude towards Celebration is less personal, enthusiastic and important, since they never belonged to my favourite acts. Sure, I know their “Dead Bodies Massacre” demo from 1991 a little, but it just has never been one of those truly killer and influential materials. I just consider Celebration to be one of those more mediocre bands, really… Sure, they have a part in the Polish death metal history, but they have never been so well known and worshipped as for example the bands, which I mentioned above. “Dead Bodies Massacre” demo is a cassette, which today sounds just too archaic and not deadly and powerful enough, to my ears. But here is a CD of the third Celebration demo titled “Performers My Soul”, released by Black Fox Records. And the story behind it is quite interesting… the music for it was recorded back in 1991, but it (the recording session) never has been finished and thus the demo was never released, up to this day. The interesting thing is that the vocals for it were recorded in January 2008 and later the whole demo was mixed and mastered between 2008 and 2013. So the whole work on the demo was long and complicated, but finally we can listen the finished product. And even if I’m not the biggest fan of “Dead Bodies Massacre” demo, I was then quite curious what “Perfomers…” sounds like…
First I must say that the production of “Performers My Soul” is something what may give a headache to some listeners. It is not bad, really, so away from the modern sounding albums, but it is quite harsh, especially the guitar crackles like on the old vinyl hehe. But it lacks something… I’m afraid that even if the material is solid, then sometimes you loose its feeling, because of the whole production, so if the sound was better then the whole demo would kick ass more effectively. Anyway, I’m not going to moan about it, knowing it was recorded over 20 years ago, so what else can we really expect, right? Generally I think that “Performers My Soul” has some good moments, as well as some which I’m little less fond with. Celebration with this material won’t join my top 10 best Polish death metal bands ever, but surely they have created a material, which is better than “Dead Bodies Massacre” and is decent enough to give an occasional listen. Death metal by Celebration is quite slow, it has quite few almost doomy moments, it’s also quite simple, so it’s something what today we would call “total archaic old school death metal”, what obviously it is. And at the same time it’s not, because how can we call “old school” something what actually was recorded over 20 years ago? It makes no sense he!
Anyway, taking aside the problems with the production, the material itself is not bad, as I already wrote, and it has some good moments. Celebration surely did progress in good direction after “Dead Bodies Massacre”, playing something similar to the demo days Gorefest, as well as many Polish death metal bands from the early 90’s like Thanatos, Anathemized or Ghost. There are quite few truly great moments like the whole opening motif of “Black Thing”, which sounds so damn heavy! I also like “Venom Voices”, especially that chorus part, with really cool sounding vocals. I do realise that many of you will say that “Performers My Soul” has grown old rather badly, that it is very coarse and that there are many just better old demos to be found around… And maybe some of it is right, but it’s also a matter of everyone’s taste. Personally as I mentioned Celebration may not be the best thing I have ever heard, but I still quite like “Performers My Soul” and the demo has this charm of early death metal demos, which today a lot of bands is trying to recapture, but only very few succeed.  And surely if you like to collect such old death metal materials, then “Performers My Soul” will be a good offer for you. Mind though that the CD is limited to barely 300 copies, so you better hurry, otherwise you may miss your chance.
Final rate: 69/100

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Beyond Mortal Dreams - Lamia

Ever since I have listened to the recent Beyond Mortal Dreams MCD, the excellent “Dreaming Death” I became a supporter of the band and wanted to hear more and more such brilliant sounds from them! Yes, they belong to my favourite Australian bands and I don’t care if someone will agree or not. So, I was waiting patiently when Beyond Mortal Dreams will finally record something new and that time has come… but! But this is only a seven inch single, so just two new songs, so my hunger is not really fully satisfied, anyway I am happy that I got at least that small piece of music. More so, I dare to say that “Lamia” has really crushed me and only confirmed how awesome is this band. Damn!!!!!!!
If I was going to describe the musical style of Beyond Mortal Dreams, it would be enough to say: pure fuckin death metal, totally relentless, totally annihilating, brutal and violent, with some of the best riffs, vocals, drumming and intensity, which you could only imagine. It sounds almost like Immolation played their fastest and most massive and devastating stuff ever! And both songs on this single are a bloody feast for my ears. Yes! I love this stuff! And seriously, it is so powerful, so annihilating that when I play it loud I can literally see the walls cracking. When these sounds blast, the smoke is coming out of the speakers. And damn, finally I must say this single makes such a great pain, because it force a total fuckin headbanging that it is painful and it is so vicious and sick! YES!!! I can only speak in mega positive manner about these two songs. Everything – the production, killer, diabolic, possessed vocals, then the totally devastating riffs, sick solos, fantastic drumming, which is fast and precise, technical, maniacal… Spotless, spotless, death metal perfection in the vein of Morbid Angel and Immolation!
Yes people! Get this 7”vinyl and give a total support to Beyond Mortal Dreams. For me they belong to the best death metal acts of nowadays death metal scene. And that is a fact. KILLER!
Final rate: 100/100

Cemetary - Incarnation of Morbidity

CEMETARY - Incarnation of Morbidity (BLOOD HARVEST - 7"EP 2014)
Living in the times of endless stream of re-editions is something you can either love or hate… Personally, I’m totally into it, as this way we can get some old and sometimes even forgotten or incredibly expensive stuff for good price and in new great packaging. So, I can only praise some labels for what they’re doing with these ancient relics. And here is one such case of a great idea and definitely a worthy material to put on the vinyl. All in all, is there anyone who wouldn’t like the early Cemetary? Doubt that! And Blood Harvest had a killer idea to put on a seven inch vinyl their debut demo “Incarnation of Morbidity”! Yeah! Getting this demo in original cassette version is probably just impossible, so now we can listen to this amazing recording on another proper and fine way. And for the entire 7” vinyl I can see maybe only three minor faults. One is that they mixed up the sides and so the song from side A is on side B and the other way around. And the other fault would probably be the fact that I expected a little bit more from the booklet for the vinyl. Obviously there is a nice, extensive and long interview with Mattias Lodmaln, which I have read with a lot of interest. But maybe I hoped to see some more archive photos (as there are only very few of old Cemetary photos, which circulate in the internet, so they are all quite rare). And finally two things are missing – a scan of original booklet for the demo and the lyrics. But these are just minor faults, everything else is just superb!
And the music… I just love it. For me it is 10/10! You know, nowadays there are many bands, which play the old styled, classic Swedish death metal, but I feel like hardly any can really match the atmosphere, not to mention the quality of such early original demos and albums such as “Incarnation of Morbidity”. You know, are there any bands, which would really play something similar to Cemetary (as well as early Tiamat, Gorement, etc) and be as good as this band back in their early days? No! Especially as the production for “Incarnation of Morbidity” is just superb! It is classic Sunlight Studio sound, but damn, I love it. That guitar tone, that vocal sound… Amazing. And both songs, which originally appeared on the demo, are simply perfect Swedish death metal tunes. It is harsh death metal, with a lot of cool, melodic, atmospheric, kind of epic and sorrowful parts, but obviously it is also aggressive and dark as hell. I especially like the song from side A, “Funeral”, which is more doomy and epic, but truly awesome stuff. All in all, “Incarnation of Morbidity” belongs to my favourite Swedish death metal demos and I truly appreciate that it has been released on this 7”piece of vinyl. Great idea!
Final rate: 90/100