The underground is truly the gift that keeps on giving. Apparently there are new lows to be charted, and new disappointments to be had (or old fears to be confirmed, however you wanna slice it). Necrodium, the band name is about as creative as they are going to get here, hail from Finland and play chug-groove death metal. Six Feet Under is apparently not only popular in Germany, but in the land of a thousand lakes too. The font and artwork is reminiscent of Spanish death metal combo Graveyard, the album title is shared with the much better (but now sadly defunct) California technical death metal band Insentient, and the whole sounds like a speedier Gall-Butler era Six Feet Under at best, and like Torture Killer at worst. It makes you wonder how this beloved industry of ours operates. If redundant bands like this are allowed a recording deal, how are genuinely talented bands supposed to stay afloat? The only good aspect of this record is frontwoman Linda Alén-Koskinen, who does her best prime era Chris Barnes (somewhere between "Butchered at Birth" and "The Bleeding") impression with young Glen Benton shrieks thrown in for good measure. There's a reason why Demilich is still considered the once-and-forever reigning kings of Finnish death metal despite not releasing an album in two decades: the standard they set in 1993 is yet to be matched. "Remnants" will not go down in the history book as mandatory in shape or form, let alone as a continuation of the vintage Finnish genre legacy. No. It is merely functional in the barest of essentials. They'd be the ideal support band on a Torture Killer show, but nothing more. Linda Alén-Koskinen deserves a better band than this. This is not it.
www.facebook.com/NecrodiumOfficialWouter ________4listen and enjoy!
Over the last couple of years the international underground has lost several big name hardcore/fastcore bands including notable icons Curmudgeon, Deathrats, Rape Revenge and Idiots Parade. Coming from Paris, France the newest sensation in the genre is Riposte. In tradition of Deathrats, Buried at Birth and Curmudgeon the quartet plays minimalist, to-the-point and violent hardcore. On "Demo 2015" Riposte leaves nothing to the imagination at all. The shortest track clocks in at a brisk 29 seconds and the longest one at 49 seconds. The song titles ('Distress', 'Force-Feeding', 'Brutal Vengeance' and 'Ruthless') tell you exactly what you're going to get with this demo. Bathing in punk ethos "Demo 2015" is a feedback – and reverb-laden ditty with a booming bass guitar tone, topped off by a throat-shredding performance by frontwoman Lu. In the vocal department she channels the strongest moments of Krystina Krysiak (Curmudgeon) and Christine Cuniff (Deathrats). She might not be on the same intensity level as Veronica Mars (Buried at Birth) yet, but few are. In hardcore tradition the production is functional, and crunchy – but calling it produced would be a stretch. Released in true underground form on cassette tape format Riposte offers up three minutes of politically-charged, socially aware violence that will appeal to punk, hardcore and metal fans alike. www.facebook.com/ripostefastcore
ripostexfastcore.bandcamp.comWouter ________8listen and enjoy!
If you thought Poland only delivered death – and black metal, think again. The country that gave us Vader, Yattering, Behemoth, Decapitated and Lost Soul has a history of thrash metal too. The most popular example probably being the Magnus, one of the earliest practitioners of the genre. Recon By Fire, made up of four (now five) ladies from the Warsaw region, formed in 2014 and recently released this digital demo. 2 tracks, or about 9 minutes of pumping thrash metal. The girls clearly have an idea where they want to go with their music. 'Traitors' and 'Sudden Death' both have fiery soloing from Alexandra Musielewicz and Anna Lewandowska's bass guitar lies prominently in the mix. The drumming by Lena Dubravska is somewhat basic, but it gets the point across. Frontwoman Mila Sobol is at her strongest in the harsher styles, while her clean vocals are very commendable. "Into the Fire"' was recorded at Hertz Studio, meaning that it sounds completely amazing. This demo actually sounds better than Nervosa's big label debut "Victim Of Yourself" (the comparisons are pretty much inevitable), and these Polish girls play a lot more diverse in terms of riffing and chord schematics. Imagine when Recon By Fire truly fires up all cylinders and plays heavier, faster and generally more darker than they do now. A competitor for Nervosa has arisen, its name is Recon By Fire – and, by all means, they have the potential to beat their South American peers.
www.facebook.com/reconbyfirebandWouter ________6listen and enjoy!
Ebonillumini is another band featuring current and former members from The Meads Of Asphodel. "Arktos" is the second album of this experimental/ethnic black metal unit, whose primary calling card is singer Christina Poupoutsi. More psychedelic and occult rock than black metal "Arktos" combines world music with waltzing midpaced heavy rock and the occasional foray into black metal. Each track represents a different geographical location in a conceptual journey across the Atlantic Ocean. Representing each location is an intro section of local ethnic music and local influences within said track. The most interesting of these are 'Lusca (Bahamas)', 'Crystal Pyramid - (Bermuda)'and 'Dolphinius – (Celestial Equator)'. "Arktos" is at its strongest when it gets as far away from its metal component as it possibly can. Ebonillumini is actually at its strongest when it fully embraces its world music and psychedelic rock direction. For the most part the black metal aspect feels contrived and tacked on. Poupoutsi's subdued singing is acquired taste, and the only downside to the record is its pensive, languid pacing. It would have benefitted tremendously from having one or two uptempo rock songs. Ebonillumini is a highly captivating and quirky band with an interesting concept to boot, but given its lineage with The Meads Of Asphodel this was somewhat expected.
ebonillumini.bandcamp.comWouter ________7listen and enjoy!
The death metal scene in France is more vibrant and alive than ever before. Along with the Dune inspired Nephren-Ka (surprisingly not a lazy Nile knockoff) Abyssal Ascendant is inspired by the literature of fantasy/pulp authors Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Howard and H.P. Lovecraft. Fronted by the couple Florent (guitar) and Fanny (bass guitar) and thrust by the percussive power of Spanish drummer Raúl Fernández Abyssal Ascendant combines the best traits of Tom Wilkinson era Immolation with the dual vocals, technicality and high-speed precision of "King Of All Kings" Hate Eternal. The addition of synthesizers enhances the cold, otherworldly atmosphere that is somewhat similar to post-"Forever Advancing… Legions" Mithras. The 'Celaphais Chant' intro with its deceptively serene Arabic chants immediately puts the listener on the wrong foot making the band's assault all the more effective. The atmospheric breaks or conclusions to several songs greatly add to the feel of alienation. The few solos are worth the wait, and hopefully we'll hear more of those in the future. Abyssal Ascendant understands what made the ABC records from Morbid Angel so effective, and reconfigures that into a pulsating modern and more technical interpretation of the genre. The drum production is a bit plastic and flat from time to time, but otherwise it is functional. "Chronicles From the Doomed Worlds" is what a contemporary death metal record should be.
abyssalascendant.comWouter ________7listen and enjoy!
It seems that, by and large, US label imprint New Standard Elite is functioning as a contemporary variant of Unique Leader/United Guttural circa the early 2000s. Embodied Torment, who formed in 2011 as the uncreatively named Sever Dismember, is the band centered around former Serpent & Seraph bass guitarist Matt Chaco (who does vocals here) and his wife Cindy (who provides drums). From the sound of this record Embodied Torment seeks to fill the void left by fellow Californians Deeds Of Flesh (now more of a recording band), Disgorge (who continue to exist, but haven't released an album in a decade) and Doug Cerrito-era Suffocation. Joaquin Chavez is a disciple of the Diego Sanchez school of songwriting, and David Ko's bass is felt more than it is actually heard. It briefly has a moment in two songs ('Fermented in Existential Terror' and 'Rädern'), but it can be heard in 'Epoch Of Suffering', the only song on the album to have a guitar solo, however compact. Especially in terms of drumming Cindy makes Chad Walls' style her own. Fittingly for the style the record is concluded by a cover rendition of Brodequin classic 'Judas Cradle'. The home-recorded production works for the most part, only the snare drums have that annoying clonking sound typical for this brand of death metal. At least the cymbals and kickdrums sound immense and commanding. The truly wonderful artwork by Paolo Girardi is a definite selling point, although hopefully we'll see Cindy paint art for her own band in a not too distant future.
embodiedtorment.bandcamp.comWouter ________6listen and enjoy!
That Detroit, Michigan powerviolence/hardcore outfit Cloud Rat is probably the most prominent player in its scene should come as no surprise. The now-quartet released two critically acclaimed albums prior with "Cloud Rat" (currently onto its fourth pressing) and the even more frighteningly intense "Moksha" – and its profile is rising in both North America, Europe and beyond. "Qliphoth" is the band's third, and most ambitious effort channeling its spiritual undercurrent in a harrowing and uncompromising set of songs. The album is the recording debut of Brandon Hill, who provides electronics and effects, and his contributions fit suitably with Cloud Rat's pessimistic and downbeat lyrics. Madison Marshall's vocals are more hardcore in delivery, but as percussive and intense as ever – even though her arsenal has expanded as she performs clean chants in opening track 'Seken' and choral ones in 'Thin Vein'. As before there's a spoken word part in 'Rusting Belt'. Generally the album is more hardcore/punk/sludge oriented musically. The riffing puts greater focus on sludge instead of the hardcore/punk and grindcore of earlier records. The album was recorded at Lakebottom Recording House in Toledo, Ohio with J.C. Griffin producing. "Qliphoth" is adorned with spectacular handdrawn artwork by Fernando Pena for Celldeth. With the recent split of Curmudgeon, Cloud Rat now is the definite flagbearer of the genre they helped pioneer. For once the headlines were true: "Qliphoth" is a cathartic experience, but one you'll gladly revisit time and again. Excellent.
cloudrat.bandcamp.comWouter ________8listen and enjoy!
The UK has a long history of delivering the most poignant and enigmatic of doom metal. Bong, the psychedelic drone combo from Newcastle Upon Tyne, offers a variation of the early Esoteric sound. "We Are, We Were and We Will Have Been" is the Brits' fifth album, and it sounds as smoked out as always. This is feedback laden, bass-dominated droning doom that would make Stephen O'Malley proud. Through sheer repetition, and a suffocatingly oppressive atmosphere Bong manages to do within two (admittedly long) songs what any number of young death metal bands can't manage within the entirety of their discography, that is: making the listener feel uneasy. Esoteric, Yob and Burning Witch did the same thing to varying levels of success – yet Bong (at least they are honest about it) is more about atmosphere and feeling than it is about conventional songwriting. The monk chants and ethnic instrumentation (sitar, among others) contribute to the otherworldly atmosphere the record aims for. We are, we were and we will have been looking to the UK for the trippiest of doom. Well done, gentlemen.
www.ritualproductions.netWouter ________8listen and enjoy!
This Glasgow, Scotland "blackened death metal" band have been around for only a meager four years, but already have released a demo, two singles and two EPs. "Winter Eternal" is better than the "Denounce" single of a few years ago. They persevere with the watered down Tompa Lindberg screams, but at least now they're mining from "Terminal Spirit Disease" and "With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness" more than the lamentable populist jock metal shtick of the vacuous "The Slaughter Of the Soul". The dual vocals (one part Sven de Caluwé, the other Tompa Lindberg - both terrible in their own way) are as tired and tiring as the choppy, nervous metalcore riffing we've been subjected to since the early 2000s. "Winter Eternal" is a step into the right direction for this self-described "blackened death metal" band, although you're hardpressed to actually note any mentionworthy black – or death metal aspects on this EP. Unless you count the occasional very lite Dissection melody. For some reason "The Slaughter Of the Soul" is held up as some groundbreaking work of metal, while it was the artistic death warrant of a once-relevant band. The sooner all these imitators realize this, the sooner the metal underground will regain its sanity. "Winter Eternal" has nothing to do with death metal, and everything to do with vacant acts like Lamb Of God and The Absence. Exile the Traitor, as its blatantly scene-friendly name implies, is just another very average jumpdafuckup metalcore band hidden underneath a very light, and very populist, death metal paintjob - and frankly it shows. This has nothing to do with underground metal.
exilethetraitor.bandcamp.comWouter ________3listen and enjoy!
Lusitian death/black metal combo Decayed has been at it longer than most (since 1990, to be exact) – and it is a crying shame that populist swill like Moonspell continues to persist. This is the tenth (!) album that mainstay José Afonso releases under the Decayed moniker, and as expected it combines the best of primitive death –, black – and thrash metal. In many ways Decayed is the Mediterranean equivalent of long-suffering Pennsylvania death metal combo Sathanas. In fact it is a bit surprising that they have yet to hear Paul Tucker and Afonso trade rasps within either band's context. "Into the Depths Of Hell" sounds like what Sepultura had sounded like if they had perfected the "Bestial Devastation" sound, or what "Deathcrush" era Mayhem could have sounded like if they infused it with a bit of "Scream Bloody Gore" Death. 'Winged Beasts' and 'Of Anath and Mot' are as Scandinavian (read: as razors and hooks through your flesh) as Decayed has ever sounded, and the ripping thrash solos just makes it all sounding wickedly evil. It's crude, it's ugly and it cares more about getting the right feeling than playing the right notes or measures. Perhaps this a band that was meant to remain forever underground, forever black – and perhaps for the better too. Decayed has no commercial considerations, they only care to bash your skull in and leave you a bloody heap.
helldprod.comWouter ________7listen and enjoy!
After two decades of dwelling in the nether regions of the underground Belgian stalwart Johan Antonissen (mostly known for his work with death metal pioneers Suhrim) has teamed up with Portugese and Argentinian members to form an international death/crust outfit. In record time Marginal stomp, rip and tear through 14 songs (the longest clocks in at 3:23) screaming rightful indignation at the world around them. Civil disobedience, anti-capitalism/consumerism, mass media propaganda, fear mongering, the military-industrial complex seem to be the main subjects. Antonissen has adopted a different vocal style for this outfit, going for a Sven de Caluwé-like bark that is tonally different from his patented grunt. The playing is tight, the performance breakneck and its broad palette of influences only make it all the stronger. If some of the song titles sound like could have been taken from an Agathocles album, that's probably the way it was intended. Call it grindcore, gritty crust, concrete sounding punk or relentless d-beat - it doesn't really matter. Marginal takes influence from all of the above, and just puts the pedal to the metal. This will appeal to fans of Agathocles, Benümb, Discharge, Disrupt, Inhumate, Multinational Corporations, World Downfall and early US/UK grind institutions as Brutal Truth, Carcass, Napalm Death, Repulsion and early Terrorizer. It's crass, it's loud – and sometimes this sort of chaos is all you need. Marginal delivers.
www.helldprod.comWouter ________7listen and enjoy!
Skyforger are one of Latvia's earliest metal bands having a history dating back to 1991. As such they even predate one-time death/thrash metal band Dzelzs Vilks (who released the excellent "Mirušas kaijas" in 1995) by handful of years. The band is exclusively devoted to the antiquity and pagan mythology of its home country. Most of its releases have been issued through black metal specialist label Folter Records, only 2010's "Kurbads" was released through Metal Blade Records. "Senprüsija" is the successor to 2010's "Kurbads" and the first through its own label imprint. Given their longevity Skyforger is a far darker and more metallic entity compared to the populist swill that fills out the Pagan- and Heidenfest bills. The record offers a nice cross section of songs with some being more straight up metallic, and others more folk/pagan metal in writing. Skyforger never lowers itself to the path of least resisitance, and avoids the pitfalls that many lesser talented bands in the genre tend to fall victim to. On this record you'll find no watered down riffing, cheery singing and two-chord drinking songs passing itself off as actual metal. No, Skyforger has the benefit of experience, and has been toiling in the underground long before the folk metal boom of the early 2000s. "Senprüsija" is a folk metal record they want it was meant to be played.
www.facebook.com/skyforgerofficialWouter ________7listen and enjoy!