Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Anatomia/Grudge/Coffins - Doomed To Death, Damned In Hell

Japanese once again prove to the world that they're among the best when it comes to metal. In this split album, 3 absolutely crushing Death/Doom metal bands present some of their best material, pounding the listener with sheer force with each note.

The album begins with Anatomia, bringing their sludgy, heavy and slightly melancholic variety of Death/Doom metal. It's reminiscent of Autopsy and a bit of Hooded Menace. The vocals are not low gutturals as implemented by Coffins or most bands from the genre, but are growls with a good range, similar to that of Chris Reifert (but nothing like them). The riffs are heavy, pulverizing Death/Doom in almost every song, except Mournful Cremation, where the band adds a strangely melancholic melody in midst of the powerful riffs the guitarist churn out. A certainly good band and worthy of being in this album.

After 5 songs of raw, suffocating power of Anatomia, the listener is treated with Grudge. The band stands apart from Coffins and Anatomia here, as they're experimental in terms of sound and songwriting and especially the vocals. The vocals are similar to Depressive Black Metal but not exactly like it. Distant moans of someone being tortured suit their music perfectly. The percussion, though not pummeling like that of Coffins, is prominent in the sound. The guitars sound more similar to early 90s Death Metal than Death/Doom.

The last part of the split album is the legendary Coffins. They sound even more evil here, than they did in Buried Death, with 2 sluggish, outrageously heavy Death/Doom tracks, and 2 faster-paced songs bordering on grindcore speeds, and equally heavy and destructive, which in turn sounds like a jackhammer pounding your face with relentless consistency. Not much needs to be said about Coffins, except that they don't disappoint and are clearly the best part of this album.

An amazing Death/Doom metal split album that needs to be checked out by each and every metal fan. This album grabs you by the feet and drags you under quicksand, choking the life out of you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ashpyx / Hooded Menace Split - Album Review

Asphyx recorded a split EP with Hooded Menace, released on 20th May 2011. A probable prequel to what the legendary band has to offer to us with Deathhammer, this split is a good 2-song EP.

The first side is Asphyx's "We Doom You To Death". The song starts out with an eerie riff that continues through most of the song. It is absolutely crushing and something that might fit on The Last One On Earth. Though it lacks the dirty, distorted sound of the aforementioned album, it doesn't take away from the crushing quality the song has. Absolutely devastating, slow to mid-paced, and menacing riff plays alongside Martin Van Drunen's equally menacing vocal delivery, and the heavy bass. Martin van Drunen's vocals never show a sign of degradation, and are the same for the past 20 years. The doom element is clear - both in the tempo and the sound of the band. The drums pound away at a rather slow pace with nice fills, and perfectly contributing to the doom atmosphere the band sets, and never unnecessarily speeding up or blasting. A very addictive song that I played over 5 times in a row.

Side B is Hooded Menace's "Abode Of The Grotesque". Which starts out with a blazing solo, transitioning into a mellow and melancholic lead, followed by the heavy rhythm guitar similar to that heard on Fulfill The Curse. The whole song relies mainly on the guitar solos which are quite remarkable, though the mellow leads do tend to drown out the crushing quality of Hooded Menace's sound. The vocals are vicious growls, and add a lot to the music during the heavier parts. This side isn't as catchy as the Asphyx side, and takes a few listens to really set in to the listener. The riffs are not very remarkable or memorable which a big downside. The song would have been better released as a single as it is a significant drop in the intensity and heaviness set by Asphyx. Nonetheless, a good song by a good band.

Overall, this is a good split and a must listen if you are a big fan of either or both of the bands.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Slugathor - Circle Of Death - Album Review

Slugathor from Finland was formed in 1999. They are considered among the newer Old School Death Metal bands. The band has released 3 full length albums and numerous EPs. Circle of Death is their second album released in 2006. The band consists of members from much older Finnish bands like Excrement and Apoplexy.

The album cover too screams Early Nineties
Unlike many Death Metal bands, Slugathor don't play a morbid, atmospheric style of Death Metal, but rather chunky, heavy and groovy style, similar to Bolt Thrower and Jungle Rot. Despite being released in 2006, Circle Of Death sounds like an album from 1992 or 1993. Like any band that plays mid-paced Death Metal, the riffs are the highlight of Slugathor's music. Infectious grooves combined with like heaviness and war-like atmosphere compel you to headbang along with the music. Bolt Thrower is an obvious influence on Slugathor, as the guitar sound and chunkiness can be mistaken for that of Bolt Thrower. The drumming is standard Death Metal. The drums provide sufficient groove and engage in blast-beats during fast section. The bass drum is loud - much louder than the snare - and that makes for a heavier sound when they play along with the riffs, and makes the groove much more evident. The bass guitar is loud enough to be audible, but doesn't play anything different from the main guitar riffs, so it doesn't stand out, and its only job is to add to the heavy sound.

Vocals are mostly indecipherable low-pitched growls, but the vocalist does throw in some variety with occasional high-pitched screams. In short, the vocals perfectly suit the music, without leaving a chance to sound redundant and repetitive. To keep the listener's interest up, Slugathor throw in some time signature and structural changes in their songs. They are very very minor, and far from sounding like technical wankery, but are noticeable. The only problem being that it sometimes causes songs to sound rather disjoint.

Some flaws apart, Circle Of Death is a very good album. Highly Recommended for fans of Bolt Thrower, Jungle Rot, etc.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Surroundings - Surroundings

Surroundings are a Hardcore/Sludge band from the United States. Not being very familiar with Hardcore, the background and history of this band is a little obscure for me. The band has come up with a split and an album.

Surroundings play an aggressive and heavy style of hardcore punk, and combine that speed and aggression with the crushing heaviness of sludge. The album consists of 11 songs, 8 of them with a typical hardcore punk song length of under two minutes, and pounding aggression and blazing grindcore-like speed, but occasionally slowing down to smash the listener with crushing heaviness. The other 3 songs, clocking over 3 minutes are, needless to say, sludge tracks. That makes Surroundings a rather short album clocking only 25 minutes. The album starts off with World Of Failure, which is a straight-to-the-face hardcore song, followed by another very short and aggressive hardcore song Virgilkapelle. Both the tracks are impossible to tell apart, and hence seem like one continuous song. The two songs are followed by a rather mid-paced, almost sludge song Harvesting Dirt, which gives the listener an idea of Surrounding's style of sludge. Unlike a lot of other sludge bands, they plays slowed-down hardcore, rather than distortion and feedback-laden, bluesy, Black Sabbath-influenced sludge/doom. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of feedback and heavy distortion involved here, but just lacks that Sabbath-like feeling.

The vocalist is consistent is churning out typical hardcore punk screams, and adds an immense amount of energy to the already energetic music heard here. Even thought the drummer doesn't stand out in terms of playing style or technique, the snare and cymbals are quite loud in the mix, which make the drums a major element in their music - adding to the heaviness and crushing quality. Overall, if you are a fan of hardcore punk or sludge, this album is a good listen. Nothing less, nothing more. Nothing stands out or is unique about this band or this album, but it definitely doesn't bore.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Autopsy - Macabre Eternal - Review

After the comeback signs in form of a demo in 2008, and an EP in 2010, the Death Metal legends are back with a massive 65-minute album that sounds fresh while retaining the old, pungent quality Autopsy was always known for. Unlike a lot of bands that aim to "return to their roots", and fail, Autopsy's comeback is a good blend of their old style and some new musical elements. With this album, Reifert & co. prove that they haven't lost their form or the creativity needed to write quality Death Metal. The long wait since 2010 really paid off because Macabre Eternal is probably the best metal album this year so far.

Reifert & co. never disappointed when it came to putting out some quality Death Metal. Be it in Abscess or in Autopsy. Macabre Eternal has all the good elements the previous albums had, with some notable new elements and slight shift in style. The doom elements have been mostly dropped, except in songs like Always About To Die and the 12-minute epic Sadistic Gratification, traded only for twisted leads and some neat mid-paced and fast riffing. Drumming is notably more precise than any of the previous albums, but the vocals are slightly weaker, but much better than Reifert did in The Tomb Within. Nonetheless, he still sounds like a psychotic killer chasing you with a knife. Eric Cutler's guitar solos sound as good as they did in Severed Survival and Mental Funeral. they bring a sense of urgency in the music. The guitar sounds massive like hell, enhanced a lot more by the bass. Don't expect a muddy sound like any of the previous albums, but these sickos keep it as dirty as they can with current production and recording techniques. Nothing needs to be said about the riffs or the basslines here. It's Autopsy, so they have to be really good, sludgy and horror-invoking. Needless to say, Reifert is a madman on the drums. As mentioned earlier, he is more precise and like on every other album, pounds them to oblivion. 

Macabre Eternal, though being an excellent album has it's flaws. One of them being the album length. 65 minutes is too long, even for Autopsy. Because of the enormous album length, the songs that don't stand out become unnoticeable, as they're mostly similar-sounding. The album takes time to grow as it is nothing like Mental Funeral or Severed Survival, but it's an Autopsy album that dares to sound different from everything else they did, while sticking to their roots. Now, that my friends is called "sticking to your roots".

A highly recommended album for Autopsy fans or Death Metal fans.