Sunday, June 24, 2012

Necrovation - Necrovation

If I gave this record the same intro as every other death metal album from a Sweden band, I'm sure that they just might be overlooked as yet another group of young'uns trying their hands at creating some generic music that has been forged before in much better fashions, but I'm telling you now that Necrovation is arguably the best death metal band I've heard from Sweden (Other than possibly Tribulation and Miasmal). Their brand of death metal isn't just insert chord-driven riff here and add tremolos here with a barking vocalist and drummer who uses d-beats and blasts, but a pretty complex one that hits a lot of high notes with every different influence they use, splendidly incorporating sounds from bands that span the vast subgenre. Autopsy, Bolt Thrower, Dismember, Death, Gorguts, Asphyx, Tribulation, Morbus Chron and plenty of other notable acts are all heard in the songs that make up Necrovation's self-titled sophomore, though you could never really consider the band's music as a whole to be reminiscent of any one band because they are that damn good. 

The first song "Necrovorous Insurrection" will take away any doubts that anyone who skeptically listens to this record may have had with its tremendous tremolo riffing and mix of punk-oriented riffs and thrashy headbangers. But if I had to discuss every song in depth we could be here a while as every track on "Necrovation" stands out. "Dark Lead Dead" conveys the title brilliantly as it mesmerizes the listener with psychedelic leads that course through the music constantly and randomly and the dark melodies that were made to send chills down the spine. "Pulse of Towering Madness" mixes whispered vocals and all-out vile growls perfectly with the eerie melodies and doomy riffs for another memorable track that is sure to get plenty of rotation. "Commander of Remains" and "Ressurectionist" both up the "weird" and "strange" quality of the music due to a great usage of wah-wah passages, eclectic riffing and sinister melodies that would make any fan of Gorguts, Demilich or Funebre happy. 

In addition to the stellar riffage and lead work on "Necrovation," it's impossible to leave out all of the other little nuances that make this record as terrific as it is. The vocals are filthy and stand out quite a bit when compared to their contemporaries in most other bands in Sweden, sounding like a mix of Joel Grind (Toxic Holocaust) and Robert Andersson (Morbus Chron) for a top-notch blend of bellowing madness and evil, savage-like vocals. The drumming is near flawless. There are so many tremendous fills throughout this album that it should inspire other drummers to forfeit their craft. The bassist's performance isn't entirely incredible, but there were quite a few moments where I found myself bobbing my head along to the thumping of the bass or my fingers tapping along with the catchy bassline. I really could go on for a while about Necrovation and their modern masterpiece which accomplishes the increasingly difficult task of proving that this style of music is far from dead, but I'd really rather just close my browser, seclude myself from interaction for a while and soak in the true magnificence of this record. Repeatedly. 

Be sure to check out and like Necrovation on Facebook!

"Necrovorous Insurrection"
"Pulse of Towering Madness"
"Ill Mouth Madness (The Many)"

Final Rating
4.6/5 or 92%.   

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Power Theory - An Axe To Grind

Power Theory is a four-piece heavy metal band hailing from the US. This is an appropriate home for them, as they also incorporate elements of USPM in their sound. Despite having only been around for less than a decade, they sure sound about as authentic as anything that came out during the 80’s. Their music isn’t overproduced, and has an original sound, while clearly demonstrating their influences. Likewise, vocalist Dave Santini brings his own original flavour to the music. He sings with a rasp that adds quite a bit of punch to the music. Additionally, guitarist Bob Ballinger is the man who really takes this album past a simple rehash. His soloing is persistent; it shows up on constantly and he does a fantastic job shredding. He also manages to add some melodic harmonies on "Edge of Knives" and "The Hammer Strikes (Mjolinir's Song)" despite being the only guitar player.

There are a few of standout tracks on this record, most notably, the title track. It opens with a bass line that comes right from Iron Maiden’s “Wrathchild”, but despite that, the rest of the track manages to be quite different from Maiden. “A Fist In The Face Of God” is appropriately titled, as it’s a fist to the face of the listener. Thrashier and faster than anything else on the album, this song is a brutal affair. It’s the definite highlight as far as the guitar solos are concerned and features some good double bass work. Other songs are definitely fantastic as well, but the music pretty much speaks for itself. Fans of Manilla Road, Riot, Omen, and the like will definitely gravitate towards Power Theory as they gain more popularity. Give these guys a chance and you won’t be disappointed!

Be sure to check out and like Power Theory on Facebook!

“An Axe To Grind"
“A Fist In The Face of God"

Final Rating:
4.0/5 or 80%

Written by Scott

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Zombiefication - Reaper's Consecration [EP]

Mexico may not be the capital for premier metal bands, but they definitely have some worth boasting about. Earlier in 2012, Warfare released one of my favorite black/thrash albums of the year and it's only proper that the country releases some top-notch death metal as well. Along with Ominous Crucifix, Zombiefication is looking to be Mexico's top death metal act and their new EP "Reaper's Consecration" is a great five-track representation of some of the finest Swedeath worshiping in the Americas (which also goes to show that Pulverised Records has some awesome taste). Honestly, I didn't expect for this EP to be as solid as it is, simply because of the overwhelming wave of bands that continue to tread along a path that has been done over and over in this day and age, but this duo are one of those groups that know what they're doing. 

One thing that you'll immediately notice about "Reaper's Consecration" is the production, which is perfect for the music. The opening track "Dead Today, Dust Tomorrow" starts off with a dark melody, but the muddled, yet surprisingly clear production gives the music an old-school vibe that almost makes Zombiefication's music sound like a long lost demo from the motherland. Much like the melody from the opening track, there are plenty of melodic moments to be found throughout this EP, but not in the melodic-death metal kind of way, but the sinister and evil sounding way. Whether the band pushes the melody to the forefront of the music ("We Stand Alone") or they're creeping along in the background of the music ("Dead Today, Dust Tomorrow") that looming feel of dread is present. Another great part of the music is Mr. Jacko's ability to weave in some truly wicked tremolo sections with the midpaced, d-beat driven riffs, which is best witnessed on the track "Death Rides," which is one hell of a headbanger. 

In addition to the melodies and subtle nuances that make "Reaper's Consecration" as good as it is, are of course the traditional midpaced and violent riffs that were made famous by the gods of the 90's Swedish scene, as they can be found in every song here, not to mention the awesome punk-oriented riffs that are present as well. There's also a great use of atmosphere on this EP, similar to the dark and brooding aura on Carnage's masterpiece "Dark Recollections," with the opening sequence to "Necrohell" being the best reflection of this. Everything else here is also top-notch, with Mr. Hitchcock's vocals sounding like a young Matti Karki, only with a little more of a punk vibe. The drumming is stellar - there are plenty of fantastic fills (the intro to "We Stand Alone" in particular) and the faster moments of the band's music wouldn't be the same without the well-timed assault either. Zombiefication really impressed me with this EP, and I'm sure their impression won't stop here, not when the music continues to be as terrific as the five tracks on "Reaper's Consecration."

Be sure to check out and like Zombiefication on Facebook!

"Dead Today, Dust Tomorrow"
"We Stand Alone"

Final Rating
4.3/5 or 86%. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Kreator - Phantom Antichrist

Very few metal bands will ever be as recognized or as important as the mighty Kreator. They have written numerous masterpieces across their 30 year career. While it’s not my favourite release, there’s no doubt that “Pleasure to Kill” is one of the most insane, fast, brutal, and influential records of all time. After enduring the 90’s, the German gods of thrash returned with a more melodic sound. Combining elements of melodic death metal with thrash turned out to be a fantastic sound that no one else can replicate as well as Kreator. One by one, they cranked out three fantastic albums, culminating with my personal favourite, “Hordes of Chaos”. The only thing left for the band to do at this point is to make the thrashy parts faster, and the melodic parts even more epic, and that’s just what the band did on “Phantom Antichrist”.

After a short intro, the album kicks off with the title track. Much like on “Enemy of God”, you are immediately pummeled with riffs. It isn’t too long, however, until the melodic elements begin to surface. Some of these lead parts sound like Iron Maiden epics, except that they have the classic Kreator riffing underneath. With that said, it does mean that this album isn’t as fast as its predecessors. Every song definitely has break-neck speed in it, but it isn’t as consistent, because some songs go through several tempo changes (“From Flood Into Fire” and “Until Our Paths Cross Again” are the two most noticeable tracks). On the plus side, when things get fast, they get really fast. Some sections from songs like “From Flood Into Fire” and “Civilization Collapse” are among the quickest in Kreator’s entire catalogue.

The best parts of this album are by far the individual performances of each musician. It goes without saying that Mille Petrozza is among the best thrash vocalists, but he really goes above and beyond on this record. He does throw in some more clean singing, and it's actually not bad. It’s isn't great technically, but he gives a passionate performance which satisfies the listener until his trademark throaty screams kick in. In addition to his great vocal display, Mille and second guitar player Sami Yli-Sirniƶ have finally mastered the art of writing guitar solos. They haven’t completely moved away from the reckless, insane, atonal soloing from their past, but they have found a better sense of melody and theory in their solos. It is a perfect fit for the sound that Kreator has embraced for the past decade. Finally, Ventor gives his absolute best effort to make all thrash drummers give up. There are tons of fills all over the album, and they’re far superior to anything he’s done in the past. The highlight is probably his fill right at the end of the opener, "Mars Mantra". As one would guess, the bass is relatively non-existent, but that’s not an issue on “Phantom Antichrist”.

In the grand scheme of Kreator’s career, this record marks yet another milestone. While some may not like it because of its excessive use of melodic lines, it is still a logical extension of their past 3 albums. The only real downfall of this record is that it isn’t thrashing 100% of the time. This doesn’t hurt any of the songs – which are still well written and enjoyable - but it does take away from the overall intensity of the album. Regardless, Kreator have graced us with yet another classic that will definitely be topping many year-end lists (including my own).

Be sure to check out and like Kreator on Facebook!

“Phantom Antichrist"
“Death to the World"
"Civilization Collapse"
“Victory Will Come”

Final Rating:
4.6/5 or 92%

Written by Scott

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lucifer D. Larynx And The Satanic Grind Dogs of Death - Absolute Defilement

I'm gonna be completely honest and say that while I consider myself a grindcore fan, I'm not too keen on the newer acts, other than the really big ones of the scene, but I doubt that there are many out there who are better than Lucifer D. Larynx And The Satanic Grind Dogs of Death (Who from here on out will be referred to as LDL for the sake of me not having to type out that fucking name again). There is absolutely nothing original about the twenty tracks on this record, but when the material is heavy, crude and violent why does it need to be? Chances are if you don't have a sick or twisted kind of sense of humor, you may be deterred from this album as just about every track has a sample to start it off, usually referring to religion or gory kind of stuff (typical grind content). 

With only twenty tracks on an album that clocks in at 29 minutes, it doesn't take a math whiz to realize that a lot of these songs are short and to the point (Like 98% of the grind bands out there), but they're all solid. They all really follow the same patterns with a mix of midpaced riffs akin to the forefathers of grind Terrorizer, some faster and brutal riffage being pushed to the limit by blast beats and of course the obligatory tremolo bursts and whammy bar raping. The vocals shift between incoherent growls that sound like a behemoth deep down in a cave bellowing forth some satanic message and higher pitched shrieks that remind one of a band like Brutal Truth, and they fit the music perfectly. The drumming is nothing surprising to a fan of the grind genre, as it's pretty much just blasts and a lot of Pete Sandoval worshiping. 

What it really comes down to with LDL, is whether or not you enjoy vulgar noise of the grindcore fashion, and if you do, then "Absolute Defilement" is a record that you should probably pick up as soon as possible. This is definitely for fans of bands like Ghoul, Brutal Truth and Repulsion especially and if you don't like catchy, raunchy noise then enjoy listening to watered down shit like the new Terrorizer record. 

Be sure to check out and like Lucifer D. Larynx on Facebook!

"Absolute Defilement"
"Repulsive Impulse"
"Acts of Sadism"

Final Rating
4.3/5 or 86%. 

Huntress - Spell Eater

With the huge number of revivalist bands around today, it’s pretty difficult to get noticed. There aren’t too many of these bands that have a noticeable trait because, let’s be honest here, there’s only so much you can do with straightforward heavy metal. Huntress, however, have set themselves apart in a couple of ways. Firstly, there is their obsession with the occult. Lyrically, the band is interested in anything dark, and it aptly brings back memories of Mercyful Fate. While this is interesting, what everyone is more enticed by is the operatic banshee known as Jill Janus on lead vocals. Beautiful on both the eyes and the ears, this woman has helped the band catch the attention of headbangers everywhere. On their first album, "Spell Eater", Huntress lays the ground for what should be a long and enjoyable career.

As the song titles and lyrics imply, this music is dark. The riffing is not too different from other classic bands, but there is a dark, foreboding atmosphere throughout the album. Many of the leads are crafted to be evil instead of flashy, and Janus’ vocals are likewise used to enhance the atmosphere. Not only does she scream, shrill, and sing, but she also adds harsh vocals that include both black metal (“Eight of Swords”) and death metal (“Sleep and Death”) styles. Appropriately, the music even gets extreme at times. The opening track, “Spell Eater”, has blast beats and tremolo picking, yet manages to remain relatively melodic and catchy at the same time. Likewise, “Eight of Swords” gets pretty intense towards the end and is definitely the standout track. The downside to this album is that some of the riffs just aren’t that good. Huntress cannot play the same simple heavy metal riffs that bands like White Wizzard love because of the ominous tone of the music. Unfortunately, this means that it can be more difficult to find an interesting riff. With that said, none of the riffs are bad, they just aren’t memorable.

Huntress is definitely a band that you will hear from in the future. With an amazing singer, and a unique sound, they are going to stick around; however, they’re going to have to step it up on their next release. "Spell Eater" is a good album, but it relies primarily on the vocal skills of Jill Janus to keep the music interesting. Everyone has heard metal that is dark and evil, but Huntress has the potential to make it more interesting. If the combination of clean and harsh vocals were used more often, it could very well make for an influential album. Regardless of what I want to hear, "Spell Eater" still delivers solid metal. If the title track or “Eight of Swords” doesn’t sway you, this release probably isn’t for you. There are certainly some other gems on the album (“Senecide”, “Aradia”), but the two singles are definitely the best.

Be sure to check out and like Huntress on Facebook!

“Spell Eater"
“Eight of Swords"

Final Rating:
4/5 or 80%

Written by Scott

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Mongrel's Cross - The Sins of Aquarius

I'm not even sure if it's necessary to look for black/thrash outside of Australia and Norway anymore. There are so many bands embracing this abrasive style of metal today, that there is undoubtedly going to be hundreds that just suck. However, it seems like Australia is incapable of producing a sub-par band and it's almost as if there is some kind of test each band has to pass before they're allowed to unleash a single demo. Whatever it is, it's working because Mongrel's Cross is easily one of the best I've come across from the country, and if their country of origin wasn't enough to sell them to you, maybe the fact that they're also signed to one of the best labels out today in Hell's Headbangers will get your mouth watering. "The Sins of Aquarius" is the band's debut full-length and it's probably one of the best debut albums for a new band in my recollection as just about everything on this record is amazing. 

While many bands of this style focus on being fast or evil, Mongrel's Cross' music is incredibly riff-oriented. All seven songs on this album feature at least one riff that will get the listener's headbanging or awaken the urge for them to pull out their air guitar. Whether it's the ferocious tremolo sections on "Rabid Inception," the midpaced violence on "Lead Them From the Promised Land," or the metalpunk tendencies on "Indulge the Temple," there is something for everyone. And it's not just the riffs that make "The Sins of Aquarius" as brilliant as it is, but also the group's ability to create an atmosphere that is raw and reminiscent of other notable acts of the scene today such as Ketzer or Nekromantheon. The main component of Mongrel's Cross' music that separates them from so many other acts today, though, is the terrific songwriting, a quality that a lot of black/thrash bands forsake in order to come across as "kvlt" and "evil." The shortest track on this record is four and a half minutes, while the rest of the songs meander on a bit longer, but the songwriting is top-notch so the need to change the song due to repetition or boredom never arises and this couldn't be more evident than on the epic "When the Dragon Gives Birth," a song full of shifting dynamics, stellar riffs and beautiful melodies.

Again, everything on this record just clicked perfectly for me. The vocals are ugly and aggressive as they should be for this style, but there also the occasional death metal growls and lows that fit in with the music perfectly (see "Revelations Transpire"). The drumming is another highlight as there are so many great fills that compliment the riffs and everything else tremendously. The double-bass pummeling and blast beats are all placed throughout at just the right amount, never overdoing it. The solos are also terrific (which is actually pretty rare in this style of music) as they blend the right amount of shredding and melody making them more memorable. "The Sins of Aquarius" is undoubtedly the best record I've heard all year surpassing other excellent albums by bands like Charon, Ketzer, and Aura Noir, and until I get my hands on the new Gospel of the Horns release, I'm sure this will definitely be the pride of the black/thrash subgenre in 2012. 

Be sure to check out and like Mongrel's Cross on Facebook!

"The Sins of Aquarius"
"Lead Them From the Promised Land"
"Revelations Transpire"

Final Rating
4.6/5 or 92%.