Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lich King - Born of the Bomb

Talk about surpassing expectations. I've been a fan of Lich King since I heard their "Toxic Zombie Onslaught" record back in early 2010 and it's safe to say that these guys get better and better with every release. While many have labeled these guys as "generic" or another "Exodus clone," it will be incredibly difficult to say that after listening to their latest record "Born of the Bomb," which is easily their best release yet. Fuck it, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that this is one of the best thrash records... No, one of the best albums of the year period. Even as a somewhat longtime fan of the band, I had no idea that Tom Martin and company could conjure up something this damn good, but I'm not complaining. This album is a non-stop headbanging marathon filled to the brim with awesome riffs, reminiscent of bands like Vio-Lence and Morbid Saint. And for those who may worry that these guys have given up their funny and sarcastic lyrics, there's no need to fret, because the tracks are just as silly (I mean that in a good way) as before. 

The music on this album is a breath of fresh air from all of the super-serious bands out there who repeat themselves to death about satan, evil and darkness, as the jokes continue to pile on through the songs. If you thought that the song "Black Metal Sucks" pissed off a bunch of (uptight/butthurt) metalheads, I can't wait to hear what people think of "We Came to Conquer," a song that calls out pretty much every major new thrash act today. Luckily for the King, the riffs and music backing Martin's barks is top-notch and provides plenty of evidence that they just might be the best band today. "Fan Massacre" is another track made to make people laugh while they headbang themselves into delirium, as the band jokes(?) of killing their fans for not buying enough merch or asking too many questions, and much like every other song on "Born of the Bomb" the music is terrific. No strangers to doing cover songs, the band also did a fantastic cover of Agent Steel's masterpiece "Agents of Steel," and it's executed quite well if I might add.  

Of course, this record also travels a different path than the ones before, as this is the band's most vicious and intense release yet. "In the End, Devastation" is an absolutely punishing song that would make Demolition Hammer proud; the riffs are pummeling and the vocals possess a pissed-off, violent edge to them that sounds awesome as the words flow with the ferocious music perfectly. "Wage Slave" even features blast beats and some Skolnick-esque melodic soloing which added some depth to the very straightforward thrasher. "Agnosticism" is unashamed "Master of Puppets" era Metallica worship done right, as the song spans eight minutes and features clean guitars, epic soloing and some very heavy riffage. And how could I forget about the album-closer in "Lich King IV (Born of the Bomb)" which features rapid-fire, dueling vocals between Tom Martin and Patrick Lind of the legendary Morbid Saint. Like I said before, this is what 2012 has been lacking and that is some good ol' fashioned friendly violent fun in the vein of the old masters. "Born of the Bomb" is definitely a contender for the best of 2012 as it serves it's purpose, which is to cause a frenzied reaction to the music, and to silence the elitist metal cunts who need to be drawn and quartered. 

Be sure to check out and like Lich King on Facebook!

"We Came to Conquer"
"In the End, Devastation"
"Lich King IV (Born of the Bomb)"

Final Rating
4.5/5 or 90%. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mongrel's Cross Interview

Its been a while since I've done any interviews, but that will change and the first interview of several more to come is with the incredibly awesome Mongrel's Cross. They already released one of the best records of 2012 with their debut album "The Sins of Aquarius" (click the link for my review) and their conquest of the metal underground seems imminent. Read on as the Grand Mongrel talks about the Australian metal scene, future plans for touring and recording, and more!

SFM - Greetings, Mongrel's Cross! Hope all is well down under. Now can you give a little background info on the band for the readers who may not have heard of you guys? How long have you been around? How would you describe the band's sound?

MC - All is well here mate. Out of the city and living in the mountains now. The three Mongrel's that make up the core of the band are myself Grand Mongrel, Goet Euryn and Necros Craigos. We got together in 2009 and began thrashing some tracks for our demo. Our sound comes from all of our mutual influences. The ways of the old black, death, thrash and heavy metal is our inspiration. 

SFM - You recently released your debut full-length "The Sins of Aquarius" through Hell's Headbangers Records. The album is a favoirte of mine this year, but how has the general response to the record been?

MC - It has been really good. We have received inquiries from all over the globe and reviews have been really positive as well. 

SFM - Speaking of Hell's Headbangers, how has it been working with them? How did the partnership between the band and label begin?

MC - We sent Chase some of the tracks from our second release "Whoresanna" and he was stoked on them so he offered us a deal right away. Hell's Headbangers are great to work with. 

SFM - Hailing from a country that is so loaded as far as newer metal bands goes, is it difficult to stand out? Are you a fan of any of the newer bands today? Is there a sense of community or a brotherhood even, between the Australian bands?

MC - Its not difficult to stand out as the bands who are truly sick aren't in huge numbers. There are plenty of legends making evil metal in Australia at present and we are big supporters of them. Most Australian metal heads in the underground scene are acquainted and when shows like the recent Evil Invaders festival are held we all get together, drink piss and worship the sound of Satan. 

SFM - There's a common link between some of the bands in the Australian scene because a lot of them share band members. Are any of the Mongre's Cross guys involved in other projects?

MC - There is and all of us are involved in other bands. I have just began playing with the recently reformed Carbon. Necros Craigos drums for Impetuous Ritual and Goet Euryn has his own project named Gol. 

SFM - Mongrel's Cross played the "Evil Invaders IV" festival earlier this year, and the line-up looked absolutely incredible. How was the experience as a band playing and even as a fan of the other bands playing?

MC - It was a killer weekend! So many kick arse bands. It was a great experience and its always rewarding to play amongst your peers. 

SFM - Are there any plans on playing more live shows this year? Are there any plans to venture outside of Australia for shows anytime?

MC - We are currently in the process of jamming new material. There are eight new tracks and they sound fucking mental so we are keen to get them tight and begin recording again early next year. we are definitely interested in taking Mongrel's overseas and have discusses it within the band. It could be on next year's agenda. 

SFM - Have you had the opportunity to meet or play with any of the extreme metal icons of Australia's past such as KK Warslut (Destroyer 666, Bestial Warlust), Matthew Skarajew (Inverloch, diSEMBOWELMENT) or the fellas in Sadistik Exekution? Were these groups influential in your band's sound?

MC - Not as of yet. Destroyer are part of our heritage so yes they have been an influence on us. Sadistik Exekution could never be anything but a bad influence. 

SFM - That about concludes the interview, thank you very much for your time. Any words for your fans?

MC - "The Sins of Aquarius" is available on CD and LP from the band. Contact Keep it evil and bang on. 

**Be sure to check these guys out! They will not disappoint you!

Get the record here -
Like the band on Facebook here -

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Gorephilia - Embodiment of Death

If you have the slightest idea of what today’s old school death metal scene looks like, then you obviously know which influences plague and which trends are more pungent.  Incantation worship is a much popular fashion in the scene, and Gorephilia are yet another band displaying a crunchy brand of Incantation-esque old school death metal. Their 2011 Ep ‘’Ascend To Chaos'’ gave then some recognition and it set the base structure of their developing sound, but enter 2012, and their debut album ‘’Embodiment Of Death’’ is easily one of the most brutal old school death metal albums you’ve been acquainted with, and it’s easily more sophisticated than its predecessor, intensifying skull crushing heft with the ultimate eloquence. Perhaps the record does not entirely deviate from the norm, but it certainly erases the Incantation mark left in your ears from the previous release, proving to be both a deathlier and more cunning effort.

Well, it is a deal more brutal than the previous Ep, but it’s devoid of the ritualistic mysticism laden in the early Incantation albums, and there’s little room for passionate, dark instrumentation and spectral aura, as the muscular power is widely preferred an element on this record. The cadaverous, macabre approach of death metal is always a treat for me, and I like it even more when its doused with a pinch of looming and a dash of brawny prowess fit for certain sequences, but on ‘’Embodiment Of Death’’, the brooding, abysmal overtone is nearly gone, and instead, the riffs are dominated by an ominous tide, and are fuelled with constant energy and husky power, save for some doom laden sections which embrace the gloom n’ doom myth slightly more than their peers. This approach may put off listeners who seek atmosphere and perilous evil, hinted amongst the riffs, but fans that enjoy the stomping charge and fury of death metal will still appreciate this, and maybe even love it with as they are surrounded by the album’s spray of suffocating gas, teeming with density.

Incantation still reigns as the most dominant influence on this record as far as I can see, but I can also sense riffs that reek of Asphyx, Cianide and even early Morbid Angel and Immolation. Songs which puff up and turn into formidable yet ponderous bulks like ‘’Gods Stand Aghast’’ are easily influenced more by the likes of Asphyx, inserting tons of heft and crushing chugs into the mid paced death metal texture, engrossing it with simple, yet maiming chomps. It’s not exactly doom, but it’s still relatively more sluggish, intensified with speed only in certain passages wherein thin wisps of tremolo pickings descend in a forlorn fashion. Other tracks like ‘’Pantheon In Flames’’ or ‘’Forget Mortality’’ are frankly more spacious and brisk, and the two minute supercharged riff exploitation ‘’Bloodspawn’’ is as simple and quick as a grindcore song, only a deal heavier and more callous. With the guitar tone favouring massiveness and airy heft over darkened vagueness or thinner, more metallic touches, it can actually be a problem to hear the vocals properly because they’re muffled and far too cavernous to make a direct impact on the listener.

I don’t have many complaints about this record, but some more originality would certainly be good. Gorephilia have only embroidered their riffs with vague melodies and tremolos, and with little deviation from the path that has been set, the album sometimes sounds dull and not as efficient as you’d hope it to be, even though its full force assault is a crushing one. With some more atmosphere, and ore variation, the band can expand their style to one that’s less muscular and more spectral (which is the path that they should take), and this record is far from bad, but, I was slightly disappointed only by some of its subtle nuances. 

Pantheon In Flames
Vision Of Hell
Gods Stand Aghast

Final Rating
4.3/5 or 86%

Originally written for Lacerated Metal Zine

Tankard - A Girl Called Cerveza

Just 26 years after the band’s first album, Tankard is back with their 15th thrash record. Say what you will about their music and lyrics, but they deserve a ton of respect. In fact, the only other band that can compete in terms of consistency is Motorhead, but Tankard’s performance is even more impressive when you consider that they’ve had quite a bit less commercial success. Even though the band has pumped out an album every 2 years since 1998’s “Disco Destroyer”, it seemed like they really hit their stride with “Beast of Bourbon” from 2004. Since then, Tankard has released a string of albums that perfectly infuse a more traditional, somewhat melodic sound, with the old school thrashing that was very prevalent earlier in their career. 2010’s “Vol(l)ume 14” was a platter of instantly catchy tunes and is sure to go down as one of Tankard’s best albums. With all that said, “A Girl Called Cerveza” is a bit of a different beast. Sure, it’s a Tankard album, but the band put in a great effort to make sure it is not simply a rehashing of the previous album.

On first listen, there is one standout track: “The Metal Lady Boy”. This track is a duet between Gerre and the German metal Queen, Doro. Though it’s a bit slower in the verses, the unique combination of two different vocal styles makes for a memorable, albeit different sounding Tankard song. Aside from that song, the rest of the album took quite a few listens to truly get into. Plenty of the common Tankard features are still there though. The always-entertaining wordplay in the chorus of songs like “Rapid Fire” and “Fandom At Random” combined with the brutally blunt lyrics of “Son Of A Fridge” make for a great performance from Gerre. Guitarist Andy Gutjahr still loves putting his own spin on the classic thrash style. He uses plenty of palm muting, but he often deviates from simple chugging and throws more notes into the riffs under the verses. The drumming is fairly standard, but it gets the job done, and the basswork is quite similar.

There really isn’t too much that needs to be said about “A Girl Called Cerveza”. It’s nothing new, and it may take a bit more time to click with you than the previous record, but it’s still another testament to the fact that Tankard is going strong without repeating themselves.

Be sure to check out and like Tankard on Facebook!

"A Girl Called Cerveza"
"Son Of A Fridge"
"Fandom At Random"

Final Rating
4.0/5 or 80%. 

Written by Scott

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hellbringer - Dominion of Darkness

Not only is the cover art for Hellbringer's debut full-length awesome, but the music on "Dominion of Darkness" is stellar as well. Hailing from Australia, these guys have some mighty bands to follow after incredible releases from bands like Mongrel's Cross, Gospel of the Horns and Ignivomous have already been unleashed earlier this year. But, much like their fellow countrymen, they have delivered one of the best albums of 2012, and arguably the strongest contender for thrash album of the year. The songs that grace this album are all top-notch tracks of thrashing evil that will put them right up there with some of the best new bands around in Nekromantheon, Deathhammer and Toxic Holocaust. The riffs, solos, vocals, drumming, and everything in between flows together in near-perfect form to create a truly memorable thrash album, during a year that hasn't been so kind to thrash outfits (other than the black/thrash hordes). 

Hellbringer manage to capture the evil atmosphere that bands like Infernal Majesty, Possessed, Nocturn and Necrodeath brought to the table, and much like the ancient masters that preceded them, they also have the riffs to make some brilliant music. It's obvious that the riffs contained on this beast were well-crafted and not just rushed or fast for the sake of being fast. There's a great variety of blistering fast riffs, tremolo bursts, midpaced crushers and dark, haunting riffs. The title track and "The Rites of Evil" have some of the catchiest riffs heard on a thrash album in a very long time, making any complaints about the band being another generic thrash group nonsensical. The band also excels at producing some quality solos and melodies to go with the terrific rhythms that batter all who hear them, most notably on the intro to "Satanic Destructor" which is sure to send some shivers down the listener's spine or raise the hair on the back of their necks. 

The rhythm section of the band is also killer. The drumming is consistently solid throughout, with the best drum highlight being on the track "Deceiver's Chamber," a violent and vicious song. The bassist's performance wasn't exactly setting the world afire, but the effort was sufficient and provided the low end for the band's lethal sound. Luke Bennett's vocals aren't the most original around, but the familiar reverb-bathed barks are still a welcome listen and they suit the music perfectly. It's clear that "Dominion of Darkness" was crafted by a band that knows what they're doing, as the songs that were forged on this release could've been created by demons from the underworld; these songs are that damn evil and unholy. Once again, I am not surprised at all with the effort put forth by this Australian group who have continued to allow the prolific scene prosper at the highest possible level. This album is definitely up there with Nekromantheon's "Rise, Vulcan Spectre" and Deathhammer's "Onward to the Pits" as the best new thrash records of 2012, and it has plenty of room to grow on me and anyone fortunate enough to get their hands on this before the year's done. 

Be sure to check out and like Hellbringer on Facebook!

"Dominion of Darkness"
"Sermon of Death"
"Deceiver's Chamber"
"The Rites of Evil"

Final Rating
4.5/5 or 90%.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Exordium Mors - Sacrifice, Perish and Demise [EP]

New Zealand isn't exactly a powerhouse in the current metal scene, but they do have some great bands waving the flag for the old-school. Witchrist, Razorwyre and Nullifier are some that come to mind, who have already unleashed some terrific music this year, and now Exordium Mors is free to join their fellow countrymen as they attempt to conquer all across the metal underground with their brutal EP "Sacrifice, Perish and Demise." These guys play a brand of extreme metal that is absolutely punishing, dark and insane, bringing together the best qualities of their influences that they channel brilliantly throughout these three songs (there's also a super sweet cover of Venom's "Black Metal" on here too!). 

The most common names that I've seen Exordium Mors compared to have been Impiety, Absu and Angelcorpse, and that would not be a stretch at all given the band's ability to create music that is pummeling and unrelenting, while also retaining an evil vibe throughout. This couldn't be more apparent than on the opening track "Sign of the Judas Liege," a song that is sure to leave a mark on the listener simply due to the sheer aggression that penetrates the mind with violent drumming, harsh growls and riffs upon riffs. While speaking of riffs, it's necessary to point out that Exordium Mors has a lot of them and a majority of them are fucking crazy. I wouldn't call this band a technical band, but there's no doubt that these guys know how to play their instruments and that they aren't just trying to create bestial music in the vein of Blasphemy or Von like everyone else; these riffs crawl along the fretboard at ridiculous speeds and are memorable too, which isn't an easy task to accomplish. "Ancestors' Call" is another stellar track that features plenty of the aforementioned brutality, but it's also one of the darker songs here as there are some tremolo sections that are haunting, very akin to bands like Watain or Immortal. "Exordium Mors" is definitely the standout track, as it mixes the darkness, intensity and violence of the other songs splendidly. "Sacrifice, Perish and Demise" is undoubtedly worth the time of any metal fan who enjoys newer music that treads its own path while also paying homage to the ancient masters, whose work courses through Exordium Mors' veins. As great as this EP is, I expect an even unholier and vile assault from these guys in the future, and what a chaotic release that will be. 

Be sure to check out and like Exordium Mors on Facebook!

"Sign of Judas Liege"
"Ancestors' Call"
"Exordium Mors"

Final Rating
4.3/5 or 86%.