[Sarpanitum. Posing in the forest behind Trey Azagthoth's house]
Atomic Aggressor "Sights of Suffering" (Hells Headbangers) 8/10
"Cult Chilean legends" Atomic Aggressor return with their debut (I have an older recording of them from the 80s but I'm not going to pretend to know it front to back, I just remember it was brutal!) This is some killer straight forward Death Metal. Reminds me of Terrorizer mixed with Sadistic Intent and probably early Sepultura. Very nice thrashy riffy workout sessions. Drums are quite moshariffic. This is a mosher like the great old Swedish Death metal such as the first Unleashed. Only problem is the lack of solos. I can't understand why a band would shred so hard yet not include more fukked solos all over! There are some solos and they are very good. But more would have been nice. Points were subtracted because of this! But dude, the riffs are very catchy and makes this old fukk wanna mosh!
Excellent to hear such killer music from an old school underground obscure death band. A STRONG come back, and if these fucks step anywhere near my town, I will be there banging with all the other true DEATH FREAKS!
Brothers of the Sonic Cloth "s/t" (Neurot) 6/10
So this is the Tad guy's current band. Tad was a kinda grungy punk-ish band from th 90s. This is a bit darker I guess. Real slow and heavy, nice thick bass tone! Vocals are yelling out from a distance. In other words, they are slightly buried on purpose, and it gives a kind of "suffocating" sort of feel.
Things get real slow and heavy at points. There's some tuvan throat shit going on or something, giving that extra scary movie feel. Kida reminds me of something from Celtic Frost "Monotheist" the way it drags (on purpose). Lots of heavy music like this sucks because the musicians aren't really doing shit but smocking tons of pot and turning up. But a few know the art of manipulating noise in interesting ways. And I would say this band is pretty good at maintaining interest and building dynamics in an intense way.
There's some nice crunchy riffs here and there which gives it a more hardcore metal sort of sound. Overall, not amazing though. Just good and heavy. I think for me what is missing is a strong musical presence. In the form of a voice or a guitar or something. It never quite goes past slightly above average.
Gouge "Beyond Death" (Hells Headbangers) 8/10
Dirty fucking death. Primitive. Somewhat droning in the way Hellhammer was. A steady pulse of thrashing death. Reminds me of Autopsy at times. First Entombed comes to mind as well. Some good basic Scandinavian brutal death. This is the way to do it old school, no bullshit. Hells Headbangers does it again.
Satanic Warmaster "Fimbuwinter" (Hells Headbangers) 8/10
Black Metal gets monotonous very easily, due to it's stripped down and singular nature. But at this point the way I see it, any band that can conjure the spirit of Darkthrone's "under a funeral moon" has it right. And this album does it well, conjuring that frozen black metal mayhem. It is not magnifficent, it simply IS.
It actually reminds me at times of killer old BM demos I can't recall. Lots of nice breaks with moody melodic passages. I didn't read the lyrics, but I'm sure I would find something sketchy. I seem to recall a picture of Mr Werewolf saluting a certain evil leader of the past, but not sure how much that is injected here.
Production is very good, but not so clean as to fuck up the cult atmosphere. The problem comes down to the fact that we've heard this many times before. It's more like a potent ritual than it is "new music."
Einherjer "Avv oss, for Oss" (Indie Recordings) 6/10
It has been some time since I checked out a new Einherjer recording. This is because everything I have heard after their first couple recordings was way less interesting. It's like they were blessed by the great Norse gods for a couple years, and then they went the way of YAWN street.
I like the stripped down approach of this recording though, so while it is nothing amazing, it has a very consistent feeling from track to track. The riffs are genrally mid paced or slow in the Bathory sort of way. Although this NEVER even approached Bathory in power. But there is a bit of that old Noric energy felt within the simplistic, slightly melodic tunes. Vcals are very good - just straight forward "troll" style. Well I call it "crab vocals" but people look at me funny when I say that, so let's just say "Troll vocals."
As much as I would like to praise this recording, especially given the bands historical signifficence, I really can't detect much of the power I hear on the first EP. But it's not bad opening music for the headlining act. A band doing more interesting music is Metsetoll.
SARPANITUM Blessed Be My Brothers (Willowtip Records) 8/10
Well SOMEONE has been practicing their instruments! Right off the bat, this recording kinda slaps you in the face with this massive production. I mean it's bloody well done! Like this massive symphony. Very nice vibe created, heavy, powerful and epic.
Once the shit hits the fan, the band reveals its true colors - a technical Death band. Now they aren't quite as insane as these Unique Leader bands, they sound more like they stopped at Nile. In fact, this is very similar to Nile in many ways. There is also a bit of a European, or perhaps melodic Black Metal feel to some of the parts. Dissection creeping in a little? Not enough I'd say. More Dissection guys!
The drums hold a very solid beat at blast speeds. Double bass is like a computer, which is to say it's very fast but SO THE FUCK WHAT? It does sound pretty good though. I like the tones here.
Guitars are very similar to Morbid Angel FFTTF era. Very creative interplay between the two guitars. Clearly lots of work went into this recording. And about 20 years ago this would have been fairly unique. But now it just sounds like unused riffs from the bands I mentioned. And that IS a compliment by the way. Solos just sound like, again, unused Morbid Angel "Domination" solos.
Vocals groan away in a similar way as Nile or Steve Tucker era Morbid Angel. This band has some very interesting moments, but I think it needs to be developed into something more unique. Because all it is right now is Nile with a different mythology used as lyrics.
Xibalba "Tierra Y Libertad" (Southern Lord) 6/10
This is not the black metal band from Mexico, it's the hardcore/grind band from California. I like the whole apocalyptic feeling surrounding the album. It has a sort of 3rd world feeling to it, similar to middle era Sepultura. But it's got the influence of Napalm Death and many other heavy bands I can't place. Middle era Sepultura comes to mind though (chaos AD mainly).
Vocals are yelled in the classic monotone "mid yell" hardcore style, while the drums and guitars are closer to death metal. Some nice grindy slow sections sound particularly death metal influenced. Drums are excellent. Pounding, fairly simplistic, but perfect for the tunes. I get bored though due to the lack of solos and variation of songs. And the music is not impressive enough to really take it over the top. There were many bands like this in the 90s.
Overall this is pretty awesome for a style I don't listen too much to. The production, and in particular the drums, are so well recorded it's kind of a pleasure to listen to. But as far as songs I can't say it's amazing. I'm sure their live shows are a heavy duty sweaty affair though so I may actually check em out some time, but wouldn't go out of my way.