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MacabreEternal

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  1. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from FatherAlabaster for a blog entry, Gorguts - Full Length Discography Review (1991 - 2016)   
    1991 – Considered Dead – R/C Records
    It is hard to remember Gorguts as anything other than boundary pushing, avant-grade and unique purveyors of some of the most challenging music out there.  But everybody has to start somewhere and their debut was a straight up death metal record.  No evidence was shown in 1991 of much of anything in the way of technicality with the focus instead being on the release of the familiar sound that was infecting much of the metal world in the early nineties.
    It was well-played stuff most definitely with the band having retained three quarters of the line up from the ’89 demo …And Then Comes Lividity barring the replacement of Chouinard on guitar by Sylvain Marcoux.  Here there were catchy riffs like other death metal bands were knocking out as well as similar levels of frenzied intensity.  But Considered Dead is by my own admission and underrated album of the death metal genre.
    Yes, it reinvented no wheels but at the time there was no need to.  Imagine if the debut sounded anything like Obscura; the band would probably have never gotten past one record.  Intelligently Gorguts created a notch for themselves on the wall of death metal by just doing what others were doing really well and without bluster.  No gore obsessed lyrics, no demon worshipping here folks, just some spooky looking artwork and a suitably extreme sound to back it up.
    Whilst far from being my favourite release from the band, for a debut record there was little to argue with here.  It was a solid foundation for some of the layers of avant-garde and challenging death metal that were to be built on top of it over the coming three decades and throughout all that experimentation and out of the box thinking the band never stopped sounding like a death metal band who cut their teeth with the best of them.

     
    1993 – The Erosion of Sanity – Roadrunner Records
    I often think that Gorguts grew almost too quickly for their own good.  I mean an album of the ilk of Obscura getting dropped by a band just three records into their career is mind-boggling, even with a five year gap between its predecessor.  Already by the time the band got around to their sophomore record you could practically hear the cogs whirring around in the heads of most DM fans wondering how a band could develop and mature so quickly in just two years.  The Erosion of Sanity was a real beast to have to contend with as a standalone record, let alone a follow up to an already solid and very capable debut that had heads looking at the band already.  When a band hones its art that quickly and that deftly you have to forgive those that get left behind in the fan base.  If you got stranded at The Erosion of Sanity by Obscura I kind of understand it.  I mean the second album from Gorguts is superb.  Varied, dense and technical are just some of the words you could throw in its direction but overall it is still a solid, consistent and pummelling experience for the die-hards of the scene to lap up.
    There’s an almost inevitable comparison with Suffocation here with the influence of that band painted all over the walls of this record.  As a result the album has a constant weight to it no matter what the frequency of the tempo being played is.  This density provides atmosphere for virtually the whole record, even on the acoustic strings that introduce the closing track Dormant Misery there is a sense of impending peril in the air.  Yet at the same time the whole record has a rabid and urgent style to it that instils a sense of nervous anxiety in the listener as they track the intense and unrelenting delivery of some fine death metal.
    The technical aspect to the sound goes slightly unnoticed at the first couple of listens making this an album that rewards frequent visits to it as you start peel back the initial layer of acute brutality that 
    you think is the sole purpose of the album to find further layers of textures beneath for you to assess and understand.  Tracks like Orphans of Sickness are what true technical death metal is all about, shifting and surging like some turgid river in the midst of monsoon season.  The song feels vile and putrid yet there's no doubt that fiendish and devilish hands were present in its construction to provide a masterful and unsettling edge at the same time.
    I am slowly getting to owning all physical copies of Gorguts' discography because they are a band who have yet to put a foot wrong across a career that has seen them take a well-known genre with a distinct sound and direction and push the boundaries of it into the outer-stratosphere.  The Erosion of Sanity is when the rocket boosters kicked in and took them clear of most of the competition at the time.

     
    1998 – Obscura – Olympic Recordings
    Enter the avant-garde, bass twanging, bone-jarring branch of Gorguts that seems to cause equal amounts of praise and revulsion across the death metal fan base.  I sit firmly in the praise camp.  Not that I don't get the challenges that people have with this directional shift from the bands previous releases (all respectable enough DM records), but for me what impresses me the most about Obscura is the sheer range and scope of the album.  It isn't perfect by any means but, as per my love of Colored Sands this record likewise retains death metal as its core source, despite the multi-layered influences on display here Obscura does still come across as a raging death metal record full of energy and rampant angst.
    Lemay's trademark demented shriek accompanies the instrumentation perfectly.  I find the music twists and contorts brilliantly throughout, taking the listener on a real journey.  The only real downside to that journey perhaps is the length of it.  Clocking in at an hour in duration, the record does meander a bit unfortunately.  Although it is stylistically refreshing it is not controlled enough in its delivery to be able to sustain a presence for such a long period of time.  To compare it with the aforementioned Colored Sands is a fair contrast really as the latter album absolutely nails the delivery of the avant-garde/experimental aspect by integrating it into the overall sound better, even though the run time is more or less the same the 2013 album feels more palatable.
    From reading the criticism of Obscura there's definitely a feeling of the album being something that is done to the fans as opposed to being something they feel is introduced to them.  As full on as it is, the record is still fun and an entertaining enough curved ball.

     
    2001 – From Wisdom to Hate – Olympic Recordings
    At some point (may still be his view) Luc Lemay viewed From Wisdom to Hate as the natural progression from Erosion of Sanity as opposed to appearing after Obscura.  What Gorguts' fourth album represents is a mellowing of some of the avant-garde elements that made the previous album more jarring and obtuse to some listener's ears and reverted to some more familiar atavistic death metal that has become pretty much the trademark songwriting of the band.  Whereas Obscura was at times untidy amidst the rampant entertainment value of the record, From Wisdom to Hate offered a compositionally more grounded outing that relied on good songwriting as much as it did the challenging aspect of its predecessor.
    There had been a three year gap since their previous release and the bulk of that time had been spent on tour as well as (for Luc at least) some intensive study taking up non-road time.  The large gap and distractions proved too much for an impatient Steeve Hurdle and he had chosen to leave the band over the inactivity whilst Patrick Robert had vacated the drum seat for the returning Steve 
    MacDonald after the touring life proved too intense for Pat.  Having poached Martyr's Dan Mongrain into the Gorguts' camp, Luc set about teaching him the band's back catalogue and quickly found that the guy was pretty much a natural (he learned 4 songs from Obscura in just one evening) and so Mongrain got straight onto the songwriting credits for some three songs of his own and one co-written with Lemay.  Despite some pretty significant personnel changes, the band landed on their feet with a familiar face wanting to return and some highly-skilled, new blood to flex their artistry also.
    The effect is obvious as the band bridged that gap between the inventive and eccentric nature of their last outing and the more familiar hue of more traditional death metal that charged the still pioneering direction band with an energy that most bands struggle to retain beyond their debut.  Although arguably for me the album needs a tad more of the Obscura vibe, From Wisdom to Hate was a fine pre-cursor to the next stage of Gorguts where the real clever stuff started to happen and their ability to write structural and deeply textured songs really took off.  Hearing what theof the band are putting out now can have those roots traced back to their fourth outing.  As solid as it is, there's a real feel for boundaries still getting pushed, only this time it is more subtle in how it delivers that, abandoning the full-on assault approach for more strategic-based deployment of their forces. 
    For me there was some danger of this release getting lost in the discography as a lot of my attention has been on the third and fifth releases from the band.  I am glad I revisited this (purchasing a CD copy along the way) because From Wisdom to Hate is an essential release in the Gorguts' catalogue.  It takes the gold dust of Obscura and blends with the promise of Colored Sands and represents a band at the turning point in their career, fully-matured like some fine wine and ready to provide richness to the already plentiful dinner table.
     

     
    2013 – Colored Sands – Season of Mist
    Twelve years after their last full length, Gorguts returned as more or less a new band.  Lemay was the only original member and he recruited three of the most gifted and adaptable musicians to record hands down the best record Gorguts ever made!  Colin Marston from...well every band in the world seemingly picked up bass duties whilst the well-travelled John Longstreth joined on drums and with Kevin Hufnagel picking up guitar duties alongside Luc, the credentials of this line up were immediately obvious before a note was even recorded.
    Colored Sands delivered on every level.  Detailed and considered songwriting, variety in approach and delivery and skill displayed without arrogance or wankery.  There are parts to the record that stay in my head for days, changes of pace that still catch me off guard after nearly seven years and moments of sublime tenderness that touch your very soul.
    An assault on the senses like any Morbid Angel or Deicide album only with so many layers added to take that extreme sound and push the boundaries of this genre to even further reaches of extremity with a deftness that most can only dream of achieving.  This wasn't garish and jarring like Obscura was, this was more refined, all of those off-kilter elements were there but had more precision and integration applied to their inclusion.  At this stage, the songwriting capability of the band is unrivalled in the metal world as they draw up vast blueprints to near unfathomable structures that require lots of studious reviewing to really get the full picture and attempt to understand what it all means.
    The above withstanding, I still find this to be one of the bands more accessible releases but I am now so attuned to Lemay’s thought process that I may actually end up on an album soon enough myself (I fucking wish).  This was my gateway album into the band, and what an introduction it was.  Imagine my surprise working my way back through their discography from this release to find all manner of further attempts at the avant-garde mashed up with pure, straight up death metal also.

     
    2016 – Pleiades’ Dust – Season of Mist
    The barrage of bass-heavy, spiralling, rarefied, abstract and arcane death metal that Gorguts create on Pleiades' Dust just happens to be one of the most well composed pieces of music I have ever heard.  The fact is that the instrumentation on display here is sheer artistry, it isn't supposed to resemble much of anything else out there it is unique and distinctive without relying on being quirky or turgid to deliver its message.
    If I am honest, I had my doubts when I heard that this album was going to be one continuous song.  Even knowing the skill of the musicians involved I was dubious on how this could be delivered effectively without feeling bloated or bombastic.  The result is nothing short of astonishing though, maintaining flow and storytelling whilst still showing that they are a band rooted firmly in the ground of death metal yet some two decades in to their career are now producing some of the most challenging and cabbalistic music in existence today.
    Taking into account that it was recently announced that Gorguts are working on new material for their next release, you have to wonder exactly where the band are going to go next with this ever-evolving and increasingly eloquent brand of death metal.  They are almost the band I wished Death had become (instead of morphing into Control Denied) as with every release they have pushed their sound forwards and with it the boundary of death metal as a genre overall.  That having been said, they have never compromised or lost any of the aggression or extremity to their sound.  Sustainably over their discography they have left that golden thread in their sound that can be traced all the way back to their debut which is now nearly thirty years old.
    In my book there’s a handful of bands who can produce a solid run of albums and get better with each release, but eventually most of them fall after four or five albums (Metallica, Sepultura I am looking at you).  The strata of bands that sit in the rarefied atmosphere for having nearly flawless discographies has even less occupants (hence I don’t write too many of these type of articles), with perhaps only Death being the obvious co-inhabitants of Luc and co.  They might have lost fans along the way in some quarters but to me they have grown as a band over thirty years and used the downtime to their advantage, applying their understanding of music superbly, upping their game with each outing.
    Constantly exploring stories within their own story the band show a knowledge of history not always taught in high school and revisit these times of old.  Their music is insightful and conscientiously written and makes me wish History was this interesting when I was in school.

  2. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from FatherAlabaster for a blog entry, Ulcerate "Stare Into Death And Be Still"   
    It is no secret by now that I have a lot ( i mean a fucking lot) of time for Ulcerate.  I have been listening to metal for over 30 years now and I am sadly at a time now were very little excites me in the way of new releases.  I have over-indulged in the past, trying to consume as many new releases as possible in a given year and just ended up stuffed with underwhelming music that makes no impact on what little hunger of mine still remains for the pursuit of new releases.  If I look at the music library of today and compare it with the music library of 30 years ago it is clear that I had a lot less back then, relying on a family member's collection to get me going on my metal journey and saving what little money I had to buy music of my own every few months or so.  Back then buying a record, CD or cassette made me feel excited, awash with the hope that I was about to be treated to several tracks of metal mayhem that would keep me entertained for months to come.  I long for that feeling again more than I acknowledge but what is clear to me is that there are only a handful of bands whose pending releases can make me feel that passion for metal rekindle again.  Ulcerate sit in the top two of such bands (Gorguts lead).
    To say I am astonished by the continued development of the New Zealand death metallers is an understatement.  They have consistently but together intricate and involuted music for virtually their entire recorded careers.  Their music is now in such a hybrid state that it is equal parts monstrous as it is complex; impenetrable and labyrinthine beyond any puzzle the mind could fathom yet still conveying enough atmosphere and emotion to speak volumes to me.  The past two releases that precede Stare Into Death And Be Still have been nothing short of superb, with both Vermis and Shrines of Paralysis sounding as fresh and challenging today as they did when I first purchased them.

    Putting into words the success of their latest offering is difficult, since despite multiple listens to it there is still so very much that I am learning about this serpentine coil of explosive and expansive death metal.  It is however an obvious success in terms of it following the aforementioned two albums and it still displays so many trademarks of the band whilst also pushing their sound forwards and in more exploratory directions.  What is massively obvious here in 2020 is that Ulcerate have found the perfect means to apply rich and voluptuous melody to their sound without sacrificing any of their trademark ferociousness and clinical pursuit of swarming and menacing music.  The ariouse nature of some of the music on display across the eight tracks available here border on being dulcet.  They pinch like the disscordance of a Blut Aus Nord yet give a warmth akin to some of the more ethereal elements of Drudkh.  The placement of melody in this huge wall of noise that the threesome generate is in itself a massive achievement.  Musically the album feels like it is shifting like tectonic plates, giving the rumble of impening doom yet when fissures crack they spew canorous jets of calming and emotion enducing moments that temper the overall threat of the album beautifully.
    This isn't technical for technical's sake.  It doesn't feel obtuse or showy at any point it just simply smells of well written and well thought out songs that encompass an array of ideas that are arranged to deliver optimal impact.  Quite where it leaves Ulcerate as a musical force is frightening because surey at some point they are going to hit a wall after nearly ten years of flawless music?  I don't have any criticism of the album, which is rare for my grumpy old ass.  The only fear that I have is this unwillingness to consider that I will ever stop being excited as I was as a teenager about the release of any future Ulcerate material, and I hope that they continue with their God like powers for years to come.
    5/5
  3. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from dbagfromhellofthe7churches for a blog entry, Candlemass "The Door to Doom"   
    Two reviews in one weekend?  All work and no play makes Macca a dull boy!  Wait a minute...not when I am reviewing top notch releases such as the latest from Overkill and Candlemass.  I mean it is like I fell asleep on Thursday night and woke up in the eighties on Friday morning.  Like Overkill, the Swedish doom legends are enjoying a new lease of life, this time in the form of Johan Languist (yes,him) who returns to the band after a 32 year gap to ingratiate the memories of anyone with a copy of "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus" and an original Master of Puppets t-shirt.
    Candlemass 2019 are epic.  I mean in terms of the sound at least.  This plays more like an epic heavy metal record as opposed to a doom record.  Yeah, the heavy drudging riffs are still there but there's a real sense sword-wielding, bicep popping warriors flanked by women in metal underwear sat on spiky horses type fantasy.  Opening track "Splendor Demon Majesty" is an unashamedly dark opener full of occult promise that pulls of a perfect balance of menacing worship of evil deities whilst also pacing superbly to open the album strongly.  Even the most doomy tracks here are still laden with such vocal stylings. "Astorolus - the Great Octopus" (great fucking song title) is an obvious choice here, even given Iommi's input it still doesn't stray to far away from the epic nature the song title and feels well balanced.  It rumbles and rolls like a great Octopus would do assisted by some superb lead work along the way that stab through the menacing atmosphere.  Likewise, the gallop of "Death's Wheel" drops down in pace to doomy depths for the chorus to become one of the nearest experiences to the 1986 debut heard on here.
    Let's be honest though folks, this isn't "Epicus..." part two.  Not that anyone really wanted that though, right?  On its own, "The Door to Doom" stands up as a fantastic record for a band who haven't released anything notable since "Tales of Creation".  It is not that recognisable as a Candlemass record though which will no doubt get the diehards moaning into their retro flares and skull effect candlestick holders whilst crying into their earthen drinking vessels full of mead.  The only real reminders on here of the doom relationship is the fact that the record on the whole reminds me of a much better version of "13".  As I sit listening to "Black Trinity" I hear so much similarity to numerous tracks from Sabbath's last full length that I had to look twice in the instrumental parts to make sure I didn't have the library on shuffle. 

    That withstanding, "House of Doom" is a superb doomy romp with monumental riffage and pace and horror themed synths to build the atmosphere to boot.  This was on the the EP of the same name from last year and is probably may favourite track on here certainly in terms of its authenticity to the Candlemass sound of old, chiming church bells ringing to fade as the track closes.  If anything the record gets doomier the final 2 tracks.  Check out the riffs on "The Omega Circle" if you still need your bed wetting from some punishing doom metal before the band signs off on a job well done.
    There is only really two criticisms I can level at the record, one being the utterly pointless filler of "Bridge of the Blind", a crap ballad dropped in after just 3 tracks of excellence is just out of place both in terms of the timing of its placement and the marked difference in pace from the rest of the album.  Secondly, too many tracks start the same way.  There's about 3 or 4 that start with some slow picked strings and Languist crooning as an introduction to the tracks proper.  It just gets old after the second or third time even though on each occasion the track is soon hit by an epic riff or stomping pace change, 
    Sadly, if it wasn't for the shit ballad this album would have afforded a higher rating as it makes very few bad steps along it's length.  Buy it for the love of metal though, not just because it's Candlemass.
     
    4/5
  4. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from SNAGRECORDS for a blog entry, Sacred Reich "Awakening"   
    Whichever tier of thrash metal you consigned Sacred Reich back in the 80's/90's they still had their moments.  "Ignorance" & "Surf Nicaragura" did a great job of establishing the band, whereas "The American Way" just got a little too comfortable and accessible (the title track grates nowadays) for my ears.  A couple more records better left forgotten about and then nothing for twenty three years.  2019 alone has now seen three releases from Phil Rind and co.  A live EP, a split EP with Iron Reagan and now a full length.
    Notable addition to the ranks for the current throng of releases is former Machine Head sticksman, Dave McClean.  Love or hate Machine Head, McClean is a more than capable drummer and his presence here is felt from the off with the opening and title track kicking things off with some real gusto.  'Divide & Conquer' and 'Salvation' muddle along nicely, never quite reaching any quality that would make my balls tingle but comfortable enough.  The looming build to 'Manifest Reality' delivers a real punch when the song starts proper.  Frenzied riffs and drums with shots of lead work to hold the interest.

    There's a problem already though (I know, I am such a fucking mood hoover).  I don't like Phil's vocals.  I never had if I am being honest.  The aggression to them seems a little forced even when they are at their best on tracks like 'Manifest Reality'.  When he tries to sing it just feels weak though ('Salvation') and tracks lose real punch.  Give him a riffy number such as 'Killing Machine' and he is fine with the Reich engine (probably a poor choice of phrase) up in sixth gear.  For every thrashy riff there's a fair share of rock edged, local bar act rhythm aplenty too.
    Let's not poo-poo proceedings though, because overall I actually enjoy "Awakening".  It is stacked full of catchy riffs that are sticky on the old ears.  Whilst not as raw as perhaps the - brilliant - artwork suggests with its black and white, tattoo flash sheet style design it is enjoyable enough.  Yes, 'Death Valley' & 'Something to Believe' have no place here, saved only by Arnett and Radziwill's lead work but 'Revolution' is a fucking 80's thrash heyday throwback to the extent that if you turn the TV on during it you might catch a new episode of Cheers!
    3/5
  5. Horns
    MacabreEternal gave a Damn to FatherAlabaster for a blog entry, Obsequiae - The Palms Of Sorrowed Kings   
    Obsequiae established a very well-defined style on their first record, and they've stuck with it ever since. The Palms Of Sorrowed Kings is their third album, and much like the second one, it offers subtle refinements and expansions of their sound, but no big surprises. If you haven't heard them, it's a great place to start; if you have, you know what to expect.
    That's not a bad thing at all. If you like what they do, you'll like this album. It's chock full of flowing, triumphant medieval-European-flavored melodies and dual guitar interplay, reminding me of certain parts of Opeth's Orchid along with some other 90s melodic death, black, and folk metal. The songs remain generally mid-paced and propulsive, with the occasional blastbeat or meter shift, but nothing outlandish; the expected harp interludes are pretty-sounding, moody without being gloomy. The sense of atmosphere is well-realized and pervasive. A caustic vocal rasp echoes from within, I dunno, monastery walls? Tombs of ancient warriors? Something.
    So, what's different this time around? More complex, layered songwriting and musicianship; more prominent and interesting bass lines; a detailed, full-sounding mix that's a lot more clear than their debut and more powerful than the sterile sound of their last recording; a couple of sections with clean vocal harmonies that fit in nicely, and even a spoken word bit. The details add up to a compelling experience.
    My one real complaint about this band has been how homogeneous their stuff is. Every song tends to sound like a variation on the same couple of ideas, and that can make it all come across as a bit of a gimmick. I'm a fan of melodic metal and I love medieval Western music, so it's a gimmick I've enjoyed. This album doesn't feel like a gimmick. It's not some great departure, but it's not a mere rehashing, either; it's deeper, clearer, more varied and nuanced than their other material. I have a special place in my heart for the energy and rough edges of their debut, and there's plenty of nice stuff on Aria Of Vernal Tombs, but this might actually be the best thing they've done.
  6. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from Grievous for a blog entry, Sacred Reich "Awakening"   
    Whichever tier of thrash metal you consigned Sacred Reich back in the 80's/90's they still had their moments.  "Ignorance" & "Surf Nicaragura" did a great job of establishing the band, whereas "The American Way" just got a little too comfortable and accessible (the title track grates nowadays) for my ears.  A couple more records better left forgotten about and then nothing for twenty three years.  2019 alone has now seen three releases from Phil Rind and co.  A live EP, a split EP with Iron Reagan and now a full length.
    Notable addition to the ranks for the current throng of releases is former Machine Head sticksman, Dave McClean.  Love or hate Machine Head, McClean is a more than capable drummer and his presence here is felt from the off with the opening and title track kicking things off with some real gusto.  'Divide & Conquer' and 'Salvation' muddle along nicely, never quite reaching any quality that would make my balls tingle but comfortable enough.  The looming build to 'Manifest Reality' delivers a real punch when the song starts proper.  Frenzied riffs and drums with shots of lead work to hold the interest.

    There's a problem already though (I know, I am such a fucking mood hoover).  I don't like Phil's vocals.  I never had if I am being honest.  The aggression to them seems a little forced even when they are at their best on tracks like 'Manifest Reality'.  When he tries to sing it just feels weak though ('Salvation') and tracks lose real punch.  Give him a riffy number such as 'Killing Machine' and he is fine with the Reich engine (probably a poor choice of phrase) up in sixth gear.  For every thrashy riff there's a fair share of rock edged, local bar act rhythm aplenty too.
    Let's not poo-poo proceedings though, because overall I actually enjoy "Awakening".  It is stacked full of catchy riffs that are sticky on the old ears.  Whilst not as raw as perhaps the - brilliant - artwork suggests with its black and white, tattoo flash sheet style design it is enjoyable enough.  Yes, 'Death Valley' & 'Something to Believe' have no place here, saved only by Arnett and Radziwill's lead work but 'Revolution' is a fucking 80's thrash heyday throwback to the extent that if you turn the TV on during it you might catch a new episode of Cheers!
    3/5
  7. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from par9noid for a blog entry, Candlemass "The Door to Doom"   
    Two reviews in one weekend?  All work and no play makes Macca a dull boy!  Wait a minute...not when I am reviewing top notch releases such as the latest from Overkill and Candlemass.  I mean it is like I fell asleep on Thursday night and woke up in the eighties on Friday morning.  Like Overkill, the Swedish doom legends are enjoying a new lease of life, this time in the form of Johan Languist (yes,him) who returns to the band after a 32 year gap to ingratiate the memories of anyone with a copy of "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus" and an original Master of Puppets t-shirt.
    Candlemass 2019 are epic.  I mean in terms of the sound at least.  This plays more like an epic heavy metal record as opposed to a doom record.  Yeah, the heavy drudging riffs are still there but there's a real sense sword-wielding, bicep popping warriors flanked by women in metal underwear sat on spiky horses type fantasy.  Opening track "Splendor Demon Majesty" is an unashamedly dark opener full of occult promise that pulls of a perfect balance of menacing worship of evil deities whilst also pacing superbly to open the album strongly.  Even the most doomy tracks here are still laden with such vocal stylings. "Astorolus - the Great Octopus" (great fucking song title) is an obvious choice here, even given Iommi's input it still doesn't stray to far away from the epic nature the song title and feels well balanced.  It rumbles and rolls like a great Octopus would do assisted by some superb lead work along the way that stab through the menacing atmosphere.  Likewise, the gallop of "Death's Wheel" drops down in pace to doomy depths for the chorus to become one of the nearest experiences to the 1986 debut heard on here.
    Let's be honest though folks, this isn't "Epicus..." part two.  Not that anyone really wanted that though, right?  On its own, "The Door to Doom" stands up as a fantastic record for a band who haven't released anything notable since "Tales of Creation".  It is not that recognisable as a Candlemass record though which will no doubt get the diehards moaning into their retro flares and skull effect candlestick holders whilst crying into their earthen drinking vessels full of mead.  The only real reminders on here of the doom relationship is the fact that the record on the whole reminds me of a much better version of "13".  As I sit listening to "Black Trinity" I hear so much similarity to numerous tracks from Sabbath's last full length that I had to look twice in the instrumental parts to make sure I didn't have the library on shuffle. 

    That withstanding, "House of Doom" is a superb doomy romp with monumental riffage and pace and horror themed synths to build the atmosphere to boot.  This was on the the EP of the same name from last year and is probably may favourite track on here certainly in terms of its authenticity to the Candlemass sound of old, chiming church bells ringing to fade as the track closes.  If anything the record gets doomier the final 2 tracks.  Check out the riffs on "The Omega Circle" if you still need your bed wetting from some punishing doom metal before the band signs off on a job well done.
    There is only really two criticisms I can level at the record, one being the utterly pointless filler of "Bridge of the Blind", a crap ballad dropped in after just 3 tracks of excellence is just out of place both in terms of the timing of its placement and the marked difference in pace from the rest of the album.  Secondly, too many tracks start the same way.  There's about 3 or 4 that start with some slow picked strings and Languist crooning as an introduction to the tracks proper.  It just gets old after the second or third time even though on each occasion the track is soon hit by an epic riff or stomping pace change, 
    Sadly, if it wasn't for the shit ballad this album would have afforded a higher rating as it makes very few bad steps along it's length.  Buy it for the love of metal though, not just because it's Candlemass.
     
    4/5
  8. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from Requiem for a blog entry, Vltimas 'Something Wicked Marches In'   
    2019 is slowly unveiling some fine releases.  With Altarage, Overkill and Candlemass all making me grin thus far in the past three months, despite a slow start and some disappointments (Venom, Queensryche and Legion of the Damned).  Naturally, your ears prick up when you hear Flo Mounier, Rune Eriksen and David Vincent have decided to get together and make some unholy communion.  Straight away I thought we had potential AOTY material right here given the obvious talent and experience present on this record.  I wasn't disappointed.  Whilst not flawless, 'Something Wicked Marches In' is a glorious display of DM, performed by intelligent and capable artists who manage to individually stamp their authority on the record yet at the same time are mature enough to work as a complete and cohesive unit.
    Let's start with David Vincent.  He's by no means at an 'Altars...' or 'Blessed...' level of stature here yet his performance grabs the attention, not in the least due to the vocals being so forward in the mix.  His grim and menacing style compliments the music perfectly, adding atmosphere and clearly enunciated declarations of wicked intent alongside his familiar growls.  The painful memory of 'Illud...' is put to bed firmly here, much more effectively than Morbid Angel's mediocre follow up offering of 2017, it has to be said.

    The dissonant , gnawing and at times melancholic guitar of Eriksen builds Mayhem-esque structures within solid chugging death metal riffs, offering variety and diverse pace throughout.  Again, whilst sounding like Eriksen throughout the record it never feels at any point like his guitar work is dominating proceedings.  His work moulds well around the percussion and vocal performances, crafting a real sense of balance and true artistic unison.
    Then of course we have the machine that is Mounier.  The famed Cryptopsy skin-basher is as you would expect on good form here, the varied pace of the album lending well to showcase the many sides to the repertoire of the Frenchman.  Whether it is the faster pace that dominates much of the album or the more mid-paced tracks or passages that populate the album in abundance, Flo is there blasting and pounding as required with all the surety and aptitude you would expect from a man of his experience and ability.
    Standout tracks include the title and opening track that sets the tone so well for the rest of the album with its multifarious pace.  Straight away the performance feels tight and professional and as the blasting opening to 'Praevalidus' smashes into the listener like some DM freight train the quality level is immediately maintained.  The ritualistic feel of 'Monolilith' with its chanted admiration of the demon of the night is superb and as enticing as the subject matter herself.
    As I say, it is not a flawless record.  For a start the bass is virtually lost in the mix (not 'And Justice For All...' lost but, nonetheless, undervalued somewhat in the mix.  There are also times when you forget you are listening to an album as such since some of the tracks merge together a little and sound the same, almost like you are listening to established group jamming in their studio instead of recording a full-length.  These are only minor quibbles since when 'Something Wicked Marches In' is on point it is fucking amazing.
    4/5 
  9. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from Will for a blog entry, Vltimas 'Something Wicked Marches In'   
    2019 is slowly unveiling some fine releases.  With Altarage, Overkill and Candlemass all making me grin thus far in the past three months, despite a slow start and some disappointments (Venom, Queensryche and Legion of the Damned).  Naturally, your ears prick up when you hear Flo Mounier, Rune Eriksen and David Vincent have decided to get together and make some unholy communion.  Straight away I thought we had potential AOTY material right here given the obvious talent and experience present on this record.  I wasn't disappointed.  Whilst not flawless, 'Something Wicked Marches In' is a glorious display of DM, performed by intelligent and capable artists who manage to individually stamp their authority on the record yet at the same time are mature enough to work as a complete and cohesive unit.
    Let's start with David Vincent.  He's by no means at an 'Altars...' or 'Blessed...' level of stature here yet his performance grabs the attention, not in the least due to the vocals being so forward in the mix.  His grim and menacing style compliments the music perfectly, adding atmosphere and clearly enunciated declarations of wicked intent alongside his familiar growls.  The painful memory of 'Illud...' is put to bed firmly here, much more effectively than Morbid Angel's mediocre follow up offering of 2017, it has to be said.

    The dissonant , gnawing and at times melancholic guitar of Eriksen builds Mayhem-esque structures within solid chugging death metal riffs, offering variety and diverse pace throughout.  Again, whilst sounding like Eriksen throughout the record it never feels at any point like his guitar work is dominating proceedings.  His work moulds well around the percussion and vocal performances, crafting a real sense of balance and true artistic unison.
    Then of course we have the machine that is Mounier.  The famed Cryptopsy skin-basher is as you would expect on good form here, the varied pace of the album lending well to showcase the many sides to the repertoire of the Frenchman.  Whether it is the faster pace that dominates much of the album or the more mid-paced tracks or passages that populate the album in abundance, Flo is there blasting and pounding as required with all the surety and aptitude you would expect from a man of his experience and ability.
    Standout tracks include the title and opening track that sets the tone so well for the rest of the album with its multifarious pace.  Straight away the performance feels tight and professional and as the blasting opening to 'Praevalidus' smashes into the listener like some DM freight train the quality level is immediately maintained.  The ritualistic feel of 'Monolilith' with its chanted admiration of the demon of the night is superb and as enticing as the subject matter herself.
    As I say, it is not a flawless record.  For a start the bass is virtually lost in the mix (not 'And Justice For All...' lost but, nonetheless, undervalued somewhat in the mix.  There are also times when you forget you are listening to an album as such since some of the tracks merge together a little and sound the same, almost like you are listening to established group jamming in their studio instead of recording a full-length.  These are only minor quibbles since when 'Something Wicked Marches In' is on point it is fucking amazing.
    4/5 
  10. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from salmonellapancake for a blog entry, The Fallen Ones   
    @BlutAusNerd
    @Iceni
    @NTNR
    @Midi
    @Frostaudn
    @jfk36
    @Black Milk
    @SBird94
    @~Mere~
    @mindy6158
    @Ghouly
    @forge
    @salmonellapancake
    @Thrashman
    @Skull_Kollektor
    @Ikard
  11. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from FatherAlabaster for a blog entry, The Fallen Ones   
    @BlutAusNerd
    @Iceni
    @NTNR
    @Midi
    @Frostaudn
    @jfk36
    @Black Milk
    @SBird94
    @~Mere~
    @mindy6158
    @Ghouly
    @forge
    @salmonellapancake
    @Thrashman
    @Skull_Kollektor
    @Ikard
  12. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from Natassja for a blog entry, Essential Finnish BM Releases - Horna/Behexen split EP - (2004)   
    The first entry in this new blog section celebrating the Finnish BM scene is dedicated to one of the finest split releases I have ever heard.  In July 2004, Grievantee Productions released this split EP from two of the most established and revered acts on the BM scene in Finland.  A split of real contrast, this offering gave two sides of the coin in every aspect.  The lo-fi production of Horna with the shrieking vocals of Corvus at the front of the delivery giving marked difference to the scathing yet melodic attack of Behexen.
    I have read much criticism of Horna's contribution and to some degree I can understand this.  The almost soulless performance sounds empty and devoid of depth in some ways.  Yet this in so many ways is also why it works so well for me.  The performance sounds authentic and atavistic, like the awakening of something believed to be long-dead and forgotten, now brought back to some living/undead state to unleash its ancient threat on an unsuspecting world.  Punky stabs underpin the relentless delivery giving space for some respectful foot stomping as well as neck snapping.
    The grim and dank nature of Horna's four tracks here match perfectly the artwork that adorns (this version) of the release.  It feels like Finnish BM, full of such cold hatred and pure, unbridled suffering.  Its grimness punctuated by the already mentioned vocal prowess of Corvus.  Horna here remind me of the understated riffing of Darkthrone elevated in an absolute maelstrom of pitch black darkness.
     

    By way of contrast, Behexen have a cleaner sound from the off.  Obviously more melodic yet still racing and aggressive to make them marginally more accessible than Horna.  Hoath's vocals are more buried in the mix than Corvus' but the intense gallop and scathing delivery somehow elevates them just enough.  There's definitely more of a feeling of there being a "wall" of noise  on the Behexen contribution but the tracks themselves have a more discernible series of transitions that fill the soundscape perfectly, permeating the parts Horna's contribution cannot reach.
    Despite the marked difference in production values, the Behexen tracks compliment the Horna ones perfectly (and vice the versa).  The combination of the two styles make the EP a triumph of opposites and I find this EP works really well on shuffle to emphasise this.  Of the Behexen tracks, "A Distant Call From Darkness" is my preferred choice with its blend of galloping riffage, scathing vocals and melancholic melody.  The guitar sound on this track is fucking pandemic level infectious! 
    I would encourage any BM fan to purchase and embrace this most essential of Finnish BM releases.
     
    5/5
  13. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from FatherAlabaster for a blog entry, Ossuarium "Living Tomb"   
    When it comes to death/doom, variety is not necessarily top of the average listener's appeal list.  Usually when I review such a release I find myself typing "doesn't reinvent the wheel but does the genre justice with this solid offering" or words to that effect.  Ossuarium's debut full length falls under that banner most definitely.  Nobody is fucking around here with a saxophone to make the offering standout with some eclectic and unnecessary deviation from tradition.  If you like your death metal doomy or your doom metal deathy then chalk up a tick in your respective box folks!
    As predictable as the "Incantation influences aplenty on show here" references are, what "Living Tomb" does do is show some variety in terms of the band wearing their influences on their sleeves.  Yes, Incantation is an obvious comparison but I also get the clumsy and cloying lead work of Autopsy in here too.  There's also clever, atmospheric structures in places you wouldn't expect, like mid-track on the superbly titled "Vomiting Black Death" which remind me of dISEMBOWELMENT.
    What is also obvious after a couple of listens though is the production job, in terms of how bad it is on the whole.  It sounds like the rhythm section has cloth over it and yes, I get that the genre is supposed to sound gloomy but this isn't good gloomy, this is (slightly) muffled gloomy and that detracts from the whole experience unfortunately as I find it quite noticeable.  The slower sections of most songs suffer more obviously with this and so I find this is where the brain switches off or goes wandering.

    Let's not get too bogged down in production though as the skill of the band is still obvious and we can just imagine how strong the sophomore release is gonna be if they get that production/mix issue ironed out.  The potential of Ossuarium is as huge as the riffs and as intense as the melancholic leads that guide on this dank journey.  The artwork here depicts perfectly what you get on the record.  Big looming structures, menacing atmospheres and ugly sounds (check out the guitar at the start of "Writhing in Emptiness").  These boys can write and play also and you will struggle to find better built death/doom this side of Spectral Voice and Tomb Mold, it just needs a better environment to really show all these good bits off a bit better.
     
    3.5/5
  14. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from Natassja for a blog entry, Altarage "The Approaching Roar"   
    The roar has always been approaching.  As far back as three years ago when Altarage dropped their debut full length 'Nihl', this scribe could already hear the threat of their ability, feel the menace of their presence from over hills far away and sense the nefarious intent as the raw fury howled over my skin.  Sophomore effort 'Endinghent' further cemented the prowess of these blackened death metal Basque country residents.  Although slightly less of an impact than the opening salvo of 'Nihl' it was obvious throughout their second offering that Altarage were refining their strategy and making the style of attack more calculated.
    Album number three is no longer an approach though.  It's an arrival.  Arguably now on a par with the bastion of death metal chaos that are Portal now, Altarage are right up there with their own stamp on the principles of this most unwelcoming and inaccessible form of extreme metal.  What they did so well on 'Nihl' was shift multiple times the pace, atmosphere and direction of a track.  Doing so with such effortless and frankly unexpected subtlety that I just could not be anything but astounded.  At the same time they could drop a grinding slab of unrelenting, blackened fury with scant regard for pacing or measure and still have my jaw on the floor.  'The Approaching Roar' takes those foundations and adds maturity, dexterity and skilled songwriting to them to produce some complex and yet - in parts - more accessible pieces of Altarage.

    Last year's Portal release 'Ion,' saw the band's sound lifted out of the traditionally murky depths that familiarised their sound, in favour of a more coherent aesthetic - which worked well.  Altarage are still firmly writhing in their own filth and murk here, despite the odd glimpse of a clearer stab of accessibility.  The menacing flamenco promise of the acoustic intro for opening track 'Sighting' is the first flash of this but in mere seconds the full on face stripping fury that we all know is coming is right there, detaching retinas and bursting ear drums.  Even just one track in, the shifting/morphing of pace is obvious and the hidden melody of the final minute is reminiscent of your mum playing Smooth FM in the another room, just audible over the chaos that envelopes you at that time.
    'Knowledge' is a big, chunky riffing monster of a track that builds like an army getting into formation for some devastating attack on the enemy.  'Urn' takes a brave step at track number three on the record by building a hazy and funereal intro that sounds like a dial slowly being notched up over a couple of minutes.  Eventually (of course), the gates of hell themselves are then flung open with abrasive vocals and churning instrumentation.  It is at this point that I first fell the drums are a little to low in the mix sometimes, stifled of air a bit by being a part of the roaring chaos as opposed to being allowed to breath a little at times.  Again the song-shifting occurs here with the final two minutes of the track being some of the most coherent Altarage to date.
    As you take in the ebb and flow of 'Hieroglyphic Certainty' and obscure grinding riffs and tribal percussion of 'Inhabitant' it occurs to you that this listening experience is akin to a very cleverly engineered virus, the strain of which threatens to consume your entire existence.  The deftness of the structure of 'Chaworos Sephelin' with its haunting, lo-fi cello tinged atmosphere that gives way to the crashing fury of waves of pummelling riffs and percussion is a joy to behold.  The final two tracks finish the album just as we started it, still full of ideas and dripping with the promise of still better things to come.
    Altarage might be shrouded in mystery with their secretive nature (the Members tab on their page of Encyclopaedia Metallum says "none") but the music that they deliver shows them sharing only the most potent and valuable artefacts from the darkness which they inhabit.  The roar is now and always will be with you.
    5/5
  15. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from FatherAlabaster for a blog entry, Altarage "The Approaching Roar"   
    The roar has always been approaching.  As far back as three years ago when Altarage dropped their debut full length 'Nihl', this scribe could already hear the threat of their ability, feel the menace of their presence from over hills far away and sense the nefarious intent as the raw fury howled over my skin.  Sophomore effort 'Endinghent' further cemented the prowess of these blackened death metal Basque country residents.  Although slightly less of an impact than the opening salvo of 'Nihl' it was obvious throughout their second offering that Altarage were refining their strategy and making the style of attack more calculated.
    Album number three is no longer an approach though.  It's an arrival.  Arguably now on a par with the bastion of death metal chaos that are Portal now, Altarage are right up there with their own stamp on the principles of this most unwelcoming and inaccessible form of extreme metal.  What they did so well on 'Nihl' was shift multiple times the pace, atmosphere and direction of a track.  Doing so with such effortless and frankly unexpected subtlety that I just could not be anything but astounded.  At the same time they could drop a grinding slab of unrelenting, blackened fury with scant regard for pacing or measure and still have my jaw on the floor.  'The Approaching Roar' takes those foundations and adds maturity, dexterity and skilled songwriting to them to produce some complex and yet - in parts - more accessible pieces of Altarage.

    Last year's Portal release 'Ion,' saw the band's sound lifted out of the traditionally murky depths that familiarised their sound, in favour of a more coherent aesthetic - which worked well.  Altarage are still firmly writhing in their own filth and murk here, despite the odd glimpse of a clearer stab of accessibility.  The menacing flamenco promise of the acoustic intro for opening track 'Sighting' is the first flash of this but in mere seconds the full on face stripping fury that we all know is coming is right there, detaching retinas and bursting ear drums.  Even just one track in, the shifting/morphing of pace is obvious and the hidden melody of the final minute is reminiscent of your mum playing Smooth FM in the another room, just audible over the chaos that envelopes you at that time.
    'Knowledge' is a big, chunky riffing monster of a track that builds like an army getting into formation for some devastating attack on the enemy.  'Urn' takes a brave step at track number three on the record by building a hazy and funereal intro that sounds like a dial slowly being notched up over a couple of minutes.  Eventually (of course), the gates of hell themselves are then flung open with abrasive vocals and churning instrumentation.  It is at this point that I first fell the drums are a little to low in the mix sometimes, stifled of air a bit by being a part of the roaring chaos as opposed to being allowed to breath a little at times.  Again the song-shifting occurs here with the final two minutes of the track being some of the most coherent Altarage to date.
    As you take in the ebb and flow of 'Hieroglyphic Certainty' and obscure grinding riffs and tribal percussion of 'Inhabitant' it occurs to you that this listening experience is akin to a very cleverly engineered virus, the strain of which threatens to consume your entire existence.  The deftness of the structure of 'Chaworos Sephelin' with its haunting, lo-fi cello tinged atmosphere that gives way to the crashing fury of waves of pummelling riffs and percussion is a joy to behold.  The final two tracks finish the album just as we started it, still full of ideas and dripping with the promise of still better things to come.
    Altarage might be shrouded in mystery with their secretive nature (the Members tab on their page of Encyclopaedia Metallum says "none") but the music that they deliver shows them sharing only the most potent and valuable artefacts from the darkness which they inhabit.  The roar is now and always will be with you.
    5/5
  16. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from True Belief for a blog entry, Corpsessed "Impetus of Death"   
    It was 2014 when Corpsessed released their debut full length and mighty fucking good it was too.  Some 4+ years later and it is time for the sophomore release to land in my music stream and seek my attention.  When I say seek I actually mean possess my attention.  Although the album is by no means perfect, this record grabs hold of you by your very soul, dragging it off on a journey littered with horror, darkness and crushing heaviness to boot.  One of its main successes is the atmosphere that is obvious from the opening of "Impetus of  the Dead" and plays an integral part over the remainder of the release.
    It is a very well structured album too, with strong song writing that layers tracks up to behemoth size and proportions.  Yet at the same time there's a real sense of balance too, for every cavernous and mammoth like structure there's shorter and more intense bursts that whilst moving the pace slightly away from the heaviness, don't distract too much from it.  "Paroxsymal" and "Sortilege" are great examples of this, two well placed tracks that add a variety to the pace and increase the memorability of the whole experience.

    The album only has two weak points for me.  The penultimate track on the record seems just a random and not altogether necessary inclusion, especially given the quality of "Forlorn Burial" before it and the vast ending of "Starless Event Horizon" after it.  Secondly, the production does seem to give off a muddled sound on some tracks although the horror of the atmosphere and those lead guitars certainly do rescue the day on more than one occasion.  In a year that has struggled overall to bring many standout DM records, "Impetus of Death" will be a welcome addition to any fan's Top 10 DM Albums of 2018 no doubt.  It is one of the stronger records of 2018 and also a fine step up from their debut offering also which makes me excited for album number 3.
     
    4/5
  17. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from dirtyDan for a blog entry, MacabreEternal's Top 10 BM Albums 2018   
    At the start of pulling this list together I had thought it to have been a "light" year for BM releases.  It was only when I got into compiling my "Best of 2018" that I realised it had in fact been quite a good year.  2018 in BM saw the return of some well established acts, some of them doing what they have always done well whereas others took to the recording studios minus long standing members.  When all is said and done, I think it all turned out rather well.
    Honorable Mentions
    It is a Top 10 folks and sadly not everyone has a place, so appreciative nods in the general direction of:
    Shining "X-Varg Utan Flock"; Alghazanth "Eight Coffin Nails"; Summoning "With Doom We Come"; Varathron "Patriarchs of Evil" and Watain "Trident Wolf Eclipse".
    10. Panopticon "The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness I & II"
    By far the latest release on the list in terms of me catching up with it.  Usual atmospheric BM goodness on disc 1 and not too shabby folk/bluegrass/dark americana on disc 2.  Does grow on me the more I listen.
    9. Wallachia "Monumental Heresy"
    A recent revisit to this album boosted it into the list. Those lush orchestrations supply a great foundation to those tremolo riffs and acoustic passages throughout "Monumental Heresy".  Nice work.
    8. Wiegedood "De Doden Hebben Het Goed II"
    Aggression is the name of the game here, as death and anger are thrust at you from every corner.  Can pass you by completely if you don't give it proper attention, and doing so will reap rich rewards as there is so much going on here beneath the surface.
    7. Die Kunst Der Finsternis "Queen of Owls"
    Another fine slab of vampiric,  gothic and horrific BM from Sweden's finest lord of the night.  This truly is the art of darkness at work right here.
    6. Craft "White Noise and Black Metal"
    Dodgy record title aside, Craft return with a real class release some seven years after their last outing.  Catchy and scathing at the same time, the Swedes fifth full length make it two back to back releases from the country of IKEA into my top 10.
    5. Drudkh "They Often See Dreams About the Spring"
    Still no bad releases from Drudkh after 15 years of atmospheric BM.  The atmosphere is just as prevalent as ever on release number 11, built into the intelligent song structures and mature riffing and growling we have all become ever so familiar with. There is just no getting away from the feeling of vastness on this record as it swallows you up track by track.  Sadly this is also its main flaw as the attention required to fully enjoy this is a little too intense for my aged metal brain, otherwise it could have placed higher.
    4. Immortal "Northern Chaos Gods"
    Abbath who?  I mean this is one the most Immortal sounding Immortal albums ever, right?  Showing Demonaz as the real songwriting force behind Immortal, "Northern Chaos Gods" is just chock full of FUCKING RIFFS MAN!  I mean play this in a dark room, get up to switch the light and you will trip over at least 4 riffs whilst trying to get to the light switch!  They have song called "Blacker of Worlds" on here, I mean if that doesn't get your average corpse paint laden BM teenager wet then there's no hope for humanity.
    3. Marduk "Viktoria"
    Ok, this caught me completely off guard.  I mean, pants down, around the ankles, pooing in a bag, in a forest in hi-vis work gear - caught off guard!  Now I have stopped shitting in the woods like some giant luminous bear I am just having the time of my life listening to the short, sharp yet thoroughly enjoyable blasturbation of Marduk.  Cold and melancholic melodies swirl throughout the album and fill your head like for days afterwards.
    2. Sargeist "Unbound"
    Another band that simply can do no wrong in my book is Sargeist.  I am at the point now where I listen to each new release with trepidation, just in case this is the one that drops a bollock the weight of Finland itself as the band have decided to go all Euro Pop!  Thankfully, "Unbound" is most definitely not Euro Pop.  It is a furiously trve representation of Sargeist's traditional sound that is complemented superbly by melodic stylings from a largely new and reinvigorated line up.  No Sargeist entry at Eurovision this year folks!
    1. Winterfylleth "The Harrowing of Heirdom"
    So, controversially not an actual BM record but most definitely a release by a BM band.  I can't quite put into sufficient wording just how much I enjoy this record of acoustic storytelling.  I sing along to every line, I get teary at every lush piece of instrumentation and atmosphere and I smile content as a Bond villain at every warm tone that washes forth from my speakers/headphones.  An earthy, emotional and endearing experience that sits proudly atop of my list for 2018.
     
  18. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from Natassja for a blog entry, MacabreEternal's Top 10 BM Albums 2018   
    At the start of pulling this list together I had thought it to have been a "light" year for BM releases.  It was only when I got into compiling my "Best of 2018" that I realised it had in fact been quite a good year.  2018 in BM saw the return of some well established acts, some of them doing what they have always done well whereas others took to the recording studios minus long standing members.  When all is said and done, I think it all turned out rather well.
    Honorable Mentions
    It is a Top 10 folks and sadly not everyone has a place, so appreciative nods in the general direction of:
    Shining "X-Varg Utan Flock"; Alghazanth "Eight Coffin Nails"; Summoning "With Doom We Come"; Varathron "Patriarchs of Evil" and Watain "Trident Wolf Eclipse".
    10. Panopticon "The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness I & II"
    By far the latest release on the list in terms of me catching up with it.  Usual atmospheric BM goodness on disc 1 and not too shabby folk/bluegrass/dark americana on disc 2.  Does grow on me the more I listen.
    9. Wallachia "Monumental Heresy"
    A recent revisit to this album boosted it into the list. Those lush orchestrations supply a great foundation to those tremolo riffs and acoustic passages throughout "Monumental Heresy".  Nice work.
    8. Wiegedood "De Doden Hebben Het Goed II"
    Aggression is the name of the game here, as death and anger are thrust at you from every corner.  Can pass you by completely if you don't give it proper attention, and doing so will reap rich rewards as there is so much going on here beneath the surface.
    7. Die Kunst Der Finsternis "Queen of Owls"
    Another fine slab of vampiric,  gothic and horrific BM from Sweden's finest lord of the night.  This truly is the art of darkness at work right here.
    6. Craft "White Noise and Black Metal"
    Dodgy record title aside, Craft return with a real class release some seven years after their last outing.  Catchy and scathing at the same time, the Swedes fifth full length make it two back to back releases from the country of IKEA into my top 10.
    5. Drudkh "They Often See Dreams About the Spring"
    Still no bad releases from Drudkh after 15 years of atmospheric BM.  The atmosphere is just as prevalent as ever on release number 11, built into the intelligent song structures and mature riffing and growling we have all become ever so familiar with. There is just no getting away from the feeling of vastness on this record as it swallows you up track by track.  Sadly this is also its main flaw as the attention required to fully enjoy this is a little too intense for my aged metal brain, otherwise it could have placed higher.
    4. Immortal "Northern Chaos Gods"
    Abbath who?  I mean this is one the most Immortal sounding Immortal albums ever, right?  Showing Demonaz as the real songwriting force behind Immortal, "Northern Chaos Gods" is just chock full of FUCKING RIFFS MAN!  I mean play this in a dark room, get up to switch the light and you will trip over at least 4 riffs whilst trying to get to the light switch!  They have song called "Blacker of Worlds" on here, I mean if that doesn't get your average corpse paint laden BM teenager wet then there's no hope for humanity.
    3. Marduk "Viktoria"
    Ok, this caught me completely off guard.  I mean, pants down, around the ankles, pooing in a bag, in a forest in hi-vis work gear - caught off guard!  Now I have stopped shitting in the woods like some giant luminous bear I am just having the time of my life listening to the short, sharp yet thoroughly enjoyable blasturbation of Marduk.  Cold and melancholic melodies swirl throughout the album and fill your head like for days afterwards.
    2. Sargeist "Unbound"
    Another band that simply can do no wrong in my book is Sargeist.  I am at the point now where I listen to each new release with trepidation, just in case this is the one that drops a bollock the weight of Finland itself as the band have decided to go all Euro Pop!  Thankfully, "Unbound" is most definitely not Euro Pop.  It is a furiously trve representation of Sargeist's traditional sound that is complemented superbly by melodic stylings from a largely new and reinvigorated line up.  No Sargeist entry at Eurovision this year folks!
    1. Winterfylleth "The Harrowing of Heirdom"
    So, controversially not an actual BM record but most definitely a release by a BM band.  I can't quite put into sufficient wording just how much I enjoy this record of acoustic storytelling.  I sing along to every line, I get teary at every lush piece of instrumentation and atmosphere and I smile content as a Bond villain at every warm tone that washes forth from my speakers/headphones.  An earthy, emotional and endearing experience that sits proudly atop of my list for 2018.
     
  19. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from Paskee for a blog entry, Judas Priest "Firepower"   
    When I was 14 I witnessed the video on Raw Power TV to the title track from Judas Priest's "Painkiller" album.  I hadn't heard any Priest up until that stage despite me having a good selection of Iron Maiden and Saxon records under my belt by that age.  "Painkiller" blew me the fuck away!  I mean, what was not to love?  Thunderous drums, a mix of gruff and shrill vocal antics and duelling lead guitars.  I went straight out that afternoon and bought the album on blasted it for consecutive days for the next 3 months.  All in all, not a bad gateway album to the band.  The final point to make about "Painkiller" was that the record kicked the ass of most other releases in what was simply a stellar year for metal with "Rust in Peace", "Cowboys from Hell", "Danzig II: Lucifuge" and "Harmony Corruption" all dropping that same year, to mention but a few.
    The real draw of "Painkiller" was the memorability of the experience, the intensity aside (which in itself was a fucking energising venture) one run through the record left seared scorch marks across your brain.  For years after I could run through the entire album in my head note for note.  "Firepower" is exactly the same.  A mere 24 hours after it coming into my life and I can sing along with the lyrics, air guitar to near note perfection and bash my fingers bloody to the drums on my desktop.  It's full of anthemic choruses and simple yet effective hooks that just pull you in.
    Now, here's where the "Painkiller" comparisons stop.  "Firepower" is not another "Painkiller" in terms of pace or intensity by any means (whoever expected as much is dreaming).  It is however really strongly written and the arrangement is damn near perfect.  Let's not forget that Priest formed in 1969.  That's 49 years ago and they can still put out relevant and exciting metal almost without effort.
    Try and not headbang to any of the opening six tracks, if you can achieve it you are almost certainly dead inside.  Try not to make ridiculous gurning faces to any of the lead work on here and again if you succeed, check your pulse!  Sad though it maybe that Glenn has confirmed his Parkinson's is now progressed enough to stop him from touring there is no doubt that he can exchange blows, pound for pound with Faulkner and barely break a sweat.  Travis is as solid as ever behind the skins and although all my attention is on those fucking guitars he thumps along well enough to lynch the sound to a rhythmic core, as Hill rumbles along moulding his bass lines to the rest of the instrumentation nicely.  Halford still sounds strong to my ears, not his old self by any means but he carries off "Firepower" brilliantly.
    There's no point doing a track by track description here, if you have read the review to this point you'll get the idea.  Criticisms?  It is too long, by about 2 or maybe 3 tracks.  However, you can easily suffer the dips in the quality here and there as you are rarely away from some truly great music.  It does get a little samey at times too but that's forgivable to me as nobody is looking to reinvent any wheels here this may cause issue with the longevity of the record though for me.  Right now though I love it, I fucking love it.
    5/5
  20. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from Will for a blog entry, Behemoth "I Loved You At Your Darkest"   
    The first song I heard ahead of the full 2014 release ("The Satanist") from Behemoth was "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel".  It immediately peaked my interest, setting the tone nicely for what was to become one of my favoured full lengths of that year.  This time around I heard "God = Dog" (which I think means the band are more cat people?).  It sounded blunted and frankly restrained.  Yes, there was a brief passage of some interesting string work towards the end but generally it just passed me by.  Sadly, just as my experience of the lead song/single from 2014 was an excellent benchmark for my expectation of the full length, the same has happened in 2018 but with a very different outcome.
    "I Loved You At Your Darkest" rarely achieves touching distance of the band's previous full length.  There's lots of things that stop it from doing this, indeed the list is as long as either one of my lanky and lengthy arms.  The songwriting is poor, it lacks any real structure the majority of the time.  As a result there is a constant sense of this just being a very hastily written, rush of ideas.  Tracks like "If Crucifixion Was Not Enough" and "Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica" show this in abundance, the former nailing the lid down on its own coffin with one of the laziest attempts at a menacing riff I have heard in a while.
    When we do actually settle into some sense of structure it actually works well.  "Bartzabel" is a sole triumph in the songwriting/structure stakes here and this is almost ruined by the annoying double layered, chanting backing vocals.

    Next on my list of grumbles?  The sound.  It is one of the most sterile and strained sounding mixes I think I have ever heard on a record.  The drums sound like they were tracked for a completely different purpose on some of the tracks, "Wolves ov Siberia" and "Rom 5:8" in particular.  I can't believe that this was the intended sound the band wanted to achieve.  I follow Behemoth on Instagram and they make much majesty and menace over their theatre and general pomp when performing live it seems.  Surely then they haven't listened to the final playback of this record?
    Now then.  I don't recall chanting children on a record ever working well?  But there's a couple of tracks here of children chanting their disdain for Christianity alongside Nergal and co.  It sounds frankly fucking ridiculous and trite even over only two tracks!
    In summary, this is a massive disappointment whether you enjoyed "The Satanist" or not.  Hastily put together, poorly arranged and mixed terribly to boot.
    1/5 
  21. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from deathstorm for a blog entry, Deicide "Overtures of Blasphemy"   
    Glen Benton is 51.  Fuck I feel old now too.  Deicide are 30 years old (32 if we count the Amon era).  Album number 12 from the fathers of Florida death metal is a strong effort considering yet another change of personnel has occurred.  It is bye-bye Jack Owen, hello Mark English of Monstosity fame taking up guitar duties and ironically I like "Overtures of Blasphemy " a lot more than Monstrosity's effort this year.
    Whilst it can never make the "beast of a DM record" title I would give to the debut or"Legion" for example, "Overtures..." is entertaining.  Whether it is the melo-death passages that litter the streets and alleyways of this record or the more familiar sacrilegious blasting fury of Deicide at their (old) best, there's plenty to balance the experince over these 12 tracks.  Take "Seal The Tomb" for example, it goes immediately for the jugular, relentlessly chugging riffs alongside Benton's usual demented growls only to be tempered by menacing and interesting leads and sonics that carry the song along well.  Listen once to this track and it is in your head for literally days after.
    Then there's the vehemence of the lyrics of "Compliments of Christ" were you can feel the spittle from Glen's lips splattering your ears as he spews forth the vitriol he is best known for.  "Anointed in Blood" opens like a lead jam session recorded mid flow before developing into a hellish gallop of fiery hooves, again perfectly completed by some well placed and well timed leads.
    This is were Morbid Angel went wrong with "Kingdoms..." safe DM with little if any attention paid to the sonic wizardry of their sound.  Take a leaf out of Glen's book Trey!
    It is clear that this is no nonsense DM that is not out to reinvent any wheels it still has enough equal measure of extremity and assured and unapologetic attitude to hold it's own against most of the DM records released this year.  It is not perfect by any means.  I lose it on more than one occasion if I am honest ("Crucified Soul of Salvation" in particular hits my 'standby' button really nicely) and it is a couple of tracks too long making for an almost excessive feel to the running time.  Whilst it is a well paced record there's definitely some "filler" present.  But very any turkeys in here there is still thankfully the brilliance of tracks like "Consumed by Hatred" to snap you back to attention.  "Flesh, Power, Dominion" is one of the strongest things Deicide have ever put to tape btw.
    3/5
  22. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from Will for a blog entry, Deicide "Overtures of Blasphemy"   
    Glen Benton is 51.  Fuck I feel old now too.  Deicide are 30 years old (32 if we count the Amon era).  Album number 12 from the fathers of Florida death metal is a strong effort considering yet another change of personnel has occurred.  It is bye-bye Jack Owen, hello Mark English of Monstosity fame taking up guitar duties and ironically I like "Overtures of Blasphemy " a lot more than Monstrosity's effort this year.
    Whilst it can never make the "beast of a DM record" title I would give to the debut or"Legion" for example, "Overtures..." is entertaining.  Whether it is the melo-death passages that litter the streets and alleyways of this record or the more familiar sacrilegious blasting fury of Deicide at their (old) best, there's plenty to balance the experince over these 12 tracks.  Take "Seal The Tomb" for example, it goes immediately for the jugular, relentlessly chugging riffs alongside Benton's usual demented growls only to be tempered by menacing and interesting leads and sonics that carry the song along well.  Listen once to this track and it is in your head for literally days after.
    Then there's the vehemence of the lyrics of "Compliments of Christ" were you can feel the spittle from Glen's lips splattering your ears as he spews forth the vitriol he is best known for.  "Anointed in Blood" opens like a lead jam session recorded mid flow before developing into a hellish gallop of fiery hooves, again perfectly completed by some well placed and well timed leads.
    This is were Morbid Angel went wrong with "Kingdoms..." safe DM with little if any attention paid to the sonic wizardry of their sound.  Take a leaf out of Glen's book Trey!
    It is clear that this is no nonsense DM that is not out to reinvent any wheels it still has enough equal measure of extremity and assured and unapologetic attitude to hold it's own against most of the DM records released this year.  It is not perfect by any means.  I lose it on more than one occasion if I am honest ("Crucified Soul of Salvation" in particular hits my 'standby' button really nicely) and it is a couple of tracks too long making for an almost excessive feel to the running time.  Whilst it is a well paced record there's definitely some "filler" present.  But very any turkeys in here there is still thankfully the brilliance of tracks like "Consumed by Hatred" to snap you back to attention.  "Flesh, Power, Dominion" is one of the strongest things Deicide have ever put to tape btw.
    3/5
  23. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from Natassja for a blog entry, Immortal "Northern Chaos Gods"   
    Behind every great man, there's a great woman.  Behind every camped up, shape throwing, garrulous Black Metal vocalist there's a great song writer.  Both of these statements are true, except the second one actually does not commend Abbath as being the imaginative, creative and artistic driving force behind Immortal.  This is blatantly obvious if you have heard his solo pop/rock record of a couple of years ago.
    What "Northern Chaos Gods" does is essentially pull off one of the best tattoo removal jobs in the history of "I Love Sharon" ink stains on most truck drivers (married to a woman called Rose) arm's being obliterated by lasers.  Despite a big character no longer being present on this record, I don't for one second miss Abbath.  Demonaz and co manage to put out an album that sounds so much like Immortal of old you could be forgiven for crying "Fake News!" at every mention of the turmoil and split between the founding members given the music is as strong as it has been in some while.
    Demonaz even sounds like a more in control albeit slightly more subdued Abbath.  But it isn't the vocals that will get you sweating like a blind lesbian in a fishmongers.  Nope, IT'S THE FUCKING RIFFS MAN!!!!!!  It is genuinely like getting twatted by an octopus for 42 and a bit minutes, listening to this record.  Utterly relentless in their delivery, Immortal just pummel away at you, occasionally throwing an atmosphere building intro before thundering off on hoofed steed to epic landscapes such as "Where Mountains Rise".
    There's no Judas Priest or Iron Maiden esque dip in output here in the absence of their established  frontman here.  Demonaz and Horgh have - to put it in layman's terms - just picked up and ran with the established format.  Don't get me wrong, it isn't anywhere near the quality of "At The Heart of Winter", alhtough it does piss all over "All Shall Fall".  Think of it as being the record "Damned In Black" could have been as a better precursor to the great "Sons of Northern Darkness".
    They have a song called "Blacker of Worlds"!!!  I mean what grown man with the mind of a pubescent boy doesn't think that is cool as fuck??? If the start of closing track "Mighty Ravendark" doesn't bring you out in goose pimples, you're dead inside.  Fist pumping, neck snapping metal right here folks.
    4/5
     

     
  24. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from FatherAlabaster for a blog entry, Immortal "Northern Chaos Gods"   
    Behind every great man, there's a great woman.  Behind every camped up, shape throwing, garrulous Black Metal vocalist there's a great song writer.  Both of these statements are true, except the second one actually does not commend Abbath as being the imaginative, creative and artistic driving force behind Immortal.  This is blatantly obvious if you have heard his solo pop/rock record of a couple of years ago.
    What "Northern Chaos Gods" does is essentially pull off one of the best tattoo removal jobs in the history of "I Love Sharon" ink stains on most truck drivers (married to a woman called Rose) arm's being obliterated by lasers.  Despite a big character no longer being present on this record, I don't for one second miss Abbath.  Demonaz and co manage to put out an album that sounds so much like Immortal of old you could be forgiven for crying "Fake News!" at every mention of the turmoil and split between the founding members given the music is as strong as it has been in some while.
    Demonaz even sounds like a more in control albeit slightly more subdued Abbath.  But it isn't the vocals that will get you sweating like a blind lesbian in a fishmongers.  Nope, IT'S THE FUCKING RIFFS MAN!!!!!!  It is genuinely like getting twatted by an octopus for 42 and a bit minutes, listening to this record.  Utterly relentless in their delivery, Immortal just pummel away at you, occasionally throwing an atmosphere building intro before thundering off on hoofed steed to epic landscapes such as "Where Mountains Rise".
    There's no Judas Priest or Iron Maiden esque dip in output here in the absence of their established  frontman here.  Demonaz and Horgh have - to put it in layman's terms - just picked up and ran with the established format.  Don't get me wrong, it isn't anywhere near the quality of "At The Heart of Winter", alhtough it does piss all over "All Shall Fall".  Think of it as being the record "Damned In Black" could have been as a better precursor to the great "Sons of Northern Darkness".
    They have a song called "Blacker of Worlds"!!!  I mean what grown man with the mind of a pubescent boy doesn't think that is cool as fuck??? If the start of closing track "Mighty Ravendark" doesn't bring you out in goose pimples, you're dead inside.  Fist pumping, neck snapping metal right here folks.
    4/5
     

     
  25. Horns
    MacabreEternal given a Damn from Natassja for a blog entry, Winterfylleth "The Hallowing of Heirdom"   
    Okay, so I will admit that the prospect of an acoustic only Winterfylleth album didn't exactly fill me with joy.  The pagan, black metallers have long existed on the fringes of my radar but never somehow managed to make much more than a fleeting blip historically. 
    The fact is that this is one of the most heartfelt records I have listened to in quite a while.  I have more than once found myself stood stock still, completely captivated by the atmospheric beauty of what I have heard on this record.  The album opens up with "The Shepherd" a track which starts with a rendering of the Christopher Marlowe poem "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" and this is an indication of what you are in for as a listener.  There's not one bit of BM on this record and it doesn't need any in any way, shape or form.  "The Hallowing of Heirdom" is more folk than anything even remotely resembling metal.  Imagine if Fleet Foxes dropped the irritation of that constant "hippy" vibe and showed some actual capable instrumentation also and you are loosely on the right track.
     

    There's variety to it which is as unexpected as it is welcome and it means you never get bored despite the record clocking in at 55 mins plus.  Over 12 tracks you are actually taken on a journey that stays with you long afterwards, which is what all good journeys should do, be memorable for all the right reasons.  But don't get me wrong, it isn't OTT on the emotion front, that's not the strength on display here.  No, this is one of the most balanced releases in my recent memory.  It's like a picture album where the first picture is given to you (that cover) and then it takes over your head with numerous captures of the very essence of the land itself.  You can smell the pine of the trees, the earthy tones of the fields and almost feel the breeze on your face even though you are sat in your front room with all the windows and doors shut.
    As usual with Winterfylleth there's a theme of the old ways being lost, the album title itself harking back to the importance of "heirdom" as we all exist with clear ties back to people stretching far back into history but seem to rarely give that much thought.   "The Hallowing of Heirdom" seems a fitting tribute to the ways of yore regardless.
    5/5
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