Saturday, September 10, 2016

Ride for Revenge - Thy Horrendous Yearning

Ride For Revenge
Thy Horrendous Yearning
2016 Bestial Burst
Ultra-heavy Ride For Revenge are one band that will always keep you guessing.  You never know if a particular track is going to be in their version of black metal, or if it will end up as a noise collage.  It's almost as if they're defying you to listen to them.  If you choose to do so, you can expect to be punished in the most brutal way.  They have a tendency to keep things simple, in that they focus on repetitive riffs designed to hypnotize you.  Just check out the fourteen minute "Soul Abortion" if you need further convincing.  Just when you think you have them figured out, Ride For Revenge will always change the rules.  "Devil's Star on the Rise" focuses on one of the more dirty sounding riffs I've heard in a while, coming across as something closer to what a stoner rock band might play.  But then they'll cut into the title track, which is orthodox black metal in a vein similar to Darkthrone's "Under a Funeral Moon." Got your bearings yet?  Well too bad, because that's followed up with "The Reversed Cross," which has one hell of an early Godflesh vibe to it.  At times, RFR might come across as the demented cousin that you knew Archgoat and Beherit always had, while at the same time having the same "fuck you, we'll play what we want, how we want, when we want" attitude that Profanatica have.  This, like their other albums, is a chapter in their own musical (or maybe anti-musical) universe, where they're free to do as they please.  A challenging band for sure, and they're not for everyone, but I daresay there's no one else like them.

Minotaur Head - Minotaur Head

Minotaur Head
Minotaur Head
2016 War Anthems Records
Yet another collaboration that you just knew was going to happen sooner or later.  Bob Bagchus of Soulburn and Rogga Johansson of a multitude of death metal projects and bands got together to create some seriously heavy doom metal.  To help out, they enlisted Theo van Eekelen from Hail of Bullets and Ronnie Björnström, who has participated with Rogga for several different projects in the past.  The band claim to be a mix of Black Sabbath, (pre-hippie) Trouble, and Winter.  It's easy to tell that Winter's influence comes in the distortion and the vocals.  I'm not quite sold on the Trouble influence, and while early Black Sabbath is definitely there, I'm more inclined to say that the majority of Minotaur Head's influences stem from the likes of The Obsessed, Internal Void, Unorthodox, with the guitar solos owing a lot to some of Dave Chandler's (Saint Vitus) more frenzied moments.  Rogga handles vocals here, and he opted for an old school death metal style.  This was a good choice, as belted-out clean vocals would not be well suited here at all.  I for one am hoping this is not going to be just a one-off project.  On the other hand, it's awful damn hard to improve upon perfection.

Oniricous - La Caverna de Fuego

La Caverna de Fuego
2016 Equinox Records
Spain's Oniricous are back with a new album on a new label.  Not much has changed since "Ritos Diabolicos."  The lyrics are still in Spanish, the riffs are heavy as fuck, and an occult atmosphere engulfs everything.  They're still playing death metal of course, drawing influence from the earliest bands of the genre... back when it wasn't even a genre yet.  For those who aren't clear on what I'm referring to, that would be Possessed, Sacrifice and Death ("Scream Bloody Gore" in particular).  The Big Three when it comes to the thrashier beginnings of death metal.  This time around though, I think the guitar tone may have gotten a little heavier.  It almost has that same vibe as Italy's Mortuary Drape or Greece's Necromantia (who I know use two basses, but the tone and distortion here are just as remarkably raw).  It's that tone which gives the songs that ancient before time existed, decrepit, ominous feeling.  Bottom line here is that Oniricous execute everything here in an excellent way, and come across older than old school, yet without sounding like a "tribute" act or clone band.

Head of the Demon - Sathanas Trismegistos

Head of the Demon
Sathanas Trismegistos
2016 Invictus Productions/The Ajna Offensive
A little background on this mysterious band... the lineup consists of some former members of Kaamos and a current member of Ofermod, who have gotten together to play a kind of blackend doom metal.  Everything here is about creating a mood.  In this case, it's one that is very bleak.  I tend to picture a very grey landscape, with low lying fog, a few dead trees, and one lone crow who mocks me with his presence.  New vocalist Johannes has a style where it's like he's making a supplication to gods above who are deaf to his pleas.  Absolutely not the kind of album you should listen to when severely depressed and are near sharp objects.  Indeed, this album is practically guaranteed to kill dead any joyful mood you may have.  So yes, to sum up... bleak, grey, melancholy beyond belief, and despondent beyond all known levels of despair.

Ungod - Bewitched by Sins and Lust

Bewitched by Sins and Lust
2016 Final Gate Records
Despite having many lineup changes over the years, leaving drummer Condemptor as the sole remaining original member, Germany's Ungod have managed to cut a niche for themselves as one of black metal's perhaps lesser known but highly respected bands.  The kind of band that many would call "cult."  I think their debut, "Circle of the Seven Infernal Pacts," is fairly well known, but until the followup "Cloaked in Eternal Darkness" in 2011, there were eighteen years of only sporadic demos and split eps.  And now, five years after that last full length, we have "Bewitched by Sins and Lust." Despite there being twenty three years between this album and the debut, Ungod have remained true to their original sound, keeping their black metal as orthodox as possible and sounding like themselves.  The production quality of course is better, but stylistically there are no radical changes.  If Condemptor has gotten bored, this album doesn't show it.  I've always been one for quality over quantity (although if there's a large quantity that's all quality, I'm all for it), and Ungod have never been one to disappoint... no matter how many years between releases it is.

Cendra - Metal Punk

Metal Punk
2016 Xtreme Music
Last year was "666 Bastards." Now Spain's Cendra are back with "Metal Punk," which sounds exactly like the title.  Three maniacs crank out just under a half hour of a potent mix of black/death metal mixed with crusty d-beat.  Truly a match made in Hell.  Pure attitude with a slightly thicker production than last time.  Fast, frenzied, and anything but boring.  If there's any of these "new wave of thrash metal" bands still around, this is the sound that you tried to shoot for but failed to hit.  Cendra's music, like this review is short, fast and to the point.  Speed merchants, this one is for you.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Death Karma - The History of Death & Burial Rituals Part I

Death Karma
The History of Death & Burial Rituals Part I
2015 Iron Bonehead Productions / Necroshrine Records
As if Cult of Fire wasn't an interesting enough band (and if you're not aware of them, you need to rectify that right now), leave it to two of the three members to go off and do a potentially even more interesting side project.  Tom Coroner and Infernal Vlad put together Death Karma and have to date released both an ep and this full length.  As the title indicates, this is a concept album.  But rather than telling a tightly knit story or having some songs loosely written around a central theme, "The History of Death & Burial Rituals Part I" instead is six vignettes about different burial ceremonies from different parts of the world in ancient times.  A morbid anthropology lesson, if you will.  The places visited are Slovakia, Madagascar, Mexico, the Czech Republic, India and China.  Unfortunately, the lyrics and information are all printed in red on black in a small font that's just about impossible to read.  But, having done some research, I can say that the overall subject does make for some fascinating reading, and the reasons behind each ceremony even moreso.  In the case of India, ("India - Towers of Silence" on the album), a certain sect practices a form of "sky burial," where the bodies of the deceased are placed on a tower (called a "dakhma") and left for birds to consume.  The belief is that dead bodies are unclean, and should not be put in the ground or burned.  This practice ensures the body does not decay.  Eventually, the bones become bleached by the sun and are placed in an ossuary within the tower where they disintegrate.  For the record, this song is an instrumental.  The towers are silent.  But what does Death Karma sound like, you ask?  I'd have to say they're like a more death metal-oriented Master's Hammer, with maybe a little of the old Greek black metal sound included for good measure.  At the very least, much of the same vibe, majesty and spirit are present.  According to the liner notes, this truly is going to be just the first part in this series.  I look forward to hearing about other obscure rituals in the future.