Archive for the ‘Album Reviews’ Category

After Oblivion is a technical death/thrash metal group hailing from Bosnia-Herzegovina and having released an EP and a compilation with No Blest from Brazil already, this is their third offering but the first one that has reached me, so I’m rather unaware of their past sound/approach done back in ’07 and the time gap admist could possibly grant some alteration in direction, but anyway. While this EP is a bit too short display of the band’s craftmanship, it still helps to figure out their musical proficiencies in a quick and clear note.

“Vultures” is what was described to me as a promo release of three of the selected songs by the band. I’ve noticed that their music is often closely related to with Death and I don’t deny this much. In fact, the music is stylistically derived much through influences lying in later-day-Death (specifically “Symbolic”) while some Martyr and Pestilence could also be observed in places. My taste is actually not much on the ground of technical death metal, but well, I always took it as, it’s always welcoming when bands imply technicalities to foster their songwriting and not merely for mindless wankery.

I don’t know if it was intentional, but incorporation of middle-eastern melodies could also be noticed, prevalent mostly in the riffs, much similarly done as the Egyptian Scarab. The bass is clearly audible, thanks to the clean production (which I would have liked it thick, but well…). And the vocals are like Schuldiner again and there come in more of those melodic lead solos that remind of classic Death years.

Although labelled death/thrash or technical thrash, this is more death metal and less thrash to me. And although the songwriting is pretty enjoyable, there is nothing new presented musically in surface of tech-death, and the experimentation in originality tends to be lacking at times while following the influences, but the inclination towards middle-eastern flavour could be what saves the album from sounding like plenty of others doing this style. All in all, a good, commendable record “Vultures” is, which is recommended to fans of Death and death metal in general. After Oblivion is a band worth watching out for in days to come, and I hope they find some good record label soon.

7.5/10

Within a very short span of time, nearly four months, the Singaporean grindcore machine Wormrot have come up again with their EP called “Noise”. While their previous ‘full length’ was just above eighteen minute mark, this EP is only a little more than five minutes. Musically, this is the same Wormrot – no progression or shift in sound or whatever. And same with the productions.

I’ve always loved their apporach to grindcore, i.e. they seem to throw a very complex structured grindcore in an easy and straightforward manner, offered in grind as in similar style to Insect Warfare or Kill the Client. The regular Wormrot amalgation of hardcore, punk, crust, crossover thrash and metalcore ingredients in their music is evident, and the flow is designed well, while Arif balancing his throat with both growls and screams. But overall, this just seems to be a collection of the remnants they forgot to include in their last album, literally.

Thus nothing new is on the table, but a worthy-check-out if you like their older stuff. It’s a fair step that it was originaly released as a digital download then 10″ EP and CD by Earache Recs, haha.

So here goes my tiny review for the tiny EP. Grindcore!

Origin, mostly has been the band that orients on technicalities and speed over other compositional facets, the strategy which has worked out well to establish themselves as one of the few technical death metal maestros that doesn’t suck while demonstrating one’s individual instrumentation proficiencies. But alongside, while conforming towards the technical dimensions, what bothered me a bit was the lack of musical variation that was almost non-significant between their previous records they did after the more straightforward self-titled. Their last release, “Antithesis” was a real remarkable one, perhaps one of the best death metal releases of the last decade, that it got me doubting if the band could ever cross that bar of magnificence again.

Well, it was before a couple of months that Origin had released the single, “Expulsion of Fury” in their Facebook page, the track that was about to be included in this album. That was when Morbid Angel had just released their substandard ninth studio album. I listened to “Expulsion…” and the first three seconds, I thought owned the entire “Illud Divinum Insanus”. The insane sweep arrives, makes way to the classic Origin riffing with dual vocals assault and Longstreth’s mad blasts. It wasn’t outside what everyone could expect out of the band and it was quite convincing enough to make me look forward to the album release.

Origin always seem to wow me through their limits-stretching technical precisions. And this time, they have done it with additional spices added on the regular. They never bothered to bring catchiness and memorable feeling in their songwriting, but this time, it’s here to be felt. The guitar work is balanced well with the amount of arpeggios, the trademark Origin technical riffing and frequent grind-inclined groovy offerings. Melodic instances have increased this time, sometimes advancing as a progressive form of the genre, much akin to Ulcerate from New Zealand, the band this album made me remember at times. Well, there are constituents that suggest the band is returning back to their demo or S/T era sound. Lots of primitive death metal chugs are presented which are there to remain in your head for a long time. All these elements have displayed the band’s broader horizons and thus reflecting a wider side to songwriting. I gladly hope they would continue experimenting with this sound in future releases as well.

The guitars don’t mind slowing down at times and then reviving the fury again, while the blasts and fills continuously design the flow. Really fast bass pedaling by John Longstreth, no wonder why he’s counted as one of the fastest death metal drummers on earth. More sensible and varied drumming than any of Origin’s previous records.

I was wondering how the vocals on this album would be, because James Lee was a monster, one of my favorites in death metal world, and his departure had obviously put me in question. But Paul Ryan and Mike Flores have done tremendous job behind the mic – the standard Origin growls with screams, which come dual, and that won’t make you feel the absence of James Lee at all, though I miss the big man. As furious as what the music demands them to be and they’ve even got variations, consisting deep Devourment-like gurgles at times. The bass guitar could have been mixed a bit louder than that. But the production is quite great, if not perfect.

Tracks like “Saliga” and “Consequence of Solution” run around seven minutes but still manage to maintain the consistency up in their flow and don’t make you feel that they are forced to have got themselves elongated. On the other hand, “Purgatory”, which is just a little longer than a minute is also capable of throwing the charm of its presence. And there are moments when they try to fuse middle-eastern melodies to the ongoing brutality, like in “Saliga”, 02:42 or “Consequence of Solution”, 04:22 and which I feel could have been neglected. I couldn’t help but get Nile feel at what these parts followed, if not at those moments (e.g. “Saliga”, 03:12 onwards or at its opener riff or in “Fornever”). “The Descent”, although a rare acoustic track by Origin, had made me feel that it would have been better if they had never attempted this anyway. A bit of a relief out of the continuous brutality but also, at the same time, pointless.

Thus, while this is one splendid album, there remain a bit of vacuum of judgmental void, at few of the points that I refrain to consider either good or bad. The overall sound is the typical Origin, mixed with Ulcerate, Pestilence and even Nile and Brain Drill. Hence this is just per what is to be expected from these technical beasts. The album presented newer sounds that are to be counted on from the band, and I hope that they release Entity‘s successor soon.

8.5/10

It’s been quite sometime that I started to dip into the Bangladeshi underground metal scene, and I’m impressed from what I’ve been offered till now. Bands like Severe Dementia, Orator (/Barzak), Chromatic Massacre, Gene-Split, Art Cell, Jahiliyyah, Powersurge, etc. have their own spark to please my ears, and a good thing is that the majority of bands there are inclined to grasping the old school vibe of black/death/thrash metal, as opposed to the ‘modern’-metal infested Nepali scene.

Gene-Split play thrash metal, much in vein of Sepultura (Arise-era as well as Roots-era) meets Nervecell meets Testament. Melodies are often thrown in channels of acoustic passages and lead solos, and it is also evident in lots of riffs here and there.

The album starts with “36 – Urdho”, with a chugging riff, which seems to be derived through the early-death metal influences. The devastating drumming follows the instruments in full velocity, while bass is easily audible. Another neat riffing at the opener of “Ekushey Prekkhapot”, the second track, probably my favorite in the whole album. The third one, “Daridrito 6 Dofa” opens steadily and moulds to a beautiful ballad. The band tends to slow down a little from this track onward, and thus orients much into maintaining groove.

The vocals are incredible. It’s fascinating to hear the vocalist singing in Bengali. He reminds me of Max Cavalera or even later-day Barney Greenway, and is powerful on his duty, especially in portions like the acoustic melodic segment at the midway of “Ponkhaghat Ain”, which enhances the strength of the melodic guitars which could have been a little bleak and out-of-place otherwise.

The production could have been better, but I dig how it’s been presented here. The bass drums sound loud in the mix at numerous occasions. But all in all, this is some splendid thrash metal from the land of the tigers, and which is highly recommended if you’re seeking to collecting some wonderful and obscure metal records from the Southasian subcontinent. It would have been awesome if the band could continue what they were exhibiting in first couple of tracks throughout the length though, as the later songs, in my opinion couldn’t probably match up the initial intensity.

7.5/10

I had been excited to have my ears on this release since the time Vishal Rai (guitarist, Jugaa) announced his band is working on a split with New York based Nepali hardcore group Sangharsha. Well, I had been a fan of both these bands – Jugaa for their uncoventional hardcore sound, rawness, superheavy riffs, sick live shows and badassery of the members, and Sangharsha for their catchiness (esp. the demo), that had put me in serious consideration of giving hardcore a second chance (I didn’t have clearer picture of hardcore before that and which I connected to metalcore, more or less, which I always loved to bash).

The first half is Sangharsha’s. It opens with their cover of Integrity’s “Vocal Test”. Then comes their two crushing originals, “Insaniyaat” and “Ekata”. Well, the band doesn’t seem to get stuck with one particular style over and over their releases. This had already been presented through the giant turn of their sound from modern hardcore sounding demo to the more powerviolence/sludge/hardcore in their one-song EP in such a short span of time. And again, this time as well they have presented themselves a bit differently. More sludge/doom incorporations with the dirty distortions and heavier the tracks get. Hence they’re tending to move towards a sound they could call entirely their own. Slow to mid tempo most of the times, the riffs are quite enjoyable. But alongside, they did somewhat disappoint me because I was so enjoying their older approach to hardcore, i.e. of the demo, but killer tracks these are, nonethless.

The second half is Jugaa. I have always loved Jugaa’s sound – they tend to merge everything metal, punk, grind and hardcore, procreating a unique sound. I also loved them because of Ranav’s vocals, which were growls and not screams, the ones which every generic metalcore act in the scene employ nowadays. Through this album, Jugaa too have shifted their sound, i.e. to a darker direction. While elements of doom, grindcore and sludge could also be observed, the typical Jugaa vibe is well observed through Vishal Rai’s vile riffs, which have always been nothing less than super-heavy. This time around, Ranav utilizes more of his high-pitched screams instead of his trademark growls found in his previous works with Jugaa, Cruentus or Maya. The riffs, as said never fail to impress – the groovy segments, the neat breakdowns and all. But the best part comes in the opener of “Vultures Will Feed”, which sets me feel like slamming a face everytime it plays. “Come the Winter” is said to have some connection with “Game of Thrones” but fuck… I don’t know what it’s all about, so I rest the case. The record ends with Jugaa’s cover of “Birth is Pain”, originally by Ringworm.

The production is what sets it a notch down to me, as I love the sound of everything these bands did before this. But anyway, balls-bursting hardcore/sludge will sum it up, the best to come out of our putrid land (and Amerika) as of late. HxCx!

8.5/10

[The split is up for free download. Click here to download]

So I was listening to this very album for a couple of days now, staying out the whole blogging business, and I must say it’s still kicking my arse constantly. I still am tuning on this one while writing the review, and I tend to keep this short for now.

Agathocles. I hadn’t heard this name from Belgium before, until one of my friend gave me “Thanks for Your Hostility” quite a time ago. I had completely ignored it for some reason for sometime and am just focusing it lately. And man… BANG!!! Why did I let it off my consideration for so long? So while I could see the band having released too many records in their lifespan, this one’s the only I’ve heard and from this, I could say this is a more punk sounding, less death-metallic grindcore, although there is a healthy blend of both. What had given me this feeling is the use of a more punk-leaning drumming, which quite often transform into really controlled blast beats here and there.

The riffs are very solid, and the music overall is real fun (grindcore = fun anyway) which offers a somewhat fuckin’ old school vibe. The production is a bit muddy, but it’s just brutal and suiting this way, with highly low tuned guitars and the vocals that employ both low note death growls, frequent high note screams and clean punk rock shouts as well. The songs lengths average one and half or two minute mark and it’s cool as well, typically grindcore. I love short length songs anyway.

All the tracks are distinct to some tiny degree, ranging from ultra-fast-paced tracks to slow sludgy/doomy ones, and all are cool to go through, but again, my picks would be…

“Distraction”
“Foul”
“My Reason”

So overall it’s a pretty enjoyable record. Highly recommended for any grind fan.

9/10

Alright folks, those of you who haven’t heard their name, Scarab’s an Egyptian death metal band and they’ve got some damn original shit right here. “Blinding the Masses”, the band’s second studio album after 2007’s “Valley of the Sandwalkers”, offers death metal that caresses a tad of old school sound that’s mixed with the ever awe-inspiring inclusion of Egyptian folk touch as well. Not too much like Nile though – not as ambient and obviously not as brutal and technical as them, but it could rather reminisce my times with Amongst the Catacombs… record though.

The production is muddily thick here and which beautifully suits the whole aura. As mentioned, there’s a tough presence of Egyptian/middle-eastern flavor and that has made the whole difference in style. Few chugging, few groove oriented segments, slow doomy marks and few thrash leaning riffing – the guitars on the whole have come up with some thorough fascinating appearance in the album.

The flow of songs seems to be in ease and with absolute precision, and moreover the songwriting is pretty brilliant. A couple of melodic lead solos here and there come as spice and a few more short synth-laden parts are just there to aid the ambience – not cheesy in anyway though (think of “Ramses Bringer of War”).

The drumming is cool – fierce double pedaling right there, and it isn’t any blast beat worship too, perhaps going towards Pete Sandoval’s line. But one thing that the production slips in is with the snares’ sound which is a bit grubby if you ask me. It could have been made a bit louder in the mix. What is more interesting though, are the powerful growls of Sayed, which have delightfully headed the whole sound – deep and devastating. Think of Benediction (England).

Thus to sum up, this is a bold testimony of what the band’s competent of. A striking enough LP that is original to a point you would definitely not feel like you’ve heard it dozens of times before already (that’s what it’s like with modern death metal I guess?). So I’m keeping my eye on this band in days to come, I’m sure these guys are to offer a lot lovely pieces as this.

8.5/10