Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Age of Agony - Machinery of Hatred

AGE OF AGONY - Machinery of Hatred (TERRANIS Productions CD 2011)
I truly regret that I got into Age of Agony music so late. This band has been active since two decades, released already five albums and some other recordings... But first time when I heard their music was three or four years ago, when they invaded my house with "Machinery of Hatred". And I immediately loved this album. This is just brutal as fuck, yet old school sounding, pure death metal effort, which has everything that the maniacs love about this style. So do I. 
This vile strike has plenty of killer songs, many of which blast with truly crazy speed. Yet the music remains quite memorable, because the it's quite simplistic, when compared to all those boring, too technical brutal death metal bands. Age of Agony is more straight forward, with that old school feel, which makes the music more worthy for my taste. And the similarities to bands like Krabathor, Vader, Benediction, Unleashed, Obituary and the likes is quite noticeable. Additionally, the music has a strong war concept, which may resemble legends such as Bolt Thrower, but honestly "Machinery of Hatred" is much faster and more brutal than any record this fantastic British band has ever recorded. Anyway, Age of Agony offers great death metal, which personally I loved from the first listen. Whether we speak of insanely fast songs like "Panzer Metal" or "Alteration", which gives you a feel like you're under heavy fire in the battlefield... Or songs like "The Last Division", "Summoning" and the fantastic "Fortress", which are slower, more crushing and vicious, yet equally BRUTAL... It always sounds great and even if sometimes the music gets slightly repetitive and predictable, I don't care, as it isn't something what would disturb me personally. I love the feeling of this music, I like also the production a lot, especially that nasty bass sound - in this aspect, this album actually reminds me Krabathor's "Unorthodox" album. Definitely it's a must to have for all death metal bangers, support this Hungarian band, because they're very underrated, in my opinion. 
Standout tracks: "Panzer Metal", "The Last Division", "Fatality", "Fortress" 
Verdict: 75/100 

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Morvigor - Tyrant

MORVIGOR - Tyrant (Self financed CD 2017)
Couple of weeks ago I was contacted by a band called Morvigor and asked if I would like to review their recently released album "Tyrant". Because I never heard of this band before, I decided to check one song first before giving them an answer. But this one song was enough for me to decide and say "yes". Finally one day a nice, professionally printed, yet self-released, digipak arrived... and I have to say that I've been playing "Tyrant" at least twenty times or even more and I really, really enjoy this album. This is just very good stuff and very pleasant surprise, especially because it came from completely unknown band and - judging by the photographs - rather young musicians. But I like such tasty surprises! 
What Morvigor plays is some sort of black metal hybrid, strongly mixed with melodic death metal and even in few parts like the fantastic "Blood of the Pelican" with post metal. Not sure, if in this case the word "Pelican" is accidental or not though haha (to those, who have no idea - Pelican are one of the best bands, who play instrumental post rock / metal; fantastic band). Well, on "Tyrant" it feels like every song is a surprise and brings something different. Four tracks are kind of instrumental passages, which glue everything together, so it even feels like you've been listening to one, 47 minutes long song. Another four tracks are much longer (the mentioned "Blood of the Pelican" is almost 16 minutes long!) and as I already said, each is just different.  
"No Repentance" is probably the most aggressive and angry track, it has nice vicious feel, even some blasting sections, so it's just a hard kick. Yet it can also surprise with the clean vocals section, so it's nicely varied and composed. It smoothly calms down for "The Martyr's Ascension" to come. This song begins with a sort of melancholic passage, which quickly builds the atmosphere and half way through the song opens the door to quite melodic and easily listenable, almost catchy black / death metal, played in slightly Swedish vein. "Blood of the Pelican", which I already mentioned twice in this review, is a fantastic journey, which really sounds like post metal piece in the opening part - and I have to say that I love that playing, which this song starts with. It's very atmospheric, slightly sorrowful maybe, but damn... it sounds so good. But all of a sudden, this song transforms into killer black metal, which personally reminds me some of the recent Helheim albums. Great cold, vicious playing, very good riffs, arrangements and vocals. Definitely a superb song and the most impressive part of "Tyrant". Finally the title track concludes everything... very similar to "No Repentance", also sometimes blasting like crazy, also with some clean vocals (which almost sound like Vortex from Borknagar!)... it's almost a twin brother to the first song. And a fine ending to the whole album. 
Yeah... I can say anything, but not that Morvigor plays orthodox and conventional black / death metal. They may not be the most original band on the planet, yet they have great idea for their music and talent to compose it. This album surprised me a lot, impressed even more... and well, I can only speak in super positive words about it. 
Standout track: "Blood of the Pelican" 
Verdict: 80/100 

Gospel of the Horns - A Call to Arms

GOSPEL OF THE HORNS - A Call to Arms (INVICTUS Records CD 2002)
I'm not quite sure if this band is still active or not, because we haven't really heard anything new from Gospel of the Horns in few years now. And the last full length album "Realm of the Damned" came out in 2007, which is just too fuckin long for me. I consider Gospel of the Horns as one of the most worthy beasts of the Australian orthodox extreme metal scene, who may have never reached the fame of Destroyer666, but certainly are equally good. And very similar musically, which I don't think is a shame to say. But as I mentioned, Gospel of the Horns are not too active, when speaking of the material they release. They did only two albums through these 25 years of band's existence. My personal favourite is their debut - a vicious and utterly bestial dose of black / thrash under the title "A Call to Arms". 
This quite short record works for me perfectly. The length is absolutely right, as this way you get everything the best bands such as GOTH can serve and everything is packed tightly to burst out with merciless force and pure, sadistic aggression. There's no time to be wasted for anything unnecessary, so you will hear just fantastic traditional metal riffs, dressed in killer, harsh and morbid production. The vocals are nasty, riffs are so sharp that they cut through your flesh easily... and when I play this album, I just bang my head without giving a shit about anything. Yes I know that it sounds infantile, but this is exactly how you will feel, when playing such kind of music - you will bang your fuckin head, swallow its aggression and power and get all this negative feel, which somehow turns into something positive, because this album makes me a happy metalhead haha! Fuck that though, there are seven awesome songs, each of them sounds absolutely great and kicks hard. It is obvious that Gospel of the Horns sounds a lot like Destroyer666, but they have nothing to worry - their music is defending itself from start to finish. Songs like "The Trial of Mankind" are like a black / thrashing anthem; slower, obscure, yet catchy due to its simplistic and memorable riffage. But there are also fast motherfuckers, which slay completely like "Chaos Bringer", an awesome opening track, which is just fantastic! The whole album is a bunch of deadly, vicious black / thrash metal and I cannot find anything to complain about. Strongly recommended... if you've never had a chance to hear it, please do your homework, get a copy asap. And enjoy this shit! 
Standout tracks: "Chaos Bringer", "The Trial of Mankind", "A Call to Arms" 
Verdict: 85/100 

Friday, 9 February 2018

Voodus - Serpent Seducer Saviour

VOODUS - Serpent Seducer Saviour (SHADOW Records - 10"MLP 2017)
Couple of months ago I had a chance to buy few records from Shadow Records. They were all stuff from Swedish black metal bands, which were new to me, but interested me hugely after checking their songs on YT. Voodus was one of them. It's a killer new project, formed by people, who were in Jormundgand before. Voodus debut release was "NightQueen" EP from 2015, which I'm yet to find somewhere. In 2017 "Serpent Seducer Saviour" EP was unleashed and it's just superb piece of black metal. Someone may say that Voodus is just another Watain influenced band from Sweden and thus it's little worthy. But I would really think twice before I say such rubbish. Even if there're obvious similarities to Watain (because they are!), there are also similarities to other Swedish bands. Dissection!!! Necrophobic!!! You want more? 
Voodus fits into their native black metal scene by showing what best it has to offer, so there's no reason to moan about it. Especially if "Serpent Seducer Saviour" presents some extremely good black metal. There are two songs and both have that very possessing aura, which may freeze your blood and creates the most vicious and eerie feel. Both songs are superb, played in rather slower pace, but the combination of aggression, viciousness and harmonies works just perfectly. "Path of Hekate" is more straight forward and kind of memorable, with sinister melodies and bestial, obscure sound. But I like "Flesh into Spirit" more. This is a twelve minutes long epic beast, build upon some slower yet malicious riffage... and harmonies, which infected my mind immediately. The atmosphere is quite sorrowful sometimes, almost melancholic... I dare to say that some of these melodies are just beautiful and insanely catchy. Yes, think of the best Dissection stuff combines with Watain, and the result is Voodus. 
This band blew me away really, "Serpent Seducer Saviour" is just fantastic and I'm looking forward to hear more from Voodus. I know that they're about to release their debut album in 2018, can't wait then! In the meantime I got myself a CD of Jormundgand "Visions of the Past, Which Has Not Yet Come to Be...", to make my collection more complete.  
Standout track: "Flesh into Spirit" 
Verdict: 80/100 

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Grotesque - In the Embrace of Evil

GROTESQUE - In the Embrace of Evil (HAMMERHEART Productions - LP 2015)
I don't know if I should start this review with a short history lesson to all those, who have no clue what kind of band Grotesque was. But is it even possible not to know anything about them? I hope not. Grotesque were one of the first death metal bands in Sweden and certainly one of the most influential and important for this country's metal scene. They were quite short lived, never released a full-length album, only some demos and MLP. But that's enough to give them credit for inspiring so many bands back then and also nowadays. Personally, I was always unlucky with Grotesque music. I had a CD version of "In the Embrace of Evil", but never managed to grab a copy of vinyl, especially the original press of "Incantation" MLP. Luckily for me "In the Embrace of Evil" was released several times on LP. There was a Black Sun Records pressing, Century Media pressing and more recently Back On Black and Hammerheart re-released it. Since I hate that BOB version, because it's released on two vinyl - which I would hate to play, I was left to grab the Hammerheart pressing. And I do not regret having it. It's very well done and solid release, with a single record (YES!) housed in great quality gatefold. The vinyl sounds very good, so I finally have my mission of having "In the Embrace of Evil" on vinyl completed. 
"In the Embrace of Evil" is obviously a compilation, which contains everything that Grotesque has ever recorded in studio. You won't find here neither of their two rehearsal demos... But maybe it's good, because they would just not fit with their disastrous sound quality. Besides, there's already 50 minutes of music. It's enough, I think. 
The record begins with five songs, which were recorded in November 1989 and which back then were supposed to be a first half of the future Grotesque full length for Dolores Records. It was recorded with GoatspellNecrolordNuctemeron and Offensor in the line up. On this recording Grotesque sounds insanely thrashy, very much alike to bands such as Merciless, even the ancient Sepultura! The opening track "Blood Runs From the Altar" is probably the most vicious and evil sounding piece from this band and it's a killer tune, but I personally love "Submit to Death" and "Fall Into Decay" the most. These songs are slightly simpler, more straight forward and they will thrash you to death haha! 
Few months later, in August 1990, Grotesque entered the Sunlight Studio to record another three songs. At that time the line up was GoatspellNecrolord and new guitarist The Haunting. The drums were handled by session member - Offensor. I have to admit that this part of Grotesque history is my favourite. The Haunting certainly added something new to these three songs and the music just became more interesting and kind of advanced. Many variations within the songs, tempo changes, some more twisted riffs, harmonies, very cool leads... and even darker, more evil atmosphere! Yes! And that Sunlight Studio sound... top notch. Besides, with songs like "Incantation" and "Spawn of Azathoth" it's undeniably brilliant. Grotesque never sounded like Nihilist or Therion, their music on the whole "In the Embrace of Evil" is much more evil and sinister that everything else, it's almost possessed sometimes. Maybe it's also a bit difficult to get into on the first listen, but only if you prefer more melodic and catchy stuff. 
After the Sunlight Studio Grotesque split up. The album was never released. Two other classic Swedish bands - At the Gates and Liers in Wait - were formed. But on Friday the 13th of 1996 NecrolordGoatspell and Offensor reunited and entered Berno Studio to record two songs especially for the "In the Embrace of Evil”. They were "Church of the Pentagram" and "Ripped from the Cross", so two of the very earliest Grotesque songs. And man, what a stunning result, I just love these two pieces. The sound quality is great. Both songs, even though are so old, have been rearranged and definitely the band did great job with them. It's not the same as their old rehearsal versions. Maybe some people will prefer the old reh versions, I don't. These new recordings definitely captured the essence of old Grotesque and with such good production, it all clicks fantastically. Obviously it was also the last thing, which this band has ever recorded. Luckily it doesn't seem like they would ever want to exhume it from the grave again.  
Standout tracks: "Incantation", "Spawn of Azathoth", "Church of the Pentagram", "Submit to Death" 
Verdict: 90/100