Thursday, 12 October 2017

Hermóðr - Hädanfärd

HERMODR - Hädanfärd (WOLFSPELL Records CD 2017)
I hate to say it, but it's just impossible to keep track with Hermóðr. This project is more active than anything else and Rafn composes and records more songs, than you even wish to hear. I am not even sure if that's good or not. Anyway, last thing, which I have heard from Hermóðr was "A Place of Eternal Twilight / Carved in Ice" in 2016, but Rafn didn't waste his time and recorded another pile of EPs and albums since then. He's crazy! I had no chance to hear few of these last releases, but recently I bought two... And I am happy I did so, because such "Hädanfärd" is one of his best works so far. 
Yes, it's good to notice that even though Hermóðr comes up with so many releases every year, Rafn is still able to keep great quality in his music and come up with some excellent ideas for it. "Hädanfärd" is a great proof for it. Unlike all these EPs, which he records (where are one or two very long songs), full length albums usually have more, but shorter songs. What definitely helps and makes listening a bit easier, you know? The album is also less monotonous, even if the music is constantly doomy, melancholic and nostalgic, when speaking of the atmosphere, which it awakes. I have to say that I love that combination of black metal harshness and repetitive, almost a bit Burzum-esque playing with melody and truly sorrowful aura. I even dare to say that Hermóðr music often sounds almost beautiful, even though such word would usually not fit black metal. But damn, just give a listen to these fantastic harmonies, long instrumental passages, which hypnotize with its sound... It may seem a bit too monotonous and too repetitive at the first listen, some will just say that it's boring, but give "Hädanfärd" a closer, more careful listen and you'll discover that this music is almost magic. So, these are some fantastic 50 minutes of atmospheric black metal. I like also the fact that Rafn can come up with some great riffs and harsh vocals, he doesn't focus just on keyboard parts. I was also surprised to hear some nice female vocals of Helga in one of the best songs "Under frusen älv". This is something new to Hermóðr, but it gave the music a bit new dimension. 
Definitely then "Hädanfärd" is a great offer for fans of atmospheric, melancholic black metal. I recommend it, but not only this album, but all stuff, which Hermóðr released so far. It's a lot of shit, so probably you won't be able to pick it up all at once, unless you're a millionaire, but few CDs should do well to start with. Great project, beautiful music, which I could listen to for hours, especially now in these colder Autumn days (well, even song titled "Höst" means "Autumn" from Swedish haha). 
Standout tracks: "Nord", "Höst", "Under frusen älv" 
Final rate: 80/100 

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Gruesome - Savage Land

GRUESOME - Savage Land (RELAPSE Records LP 2015)
I know that such idea as "tribute band" can be controversial. And there will be as many people, who will dislike it as there will be those, who will love it. Let's then skip this useless discussion and focus just on the music, shall we? Gruesome from Florida is obviously a tribute to the legendary music of Chuck Schuldiner and his band Death. Everything about Gruesome's debut LP "Savage Land" screams DEATH! The logo is in similar style as Death's. Some of the lyrics are about similar horror themes. They even used Ed Repka for the artwork, so the same artist, who did some splendid artwork for early Death albums. And obviously the music was meant to sound like Schuldiner's. To be more precise, it had to sound like "Leprosy". it was a purpose. 
Did Gruesome achieve that? Oh yeah! It amazes me how well they managed to capture that feeling of "Leprosy" and come up with similar music and style on these eight brand new songs. Exhumed's Matt Harvey is the man, who's mainly responsible for songwriting and I have to say he did great job and truly managed to recreate that characteristic riff and melody style of Schuldiner. Even his vocals sound a lot like Schuldiner's, who always had such a unique, screaming voice. Some people may say that he only copied ideas from "Leprosy", because clearly many fragments of "Savage Land" will give you a "deja-vu" feeling (especially beginnings of the songs). But who cares, if the result is so good and these new songs truly fuckin hit the spot? I wonder how much time did it take Harvey to get into this style and compose songs, which would actually sound great and interesting, and not just like useless copies. His riffs are splendid, I also love these very few melodic parts, which you can find on "Savage Land". The guitar work is excellent and the duo of Daniel Gonzalez and Matt Harvey really can match the quality of Schuldiner / Rick Rozz. Oh, their leads are fantastic and the whole guitar playing is smooth and aggressive. The drumming of Gus Rios is better than Bill Andrews'... So, what else can we wish for? 
I suppose the only question is who will want to listen to "Savage Land"? Moaners shall say that if they will want to listen to Death and "Leprosy", then they will spin "Leprosy", not its "copy". Some others will have doubts if we can even treat Gruesome seriously. Hmm, after an extensive listen to "Savage Land" I can say this: I've been a fan of "Leprosy" since I was a kid, I bought it on cassette around 1991. I know this album from every fuckin second. And I have to say that when I listen to "Savage Land" I have a feeling of listening to something I love, but fresh. It's not like a microwaved food, but rather making it again, but with fresh and new ingredients. Gruesome took the old recipe, stayed faithful to the old formulas, but came up with music, which sort of refreshed the old school death metal of Death. It was just nice feeling to listen to this record, it was almost like giving a spin to an unknown Death album. And this is probably why I like it. I may have had some doubts in the beginnings, but scepticism is always bad for music. It's better just to give it a chance. I definitely do not regret giving a chance to Gruesome. "Savage Land" is an awesome album and I can only recommend it. 
Oh, it's good to use your vinyl download card this time, as the digital file contains a couple of bonus tracks, which are covers of "Land of No Return" from Death and "Black Magic" from Slayer. Both very well executed of corpse! 
Standant tracks: "Trapped in Hell", "Hideous", "Gangrene" 
Final rate: 80/100 

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Demonic Rage - Venomous Wine from Putrid Bodies

DEMONIC RAGE - Venomous Wine from Putrid Bodies (IRON BONEHEAD LP 2014)
Chilean death metal fuckin rules, I love many bands from there and I am happy to see more of them coming. One of my favourite acts from there is Demonic Rage, definitely! This band released quite many demos or splits, but most of them is impossible to find. Luckily, they also released a killer compilation titled "Omen of Doom", which contains a lot of that rare material. You can check my review of this CD and still get a copy from Old Temple Records. But it's weird that with such vast discography, Demonic Rage has only one full length album so far, which is 2013's "Venomous Wine from Putrid Bodies". But in this case, it's the quality, not quantity, that matters, because this is truly killer record, which for me puts Demonic Rage among my favourite death metal commandos. 
I remember when I first listened to "Venomous Wine from Putrid Bodies". I was blown away immediately. Knowing this band from a couple of demos, I got exactly what I wished to hear from them. I loved every riff, every song, I loved the atmosphere, the production and killer vocals... everything about this record was perfect... except the fact that it's so damn short haha! Obviously 30 minutes is not as bad as "People of the Monolith" (only 22 minutes of music, crime!), but I would not mind hearing two or three anthems more from Demonic Rage. On the other hand, such short record gives you certainty that the whole material is perfect, with no fillers or unnecessary bullshit. Just perfect death metal from start to finish. Death metal, which sounds like a tornado that will blow you away and crush everything on its way. 
I have to say that Demonic Rage sounds like beast on "Venomous Wine from Putrid Bodies". Obviously their music has a lot in common with other Chilean gods, like Unaussprechlichen Kulten, Dominus Xul or Godless. They all have a lot of common influence from Incantation, Funebrarum, Immolation, Krisiun or Vital Remains, to name just few. But they add something unique to their style, what makes their music sound a bit different. I don't know, maybe it's the South American brutality and uncompromising style of old school metal from there... Anyway, as I mentioned, every track on "Venomous Wine from Putrid Bodies" is great, even barely one minute short "Cadaver Christ's Desecration" delivers pure massacre. I love these strong and crushing riffs, repugnant and evil aura, heaviness and the vicious feeling of this death metal. I like how iis fast, but there are also many slow and doomy fragments, which brings pure morbid devastation. Give a listen to "Evoking the Pestilence" or "All Pest Shall Fall Over Me", but be ready for some broken bones! 
It's interesting that songs for this album have been written during many years, some are quite old and appeared on some other releases before... I am not sure if Demonic Rage are so lazy, that they not only did a 30 minutes long album, but it is filled with old songs. But it doesn't matter, it's damn strong and great album and I can only wait now for some new shit from this band. 
Standout tracks: "Sulphuric Congregation Towards the Holocaust of All Sacred and Holy", "The Fall of Nazarene", "All Pest Shall Fall Over Me", "Repugnant Shapes in a Ritualistic Coven of Death" 
Final rate: 80/100