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All reviews - Music (33)

Krypts - Unending Degradation

Posted : 8 years, 6 months ago on 15 May 2013 08:04 (A review of Unending Degradation)

Finnish death metal debut which wisely avoids falling into the trap of making their songs too long, a weakness such bands with a doom-y slant are often guilty of. The vocals are generic but serviceable, and the ancient atmosphere nicely complements the lyrical content.

The result is a satisfying heavy and tastefully executed album which may lack enough x factor to be premier league, but is a worthwhile underground purchase nonetheless.

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Necrowretch - Putrid Death Sorcery

Posted : 8 years, 6 months ago on 15 May 2013 07:47 (A review of Putrid Death Sorcery)

It`s satisfying to hear a band that is not ashamed to plunder it's genre's roots without coming across as contrived or calculated, and possibly the biggest strength of this French band`s debut is how authentically `old school` it is - even my jaded death metal ears could`ve been fooled into thinking this came out in 1990 instead of 2013. As well as some sinister and uncannily sounding `Left Hand Path` parts, I`m reminded of old Swedish deathsters Merciless, not least because of the blackened vocals; a resemblance which is further exemplified by the t-shirts in the band`s promotional pics as well as the blurb for this release describing it as `merciless` and `bestial`. However Necrowretch have enough OSDM floating around in their DNA to stop them sounding reliant on any 1 or 2 bands.

On the downside, the sheer lack of dynamism hurts the replayability of an album destined to be returned to sporadically rather than as a mainstay on the death-deck.

Still, `Putrid Death Sorcery` is a satisfyingly sour offering from a band who have their (black) hearts in the right place. And while it`s not diverse or memorable enough to make it on many end of year `best of` lists, it`s a nice try all the same.

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Darkthrone - The Underground Resistance

Posted : 8 years, 6 months ago on 15 May 2013 01:14 (A review of Underground Resistance)

Like all the best bands, Darkthrone have long had a deep well of musical inspiration to draw from and they wear their 80s metal influences on their sleeves again here, much of the joy in this album (their 15th) lay in picking them out, be it vocally, lyrically or even, for example, in the introduction to opening track `Dead Early`; a dead ringer to the beginning of `Voivod` by Voivod (and 80s metal aficionados will likely spot at least one other big nod to Snake and co on the disc **). Celtic Frost and Minotaur are some other references (that I detected), while the (surprisingly lavish) liner notes point to Iron Maiden and even Pentagram.

Some will quibble over the amount of tracks present (a meagre 6) but with so much going on (not least the number of `kick-ass` riffs (to quote matyrofevil's review of same album) it doesn`t feel like an insubstantial or laboured release. Long time fans of the band may continued to feel bemused or cheated at the direction the band has taken on their last few releases (A Blaze in the Northern Sky this aint), but converts to recent Darkthrone are unlikely to be disappointed.

`The Underground Resistance` is a clever release from an iconic duo whose very best material might be long behind them, and even though they are a very different band to when they started, they are still pretty damn good at what they do.

** blow the reactor!

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Kratos - Iron Beast

Posted : 8 years, 6 months ago on 14 May 2013 11:18 (A review of Iron Beast)

This EP has a rough `n` ready `Kill Em All` quality which keeps it mildly engaging for the duration, but the material lacks imagination and is too rudimentary to warrant much replay value.

Far from the decade`s worst releases, `Iron Beast` is nevertheless redundant and forgettable in the grand scheme of things.

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Sacred Oath - A Crystal Vision

Posted : 8 years, 6 months ago on 14 May 2013 11:14 (A review of A Crystal Vision)

A wet dream proposition for fans of 80s metal legends like Iron Maiden, Mercyful Fate and Jag Panzer, `A Crystal Vision` is as exciting, enchanting and smartly arranged as much lauded releases of the era such as `Ample Destruction` and `Don`t Break The Oath`.

The songwriting is consistently strong, the vocals are powerful and tastefully employed, and that classic 80s `vibe` - that is so rarely successfully replicated these days - runs through every ounce of the 43 minute running time like Blackpool Rock.

`A Crystal Vision` is as good an argument for imagination and class being more important than originality that you are likely to find.

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Shok Paris - Steel & Starlight

Posted : 8 years, 6 months ago on 14 May 2013 10:55 (A review of Steel And Starlight)

Strong, memorable songs, stellar axework and terrific, leathery vocals result in a powerful release you should have no qualms about checking out if, like me, you`re on a quest to discover underrated 80s metal albums. For reference points look to Savatage and Wasp (check out `On Your Feet` and tell me this isn`t the band`s answer to `On Your Knees`!), with the occasional dunderheadedness on tracks like `Rocked Outta Love` and `Fallin For You` letting the side down (again think Wasp :). To say Shok Paris are immune to filler would be a lie, but this is the exception rather than the rule and the album`s killer tracks are many and so impressive, these transgressions can be forgiven and avoided with swift employment of the skip button.

NOTE: `On Your Feet` appears on action/horror film `The Hidden` starring Kyle MacLachlan.

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Metal Inquisition review

Posted : 8 years, 6 months ago on 14 May 2013 10:48 (A review of Metal Inquisition)

Another of those 'guilty pleasure' releases, Metal Inquisition is the one dimensional and decidedly second division but spirited and enjoyable first outing from these crazy Canucks. With songs about metal, satan, witches and sacrifice, I can`t help but compare this to Venom, If Dave Mustaine had assumed vocal duties instead of Cronos, the early material from the Geordie thrashers may have sounded like this (even if though they don`t hit upon the sinister vibe of Cronos & co enough for my liking).

If you dig this one, be sure to check out the sequel released a year later.....you have the chance to join them, the mighty and the proud.....

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Metal from Hell review

Posted : 8 years, 6 months ago on 14 May 2013 10:45 (A review of Metal from Hell)

It hasn`t dated too well, especially when you consider that Ample Destruction, another 80s metal debut that Harry Conklin handled vocal duties for, came out 2 years BEFORE this. The biggest offenders for me are the production (lacklustre even by B-grade metal standards), and the crappy spoken parts which benefit the album none and remind me of Venom, but not in a fond way. Some of the songs are quite imaginative, though much of the material sounds creaky and ham fisted. There is a fairly high cheese quotient but what else would you expect from an album entitled `Metal From Hell`? This is an album that couldn`t have been released in any other decade than the 80s, but for all it`s faults, I've long had a soft spot for it. And kudos to any band that pens a song about the Evil Dead.........I wonder if a young Glen Benton and Chuck Schuldiner were taking note.

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Septic Flesh - Ophidian Wheel

Posted : 8 years, 6 months ago on 14 May 2013 10:33 (A review of Ophidian Wheel)

The definite highlight here is the mightily Maiden-esque title track, while `Shamanic Rite` and `Phallic Litanies` are arguably the most effective examples of a metal band employing operatic vocals to date. `The Future Belongs to the Brave` also utilises female vocals and is a strong opener. Like the title track, `Razor Blades of Guilt` is firmly in `Iron Maiden-goes death metal` territory, but suffers by comparison (it`s still a decent song though).`Tartarus` is a preposterous waste of time, while the slower `Heaven Below` winds the album down and is a wise cut to end on.

The Ophidian Wheel is more fuel for my assertion that the year of 1997 was one of metal`s best. It took me well over a decade for me to check this slab of gothic DM out and while `classic` might be too strong a word for it, I can say without fear of contradiction it was worth waiting for.

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Deceased - Fearless Undead Machines

Posted : 8 years, 6 months ago on 14 May 2013 07:52 (A review of Fearless Undead Machines)

This album is often tagged `death metal` though is way more M-E-T-A-L than one might think based on band name, cover and song titles alone; the morbidity of the subject matter (the world being helpless in the face of a zombie outbreak) being largely accountable for that description.

For rabid underground 80s metal fans, musically this one is nigh on heavy metal heaven; think complex Mercyful Fate arrangements, off-kilter Voivod riffing (which effectively adds to the demented and weird atmosphere) as well as Venom`s Cronos who I daresay provided some inspiration vocal wise. First album Slayer would be another another good reference point - NWOBHM-infused & thrashy; sinister sounding but frequently melodic.

Fortunately for a concept album, Deceased head honcho King Fowley is a good story teller as well, though the release does succumb to the failing of that medium - namely there being too many tracks which serve to advance the overall storyline without necessarily being good songs in their own right. When the album is in all out flesh ripping mode - such as on `Night of the Deceased` and `Graphic Repulsion` it is as unstoppable as deadly as the undead monsters Fowley & co revere so much, though for my money the introspective and philosophical parts on `Fearless..` frequently sound ham-fisted and don`t work quite as well.

The other (rotting) bone to pick is that it's so bloody long - 70 minutes is nigh on film length and though it was probably intended to evoke a cinematic quality, (especially with the Romero samples scattered around the album) an hour of morbid metal might just too much for some.

Overall though, if you love zombies and metal half as much as these guys you`d be doing yourself a disservice by not checking this out as it`s a flawed - but happy marriage of the two and second only to the great `Luck of the Corpse` debut in the band`s back catalogue.

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