Tuesday 29 September 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Skeletal Remains, "The Entombment of Chaos"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 11/09/2020
Label: Century Media Records

“The Entombment of Chaos” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). Cosmic Chasm (Intro)
2). Illusive Divinity
3). Congregation Of Flesh
4). Synthetic Impulse
5). Tombs Of Chaos
6). Enshrined In Agony
7). Dissectasy
8). Torturous Ways To Obliteration
9). Eternal Hatred
10). Unfurling The Casket

The Review:

“The Entombment of Chaos” is album number four for these Californian death metallers. It's incredible, really. It's not because of their longevity, but instead it is incredible they are not from Tampa, Florida and this is being released in 2020 and not 1992. This album is a beast. It's resolutely old school and nods to the best bands of the genre; Death, Morbid Angel, Obituary et al. The promo photo says a lot; Obituary and Grave shirts proudly on display and the band looking like they are deathly serious- which they are.

The fact that the bonus track is a Disincarnate cover- that's the James Murphy Disincarnate- shows that these guys are very interested in going for real old school fans of the genre and also that they are exactly that themselves.

Of course, this is fast, of course this is brutal, of course this is pure death metal; but it's never at the expense of riffs and attitude. It's not fast for the sake of being fast and doesn't overstep the mark into unlistenable brutality. Instead, there are plenty of melodic shifts and tasteful leads (“Synthetic Impulse” has this in spades). The atmospheric intro of “Cosmic Cavern” nods to the tech greats like Cynic, while the opener proper “Illusive Divinity is headbanging heaven.

Elsewhere, the propulsive thrashing of “Tombs of Chaos” is very satisfying- with added blasts for seasoning. Ten tracks (eleven with the bonus track) is more than enough of this type of carnage. Just like their forbears, this is to the point and focused- just as well because if this ran to a full hour or similar it would be hard to get through. Instead, the band know that a little goes a long way and the record clocks in around the length of one side of a TDK 90 cassette (which I used to have Death albums dubbed onto).

What Skeletal Remains have done here is recreate the atmosphere and approach of classic early 90s Floridian death metal, and they have done so expertly. It's really good death metal, complete with a mood setting intro, a clean interlude (“Enshrined In Agony”) that kicks off the second half and all the good points of the genre rolled into one album.

There are echoes of Deicide's riffing approach in “Dissectasy” and Morbid Angel's angular musicality in “Torturous Ways To Obliteration”. Yep, for the old school death head, there is nothing to dislike here. The production is spot on, too. This is a great throwback to the g(l)ory days of death and makes me want to dig out everything from “Cause of Death” to “Altars of Madness” to “Tomb of the Mutilated” and feast upon their innards.

It's a deathly delight from start to finish. Have a listen to any one of the eight full original songs here and you are bound to agree- if you have any interest in any of the aforementioned bands. Death metal the way it was and the way it should be; loud, fast and raw with grit and guts aplenty. 

“The Entombment of Chaos” is available HERE 

Band info: facebook 

Thursday 24 September 2020

VIDEO PREMIERE: King Witch deliver another dose of heavy metal gold with "Return to Dust"

In just a few short years Scottish power house King Witch have proven to be a beacon of quality since emerging in 2015. The heft of the riffs, the powerhouse vocals of Laura Donnelly, has enabled King Witch to deliver an unmistakable and incomparable sound.  Even Nicole Sturgeon approves (ok I made that bit up).

King Witch returned this year with another sonic brew in the form of their second album “Body of Light” and is arguably one of the strongest albums released in 2020.

Released in May, 2020 has since become a period in our lives than none of us will forget, COVID19 has and continues to affect everyone. So in these strange times, it is more important than ever, to not only continue to have hope, but also to provide people with something positive.  So today we’re excited to premiere King Witch’s brand new video for their stunning track “Return to Dustwhich you can check out below. 

“Body of Light” is digitally and on CD//LP and you can order a copy HERE


Monday 21 September 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Zakk Sabbath, "Vertigo"

By Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 04/09/2020
Label: Magnetic Eye Records


“Vertigo” CD//LP track listing:

1. Black Sabbath
2. The Wizard
3. Wasp / Behind the Wall of Sleep / N.I.B
4. Wicked World
5. A Bit of Finger / Sleeping Village / Warning

The Review:

It seems from “the internet” that this release is viewed as somewhat controversially... I really don't know why, as it is Zakk Wylde- ably supported by Blasko (bassist) and Joey Castillo (monster drummer)- roaring through the Sabbath debut in its entirety (with the US album track “Wicked World” present) in a pretty live-in-the-studio presentation. The release, as far as I can tell, is an affectionate homage to the band and Zakk's sometime boss and it is delivered convincingly. With Wylde being the de facto Ozzy guitarist post-Randy with the longest tenure, it's really not much of a stretch for him to claim lineage in the Sabbath family tree- and beyond Iommi, Zakk is the guitar player most closely associated with Ozzy still alive today.

In case anyone has forgotten, Wylde was/is a highly regarded player with a phenomenal picking hand and a very memorable and identifiable playing style. Vocally, Zakk imitates Ozzy convincingly- with a lower register and a touch more grit. The sound is wonderful; it's warm and live and raw and sounds like... a band playing together. What a refreshing change!

The playing is, of course, rock solid from the rhythm section and Zakk's guitar playing is very much on form. The title track is delivered with real fire and then it's onto more deep cut material. I assume it's Zakk playing harmonica on “The Wizard” (Wylde has already covered this one on the 2nd Pride and Glory disc many years ago). It's a storming rendition and Castillo gets many bonus points for adding in the solitary cowbell strike that Ward graced the original recording with. In fact, its faithful touches like this which show the record for what it is: big Sabbath fans paying tribute to the original gods- as the promo notes say- as a COVER BAND. Its fun, it's enthusiastic and it rocks really hard.

The other songs on here are delivered just as well and have lost none of their ageless power; “Behind The Wall of Sleep”,N.I.B” and “Wicked World” are just fantastic. We are spared the odd Crow cover of “Evil Woman”- serviceable on the original album but the weakest piece of music therein.

It's no secret that the first few Sabbath albums are all time classics, but hearing the songs played by other world class musicians just reminded me of their power and vitality. In the history of heavy music there are few bands to rival Sabbath's six album  run (and of course the Dio, Ian Gillan and Tony Martin eras all have a huge amount of classic material too) and hearing this gallop through their debut only served to remind me just how good the debut is/was. The list of other bands with a catalogue even close is small... well, you've got your own opinion as to who! Beyond the biggest of bands (Maiden, Metallica, Priest... slim pickings thereafter), it's a small list and mostly confined to sub-genres.

It's widely accepted that Sabbath created metal- yes, there are internet dwellers who argue for Blue Cheer (sigh), Hendrix (no- although godlike; not metal), Led Zeppelin (hard rock and more but not metal) and even some who claim that Sabbath were not metal at all and that instead Judas Priest were the first metal band- and then only with the release of “Sad Wings of Destiny” due to its dual guitars and higher tempos (Priest innovated the genre in the 70s, but did not invent it- come on, now!). These people are all wrong, obviously: Sabbath were the first metal band. To hear the Sabbath debut- or even this re-recording- is to hear metal explode from the womb and show its teeth.

One question that can certainly be levelled in accusatory fashion at this release is: what is the point?!  It isn't a “reinterpretation” a “reimagining” or anything else; it's just a solid and inspired run through the most significant debut in metal history.

By the time I reached the closing fifteen minute suite of “A Bit of Finger/Sleeping Village/Warning”, I was already planning to play the Sabbath back catalogue as soon as possible just to reacquaint myself with its unearthly power. Well, I think the question is answered; it'll have you digging out all those  Sabbath albums from the 70's and beyond. It's a wonderful tribute to and acknowledgement of the most important metal debut of all time. No more and no less.

“Vertigo” is available HERE

Band info: facebook

Friday 18 September 2020

TRACK PREMIERE: Canadian progressive doom duo Uncle Woe, debut the monstrous "Become the Ghost"

Hailing from the oft frozen hills of rural Canada, Uncle Woe is a phantom limb, wielding a bludgeoning tool against mostly true tales of bittersweet sorrow, revenge, and regret.

The bleak desolation of Bancroft, Ontario spawned Uncle Woe in 2019 when principle songwriter Rain Fice (Guitar, Vocals, Bass, Keyboards) grew weary of floundering in non-committed projects and instead dove into song writing mode with a rough idea of his ideal sound and started carving out what would become the first Uncle Woe LP “Our Unworn Limbs”.

After the album was released in 2019 and started to pick up some buzz, a full band began to form. However, the pandemic was not far off and the band whittled down to a 2 piece. 

Before lockdown began, Uncle Woe managed to lock down the rough elements of what would become the second album “Phantomescence”, Fice expanded on them, and after being fed to drummer Nicholas Wowk, and recording remotely, the album was complete: a meandering exploration of death and dreams. Many chugging, bludgeoning passages are offset by expansive and contemplative, subdued, almost post-rock soundscapes.

As Uncle Woe begins to hit their stride, fans can look forward to the band putting out music pretty much indefinitely, plans are in motion for a third album already. The full album “Phantomescence” is due out October 23rd via Packard Black Productions and available for digital, CD and vinyl pre-order HERE. You can out the monstrous track “Become the Ghost” below.

Band info: Facebook || Instagram

Wednesday 9 September 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: Drouth, “Excerpts From a Dread Liturgy”

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 31/07/2020
Label: Translation Loss Records

“Excerpts From a Dread Liturgy” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1). A Drowning in Sunlight
2). An Apiarist
3). O Time Thy Pyramids – An Unfinished Nigthmare
4). A Repulsive Act Shrouded in Flesh
5). A Crown of Asphodels

The Review:

Portland's Drouth offer up five tracks of black metal on this sharp and dark release. As noted in previous reviews, I'm no afficianado of the black metal genre and my listening tends to be a little restricted to the classics of 25+ years ago or to a couple of modern bands (Winterfylleth in particular).

However, I know a band I like when I hear it and I very much like this. Over the course of five tracks and around forty minutes, Drouth delivery convincing blasts, darkness and atmosphere. Have a listen to the opener “A Drowning in Sunlight” and see if you agree. For me, this is straight ahead black metal with a few individualistic ingredients.

The time changes are solid, the riffs are melodic in places and vicious in others, vocally the band are almost similar to At The Gates, as opposed to other many black metal vocalists, while the sound is not pro-toolsed beyond reason and stands as a coherent capturing of the band's raw sound.

As the album progresses, it's notably extreme and melodic by turn (like much black metal, to my ears) and the brutality of “An Apiarist” stands counterpoint to the cloying darkness of “O Time Thy Pyramids…” and so on.

By the time the album finishes with the excellent “A Crown of Asphodels”, any listener will have made up their mind about the band and the record. For me, this is good black metal done well- it stands apart from much of the genre due to the professional manner of delivery and utterly committed performances of the band members. If you are looking for some black metal, this will do it for you.

“Excerpts From a Dread Liturgy” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp || facebook