Sunday 30 July 2023

ALBUM REVIEW: Creeping Death, "Boundless Domain"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 16/06/2023
Label: MNRK Heavy

“Boundless Domain” CD//DD//LP track listing:
1) Boundless Domain
2) Intestinal Wrap
3) Vitrified Earth
4) The Parthian Shot
5) Creators Turned Into Prey
6) Cursed
7) Remnants of the Old Gods
8) Looming
9) The Common Breed
The Review:
Here we go! Death metal from Texas with strong thrash and groove elements. Straight away, I knew this was going to be good. Interestingly, Adam D of Killswitch Engage produces (insufferable stage performances aside, he is a superb musician) and Corpsegrinder even turns up for a cameo on the second track- “Intestinal Wrap”.
The album starts with a slow burn title track and from there ratchets up the death, the thrash, the groove and the intensity. The album has enough variation and push and pull to draw the listener in. this isn’t just mindless blast beats and growls, the songs feel thought out and solid with speed used as necessary and good variety in the riffs.
The solos also rip impressively, so along with a watertight production this represents the full packages as far as death metal goes. Pinch harmonics infiltrate the riffs here and there- a nice nod to death metal of a 90s vintage- while the rolling tank stylings of “Vitrified Earth” show that the band can do different paces nicely as well.
It is to the band’s credit that there is no fat to be trimmed here at all. As I’ve often said, a little death metal goes a long way- so at 36 minutes, this record is spot on in terms of what it offers up. Nine tracks is plenty and the days of bands trying to fill an hour- or a whole CD, Satan help us- have long gone, it seems.
Certainly, the quality here is kept up throughout and the band run through their repertoire very confidently as the album progresses. The sound is unified, even if “The Parthian Shot” is very different from, say, “Cursed”.
In a genre where uniqueness is rare, hopefully this second full length will set Creeping Death apart from the many, many brutal outfits out there. The fact is that the best and biggest DM bands all have a USP; a uniquely identifiable aspect to their sound/style/presentation- which marks them out and causes other bands to try to emulate them.
Pleasingly, Creeping Death don’t sound like Cannibal Corpse, or Obituary, or Deicide, or Morbid Angel, or Cryptopsy, or Autopsy etc. etc. They sound like their own band, with various genres mixed into the death metal drama.
Hopefully, “Boundless Domain” will see the band lifted out of the death metal milieu and into their own space. On the strength of this record, they richly deserve a better level of recognition and reward. They’ve made a very good record. Listen and find out for yourself.
“Boundless Domain” is available HERE

Band info: bandcamp

Wednesday 12 July 2023

ALBUM REVIEW: Jag Panzer, “The Hallowed”

By: Richard Maw
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 23/06/2023
Label: Atomic Fire

“The Hallowed” CD//DD//LP track listing:
1. Bound As One
2. Prey!
3. Ties That Bind
4. Stronger Than You Know
5. Onward We Toil
6. Edge Of A Knife
7. Dark Descent
8. Weather The Storm
9. Renewed Flame
10. Last Rites

The Review:

Jag Panzer are an American powerhouse of power metal… but also of trad metal… and even thrash elements. In fact, it’s not so easy to label the band as ‘this’ or ‘that’ as they are their own entity. The band got a great start in 1984 with the classic “Ample Destruction”, but then effectively went on  hiatus for a decade. If 2Ample Destruction” had been unbridled youthful aggression, then later albums were much more sophisticated, varied and subtle.
In fact, it must be noted that when I refer to ‘power’ metal, this US variant (USPM) is very, VERY different from its European cousin; it’s leaner, meaner and much weightier. This time around, Jag Panzer have gone with a full concept record. They aren’t strangers to this, having told the story of Macbeth back in 2000 with a “Thane to The Throne”, but all the same, 23 years separates the releases, so this is a welcome return.
However, this time around the band have looked to a post-apocalyptic future rather than a literary past. The record tells the story of a group of intrepid survivors, battling the landscape, hunger and predatory beasts as they seek survival and redemption. It’s startlingly well put together. The story, concept, spoken word interludes and most importantly the songs are fully realised and presented with utter conviction.
One thing that really jumps out at here- from the first beat- is the production. Yes, the legendary Jim Morris mixing the record helps, but the main point of note is that this sounds like a metal band, recorded in the studio- but not relying on technology and computers. The drums sound, well, REAL… like a proper drum kit played in a proper studio by a proper drummer. Rikard Stjernquist, take a bow- ably complimented by John Tetley’s convincing bass. The rest of the band turn in equally vital performances, brimming with fire and life. Harry ‘The Tyrant’ Conklin’s voice is one of the best in the genre and his vocals here are soaring, operatic, pitch perfect and full of grit and conviction in equal measure.
While Chris Broderick played on the deliciously dark “Casting the Stones” albums before exiting for Megadeth, his presence is not missed here (nor on the EXCELLENT “The Scourge of Light” back in 2011). Ken Rodarte does a superb job with some real guitar pyrotechnics, while band lynchpin Mark Briody delivers riff after riff.
As for the songs themselves, as a concept album it is hard to pick stand outs as they all depend on each other for the story. That said, “Stronger Than You Know” is superb, “Prey!”Dark Descent” and “Onward We Toil” all offer something different from each other and all showcase the best aspects of the band and album. I think that every track here is better than anything on 2017’s “The Deviant Chord”- which was still a more than decent album!
This is an excellent and entertaining metal album; it’s uniformly strong, packed with personality and fiery playing and will please fans of such bands as Iron Maiden, Manilla Road, Iced Earth, Cage, Judas Priest, Helloween, Dio, Dio-era Sabbath etc. It’s grand, gritty and extremely self-assured. A masterclass in real and unique power metal.
“The Hallowed” is available HERE 

Band info: Facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: Vomitory, “All Heads Are Gonna Roll”

By: Richard Maw
Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 26/05/2023
Label: Metal Blade Records

“All Heads Are Gonna Roll” CD//DD//LP track listing:
1. All Heads Are Gonna Roll
2. Decrowned
3. Ode to the Meat Saw
4. The Deepest Tomb
5. Piece by Stinking Piece
6. Raped, Strangled, Sodomized, Dead
7. Dead Man Stalking
8. Disciples of the Damned
9. Dead World
10. Beg for Death
The Review:

Vomitory return after over a decade… but the Swedes haven’t lost any of their rabid aggression or deathly destructive power. This is death metal from the old school- but better than the new school. And better than most of the active old school as well!
The album sounds thick and meaty. The performances are very aggressive and fully committed. The moment the title track races out of the gate, it’s clear that this is a true nitrous injected deathride of monumental proportions. There is no backward step from there; “Decrowned” is fantastically aggressive and wild.
The band may have been putting out records since the 90s, but this goes to show that they’ve lost none of their potency or power. “Ode to the Meat Saw” shows another side to the band- just as nasty, but at a slower pace. Rolling bass drums and some guitar riffing reminiscent of Bolt Thrower in places.
At ten tracks, this is an old school blast of traditional deathly values and spite. Any fans of Dismember, Entombed, Paganizer- even Asphyx and most other Euro/UK DM acts you would name will find everything they like here; it’s got the style and feel of an old school rager but with a crushing modern production and mix. No bad tracks and some great song titles (“Dead Man Stalking”) make for a fetid mixture of true death metal.
Overall, this is for all fans of death metal and should be compulsory listening for all fans of the genre in 2023; you won’t hear better this year.
“All Heads Are Gonna Roll” is available HERE

Band info: Bandcamp || Facebook