Monday, October 20, 2008

THE ELYSIAN FIELDS - Suffering G.O.D. Almighty

Suffering G.O.D. Almighty
Black Lotus Records

New Age Electronica expertly fused with death metal is about as extreme a combination as is possible as The Elysian Fields must certainly be one of the most curious acts going today. These guys do not come off as hook oriented as The Kovenant, with their style melding a much truer form of death than you’ll find anywhere else.

Hyperblasts fused with techno synths, what will they think of next?

Vocalist Bill A. produces a deathly growl that is a commanding presence on top of the synth effects and the savage riffing of Marinos is at once complex and intense. The Elysian Fields are reminiscent of what you might hear at a Gothenburg rave, the key notes falling like icy droplets onto a jagged surface of chugging chords and intense rhythms.

The title track features a verse riff that almost ventures into black metal territory, but the galloping guitars during the song’s break turn a bit deathly, making for an interesting interplay in between the contrasting styles. Flanged out death growls during this track do that much more to add to the overall originality of the song and when the band thrashes along to the cosmic sounding synth effects, it at times sounds like total chaos, which assumedly, was exactly what the group was going for in the first place.

“Ravished With Thee Light” is the most reminiscent of Dark Tranquillity, but The Elysian Fields push the synth effects further down the envelope, making for a sound which is highly original. At times, the synthesizers are placed a little high in the mix, so it sounds like a major drop off when they are taken out of the picture for brief moments.

For those lovers of extreme music that are unafraid to check out something different, this is a very interesting record, but purists will have a hard time digesting the large amounts of keys and programming.

Definitely different, The Elysian Fields have set themselves apart as certain innovators with the release of “Suffering G.O.D. Almighty.”

Written By: The Boatman

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

KRISIUN - AssassiNation

Century Media Records

Krisiun’s roaring sonic wall of death returns once again with “Assassination”, as these Brazilian brutes convey exactly the type of skull-hammering, blood-spilling rhythmic onslaughts and well-honed, slashing and shredding axe-work that have made the band notorious in death metal circles worldwide. One of the most attention-grabbing aspects of the sound of Krisiun is the willingness of the group to take on traditional thrash influences in addition to offering their blindingly rapid death metal cacophony. Often on AssassiNation, the guitar tones are highly similar to Kreator and when the band takes up a wildly thrashing section, the effect is not unlike that of the aforementioned German thrash pioneers. When combining such aggressive sounds with the dark, cavernous death bellow of Alex Camargo, the effect becomes comparatively singular. Respect is due to any band that can create such an extremely individual musical aura and there is no denying the Krisiun has carved out a particular niche for themselves stylistically.

Producer Andy Classen brings out an absolute wickedness in the sound of Krisiun by sticking tightly to pointed guitar tones, tightly compressed drum sounds and embellishing the entire affair with a near-perfect mix. Certainly, production must be considered as a chief factor in the enjoyability of this record, but praise should also be given to the complexity of the group’s attentively defined aural barrages. Highlights include the hyperspeed-squealing, deafening “Suicidal Savagery” as well as the foreboding, unremitting “United In Deception”, where the band utilizes thrashcore breakdowns and blinding riffery to embellish their war minded assault. Well-placed guitar accents and a swirling vortex of highly technical instrumentation cause “Vicious Wrath” to be especially notable, with the track being one of the most superb examples of the level of proficiency the trio have found as musicians. Performance-wise, drummer Max Kolesne can be said to be most impressive, manifesting concentrated, extended bursts of speed with the precision of a laser-guided missile. His strong contributions provide cohesion for the group’s insane technical flurries coupled with a blunt, fastidious force that is wholly unyielding.

Rightfully, this is an album that is not without its down points. At times, the band is a bit repetitive, as during the course of “Natural Genocide.” Maybe this is the trio’s example of a death metal hook, but it gets to be too same-sounding to make a great impact. There are other points during the album where the distinction of their sound gives way to the band’s tendencies toward fleeting pummeling, but these missives are certainly less noteworthy. Other than the highly above-par production quality, you won’t find too many surprises on this album. Consistency is a key factor in the long-term success of any act and Krisiun does deliver that positive trait, but further experimentation would also be welcomed. In ending things with a cover of Motorhead’s “Sweet Revenge” Krisiun pay a bit of homage to an obvious old-school influence. Just as Motorhead set standards for playing speed metal, Krisiun seeks to blaze the same blistering trails. On this track, the group actually settles down for a slow doomy rendition of the cut, delivering the track at a measured grind with the end result being particularly menacing. This is one example of unpredictability that leaves the record on an interesting note, indeed.

Although not perfect, with “AssassiNation” the group remorselessly gets the job accomplished. Without fail, Krisiun deal listeners some of the most aggressive, technical and extreme music to be found, guaranteeing this to be a big hit with the death metal united.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

CANCER - Spirit In Flames

Spirit In Flames
Copro Records - 2005

2005 has been the year of the comeback for many an extreme band and now metal fans will rejoice with the triumphant full-length return of legends of musical brutality Cancer.

On “Spirit In Flames”, the listener will discover a much more streamlined version of the group, who settle into a tight thrash metal groove on the standout track “Mindless Reactions.”

Although Cancer retain the intensity they have always been known for, this record reflects a more commercial side than the group displayed on their previous efforts such as “Death Shall Rise”, which featured the hottest guitarist in death metal at that time, James Murphy.

The group is much more focused here, blazing through monolithic, crushing gems like “Spirit In Flames” and the doomish, chugging “Solar Prophesy” that ultimately prove that in their maturation as songwriters and performers, the band have moved tremendously forward.

An eerie aura surrounds the track “Hell House”, which just may be the best track the band has offered to date in terms of both memorability and in bearing a vibe that transcends the barriers of metal genres.

Lead guitarist David Leitch really tears things up on this album, his intricate, blistering fretwork spread across the album like a wildly burning fire. You will find that John Walker’s voice has also matured, with the frontman switching things up vocally in order to bring a new dynamic to the group’s sound that just wasn’t there before.

Easily this revered ensemble’s most auspicious work to date, a record that fans of any type of metal cannot afford to miss.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Belphegor - Pestapokalypse VI

Belphegor - Pestapokalypse VI
Pestapokalypse VI
Nuclear Blast Records Records
Official Website

For their first offering to the Nuclear Blast imprint, Austrians Belphegor have delivered a scorcher in their sixth full-length effort, the appropriately-titled Pestapokalypse VI. Albums by Belphegor are always well-received by fans of Blackened Death Metal and there's little doubt as to why. Over the course of fourteen years, this outfit has been building itself into one of the most vicious groups in extreme metal, emphasizing a bold Anti-Christian stance and combining the feel of brutal Death Metal with the aesthetics of Black Metal in a manner that’s often very much similar to the direction that Behemoth has taken with their sound - a deadly hybrid of Death and Black Metal.

Goatreich: Fleshcult, the band's previous effort, was very well received and at that time it was apparent that Belphegor had solidified its position amongst the most powerful of their kind. Pestapokalypse VI furthers this notion, with the benchmark evil of "Seyn Todt In Schwartz" and the dirging "Angel Of Retribution," featuring a riff with a slowed-down Morbid Angel feel that’s well-complimented by the trademark, sneering growling of Helmuth. The band employs a session bassist for this album, Robin Eaglestone (who fans know from his tenure in Cradle Of Filth and current status in Grimfist), following the recent departure of former 4 string annihilator Barth. Eaglestone adds a lot of weight to tracks such as the mighty-sounding "Chants For The Devil," where the riffing of Helmuth takes on a darkly regal feel.

Although this album is not necessarily a large progression from Goatreich: Fleshcult, it further serves to underline the strengths of Belphegor, delivering chaotic yet intensely musical songwriting while balancing that expert sound creation with a deep sense of brutality. "Pest Teufel Apokalypse" is potently bludgeoning, attacking the senses right from the start, then finishing the deed with a stream-of-consciousness onslaught of crippling blasts and frenzied fretwork.

In no way is “Pestapokalypse VI” disappointing. Instead, Belphegor has delivered exactly what fans expected from this release. Hails are in order.

Deicide - The Stench Of Redemption

Deicide - The Stench Of Redemption
The Stench Of Redemption
Earache Records

A small number of Deicide fans believed that the group could ever amount to two shits minus the Hoffman brothers. This “Stench Of Redemption” smells much better than you would have thought. While “Scars Of The Crucifix” was hailed by plenty as a triumphant return to form for the group, plenty of critically-minded Death Metal fans didn’t buy into the hype. Deicide 2006, however is a beast refusing denial. Wapped in blasphemous tapestries of ambience cuts such as “Crucified For The Innocence” and “Desecration” assail the listener with vicious. Brutal hammering, blistering leads and the trademark guttural assaults by band leader Glen Benton, an individual many would argue the term brutal was invented for.

“Death To Jesus” slays as effectively as Deicide has ever managed while “Homage For Satan” throws a nod in the direction of Slayer in terms of musical substance, laden with ripping leads. Turning in a stellar performance as always, drummer Steve Asheim shreds his drum heads with violent ferocity, pounds out complex patterns with precision and does much to enhance the fretboard-burning presence of Jack Owen, whom we all know from his considerable tenure with Cannibal Corpse. Owen’s playing is much more focused than we’ve heard on a Deicide record before and his axe expertise makes for a welcome addition to the coven. Bassist Ralph Santolla’s bass guitar spits out raw, bloody chunks of beef during “The Lord’s Sedition,” making a great underpinning for Owen’s deranged, chaotic melodies.

Benton makes his presence known with a vicious performance throughout the record. Having plenty to prove, the grunting vocalist really raises the bar in comparison to his effort on the past few Deicide records. His voice is in great form, spewing blackened and hateful lyrics with an adversarial animosity that is certain to attract major attention. Definitely, this is a comeback that’s not to be taken lightly.

Unfortunately, Decide’s self-titled debut remains my personal favorite by the group. During that period, the group had tapped into something completely new and the excitement of the intensity of Death Metal wear thinner with age. Keeping that in mind, “The Stench Of Redemption” is easily the band’s best in a good number of years. Re-alignment has spawned rejuvenation for these Death Metal kings, making this one of the most important releases of this style that you’ll be hearing this year.