Oct 092017

 

(We present DGR’s detailed review of the new album by Belphegor, which is out now on the Nuclear Blast label.)

You could be forgiven for thinking that at this point in their career Austria’s Belphegor would’ve been perfectly okay to rest on their laurels a bit. Having long ago established themselves as one of the more popular extreme black-metal-infused death metal acts out there, currently housed over at Nuclear Blast, and building a career draped in the worlds of blasphemy and a logo bearing prominent inverted crosses, Belphegor have defined themselves as one of the go-to groups for heavy metal’s dose of Satan.

Totenritual, the group’s eleventh album in a career spanning well over twenty years could’ve had the band serve up another smattering of heavier-than-the-Earth guitars and bellowing vocals, yet the Belphegor crew seem to have found new life in their chosen font of death and draw from it for the gathering on Totenritual. Totenritual does have its fair share of minor quirks, but overall Belphegor has honed in on a very focused sound — one which they hammer home numerous times over the nine songs that make up the disc. The album again shows the relic of subtlety (which Belphegor tossed a long time ago, in case albums titled Lucifer Incestus and Bondage Goat Zombie didn’t point you in the right direction) cast off in favor of nine tracks fueled by — and introduced numerous times by — the devil.

Sep 212017

 

(Later this month Unique Leader will release the latest full-length by California’s Arkaik, and here we have DGR‘s review.)

Southern Californian tech-death group Arkaik have become something of a slowly gathering storm in the music world for a little while now, having remained on a fairly consistent up-swing since the start of their series of meditative science fiction concept albums with 2012’s Metamorphignition.

Over the years the band have seen a rotation of members — including various members from Deeds Of Flesh, Flesh Consumed, and Brain Drill (even more fun considering former drummer Alex Bent currently sits behind the kit for Trivium) — yet they’ve been able to keep their hybrid of tech-death musicianship, brutal-death slamming, and yes, light deathcore sense and dedication to all things groove relatively unchanged.

Sep 082017

 

(DGR wrote this extended review of the new album by the Greek band SepticFlesh, which was released on September 1 in North America by Prosthetic Records.)

It’s hard to believe that three years have already passed since yours truly was given the opportunity to review Greece’s symphonic death metal arbiters SepticFlesh and their album Titan. Since then, I’ve dedicated a fair share of words to the band, as their brand of orchestra mixed in with crushingly heavy death metal scratches just the right itch, but I always wind up musing about the same subject, which is how the band’s chosen genres combine in order to form the band as it is today.

It’s interesting to me because, pulled apart, the orchestral music genre and metal genre are two gigantic beasts in their own right, so the thought of combining them makes sense. It’s been done for years, of course, but the gentlemen in SepticFlesh have developed a unique mastery of it. Even in the hands of masters it can occasionally get a little unwieldy — because although the two combine well, in the world of SepticFlesh they are also treading a very thin line, and depending on what side of that line they land on is the version of SepticFlesh you’ll be getting at that point in time.

Sep 072017

 

This will be a very busy day at our site. We’ve posted one review already, we have another one coming, and we have four (!) very good premieres lined up. But thanks to DGR, we also have a brief round-up of new songs and videos that have recently appeared elsewhere — to which I’ve added one news item at the front end, one wisely suggested by my comrade Mr. Synn. So, you’ll have to tolerate a bit of my verbiage for the first item, and then I’ll turn you over to the words and selections of DGR.

COMMUNIC

This has been a banner year for metal album covers, and Berlin-based Eliran Kantor has been responsible for many of the best ones, including the one above, which accompanies a new album by the Norwegian progressive metal band Communic. And the fact that we will have a new Communic album this year is itself very welcome news.

The name of the album is Where Echoes Gather, and it will be released on October 27 by the band’s new label, AFM Records, following four previous albums released by Nuclear Blast.

Sep 062017

 

(DGR reviews the new EP by Unbeheld from British Columbia, which was released near the end of July.)

Something happened in the three years since their self-titled EP in 2014 that caused Canadian death metal band Unbeheld to develop a nihilistic streak that has spilled over into their music. The group’s latest EP, Dust, features seven songs and not a friendly thought amongst them. The band themselves even explain this upfront on the Bandcamp page for Dust, stating:

Dust is lyrically based on thoughts rooted in depression and anxiety. The sort of feelings that one dealing with such mental conditions goes through on a daily basis. The sense that nothing ever quite feels “right”. The fact that that exists in itself is an absurd phenomena. It also deals with the usual death metal themes of death and violence; but instead of being about the process of these things, it more so deals with the thoughts that go through ones mind during death and or while performing acts of violence as well as a general fear of fading away into nothingness. That is to say that after we die; nothing we did really mattered.

I’m not a gambling man but I’d guess that “friendly” and “approachable” will likely not be the words attached to Unbeheld’s music, and to be fair, the artwork for Dust matches the music within — intense and violent.

Sep 052017


Dyscarnate

 

(DGR has again stepped forward for round-up duty and has pulled together 9 new songs and videos that caught his eye between last week and yesterday.)

Last week saw a tremendous on-rush of heavy metal news, and of course, since many people knew that we here in the States (or at least many of us) would get a long three-day weekend, a lot of it hit in the back half of the week. As the site’s resident hoover vacuum, I’ve compiled an itemized list of nine… items… that caught my interest over the course of the week that we didn’t get a chance to cover that I will now lovingly shove right into your faces.

If you’re a big fan of death metal and its chugging ilk, this roundup is mostly for you, as it seemed like a large chunk of what I found came from that sphere of influence. There’s definitely the requisite world-traveling element as well, as we go from England to Canada to Italy to the States to Greece to Sweden (twice), and you can see where this is going from here. So let’s quit goofing off and get to the fun stuff.

Sep 052017

 

(DGR prepared this extended review of the latest album by the French band Psygnosis, which was released in May.)

I tend to approach French now-instrumental band Psygnosis with something of an art-house cafe motif in mind. Over the years, the group have slowly morphed into a project that has combined quiet, minimalistic tendencies — mostly credited to small electronics usage — with fierce blasts of heavy metal, and a love of inserting movie samples into their songs so that they become something of a story that you’re only getting a partial glimpse of.

The overall picture is usually spread throughout the whole disc, but even then it often feels like something you’ve entered into in medias res so that it isn’t just the music you’re enjoying, you’re also getting the soundtrack to a series of events that you’re not witnessing. There’s no picture except the one that Psygnosis chooses to paint, and so the music takes on a dreamlike quality, in between the heavier segments — which, as they’ve gone later in their career, have become a little bit less of the focus and more the backing foundation.

Psygnosis really nailed this formula with their release Human Be[ing] in 2014, and afterward would make a drastic change in sound, which saw their vocalist bowing out in favor of becoming an entirely instrumental group, and a cellist stepping in to take the lead spot – with the extra strings now serving to take over the vocal lines.

Aug 292017

 

(DGR is experiencing the opposite of writer’s block. After a review and a round-up yesterday, he returns with another review. Today the subject is the new album by California death metal band Inanimate Existence, released on August 25 by The Artisan Era.)

Releasing an album a little bit under year after your last disc is a tall order for a lot of bands. There are a handful of prolific artists out there who seemingly have all the time and creativity in the world, able to put out new releases year-over-year; hell, even the ones who manage to do a new release any time under two years since the last one still seem impressive.

Bay Area tech-death group Inanimate Existence recently found themselves at the most difficult version of that challenge yet, recording and releasing their new disc Underneath A Melting Sky (via The Artisen Era) in the year since their last album, Calling From A Dream, came out. On top of that, the band did that despite some lineup shifts taking place, recording Underneath A Melting Sky as a three-piece. Considering that the band had just recently been a complete five-piece group, Inanimate Existence had a tall order ahead of them as a newly slimmed down trio (slimmed down almost to their first album’s core members, with Cameron Porras and Ron Casey being the tenured members still left).

Aug 282017

 

(DGR prepared the following round-up, featuring three items of news and new music that surfaced last week.)

Last week was a densely packed week for metal, with a lot of huge names like Arch Enemy, Ghost, and Mastodon all releasing music videos, and that wasn’t even the tip of the iceberg in metal news. There was so much that seemed to land backloaded onto Friday that it seemed like metal had just decided to spin up into one of its whirling torrents of destruction modes. Thus I once again step in to write about some of the things that caught my interest within the tornado of heavy metal that thrashed about over the week.

This time around we’re going to do a little traveling again, with two musical releases from Sacramento’s The Kennedy Veil, and Austria’s Belphegor, and then we’re going to take a look at the crowdfunding campaign from Lansing, Michigan’s own Dagon and their latest quest to write more ocean-themed death metal.

THE KENNEDY VEIL

It’s been some time since we last heard from Sacramento’s hyperspeed death metal group The Kennedy Veil. In the time since 2014’s Trinity Of Falsehood, The Kennedy Veil have seen the addition of a new vocalist, Monte Barnard, whose resume includes a ton of live vocalist work for groups like Alterbeast, Fallujah, and Thy Art Is Murder, in addition to having been the vocalist for The Antioch Synopsis and the short-lived Soma Ras. Last week the band were finally able to release details about their new disc, Imperium — which is due out October 20th — as well as release a new song, which premiered at Decibel.

Aug 282017

 

(DGR wrote this review of the new album by Southern California’s Empyrean Throne.)

There exists an alternate reality where the fusion of black metal and death metal, instead of favoring the atmospheres of the icefrost and bleak of the black metal side, took on the more mechanical and firebreathing aspects of the death metal spectrum. Where most blackened death metal tends to favor the ritual and romanticized pomp-and-circumstance theatricality loaned to it by its colder atmosphere-favoring brethren, in this alternate reality it instead leaned toward the heavier groove.

It’s not often that you see the phrase “sun-baked” attached to a disc, yet here we stand with Southern California act Empyrean Throne and their brand of symphonic bombast layered over a large feast of mechanized death metal, with the black metal aspect providing its ritual airs and snarling nihilism to the overall affair.

The group’s recently released album Chaosborne sounds like it was written from within a furnace, every song pushed to the maximum in terms of volume, and the instrumentation following suit, making grandiose sweeping movements from one carved-out blast to the next one. It envisions a world in which the entire planet is basically the high-desert, segments of sand so dry that it looks like it was created in a kiln and shaped into tiles, and those somehow still managing to crack under the heat of the sun.

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