(In this post TheMadIsraeli reviews the new second album by the Portuguese band Primal Attack.)
Primal Attack are an instance where the name absolutely tells you everything you need to know about the music. This is the first album this year that I can call an absolute balls-to-the-wall, no frills, uncompromisingly brutal metal album in its sheer intensity. Heartless Oppressor is exactly the sound of all the world’s major powers nuking the fuck out of each other. It’s a pretty fitting post-inauguration “I need to vent my rage at ignorance, white supremacy, and anti-intellectualism” album.
Primal Attack started out as a thrash band with their debut album, but Heartless Oppressor is a mean obsidian slab of thrash, death metal, and metallic hardcore. Think Marco Aro-era The Haunted, Gojira, Merauder/Hatebreed, and I’d say that’s a pretty fair encapsulation.
(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by Immolation.)
Immolation are the godfathers of the minimalist dissonant heavy brand of death metal. I think in many ways they are the pre-cursors to the Portals, Ulcerates, and latter-day Gorguts of the world. However, those bands have all taken on a more technical, more ornamental approach, while Immolation has remained the absolute king of effective minimalism.
In the last five or so years, death metal in the underground has reveled in attempts to mimic the cavernous mixes and alien sense of melody of Immolation, but from where I sit, few have come close to getting it. In a nutshell, Immolation are one of those untouchable bands. All the major death metal players of the ’90s are, but very few bands have taken influence from Immolation and made it work convincingly. The original remains original.
(TheMadIsraeli reviews the new album by Ashenspire from Glasgow, Scotland.)
I’m into a lot of really emotive, depressing, progressive or avant-garde metal lately, and no scene does emotive, depressing, progressive or avant-garde like black metal right now. Ashenspire are in that vein, and even wear the avant-garde black metal label, although they are so avant-garde that they barely even qualify as black metal.
This band is very meta. They have more in common instrumentally with bands like Opeth or Ne Obliviscarus (they seem to have a full-time violinist like NeO, or at least his presence is a full-time feature of this album) combined with some very post-black metal-y stuff going on. Combine this with a vocal style that’s… not clean singing, but is? It doesn’t particularly try to be melodic in any way but it’s kind of like a harsher version of Warrel Dane’s operatic bellowing. It’s impossible to articulate.
(TheMadIsraeli prepared this brief review of the new EP by Polarity of Life from Croatia.)
At least in terms of its global profile, Croatia seems to be a very underrepresented part of Europe, given the quality metal that its bands are always producing. Lots of the best aspects of Polish, Finnish, and German metal are fed into a blender, and the result is often killer, as well as something that seems uniquely Croatian.
Polarity Of Life are a Croatian melodic death metal band, of a more deathly, old school sort. The proper majestic, epic, sweeping melodies are present, but they exist amidst a torrid storm of heavyweight haymaker riffing with German weight and Polish military march. Insomnium meets Vader meets Heaven Shall Burn is definitely a fair assessment as references. Beginning/End/Beginning is an impressive sophomore release, and I’m eager to hear more.
(TheMadIsraeli is the author of this review of the new album by Odd Logic.)
I always try to put some serious thought into why an exception to the rule should be an exception to the rule here at NCS. I confess that sometimes it really comes down to the fact that I just like the album, and fuck the rules and the site and blah blah blah, but for the most part I believe there is an integrity that the NCS brand, as it were, has an obligation to maintain. I’ve basically boiled it down to three things that help me decide what a good exception to our rule is. Any one, or a combination, of these three:
A: The music is sufficiently heavy without extreme metal vocals.
B: The music is extreme in either virtuosity, progressiveness, pretentiousness, or eccentricity, despite the absence of harsh vocals.
C: The writing of music around clean vocals offers definitively different avenues of instrumental expression. Any band that really understands and gets this on a transcendent level is an exception.
Tacoma-based Odd Logic are B and C but not A. Effigy is their 7th record.
(TheMadIsraeli reviews the new fourth album by the Russian project Talsur.)
I would guess that Funeral Doom is a hard kind of metal to write. Your songs are long, your tempos are agonizingly sluggish, you’re running the risk of using hammy black metal synths and killing the intended vibe, AND you have to write captivating melodies, all at the same time. It is a style of metal that, for me, has the smallest number of noteworthy bands, yet at the same time those bands who stand out REALLY stand out. In truly capturing the essence of sorrow, despair, and the lamentation of your own fragility and mortality, Funeral Doom offers a musical experience that truly doesn’t exist anywhere else in the pantheon of the metallic arts.
Talsur is a one-man Russian project with multiple releases to his name, boasting different stylistic inclinations on each one (the samples I checked out of his last record had a sort of industrial blackened take on a doom sound), and now finds himself doing ANOTHER new approach with Slough Of Depond.
(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new 14th studio album by Germany’s Kreator.)
Kreator is a pretty big fucking deal to many people, including me. They are one of the most consistent thrash bands from the genre’s early heyday who have not only produced consistently killer music but have been unafraid to experiment and change things around during their career, always doing so with bold ambition. I’ve been a big fan of the thrash-meets-melodic-death-metal direction the band have been on since Violent Revolution, with Enemy Of God and Phantom Antichrist being absolute modern classic albums that have undeniable power.
In addition, Mille Petrozza is one of my favorite thrash front-men and one of the best riff writers in metal, his voice striking in how pissed-off and forceful it sounds and his riffs bringing remarkable intensity and tasteful technicality. Among the old guard, those talents are almost unrivaled (among modern thrash bands, David DiSanto of Vektor would probably take my vote). And with those confessions of zealous loyalty out of the way, let’s turn to Gods of Violence.
(TheMadIsraeli wrote this review of the new album by Begerith, which was released on January 7.)
Sometimes we really are just born in the wrong place. Life really is just a matter of random chance and circumstance. Sometimes we’re born out of time, out of place, our identity isn’t consistent with what surrounds us, and we were always destined to be that eyesore. Begerith seem to have been so convinced of that wrongness that they literally relocated to the country that hosts the sound they identified with. Russian natives, they fled to the majesty of Poland, so they too could build their own ramparts on an imperial mobile sonic fortress that knows no equal.
Begerith are 100% consummate scholars of the Polish deathly metallic arts despite their Russian roots. If you love the scathing, bleak imperial might of Behemoth, Hate, or Vader you will be right at home here. A.D.A.M. is an impressive record, both in its dedication to what it wishes to be and also because it’s really fucking good.
(TheMadIsraeli reviews the debut album by a new project named Alluvial.)
In the interest of full disclosure, Keith Merrow means a lot of things to me; he’s inspirational in what he’s done as a DIY musician, his music is great, and he’s been a great friend and giver of meaningful advice to me in the times during his busy life when we’ve gotten to have a substantial conversation. Since I started writing, I’ve reviewed everything he’s put out or been a part of.
As someone who had some very dark times in the last couple of years, I was surprised in an oddly pleasant sort of way when I asked Keith for the promo of his new project Alluvial and he told me a bit about the inspiration for it. He and metallic wandering wunderkind Wes Hauch (Black Crown Initiate, Glass Casket, ex-The Faceless) had essentially written this album as a way of venting depressive and dark times they’d been through recently as well. The Deep Longing For Annihilation is a powerful, entrancing, and disgustingly bitter record, reflecting the emotions that went into this thing.
(TheMadIsraeli reviews the new album by Maze of Sothoth from Italy, which is set for release by Everlasting Spew on January 9.)
Maze Of Sothoth are a staggeringly difficult band to quantify. The Lovecraftian theme certainly points to a band who might enjoy the eldritch, ambiguous, and alien, but whereas extreme metal bands generally attempt to capture all this through sound gimmicks, melodic dispositions, or atmospheric songwriting, Maze Of Sothoth bring forth a style of technical/brutal death metal that tackles that sub-genre from an almost de-constructionist, absurdist, and reductionist point of view.
Soul Demise is rooted in what is still death metal’s best period (in my opinion), which was the ’90s boom that produced a perfect blend of technicality, brutality, and songwriting — they exhibit all the best qualities of this period. In the tradition of that period, Maze Of Sothoth’s sound is also really unique owing to that reductionist perspective.