Nov 012017


(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new EP by Framework from New Jersey and New York.)

Melodic death metal is a genre that’s arguably an endangered species as a stand-alone style. It started as something very distinct and apart from the rest of metal for sure, and some of the greatest metal ever made was recorded by bands operating under that label and with those stylistic leanings. However, I think it can be argued that the style has basically been devoured by the rest of metal.

More extreme bands began incorporating more melody into their music, and the melodic death bands who took notice of this started incorporating more extreme elements into their own music. This musical adaptation that’s happened, especially in the last ten years, make it worth asking if we should even be using the genre descriptor any more.

I reviewed Framework’s excellent record A World Distorted here at NCS previously, an impressive debut that incorporated all the best aspects of ’90‘s/early 2000s heavier melodic death metal in the spirit of At The Gates, Soilwork, Nightrage, etc. Framework have been underground for a good while since then, now three years removed from A World Distorted. And now I understand why, as the band have been busy re-tooling their sound, making that adaptation I spoke of earlier.

Oct 302017


(TheMadIsraeli reviews the new album, released earlier this month, by the Russian band Kartikeya.)

I’ve been out for awhile and I apologize for that. I had a personal tragedy occur and it caused me to have to pull back for awhile. I had originally asked Islander to review this album since I didn’t think I could, but I decided to pick myself up and do it since I’ve got a lot of history with this band.

Kartikeya’s brand of ethnic-influenced melodic death metal with modern groove and progressive influences has been a beloved sound here at NCS, among both the staff and the site’s readers. Samudra is an album that’s been waylaid by a lot of delays and suffered a lot of difficulties in coming to fruition. It’s now been SIX YEARS since Mahayuga, and for people who love this band I think there was a lot of speculation as to whether all the delays would spell doom and whether Samudra would be up to par.

We got a taste of Samudra with the 2011 Durga Puja EP (which I reviewed here) — the EP’s title track is included on the album — as well as what were originally three stand-alone singles, “The Horrors Of Home” (2012), “Tunnels of Naraka” (2013), and “The Golden Blades” (2016), which are also on this record (and each of which we’ve reviewed). “Durga Puja” was an exercise in Kartikeya pushing their Vedic elements to the absolute forefront, a borderline danceable snake dance that really served to emphasize Arsafes’s love of the culture he was raised in, while the first of those singles was more of a traditional Kartikeya-style death metal song, gnarly mangled riffs, fast as fuck, with a juxtaposed melodic chorus to keep a bit of hookiness in there.

I was surprised to find out when I finally got the promo of Samudra that those four songs were only the tip of an expansive soundscape that is like being hit by a sandstorm filled with flesh-gnawing insects and majestic wonder.

Sep 112017


(TheMadIsraeli prepared this review of the new album by Iceland’s Beneath, released in August by Unique Leader Records.)

I was a 100% emphatic fan of Beneath’s sophomore release The Barren Throne. it was one of 2014‘s finest examples of technical/progressive death metal done with immaculate nuance and care. I wasn’t a big fan of the band’s first album, Enslaved By Fear, but it was different from The Barren Throne. Based on the band’s new album Ephemeris, I can now see that what I attributed to just natural evolution or getting better as a band wasn’t that. It’s actually that Beneath wants to write a different kind of death metal album every go around.

Ephemeris abandons The Barren Throne and it’s Suffocation-esque mix of bleak melody and noodily passages of inter-dimensional angular tangents, opting for something of a more opaque sci-fi aesthetic.

Sep 082017


(TheMadIsraeli prepared this review of the debut album by Sweden’s The Lurking Fear, released on August 11 by Century Media.)

Let’s revisit what Swedish death metal royalty group The Lurking Fear had to say when they announced their formation:

“We want our Death Metal ugly, twisted and possessed. We miss the urgency, intensity and ‘realness’ in a lot of the modern Death Metal, therefore it is natural for us to stray away from the streamlined sounds of today, but rather focus on bringing sheer, natural weirdness and horror back to the table…””

This band has a ton of prestige-level pedigree behind it. Besides being fronted by Tomas Lindberg, the king of the mid-range vomitus bark, the members have history in bands such as The Crown, Edge Of Sanity, Marduk, Cradle Of Filth, God Macabre — the list is fucking long. I also appreciate very much TLF’s mission statement because I agree that death metal nowadays is very much lacking the urgency, intensity, and realness it speaks of. I’ve reviewed, and others here have reviewed, plenty of exceptions to this rule of course — our site thrives on the deathly arts — but trust me that what we give praise to here is a baffling minority.

Aug 082017


(Last year TheMadIsraeli posted the first two installments in this irregular series, and now brings us a third one.)

Another installment of irrelevant listening where I share albums in my rotation lately that aren’t current. Let’s get started.

Killswitch Engage – Alive Or Just Breathing: Top-Shelf Edition

Alive Or Just Breathing is the melodic metalcore album that in my mind has never been topped. Even the band themselves admitted in an interview, I think it was this year, that this is STILL their best album. I’ve written about this album before on the site and stumbled upon the so-called “Top Shelf” expanded edition (released in 2005) some time ago.

Jul 202017


(We present TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by West Virginia’s Byzantine, scheduled for release by Metal Blade on July 28.)

When Byzantine basically slowly imploded after their fantastic self-titled comeback I’ve no shame in admitting I was super-concerned about what would happen. I knew Chris Ojeda wanted to continue on, it was his baby, he’s the reason Byzantine exists, but the “OG” lineup of Byzantine, the one people remember, was pretty hard to beat and had some uniquely talented musicians in it, stylistically. Lead guitarist Tony Rohrbough would be especially the hardest element to replace, as his angular jazz-fusion-esque approach to soloing over the thrash/math-metal/southern-swagger juggernaut of the Byzantine sound served as the final piece in the band’s musical jigsaw puzzle that saw the whole thing come together.

To Release Is To Resolve, the band’s first album with its current line-up, was a great record, but one that had a lot of jagged edges on it as the effort to incorporate the new blood’s musical talents and tendencies hadn’t quite yet been worked out. Brian Henderson’s guitar playing was far more melodic and hook-oriented than Rohrbough’s, and Ojeda had bassist Sean Sydnor, who was much more technically skilled at his instrument than Michael Chromer, to account for. It was still Byzantine in all of the right ways, and even saw the band visiting more progressive pastures in light of the absence of Tony Rohrbough, who was a zealot for cutting songs down to the absolute minimum efficiency possible.

An evolution was definitely on the horizon, and I was eager to hear what would come next. Original drummer Matt Wolfe is now out of the picture since To Release…, making Ojeda officially the only original Byzantine member left in the band. Matt Bowles has stepped into the kit position, and he brings with him a greater degree of technical prowess.

Jul 192017


(This is TheMadIsraeli’s review of the new album by Concrete Age, along with our premiere of a full album stream.)


Technical thrash-style riffing? Check. Melodic death metal styled melodic approaches and emotive song-writing? Check. Eastern ethnic cultural instruments and influences? Check. Raw thrash/hardcore styled vocals that have a complete disregard for technique and are all passion? Check. Concrete Age encapsulate a lot of things I love in extreme metal.

If this were a different time, these guys would definitely be classified under the so-called “Neo-thrash” tag alongside Hatesphere or Carnal Forge or even Darkane. Their music is more technical melodic death metal, I guess, with a great deal of Eastern ethnic instrumental moments and melodic tendencies.

The Totem Of The Great Snake, Part 1 is an immensely powerful album and is also the best melodic death metal album of the year that I’ve heard by FAR so far. Big deal, considering the style’s been in a real slump the last couple of years.

Jul 182017


(TheMadIsraeli reviews the debut album by Italy’s Order Ov Riven Cathedrals, which was released on July 5, 2017.)

Italian death metal and I have a pretty tense relationship. It tries so hard, and there’s certainly impressive things about it, but I’m usually not impressed. I like Hideous Divinity, and some Hour Of Penance and Fleshgod Apocalypse, but that’s really it, and even then I’m not so enamored that I couldn’t do without them.

The hyperspeed “let’s out Pole the Polish” aesthetic has always been commendable, and I have nothing against it in and of itself, but I often find that Italian bands lack the sense of efficiency and hooky song-writing that makes the Polish death metal template so appealing. Fleshgod has always been a band I enjoy because of the gimmick they offer (it works), and while I wasn’t impressed with Hideous Divinity at the beginning, they have evolved into a very good Annihilation Of The Wicked-era throwback band, and their new album this year is undeniably one of 2017‘s best.

And that brings me to Order Ov Riven Cathedrals. This is the first time I’ve encountered Italian hyper-speed death metal and actually LOVED it from the first listen. I might even go as far as to say that, at least for me personally, this is the first time the Italian death metal formula has been both perfected and extrapolated upon effectively. The Discontinuity’s Interlude is one of the most unrelenting, savage, and uncompromising death metal albums I’ve heard all year.

Jul 062017


(TheMadIsraeli compiled this group of recommendations, with brief rationales and lots of music streams.)

There’s too much good metal coming out in 2017, and frankly, for me to attempt to review everything that catches my ear with the frequency at which good things are arriving would be madness. I’ve decided to start a new every-now-and-then series to offer either brief reviews or simple recommendations of albums that would get full length-reviews if the time or energy were there for me to do so. Most of these will be things that’ve already been out for a bit, but some will be records that aren’t out yet. With that said, let’s get started.


Wrath Of Belial – Bloodstained Rebellion

One of the best melodic death metal albums released this year. Fast, intensive riffing, very emotive with more brutal vocals than the genre commonly is associated with nowadays. Think of a mix of Kataklysm, The Black Dahlia Murder, and The Arcane Order. These guys are fucking sick.

Jul 032017


(TheMadIsraeli wrote this review of the new album by the Ukrainian musician Arphael.)

I’ve been working on this review for a long-ass time. This album came out a couple weeks ago now, I think? The time has escaped me, but this album needed the attention because it’s fucking TWO HOURS+ LONG. I wanted to give it its proper due, given that I love Arphael’s music, but also because there’s A LOT to dissect here.

Argenesis is the finale of Arphael’s primary trilogy of albums he was working on besides the spinoff album Ancient I reviewed last month. This album’s length raises questions about how much we’ll ever hear from Arphael again.

This trilogy — Ambigram, Guiding Light, and Argenesis — were planned from the get-go. I know of one more release that’s coming, which is a re-recording of Ambigram so he can do it justice with his current production style and vocal improvements, but I’m not sure what’s after that. If he never releases anything else, the guy has contributed a unique and challenging sound to the metalsphere that will always stand out to me. Can’t say I would complain if he goes on after this, though.

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