Jun 262020
 

 

(Here is DGR’s review of the latest album by Finland’s Wolfheart, which is out now on Napalm Records.)

If you’ve been following, with …And Oceans and Feastem having gotten reviews, Wolfheart marks three from Finland that had been hanging out in the backlog pile.

With the April release of Wolves Of Karelia, it is clear that by their fifth full-length album — their second for Napalm Records after their couple on SpinefarmWolfheart have found a pretty solid niche for themselves. Performing epic-length hybrids of folk metal, melodeath, and a very light airing of the sort of ice and melancholy that affects their region’s branch of the doom metal tree, Wolfheart have for some time now been the ultimate representation of frontman/guitarist and project owner Tuomas Saukkonen‘s musical consciousness.

In fact, up until the release of this year’s Dawn Of Solace album Waves — arriving nearly fourteen years after that group’s previous disc — Wolfheart has been his only project for the last seven years and was consistently dishing out enjoyable music, Wolves Of Karelia included (for the early spoiler), on a nearly two-year interval. Other than the addition of new guitarist Vagelis Karzis into the band’s ranks, Wolfheart remain largely unchanged from when they became a full group rather than just a solo project. Continue reading »

Jun 252020
 

 

(As part of his effort to circle back to earlier parts of the year and catch up on stuff we missed, DGR has a good time reviewing the nuclear shockwave of an album released in March by Finland’s Feastem.)

It’s tempting to write short reviews for grind albums, in part because in the time it takes to hammer out some words about them there’s a distinct possibility that you could loop around the whole disc four-to-five times. Feastem’s Graveyard Earth is no different in that regard: Released in March to close off a close-to-seven-year gap between full lengths, Graveyard Earth clocks in at a little under twenty minutes of drum kit battering and shrieking violence.

Grind albums trend toward being quick expulsions of auditory violence and Graveyard Earth is very comfortably nested in that musical family tree. It is – understandably – seething and mean, with a whole range of targets serving as musical clay pigeons for Finland’s Feastem to knock out of the sky, with only one song clearing the two-minute mark.

Feastem move fast and Graveyard Earth will likely toss its fair share of people to the side, and honestly, Graveyard Earth is easily one of those albums better suited for a specific mood. But if you need all-consuming blasts and guitar work that could power you through even the slowest of events, then Graveyard Earth is fantastic.

Especially the way everything hits after the opening bass guitar dirge in the title song, my goodness. Continue reading »

Jun 232020
 

 

(Three months after its release, DGR finally dug into the fourth album by the Québec band Aeternam and is damned glad he did, as explained in this extensive review.)

Easily one of my biggest brick walls in terms of recent writing, because I have kept going back to it, over and over.

I wracked my brain for a while wondering where exactly I had picked up on Montreal’s hybrid symphonic death/folk/blackened-death metal group Aeternam and their new disc released in March, Al Qassam. It’s been a ghost haunting the backlog for a little while now, until it occurred to me that we hadn’t really covered the lead-up to their new disc at all.  Our most recent mention of them was due to vocalist/guitarist Achraf Loudiy appearing on Egyptian death metal group Scarab’s new disc, Martyrs Of The Storm — also released in March.

The whole reason they’d remained in the ‘keep an eye on’ pile was due to a handful of enthusiastic reader recommendations for them in previous years during our year-end list roundups. In fact, I think both 2012’s Moongod and 2017’s Ruins Of Empires are part of my collection now due to those recommendations. So, Al Qassam and its excellent cover art have been waiting for a proper look up and down almost since its announcement.

Given my current quest to sweep through the early parts of the year for anything we might’ve missed on top of the usual collection of albums I’m prone to dive into, finally diving headfirst into Aeternam’s latest felt like a natural thing to do. And wow, what a fantastic choice that has been proving to be. Continue reading »

Jun 172020
 

 

(This is DGR’s evocative review of the debut album by the Tunisian metal band I the Intruder, which was released on April 27th.)

Sometimes it’s fun to guess why a certain album might be sent to yours truly with a note that says, “You should probably check this out”. Psychological analysis aside, the fun part is trying to figure out why they sent it specifically in this way and what they saw in it that said, “Y’know what? maybe this person might like it”. I certainly can’t be the only one who semi-enjoys this game when friends recommend stuff, so when the late-April-released album Hunger by I The Intruder came sailing across the desk, the immediate “Okay, why?” came into play.

In this case, I would have to wonder if it was my unabashed love for Vitriol’s To Bathe From The Throat Of Cowardice last year and how it was a relentless beating of an album that just kept unleashing musical whirlwind after musical whirlwind. While not quite as suffocating a brand of death metal (I The Intruder do have a knack for rapid-fire grooves that just pile on top of each other), Hunger is of a similar nature, at eight tracks and a little over a half hour of non-stop deathgrind. Continue reading »

Jun 162020
 

 

(This is DGR’s review of the latest album by the Finnish symphonic black metal band …And Oceans, which was released on May 8th by Season of Mist.)

…And Oceans‘ latest album Cosmic World Mother is a handful of different things: It’s a comeback album, the group’s first full-length release since 2002, with a small series of splits, silence as the crew continued on as Havoc Unit before splitting, and then an EP in 2019 after the band had re-formed. It’s also a return to their older sound because it is almost singularly focused on being a black metal release with a healthy symphonic element in the background (it is so singularly focused, in fact, that at times it can be overwhelming in its intensity. with every element available to the band ratcheted up to 100).

It is also one of the more blistering releases to come out in 2020, as it seems like …And Oceans decided their new modus operandi was going to be absolute hellfire in song form, a fierce shrieking assault propelled forward by a volley of drums just hammering away in the background — fitting, when you have Gloria Morti‘s current drummer behind the kit, because if anyone is going to be fairly blast-happy it’s that gentleman.

Further, it is an album that because of those aforementioned elements can feel surprisingly long at times. Cosmic World Mother is nearly fifty minutes in length — near the high end of the average, but without the sticker shock of seeing an hour plus — and though it’s a trope to proclaim that you’d be perfectly okay taking a break at the midpoint of an album and then throwing yourself back into it, Cosmic World Mother recognize this. But intentionally or not, the …And Oceans crew have built in one of the best mid-points of an album out there, giving the record a very distinct ‘two act’ feel. Continue reading »

Jun 102020
 

 

(In this post DGR reviews two new albums, one by Sweden’s Centinex released by Agonia Records on May 29th, and one by Norway’s Nexorum released by Non Serviam Records on March 6th.)

 

CENTINEX – DEATH IN PIECES

The path Centinex have charted since their return in 2014 has been an interesting one, if not one of the more uncompromising returns out there. They’re a band who are meant to be taken at face value, a death metal group playing the most stubborn version of it that they can, and benefiting from a renewed interest in that particular sound right around the time they came back.

The band exists partially as the other side of a death metal coin for bassist Martin Schulman (and at this point basically the last one standing of the earliest formations of the band) with the other half being a more modern-oriented death metal group with former Centinex members in the form of Demonical. Continue reading »

May 192020
 


Bombs of Hades – photo by Susan Wicher

 

(DGR prepared this collection of reviews, focusing on six 2020 EPs across a range of metal genres.)

If you’ve been reading the site recently you might’ve caught fellow writer Andy Synn doing a deep dive on six EPs that had seen recent release (here). Well, that wasn’t the only one of those on the docket, and what you’re looking at is a second collection of EPs: Stuff that I’ve noticed we haven’t dived into in print, stuff that might’ve glanced by us, and one or two that are basically on the DGR radar by proximity alone.

Musically, we’re all over the map – hell, Ovaryrot’s presence alone was likely to have that effect – as we travel through crusty death metal realms, thrashier-death and black hybrids, to black metal itself and all of its post-genre cousins, even making a trip to the tech-death world to say hi to those over-complicated goofballs and their tendency to try to write everything and the kitchen sink into five-minute chunks, before finally winding up on the doorstep of some nightmare music, because who the hell needs to sleep?

So if you saw the previous six EPs and thought, “Wow, what a fantastic idea”, then settle in my oddly specific friend because do we have a treat for you, another six EPs of music that have hit over the past few months for you to check out and bang your head to. Continue reading »

Apr 142020
 

 

(This is DGR’s review of the new album by California’s Abysmal Dawn, a long-time favorite of our site, set for release on April 17th by Season of Mist.)

Upon the release of the first single from Abysmal Dawn‘s latest album Phylogenesis, there was a moment of surprised realization amongst the goofballs who comprise the NCS staff: “Has it really been five and a half years since their previous release Obsolescence?” And yet, with a late October 2014 release date for that album and a late April 2020 date for the group’s latest, that much time has indeed passed.

You wouldn’t know it though. For a few of those aforementioned goofballs Obsolescence was kind of lightning-in-a-bottle for the Abysmal Dawn crew. The disc quickly became something of a default resort — it was a constant go-to, so that the album seemed like it had always been there, and the passage of time quickly became irrelevant. If you were out of ideas of things to listen to, Abysmal Dawn had found a way with that album to land on a median among the varying degrees of modern death metal, kicking out a solid near-fifty-minute slab of solid groove and relentless blast.

The question with Phylogenesis then becomes, did the band seek to do that again? What odd twists and turns might they have taken? Hell, what sort of effect did the lineup-shifting that happened in between these two discs produce? Continue reading »

Apr 062020
 

 

(On April 10th The Artisan Era will release the debut album of California’s Symbolik, and today we present DGR’s detailed review.)

Stockton, CA’s Symbolik are a band I’ve been following for a long time. Seeing their logo pop up on a few local show flyers way back in the early 2010s led to me finding the group’s EP Pathogenesis and being so impressed by it that I wound up seeing the band live three times after that. They were one of those groups I had thought was going to really cut a swath through the hyper-speed tech-death scene at the time, long before it had started congealing around a handful of specific record labels that would later unwittingly codify an overall sound. However, things progressed slowly in their camp and barring a single entitled “Diverging Mortal Flesh” that came out in 2015, Symbolik remained fairly silent save for the occasional here-and-there show.

It wasn’t until earlier this year, over eight and a half years after the release of their Pathogenesis EP that we finally heard from the group — now signed to The Artisan Era and ready to release a full-length debut entitled Emergence. Continue reading »

Apr 022020
 

 

(We present DGR’s typically detailed review of Obscene Repressed, the new album by the French maulers in Benighted, which will be released by Season of Mist on April 10th.)

It probably doesn’t need to be stated that we’re fans of the French death metal crew Benighted and their brand of frantic mania, especially given that we’ve kept a pretty constant eye on the crew from release to release. Thus, we’ve been patiently waiting for the group’s newest album Obscene Repressed, a thematically twisted concept album that reads part horror story, part Pornhub top video statistics by State chart, and part gleeful exploration of insanity with the music stylings to back it up. Continue reading »