CEMETERY URN - Suffer the Fallen 9/10
Every Cemetery Urn album is cause for deathly celebration. Raw utterly uncompromising and possessed with that tough spirit. Suffer the Fallen their fifth release is no exception further cementing the Australian’s outfit status as darkened extreme legends in the underground.
There is no respite from the opening moments of ‘’ Damnation is in the Blood’’ Chris Volcano vocals are hellfire, each guttural expression one of vitriol and contempt. Savage Torment moves with that energy only death metal has. The incredible kick work and driving rhythms now supplied by Brandon Gawith (ESKHATON, Vahrzaw) yet it is founder Andrew Gillon’s guitar work that drives the brutality , each track is blistering ‘’Embers of the Burning Dead’’ moves with such purpose, the times changes incredible yet never distracting , it is intense moment after intense moment, even when the tempo drops the intensity does not , the atmosphere is thick, malevolent, brimming with ill will and damnation, the solos are unhinged in their fury, Kill at a Distance further proof of the bands subtle sophistication amid the chaos.
Blessed with impeccable musicianship Suffer the Fallen, is the extreme death metal for extreme metal purists. Those who dabble in the scene will be dismayed and ultimately destroyed by the sheer class of intensity on display. The production is crisp and clear, not a single moment is wasted in the 35 plus minutes. This is an assault without peer, a masterclass in speed and brutality, blessed with old school knowledge yet cutting-edge talent. It seethes with vitality and urgency. Unmissable.
Aegrus- Invoking The Abysmal Night 9/10
Finnish stalwarts of darkness Luciferian Illumination, death, blasphemy and hate Aegrus, unleash their fourth full length offering of damnation and dark enlightenment ‘’ Invoking The Abysmal Night’’.
From the opening moments of ‘’ Invoking the Abysmal Night’’ the superior production allows the music to breathe its insidiousness upon the listener. ‘’ Followers of the False Prophets’’ and ‘’Through Devil's Breath’’ are able to project that 4/4 fury of unbridled second wave black metal and infuse it with their own swagger that is confident, bathed in darkness and atmospheric fury. The riffing is frenetic and memorable on the inexorable march that is ‘Temple of Ardent Worship’’ whilst ‘’ Nocturnal Rites of Faust’’ is intense and speed ridden, the guitar works a highlight, a companion to the contemptuous vocals of Inculta that shriek condemn and prophesise Armageddon.
The brilliant closer ‘’Where the Forest Emanates Death’’ and its slow intense doom inspired build up and then plunging whispered invocations epitomises black metal that remains true to its identity yet is unafraid to stretch itself further, the effect of whispers versus shrieks makes each individually more powerful and the riff is a melodious tremolo ridden masterwork, imminently memorable, the tempo a mid-paced march of misanthropy that is all encompassing.
Invoking The Abysmal Night is pure Argus yet is also experimental and unafraid to pursue its quieter moments against some excellent percussion and subtle guitar work. When it explodes it does so violently and its impact is greater. Argus have delivered on the weight of expectation and delivered one of the black metal highlights of 2023!
Subspec - Valhalla 8/10
Valhalla is an album that is gloriously raw. Its tracks brief yet frantic whether it be the insane vocal delivery, or the bass driven sludge that is Synthetic Apparition. Recorded live at the Valhalla in Wellington NZ last year, it is the perfect raw definition of madness led by the indomitable Shay Klink.
‘’Websight’’ is a condemnation against technology again driven by the large, distorted bass lines that teeter on madness and its solos unhinged. ‘’ Wrath of Shai Hulud’’ and its decree against greed and injustice is matched by the accusatory self-importance of society that is ‘’Cesspit Speciation’’. Bass as a lead instrument is rare but when it is this thick and dense it is incredibly effective, using the framework of metal and punk arrangements to delivery its messages quickly and succinctly, the assaults are brief and punishing the hardcore DIY approach a perfect vehicle for the music that is best experienced live. One-man live shows are rare, ones this accomplished, and self-assured are rarer.Valhalla swaggers with intent and confidence with a huge, distorted sound. This is music that stripped back continues to push the boundaries and definition of extreme.
Solus Grief - What If This Was Everything 8/10
Norway’s Solus Grief is the work of one-man Peregrinus (Vocals, All instruments) and his brand nihilistic atmospheric Black metal emerged in 2022 with the release of With a Last Exhale. That debut has been followed up quickly with the new offering of despair ‘’What If This Was Everything’’.
‘’What If This Was Everything’’ takes the elements of the debut and expands on them greatly. It also has more rawer immediate effect on the listener. Yet some things remain it is four tracks tied together to create forty plus minutes of utter anguish that you can feel the vitriol and despair on the title track, Peregrinus' vocals are ever-present a soundtrack to the tortured soul, dominating the record that you can feel every piercing scream and shriek, the terrors are deep and personal, that capture that DSBM feeling without the self-pity. The raw production personifies the scratch on the soul deep and unhealing, the lengthy ‘’Within The Fires’’ is a statement of true unbridled black metal fury, fast but those vocals and tremolo hellfire riffing create a piece of work that is cold and brittle. The slower doom inspired bridges offer little respite, and the atmosphere is ever-present, malevolent and unwelcoming as Upon the Winds, My Breath Left’’ demonstrates, the guitar a companion to the torment and wretchedness yet also melodic in places, the dynamics a see-sawing ride of emotion that is unrelenting.
Deeply unsettling and intense ‘’What If This Was Everything’’ is an album that teeters on the abyss and could gladly fall into the darkness such is its contempt for convention. It is a glimpse into madness and minimalistic punishment that leaves an indelible permanent impression.