Thantifaxath - Hive Mind Narcosis 9.5/10
With only their second album the elusive Canadian outfit have delivered Hive Mind Narcosis, a masterwork yet utter beast of an album that is formless, transcendent a juxtaposition of ideas that is a brutal as it is memorable.
Avant Garde in the ideal that nothing is without experimentation, Thantifaxath take the simplest emotion of aggression and twist it into new forms that is part resistance and part inevitability, at times it is utterly nihilistic yet also uplifting as it moves to incredible crescendos of intensity and furious musicianship.’’ Burning Kingdom of Now’’ and ‘’ Blissful Self Disassembly ‘’ reflect the dichotomy of ideals. It is an assault on the senses that is literally undefinable. There are elements of post, some riffs sans percussion that would belong on the heaviest doom album (the spiralling descent that is ‘’Hungry Ghosts’’) there are blasts beats, incandescent tremolo to create an aural and surprising journey. ‘’ The Lost Wisdom of Wolves ‘’ is wildly experimental, gripping as it literally messes with the textures of timing, arrangement and the notion of contemporary black metal fused with classical ideals. Always incredibly dense and intensely personal one listen to ‘Solar Witch’ will eave you scarred, part horrified; part mesmerized.
Hive Mind Narcosis is an album that that at times beggars’ belief with its ideas and layers. It is a demanding listen that requires an open uncompromising ear and belief that nothing musically is impossible. Part nightmare, part question and utterly unrepentant. A critique on not only the human condition and belief system as reflected on the incredible cover of Witches Flight by Goya but also the confines and boundaries of what is considered extreme art.
Grim Ripper - Grim Ripper EP 8.5/10
From the grinding and double kicks that unleash ‘’ Blood Trail’’, a mega heavy track devolves into pure death metal savagery Hobart (Tasmania’s) Grim Ripper are continuing the raw aesthetic of the underground with their debut self-titled EP.
‘’Savagery and Innocence’’ is a more energetic punk infused dose of brutality whilst the opening riff of ‘The Banners Call ‘’is torturous before it unleashes its full potential. Dave's vocals and Paul's guitar work is urgent and savage, no need for polish this is pure Australian underground delivered honestly and uncompromisingly. ‘’The Litanies of Satan’’ is pure low-level filth whilst closer ‘’ Get Ripped or Get Fucked’’ is a mid paced stomper, a slow burner that erupts with its double meaning, it is a massive slice of raw no nonsense metal. Each track is sharp short and stripped of any excess that deviates from the message it has a grove that is hypnotic and lures you into its imminent destruction.
Grim Ripper Ep is a bludgeoning debut that takes no mercy upon the weak and celebrates the purity of original old school death metal it is the aural equivalent of being hit by a large blunt object that shatters the sense and leaves the ears ringing!
Aglo – Into the Maze 8.5/10
Aglos is the creation of Melbourne’s (Australia) Aaron Osborne and his singular cosmic vision. Into the Maze is the second release of epic doom metal.
Firstly, there are only two new songs on this collection. Tracks three to six originally appeared on the Collector release, and they are here again unchanged. This small complaint aside, Into the Maze is an epic doom-sludge-laden slab of metal. ‘’ Into the Maze’’ and its opening riff is huge, massively so, the style conjures the originators of the genre, combined with a strong European heritage and the epic southern drawl that, combined with the pure death metal vocals, make it a mighty memorable opener. ‘’ Parasites’’ is pure doom glory that is an indelible experience, each riff bigger than the last if that was possible. The style is slow yet not painfully so. It is a predatory lurking style that is thick and dense, the excellent recording capturing every nuance and the raw percussion. ‘’The Journey Home’’ is the epic counter to the brief “Past’ which is all riff, the corrosive vocals inspired partly by horror and by space, the music at times almost melancholic, reflective, raw and powerful.
Utterly heavy with impeccable musicianship, it is ominous, utterly convincing and proof that Aglo is a new name in the genre of tough epic metal that commands your complete attention.
Anathematise – Bizarre Tales from the Past and the Future 8.5/10
Originally formed under the moniker of Dugu, it was a love of horror ‘’B’’ Movies and unspeakable atrocities that would later form the basis for Anathematise, now a five-piece no less extreme as revealed on their debut album Bizarre Tales from the Past and the Future.
The Chinese act takes its roots from Massacra and Possessed (a cracking version of Death Metal is featured here). Is it thrash, it is deathened thrash delivered in a clipped, urgent style that borders on the brutal and is utterly uncompromising. It is pure underground metal that is defiant and angry in its core beliefs and delivery.
From ‘’ Intro + Revenge of the Corpse’’ the intent is clear, dripping in blood, and the unspeakable ‘’ Corpse Mania’’ is more pure speed/ death metal goodness given a rusty serrated knife stab to the guts with its incisive riffs and the grotesque atrocities that pour form the throat of ‘’89’’.
Bizarre Tales from the Past and the Future shares a love for the horrific and obscure underground influences ‘’ Seeding of a Ghost’’, and the epic closer ‘’ Hell Has No Boundary’’ push the music further into the depths and reveals more dimensions to their music that has melody hidden under the entrails and gore driven by a demonic rhythm section.
Anathematise have delivered a debut for the purists and purist only. It makes no apologies for its celebration of violence and its tough virulent attack on the senses. The rawness only adds to the authenticity, and Bizarre Tales from the Past and the Future reflects their love for the speed and death metal terror, the cult of the eighties and the future of extreme music.
Hellion – The Magic Within 7.5/10
Colombia’s Hellion return with their third full-length album The Magic Within, an album true to band’s roots that began back in 2014.
Specializing in the glorious raw rough production reminiscent of the eighties The Magic Within is imbued with the charm of the pure and uncompromising blackened speed thrash metal. It is rough uncompromising and true to the band’s ideals and influences.
The riffs are pure and energetic and the music is a huge technical leap from their previous release Rebel’s Curse yet loses none of its tough sensibilities or charm. ‘’ Headbang Earthquake’’ is pure eighties metal and a homage to the gods that continue to inspire. ‘’ A Touch of Hellfire’’ and ‘’ Black Beast’’ are expressions of their raw aggression with pounding double kicks and an ever present bassline. ‘’Behead the Angels ‘’ is pure thrash metal mania, with raw vocals with energetic 2/4 timing, the riffs are sharp and help create the undercurrent of violence. The title track plays with the standard format adding different time signatures and dynamics to create something else and a definite step forward.
The Magic Within is for those who are true to the underground, what it lacks in originality Hellion makes up for it with their uncompromising spirit and energy. The Magic Within continues its exploration of the abhorrent and aggressive spirit of their music.
Holy Moses – Invisible Queen 9/10
Technical manic speed thrash legends Holy Moses unleash Invisible Queen, their latest and final offering to the masses and the metal gods they have served faithfully for so long.
My introduction to Holy Moses was the excellent Terminal Terror (Τηεοτοχψ) all the way back in 1991. It was a blast of Teutonic manic-powered technical extreme thrash featuring the trailblazing vocals of Sabina Classen. A progener of vocal fry, a woman unafraid to be as uncompromising as possible, letting the music and her throat do the talking, proud to be as metal as possible along with her German cohorts.
32 years later and 43 years overall!! From their original Black Metal Masters demo (1980) Invisible Queen is the final chapter in a long and proud history. From the beginning of ‘’ Downfall of Mankind” to the epitaph ‘’ Through the Veils of Sleep,’’ this is pure Holy Moses at its finest, Sabina’s unique vocals are still superb, from the high screams to guttural growls, and musical album number twelve is as fresh and exciting as their initial genre defining releases. Bristling with manic energy and technical prowess from ‘’ Alternate Reality’ to the chaotic fury that is ‘’ ‘Outcast’ and the belligerent anger that is ‘Cult of the Machine’. There is modern dissonance, moments of melody and pure speed thrash mayhem.
Holy Moses does not indulge in meandering variations of endless chord progressions but short sharp attacks of pure metal that is proficient exciting, and openly hostile in their intent. Holy Moses has created ( another) record that is as dynamic, powerful and exhilarating as ever, including their trademark ‘’rough’’ production. It is proudly European in its heritage and desire. Invisible Queen is an album so good that it is almost unbelievable as the band’s final swansong. It is not a silent departure but a violent, defiant final salvo into the night!