Thrall – Schisms 9/10
Melbourne’s Thrall isn’t just in the pursuit of extreme music. Their brand of Heinous Black Metal is dark and ugly, malevolent, and seething with violence. Schisms in the literal path in which they walk, the torn fabric of trust health, and decay.
It has been eight years between albums three and four and it is time not wasted. Schisms are furious black metal and thrash rooted in real metal that now incorporates seductive moments of doom and post music. When Thrall goes for the throat with speed it is vicious and savage and when they settle into a mid-tempo assault on the sense it is no less so, the riffs in all their glory are allowed to breathe, the larger beats allowed to hammer home the vitriol, the intensity is not diminished you will be thrown into their musical chasm that is bold unafraid to experiment and yet always heavy.
The excellent agony that is ‘’Nihil’’, the memorable mid-tempo of ‘’Abyss’’ that explores the nadirs of nightmares that is without rest. The Guitar solo to ‘’Epoch” further defines their moment in time. I could talk about ‘’Dust’’ all day, Schisms last track is also their best, a beast of a song that takes you on unexpected journeys and destinations with fantastic ideas and riffs, not so much a song as an exploration of the psyche and all the myriad of emotion’s contained within.
The post-metal is huge and merged excellently with the slower doomlike passages. The elements of clean playing, haunting vocals, and pure black metal combine to make an album that is a complete work, the enslavement of Schisms is highly addictive, once heard it demands to be revisited and further explored. Brilliantly uncompromising.
Impure Sounds/Brilliant Emperor Records
Cult of The Night – Dance of the Witches 9/10
Uncaring of the sounds, images and clichés of the 21st Century, Melbourne’s Cult of the Night is metal, real metal, and their debut EP Dance of the Witches is a triumphant fist in the air in celebration of this.
Cult of the Night could care less about your feelings and isolation, they are the definition of war, violence, and Satan in all its metal glory. The music is tough and unpolished, the 2/4 thrashed speed attack of pure metal is vitriolic in its contempt for ‘’modern ‘’’ ideals. This duo is intent on delivering metal from the mid-eighties as it should with all the ‘’ughs” and yeah’s. ‘’ No Stranger to Evil’’ is their opening salvo in the war for real metal, and‘’ Lusting to Burn’’ is a blinding maelstrom of chaos and energy and ‘’Metal Attack “is exactly that! A war cry and call to arms. Be metal, real metal all the time.
Glorious in its delivery, this is not merely a homage to metal and speed metals greats, it re-captures the spirit and essence of what makes real metal true. It is rough ready and eager to fight in its power and immediacy. The unbridled assault of ‘’ Maniac Killer’’ burns with an energy that furthers the heritage of true Australian metal
Defiant, ugly, full of speed and possibly more than one brew Dance of the Witches is the perfect album for the true metal head that refuses to submit and is lured to the dark side by the raw power of music and true metal. Hail!
Septic Flesh – Modern Primitive 9/10
Greek Titans SepticFlesh do not just release albums. They create magnum Opus’ that are dense multi-layered offerings of supreme heaviness that are well thought out and rich in mythology and thought.
Modern Primitive is a glorious offering of darkened death metal tempered by the orchestra and choir, yet it is concise, direct, and leaves their fury untempered. One listen to the masterpiece that is “Neuromancer” will convince you of their musical prowess. A song that is immediate, yet rich in texture, its approach cinematic yet the rhythms are so thick and heavy, grounding it, delivering maximum impact.
From the opening moments of the traditional influenced “The Collector” to the epic mid-paced finale that is “A Dreadful Muse” none of the 38 minutes is spent in self-indulgence. The strings on “A Desert throne “elevate the great riffs to another level that is augmented by a fantastic production where the immediacy is also reflected by the subtle vocal lines and the clean vocals of Sotiris Vayenas that are yet another highlight.
SepticFlesh has merged death metal and orchestration so seamlessly that their cacophony would be lost if one element is missing yet Modern Primitive is one of the heaviest albums you will hear. Ever.
Dramatic, cinematic, and rich in emotion and passion SepticFlesh have no peer except themselves. They continue to push the boundaries of extreme music that is heartfelt and strong, muscular in delivery. Modern Primitive is a defining statement of their ethos, proof that death metal is more vital than ever, heavy, symphonic, and quite possibly album of the year. An unmissable masterpiece.
Nuclear Blast Records
Nattehimmel – The Night Sky Beckons 8/10
Norwegian Stalwarts The Botteri brothers, Christian (guitar) & Christopher (bass) of ‘In The Woods’ and ‘Green Carnation’ are joined by James Fogarty (vocals) and long-time drummer Sven Rothe to create a return to the true elements of Black Metal and their heritage.
Norsk for Night Sky Nattehimmel has delivered the first salvo in their arsenal of black metal fury. The Night Sky Beckons is a three-track demo (available only on cassette) that has already emerged from its beginnings earlier this year. The music is true Hellenic black metal eschewed all the trappings that come from the development of the genre, this is dark, heavy, and full of depth, a dense sound already matured by the musicians involved. The symphonic elements are as integral as the varied vocals styles of James Fogarty best represented in opener ‘’Astrologer” along with varied tempo changes and excellent riffing to create a gripping introduction to their music
‘’Mountain of the Northern Kings’’ explores mid-tempo annihilation along with an abundance of soundscapes so the seemingly familiar is lost as they explore the foreboding; the result is visceral and experimental. Closer and title ‘’ The Night Sky Beckons’’ is a celebration of black metal’s true spirit giving new life and malevolence to pagan darkness, a genre that they excel at, the melody present amongst the driving tempos, and truly heavy passages.
As an initial assault on the senses, The Night Sky Beckons is the perfect introduction, ominous, savage, and determined. Nattehimmel has foreshadowed the musical intentions to come. A maelstrom of extreme music delivered authentically and flawlessly. Recommended!
ikheim – Alt Skal Svinne Hen… 8/10
Formed by vocalist Gretn, Likheim is the progression of Norwegian Black metal that is raw and uncompromising, cold and enveloped in darkness.
Likheim excels in the true Nordic style that is brutal and unwelcoming. The vocals delivered in the native tongue are taunting, vehement, and executed with some high-pitched screams that evoke the spirits. “Taakens Kall” and “Smerte” deliver the raw atmospheric black metal that one would command from such an approach, the riffs are unforgiving and jagged, the tremolo picking inspired and dynamic, this is heartfelt anguish that with the title track ‘’Alt Skal Svinne Hen…’’ bring all the forces into uncontrollable life, the music reflecting baser desires and emotions presented intransigent, despising, and accusatory.
This Debut EP ‘’Alt Skal Svinne Hen…’’ is unafraid to explore its themes of blood shame and sin. Likheim’s deft use of melody in some of the guitar solos along with some synth work adds to the texture and the depth of the music it is an accomplished debut effort singular in vision and devoted to the discovery of sanctuary.
Powerful yet all too brief, this enthralling yet unforgiving presentation of Black metal is a must for those whose spirit is restless and lost. Likheim and its music reflect the tortured being that is a man devoid of joy and yet yearning for something greater, hidden in the shadows. Recommended.
Underground Kvlt Records
Elusive God - Trapped in a Future Unknown 7.5/10
Following up on their debut EP “The Darkest Flame” Croatia’s faceless trio Elusive God deliver their first full-length album Trapped in a Future Unknown which poses many questions and the connection between art and expression.
Taking their atmospheric doom-laden approach Elusive God and vocalist Elusive T. create diverse lyrical patterns that entrance and inform the listener, It is complex, not unlike that of Candlemass where every word is delivered with clarity and intent the music is melodic and memorable giving tracks ‘’Shadow, Beast, Devil” depth and resonance “Worthless Words” epitomizes reflection and passion, dynamic, rousing and gloriously heavy. ‘’Price to Pay’’ reconnects with the progenies of metal with its glorious Wah-wah and impact of destiny. The rhythms are huge and purposeful delivered with the directness and energy that is uniquely Croatian, imbued with fighting spirit.
Cultured, poignant, and taking traditional epic doom and infusing it with new ideas. ’’Where is the Sun’’ is a true highlight of passion and heaviness with great riffs, it borders on classical with its baroque interpretations but is still pure metal with its excellent soaring solo, ‘’Deception Greed” is more musical greatness.
Musically demanding Trapped in a Future Unknown requires an attentive ear. They eschew the superficial for something that is tangible yet just out of reach. Giving each composition depth and incredible weight Elusive God breathe life and fire into their brand of the heaviest subgenres of metal.