Thursday, May 4, 2023

Obscure Infinity - Putrefying Illusins (2012)

   2 years after their debut "Dawn of Winter", that was raw, complex and heavy the same time, Obscure Infinity had an interesting return. "Putrefying Illusions" might sound like an unexpected style switch at first, but even though it seems quite different than the first album, the concept didn't change, and the same the style features determining the second record than the first one. It's only a bit different aspect of the same thing.
   Basically "Putrefying Illusions" was a definite step into one direction of the various posssible options that have been led open on "Dawn of Winter". And it was committed pretty well. The sound completely changed to a strongly black metal-compatible softer, atmospheric way. That's not only well suiting for their frequently returning blackened themes, but also for the effectiveness of the melodies they're operating with. The short, melodic solos having some ancient '80s vintage impression by their echoing sound, but except those and the longer duration of melodies, their music didn't change much. Still, this little change and the sound switch was enough for the music to drift closer to melodic death metal. Calm instrumental tracks are assisting as an extension of this endeavour, but it's important to mention that all of these mentioned features were enough to turn "Putrefying Illusins" to an ordinary melodic death album. It's still way more aggressive and heavy for that, and interestingly some leading themes are even referring old school bands like Autopsy. From another hand: it's exactly how melodic death metal supposed to sound like, by keeping the basic style features, but offering them with a  more melodic background (unlike how the subgenre ended up and became widespread, by losing all of it's referring style features). The complexity that blocked the first album to be unified, is not possible to sense on "Putrefying Illusions", cause the blackened atmosphere and the catchy melodies created the frame that was directly leading to the desired unified sound and to a well composed album.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Doomed - The Ancient Path (2012)

   Doom metal and any of it's aspect is quite rare to find in the German metal scene, since it was dedicated to intensity since the '80s. It's enough to think about the classic, so called Teutonic thrash bands. This main tendency didn't change much during the decades as new styles showed up to give a new meaning to musical extremity, therefore the appearence of Doomed counted as something pretty extraordinary. 
  The band intended to pick up the that time most updated form of death/doom in the most accurate way, that's overwhelmingly heavy, melancholic, and  melodic the same time and gets introduced by high sound quaility. For a beginner band that's definitely not a small task, since this style is far not so easy as it might seem like. And considering that Doomed started as a one man project, and the music on all instruments and vocals were performed by Herr Pierre Laube, the selected mission needed way more effort than how most could imagine. Even though the planned standards were pretty high, "The Ancient Path" not only matched the desired level, but also became the unique gem of the German metal scene. The album is all-round quite unified, even the concept of it's design is genuine. The record mixes well hell deep heaviness with melancholic atmosphere and returning catchy melodies. However it doesn't lack some experimenting ambitions that are more common to find from the second half of the album. Those are represented in softer tone both by music and vocal style. The softer theme switches on the side of clear singing are not always able to comply to the main theme of the anctual songs, and that got close to break the unity of the album. But fortunately since they've showed up only for short term, and other, more fortunate theme experiments worked out better, their comensing role helped to keep the unity. Probably the quality, quantinty, and level of melodies were tested on the side of their balance keeping duration opposed to the leading heaviness. In total the search for further possibilites didn't end up too bad, and became the flawing charm of this unique release, that might be a potential favorite for the fans of death/doom.

Obscenity - Atrophied in Anguish (2012)

   Unlike most other ancient death metal bands who split up or changed style or both from the mid '90s, Obscenity were always around and never fell into drastic changes. Even though Obscenity was definitely amongst the best death metal bands, they've never gained wide attention, and kept their underground status.
   However their music changed a lot during the decades. After their excellent old school death metal debut "Suffocated Truth" the band had a brutal death return, and stayed at this style after, experimenting sometimes with sound, sometimes with the complexity of their music album by album. "Atrophied in Anguish" was their 8th full-lenght release that was probably their most devastating record ever. The combination of extreme intensity, catchy themes and great modern sound quality had their most advantageous cooperation on this album. After the late '00s have been passed, the twilight of the brutal/technical/progressive death metal wave was over, and old school bands formed in increasing numbers. With "Atrophied in Anguish" Obscenity basically released such an excellent brutal death album that couldn't be heard while that actual wave lasted, proving that the routine of a band that have been formed in the golden age of the genre could beat easily any new waved technical or progressive trends. And also could define the most determining and most overwhelming features of the modern aspect of death metal, that are still pretty accurate even nowadays.

Monday, May 1, 2023

Vephar - Ascension Through Torture (2022)

    Vephar was formed in 2021 and debuted with a stunning EP titled as "Human Beasts". Their music combines the features of old school and brutal death metal embedded in the modern sound of the genre. And with the inevitable assistance of deep growling vocal style. According that it's performed by a female vocalist, this authentic performance might count impressive and exemplary not only for fellow male growlers, but also for the nowadays unfortunately widely spreading metal girl barbie wave.
   Their returning, full-lenght release follows the line that they have started, but on a more intense level. Their style is kind of complex and developed for a new band, and as for possible influences that suspects old school bands that had more technical tendencies on the side of staying at raw brutality. Bands like Morbid Angel, Vital Remains, Suffocation or Immolation. However Vephar didn't go too far in any of the mentioned directions, and they seem to prefer staying on the border of brutal, technical and old school tendencies. Modern, clean sound proved to be advantageous with this kind of hybrid style, by being able to highlight the effectiveness of these mixed features. Even though massive brutality is the most memorable feature of the album, common speed and theme switches making it more diverse. Unlike at most other similar bands they're not relying on the effectiveness of sudden and unexpected switches, but instead continuity and balance had determining importance on the album. In summary "Ascension Through Torture" is a well composed high quality record, potencial favorite for the fans of the old school and brutal aspects of death metal.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Grand Supreme Blood Court - Bow Down Before the Blood Court (2012)

   As being the 4th band formed by former (or current)  Asphyx members, that also didn't show many differences compared to other, Grand Supreme Blood Court was founded by Eric Daniels (ex-Asphyx, Soulburn) Bob Bagchus (ex-Asphyx, ex-Soulburn), Theo van Eekelen (Hail of Bullets), Alwin Zuur (Asphyx) and Martin van Drunen (Pestilence, Asphyx, Hail of Bullets). So to say when "Bow Down the Blood Court" came out, parallely 4 Asphyxes existed, and that could have been a bit confusing even for old fans. 
   It could be said that the difference lied in the lyrical concept, cause it could be pulled on Hail of Bullets maybe, but that's not too convincing, since Asphyx also didn't lack Worldwar II related topics. The main reason why multiply bands should be formed that are basically the same in style and concept is different imaginations between the band members. And if someone might say that Asphyx worked the best in their early period, when Eric Daniels, Bob Bagchus and Martin van Drunen played together, this album could be the perfect evidence that shows how correct it might be. Grand Supreme Blood Court is exactly how Asphyx was in the early '90s and how it should have been after. Something was definitely missing from Asphyx after Martin von Drunen was quit, and after the band regrouped and he remained it's only old member, Asphyx have become it's own nostalgia band and kept releasing forgetable albums, that might recall the sound and feeling of Asphyx, but lacks it's spirit. That's something that also any other new waved band could do (like Skeletal Remains for instance), so except the financial reasons (cause Asphyx successfully broke in into the mainstream scene too - after they've become forgetable... how typical) it's not really clear why it is a must to pull down a once cultic name by turning it into another generic cliché. But back to the point: Grand Supreme Blood Court's one and only album has everything that lacks from all other Asphyxes (Asphyx, Soulburn, Hail of Bullets) since a long while: the extremely noisy, slow heaviness, that only by itself is able to pull down the listener to the most obscure depths. And doing that without the assistence of any frenetic guitar solos, catchy melodies or extreme intensity. The combination of medium thrash speed frequently switched by extended doomy slow downs, and funeral theme-compatible simple melodies completed by Mr. Drunen's well known iconic suffocating growls, creates the atmosphere that became something essential in the extreme underground. And even if one of these features are missing, Mr. Daniels' and Mr. Bagchus' themes or Mr. Drunen's vocals, this just couldn't work, no matter how it's desired in the other Asphyxes. And if it wasn't intentional to peel off another skin from something that worked well before, there shouldn't be any reason to keep referring to that in different bands and music projects. However, under Grand Supreme Blood Court they were able to recall the same genuine features on the level they did long ago under Asphyx, and with a very few exceptions that's something missing from nearly all big returns. 

Disabled - When All is Slayed... (2012)

   The early '90s death metal movement back then was definitely not supported in France, therefore except a few examples (like Massacra or Loudblast) not many oldies could be mentioned who were able to achieve any success in underground. But fortunately that doesn't mean that there were not any other tryings, it's enough to think about Catacomb. And Disabled is also one of those deeply underrated rare gems, who were lately discovered.
   Their one and only EP "Faith Ablation" was re-released with all of their demo recordings in the form of an excellent compilation album, to give a worthy memorial of their sick and overwhelming music. In general their music definitely didn't count secondary compared to the big names of the '90s, what could be heard on the compilation is old school death metal at it's best. The intensity, the aggressive tone and the sick feeling that haunts through the album describes well the most important features of the genre. The band had it's genuine style that seemed to be mainly influenced by American gore and horror inspired bands like Cannibal Corpse, Broken Hope or Monstrosity, but the list could be long. The primitive themes and sound they operated with are rough, raw and effective how they supposed to be. It's definitely something that was lost from the main scene since a quite while, therefore to find such compilation releases is always refreshing. Also the high quality musickness of "When All iS Slayed..." could be also quite addictive for the fans of the genre. 

Hipoxia - Hipoxia (2012)

   As it was mentioned before, from the late '00s there was a tendency in the main scene, that focused on the qualities and effectiveness of noisy sound. The most evident aspect of this was the appearence of drone metal. The rise of the subgenre was kind of short lived because it didn't need much more effort than experimenting with distortion pedals in a rehearsal room, but it's influence was wider, especially at sludge, doom and stoner related bands. Hipoxia was one of those bands who got inspired by that tendency, and discovered the opportunity of drone sound involed into sludge/doom. 
   Probably Conan became the most known band who prefers this style combination, and even though Hipoxia's music lacked the more chilling or levitating stoner rock themes (it's kinda subjective how chilling those themes are with this sound), Conan might be a good example to compare them to. The analogy lies in simplicity, in those basic themes that are slow, effective and extremely heavy the same time. Hipoxia successfully mastered this style and with the assistence of drone sound they increased the down pulling, demoralizing feeling of sludge. Even though sludge was never known as a "happy genre" it was possible to turn things even worse step by step. First by combining it with doom metal, and after by giving a darker tone by merging into the further possibilities of even noisier sound. This latest stage was pretty actual and had style renewing role in the early '10s and Hipoxia counts as one of the earliest forerunners of this direction. Their debut counts as one of the first style determining albums of something newly developed in the depths of underground metal.