Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Graveyard - One with the Dead (2009)

   Graveyard debuted as a band with traditional old school Swedish death metal features, and they performed this style so well that nobody would suspect that they're not even from Sweden. 
   Like if the nearly endless amount of nearly the same sounding old school Swedish death metal bands were not enough, many newbies showed up at various locations to try themselves in the style of the well known classics of the genre. The names of these classics are waving back while listening as evident influences, such as Grave, Carnage, Entombed and Unleashed. Still, Graveyard's goal was not to simply copy this style and to create a schematic death metal album. Plenty of exciting musical solutions are waiting for the listener to pull it down to the hopeless rotten catacombs. For the band heaviness had a main importance on the side of the rough, dirty cold sound, and they managed it with sommon slow downs and sudden speed switches. Sometimes repetitive sick leading melodies are assisting to the intensiveness that's the main feature of the album. The temporary slow downs doesn't take anything from this intensity because of the diverse themes they've operated with. So even though the band's style is (tomb)stone carved Swedish death, "One with the Dead" is everything but monotonous. Similar to the late tendencies of Swedish death, occasionally some quite vintage sounding heavy and doom metal elements (the second in the form of a Candlemass cover) are also there to find. They've really tried everything possible that made this notorious. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Excoriate - On Pestilent Winds (2009)

   Some bands goal was not only to recall the feeling of the '80s, but also to sound exactly like the most ancient bands of extreme metal. This ambition isn't unknown in Sweden since a while, where are plenty of delusive bands to find.
   Excoriate's one and only full lenght album just showed up from nothing as a pretender when the band didn't even exist anymore, and served as a new example how to do it in a proper way. The strong thrash metal incluences, the rehearsal-like dirty sound and the strongly echoing vocal reminds to Possessed, but in a way more obscure version. The remarkable aggressiveness of the music could serve as the only hint that may suspect that the album isn't an ancient long forgotten unknown gem of the '80s. Except that all themes and features are strictly following the good old recipe. They introducing well the very core that later was leading to the birth of black and death metal. While the Swedes focused on the basics mostly under British influence from the mixed aspect of heavy, thrash and black metal, or reached them on the line of punk, thrash and death like Death Breath did; Excoriate grabbed something more exact that existed back than for real in this form. That's why "On Pestilent Winds..." may sound more authentic. It could count as an excellent concept album that brought back a long missing shade into the extreme scene. 

Necropsy - Deathprayer (2009)

   Necropsy's one and only album was a quite promising debut that unfortunately remained as a barely known and underrated record, even though it's timing was great. 
   "Deathprayer" definitely fits to the New Wave of Old School Death Metal, but it's influences are mixed. Musically it's sympathizing with brutal death, that's the most sensable in the rough modern sound. The sometimes intense speed and the drumming style suspects the same, but in general middle speed stays dominant. The guitar themes are not following the intensity of the drums, and therefore brutal speed ups also couldn't prevail for long. The mostly basic and primitive riffings keeping the music on the old school field, but still the drumms are so intense and technical as possible according to the circumstances. It sounds like to keep some sort of balance was an important aspect in the musical concept. There is also some pressure to sense while listening, like if something was about to explode, but keeps staying at the preparings. With the unfriendly, cold sound together this results an obscure feeling. The advantage of the middle speed primitive obscurity is heaviness at a level that's uncommon to hear at similar bands. Probably the band members subjective diverse influences were leading to this mixed result, but still the album is unified and portrays a very dark and rough picture to the listener. "Deathprayer" was maybe one of the best death metal acts of the year because of it's effective rotting inhuman main impression. 


Saturday, October 17, 2020

Hackneyed - Burn After Reaping (2009)

   Hackneyed's second album showed a fast development. In only one year their music turned more complex and introduced themselves from a bit different way.
   "Death Prevails" have left open plenty of possibilities because of the combination of it's raw simplicity and the same time modern brutal death metal approach. "Burn Ater Raping" took a more melodic but still brutal death influenced switch, and in concept on the side of the gore and morbid humor based lyrics they also gave some hint with some deeper message. It was still an experimenting album with various future possibilities, but because of the complexity of their themes it was a step forward. The main view was therefore still not much more unified than on the first album, especially because of the contrast that was formed by the catchy melodies and brutal death ambitions, plus the concept changes are just the icing on the cake. It could be taken as enjoyable diversity, but it still sounds only as the current station of a musical development that is not known yet where will exactly lead. The different musical influences could be found responsible, but the band proved again their professionality though by bonding together these various individual aspects and imaginations of rough brutality and creating something great from them. "Burn After Raping" is definitely a modern death metal record that fits well to it's that time current tendencies and therefore finally left the old school roots. 

Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult - Saldorian Spell (2009)

   Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult became a cultic band with time as they kept going with their traditional style of black metal. Meanwhile other alternative experiments showed up in the scene (like in mostly all styles, after they've reached their final borders and can't show anything new, they getting mixed with other styles, turning more technical, progressive ect), but the band stayed at their compromiseless old school way. 
   Previously the band balanced between the traditional Norwegian style and the raw sound of black metal, and that's not different on "Saldorian Spell" either, that was already their 4th full-lenght album. The mix of the 2 directions is probably the most balanced on this album by switching between merciless hammering and catchy leading themes. The role of the atmosphere increased in their music after the first album and that kept back from the effectiveness of the unfriendly sound. On "Saldorian Spell" the atmosphere also cooperates on moderate level. That means there's no lack of rawness, but the album sounds kind of softer than "Follow the Calls for Battle" and still it sounds the most similar to the full-lenght debut. The most enjoyable part in the sound is probably the drums, that reminds to the intense style of old Mayhem. However, it's a style that hardly can disappoint, such as Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Asphyx - Death... The Brutal Way (2009)

   The New Wave of Old School Death Metal had an important side-effect: many old bands decided to regroup, because the audience demanded some authentic '90s nostalgia too, directly from those who took an important role in creating the old school scene. Asphyx was one of those bands who had to regroup therefore, and there was great anticipation for their return.
   Asphyx took a weird direction after first Martin van Drunen left the band and later Eric Daniels too. Things somehow didn't work out well and they split up. The unique feeling that was created by the band, survived in similar form in Soulburn. With the same lineup they've recorded an Asphyx album too, but somehow they've caught the feeling better as Soulburn. Lately Asphyx was reunited with the same lineup with Martin van Drunen, but minus Eric Daniels, and "Death... The Brutal Way" seemed to successfully recall the feeling why Asphyx was great band before. The album starts quite intense, but later the very familiar and nostalgic slow downs and miserably monotonous themes are getting into focus. The same old concept have returned that was meanwhile divided into other Asphyx clone projects, so finally with the reuinion 4 Asphyxes existed parallelly with the same style and sound, and with some of the old members (Soulburn, Hail of Bullets, Grand Supreme Blood Court). Why was that good and necessary is unknown, but finally the long awaited legend was resurrected and left behind an album that was definitely worth to wait for. Compared to the old albums their music didn't become only more intense, but also more diverse, so the return also included some surprise too, and unlike most other reunions, they didn't try simply to replicate their old style (at least not yet), and also didn't play something disappointingly different like Carcass or Pestilence did. 

Demonical - Hellsworn (2009)

   One thing seems certain while listening to Demonical: these guys have been into death metal since a while, and this isn't their spare time high school band project. And the intuition proves to be correct after checking on the line up, because all the band members played on various other bands before or still they do. 
   Probably the best way to describe Demonical's "Hellsworn" is: Swedish death metal at it's best. The wider possibilites of recording were definitely advantageous for the style, because higher sound quality can make wonders with the basicaly rough and unfriendly Swedish sound. It's colder and more effective than how ever it was in the early '90s, and it had positive effect on all other it's features too. The album is nostalgic and refreshing the same time, and the high sound quality having an important role in that. The main impression is quite aggressive and dark as it shoud be expected. Nearly the whole local old school scene could be mentioned as possible musical influences, but it sounds like Grave  have to be mentioned first of all, because the tone that Demonical reached is the most similar to them. The title song of the album quite reminds to Moondark, but that's not surprising, since their guitarist played in that band too. The other members are known from bands like Centinex, Diabloical (their drummer also played in Grave), and they're not joking, they all are on the level and they know their job well. Great and diverse themes are leading the listener into the depths of musical obscureness. "Helsworn" is an excellent album that represents well the compromiseless cruelty of old school Swedish death metal.