Music Review: NECROBLATION – Stab Your Self

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necroblation - stab your selfNECROBLATION
Stab Your Self
Independent
2015

The second full-length release from Swiss death metal group Necroblation continues on in the thick, crunchy old-school style of Death Metal that made their debut album such a joy to listen to.

Beginning with the acoustic guitar instrumental “Prelude In D Minor”, the album really kicks in with “Cut My Foreskin”, a brutal furious Death Metal cut with a good groove hook and a face-melting solo riff. The following cuts — “Materialistic Plague” and “Invocation — continue in the same vein of Death Metal goodness; “Child Of Illusion”, the full-non-acoustic version here, is a dark, doomy cut, very good one. “Uncontrolled Rate” is a brief 30-second grindcore bit with a belch at the end, which leads into the grinding “Gehenna”; “Self-Elevation & Chaos” has a good technical riff, essentially an instrumental with a jazzy structure; this is followed by another instrumental — “The Standing Nature” — that is dark with a clean guitar riff; ending the album is a remix of “Rotten To The Core”, a song from the previous album.

Overall, the production and writing are steps above the previous release, resulting in a good, solid and multi-textured Death Metal release that has stayed in my player for quite some time. As a follow-up to their debut, Stab Your Self is heads and tails a much better effort, the only real complaint I would have that there could have been a couple more full-length songs added in, instead of the two consecutive instrumentals and the remix of a song from the previous album. Otherwise, this is highly recommended Death Metal, here.

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Music Review: DARKFIELD ILLUMINATOR – Glimmer

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darkfield illuminator glimmerDARKFIELD ILLUMINATOR
Glimmer
Independent
2008

Back in 2006, I briefly wrote wrote reviews for an online industrial music magazine that was published by Flamming Fish Music. One of the reviews I was assigned was for the debut release of the band called Darkfield Illuminator. That album review was for Glimmer, the unedited review of which I published on one of the previous blogs I maintained after my tenure at the magazine was over. The thing is, during the consolidation into this one blog here, somehow that original review was lost. So, now I’m writing this review to replace that review. Because I can.

If I remember correctly, Darkfield Illuminator was primarily a husband/wife team, at least studio-wise. They play (or plays…I can’t seem to find any indication that they’re still active as a unit) a kind of industrial style that mixes that along with metal and Gothic styles into a blend that’s harsh yet atmospheric and dark. Their listing on the Firestream Music Vault lists their influences as Circle Of Dust, Bauhaus, The Violet Burning, and Living Sacrifice. That’s quite the eclectic list, there; which lends to the interesting type of sound on Glimmer.

The album starts with the track “Eyes”, which is a mid-paced, dark industrial tune that has clean guitars that kick into a fuzzed guitar tone later into the song, with some distorted female vocals. Throughout the album, the songs alternate between more aggressive industrial, with heavy distortion on the guitars and vocals, like on “Aversion”, “Kiss”, “Silent Whisper” and “Dust”, and a darker, mid-paced almost Gothic tinged texture, like on “Gleam”, “Crush”, and the album closer “Mystery”, whereas the track “Damaged” is more experimental electronic. The vocals alternate between distorted and clean, male and female sometimes respectively. The production is a bit on the raw side, but given this was an independent release–no doubt probably done on a home studio setup, wild speculation on my part mind you–it sounds very good, though it tends to get a bit on the harsh side of things once in a while.

Overall, Glimmer is a pretty good release of multi-textured hybrid industrial. The CD and album download are still available on CD Baby, where I got my copy back in the day. I would recommend giving this one a look.

Music Review: NECROBLATION – Ablation Of Death

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NECROBLATION - Ablation Of DeathNECROBLATION
Ablation Of Death
Suisa
2013

Ladies and gentlemen (and all points in-between), let me introduce you to my new favorite death metal find: Necroblation. Yeah, I was once again surfing about on the fetid waters of the interwebs one evening, and happened upon the Bandcamp page for these guys. I don’t even recall the path I took that had me end up on there, but lo and behold I found myself marveling at the audio clips and immediately keyed into information to purchase the downloads of their two release from the site. Sweet, sweet death metal goodness was mine.

Hailing from Switzerland and forming in 2010, Ablation Of Death is the band’s first full-length release, on the now-defunct Suisa label. The metal on this album leans toward the Euro-Melodo-Death style, keeping things heavy and brutal while incorporating elements of technical death and some black metal bits, without being afraid to let the thrash side of things happen when it needs to. The album opens with the title track, “Ablation Of Death”, which immediately goes for the jugular with its fast and furious death metal assault, complete with the standard death growls and lower registering shrieks, and on interesting jazzy riff; “Mind Mutilation” continues with the brutal goodness, with blast beats that will melt your face off and some nice technical riffing; “Prisoner Of The Past” has kind of a melododeath, mid-paced blackened pace going on. Good riff on that one; “Human Slave” is also mid-paced, heavy with a good crunchy groove going; “Rotten To The Core” is a good, thrashy death metal cut, with a fast and furious riff; “Struggle” starts off dark and doomy, then progresses into a faster thrashy bit; Sublime Cadaveric’s Resurrection” settles into a heavy groove after a blastbeat assault that will leave you with the warm tinglies; “Path Of Daggers” has a good, heavy and straight-forward thrashy death metal riff going; “Devil Slayer” has a friggin’ amazing METAL riff, melodic and thrashy; the album ender, “Child Of Illusion (Acoustic Version)” is essentially an instrumental version of a song that would end up on the following release, ths one done with acoustic guitars and bongos. Kind of a mellow way to end such an otherwise solid album of death metal goodness, but eh, whatever.

Overall, Ablation Of Death was a much-needed infusion of Death Metal goodness that came after a bit of a dry period. The production is a bit on the raw side, but that in no way distracts from the whiplash you’re going to gladly receive after popping this thing in. Highly recommended.

Music Review: INEXORDIUM – InExordium

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inexordiumINEXORDIUM
InExordium
Veridon Records
2008

Back in 2006, the legendary doom metal band Paramaecium played its final show in Norway. Immediately after that, they renamed themselves InExordium, heretofore to play a more straight-forward style of death metal. In 2008, the band released their first and only album of material under the InExordium moniker, the self-titled InExordium.

While the band retained the Paramaecium lineup, the only resemblance between the two entities would be the death metal from the Exhumed Of The Earth release, only more traditional classic death metal than plodding doom. Death metal musician favorite Jayson Sherlock is handling the drums and songwriting, so the more classic old-school style of Death Metal seems a great fit, here.

Kicking off with “Out Of The Silence”, the pace is set with the heavy, furious grinding riffs and blastbeats abounding, straight-forward and no-frills brutality, some nice grooves and riffs, with Andrew Tompkins’ vocals affecting more of a lower registered scream rather than your standard death growls. There are some moments where the old doom flavor comes out, like on “The Voice Of Treason”, “Punishment” and the closer “Covered In Pain.”

Overall, InExordium is a serviceable yet solid collection of straight-forward death metal brutality that hits the right spot pretty consistently. Pity the band only released this one release before calling it a day. Recommended.

Music Review: AUDIO ADRENALINE – Audio Adrenaline

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audio adrenalineAUDIO ADRENALINE
Audio Adrenaline
ForeFront Records
1992

I think it’s high time I get some of the more dusty skeletons in my record-owning closet cleaned out. This won’t be pretty, but in keeping with my long-standing “If I own(ed) it, I will review it” rule, I have to own up to some of the things that I have, in fact, owned and listened to, no matter how embarrassing it may be. And having owned Audio Adrenaline is one of them.

Yes, it’s true. I have owned more than one Audio A (as we used to call them back in the day) album, back when the original lineup was the one that we knew about. I’ve even seen them live. Twice. By choice. They put on a good show. Try not to faint from the whiplash, there. I can say, however, that I’ve never owned a copy of the album that launched them into being one of the biggest CCM darlings of the 1990s (that being Don’t Censor Me, featuring the song you couldn’t get away from, “Big House”). I did, however, own a cassette copy of their self-titled debut album. So here we are.

Right off the bat, I’m going to admit that I have no idea how Audio Adrenaline became part of my personal collection. I have a vague recollection of someone maybe giving it to me, but I certainly don’t recall ever spending money to own it myself. Even back in my “hip Christianity” days, I wasn’t really into the Big Three of CCM (the other two being The Newsboys and DC Talk*). I owned albums, yes, but I didn’t listen to them ad nausium like those in the church groups I was involved in. Point is, some time in 1995, I suddenly found myself in possession of the self-titled debut album from one of the hottest CCM bands that year.

Popping this album into the media player for the first time in literal decades, and within a few minutes of hitting “play” the flashbacks began. I remember, now, why this one didn’t shoot the band to CCM Youth Group super-stardom. this is pre-modern rock darlings Audio A; this was the Funky Fresh awkwardly finding their own identity Audio A., playing a type of radio-friendly funk rock n’ rappin’ pop hybrid, like if they were going for a Red Hot Chili Peppers-fronted-by-Vanilla Ice vibe. Or, Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch, if you will. Seriously, just listen to album opening “One Step Hyper”; once you get past the title, you can actually get visions of stonewashed overalls with backwards ballcaps while the whitest white-boy rappin’ to the most homogenized funky fresh music I’ve heard this side of New Kids On The Block assaults your earholes. For the most part, this is what Audio Adrenaline the album is, on songs like the rather painful-to-listen-to ballad “Who Do You Love”, “P. D. A.”, “The Most Excellent Way”, the youth group sing-along fodder of “J-E-S-U-S Is Right”, “Revolution”, the other ballad “Audio World”, and the album closer “Life”.

Despite the stale dated-ness of the songs, there does exist some bright spots here: The guitar work is very good, with some talented riffs and styles going on, like the chicken pickin’ on “The Most Excellent Way” and the riff on “What You Need”, the one song that actually seems to be an early glimpse of the style they’ll eventually settle on in later releases. The song “Revolution” features a catchy EBM Jungle-style beat going on, which contrasts the otherwise mediocrity of the track. Now, let’s talk about the two oddball tracks that I actually like–“DC-10” and “My God”. These two songs sound nothing like the other tracks on this album. As a matter of fact, there’s been speculation on my part that this may be relics of what they actually sounded like before getting signed to ForeFront Records. But, there’s no proof of that, outside of the fact that these two songs veer on a punkish crossover style that is more in keeping with One Bad Pig and D.R.I. than…well, Audio Adrenaline. They are a bit on the goofy side, like when Anthrax did the original “I’m The Man” back in the day, but otherwise these two stick out like a pair of sore thumbs, in a good way.

Overall, though, Audio Adrenaline didn’t age very well. It’s very much a product of its time, and I suspect that this was more due to the label wanting to get a kind of product out that the young people would dig. Hip and happenin’ and all that. The two times that I caught them live during their Don’t Censor Me tour, the only songs from this album they played was “What You Need” and a reworked “DC-10”. I would say, if you happen to be a fan of Audio A., get this album just as a curiosity of where they came from. Otherwise, pass…unless you’re a connoisseur of the cheesy early 90s music, that is.

[*= This was back before the time when the former members of DC Talk started singing for both Audio A and Newsboys, causing a kind of CCM-inception kind of meta thing…it’s mind blowing if you think about it for too long – Uncle NecRo]

Music Review: HAND OF FIRE – Nuclear Sunrise

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HAND OF FIRE - Nuclear SunriseHAND OF FIRE
Nuclear Sunrise
Rottweiler Records
2017

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my extreme pleasure to announce that thrash metal is still very much alive and well and continues to bring a much-needed injection of high-octane speed to our dreary existence. Joining the ranks of the new wave of thrash metal* is Hand Of Fire.

Hailing from the Bay Area of San Francisco, California, the band released their debut album Nuclear Sunrise through Rottweiler records. The buildup to the release of this album was pretty big, with teaser updates constantly streaming in from the official Rottweiler Records Facebook page. I waited patiently leading up to the release of Nuclear Sunrise–my appetite whetted by the official video for “The Prophecy–so when it was officially released back in November, I purchased the album the day it came out. And let me tell you, I’m very pleased with the addition to my Metal Vaults.

Kicking off with what was supposed to be the original album title, “Let The Killings Begin” sets the pace for what is to come; namely, heavy blistering thrash metal goodness, full of monster hooks and riffs, blistering solos and soaring vocals, all done at a galloping, breathtaking pace that, if you listen to this in your vehicle like I do, will cause you to accidentally break a few speeding laws.

Look, about the only complaint I have with Nuclear Sunrise is that it is far too short. Clocking in at just a couple of minutes over half an hour, I was just getting warmed up. Well, such is the nature of thrash metal. Overall, though, this album needs to be in your collection, as this is highly recommended.

[*–that, sadly, is not an official title, like New Wave Of American Heavy Metal…but it should be, as I refuse to use “rethrash” to describe it]

Music Review: DROTTNAR – Stratum

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DROTTNAR - StratumDROTTNAR
Stratum
Endtime Productions
2012

I have to give Norwegian act Drottnar their due: They managed to evolve their style and sound over the years from the standard Viking Metal and Black Metal sound to something of a uniquely progressive Black Metal sound on their recent release Stratum. They could have stuck with the tried and true style, but instead they forged ahead, creating something equally magnificent and complex.

Somehow, this second full-length release (not counting Spiritual Battle, which is technically a compilation release) escaped my attention when it was initially released in 2012. Considering what I was going through at the time, I’m not too surprised about that, actually. But again, far besides the point.

Stratum was recorded by the band in 2009, but wasn’t released until 2012 for reasons I am unable to find online. Regardless, despite the six year gap between releases, Drottnar showed that they could very well experiment and forge their own progressive path, rather than remain content with following trends.

The music on Stratum starts with a foundation of Black Metal and Technical Death Metal. But, as immediately evidenced by the opening track “We March”, there’s some well thought-out technical aspects to the music, with odd time signatures and rhythm structures, like this was the logical progression of Believer’s Dimensions release. Yet, none of the raw, brutal intensity is sacrificed whatsoever. You get all the face-blasting and skin-blistering riffs, with a progressive technicality that will give you severe whiplash, along with some industrial elements for some tasty texture throughout.

Overall, Stratum is fantastic. It’s tight, it’s brutal, it’s not your usual Black/Death Metal album. If you’re a fan of the later Extol releases, or certain points of the band Nomicon, or just want something brutal yet not your typical stuff, check this one out.

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