Music Review: DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN – Kings To You

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darkness before dawn - kings to youDARKNESS BEFORE DAWN
Kings To You
Bombworks Records
2009

Darkness Before Dawn was a death metal band that existed between 2004 and apparently only split up in 2017. Which is interesting, as I seem to recall them being listed as “split-up” on the Metal Archives site years previous. Maybe I’m remembering wrong. Either way, they only managed to release an EP and this full-length, Kings To You. Obviously, I’ll be reviewing the full-length release. They don’t call me Captain Obvious for nothing. Actually, no one calls me that. *sigh* Anyway…

Kings To You was released in 2009 on the Bombworks Records label. If you would grasp for a good catch-all subgenre label for the band’s sound, you could go with your standard Death metal, but it’s not quite adept a descriptor. I would say that the music on Kings To You leans more toward melodic death metal with some roots in the deathcore style, utilizing both atmospheric keyboards while throwing in a heavy breakdown here and there. The songs vary between mid-paced and furiously heavy, showcasing some very heavy riffs and technical rhythms that will churn your insides while chilling your soul with the keyboards darkening the textures up, with something of a Folk Metal style on “Material Existence”.

Overall, Kings To You is a good, solid collection of melodic death metal hybrid that, for some reason I can’t really put my finger on, comes close to pushing over the edge, but not quite. It is, however, a satisfying bit of death metal brutality that does the trick in a pinch.

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Music Review: FLESHKILLER – Awaken

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fleshkiller - awakenFLESHKILLER
Awaken
Indie Recordings
2017

Fleshkiller is the side project of Extol’s guitarist/vocalist Ole Børud, which he formed initially with Vardøger vocalist Peter Dalbakk. Those two had previously collaborated in the Death/Doom metal band Schaliach, so…that’s a thing you know about now. If you hadn’t previously. Anyway, since Extol is on something of an indefinite hiatus, it’s a relief to know that the guy behind Extol’s signature guitar sound is carrying on with Fleshkiller. Add to the mix former members of In Vain and A Hill To Die Upon, the band released a handful of singles before finally releasing this, their full-length debut album, Awaken.

Awaken was an album that I was anxiously awaiting the release of. I had pre-ordered it on Amazon, but due to pre-release reviews being overwhelmingly positive, I was chomping at the proverbial bit for the official day I could download the sucker. And then the day came, and I stuck it on repeat on my media player. And I’m glad to report that was not disappointed.

On the offset, you could be forgiven if you would think that Fleshkiller is merely a continuation of Extol, only without the rest of Extol. Kinda sorta. See, while Awaken features the familiar guitar riffing and clean style vocals (I call ’em “Yes Vocals”, very prog-tastic) that was part of Extol’s signature Metal sound, the songs here are much more technical and aggressive, sounding more like if Believer went down a more Melodic Death Metal path than the one they did after Dimensions.

Regardless of the connections, as an album in and of itself, Awaken is bloody fantastic. From the opening track “Parallel Kingdom” through to the spellbinding album ender “Window Of Time”, the entirety of this album is one solid front-to-back listening experience that doesn’t waste any time with fillers. The mix between the deep death metal vocals and Børud’s Yes vocals used here and there combine to good effect. The result is a prog tech death album that is just about the best debut album I’ve heard so far this past year. This is highly recommended to be a part of your collection.

Music Review: HOLY BLOOD – Day Of Vengeance

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holy blood day of vengeanceHOLY BLOOD
Day Of Vengeance
Bombworks Records
2015

For quite some time, my Holy Blood collection was incomplete. For, while all the other Holy Blood releases have been made available as a purchasable download — including the recent Glory To The Heroes EP — for whatever reason, their 2015 release, Day Of Vengeance, never was made available in that format. And there isn’t any information I can find to explain why, either. Not that the band owes me or anyone else an explanation, mind you. They can do whatever they want; release an 8-Track only, if they want. Actually, that does sound kind of cool. Maybe a reel-to-reel release. But, I digress. Point is, I finally broke down and purchased the physical CD through Amazon. My Holy Blood collection is now complete.

So, anyway, what’s the METAL like on Day Of Vengeance? Glad you asked.

Upon initial listening, I can understand why many were taken aback a bit with the style it went with. While early records had a more Black Metal-leaning style, and subsequent releases went with Folk Metal stylings, Day Of Vengeance is mainly a straight forward Melodic Death metal release, with a couple of flashes of the Folk Metal of past releases, mostly by way of the two instrumentals, the opener “Dawn Before Battle” and “In Paradise”. The overall quality of the album’s music is very good, featuring some good n’ heavy riffs and hooks, with most of the songs affecting a mid-paced yet brutal heaviness. The song “Holy Blood” also has a touch of the ol’ Folk Metal, and is a bit doomier in execution, and “Powerless Darkness” utilizes choral vocals for texture, but for the most part this is an album of heavy riffs, blastbeats and hooky rhythms with growl vocals. It’s not bad by any stretch, really.

So, overall, I found Day Of Vengeance to be a satisfying Death Metal release. It’s not a Folk Metal album, to be sure. But, if we can’t allow bands to deviate from the norm, they won’t be able to grow, right? Guys? Fellas? Eh, worth checking out.

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.

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: 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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