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: 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 – 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: IMMORTAL SOULS – Once Upon A Time In The North

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immortal souls once upon a time in the north

IMMORTAL SOULS
Once Upon A Time In The North
Fear Dark Records
2005

The melodic death metal outfit Immortal Souls got its start in 1991, forming in Finland. They recorded and released a couple of demos, released a split CD with Mordecai and their debut album Under The Northern Sky as well as The Cleansing EP as a sort of teaser for the album at the same time. Then, the label that released the split and debut album (Little Rose) went under, and so the band signed with Fear Dark Records, who released this 2-disc retrospective of their music up to that point.

Disc One starts off with a couple of never-before released songs–“Painweighted” and “Down In My Grave”–which, this is just rampant speculation on my part, might have been two of the songs on their never-been-released Vision Of Hell demo (it’s nigh-impossible finding information on that thing). If anyone knows for certain, let me know. Anyway, after that is the entire The Cleansing EP, the entire Divine Wintertime EP that was released with the split with Mordecai, three songs from the Reflections Of Doom demo (“Hate Sender”, “I Am Me”, “Realm Of Hatred”) and one song from the Immortal Souls demo (“Immortal”). Disc Two is the entire Under The norther Sky album.

I acquired a copy of Once Upon A Time In The North mainly because of the two unreleased songs and the songs from the two cassette demos. Otherwise, I already owned copies of the two EPs and Under The Northern Sky. Although I’m not what you would call a “completest” collector, I didn’t mind double-dipping for this. It’s a good package, a great retrospective of earlier Immortal Souls music, and it has a write up from founder/bassist/vocalist Aki Särkioja in the CD booklet. Mind you, Immortal Souls is one of my favorite bands in existence. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of checking them out, this is a good retrospective of their earlier work for an introduction to these guys. Recommended.

Music Review: The BLESSED – Remember

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blessed- rememberThe BLESSED
Remember
Independent
2016

So, there I was, scrolling through my friends feed on my Facebook page, when I came across a recent post by the Metal Resource blog, posting an interview they did with the Russian band The Blessed (formerly Cradle Of God). The associated pic intrigued me, as they seemed to be doing their best Metalocalypse Dethklok pose, I went ahead and read the article, which lead me to purchasing their album Remember from Bandcamp to listen to, and BY UNCLE JERRY’S BRISTLING BEARD, THIS IS A FANTASTIC AND AWESOME ALBUM I AM SO GLAD I STUMBLED UPON THIS OW MY NECK…

*ahem* Sorry. I let my enthusiasm get the best of me, here. I get rather excited when I discover a hidden gem like this, and want to share.

First off, about the band, it seems they’re pretty animate and straight forward in that interview I referenced that they don’t claim to be a Christian band, per se, and from the sounds of it, it may actually be one member that would proclaim the faith. Either way, it’s obvious given the song titles and the lyrics themselves that, this is perhaps the most Christian non-Christian metal band that I’ve come across. If this is a troll by the band, then I salute you all. And now that we’re past that bit, on to the music, shall we?

From the opening salvo of “Children Of God”, through to the ending track “Arise From The Dead”, our earholes are treated to some superb melodic death metal, peppered liberally with black metal and with a pinch of folk metal and doom at times. For nearly fifty minutes, a blend of blastbeats, heavy riffs and dark atmospheric METAL assaults us, and leaves you with a massive grin on your face after everything is said and done.

So far, Remember is their only release, and is available as a digital release on Bandcamp. I would urge you to check them out and treat your ears to their music. Fantastic stuff, this.

Music Review: DOCILE – Babylon Ablaze

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docile-babylon-ablazeDOCILE
Babylon Ablaze
First Paradox Metal Records
2007

Docile is…okay, was a melodic death metal band from the Netherlands that released a demo called Babylon Ablaze and then remastered it and re-released it with a couple of new songs that same year. Then they changed their name to Burial Earth and continued on with the progressive melodic death metal style, only not as Docile. So, technically the band is still together, but not using the name on this release that I’m reviewing right now.

That pointless bit of confluence of words aside, concerning Babylon Ablaze itself, this is a pretty good chunk of heavy melodic death metal that reminds one of the earlier days of In Flames and At The Gates, utilizing some technical riffs along with some tight and heavy complex rhythms. There’s some very good metal going on here, with some rather good production quality to the songs. Mind you, I only have the re-released remastered version of this album, and I have no idea what quality production the original demo release had. Speaking of which, the last two songs on this are the two bonus songs mentioned; “Rewrite The Drama” is decent and interesting, though not exactly comparable to the previous five tracks, and “Embodiment Of Lies” begins ambient, then turns to a ferocious death metal attack that ends the release nicely.

Overall, Babylon Ablaze is worth checking out, as it’s not your standard issue death metal release.

Music Review: CRIMSON MOONLIGHT – Divine Darkness

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Music Review: CRIMSON MOONLIGHT - Divine Darkness

CRIMSON MOONLIGHT
Divine Darkness
Endtime Productions
2016

The third full-length release from Swedish black metal mainstays Crimson Moonlight comes nearly a decade after the last full-length release. Which is a long time to wait for something as tingle-educing as the kind of quality \,,/METAL\,,/ these guys make. I mean, sure there was an EP and a single released in between then, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that a release from Crimson Moonlight is an event. But, I digress.

From the opening face-melting blast-beats and thrashy death of “The Dogma Of Chalcedon”, Divine Darkness proves that the wait was well worth the end result. This is some high-quality progressive black metal, heavy and extreme, dark and fiery, resulting in a big dopey grin on my face for the entire time this played. Not once did the music stagnate, as there were touches of musical shifts to keep things fresh and interesting: acoustic instruments, melodic touches, some noticeable industrial effects on the vocals, some doom metal moments, and one cut (“Voistinu Voskrese”) which is a straight-forward dirge from beginning to end. The production is top-notch, and the flow is outstanding.

Overall, Divine Darkness cuts out any kind of pretense and gets right to the point, grabbing you by the jugular and not letting go until you’re good and tenderized. Highly Recommended.

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