Music Review: CRUSHING THE DECEIVER – Crushing The Deceiver

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crushing the deceiverCRUSHING THE DECEIVER
Crushing The Deceiver
Roxx Records
2018

Over the past few months, I’ve known about California outfit Crushing The Deceiver by way of Facebook. I’ve been following the various posts made teasing the songs for the upcoming self-titled debut release. So when it finally was released through Roxx Records, I picked up a digital copy on Amazon and immediately gave it a couple of play-throughs in my ongoing attempt to be more timely with my newer release reviews on here.

Having not knowing anything about the band or their music — I chose not to listen to the pre-releases song samples and just buy sight unseen, in a manner of speaking — beyond seeing their genre listed as “Thrash” and “Death Metal” on the Metal-Archives site, I didn’t entirely know what to expect. The cover art was fairly decent, so what do we have with the music?

The opening track, “An Angel’s Armor”, kicks off with battle sound effects and a guy admonishing the listener to stand for Jesus, so right off the bat there’s no mystery as to where the band is coming from lyrically. That’s always nice. Then there’s a thrashy guitar riff that happens, before it settles to a mid-paced metalcore plod along pace, with the vocals effecting a kind of grunt-shout typical of the hardcore/metalcore genre. But, this was merely the first track, not the best way to judge an entire album. “The Light Inside Of Me” is a bit faster riff, but I couldn’t help but notice that the production seemed a bit thin, with the guitar work being a bit sloppy, kind of a home demo-ish quality going. “Guide The Way To You” incorporates a Djent-style chunk-chunk riff, while “Pushing Back Hell” goes with a slightly different variation of the same kind of basic deathcore riff, while the drum trigger programming is far more pronounced and noticeable here.

So, here we are at the mid-point of the album, and I was beginning to think that the remaining four songs were going to be more of the same kind of mediocre metalcore. But, after the acoustic opening on “Crushing The Deceiver”, the song then surprised me by ripping into a proper thrash metal riff, keeping things fast and furious throughout, and while it seemed to lose cohesion a bit near the end, is actually a good thrash song. Fortunately, this isn’t just one fluke, as “Born Again” and “Forever Free” both keep up the thrashing pace, both decently good cuts, production quality notwithstanding. The final song, “Gabriel’s Song”, is just an acoustic guitar instrumental.

Look, I have to say that I normally go into these reviews wanting to like everything that I put inside my earholes. I’m really less of a critic, and more a metal enthusiast, truth be told. I say this because, overall, I found Crushing The Deceiver as kind of a disappointment. Kind of. I found that, out of the nine songs collected on here, there are maybe three decent cuts on here that actually got my attention. The production, as I’ve mentioned before, is not that great, seemingly missing some dynamic range in the mix, with the music itself needing some tightening up. I do believe that the band works best when playing the thrash metal, and if they focused on that as well as doing a lot of spit and polish on the music and production, they could release something absolutely mind-blowing. As it stands, Crushing The Deceiver shows promise, but isn’t something to rush out for.

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Music Review: MALCHUS – The Evil House

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malcus - the evil houseMALCHUS
The Evil House
Roxx Records
2016

Malcus is a Polish band that formed in 2004 and released a handful of Polish-language albums, until their 2015 full-length release — Dom Zly — was re-released in an English version through Roxx Records in 2016, under the title of The Evil House. This being the first time I’ve heard of the band, I picked up a download copy from Amazon to give it a listen, and holy livestock of your choice, we need to get more Malcus over here in the States. Like, right now.

In case you were wondering about the name, Malcus was the name of the servant of High Priest Caiaphas who got his ear lopped off by Peter when Jesus was being arrested. Pretty cool, there. Also, I love the cover art, as I’ve been rather interested in the plague mask style for a few years, now. It’s a chilling image of something that’s supposed to be bringing cleansing and healing. But, let’s get to the meat of this album, shall we? The METAL.

So, we begin with the track “The Enemy No. 1”, and right out of the gate, we’re treated to a fast and furious thrash riff that grabs you by the lips and yanks hard, fast and continually. This pretty much sets the pace for what to expect with the rest of the album: really tight thrash metal with heavy melodic death metal leanings with some serious technical prowess with the riffs and solos. Title track “The Evil House” features a freakin’ HEAVY riff, some progressive key changes and an atmospheric keyboard break; “77” has a good, galloping heavy thrash riff following a heavy mid-paced opening hook; “Eyes Open” has a very solemn opening, then progresses to a heavy mid-paced riff on to a faster paced heavy metal bit of goodness; “From Dust” just rips into a fast and furious thrash riff that manage to cram several riff changes into the 4.5 minute run time; “Mother” is a good, heavy mid-paced offering; “Tripidium” features yet another HEAVY furious riff, with some technical solo bits and rhythms; “But Deliver Us” is a bit more melodic, using some keys and violins to give it a doomy, gothic feel; “Creed” has a doomy riff opening, then settles into a good mid-paced riff w/ melodic touches; the album closer, “Winter” ends the album on an acoustic note, which seems more like an outro cap to an otherwise fantastic \,,/METAL\,,/ experience.

Overall…wow. The Evil House was amazing. As I said before, we need more of Malcus in our lives. They just released a new album in 2017, and I’m surely going to try to find their past releases somehow; in the meantime, let’s try and focus our energies on making them easier to get here in the States, maybe? Recommended.

Music Review: DERACINATION – Times Of Atrocity (2 CD Re-release)

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deracination times of atrocity 2 disc releaseDERACINATION
Times Of Atrocity(2 CD Re-release)
Dark Descent Records
2018

So, back in January of this year, I made mention in the review of the first Australian Metal Compilation that the seven-song demo that the one Deracination song was taken from needed to be given the re-release treatment, possibly along with their 1992 full-length, Times Of Atrocity. As a recap, I came across Times Of Atrocity back in 1995 at a used CD shop in Omaha, Nebraska. How that rare independently released album made it all the way to one of the last places you’d expect to find underground death metal from Australia, I’ve no idea. And while I never regretted snatching that rarity up, the one complaint I had was with the rather thin and low-volume mastering. For years, since several labels have been remastering and re-releasing properly demos and out of print releases, I’ve always hoped and prayed that both the full-length and the seven-song demo would be given that treatment.

Fortunately, soon after I posted the compilation review, a guy named Brad commented that, lo and behold, there has been a remaster and re-release of those two albums, and were available at Boone’s Overstock. Imagine my elation. Unfortunately, for some reason, there was a glitch that prevented me using my credit card to pick it up from that site. But, soon thereafter, copies of that 2-CD re-release became available at Christian Metal Distro, where I had nothing but great experiences ordering stuff from*. So, I did something I haven’t done in a very long time: I purchased a physical CD.

So, here we are. Finally. After eagerly popping this in the disc drive on my lappy, and giving both the discs a good spin or five, I can say I’m rather satisfied with how this turned out. The two-disc set comes with both the full-length Times Of Atrocity and the seven-song self-titled demo that came out in 1993 that was previously only available on cassette, along with demo versions of a couple of songs from the full-length. The mastering on Times Of Atrocity is markedly better than it was on the original release; it’s not what you would call pristine, but I don’t have to max out my volume level to feel the punch of the music. The quality on the self-titled demo is better sounding, again possibly because of the demo, but I never heard the demo itself beyond the one song on the aforementioned compilation. Point is, I now have the long out-of-print demo, and now my collection is complete.

But wait, that’s not all. Disc two contains the entirety of the Mosh For The Master demo release, back when the band went by the name Holy Rite and played thrash metal. Would you believe I actually have an MP3 rip of that cassette only demo? Yeah…this sounds far better. Which reminds me, I’m going to have to get around to reviewing that release soon, here.

Anyway, this 2-CD re-release seems like a major answer to prayer, had I not thought that this kind of thing would be a frivolous thing to pray for. Regardless, though, I am more than happy with the purchase, and for $13 for a double-disc release, I’m not complaining one bit. Well, this was limited to a small quantity, so if you’re planning on getting this, jump on it as soon as you possibly can. Recommended.

[* – again, I hasten to mention that I am in no way, shape or form on Christian Metal Distro’s payroll, nor am I endorsing them in any official capacity; just stating a fact, they’re a great place to get your metal fix without headaches…so far…]

Music Review: DELIVERANCE – The Subversive Kind

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deliverance - the subversive kindDELIVERANCE
The Subversive Kind
Roxx Records / 3 Frogz Records
2018

So, it looks like I’m going to have to do a retraction on my review of Hear What I Say!, in which I mentioned that Jimmy P. Brown II declared it the final Deliverance album. This wasn’t hearsay (no pun intended); I listened to him say it on the As The Story Grows podcast back in 2015. I was fine with Hear What I Say! being the final chapter in the Deliverance saga — Jimmy had other musical projects, not to mention a family to focus on. But, it looks like the fans have once again convinced him to come out of retirement and record a new Deliverance album. Not that I’m complaining, mind you…it’s just that they ruined a perfectly good review.

I kid, I kid. Now, on to the album review…

For months leading up to the release of The Subversive Kind, the hype was that this was a return to the speed metal days. This was going to be the heaviest “D” album evar!!1! Yeah, okay. I wasn’t going to buy into anything until I had the album and was listening to it to make that kind of proclamation. Then those who got their pre-releases because they contributed to the funding were responding very enthusiastically, and my anticipation grew a bit. Then the lyric video for “The Black Hand” was released, and suddenly I’m wishing that the official release date wasn’t over a month away for me to download the pre-release I purchased from Amazon. Finally, the day has arrived, and I’ve been listening to it several times now. Was that wait worth the hype?

Sure.

First thing to point out — besides the album cover being rather awesome-looking, there — is that the overall length of the album is only 31 minutes long. Which may sound like we’ve been short-changed, but us old-school MetalHeads (TM) know that this is actually a bit longer than the standard Slayer album in the 1980s. We knew how to cram an hour’s worth of METAL into half-an-hour back then, let me tell you.

It’s the same here with The Subversive Kind: From the opening track “Bring ‘Em Down”, we’re welcomed with a tight and heavy riff that breaks into a fast-paced bridge and an infectious solo. And that is what we get with the entirety of the album — heavy, tight riffs and hooks, thrash rhythms making for some of the tastiest Deliverance cuts that recall the heavier bits from Here What I Say!.

The question still remains, though: Is The Subversive Kind a return to the classic thrash and speed metal days of the first three releases? Well, no. Not really. The thing to remember about Deliverance releases is that each album has their own distinct personality; the same goes with The Subversive Kind. It sticks to the speed and thrash, but infuses the songs with a modern take that Jimmy is really good with. Each song has its own distinct awesomeness to them, and given the top-notch production, makes this a good, solid release front-to-back.

Of course, I bought my copy as a download from Amazon. There are also the requisite CD and limited edition vinyl releases for you physical media types. Regardless of your preference, The Subversive Kind is another fantastic METAL release from Deliverance. I recommend you check it out if for some reason you haven’t as of yet.

Music Review: VARIOUS ARTISTS – Falling On Deaf Ears

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falling on deaf earsVARIOUS ARTISTS
Australian Metal Compilation IV: Falling On Deaf Ears
Rowe Productions
1996

The final entry in the Australian Metal Compilation series from Rowe Productions, and here it’s more of a solid release than the previous one, in my not-so-humble opinion. This, too, was picked up at the same place I got the other three in the series, albeit not along with the others at the same time, mainly due to financial reasons. Anyway, here’s the rundown.

Falling On Deaf Ears kicks things off with the band that would go on with some notoriety themselves, Virgin Black, featuring three songs from their self-titled demo (“Veil Of Tears”, “Mother Of Cripples” and “Anthem”). Again, this being my first exposure to the band back in the day, I didn’t know what to make of them at the time. Fortunately, they’ve grown to be one of my favorites of the Gothic doom metal genres. Then, it’s two more cuts from the properly spelled Embodiment, “If God Exists” and “Meantime Saviours”. It looks like these were recorded specifically for this compilation, as I cannot find evidence that they appeared on an official release or demo beyond this. Fun Fact: Embodiment then changed their name to Embodiment 12:14 and went in a more hardcore direction than the death metal they played before. Anyway, next are three cuts from the band Teramaze, here in their more thrash metal leaning days, from the Doxology release (“Generation X”, “Ever Enhancing” and “Emancipator”). Then three cuts from death metal band Disparity — “The Truth”, “Manipulator”, and “Refine The Fire”. Again, this seems to be their only appearance anywhere, as there’s no other releases from the band listed that I can find. And finally, the collection ends with thrashy death metal band Rageflower, featuring three cuts from their Awaiting demo release (“Prepaid”, “Do Not Destroy” and “Set Apart”).

As a whole, Falling On Deaf Ears falls along with the second in this compilation series as far as frequent listens go. It’s pretty solid with the metal on here, but really the big selling point is the first appearance of Virgin Black outside of Australia.

Sadly, this was to be the last in the rather solid series of Australian metal compilations from Rowe Productions. It may have been due to Steve Rowe getting diagnosed with cancer around this time. While there have been other contenental-centric compilation releases also on the label, they too have dried up. Either way, if you can find this, pick it up and enjoy some rare exports.

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: APOSTASY – The Seven Eyes Of God

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apostasy - the seven eyes of godAPOSTASY
The Seven Eyes Of God
Catacomb Records
1994

Here we have yet another obscure cassette-only demo release from a band that completely escaped my attention back in the day, mainly because I was stuck with whatever the nearby record stores and Christian bookshops held for music. And when you’re a metalhead languishing in Eastern Nebraska in the mid-1990s, years before the internet was going to become a viable means of communication outside of your narrow sphere of existence, you either trust mail order through magazines, or hope that whatever passes as a record shop will have it, or will be willing to special order the thing. In that sense, I envy LA and New York music scenes. But, I digress.

Apostasy was allegedly one of the first black metal bands with Christian members to be formed in America, instead of Europe. Or Australia, natch. They hailed from Pueblo, Colorado, and released their only cassette demo The Seven Eyes Of God in 1994. I doubt I would have seen anything about the band or their demo outside of either Heaven’s Metal magazine, or one of the Christian Metal ‘Zines circulating at that time. Even now, the only information I can dredge up from the interwebs is their entry in the Metal Archives site.

This five-track demo of theirs was, as mentioned before, released in 1994. The music is listed on the Metal Archives site as “black metal”; I would qualify the music as that in the same way I would qualify the music on Death’s Scream Bloody Gore as “death metal”, in that it’s really more thrash metal with affected black metal type vocals. Which, given the period, was what the early 2nd Wave of black metal was, essentially aping Venom and making it more “extreme”. Of the five tracks, only three are full-fledged songs: “Eve Of Divinity”, “Destrier” [sic] and “Pagan Moon”. The first track, “Through The Gates Of Eternity…” and the last track, “Rebirth (Outro)” are both brief bits that work as atmospheric introduction and outros, respectively. The music in-between those two tracks are some decently played thrash/death style with black metal vocals, some interesting riffs going on.

Unfortunately, the major issue I have with this demo is the quality of the production. It’s very low-grade, there’s a very loud hiss that is rather prominent and distracting. Also–though I think this has less to do with the production and more to do with the fact that mine is a used copy–the songs muffle at points, and for all of the songs it sounds like the tape itself was eaten by the tape player (or a cat decided to play with it or something), and renders the songs extremely garbled at times, especially with the last three tracks. Especially on “Pagan Moon”, which is nigh unlistenable. Again, that’s probably not due to the production; but even counting that out, the production is rather cheep sounding and terrible, which is a pity as the songs are fairly decent otherwise. Kind of an old-school raw sound to them.

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