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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Music Review: DROP DEAD – Ending The Sadness

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drop dead - ending the sadnessDROP DEAD
Ending The Sadness
Independent
1988

When you go digging hard enough, you come to realize that thrash metal in the CCM area wasn’t just a thing that didn’t happen until Intense Records was invented; no, I have to say that thrash metal was alive and well in the 1980s, and sometimes you wouldn’t know of a band unless you was great at tape and demo trading back in the day, or (like me) you happen to stumble upon something long after missing the peak time for good thrash metal from the era. As a for-instance, Drop Dead.

Drop Dead was a thrash metal band that hailed from Indianapolis, Indiana, between the years of 1987 to at least 1994, when they had the Death By Fusion compilation released. They may have broken up before that, as their final demo was released in 1990. I don’t know, not a lot of information could be gleaned from the interwebs as I was researching the band for this review.

Regardless, the focus of this review concerns Drop Dead’s first demo release, Ending The Sadness. This was the only release I was able to obtain from them, as even the aforementioned compilation CD is hard to find. I got it from a trade, in case you were wondering.

Ending The Sadness is a cassette-only demo that was released in 1988. And if there’s any contender for one of those remastering and proper re-releases through either Retroactive or Roxx Records, this is one of those that should be considered. Mainly because Ending The Sadness is a six track collection of some of the best kind of thrash metal: straight forward, furious, and hits you hard, fast and continually. The opening track “The Dawning” hits you right out of the gate with its furious thrash riff and shout style vocals, while pummeling you with its rhythmic attack. Title track “Ending The Sadness” then lulls you into a false sense of security with an acoustic opening interlude, then hooks your nose with a thrash attack that will sandblast your face off. “Fall Of The Deadly Fortress” is a great instrumental, fantastic riff; “The Revolution” goes with another acoustic opening that sounds a lot like the opening riff of “The Call Of Ktulu”, then it once again kicks you in the face with a great, meaty riff hook; “Escape Destruction” kicks off with a furious opening riff, then settles into a solid groove rhythm with a great solo; the demo ender “Doomsday” closes things with fantastic thrash metal goodness.

Overall, Ending The Sadness is a good, solid demo EP of raw and intense thrash metal, played very tight and furious. The production is a bit muffled, and there is a noticeable hiss on the tape, despite the Dolby Noise Reduction symbol on the tape cover; regardless, it’s still rather listenable and doesn’t effect my listening enjoyment whatsoever. Obviously. If you can find this, nab it and enjoy it. In the meantime, I shall do my darnedest to make others aware of this, and try to get ahold of any other of their two other demos that are floating around. Recommended.

Music Review: CONSECRATOR – Image Of Deception (2017)

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consecrator - image of deception 2017CONSECRATOR
Image Of Deception
Roxx Records
2017

In my review of Bombworks Records’ 2004 release of the Consecrator collection Image Of Deception, I made mention of the impending re-release of the lost thrash metal classic through Roxx Records, with a much-needed remastering of the songs, new artwork and multiple formats to chose from. Well, that re-release is out now. So, then, is it worth the double-dip for those who already have it? And for those who have yet to discover this band, is Image Of Description worth a look-see?

To answer the later question first: Image Of Deception needs to be in your collection. If you’re a fan of thrash metal, yeah. Most definitely. If you want specifics, you can check out my review link above, there. As for the firmer question…well, I would have to say yes to that as well.

The music is fantastic. The remastering has breathed new life in the songs, and not just the cuts from the original 1992 Image Of Deception release. My copy of the album includes the 1990 demo; if you recall the original sound quality was rather poor (presuming you’ve already read the alluded to review at the link, up there)–here, the quality on those songs makes them sound pristine and fantastic, which is exactly what I was hoping for.

In short, even if you have the Bombworks release, this Roxx Records edition is the one to get. My copy was bought and downloaded through Amazon; if you’re more of a physical copy collector, they’re available through the Roxx site and various other venues to get your thrash metal fix. Highly recommended.

Music Review: CRIMSON THORN – Plagued

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crimson thorn - plaguedCRIMSON THORN
Plagued
Independent
1993

Once upon a time, two lads from Minnesota met at a Barren Cross concert, became friends, and formed a band called Obidiah. From there, they created the legendary Crimson Thorn, and recorded the cassette-only demo Plagued in 1992, and released it in 1993. Obviously, since then it’s gone out of print and hard to find, until it was included on the Morphine Records re-release of Unearthed as bonus material.

The reason why I’m writing about this now is because, as of this writing, Bombworks Records has recently released the official 3-CD boxed set featuring all of their releases, which includes this demo, with all of the material given a well-needed remastering that the originals were sorely lacking, including this and the aforementioned Unearthed. I wanted to discuss the music itself separately, so I can focus on the quality of the remastering when I get around to reviewing the boxed set collection here soon.

It’s rather fascinating to learn that, given the kind of death metal the band is famous for playing and releasing, that the music on the Plagued demo is thrash metal. Not thrash metal with death vocals, like on Mortification’s self-titled album, actual thrash metal with standard thrash metal vocals. Mind you, this is some very good thrash metal, so there’s no complaint about that. I just wonder what prompted the change from the Exodus style thrash sound to the Cannibal Corpse inspired death metal goodness that appeared a year later on their debut full-length release.

Anyway, despite the less-than-stellar production on the demo itself (it’s to be expected, really, and the Morphine Records release didn’t do any remastering), the metal here rips with some fantastic thrash riffs and thick rhythms anchoring things down. The vocals, like I said, are of the deeper thrash shout vocals, the likes of which bands like Scourged Flesh and Sacrament have employed, among several others. I think that, had they stuck with the thrash metal direction, they would have been just as fantastic at that as they were with the eventual death metal direction they eventually went with. Regardless, the Plagued demo is very much worth checking out, and since this is included in the boxed set, it’ll be easier to do so, rather than trying to track down an affordable copy of the cassette-only demo itself, or even the Morphine Records re-release of Unearthed on which it is included (with a mixed-up track listing, I might add). Recommended.

Music Review: CONSECRATOR – Image Of Deception

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consecrator - image of deceptionCONSECRATOR
Image Of Deception
Bombworks Records
2004

Consecrator is (was?) a thrash metal band that was formed in Texas in 1989, released a couple of demos, then broke up in 1993. Then, if the Metal Archives site is to be believed, the group reformed in 2004, which coincided with the release of this particular compilation collecting their two demos on one CD on the Bombworks Records label.

I’m going to take a moment, here, and make mention that, at the time of this writing, Roxx Records is getting set to release a remaster version of this compilation, with new artwork, a never before released song from 2004, and a bonus DVD featuring a live show from the band back in the day. I do this because I want to urge you all to get in on the re-release from Roxx of this album. Not only because this Bombworks edition was only limited to 300 copies, but Roxx has been fantastic with the remastering and re=releasing of several long out of print classics. And no, I’m not on their payroll. I’m just a satisfied customer, is all. Anyway…

Concerning the music that Consecrator put out, after the initial listen to this collection, I stand in awe at the fact that these guys never managed to get signed to any of the labels back in the day. I mean, this is some rather great thrash metal, here, worthy of inclusion on R. E. X. Records roster of thrash metal bands at least. This is some blistering thrash metal, here, chock full of hooky riffs and finger-melting solos and solid rhythms to give you the biggest bangover of your life. Of the two demos that are included on this release, Image Of Deception is the better quality over Demo from 1990, from a production quality perspective. I don’t know if they only had a worn cassette copy of the first demo, but there were some parts that were almost unlistenable. Which is the pity, because the metal on both is epic thrash and metal played very well, very tight and very, very ferocious. This is the primary reason I mentioned the Roxx Records re-release. Because I am of the opinion that everyone should check out Consecrator’s work, and in the best possible quality available.

Will I be purchasing the re-release when it comes out? Boy howdy. In the meantime, though, this copy of of the Image Of Deception compilation will get further plays until then.

Music Review: FREAKINGS – Toxic End

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FREAKINGS - Toxic EndFREAKINGS
Toxic End
Independent
2017

Back in the 2000s, there was a bit of a resurgence of the thrash style of metal, with bands like Havok and Municipal Waste and others resurrecting not only the music, but also the aesthetic that came with it. It was dubbed “re-thrash”, and had its share of detractors from the metal nerds (which I could see their point; why listen to something that sounds like Exodus, when you can just listen to Exodus? And so on…). Personally, I reveled in the sudden resurgence of not only new, younger and hungry thrash bands, but also the way it kicked the old guard in the rear end when it came to getting back to their roots since the great Metal Dark Age that was the 1990s. It may have been played by bands who weren’t even alive in the 1980s, but boy were they a much-needed shot of \,,/METAL\,,/ adrenaline at a time when it seemed metalcore was the only thing going.

Which brings us to the band FreaKings. Hailing from Switzerland, this is a band that, for whatever reason, managed to escape my notice until just recently, when i happened upon them mentioned at the Christian Metal Distro page, and was able to purchase the download of their third album Toxic End off of Amazon. And holy bovine, what was I missing all this time.

From the opening track “Hell On Earth”, right through to the ending cut “No More Excuses”, Toxic End is a barrage of unrelenting thrash metal played fast, loose and heavy. There are some good riffs employed, and more than a few rather tasty rhythms and hooks thrown in to make things a lot more interesting than your standard thrash collection. The vocals use the standard throaty, raspy shout with a snarl type, giving the band a strong comparison to that of Municipal Waste, Havok and Toxic Holocaust.

Overall, while it didn’t change my world as much as some of the classic releases in thrash’s golden age, but in the desert of good metal, Toxic End is an oasis of thrash goodness. I’m going to have to see about acquiring their previous two releases now. Recommended.

Music Review: ADVENTUS – Hell Will Fall

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ADVENTUS - Hell Will FallADVENTUS
Hell Will Fall
Independent
2011

There is hardly any information that I can glean for the band Adventus. Hardly. Anything. And I have some mad Google skills, here. They’re not even listed on the definitive Christian rock and metal database, the Firestream Vault. There’s a bit at the Encyclopaedia Metallum, stating they’re from Russia, and…that’s about it, besides the discography bits. And those album titles are in Russian, not English. Which leads me to think, this may not be the same band. Because, somehow I managed at one point to ascertain that the EP we’re reviewing was released in 2011. Also, the logo on the album art doesn’t match the band on Metal-Archives. I can’t even remember how I came into possession of this thing, really. This is kind of a maddening mystery, the more I try and think about it.

So, regardless of my inability to glean any kind of interesting talking points about the background of either the band or this release, I still have the music to talk about. And if you can find this somehow, floating around out there, try and nab it, because this is a four track collection of some of the better THRASH that I have had the pleasure of listening to. The opening track, “Forgive Me” starts things off with some heavy stinking thrash metal with a great riff to get us primed and going. The next track, “Sepultura”, has a tasty dark opening riff, then settles into a great thrash hook, with kind of a death metal break. “Sky Or Hell” has a piano opening things, then goes into a great metal hook, with a very good mosh break within. The closing track, “Hell Will Fall” has some great riffs and leads going for it, giving this EP a rather satisfying end.

Overall, despite where and how I came across this, Hell Will Fall was a pretty good bit of THRASH metal with a bit of Death Metal influences thrown in. The production is decent, with a rawness that works in the music’s favor. It just boggles my mind that I can’t seem to find any information on either the band or this release. Regardless, good find with some rather good thrash contained therein.

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