Vreid – ‘Welcome Farewell’ [8]

vre

After the sad events involving the death of Windir’s vocalist Valfar in 2004, Vreid was resurrected from the ashes of the remaining members to continue the black metal legacy of their lost warrior. However, for anyone that had hoped for a continuation of the folk-infused BM, a sixth album moving further away from their roots proves it is not likely Windir will be revisited in the Vried catalogue.

Admittedly, the Norwegian tradition still runs in the band’s blood and so the passion for darkness is as prominent as ever but, in a similar vein to previous record ‘V’, ‘Welcome Farewell’ relies more on melody than just straight up fury. The speed is still very much in tact, with tracks including ‘Sights Of Old’ seeping with Aura Noir tendencies for a thrash-driven tune, whilst ‘The Devil’s Hand’ is just one example of the black’n’roll fusion Vreid are most likened to. Honourable Windir influences can still be heard whispering in the background of ‘Way Of The Serpent’ and it would appear that the band have managed to embed enough outside influences to further evolve their slightly more accessible black metal. Unlike their forefathers, Vreid continue to use a clean and modern production which helps even the often forgotten bassist amidst the black metal mist in being heard. The overall record may not be a huge leap into unique realms but ‘Welcome Farewell’ is enough to prove that despite being coined as melodic black metal, Vreid are far from the wishy washy symphonies one might imagine and are likely to persist in pleasing with strength.

Reviewed by Lily Randall

‘Welcome Farewell’ is out now on Indie Recordings (?)

You’ll like this if… you welcome the farewell of black metal stereotypes and embrace the changes the genre has taken.

Published at http://www.soundshock.com

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SYN:DROM – ‘Iconoclasm’ [8]

SynDrom-Iconoclasm-Digipak-2013-FiH

If the promise of Swedish death metal suddenly sends you onto a journey back in time, then you’ll be in for a surprise when listening to the second onslaught from SYN:DROM. The ashes of bands such as Entombed and Dismember are unearthed to some extent but this quintet manages to put a modern twist on an old classic of a genre.

The follow up from a debut is often deemed the most difficult to write, however ‘Iconoclasm’ showcases a defined evolution that continues to shove SYN:DROM into your face and the metal limelight simultaneously. The pace is as furious and as assisted by blastbeats as one would expect without time for breath, as vocalist Jonny Pettersson growls in a manner as burly as his beard. The album is smothered in technicality that keeps a consistent energy, however not enough to cause a crossover into more widdly realms. ‘Iconoclastic View’ tampers with the usual format by adding slightly robotic vocals and a more industrial groove but do not fear, this is not akin to Morbid Angel’s last attempt, as the brutality is kept throughout. ‘Black Dawn’ is the perfect opener as it storms into your ear cavities with a Nile-esque ferocity and is followed with a similar precision of melting solos and raucous riffs creating forty minutes of enjoyable fury.

Reviewed by Lily Randall

‘Iconoclasm’ is out February 15th on ViciSolum Productions

You’ll like this if…the idea of Behemoth, Nile and Hate Eternal wrestling one another arouses you.

Published at http://www.soundshock.com

Suffocation – ‘Pinnacle of Bedlam’ [7]

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Whilst everyone is busy congratulating Cannibal Corpse on their 25th anniversary, they have forgotten that equally influential Suffocation have also reached the milestone; however luckily the band have been celebrating with a stellar release of an album. ‘Pinnacle of Bedlam’, the seventh full length from this brutal bunch, may not be a game changer in the death metal scene but is a perfect example of why Suffocation have lasted so long and are still labelled as the big four of American death metal and is bound to be a comparison album for the rest of 2013’s releases.

Many will complain that without former drummer Mike Smith the band wouldn’t cope due to a loss of his technical madness behind the kit, but Dave Culross is more than capable, especially as he was with the band during the ‘Despite The Sun’ EP. From the very beginning the album shoots out of its cannon, with a song so furious it sounds as though you’ve missed an intro track and it’s obvious this could well be their most technical album yet. Frank Mullen sticks to what he knows on the vocal front, helping keep the classic sound of the band via deep growls whilst there are more definitive guitar parts from Terrance Hobbs proving the musicality that is often hidden behind their brutality. The likes of first albums ‘Effigy of the Forgotten’ and ‘Breeding the Spawn were purposely murky and down-tuned but after a bit of a polish new tracks ‘Purgatorial Punishment’ and the album title track glisten with high production and nastiness is not lost from its original form.

The two predecessors of ‘Pinnacle of Bedlam’ were accepted by most, however this album continues to push Suffocation through the competition of newer bands, with a consistent strength that has been twanged slightly to keep up with the now of death metal demands.

Review by Lily Randall

‘Pinnacle of Bedlam’ is out Feb 15th on Nuclear Blast

You’ll like this if… you fancy a wash down after a dip in the death metal swamp but don’t want to lose your evil, scruffy charm.

Portal – ‘Vexovoid’ [9]

Portal-Vexovoid

As hard as all the sub genres may try to be the most extreme, how many albums have truly terrified you? It’s unlikely many will, but Portal have managed to deliver a fourth, frightful album, which will guarantee nightmares and despite this, you will still keep going back for more.

The Australians bizarre blend of black and death metal in an experimental manner has taken a slightly cleaner twist for ‘Vexovoid’ but this definitely does not result in a pristine or commercial record. Instead the murky depths are kept but each instrument has more clarity, creating a fear within the listener perhaps stronger than on previous records, due to the fact you can start to attempt understanding the process of this hellish soundscape.

The Curator’s gargling vocals are still full muttered blasphemies, however this time round they are slightly more audible, whilst wretched riffs cause so many twists and turns the brain is officially disorientated. With such a hideous description, one would assume that relief is embraced by the time closer ‘Oblotten’ reaches its creepy conclusion but instead you feel unsatisfied by the thirty five minutes of tinnitus-inducing torture and go back to replay it all over again. The band may have become slightly more accessible in the sense of live shows and interviews but this certainly doesn’t cause their music to sound any less inhuman than before.

Reviewed by Lily Randall

‘Vexovoid’ is out Feb 19th on Profound Lore.

You’ll like this if… You have a fetish for aural masochism performed by something far from human.

Published at http://www.soundshock.com

Death: A Self Portrait – art exhibition review

Whether society like it or not, metal and its extreme sub genres is an art, and regardless of the often drunken and less cultured façade many of us may deploy, the thought of walking round an art gallery can still excite us when the word “death” is murmured. As we all know death is inevitable both in life and especially in metal be it through band names, lyrics and artwork. Cannibal Corpse’s albums became iconic thanks to Vincent Locke’s portrayal of guts and gore and it’s near impossible to find a band that hasn’t used some form of skull or skeleton on a shirt. As you enter the Wellcome Exhibition Centre, there is nothing particularly morbid about it, until you see the metamorphic skulls printed on the large posters leading the way.

The exhibit is separated into different themes by its creator Richard Harris, who has collected paintings, prints and photos based around the concept of death and starts with the ‘Contemplating Death’ room, which starts you off at the deep end of the morbid and macabre scale throughout centuries of creativity. As you walk through, trying to take in every emotion that comes from the eerie atmosphere, it’s hard not to decipher in your head which of these pieces would make a great album cover – there’s the war art that screams Sodom, the cliché grim reaper holds his stance for the black metal and some artists who have taken on a lighter approach to death seem fitting for any death metal band willing to irritate worried parents.

Thanks to death’s existence being the same as the human race, the historical artifacts are enlightening such as 18th century Tibetan dancing skeletons and each culture fears or befriends the brutal reality of mortality in such different ways that you find yourself reading as much of the tiny annotations as possible.

The larger pieces such as a stunning chandelier made from 3,000 plaster cast bones hangs with elegance, whilst the Argentinian plasticine sculpture named Calavera (which we obviously misread as Cavalera) showcases how the politics and technology of today often overshadows the fear and seriousness of death, through an eye-catching 3D skull structure.

The final room is probably the most shocking due to the lack of stereotypical doom found in grinning skulls and instead shows the more modern perspective through science. All of a sudden common illnesses, modern warfare and natural disasters are captured in a sense our generation can relate to and abruptly the cool factor of the Day of the Dead sugar skulls is lost and grim reality is brought back to where it should be.

Review by Lily Randall

Published over at http://www.soundshock.com for their Culture Shock section

25 years of Cannibal Corpse – Artwork Mutilated

This piece was integrated with some information about each album musically, by fellow writer Michael Wilson, for Soundshock.com

Thanks to a collaboration with artist Vince Locke throughout their 25 years of terrorizing parents, Cannibal Corpse have created a collection of artwork that never fails to cause controversy but as Corpsegrinder himself explains; “It’s art, just look at it as art. Yeah, it’s disgusting…but go to the Vatican and look at some of the art there. That’s real, that’s representing something that’s real, that could happen. This [artwork], you know, that’s never going to happen…monsters aren’t going to rip out of people’s bodies anytime soon.” Well, we hope not George.

Eaten Back To Life (1990): The Corpse’s logo was much bloodier back in the nineties and this array of red on the album cover compliments it wonderfully. A wretched zombie storms through a graveyard, half eaten, yet with jeans still intact, leaving fellow corpses in his path, beheaded, legless and so on. A plain black cover with just white font was also released and it became routine for CC to release both censored and uncensored versions.

Butchered at Birth (1991): Probably one of the favourites for kids in search of a truly horrifying t-shirt, ‘Butchered at Birth’ does what it says on the tin. Displaying two putrid living dead types clad in aprons dissecting a dead woman, the baby corpses hang in an organised fashion, despite such psychotic scenes. And obviously there is blood, lots of it. The uncensored version once again displays merely the band name and album title, leaving the aural expectations purely to the imagination.

Tomb of the Mutilated (1992): Not wanting to ruin the continuation of the artwork, the band kept on Vincent Locke for his morbid masterpieces and was kept busy thanks to regular albums being pumped out. This piece incorporates less red (obviously there is still some blood) and goes for a bluer complexion, like the poor lady corpse’s body. She doesn’t appear to be enjoying the cunnalingus that is being performed on her by yet another flesh rotten fellow in the classy location of, you guessed it, a graveyard. The censored versions start to allow the horror to seep through onto the shelves, with a simplistic dark corpse stood awkwardly in amongst other deadly beings.

The Bleeding (1994): The characters portrayed for ‘The Bleeding’ are slightly less dead-looking compared to previous sleeve art, however there is still plenty of suffering displayed in their faces, as they are crushed together, entwined in veins and pain. The censored version shows a tight crop of one of the figures’ bleeding chest, which becomes a common ploy to avoid the censorship issues, without losing gore.

Vile (1996): The mid-nineties saw a more simplistic look for Cannibal Corpse without losing the sinister feeling. This time round we have a more cartoon style zombie as the subject in a flattering green colour, up against a simple dark background, unlike previous pieces that have so much going on in one image. Blood is replaced with some juicy maggots for this poor fella who has nothing past his midriff expect a shrivelled up dick. Clearly maggots don’t like penis. This was also the first album to see a slightly more refined band logo, like the one we know and love today.

Gallery of Suicide (1998): The artwork appears to be getting slightly less mindless horror and a bit more meaning with a public alleyway portraying a few members of society who have committed suicide. A man sits quite politely with his head blown by a gun, another swings peacefully from a noose and a naked redhead guts herself up with a few intestines poking out. Raunchy.

Bloodthirst (1999): Who were we kidding?! Of course the mindless guts and gore hasn’t become too immature for Corpsegrinder and co! A bizarre winged demon has ripped a human to shreds whilst appearing to have another mortal embedded in his skin like a mucked-up Siamese twin. The censored version seems more of an alternate cover than a more sensible one, with an equally strange looking creature clasping a knife on a pile of bones.

Gore-obsessed (2002): Those damn zombies are back in business after the millennium and they seem to be on a riot for food. The hodes of chaos are coming and you can’t just run, as they emerge from the ground as well with their stereotypically green and grubby mitts. Proof that after eight albums, the death metallers are still as gore-obsessed as ever.

Worm Infested (2003): The ghastly green is back to stand out on the shelves for ‘Worm Infested’, but I’m sure the solemn woman who appears to be inside a toothed vagina is another to catch your eye. She sits there with a cliché nipple piercing, surrounded by worms coming out of her womb. The un-phased expression on her face is probably more unnerving than if she was in pain, how is she so chilled out?

The Wretched Spawn (2004): If you weren’t already put off by the thought of child birth, you’re sure to have nightmares after the portrayal of ‘The Wretched Spawn’. If you’re midwife has a demonic face and blackened wings, its more than likely you’ll give birth to a monster through your mouth, your vagina and in Alien-style bursting from your chest. Simultaneously. Pass us the anaesthetic.

Kill (2006): It would appear that as Cannibal Corpse began to run out of witty album titles, so did Vincent Locke in turns of art. Then again, the word “KILL” printed in huge writing and wrapped in a bloody outline is probably self-explanatory enough for a death metal album. The choice of typography could probably have paid to be a bit more gory but maybe we’re just being greedy.

Evisceration Plague (2009): Deemed one of their weaker albums, the cover sleeve doesn’t do much to pull back points either, with a very standard black background, long-haired zombie ensemble. If this had been the first piece of art we had seen in the discography, it would probably be brutal enough however it feels as though we are becoming desensitized as the band go on.

Torture (2012): Wait, we’re sorry, we take the last comment back! For we do not wish to end up like the sacrificed souls on the ‘Torture’ artwork. In a similar vein to the ‘Butchered at Birth’ cover, hanging corpses, sliced and stitched hang across the top half of the print, whilst a masked, jean wearing  smiles sinisterly underneath, knife in hand. Luckily the music went back to its old school ways slightly too, so faith was restored in the deadly life of Cannibal Corpse!

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Published at http://www.soundshock.com

Enslaved/Winterfylleth,Ancient Ascendant live @ The Underworld 2013

Enslaved, Winterfylleth, Ancient Ascendant

21/03/2013

The Underworld, London

With the weather refusing to jump into Spring, we continue to brace ourselves for a Nordic winter evening and once again, Scandinvian sounds prove as the perfect soundtrack. After supporting Dimmu Borgir back in 2010 and doing a few shows along the way in the UK, tonight sees a sold out show for Enslaved, allowing both crowd and band to embrace a headline set.

Ancient Ascendant’s origin may not be as Viking-esque as they look and sound, but the Reading death metallers do their influences proud with an energetic onslaught of melody-riddled brutality with smatterings of black and thrash for extra kicks. The youngsters choose to play latest EP ‘Into The Dark’ in its entirety despite releasing a full length in 2011 but the tunes on show tonight prove the deathly developments made. The band grab the heart strings of the crowd with a cover of Bathory’s ‘Flash Of The Silver Hammer’ and an ideal scene is set for the rest of the night.

Winterfylleth have grown to become one of Britian’s most loved exports and with last year’s ‘Threnody of Triumph’ being so, ahem, triumphant in the annual album charts, the anticipation is buzzing this evening. This is only further increased thanks to a few technical difficulties when starting but as soon as the intro tape kicks in on the second time round, the ‘Fylleth four are all guns blazing/ Known for their adoration of the homeland and its natural beauty, the Northerners black metal streams with an organic effortlessness, as frontman Chris Naughton smiles and gnarls through tracks such as ‘The Swart Raven’ and ‘The Fields of Reckoning’ with pure enjoyment.  Despite a predominantly fast tempo, the band slows down for fist pumping patriotism and closer ‘Defending The Realm’ from debut ‘The Ghosts of Heritage’  is a prime example of pride, as it creates an epic intimacy between fans and band.

If you want prove of a band that refuses to stick to their regional stereotype, look no further than Enslaved. After bursting from the second wave of black metal cocoon that Norway produced, their roots laid deep within the nature and history of their surroundings, in a similar vein to Winterfylleth now. After a Viking-fuelled few albums, the band’s experimenting into more progressive realms continued to grow and tonight’s set is dominated by the evolution of Enslaved. With last year’s dark yet pristine release ‘RIITIIR’ showcased through tracks such as ‘Roots of the Moutain’ and ‘Thoughts Like Hammers’, the progressive pummelling sounds even more monolithic  than on record, which seemed impossible prior to tonight.

Albums ‘Ruun’ and ‘Axioma Ethica Odini’ are visited briefly and are presented with style, whilst the band banters between itself in a manner that is not very “krieg” at all, yet it causes the crowd to adore them further. There are likely to be a few in attendance this evening who are disappointed by the lack of true, raw black metal Enslaved used to conjure, however they are extremely outnumbered by the looks of the sweaty and eclectic crowd that are lapping up a Led Zepplin cover of ‘Immigrant Song’ as the night draws to a close.

Review by Lily Randall

Published at http://www.Metal-Rules.com