ULCERATE – ‘Vermis’ [8]

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It’s been a brilliantly bleak year for death metal; with the likes of Coffins, Gorguts and Altars all bringing truly crushing albums into the world and Ulcerate are looking to join the elite. Fourth album ‘Vermis’ takes the ferocity of previous album ‘Everything Is Fire’ and the brutality of 2010’s ‘Destroyers Of All’ to concoct something that stamps the New Zealanders’ as inventors of pure evil.

Avoiding the standard formulas of death metal, Ulcerate replace speed and chugging with droning riffs and a post-metal vibe that makes any other album described as “crushing” resemble a musical mouse. The fact this album acts like a tidal wave of desolation makes it hard to accept that it was created by three human beings, with tracks such as ‘Weight Of Emptiness’ being lengthy and the guitar parts build up with a serious amount of dread, so you ‘re kept in suspense in the best possible way. With remnants of Demilich and Incantation spattered amongst ‘Vermis’, the album has no sporadic changes in speed or style and it’s this planned order that makes it feel even more terrifying. For those who don’t know ‘Vermis’ is Latin for “worm”, making the title name incredibly apt, as you feel like you are pinned down under a slithering weight, just waiting with no hope for an innovative yet imminent end.

Reviewed by Lily Randall

‘Vermis’ is out now on Sept 17th on Relapse

You’ll like this if… you often see the word “brutal” and feel it’s used wrongly

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GORGUTS – ‘Coloured Sands’ [7]

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A death metal comeback is always going to be strongly anticipated but when two pioneering bands of different styles emerge from their studio graves, its mayhem waiting to happen. It’s been 12 years since Gorguts’ last release and although only the founder remains from the original line up, Luc Lemay has kept his roots well and truly grounded in their sound.

Their 1998 record ‘Obscura’ was a game changer on the scene, and though ‘Coloured Sands’ isn’t quite so avant-garde, it certainly confirms Gorguts are back and ready to slaughter. Their technicality is apparent without being arrogant like many younger bands and creates a haunting atmosphere rather than an epic one. The murky sludge of ‘Obscura’ oozes on certain tracks including opener ‘Le Toit Du Monde’ and in true Gorguts fashion, the bass is extremely prevalent causing additional density. The technical bruising and uneasy vocals help ‘Coloured Sands’ fit comfortably in today’s ocean of extremity and the chunky riffs and scatty drumming is bound to appeal, whilst the incredibly claustrophobic aura on tracks such as ‘Forgotten Arrows’ and ‘Absconders’ create a more underground stench. It’s a slow and suffocating experience but you’ll be glad you suffered brutality 12 years in the making. ‘The Battle Of Chamdo’ breaks things up as an orchestral instrumental and despite its softer sounds, it’s still capable of causing dramatic unease like a movie soundtrack and works as a breather before you are truly sucked into the ‘Coloured Sands’.

Reviewed by Lily Randall

‘Coloured Sands’ is out now on Season of Mist

You’ll like this if…asphyxiation via music sounds like the perfect foreplay

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Introducing – Bull Riff Stampede

To go from the unsigned New Blood stage to the SOPHIE Stage at Bloodstock within a year is quite the achievement from an independent band, and one that Bull-Riff Stampede are utterly thrilled by. First forming in 2008, the band predominantly from the South West have been had their current format for a mere year and have ticked off so many boxes on a band’s checklist. Their name is fitting, as their death/thrash metal has spread like wild fire and been trampled into the memories of many.

Their debut album ‘Scatter The Ground’ showcases their blend of all things heavy with a hint of traditional worship and despite BRS’ DIY attitude, you would never guess from the quality. “For us it was the most satisfying way to do it [independently]”, guitarist Jay and bassist Rod explain. “It allowed complete control over the tracking, the mixing, the art work and it’s the best we could possibly achieve at the time. We’re extremely proud of it and we just want everybody to hear it.” In the last few months along, they would have certainly covered a lot of ground, with slots at Hammerfest in March, Wacken Open Air and the second stage at Bloodstock recently, which have been the lads’ favourite gigs by far. “These particular festival billings represent to us the culmination and validation of the hard slog over the past couple of years, setting this band up and getting it out there”, they state. Seeing our name listed on those line-ups, on the same festivals as many of the bands we really look up to and know are kick ass live, it puts us in exactly the right place to give the best show we can. This in turn gives us the chance so many others don’t get, to put our music out the real metal heads who know what they do and don’t like.”

 

Many of their influences played alongside them at Bloodstock, including the likes of Exodus, Slayer and King Diamond and the fact they’re a part of home-grown festival is overwhelming, especially two years running. Despite all this excitement, the band has already completed their second album which Rod and Jay describe as “nasty, gritty and heavy enough to fall from the moon”.  With a tour this May with Beholder, they’ve been able to experiment with the new tracks and all has gone down well, so with the speed there are going at, Bull-Riff Stampede are likely to reach their ambition – “fourth album by 2018 and the Stampede continuing forward.”

 

Feature by Lily Randall

Published on soundshock.com

www.bullriffstampede.com

www.reverbnation.com/bullriffstampede/

https://www.facebook.com/bullriffstampedebandpage

 

Music vid http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKK8iUwyYB0

ENSNARED –‘Ensnared EP’ [6]

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After a name change and move around in 2010, Swedish outlet Gravehammer reincarnated themselves as Ensnared and if you liked their previous form, you’re sure to enjoy their latest offering. In true Gothenburg style, Ensnared offer six songs of death metal muddied with occult themes and old school tendencies. By fusing both American and European DM influences and splattering them with black, the Swedes create a distinctive blend that will keep traditionalists content. Reincarnating rhythms akin to Nihilist and Repugnant keep the band somewhat bestial and whilst Gravehammer were okay, Ensnared sees the band evolving slightly more with harsher consequences.

Unlike their previous demo that included three tracks on this EP, the production is slightly less primitive with the band emerging from their underground caves and allowing their instruments to breathe a little. Needless to say, this by no means makes the EP clean and opening track ‘Adorations’ confirms this with uncompromising riffs and beastly drumming that continue throughout. For those who miss the underground noise of the likes of early Nominon or Entombed with a blackened twinge, Ensnared are an ideal stop gap and with only half an hour to go on this time round, we can only expect more from a full length.

Reviewed by Lily Randall

‘Ensnared’ is out Sept 6th on Nuclear Winter

You’ll like this if…you refuse to live past the nineties when it comes to death metal.

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ALTARS – ‘Paramnesia’ [8]

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A good Australian death metal band is often comparable to the likes of a platypus for most Brits. It’s unlike anything we have witnessed before, hides in the murky depths, holds unexpected venom and is found on the other side of the world. Thankfully, metal voyagers (and the ever helpful internet) have brought Altars to our attention and their debut ‘Paramnesia’ is rare breed of originality and heaviness. With a few splits and demos helping evolve their sound and grow their fan base, their first full length offers a true stench of original sounding death metal, with an uneasy atmosphere avoiding the use of clichés. In a similar vein to fellow Aussies Portal, Altars use a lot of reverb and sludgy undertones to create a swampy sound; however the overall effect is slightly less overwhelming than the aforementioned band. It also means they avoid losing ferociousness of each instrument, such as the speedy complexity of the drums on certain tracks, including ‘Solar Barge’.

 Opener ‘Mare’ lets us know what we’re in for with a dense and slow wall of sound akin to some doom death bands and influences from classic Morbid Angel or Incantation. Cale Schmidt’s full growls don’t tower above the instrumentals, instead adding depth to the already crushing experience and the whole album proves as a work of art, swirling from one song to next making it hard to notice stand out tracks. With a debut filled with promise and unique angst, we can only salivate over the thought of some more truly rotten soundscapes from the land down under.

Reviewed by Lily Randall

‘Paramnesia’ is out Sept 6th on Nuclear Winter

You’ll like this if… you like your death metal to drown you in something different from the usual bloody corpses.