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A. Hughes "huez2000" (Ireland)

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Blood Oath
Blood Oath
Price: £10.34

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Next Chapter in Brutality from the New York Masters, 11 Feb. 2010
This review is from: Blood Oath (Audio CD)
This is album number six from Long Island's finest and one of death metal's founding fathers. It is their third album since their reformation in 2003 following a five year hiatus. Blood Oath (2009) is their first for the Nuclear Blast label since their move from Relapse in 2007 and with this release the brutality continues unabated, with Mullen & Co. showing no signs of compromise or age for that matter!

Suffocation have always played a technically superior type of death metal in comparison to their peers and this is probably their best album since Pierced from Within (1995) in terms of technical musicianship. However that is where comparisons with that album end. Throughout the album there just seems to be a lack of memorable songs apart from 3-4 standout tracks which are indeed quite impressive. This results in quite a few `filler' tracks which fail to reach the lofty standards that they themselves have set on previous outings. Their previous self titled album Suffocation (2006) was a much stronger release. Whilst it may not have been as technical as this album it contained far more memorable tracks and in fact it was probably more `brutal' both musically and vocally than Blood Oath.

As a side point I think it is important to mention the packaging. Fans like myself who shell out cash for actual CD's (a rare breed in this `downloading' era) should deserve a high standard of display. Whilst the cover art is impressive the overall inlay and print seems to be rushed and cheaply done in comparison with their last album. Whether this is down to different record labels or the band themselves, one can only guess.

The positives? Well as mentioned, Suffocation's technical musicianship is practically unmatched in death metal. For example, a listen to the instrumental version of `Pray for Forgiveness' and one can only be in awe at the dizzying set of time changes in both percussion and guitar riffs. The fact that they have been mastering this art for 20 years simply adds to their proficiency and the succinct way in which they deliver their bludgeoning attack on the senses.

In conclusion, this can be viewed as safe, middle of the road release for the band without breaking any new ground, perhaps in a similar way to Obituary's last few albums. It is certainly not as brilliant or creative as their two masterpieces; debut Effigy of the Forgotten (1991) and third album Pierced from Within (1995). Then again it is far stronger that the badly produced Breeding the Spawn (1993) and their disappointing return to the scene with Souls to Deny (2004). True death metal fans will already have all of their albums as indeed I have. But if you are maybe a younger fan and new to the band, it can be summarized as a solid, brutal slab of technical death metal but perhaps just an average album in terms of their illustrious back catalogue.

In The Constellation Of The...
In The Constellation Of The...
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £11.70

4.0 out of 5 stars Pure Hate Music from the Birthplace of Metal, 8 Jan. 2010
Anaal Nathrakh are a black/industrial metal band from Birmingham formed in 1999 and In the Constellation of the Black Widow (2009) is their fifth full length album. The album as a whole can be classified as vicious black metal delivered through an industrial cacophony of noise and electronic mayhem.

This is a very special album in many ways. From start to finish the pace is unrelenting but this is far from just a slab of mindless noise. It is a diverse and finely tuned dose of sonic hate. It is only after many listens that one can dissect the many layers of well orchestrated musicianship on offer here. Mr. Hunt's vocals vary from torturous screams and guttural barks right through to soaring chants which offer a wonderful dexterity to the crushing music. And underneath this vocal agony there are some excellent leads and unique riffs which cling for dear life to the raging percussion throughout. Alongside this there is excellent use of sound effects which helps create a synthesized rage that truly brings black metal into the digital age. Mike Kenny is the mastermind behind Anaal Nathrakh, being responsible for the production and all the music here, therefore he deserves to be lauded as a visionary in extreme music. Incidentally the production on this album really is of the highest standard with every instrument getting its chance to shine.

This is probably the most extreme album of 2009 and really puts paid to a lot of the current deathcore crop all vying to be the `heaviest' with their over use and over reliance on breakdowns. The sacred art of quality riffing is thankfully alive and well here. In the Constellation of the Black Widow is a testament to musical brutality and is the soundtrack to obliteration and destruction..... it is the soundtrack to armageddon. This is their best album yet without doubt.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 9, 2010 11:41 PM BST

Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz
Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz
Price: £10.75

0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Finnish black metal institution Impaled Nazarene's debut offering, 4 Jan. 2010
Impaled Nazarene have certainly been the flag bearers for Finnish extreme metal since their inception in 1990, followed closely by the mighty Beherit. Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz is the debut album from these Finnish legends and was released in 1993. Incidently, Mika Luttinen and Co. are still going strong today and their last album Manifest (2007) was their tenth full length album since this blasphemous debut.

This album is a mixed offering in terms of quality black metal. At 18 tracks long it certainly outstays it's welcome and one feels that fewer songs would have made this a classic debut for its time. But there are only about 8-9 tracks here that really deliver the goods and deserve to be heard. Although essentially a black metal band, Impaled Nazarene have always had distinct punk leanings/influences and while these elements are evident on this release, a more bass heavy death metal groove is also apparent on many of the songs.

The refreshing thing about Impaled Nazarene in the `serious' world of black metal is that lyrically and at times musically the band never take themselves too seriously. Nowhere is this more evident than on the track `Impure Orgies'. As the title suggests, the music stops and a full scale `impure gathering' ensues with a full farm yard cast of characters and even some jungle species thrown in for good measure! It really has to be heard to be believed! In some ways, it's an album of opposites with the keyboard track `Condemned to Hell' almost a haunting piece of music. Impaled Nazarene were using keyboard/synth sounds to great effect in black metal long before it became fashionable to do so. Unfortunately, with this album though there are just too many filler tracks and songs that rumble by with nothing to discern or differentiate them from the track before or after. But on a positve note this album must contain some of the fastest blastbeats ever committed to record courtesy of the very talented Kimmo Luttinen. Meanwhile in the vocal department his brother Mika Luttinen's punk like screams at times contort into what can only be described as vocal vomiting, certainly not for the faint hearted!

This debut album is worth getting if you are a black metal completist (like yours truly) but otherwise it could not be rated as a black metal classic by any standards. As stated, there are perhaps 8-9 solid quality tracks but the album as a whole fails to meet the high standards of so many black metal albums of this time period. Of course, Impaled Nazarene would go on to establish themselves as the leading light of the Finnish scene with much stronger albums culminating in their finest release, Pro Patria Finlandia (2006). But if you're curious, Tol Cormpt Norz Norz Norz is where it all started.

In The Shadow Of 1000 Suns
In The Shadow Of 1000 Suns
Price: £3.61

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A High Quality Debut from One of the Most Exciting New Bands in Extreme Metal, 4 Jan. 2010
Abigail Williams are a modern/symphonic black metal band originally from Phoenix, Arizona, but now based in New York City. They formed in 2005 and whilst their debut EP has been labelled with the dreaded `metalcore' tag, this full length effort is a much more refined and mature offering. The tagline for the album describes its multi-faceted sound as partly incorporating an `unforgettable blend of Gothenburg styled death metal' among other things, which I think is misleading. The music can best be described as `modern' black metal with heavy use of keyboards and orchestral sounds.

The album itself plays at an unrelenting pace broken only by some mesmeric piano pieces and many symphonic elements. It is a fresh take on the black metal sound and is expertly produced by James Murphy (of Death, Obituary, Cancer fame). The vocals are standard black metal schrieks with some clean vocals on occasion and are probably the least unique aspect of a very original album. But vocalist Ken Sorceron makes up for this with some strong songwriting and the sharing of music writing duties. The other half of the music is written by the extremely talented Ashley Ellyllon and it is her contributions that really set this album apart. Her piano/keyboard playing is sublime and her classically trained background shines through on so many of the songs. In the vocal department she even contributes the odd scream of which there should have been more! The artwork of Toshihiro Egawa also adds a cold otherworldly frostbite to the album packaging.

The potential of this band and their sound is immense. But at the time of writing, the line-up that recorded this exciting album is no more with only vocalist Ken Sorceron remaining. It is a pity to note that Ms. Ellyllon has decided to seek commercial appreciation and fortune by recently joining Cradle of Filth with the remaining members of Abigail Williams also heading to pastures new. It remains to be seen if Mr. Sorceron and his new recruits can fulfill the promise set out here on their next release. For the moment thought, In the Shadow of a Thousand Suns (2008) remains an uncompromising and atmospheric take on the modern black metal sound.

Carving Out The Eyes Of God
Carving Out The Eyes Of God
Price: £8.18

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing effort from the New Orleans' black n' rollers, 4 Jan. 2010
Goatwhore is an American blackened death metal band, formed in 1997 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Carving Out the Eyes of God (2009) is their fourth album in all and unfortunately this album fails to impress. It was released with some great reviews and got decent coverage in the metal media, thus I was hoping for something new and original. The quality production on this album has been lauded and this would be commendable if the end product was any good.

However, this album lacks any sort of originality or variation right through from tracks 1 to 10. There is a formula that this album follows track for track without cessation. This is disappointing as one feels that they are capable of so much more, as they do appear to be quite competent musicians. As opposed to their previous albums they seem to be attempting a straightforward ferocious black n' roll assault here. This would be very welcome if only there were some quality on show, which there is not. One track blends into the next which makes every song almost identical in both tempo and key. The vocals and lyrics are one of the weakest elements on this album. Vocalist Louis Benjamin Falgoust II sounds predictable and monotonous and every lyric can be heard crystal clear which is probably not ideal in any sort of blackened type metal. Although black metal is not best known for its talented wordsmiths, lyric's like `who needs a God when you've got Satan' are particularly embarrassing.

One can perhaps see what Goatwhore were attempting to do with this album in terms of its fast and vicious delivery. But alongside a thunderous execution of your art you also need quality songs and this is where this release fails. It is a pity as I do feel that Goatwhore are a quality band that may deliver a classic album some day. But Carving Out the Eyes of God is certainly not that album.

Price: £11.72

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Quality Slab of Belgian Brutality, 24 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Strychnine.213 (Audio CD)
Aborted, for those not familiar, are a death metal band from the historic West Flanders region and Strychnine .213 is their sixth full length album since their formation in 1995. This album has been described as moving them in a more deathcore direction, away from their usual more grindcore sound. While this may be partly true, their sound still incorporates a far fuller death/grind assault than this more modern subgenre of death metal. And when the album is this tightly played and well produced such labels become increasingly irrelevant. Aborted still have a lot more in common with luminaries like Carcass/Napalm Death than the likes of Suicide Silence or Oceano.

As stated the first thing one notices about this album is the pristine top/notch production job. Every riff, snare, growl and screech is immaculately produced and I suppose this is what sets quality contemporary death metal apart from those albums released in the early 90's heyday for example. So what makes this album stand out from the myriad of other death metal releases over the last few years? Firstly, the dual vocal attack from main man and lead vocalist Sven de Caluwe and guitarist Sebastian Tuvi adds a ferocity and debt to the songs which many death metal acts lack. Secondly, there is some sublime lead riff work which fills some tracks with a sense of melody that is very memorable and highlights the fact that the musicians are ultimately in control of their instruments. Finally, the double bass drum work of Dan Wilding powers along at a ferocious pace on some tracks but slows down with great technical skill in other places.

The album finishes with a brilliant version of Pantera's `Slaughtered' that is so powerful I have difficulty listening to the original any more! It also shows that Aborted are not afraid to credit their influences and are proud to do so. The artwork on this album is definitely to be commended and the images look like conveying the handywork of a demented serial killer which just compliments the whole package perfectly! Since this album the band have gone through a full line up change apart from the main vocalist so it remains to be seen where they go from here. Not quite sure if this album lives up to the demented grind sickness of their fourth and perhaps finest album `The Archaic Abbatoir' but Strychnine .213 is still a very enjoyable slab of brutality. So go grab a good Belgian beer, turn the volume up and enjoy!

Offered by nagiry
Price: £14.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential Album From One of the Seminal Black Metal word...Gorgoroth!, 20 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Destroyer (Audio CD)
Gorgoroth are without doubt one of the most important and influential bands outside the traditional big four of black metal (Darkthrone, Immortal, Mayhem and Emperor) but were very much part of this emerging scene in the early 90's due to their location and affiliations with many of these pioneering acts. Destroyer (or About How to Philosophize with the Hammer, 1998 ) is their fourth album and builds significantly on the promise and musicianship of their previous efforts. Importantly it was their first album for the Nuclear Blast label and this was crucial for both the increased exposure and distribution of the album and perhaps also the standard of the recording. Gorgoroth's unique sound, from their groundbreaking debut Pentagram (1994) through to their current release, has always remained uncompromising and true to the black metal ideal unlike the symphonic and theatrical excesses of some of the other major acts in the genre. For real fans this is both refreshing and welcome.

This album was vocalist Gaahl's first effort with Gorgoroth, although his distinctive tones are only heard on the opening title track. In fact, it is partly the vocals that make this album so unique and varied. The vocal duties were shared between 4 of the band members namely; Gaahl, Pest, T.Reaper and indeed Infernus himself. What makes this a classic black metal release is this sense of variation, resulting in the fact that both vocally and musically every song is unique and quite different. Every musician here is competent in their playing and most importantly they display creativity and inimitable ability in the composing and arrangement of the songs. Unlike many black metal albums the bass is quite high in the mix on some tracks. But like many albums in the `treble' obsessed world of black metal the drums are often low in the mix. With eight tracks in all, the album contains both slow and fast compositions and some include spoken word passages and indeed some clean vocals on occasion.

Gorgoroth began to experiment with dark ambient and noise influences on this release but thankfully they remain a marginal element in most of the songs. In fact the industrial sounds that are evident actually add to the claustrophobic atmosphere of the album without detracting from the ensuing sonic chaos. This results in an album that is both cold and wonderfully dark. They would take this experimentation further on their next album Incipit Satan (2000) but unfortunately on that album it would mostly be to the detriment of their unique black metal sound. That they struck this progressive balance right here is what makes Destroyer such a special album.

Overall, if you consider yourself a true black metal fan this album should most certainly take pride of place in your collection. It was definitely their finest accomplishment up to this point in their career. Subjectively speaking, their masterpiece would emerge eight years later in the form of their seventh release Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam (2006), which remains a titanic, crushing album of black metal power. My advice is that if you are a true black metal fan and recognise quality music you must own this fine effort from one of Norway's finest metal bands. Enjoy!

The Second Coming
The Second Coming

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware.....a poor quality demo recording!, 10 Aug. 2009
This review is from: The Second Coming (Audio CD)
My advice is to read this review before you purchase this item so as not to be disappointed like I was and unnecessarily wasting your hard earned cash. THIS IS NOT A NEW MASSACRE ALBUM! IT IS ALSO NOT THE `LONG LOST SECOND ALBUM' AS STATED ON THE CD COVER! Now, on to what we DO receive for parting with our dosh. This is the release of Massacre's fourth demo titled `Second Coming' which was recorded in 1990. More importantly, it was recorded before the release of their now classic 1991 debut album `From Beyond'. The one card liner notes for this poorly packaged and disingenuous release, state that these recordings were `originally slated to be songs recorded for the second Massacre album' while further stating that `Earache did not like what they heard and these tracks were abandoned'. But the `disingenuous' aspect of this release is not just the awful demo standard recording but the fact that any research on the band will tell you that their second album was actually entitled `Promise' and recorded in 1996. I'm not sure if this album was ever officially released (answers to this space please!).

So basically what you're getting is the last demo that the band recorded before the brilliance that was `From Beyond' which incidentally, I eagerly purchased on it's release in 1991 as a death metal obsessed 15 year old! I am and always have been a huge fan of Massacre and I am therefore a little surprised that they have allowed this demo to be released in this way especially as they are generally perceived as death metal pioneers. But as a fan this is disappointing to say the least. Unless you are an absolute die hard Massacre completist, I would definitely avoid this release and instead pull out their classic debut for its millionth listen! Indeed you could probably do what I plan to do shortly and that is to trade this CD in and buy the debut album from Kam Lee's new project entitled Bone Gnawer. From the one track I heard it sounds like a thumping death metal release. You heard it here first!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 7, 2010 5:53 PM GMT

Price: £7.84

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Primal....brutal...powerful, 15 Dec. 2008
This review is from: Conquer (Audio CD)
Primal, brutal, powerful reads the tagline on the promotional sticker on Soulfly's latest album and no three words could better encapsulate the sheer intensity and impact of this album. Soulfly's `Conquer' fully captures the zeitgeist of extreme music in 2008. How spoilt we are when Max only four short months ago, delivered the re-union we all had been waiting for with Cavalera Conspiracy and the brilliant `Inflikted' album. Thrash metal has made a resurgence of sorts this year and we have seen excellent albums released by the likes of Testament, Death Angel, Metallica, Gojira, Destruction and Machine Head. Listening to Conquer, for me anyway, takes me back to the glory years between Beneath the Remains and Roots.

That is not to say that Max has totally disregarded his fondness for world music wanderings and tribal soundscapes on Soulfly albums. But somehow the few that are contained on this album complement the songs rather than distract the listener from the thunderous aggression of Soulfly's delivery. This is an album for today's world. Its lyrics are as politically relevant as its vision is apocalyptic. The pleasing thing about this album is that no two songs are the same. While Max's lyrics are still simple and at times childlike, he has still managed to create some solid new anthems for 2008. If, like me you were wondering whether to shell out the cash in the hope that Max would return to the heaviness and aggression of his Sepultura days then wonder no more. Conquer is a mighty return to form and is a soundtrack to the warfare and uncertainty of the world we live in today. In 2008 Max Cavalera is back doing what he does best. PRIMAL BRUTAL POWERFUL. Indeed.

Price: £7.32

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Last hint of quality before the decline, 3 Aug. 2006
This review is from: Youthanasia (Audio CD)
After the penultimate high point in their career that was the classic Rust in Peace (1990), it was hard to know what direction Megadeth would take. Fears were allayed somewhat with the release of Countdown to Extinction (1992) which could never live up to its illustrious predecessor but none the less showed the quality of the music that Megadeth were capable of producing.That album hinted at a greater focus on chorus and melody but this worked due to the quality of the riffing and the still distinctive Megadeth thrash sound.

Then in 1994 Megadeth released Youthanasia which is very much a mixed bag in terms of quality Megadeth songs and unfortunately heralded the start of the decline which was in evidence on their next three albums.In my opinion, it was a striving for commercial success that led to their decline but it ultimately ended up alienating their fans,thus the classic thrash sound that we associated with Megadeth was sacrificed. Upon buying each new Megadeth album, one thinks maybe, just maybe,it might be a return to form, but ultimately you just end up dissapointed and re-playing their older albums.

That is why Youthanasia,while not perfect is still worthy of a place in anyone's metal collection.The first three tracks 'Reckonong Day, Train of Consequences and Addicted to Chaos' thrash along brilliantly and show a new found maturity in the Megadeth sound which is further developed on the meloncholic but equally good 'A Tout le Monde'. But then there are tracks such as 'Elysian fields' and 'Blood of heroes' which simply lack any heaviness whilst 'Family Tree' and the title track are pretty much throw away fare also.Then 'I Thought I Knew it All' contains some standout riffing and lead playing whilst 'Black Curtains' is fairly non-descript. It is with the closing track 'Victory', in which we hear Mustaine reminiscing using the song titles of past glories,that Megadeth are closing a chapter of sorts.

Thrash metal itself had effectively died long before Youthanasia was released but with this album we are still reminded that Megadeth are deserving of their status as one of the giants of the genre. But we are also reminded of a change in direction which produced later lacklustre efforts.If your a thrash fan then Youthanasia and all their previous albums should be in your collection but approach with caution with regard to their subsequent albums. And on that note, 'The System Has Failed' album, released two years ago does fortunately show hints of a return to form. The first four tracks (especially Blackmail the Universe and Kick the Chair) really provide a fix for those yearning for the old thrash days like myself. The rest of that album is to be avoided however. Lets hope they continue their revival on the next album. And on a positive note, thrash would indeed be a poorer place without the mighty Megadeth.

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