Ingested – Ashes Lie Still

Ashes Lie Still Album Cover Art

Ingested – Ashes Lie Still
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 04/11/2022
Running Time: 44:00
Review by Rory Bentley 
8/10

In my never-ending quest to review everything Metal Blade puts out this year it’s time for some Brutal Death Metal that I’m only allowed to crank when my wife’s out because it gives her a headache (and I’m sick of hearing that excuse as it is – amirite lads?! Eh? Eh?). 

So, you know that Metal thing? Turns out the UK’s fucking great at it. We invented it when some lad called Tony chopped his fingers off over 40 years ago – and we’re pretty bloody great at it in the present day as well. Furthermore, it’s really satisfying that we’re really good at the nastiest, most foul aspects of it, as exemplified by local heroes like Venom Prison, Pupil Slicer and Dyscarnate. Ingested can also be added to that list as they come roaring back with album number six “‘Ashes Lie Still”.

Upon reading the press notes (for once) and seeing that this album potentially offers a departure and a more melodic approach, I was praying that this wouldn’t be the moment the band introduced bland clean vocals and castrated their absolutely vile Death Metal approach. Thankfully this proclaimed dynamism doesn’t compromise on the brutality one iota and still contains enough sonic bile to incite the desire to disrespect one’s surroundings. There are hulking riffs and big hooks throughout the album along with a healthy dose of melody, but the face-breaking intensity is always present; it’s just that now it’s catchy as fuck!

Despite featuring the lilting melodic vocals of Julia Frau, the title track opens things up in a suitably mean fashion, quickly racing to chug city via blast boulevard and shrieking like a seething pig / man hybrid all the way. Stitching the whole thing together is a clean picked arpeggio, that acts as an unsettling motif and a further demonstration of the band’s growth as songwriters. By the time the swelling majesty of the outro has hit like a tidal wave of anguish, it’s already clear that the sonic tweaks Ingested have made are a welcome addition to the band’s strong foundations, rather than an unnecessary reinvention.

On ‘Shadow In Time’ Jason Evans demonstrates his canny knack for creating big vocal hooks without having to do any actual singing and ruining everything. You guys know I love melodic vocals, but this kind of music works best when the front person sounds like a disgusting goblin creature experiencing severe road rage! As if they knew me personally, the band caps the song off in a flurry of deranged whammy-bar squealing and a beatdown section that made me want to commit abhorrent acts of extreme physical violence. More than usual I mean.

Not content with merely injecting their molten brand of filth with more compositional variety, the band have also enlisted the help of some excellent guest vocalists. Aside from the ethereal presence of the aforementioned Julia Frau, Aborted legend Sven De Caluwé lends his haggard pipes to the abrasive stomp of ‘Hollow Words’ and bolsters the scowling mantra of ‘Fuck your hollow words!’ in a cathartic anthem brimming with spite. Elsewhere Trivium main man and Metal polymath Matt Heafy lays down some shrill commanding growls on one of the album’s grandest moments ‘All I’ve Lost’, which features widescreen symphonic parts that elevate the surprisingly vulnerable lyrics to biblical heights.

Despite staying within the confines of Brutal Death Metal, there are enough bells and whistles added to the band’s tried and tested sound to make for an engaging and varied listen from start to finish, with things going out on a melancholic yet malevolent high on the tortured melodicism of ‘Scratch The Vein’. The runtime absolutely flies by even if everything on here doesn’t hit the emotional highs of the gut-wrenching ‘Tides Of Glass’, which is possibly the most successful incarnation of Ingested’s current direction.

All in all, this is an immensely satisfying release that will please the Death Metal die-hards while adding new dimensions and a magnificently huge production job that will no doubt broaden the band’s appeal. Like I said the UK rules at Metal, and this is an example to shove down the stupid throat of anyone that says otherwise. Sorry to be needlessly aggressive but this album does that to me! 

‘All I’ve Lost’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Ashes Lie Still
02. Shadows In Time
03. You’ll Never Learn
04. Tides of Glass
05. From Hollow Words
06. Sea of Stone
07. All I’ve Lost
08. With Broken Wings
09. Echoes of Hate
10. Scratch the Vein

LINE-UP:
Jason Evans – Vocals
Sean Hynes – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Lyn Jeffs – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rory Bentley and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Talas – 1985

1985 Album Cover Art

Talas – 1985
Metal Blade
Release Date: 23/09/22
Running Time: 41:26
Review by Simon Black
9/10

It has been a long time. Well, since 1985 in fact, hence the album title…

OK, Talas didn’t completely stop that year, but that was when powerhouse Bass maestro Billy Sheehan took the then job of a lifetime in David Lee Roth’s solo band (when that really meant something) he effectively stopped Talas’s upward trajectory dead in its tracks. And I guess he’s been a little busy ever since, given that Mr Big were far from an underground project either, not to mention the dozens of other bands he’s squeezed in over the years. Singer Phil Naro and drummer Mark Miller are back with Sheehan, alongside newcomer Macedonian guitarist Kire Najdovski, who contributes way more than lowering the average age of the band by two decades and fits in beautifully with these old pro’s.

The project came to fruition remotely during the pandemic, and although a lot may have happened since, the band have literally picked up exactly where they left off – with all bar one of the tracks on here having originally been written for what would have been their fourth album had they not folded. Although ironically it’s that this very track – the ballad ‘Black and Blue’, that feels a little out of place, given that the remainder are a case study on superfast technically brilliant musical delivery of the kind that you would expect from these formidable maestro’s of old.

With 27 years of pot-simmering to allow for a massive tightening up of any weak spots in the arrangements of these old tracks, this album is a joy from start to finish. Sheehan delivers exactly what you expect, with bass finger work that proves they can still move at drill speed (check out his bass solo driven closer 7IHd h if you don’t believe me). Naro’s vocals have never sounded better, and Miller still remains one of the most technically underrated drummers of his generation. Then there’s Najdovski  – not the kind of shredder you might have expected, but a soulful player with mood, groove and buckets full of subtle technique, who counterpoints then band perfectly and feels like he has been there for a lot longer than he has. I can’t really fault much on here, and to be honest even ‘Black and Blue’ is an outstandingly good track, just not as quite good as the others, but then that’s an impossibly high watermark for any band…

Having been absolutely fired up by the news of this fabulous rebirth and a few joyful spins of this disk, the news that since it was recorded the tragic death of Phil Naro to cancer in 2021 means this may be the last we ever hear of Talas is a hard kick in the guts, having only just got them back. Regardless, what we have here is simultaneously a joyful rebirth, a fitting epitaph and possible the finest record Talas ever delivered in their long, if sporadic career.

‘Crystal Clear’ Official Video 

TRACKLISTING:
01.  Inner Mounting Flame
02. I’ll Take the Night
03. Crystal Clear
04. Don’t Try to Stop Me Tonight
05. Do You Feel Any Better
06. On the Take
07. Come When You Call
08. The Power to Break Away
09. Black & Blue
10. Close to the Killer
11. 7IHd h

LINE-UP:
Billy Sheehan – Bass
Mark Miller – Drums
Phil Naro – Vocals
Kire Najdovski – Guitar

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Revocation – Netherheaven

Netherheaven Album Cover Art

Revocation – Netherheaven
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 09/09/22
Running Time: 44:00 
Review by Paul Hutchings
9/10

It’s a symbol of the bond of brothers in the Death Metal scene in the US that Revocation have dedicated “Netherheaven” to the memory of Trevor Scott Strnad. A quality gesture and one that we can all endorse.

It’s been four years since the “The Outer Ones”, the last album by the Boston trio burst eardrums and soaked the brain. Dave Davidson (vocals / guitars), Ash Pearson (drums), and Brett Bamberger (bass) now take on the challenge of deep exploration of the allegorical and literal aspects of Hell, digging further towards the darker side of Death Metal. A quick glance at the cover artwork, crafted by Paolo Girardi (Firespawn, Power Trip) should provide all the visual answers needed. 

Revocation have continued to improve with every release since their formation in 2006, and “Netherheaven” is no exception. As always, pick underneath the concrete pounding Death Metal and you’ll peel away complex layers of Progressive, Technical Metal which at times is simply pulverising.

There’s been a lot of thought put into this album. Davidson is clear about that. “We’re focusing on how we can write the best Death Metal-centric album that we possibly can while still pushing our boundaries. The new songs on “Netherheaven” are evil and sinister but also have a Progressive element to them to keep things interesting. It’s got our stamp on it, no question.”

Nine tracks over 44 minutes allows time for the band to be expansive and explosive, all contained in sharp four to five minutes songs. Opener ‘Diabolical Majesty’ paves the gateway to a thoroughly aggressive and brutal album which also showcases the tightness and musical prowess of these underrated musicians. Davidson’s gravel-soaked vocals blend nicely with the heavy riffs, the battery of drumming and the gut-ripping bass. 

With a groove that underpins their songs, the album moves into dark themes that are uncharted territory. As Davidson notes, “This is our crack at Satanic.” There are certainly enough tracks to get old Nick perfectly fired up! The relentless barrage of ‘Nihilistic Violence,’ ‘Godforsaken’ and ‘Strange and Eternal’ are unrelenting, whilst the guest vocals of Strnad and Cannibal Corpse’s Corpsegrinder on closing track ‘Re-Crucified’ brings two of the best loved vocalists in the genre together. 

Davidson worked on the album throughout lockdown, in fact, planting the seeds way before then. His efforts were rewarded with the production role before the mix and master arrived courtesy of the legendary Jens Bogren. The result is an intoxicating mix which works better on each play. 

Lyrically, Davidson has drawn deeply. Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy,’ Robert W. Chambers ‘The King in Yellow’ and the Rapture all get their turn. Davidson’s Catholic upbringing features as he inverts the imagery in the name of Death Metal. This, plus commentary on the rising wave of evangelism amongst politicians in the US, and the ever-eroding democratic rights in their country all contribute to some of the sharpest lyrics and themes that Revocation have ever brought forward. 

Poignant moments cascade as ‘Re-Crucified’ brutally concludes the album. Strnad and Fisher adding heft to a bruising beast of a track. It’s a fitting conclusion to one of the Death Metal albums of 2022. 

‘Re-crucified’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Diabolical Majesty
02. Lessons in Occult Theft
03. Nihilistic Violence
04. Strange and Eternal 
05. Galleries of Morbid Artistry 
06. The 9th Chasm 
07. Godforsaken 
08. The Intervening Abyss of Untold Aeons
09. Re-Crucified (feat. Trevor Strnad & George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher)
 
LINE-UP:
David Davidson – Guitars / Vocals
Brett Bamberger – Bass / Vocals
Ash Pearson – Drums 

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Hutchings and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Wake – Thought Form Descent

Thought Form Descent Album Cover Art

Wake – Thought Form Descent
Metal Blade
Release Date: 22/07/2022
Running Time: 47:00
Review by Rory Bentley
8/10

Alright gang, good to see you again! I’m currently catching up on my review list after having a bit of an emotional wobble and then getting married. I should stress those two things are not connected but both have been less than conducive to listening to and writing about Metal. Particularly when it’s as bleak and devastating as “Thought Form Descent” by Canadian Black Metal masters Wake.

Having garnered some serious underground credibility and critical acclaim over the last few years, Wake have carved out their own niche in the world of transcendental, crushing Black Metal. As I’ve stressed before, I’m not a huge Black Metal guy generally speaking and there normally needs to be a little bit of sizzle on the side to get me interested. The sizzle in question with Wake is the crushing heaviness and pastoral feel throughout this album that gives me the same unsettling sense of existential dread and awe at the vast natural wilderness that I get from the last Cult of Luna album. There is an earthiness to widescreen opener ‘Infinite Inward’ that feels like grabbing a fist full of soil as you lie on a forest floor as the sun begins to piece through the canopy above. I’m reminded of fellow North American BM outfit Wolves In The Throne Room here and throughout the record.

Circling back to the ‘heaviness’ I mentioned earlier, I should elaborate on this. A lot of Black Metal is heavy on atmosphere but unlikely to make me scrunch my face up like a gurning bulldog at the level of molten riffage. This is where Wake really tick my boxes. There’s a muscular Death Metal thrust to ‘Swallow The Light’ that bolsters the band’s sound and gives the song a visceral impact that melds raw power with ethereal elegance.

Vocally, Kyle Ball is a commanding presence throughout, summoning up an intensity that galvanises the expansive, cinematic flow of  ‘Mourning Dirge (Repose of the Dead)’ and channels both the human and the bestial with a bone-chilling roar. There is a guttural percussiveness to his low end growls that provides the heartbeat to each song and makes each banshee-like high register shriek more impactful. The closing 2 minutes of ‘Venerate (The Undoing of All)’ in particular provide a terrifying example of this.

This is by no means an easy album to listen to and I do find myself struggling with its consistent level of intensity. While it would be unfair to say the record lacks dynamics I do feel a little more sonic variety in places wouldn’t go amiss. The melodic leads and crashing arpeggios on ‘Observer to Master’ were a blessed relief amidst the near constant barrage of white hot intensity I’d been subjected to up until that point. In the end the band add just enough wrinkles to their game to keep your attention and maintain momentum throughout the epic closer ‘Bleeding Eyes of the Watcher’ and its instrumental coda ‘The Translation of Deaths’.

This album’s main strength lies in raw, seething emotion. Sometimes that scalding intensity can be too much to digest in one sitting, but persevere and it will leave you drained but satisfied. I’m hoping that there will be even more layers added to the band’s sound by the next album, but for now this is an often stunning piece of passionate, celestial Metal alchemy.

‘Swallow the Light’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Infinite Inward
02. Swallow the Light
03. Mourning Dirge (Repose of the Dead)
04. Pareidolia
05. Venerate (The Undoing of All)
06. Observer to Master
07. Bleeding Eyes of the Watcher
08. The Translation of Deaths

LINE-UP:
Kyle Ball- Vocals
Josh Bueckert- Drums
Arjun Gill- Guitars
Rob LaChance- Guitars
Ryan Kennedy- Bass

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rory Bentley and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Mantar – Pain Is Forever And This Is The End

Pain Is Forever And This Is The End Album Cover Art

Mantar – Pain Is Forever And This Is The End
Metal Blade
Release Date: 15/07/2022
Running Time: 41:00
Review by Rory Bentley
9/10

Back in the early to mid 2000s Satyricon pissed off a huge chunk of Black Metal fans with their latest reinvention. Starting with their “Volcano” album, and more explicitly the follow up “Now Diabolical”, they crafted a Black Metal sound that you could shake your butt to. The melodies were still evil, Satyr’s vocals still snarled like a disgruntled wolverine, and there was still a healthy dose of extremity, but there were big fat hooks and grooves that stomped like AC/DC. It might have put off the die hards who just wanted blast beats and cold Northern bombast, but I loved it. The idea that you can be catchy as all hell while still sounding like pure evil is one that massively appeals to me.

On “Pain is Forever and This is the End”, German Sludgy Extreme duo Mantar remind me of all those good times throwing shapes to the likes of ‘King’ while all the ‘Trve Metal’ miserabalists sneered in their sad little corner. Having bothered to read the press notes for once in a rare moment of professionalism for me, it turns out the band made a concerted effort to focus on writing evil bangers, and evil bangers is what we get in spades here!

The roots of this approach can be found in the band’s excellent 2018 release “The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze” which was certainly not without its nods to good old Rock n’ Roll in between harrowing walls of Sludge and Black Metal. Prominent though these Rock excursions were, they seem like a barely perceptible nod compared to the headlong dive into hip-swinging bangers we get on here.

By the time ‘Grim Reaping’ swaggered through the speakers with a swinging beat and some raw-throated vocal hooks, I knew this was gonna be my shit. In all honestly the opening tracks had already worked their magic on me, with ‘Egoisto’ and ‘Hang  `Em Low (So the Rats Can Get `Em)’ bursting with fun like a hybrid of Motörhead and Darkthrone throwing a big satanic knees-up.

Time and time again I got hit with ear worms that I found myself growling along to. ‘Walking Corpse’ turns an eerie intro into a beer swigging riot, with pounding four on the floor drums, as it teases the eventual explosive mantra of “I got no attitude-I’m a walking corpse!”, while ‘Piss Ritual’ is the nihilistic Blackened Power Pop anthem we didn’t know we needed. But despite the intent to strip things down to the bones in the name of catchinesses, things never feel slight or repetitive.

There is a greater tonal variety to the guitars here both in terms of style and the textures employed, which makes this album feel simultaneously more diverse and cohesive. The twanging arpeggios in ‘New Age Pagan’ work beautifully when contrasted with the buzzsaw Extreme riffs that crash in afterwards to give one example. Vocally there is more colour to everything as well, with Hanno Klänhardt channeling that other Black Metal/Rock Star hybrid, Abbath, for the sleazy sung hooks of ‘Horder’. He still won’t be your nan’s favourite singer, but he’s definitely singing for a lot of this.

As things close out with the outstanding ‘Odysseus’ which has an occult, epic feel, like the heavier end of Ghost, I wonder where the time went. The 41 minutes spent in this album’s company absolutely flew by, and despite having a bulging list of albums to review, I found myself playing this one over and over. Although the band have already dipped their toes into this realm of demonic bangers, this album feels like the fully formed evolution of this formula.

In summary this is my feel-good summer album. It might be buried in distortion and delivered with vicious venom, but its core structure is conducive to double fisting beers and cutting a rug with your coven.

‘Odysseus’ Official Video

TRACKLISTING:
01. Egoisto
02. Hang `Em Low (So the Rats Can Get `Em)
03. Grim Reaping
04. Orbital Pus
05. Piss Ritual
06. Of Frost and Decay
07. Walking Corpse
08. New Age Pagan
09. Horder
10. Odysseus

LINE-UP:
Hanno Klänhardt – Guitars & Vocals
Erinc Sakarya – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rory Bentley and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Armored Saint – March Of The Saint, Delirious Nomad & Raising Fear (Re-issues)

Armored Saint – March Of The Saint, Delirious Nomad & Raising Fear (Re-issues)
Metal Blade
Release Date: 15/04/22
Running Time: March Of The Saint 38:45
Running Time: Delirious Nomad 41:50
Running Time: Raising Fear 51:45
Review by Simon Black
March Of The Saint 7/10
Delirious Nomad 8/10
Raising Fear 9/10

Their story of a band formed in High School by brothers Phil and Gonzo Sandoval was common for bands forged in the early 80’s, although seems like another world now. Armored Saint are always a band who got good critical responses both live and on vinyl, yet somehow despite some good support slots back in those days they never became as globally successful as they could.

I came to the Armored Saint party quite late and despite being a keen proponent of them over the years, this is the first time I have actually had the chance to listen to their early days. This is probably because here in the UK almost no effort had been made to publicise and promote them in the 1980’s, and the first time I saw a physical copy of one of their albums was not until 1990’s landmark “Symbol of Salvation”. To be honest, it wasn’t much better in their native USA, as this band could have been way more successful in the homeland if they had stayed with Metal Blade (who had got them off the starting blocks and pressed their first EP) instead of getting lured to the first major label who came along. That major label was Chrysalis and these three reissues hail from that period, although Metal Blade now have the rights, which means someone might actually hear them this time round.

“March of the Saint” kicks things off and interestingly only recycles one track from their self-titled Metal Blade debut (‘False Alarm’, which had a great opening bass riff, but sounds like the band were trying to re-record something from Iron Maiden’s “Killers” period, so feel a little out of place). Although the strengths and soulfully charismatic delivery of John Bush’s vocals stand this out clearly as being Armored Saint, it feels almost like a prototype version of the band who haven’t quite found their feet in the song-writing department or full confidence in the technical abilities of the instrumentalists. This comes soon enough and it’s telling that only ‘Can U Deliver’ still crops up regularly in their live sets. It’s by far the strongest song on here and hints at the directions of things to come, although the soulful ‘Take A Turn’ shows how Mr Bush can turn out a Power Ballad of epic proportions when the need arises. It’s an interesting debut, with OK production values for the period, a couple of really strong tracks and no noticeable padding.

“Delirious Nomad” has noticeably stronger production values from the get go, a much sharper and cleaner overall sound, which benefits John Bush, enormously and who really hits his stride from here on in, having honed his performance and learnt how to use his considerable gifts. Where the album struggles is by this point founding guitarist Phil Sandoval has left the band (who continue as a four piece until after Chrysalis are out of the picture), but it leaves a big hole in their sound only having the one guitarist. That means despite some strong performance, that fat meaty sound that is so distinctively missing from Armored Saint at this point. It feels like one step forward and two steps back for now, as that twin guitar sound was a key strength and a backbone in the way they phrased their song writing.

“Raising Fear” sees Armored Saint well and truly upping their game. Whereas March was a straight-ahead Heavy Metal album and Nomad felt a bit rudderless, this sees the band firing on all cylinders. They’ve adjusted to their four piece status by taking a more edgy Rock ’n’ Roll feel to the writing and arrangements and it’s an element that will stay from here on in. Even when Phil Sandovil returns and adds some Power Metal heaviness to proceedings, that edginess remains and is still a part of their sound to this day and also suits Bush’s raw and soulful voice down to a tee. It’s one of the key reasons why American Power Metal is so distinct from it’s Euro counterpart, as although both started from the same root, Armored Saint forged a unique sound out of adversity. 

During the whole period these three albums were being recorded, newer bands were struggling with labels interested only in the burgeoning new fads of Thrash and Hair Metal, with Traditional Metal left to fend more or less for itself. The established bands did fine in general, but this Trad influenced act that would end up effectively forging the US version of Power Metal single-handed struggled to find their feet and with poor support from the label an no small amount of adversity it’s not surprising.

“Raising Fear” really feels like the first album of the band that I love and the starting point of their unique sound. It’s such a shame that it’s the final one from their original label, as with the poor support from them thrown in to the mix as well, it barely made a dent on original release. When I finally got around to discovering them on their next studio release (the seminal “Symbol of Salvation”) they were almost a different band. Phil Sandoval was back, but Dave Prichard who had helped forge the band’s guitar sound tragically passed away during the recording of the album. What came next was an absolute masterpiece, but that’s for another day….

TRACKLISTING:
March Of The Saint
01. March Of The Saint
02. Can U Deliver
03. Mad House
04. Take A Turn
05. Seducer
06. Mutiny On The World
07. Glory Hunter
08. Stricken By Fate
09. Envy
10. False Alarm

Delirious Nomad
01. Long Before I Die
02. Nervous Man
03. Over The Edge
04. The Laugh
05. Conqueror
06. For The Sake
07. Aftermath
08. In The Hole
09. You’re Never Alone
10. Released

Raising Fear
01. Raising Fear
02. Saturday Night Special
03. Out On A Limb
04. Isolation
05. Chemical Euphoria
06. Frozen Will/Legacy
07. Human Vulture
08. Book Of Blood
09. Terror
10. Underdogs

LINE-UP:
John Bush – Vocals
Phil Sandoval – Lead Guitar (“March of the Saint” only)
Dave Prichard – Lead Guitar
Joey Vera – Bass
Gonzo Sandoval – Drums

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Anaal Nathrakh – Reissues

Anaal Nathrakh Reissues

Anaal Nathrakh – Reissues
When Fire Rains Down From The Sky Mankind Will Reap What It Has Sown/
Hell Is Empty, And All The Devils Are Here
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 13/08/2021
Running Time: 26:03/33:52
Review by Dark Juan
10/10
10/10

Good afternoon, dear friends. You find me writing this review from the depths of my bed of pain and iniquity. Yes, I am slightly off colour, but my dramatic persona insists that these are my final fleeting moments upon this scabrous planet. However, I was well enough to go to the pictures last night so clearly whatever malaise I am currently suffering isn’t all that threatening to my existence, or indeed my output for Ever-Metal.com. Added to the already calamitous news that I am clearly at death’s door is that fact that I have run out of milk for brews. This is an absolute scandal in the North of England, and my shame is such that I have closeted myself away in my oak-panelled study with a bottle of brandy and a stiletto. My undoing is complete.

However, before I dispatch myself from this mortal coil bearing the stigma of not being able to make proper brews, I must share with you my ruminations upon the music I am listening to, which frankly is what you’re here for, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard “GET OUT OF BED, YOU BLOODY SOFTARSE, BEFORE I GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO REALLY WHINGE ABOUT. WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? BRONTE COUNTRY? ONLY THE LASSES IN THOSE CRAPPY BOOKS ARE ALLOWED TO SWOON ALL OVER THE FURNITURE AND TAKE THEMSELVES TO BED TO MOPE, YOU FUCKING MALINGERER!” Tilley has just been escorted at the point of a rapier from my bedchamber by Mrs Dark Juan and Hodgson Biological-Warfare, who had embedded his teefs in Rick’s arse and was hanging on for dear life. Such is life in Dark Juan Terrace. For reasons of verisimilitude, I must point out that Rick hasn’t been round our gaff, Hodgson doesn’t make a point of attacking visitors and Mrs Dark Juan made me a rather lovely, cooked breakfast this morning and doesn’t really know the finer points of swordplay. Rick also isn’t THAT mean and basically allows me to get away with loads considering EM is his baby, so all in all I’m winning here… (I’m glad you cleared that up – Rick)

So, without even the slightest attempt at a segue into matters musical, let me talk about the latest reissues from Metal Blade, and more specifically Anaal Nathrakh. If you don’t know who these British extreme metal legends are by now, I suggest you rectify this immediately by buying their entire back catalogue and subjecting the inside of your head to possibly the most extreme band the UK has ever had to offer. If there were ever a band that were the epitome of recorded fury, it is Anaal Nathrakh. The song ‘Never Fucking Again’ is not music. It’s several minutes of sheer, untrammelled hatred towards everything and everyone. Kim Jong fucking Un would surrender North Korea in seconds. General Noriega would have given up in Panama after about a minute of Anaal Nathrakh being blasted at him from a US Army helicopter. I’m sure if V.I.T.R.I.O.L. saw a room full of the world’s cutest puppies and kittens and had had a blow job to completion moments before seeing the cute animals, he would still write a song that sounds like him machine gunning a host of devils in a locked room until they were basically liquid, ably backed by Irrumator basically killing every musical instrument that he has ever possessed.

“When Fire Rains Down From The Sky, Mankind Will Reap What It Has Sown” is first up, and it’s still as fucking amazing as it ever was. I know I have banged on about reissues being cynical cash grabs in the past, but that’s not necessarily true in these post-COVID times, where bands are having to clutch at every single straw of funding just to survive, so everyone re-releasing stuff is getting a big fat pass, plus the quality of the vinyl that is being produced is pretty stunning. Anyway, “Fire” (it’s far too long a title to keep typing in full) is quite simply brutality distilled into musical form. It just doesn’t let up, ever. Irrumator and V.I.T.R.I.O.L have never sounded so violent. It is unapologetic hate music and it is fucking brilliant. Every single song is faster than the USS Enterprise at Warp 9 and more violent than a pack of drunken Glaswegians fighting an equally drunken pack of Russians, being egged on by a bunch of Wrexham chavs. The fallout is spectacular, and this record never fucking FAILS in taking my breath away. Still as vibrant and exciting as it ever was (I got the original on release day, thought that a number of years of listening to black metal would make it palatable, and was slightly dismissive of the power of the band. How FUCKING WRONG I WAS!) and THE benchmark for British extreme music. Not even The Machinist come close to Anaal Nathrakh for sheer sonic Armageddon. It is the perfect extreme record. The standout song (now there’s a loose description of what Anaal Nathrakh do) will always be ‘Never Fucking Again’. It is the PERFECT distillation of the sheer hatred and misanthropy I feel towards some aspects of the human condition. I fucking ADORE “When Fire Rains Down From The Sky, Mankind Will Reap As They Have Sown” and I am stoked that it has been released again, because it is absolutely one of my favourite records of all time. Buy it and have your brains cudgelled to soup.

I also have the reissue of “Hell Is Empty, And All The Devils Are Here”. Erm, chaps, they are only here because Satan let you play a gig in Hell and all the devils fucked off up here because you scared the living shit out of them and they fled. Ever seen a devil piss himself in fear? I have, and that was because of you two, Irrumator and V.I.T.R.I.O.L. You magnificent bastards. Anyhow, this record is where the blueprint of maximum attack, howling sheer bloody murder and music that is banned under the Geneva Convention as cruel and unusual punishment changes. Anaal Nathrakh discovered clean singing, industrial and tempos below 1000000bpm. Did this change the savagery level from nuclear holocaust down to fluffy bunny? Did it FUCK! The band are still just as focused and nihilistic, from the first second of ‘Solifugae’, being a minute of crushing guitar work that launches the first actual song ‘Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen’ (“Hell’s Vengeance Boils In My Heart” and the proper name of the Queen Of The Night aria in The Magic Flute opera. You’re welcome) which has a grandiose, operatic feel through V.I.T.R.I.O.L discovering that his vocal chords can be used for other things besides aural savagery and actually having a bloody good blast at actual singing. This gives the album more musical interest than previous recordings and allows the song to take you places Anaal Nathrakh have never been before. It’s fucking glorious. ‘Screaming Of The Unborn’ is also interesting, because it has mid-paced (for Anaal Nathrakh) sections and V.I.T.R.I.O.L’s usual murderous scream gives way to a sepulchral and extremely threatening roar with considerable numbers of people shitting themselves in abject, brown trousered fear. ‘Virus Bomb’ returns to the hyperspeed (and demented, homicidal howling) we all love Anaal Nathrakh for and mates this with a chorus and middle eight Emperor would have given Samoth’s testicles for with more of the same choral sounding clean singing as the first song. Purists won’t like the fact that they decided on a bit of, well, slightly less dark and obsidian, cloying black, rather than just the sound of Hell’s mechanised and armoured regiments screaming from the dark. But I do.

Both records have the kind of production that black metal does not normally employ. Anaal Nathrakh do not sound like they have been recorded in an interstellar fishbowl hurtling around Mars with equipment made from tin cans and string. Both albums have a rich, full sound that only enhances the bitter, vitriolic hatred that passes for their music and makes them a cut above 99% of most black metal releases. I never understood why black metal bands stuck to the wasp in a jam jar sound when they were much more powerful with a proper production job.

Anyway, it’s no secret I fucking love Anaal Nathrakh and I am fucking delighted to be writing about them, and I abjure thee to buy these reissues (both on vinyl of many colours as well as CD) because they are awesome.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System has finally stopped the bleeding and the leakage of brain matter from the nose and awards Anaal Nathrakh 10/10 for both records. The very best that Britain has to offer. Absolutely uncompromising and irreplaceable.

TRACKLISTINGS:
When Fire Rains Down From The Sky, Mankind Will Reap What It Has Sown:
01. Cataclysmic Nihilism
02. How The Angels Fly In (We Can Never Be Forgiven)
03. Never Fucking Again
04. Genesis Of The Antichrist
05. Atavism
06. When Fire Falls From The Sky, Mankind Will Reap What It Has Sown

Hell Is Empty, And All The Devils Are Here:
01. Solifugae (Intro)
02. Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen
03. Screaming Of The Unborn
04. Virus Bomb
05. The Final Absolution
06. Shatter The Empyrean
07. Lama Sabatchthani
08. Until The World Stop Turning
09. Genetic Noose
10. Sanction Extremis (Kill Them All)
11. Castigation And Betrayal

LINE-UP:
V.I.T.R.I.O.L (Dave Hunt) – Vocals
Irrumator (Mick Kenney) – Everything Else

LINKS:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Kardashev – The Baring Of Shadows EP Reissue

The Baring Of Shadows EP Cover Art

Kardashev – The Baring Of Shadows EP Reissue
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 07/05/2021
Running Time: 51:42
Review by Steven Hooke
8/10

Back in the early dystopian haze of the pandemic, Arizona four-piece Kardashev released their third EP “The Baring Of Shadows”, a crossroad of genres the band would label as “deathgaze”. Listening to the EP at that time, it felt like a difficult sound to put a finger on, as beautiful waves of post-rock washed over the versatile flurry of vocalist Mark Garrett, all the while musically shifting from searing blackgaze to blasts of deathcore, such a herculean task which is then met in the execution. Now the band have returned, nearly a year later, with the re-release, complete with instrumental versions of all four tracks, to celebrate their signing with Metal Blade Records.

Quite what Metal Blade can do to add to the sound of Kardashev is both terrifying and exciting. The production levels of “The Baring Of Shadows” are already of an insanely high quality, every aforementioned layer that becomes the Kardashev sound is clear, concise and compliments each other so effectively. When the full band comes in on a song like opener ‘A Frame. A Light’, it’s hard to think of a layer of the mix that can’t be picked out and isolated, right down to a fantastic, reverberating bassline from Alex Reith.

With the genre fluidity, a captivating vocal performance (essentially the best advert Mark could do for his Kardavox Academy vocal training business), and effective layering being amongst the highlights of the release, Kardashev stray into Devin Townsend territory quite deservedly. Particularly on ‘Torchpassing’, where Garrett’s vocal/drum duets with Sean Lang, the delicate twinkling’s from guitarist Nico Mirolla, and the occasional eruptions from the band as a whole feels indebted to the “Z² – Sky Blue” era of The Devin Townsend Project.

Closing track ‘Heartache’ feels like the cathartic release at the end, with the band’s deathcore side coming out in force and proud. Possessing the kind of slow, gradual, yet still blindingly heavy opening build that invokes latter-day Thy Art is Murder, ‘Heartache’ is, perhaps, the most literal example of the “deathgaze” moniker. A dirged blast of deathcore which is accentuated by the looming clouds of reverberated riffs, for that often-poignant shoegaze sheen, with the desperate cries from the subject of the lyrics, mourning for their lost lover to compound the song’s emotion.

Conspicuous by its absence in this review is sophomore track ‘Snow-Sleep’, which is by no means an oversight, but rather, saving the best until last. The EP’s second track had the distinction of being one of the most gorgeous songs of 2020, up there with the likes of Caspian, Creeper and Respire, and now a 2021 re-release means it can be in contention for one of the most gorgeous songs of this year too. A simply magnificent piece of music, blending prog, black metal, deathcore and post-rock into one symbiotic mesh of beauty and disaster, echoed in the lyrics that appear to deal with loss and punishment. The power in the band during choruses is astronomical, the call of “where have you gone?” could collapse a sun, it is somehow so empowering yet soul-crushing at the same time. The sheer temerity of Kardashev to have released this song at (hopefully) the book-ends of the pandemic is unreal.

The instrumental versions of each track certainly hold their own and will likely be of particular interest to those more invested in post-metal and blackgaze, but given what Garrett brings to the band’s sound, it feels criminal to leave him out.

Kardashev certainly feel like they’ve found their mark musically. While early tasters of “deathgaze” can be heard on the 2017 EP “The Almanac” – which in itself saw a huge development of sound compared to their prior release, 2015’s “Peripety” album – the jump in quality and composition into “The Baring Of Shadows” is astounding. This progression, alongside a newly-forged partnership with Metal Blade should make people very excited for album #2.

‘Snow-Sleep’ (Official Video)

TRACKLISTING:
01. A Frame. A Light.
02. Snow-Sleep
03. Torchpassing
04. Heartache
05. A Frame. A Light. (Instrumental)
06. Snow-Sleep (Instrumental)
07. Torchpassing (Instrumental)
08. Heartache (Instrumental)

LINE-UP:
Mark Garrett – Vocals
Nico Mirolla – Guitars
Alex Reith – Bass
Sean Lang – Drums

LINKS:

Kardashev Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Steven Hooke and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.