Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 Highlights - Top 10 Releases

As 2012 draws to a close, we're going to have a look back at all the releases we have reviewed and highlight our favourite releases. It has been a great year for the UK extreme metal scene, with some absolutely outstanding releases. UKEM has not had the chance to review every single release, but have tried our hardest to review every release we have been sent (there are a few we've missed, time being an issue!!). The following releases are in no particular order, but are our top 10 favourite releases of 2012 and how we summed each release up!!
 
Wodensthrone - Curse
 
 
"It is fair to say that Wodensthrone have produced one of the greatest UKBM albums for a very long time, the atmosphere created throughout the entire album is absolutely compelling and when the band up the pace the final result is utterly devastating. Not only a highlight to the UKBM scene, this will probably a highlight in the black metal scene worldwide. Fans of the band will not be disappointed by this release at all, it shows a band who have matured since their debut release and have improved vastly, showing a more mature approach to song compositions and structures. If you thought ‘Loss’ was amazing, then ‘Curse’ is going to absolutely pummel you into the ground. If you’re into the band and into black metal, you definitely cannot be without this release"   9 out of 10
 
Bloodshot Dawn - Bloodshot Dawn
 
 
"Anyone that has followed the band’s video diaries on the making of this album will see just how much effort has gone into this album. It’s extremely safe to say the hard work has absolutely paid off; the production is first rate, sharp and packs a real punch. Everything about this album smacks of professionalism (as it is self released) and four musicians who appear to be at the top of their game and are yet another shining example of what the UK underground currently has to offer. Who said our scene lacks quality bands? Because judging by BD’s brand of thrashy death metal, our scene has another band that is setting a very high standard musically and is more than capable of standing tall on the international extreme metal scene. Comes very highly rated"
9 out of 10
 
Aghast! - Live Dangerously
 
 
"Aghast are something very special indeed, their technical proficiency first rate with a good ear for writing catchy, memorable extreme metal. If you haven’t heard this e.p you should really get it on your “to buy” cd list, it’s a remarkable e.p. (the artwork and packaging alone make it money well spent!) It’s just a shame there’s only three tracks because I could sit and listen to them all day, it really is that good. Very highly recommended"
9 out of 10
 
Flayed Disciple - Death Hammer
 
 
"A great blend of genres, all played flawlessly with a production that jumps right out at you, mixed perfectly to let each instrument really complement the other. There’s no faulting ‘Death Hammer’ at all, it reeks of professionalism, is never dull and is a CD you really should have in your collection. Once you have listened to it you feel the need to press play again, such is its appeal. Very Highly recommended"
 
8.5 out of 10
 
Eye Of Solitude - Sui Caedere
 
 
"Words are hard to describe the chilling atmospheres, the devastating melancholy and depressive sounds being created. It’s another master-class in how funeral doom should be delivered to the listener, and a sound I certainly never tire of. Never have a band impressed me quite so much as E.O.S. Their sound so unique in what is an exceptionally hard musical genre to “get right”, but get right they do. There’s no faulting this release at all. Impressed when I first heard the band, they have not let my expectations down. The album of 2012 so far, it will take something very special from another band to top the quality on show here. In fact I’m pretty safe in saying, I don’t think anyone will. Utterly devastating, punishing and compelling funeral doom/death, you really need to get hold of this release, turn the lights off and bask in the utter melancholy. As highly rated as it gets"
 
9.5 out of 10
 
Ancient Ascendant - Into The Dark
 
 
"Proving themselves to be one of the better bands in the UK extreme metal underground at the moment, Ancient Ascendant have produced an extremely well written e.p, packed full of intelligent song writing, catchy atmospheres which all smacks of a band who have found their style and are at ease writing songs which will instantly appeal to a lot of extreme metal fans. Limited to 300 copies, it is probably a good idea that you get yourself a copy of this, as they probably wont be available for very long. Highly recommended"
8 out of 10
 
Primitive Graven Image - Psychadelic Episodes
 
 
"This is a pure black metal album, and one of the highest order and all the talk of new ideas and influences was well founded, there are a lot of new ideas on show. Not enough to change the bands sound however, it is still very much PGI and those familiar with the band will not be disappointed at all. Very brave for a black metal band to add the kind of influences the band has, but they have done it and done it very well, the black metal core never spoilt by those ‘other ideas’. They have been incorporated and used extremely effectively and is testament to the bands song writing ability. This is their third full length and by far their best. Don’t be frightened by the words ‘Prog’ or ‘Spacey’ of ‘Clean singing’ because believe me, this album is packed full of absolutely amazing black metal songs, some with new ideas yes, but ideas that enhance the songs and only add to the appeal of the album. UKBM of the highest order and very highly recommended"
9 out of 10
 
Winterfylleth - The Threnody Of Triumph
 
 
"Winterfylleth are definitely getting better with age and this, their third album is by far their greatest piece of work to date. Having crafted a sound that is ‘Winterfylleth’ and ultimately unique, especially to these fare shores, these guys are riding high and at the top of their game with this album. If you’re a UKBM fan and you don’t have it in your collection, then may I suggest you get it as soon as possible because you really are missing out on something very special indeed. Very highly recommended"
9 out of 10
 
Anaal Nathrakh - Vanitas
 
 
"It’s fair to say that A.N have found something new in their song writing and seem to have found a new vigour and new enthusiasm for writing crazed and blasting black metal. There’s a real sense of purpose to this latest opus and we see some new elements introduced to the sound, which (for the most) work really well and enhance the torment being created. The cleaner production helps things along nicely as well with all elements clear in the mix. Although the pace has been slowed for a lot of this album, this is as devastating and dangerous and catchy as the band has sounded to date. It’s a truly vicious album that oozes pure quality as sees a band that has not only outdone themselves, but outdone everyone in the genre and produced an album of the highest order. Definitely at the top of their game, this is an album that if you do not own, you are missing out on an absolute masterpiece of punishing black metal. Quoting the band, "Anaal Nathrakh was created for one purpose - to be the soundtrack for armageddon, the audial essence of evil, hatred and violence, the true spirit of necro taken to its musical extremes"....no arguments here! As highly recommended as it gets, buy or die"
9.5 Out of 10
 
Old Corpse Road - 'Tis Witching Hour
 
 
"This is an album packed full of ideas, influences and atmospheres and to truly get to grips with everything offer more than one listen is a must. O.C.R have produced an absolutely outstanding debut full length album which does draw instant comparisons to Cradle Of Filth and Hecate Enthroned but that also offers the listener so much more, taking you on a musical journey which you will want to travel time and time again. With outstandingly unique, intelligent song writing and being lyrically exceptional, this is an album which is one the UK’s highlights in 2012. It’s been a long time in the making, but the wait was definitely worthwhile. Comes highly recommended"
8 out of 10
 
Some absolutely storming releases and its been hard picking the top ten as we have had to leave out some other amazing releases, especially from UNFATHOMABLE RUINATION, NORDLAND, ABOMNIUM, EVISCERATE CARNAGE, DE PROFUNDIS, PARTY CANNON and INFERNAL CREATION.
A great year for extreme metal in the UK, here's hoping that 2013 will be even better, there are some great releases on the horizon.
Finally, a huge thanks to everyone that has supported UKEM through its 2 years of existence, the support is hugely appreciated. Onwards and upwards!!
UKEM ARE "DEDICATED TO EXTREMITY, SUPPORTING THE UNDERGROUND"
 
 
 


Sunday, 30 December 2012

Morbid Atrophy - No Grain, No Glory

Self Released
 
1.Monster Of Hops 2.A Feast Of Yeast 3.Behind The Cask 4.Dont Forget The Hops
5.Food For Wort 6.Fizz To Pizz 7.Fuggle Me Muggle 8.Go Another Keg
9.IPA (I Praise Ale) 10.Mugwort 11.Real F*Ale 12.No Grain, No Glory
13.Fuggle Me Muggle (Wife Beater Mix)
14. Mugwort (Blench Mix) 15.Dont Forget The Hops (Filth Mix)
 
Second album from ‘Real Ale Grinders’ Morbid Atrophy blasts open furiously with ‘Monster of Hops’ which is an almost black metal infused punk and grind whirlwind of a track. Short, sharp and blast beat laden it’s a catchy opener and sets the tone for the rest of the album nicely. ‘A Feast of Yeast’ follows in similar fashion, the dirty grinding guitars open the track up before the pace is dropped to a filthy crawl before opening back up in a hail blast beats and dirty riffing. ‘Behind The Cask’ is a morbid song, the ultra -guttural vocals accompanying the doomier, slower pace being reminiscent of Autopsy. Again, short and to the point as is ‘Don’t Forget The Hops’ which varies the pace nicely, moving from blasting fastness to a morbid crawl in an instant. Similarly ‘Food For Wort’ takes a similar approach, with the dual vocals being used to great effect here, mixing the screamed and growled vocal style well.
‘Fizz To Pizz’ has a punkier feel to its structure, simple in composition, again a very short track but still remaining grind at heart. ‘Fuggle Me Muggle’ is one of the shorter tracks, clocking in at only 0:59 its over in a flash, blast beats and furious guitars opening the track before the pace is dropped to another doom laden crawl before the pace is re-introduced to end the track. The guitar riffs again taking on a punky black metal sound. The same can be said for ‘Go Another Keg’ which follows on with more punk infused, black metal inspired grind madness and is another of the shorter tracks on the album. ‘IPA (I Praise Ale)’follows on in much the same fashion, short, fast and dirty as does ‘Mugwort’. Sasha’s vocals really standing out here, especially the deeper guttural vocal style which is really brutal when mixed with dirty guitar sound.
‘Real F*Ale’ takes on a slightly different approach, sounding more like conventional death metal but given that it is the shortest track on offer, at only 0:52 it could still be branded as grind. Title track ‘No Grain No Glory’ sounds very much like ‘Ugra Karma’-era Impaled Nazarene blasting furiously, again the black metal influence in the guitars being used to great effect. The final three tracks and industrial / techno re-mixes of three of the songs from the album – wife beater mix, blench mix and Filth mix. These three re-mixes are a recurring theme from the band’s debut album which is as far from the actual songs as it possible to be whilst still remaining extreme. Quite unnecessary but some might enjoy them. Overall, this is another fine instalment of Sasha’s ‘Real Ale Grind’ and the fact that this album has been played by just one man is testament to his ability and dedication to his cause. It’s nasty, it’s dirty and it’s full on in your face grindcore that encompasses several influences (such as black metal, punk and crust) to create an extremely short, but enjoyable album which is a blast to listen to and would probably be excellent in the live arena. Grab a copy, grab a beer…..and grind, you won’t be disappointed.
 
8 out of 10

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Old Corpse Road - 'Tis Witching Hour..As Spectres We Haunt This Kingdom

Godreah Records 2012
 
1.‘Tis Witching Hour 2.The Cauld Lad of Hylton 3.Hag of the Mist
4.The Buried Moon 5.The Wild Voice Came 6.The Crier of Claiffe
7.The Secret of the Rolling Waves 8.Isobel – Queen of Scottish Witches
9Glassensikes at Witching Hour 10. As Spectres We Haunt this Kingdom
 
There is an extremely grandiose beginning to opening and title track ‘Tis Witching Hour’ with sweeping keyboards being accompanied by acoustic guitars and menacing spoken vocals. There is a real triumphant feel to this, what only can be described as an ‘intro track’ as musically the keyboards and guitars are the prominent theme throughout. It’s only when ‘The Cauld Lad Of Hylton’ bursts open that the album really begins. And what a beginning it is, razor sharp guitars accompany blast beat laden drums all backed by some eerie sounding keyboard work. As the track begins to gather pace, the guitars drop off leaving the keys, drums and vocals to create a melodic interlude which doesn’t last particularly long but that breaks the track up nicely and swamps the track with epic atmospheres and tones. Even more elements are introduced half way through the track with the acoustic, folk influenced guitars. These then drop off in favour of the keyboards which once again surround the listener in grandiose, yet menacing atmospheres. There is a hell of a lot of elements to the band’s sound with even more on show as the chanting vocals take over in epic fashion. A lot to take in, but ultimately all pulling together in the same direction perfectly to create something quite unique. ‘Hag Of The Mist’ begins in similar fashion to its predecessor, blasting opening in a scathing assault of hellish black metal .Similarly, the track is then broken down structure wise for the drums and keyboards to take over in a short sharp blast before the guitars are then re-introduced. It sounds a lot like ‘The Principle…..’ era Cradle of Filth even down to the production, but that’s never going to be a negative point now is it? As the song once again drops off and the keyboards take over, they again create great atmosphere, especially when accompanied by the acoustic guitars. It’s not very often you’ll hear the drums playing ‘rim shots’ on a black metal inspired album, but here they are and not sounding out of place or uncomfortable at all, instead fitting in perfectly as the tension and atmosphere of the song builds. Unique would best describe what is being created. ‘The Buried Moon’ acts as an atmospheric keyboard and acoustic guitar interlude and works well enough, carrying on the themes and atmospheres already created in the previous tracks. Probably quite a good song to play at a funeral to remember lost ones.
‘The Wild Voice Came’ is another short, interlude track; folk inspired vocal chanting on offer which drifts into ‘The Crier Of Claiffe' very well by using water/wave samples that add to the mournful atmosphere. The re-introduction of the harsh, scathing black metal themed guitars is more than welcome as it does seem like quite a long time since we’ve heard them. Speed and pace are also re-introduced which again, is welcomed back with open arms/ears; blast beats sounding exceptionally devastating when used with the faster black metal style riffs. Keyboards and spoken vocals again take over the track as the drums and guitars fall off, but as ever, this doesn’t last for long and is used as an interlude to create and add more atmospheres to a song that already drips with just that, pure atmosphere which is beginning to border on the epic. Never far from the band’s sound is the underlying folk element which is harnessed through the guitars and keyboards and is what gives O.C.R their uniqueness. ‘Isobel – Queen Of The Scottish Witches’ again sets an atmospheric, yet menacing and brooding tone as it slowly comes to life before fading into an extremely melodic passage with spoken and screamed vocals being mixed to great effect. As the ice cold guitars then kick in, the atmosphere is maintained giving the song a wintery and bleak sound. Pace wise, the band has slowed things right down which allows the dense atmospheres to swirl back and forth. Speed is then introduced in a haze of blast beats and fast black metal guitars, a complete contrast to the first half of the song, but working well and it is how O.C.R writes songs after all! Mixing the slow passages with the fast sections and then back to the atmosphere laced slower sections.
‘Glassenskies At Witching Hour’ sounds almost medieval as the keyboards introduce the track. This doesn’t last long however, the familiar black metal riffs blasting forth and accompanied by the now standard blasting drums. Vocally it is another good mix, the ultra-high pitched screaming being mixed with low guttural, almost spoken vocals. Again, if reference points were needed, then ‘Vempire-era’ Cradle of Filth is as near the mark as you will get. A lot more atmospheric than that though, so maybe add the atmosphere of Hecate Enthroned and you’ll be there or there abouts. Where O.C.R set themselves aside though is that ever underlying folk element that is added to the guitar riffs to really make them stand out. Closing this monster of an album is ‘As Spectres We Haunt This Kingdom’ which to all intents and purposes is an ‘outro’, dense keyboards are used with chant like vocals to create an epic ending to the album. It could almost be the soundtrack that accompanies a film such as Lord Of The Rings or something suitably epic. This is an album packed full of ideas, influences and atmospheres and to truly get to grips with everything offer more than one listen is a must. O.C.R have produced an absolutely outstanding debut full length album which does draw instant comparisons to Cradle Of Filth and Hecate Enthroned but that also offers the listener so much more, taking you on a musical journey which you will want to travel time and time again. With outstandingly unique, intelligent song writing and being lyrically exceptional, this is an album which is one the UK’s highlights in 2012. It’s been a long time in the making, but the wait was definitely worthwhile. Comes highly recommended
 
8 out of 10

Friday, 28 December 2012

Nerrus Kor - Frenzied, Savage, Inhumane

Zine Records 2012
 
1.The Unnamed 2.Frozen In Fear 3.Indoctrination 4.Carthage
 
Short intro before ‘The Unnamed’ blasts opens furiously in a barrage of blast beats and ultra-heavy guitars, a storm of pummelling death metal from the outset. Speed is then replaced with a more mid-paced groove which really opens the song up with a multitude of influences clearly on display. Death metal throughout, there’s a hint of American (Cannibal Corpse) style mixed with a more European feel, sounding especially Swedish influenced in places. ‘Frozen In Fear’ follows on in similar fashion with tempos being chopped and changed regularly but maintaining a good speed, never really falling far from the mid-paced assault. This second track does sound a lot more brutal than the opener, mainly due to the higher pace and speeds being maintained and this seems to be where the band sit more comfortably, sounding particularly sharp and dangerous when they’re at full throttle and blasting their way through the track. Extra ‘punch’ is added through the varied vocals with the main ultra-guttural vocals being replaced sporadically with the screamed, harsh and spite ridden style which offers up a good mix. ‘Indoctrination’ backs off pace wise, only slightly however and takes on the groovier theme heard in the opening track. There’s a bigger U.S Death metal sound to this track, the pinch harmonics are responsible for that and they really add to the heavy and groove ridden guitar work. When the pace is taken up a notch, there’s a real frenzied feel to the song with a real sense of urgency to the music – it’s all good!
Closing this four tracker is ‘Carthage’ which begins in particularly pummelling fashion with Cannibal Corpse springing to mind once again along with European acts such as Vomitory and Grave; and it is as brutal as the band have sounded so far. Blast beats leading the opening portion of the track before a slower, more mid-paced section takes over. Again, a good mix of tempos make for a good, interesting song that absolutely destroys, pummels and lets you know exactly how it is! The band cites a black metal influence, but to these ears I don’t see where that is. Death metal is definitely at the centre of the band’s sound, and what a brand of death metal it is, absolutely destroying from start to end, bludgeoning the listener with the sloppy stump of a still twitching hacked off arm (or leg, or head, whichever limb is preferred). From the opening menacing riffs, the intensity, aggression and brutality on display is second to none and it’s all extremely well played with a production that kicks you square in the chest and then thumps repeatedly until the e.p. ends. More than enough line-up changes have not deterred NK from producing an absolutely killer four track e.p. that shows a professionalism that really stands out. Hopefully the band can find themselves a drummer and continue to lay waste. Full on, in your face, brutal death metal with a monster of a production and packaged superbly, this is very worthy of your attention and comes well recommended.
 
8 out of 10

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Peacemaker - 3 Track Album Sampler

Self Released 2012
 
1.Dead Man's Eyes 2.Sorrow Trip 3.The Siberian Problem
 
Tortured is the best way to describe the opening to ‘Dead Man’s Eyes’, tortured almost sinister with a real sense of brooding anticipation. The atmosphere being created is absolutely crushing. Heavy metal orientated guitars are slowed to a doom laden crawl with the song being split into sections, cleaner acoustic passages set the tone initially, with the cleanly sung, almost whispered vocals used dramatically before the heavy as hell guitars crash in with devastating fashion, the bass heavy rumblings and screamed, harsh and scathing vocal style really set a miserable musical scenario. The pattern of cleaner acoustic passages mixed with the heavy end sections is basically how the song is constructed and in fairness it works very well, the contrast in styles and sound bouncing off each other effectively. ‘Sorrow Trip’ opens up in with a similar feel, the heavy, groove orientated guitars crawling along at a macabre pace. A similar theme as used in the opening track is utilised once again, the track being split into cleaner sections with the heavier sections following on thereafter. However, this track is more repetitive, the riffs dragging out for an eternity with lead guitars and solos used to break the monotony. Not sure about the cowbell though! As the track draws to a close, the pace is dropped even further, the simplistic heavy riffing really taking the track over and seeing it through to its dramatic conclusion.
‘The Siberian Problem’ closes this relatively short ‘album sampler’ (used to showcase the bands talents to potential labels) with the re-introduction of the harsher singing style which were sadly lacking from the second track. The pace and groove are upped slightly and when mixed with the harsher vocal style makes for a really enjoyable listen. In doom metal terms these songs are relatively short and do seem to pass over really quickly, but maybe that’s the appeal. Anything longer might just have been too much. Peacemaker has managed to capture a sense of absolute despair in these songs which lyrically deal with everything that is wrong with the human race…and more! It would have been nice to be sent the full album to review, but if these three songs are anything to go buy, the album will absolutely crush. Hopefully a label will pick these guys up because their album will probably do well with the right backing. Crushing doom, full of malice and despair with some hate filled spite to drag you own even further into their pit of doom! Recommended and looking forward to the full length album.
 
7.5 Out of 10

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Unfathomable Ruination - Misshapen Congenital Entrophy

Sevared Records 2012
 
1.Preface To The Forlorn Spectrum 2.Pantheonic Synchroschme
3.Carved Inherent Delusion 4.Extinction Algorithm In Procession
5.Monochrome Obedience 6.Consequential Failure 7.Futile Colossus Decapitated
8.Anti-Genesis 9.Edges Of Disfigured Atrocity
10.Vacant Planets (Death Cover)
 
No messing around here, we’re straight into the onslaught as ‘Preface To The Forlorn Spectrum’ crashes open menacingly, a real brooding atmosphere building through the heavy as fuck guitars, news clip samples and ultra-guttural growls. It’s short and to the point and introduces the first ‘real’ track ‘Pantheonic Synchroschme’. U.F display an amazing technicality to their music, ultra precise guitars are backed up by some crazed drum work with Daniel’s ever guttural voice making the perfect accompaniment. It’s very bass heavy, which is a good thing where brutal death metal is concerned, packing a real punch as it does here, pounding mercilessly throughout. Tempo wise, the band use a variety, from all out blast laden madness through to a sludge laden crawl. Definitely adds the required variety, no fear of a one dimensional sound. ‘Carved Inherent Delusion’ really shows off the production to the extreme, the ultra-heavy guitars really smash through from the speakers. There’s a lot more blasting here, which is going to please the speed freaks, gravity blasts introduced by Doug which really add to the ‘Crazed’ feel of the whole song. As the track breaks into its second half, the pace then drops slightly, the menacing and brooding atmospheres return, things taking a really sinister turn. The guitar harmonies/solos are one point to note, sounding extremely catchy and providing the song with ‘something different’ – great stuff!
‘Extinction Algorithm In Procession’ is an absolute monster of a track, having already used these words to describe the band, they seem fitting again – brutal and punishing. Again, the bands technical excellence shines through. Speed and technicality are a hard balancing act, but U.F has found the balance and are showing it off brilliantly. A theme followed through on ‘Monochrome Obedience’ which opens up in a barrage of gravity blast laden brutality and there’s real no let up. Sonic booms add to the intensity on offer. ‘Consequential Failure’ is yet another slab of extreme death metal played flawlessly and effortlessly. Again, there is no let-up in the onslaught, the guitars and drums an absolute whirlwind of grinding insane wizardry. These guys are accomplished musicians and it really shows here. As ‘Futile Colossus Decapitated’ begins it is delivered in a similar vein to the opening intro track, slow and sludgy with a slight ‘slam’ edge to it. This is where Daniels ultra-guttural vocal delivery is really pushed to the fore. I once mentioned in a review of Daniels other band (Eye of Solitude) that I thought he was one of the best death metal vocalists the UK has to offer, and I stick by that statement. His style is best described as ‘Devastating’; in fact the whole track is just that!
‘Anti-Genesis’ begins life rather differently than any of its predecessors, having a very discordant, almost out of tune lead guitar effect which actually works very well over the simple, but heavy guitars and is only really used as an instrumental interlude, or filler. The last of the bands own tracks, ‘Edges Of Disfigured Atrocity’ is a superb way to end the bands own material. Another absolute torrent of technical and brutal death metal and showcasing everything the band has to offer in terms of pace, ability and technicality. A joy to behold, especially when the guitar solo kicks in towards the end of the track; giving it a really amercian death metal feel with bands such as Monstrosity and Brutality spring to mind. Their cover of Death’s ‘Vacant Planets’ is amazing and they have done justice to what is an amazing track anyway. Well done, Chuck will be throwing you the horns from wherever he is now (R.I.P). Yet again, a UK band has produced a ‘genre leading’ album that is heads above many around them. The band has definitely improved since the release of their first self-titled e.p. This is technical and brutal death metal of the highest order, an album which many a band can only dream about making. This could be the album which see’s the band springboard onto bigger and better things, here’s hoping. A must have for fans of brutal death metal who like their music to be challenging and interesting to listen to. Very highly recommended
 
9 out of 10

Monday, 10 December 2012

Anaal Nathrakh - Vanitas

Candlelight Records 2012
 
1.Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus 2.In Coelo Quies, Tout Finis Ici Bas
3.Todos Somos Humanos 4.You Can’t Save Me, So Stop Fucking Trying
5.To Spite The Face 6.Make Glorious The Embrace Of Saturn
7.Forging Towards The Sunset 8.Feeding The Beast
9.Of Fire, And Fucking Pigs 10.A Metaphor For The Dead
 
There was a real buzz surrounding Anaal Nathrakh's latest opus ‘Vanitas’, social media sites rife with theories and predictions. As ‘Pulvis Et Umbra Sumus’ opens up in typical Anaal fashion it’s fair to say that all the anticipation was well worth the wait. Blasting, snarling and oozing spite as only these boys can do. The production had definitely been cleaned up somewhat for this release, but this only adds to the appeal of the songs, the clinical guitar work and blasting drums really suiting  this cleaner sound, even giving the track (dare I say it) an even more black metal feel than many of the albums before this. The catchiness seen in ‘In Coelo Quies, Tout Finis Ici Bas’ is not something normally associated with Anaal Nathrakh, but there’s a real dose of melody added into the raging guitars which again give it a more ‘traditional black metal’ sound. The vocal delivery is especially catchy in the choruses, the now familiar cleanly sung vocals used extremely effectively especially when the snarled screaming vocals are added underneath as a back-up. Something only this band does, and does very well indeed. ‘Todos Somos Humanos’ begins life relatively slowly and melodically, but only for a very short section, before all hell once again breaks lose, the barrage of hyper-blasting intense black metal really pushing the boundaries. Melody is once again added to the riffs, and when the pace slows and the cleanly sung vocals re-introduced, its amazingly catchy, a real sense of foreboding being created in a hell storm of negativity. The song continues on the same catchy path until it draws to a conclusion, utterly brilliant! When ‘You Can’t Save Me, So Stop Fucking Trying’ comes to life, there is an extremely industrial feel to the opening section, particularly in the production of the drums. This is merely used as an intro however, the now familiar punishing and intense musical onslaught resumes. The industrial drums are re-introduced sporadically throughout the track and they do tend to sound slightly uncomfortable, not fitting in particularly well with the sonic barrage of hellish black metal that is Anaal’s musical style. Nonetheless, it shows a band experimenting and taking their sound and identity to even further extremes and boundaries, which ultimately should be applauded.
‘To Spite The Face’ begins in a more familiar fashion and yet again the band show just how adept they are writing utterly pummelling black metal which incorporates melody that actually pushes the extremity further rather than diluting it. Mixing the cleanly sung vocals with the tortured, scathing screams is genius; it works so well and is now the bands trademark sound. To prove that speed isn’t everything, the pace is slowed throughout a lot of this track with guitar solos used to add atmosphere. And they are actual solos, not just hyper fast walls of noise. As if to prove that last point perfectly, ‘Make Glorious The Embrace Of Saturn’ starts at a slower pace, sitting comfortably in the mid-paced territory and taking on almost anthemic feel. Apparently speed isn’t everything when it comes to blasting and grinding black metal, a point made well. As ‘Forging Towards The Sunset’ starts, the slower pace used in the two previous tracks is used to introduce the track, but this downturn in pace doesn’t last long, normal service is soon resumed and the blasting returns. It is however, very catchy; something which is normally quite hard to achieve, to be catchy and fast. Bands normally having to sacrifice one for the other, but here Anaal get it spot on, being both fast and catchy and once again laying waste to all in their path. ‘Feeding The Beast’ is a tortured and distressing song, grinding along at a snail’s pace with some absolutely schizophrenic and discordant riffs that give the song a crazed, manic like feel. When guitar harmonies and solos are introduced the atmosphere being created takes on a whole new feel, a real sense of brooding anticipation, as if something utterly distressing is about to be unleashed, but instead the torture continues, grinding away as it does until the track finally draws to a close, almost leaving the listener exhausted and drained, but actually wanting to hear more. In complete comparison, ‘Of Fire, And Fucking Pigs’ spews forth in an horrendous torrent of abuse and blasting black metal mastery, the pace upped to the absolute maximum, the guitars an absolute whirlwind but never sounding out of control…if anything this is as precise and ‘in control’ as the band have sounded so far and it is absolutely devastating with no let-up in sight, amazing! ‘A Metaphor For The Dead’ closes this album and has a slightly different feel to all of the previous tracks. The pace has once again been lowered to allow the qualities of the song to break lose. When the song drops out and the industrialised vocals take over the track alongside the clean singing I’m actually reminded of Dimmu Borgir, which may be sacrilege to many Anaal fans but personally it’s not a bad thing. The song really begins to build momentum as it starts to end, the guitar harmonies and solos are utterly captivating and create a meal melancholic atmosphere and is an excellent ending to this fantastic album. It’s fair to say that A.N have found something new in their song writing and seem to have found a new vigour and new enthusiasm for writing crazed and blasting black metal. There’s a real sense of purpose to this latest opus and we see some new elements introduced to the sound, which (for the most) work really well and enhance the torment being created. The cleaner production helps things along nicely as well with all elements clear in the mix. Although the pace has been slowed for a lot of this album, this is as devastating and dangerous and catchy as the band has sounded to date. It’s a truly vicious album that oozes pure quality as sees a band that has not only outdone themselves, but outdone everyone in the genre and produced an album of the highest order. Definitely at the top of their game, this is an album that if you do not own, you are missing out on an absolute masterpiece of punishing black metal. Quoting the band, "Anaal Nathrakh was created for one purpose - to be the soundtrack for armageddon, the audial essence of evil, hatred and violence, the true spirit of necro taken to its musical extremes"....no arguments here! As highly recommended as it gets, buy or die!
 
9.5 Out of 10

Thursday, 6 December 2012

When Gods Burn - Interview

 
Delving deep into the underground, UKEM discovered When Gods Burn. We decided to get an insight into this four piece extreme metal act....
 
For those unfamiliar with the band, please give us a brief history of the band? We started in November 2007 as a group of 6  mates just wanting to jam and have a laugh .we did a demo in 08 played numerous gigs etc , then in 09 we lost a vocalist, drummer and lead guitarist due to other commitments !we decided at that point to remain a 4 piece and spent the later half of 09 and the beginning of 2010 auditioning drummers .and we found the right guy eventually and were still going now and getting stronger every year .
 
Who came up with the band name and what is the influence behind choosing such a moniker? I Poshie(guitars)came up with the name after months of going over other names and ideas with the rest of the guys .the name, well it has many possible meanings  such as when gods actually burn !or when gods burn us !or even when gods burn as in a group of religious icons sitting around smoking a spliff! In all honesty we never put any real thought into the name and it was just a load of random words that we put together and they seemed to fit and we all agreed on it. It was only later that we found out that it was also the title of an e.n.t. song , but it’s a great song by a great band so its all good.
 
 
Please give us an idea of the bands discography. So far we have our first self titled  demo that we put out in October 08 and gave away over 600 copies to try and get our name out there and obtain gigs. And in april this year we put out an ep “a state of diminished responsibility “which has 4 new tracks and a reworked track off of the demo which can be downloaded for free from the links on our facebook page . we sometimes have physical copies available at gigs also. Both were home recorded affairs with only the drums being done in a studio, that’s because we are most probably the most skint band we have ever known ha ha.
 
Are there any new releases on the horizon? We're currently in the process of writing songs for an album which we will more than likely self release in mid 2013. Were looking at around 10 tracks hopefully.
 
Musically, who influences you, if anyone at all? Well we have a vast age difference in the band with me being the oldest at 38 and sam being the youngest at 25  so as you can imagine our inffluences are vast as well. Im influenced by everything from the early stuff like Sabbath, zeppelin, purple , maiden etc all the way up to modern proggy tech death stuff and pretty much everything in between. Mass (bass)is into his extreme metal but also loves the beatles and a lot of classic rock. Sam(vox) id say main influences are what he grew up with in his youth so stuff like pantera, sepultura, and 90`s metal  but hes pretty much into everything and has a very open mind musically. And dan(drums) is pretty much very open minded to all forms and genres of music. To put it short our main influences are thrash/death/grind/black/doom/hardcore and traditional metal .
 
What themes and topics do your lyrics deal with? Sam writes 99% of the lyrics and they cover topics from politics ,religion etc all the way to personal experiences hes had whilst being off his tits ! The only subject we don’t really dabble with is the whole gore/fantasy style of lyrics simply because we tend to write about stuff we know  not that we have anything against that style of lyric writing we love stuff like that but it just isn’t what were about .
 
Composing songs can often be a frustrating process, how do you go about it? I will mostly work on riffs at home and then bring them to the practice room  and show them to the guys , and we just build on it from there. Dan will write his own drum parts  and mass his bits and once weve got the music side sorted sam will then go off and write his lyrics . sam unlike most vocalists has a lot of input in the writing/arranging of riffs drums etc as well so were all involved in the whole process and also if theres parts of sams lyrics we don’t like then we will tell him  ha ha. It can be frustrating especially when your trying to not rip off anyone ha ha .
 
What could we expect from one of your live performances? Half an hour to 45 mins of non stop extreme metal,played faster than we do on the ep  cause of the rush you get from playing live. Playing live to us is all about enjoying the moment but at the same time holding it down and keeping stuff tight.we enjoy it and we hope that whoever comes to see us live has a great time to .its all about hanging out with people having a great time and a laugh.
 
Plans for the future? Firstly to get this album recorded and released ,and  to play as many gigs as we can. Were in this purely for the love of playing what we play and having a good time and anything else that comes from being in this band is a bonus. The second we stop smiling and enjoying hanging out onstage and in the practice room is when we call it a day . if its not fun then its time to stop .
 
What merch do you currently have available and where can we get it? We currently don’t have any merch cos were skint ha ha , on a serious note were currently in the process of getting some shirts sorted out ,and when they are done you will be able to get them from our big cartel page or from gigs .everything you need to know about everything can be found on our facebook page . www.facebook.com/whengodsburn.
 
Any final words? Yes !  cheers for doing this interview with us and helping us to get more exposure ,we really appreciate it and love what your trying to achieve for the uk underground metal scene .also everyone get of your arses and go out there and support your local metal scene by going to clubs/pubs and checking out  the local bands as well as any small touring uk bands that might be passing through your neck of the woods.without you people out there ,there is no point in bands doing what they do,and all you will be left with is kerrang friendly shite. And lastly please come check us out .Cheers everyone and thanks ukem.
 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Spawned From Hate - Withered And Decayed

Self Released 2012
 
1.Withered And Decayed 2.Asphyxiate 3.Empty Grave 4.Biotech Contagion
 
As ‘Withered And Decayed’ opens up this debut four track e.p. from Birmingham based death metallers Spawned From Hate, the bands influences are immediately obvious, rooted firmly in the old school death metal swamp. Listening to the opening track it almost feels like you’re taking a trip down memory lane, to the early nineties when death metal was in its infancy and all the bands and music were new, fresh and interesting. Tempos are mixed with a broad range of speeds being utilised, from the slow and creepy through to blast beat laden madness. It’s certainly a damn fine death metal song, and a good introduction to this relatively young band (being formed in late 2011). At 1m54 ‘Asphyxiate’ is the shortest of the songs on offer, opening up in a barrage of pummelling drums and equally pummelling dirty and rotten death metal riffing. There’s a real US death metal influence on display throughout this all too short track, Immolation springing to mind, spiced up with a slight influence from Baphomet maybe. Short and to the point. ‘Empty Grave’ begins in similar fashion, the band once again mixing tempos well, the song generally remaining in ‘mid-paced’ territory, which actually suits the old school inspired riffing extremely well. The pace allows the guitars to lead the track and set the tone throughout; making the song and actual song and not an exhibition in speed or technicality as so much of today’s death metal can be.
Closing this e.p. is ‘Biotech Contagion’ which opts for a slightly different approach, the old school influence still very prevalent but here the band seem to let all hell break lose and mix things up completely, adding in a lot of different time changes and tempos are mixed in a stop start fashion giving the whole song a more technical sound to the three previous efforts. There’s even a bass and drum outro to the track, finishing things on rather a soft tone. All in all this a damn fine debut release which shows some real promise from such a young band and it’s a pleasure to listen to. It’s not the most technical music you’ll hear, but it’s not meant to be. The band isn’t the tightest in the world, but their playing style is appealing and tightness will come with time and experience. Pummelling old school influenced death metal with brutal music and guttural vocals, it’s all that’s needed really isn’t it? Spawned From Hate are well worth checking out and one to keep an eye on for the future.
 
7 out of 10

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Fires Of Tartarus - Interview

UKEM Records has has some dealings with Brutal Old School Death Metallers 'Fires Of Tartarus' so we thought it was about time we found out what makes this brutal oufit tick......
 
For those unfamiliar with the band, please give us a brief history of the band? The band in its current incarnation was formed in August 2011. Scott (Vocals), Dean (Guitar), Josh (Bass) and Andy (Guitar) came together from another local metal band, and Nick (Drums) was an old friend of Scott’s. We spent a year writing and recording our demo EP and getting out there on the gig circuit. In October we parted ways with Andy and decided to continue forward as a 4-piece. We’re currently working on a new EP and gigging hard.
 
You have recently released your debut cd, what has reaction been like to its release?Overwhelmingly positive. The CD was self-produced and financed, and was the first thing we’ve done together as a band. Everyone has been really impressed and we had some great reviews from online ‘zines and reviewers. Most people are blown away by the epic bass rumble!
Are you happy with the release, or is there anything you’d do differently? There are always things you want to change in hindsight, especially since we controlled every aspect of it. But overall very happy. The new material we’re working on is even stronger, and we’re looking to get it recorded professionally.
Are there any new releases on the horizon? Yes, we should have a new 3 track EP out around spring 2013. It is a progression from the sound on our first CD, still brutally heavy, but more developed melodically and technically. The CD has a theme based on ancient Greek philosophy... but we’re not giving too much away at this stage!
 
Musically, who influences you, if anyone at all? It’s a cliché, but we try not to be too influenced by any particular bands. That said, a lot of people compare our sound to the melodic death metal of the Gothenburg scene (At The Gates, In Flames, Dark Tranquillity), and we’re happy with that. Between us we have a huge range of musical influences (from progressive to extreme) and they all creep in from time to time.
 
What themes and topics do your lyrics deal with? Lyrically we deal with some pretty epic concepts. They are about understanding humanity, exploring the darkness within and around us; transcending our mortal existence and finding ultimate salvation. Often we use metaphor which is based in Greek or Roman literature, as well as H.P. Lovecraft and other “dark” reading material...
Composing songs can often be a frustrating process, how do you go about it? That’s changed quite a bit over time. On our first CD, the songs were mainly written in the rehearsal room with one band member contributing all the music, and one completing lyrics. What we’ve done recently is to start collaborating more, with ideas for riffs, beats, vocals etc. coming from all 4 members of the band. The new material is coming much easier and it’s a lot less frustrating. We are literally brimming with ideas!
You guys are active giggers, what could we expect from one of your live performances? We are insanely passionate about our music and what we’re trying to represent. There is a huge amount of experience and ambition in this band, and that shows in our performances. We’re serious about pulling off an ultra-tight performance of what you hear on the CD, and try to be as intense and energetic as possible. We often get people say “I’m really not into extreme metal but you guys had me hooked” and that kind of thing.
 
Plans for the future? Priority is completing our 2nd EP to release early next year, and as many gigs as possible.
 
What merch do you currently have available and where can we get it? We have T-shirts and CDs available at gigs, or online at www.firesoftartarus.bigcartel.com
Any final words? Thank you for the support, what UKEM is doing for the scene is phenomenal! Please check us out, come say Hi at a gig (we are not that scary, really), and hit us up on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/firesoftartarus

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Shores Of Attica - Transitions

Self Released 2012
 
1.Taken 2.Deal With The Repercussions 3.Amen 4.Lost 5.Transitions
6.Respect Cant Be Bought 7.See The Divide 8.Changes
 
Scottish metal outfit ‘Shores of Attica’ open up this 8 track e.p. with ‘Taken’, their intentions immediately obvious as the bass heavy and buzzy guitars open up in a real rage with a heavy dose of groove streaking through them. There are very heavy melodic leanings to the band’s sound, especially when the cleanly sung melodic passages are brought to the fore. Quite standard composition for this genre however, stop start guitars, breakdowns a plenty, add in the cleanly sung passages and all the genre clichés are there. Not that it’s badly played or composed, this style and genre became so over saturated that it all started to sound the same and is always going to be a favourite of the Hardcore fans rather than the extreme metal fans. ‘Deal With The Repercussions’ is more of the same, only with a lot more melody on display in amongst the breakdown heavy riffing. As with the opener, it’s all very well played, each member handling their instruments extremely well and vocally the screamed scathing vocals spit venom at every opportunity with the accompanying cleanly sung vocals doing their job very well, adding some emotion to the song. Again, the Hardcore kids will be lapping this up, but from an extreme metallers point of view, the songs have yet to “really get going”, seemingly stuck in first gear (pace wise) which I guess is another of the core elements to this genre. ‘Amen’ opens up in very ‘Caliban-esque’ fashion, the pace upped slightly before returning to the slower, melodically driven guitar work and more cleanly sung passages. Much the same can be said about ‘Lost’ beginning as it does by increasing the pace to open the song up before the ever so prevalent breakdown heavy riffing takes over the song, more cleanly sung melodic passages added and another song has passed that hasn’t really stood out or sounded wholly original. The same tried and tested ingredients being over-used time and time again, as many of the bands in this genre do. It's maybe why a lot of people walked away and stopped listening to this style of music, because it all became very uninspiring. The genre in general, that statement not specifically aimed at the band.
‘Transitions’ passes without any great effort, sounding the same as everything previously. You barely notice the change in track if being brutally honest. Not sure what the band were trying to achieve in ‘Respect Can’t Be Bought’ by adding in a really silly short musical break around two minutes into the track, because if they were trying to be ‘a bit different’ they failed massively – I fear they were trying to inject a bit of humour into proceedings which is very hard to do, unless you’re a grind band who don’t give a flying shit! ‘See The Divide’ begins as many of the tracks have, melodic harmonies flying around left, right and centre under breakdown based rhythm guitars, all ‘stoppy starty’. And then when the band re-introduce the melodic passages with the cleanly sung vocals the standard formula and composition so heavily relied on in general (in the genre) again fails to impress, all one dimensional and quite standard (albeit well played, these lads are obviously accomplished musicians in their own right). Eighth and final track ‘Changes’ is quite aptly named, as I would certainly have welcomed some, unfortunately I would be sadly disappointed. It’s just more of the same, with nothing new or exciting to report! It’s going to be unfair of me to score this and I nearly didn’t review it, because UKEM is all about extreme metal, which this release is not. It’s emotional Hardcore/metal which might appeal to some, but I think a lot of extreme metallers will not go anywhere near a release like this. Each member handles themselves well, but in a genre which became over saturated, tired and repetitive a very long time ago it takes a hell of a lot to truly stand out! The Hardcore and emo kids will no doubt lap this up and pour scorn on the review, but it’s about honesty, which this review is, honest. Sorry guys, not sure UKEM is the place to showcase your talents.

Friday, 16 November 2012

The Infernal Sea - Call Of The Augur

Self Released 2012
 
1.A Prayer For Cleansing 2.Malevolence Of Our Lord
3.Sermon Of The Augur 4.Catastrophic Reprisals 5.Condemned To Psychosis
6.The Gathering 7.Ritual Incantation
 
No grandiose, over the top or lengthy intros here, ‘A Prayer For Cleansing’ rips open from the outset in a hail of harsh yet melodic black metal nastiness. There’s a real intricacy to the bands guitar work which is death metal at its core but with a massive dose of black metal added in for good measure. There are very heaving leanings towards a Dissection influenced sound, but what sets the band apart from the Swedish masters of blackened death metal are the vocals, being more scathing, more black metal in their delivery, harsh high pitched screaming preferred. There is also real catchiness to the guitar work, which showcases an added slice of groove that gives some of the riffs a slightly more death metal sound, but which never wandering too far from the black metal sound either. As ‘Malevolence of Our Lord’ blasts open, the Dissection influence is once again very apparent; the opening riffs could have almost been taken from ‘Storm of the Lights Bane’. Not to suggest the band are copying that masterpiece, merely paying homage to it in their own way. The drumming stands out as particularly effective here, blasting along at a hell of a pace.  The double kicks really pummelling and adding to the songs brutality, enhancing its overall effectiveness. The track does however take its own original path, the bands own style opening up and really beginning to show their talent off perfectly. Ending with more ‘Dissection Worship’ this proves to be an outstanding track.
‘Sermon of the Augur’ is a relatively short interlude track; acoustic guitars are used and accompanied by eerie, almost industrial samples and soundtracks, which to be honest only acts as a filler and the samples are really high pitched and annoying and somewhat unessacery. Leaving the acoustic guitars to their own devices would have been a much more attractive and more listenable approach. ‘Catastrophic Reprisals’ returns to the vicious blackened death metal, and what an excellent return it is. The sense of urgency has returned, as have the blast beats and full on extreme metal attack, brutal yet catchy blackened death metal played outstandingly. This is definitely the most original sounding track so far, the bands song writing skills and talent fully evident, showcasing the fact that every band member is more than capable of handling their instruments superbly and as ‘Condemned To Psychosis’ bursts forth furiously, there’s no let-up in the extremity on offer. There’s more of the same again, scathing and scornful with melody added to really make the songs burst to life. Again, it’s another extremely brutal track, blast beats ravage the song from start to finish, which at only 2:53 proves to be a very short sharp and precise piece of music. ‘The Gathering’ is similar to ‘Sermon of the Augur’, being a short interlude of eerie samples, with slightly growled vocals sweeping back and forth in the dense atmosphere being stirred, almost sounding like something Nile would compose and add to an album as an intro of filler. It is what it is, an interlude. Closing this e.p. is
‘Ritual Incantation’ and what a way to finish things off! By far the best track on this release, the guitar riffs being very ‘Swedish death/black metal’ in composition, with lots on melodic tremolo picking. The track is extremely epic, extremely black metal and really brutal. It offers everything you need from extreme metal and is very ‘listenable’ indeed. A slightly new approach is taken a few minutes into the fourteen minute monster, the track slowing right down with acoustic guitars and cleanly sung, chant like vocals taking over the track completely. It’s actually a good change in direction, offering the listener something different to all of the other tracks. As the acoustic guitars drop out, the chanting vocals and ‘wave/water samples’ are left to their own devices to end the track (for what seems like an eternity). 'There are only so many waves crashing you can listen to, but I kind of get why they left them running for so long, to keep the brooding and creepy atmosphere going for as long as possible. One point that really should be brought to your attention is the packaging, which is absolutely stunning! Hand bound luxury cardboard booklet which includes several pages of amazing, mediaeval artwork. A lot of (probably costly) effort has been put into the presentation, which really deserves top marks alone. Musically there’s no real faulting the band either, fans of Scandinavian inspired death black metal will love this as it ticks all the right boxes and fans of Dissection will certainly get where the band are coming from. The guitars were a little low in the mix meaning the songs became very drum/vocal heavy at times, but it’s a minor niggle. Overall, The Infernal Sea has produced an excellent e.p. which comes well recommended, if not for the excellent music, but also for the great packaging!
 
8 out of 10