Marduk and Grave “Panzer Division Marduk 2013” Europe tour

panzer_division_marduk_2013Third-wave black metal band Marduk and legendary brutal Swedish death metal band Grave will be joining Death Wolf and Valkyrja on a European tour. Marduk, perhaps most famous for its fast melodic ode to the unknown Opus Nocturne, will headline all dates on the “Panzer Division Marduk 2013” tour.

For those who experienced early death metal, Grave is well-known for 1991’s Into the Grave, a dark and primitive Swedish death metal journey that straddled the line between dark death metal, brutal death metal and primal grindcore. Among metalheads of the day, not owning a copy of this seminal release was like not owning shoes.

This European tour sees these bands join forces for raw energy through intense speed and solemn but vicious riff attack, which is how each has distinguished itself in the past. European metal brothers and sisters are lucky to experience this unrestrained assault of sonic power.

MARDUK
GRAVE
DEATH WOLF
VALKYRJA
+ support act

       
29.11.2013 GER Berlin K17
30.11.2013 GER Bad Oeynhausen Druckerei
01.12.2013 DEN Copenhagen Pumpehuset
02.12.2013 DEN Aarhus Voxhall
04.12.2013 HOL Utrecht Tivoli De Helling
05.12.2013 UK London Underworld
06.12.2013 BEL Leffinge Devil’s Corner
07.12.2013 GER Essen Turock
08.12.2013 GER Darmstadt Steinbruch Theater
11.12.2013 ITA Turin United
12.12.2013 CH Yverdon L’Amalgame
13.12.2013 CH Dietikon Stadthalle
14.12.2013 ITA Brescia Circolo Colony
15.12.2013 ITA Bologna Zona Roveri
16.12.2013 SLO Ljubljana Gala Hala
17.12.2013 AUT Vienna Escape Metalcorner
19.12.2013 POL Wroclaw Firlej
20.12.2013 POL Gdynia Ucho
21.12.2013 POL Warszawa Progresja
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Oniricous – Ritos Diabolicos

Oniricous-Ritos-Diabolicos-2013-400x400The resurgence of early 90’s flavored death metal has been steadily picking up in recent years. Spain’s Oniricous attempts to jump aboard the same death-wagon, however by injecting a bit more bounce and melody to set themselves apart.

At first glance I was expecting something similar to Sadistic Intent, but as more riffs progressed I realized that the source material is very much akin to Death’s Leprosy/Spiritual Healing (occasional dabbling of progressive riffing) or Massacre’s From Beyond.

Most of the songs are done in the same format, thus tend to run together and have no song that stands out. After my first listen I felt as if I had just watched a reunited Massacre play on Telemundo. All of the aspects are here to mold into a worthwhile outfit, but there isn’t too much replay value if you judge Ritos Diabolicos based solely on the material that’s presented.

Despite the pitfalls, fans of early Tampa death metal will enjoy Oniricous for being a trip down memory lane. Most of the elements that popularized bands like Death and Massacre are present in Ritos Diabolicos.

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Soul Remnants – Black and Blood

6PAN1TDo you remember Souper Salads? It was a buffet place where you could dump all the soup and salad ingredients you could eat into your bowl and then pig out. Black and Blood is sort of like that with various shades of death metal, speed metal and heavy metal riffs. In that, it more resembles the South American scene than Boston, where it’s putatively from.

The review cheat sheet for this album describes it as half old school death metal and half Norwegian black metal. That’s not quite correct: it’s mostly mid-period death metal in the Suffocation Pierced from Within and Death Symbolic model mixed with melodic death metal riffs from guitar-heavy bands like Carcariass, set to the song format of stadium heavy metal. The result is a tour through the years of heavy metal with a guide who clearly enjoys the process.

Soul Remnants songs stick together on pure gut feeling. No complex theory here but riffs tied together for maximum contrast when necessary, but otherwise, a feeling of organically interrelated pieces. Underneath that there’s intense blasting and strong linear basslines, giving this a feeling of power. Black and Blood borrows most intensely from stadium heavy metal of the 1980s, building up these songs like power ballads and giving them some emotional intensity.

Vocals are modern death metal as is the tendency to mix and match riffs, but within that format the heavy metal breathes through and takes over. What emerges from this ferment is a listening experience that evokes the greatness of metal in a humble but energetic way. The resulting product is a flow of interesting guitar work that, while often allusive to past metal genres, keeps enough of its own voice to carry its own songs.

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Torchure – Beyond the Veil re-issue

torchure-beyond_the_veilVic Records re-issues the first album of German death metal band Torchure, whose style of heavy metal infused thunderous death metal saw favorable comparison to early Therion, Morgoth and Miasma.

Formed in 1985, Torchure recorded three demo tapes and two full-length albums which were released on legendary German metal label 1MF. These albums, out of print for two decades, have been aggressively sought by collectors but nearly impossible to find.

Beyond the Veil re-issue contains two re-mastered unreleased tracks as bonus, new liner notes, rare pictures and the original album in its entirety without remaster. You can order it online from Vic Records for € 9,99 and thankfully it is not a digipak.

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Eternal Solstice – The Wish is Father to the Thought

eternal_solstice-the_wish_is_father_to_the_thoughtMany in the metal community view genre names as special keys to secret clubs. The opposite is true: genre names are descriptions that help us explain how bands compose and thus, who will enjoy them.

The Wish is Father to the Thought shows us what is on the surface a death metal band, but which musically is mostly a speed metal band. Further, their choruses tend toward a doom metal pace and mood, which makes the speed/death portions more accessible.

Like other speed/death hybrids Kreator and Destruction, Eternal Solstice use mostly chromatic riffing with lots of muted-strum “chugging” to create a tension and energy. The verses of most of these songs incorporate variants of riffs that Exodus or Anthrax might have used if they were more vicious, like a version of Meshuggah with less technicality and more knowledge of everyday life.

Eternal Solstice creates highly energetic speed metal with occasional death metal riffs, but basically, this band comes to us straight out of the 1980s. Death vocals add a gruff intensity and the lengthy choruses prevent the percussive riffs from being overwhelming, but the real appeal here is in the speed thrills.

The Wish is Father to the Thought was originally released in 1994 and is now re-issued so that a new generation of fans can appreciate this Dutch band at their most intense.

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Funerus – Reduced to Sludge

funerus-reduced_to_sludgeComing from the tradition of thunderous American death metal that incorporates doom passages, Funerus write European-style melodies through their songs and as a result create an architecture of moods that gives us song a distinct presence.

Reduced to Sludge uses rolling rhythm riffs, upset by longer fretboard-walking riffs that set up a more complex rhythmic expectation, and then as these riffs repeat modifies them to bring out a melody. Often this is a simple riff that, like a rebuttal, speaks back to the verse-chorus arrangement and expands its two and three notes into a whole melodic phrase.

Funerus shows its influences strongly from all over the map. The easy ones to pick out are Asphyx, Cianide and Entombed, and it’s foolish to expect this band to avoid some influence from Incantation from which its guitarist is loaned. Its faster riffs are simpler and evoke more of a NYDM feel, while its phrasal riffs sound more like the Incantation-Revenant-Profanatica-Demoncy spectrum of cavernous occult doom-death.

While Reduced to Slude demonstrates a range of powerful death metal riff archetypes, its vocals emerge straight from the early days of death metal, sounding both gruff and breathless without being fully guttural while also avoiding the rasp of black metal. These guide the onslaught of riffs when intense, and as it slows the textures meld, creating a sonic veil from which the listener gradually emerges.

Although Funerus stays with a classic death metal sound and thus does not offer a quirky or unexpected aesthetic, the result is that Funerus stays true to its roots and has a voice it is comfortable with. The result is an album of shorter songs that feel like longer songs, and despite being rudimentary and using similar techniques, avoid boredom by staying true to their essential mission of creating a dark and thunderous mood.

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Derkéta – Goddess of Death

derketa-goddess_of_deathIn the winding genealogies of East Coast death metal, Derkéta shows up as the band that connects others but never had a release of its own. To fix that, a few years ago the band compiled all of its recordings to date onto a single album named Goddess of Death.

Like most compilations, Goddess of Death is better suited for fan listening than a casual introduction because there is heavy repetition of songs since each showed up on more than one release. The good news is that you can listen to these songs “grow up” and refine as time goes on, which is why it might make sense to listen to this CD from finish to start instead of the usual method.

Derkéta bill themselves as doom metal, which may be true since doom metal isn’t really a genre but more a description of bands that play slowly with morbid feeling, but the underpinnings of this release are pure old school death metal, with the feeling of the hopelessness of the industrial city merged with a mythological sense of human mortality. Like other doom-death bands Derkéta specialize in thunderous, resonant, slow and brooding chromatic riffs which build up to a mood of darkness with an inner core of sentiment.

Goddess of Death will most appeal to someone who appreciates the charm of the era, which includes rough production and musical theory that has more of “winging it” than reliance on formality. The riffs are slow, but inventive, and songs while utilizing standard structure are prone to sudden breaks and twists. The result is a shuddering wall of sound that projects its mythos of mordant sensation through radiant sound.

After this compilation, Derkéta went on to record a full-length that showed more influence from the melodic side of doom but those influences are also audible here, just in more subtle and tentative form. Combined with some uptempo riffing, a little bit of primitive death-doom drone, and just the right amount of panache, Goddess of Death satisfies the old school death metal urge.

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Convulse – Evil Prevails

convulse-evil_prevailsAs has been said countless times before, the worst record review is a waffle: “It’s OK for what it is, if you like that.” This corresponds to someone neither moved to ire or adoration by a work; in other words, it barely registered. Convulse is not like that. It is a band to both love and hate, but at the same time.

Evil Prevails should be loved for the rare moments of clarity in which riffs are glued together to reach a conclusion that makes sense out of them, causing a sense of rising above the confusion of life as the various dots connect. Themes add up and then grow, and this is where the band shines. They develop beautiful riffs from less interesting ones, and in those riffs, have a sublime sense of how phrase corresponds to emotion.

On the other hand, the dark side of this release is twofold. First, many of its riffs are simplistic in an American football death metal way, reminiscent of Carbonized or Grave but less enigmatic. Second, when riffs aren’t galloping across your forehead, the band likes to work in random rock, blues and jazz influences that don’t fit with the whole. These are not only incongruous, but relatively undistinguished.

Some might say that this in itself is an unorthodox aesthetic. By making a grab-bag of parts, Convulse is exuding deconstruction or nihilism, in other words. However, more likely, this mirrors a committee. The average is bad, but occasionally someone has a flash of inspiration; in the meantime, dramatic people who are good at what’s normally accepted are busy getting in their moments in the sun, showing off and getting promoted.

As a result, it’s hard to like Evil Prevails; it’s a mess with some nuggets of gold. If you like plodding bands like Gorement, the brutal riffs will not disappoint; if you like incomplete-synthesis bands like Afflicted you’ll enjoy the guitar fireworks. But more likely you will background the music until a nugget appears, have an “Aha!” moment, and then forget it as the churn goes on.

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Grave unleashes Morbid Ascent EP

grave-morbid_ascentToday classic Swedish death metal band Grave releases its comeback EP, Morbid Ascent, featuring four tracks of death metal and a cover of a Satyricon song. The US version of this release is pressed on mustard-yellow vinyl and can be purchased Century Media.

Known for their debut album Into the Grave from the early 1990s, Grave introduced the rudimentary form of the Swedish death metal sound to a new generation who appreciated the raw intensity of their primal music. Joining a small circle of European bands who were as poundingly violent as their American counterparts, Grave became a staple before fading away in the late 1990s.

Morbid Ascent shows the band resurrecting itself in the present era and attempting to adapt its classic sound and improved technical performance to the demands of a new time, following their 2012 release Endless Procession of Souls. If you’re in Europe, you can catch Grave live on October 5 at Zombie Fest II in Oostenede, Belgium.

Side 1:
1. Venial Sin
2. Morbid Ascent
Side 2:
1. Possessed (originally by SATYRICON)
2. Epos (Risen From The Tomb – Remix)
3. Reality Of Life

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Incantation – Mortal Throne of Nazarene LP re-issue

incantation-mortal_throne_of_nazarene_lp_reissueThe good thing about the transition to two decades of operation is that a genre may benefit from advances in technology and funding to re-release its classics in restored or originally-intended form. Through this channel a burst of classics on vinyl has emerged over the past five years.

Mortal Throne of Nazarene is Incantation‘s most controversial album. People either love it or hate it, and a huge part of this is the simple fact that it’s impossible to follow up to Onward to Golgotha. That album walks the earth like an ice giant or Norse god, crushing all in its path. How to top that?

Part of what makes this album so controversial was its original production which captured a searing guitar tone but also managed to blend the vocals and guitars to create a stream of noise that often made it impossible to discern chord changes. It wasn’t terrible, for the time, but it made it harder to listen to the music under the vocals.

The LP re-issue of Mortal Throne of Nazarene fixes these problems. Not only are instruments clear, but the vocals are also present with great force. Not only that but the warmth of vinyl is put to good use preserving the color of distorted guitar, bass and drums, which fleshes out this album. It does it all without losing volume, making this an intense compacted flow of sound.

As far as the album itself, my supposition is that the controversy will never die. It has its inspired parts and flashes of genius, but large portions of the rest feel incomplete, like they got sketched out but never fully adjusted and shaped to serve at optimal power. Much of those are lengthy chromatic connective passages that seem to repeat where they would have branched on earlier releases.

It’s reminiscent of Suffocation’s Breeding the Spawn in that way. For confirmation, listen to the Forsaken Mourning of Angelic Anguish EP which follows this album and adjusts details of many songs such that they work together instead of divergently. Several LP songs are on that shorter release at greater effect.

What this re-issue of Mortal Throne of Nazarene will do is to fan those flames of controversy by letting us hear this album with a production on par to that of Onward to Golgotha. This means that with this LP re-issue, the band separate controversy over production from controversy over composition, and let the underground see this album in a new light.

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