Slaves To Fashion, The History Of Heavy Metal (2021)

Slaves to Fashion celebrates metal with a history lesson that will make you want to bang your head.

The band from Haugesund, Norway started out nearly twenty years ago as P:O:B. After a few lineup shuffles, they changed their name to Slaves To Fashion, releasing an EP in 2009 and then a long-player in 2011, Artistic Differences. They were playing a version of prog metal then, expressing their art through precision. The principals on the current album are Johannes Støle (vocals), Torfinn Sirnes (guitar), John Lind (bass), Vidar Ingvaldsen (drums), and Stein Arild Grønås (guitar).

The idea behind The History Of Heavy Metal is to celebrate heavy metal in all its guises. Each song therefore focuses on a specific period in the evolution and spread of metal, branching out along the lineage in sometime surprising ways. Which subgenres exactly? Have a look at the cool chart developed by the band inserted at the end of this review. There are a lot of different flavors of heavy music.

There are ten tracks on the album, ranging from the radio-friendly three minutes of “The NU Wine” to the epic thirteen minute rapture of “The Evergrowing Tree.” This is not a goof – in every case the music is rock solid and a genuine respectful homage to the type, with a number of playful references thrown in the lyrics that fans will spot immediately. I don’t have a favorite because they are all good but I do have a strong affection for that big 13-minute track as it is a showcase of just about everything, and the opener, “1970,” is a loving tribute to the early days and it hits home with me. Without fail, there is something here for every metal fan. Recommended.

The official release date for the CD and digital versions is Saturday, February 13th. Hit the Bandcamp link below. There will also be a special edition vinyl version later in the year that will include three bonus tracks.

Band photo by Stones Photography.

Flowchart from the band’s Facebook page.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://slavestofashion.bandcamp.com/album/the-history-of-heavy-metal

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/slavestofashionband/

Website, https://www.slavestofashion.net/

Slaves To Fashion, The History Of Heavy Metal (2021)

Revulsion, Revulsion (Transcending Obscurity Records 2021)

It is winter in Finland but Revulsion is not hibernating – the self-titled full-length debut is a heavy metal bulldozer bearing down on your brain.

In 2010 Revulsion released a demo then an EP the year after that. Ten long years have passed while fans waited to see if there would be more music. The new album answers that question with a full-throated howl. The music is rooted in death metal with deep veins of doom running throughout, and the integrated elements are a propitious combination. The band is Aleksi Huhta (vocals), Jari Toppinen (guitar), Jarkko Viitasalo (guitar), Tuomas Alatalo (bass), and Atte Karppinen (drums).

The music begins in chaos – just a pummeling of noise you have to sort through. After a few seconds of that attack, the riffs emerge and the vocals become words in “Last Echoes Of Life.” The death metal hybrid continues to morph on “Pyre” which also bears a heavy riff and adds complex combinations in the rhythm and percussion. “Walls” is next, showing off a fat bass line, and then “Mustaa Hiiltä” lifts the lid on the cave of doom with oppressively threatening leaden tones.

There are eleven songs on the album and you can feel groove characteristics nudge you around as the undeniable momentum of the powerful musical energy is a constant exhilarating rush. The bass is more prominent here as a distinct being than in a lot of similar music, and that adds immeasurably to the unique voice of the band. The back half of the record has short blasts like “Wastelands” and “Pawns,” and it also showcases the longest track and closer, “Viimeinen Rituaali” – the final ritual, indeed, and a doom-laden volcano of roaring heavy metal. I am already jotting this one down on the best of list for the year. Killer. Highly recommended.

Revulsion is out now and, coincidentally, it is Bandcamp Friday today so if you buy Revulsion products at Bandcamp, the usual selling fee to the band is waived. The elegant varieties of Transcending Obscurity physical releases are the envy of the world, and the Revulsion album is no exception. Check out all the possibilities at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://revulsiondeath.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/RevulsionFin/

Transcending Obscurity Records, https://tometal.com/

Revulsion, Revulsion (Transcending Obscurity Records 2021)

Basilica, Basilica (Innerstrength Records 2021)

North Carolina emergent metal foursome attack their first long-player project with multifarious vivacity.

The band has only been together for a lustrum, and yet they have coalesced an approach to musical composition that is thorough while remaining eclectic. What they can do with the standard metal set up is impressive. The band is Brady Kennedy (drums), Cameron Price (guitar), Chandler Bell (bass), and Reilly Appert (vocals).

The press release reads in part: “Musically, genre inspiration is wide and varying; combining thrash and death metal elements with metalcore and deathcore breakdowns, the goal of this album is to be as diverse as possible.” As you go from track to track throughout the set you can really see this philosophy at work. It listen like a tour of heavy genres.

The first crack is “Grinding Teeth.” You have to love that title before the needle even drops. It is a blistering track with front-loaded aggression and crunchy riffs, decorated by metallic squeals and a “Flight Of The Bumble Bee” wind-up. “Exit Wound” is death metal vocals and off-color screeches. And then “The Fall of Phorcys,” an instrumental with a dark jazz, proggy vibe. Groundwork firmly laid.

I am not going through the full list because you should hear it for yourself. The album is fascinating. The execution of the increments is technically precise with both hard punches and delicate touches. The guitar solo on “Starve” is an extreme example. Segue to another instrumental, “Reflections of Galene,” that sounds like what you might hear playing from a café patio in the summer on an evening stroll – then straight into the thrash/thrumming piece, “Everything,” right after that. And still there are three songs left. It leaves you off balance and a little lightheaded in the best possible way. Recommended.

Friday February 5th is the day to get the full album. If you preorder the digital from the Innerstrength Bandcamp page you can hear “Grinding Teeth” right now.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://basilicahairslam.bandcamp.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/basilicahairslam

Innerstrength Records, https://www.innerstrengthmusic.com/

Basilica, Basilica (Innerstrength Records 2021)

Gatecreeper, An Unexpected Reality (Closed Casket Activities 2021)

Desert Death Metal force of nature Gatecreeper release and incredible set that shows you how to do it fast and how to do it slow.

Hailing from Arizona, Gatecreeper has been creating music since 2014. Their first EP was the self-title release in that early year, and it landed a tight four songs with harrowing bravado. The pounding rhythm and powerfully insistent vocals were a sign and a statement. It was mid-tempo Death Metal with great hooks, and there was no mistaking the possibilities. Two years later Sonoran Depravation came out and warped musical reality. Many splits and singles have come to pass in the intervening years, plus a live album and the amazing sophomore full-length, Deserted in 2019. They have been throwing down the metal day after day.

The new EP is titled aptly as it is a direction that was not predictable. Separated into a “fast side” and a “slow side,” this is a Janus faced masterpiece. There are seven short songs on the fast side, and by short I mean some of them are less than one minute long with one clocking in at 31 seconds. There is a very hardcore punk attitude in these pieces but at the same time the Gatecreeper sound and hook is in their too, unmistakably.

The slow side is one eleven-minute Doom infused bone crusher, “Emptiness.” The band has never done a song like this before, and we can say the same about the short songs – even though they have a lot hard hitting short pieces in their catalogue, they are nothing like the fast side songs here. The combination of these two completely different elements that are also new to the work of the band to this point is a bold move, and one that pays off astronomically. Highly recommended.

An Unexpected Reality is out now from Closed Casket Activities. Most of the vinyl has sold out at last look, including the second pressings. The CD is still available, and of course the digital. You can get these at Bandcamp, etc.

Links,

Bandcamp, https://gatecreeper.bandcamp.com/album/an-unexpected-reality

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/gatecreeper

Closed Casket Activities, https://closedcasketactivities.com/collections/cd/products/gatecreeper-an-unexpected-reality-1

Gatecreeper, An Unexpected Reality (Closed Casket Activities 2021)

Nervosa, Perpetual Chaos (Napalm Records 2021)

The thrash is verily raging from the new metal set by Nervosa.

Nervosa began in São Paulo, Brazil just over ten years ago. Brandishing a rugged version of classic Thrash, the band released three albums over the years, the new one making four. Founder and guitarist Prika Amaral is joined by three new musicians for Perpetual Chaos: Diva Satanica (aka, Rocío Vázquez, on vocals), Mia Wallace (bass), and Eleni Nota (drums). It is a truly international band, with the three new members hailing from Spain, Italy, and Greece.

The new set is made up of thirteen songs – that’s a good number. Brevity is the call sign with these three minute furies, speeding as they do to bowl you over before you can tell what hit you.

“Venomous” is the no-nonsense opener that cracks and zips with fist punching riffs, blast beats, and a rollicking lead break. The vocals snarl into the Death Metal range, adding a sinister touch to the sound that matches well with the wicked themes – witness the next song, “”Guided By Evil.” Apart from the ever-present up-tempo, there are a lot of approachable hooks and fan-pleasing choruses that’ll be great live when the crowd sings along. The pressure is on all the way to the final track, “Under Ruins,” which, itself, is one my favorites.

There are a few guest appearances to add to the variety and season the mix, including by Guilherme Miranda (Revolta), Schmier (Destruction), and Erik A. K. Knutson (Flotsam and Jetsam). The album is imminently listenable and bears re-spinning at its end. The newest incarnation of Nervosa has definitely thrown down the gauntlet with this one. Recommended.

Perpetual Chaos is out now. All sorts of versions and merchandise are available at the Napalm Records site. The band has its own store, too, and there is always Bandcamp. Consider yourself hooked up.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://nervosa-brazil.bandcamp.com/

Website, https://nervosaofficial.com/website/english-home/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/nervosa

Napalm Records, https://napalmrecords.com/english/nervosa.html

Nervosa, Perpetual Chaos (Napalm Records 2021)

Coffins, Defilements (HPGD 2021)

The new compilation from Japan’s Coffins scoops together nearly two hours of out-of-print musical pieces from across almost ten years of work.

Coffins has an astonishingly long list of releases dating back to 2000 including splits, EPs, live albums, LPs, compilations … you name it. The music is a Death/Doom Metal amalgam that takes a grind-you-down approach to melody. The Metal Archives lists the member as Uchino (guitar), Satoshi (drums), Jun Tokita (vocals), and Masafumi Atake (bass).

Defilements gathers together materials from five EPs that have been out of print for a while: Craving To Eternal Slumber (2015), Noise Room Sessions 2014 (2016), March Of Despair (2012), Sewage Sludgecore Treatment(2012), and Live At Asakusa Deathfest 2016 (2017).

It is out now, and you can get the digital, CD, and merch at Bandcamp. If you missed a couple of these beauties when they first appeared, now is the time to make amends. It will press the pain right out of your brain. Recommended.

Links

Bandcamp, https://hpgd.bandcamp.com/album/defilements

Website, http://www.coffins.jp/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/intothecoffin

Coffins, Defilements (HPGD 2021)

Sumeru, Blood Ordinance (Brilliant Emperor 2021)

Australian metal band Sumeru reveal their first new music since 2018 with Blood Ordinance.

For more than ten years Sumeru has been playing metal. They are typically labeled a Doom or Stoner band, but they often play up-tempo, even speedy music, and on the new release high velocity is very much in evidence. They have published two full-length albums so far, Holy Lands (2014) and Summon Destroyer (2018) to complement their self-title demo from 2013. Blood Ordinance features new vocalist Jake Willoughby, and it is an excellent introduction.

There are two songs on the EP. “Cold Chamber” leans way over on the Death Metal side with its up-tempo opening and outwardly challenging vocals and percussion. It is a genuine aural throttling. It does slow down about three and a half minutes in, layering more standard Doom filaments in the channels. The final minute is a beautiful, solemn outro. “Foundry of Dread” also starts out as a banger and never lets up. If you are waiting for the song to turn over to disquiet and foreboding haunts you are out of luck. It is fierce all the way through.

The EP is out now and when you buy it from Brilliant Emperor you get three digital bonus tracks. There is no mention of the bonus tracks on the Bandcamp page, so I’m not sure what happens there. The previously unreleased bonus tracks are reported to be “Blood Ordinance,” “Kingdom,” and “Spines.” Recommended.

Links.

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/sumeruband

Bandcamp, https://sumeru.bandcamp.com/

Label, https://brilliantemperor.bigcartel.com/

Sumeru, Blood Ordinance (Brilliant Emperor 2021)

Unbounded Terror, Infernal Judgment (Xtreem Music 2021)

Early 1990s Spanish Death Metal band Unbounded Terror offers up a vigorous assault on your senses.

Thirty years ago the band came together in Mallorca, Spain. It was the early days of Death Metal there, and they quickly joined the ranks of well-regarded heavy bands. Nest Of Affliction came out in 1992, but the band parted ways shortly afterward due to musical differences. These things happen. The resurrection was last year with the well-received Faith In Chaos.

Infernal Judgment is a compilation that includes one new song, the title track released earlier as a single, three live recordings of songs from Faith In Chaos, and four re-recorded songs from the band’s debut album. It has been a little more than a calendar year since the re-entry album so it is nice to have this new material.

The single is the big news, and it is a thunderclap of ravaging menace. The signature sound is there, and we can take it as a sign of things to come. Fast and urgent, the melodic signatures are intermingle alongside the clever hooks and pummeling rhythm. The re-recorded songs are “Dreamlord,” “Fear,” “Slaves of Sufferage,” and “Sarcastic Souls.” A lot of metal bands are doing this, and the main advantage of re-tracking old songs is the improvement in recording technology and possibly cleaning up some odds and ends from the early originals. These new versions are definitely crisper than the initial recordings. The live tracks are “They Will Come From The Pain,” “Silent Soul,” and “Hated In Hell,” and they sound great. The presentations are consistent with the studio versions but with renewed energy and the magic and madness that live music creates.

The album is scheduled to be out now and is available in digital download, CD, cassette, and vinyl versions. Check out the band’s own website for more info on what they are up to, and buy the music and merch through Bandcamp. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://xtreemmusic.bandcamp.com/album/infernal-judgment

Band website, http://www.unboundedterror.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/UnboundedTerror

Unbounded Terror, Infernal Judgment (Xtreem Music 2021)

Transcending Obscurity Sampler (2021)

It is a new year so that means a new label sampler from Transcending Obscurity.

This label has released some of the best heavy around. In 2020, FFMB covered several of their albums including the amazing Jupiterian, Heads For The Dead, and Revolting releases. 2021 has just as much promise, and the music that has already been announced will freeze you in your tracks.

The sampler itself has 38 songs on it and it is absolutely massive – some songs are a full album side, like “Reverential Silence” by Arch which runs 15:30 and “Secret Powers Entrenched in an Ancient Artefact” by Eremit that goes for more than 18 minutes. The breakdown by genre according to the label is: Tracks 1-22 – death metal/grind/crust, Tracks 23-26 – technical/brutal death metal, Tracks 27-33 – black metal, and Tracks 34-38 – doom/sludge metal. There has to be something here you like. And it is all new music. Check out the full list at the link below.

The sampler is available now and it is FREE – name your price at Bandcamp (link below). How can you pass on this? You can’t. Highly recommended.

Link.

Bandcamp, https://transcendingobscurity.bandcamp.com/album/2021-label-sampler

Transcending Obscurity Sampler (2021)

Frozen Soul, Crypt Of Ice (Century Media 2021)

The debut LP from Fort Worth metal band Frozen Soul is the merciless application of Old School Death Metal in the creation of a soundtrack for demise.

The band has only been releasing music for a couple years, with two splits, an EP, and a single leading up to Crypt Of Ice. They are OSDM in orientation, and for some reason they remind me a little of Tomb Mold, one of my favorite new(er) bands, except less frenetic and more deliberate. Expect blast beats and heavy rhythm circling the wagons around haunting growls. The band is Chad Green (vocals), Samantha Mobley (bass), Michael Munday (guitar), Matt Dennard (drums), and Chris Bonner (guitar).

The music has a grinding, heavy power to it. There is not a focus of lead breaks and whirling speed. Rather, Doom elements live in the metal here, bringing down the tempo and pushing the relentless riffs into focus. One of my favorite songs on the album is “Merciless,” and it is the perfect example of this, with a plundering, crushing weight towards the end that was set up by fierce first half. The song then leads into “Encased In Ice,” which very much feels like being surrounded by the thick walls of a glacial tomb for almost two minutes before the tempo picks up and stabs an ice pick in your brain. There is a flowing wave here. The wandering musical variegation is not random or haphazard – it is a compositional deliberation on the dark themes brought out in the album. The result is exceptional metal delivered on a frozen silver platter. Recommended.

The new album is out now and available widely from any place that carries Century Media Records products. Also, link below. Lots of versions and merch are out there if you are so inclined. Bandcamp has the earlier EP Encased In Ice if you are interested in that – it is also really good.

Links.

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/frozensoultx/

Bandcamp, https://frozensoultx.bandcamp.com/releases

Century Media, https://www.centurymedia.com/release.aspx?IdRelease=2323

Frozen Soul, Crypt Of Ice (Century Media 2021)