Metal Massacre XV (Metal Blade Records 2021)

The fifteenth installment of Metal Blade Records’ popular Metal Massacre compilation series takes the stage.

It all started in 1982 at the very beginning of the storied label. The first Metal Massacre compilation had some incredible artists contribute to it including Cirith Ungol, Avatar, Bitch, and Metallica. The anthology was an annual event for many years until the end of the 1980s when the new ones started to come out only sporadically. It is nice to see the fires lit again for the first time since 2016.

Here is what is on the new compilation. 01. Midnight, “Masked and Deadly” (exclusive), 02. Poison Ruïn, “Demon Wind,” 03. Fuming Mouth, “Master of Extremity,” 04. Many Suffer, “The Trees Die Standing” (exclusive), 05. Temple of Void, “Leave the Light Behind,” 06. Ripped to Shreds, “撿骨 (Bone Ritual)” (exclusive), 07. Rude, “Omega,” 08. Midnight Dice, “Starblind,” 09. Smoulder, “Warrior Witch of Hel,” and 10. Mother of Graves, “In Somber Dreams.”

As you can tell from the contributor list, there is quite a range of music here from straight up heavy metal to punk to death metal to doom and all points around and in between. It is worth noting that a few of these tracks are exclusive to this release (marked above), at least for now. That’s a good reason to check this album out along with the rest of the solid tunes.

Metal Massacre XV is out on Friday May 21st through the label at the link below. Recommended.

Links.

Metal Blade Records, https://www.metalblade.com/metalmassacre/

Metal Massacre XV (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Empty Throne, Glossolalia (Wise Blood Records 2021)

The debut album from Empty Throne brings together years of experience for a new take on Thrash and Black Metal.

The band formed only last year and yet its members have been playing in notable bands for many years. Witness: C.R. Petit (vocals), Mike Pardi (guitar), Jason Ellsworth (bass), and Gabe Seeber (drums). These musicians have contributed to bands ranging from Angerot to Abbath to Possessed and back again, honing skills and raising their game until they came together as Empty Throne.

Glossolalia has three long songs of heavy music that traverse many alleyways of heavy music. You could call it a lot of different things, starting with Black Metal and casting about in Thrash and Death Metal as well.

“And All Shall Know His Name” gets going with a gallop and the speed heats your blood up immediately. The technical expertise demonstrated in the precise playing of every instrument is impressive and this solid footing sets the music up for any turn it cares to take. “That Day Has Come” has a funereal opening segment that collapses under the savage thrashing metal attack that appears instantaneously and separates you from your senses. The guitars are ravaging and the bass is emblematic of a dark wizardry that lurks in the shadows and erupts when you least expect it.

“My Flesh The Temptation” closes the set and there is no wind-down at all. The tempo and energy are just as fierce at the end as the beginning. Layered vocals and relentless searing metal hammer until there is nothing left to smash. Tempo changes, when they occur, offer no respite. Instead they push deeper the dark ideas and imprint them in places where they will never fade. Glossolalia will stay with you. Highly recommended.

The EP is out now from Wise Blood Records and gatherable at all the usual places. Links below.

Links.

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

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

Wise Blood Records, https://wisebloodrecords.com/

Empty Throne, Glossolalia (Wise Blood Records 2021)

Led To The Grave, Pray For Death (HPGD 2021)

Massachusetts Death Metallers Led To The Grave come out swinging on their first Horror Pain Gore Death Productions release.

Led To The Grave’s origins stretch back to at least 2007 with their self-titled demo. Since then there have been many more recorded artifacts, including two full-length albums, most recently Bane of Existence (2017). They have signed with HPGD now and metal fans will be glad for the easier access to the band’s music, which is a smash of Death Metal and Thrash that would melt a stone cold hunk of iron.

There are two songs on the EP. First up is “Pray For Death,” a rousing ripper with a catchy, progressing riff that opens up space for the growling vocals and peppering drums. The song is fast but not super-speedy and it ends with a bang.

“No Salvation” spins at you like an expertly thrown bladed weapon. There is a siesta in the middle that walks you right into the charging second half. It is a savage ride that will raise your blood pressure and get your fists punching in the air. These two songs are an inspired metal pairing. Recommended.

Pray For Death is out today. Look on the Bandcamp page or at HPGD’s website to order cassettes, digital, CDs, t-shirts, and all. After you hear these two songs you are going to want more. While you’re waiting for future music releases to materialize, check out the band’s Bandcamp page where you can get the earlier music to hold you over.

Links.

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

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

HPGD website, http://www.horrorpaingoredeath.com/

Led To The Grave, Pray For Death (HPGD 2021)

Mephitic Grave, Into The Atrium of Inhuman Morbidity (Carbonized Records 2021)

Doom and Death Metal come together on the debut album from Mephitic Grave.

Mephitic Grave is a heavy metal band from Hungary formerly known as Mothrot. They initially got together in 2018, and Into The Atrium of Inhuman Morbidity is their first widely distributed full-length record.

The opening track is a mini-suite, “Entering The Atrium / The Gatekeeper.” There is a long lead-in of the sound of rain and grinding noises before the dread guitar lands and the chanting growls prowl into your brain. The song has a sense of foreboding in the more doom-oriented moments and promotes feelings of threat in the faster parts. It is an excellent combination. “Chthonicon” is next and it starts off faster and also features the tempo shifts that created and fostered such trepidation in the opener. I am starting to see the path. Indeed, these gateway pieces are truthful signs of the journey that is unfolding.

Given in the grim nature of the musical sound the band has created, it is no surprise that the narrative content is also dark. The approach is described in the press release this way. “[T]he band’s visual and lyrical concepts revolve around the philosophy of cosmicism which denies the presence of a god or any such ideas of divinity and upholds that humans are insignificant in the face of an incomprehensibly large cosmos.” Makes sense. A Lovecraft idealism without too much regard for the Old Gods. Rich grounds for Death Metal themes.

The doom influences are very strong throughout the album and if I had to put the music in a category I would probably lean in that direction, even though I usually see “Death Metal” next to their name. The labels are only useful anyway to give you an idea of what to expect before you hear the music. After that you decide for yourself whether you like it or not. My personal decision is that this album is very good. Recommended.

Friday May 7th is opening day for Into The Atrium of Inhuman Morbidity. Check it out through the Carbonized Records site or Bandcamp for quick pick-ups.

Band photo by Jim Jones.

Links.

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

Carbonized Records, https://carbonized-records.myshopify.com/

Mephitic Grave, Into The Atrium of Inhuman Morbidity (Carbonized Records 2021)

Trauma, Acrimony (Selfmadegod Records 2021)

Veteran Polish Death Metal titans Trauma add to their canon with Acrimony.

Since the early 1990s Trauma has been writing powerful Death Metal music. They fit in perfectly with the strong tradition of heavy metal bands in Poland and their compositions have a traditional feel to them and a polished production. The band is Arkadiusz Sinica (drums), Jarosław Misterkiewicz (guitar, bass), and Artur Chudewniak (vocals).

Last year’s Ominous Black album was well received by fans and the songs from the new EP Acrimony were recorded at the same time. There is a beautiful stylistic connection in the album cover art to match the cabalistic connection between the previous LP and the new set. If you liked the album you are going to want this companion to go with it. One does not feel quite complete without the other.

“Internal Sacrifice” is a stylized epic metal song, with a big build and a massive payoff. “The Godless Abyss” has a more direct approach and also has a theatrical construction. “Reign of Terror” quietens down a bit, at least at the start. The solitude does not last long and the peaceful serenity is dismembered by blast beats and crushing riffs.

The final song is a cover of the Gorefest favorite “Reality When You Die.” This is the longest track and it is rager once it gets going, seeming to have a ravenous need to engulf you. These four tracks form an excellent set to take us through until the next album comes out. Recommended.

Acrimony is out now from Selfmadegod Records and is available through Bandcamp as well as the other usual outlets. Take a minute to think about rounding up some other Trauma releases while you are at it if you don’t have them yet.

Links.

Website, http://www.traumaofficial.com/

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

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

Selfmadegod Records, https://selfmadegod-store.com/

Trauma, Acrimony (Selfmadegod Records 2021)

Plasmodium, Towers Of Silence (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

The caustic ululations from down under can only mean that Plasmodium has released a new album.

Australian chaos cohorts Plasmodium ripped the lid off of reason in 2016 with their first album, Entheognosis. The menace that began with those four songs continues on Towers Of Silence, another loose approximation to coherence.

There are five tracks on the new album. The first two are short, noisy explosions. I am not sure if they are meant to terrify the listener, but they could have that effect. The pace is furious and the direction of the music is more of a flurry than a path.

“Pseudocidal” is a free-form expression that lays an ambient bed and lets the drums run wild. Vocalizations are more subdued than they were in the openers and even become discernable after a few minutes. The percussion seems to be on about something and you find that reassuring in the otherwise worrisome surroundings.

The last two songs on the album a big ones, “Translucinophobia” and “Vertexginous,” having a running time over thirty minutes between them. The former is like an extended Alexandrian campaign in an unknown land and the latter is more like a journey through an extended purgatorial menace that ends badly. This is metal music, heavy music, dark music, but there is nothing to reliably compare it to because of the general lack of core elements. The thought of what Plasmodium might create next is a churning maelstrom of bewildering possibilities.

I have listened to about fifty releases from Transcending Obscurity over the last many months and this one is by far the strangest. If you are up for the challenge, Towers Of Silence is out now. There is no telling what door it might open for you.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://plasmodiumdeath.bandcamp.com/album/towers-of-silence-cosmic-black-death-metal

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

Plasmodium, Towers Of Silence (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Gojira, Fortitude (Roadrunner Records 2021)

In their twentieth year as a metal band Gojira issues their seventh full-length studio album and it is one of the very best.

Gojira is from France and they play heavy metal. The music has groove and progressive elements to it, and you do not mistake Gojira for another band when you hear their music. Magma (2016) is the most recent album up to now, and while they have been quiet on the recording front since it came out they have been playing live and dazzling fans continuously. The band is Jean-Michel Labadie (bass), Mario Duplantier (drums), Christian Andreu (guitars), Joe Duplantier (guitar and vocals).

There are eleven tracks on the album, beginning with “Born For One Thing.” The drum lays in a march cadence while the guitar wind-up does not prepare you for the metal when it kicks in a few seconds later. The composition is heavy and complex, syncopated and variegated, groovy and mysterious – all these things at once. “Amazonia” comes up next, with its subtle slither and shimmer. Its every element is mesmerizing, like an shamanic chant. The narrative is compelling and delivered with authority.

The songs on Fortitude are big and ambitious. Some are delivered on a softer register throughout, like “Another World” and others demonstrate an incredible range from peace to aggression, as in “Hold On.” Progressive influences live in and amongst the growling metal. And then there is the title track, which is a short reflective piece that transitions into “The Chant,” a song that builds into a powerful statement before handing off the torch to “The Sphinx” with its heavy and sinister posture. This set wraps on “Grind” featuring punishing percussion, whispering vocal savagery, and stabbing, whirling guitars.

I was expecting something big from Gojira on this new album. What they have done is even more than I expected. We are all going to be reading about how this album is setting a standard others will be compared to and let me add my voice to that chorus. I am sure Fortitude will be on the 2021 Best Of list. Highly recommended.

Fortitude is out now. Hit the website link below to investigate the options.

Live photo by Wayne Edwards, Aftershock Festival 2019.

Links.

Website, https://www.gojira-music.com/?frontpage=true

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

Roadrunner Records, https://store.roadrunnerrecords.com/gojira.html

Gojira, Fortitude (Roadrunner Records 2021)

Crypts Of Despair, All Light Swallowed (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

The sophomore album from Lithuania’s Crypts Of Despair is a grand leap in their emergent Death Metal approach.

The band is Dovydas Auglys (guitar, vocals), Benas Juskus (guitar), Simonas Jurkevicius (bass, vocals), and Henri Mall (drums). In 2017 the group’s first album appeared, The Stench Of The Earth. The new one is some ways appears to be very different and in other ways can be seen as a shift or even an evolution of what the first record started.

There are nine tracks on the album running from the medium to short side on length. It all begins with “Being – Erased,” a song that flashes a metallic clanging first before the blast beat and barrage of ferocious sound. It is overwhelming to your senses, but if you listen to it, you’ll hear the individual pieces that make up the whole and the richness of the music is revealed.

The center of the writing is the rhythm and percussion. The explosion of the vocals on “Anguished Exile” has a noticeable Black Metal tint while the music overall is heads-down Death Metal aggression. In the middle, the music slows to Doom proportions before slowly rising again to end as it began.

And then there is “Choked By The Void,” which has a slow and deliberate pace that works up to rival the zeal of its predecessors. Throughout the album this is what you can expect – it is not just one thing, but is instead an amalgamation of heavy music influences that branch out, combine, and explore while staying true to the Death Metal lineage from which it sprang. Recommended.

All Light Swallowed is out now from Transcending Obscurity Records in the usual bewildering array of versions ranging from colored vinyl to merch bundles to the simple digital download.

Links.

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

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

Crypts Of Despair, All Light Swallowed (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Cannibal Corpse, Violence Unimagined (Metal Blade 2021)

Death Metal icons Cannibal Corpse release their fifteenth studio album, expanding their canon and deepening their legacy.

The first album I heard from the band was their second one, Butchered At Birth (1991). Sure, I was drawn in by the cover art – the butcher on the right staring you straight in the eye is a compelling image – and I was glad I got the record after listening to it a few times. This was some of the earliest Death Metal that I had listened to, being usually drawn more toward thrash at the time. It made an impression. The music in recent years is quite a bit different, but there is no mistaking the importance of Cannibal Corpse to Death Metal and to heavy music in general. The band is now George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher (vocals), Erik Rutan (guitar), Rob Barrett (guitar), Alex Webster (bass), and Paul Mazurkiewicz (drums).

There are eleven roaring tracks on the new album. “Murderous Rampage” is the opener and it sets a high bar with its blistering velocity and skull-smashing riffs. Fisher sounds as ferocious as ever and the guitars give a little nostalgic twist here and there. “Necrogenic Resurrection” ratchets up the angst and offers destabilizing tempo shift before a lead break that is delivered at top speed. “Inhumane Harvest” starts with a whirl and by now I know I am getting exactly what I was hoping for with the new album.

The music is heavy and coarse Death Metal all the way through with a surprisingly deep maneuvering of perspective and noticeable tone shifts. “Ritual Annihilation” stands apart for me, if I had to pick a single track, because it delivers my ideal of the music I think of when the name Cannibal Corpse comes up. The entire set is rock solid and will enter the list of the band’s releases in a high slot. Recommended.

Violence Unimagined is out now. There are many variants and enticing merch. Hit any link below and you’ll get there.

Live photo by Wayne Edwards, 2019 at Higher Ground in Burlington, Vermont.

Links.

Website, http://cannibalcorpse.net/

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

Metal Blade, https://metalblade.com/cannibalcorpse/

Cannibal Corpse, Violence Unimagined (Metal Blade 2021)

Nervous Decay, Nervous Decay (Great Dane Records 2021)

French Old School Death Metal specialists unleash their first full-length album.

Nervous Decay released a demo in 2019 and single in 2020. The new album includes the songs from those issues newly recorded with a couple of debut tracks. The style is straight-up pummeling Death Metal with a significant nostalgic nod to the past and a critical eye to innovation. The band is Guillaume Pavaillon (vocals and bass), Gregoire Bonin (guitar), Guilhem Lesage (drums), and Nathan Thebault (guitar).

The opener is “Cerberus’ Brace” and it hits the mark with blazing guitar blasts and speedy riffs. The vocals have a delightfully feral quality to them, and the rhythm section makes prominent appearances. “Daily Poison” follows and pushes the metal just as far, taking turns and explorations in technical directions and inserting ear-catching hooks. All seven songs in the set are ones you’ll want to hear again and again.

I especially like “Shield of Delusion” which has an eerie, doom-laden approach. “Lobotomy” is another song that I keep hearing in my head as it positively roars at the front and back while also including a sort of dream sequence within. This album hits hard in all the right places. Recommended.

Nervous Decay is out now. In the US, Bandcamp is a good place to gather up the goods.

Photo from the band’s Facebook page.

Links.

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

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/Nervous.Decay.Band

Label, https://www.greatdanerecs.com/eshop/web/?lang=en_US

Nervous Decay, Nervous Decay (Great Dane Records 2021)