Destruction, Diabolical (Napalm Records 2022)

German thrash legends Destruction celebrate forty years of mayhem with their fifteenth studio album, Diabolical.

The story of Destruction stretches back to 1982 when they first operated as Knight Of Demon. Quickly changing their name to the more familiar current one, the 1984 demo the band put out shook things up. Infernal Overkill (1985) and Eternal Devastation (1986) followed quickly, and when the Mad Butcher EP dropped in 1987, Destruction was on a path that could not be denied.

There have been a few shakeups in the lineup lately with the notable departure of co-founder Mike Sifringer last year. As disruptive as that could have been, Destruction pressed on and has created an excellent new album. On Diabolical, founding bassist and vocalist Schmier (Marcel Schirmer) is joined by Martin Furia (guitar), Randy Black (drums), and Damir Eskić (guitar).

Talking about the new album, Martin Furia said, “Diabolical is an album of extremes, everything is more brutal and more technical but at the same time more melodic and to the point. It’s a pure and devastating Destruction album with no gimmicks, full of power and adrenaline.” Some of that sounds a little contradictory, but it is not at all. The speed is furious, the technical performance is flawless, and the songs are filled with hooks and great choruses.

“Under The Spell” wakes the music gently, then builds on a march toward the rampage that is “Diabolical.” The Destruction sound is there – the pace, the shreds, the voice. This is everything fans are looking for. One great track after another follows, with stand-outs like “Hope Dies Last” and “The Last Of A Dying Breed.”

Other favorites for me are “Tormented Soul” as it has a powerful clomping pace that hammers a heavy tone in hard, and “Servant Of The Beast” that offers a careening wallop that’ll take your breath away. The closer is a cover, “City Baby Attacked By Rats,” that brings a little hardcore into the mix. I didn’t see that one coming. All signs point to Destruction being on pace to ravage the stage for years to come. Highly recommended.

Diabolical is out now through Napalm Records. Hard copies are available is many forms, and streaming can be had at all the usual places.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://destruction.bandcamp.com/album/diabolical

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

Napalm Records, https://napalmrecords.com/english/destruction

© Wayne Edwards.

Destruction, Diabolical (Napalm Records 2022)

Unru, Die Wiederkehr des Verdrängten (Babylon Doom Cult 2022)

German atmospheric black metal band Unru release their second long-player, Die Wiederkehr des Verdrängten.

Unru began ten years ago in Bielefeld, Germany. The trajectory of their recording career has been a cautious one. The band released a demo and a couple of splits before introducing the world to a full length experience in 2016 with Als Tier ist der Mensch nichts. That album was very well received by the growing cadre of fans, and another split and demo followed in due course. It is an understatement to declare Die Wiederkehr des Verdrängten has been looked forward to for several years but, even after a single listening, I would say it was worth the wait.

There are five long tracks on the album, ranging from five minutes to nearly sixteen minutes in duration. The first one begins in a thick gloom, droning then introducing bewitchingly lyrical vocals. The voices seem at first to be an invitation, but as they go on the tension builds and they start to take on the tang of a warning, or perhaps simply a direct threat. It is a rising tide of dark beauty that builds for nearly eight minutes. The title track follows with a structure that is somewhat more straight-forward, featuring heavy guitar riffs leading to a shift toward a blistering pace and strained, hissing black metal vocals. There is a progression in this song, too, moving in the theatrical direction and laying down dramatic passages.

The remaining songs are all epic-length. Each is its own differential combination of sounds, ideas, and techniques the band has become known for producing. The depth of the artistic expression contained in these compositions is formidable. The composers took the necessary time to ensure that the final version of each piece was precisely what they intended, and their efforts show in the impact the music has on you when you listen. I can imagine hearing these long pieces performed live at a festival like Psycho Las Vegas where you can sit back and absorb it all with no alacrity or haste. This music will mark you beneath your skin. Recommended.

Die Wiederkehr des Verdrängten is out now through Babylon Doom Cult Records in CD and digital, with vinyl to follow.

Links.

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

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

Babylon Doom Cult Records, https://www.babylondoomcultrecords.com/

© Wayne Edwards. All rights reserved.

Unru, Die Wiederkehr des Verdrängten (Babylon Doom Cult 2022)

Sound Of Smoke, Tales (Tonzonen Records 2022)

You will understand the name of the band when you listen to their music. Sound Of Smoke’s Tales will take you away.

Formed in 2016 in Freiburg, Germany, Sound Of Smoke is a bluesy heavy psych band choosing their own path in a crowded lane. They previously released an EP called Eleutheromania, and Tales appears to be their first full-length album. The band is Isabelle Bapté (vocals, keys), Jens Stöver (guitar), Florian Kiefer (bass), and Johannes Braunstein (drums).

The set includes a cover of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” “Devil’s Voice,” which was on the earlier release, and five more songs that appear to be originals.

“Witch Boogie” is my favorite track – I just love the way it eases into the atmosphere like gathering fog, then thickens and deepens while it envelops you. The voice of Isabelle Bapté is positively mesmerizing. The guitar is urging and the bass will not be denied. Incredible.

“Dreamin’” has a soul of doom and a wicked approach that you can see coming but you cannot avoid. It is a spellcaster. The lead guitar work is lyrical and lightens the tone a bit when it rolls out. “Human Salvation” is another notable track. It runs ten minutes and is the anchor piece for the album. Typically, in a song this long you have different, separate movements that are identifiable as essentially shorter individual songs. That is not true of “Human Salvation.” It is genuinely one entirety that would suffer if it were truncated. Each of the elements is essential, and they all work together to create the whole.

This album is the first music I have heard from Sound Of Smoke, but it won’t be the last. I will be watching closely and listening to whatever they create. Recommended.

Tales hits the streets on Friday, February 18th through Tonzonen Records. In the US, Bandcamp is a good place to pick up the record.

Links.

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

Sound Of Smoke website, https://www.soundofsmoke.de/

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

Tonzonen Records, https://www.tonzonen.de/

Sound Of Smoke, Tales (Tonzonen Records 2022)

Vorga, Striving Toward Oblivion (Transcending Obscurity 2022

The debut full-length album from Vorga arrives to smash the glistening bubble of astronomical mediocrity.

Vorga is a black metal band centered in Germany. Taking inspiration from the stars more than from the depths of the earth, the music they create is expansive and awe-striking. It is an atypical approach for black metal, and it really works. They previously released an EP titled Radiant Gloom in 2019, and a single, “Cataract Mind,” the following year. The band is Atlas (guitar), Jervas (drums), and Спейса (vocals, bass).

The eight tracks on Striving Toward Oblivion are absolutely all black metal, often grueling and pummeling. And yet there is welcome variety in the music throughout. “Starless Sky” is best described as relentless. It holds you down and screams at your for five minutes. “Comet,” on the other hand, has a great sense of adventure in its melody and rhythm. It is more engaging than punishing. “Disgust” is penance for past crimes, and “Stars My Destination” shines in its elevated self. I wonder what Alfred Bester would think of the song.

Black metal in space turns out to be a rich vein to mine. “Last Transmission” is an industrious song that has a potential for broad appeal. “Fool’s Paradise” is very catchy in the initial hooks – it could be a radio song, almost. It is one of my favorites on the album and it has stayed with me after the album was done. Indeed, the farther in you go with this album, the longer you stay with it, the deeper you understand it and the more you begin to inhabit the space it describes. Do not stop after the first song or two. You have to hear the entire thing. Recommended.

Striving Toward Oblivion is out tomorrow, February 4th, through Transcending Obscurity Records.

Links.

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

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

Transcending Obscurity Records, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Vorga, Striving Toward Oblivion (Transcending Obscurity 2022

Heads For The Dead, Slash ‘N’ Roll (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Heads For The Dead veer off their usual path into straight-up horror with their new EP Slash ‘N’ Roll.

Heads For The Dead is a band with an international cast, hailing from Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands. The musicians are veterans of the heavy music scene who have come together for this project and have released two previous records, Serpent’s Curse (2018) and Into The Red (2020). The music they create has always had a strong horror and cinematic angle so this new EP might be seen as inevitable. The players are Jonny Pettersson (guitars, bass, and keys), Ralf Hauber (vocals), and Ed Warby (drums).

Slash ‘N’ Roll has three original songs and two covers, all horror-themed. “Maniac” is a playful punk tune cast for a broad audience. “Halloween” begins with John Carpenter’s classic theme from the movie and takes off from there. There is more death metal content in this song than the first but there is still plenty of punk in the corners here, too, along with the recurrence of the cinematic theme. “The Thing” continues the movie title motif and is suitably otherworldly, not to mention ethereal. It also includes a short dialogue capture from the film.

The covers are “Skulls,” originally by the Misfits, and the Ramones’ horror movie theme song “Pet Sematary.” The main beats are there and the songs are recognizable, but there is a profound Heads For The Dead stamp on these renditions. While it might be tempting to think of this set as a disposable one-off, I believe instead that it will become a much sought-after collector’s item in the physical forms. These tunes are a lot of fun for metalheads and they are hitting the street at the exact right time of year. Recommended.

Slash ‘N’ Roll dropped early, on Halloween, so it is out now. Links are below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://headsforthedead.bandcamp.com/album/slash-n-roll-horror-death-metal

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

Transcending Obscurity, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Heads For The Dead, Slash ‘N’ Roll (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Destruction, Live Attack (Napalm Records 2021)

Legendary German thrash band Destruction release a massive double live album, Live Attack.

Destruction began in the early 1980s and went through a number of stylist and line-up changes over the years. To me and their legions of fans they are a thrash band. If you take a look at their discography it is a little overwhelming. So many long-players, splits, and live albums. Destruction has been a fundamental metal force for decades and they never experienced much of a lull that they didn’t bounce right back from with renewed energy.

Recently, founding guitarist Mike Sifringer left Destruction suddenly and was replaced by Martin Furia, who appears on the newly released single “State of Apathy.” As earth-shaking as this development was, there was never any question about Destruction continuing as a band because they still have a lot of metal in them waiting to come out. The musicians now are Schmier, Randy Black, Damir, and Martin Furia.

Live Attack has twenty rampaging tracks from their livestream performance recorded at Z7 in Pratteln, Switzerland. They play classics like “Mad Butcher” alongside newer songs such as “Born To Perish” from the recent studio album of the same name. This concert is distinct from last year’s Born To Thrash live album which was taken from a 2019 show. Both are great sets, but the big advantage to the new album is its more comprehensive scope and expansive set list. The playing is crisp and sharp, as always, and the recording capture is top-notch. I have been a thrash fan since thrash began, and I have followed Destruction all along so this new release is a must-listen for the likes for me. Recommended.

The digital version of Live Attack is out now and the vinyl will be shipping in the coming weeks. There is also a CD/Blu Ray set if you want to witness the performance.

Links.

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

Band website, https://www.destruction.de/

Napalm Records, https://www.napalmrecordsamerica.com/destruction-live-attack-black-3lp.html

Destruction, Live Attack (Napalm Records 2021)

Space Chaser, Give Us Life (Metal Blade Records 2021)

The third album from Space Chaser is an absolute rampage of blistering thrash.

Formed in Germany in 2011, Space Chaser has promulgated some the most memorable thrash music out there. This five-piece metal machine has released two previous full-length albums, the most recent being Dead Sun Rising in 2016. The new album has all the velocity and ingenuity fans have come to expect. The band is Siegfried Rudzynski (vocals), Leo Schacht (guitar), Martin Hochsattel (guitar), Sebastian Kerlikowski (bass), and Matthias Scheuerer (drums).

If you look at the cover art you will get a pretty good idea about the thematic perspective for Give Us Life. It ranges from techlife to rampaging killing machines to the evolution of a star, as in the title track the band describes this way: “It’s always an act of violence, birth and death. When a star sheds its hull and collapses into a white dwarf it soon will perish like all life, biological or non-biological. If a star goes supernova it explodes and spreads all the elements needed to create life, and the whole process begins anew. Thousands of worlds have to perish, to create new worlds and life of its own.” I am always up for a good story. Still, it is the music that is the most important thing to me.

There are ten tracks on the new album, mostly running at radio length and all of them glistening with speed and power. There are fascinating crooks and turns in nearly every song. I am impressed when a band can find a way to create a pattern I have never heard before, and there are many examples of that very thing in this music.

“Cryoshock” is a stand-out for me – I love the lead work – and the title track is a monster, too. The final track, “Dark Descent,” also captured my imagination with its big build and tempo changes. The laid-out lead guitar toward the end, I can still hear it. I am on board with thrash most of the time and this album ticks that box but it also adds so much more. Recommended.

The street date for Give Us Life is Friday, July 16th and you can get it at the Metal Blade shop or Bandcamp.

Links,

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

Bandcamp, https://spacechaser.bandcamp.com/album/give-us-life

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

Space Chaser, Give Us Life (Metal Blade Records 2021)

Bloodbeat, Process of Extinction (Inverse Records 2021)

German Death Metal band Bloodbeat conjure pulverizing musical notions for their second album.

Relatively new to the game, Bloodbeat released their first full-length album in 2016, Murderous Art. The style of heavy music they play is rooted in an old school 1990s approach and they hang the lead and vocal work on a solid frame of bass, rhythm guitar, and drums. The music is up-tempo, straight-forward, and formidable.

On Process of Extinction, Bloodbeat has crafted eight tracks. Generally the music is turned up to brutal, with ravaging guitars and break-neck pace. The vocals are gruff and coarse while still be understandable. Lead breaks lean toward the furious and are bristling complements in the music.

The concepts behind the songs can be quite complex and carefully thought-out. Here is what the band has to say about the story for one of their tracks. “The song ‘Rigor Mortis’ is not only explicitly about the so-called ‘cadaveric rigidity.’ Among other things, the scene is set in the world between life and the afterlife. It is about a psychopath who has already done all the atrocities in his miserable life. However, he did not start the bad acts on his own. His body is controlled by a demon. He tries to chase the demon out of himself by massacring himself. In doing so, the evil within him continues to try to seduce him and take him over. His goal is to get rid of him in some way. Only his death can defeat him and at some point the huge suffering has a dark end.” That’s a lot packed into less than four minutes, but it does all come through.

For Death Metal fans, this album will hit all the right notes. Recommended.

Process of Extinction is out on Friday, June 18th through Inverse Records. The easy way to pick it up in the US is through Bandcamp.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://bloodbeat.bandcamp.com/album/process-of-extinction

Bloodbeat website, https://bloodbeat.de/

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

Inverse Records, https://bloodbeat.de/

Bloodbeat, Process of Extinction (Inverse Records 2021)

Eremit, Bearer Of Many Names (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

German Doom Metal trio Eremit offer their second full-length album, Bearer Of Many Names, to the multitudes.

Eremit’s first album, Carrier of Weight, came out in 2018 and it started something big. It had three songs, the short one being eleven minutes long and the long one covering thirty three minutes. Even for a doom band, this is epic-length work and in conveys a commitment to concept and idea that would become a hallmark of the band’s approach. The line-up is Marco Baecker (drums), Pascal Sommer (guitar), and Moritz Fabian (vocals and guitar).

Desert Of Ghouls is an EP that was released last year – two songs, twenty minutes – and it was a welcome transitional release for the new album. It is not necessary to listen to the earlier releases to become immersed in the latest one, but I do recommended it because there is an arc here from the beginning to the now and beyond. Like Carrier Of Weight, there are three tracks on Bearer Of Many Names.

“Enshrined in Indissoluble Chains and Enlightened Darkness” (29:22) opens with six quiet minutes of uneasiness then explodes suddenly with a Black-Metal-esque eruption to show you the trepidation was in order. The doom approach is slow and fatally heavy, punctuated by the tectonic shifts in the percussion, guitar, and voice.

“Secret Powers Entrenched in an Ancient Artefact” (18:36) is a bit more funereal to my ear than the first track and “Unmapped Territories of Clans without Names” (18:27) is the eeriest, pressing against the edges of ethereal and ritual music. Everything about the music on this album is absolutely mesmerizing. Listening to any track by itself is a welcome a welcome journey. Even so, listening to all three in order is worthwhile enhancement.

I have been following Eremit through its brief career and I have enjoyed the first two releases. The new one is the best so far and it sets a higher standard for Doom Metal in this vein. Highly recommended.

Bearer Of Many Names is out now from Transcending Obscurity, one of the very best heavy labels around – if you are into variants, bundles, and merch, they always deliver. Look over the links below and dive in.

Links.

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

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

Eremit store, http://eremit.limitedrun.com/

Transcending Obscurity, https://transcendingobscurity.aisamerch.com/

Eremit, Bearer Of Many Names (Transcending Obscurity 2021)

Desaster, Churches Without Saints (Metal Blade Records 2021)

German Blackened Thrash Metal band Desaster add a new set of high-speed adrenaline-infused metal to their history.

Desaster started in the late 1980s and really got kicking in the 1990s. Along with releasing eight previous full-length albums, there has also been a slew of EPs, splits, compilations, and three live albums. It has been five years since their last studio album, The Oath Of An Iron Ritual, so the time is definitely right for some new music.

The musical style on Churches Without Saints is what we have come to expect from the band: high speed Blackened Thrash that visits themes of darkness and aggression. They have an old school four-piece set-up that pummels and pounds and rakes over the universal constant in search of conflict and despair.

There are eleven tracks on the album, including an intro and an outro. Most are set at high speed, like the opening cut, “Learn To Love The Void.” There are a few that have a scaled back pace, like the title track itself, which is more about threat and menace than acceleration.

Other stand-out tracks include “Hellputa” which is best described as an explosion with its roaring energy and dueling lead break. “Sadistic Salvation,” too, is a break-neck killer up front but it steps back in the middle to survey the ruin it has sown. The longest track, “Endless Awakening,” comes just before the outro. It has an acoustic opening to begin the journey that takes to you to all the corners of the kingdom. There are parts of this song that remind me most of the old school standard and in other places there are turns to raging dimensions and ethereal planes previously unseen. Desaster is wide open on this album, delivering the goods. Recommended.

Churches Without Saints is out now from Metal Blade Records. Have a look at the links below.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://desaster.bandcamp.com/album/churches-without-saints

Desaster website, http://www.total-desaster.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/666Desaster666

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

Desaster, Churches Without Saints (Metal Blade Records 2021)