Inferi – Revenant (Technical Death Metal)

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It’s been a lot of tech-death for me this month and while I got the heat up why not keep going? From Rivers of Nihil to Augury and now Inferi there’s definitely been some hyped up albums coming closely after each other. While Augury presented a great comeback into the scene Rivers of Nihil dropped one of the best albums of the year. Question is what does Inferi have in store for us?

I am going to be honest, I’ve found Inferi a bit overrated and never truly understood the hype this band has. In my ears they’ve been a more technical version of The Black Dahlia Murder to dumb it down. Which isn’t bad in any way but me not being too keen on TBDM either it just doesn’t work as well with me as it does for many others. Inferi is tech-death but they go a complete separate way than the likes of Beyond Creation or Obscura does, which in all honesty is a good choice and makes them create their own sound which is more similar to Arsis. That’s exactly where it all “went wrong” for me too as I am a leaning a lot more towards Beyond Creation than Arsis for example. Here is the funny thing though that made me start to change my mind on Inferi. With last year’s TBDM album I started to get a liking for Trevor Strnad and the way they play melo-death, making me spend quite some time with the bands discography last year. Now when I get Inferi’s latest offering Revenant I all of a sudden get it. I can now get behind and dig to these vocals I had such a hard time listening to in the past. The more I listen to the album the better it gets which in itself shows I am changing my musical taste somewhat. This happens every know and then in all honesty, just five-six years ago I couldn’t stand black metal if it wasn’t very symphonic or melodic and I still listened to metalcore. Now I can put on a Darkthrone album and actually enjoy it while I dislike most metalcore, times change and taste in music change, some gets better some gets worse.

Revenant is in many ways a complete album. The nine songs are all really solid and blasts you with jaw-dropping riffs regularly while at the same time changing the pace from brutality to melodic tech-death when needed. I am still not a true believer of the core sound Inferi represents but hey if I’d review this album two years ago I would give it a very average score, while now I find them being a band where I can put their albums on a spin every now and then. It’s hard not to get captivated by the relentless assault Inferi offers and fans of the band might even call this the album of the year. Who knows I might too in the end if it keeps on growing on me and I will change this score to something higher.

Label: The Artisan Era
For fans of: The Black Dahlia Murder and Arsis
Release date: April 21st, 2018
Favorite song: The Menacing Gaze
Score: 3.5/5

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Gluttony – Cult of the Unborn (Death Metal)

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As a frequent listener to death metal, especially the Swedish kind, I obviously try to dig into anything I can find to get my fix. When it comes to Gluttony I found out about them in a weird way so I wanted to share the story. It was last years Halloween and the party I was going to had a theme, the seven deadly sins. Me wanting to be Gluttony I started doing some research and woops I found out there is a death metal band from Sweden called Gluttony! I almost bought one of their shirts just for the sake of having an easy fix on costume but in the end I got a one-piece killer clown that had a lot of mouths all over it instead… Anyways I obviously had to listen to their music and I went on the 2014 release Beyond the Veil of Flesh. I was in all honesty a bit disappointed in the album, it was ok but definitely lacked in quite a few areas to be an album I would remember. Luckily with Cult of the Unborn they manage to do just about everything better.

The core of Bergman, Henriksson and Härén from My Own Grave does a solid job and especially the drums sounds hell of a lot better on this album than on the last. The production and mix of the album is simply put just a more complete product. It’s a joy to hear these 30 minutes of classic swe-death and in all honesty Cult of the Unborn can dance with most of the classics out there that’s how good it is. Magnus Ödling (ex-Diabolical, ex-Setherial) on vocals is perfect for the sound and rounds up the band well. A very tight album and a big surprise to me that’s sure to end on my best of list when the year is coming to an end. I get a lot of similar feelings that I did with Firespawn and their 2017 release The Reprobate which was also an album that did everything so much better than their debut Shadow Realms ever did. You won’t find much better death metal than this coming out during the year I can assure you of that.

Label: Vic Records
For fans of: Entombed and Grave
Release date: April 7th, 2018
Favorite song: The Casket Master
Score: 4/5

Augury – Illusive Golden Age (Technical/Progressive Death Metal)

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As I stated in my review of Where Owls Know My Name by Rivers of Nihil one of my favorite tech-death bands is Beyond Creation, a band many sees as the forefront of progressive technical death metal. Before that band even existed we had Augury though, a band I have to say I personally haven’t listened to simply because I didn’t even know they existed. The band formed in 2002 and released their debut album Concealed in 2004 (a year before Beyond Creation were formed) with the follow-up Fragmentary Evidence coming out in 2009. Both are said to be milestones within the genre to many but since then the band has been quiet, until now.

The album opens up with the title track Illusive Golden Age and instantly I draw a lot of connections to Beyond Creation and Obscura. Which is a good thing and after hearing their older albums right before writing this review I realize Augury’s sound has stayed the same since the debut. The transitions between solos and change of pace is definitely something Augury has learned to master and throughout the album you get hit with one sweet solo after another. There is one big thing that bothers me with Augury though, the clean singing. I wish they stayed to growling all together as to me it fits a lot better to the music. Which is also a big reason why I for example like The Living Vault a lot better than Illusive Golden Age, because there they stay away from the clean singing and it just sounds hell of a lot better.

Seeing as I just reviewed Rivers of Nihil it was impossible not to have the two albums compete a bit against each other. Fact is the two bands have completely different takes on metal as Rivers of Nihils latest album brings so many influences into their music and in some ways break barriers on how tech-death should sound today. Whereas Augury does what Augury does best, a class progressive death metal album which is basically just as good as their past albums and a statement to the newer kids on the block that they are back in action. The main difference is Augury was one of the bands that were ahead of their time back when they first started and a lot of bands have them to thank for what is the core of prog-death today. It’s expected for them after such a long break to come back and give their fans what they crave for. Me being a new listener to the band I’ve learned something new about the whole prog-death scene with not just having found a great album but a whole discography to keep with me at all times.

In conclusion Illusive Golden Age is a wicked album that showcase everything Augury stands for which will surely bring back old fans and add new ones to their ranks. It’s a rebirth from a band that was once ahead of its time and is now in sync with modern prog-death that might as a matter of fact be to their advantage. My favorite tracks include The Living Vault together with the two most hard hitting, brutal tracks on the album Mater Dolorosa and Parrallel Biospheres.

Label: The Artisan Era
For fans of: Obscura and Beyond Creation
Release date: March 30th, 2018
Favorite song: Mater Dolorosa
Score: 4/5

Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name (Technical Death Metal)

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Let me start with saying that Rivers of Nihil is as a matter of fact one of my favorite techdeath bands and have been for years now. Together with bands like Beyond Creation, Archspire, Decrepit Birth, and Spawn of Possession it’s a band I always go to when I have the urge for some technical and progressive metal. There’s always been a feeling that Rivers of Nihil has never unlocked their full potential though and in some ways lacked in their own sound and identity. That being said I had really high hopes for Where Owls Know My Name as the singles I’d heard before were really something completely different from their older music which seemed to have sparked something brand new.

For those unfamiliar with Rivers of Nihil the band was formed in 2009, hailing from USA, has two EPs and two full-length albums released prior to Where Owls Know My Name. Their albums are focused on the different seasons, with the past two albums “Whereas the Conscious Seed of Light” and “Monarchy” were about Spring and Summer. Where Owls Know My Name obviously continue walking on this road with the focus here being on Autumn. The music have always had a lot of emphasis on creating an atmospheric feeling to it more than your common techdeath band which makes the band stick out in my eyes but also means, for some, Rivers of Nihil is a band you get or you don’t. Some even going as far as saying this isn’t technical death metal. Each to their own I guess, I don’t really care if they are labeled atmospheric techdeath, prog, jazz or whatever personally I think Rivers of Nihil are doing a superb job creating music that has a lot of emotion to it with sweet melodies and brings harmony, no matter what label you put on it.

Where Owls Know My Name takes their song-writing to a whole other level. Rivers of Nihil have really captured the atmosphere of Autumn with this one, especially with the great use of keyboards, trumpets, cellos and saxophones that makes this album a whole other beast than their previous releases. It’s really impressive and I get a new feeling each time I take the album for a spin. It is an album I do feel you need to be in a certain mood to listen to though in order to fully grasp and understand it though, seeing it is quite different and the influences are many. They’ve left most of their core sound behind and this album has gone even further into the atmospheric sound than ever before, even having a jazz feel to it. Breaking their own boundaries. That to me is a much welcoming move but I can see it perhaps leaving a few fans shaken up by it. Rivers of Nihil have only evolved though and grown even better in my eyes. Where Owls Know My Name is one of the best albums released this year that gets even better with each listen. This is what technical death metal is all about to me, full of emotions through instruments, breaking barriers, creating an atmosphere you could only dream of. Just listen to The Silent Life, A Home, Where Owls Know My Name or the instrumental track Terrestria III: Wither and you’ll see. It might not be for everyone but for me it’s close to a five, the bands best album to date, and I can’t wait to hear what Rivers of Nihil do next after having ascended into a new being.

Label: Metal Blade Records
For fans of: Decrepit Birth and Fallujah
Release date: March 16th, 2018
Favorite song: The Silent Life
Score: 4.5/5

Pestilent Reign – Pyres (Death Metal)

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Looking for breakdowns that slay, vocals that could scare the hell out of your grandmother and riffs that makes your neck break due to all the headbanging you will do? Then look no further because Pestilent Pyres got you covered. So far the more brutal death metal scene hasn’t had too much action in my opinion. Sure it’s only April but time flies and we all urge to get some neck breaking, go bananas style of death metal every once in a while. Last year we saw bands like Suffocation, Dying Fetus, Gutslit and more hit us with the brutality we crave. It would be nice to have a similar year every year of course but I understand it can’t always be like that.

However Pestilent Reign makes a superb effort to make 2018 just as good of a year. Instantly “Martyr” almost catch me off-guard with it’s hard hitting death metal but it’s when “You Will Kneel in Piss and Blood” the real action comes. Holy shit this song made me go wild. It has everything you want, fast paced brutal death metal with a lot of technical aspects into it and a solo to die for at the end. Dying Fetus, Defeated Sanity, Misery Index and Psycroptic becoming one of sort. Speaking of Defeated Sanity, Pestilent Reigns logo made me think of the band straight away but seeing one of their band members having a Defeated Sanity hoodie on made it quite clear they are probably big fans of the band.

“Saviour” brings and even more technical aspect to it, a bit less of the brutality but with more sick riffs instead. “Pyres” keeps on doing this throughout the entire album, taking in different influences, doing great justice to them and be it technical, brutal or simply death metal they pull it off. The album feels rewarding to listen to with a sweet balance between different takes on death metal which is sure to bring the listener some headbang worth material. Personally I would love them to stay on the more brutal side of things like they did with “You Will Kneel in Piss and Blood” and “I.M.T.R.M.” but whatever road they choose to walk on I am sure it will be great as the band evolves. A thing that holds me back from choosing the big scores with Pyres is due to half the album feeling a bit weaker than the rest. The tracks I will take with me from the album are definitely “You Will Kneel in Piss and Blood” together with “Zealot”, “I.M.T.R.M” and “Gutter’s Filth”. These songs present Pestilent Reign at their best from different perspectives. However the rest were “only” good. Great album that could almost have been a masterpiece from the 2018 releases but for now I am happy to have found a new band to follow on their wicked path of death.

Label: Rising Nemesis Records
For fans of: Misery Index and Psycroptic
Release date: March 16th, 2018
Favorite song: You Will Kneel in Piss and Blood
Score: 3.5/5