Waldhexen – Ego Canus Lunam Cano (Black/Death Metal)

It’s funny what a band with members scattered all around the metal sub-genres can do when coming together. You got members currently active in Blurring (goregrind), Abdicate (brutal death metal), The Crimson Edge (melodic black/death metal) while having a past from bands such as Goemagot (slam), Infernal Thorn (black/thrash) and Kalibas (black/death/grindcore). That’s a lot of experience, within a wide range of genres and it’s definitely heard in the new band Waldhexen.

It’s rather low-fi production brings the thoughts back to old school black metal and it works in Waldhexen’s favor and their black/death sound. It’s a flurry of riffs and where the drumming stands out to me with it’s fast, aggressive playstyle that sets the tone nicely. The vocals are also something that stands out as the different styles used aren’t something I usually hear in a, mainly, black death metal album. You can hear a variation of vocal sounds often heard within the scenes of punk, black, death and slam/brutal, all in one short three songs EP. Quite awesome really and at first I thought it might be a bit all over the place, lacking focus and maybe not knowing exactly where they want to go with this album. But those thought quickly diminished as when I write this haven’t been able to let the album go and am well into my 6th playthrough.

This might not be a record for everyone, but it is create thinking coming to life which is not something you hear too often and for that I applaud Waldhexen. Personally I had an sweet time with Ego Canus Lunam Cano and can’t wait to hear what the band comes up with next time around. Because this is simply a taste of what’s to come I’m sure.

Written by J.B.

Artist: Waldhexen
Label: Independent
For fans of: The Crimson Edge & Cursus Bellum
Release date: January 12th, 2020
Favorite song: The Oblation of One for Many
Score: 3.5/5 Very good

Svarttjern – Shame is Just a Word (Black Metal)

I reviewed the last album Dødsskrik from Svarttjern back in 2016 and during that time I had a 0-10 scale on scores I gave it a 9/10, thinking it was a black metal masterpiece of the year with a fresh sound that every black metal fanatic should devour. While I haven’t actually gone back to that album as much as I thought I would I still think Dødsskrik was one of the best albums released in the genre that year. Oh and for those unfamiliar with Svarttjern it’s a five-man band which contains some very big names with three of said five coming from Carpathian Forest. Rounding up the line-up there is guitarist Fjellnord from Magister Templi and then ex-Ragnarok vocalist HansFyrste (one of my personal favorites from the Norwegian scene). With that in mind I had high hopes Svarttjern’s 5th album would prove to be a a contender for one of the best black metal albums in 2020, and a great start to the year.

Svarttjern sticks, for the most part, to the same formula and fans of their old material will feel right at home here. There are a couple of tracks that stands out with a more old school almost heavy metal/thrash feel, much of what 1349 tried to get back to the roots with their latest album but I do think Svarttjern does a better job at it much due to the fact Svarttjern has always been close to bands such as Celtic Frost and Hellhammer. Another thing that stands out is the song “Ment til å Tjene”, this song it the pinnacle of Norwegian black metal in my opinion. It has it all, the mighty riffs, fast pace, sung on the mothertongue and just plain evil. I can listen to that song on repeat all day and it’s honestly one of the best single songs I’ve heard in months. The solo at 3:50 gives me goosebumps and that song alone can bring fans into Svarttjern as they show just how well they can bring the old school and make it fresh. The cover of Exodus famous song “Bounded by Blood” is also one of the best made covers I’ve heard in quite some time and it’s very fitting Svarttjern in so many ways, great job and choice on that one!

As I stated before I liked Dødsskrik a lot but with Shame is Just a Word Svarttjern has become even darker and evolved their sound to new levels. The year is only 17 days old and we already got a contender for the best black metal album of the year. This is fantastic and the best album so far by Svarttjern where they’ve truly managed to capture the essence of old black metal with the more modern touches. All I can say to end this review with is, as I read in the promo email, “Show your true self and shake off your invisibility cloak. Embrace your shame. Shame is just a word.”

Written by J.B.

Artist: Svarttjern
Label: Soulseller Records
For fans of: 1349 & Ragnarok
Release date: January 17th, 2020
Favorite song: Ment til å Tjene
Score: 4.5/5 Incredible

Bloody Sadism – Eloquent Atrocity (Brutal Death Metal)

From Iran there is a one-man army by the name of Pooyan Ahmadi who recently unleashed the debut Eloquent Atrocity from brutal death metal act Bloody Sadism. It’s not every day I find myself a promo from Iran so it was with excitement I buried myself in what would come to be a very likable experience.

OK lets get straight to the point, this is good stuff! I didn’t know what to expect coming into this one but it turns out to be a quite fun ride with some twists and turns to the Bloody Sadism which makes it standout somewhat. Sometimes it might sound a bit goofy but then again I think that’s one of the albums strong points to, almost giving me a grindcore feel to it. You just need to listen to the title track “Eloquent Atrocity” to understand what I’m talking about. The only thing I don’t understand one bit is the intro and outro, as far as those goes that was a total waste of five minutes. Could of just have ended it with the killer track “Lucid Dream” and end it on a high note. The mixing could also use a bit of work as I find it being inconsistent, but seeing it’s a debut album plus Pooyan doing everything alone I will let it slip. The drums are also a hit or miss. Either way it’s safe to say fans of brutal death metal will have a good time here and Eloquent Atrocity definitely tries hard to not fall into a generic brutal death metal category. Bloody Sadism needs a bit of work but I enjoy the effort put into this creation and I can see Pooyan only improving with time. A diamond in the rough that already shows promise and gets your head banging.

Written by J.B.

Artist: Bloody Sadism
Label: Base Record Production
For fans of: Analepsy & Guttural Slug
Release date: October 1st, 2019
Favorite song: Sadomasochism
Score: 3/5 Good

Wormhole – The Weakest Among Us (Technical Brutal Death Metal/Slam)

The year starts heavy for The Metal Gamer as the first review of the year comes from the brutal tech-death band Wormhole and their sophomore release titled The Weakest Among Us. Their debut album Genesis was a sleeper hit that came out late 2016, which I personally didn’t find out about until around a year after but it was definitely one of the better brutal tech-death albums for its time where I enjoyed the hints of slam and deathcore. Fast forward to 2020 and the Kumar brothers now got a drummer in Matt Tillett (Greylotus, ex-Cognitive (live)) and Anshuman Goswami (Perihelion, Cognitive (live)) on vocals joining them on The Weakest Among Us after Goswami having been doing vocals live for Wormhole. He got some big shoes to fill as both Calum Forrest and, the almost legendary, Duncan Bentley were doing solid work prior. Will The Weakest Among Us solidify Wormhole as a giant within the genre or will it prove to be the weakest among us, seeing the band take a step backwards with the member changes?

To start of with The Weakest Among Us got a whole different feel to it than their debut, the deathcore vibe is completely gone and it’s a lot more technical. The title-track “The Weakest Among Us” showcase that right from the start and shows a new side of the Wormhole that sounds more mature, heavier and vastly improved songwriting. With “rA9_myth” bringing way more slam bits into the giant hole I’m just about ready to be devoured by this worm as it is surely going for the kill by now. “D-S3” slows it down a notch, walking on the progressive path for a while, where you can hear some similarities to Sanjay Kumar’s other band Equipoise at times.

With more heavy slam in “The Gas System” putting the….gas back in the tank…. and the mouthful “Wave Quake Generator Plasma Artillery Cannon” we quickly go back into full gear again. The album closer “Ingswarm” is a wicked way to start your 2020 with some filthy breakdowns and the highlight of the album for me together with the opener, and title-track, “The Weakest Among Us” has been my two most played songs at the beginning of this year. Those two songs I think capture perfectly who Wormhole are in 2020.

One thing is certain The Weakest Among Us is a completely different beast than their debut Genesis and a much more varied effort. While Genesis was solid it it might have lacked some bits to make it stand out and be a long lasting album in my playlists I find The Weakest Among Us bringing all the right stuff. As far as technical brutal death metal goes this is definitely one of the more experimental albums I’ve heard in the genre. Or as the promo said “prepare yourself for a new generation of Slam and Technical Death Metal!”. It might be a bit too nice and a bit too little brutality at times, while going too hard on the progressive/technical side but at the same time that’s a thing I like with the album. The Vulvodynia resemblances are basically all gone in my opinion, welcome the lovechild of Wormed, Decimated Humans and Equipoise in all its glory. A band that says “fuck it lets go nuts on our sophomore album”, try breaking some boundaries and the result is a good fucking album that makes 2020 have a flying start. Oh and did I mention they base their music on not only common sci-fi but Metroid lore (which you can see through the cover art)!? Metal gamers better dig this!

Written by J.B.

Artist: Wormhole
Label: Lacerated Enemy Records
For fans of: Wormed & Decimated Humans
Release date: January 14th, 2020
Favorite song: Ingswarm
Score: 4/5 Excellent

Sentient Horror – Morbid Realms (Death Metal)

Originally created in 2014 as Sentience before changing name to Sentient Horror in 2016 this American death metal band has been very active, releasing their debut EP Beyond the Curse of Death only months after its creation. It was with the full-length debut Ungodly Forms in 2016 that the band made some waves in the death metal community however as their horror themed swe-death sound went right at home with fans of genre. After a solid EP release last year with The Crypts Below the time has now come for a sophomore full-length titled Morbid Realms. Can Sentient Horror produce another killer full-length or was it just beginners luck?

Short answer is yes they can! Morbid Realms brings a flurry of riffs and catchy hooks to the table, bringing justice to the swe-death of old. If you love Entombed worshiping death metal then this is for you. Fact is this is one of the best albums I’ve heard in the pile of swe-death that comes out nowadays. Sentient Horror doesn’t try to change the genre or anything but with some of the mightiest riffs I’ve heard all year (“Bound to Madness” is a perfect example of that), along with great songwriting and extremely catchy music Morbid Realms is an album I will go back to a lot when I have the urge for old school death metal created with modern (but with that old school touch) production value. It’s honestly just one of those albums where there is nothing wrong with it, everything is simply stellar but it comes down to you having to be a fan of the genre as it’s not something you haven’t heard before, it’s “just” done incredible well. For me that’s just perfect and no one can deny the fact that Sentient Horror is one of the best new bands out there in the genre who brings back the spirit of old. Their musicianship and attention to details crafts both memorable and headbang friendly songs with consistency throughout (which suck when trying to choose your favorite song though), making Morbid Realms their best offering yet in their still early career.

Written by J.B.

Artist: Sentient Horror
Label: Testimony Records (Europe) / Redefining Darkness Records (North America)
For fans of: Entombed & Dismember
Release date: November 29th, 2019
Favorite song: Black Wings of Delirium
Score: 4/5 Excellent

Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race (Death Metal)

I will start this interview with some real talk. I’ve never been totally sold on the hype with Blood Incantation. There I said it. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy Starspawn and I’ve seen them live once. It was good but it wasn’t near as incredible of an experience as I read in, what seems to be, every single article about the band. As a Swede who burns for death metal more than any other genre this is weird to me, it seems I have to think Blood Incantation is the biggest thing to come to the scene this past decade or I’m missing something big time. If I had to compare similar bands that’s been out roughtly around as long I’ve thought Chthe’ilist deserves a lot more praise of those that continue the spirit of Demilich and Timeghoul. Be that as it may I did state I found the both Starspawn being a good album and their live performance at Plan B was a good one so with that in mind I did have high hopes for Hidden History of the Human Race, just probably not nearly as big as most people seem to have and I don’t expect this album to be an album of the year contender in my book. Who knows maybe this is the album where I get completely turned over and grasp the full power of Blood Incantation.

Right from the start they lay some crazy riffs and it doesn’t take many seconds before I start headbanging with joy on the opener “Slave Species of the Gods”. What a great start and already I think this is the best song I’ve heard from the band. It’s actually one of the best death metal songs of the old school sound I’ve heard all year. Not only production wise which hits that sweet spot between filth and clean, losing nothing of the brutality, but also on how the tempo-changes and different sections within the song are so flawlessly executed and brings such incredible depth to it you can have it on repeat for days. Now I already know the band has gone a lot tighter and got just about everything done better during their years of crafting this.

“The Giza Power Plant” doesn’t quite pack the same punch to me but it’s also a showmanship in a well crafted song done by great musicians it has to be said. Here I do get some Nile vibes of old at times which is cool and gets my motor running but not at full gas like the opener did. The instrumental track “Inner Paths (to Outer Space)” I could live without, or at least have it a bit shorter. It adds atmosphere to the album for sure but it’s too drawn out in my opinion (around the two minute mark I find it having done it’s job) but I get why it’s there. Then we have the epic finale which is almost as long of a track as its name, “Awakening from the Dream of Existence to the Multidimensional Nature of Our Reality (Mirror of the Soul)”. Real tongue twister that one and it takes a lot of unexpected turns along the way, however it’s all for the greater good and it’s a fantastic closer. Atmospheric death metal with a lot of brutality to boot that will leave the listener breathless at times.

Hidden History of the Human Race is a lot better than Starspawn to my ears and I think I’ve finally started to get Blood Incantation. It’s definitely one of the best death metal albums of the year, which I honestly didn’t expect going into this. They’ve won me over and even if I don’t think it’s a masterpiece a la 5/5 it’s a stunning piece of art that have it’s signature sound which Blood Incantation can be proud of.

Written by J.B.

Artist: Blood Incantation
Label: Dark Descent Records
For fans of: Demilich & Timeghoul
Release date: November 22nd, 2019
Favorite song: Slave Species of the Gods
Score: 4/5 Excellent

Unfathomable Ruination – Enraged and Unbound (Brutal Death Metal)

I don’t know about you but England’s Unfathomable Ruination has quickly become my favorite brutal death metal band this past decade after having had Cryptopsy, Dying Fetus and Defeated Sanity as my trio to go to for many many years when kicking back with some heavy music for the gym sessions, getting those extra gains. Already on their debut Misshapen Congenital Entropy in 2012 you knew something special was at work here, they then released Finitude and with that release one of the best brutal death metal albums of this decade. You didn’t think they could top that, but here we are and Enraged and Unbound is upon us. Buckle up because Unfathomable Ruination is coming in hard!

Wasting no time Enraged and Unbound starts just like you would thought an album with that title would do, pedal to the metal and enraged like a motherfucker with “An Obsidian Perception”. Nothing is left to chance here, production value has always been one of the things that I think Unfathomable Ruination almost perfected for the genre with Finitude and of course this album is just as crisp, making each element pop like it should at the right times. The vocalist, and gamer, Ben Wright pulls of his most varied performance yet and does it incredibly well (check out “Occulta Violentiam” as an perfect example of this). The title-track and later on “Codebreaker” gives you no room to breath as the sledgehammer keeps on bashing your brain in with mighty riffs, thundering drums that Odin himself would love and Ben’s sick vocals. “Defy the Architect” might start of a bit slow but it’s all a ruse as it gives you breakdowns and heavy hitting music that will make you want to mosh with your dogs at home straight away. Hell they even try an Cattle Decapitation approach on “A Prophetic Compulsion”, with elements of Suffocation and Morbid Angel on “Maniacal Disillusion” and does so with ease. This is one of those albums where every single song can be put into the favorite song section. Usually that’s because a band does an album where a lot of the songs sound the same but here it’s due to Unfathomable Ruination give life and identity to each and every one of the tracks, there simply isn’t a bad song here and every one could be put into singles. There is something for everyone of the brutal school here and I’m sure if I asked five people what their favorite track was I would get five different answers. That speaks volume on what they’ve created here.

Enraged and Unbound is a new step for Unfathomable Ruination that shows a band that’s not scared to try out some new things, be it vocals or instrumentals they are really pushing themselves here. If Finitude was the perfect album for how to make old school brutal death metal fresh then Enraged and Unbound is the perfect album for how brutal death metal can evolve into a new monster. There is nothing holding this album back at all. I can go as far as to say this is the None So Vile album of modern times and the best brutal death metal album I’ve heard since Defeated Sanity’s Passages into Deformity in 2013. This is how brutal death metal is made 2019, you try to break the boundaries with every single note to production and artwork being nothing but the best of quality. A pure gem for the genre that will blow you away and you will see this in the single digits on my album of the year article, that I can assure you.

Written by J.B.

Artist: Unfathomable Ruination
Label: Willowtip Records
For fans of: Defeated Sanity and Abysmal Torment
Release date: November 22nd, 2019
Favorite song: An Obsidian Perception
Score: 5/5 Masterpiece