Cursus Bellum – Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit (Blackened Death Metal)

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Cursus Bellum is a new force in the Swedish metal scene that consist of the duo Joakim Unger and Anders Nyander who have a long past together since Sgt. Carnage. Also a bit fun to me personally that Joakim Unger was on drums for Immersed in Blood between 1998-2003, a brutal death metal band from Sweden I listen to every now and then. With Cursus Bellum the duo does something that is actually a step away from the other bands they’ve been in but at the same time it gathers a lot of elements from the different genres. This time it’s blackened death metal that’s on the table where the duo seem to gain a lot of influences from a certain Polish band.

“Vem är du? Jag är döden!” (translation “Who are you? I am death!”). When a blackened death metal album opens like that then I hope I am in for a great deadly ride. Safe to say Cursus Bellum does hit hard straight from the start. This is old school death metal with a lot of fury and hatred, blackened stuff that you’re used to hear from the likes of Behemoth and their Demigod sound. Add some Swedish touch a la Necrophobic and you got yourself a brutal, technical and pure evil to the bone album that’s sweet music to the ears.

It’s really hard not to draw a lot of parallels to Behemoth when taking Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit for a spin. For a Swedish band there is certainly more common grounds with the Polish or American black/death scenes than for example Unanimated, Dissection or previously mentioned Necrophobic. The whole atmosphere on the album reeks of aggression and evil intent with the religious themes, drawing the line to an almost black metal album at times (just like Behemoth tends to do). Hell I even get a lot of Nergal vibes from the vocalist Joakim Unger voice. Seeing as I am a big fan of Behemoth where you will see their latest album in my top 40 list (spoiler) I am not one to complain mind you. It’s definitely not all a copy and past job for Cursus Bellum though, tracks like “The Vortex” stands out on being more unique and at times I even get a atmospheric black metal feel in the veins of Auðn or Uada with the riffing.

The album is solid throughout but I feel it lacks a couple more standout tracks to make it reach even higher scores. “Soil Companion” did start the album on a high note, “The Vortex” adds some needed variation and with “Life Eater” being the best track on Ex Nihilio Nihil Fit here are some really great pillars here. I would want more of that though! The two intermission tracks “Av Jord Är Du Kommen” and “Till Jord Skall Du Åter Varda” are beautiful acoustic parts that binds the concept of the album together nicely too it has to be said.

This might be nothing new to a lot of metalheads out there who have been down the blackened death metal road before but it is well executed and will especially please fans of Behemoth. As a debut it’s a very good start that Cursus Bellum can build on.

Written by J.B.

Label: Downfall Records
For fans of: Behemoth and Necrophobic
Release date: October 12th, 2018
Favorite song: Life Eater
Score: 3.5/5 Very good

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Vanhelgd – Deimos Sanktuarium (Death Metal)

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The desecrated are back! With their latest release Temple of Phobos being one of my most played death metal albums these past years since I reviewed it I’ve been looking forward to a follow-up ever since. Now when it’s finally here I am stunned. This is by far the darkest album Vanhelgd has ever made. The lyrical theme on anti-religion and horror is intact but the songwriting has taken a step in a darker, greater direction here. Also has to be added that they keep on having songs in both Swedish and English which is something I’ve applauded them for and still do. The difference is with the last album I thought the Swedish tracks were of higher quality than the English ones, here I find both being superb and I even choose Profaned is the Blood of the Covenant as the best song on Deimos Sanktuarium.

Everything is executed better on Deimos Sanktuarium than on Vanhelgd’s previous albums. The atmosphere is so dark I get scared, something I usually don’t experience in a death metal albums but I do with Vanhelgd, Behemoth or old Eucharist offerings. Very fitting for the theme at hand with the atmospheric doom touch. The crushing riffs are still there but the overall experience on the album as a whole and how the grim world sucks you in is the difference maker here. It’s what separates Deimos Sanktuarium from Temple of Phobos and makes this an even better album. Safe to say if you enjoyed Temple of Phobos you will like this even more.

This album is the definition of a “grower”. It gets better with each listen but at the same time it is not as easy to get into as for example the latest albums from Demonical or Gluttony. I am not holding that against the album though as that is the intentions. One of the best death metal albums you will hear this year, if not the best.

Written by J.B.

Label: Pulverised Records
For fans of: Eucharist and Desolate Shrine
Release date: October 12th, 2018
Favorite song: Profaned is the Blood of the Covenant
Score: 4/5 Incredible

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Beyond Creation – Algorythm (Progressive Death Metal)

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When one of your favorite bands release a new album you know the hype is real. It’s a double edge sword though because when you’re that hyped and have the bar set so high as Beyond Creation the backlash if the album doesn’t live up to the high expectations will hurt a lot. I can calm you all down already by saying it lives up to the hype.

It starts off with an epic intro that could easily be in a sci-fi movie as it moves into the Entre suffrage et mirage. A good opening that ends with a great solo, so we are off to a good start but it didn’t have those transitions I want in Beyond Creation. Surface’s Echoes I think is a bit out-of-place with its intro but around one minute in I recognize the core Beyond Creation sound and it becomes a better track than the previous. I’ve always felt that for Beyond Creation to get the most out of track they need to be 6-7 minutes long, which this one is and it makes the band being able to change the tempo and sound a lot during a song, letting it unfold as its meant to. It’s one of the bands strong-points to me, how a song can feel so complete and have all these different elements to it which some bands need a whole album to do. They show a lot of this on Surface’s Echoes, even though I can’t get the first minute of the song the rest is gold. Finally with Ethereal Kingdom you get the whole experience, an intro that sets the tone nicely leading into a beautiful solo and it feels more complete. It also transition really nicely into Algorythm which together with The Inversion are my favorite songs on the album. They showcase what Beyond Creation is all about in a good way. One may say Algorythm lacks a standout track like Earthborn Revolution or Coexistence which in some ways is true but I feel with time Algorythm will be one of their most memorable tracks. It grows on me with each listen.

Algorythm as a whole is a more progressive experience than their earlier albums, for the good and bad that brings. There are some moments that’s a bit slow to me due to this change but at the same time I don’t mind this at all as a whole. It’s definitely a bit different though but with the core Beyond Creation sound of course. They haven’t gone and switched completely but you should be ready that this is a bit of a change in style from The Aura and Earthborn Evolution. All in all Algorythm won’t be my first choice of album when I look back at Beyond Creation’s discography in the future but it’s yet another solid album from a band that set the bar insanely high on the debut. Their skill is showing throughout in both songwriting and instrumental excellence. While it’s not perfect (I think Earthborn Revolution is a perfect album mind you) it’s a well executed album that’s a must have for prog/tech-death fans all around. Beyond Creation doesn’t let you down.

Written by J.B.

Label: Season of Mist
For fans of: Obscura and Augury
Release date: October 12th, 2018
Favorite song: Algorythm
Score: 4/5 Incredible

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Surgery – Absorbing Roots (Death Metal)

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What do you get when you bring some friends together to create a band that loves death metal? Surgery! That could both be a joke but also the name of a band from Slovakia that makes some sweet old school death. The Swedish scene is the most inspirational source for Absorbing Roots. What I hear is something along the lines of Entrails meeting Jungle Rot with early years Amon Amarth in order to together create this sound that takes you back to the 90’s. This is good stuff and it’s really catchy. Songs like River in Silence and Depressive Reality get stuck in your head for days with it’s slick riffs. Funny enough I think the follow-up Hands in Chains is one of the low points though, where I honestly couldn’t hear the lyrics “why did I do it” at first and thought it was some Slovakian words coming out. That aside the song just seems a bit off from the rest of the album.

I’ve heard this kind of music countless of times before but it is also the genre I love the most so I can basically never get enough of it. Fans of old school death metal don’t need to look no further, here is a good example on how to deliver crushing death metal the way Sweden did in the early 90’s. This is a great way to celebrate the old times even though it has some flaws. If you’re tired of hearing another Grave or Entrails copy then this isn’t for you but for those of us that always want more of it then this is 30 minutes worth spending, granted it might not be that memorable.

On a side note I am also adding what the score means (for those of you that don’t check that section) on all future reviews!

Label: Support Underground
For fans of: Jungle Rot and Entrails
Release date: February 19th, 2018
Favorite song: Rive in Silence
Score: 3/5 Good

Revenge Prevails – False Hope Cruelty (Black/Death Metal)

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In Sweden there is a thriving underground black metal scene so there is no surprise Revenge Prevails is another promising act from the country. The band formed in 2008, it took it’s time to find a stable lineup and the debut album Dark Trembling Solace had to wait to see the light of the world until 2015. The band is quite influenced from the second wave of black metal where you can hear a lot of dark mysticism a la Mayhem for example but also some of the crushing agression that Dark Funeral offers. The album starts off really well with sweet varied riff after riff and Josef Svensson raspy vocals being just as good as they were on the debut. Having the female bass player Isabella Ramare accompanying on vocals is big step from their debut and it does add variation, with more power to their shadow concept as well.

There is two flaws on the album to me though that does bring the score down from what it could have been. Just like I thought on their debut this is too long of an album. There are very few bands out there who can do over one hour albums well without losing the listener in the process. Sadly this was not the case here. There are some highs and lows and well when it lasts for this long the lows feels lower than they are to me. The inconsistency along with the length holds the album back in my opinion. Sadly it doesn’t matter then if Revenge Prevails does a great job feeling rather unique with their music (one of the reasons it was hard to add “for fans of” and it’s probably a bit off), which is not that easy today, and have some memorable songs. These two things does add two really big bumps along the road though. Also I have to add the album cover doesn’t do it for me, maybe because I am used to a lot of covers being great work of art nowadays.

In the end it’s a good journey, albit a bit too long. If they trim the fat and make the journey a bit shorter then I think they will reach a new level and it the overall experience more enjoyable. Into the Depths, Shapeshifter Dawn and Habeas Corpus are examples of great songs that I will come back to often. They’ve also made some steps in the right direction from the debut but I do think they can make even bigger leaps to get closer to the top.

Label: Independent
For fans of: Dark Funeral and Mayhem
Release date: August 4th, 2017
Favorite song: Habeas Corpus
Score: 3/5

Infuriate – Infuriate (Brutal Death Metal)

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Alright first of all I need to start with saying sorry for my absence, I was meant to review this album and one more last week but I simply didn’t have much spare time so I am a bit behind on things here now. I will do my best to catch up and give you the content you metal gamers deserve! I do have a real treat for you guys though. Infuriate consist of veterans within the Texas grindcore and brutal death metal scene who joined forces to create some old school brutal death metal in the veins of Deeds of Flesh, Disavowed and Severe Torture. One of the bands the members have, or are, a part of is Whore of Bethlehem. I actually got the 2017 release Extinguish the Light in a The Metalhead Box last year and it was a good album so that in itself made me a bit interested what this debut had in store for me.

While I know this was advertised as Deeds of Flesh, Disavowed and Severe Torture kind of music I would personally say Monstrosity mixed in with Deeds of Flesh is closer to the truth. It’s a bludgeoning riff-fest that leaves no head without the banging. It’s hard to not get caught in the flurry of riffs, relentless drumming or Jason Garza’s great vocal performance. The best part about the album though is that Infuriate does a great work changing the pace and what flow they want on the different tracks, making the almost 30 minutes a joy and easy to get back to. Be it the bas that is prominent in some tracks with a sweet groove solo or the hard hitting drums Infuriate got a knack for creating music that leaves the listener wanting more. In all honesty I hoped there was more too, 30 minutes is fine for this type of music as it does leave your brain in a mush but hell this is awesome stuff so this once I could want another song or two. One thing that sometimes can be a bit disappointing in this genre when listening to an album fully and not just a track here and there is it can feel monotone, Infuriate does not fall into that trap and that’s exactly what makes them stand out for me. They have that red thin line to follow throughout but also goes outside it from time to time to add a breakdown here, some slam there and extra heavy bas to top it off. Be it classic American crushing death metal “Mori Terrae”, the slamming “Surrogate” or groovy “Engastration” Infuriate does a superb job and has released one of the most memorable brutal death metal albums of the year.

Label: Everlasting Spew Records
For fans of: Monstrosity and Deeds of Flesh
Release date: August 31st, 2018
Favorite song: Mori Terrae
Score: 4/5

The Metal Gamer becomes a Club Abraxas sponsor!

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When I started The Metal Gamer it’s always been to support the underground metal scene. While I will always enjoy sharing music and reviewing albums I’ve wanted to do more than just that. It just so happens I got the opportunity to sponsor the local scene in my town Malmö, Sweden! Starting with the Oktoberfeast event featuring Venenum, Slægt, Maligner, Armory and Völva the 20th October. It is a privilege to be able to sponsor the underground metal scene for real with helping host plenty of events just like this one for a long time to come. I have said it before metal gamers but I will say it again, always support your local scene! If anyone of you happen to drop by one of the many events coming up for the rest of the year then feel free to have a beer and say hi! This is a new chapter for The Metal Gamer that I am really excited about and hoping it brings a lot of joy to the underground scene.

You can find the announced events here:
Oktoberfeast (Venenum, Maligner, Slægt, Völva, Armory) – October 20th
Day of the Dead (Necrophobic) – November 2nd
Nekrokraft, Orm, The Generations Army – December 8th