Wombbath – Choirs of the Fallen (Death Metal)

Created in 1990 Wombbath is a pure veteran of the Swedish death metal scene. After disbanding in 1995 the band was recreated in 2014 by the founder Håkan Stuvemark who together with one of Sweden’s best death metal vocalists Jonny Pettersson (Berzerker Legion, Gods Forsaken, Heads For the Dead etc) has been for core of Wombbath today. The bands latest release The Great Desolation came in 2018 and was in my opinion one of the best swe-death albums of the year. Since then only Håkan and Jonny has remained in the line-up as Thomas von Wachenfeldt (De Tveksamma, Wachenfeldt) joins on guitar, Matt Davidson (Repulsive Vision, Henry Kane (live)) on bass and Jon Rudin (From Ruin and Just Before Dawn) on drums. With the core still intact it was interesting to hear if the band would sound like this time around.

At the start much have stayed the same, which is for the good seeing as I loved The Great Desolation. Wombbath being heavily rooted in the days of old school swe-death this is no surprise to be honest as members have come and gone but their core sound has always been there, that’s the case this time too. Dismember like riffs comes at you straight from the get go as “Fallen” starts the album in style. “Crawling from the Pits” is HM-2 galore where every single old school swe-death fan should jump with joy when the riffs shreds you halfway into the song. On “We Shall Remain” Jonny switches up the vocals a bit and tries some other styles which doesn’t quite hit a home run for me and the track feels a lot weaker than the rest of the album all around to be honest. “A Sweet Taste of Death” also has some high and lows but here the quality is more back up to what the first two songs delivered. Loving the eerie feeling and tempo-changes they’re going for here even if I feel it could of been done even better it’s a nice change of death metal. “From the Beggars Hand” then comes on, my favorite track on the album because holy crap is this the way I love Wombbath play. The solo at around 4:10 is lethal and should come with a warning label while Jonny does one of his best performances just adds more fuel to my headbanging ways. An absolute killer track which shows Wombbath at its peak. Funny thing is the other six minute song (they are actually both clocking 6:06) “Wings of Horror” does give “From the Beggars Hand” a run for its money however as here their newer elements just clash perfectly and the horrific atmosphere laid down by Jonny’s variation on growls and shrieks in the background along with some filthy instrumentals works wonderful together. Think more doomy death metal a la Finland and Krypts or Corpsessed than classic swe-death here. If you have to just listen to two songs choose those two as they showcase two very different sides of Wombbath.

On Choirs of the Fallen they’ve actually tried more new things than I originally thought they would, with varied outcomes. Nice to see a band so rooted in a certain style tries to add new elements though. I do think The Great Desolation was a better album overall though and that Wombbath might have tried a trick or two too many here. There are a few too many songs that are just good than great here and I also think the overall songwriting was a bit better on The Great Desolation. However with that said fans of Wombbath will feel right at home, that thing is certain and the band has released some of their best material here, just also some of its weaker ones too. Have to be said I have very high expectations of a band of this caliber which is obviously something to keep in mind if you’re just checking the score. It’s a very good death metal album which shows a band willing to try new things (an old dog can learn to sit!) and I’m very exiting for what comes next from Wombbath to continue this path.

Artist: Wombbath
Label: Soulseller Records
For fans of: Dismember & Entrails
Release date: March 6th, 2020
Favorite song: From the Beggars Hand
Score: 3.5/5 Very good

Interview: Temple of Void

Interviewed: Alex Awn

Today I got the honor to interview a band that’s grown on me with the years. Temple of Void is like a fine red wine that with age just gets better. Their upcoming album The World that Was is one of my most anticipated albums and I expected nothing else than superb craftsmanship in the death/doom school which Temple of Void resides in. Me and Alex Awn discuss the bands start and future, Lovecraft, role playing games and of course their new album.

How did Temple of Void start?

TOV started in 2013. I met Eric Blanchard when my other band would do our weekly Krav Maga sessions. He seemed cool and I invited him over to lift in my basement gym. He had a band, I had a band, but we had mutual respect for one another as guitarists and knew that when the time was right we’d start something. That time eventually came. We recruited my old friend Brent on bass. Eric found Jason on drums. And Eric found Mike on vocals. It was a pretty unlikely assortment of dudes, but we gelled instantly. Mike had never sang before but he honestly might have the best pipes in all of fucking death metal! 

You’d only had one line-up change since the start in 2013, which is very rare. What’s the secret?

Mutual respect. Honesty. And the ability to tackle any issues head-on. There are bound to be ups and downs, but we don’t have time for bullshit in our lives. Things need to be addressed and course-corrected as soon as possible. We’re all friends. We do this b/c we love it. That’s literally the only reason TOV exists. Cuz we love creating music together. 

How is the process when creating music in Temple of Void? Does everyone has a say as a collective, is one of you guys more the leader who has a final say or how does it happen when a album comes to light?

Don and I write all the riffs. But everyone contributes to nurturing those riffs and bringing the songs to life. No one has ever brought a song to practice fully-baked. Don and I just bring ingredients and ideas. Everyone else comes together to shape the songs. And sometimes it takes months to get it right. But something that differentiates us is how meticulous we are about song-craft. Also, sometimes one person might feel strongly about a part or a song and push it… but I think we trust each other enough to know that when someone’s pushing something maybe they’re just onto some cool shit and it’ll take us a minute to catch up and see it through their lens. Collectively we trust that our combined tastes will bring about something that’s truly special and truly TOV every time. We don’t put out anything that doesn’t meet our high standards. We’re fans of the band. We don’t want to let ourselves down. 

Temple of Void is rather influenced by Lovecraft. I’ve seen you add pictures of playing the role playing game Call of Cthulhu. What’s your “relationship” with the work of Lovecraft?

I started playing CoC recently w/ Eric, actually. We also have a monthly D&D game. He’s no longer in TOV but I see him just as much as the other guys. We game and paint every weekend. Brent, Mike, and I are all super into Lovecraft and the Cthulhu mythos. 

Your new album The World that Was is coming out on March 27th, what can fans expect of the album?

We haven’t rewritten any of our albums. LOD wasn’t OTATS Part II, and TWTW isn’t LOD Part II. They’re all unique statements w/ a common thread. The new one has some crushing death passages that are just as heavy as LOD. And it has some doom-y parts just as cavernous and enveloping as anything on OTATS. I think TWTW sits somewhere in between the prior two albums as far as the death-to-doom ratio goes. We recorded w/ the same dude. So you’ve got a familiar sound. But we keep dialing in better tones with each album. The biggest change and improvement is the more immersive use of synth and sound design. We’ve had synth on the prior two albums here and there, but we made sure to use it very purposefully on every song on this album and it’s really brought a whole other immersive dimension to the recording. The people we collaborated with (Meredith and Omar) did phenomenal jobs. Interestingly enough, it ends on a somewhat uplifting moment, for an album as dark as this. It’s a really cool journey from song to song. It’s by far our most complete work in every regard. 

You’re back working with Shadow Kingdom Records again for this record. How did you two come together and are you going to continue collaborating after The World that Was is out? 

This is our final record in the current contract w/ SKR. No idea what the future holds as right now we’re just focusing on getting this out and supporting it. Tim’s done a great job w/ PR on this one and we’re very happy with the final product. And we’re not honestly sure how he came upon us in 2013 to be honest. It’s a bit of a mystery. 

After two critically acclaimed albums on your belt does that add pressure on your third release or do you work the same way as you always have?
There’s pressure, but there will always be pressure. We felt it after OTATS. And we felt it after LOD. We’ll feel it again after TWTW when we write album four. But it doesn’t change how we write or what we write. We trust in ourselves and we trust in our fans. We’ve always done what we’ve wanted, we always will, and that seems to appeal to people. And that’s real cool. Couldn’t ask for more. 

What’s next for Temple of Void?

Need to get out there and support this record a bit. Got a couple big fests lined up that we’re pretty excited about. And we just signed up w/ Continental Touring to help us with booking shows. They have a great roster w/ a lot of death metal so we feel like we’re in good hands. We’re excited to see what comes of it.

If you got asked to play a Temple of the Void song for someone that’s never heard of you before, which song would that be and why?

I’d play them A Watery Internment from LOD. It’s got the classic old school death metal riffing up front. Stuff to bang your head to. And then it breaks it down in the middle to this real mellow sort of Alice in Chains haunting part that’s pretty meditative, and then comes crashing in w/ this super oppressive tremolo picking part with monstrous drums. It just crushes you. So it’s like if you don’t like death metal with eerie hooks and pounding doom rhythms then you won’t like TOV. That song has a bit of everything. 
Or if you want a song off the new album I’d venture to suggest Casket of Shame. For pretty much all the same reasons as above. 

Seeing as I’ve seen you guys do role playing I got to ask, do you play video games too? If so what’s the best game of all time?

I haven’t owned a games system since the SNES. I don’t think anyone in the band plays much, tbh. Certainly nothing current. I’d say Zelda, though. Best game ever. 

To end it I would like to know which album would you say got you into extreme metal?

Hmmmmm. I can’t pinpoint it to the “first album.” I remember seeing the “Can I Play With Madness” video on TV as an 8 year old and being into it. But it was a while before I was a real metalhead so to speak. “Fear of the Dark” was a huge album for me in 1992. The extremity probably first arrived in 1993 in the shape of Sepultura’s “Chaos AD” and Paradise Lost’s “Icon.” Those were both hugely influential. Life of Agony’s “River Runs Red” was 1993. Carcass’s “Heartwork”. Cannibal Corpse’s “Hammer Smashed Face” single/EP. Danzig 4P. Yeah. 1993 was a big year. But maybe it was 1992 with Helmet’s “Meantime.” Depends how “extreme” you want to get, I guess. 

Thanks a lot for your time, got any shoutouts?

Thanks to all our continued supporters. It means a lot to us. And may all your hits be crits!

Plague – Portraits of Mind (Death Metal)

Hailing from Greece there has been a death metal band biding its time for years until the debut would be unleashed. That band is Plague who formed in 2011, released a short two song EP titled Abyssdiver in 2014 then went back into the shadows to continue working on their craft on what would eventually become the debut album Portraits of Mind. Influenced by the early scene of death metal and on a label (Redefining Darkness Records) that very rarely disappoint me I instantly knew that this could be something right up my alley.

There is no reason for any death metal fan to skip out on this album. An absolutely fantastic debut album from Plague and well worth the wait. Production is on point, the band plays like they were an veteran act and their musicianship shines brightly throughout the whole album as every single bit of equipment has its moment of triumph, without being forced or anything like that. Plague had me on the hook line and sinker straight from the opener “Intersperse” and then easily reeled me in. This is 36 minutes of pure death metal joy which will leave the old school Massacre fans begging for more as at times Plague almost seems like an reincarnation version of them. Together with Sallow Moth (who plays a different kind of old school death, read the review here) I’m now left in awe with two fantastic releases and immense surprises to start 2020 in a big way. Plague may be from Greece but they perform the American old school death metal way with incredible precision. One of those albums where the promo description really fits the bill and I can just nod as I read it because it wasn’t just PR talk. I hardly ever do this but I’m going to leave you with a quote from the promo that actually says it all. “Portraits of Mind is a bludgeoning affair…one that often effortlessly combines simplicity in form with stellar musicianship. The result is a lesson in Death Metal; one that borrows heavily from the early 90’s American scene. This album is the perfect balance of everything that makes Death Metal great – you’ll see for yourself.” Redefining Darkness Records were right on the money with this one and yet again they bring forth a superb death metal band from the shadows into the light.

Artist: Plague
Label: Redefining Darkness Records (NA) / Nuclear Winter Records (Europe)
For fans of: Massacre & Brutality
Release date: February 14th, 2020
Favorite song: Deranged Madness
Score: 4/5 Excellent

Sallow Moth – The Larval Hope (Death Metal)

After two EP’s the one-man project by Cara Neir multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Garry Brents have released their first full-length album titled The Larval Hope. A cool thing to note about this project is that he donates 90% of digital proceedings to animal sanctuaries. Sallow Moth is all about the classic school of death metal. Think Pestilence, Cynic, Dismember, Edge of Sanity and Demilich fused into one being with bits and pieces taken in as influences from five very varied acts.

Sallow Moth brings forth exactly what it promised where the old school referenses shines brightly as The Larval Hope brings both the chuggy riffing from Dismember with an nasty underground atmospheric touch a la Demilich or Krypts. The moth is extra bright spreading its beautiful wings on the opener “Noxious Revival” as this is a superb example on class underground death metal, great songwriting (got to love Lovecraftian horror inspired death metal) and an atmosphere that reels you in. “Death Mutation Vs Metallurgic Summonings” switches the sound up some, being on the more progressive side, showcasing the Edge of Sanity and Cynic influences. The album is certainly one you need to experience from start to finish to grasp the full extent of Sallow Moth’s concept and how each song is an homage, without sounding like a ripoff, to some of the best death metal bands of the old. Be it the grand opening “Noxious Revival”, the Finnish death/doom styled “The Larval Hope (Piercer of Spells)” or epic, close to nine minutes, album closer “Glimpse the Unthinkable” Sallow Moth delivers excellent death metal to your ears. The Larval Hope is the best old school death metal album I’ve heard so far this year. It packs a punch and is varied enough, with high quality, to keep you wanting to spin this again and again.

Artist: Sallow Moth
Label: Dead Red Queen Records
For fans of: Dismember & Cynic
Release date: January 15th, 2020
Favorite song: Noxious Revival
Score: 4/5 Excellent

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

Interview: Scaphism

Interviewed: Eden Rayz

Back in 2018 I reviewed a death metal album titled Unutterable Horrors by the American band Scaphism (read it here). Since then they’ve gone through a line-up change with the new singer Eden Rayz taking over the mic from Tony Jordan, releasing a short demo Perpetual Torment to showcase their new line-up. With that it was a good opportunity to interview the newest member in their ranks and catching up on what Scaphism is doing.

What’s Scaphism all about? What’s the fuel that gets the band going and who does what in the band as of today?

Scaphism started over a decade ago writing controversially violent stories. That’s the band I loved when I snuck into the now defunct Club Church to hear them when I was 19-ish. Now, about a decade later, we’re collectively delving deeper into the meanings of physical and mental pain. I think Infinite Coil of Auto-Enucleation is a harbinger of that change.

Evan Woolley is still our main songwriter and guitarist, Alex Fewell is still our drummer, Erik Jordan is still our bassist, and I’m the new vocalist and lyricist. It’s an absolute fucking blast.

Themes of violence and torture is quite common in death metal but I’m always interested in knowing how the thought process goes into songwriting. Do you read up on specific eras, certain murderers or where do you get the inspiration from?

I think everyone has their own little internal hells where we live out our fears. We also get a lot of inspiration from news stories. Alex brought in this story about the Blue Ringed Octopus. It’s tiny and colorful and generally lovely looking but then it paralyses on contact. That specific process of paralysis is viscerally terrifying, so a story about that octopus might make it into some lyrics!

How did you come to join the band Eden?

I saw Scaphism post that they were looking to audition for a new vocalist, so I auditioned. Thought it would be a good chance to jam with them regardless. The audition felt oddly natural; then I started to really want in. When I was asked to join I was at a gig and nearly shat myself when I saw the message, but I didn’t because a good vocalist has control over their bowels. That’s an important thing we practice. If you have problems not shitting yourself, vocals may be a good thing to practice.

I read you’re a cellist too Eden? Is that an element we will get to hear on the upcoming album even?

Yes! I play cello in several bands in the area. The relentless Scaphism vision doesn’t call for cello, but my other death metal band Angel Grinder has some wild atmospheric cello on our forthcoming album.

You just put out a demo from the third upcoming full-length album. What made you decide to put out a two-song demo instead of waiting for a full-length?

Honestly we were all kinda anxious to share the new sound! We wanted to hit the ground running with a tour and a little demo, so we did.

Do you have a rough estimate when album number three is coming out and is it getting released via Horror Pain Gore Death Productions this time too?

It’s a little too soon to say, but you can expect a full length in 2020!

What can Scaphism fans expect from the upcoming album?

Riffs riffs riffs. All the riffs. Scaphism fans know that Evan’s riffs are in a league of their own. I will say that our textures and song forms are changing noticeably right now. I’m not 100% sure what to expect myself, but I can say that this is the strongest heaviest material the band has produced so far!

You guys got your base in Boston. How’s the metal scene thriving there?

We’re in the middle of another death metal renaissance. It went sort of dormant in the early 2010s, but it is now fully awake and thriving thanks to tireless promoters and innovative bands. Shows here feel like coming home. New England in general is having a powerful metal resurgence.

I know this is a hard one to answer, like asking who’s your favorite child, but what’s your favorite song (or songs) you’ve done so far?

It’s only my adopted child, so I can easily say that Excoriated and Excarnated is my favorite! It’s about a true story where a woman in Australia who murdered her husband, chopped him up and served him to her family. Nice. “Butchery – all she finds sexy.” That is relatable content if I’ve ever heard any. Give that bitch some Long Pig. Bitches love Long Pig!

Will we see a Scaphism tour in 2020 to support the new album?

We’re planning on it!

Thanks for your time and I’ll end it with a must question for The Metal Gamer. Who’s a gamer in the band and what’s your favorite game of all time?

We are all gamers, or have been at one point or another. N64 seems like it’s unanimously our favorite console. My personal favorite game ever is Shadowgate, which is stupidly underrated. I’ve also been addicted to WoW (Horde or fuckoff) (TMG note: I got a Horde tattoo and agree!). Erik’s favorite is Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. Evan’s favorite is Goldeneye. Alex’s real favorite is Zelda: Ocarina of Time but wanted me to tell you it’s Splatterhouse for kvlt points. Hehehehe.

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