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

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

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

Entrails – Rise of the Reaper (Death Metal)

It’s swedeath time! One of the juggernauts of the sound has today released their sixth album which is titled Rise of the Reaper, namely the band Entrails. Founded in 1990 Entrails is considered a veteran in the scene where Jimmy Lundqvist is the last original member standing in a band that’s had a few changes along the way since the resurrection in 2008 after originally disbanding in 1998. One thing that hasn’t change though is their straight forward approach to swedeath, keeping the HM-2 volume to the max all the way and never looking back. Entrails have always been very solid on doing this too and every single album they’ve released have to be considered a most have for those who even remotely enjoy the old school swedeath scene.

Rise of the Reaper does just that too, makes the late 80’s, early 90’s death metal sound come very much to life (or death) in the year 2019 in a way few can like them. The buzz-saw guitars from Jimmy are as killer as ever, they never stop giving you a sour neck from all the headbanging material. The two latest additions since the last album Arvid Borg on drums and Markus Svensson on guitar does a stellar job too and you couldn’t really tell a lineup change had been made. What you can tell though is the change of direction Entrails have done since World Inferno came out in 2017. It’s leaning more toward melodic death metal this time around and even a more heavy metal approach as Rise of the Reaper is a more mixed bag that their past more direct pedal to the metal death releases. I’ll be honest it took me a few listens to fully dig into this as it wasn’t really what I expected, with that said though there is no denying it’s a band with class musicians who can do this type of death metal well.

Even with a few spins of Rise of the Reaper under my belt I can’t shake the fact that I enjoy their previous releases more though. I mean my personal favorite songs from the album like “In the Shape of the Dead” and “Crawl in Your Guts” are those which sounds the most like what they did on World Inferno. Change can both be good or bad for a band, obviously when it comes to music it’s what the band feel like doing and I’ll always respect that but as a listener it can sometimes feel like a wrong step. In this case I think it’s a bit of both, I think this can be the change Entrails needed marching forward and there is definitely most left of their core sound still here. Don’t get me wrong Rise of the Reaper is a great album, it just wasn’t what I expected and sometimes that can just hit you the wrong way. I don’t think it’s executed well enough at all times just yet but coming next album we might see a much more crisp album where they’ve walked further down their road of the, somewhat, new Entrails.

Written by J.B.

Artist: Entrails
Label: Metal Blade Records
For fans of: Entombed and Grave
Release date: October 11th , 2019
Favorite song: Crawl in Your Guts
Score: 3/5 Good

Entrapment – Imminent Violent Death (Death Metal)

It’s old school death metal time! Entrapment is the brainchild of Michel Jonker, created in 2009. During the years there has been quite a few album releases but now with Imminent Violent Death the road has come to an end as this will be the last album from Entrapment before ending it with a final live show that was held at Graveland Open Air on 11th May 2019. For those unfamiliar with Entrapment this is some of the best Dismember worshiping death metal you can get. There are many bands like this, but few who makes it justice as well as Entrapment does.

Sure on could argue that you might as well just take an old Grave, Entombed, Nihilist or Dismember album for a spin and be happy. However one can simple not have too much of that raw and filthy death metal! Even if the essentials are the same it’s always nice with some fresh songs, new killer riffs and most importantly a wicked homage to the golden years of death metal. The main thing I am not a big fan of here is Imminent Violent Death isn’t the big bang finish I had the hope for it to be. I think out of the four full-length releases Entrapment has put out their two first album “The Obscurity Within..” and “Lamentations of the Flesh” holds a higher level in terms of songwriting and replay value. Yet there is no denying that the overall level from Entrapment has been high and this is a very good death metal album that’s also slightly better than “Through Realms Unseen” with enough riffs to make your head explode from the banging it shall do. Tracks like “Mortality Unleashed” and “Sanctifying Putrescent” are pure old school death metal bangers, whereas I for example didn’t really get into “Malicious Predominance”. So a few bumps on the road here, but nothing major to put the score down as it is in the end fine craftsmanship at play. Also a quick note, the album cover by Marald van Haasteren (High on Fire, Wolfbrigade, Baroness, Victims) is killer and fits the album well.

It’s simple metalgamers, if you love old school death metal you will love this. If you don’t then this isn’t for you as it won’t win you over and you probably think the score is way too high. For us that do love old school death metal however we will revel in this entrapment that gives us a imminent violent death!

Written by J.B.

Label: Dawnbreed Records
For fans of: Grave and Dismember
Release date: May 11th, 2019
Favorite song: Sanctifying Putrescent
Score: 3.5/5 Very good

Nocturnal Hollow – A Whisper of a Horrendous Soul (Death Metal)

You ready for some old school death metal? Of course you are, there is always time for some death in your life! This Venezuelan trio makes no secret that they are playing death metal as if it was made in the early 90’s. Seeing as two of the members in Nocturnal Hollow are also in a resurrected Baphometh line-up (who hasn’t released anything yet though) it’s safe to say my expectations on Nocturnal Hollow was big. A Whisper of a Horrendous Soul is the bands fifth full-length since the formation in 2010. The line-up has stayed intact and it seems they are only growing with each release.

Boy oh boy does A Whisper of a Horrendous Soul give me a lot of good vibes from the prime swedeath scene, the 90’s. Fans of bands like Entombed, Entrails, Revel in Flesh, Feral and Interment are going to dig into this album like a kid in a candy store (or a metalhead in the rock album section). All the meaty hooks, groove and deadly growls are here to satisfy your need for the classic death metal music you, just like me, crave. 35 minutes is just about enough too as it does tend to kinda roll by with a barrage of tracks that, while checking in all the core boxes, in the end doesn’t stick out from one another. It does get a bit tiresome near the end to be fair so a few more tracks without much variation would have lowered the score for me but they managed to make a good choice to end it where they did here.

A Whisper of a Horrendous Soul does what a lot of death metal do today, offers nothing new but captivates what made the 90’s scene so bloody awesome and that’s totally fine. Us death metal fanatics will take it for a spin, enjoy it, reminisce the good old days then probably put on an Entombed album. A great slab of metal that will get your head banging, air guitar riffing and beer flowing. If you haven’t come to like swedeath by now then Nocturnal Hollow probably won’t win you over but sometimes all you need is a well written and produced piece of metal that will make you want to go grave digging!

Written by J.B.

Label: Redefining Darkness Records/Raw Skull Recordz
For fans of: Entrails and Entombed
Release date: March 29th, 2019
Favorite song: Trapped in a Coffin
Score: 3.5/5 Very good

Crawl – Rituals (Death Metal)

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Even though the band is Swedish and plays death metal, which should be something I’d have my eye on, I’d never heard of Crawl before Transcending Obscurity Records announced them on their label. What makes it a bit weird is the fact that Crawl got members that’s been in Decomposed and Demonical, two bands I’ve followed and reviewed in the past. To be fair though they only had a demo and an EP under their belt before as the band was created in 2014. Rituals also being the bands debut full-length, so hey I have at least that to lean back on for my lack of knowledge on this band. Obviously I had to dig through their old material to get an idea what the band is all about. I: Serpents the demo was full of crushing Swe-death worship where Entombed and Dismember (as they do with many) had a lot of influences on them but at the same time they had some crust and punk elements at times. The three track demo was actually really good where the song “Casket Ride” hit me extra hard, making me wonder how I missed these death metallers before. Their EP Worship Death went even further with that sound, making the crust, punk and hardcore elements even more known so with that in mind I was now keen to hear what Rituals had in store for me.

It doesn’t take many seconds to know that Crawl has upped their game even more on Rituals. The mixing is better, really dirty but does a good job highlighting the right elements at the right time. It’s a pure adrenaline rush from the get go with only one song going above three minutes mark, honing their sound from the previous album even more towards the death-fused punk area. It’s a really good mix at that which keeps Rituals fresh and not a mere copycat from the 90’s sound. To me this is a great match made in the sewers of Sweden, filled with filthy death stench and adding more agression from the crust/punk/hardcore scene. Simply dirty and most fitting for the underground. I mean what do you need from a good death metal album? Energy? Heck yeah Rituals got that in plenty. Crushing riffs? Check on that too! Nasty lyrics? Well just take the two first tracks “Reject the Cross” and “Breathing Violence” as an example to that. Will it make you want to mosh? The pure energy and agression from the album will make this a killer live I am sure of.

While I usually would complain that 25 minutes is running quite a bit short in a full-length album I find it just about the right length for Crawl’s most crushing debut. Any more and it might have been too much of this rotten hard hitting, in your face death metal. One can only take so much in before being overwhelmed. In conclusion this is one of the best death metal albums of the year. It’s taking some of the best parts of Entombed and Dismember while putting their own touches to it, making Rituals an album that will last for a long time. They’ve evolved a lot from their 2015 demo and I am pleased to hear Swe-death can still evolve into new breeds. All nine tracks are putrid, heavy, about to knock you out metal with highlights like “Sentenced to Rot” and “Reject the Cross”. If you’re looking for Swe-death worship with that added extra brutality which will get you up on Monday mornings or get you pumped up for the weekend slaughters then Rituals is a must get for you. You’ve been sentenced to rot!

Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
For fans of: Dismember and Entombed
Release date: August 20th, 2018
Favorite song: Sentenced to Rot
Score: 4/5