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

Surgery – Absorbing Roots (Death Metal)

Surgery

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

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

Skullcrush – Visions of the Firestorm Eclipse (Death Metal)

Skullcrush Cover Art

Old and filthy. Not only do I feel so myself but that’s the quickest way to describe Skullcrush and it’s only within the death metal genre that’s a good thing! There is no over-produced stuff in here, just pure no-bullshit crushing death metal. With a name like Skullcrush I should have imagined that would be the case though. Even the artwork on the album screams of savagery as what looks like Conan is battling a creature. Basically this is underground death metal the way it’s meant to be played.

The three tracks “Spectacle of Suffering”, “Entrails Ablaze” and “Hellwater” offers very different experiences as well. Where I first thought those three songs would be Skullcrush showing one type of move on their debut EP they instead go for showcasing a varied death metal approach. I bit surprising but at the same time really good stuff and I don’t know what I would expect from a full-length as they can go in any direction, or keep changing it up. The opener “Spectacle of Suffering” is death metal candy in the veins of Blood Incantation or Undergang, the really heavy stuff from the purest depths of the underground. “Entrails Ablaze” ups the tempo a bit, is shorter and adds a bit of an Entombed flavour to the album. Then the closer “Hellwater” is both the longest and slowest of the tracks, downtempo death with some doom elements going towards Finnish death metal acts Corpsessed and Krypts.

A really solid debut from Skullcrush. A varied album that shows a lot of promise for what is to come from the band. Underground death metal candy that I devour with ease and I am sure many underground fanatics will too.

Label: Camo Pants Records
For fans of: Blood Incantation and Corpsessed
Release date: July 6th, 2018
Favorite song: Spectacle of Suffering
Score: 3.5/5