Refusal – Epitome of Void (Death Metal)

From Finland we got this death metal act which formed in 2008 named Refusal. After a bunch of demo recordings with compilations to match they released their debut album in 2016 We Rot Within. The album was a solid one, the foundation was set for the band to stand on for further releases. Now with their follow-up album Epitome of Void in my hand it’s time to see if this will make them take another step in the right direction or not.

The first word that comes to my mind when I hear what Refusal offers is “consistency”. Sometimes consistency can be a bad thing, when an albums runtime is long it might mean it can become boring and the replay value of a “one-trick pony” in this case I mean the word in all its positive meaning. A big part of that is that the runtime of 32 minutes is just about hitting the sweet spot, while their take on death metal with hints of grind on the rotten cherry on the top hasn’t changed and it is a formula they are very happy driving forward with. I for one think this is a good move because as it gives them an edge for people who are tired of the same kind of old school death sound. I mean after a while your favorite pasta might get a bit boring you know? That’s where these guys comes in for me, they spice the pasta up a bit and hey now it’s almost like a brand new dish for me to devour.

The almost feral guitar riffs takes me back to the Entombed days on the opening track “Suffocate” (sometimes the album got a death n roll flair to it too, see “Disregard”), while on “Hectic” they showcase a bit more of that grindcore edge a la Napalm Death. If I had to pick the bands that’s closest to Refusal’s death metal it’s bands like Mörbid Vomit, Sadistik Forest (who dropped one of my favorite albums in 2018), Revolting, Galvanizer and even Skulmagot that comes closest to mind. This is the sound you’re going to hear during Epitome of Void, so if you don’t get hooked on it from the first few tracks then I don’t know what to do. As I mentioned before though this is their forte, consistency with their style that’s maybe not unique but it’s not done 100 times by new bands each year so it still feels fresh. That’s also the reason why I had a hard time picking my favorite song. Doesn’t matter if I pick “Suffocate, “Disregard”, “Slaves” or any other track because they are all great and got their own riff here or drum part going for them that I like. Production wise I think Epitome of Void does exactly what it’s intended to, it feels raw, got a lot of energy and the instruments and vocals are well mixed.

Epitome of Void has been an album I’ve gone back to quite a few times since it’s release in January, that in itself is proof that the album has a lot to offer. It’s one of the best death metal albums released in 2019 so far and a perfect example how you can do the old school sound justice while mixing it up a notch.

Written by J.B.

Label: Great Dane Records
For fans of: Mörbid Vomit and Galvanizer
Release date: January 11th, 2019
Favorite song: Disregard
Score: 4/5 Incredible

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Of Hatred Spawn – Of Hatred Spawn (Death Metal)

Close to Christmas I got one last album to review. What better genre to review before going on a break than the one I love the most, death metal! Of Hatred Spawn were formed in 2017 by the two brothers Remy and JJ Tartaglia who later on added ex-Annihilator bass-player Oscar Rangel and Matt Collacott on vocals. Hailing from Toronto, Canada they are said to play old-school death metal in the vein of Decapitated, Suffocation and Dying Fetus. So far so good right?

The first thing that catches my eye is the cover art, a great looking fantasy painting that captures the lyrical themes of slavery, darkness and the balance of evil well. What awaits in the musical section is modern extreme metal meets the ways of old. The razer edge guitar plays fused with groove and blast beats along with the superb vocals from Collacott is nothing short but great music to my ears. As soon as the opener Global Dehumanization hits me with it’s fast paced aggression I am hooked but the 28 minute span the album offers is over too quick, I want more. I do hear a lot of grindcore death a la Dying Fetus, Aborted and Benighted influences when I listen to Of Hatred Spawn, mainly due to the way Collacott sings, which is like a blend between Frank Mullen of Suffocation, Sven “Svencho” de Caluwé of Aborted and Julien Truchan of Benighted. There is also a lot of technical death metal aspects as the drumming and riffs leans more towards newer Suffocation, Misery Index or even Hour of Penance at times than for example Obituary or Entombed.

There is really nothing negative to say about this album, it was solid throughout albeit a bit short for a full-length. Sure it isn’t anything groundbreaking that re-invents the wheel but the skill involved in this group is more than enough to win me over. Death metal fans should definitely check this out as here is something for everyone.

Label: Boonsdale Records
For fans of: Suffocation and Aborted
Release date: December 21st, 2018
Favorite song: Nocturnal Swarm
Score: 3.5/5 Very good

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

Inhuman Remnants – Solipsis (Death Metal/Deathcore)

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When I saw Inhuman Remnants got the vocalist from Somnium Nox (fantastic atmospheric black metal) on bass I got interested straight away. Besides that horror themed death metal is always something I can get behind and when it’s well executed it makes me get goosebumps. While Inhuman Remains EP is a short one that offers basically a nine and a half minute long track (I count it like that since it’s an intro, a song then and outro on the three tracks) it’s atmospheric and does give some chills down my spine at times. I can imagine a full-length album on this sort of music will do really well and once the EP (I am tempted to call it a single to be honest) is over I do want more of the same formula. One does wonder how many times the quote “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds” can be used in metal though. Oh well it fits and isn’t just put in there for the sake of it so why not right?

The slow starts and mid-paced heavy music gives me some Black Tongue or Falsifier vibes and Inhuman Remnants usually keeps on the mid-paced range but have some spikes here and there where they go off to eventually get into a wicked breakdown almost newer Ingested slam style. It fits the theme they got going on and along with the sick vocals that’s around the deathcore area Solipsis became a short but sweet experience. Bring me a full-length album!

Label: Eschatonic Records
For fans of: Ingested and Falsifier
Release date: June 1st, 2018
Favorite song: II. Solipsis
Score: 3.5/5

HerezA – I Become Death (Death Metal)

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Created in 2014 by the duo Slobodan Stupar (guitar, bass, drums and backing vocals) and Ivan Kovačević Kova (vocals) this Croatian death metal band were quick to release their full-length debut Misanthrope the year after. Since then the duo have worked on I Become Death, an album that hopefully put Croatia on the death metal map this year.

You want the aggression from punk and death metal joined together in a wonderful symbiosis? Then this is what you need in your life. I’d heard from a few people this was a really good death metal album but already on the opening track I Become Death I am stunned. This isn’t just really good this is a death metal masterpiece! I am getting my brain put into a blender from these crusing riffs and sheer brutal force Slobodan and Ivan hits me with. You hear their influences from the old school death metal sound, like the masters Entombed or Obituary, with the groove on tracks like Jebem vas u usta ladna and Homo homini lupus est (yes they do have songs in their own language). Hell they even manage to fit in a sweet slow paced intro on Tombcrawler just for the sake of it. Their influences doesn’t stop there though! I dare say I hear a bit of Aborted, Anaal Nathrakh and even grindcore a la Carcass. Meaning this is some heavy shit and you should get prepared before listening. Not just with the standard beer but you need a bucket next to you as your brain will come out of your ears.

I’ve been insanly lucky this week. I’ve not only found one but two contenders for album of the year! Hereza is not just one of the best death metal albums this year but one of the best albums this year full stop. It’s brutal, raw, full of headbangning hits and mixes a lot of metal styles with perfection. HerezA has quickly got themselves a new fan and put Croatia on the metal map for me. My favorite tracks, this week have been hell choosing those mind you, would have to be I Become Death, Full Moon Slaughter and Tombcrawler. Hereza’s sophomore album I Become Death is out now through Godz ov War Productions.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/herezametalband
Label: Godz ov War Productions
For fans of: Entombed and Anaal Nathrakh
Favorite song: Tombcrawler

Earth Rot – Renascentia (Death/Black Metal)

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Starting as a two-piece by Thomas Waterhouse and Jared Bridgeman who wanted to create some grindcore Earth Rot was formed in 2013, all songs were eventually discarded though and the band added three more members as well as changing genre to a mix of black and death metal. Now the band play their music to celebrate all that is dark and vile in music, taking influences from grim bands such as Gorgoroth, Anaal Nathrakh, Septicflesh, Svart Crown and Naglfar. All bands who got different takes in music style but also got that mist of darkness surrounding them. Since the start Earth Rot have been very active already released two EP’s and a full-length and now adding their sophomore full-length to the discography with Renascentia.

Active as the band may have been I’d actually not listened to any of their songs before grabbing a hold of Renascentia. Hence I did not know what to expect coming into this album. Now I know though, this is the same type of darkness that Naglfar ships out from when setting sail to conquer the world. Earth Rot is such a fitting for a band of this filthy caliber and at times I can even hear some of their early grindcore influences. Hell on The Bones That Lay Beneath the Earth they even got a freaking saxophone solo! When I read up on Earth Rot’s history, their influences and how they want to portrait sinister noise shaped by the world around you I had my hopes up that this was going to be good. I am glad to tell you guys that they deliver exactly what they promise.

This is one of those happy surprises that makes me want to dig into a bands whole discography. It’s not perfect but the world isn’t perfect, it’s sinister just as Renascentia. Take it from the band itself Earth Rot will rain down filth upon you. Earth Rot’s Renascentia is out now as an independent release.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EarthRotband
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/EarthRotAus
For fans of: Naglfar and Anaal Nathrakh
Favorite song: Funeral Pyre

Enragement – Burned, Barren, Bloodstained (Brutal Death Metal)

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I usually review albums that are already out or soon to be out. However this time I got a promo from Inverse Records on a Finnish band called Enragement and their sophomore album Burned, Barren, Bloodstained which isn’t out until June 9th. When I get an album that’s not released until so far away in the future I usually wait for the release date to be closer but this time I couldn’t, the album is simply too good and I couldn’t wait! Lets start with some background on Enragement. The band was formed in 2006 by Lasse Sannikka (drums), Erkka Järvinen (guitars) and Jouni Mäkelä (vocals), Erkka left to focus on hockey, Jouni later on left to focus on his other band Reflection Dies. Left with no members, nor any album releases, Lasse rebuild Enragement and the band is now a four-piece, featuring three vocalists (!). It took just a bit more than a year for Lasse to assemble the new group together and release their debut album Omnimalevolence of Man. Now three years later they are active with Burned, Barren, Bloodstained.

I did mention Enragement consists of three vocalists. That’s the part that makes this band really stick out. Jarkko Niemi (Brymir), Atte Ojanne and Tuomas Iivanainen all got different types of growling, all from classic death metal, brutal death metal and shrieks as taken from a black metal band. And it’s not just the vocals that differs, the music overall also demonstrates a wide range of musical influences all from old school death metal to grindcore. One song can lean towards black metal (Ashen Unity), just to on the next track, As the Acid Burns, become a groovy riff-fest classic death metal type of song. What makes it all jell together in harmony is the intense heavyness and brutality that never stops. Burned, Barren, Bloodstained is an album that will go down as a hidden gem in Finnish metal scene and I hope many of you out there will notice this rare display of brutal death metal from a country that hardly dabbles in the scene. I am actually quite stunned to find such rare talent with a unique sound and never heard of them before. Being half Finnish I try to give that market an extra ear (just like with the Swedish scene) but this has simply went by me. For that I am sorry but I am now a true believe of Enragement’s quest to create the ultimate song to capture the human condition at its darkest.

Enragement now got a new fan, this is one of the best releases of the year. Burned, Barren, Bloodstained is out June 9th. I suggest you mark it down on your calendars and get it from Inverse Records for your own salvation. This is Extreme Death Metal, this is Enragement!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Enragement
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/EnragementMetal
For fans of: Beheaded and Immolation
Favorite song: Dead Flesh Treasury