Lets start with saying how important a great album cover can be. There I was looking through some promos I’ve received the past month to grab something to review and what caught my eyes was the album The Apothecary from Archaic Decapitator due to the fine art alone. And what do you know it was made by who I think is one of the best artists in the business, Caelen Stokkermans. It wasn’t just visually stunning but it also captured the lyrical concept of the album well so you know what you’re in for.
Who are Archaic Decapitator then? Hailing from Connecticut in the United States the five-piece was created in 2007. Originally they started of with playing straight up gory death metal but eventually evolved into a more sophisticated melodic death metal band. The only full-length they’ve released so far is Impalement Ceremonies in 2011 as they have since been focusing on EP’s with The Apothecary being the third release in four years.
It doesn’t take long before the main influences for Archaic Decapitator to become known, Scandinavian death metal and especially the Finnish style with bands like Insomnium, Mors Principium Est and Omnium Gatherum coming to mind. The now classic synth melodies accompanies the catchy riffing well and with the great vocals from Kyle Quintin the whole package is delivered in style. The songs offers enough variety to hold their own and give the listener different experiences. It all ends in the epic seven minute long title track “The Apothecary” which ends the album on a high note. However I think the best track on the album goes to “Cruelty of the Host Star”, uncompromising melodeath that’s short but sweet, got a killer solo and no added fluff to it. Just straight up class melodeath that leaves a good taste in your mouth. Having said variety on the album is a big strength of Archaic Decapitator and I would argue there is a different favorite song for everyone here due to that fact.
This is actually the best melodic death metal album I’ve heard this year so far. Fans of the style, especially the Scandinavian sort, will be sure to grab a copy of this album today if you haven’t already.
Written by J.B.
Label: Independent For fans of: Insomnium and Mors Principium Est Release date: April 19th, 2019 Favorite song: Cruelty of the Host Star Score: 4/5 Incredible
As a lot of you fine metal gamers know Sweden is crawling with death metal bands and it’s hard to keep track to them all. A band that’s been going for almost ten years and recently released a new album that was found in the honorable mentions for the album of the month March edition is Bleeding Utopia. With a revamped roster (and logo), fresh from the presses new album and coming tour it was high time to grab Bleeding Utopia for some questions!
Tell me some background story on Bleeding Utopia. How did the band start out?
The band came to mind in Nov 2009 when Astral Carneval (Andreas former band) called it quits. Andreas contacted some great musicians and invited them to join a new band called BLEEDING UTOPIA. in Feb 2010 three of them had a rehearsal to see if it worked out and if they wanted to make this a full time band…and they did haha. So the idea came in November 2009 but the band was “formed” in February 2010 with that first rehearsal. The band became complete in April 2010 and the rest is history.
Bleeding Utopia has had a few changes in the line-up after Darkest Potency. How has this affected the band?
The changes has only been positive. We are stronger than ever right now with a solid line up where we all aim at the same goal and everyone work hard to get there.
I noticed you gut a new logo on this album, did that change happen due to a new line-up and wanted a new start or was it something else entirely?
Well the old logo was done in a little bit of “panic”. I wanted something very simple and handwritten (almost as it was carved) so me wife just wrote the name and asked “something like this” and I said “that is good, I’ll use that one” haha. Then in early 2016 when we had a new line up and a heavier sound we wanted a more old-school “heavier” logo, so Patrik and Chainsaw Design made the new logo and we loved. We needed a logo that fitted the music more than the first one, and as too show that we are updated with new line up as well….almost as a new start as you said.
You very recently released your third full-length album Where the Light Comes to Die. How long was this album in process?
Oohh…for a long time. The first song I (Andreas) wrote for the new album was “Crown Of Horns” in late 2015 so the process was long haha. Due to changing drummer and guitar player and touring it took longer than counted for. I wrote everything between late 2015 and mid/late 2016 and Adam recorded the drums in January/February 2017, then we toured February/March and guitars was recorded in April 2017 and then again in may (because I wasn’t 100% happy with some stuff so I change some bits and added harmonies and stuffs like that)…then bass and vocals in May/June 2017. And at the same time our lead guitarist had to leave the band so now we were looking for a lead player to do all the solos on the album, everything else was done. So we took the summer and tried out lead players…or well we ended up only trying out one because he is a great player and the chemistry was fantastic so he (Kristian) joined in late summer of 2017. Now he had to write solos for all the songs (except 1 song were Ryan Knight ex Arsis, ex Black Dahlia Murder play the solo). The solos was recorded in September/October 2017 and the mix and master wasn’t done until early summer 2018 so it was a long process but totally worth it.
Your albums has a lot to do with war and religion. Do you do any pre-studies on certain history or war when writing?
No not really. On the first album we had some research done because I wrote some lyrics about actual events but on “Darkest Potency” and “Where The Light Comes To Die” no actual events was added to the lyrics. On “Darkest Potency” I researched some serial killers but didn’t write of actual murders only about what is going on in their minds. I like not to have to much real events and years in the lyrics so that it becomes timeless and people can interpret them as they please. Maybe I am writing about some kind of destruction, it could be a battle but maybe some guy or girl read the lyric and in their minds it is about their own battle against something or just read the lyrics and understand them for what they are…a battle haha. You know what I mean haha.
Have their been any major influences for Bleeding Utopia? If so which?
A lot of the 90th death/black metal from Sweden. Bands like Naglfar, A Canorous Quintet, Dismember, Necrophobic, Dissection, At the Gates, Amon Amarth early In Flames and bands like that. David and I (Andreas) grew up with the bands and all the great releases on NO FASHION REC in the 90th. And of course bands like Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Morbid Angel was a big influence when we grew up. Then the new wave from USA came in the early 2000 and a lot of bands poped up. I think that The Black Dahlia Murder is a fantastic band and you can hear the Swedish influences in their music so they inspired me back in 2003 and they still do. But I always come back to that 90th Swedish death/Black metal but I like it with a modern touch as we do it in BLEEDING UTOPIA.
This was the first album you released via Black Lion Records. How did this partnership come to fruition?
We know the guy behind Black Lion from before and when he presented us with a good deal we took it because we think he is doing a great job and he is a very hard working man.
Has Where the Light Comes to Die been as well received as you hoped?
The reception have been overwhelming. Great reviews and people seems to like it a lot and it feels fantastic. We have been working on this album some time and it feels great now when it is out and all the love it is getting. couldn’t be happier.
Are there any gamers in Bleeding Utopia? If so what’s your favorite game of all time?
Hmm…not so much computer games as COD or WOW or something like that, we are old-school haha. Nintendo 8-bit (NES) and Castelvania, Ghost & Goblins and all those old games are the favourites (for Andreas and David and Kristian at least haha) And Sega Mega drive (Genesis) was a GREAT console also. Many great games.
What’s next for Bleeding Utopia? Next is a few gigs around Sweden and looking for even more gigs around Sweden. A EU tour in October/November and some video shooting for new videos.
Welcome to hell! With a child choirs singing and eventually ending with the words “welcome to hell” the stage is set when the opener “Ascendants of Hate” kicks off in great fashion. What’s Bleeding Utopia’s game all about you ask? It’s straight up Swedish death metal of the more melodic kind. The same kind of metal you hear from newer Evocation, Centinex, Arch Enemy or Amon Amarth. Funny enough that’s some of my favorite bands within this school. In case you remember in 2017 I thought Evocation’s The Shadow Archetype was a top 5 pick, whereas Centinex Doomsday Rituals and Amon Amarth’s Jomsviking were also high up on my 2016 list! Safe to say if all falls into place Where the Light Comes to Die may just be one of my most played albums in 2019.
Guess what? It does! There is enough meaty riffs here to keep me coming back for months to come with a vocal effort from David Ahlen that’s his best yet! The album has a certain flow to it that makes it really easy to get into but also varied enough for repeatable listens. You got your groovy Amon Amarth madness tracks like “Seek Solace In Throes” and “Already Dead” with “Ascendants of Hate” leaning more towards the great, and in my opinion underrated, Desultory. To top it off there is also a sweet guest appearance by Ryan Knight (ex-Arsis, ex-The Black Dahlia Murder) on “Enhance My Wrath”.
Where the Light Comes to Die is Bleeding Utopia’s best release by far, a big step from their past offerings and the melodic side of death metal is perfectly blended with the brutal onslaught this time around. Also helps that David Ahlen has become a greater vocalist, the years of practice between Darkest Potency and Where the Light comes to Die has developed his game. The mastering and mixing is once again done by Jocke Skog (Clawfinger, Feared, After the Burial, The Haunted etc) who has outdone himself with this one. There was definitely nothing wrong with the mixing on the past albums but this is simply a bit better in all areas. Also a fun note, I use his in-game music kit when I play CS:GO! If you play CS:GO check out the “Skog – II-Headshot” kit as it’s perfect for any metal gamer out there.
You will find plenty of headbang friendly material here and for those waiting for the upcoming Amon Amarth album Berserker this is the perfect album to take for a spin in order to make the wait a bit easier. Swedish melodeath at its finest!
Written by J.B.
Label: Black Lion Records For fans of: Amon Amarth and Evocation Release date: March 22nd, 2019 Favorite song: Already Dead Score: 4/5 Incredible
Meadows End are in their 21st year as a band, that’s a really long time but it does seem they’ve never managed to become a name many knows apart from the diehard melodic death metal fans. One reason for that might be that The Grand Antiquation is only their fourth full-length during all this time, the full-length debut Ode to Quietus was actually released in 2010 meaning it took a long time before they actually released something. Another might be that they simply couldn’t cut it in a genre that got a fierce competition, which I think was the case on the debut. A decent debut as it was that wasn’t good enough to make any ripples on the melodeath ocean. However something happened on The Sufferwell, Meadows End got a stable line-up which has been intact ever since and the vocalist Johan Brandberg now had more experience to boot. The Sufferwell was a big step in the right direction and the band showed they are on the right path here with Sojourn being yet another good release, their best yet even. With The Grand Antiquation I have hopes we will see an even stronger Meadows End that would have made the development from decent, good to now great within a four album span.
First thing first, and I can’t stress this enough, songs in the mother tongue are so powerful! Even more so in this case as I understand the Swedish lyrics. That was something I missed on Sojourn so I’m happy they have added that again to their craft. One think that strikes me early on when listening to The Grand Antiquation. This is the type of metal that makes you happy and pumped up for the weekend ready to take over the world with those catchy riffs and epic choirs, fitting it was released on a Friday right? The symphonic elements take a bigger part on the album than it did on Sojourn, this is more on a epic scale which at times even resemblance power metal a la Blind Guardian. Before it was more adding a touch of synth and piano in the mix much like the bands with the most common influences Omnium Gatherum and Mors Principium Est do, while now I feel like they try to go more towards Fleshgod Apocalypse. Personally I think they’ve overdone it a bit with The Grand Antiquation, it’s too….grand for my taste. There is no denying that tracks like “Devilution” is incredibly catchy though but they are certainly a few steps behind Fleshgod Apocalypse in terms of both triumphant orchestra and riffs.
The differences between The Sufferwell and Sojourn did in the end lead to The Grand Antiquation which is a sort of hybrid between the two. I’m not convinced in their decision on going full symphonic here as it does overwhelm me at times. I much rather have them going in the same direction as “I Stilla Vemod Vandra” where it’s on the down low. However Meadows End keeps taking one step at the time down their road to melodeath glory. While they still have a bit to go before they reach their destination the path they walk is on the right one. Personally I enjoyed Sojourner more as a whole but they tried something different here, which in the long run might be a good choice for future releases as they find their footing on the perfect own melodeath mix. Meadows End stays the course and remains a good band that I still feel are on the brink to something greater. Who knows when, and if, they will truly unlock that potential?
Written by J.B.
Label: Black Lion Records For fans of: Fleshgod Apocalypse and Mors Principium Est Release date: March 8th, 2019 Favorite song: I Stilla Vemod Vandra Score: 3/5 Good
A new challenger has entered the death metal stage and they are looking for the abolishment of flesh. Hailing from Texas, USA, the band was founded in 2006 but under the name Abolishment. The debut came out 2008 and was named Abolishment of Flesh which later on became the bands new name after numerous member changes. Meaning even though this is Abolishment of Flesh debut album the foundations were there already in 2006. Nowadays the band consists of two members, Ramon Cazares on guitar/vocals (while recording drums and bass as well) and Izaak Chaves on guitar.
Alright this album is one I find very strange to review. Want to know why? It’s due to the fact it is very inconsistent. A reason for this is that they are a bit all over the place and with various results. Abolishment of Flesh showcase a wide range of different styles be it technical, brutal, melodic and classic death metal, which is good however I can’t help to think some of these tracks are somewhat of a snooze fest. They can go from an absolute killer track to one I just want to press skip on. The vocals is one of the things that does that to me. I say keep the brutal growling, let go of the screeching vocals as when that comes in it kills some songs for me as it feels out of place. In “Inhuman Anatomy” it works fine but on the follow-up “Lack of Emotions” I would much rather they’d left it out and the song overall leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It’s the same way when listening to Cattle Decapitation though, the vocal style doesn’t always work for me and I am really picky when death metal switches style like that. Which is a big shame because when Abolishment of Flesh get it all going they are incredible and provides some of the best extreme metal I’ve heard all year.
You have your classic Suffocation sounding tracks like “Morbid Imagery” that provides solid death to the masses, your massive guitar solos with some Dying Fetus vibes on “Servitude of Endless Suffering”. Then you got my personal favorite “Slaves of Animosity” which is simply a monster of a song that’s doing a great job showcasing the bands melodic and technical side, yet keeping it brutal. Almost a bit like older In Flames, which is probably why I really enjoy it. Tracks like those proves the band got diversity, can play both polished melodeath and the more extreme kind with ease when it works which alone keeps the score on a good level. I just hoped the album was more consistent as the duo are definitely talented musicians that can produce some pummeling headbang crazy material. All in all this is a debut album and it sure got me interested in the band. I will follow the band closely, looking forward to hear what they come up with next. Who knows this might just be the first stepping stone into greatness?
Label: Unholy Anarchy Records
For fans of: Suffocation and Cattle Decapitation
Release date: April 20th, 2018
Favorite song: Slaves of Animosity
Mors Subita have been around for awhile. Being one of Finland’s prime melodic death metal bands who is probably often overlooked in the shadows of Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum and the likes. The creator Mika Lammassaari is one of many guitar Gods from the country of thousand lakes as he is also features in Eternal Tears of Sorrow and Wolfheart. Into the Pitch Black is the bands third full-length since the formation in 1999.
Let me be honest and saying I wasn’t too keen on this album. Sure it has its moments with “I, God” and “Into the Pitch Black” having some killer riffs that keeps the aggressive modern melodic death metal spirit going. “As Humanity Weeps” brings me back to the days I listened to Threat Signal which was actually kinda fun as I’d almost forgot about that band. Overall though I find the album lacking in some key areas like songwriting, it’s a tad too repetitive and boring which loses my attention in the end. Which might just be me having grown out of this type of melodeath as I used to devour this kind of music ten years ago. Heard this many times before but done better in all honesty. I can’t help to think with an lineup consisting of members from Eternal Tears of Sorrow, Wolfheart and Thyrane this could be so much better.
I am sure many melodeath fans will have a good time with Into the Pitch Black and fans of Mors Subita gets more of the same music they’ve done in the past. Personally this isn’t really up my alley though and it feels a few years too late to be on my radar. It does leave me with a couple of good songs and mixed feelings once I’ve done my journey into the pitch black. A decent album that I feel could be better but one that a younger me might have appreciated a lot more. Sometimes it just doesn’t click like you’d hoped.
Label: Inverse Records
For fans of: Threat Signal and Deals Death
Release date: April 6th, 2018
Favorite song: I, God