Arallu – Desert Battles (Black/Death Metal)

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Originally released in 2009 Desert Battles became another piece in Arallu’s long history of well received albums (they’ve been going for over 20 years!). However the band was never satisfied with the sound of Desert Battles and now, nine years later, they re-release Desert Battles with new cover art, vocals recording and mix. Of course I had to have a listen to the old version before jumping into this as I hadn’t heard the original album before but had heard both Geniewar and Six from 2015 and 2017 respectively. Both solid releases and it became clear both were a lot stronger outputs than Desert Battles was in 2009 when comparing them.

Desert Battles 2018 version is however a cleaner journey set to the mixing and the vocals. Personally I enjoy this more as the old version was a bit too rough compared to how I’d heard the other material from Arallu. This definitely suits their newer sound a lot more. For those unfamiliar with Arallu their style of metal is black metal with elements of death, middle eastern music and thrash. Making it easy to draw parallels to bands such as Orphaned Land, Al-Namrood and Melechesh, even Nile at some places. From what I understand on reading the bands history Desert Battles is the album that put them on the map and where they took their sound to the level they have today. It’s always nice to hear how a bands sound has evolved during their career and while some remasters can sometime destroy what was once good with the album I think this only improved it.

I don’t think Desert Battles at its very core is as good as neither Geniewar nor Six but this is the way Desert Battles was meant to sound. A really good way to get an introduction to the band with songs like “The Keeper of Jerusalem” being some of the better songs Arallu have written. I do miss the consistency Six had though and a “Possessed by the Sleep” or “Philosophers” standout track to really make it for me. It’s just not as memorable and easily over-looked in the sea of good metal out there. Also I can’t let the fact go that I enjoy the more evil sounding Al-Namrood or Melechesh a lot more when I compare Arallu with other middle eastern influenced bands I know of, they are a lot more towards black metal than Arallu though and who’s to say there can’t be several? They are rather different sounding all of them to be fair. If you haven’t heard Arallu before this could be a good start to hear where they kicked off before going to, in my opinion, their better releases Geniewar and Six.

Label: Raven Music
For fans of: Al-Namrood and Melechesh
Release date: June 6th, 2018
Favorite song: The Keeper of Jerusalem
Score: 2.5/5

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Archspire – Relentless Mutation (Technical Death Metal)

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Archspire is a band which first got me into techdeath together with Revocation, Beyond Creation, Nile and the likes only a couple years ago. With that said I’ve never truly got into them, not as much as with Beyond Creation for example who I rate as the best techdeath band there is. However Relentless Mutation has changed me. This album alone have made me go from liking the band as they were one of the first bands I heard from the genre, to a band I know will call myself a fan of.

I already knew I would change my view on them as the singles they released were all top class techdeath. The opener Involuntary Doppelgänger I’ve heard countless of times by now and when it kickstarted this album I still find myself enjoying it. The album keeps on blasting me with sheer force, world class riffs and a trip around the universe unlike any other. Any song on this album would be a good pick for my favorite song section, because in all fairness they are all of insanely high techdeath quality but they are a couple songs that sticks out. It’s the albums title track Relentless Mutation that wins it for me in the end. The tempo-changes and musicianship shown on that track makes every single hormone in my body that produces happiness.

Archspire have blown me away and as someone who haven’t really seen the greatness in them before this is a big surprise. It will be really hard for me to pick the best techdeath album this year between Decrepit Birth’s Axis Mundi and Archspire’s Relentless Mutation. Both masterpieces in their own rights that should be in any metalheads collection.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Archspireband
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Archspireband
Label: Season of Mist
For fans of: Beyond Creation and Spawn of Possession
Favorite song: Relentless Mutation
Score: 5/5

Suffocation – …of the Dark Light (Technical Brutal Death Metal)

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Another album I’ve been waiting far too long to review. Suffocation started same year I was born in 1988 and I’ve always had soft spot for them due to them being a major influence in what we hear in brutal and technical death metal today. When I saw them on tour last year in Sweden with Cattle Decapitation, Exuviated, Infernal Tenebra it was fucking sweet to finally get to see them live and I just hope they come here again for a EU tour on their new release.

Just like with Dying Fetus album Wrong One to Fuck With Suffocation are back with a message: …of the Dark Light is hell of a lot better than their latest releases. Even though I thought Pinnacle of Bedlam might have got too much shit I understand it didn’t live up to the expectations one might have on the band (just like me with Origins latest release). On this album no one can say Suffocation are done and dusted though. In many ways this album stands for exactly who they are, creators of the fine balance on technical and brutal death metal. I am quite happy to hear they have found their ways once again and while I still enjoy their first albums the most this might be their best release since Pierced from Within.

What a fine year for the more brutal ways of death metal this is turning out to be. Suffocation, Dying Fetus, Broken Hope and Origin (yes I know I’ve givem them some harsh words but it’s still good) all having released top notch records and the year isn’t even over yet! So far I hold Dying Fetus as my favorite release out of those but hell, anyone would be a good pick and it’s the small things and my personal preference that makes the difference in this case. All I know is Suffocation is back in action for real this time and I am sure they want to retake that crown!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/suffocation
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/suffocation
Label: Nuclear Blast
For fans of: Dying Fetus and Cryptopsy
Favorite song: Your Last Breaths
Score: 4/5

Dying Fetus – Wrong One to Fuck With (Brutal Death Metal)

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Brutality, its not just something you can do when you win in Mortal Kombat but also the first word that comes to mind when I think of Dying Fetus. The brutal death metal kings have been slaying the shit out of mankind since they formed in 1991. Since then a lot has happened though, only original member still standing is John Callagher, but that’s more than enough as they haven’t slown down ever since the start. Granted there has been a few releases which might not be up to the level they can produce but that’s when Dying Fetus says we are the Wrong One to Fuck With.

This is brutal, as you could expect. Want your head smashed by a sledgehammer and put in a blender, then this is for you! I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t been a big fan of Dying Fetus but Wrong One to Fuck With is one of the best releases this year. Everything is just working for them on this album, which I can’t say it have on all their releases. Within their vast discography I would definitely put this as a contender for the best one. Just listening to the first three songs was enough for me to know this is an album when they are on form. One thing that usually puts me off brutal death metal genre is that all the songs on an album tend to sound the same, just sheer force with little thought behind it. There is a lot of crap coming out of it is what I mean. That’s not the case here though, sure it’s a brutal force with lyrics to go with it but Dying Fetus also got some variation on the songs and I can enjoy the whole album over and over again. Not just a song here and there when I work out or want to get fucking mental (although it works for that too!).

Songs like Panic Amongst the Herd, Die with Integrity, Ideological Subjugation and Weaken the Structure are sure to be on my playlist for years to come. Wrong One to Fuck With is Dying Fetus best album in years and fans of the band will love it. As far as brutal death metal goes it doesn’t get much better than this.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DyingFetus
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DyingFetusBand
Label: Relapse Records
For fans of: Suffocation and Misery Index
Favorite song: Ideological Subjugation
Score: 4.5/5

Soul Remnants – Ouroboros (Blackened Death Metal)

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Yay more death metal, this time with a touch of black in it! A concept album about a futuristic war amongst all mankind none the less. Soul Remnants have existed for almost 15 years now, being formed in 2003, and Ouroboros is the bands third full-length release. The wait has been quite long between the releases but when they have unleashed their music upon mankind it’s always been brutal and freaking sweet. I have to note that their song “Dead Black (Heart of Ice)” appears in the video game Rock Band 4, which is quite cool as I played the first Rock Band loads and there was basically no death nor black metal on it.

Ouroboros starts off full-throttle pedal to the metal straight away with the opener Mechanical Synapse Modulations and the song is over before you know it, almost grindcore like. Follow it up you got Regurgitated and Consumed which slows down a bit, but in all honesty that’s a good thing. This track has a lot more flow to it, feels more like death metal and reminds me quite a bit about Deicide or Bloodbath. Speaking of Bloodbath the third track Depravity’s Lock is a perfect example on how they draw influences from both Swedish and American death metal. Ouroboros is already a bit funny at this stage to me, with each song it’s growing on me where the next song is better than the last. Even though that doesn’t keep up throughout the album it has to be said the second half of Ouroboros is better than the first. Depravity’s Lock remained being my favorite track but there are a lot of headbang worthy material in here and every song from Echoes of Insanity until the end I could also pick as my favorite.

I’d never heard of this band before today but Ouroboros is a solid release and I can’t wait to heard their two other albums to hear how they’ve evolved. This is good American death metal and I can understand how Soul Remnants have shared the stage with the likes of Nile, Revocation, Obituary and Suffocation. A nice surprise that I am sure you will like too.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SoulRemnants
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/SoulRemnants
Label: Entertainment One / LifeBlood inc.
For fans of: Bloodbath and Deicide
Favorite song: Depravity’s Lock
Score: 3.5/5

Plague Throat – The Human Paradox (Technical Death Metal)

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From India we have one of the biggest death metal surprises of the year so far in Plague Throat and their album The Human Paradox. The band plays a heavy and technical death metal style that reminds me a lot of Nile, Origin, Suffocation and Hour of Penance. That’s some big names and hard market to break into but Plague Throat makes a really good try at it and this is in all honesty the best music I’ve heard coming from India, not that I’ve heard a big deal of bands from the area though but still. So how does Plague Throat fare against those heavy hitters?

Fact is they can stand tall against them, The Human Paradox shows a lot of promise and songs like Fallible Transgression and Hour of Darkness are just as technical and good death metal like the bigger names out there. They might not have the vast experience and originality some of those bands have (or used to have at least) but The Human Paradox is an album they can build on. I totally get how Plague Throat can go on to win Wacken Metal Battle India and be seen as one of the upcoming exports that can hit it big from India as they sure got a lot of the boxes checked in for doing so.

In all honesty I had just as good of a time listening to The Human Paradox as I had with Origin’s latest album Unparalleled Universe. Only thing is it misses that stand out song like Unequivocal for example but in return I find this a more tight album all around. One thing is certain, Plague Throat is definitely the band to look out for from India as they are bound to spread their plague upon the world eventually.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/plaguethroat3
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/PlagueThroat3
Label: Transcending Obscurity India
For fans of: Hour of Penance and Origin
Favorite song: Hour of Darkness
Score: 3.5/5

Origin – Unparalleled Universe (Technical Brutal Death Metal)

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From the crazy White Ward jazz-post-black metal experience I go to something I feel right at home with. It’s time to review one of the technical brutal death metal greats, Origin. A band which has given us mortals some of the best brutal techdeath that’s ever existed since their formation in 1997. Since then the band has released one EP and Unparalleled Universe will be the seventh full-length release, something very few techdeath bands have even done actually. With heavy hitting albums like Antithesis and Omnipresent fresh in mind how does Unparalleled Universe stand next to them?

Have to be said Origin still got it, even seven albums and 20 years into their career. However I lack that Wrath of Vishnu, The Aftermath and All Things Dead feel to it. It’s a good album but next to a discography like Origins they almost slay themself. I always hate reviewing albums like this in all honesty. When a band has a really good discography should they get punished for releasing something not on the very very top? I mean if this was a debut or even a sophomore album I would say something along the lines of “omg this is one of the best bands that will tear the future apart!!!”. I don’t know, this is a freaking great album but knowing what Origin has done in the past I know I can expect more. A great album doesn’t cut it this year within brutal death metal, not with Dying Fetus, Broken Hope, Decrepit Birth and Suffocation getting releases out. Mithridatic, Dajjal, Burden of Prescience and Origins longest track as of yet Unequivocal are the highlights of this album and especially Unequivocal makes me go all headbang mode and presents Origin in top form. It’s a good album and any Origin fan should get it. As I said they still got the touch. However I know there is more brutality to be unleashed from them, some songs are just too soft for my liking to make this a real heavy hitter as an Origin album should be.

Unparalleled Universe is out now through Agonia Records in EU and Nuclear Blast in the US. With this review I am also bringing back the score scale, this time instead of a 1-10 scale it will be a 1-5 one. 5 being the highest grade and 1 the lowest.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Origin
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/OriginBand
Label: Agonia Records (EU) and Nuclear Blast (US)
For fans of: Nile and Decrepit Birth
Favorite song: Unequivocal
Score: 3.5/5