Vale of Pnath – Accursed (Technical Death/Black Metal)

Vale of Pnath is an interesting band, even with quite a few member changes during the years I personally think all their albums are great. They somehow seem to be immune to it leading towards a bad album every now and then. Maybe that is exactly why the band is always up for experimenting, while making it work is due to the strong glue and vision Vance Valenzuela (guitar) has who keeps it together (I should interview him one day to find out).

“Shadow and Agony” strikes me first and it’s such a scary, horror movie like intro fitting the Lovecraft techdeath masters! Banger after banger Vale of Pnath is hitting me with, they simply don’t want me to go anywhere as I give this album a spin. There is such a great flow throughout the album, time just flies by and your neck is sore after all the headbanging yet there is enough room to breathe at just the right times so it doesn’t break. Even with a great flow, a red thin line, every song sticks out on its own. It isn’t just a simple rinse and repeat for seven songs straight. Something I find hard to find albums which does great on both areas, making the album have a wicked flow and be great end to end but at the same time letting the songs speak for itself so I can just choose one at random and enjoy it. Very well done, it’s certainly not something I take for granted!

“So Jimmy what song do you recommend I listen to first?” Fact is I choose “The Darkest Gate” only due to it being the single I’ve heard so many times before this album dropped it’s just stuck in my head, and rightfully so as it is a killer track. You could definitely take any pick and you would be pleased, they have different elements to their songs that works good on the tracks they are meant for. Both “Obsidian Realm” and “Spectre of Bone” are epic finishers with a more atmospheric and techdeath side to them than the first half of the album for example (Vale of Pnath seems to have a patter to end with the longest, most epic track).

What a year for the technical side of death metal it’s been so far! First we got the riff feast from Equipoise, followed with a phenomenal experience in Warforged (which also brings a lot of black metal influences into the mix) and now Vale of Pnath shows they don’t want to be any worse with their strongest album yet. What do these three bands have in common? They have been experimenting with their sound and executed it well! The path Vale of Pnath has walked has led them to this sound, album after album has drawn them close and close to what finally became Accursed. This is a big change for the band who are now closer to being called a technical black metal band than ever before. I welcome this change with open arms with Accursed being the best I’ve heard from Vale of Pnath so far and an album of the year contender in my book! This makes all my metal sensors tingle the right way and fans of extreme metal have to give this a listen.

Written by J.B.

Label: Willowtip Records
For fans of: Enfold Darkness and The Black Dahlia Murder
Release date: May 17th, 2019
Favorite song: The Darkest Gate
Score: 5/5 Masterpiece

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Mordbrand – Döden/Efter Döden (Death Metal)

It’s not often I review something as short as this but I couldn’t help myself when one of the best death metal bands going release new songs, even if it’s just two. The two tracks “Döden” and “Efter Döden” comes from poems of Gustaf Fröding who was from the same are as Mordbrand. The idea seems to work as a charm as both lyrically and most especially atmosphere wise this is among the best music I’ve heard this year. “Döden” does as death usually do, takes you into its cold embrace and doesn’t let go. The riffs and small tempo changes here and there accompanied with the viscous voice of Per Boder (also in God Macabre) does wonders for this black soul. “Efter Döden” is another tale, faster, rawer and I can hear some punk influences in here too. It doesn’t grab me by the balls as much as “Döden” did (again I can’t stress it enough how great that track is) but it’s a wicked song that during its six minutes has enough variation and class riffs to it that you will want more.

After having Wilt as one of my favorite albums in 2017 I’m happy to hear Mordbrand experiment a bit and making it work. Grab yourself a cold one and put this short EP on repeat to celebrate the start of your weekend. I’m hoping Mordbrand does more work like this in the future!

Written by J.B.

Label: De:Nihil Records
For fans of: God Macabre and Vanhelgd
Release date: May 15th, 2019
Favorite song: Döden
Score: 4/5 Incredible

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

Warforged – I: Voice (Progressive Death/Black Metal)

Ok first of wow! What a journey this is. I: Voice is one of the mightiest experiences I’ve had in a long time with music. It’s simply breathtaking and it’s hard to put it down to words, this is just something you have to experience yourself. Has to be said for this release I actually, for the first time ever, reviewed the album based on the official youtube release which has a quite simple but also brilliant video along with it. For me it helped to add to my experience so I can recommend you giving that a try (got to love how they interact with a music video 25 minutes in too). Choosing my favorite track here was honestly killing me too, because this isn’t one of those albums. This is an album you listen to front to back. Only downside by that is you need the time to invest into it, that being said I did choose “Nightfall Came” as I feel that works best as a single if you had to go for one track alone.

Is this the best album so far this year? Time will tell but along with Equipoise monster release Demiurgus this is the best I’ve heard when close to half the year is done and over with. Funny enough both these albums comes from the same label, so I just got to give high praise and a round of applauds to The Artisan Era. What a year they are having! I’ve already heard I: Voice several times in the two days it’s been out on youtube and I can just imagine how powerful this will be when played live. People that like their metal weird and think bands that experiment a lot such as Anaal Nathrakh, Ulcerate, Portal, Lantlôs and Opeth will think this is the best thing to be released in a long time, that I am sure of. Some of you will think this album is all over the place, add way too many elements into the mix, but I think it’s so well made (along with the video too) that I instead see it as an album you go back to and find something new you like with each listen. It’s stunning and not just a music album but a true work of art which isn’t something that happens often. You might not like it as much as I do, but you would do yourself a favor and give I: Voice a chance to witness a truly unique album.

Written by J.B.

Label: The Artisan Era
For fans of: Ulcerate and Portal
Release date: May 10th, 2019
Favorite song: Nightfall Came
Score: 4.5/5 Near perfection

Archaic Decapitator – The Apothecary (Melodic Death Metal)

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

The Works of Mercy

The Works of Mercy is, and I quote, “The Works of Mercy is a psychological thriller inspired by the classics of the genre. The game’s plot revolves around mysterious killings committed on seemingly random victims. Only this time it’s the player who becomes the murderer.” That quote, and trailer, got me intrigued in the game. What happened was I got an hour long game (granted replay value, if you can bother) that which the trailer literally showed everything of value except for a twist at the end.

While it was an interesting concept it wasn’t executed well, at all. When I streamed this my sister missed the first 30 minutes and as I was given her a summary both her and another viewer said “damn that sounds awesome”. Thing is it SOUNDS awesome and in theory it is, the game just didn’t deliver more than a concept that could work if made properly. This game is not it though, it’s really short, got quite a few bugs for such a short game, and insanely bad voice acting. Losing everything that could be scary or make a good thriller along with it. It would probably work a lot better as a b-movie or book than a game as the script itself was somewhat amusing. If you ever think of getting it I can only really advice it on a 80% of sale and if you got absolutely nothing else to do. Sadly this is one of the worst horror/thriller games I’ve played in years, only Bonbon comes to mind as a worse experience to me right now.

Pros

  • Interesting concept.

Cons

  • Voice acting.
  • Badly executed.

Platform: PC
Graphics: 1.5/5
Music: 1/5
Gameplay: 1/5
Story: 2.5/5
Score: 1.5/5 Horrible

Devour the Unborn – Liturgy of Irreverent Oblation (Slam/Brutal Death Metal)

Looks like Texas death metal is back on the menu metalgamers! Devour the Unborn is the brutal death/slam horde created by Joseph Carrillo in 2011 which had quite some underground success on their two first albums Consuming the Morgue Remains and Meconium Pestilent Abomination. It went home with the slam fam but the band has always had a problem getting a solid lineup going. Both guitarists and vocalists have come and gone during the years and for this EP there are two new faces, Swedish guy Andy Tseung (Immersed in Blood, ex-Vomitous) on vocals and Ramon Peña (Defleshed and Gutted) on guitars. With Peña and Carrillo both being in Defleshed and Gutted I hope this time around the lineup can get some consistency and hopefully get a bass player to make it complete. That aside I know you wonder, does Liturgy of Irreverent Oblation slam hard?

Quick answer is yes, it does. Only thing I’ve heard this year that’s heavier to my eardrums is Epicardiectomy but these two bands are totally different beast, especially with the drum snare sound (which I know a lot of people find being goofy when it comes to Epicardiectomy). This is more straight forward Texas brutality which the giants Devourment bulldozed its way into the extreme metal scene in the late 90’s. The five songs clocking in on 18 minutes is enough to have me convinced this is the best Devour the Unborn has ever looked. Tseung is such an incredible vocalist! I might be a bit biased being Swedish and all but I think he is one of the best in the scene at the moment, his gutterals can wake the dead (or kill the living, whatever floats your boat). Devour the Unborn even made a new recording of their hit “Cesspool of Stillborns”, and guess what? It sounds even meaner and got more meat on its bones with this crew going at it! A great song becoming even greater, which easily became my favorite (again) on this album. That being said their newly written material is killer too, it’s just hard not to choose such a beast song when it is probably the best Devour the Unborn has released so far. A slam classic.

If you’ve enjoyed Devour the Unborn in the past you will gobble this right up. Hell slam and brutal death metal fans all around the globe should get right on this album anyways as this is some of the sickest shit you will hear all year. Bring your hammers folks because it’s about to get rowdy in here!

Written by J.B.

Label: Lord of the Sick Recordings
For fans of: Vulvectomy and Devourment
Release date: April 14th, 2019
Favorite song: Cesspool of Stillborns
Score: 4/5 Incredible