The Belarus band Relics of Humanity is back to utterly destroy you with their most relentless release yet! This is their first new material since Ominously Reigning upon the Intangible in 2014 and one major change since then is that they’ve add the legendary vocalist A.J. Magana (ex-Defeated Sanity, ex-Disgorge and ex-Condemned (live)) to their brutal horde. This is no small piece to add to the puzzle and believe me it shows straight from the start this is a piece they have been missing in the past. During the 12 years the band has been going I haven’t really got into them, I mean sure I have a couple tracks on my gym playlist and both their previous releases are solid albums but they aren’t albums I get that feeling I need to take for a spin. That’s the major difference maker as with Obscuration I do, short and sweet as it is with its 16 minute runtime.
Obscuration showcase just about every great element you need for a top tier brutal death metal release. The songwriting is their best yet, which I thought was even their strong side before. Drumming is tighter and have more room than before, guitars sounds meaner and nastier than ever and then we have the insane gutturals from Magana. Can he even do a bad performance? The production is right where I want it to be for this genre, not over-produced gnarly sounding, giving each instrument the right sound (I would like to put the volume up a tiny bit on the guitars though) and in general just making the album feel alive.
As I mentioned before this is a short album, an EP, and the 16 minutes does fly by rather quick. Quality over quantity though and when Relics of Humanity can produce such an evil old school sounding brutal death metal album like this then I will take it every day of the week. One thing is certain, this is the most brutal album you will hear this month and it’s a now looking bright for brutal death metal after a slow January. They even packed this deadly piece of EP in a sweet package on top with covert art from Dan Seagrave (Suffocation, Decrepit Birth, Morbid Angel). I can definitely recommend Obscuration to fans of Defeated Sanity, Unfathomable Ruination, Disgorge, Condemned and Disentomb. Relics of Humanity have now found a sound that works really well for them and I can only hope we don’t have to wait long for a full-length when they are on form.
Written by J.B.
Label: Willowtip Records For fans of: Defeated Sanity and Condemned Release date: February 22nd, 2019 Favorite song: Legions of the Unbowed Score: 4/5 Incredible
You ready for some obscure instrumental sludge/post-metal with hints of doom and black metal just for the sake of it? I’m not sure you are, I sure as hell weren’t but here I am writing this review of an album which is just as haunting as it is captivating. I don’t usually go for pure instrumental albums, because they simply don’t get my attention long enough bar a couple songs. I was afraid that might be the case here too but Oldd Wvrms has done a great job in keeping their almost ritualistic music interesting all the way through and kept me in a trance. I have to say though I needed to be in a certain mood to put the album on though, but when I was it was exactly what I wanted it to be.
You might be wondering what Oldd Wvrms sounds like? The best comparison I can make is if Svart Crown, Pantheist and Amenra sat in a room to make some weird music mixing their genres but keeping it strictly instrumental at that. Hey if it works it works right? I will definitely give Oldd Wvrms bonus points for being rather unique as I can’t say I’ve heard anything quite like this before. This trio of Belgians have done something good here, even managing to get this negative sucker into listening to an album I had before hand said I wouldn’t like but I enjoyed it from start to finish! I can only imagine that if you’re a fan of instrumental albums then this is one of the best albums you will hear in a long time. A big surprise and a turn around for me to stop turning down instrumental albums. If they can be as heavy, hypnotic and occult as Codex Tenebris then sign me right up!
Written by J.B.
Label: Cursed Monk Records For fans of: Amenra and Pantheist Release date: February 15th, 2019 Favorite song: Misère & Corde Score: 3/5 Good
Alright I know I am late to the party with this one. Just wanted to get that out first. For those unfamiliar Pillars of Eternity is an isometric Dungeon & Dragons style RPG by the studio Obsidian Entertainment (also known for Fallout: New Vegas, South Park: The Stick of Truth) released in 2015. I however started playing it late 2018, after getting it on a Steam sale. With a great character creator I took my time to create the look and feel of my dwarf barbarian and off no an adventure I went. Initially I had a hard time getting into the game, it felt a bit slow and the story didn’t click with me. A lot of this had to do with my inexperience with these type of games, even on normal the battles were hard fought and I often found myself having to replay fights a few times before finding the right strategy.
Alright I know I am late to the party with this one. Just wanted to get that out first. For those unfamiliar Pillars of Eternity is an isometric Dungeon & Dragons style RPG by the studio Obsidian Entertainment (also known for Fallout: New Vegas, South Park: The Stick of Truth) released in 2015. I however started playing it late 2018, after getting it on a Steam sale. With a great character creator I took my time to create the look and feel of my dwarf barbarian and off on adventure I went. Initially I had a hard time getting into the game, it felt a bit slow and the story didn’t click with me. A lot of this had to do with my inexperience with these type of games, even on normal the battles were hard fought and I often found myself having to replay fights a few times before finding the right strategy.
Hours in I had got into the battle system, found my group and the story started taking off with more and more side-quests, stronghold upgrades etc overwhelming me. That’s when the game got really fun for me and I am glad I stuck by it, not calling it quits just because I was unfamiliar with the gameplay and slow story start. In the end though the story, even if it got better, didn’t suck me as I had hoped from a story rich RPG. It did it’s job but in all honesty I had way more fun with the side-quests, fixing my stronghold etc. These type of games are great in the sense they age well, the game was never super graphic heavy and obviously isn’t as pretty as say God of War but it isn’t meant to. The whole fantasy design is great and you do get feelings of thinking this is pretty but usually due to the design and not the ultra graphic in itself. One thing I need to share is that in this game your party members can die, forever. Having had side-quests with them failing and your character being gone for good. This was in my opinion a very good thing and it had me on my toes in every single fight throughout the game. Save often!
All in all I spent close to 60 hours on the game, which is quite astonishing seeing I wanted to quite around 3 hours in. There was a lot to do, hard but fun and a decent story to go with it. A great classic RPG experience that will please fans of Baldur’s Gate and the likes. I hear the second game is even better in just about every aspect and I can’t wait to get into that one next!
A band that’s been very hardworking and released albums in a quick session is Finnish Owler. Since their formation in 2015 they’ve released one EP and counting Embers two full-length albums, not bad at all. I personally had not listened to the band before, only heard of their existence (as a half-Fin I kinda need to know the scene as well as I possibly can) so I had no idea what I was in for.
Starting with the albums titletrack I instantly get a sensation this is classic Finnish metal. Think Wolfheart (especially the harsh vocals), or even better Before the Dawn (the clean singing) as sort of a melodeath meets post-metal kind of way. Great start as I love this stuff when I’m in the mood for it! As the album continues it gets darker, more doom and slower paced were the bands true influences Ghost Brigade and Swallow the Sun gets known. The track Unsung shows perfectly well how Owler can keep all these different elements in check, as to not create chaos but instead beautiful harmonies. Between each song is an instrumental interlude, acting as a fine link throughout the album and it does its work fine.
There is actually only one thing that doesn’t speak to me one bit on this album, and that’s the closing sing Sing. It stands out sure, but not in a good way. I would have loved it if they stuck to the theme they had going on the other tracks and not go almost all clean singing, piano and well too much post-rock and not enough metal for my taste. Not a bad song in its own rights but it doesn’t feel like it belongs to Embers. Either way Embers was a nice listen with its close to 30 minutes runtime and acted as a great tastebreaker for me personally as I’ve heard a lot (and I mean a lot) slam/brutal death metal these past months. Fans of the Finnish school of doom and post-metal will have a good time with Embers.
Written by J.B.
Label: Independent For fans of: Ghost Brigade and Swallow the Sun Release date: March 8th, 2018 Favorite song: Unsung Score: 3/5 Good
It’s been ten years since the one-man band Damnation Army released an album. Thomas Nyholm (Hordes of the Apocalypse and Isgärde) started this project in 2002 and were really active the first seven years with one EP and four full-length albums to its name but since then it’s been quiet for ten years, until now.
Quite fast it hits me Damnation Army is an army to be reckoned with. This is the kind of music with its roots heavy in the Dissection sound, one I am sure we all love. The vocals though is more from the Norwegian black metal scene as it reminds me a lot of a mix between Shagrath (Dimmu Borgir) and Abbath (Immortal), rather sinister stuff.
The 30 minutes fly bye and it sure is a nice listen, it gives me a lot of great riffs and nods to the early era of black metal. While there isn’t much separating the songs it in all honesty doesn’t have to as you’re sure to headbang your way through it anyways. I also need to highlight the track Ancient Evil Rituals, now that’s how you make an Dissection homage! I simply can’t get the riffs out of my head! All in all sometimes you simply need an album like Death Macabre that offers a single lane approach, with no gimmicks and bullshit. It might not be memorable enough for you to remember in a year or two but for now it hits those sweet spots for this old Dissection lover just right.
Written by J.B.
Label: Independent For fans of: Naglfar and Dissection Release date: January 17th, 2019 Favorite song: Ancient Evil Rituals Score: 3/5 Good
It’s taken me some time to write this review for a few reasons, all being positive ones. The main one is that I enjoyed this game so much I had to grab that platinum for it. Many of you will probably ask yourself “is this the best Spider-Man game ever made?”. The quick answer is yes, yes it is. End of review right? No I will tell you some reasons to why it is the best Spider-Man game ever made.
It’s not just how Insomniac have managed to get a good combat system, sure for some it might just be like an Assassin’s Creed game. You counter when an indicator shows up on the screen then attack. In some ways that is correct but there is more depth to it than that the further you get into the story, the tougher the enemies get, then you need to know all the tricks up Spider-Man’s sleeve. Obviously that’s a big reason to why the game is fun to play, a good battle system can get you a long way. Easy to learn but takes some time to master. New York looking stunning is a plus too but graphics is never something that is a deal breaker to me, but a plus nevertheless. The swinging though, damn does it feel satisfying just to swing around the city even if it is just holding down a button and Spider-Man can do everything himself. You can of course do tricks and there is more to it than that but to get from A to B you just have to hold swing, release, hold again. Still it gives a Spider-Man fan great joy just to swing around, even with ease.
What makes me say this is the best Spider-Man game ever made is not those things I previously mentioned though. No what makes this game incredible is the story, atmosphere and how it truly feels like you are Spider-Man AND Peter Parker. That last part is something every game has lacked. You have the romance with Mary Jane, Aunt May has an important role, the friendship with Harry Osborn etc. It’s all there and that is what makes this a complete Spider-Man game in my book. You need the Peter Parker parts to get into the characters, the love, the hate and feelings. That and how you face some of Spider-Man’s greatest villains of all time of course. I won’t spoil which though because for that you need to experience the game yourself.
The only real negatives I got is I encountered quite a few minor bugs (parkour bugs, missions bugging out so I had to redo them) which did get tedious at times but mainly since I was going for the platinum and they happened more often along the way of side missions. Also initially the game did seem to be a very vanilla storyline that you’ve seen, read and played more than once before but trust me it gets better!
It’s a complete Spider-Man experience.
Really fun to play.
I encountered quite a few small, but annoying bugs.
Some of the storylines have been done a couple of times too many.
Japan’s very own answer to Origin are back with their third full-length album! After a change in the line-up since their last critically acclaimed album Orphic Signs I was interested to hear what that would do to Desecravity’s sound. I mean not only is Shogo Tokita a great guitarist, he also did vocals in the band so it’s not an easy member to replace. Now the growling duty falls solely on Yujiro Suzuki (who plays guitar as well), while they’ve added Yuya Takeda (Deadly Spawn) on guitar to the band.
After a beautiful intro on the epic side in Aeon and Ashes the technical brutality is unleashed on Impure Confrontation, the single I’d heard many times before but still haven’t got tired of. The utter chaos is created with such a technical precision it’s almost silly. Bands like Defeated Sanity, Origin and Cryptopsy will be proud to know there are bands like Desecravity out there that keeps the legacy going for years to come. If you think Impure Confrontation left you breathless then wait for Ominous Harbinger and Bloodthirsty Brutes which are two of the heaviest tracks I’ve heard in a long time and an instant favorites of mine. Anathema never lets you breath either, track after track it hits you with fast, technical and skull splitting tunes for you to devour and after the ride is over you will need to sit back, relax and take in just what the hell just happened to your now blown mind. It isn’t an easy feat to create such well crafted, well balanced, brutal techdeath that Desecravity has done. While their previous efforts were good in their own rights they weren’t finding that sweet spot between chaos and order. Now they have and we as metal fans can only be joyful that Japan gives us a band that can challenge any 2019 best of the year list in January already.
This is Desecravity’s best album yet, a band that keeps exploring and striving for improvements, and I only wish they can keep this lineup intact so that we can get even more of this insanity for years to come! A must have for any fan of the technical death metal scene.
Written by J.B.
Label: Willowtip Records For fans of: Origin and Cryptopsy Release date: January 25th, 2019 Favorite song: Bloodthirsty Brutes Score: 4/5 Incredible