Defiatory – Hades Rising (Thrash Metal)

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Swedish Defiatory had an alright debut album in Extinct a couple of years ago. They break no new grounds with their thrash metal but they aren’t trying to either. Defiatory takes their influences from the early years of top names like Megadeth and Exodus while making it a bit more modern. There is surely nothing wrong with that and while I thought Extinct was a bit inconsistent I think their new album Hades Rising has improved. I have to say though I am no hardcore thrash fan so I’m sure many of you diehard thrash metalheads out there might be of a different opinion than me. I take it as I hear it though. If it gets me drumming on my keyboard or something then I know there is something in the music I enjoy, which there sadly was little of in the first album.

About inconsistency, I do like the second part of the album from “Down to His Kingdom” and onward more than the first part. The riffing, solos and general feel to these songs captures me even more so than the start of Hades Rising did. That’s when you can start seeing me stomping my feet on the floor to the drums for example.

Still a decent start but a stronger finish, with yet a bit more consistency and less of a bumpy ride than I had with their first offering. I can’t deny that tracks like previously mentioned “Down to His Kingdom”, “Metatron” and “All That Remains” gets my head banging like it should. Defiatory are improving and I do see them as one of the upcoming bright stars in the Swedish thrash metal scene. It’s pure hard thrash that will appeal to fans of genre.

Label: Black Lion Records
For fans of: Megadeth and Exodus
Release date: May 11th, 2018
Favorite song: Metatron
Score: 3/5

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At the Gates – To Drink From the Night Itself (Melodic Death Metal)

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When you are one of the main bands to create a whole sound and an era for Swedish metal music, hell an era for melodic death metal all over the world then you’re bound to have a nice reputation going for you. They are one of the creators of what is called “the Gothenburg sound” during the early 90’s and At the Gates needs no further introduction as their legacy is one everyone should know by now.

With At War With Reality the band made a great comeback but didn’t really dare to try something new. Who can blame them though, they had been broken up for years so for the comeback album I would play it rather safe as well. It was basically what was expected from them and they delivered. Then comes To Drink From the Night Itself. Not only do they go back to their roots and you get a lot of tracks that got that Slaughter of the Soul feeling to it but they also manage to develop their sound this time around. You can almost say this album consists of two parts, Der Widerstand to In Nameless Sleep is classic At the Gates then with The Colours of the Beast and onwards you hear more songs that brings in elements of doom and heavy metal. More atmospheric in many ways and it’s a welcoming experiment along with their core sound. The new guitarist Jonas Stålhammar (The Lurking Fear) is a great addition to the band and he is a key factor when the band is moving forward in my opinion.

An album like this is funny to review. One side of me want At the Gates to only give me the Slaughter of the Soul sound all over again, then there is one side of me who wants something new and different. To Drink From the Night Itself manages to do a bit of both. So here I am digging the title track To Drink from the Night Itself (Blinded By Fear version 2), which is really catchy and been stuck in my head for days, like I am having just as good of a time with for example The Colours of the Beast where they try something new. At the Gates were together with In Flames and Soilwork the bands that got me liking this genre and I am happy to say that they are still kings within the genre where some have faltered.

Label: Century Media Records
For fans of: Dark Tranquillity and In Flames
Release date: May 18th, 2018
Favorite song: To Drink from the Night Itself
Score: 4/5

Ingested – The Level Above Human (Slamming Deathcore/Death Metal)

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Lets talk some about what I think of Ingested. The UK band almost single-handedly acted as a sort of gateway to slam, together with Disentomb. When The Architect of Extinction came out in 2014 it blew my mind and I was sold on the whole slam scene, even though some say *cough* the slam police *cough* it’s more deathcore than slam (or slamming deathcore) I don’t care I liked it and it opened up a new genre for me. Granted I am not a diehard fan and my knowledge of the scene bar said bands and some others like Devourment, Pathology, Abominable Putridity and Katalepsy is very limited. With that in mind I was surprised with The Level Above Human and the direction Ingested went with it.

“Sovereign” starts off hard, really hard, and I am here thinking “damn this is going to be one of my favorite albums of the year”. The album has some good highs but also lows for me though. The production quality is almost too clear and while some tracks like “Sovereign”, “Invidious”, “Better off Dead” are of top notch Ingested quality and are in some ways a development from the bands past release. Mainly since they flirt with heavy hitters from brutal death metal like Dying Fetus and others creating a, perhaps, less slam sound but more of a death metal fused together with slam. Then you have “Last Rites”, a song that switches tempo well and is by far their most technical and well written track to date. Songs like that can make me see this as an evolution of their sound and slam in general, The Level Above Human will surely bring in more fans to the fray due to this. While “the slam police” will surely say this isn’t true slam but slamming deathcore/brutal death metal or whatever I can understand why Ingested takes this road, just like Thy Art is Murder with their latest release took more inspiration from death metal to change it up some. It’s bound to happen to some of the bigger bands in such underground or even hated scenes from the general metal community.

Change or no change you have your mid-tempo slams, Jason Evans on form (as always), angry hard hitting metal with that Ingested stamp on it. It’s a rather big change from The Architect of Extinction, less deathcore, more brutal death metal added to the mix, less monotone and it’s definitely got more technical aspects to it than any of their older releases. I should be all over this because of those elements but I can’t help but to say I personally liked The Architect of Extinction a lot more than I did with The Level Above Human, maybe even because of the more straight forward and monotone approach even. I can not deny however that this is probably the right step for the band to take in order to leap forward. Ingested are not afraid to change it up and I respect them for that and while some were scared that they would lose their slam when joining Unique Leader Records this was definitely not case. They simply evolved and while I may not be completely down with this change as of yet (give me time guys) I am sure many will.

Label: Unique Leader Records
For fans of: Acrania and Cerebral Bore
Release date: April 27th, 2018
Favorite song: Sovereign
Score: 3/5

Lik – Carnage (Death Metal)

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When a band from Sweden choses the word Lik as their band name (means corpse in Swedish) then you can expect them playing pummeling swedeath. Carnage is the bands sophomore release after having had a fine debut with Mass Funeral Evocation in 2015. While I didn’t think that album was good enough to be something I listen to often today I think Carnage will be. The potential of this lineup has always been huge, even if it’s considered a new death metal band. The members of Lik have a past (live or on album) with bands such as Grave, Bloodbath, Katatonia and Witchery just to name a few. Not a bad resume at all is it? I didn’t feel they reached that potential on their debut, still good though, but with Carnage the band has been unleashed.

The HM-2 is as savage as ever and right from the opening To Kill you get caught into the riffs as they buzz-saw their way through like a bulldozer. Lik aren’t even going to let you rest as the album might seem a bit short with 36 minutes but hell it’s pedal to the metal from start to finish so any longer you might just break your neck. Lik demonstrate how classic Swedish death metal is meant to be played. An HM-2 sound, headbanging riffs, melodic and catchy songs that will get stuck in your head for days. What more can you ask for really? Oh why not by adding humor? The lyrics on some tracks are hilarious, like on “Dr Duschanka”. I find that a nice touch and while it might sound baddass it doesn’t have to be all serious. There isn’t a single track on Carnage I dislike and Lik has now gone from a good band to a top tier death metal act in my book. Carnage is definitely an album you will see on my best of list when the year is coming to a close.

Together with Demonical and Gluttony Lik has made the first half of 2018 a great year for swedeath. If you’re a fan of the genre and namely Bloodbath, Evocation or Dismember then this is something for you!

Label: Metal Blade Records
For fans of: Evocation and Dismember
Release date: May 4th, 2018
Favorite song: Rid You of Your Flesh
Score: 4/5

Paara – Riitti (Black Metal)

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I enjoyed Paara’s debut Yön olevainen puoli. It was raw black metal with some folk vibes to it and it was in Finish, sometimes resembling Moonsorrow in a few aspects but in no way a copycat. With Riitti the band has taken it an extra step. The album is a few minutes longer on the four tracks it offers for one, got an even more folkish touch to it and it fits really well with the lyrics on folktales and ghost stories. It all just adds up nicely in a package. Even more so on Riitti than on the debut.

Riitti starts of really slow with forest sounds, soft clean vocals and acoustic guitar to eventually break out into a full on black metal track on Viimeinen virta. Sadly this song didn’t really capture me and I find the 15 minute opening being a bit boring and falling flat until the end where it kicked in and paved the way for the rest of the album. The following three tracks on the album are killer with their energy and aggression. Especially Suon sydän is a personal favorite of mine that I will play many many times, one of the best songs this year in my opinion. It’s a perfect Paara song in many ways as it presents the different styles the band draw influences from with folk, atmospheric black metal, raw black metal elements and change of clean to harsh vocals. This is what Paara is all about to me and it’s beautiful.

Some people might lose faith on the album or get bored after the opening track but I advise you not to. Riitti is a good album and an overall slight improvement from the debut, with their best track released to date. I couldn’t ask for much more really.

Label: ViciSolum Productions
For fans of: Moonsorrow and Havukruunu
Release date: February 9th, 2018
Favorite song: Suon sydän
Score: 3/5

Inferi – Revenant (Technical Death Metal)

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It’s been a lot of tech-death for me this month and while I got the heat up why not keep going? From Rivers of Nihil to Augury and now Inferi there’s definitely been some hyped up albums coming closely after each other. While Augury presented a great comeback into the scene Rivers of Nihil dropped one of the best albums of the year. Question is what does Inferi have in store for us?

I am going to be honest, I’ve found Inferi a bit overrated and never truly understood the hype this band has. In my ears they’ve been a more technical version of The Black Dahlia Murder to dumb it down. Which isn’t bad in any way but me not being too keen on TBDM either it just doesn’t work as well with me as it does for many others. Inferi is tech-death but they go a complete separate way than the likes of Beyond Creation or Obscura does, which in all honesty is a good choice and makes them create their own sound which is more similar to Arsis. That’s exactly where it all “went wrong” for me too as I am a leaning a lot more towards Beyond Creation than Arsis for example. Here is the funny thing though that made me start to change my mind on Inferi. With last year’s TBDM album I started to get a liking for Trevor Strnad and the way they play melo-death, making me spend quite some time with the bands discography last year. Now when I get Inferi’s latest offering Revenant I all of a sudden get it. I can now get behind and dig to these vocals I had such a hard time listening to in the past. The more I listen to the album the better it gets which in itself shows I am changing my musical taste somewhat. This happens every know and then in all honesty, just five-six years ago I couldn’t stand black metal if it wasn’t very symphonic or melodic and I still listened to metalcore. Now I can put on a Darkthrone album and actually enjoy it while I dislike most metalcore, times change and taste in music change, some gets better some gets worse.

Revenant is in many ways a complete album. The nine songs are all really solid and blasts you with jaw-dropping riffs regularly while at the same time changing the pace from brutality to melodic tech-death when needed. I am still not a true believer of the core sound Inferi represents but hey if I’d review this album two years ago I would give it a very average score, while now I find them being a band where I can put their albums on a spin every now and then. It’s hard not to get captivated by the relentless assault Inferi offers and fans of the band might even call this the album of the year. Who knows I might too in the end if it keeps on growing on me and I will change this score to something higher.

Label: The Artisan Era
For fans of: The Black Dahlia Murder and Arsis
Release date: April 21st, 2018
Favorite song: The Menacing Gaze
Score: 3.5/5

Gluttony – Cult of the Unborn (Death Metal)

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As a frequent listener to death metal, especially the Swedish kind, I obviously try to dig into anything I can find to get my fix. When it comes to Gluttony I found out about them in a weird way so I wanted to share the story. It was last years Halloween and the party I was going to had a theme, the seven deadly sins. Me wanting to be Gluttony I started doing some research and woops I found out there is a death metal band from Sweden called Gluttony! I almost bought one of their shirts just for the sake of having an easy fix on costume but in the end I got a one-piece killer clown that had a lot of mouths all over it instead… Anyways I obviously had to listen to their music and I went on the 2014 release Beyond the Veil of Flesh. I was in all honesty a bit disappointed in the album, it was ok but definitely lacked in quite a few areas to be an album I would remember. Luckily with Cult of the Unborn they manage to do just about everything better.

The core of Bergman, Henriksson and Härén from My Own Grave does a solid job and especially the drums sounds hell of a lot better on this album than on the last. The production and mix of the album is simply put just a more complete product. It’s a joy to hear these 30 minutes of classic swe-death and in all honesty Cult of the Unborn can dance with most of the classics out there that’s how good it is. Magnus Ödling (ex-Diabolical, ex-Setherial) on vocals is perfect for the sound and rounds up the band well. A very tight album and a big surprise to me that’s sure to end on my best of list when the year is coming to an end. I get a lot of similar feelings that I did with Firespawn and their 2017 release The Reprobate which was also an album that did everything so much better than their debut Shadow Realms ever did. You won’t find much better death metal than this coming out during the year I can assure you of that.

Label: Vic Records
For fans of: Entombed and Grave
Release date: April 7th, 2018
Favorite song: The Casket Master
Score: 4/5