Mordant Rapture – The Abnegation (Technical Death Metal)

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Ah The Artisan Era, a label that just keeps giving good tech-death to the world and they’re always improving by adding more and more great bands to their roster. Now enter Mordant Rapture and their debut EP “The Abnegation”. Is it yet another great release from the label or have they, for once, taken a misstep?

Reading the history of the band and how their debut got created is one that tells the tale of years of hard work, gallons of coffee, sleep deprivation, and doubts. The competition in this day and age is fierce so I can really relate with many bands having the same process before releasing something. The band started in 2013, which gives you an idea how long it’s taken the band to finally feel ready to release their first EP featuring five songs into the world. Was it worth the wait?

Yes, yes it was. One thing I really like with Mordant Rapture’s style is how they try to captivate a cinematic musical experience, somewhat in the veins of Fleshgod Apocalypse or Carach Angren. The sound is very different from those bands though as this is straight up technical death metal with a lot of symphonic elements to it, think Inferi (this is much better in my opinion though), Enfold Darkness or Spawn of Possession as examples. Already on the first track “Unsightly Beast” you get a flurry of great riffs, solos and get an instant feel on what Mordant Rapture are all about, delivering class symphonic tech-death heavy influenced by the grandiose nature of film scores. Meaning in other words this is epic stuff, who doesn’t like well written film scores? Having that as an influence in the technical realm of metal works great, it’s not something new but it’s not something I hear too often either. “Withered” is a shorter song than the opener, this is way more of a heads on approach and on this track their blackened death and black elements shine as you hear influences from both Emperor and Dissection. Great stuff right?

What cinematic album wouldn’t be complete without an intermission track with piano and violin, adding to the atmosphere for the follow-up track? That’s exactly what “A Plea Above Ashes” is there for and while I would want it to smoothly transition into the next track, it doesn’t which makes it feel a bit out of place to me. That also leaves the only negative part on the album for me. “Quell the Voiceless” brings up the pace, where the drums especially gets me going and are really dominant. This is also the track that I feel showcase all Mordant Rapture tricks on their debut. The symphonic elements, blackened tech-death, crushing drums and thundering riffs are all there at once to make it a go to song for me when I go back to “The Abnegation”. The finisher “Natal Trophies” is the longest and most symphonic track on the album, which just like the last scenes in a movie ends in an epic way. Here the vocals are better than ever where a wider range of growls and techniques are used. A great way to end this 22 minute journey into the world of Mordant Rapture which makes me want more of this.

Hell I love this music. It’s not something that breaks the boundaries of tech-death but this is insanely well produced symphonic tech-death that has very few flaws in it. Mordant Rapture displays great musicianship and a great range of aspects to their music. This is the kind of music that will make you miss Spawn of Possession and Necrophagist less or you Inferi fans out there forget they even existed. That’s something very few does on their debut album and I can only hope an upcoming full-length won’t take five years. The Artisan Era has done it again, adding a new band to their ranks that shows how hard work pays off. “The Abnegation” is not only one of the best debut albums of the year but one of the best releases overall.

Label: The Artisan Era
For fans of: Enfold Darkness and Spawn of Possession
Release date: July 13th, 2018
Favorite song: Quell the Voiceless
Score: 4.5/5

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The Metal Gamer Top 30 albums of 2018 so far!

The Metal Gamer Top 30 albums of 2018 so far!

Am I missing any albums? Do you agree?

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The bands and albums featured are:

Sadistik Forest – Mordbid Majesties
At The Gates – To Drink From the Night Itself
Amorphis – Queen of Time
Nekrokraft – Servants
Necrophobic – Mark of the Necrogram
Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name
LIK – Carnage
Gluttony – Cult of the Unborn
Totalselfhatred – Solitude
Svederna – Svedjeland
Svavelvinter – Mörkrets Tid
Avslut – Deceptis
Skeletal Remains – Devouring Mortality
Raven Throne – I miortvym snicca zolak
Skinless – Savagery
Unflesh – Savior
Demonical – Chaos Manifesto
Immortal – Northern Chaos Gods
Gaerea – Unsettling Whispers
Depravity – Evil Upheaval
Alkaloid – Liquid Anatomy
Begat The Nephilim – I: The Surreptitious Prophecy / Mother of the Blasphemy
Kataklysm – Meditations
Ingested – The Level Above Human
Organectomy – Domain of the Wretched (went off the Unique Leader Records release)
Arkona – Khram
Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse
Augury – Illusive Golden Age
Mordant Rapture – The Abnegation
Chelsea Grin – Eternal Nightmare

Unflesh – Savior (Technical Death Metal)

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It’s been some time since I listened to technical death metal actually, at least a couple of months when the Inferi album dropped. Don’t know why I waited so long to listen to Unflesh as “Savior” has been out since May 25th. Here we are though and I’ve finally given the album a few spins during the week. Lets start with some background on Unflesh, who are they? The band is located in USA and began as a solo project in 2014 by Ryan Beevers. The first album, an EP named “Transcendence to Eternal Obscurity”, came out in 2016 and featured Hannes Grossman (Alkaloid, ex-Obscura) on session drums. The EP got a lot of praise when it came out so this debut full-length has had some hype to it. What’s changed since the EP is that Unflesh has gone from a solo project into a fully fledged band where Ryan added Peter de Reyna on bass, Chris Dovas on drums and Chris Gardino on guitars. Has this change elevated Unflesh game to new heights?

What struck me first is that the influences are many on “Savior”. While it is at its core a tech-death album that will please fans of Arsis, Alterbeast and Revocation there are also loads of elements gathered from the melo-death and black metal genres. You can hear hints of The Black Dahlia Murder, Naglfar, Dissection and even Emperor throughout the album and that’s exactly what makes Unflesh stand out from most bands out there. It’s a pure joy to give this albums several spins and each time you notice something new, getting that feeling when you have a hard time picking your favorite song on the album as it keeps changing with each listen. It is that good. Personally there are only a handful of albums that’s better than “Savior” this year. If it hadn’t been for the insane release of Rivers of Nihil I would say this is the best tech-death you will hear this year. However when many will undoubtedly name Inferi, Alkaloid and Augury (all good releases mind you) as tech-death albums of the year I will name-drop Unflesh. A modern tech-death release with a touch of the old school, what’s not to like?

A splendid EP became an even better full-length release once Ryan got his band together. Unflesh is a band on the rise that can battle with the best of them already. The “Dissection goes tech-death” approach is one I can get behind and fall in love with. This is an album that will land high on my yearly best of list.

Label: Independent
For fans of: Dissection and Arsis
Release date: May 25th, 2018
Favorite song: Caliginous
Score: 4/5

Abolishment of Flesh – The Inhuman Condition (Death Metal)

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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
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

Augury – Illusive Golden Age (Technical/Progressive Death Metal)

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As I stated in my review of Where Owls Know My Name by Rivers of Nihil one of my favorite tech-death bands is Beyond Creation, a band many sees as the forefront of progressive technical death metal. Before that band even existed we had Augury though, a band I have to say I personally haven’t listened to simply because I didn’t even know they existed. The band formed in 2002 and released their debut album Concealed in 2004 (a year before Beyond Creation were formed) with the follow-up Fragmentary Evidence coming out in 2009. Both are said to be milestones within the genre to many but since then the band has been quiet, until now.

The album opens up with the title track Illusive Golden Age and instantly I draw a lot of connections to Beyond Creation and Obscura. Which is a good thing and after hearing their older albums right before writing this review I realize Augury’s sound has stayed the same since the debut. The transitions between solos and change of pace is definitely something Augury has learned to master and throughout the album you get hit with one sweet solo after another. There is one big thing that bothers me with Augury though, the clean singing. I wish they stayed to growling all together as to me it fits a lot better to the music. Which is also a big reason why I for example like The Living Vault a lot better than Illusive Golden Age, because there they stay away from the clean singing and it just sounds hell of a lot better.

Seeing as I just reviewed Rivers of Nihil it was impossible not to have the two albums compete a bit against each other. Fact is the two bands have completely different takes on metal as Rivers of Nihils latest album brings so many influences into their music and in some ways break barriers on how tech-death should sound today. Whereas Augury does what Augury does best, a class progressive death metal album which is basically just as good as their past albums and a statement to the newer kids on the block that they are back in action. The main difference is Augury was one of the bands that were ahead of their time back when they first started and a lot of bands have them to thank for what is the core of prog-death today. It’s expected for them after such a long break to come back and give their fans what they crave for. Me being a new listener to the band I’ve learned something new about the whole prog-death scene with not just having found a great album but a whole discography to keep with me at all times.

In conclusion Illusive Golden Age is a wicked album that showcase everything Augury stands for which will surely bring back old fans and add new ones to their ranks. It’s a rebirth from a band that was once ahead of its time and is now in sync with modern prog-death that might as a matter of fact be to their advantage. My favorite tracks include The Living Vault together with the two most hard hitting, brutal tracks on the album Mater Dolorosa and Parrallel Biospheres.

Label: The Artisan Era
For fans of: Obscura and Beyond Creation
Release date: March 30th, 2018
Favorite song: Mater Dolorosa
Score: 4/5

Rivers of Nihil – Where Owls Know My Name (Technical Death Metal)

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Let me start with saying that Rivers of Nihil is as a matter of fact one of my favorite techdeath bands and have been for years now. Together with bands like Beyond Creation, Archspire, Decrepit Birth, and Spawn of Possession it’s a band I always go to when I have the urge for some technical and progressive metal. There’s always been a feeling that Rivers of Nihil has never unlocked their full potential though and in some ways lacked in their own sound and identity. That being said I had really high hopes for Where Owls Know My Name as the singles I’d heard before were really something completely different from their older music which seemed to have sparked something brand new.

For those unfamiliar with Rivers of Nihil the band was formed in 2009, hailing from USA, has two EPs and two full-length albums released prior to Where Owls Know My Name. Their albums are focused on the different seasons, with the past two albums “Whereas the Conscious Seed of Light” and “Monarchy” were about Spring and Summer. Where Owls Know My Name obviously continue walking on this road with the focus here being on Autumn. The music have always had a lot of emphasis on creating an atmospheric feeling to it more than your common techdeath band which makes the band stick out in my eyes but also means, for some, Rivers of Nihil is a band you get or you don’t. Some even going as far as saying this isn’t technical death metal. Each to their own I guess, I don’t really care if they are labeled atmospheric techdeath, prog, jazz or whatever personally I think Rivers of Nihil are doing a superb job creating music that has a lot of emotion to it with sweet melodies and brings harmony, no matter what label you put on it.

Where Owls Know My Name takes their song-writing to a whole other level. Rivers of Nihil have really captured the atmosphere of Autumn with this one, especially with the great use of keyboards, trumpets, cellos and saxophones that makes this album a whole other beast than their previous releases. It’s really impressive and I get a new feeling each time I take the album for a spin. It is an album I do feel you need to be in a certain mood to listen to though in order to fully grasp and understand it though, seeing it is quite different and the influences are many. They’ve left most of their core sound behind and this album has gone even further into the atmospheric sound than ever before, even having a jazz feel to it. Breaking their own boundaries. That to me is a much welcoming move but I can see it perhaps leaving a few fans shaken up by it. Rivers of Nihil have only evolved though and grown even better in my eyes. Where Owls Know My Name is one of the best albums released this year that gets even better with each listen. This is what technical death metal is all about to me, full of emotions through instruments, breaking barriers, creating an atmosphere you could only dream of. Just listen to The Silent Life, A Home, Where Owls Know My Name or the instrumental track Terrestria III: Wither and you’ll see. It might not be for everyone but for me it’s close to a five, the bands best album to date, and I can’t wait to hear what Rivers of Nihil do next after having ascended into a new being.

Label: Metal Blade Records
For fans of: Decrepit Birth and Fallujah
Release date: March 16th, 2018
Favorite song: The Silent Life
Score: 4.5/5