Engulf – Gold and Rust (Death Metal)

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Hal Microutsicos (Blasphemous and Chapel of Ruin) got an interesting solo project going on with Engulf. Instead of a releasing a full-length he decided to put an EP series of three out, basically different chapters in a story. Kind of a cool idea in my opinion but it did leave the first EP Subsumed Atrocities really short on only two tracks and almost 9 minutes long. It was a good, yet short experience though with some old school American death metal vibes in a sci-fi setting. Gold and Rust offers a little more juice to the listeners with three songs clocking in on 11 minutes. The opener “Maul” continues right where “Graviton” left off (which also makes me wonder why he didn’t make this a full-length) on Subsumed Atrocities and Engulf goes at it a bit harder on this track than what I heard on the last EP. Which is rather fitting due to the lyrics being all about rage of an entity that seeks revenge.

If I thought “Maul” was going hard then I wasn’t ready for what waited on “Misshapen Abomination” and the closing track “Sovereign to the Seven Underworlds”. Here Hal went closer to the heavier side of American death metal giants like Suffocation, Nile and Hate Eternal. You could tell this was an album filled with more hate than the previous as it just hit you harder, straight in the face. While I thought Subsumed Atrocities was ok I think this is a few steps better. It gets better with each track too as “Sovereign to the Seven Underworlds” closes the EP on a high note. Heavier, more technical and just overall a better EP in my opinion. Now I am looking forward to the last chapter of this series as “the event” will unfold. I do wish however that an full-length with this series of EPs will be put into one in the future as that would make it a more enjoyable listen to me.

Label: Everlasting Spew Records
For fans of: Hate Eternal and Immolation
Release date: July 13th, 2018
Favorite song: Sovereign to the Seven Underworlds
Score: 3.5/5

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Ifernach – Gaqtaqaiaq (Black Metal)

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From Canada there is a one-man army in Finian Patraic who has his own band Ifernach. Since the first EP dropped in 2016 he has managed to do not one, not two, but SIX albums (including this one). That’s quite insane really. I haven’t managed to listen to all of them but I was interested to hear how the quality has been seeing he has released so many so quickly. From what I heard non of them were bad, some were worse than others and Finian could probably skip an EP or two to make a full-length with the better songs in his favour but it is still admirable to do what he does, as a solo artist.

So what kind of music does Ifernach play? While it’s old school black metal at its core that doesn’t tell the whole truth. Gaqtaqaiaq offers a lot of different styles. Be it the atmospheric passages that makes one draw parallels to Lord of the Rings infused metal a la Summoning, or the more savage yet melodic parts that’s more within the second wave of black metal from Norway with the likes of Gehenna, Immortal or Emperor. That’s also where the strength of Ifernach lays. How all these ambient, acoustic and raw elements comes together to create a rather wicked and chaotic black metal experience. While I still think there are some ups and downs (I tend to skip “Elle danse avec la mort” for example as that songs seems out of place to me) during the almost 30 minutes of playtime Gaqtaqaiaq is Ifernach best offering yet. During these two years he has honed his craft and for those out there that want some savage spiritual black metal then this will be an album to check out.

I do wonder do how many albums Ifernach can release before starting to repeat himself too often or drop in quality though. Finian is a talented musician that’s all for experimenting and improving his craft. Giving time, trimming the fat and you got yourself not just a good but a great underground black metal act. Fans of old Immortal or waiting for a new album with Gehenna should have a good time here.

Label: Nekrart Productions
For fans of: Immortal and Gehenna
Release date: March 28th, 2018
Favorite song: Extinction
Score: 3/5

Kuilu – Monumentti (Black Metal)

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Finland, a land of a thousand lakes but also a land that many says have a bit of a melancholic feel to it. It’s dark, gloom environments and weather can do that to a person. Kuilu knows this all too well and their black metal can only be described as melancholic black metal at it’s finest. If I didn’t know any better I would have had a hard time telling this is a debut album because this seems to be the work from seasoned musicians. Formed in 2010 Kuilu have certainly bided their time and honed their craft to create a well written debut that I’ve revisited many times by now. At first I wasn’t in the right state as I was expecting more furious and heavy hitting black metal in the veins of Sargeist or Baptism. While Monumentti wasn’t that at all I came back to it only weeks later, had a new mindset, and found the doom elements, dark and melancholic tones along with the fitting vocals to be nothing but great. Think more Wayfarer and Uada type of black metal and you’re way closer than your “typical” Finnish black metal acts.

This is an atmospheric album that pulls you in if you let it. It might take a few listens but I’ve come to really enjoy Monumentti and as it is right now it stands as one of my favorite black metal albums released this year. Hopelessness, a melodic and melancholic void that’s really sweet music to the ears if you’re in the right mindset. The guitar work especially is something I need to highlight. It’s really captivating and one of the main reasons I enjoy spinning this album from time to time. Kuilu showcase a style of black metal I find very fitting for a Finnish band and they definitely go straight to the higher tiers within this realm of black for me alongside previously mentioned bands Wayfarer and Uada. Question is of course if they can do an equally good or even better album next time around (something for example Uada in my opinion failed to do). One of the best debut albums this year that challenging the listener and worth revisiting many times. Hopefully it doesn’t take eight years for a new full-length but word on the street is they are working hard on their second album already! From now on I will also include the Spotify links in my reviews if I can as sometimes I review an album before it’s out or it’s not on Spotify.

Label: Deviant Records
For fans of: Wayfarer and Uada
Release date: May 5th, 2018
Favorite song: Sisyfos
Score: 4/5

Soreption – Monument of the End (Technical Death Metal)

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I’m going to be honest, Monument of the End has been one of my most anticipated tech-death albums this year together with Revocation and Beyond Creation. As a Swede Soreption have always been extra close to me and even though I wouldn’t exactly call them top tier versus the likes of, well, Revocation and Beyond Creation for example they have released two really solid albums with Deterioration of Minds and Engineering the Void. Since their latest release Engineering the Void a lot has happened within the band though. The four-piece that had stayed the same since the creation in 2005 went down to two original members as Rikard Persson (bass) and Anton Svedin (guitars) are not a part of Soreption anymore. Now we enter a new era of Soreption with Mikael Almgren and Kim Lantto on guitar and bass respectively.

The line-up change has definitely shaken things up as Soreption are now closer to the mighty Swedish giant Meshuggah or Decapitated in the chuggy groovy riffing on tracks like “The Anti-Present” and “King of Undisputed Nonsense”. Whereas on “Nothingness Becoming” there are some The Zenith Passage vibes on the intro. A fitting step for the band in my opinion. Add the fact that a lot of things seems to have leveled up a notch. Fredrik Söderberg has his best vocal performance to date and Tony Westermark is as good on the drums as he has always been. The album also contains one of the best songs the band has released in the closer “The Entity”. There are a few negatives though, for one the album is a bit short. They could, and should, have had a couple more songs as 33 minutes is on the short side of a full-length. I also feel they do the same trick with the tempo changes and riffs a few times too many on Monument of the End which lowers the score somewhat. The album can become a bit dry after several playthroughs due to this.

All in all this is another solid album from Soreption, a new beginning for the band where you can hear how the band is transforming, evolving into something new with the new blood. They aren’t fully evolved yet (this isn’t even my final form!) but they are on the right path. It didn’t fully live up to my hype but I am not disappointed either. It’s a different Soreption and while I think this is their best album to date they got things to improve on in order to hit the highest of tech-death tiers. Tech-death fans who like it a bit groovy will have a good time with Monument of the End though that’s for sure.

Label: Sumerian Records
For fans of: Decapitated and The Zenith Passage
Release date: August 3rd, 2018
Favorite song: The Entity
Score: 3/5

Skullcrush – Visions of the Firestorm Eclipse (Death Metal)

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Old and filthy. Not only do I feel so myself but that’s the quickest way to describe Skullcrush and it’s only within the death metal genre that’s a good thing! There is no over-produced stuff in here, just pure no-bullshit crushing death metal. With a name like Skullcrush I should have imagined that would be the case though. Even the artwork on the album screams of savagery as what looks like Conan is battling a creature. Basically this is underground death metal the way it’s meant to be played.

The three tracks “Spectacle of Suffering”, “Entrails Ablaze” and “Hellwater” offers very different experiences as well. Where I first thought those three songs would be Skullcrush showing one type of move on their debut EP they instead go for showcasing a varied death metal approach. I bit surprising but at the same time really good stuff and I don’t know what I would expect from a full-length as they can go in any direction, or keep changing it up. The opener “Spectacle of Suffering” is death metal candy in the veins of Blood Incantation or Undergang, the really heavy stuff from the purest depths of the underground. “Entrails Ablaze” ups the tempo a bit, is shorter and adds a bit of an Entombed flavour to the album. Then the closer “Hellwater” is both the longest and slowest of the tracks, downtempo death with some doom elements going towards Finnish death metal acts Corpsessed and Krypts.

A really solid debut from Skullcrush. A varied album that shows a lot of promise for what is to come from the band. Underground death metal candy that I devour with ease and I am sure many underground fanatics will too.

Label: Camo Pants Records
For fans of: Blood Incantation and Corpsessed
Release date: July 6th, 2018
Favorite song: Spectacle of Suffering
Score: 3.5/5

Broken Hope – Mutilated and Assimilated (Brutal Death Metal)

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Being a very new listener to Broken Hope as I actually discovered them on Twitter a couple of months ago when I followed Suffocation and got them as a recommendation I am sorry to say I will have to review this album as it is a debut basically. Some history about the band to begin with, as I obviously had to check these bad boys out to know what I am dealing with. Created in 1988 (very good year mind you) the band has had quite the history with a band member being kicked out due to basically hustling, disbanding in 2001, reuniting in 2012 and being droped from a Deicide tour in 2013. All that shit aside the band is still going strong and Jeremy Wagner on guitar is the only original member still in the band. Has this made Broken Hope lost….their hope?

As I said earlier I haven’t listened to this band at all before and I am going into this album with a very fresh mind and don’t know what to expect, unlike I did with Origins for example. Holy crap though! If John Carpenter’s The Thing was a music album this could be it! I’m a big fan of Damian “Tom” Leski’s (Gorgasm) vocals and it really sets the tone together with the rest of the band and lyrical theme of Mutilated and Assimilated. This is a brutal death metal album filled with gore and horror. All the pieces are set in the band to make it an experience you deserve in that theme. The album proves to be a good one for me, it lacks that extra punch as I am having a hard time finding a song that sticks out from the rest. It’s solid brutal death metal through and through though but could use that tank of a song that breaks it out of the cage. With Broken Hope re-assembled (or mutilated and assimilated?), having new members and new hope (sorry) I am sure this is just the beginning for the band as they go for that tier one brutal death metal spot.

Mutilated and Assimilated is out now through Century Media Records.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/brokenhopeofficial
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/BROKENHOPEBAND
Label: Century Media Records
For fans of: Suffocation and Cannibal Corpse
Favorite song: The Carrion Eaters
Score: 3/5

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