November 2019 Rapid Fires

Saturday, 14th December 2019

Arriving at the homestretch of the calendar year invites a deeper dive into the vast array of metal releases that so grace our inboxes. Labels used to take into consideration that releasing an album after November was a death-knell for sales, but, as we know, sales and commercial viability is the last thing from a lot of people’s minds these days. With that, here comes another round of Rapid Fires, our short review column. Up for debate this month is Asylus, The Bastard Within, Call of Charon, Crypt Seeker, Druadan Forest, Gone Are the Days, Imperial Cult, King Diamond, Piercing Immortality, Raat, Scaphism, Scarleth, Terminus, and Thenighttimeproject (pictured).


Asylus – The Wave (Self-Released)
Pushing the modern edge, Asylus have a lot of different things going on with “The Wave.” A combination of some moments of deathcore esque breakdowns and shouts, rap beats, industrial influences and massive levels of electronics, it’s also safe to say it won’t really be big among traditional metal fans. It’s tough to claim whether it falls more into rap or metal, but in that sense, they do have a bit of breathing room from other acts within the genre. An interesting direction for sure, and rap/metal has had some ups and downs over the years, but if they continue along this path they could be onto something huge in terms of crossover appeal. – Kyle McGinn (Asylus on Facebook)


The Bastard Within – Better Dead Than Friends (Immortal Souls Productions)
A collection of grind veterans from Italy, Switzerland and the United States, The Bastard Within also goes the extra mile with guest appearances from members of Misery Index, Sadist and Addiction. Hearty gathering of individuals aside, their Better Dead Than Friends debut is, as appropriately stated, without compromise, relishing in those quick, in-and-out songs, all bolstered by an excellent production job. It’s not the “hip” thing for grind to sound good, but on Better Dead Than Friends, The Bastard Within do themselves a tremendous favor. – David E. Gehlke (The Bastard Within Facebook)


Call of Charon – Plaguebearer (Massacre Records)
A German unit that finally release their debut full-length even though they started originally in 2006, Call of Charon through Plaguebearer sit comfortably in that metalcore/ deathcore platform for these eleven tracks. Stunted guitars, deep growls, and a cavalcade of manic double kick drumming with all the appropriate breakdowns and tremolo enhanced picking are standard throughout “Illusive Savior” and “Antigone’s Farewell” among others. Vocalist Patrick Kluge has a surprisingly versatile range between his hardcore-like screams and deep yet discernible growls, matching up seamlessly to the vicious riffs, tempo changes, and slamming music on display. Guest appearances from members of Thy Art Is Murder, Emmure, and God Dethroned are icing on top of the already delightful dessert. Very impressive and catchy as a 38-minute adrenaline rush. – Matt Coe (Call of Charon on Facebook)


Crypt Seeker – Nocturnal Ignitions (Self-Released)
A power trio from Cincinnati, Ohio, Crypt Seeker aim to assault the senses with raw heavy metal of a blackened, semi-punk/thrash variety on this new full-length Nocturnal Ignitions. Early Venom, Metallica, and Motörhead would be three pinpoint influences for the abrasive assault of riffs, tempos, and word-spew volleying about during these nine tracks. Evil notes and occasional catchy hooks with slamming transitions make “Torrential Ecstasy” an early frontrunning highlight, while NWOBHM guitar licks abound for the delightful “Arid Grave”. With a desperate, gloomy vocal delivery keeping the proceedings down to earth for the underground maniacs to enjoy, you also gotta love a band who end their album on a double salvo of “Mid-Century Psycho Killer” and “Twist the Knife”. We need more primal metal bands like Crypt Seeker to get rid of the complacency that plagues certain scenes and serve notice that passion and heart can win over more than most. – Matt Coe (Crypt Seeker on Facebook)


Druadan Forest – Dismal Spells from the Dragonrealm (Werewolf/Hell’s Headbangers)
A largely grandiose plunge into the world of dungeon synth, Finland’s Druadan Forest was originally formed in 1998 before quickly disappearing a year later. Reactivated in 2016, main dude V-Khaoz has emerged with Dismal Spells from the Dragonrealm, a textured offering that is foreboding, where mountainous sound landscapes are awash with carefully-constructed synth work, making it a largely epic, satisfying listen of a different variety. As they say, the journey is often the reward. – David E. Gehlke (Werewolf Records)


Gone Are the Days – There (Self Released)
Pretty spot on with the self-described style of “post groove metal,” Russian act Gone Are the Days recall the early ’00s with their mixture of modern metalcore hooks and obviously, no shortage of groove. The added piece that sometimes doesn’t gel is that of some post-rock influences, particularly with the clean vocals. A bit rough around the edges at points, they will be the deciding factor for some. That aside, the melodies are solid top to bottom and the diversity that stems from track to track is intriguing, as is their sense of melancholy. A bit of work on the cleans should be all it takes to get them to the next step. – Kyle McGinn (Gone Are the Days on Facebook)


Imperial Cult – Spasm of Light (Amor Fati Productions)
Improvisational black metal has not become a thing, nor will it likely ever, but you have to hand it to Netherlands outfit Imperial Cult, who decided to go such a route for their debut album, Spasm of Light. Simply by focusing in on the hypnotic and drone aspects of the sound, the band has managed to create a blinding, otherworldly listen, where you don’t wish for the blasts to stop; instead, you hop in for the ride, take stock in the tremolo riffing blockades and watch the atmosphere bubble until it’s over after nearly 34 minutes. – David E. Gehlke (Amor Fati Productions)


King Diamond – Masquerade of Madness (Metal Blade)
Welcome back, King – “Masquerade of Madness” is the man’s first new studio song since 2007, surviving a triple bypass surgery and reestablishing his presence in the scene through worldwide touring. It’s tough to provide insight on the new album with just one song, but the man hasn’t lost any of his traditional edge, evil falsettos or menacing vocals – and the track contains the right riffing, hooks, and Andy LaRocque mesmerizing, melodic axe break action to raise fists and lift hopes for the record. With the already announced Mercyful Fate reunion shows in 2020, could this be another productive period for both acts again as it was during the 1990’s? – Matt Coe (King Diamond official website)


Piercing Immortality – Risen from the Ashes (Self-Released)
CT heavy metal act Piercing Immortality have gone through some lineup changes in between releases, but it hasn’t stopped the productivity as Risen from the Ashes illustrates a groove-oriented power/thrash element that it very modern and punchy. Latest vocalist Jeff Stark has a modern hard rock delivery that has potency, very adept at catchy melodies during the chorus of the crunchy “No Regrets”. The other song “Broken Down” executes more of the stoner/doom aspect of the group, the main rhythms of guitarists Keith Pearson and Wes Renaud swinging that Pentagram/Black Sabbath vibe. Add in the Dexter’s Lab Recording from Nick Bellmore and Zeus mastering and you’ll understand that Piercing Immortality are a quality band getting stronger with their songwriting and performances every time out. – Matt Coe (Piercing Immortality official website)


Raat – Déraciné (Self-Released)
Just looking at the cover art and nature scene, it’s a pretty quick jump to assume some atmospheric black metal lies within. To that end, you’d be entirely correct but don’t count Raat out just yet. For those who dig the style, everything is done to perfection here. Gorgeous melodies await around each bend (in that post-black kind of ‘happy’ vibe), and there’s a good grasp of how to dive into full-blown blasting without making it seem choppy or awkward. It’s a great blend of sorrow, peace, and exhilarating bursts of energy and aggression. And at the price of 1 Euro on Bandcamp, this thing sells itself! – Kyle McGinn (Raat on Facebook)


Scaphism – Perpetual Torment (Horror Pain Gore Death Productions)
A short, 2-song release, Scaphism continue to lay down a thrashy tribute to old school death metal. Both tracks are fully capable of steamrolling anything in their path, with galloping thrash-inspired riffs combining with a death metal edge (along with some vicious screams). Melodies pad things out, and even at the band’s fastest they still manage to find a way to shine through. This is music made by the riffs themselves, and there’s plenty to partake in. Scaphism understand what to do in order to stand out from the crowd, and Perpetual Torment simply provides more ammo to back up their claim. – Kyle McGinn (Scaphism on Facebook)


Scarleth – Vortex (Rockshots Records)
Scarleth bring plenty of energy and memorable riffs to the party with Vortex. A modern blend of influences such as symphonic, power, and gothic metal, it’s upbeat and as triumphant as it needs to be. It also tries to keep things heavy and riff-forward for the most part (see “No Return”), which helps to give them some space in compared to a lot of like-minded bands. Sure, the choruses are powerful and catchy, but you’ll be just as likely to remember a riff in the long run. Something that should really aid them in the future, and allow them to really spread their wings. – Kyle McGinn (Scarleth on Facebook)


Terminus – A Single Point of Light (Cruz Del Sur Music)
A two-man act from Ireland, Terminus on their second album A Single Point of Light perform in an energetic, epic heavy metal format with plenty of power, speed, and forcefulness with cultural/harmony themes at the helm. Vocalist James Beattie has a voice from the heavens, mirroring in spots Jake Rogers of Visigoth, while instrumentally David Gillespie brings about an aural prism of resplendent glory and victorious riffing, hooks and tempos – the type that Slough Feg, Manowar, Iron Maiden, Grand Magus, and Riot circa Thundersteel champion. A mixture of shorter, potent anthems like “To Ash, To Dust” and “Flesh Falls from Steel” and eight to ten-minute plus epics like “Harvest” and “Spinning Webs, Catching Dreams” engage fist waving, call to arms activities from the patrons privy to hear these songs. Honor thy glory immediately. – Matt Coe (Terminus on Facebook)


Thenighttimeproject – Pale Season (Debemur Morti)
The “project” of former Katatonia/current October Tide guitarist Fredrik “North” Norrman, Thenighttimeproject is, in fact, designed to resemble Norrman’s previous outfit. Norrman was never a primary songwriter in Katatonia, but he was a valuable contributor. Thenightttimeproject takes some Kata-cues, but for the most part, they’re awash in atmosphere, not necessarily penetrating darkness. The band’s second album, Pale Season, never quite reaches the same emotional heights and/or depths, but, it’s an effortless ride through familiar areas of melancholy. – David E. Gehlke (Thenighttimeproject Bandcamp)