December 2015 Rapid Fires

Wednesday, 6th January 2016

As the new year begins, this is our last look back at the way things were in 2015, and a glimpse into what 2016 has to offer at the same time. Whatever the future may bring this year, no doubt there will be plenty of metal to keep things ever-interesting. This month we cover Abominor, Affliction Gate, Aosoth/Order of Orias, Bloodlash, Blynd (pictured above), Chaos Order, Continents, Dendritic Arbor, Down Among the Dead Men, Evil Army, Nahtrunar, Rage, Razoreater, Taphos Nomos, and The Visit.

Abominor – Opus: Decay EP (Invictus Productions)
The fact these gents are from Iceland is good enough to have a gander, Abominor part of a small, but very classy, expansive scene that doesn’t have a fixed sound, but rather, a multitude of brash and exciting elements. The band’s Opus:Decay EP is a two-song affair, enabled by a whirling atmosphere where the riffs take flight in a mesmeric haze. The severe bouts of extremity are often balanced by a elongated atmospheric jaunts, thus creating the necessary sonic tension and intrigue that so often pops up with bands of this ilk. Perhaps more on the abyssal death metal side than meets the eye, Opus: Decay is daunting and challenging. – David E. Gehlke (Abominor Facebook)

Affliction Gate
Affliction Gate – Dying Alone (Transcending Obscurity)
Some honest to goodness death metal here with Affliction Gate’s Dying Alone EP. Tough to place whether the band plays old school or modern death metal, which is a nice change of pace from bands with more definitive answers. Lots of mid-tempo riffing going on, with a nice melodic flair to keep things interesting. Some blistering speed here now and again, but Affliction Gate understand that the mid-tempo has more ‘bang for their buck and work hard to deliver some real memorable cuts. This is some catchy death metal that nods to the past without relegating their sound to feel like it came from said era. – Kyle McGinn (Affliction Gate on Facebook)

Aosoth/Order of Orias – Split (W.T.C. Productions)
Composed of one song from each band, this split is for those longing for some killer black metal. Aosoth start things off with “Appendix B,” which gives more of the same material fans would expect. Dissonant black metal riffage, plenty of darkened atmosphere, and hellish shrieks fill the track. Order of Orias don’t meander too far from the realms that Aosoth occupy, but “Ruinous Hope” is just as destructive. There’s a ripping melodic solo that draws some attention, as does the similar penchant for atmosphere. Those looking for atmospheric black metal that doesn’t feel the need to implement keyboards and outside instruments would be wise to check this one out. – Kyle McGinn (Aosoth official website) (Order of Orias on Facebook)

Bloodlash – Rain (Inverse Records)
Appreciate the pro(ag)gressive/post-metal stance self-imposed, as we know these tags make identifying music much easier for the listener. Fortunately for Mexico’s Bloodlash on their second 4 song EP Rain, their sound does amalgamate everything from Opeth to Tool (the latter in the percussion maneuvers), while Mastadon and Deftones can come up in the guitar work and moaning main vocals. At 19 minutes, Bloodlash can lay into a groove on “Thunderborn” with the best of them, while then being introspective and ethereal on the follow up “Maelstrom”. Probably for the left-field, fresh seeking sect who love 90’s alternative meets progressive metal. – Matt Coe (Bloodlash on Facebook)

Blynd – Liber Sum (Pitch Black Records)
Translating to “I am free,” Liber Sum is the third album from Cyprus-based thrashers Blynd. With remote traces of melodic found within what is largely a modern take on European thrash, the band ably rips and tears through ten succinct cuts. The deep, harried bellows of bassist/vocalist Andreas gives the band some death metal pop, most notably on “Barbarians” and the title track but fret not, this is still largely a molten, hardened thrash album with defined edges. Also of note is the closing tune, “The Kingdom Within,” which is where the aforementioned melodic touches make their way. – David E. Gehlke (Blynd Facebook)

Chaos Order – Distant Chords of Disharmony (Blasphemour Records)
A nice little find out of Memphis, Chaos Order’s Distant Chords of Disharmony reels off four songs of frenzied, trend-defying punk-inspired metalcore. En vogue music this is not, with the band doling out crisp guitar solos (“Yourself and All Together”) and bristling pace-setting (“Crucified Now Forgotten”). With spare doses of clean vocals (not of the whiny kind, either) and a fresh, raw production job, Chaos Order manages to throw down like it’s the mid-90s, sounding more intense and inspired than the eye-liner donning wimps who popped up last decade. – David E. Gehlke (Chaos Order Facebook)

Continents – Reprisal (Victory)
UK hardcore act returns for round two with Reprisal. No lack of aggression on this one for sure, with plenty of hardcore and punk attitude coming through the speakers, with some metallic groove once in a while to further diversify their output. Taking the album one track at a time, the energy is potent and the metallic riffing does give the band a bit of an edge in terms of the sheer weight of the material. The problem that rears its head is the similarity between the songs when you begin to sit through the album as a whole (the unnecessary instrumentals don’t really help with this). Reprisal is an intense listen, just don’t expect to hear more than one dimension from the band. – Kyle McGinn (Continents on Facebook)

Dendritic Arbor – Sentient Village/Obsolescent Garden (Self-Released)
Coming off of the strong Romantic Love album from earlier in 2015, Sentient Village/Obsolescent Garden brings the listener more bleak and crazed black/death metal. Demented and bordering on scary, the four songs never take the easy way out, shifting from dark and eerie atmosphere to blastbeat-ridden bouts of destruction and rage to all-out noise. The vocals are psychotic throughout, matching the instrumental movements, with the band keeping a surprising amount of clarity for the intensity of the music. Not an “easy” listen, for sure, but one that requires a specific mindset. But for those who look for the most dissonant and creepy, Dendritic Arbor continue to provide a soundtrack for the asylum. – Kyle McGinn (Dendritic Arbor on Facebook)

Down Among the Dead Men – Exterminate! Annihilate! Destroy! (Cyclone Empire)
The second helping of Dave Ingram and Rogga Johansson’s d-beat death metal beast, much like the title implies, is not at all about subtlety. Thick, old school guitar tones (what else would you expect from Johansson) and rollicking grooves set the stage for the band’s excellent and plentiful romps into d-beat/punk territory, particularly in the standout drumming. While it is a pretty straight-forward attack, there’s no denying the execution involved. It’s blistering, it’s pissed, and the energy carries well throughout the entire album – no filler necessary. Hard to argue with that. – Kyle McGinn (Down Among the Dead Men on Facebook)

Evil Army – Violence and War (Hell’s Headbangers)
The product of the twin brother duo of Rob Evil and Michael Murder, Evil Army play a uniformly raw brand of vintage thrash, stamped with manic tremolo picking, relentless skin bashing, and of course, songs about war. More of a blunt force hit than the whirlwind, zippy, oftentimes technical thrash that emanates from bands looking to parlay the 80s, the raw, right-there-in-the-rehearsal-room sound conjured up on Violence and War lends further credence to the MLP’s five-song assault. No frills, no questions…just go at it. – David E. Gehlke (Evil Army Facebook)

Nahtrunar – Symbolismus
Nahtrunar – Symbolismus (Altare Productions)
Conceptually dedicated to the nights at the turn of the year, known as “Rauhnächte” in old European customs and traditions, Symbolismus is the debut effort from Austrian BM force Nahtrunar. It’s lo-fi all the way, so no need to sniff around for dainty symphonic flourishes or modern production techniques. Rather, the album is a slow-burner and churner, heaving those malevolent early 90s chord structures around like nobody’s business, eventually emerging as the genuine article. Further wrapped in symbolism and mysticism, Symbolismus is a promising debut from Nahtrunar, particularly when challenging cuts like “Wir Leichenvögel 1” gain traction. – David E. Gehlke (Nathrunar Bandcamp)

Rage – My Way (Nuclear Blast)
Bridging the ever evolving past and present of German metal veterans Rage, this 4 song EP features Peavy with new guitarist Marcos Rodriguez and drummer Vassilios ‘Lucky’ Maniatopoulos. The title cut previews the next studio album, a solid mid-tempo power metal offering with an interesting acoustic to electric transition near the beginning plus a rebel rousing chorus for the bards to shout to the heavens. Two 2015 versions of Black in Mind cuts (the title cut and “Sent by the Devil”) plus a Spanish version of “My Way” entitled “Apuesto A Ganar” gives Peavy an interesting gritty linguistic twist (throaty Spanish probably not his forte). Cult appeal in North America, heroes in mainland Europe – Rage will keep pushing along. – Matt Coe (Rage official website)

Razoreater – Vacuum of Nihil (WOOAAARGH/Skin and Bone Records)
A slick, 12-minute grind/crust album is what you get with Vacuum of Nihil. The album’s first two blasts take the speedy, d-beat-ridden route with reckless abandon. Chaotic and crazed is the best way to put it, from the drumming to the riffs to the caustic vocals. A bit of a curve-ball opens up “Bloodeagled,” with sludgy, doomy heft replacing the speed for a few moments before it takes over. This actually works quite well, giving the listener a needed breath before continuing the carnage. They also toss in some old school Swedish death influences towards the end of the album, allowing the riffs to have some extra meat on their bones. All in all, a whirlwind of an EP – let’s see if they can keep up that intensity on a longer release. – Kyle McGinn (Razoreater on Facebook)

Taphos Nomos – West of Everything Lies Death (Hammerheart Records)
West of Everything Lies Death lands the “surprise of the month” catagory. Expecting just another take on the Incantation-esque doom/death, Taphos Nomos’ first offering turned out to be far more than that. While the Incantation elements do have their portion of the band’s sound, some genuine sludgy doom rears its head quite a bit, including some gritty clean vocals (occasionally they feel almost gothic in tone) that hit the spot. As the dynamics shift between doomier moments and old school death metal carnage, there’s nothing lost in the translation. This is one retro-oriented release that actually finds a way to be fresh while retaining the older authenticity. To do such a thing out their first outing is impressive. – Kyle McGinn (Taphos Nomos on Facebook)

The Visit – Through Darkness into Light (Self-Released)
Chamber-esque music with only cello and female vocals. Not exactly what DR reviews on a regular basis. So it does go without say that if there’s attention being paid, it’s worth checking out. The Visit may lack a metallic instrument, but what they’ve designed is still quite “metal.” There’s a bleakness to the album, but it’s not also without hope. There are moments of startlingly heavy (considering there’s one instrument) that counteract with other moments of ethereal beauty, to create something singularly unique in vision and scope. With equal appeal to the metal and classical crowd (not to mention the neofolk), Through Darkness into Light is an album that needs to be experienced to appreciate fully. – Kyle McGinn (The Visit on Facebook)

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