6 Masterpiece
5 Exceptional
4 Commendable
3 Solid
2 Second rate
1 Firing blanks
0 Sitting Duck


STOP PRESS: 14 reviews now, just added another!


The post-Si Monumentum Deathspell Omega sound’s now an established idiom of black metal – hell, it’s been nearly a dozen years since that record dropped and flipped the script on what DsO were – and a whole host of bands have cropped up (and continue) to try their hand at dense, labyrinthine gnarl. Greece’s AWE is one of the better ones I’ve heard in recent years. Providentia is their debut album, and with three tracks totaling 51 minutes, it’s A LOT to take in. I mean, do the math: that’s an average of 17 minutes a song, and in reality, the opener is 20 minutes and the next two are 16 and 15, respectively. And yet, their landscapes are never bloated; the rush ‘n’ crush comes frequently, but so do stretch-out-and-wait segments of eerie repose. Then again, that rush ‘n’ crush is also so blatantly DsO-indebted, it’s disconcerting more often than not, and more moments of sustained trance would greatly benefit these too-nervously-shifting textures. But when AWE play it patiently and let those textures waft and wind like smoke, they hit the sweet spot.
nathan t. birk 3.5

extreme noise terrorExtreme Noise Terror
30 years in and ENT show no sign of slowing down; this album is one of their most ferocious to date. The vocals are monstrous, the riffs straight-ahead stripped down crustcore bludgeoners, the drums hammering and relentless, snare hits cascading in on one another as the beat drives mercilessly forward. It’s not quite grind, not really punk, not exactly crust…the same as ENT has always been. It’s at its best when locked onto that hypnotic momentous groove that’s defined the band through the best of its career. While this album doesn’t quite match the pure sound of inferno which second album Phonophobia represented, it’s well up there in terms of solid crust bangers. Most of these songs would really come into their own in the live arena as that’s where music like this deserves to be heard. Bonus half point since it took me a minute to figure out that the cover artwork represented a scary pair of eyes rather than a couple of badly drawn friendly sharks swimming towards each other.
Cormac O’Síocháin 4.5

Moving Monoliths
Moving Monoliths: perfect task for the fall, and indeed is Wilt’s debut album autumnal black metal to a T. Three long, double-digit songs and a final shortie appropriately titled ‘Solitude’, Moving Monoliths establishes an atmosphere quickly and clings to it the rest of the record. If you grew up in the American Midwest like I did, it’s an atmosphere you can easily snuggle into: sweeping swathes of sensual speed, all kinds of rolling (and roiling) downtempo parts that drive further home a melancholic melody or three, lots of stompy repose before the sensual speed sweepingly swathes back in, those melodies whiffing of deja vu more often than not (but I will NOT refer to them as “Katatonia-esque”; that band is butt-rock now). And it’s that last-named element that, for however sticky-sweet some of those languorous ‘n’ lingering melodies are, kinda keeps this in its own ghetto…but who am I to knock it for that? It does a very specific thing, and it does it well; I also reside in more than one ghetto, but ghettoes all the same. Don’t tempt me with a Midwestern time, guys.
nathan t. birk 4



Termination Redux EP
Century Media
Rather than rush a new album (that’s being recorded over the festive period), Belgian death metallers Aborted decided on releasing this four-track EP to mark their 20th anniversary instead. Featuring three brand new songs and a re-recording of ‘The Holocaust Incarnate’, it’s more of the furious and solid death metal they’ve come to perfect over their eight previous full-lengths and numerous EPs. There’s a big thrash edge to the three new tracks while ‘The Holocaust Incarnate’ has that extra layer of polish to it. Reliable as ever and an excellent indicator for album number nine when it lands in 2016.
gm 4

bury tomorrowBury Tomorrow
Nuclear Blast
I’m usually a sucker for a lot of modern metalcore, with its catchy choruses and infectious melodies (even though that may not always be the ZT way) and am au fait with the odd Bury Tomorrow song. While this, their fourth album, is full of all that, the clean/harsh vocal combination and songs that barely breach four minutes, as has been their way all along, it just doesn’t seem full of much substance. Maybe it needs a few more listens, but none of the songs really stick. And if you can’t sing along in the car to metalcore, what’s the point in it?
gm 2.5

culture killerCulture Killer
Throes Of Mankind
Metal Blade
Culture Killer have managed to do enough in their brief existence to impress someone at Metal Blade that they’re releasing the band’s debut full-length. It’s fairly easy to see why, as this is pretty decent metallic hardcore even if it is full of numerous clichés from the genre. Angry lyrics dealing with ‘real’ issues? Check. Vocals that are shouted and spat out with venom? Check. At least one breakdown per song? Check. Still, there’s plenty of groove and some seriously meaty riffs that may not live long in the memory, but at the time make you want to slam your fist/head/arms.
gm 3.5

mare cognitumMare Cognitum    
An Extraconscious Lucidity    
i, Voidhanger    
Mare Cognitum is one of those names that’s always hung around (or is that “clung around”?), somewhere in that nethervoid among cosmic/mystical black metal, Cascadian/mystical black metal, and just-plain-mystical black metal. And every time I hear them, I make a mental note to revisit…but then never do. Well, I had to revisit this – a reissue of their second album, originally released in small numbers on CDR – A TON by virtue of not being able to pinpoint much beyond what I wrote in the first sentence. And I still can’t muster much. When it’s good, it’s great; when it’s just ‘good’ or slightly below, it’s only because it sounds like a hundred other bands I’ve heard in said nethervoid. Take your chances, then: dude’s either gotten better or worse from here.
ntb 3

No doubt inspired by the likes of Beastmilk, here we have dudes from a more metallic background taking a stab at (stabbing) post-punk. Partisan include members of Belgian metalcore mainstays Rise And Fall and Oathbreaker, but Partisan is a million miles away from the mosh, anchored as it is by pulsing (and prominent) bass, with suitably hypnotic melodies framed by dispassionate clean vocals and occasional splashes of swirling shoegaze. Vaguely reminiscent of early Therapy? crossed with Adorable, it’s all fairly dark and fairly likeable for the form, but I’m cautiously approving of this: as a stand-alone work, it’s nothing too notable (and only four songs), but if it’s a stepping stone, I’m onboard to hear what Partisan offer next.
ntb 3

maliciaTod Huetet Uebel    
Caverna Abysmal
Sometimes, it’s the little things – let’s call ‘em ‘quirks’ – that get something over, if only barely. Malícia does a lot of things a lot of black metal records do: pretty violent, pretty busy, kinda grim, kinda ghoulish, maybe ‘epic’ by default but likely not what Tod Huetet Uebel were going for, etc. But, the production – especially the drums, and even more especially the kick-drums, all of which sound like cannons of considerable calibre – really makes this more menacing than it has any right to be, thus ‘getting it over’, as the parlance goes. And there’s a part that sounds like a CD skipping but then seamlessly explodes into the next transition. One to watch, maybe.
ntb 3.5



For the most part Ataxia’s self-released debut is run of the mill technical death metal. There are the indecipherable grunted vocals, stop-start drum beats and plenty of changes of pace, from middling slam to a rapid burst or two. In fact, there are only a handful of briefly memorable moments, one of which is the vocal contribution from Jason Netherton of Misery Index on ‘Opprobrium’. The others are the odd short guitar solo on ‘Thoraxia’ and Carlos Santana-esque intro to ‘Unbalanced’ that seem completely out of place (and presumably mean they can claim to be experimental). Otherwise hit the snooze button.
gm 2

Conjuring Enormity
If you’ve got a thirst for pure, violent, US death metal then Marasmus’ second full-length will see you’re fully hydrated in seconds. Once the creepy spoken intro is over there’s no holding back with their savage barrage of precise death metal. Machine gun drums that are played at such a speed it sounds like the drum track is sticking, with numerous intricate solos and the vocalist’s potent roar, all amp up the level of aggression. However, Marasmus fall short of doing enough to really stand out above many of their peers in the current death metal scene. Neither do they fall below many of them, though.
gm 3

matter in the mediumMatter In The Medium
From the opening piano tinkling that soon blends into some juggernaut riffing it becomes clear that even though there’s been a five year wait, these Canadians’ second full-length aims to be as progressive and unique as possible. That doesn’t always mean good but thankfully in this instance there are more positives to grab hold of than negatives. It takes a couple of listens but the barked vocals that provide an almost hardcore edge and constant technical guitar flourishes do complement each other. Plenty of thought seems to have gone into the songwriting too, with twists and turns that make this a captivating ride.
gm 4

A Thousand Hands
OK, Sextile: I give up; you won. I dig A Thousand Hands now, after about three-dozen listens of wondering why this wasn’t connecting despite the savoury rudiments being all there. Like swampy, spaghetti Western-y post-punk that keeps its eyes on both the dusty trail and the dancefloor, Sextile marry tribal abandon to Bladerunning austerity, idealised rock ‘n’ roll ‘tradition’ ripped asunder by ominous Teutonic drone. Kinda gothgaze at points – if you crossed The Horrors with Slug Guts but gave ‘em a synth instead of a sax, maybe – A Thousand Hands sounds big and Technicolour despite the palette being unapologetically grey. It just might take a while for you to adjust your vision.
ntb 4

tales of the tombTales Of The Tomb
Volume One: Morpras
‘Three-headed vocal attack’ sounds worrying at first, but it adds an extra dimension to Canadian death metal squad Tales Of The Tomb’s sound on their debut EP without becoming gimmicky. These three tracks embody all the horror of the serial killers they’re based on while the snarled, rasped and clean vocals keep things fresh and exciting. The underlying musicianship doesn’t let it down either, with plenty of blastbeats and guitars full of power and groove-filled hooks. Thousands of new metal bands appear and disappear each year, but if these Canadians can replicate such form on a full-length then it’s worth them sticking around.
gm 4

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