Reviews by Jason Guest
With a bunch of 7” releases recently reviewed (here), we thought we’d delve deeper into the filthy under passage of Swedish label Blood Harvest Records and see what other unearthly delights they have on offer. This time it’s the longer releases we’re interested in and so, alongside the first full length from Australia’s Altars, Paramnesia, we’ve got three debut EPs. The first comes all the way from Santiago, Chile, Praise The Flame’s Profane Cult, the second is from Lucifericon of the Netherlands, The Occult Waters; and lastly we have Hideous Rot from Philadelphia’s Masada.
Altars – Paramnesia
A wise choice for an opening track, ‘Mare’ is pure filth. Dark and murky, the track begins in the gutter and drags us ever deeper beneath its foul surface leaving us no option but to inhale and ingest its putrid pollution. Fischer’s misshapen riffs grate against one another while Cadman’s drums, tightly wound into their dynamics, are infused with a disturbing substance, and Schmidt’s vocal approach and concise lyrics enhances the band’s grotesque and serrated sound. At ninety seconds, ‘Terse’ does what it takes most other bands three minutes to do, combining brutality with atmospherics in an astoundingly succinct manner.
And so it continues. The cold atmospheres of the eight-minute ‘Khaz’neth’ are drawn out across an epic structure that is well-utilized for maximum effect, emphasizing the band’s capacities for song-writing and imbuing every second with purpose and meaning.And while both the four-minute ‘Husk’ and the eight-minute ‘Solar barge’ encapsulate this approach, it is nowhere better exemplified in the three-part title track. With ‘Descent (Paramnesia, Part I)’ maintaining a ruthless and unremitting approach to its riffs and structure, the seventy seconds of ‘Gibbous (Paramnesia, Part II)’ provide a disturbing and atmospheric breather before the ominous and audacious ten-minute ‘Ouroboros (Paramnesia, Part III)’ is upon us. Vast in every way conceivable, this is an astounding piece of work that, taken together with the other two parts would more than suffice as a release all of its own. There’s little to find fault with here. And whatever flaws there are, they’re minor. Give this album your time. It’s well worth it.
8.5 out of 10
- Solar barge
- Descent (Paramnesia, part I)
- Gibbous (Paramnesia, part II)
- Ouroboros (Paramnesia, part III)
Praise The Flame – Profane Cult
Yep, it’s another album with a grim intro. And yep, it’s another album with a cover version tagged on to the end. While the cover of Unleashed’s ‘Before The Creation of Time’ is a good choice and makes for a good bonus track, it adds little to the album simply because it’s good enough without it. After the winds, voices, and bells of ‘Perpetual Covenant’ set the scene for what’s to come from Praise The Flame’s debut EP, ‘Mayhemic Wrath of Glorior’ very quickly delivers. Ferocious riffs, demonic drumming, and a beast of a vocal are augmented by a Slayer-esque lead break. While ‘Endless Scourge’ takes a similar approach, ‘Doomed By Darkness’ drags the tempo down for the mandatory slow and atmospheric intro before slamming us back into the high gears where we remain for ‘Path To Dark Despair’.
Praise The Flame see little point in wallowing in the slower tempos and instead thrust the intensity levels ever higher with a tempo shift or a more complex or more biting riff. Some variation would have perhaps made this a better album, but with the synth-led ‘Outro’ to finish us off, all that remains from the experience are many a wound and many a bruise. And that Unleashed cover serves only to compound the pounding. Well worth a blast or two.
7 out of 10
- Perpetual Covenant
- Mayhemic Wrath Of Glorior
- Endless Scourge
- Doomed By Darkness
- Path To Dark Despair
- Before The Creation Of Time (Unleashed Cover)
Lucifericon – The Occult Waters
Lucifericon’s debut opens with ‘Infinitum’, a one-minute drone that is somehow supposed to foreshadow the menace contained within the remaining seventeen minutes. However, it acts more like a portent of the banality that’s about to follow. This is a well-performed homage to death metal that bears little in the way of originality or the band’s own voice. Violent and barbed, there are noticeable attempts to imbue this with a sense of individuality. ‘The Temple of Lucifericon’ is augmented by an atmospheric lead in its slower mid-section. The down-tempo acoustic opening of ‘Moon Over Fading Statues’ soon gives way to that interesting-but-utterly-predictable begin-slow-and-build-up-to-ferocity structure that has been done to death. And ‘Azazael’s Torch’ and ‘Deathtongue’ follow all-too-familiar structures and dynamics.
Yep, the riffs are savage, the drums battering, the reverb-tinged vocals suitably caustic, and the atmospherics are repugnant enough to warrant adding “occult” to their “death metal” genre tag, but Lucifericon need to up their game if they want to compete with and stand out from the horde that’s churning this kind of stuff out.
6 out of 10
- The Temple Of Lucifericon
- Moon Over Fading Statues
- Azazel’s Torch
Masada – Hideous Rot
Not the first to use Masada as a band name, this Philadelphian mob’s début lives up to its title. Utterly rotten and revolting, they’ve got grimness to spare. While opening track ‘Hideous Cerebral Pulp’ starts the EP off well with all kinds of spluttering splatter spilling forth amid waves of chaotic riffing and gargled grunts, ‘Fluteotherapy’ is utterly pointless. Three-and-a-half-minutes of flute masturbation accompanied by breathy vocal ejaculation tinged with a few effects might be a novelty – or the band trying to be clever – but it quickly undermines the EP. Fortunately, ‘Exist To Rot’ saves the day. Or it would’ve done had they remembered to switch off the effects of the previous track. There’s some better-than-average writing and playing going on, but the track soon becomes repetitive and, frankly, dull. And no amount of studio trickery can save it.
So it’s up to ‘Suffer Mental Decay’ and ‘Toxic Unreality’ to rescue this. The former is fairly standard old school death metal that finishes before it’s had time to develop, and the latter, though it opens with some atmospheric guitar work, quickly crumbles into the kind of bog standard filth that floods the underground. What stands out across this EP are the bass lines and guitar work that are, for lack of a more apt term, “progressive” such as in ‘Exist To Rot’ and ‘Toxic Unreality’. Were Masada to exploit this aspect of the band, they could produce something much more intriguing.
6 out of 10
- Hideous Cerebral Pulp
- Exist To Rot
- Suffer Mental Decay
- Toxic Unreality