Death Metal Roundup: Ara + Birth AD + Deus Otiosus + Bone Sickness + Reign of Vengeance

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Review by Paul Castles

With the death metal river threatening to burst its banks only the elite forces can stay afloat as the less inspired contenders struggle to keep their heads above the water. Sink or swim? Paul Castles wipes down his goggles and pulls five new releases from the dark murky waters.

  • Ara – The Blessed Sleep
  • Birth AD – I Blame You
  • Deus Otiosus – Godless
  • Bone Sickness – Alone in the Grave
  • Reign of Vengeance -The Final Solution; The Final Rebellion

Ara – The Blessed Sleep

There’s a certain irony in tech death metalists Ara calling their new release The Blessed Sleep as there is absolutely no chance of anyone catching 40 winks with this din of destruction playing in the background. These Milwaukee metalists have been constructed from the remnants of bands such as Northless and Concentric and this imaginative five-track mini-album is their debut release. There’s more than a hint of Meshuggah about these guys, barking vicious vocals over furious fragments of melody that just about fit together, even though the pieces all come with dangerous jagged edges.

Ara - The Blessed SleepVocalist Adam Bujny can dig down into his stomach for some impressively ravenous growls but Ara have much more to their profile than conventional death metal. This young quartet grind things out with enough tangents in their musical armory to leave a classroom full of physics students scratching their heads for hours. The sound is strident and sophisticated, crushing and manic in places such as on ‘Demise of Reason’ but then on less frantic tracks such as ‘Despair Personified’ the mood is darker and deeper with Bujny’s anguished ‘I Will Destroy’ cry fighting to make itself heard. Ara have given themselves a platform to build on with this opener and their development will be worth monitoring.

7 out of 10

Ara on Bandcamp

Track listing:

  1. Entitled Ascension
  2. Demise of Reason
  3. The Blessed Sleep
  4. Despair Personified
  5. Abyssal Banishment

 

Birth AD – I Blame You

Unspeakable Axe Records

If you judge the value of an album by the number of tracks then with 18 on the menu Birth AD have come up trumps. Unfortunately the content is less than inspiring. With many songs failing to make the two-minute mark and I Blame You actually comes in at around 35 minutes. This is definitely more punk than metal and on tracks such as ‘Equal Opportunities’ there’s a hint of The Dead Kennedys, although Jello Biafra’s legendary Californians had infinitely more in their locker than Birth AD.

It’s pretty standard thrashy fare with lots of crashes, aggression and angry vocals but it does appear about 30 years too late and lacks the real menace of anarcho-punk icons such as Conflict. With tracks such as ‘Failed State’ and ‘This Scene Sucks’ the Texan trio’s portfolio of angry young men kicking out against the ‘bad’ government is all too simplistic and is unlikely to have Obama calling them into the White House for a chat about the yoof problems of young Americans. In keeping with the punk-infused delivery, every word is crystal clear which with some of the more juvenile lyrics is probably not a good thing. Every track has a punchy shout-along fists in the air chorus but only the most manic Mohican could still be pogoing by the time number 18 kicks off, ‘Blow up the Embassy’ written through the eyes of a suicide bomber.

Birth AD – I Blame You5 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Mission Statement
  2. Equal Opportunity
  3. Burn L.A.
  4. Failed State
  5. Bring Back the Draft
  6. This Scene Sucks
  7. Violent Retribution
  8. No, Man
  9. I Blame You
  10. Short Bus Society
  11. Wrong Again
  12. Fill in the Blank
  13. Kill Everybody
  14. No Jobs (Don’t Work)
  15. Cause Problems
  16. Parasites Die
  17. Popular War
  18. Blow Up The Embassy (Fearless Iranians From Hell Cover)

 

Deus Otiosus – Godless

Deepsend Records

Godless is a fitting title for the latest album from Deus Otiosus as there’s nothing heavenly about this snapping snarling serving of Danish death metal. The follow up to Murderer, what Deus Otiosus have tried to create within these eight tortured tracks is the sound of some kind of distorted vision of the future where all normal conventions of decent society are smashed with a bloodied fist and only the depraved, dirty and despicable are left to scrap for the leftovers. Think Broad Street on a Saturday night! Deus Otiosus can fortunately write better melodies than you’re likely to hear bouncing off the walls of some trashy club and anyone into the likes of Autopsy or Unleashed won’t be disappointed with this offering from the Copenhagen harbingers of doom.

Deus Otiosus - GodlessAlthough Godless contains some thrash elements the Danes are probably at their best with slightly slower more intimidating crush-heavy tracks such as the thundering ‘New Dawn’ which carries some great sweeping choral chants. Tighter than their previous album, Godless shows an even more creative edge with ‘Death Dance’ an aural walk through treacle to the gates of hell. Sticky, sweaty with your neck muscles being pulled from all directions to keep up with the 360-degree mind assault.

7 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Snakes of the Low
  2. In Harm’s Way
  3. New Dawn
  4. Pest Grave
  5. Surrounded by the Dead
  6. Cast from Heaven
  7. Face the Enemy
  8. Death Dance

 

Bone Sickness – Alone in the Grave

20 Buck Spin Records

Bone Sickness play a completely barbaric, unforgiving brand of death metal. Don’t take my word for it though, just curl up in your box with a copy of Alone in the Grave, a seven-track package that froths frantically at the sides like a mad dog in need of its next feed. Anger does not do it justice. This is unbridled fury, menacing and pumped at you at breakneck speed. Opener ‘Submit to Decay’ begins with a tortured winding riff that eventually breaks off into a distorted manic twister that leaves you feeling like you’ve been on a helter-skelter ride from bottom to top.

Bone Sickness – Alone in the GraveFrom a small town in the US state of Washington apparently these angry young men shared as many punk bills as metal when first starting up. Their sound though is clearly metal, screeching guitar sequences, the drums beaten almost to a pulp and a vocalist with a pained guttural bark dryer than an outing from the Temperance Society. This is probably heard in its finest form on the title track, a slower number than most but one in which singer sounds like his voice box has finished runner-up in a battle with a cheese grater while a slovenly heavy drumbeat sets a pace that even a funeral car would have to pull out and overtake. ‘Death and Dismemberment’ takes you straight back to the chaos in which you can just about make sense of it all after a few listenings. But then at 20minutes long Alone in the Grave deserves a couple of spins to allow it to really get under your skin into the very depths of your sorry soul.

6 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Submit To Decay
  2. Strange Obsession
  3. Paranoid Delusions
  4. Scraping The Bones
  5. Alone In The Grave
  6. Death And Dismemberment
  7. Tied To The Stake

 

Reign of Vengeance -The Final Solution; The Final Rebellion

Synister Empire Records

Reign of Vengeance -The Final Solution The Final Rebellion‘Fuck the Recession – Kill those that caused it.’ No, it’s not the latest offering from Ed Milliband at the dispatch box in Westminster. It is in fact the opening volley into the nutsack from aggressors Reign of Vengeance who get political from the opening crash of The Final Solution; The Final Rebellion. It’s fair to say then that this five-tracker is not the sharpest tool lyrically, at times ringing out like a political broadcast just with a bit more anger and a lot more swear words. The Final Solution; The Final Rebellion is billed as a concept EP where the theme in simplistic language is to wipe out all the bad guys before starting over again in some kind of utopian pleasure zone. It’s pretty tongue in cheek stuff but musically it never really hits the spot.

There’s very little here to excite or challenge or make you think. The rhythms are pretty basic and all the tracks seem stuck in a rut with few lifts or turns to keep you interested. If you want your death metal full of brutality then best look elsewhere as this Arizona quartet may talk a good fight but once they enter the ring the punches don’t carry much power.

5 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Fuck The Recession; Kill Those That Caused It
  2. Amassing Towards Truth
  3. The Master’s Summons
  4. The Grande Hecatom
  5. The Final Rebellion
  6. The New Era (Aeon) (Elitist Package only)