Reviews by Jason Guest
Focusing on vinyl releases, their roster and releases increasing significantly since 2006, Swedish label Blood Harvest Records have been releasing filthy death metal into the world since 2001. If you want to give their roster a listen you can do so over at either their Soundcloud page or over at their Bandcamp page. Should you like what you hear and death metal of ye olde school be your poison, you can pay the label a visit on their Facebook page, click ‘Like’ and get all the latest news without delay direct to your sparkling balls – eyes, that is. Isn’t that fabulous? Let me get a “Yay!” for the interweb! No? Oh well…
Currently on offer from the label and lurking somewhere in the world (most likely at the web locations pointed out above) are five 7” EPs from the following death metal devotees: from Sweden comes the re-release of Bombs of Hades’s first EP entitled Carnivores as well as The Curse of the Antichrist EP from the recently reformed Verminous. And from Chile, we have from Euphoric Existence from Horrifying, Ascensum Serpens from Malignant Asceticism, and a re-release of 2012’s, erm, MMXII from Istengoat. Isn’t that nice? Let’s see what the fuckers have got to say for themselves shall we?
Bombs of Hades – Carnivores
Formed in 2002, after recording a demo, what did Sweden’s Bombs of Hades do next? they took a break for no less than four years. Clever, I think you’ll agree. Come 2006 and guitarist/vocalist Jonas Stålhammar releases their first demo (with him playing everything) and gets the band back together. 2008 sees their first release, the Carnivores EP. Yep, this very collection now re-released by Blood Harvest Records, the very label that released it those many moons ago. Last year’s The Serpent’s Redemption was ferocious and ugly as fuck, their savage, crusted death metal proving to be more than a simple homage to the likes of Autopsy and Entombed. Work your way backwards through their catalogue and you hear a band that have had something to offer since the get go. And Carnivores is testament to that.
Five years down the line and it’s still an impressive EP. On the one hand, it’s easy to listen to this and identify the band’s influences, on the other however, you could just sit back and soak up some serious old school death metal that ticks all the boxes and then blows the shit out of ‘em.
7.5 out of 10
- Necronomicus Kanth (The Hounds Of Hell)
- Twisted Decay
- Slaughter Of The Dead
- Disrespect Their Bones
Verminous – The Curse of the Antichrist 7″ EP
This Swedish death metal may have been silent for 10 years but as soon as title track ‘Curse of the Antichrist’ begins, it’s apparent that a whole decade has done little to impede this band’s momentum. Savage, ruthless, and all the other adjectives used above are intensified ten-fold. The arpeggiated opening guitar line with its hammered accents give way to a track of such ferocity that it takes a minute or so to fully realise what the hell is happening. In a good but bludgeoning kind of way of course. What lets this release down is that of the three tracks, two are covers. 39 seconds and ‘Hang The Pope’ is over. What else can you do with Nuclear Assault’s classic other than blast it out? And the cover of Nihilist’s ‘Revel in Flesh’ is a good choice but, given the potency of track one, what we want is a Verminous track or two.
As a follow up to the recent album The Unholy Communion, the one original track that the band has graciously bestowed upon us doesn’t really warrant this release as a necessity. It should have been on the album.
5 out of 10
- Curse of the Antichrist
- Hang the Pope
- Revel in Flesh
Horrifying – Euphoric Existence 7”
In 2010, the mission to create and recapture the old, cryptic sound of petrifying and violent death-thrash brought Chile’s Horrifying to life. Raw, primitive, and with a sound more at home in the 80s than any time beyond that, there is nothing original about this rancid little 7”. They’ve got plenty of filthy riffs – all old school of course, they’ve got a suitably savage vocalist drenched in revolting reverb, and they’re soaked to the skin in enough blood-splattered grimness to repulse even Jason Vorhees’s launderette.
Short and not-so-sweet, ‘An Agonic Death’ is 103 seconds of rabidly intense trem-picked riffs and animalistic vocals, its contaminated saliva spilling over into ‘Euphoric Existence’. Its structure more dynamic, juxtaposing the fast with the bone-crushingly slow, despite the pig-like squeal from the guitars and the cacophonous lead break, there’s little that is euphoric or even mildly amused about this track. And ‘Petrifying Hallucinations’, were it rendered in visual form, would be exactly that. The opening miasma gives way to the strongest of the three tracks, its riffs brutal, its structure more adventurous – though still within the death/thrash genre – and its heft dense. And the lead break, as messy as it appears, compounds the gruesome atmosphere. While there’s nothing original here, it’s a pretty good quick fix for anyone needing an unhealthy dose of grim, grimy, sickening death metal. Not great, but not bad either. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with an album.
6 out of 10
- An Agonic Death
- Euphoric Existence
- Petrifying Hallucinations
Malignant Asceticism – Ascensum Serpens 7″ EP
There must have been something in the water in Chile in 2010 because Malignant Asceticism were, similarly to Horrifying, called into existence by a mission but this time by that of the left-hand path. Spooky. With black metal their muse and mode, the mysteries of sexual magic are the spirit behind Ascensum Serpens. What they attempt to achieve in 10 minutes by bashing out a couple of quickies however is less, erm, “satisfying” than they perhaps would have hoped.
Opening with two minutes of multi-layered haunting chants against a backdrop of twisted guitars, the black metal brutality of ‘Seventh Breath’ is finally unleashed. Weighted in dissonant trem-picked riffs and thick, heavy atmospherics, this is as corrosive and acerbic as most of this kind of stuff out there and the stuff that’s been there since the 90s. Given it’s slow, dragging intro, how apt hat ‘The Black Dance’ is the flipside to ‘Seventh Breath’. While not as convincing as its partner track, the sinister atmospherics of its long, droning passages are good as are the barely-discernable melodies. As with Horrifying, there’s nothing new on offer here but it’s the conviction and devotion to the dark matter that gives it its worth. Again, an album will, hopefully, provide more of an insight into what these bastards of blackness can do.
6 out of 10
- Seventh Breath
- The Black Dance
Istengoat – MMXII
More from Chile, this time from death metal devotees Istengoat (translated as ‘God’). Formed in 2011, there was no voice from the dark side that called this band into existence, only a simple goal, that of creating the feeling of being at the front of a tornado. Easy, huh? If being in front of a tornado means primitive riffs, rampant drumming, and reverb-drenched barks wrapped up in two tracks of unremitting savagery then Istengoat have hit the nail on the head.
‘Pogrom’, at five minutes, is ruthless and nihilistic. Savage from the outset, there’s no room for compromise, not even when the track slows at the 90-second mark for an atmospheric meander that’s perhaps ill-placed in an opening track. With brutality returning to the fore for more savagery, the thankfully brief lead break that emerges later is not the best, more an attempt to augment the track with atonality, it fails in its, dare I say, amateurish execution. ‘Avatara’ is a much more mature track, the band sounding much more self-assured and maintaining the brutality without compromising it without wandering off on unnecessary tangents. The same goes for ‘Shiqus Sho’, ruthless and concentrated – and thankfully void of embarrassing lead beaks – this and track two make the possibilities that an album could offer more appealing. One to watch.
6 out of 10
- Shiqus Sho