Reviews by Paul Castles
A diverse selection of recent death metal releases come under the Midland Rocks microscope. Paul Castles peers through the murky lens and likes what he sees. Clear the clutter from your brains and hear his thoughts on the following.
- Burial Vault – Incendium
- Svart Crown – Profane
- Pathogen – Miscreants of Bloodlusting Aberrations
- Bukowski Family – Unpleasantries Abundant
- Darkall Slaves – Absysses of Seclusion
Burial Vault – Incendium
Incendium is the second full length release from German quintet Burial Vault and it’s well worth diving headfirst into. Opener ‘The Stench of Burning Thoughts’ has a melodic twisting symphonic intro before Burial Vault hit the pedal and tear through a multi-faceted opener that embraces elements of death metal, black metal and good old thrash. On tracks like ‘A Blind Follower’ and a Watchful Hound’ the pace is repeatedly slowed to allow some spiraling guitar licks to take over and technically Incendium is hard to fault. At times there’s almost too much packed into the thirteen tracks. ‘Peculiar’ is just that as midway through singer Raimund Ennenga breaks into crisp clean vocals that are largely out of sync with the remainder. That said, this slowburner is still a standout track.
7 out of 10
- The Stench of Burning Thoughts
- A Blind Follower and a Watchful Hound
- Soil & Green
- The Nightly Horror
- Prelude to Peripety
- Fatal Accident
- Struggling Doubt
- Moment of Truth
- Surveillance Web
- Black Into White
Svart Crown – Profane
A couple of years ago I caught the excellent Ulcerate at the Asylum in Birmingham. The Kiwis put on a great show, full of shadows and atmosphere, but I was equally impressed by my first encounter with the support act, Svart Crown. Since then the French metal scene has blossomed like never before and Svart Crown are right up there with the best of the legionnaires. Latest album Profane is a masterpiece of suffocating black metal encased in a heavy blanket of darkness which crawls through your skin straight into your bones. This is a deeper and more destructive album than their last, Witnessing the Fall, and the more work you put in as a listener the more rewards will come your way. Vocalist JB Le Bail embraces something approaching a hostile death metal growl through to some piercing bloodcurdling cries.
After a 90-second intro of doom-laden melancholy what follows are nine torturous tracks bulging at the seams with spiraling riffs on an album that is technically immense. ‘In Utero: A Place of Hatred and Threat’ shows the jaw-dropping power and penetration of Svart Crown while ‘The Therapy of Flesh’ is an uncompromising bloodied beast that sinks its teeth into you and refuses to relinquish its grip. The next time I see these Frenchman, it’s unlikely they will be playing second fiddle to anyone.
8 out of 10
- Manifestatio Symptoms
- Genesis Architect
- Intern. Virus. Human
- In Utero: A Place of Hatred and Threat
- Until the Last Breath
- The Therapy of Flesh
- Venomous Ritual
- Ascetic Purification
- Revelation: Down Here Stillborn
Darkall Slaves – Absysses of Seclusion
Darkall Slaves are another death metal outfit flying the tricolor for exhaustive French death metal. Absysses of Seclusion is a three-track EP coming in at just under 10 minutes and, discounting the intro, is essentially a double-header. ‘Mindless Damnation’ is an impenetrable slab of granite that suggests these musketeers have enough powder in the keg to make a name for themselves in this arena. Devastating levels of powerhouse aggression rolled into a blistering baguette of brutality with intricate guitar spins sustained with an incessant drum and authentic double-pronged death metal vocals from Marcus and Moots.
Darkall Slaves have been playing Euro festivals for a number of years but persistent line-up changes have prevented sustained development. With a now solid five-piece in check, and the support of the respected Kaotoxin Records, much more can be expected from these boys, starting hopefully with their first full length release before too long.
7 out of 10
- Mindless Damnation
- Absysses of Seclusion
Pathogen – Miscreants of Bloodlusting Aberrations
Pathogen aren’t so much blowing the horn for the little known Philippines’ death metal community as shoving up it up your ass. Miscreants of Bloodlusting Aberration is old skool through and through, rough around the edges and most of it played at breakneck speed. This album first came out in 2009 is now enjoying a re-release through the formidable German label Dunkelheit who have been spreading their net far and wide in search of the most extreme acts they can find. Pathogen clearly grew up tuned into the likes of Morbid Angel and opener ‘Atrocity Exhibit’ sets us up for an iron clad Filipino fist of hardcore death metal. They are though capable of mixing things up though, slowing the tempo down to a steady rumble in the chorus of ‘Abyss of Perpetual Upheaval’ before immediately returning to frenzied thrash. If the tropical forests of the Philippines are hiding more like this then it’s time to step forward from the trees now.
7 out of 10
- Atrocity Exhibit
- Heretical Wisdom
- Abyss of Perpetual Upheaval
- Ideological Strife
- Afterlife (SACRIFICE cover)
- Uranium Messiah
Bukowski Family – Unpleasantries Abundant
Unpleasantries Abundant is a five-track destructive demon that sticks its fungal crawling tongue as far down the throat of everything within spitting distance. These Hungarian headbangers have a dual vocal partnership of Fats and Piggy, each member of the band having Bukowski as their surname. The band insist that their name bares no relevance to the notorious murdering psycho of that name although such is the venom and levels of punishment executed here you could be forgiven for making that assumption.
‘Chair of Repentance’ sets the tone, a head-on multi-vehicle pile-up of noise, nilhism and necro nightmares. Carne Humana (Human Flesh) maintains the level of stripped to the bone unbridled aggression and gore. Don’t think for a second that Bukowski Family lack dexterity and dynamism in their music, ‘Fountain of Woe’ has a doomier delivery, but one full of twists and with no less edge or angst. Unpleasantries Abundant is uncomfortable and confrontational – a grotesque goulash of gore. Get stuck in!
8 out of 10
- Chair of Repentance
- Carne Humana
- Fountain of Woe
- The Perversion of the Grim Tanner