Reviews by Jason Guest
More death metal from around the globe has made its way into Midlands Rocks Towers. We’ve got The Cult of Death from Italy’s Karnak, Males Infestus from Brazil’s Cauterization, Where Hope Turns Dripping Red from Sweden’s Dead Awaken, and two from Germany, Wound’s Inhale the Void and Dehuman Reign’s Destructive Intent. It’s gonna get messy…
Karnak – The Cult of Death
Together since 1997, Italy’s Karnak’s discography is sparse. With their debut, Perverse, appearing that same year, it would be 2001 before the world would receive their sophomore effort, the intriguingly titled Melodies of Sperm Composed. With two EPs appearing in 2002 and 2004, third album Dismemberment wouldn’t appear until 2010. Prolific they may not be but for the most part, quality has been assured (though not so much in the album cover department). 2013 and the band have brought unto us the Aleister Crowley-themed The Cult of Death comprised of three interrelated tracks and a cover of Celtic Frost’s ‘Jewel Throne’.
Dense is the most apt way to describe this slab of malevolence. After an intro of tribal drumming of sorts, the death metal miasma arises and brutality unfolds in a wash of relentless drumming, crushing low-end riffs, and the slurry of gravel-gargling grunts. These three tracks spend most of their time head down in the dirt and the mud, guzzling down all the shit that can be continually swallowed and regurgitated. There are no pretensions to complicate matters with unnecessary technicality on The Cult of Death. Though the occasional splatter of lead work can be heard amongst the murk of ‘The Construction Of The Pyramid (Alfa)’, with ‘The Construction Of The Pyramid (Beta)’ the band allows the track to develop at its own pace. The vocals are an incantation, summoning forth the dark forces that come to fruition in the lead guitar that urges the second half of the track forward and elevate the track into deeper and darker menace. That menace becomes brutality unbound in ‘The Construction Of The Pyramid (Gamma)’ with Karnak re-introducing the tribal drumming in the track’s latter half, closing the triptych with a darkly ceremonial aura. And as good as their version of ‘Jewel Throne’ is, The Cult of Death is incredible enough without it.
8 out of 10
- The Construction Of The Pyramid (Alfa)
- The Construction Of The Pyramid (Beta)
- The Construction Of The Pyramid (Gamma)
- Jewel Throne (Celtic Frost)
Cauterization – Males Infestus
Initially released in 2011 through Polish label Till You Fukkin Bleed, the debut from Brazil’s Cauterization is seeing a re-release through Austria’s Metal Music At and promises much for this trio. After the one-minute ‘Unpurification Ov Sacred’ begins proceedings with its suitably unsettling atmospherics, its ominous tone a warning of what’s to come, the merciless torrent of blast beats and trem-picked riffs of ‘Infernal Battlefield’, savage and impressive alone, are bettered by Maysa Rodrigues’ and Well Moia’s crushing dual vocal approach. One half death metal growl, one half tortured banshee, her twisted vocal style is matched only by her maniacal lead work. ‘Males Infestus’ is no less ruthless, the down-tempo middle section, despite feeling a little forced, as if the band had this part lying around and felt the need to cram it in somewhere, is impressive if not contextually apt. Final track ‘Triumphal Obscuressence’ sees the ferocity cranked even higher, Rodrigues’s vocalist getting a full work out as she matches the dynamics of the track for their diversity.
An impressive debut, there are only a few minor flaws. While the riffs are brutal, some of the lead work is messy; the break in ‘Infernal Battlefield’ feels disjointed, as if cut-and-pasted to fit with the riff changes, and that of the title track, while attempting to add to the dark atmospherics, in some ways it detracts from the overall feel. Another flaw is that three tracks is nowhere near enough. The band is in the process of recording two new tracks for an upcoming 7” to be called Nasu, but that’s still not enough. Fine musicians one and all, Cauterization are a great band with an impressive debut on their hands. But the material here is over two years old; we need an update. We need an album.
7 out of 10
- Unpurification Ov Sacred
- Infernal Battlefield
- Males Infestus
- Triumphal Obscuressence
Dead Awaken – Where Hope Turns Dripping Red
The debut full length from Sweden’s Dead Awaken has been a long time coming. Together since 2002, they released a demo every year up until 2008 (but nothing on 2007) and then stopped. Why so long to release their debut? With line-up changes aplenty, mainstay Jörgen Kristensen has no doubt been working hard to find a band he’s content with, or at least a drummer, because the only other musician on this release is Mats Blyckert who’s been with the band since 2007. But despite whatever challenges Kristensen has faced in all that time, Where Hope Turns Dripping Red is worth the wait.
With four of the nine tracks taken from earlier demos – ‘Mudhell’ from 2006 demo Scar Graced Earth, and ‘Deutsches Afrika Corpse’, ‘Venom of the Population’ and ‘State of Corrosion’ from 2008 demo The Noble Art of Agitation – Kristensen made a wise decision to include the ones that he did. In comparison with the newer material, it fits well and you can hear how the band has developed their sound. Where ‘Mudhell’ is a blast of savage riffs peppered with the occasional pinch harmonic, deathly groove, and multi-layered discordance, ‘Deutsches Afrika Corpse’ adds a hint of technical death metal to the head-down grunt, ‘Venom of the Population’ lets the bass do most of the work, and ‘State of Corrosion’ closes the album with Kristensen and Blyckert focusing their energies into tight grooves and mosh pit-inducing riffs. With their sound crystallised, the rest of the tracks show how the band have developed, their technical vehemence, barbed savagery, and their unity tightly focussed into an unremitting and impressive death metal debut. This may not be innovative but it’s a relentless and violent piece of work laced with hostility that deserves to get the band the attention that being signed should allow them. It’s been a long time coming.
7 out of 10
- Kingdom Of Damnation (Where Hope Turns Dripping Red)
- Deutsches Afrika Corpse
- Rocket Symphony
- Manic Destructive
- Envy The Dead
- Venom Of The Population
- State Of Corrosion
Wound – Inhale the Void
Like Dead Awaken above, Wound’s Inhale The Void isn’t providing anything new or innovative. Their first full length, this is ‘old school’ to the core and references pretty much every band associated with that moniker in some way or another. Arguably, Wound have pretty much set themselves up as a band that will be trying to shake off accusations of being little more than a homage to the genre they so clearly revere. They’ve thrown a fair bit of punk in and it works well, but there still remains that desire to hear something that isn’t derivative. But saying that, Wound handle it well. They can bang out a bruiser of a track or two and the riffs are as savage and crushing as the most ferocious of mosh pits would feast upon. There are a load of bands doing this and doing it well, and it’s getting rare that you come across one that’s pushing it. But as a debut, this is pretty good, if only if it declares the band’s abilities. Should they continue to build on these firm foundations, this German band may well produce something outstanding.
6 out of 10
- Codex Arcanum
- The Unsolved Obscurity
- Forever Denial
- Confess To Filth
- Corroded From Within
- Among You
- The Prince Of Tyranny
- Inhale The Void
Dehuman Reign – Destructive Intent
Suffocation, Immolation, Deicide and the like; not a bad list of bands to look to for inspiration, is it? It would appear that Germany’s Dehuman Reign have long been drinking deep of the diseased bog of death metal and regurgitated every last drop of that putrefying pus in eight songs that total no more than twenty minutes. After a mid-tempo opening track, rapid-fire trem-picked riffs and unending brutality is unleashed. The influences are apparent in the Dehuman Reign’s approach but there are more than a few moments when the odd flash of innovation comes to the fore. Like Wound, their riffs are recycled but convincing versions of what we’ve heard many moons ago – and in any number of ‘old school’ bands of today – but with pace as the driving force, there’s something exciting here that Wound (above) demonstrate a little less of. The lead work is suitably maniacal, the percussive nature of the deep guttural growls compounds the battery, and the raw production makes for a devastating experience. Like Wound, this is a band on the way to producing something exceptional.
7 out of 10
- Prelude To Perdition
- Extinction Machine
- Invocation I: Black Seed
- Irreversible Soul Consumption
- Staring Beyond The Edge Of Time
- Invocation II: Scorched Earth
- Veil Of Ignorance
- Masks Of Sorrow