Reviews by Jason Guest
Blackened Wisdom (Immolation) – The Angels are Crying (7″ EP)
Hell’s Headbangers have been rooting around in the muck for this one. Lurking in the underground somewhere between black and death metal, this 3-track 7” EP by Omaha, Nebraska’s Blackened Wisdom contains the only tracks that this band recorded in 1993 shortly before they split, never to be heard from again, at least not in this incarnation.
The lo-fi production – the authenticity factor, I s’pose – means that the cymbals that sit astride the cardboard boxes (aka drums) all but disappear into a wash of white noise as the fuzz that is the guitars and the distorted bass angrily fart their wrath-fuelled riffs while Bill Taylor’s blackened vocals tear their way through the evil mire that spews forth from the speakers. What lies beneath the murk and miasma, however, is more attitude and acrimony than ability. Primitive and raw, black meets death with a hint of grind and a smattering of doom thrown in to the hostile, sadistic barrage. Existing before a genre label that approximated their style existed, this is an interesting EP that’s maybe for elitists, completists, and ardent devotees with a distinct interest in what their heroes were doing “back in the day”…
6.5 out of 10
- Hear it and buy it here
- After Me Come The Flames
- I, Eternal
- The Angels Are Crying
Muknal – Muknal (12″ MLP)
With the first release of this being limited to just 100 cassettes, Hell’s Headbangers have snapped up Muknal’s demo to release it as a one-sided 12”. Nothing less than an aberration, being enveloped in echoes, delays, and reverbs, Muknal’s mutilations sound as if emerging from the very depths of the abyss. The sonic mire – comprised of Anxiety’s blastbeats and cavernous drums and Vahxak’s tremolo-picked riffs, string scratches, and unnerving synth sounds – are shrouded in abstract sounds that tortuously howl their hellish misery into, across, and over the void. The protracted chords and – thanks to the wash of effects – psychedelic string scratches that open ‘Cruciation’ expands into harsh and jarring chords that clash and echo notes that radiate from the void. Impious’s sparse vocals venomously spew their torment over the cacophony before it collapses back into the gaping gulf from whence it came. Opening with a twisted repetitive guitar line out of which emerges another wave of devastation, a depiction of torment, twisted sorrow, agony, angst, and horror, the spectre of death’s shadow is cast ever further with ‘Rotten Genesis’. And, further fortifying the beleaguered aesthetic, closer ‘Eidolon’ drags the listener deeper into the morass with its burgeoning armoury of all the histrionics of extremity at their behest. If you fancy a short break of about seventeen minutes to take in the depths of despair and the hopeless darkness and sun yourself in the flames of eternal torment while your flesh is slowly pealed from its fragile form, Muknal is for you.
7 out of 10
- Hear it and buy it here
- Rotten Genesis
Nunslaughter – Cerebus (7″ Picture Disc)
Originally released in 2003 as clear vinyl only, Hell’s Headbangers are re-releasing this 7” EP a picture disc with two versions of each track – one from the studio, the other from rehearsals – and the cover artwork as originally drawn, i.e., uncoloured, and a cardboard lyric sheet. Of course, the studio recordings are of a significantly better quality – though still lo-fi – than the rehearsals. Death metal with a healthy dose of thrash hammered into the mix, Cerebus is testament to Nunslaughter’s uncompromising attitude towards their “Devil Metal” that has served them well since their inception in 1987. The charmingly titled ‘ Mother, Cunt, Whore’ pulls no punches in its attack on the Virgin Mary for bringing into the world the “son of shit” that, evidently, has made their life hell. Where this track is a thrash blast through of abuse, the dense and slower tempo of ‘Cerebus’ gives its tremolo-picked riffs and primitive, raw death metal more potency and so makes it the best of the two tracks. Giving an insight into what went on behind closed doors many moons ago, the two rehearsal tracks are no more than an interesting curio that are sure satisfy the wants of devoted fans, but their real achievement, ironically, is that they illustrate how much better the studio recorded versions are.
7 out of 10
- Mother, Cunt, Whore (Studio)
- Cerebus (Studio)
- Mother, Cunt, Whore (Rehearsal)
- Cerebus (Rehearsal)
Nunslaughter/Abigail – Fucking Satan – split (7″ Picture Disc)
What hits you first about the Nunslaughter tracks is the production. It is by far and away much better than that of Cerebus and so the impact of the tracks can be fully savoured. In the time since Cerebus, Nunslaughter haven’t budged a bit and their “Devil Metal” has become more refined. Not amoment is wasted as the listener finds themselves pinned to the war with these two Anti-Christian salvos. Opening with hellish sounds and a bunch of ominous chords, ‘Back to Hell’s battery of vicious riffs, relentless drumming, and vehement vocals are soon unleashed and the full force of their irreverent message is upon us and never lets up. The sixty-one-second condemnation of the holy head honcho that is the track ‘God’ is ruthless and just as relentless in its attack as ‘Back to Hell’.
Japan’s Abigail, on the other hand, are happy to let their “Street Metal” near drown in lo-fi production. The ride cymbal cuts through the pall while the kick and snare drum, being felt more than heard, are overshadowed by the presence of the toms when a fill appears. The guitars move in slabs of sound and the vocals shriek from somewhere in the middle distance. Production aside, the tracks are as potent as Nunslaughter’s anti-Christian torrents, if not more so thanks to the sheer intensity that Abigail slams into every second of this barrage. Satan must be sore…
Nunslaughter: 7 out of 10
Abigail: 8 out of 10
- Buy Fucking Satan here
- Buy both Cerebus and this split 7” picture disc at a special offer price here
- Back to Hell (Nunslaughter)
- God (Nunslaughter)
- Night of the Reaper (Abigail)
- Violent Force (Abigail)
Gouge – Doomed to Death (7” EP)
Four songs in 11 minutes, Norwegian death metal mob Gouge’s debut 7” EP is old school death metal ripped and torn out of their instruments of gory torture. With early thrash and maybe a trace of grind in there, the track titles say it all. Beneath the death metal splatter that emanates from Christoffer Bråthen’s shredded larynx, his ragged riffs are ferocious and Herman Holer’s drums are a combustible stockpile of violence. The filthy production does little to mask the fact that Gouge live up to their name at every instance, ensuring that every hammered snare, every blastbeat, every buzzsaw riff, and every blood-gargled syllable is as painfully revolting as possible. Raw, bloody gore.
7 out of 10
- Ritual of Gore
- Evil Town of Mud
- Doomed to Death
- Nuclear Vomit
Heavy Cross – Streetwolf (7″ EP)
NWOBHM through and through – or as NWOBHM as it’s possible to be without being British – Finland’s Heavy Cross’s approach is as direct and simplistic as the bands whose influence pervades every instance of their debut. With straight-ahead, pumping pedal tones, ringing chords, and lead work typical of 80s metal, Heavy Cross isn’t looking to break any new ground and so have produced a couple of tracks that do a great job of emulating their heroes. With a vocalist capable of hitting the King Diamond/Rob Halford high notes, Street Wolf could have been much better. Main-man Satanic Tyrant Werewolf (what a name!) may not have the best voice in heavy metal but he can write a retro metal tune with enough hooks and catchy melodies that’ll stick with you for a long time after giving this EP a spin.
6 out of 10
- Hear it and buy it here
- Redlight Woman