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[review] VENOM – From The Very Depths (2015)

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VENOM
From The Very Depths
(Spinefarm Records / 2015)
http://www.venomslegions.com

There are bands which are essential pieces in this great universal puzzle that is our life and Venom are, for me and for many others, one of these bands, one of those leading names that helped lift the safe walls of our world Heavy Metal world, that helped us to endure nights and days of solitude in our room, while also served as the soundtrack to our fantasies and our air guitar sessions on top of the bed while screaming loudly ‘Lay down your souls to the Gods Rock ‘n’ Roll!!’. I don’t think there are many people in the world that don’t pull out their best imaginary guitar while hearing such songs as ‘Black Metal’, ‘Countess Bathory’ or ‘Seven Gates of Hell’!

But these are issues of an important past and we interested in what VENOM has to offer us now, especially those who, like me, have been keeping a little distance from the band’s releases, just scratching a bit of each surface, since the time of “Prime Evil”! The question to ask is whether VENOM can still excite us the same way they did when we were teenagers, if there is still some kind of enchantment left in Cronos’ voice, or time and age brought stagnation and the passive survival on the account of a legendary past and a reputation we all want to keep forever. These are never easy questions to answer.

However, “From the Very Depths” can still bring a little of all that VENOM were and are today. The familiar sound of Cronos’ dirty bass is present. Lyrics that still tempt us to taste the dark side of things are also here. As well as some memorable songs that are sure to stay for the future to come and that without any doubt, will be made mandatory in their shows. Among some more fast and energetic moments as ‘The Death of Rock’ n ‘Roll’, ‘Long Haired Punks’ or ‘Grinding Teeth’ (an awesome song), there is still plenty room left for other tracks with less attack and more groove as is the case of ‘Stigmata Satanas’ or ‘Mephistopheles’. In any of these cases, we can feel a strong connection to the legacy in what this band’s career is based upon, one that can still thrive without any problems with other less common songs as ‘Smoke’ or ‘Evil Law’, and without ever losing the essence or the charisma of such an important institution and all it represents for Heavy Metal.

[reviewed by: Rui Marujo]

[review] LORD DYING – Poisoned Altars (2015)

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LORD DYING
Poisoned Altars
(Relapse Records / 2015)
https://www.facebook.com/LordDying

Things are no longer as they were a few years ago and, these days, getting the sound of a band right can become a real endeavor. Of course, we always try to simplify every description because, after all, it’s all rock ‘n roll or, in this particular case, heavy metal. After all, saying that LORD DYING only plays heavy metal would reduce everything to a common denominator, since the music they present in their second album has its roots in many different territories and provides us with influences coming from other scenes as well, which may well paint a good picture of the trademark sound image that the Portland band wants to leave behind.

“Poisoned Altars” is not your typical classic heavy metal record, who lives nearby and in the shadow of the great metal names up in the Metal Olympus. LORD DYING do not sound like Judas Priest, or to any other band that came from that crop of names that set the way for decades of music we appreciate so much. This band collects the fruits of these decades and returns them in their songs. It is still heavy metal, but depending much more on the weight and volume of their riffs. It’s all much more massive, thicker. The paths that bring in the neighborhoods of classic doom combined with a few moments that hint of hardcore (‘Sucking at the Teat of the She-Beast’) are fused here. This is the way that pulls them side by side, with names like High On Fire, Crowbar or Red Fang, for example, with Aaron Beam even giving a hand on the song ‘An Open Sore’!

“Poisoned Altars” thirty-five minutes may not hold the same amount of memorable moments present in some of the work of their peers, but it is still a very strong album within the genre and if there are things that are always welcomed around here are strong albums like this!

[reviewed by: Rui Marujo]

[review] LELAHELL – Al Insane… The (Re)Birth of Abderrahmane (2014)

@sonoros - LELAHELL - Al Insane... The (Re)Birth of Abderrahmane (2014)

LELAHELL
Al Insane… The (Re)Birth of Abderrahmane
(Horror Pain Gore Death Productions / 2014)
https://www.facebook.com/Lelahell

Emerging from the creative mind of Redouane Aouameur, an active member of the Algerian underground scene once member of projects like Neanderthalia, Litham, Carnavage or Devast, the first album from the band LELAHELL is among us, where we can also find the bassist and drummer of black metal band Barbaros, the other Redouane partners in this journey of death metal filled blastbeats and where is still enough space fore some melodies that hold LELAHELL firmly to their North African Maghreb roots.

This space allows the melodies to leave their mark into the aggressiveness of their songs, but is also sufficiently broad to allow some of the rhythms to be guided by this musical wealth. Given that we are talking about a death metal album that quite underlines its aggressive content, in terms of speed and vocal terms, this influence is welcomed as it allows a slightly increase in the landscape in which this band presents its music and is a good step into the general direction of escaping a stagnant release.

The list of influences or if you prefer, the guidelines that LELAHELL features to help us frame this record into our minds, mentions several well known names of the world’s death metal scene but, in this writer’s opinion, “Al Insane …” is a piece that presents ten songs mixing between Melechesh and Decapitated, between the heavyness and pace of the Polish band and some of the more melodic game Ashmedi’s band brings to the table! Recommended for those who wish to explore death metal that falls outside the usual continental axis and want to start with a good record.

[reviewed by: Rui Marujo]

[review] SPIDERS – Shake Electric (2014)

@sonoros - SPIDERS - Shake Electric (2014)

SPIDERS
Shake Electric
(Spinefarm Records / 2014)
https://www.facebook.com/wearespiders

One of the most common things people who listen and talk about music tend to mention is that everything works in circles and sooner or later, there is a genre, a certain kind of bands, some wave that’s going to be in the eye of everyone’s attention and those bands will receive every compliment from those who make a living or spent their free time (like myself) listening and writing about bands and the free running tendencies on those cultural fields of today. With this kind of assumption it’s inevitable to also stumble upon the nasty habit of looking down on bands that, with or without cycles, with or without trendiness trains to catch, there are those around who still keep loyal to their music and couldn’t be less worried about the fact of being placed inside the same bag of trending bands or not. It’s unfair because there are a lot of bands out there making very good things and not getting enough credit for it.

This kind of initial lament came up following plenty of minutes thinking about “Shake Electric”, the latest album from the Swedish band SPIDERS, and this kind of music that may sound dated and not aligned with the modern times and sounds of these days. There’s a very strong line keeping SPIDERS connected to past decades but that’s exactly what gives them and this record a strong sense of quality. Because this line is holding them back there, but it’s not stopping them of playing with the different sensibilities found in music influenced by past ages of rock while still keeping faithful to all the modern alternative music demands. That’s why they offer us simple guitar parts who live like a small virus, steadily spreading around our perception and settling inside without us knowing what is happening. That’s why the voices are clean and melodic, wrapped in a seventies aura and supported by strong choruses, written to be shared with those who share this kind of affection for timeless music. That’s also why this record’s production is clear and crystal enough for us to absorb all this.

I could write up a small memory exercise here, trying to describe the vocalist gallery in which Ann-Sofie could feel right at home, all the genres that SPIDERS bring to life in different moments of their songs or how easy their references can jump between such different places like heavy rock and soul, proto-punk and the typical hard-rock of that curve when you’re leaving the seventies and heading up straight into the eighties, but the best exercise that any one of us can do is to grab this record and listen to it several times, knowing that it will sound good in each and every spin.

[reviewed by: Rui Marujo]

[review] LORD OF PAGATHORN – Nekros Philia (2014)

# LORD OF PAGATHORN - Nekros Philia (2014)

LORD OF PAGATHORN
Nekros Philia
(Woodcut Records / 2014)
https://www.facebook.com/msilihporcen

Twenty-two years after its formation, the Finns LORD OF PAGATHORN finally arrive to the always desired debut album! Not that the band has been sitting comfortably, waiting for his music and philosophy to get the the attention of someone and then to materialize all this in a full-length record. Over all these years, the band has been releasing some demos that have left their mark for some and passed alongside many. The years 1993, 1994 and 2010 saw the release of these recordings and in 2012 came “Shine Through My Scars, Morning Star!”, a two songs EP that preceded the release of this album.

Judging by the way how their songs are presented, “Nekros Philia” plays almost like a concept album, divided into several chapters, nearly all of them played with an aggressiveness and anger that transpires with every new song. Until we get to ‘Chapter VII pt.1 The Awakening’, we get the impression that LORD OF PAGATHORN only feel comfortable if their music is fast and sweating black metal from every pore! Of course, there are some moments here and there where different speeds punctuate, but the norm is not having to wait for anyone and attack the delivery poignantly. The interludes allow us a little breathing.

As we hear “Nekros Philia” it reveals itself as a solid record. It may not be a revolutionary entry, since it remains within the usual black metal standards but, even contained within this universe, the songs are robust and the band plays them strongly and they even offer some moments that linger after once the record is finished.

[reviewed by: Rui Marujo]

[review] KREYSKULL – Tower Witch (2014)

# KREYSKULL - Tower Witch (2014)

KREYSKULL
Tower Witch
(Inverse Records / 2014)
https://www.facebook.com/kreyskull

When a band presents his influences and we notice that they come from the altars of such sacred names as Black Sabbath, Pentagram or Trouble, we can not avoid some concern over the end result. It is necessary that a number of factors are able to align positively, because we are talking about pillars of an entire genre. This is a major challenge that will always be placed in front of the Finns KREYSKULL. How to build and present a back catalog that can please the fans of the bands mentioned initially?

KREYSKULL seem to have the perfect idea of all these variables and with this second album they bring the world of heavy rock a new batch of songs which we have no trouble in associating periods and classic styles of the bands in which they get inspired. However, the added value of the Finns, one that allows them to escape the strings of easy emulation and cheap tribute, is the fact that they can include some passages closer to jazz structures through-out the strong riffs and choruses that stay within your ears. It becomes an obvious attempt to improve the experience of each song, adding pieces that will keep things alive and interesting. I’m not talking about heavy rock experimentalists, but songs that work seamlessly with these associations, as it happens with the case of ‘Abomination Jungle’.

“Tower Witch” visits all these references, between Sabbath’s heavy rock and the blues rock of Hendrix, the more jazzy passages and some good hooks that are thrown in the way, just to remind us what we’re doing here, as songs like ‘The Man Who Lived Before ” or ” Absolute Evil Blues’ keep playing on. Good music is still out there and we are here to enjoy it.

[reviewed by: Rui Marujo]