Late last year we shared the news that Massachusetts Blackened Thrash band Black Mass was dropping a new album this winter, and now the time is nigh! Their sophomore album Warlust arrives later this week, February 15th via Iron Shield Records/Timeworn Records. We’ve heard it already and it is nothing but bangers! The band draws influences from classic Thrash, NWOBHM Trad-style bands, old-school Death Metal, and enough modern kvlt metal references in their songs to spin your head around and make you praise the great Satan. Ghost Cult is proud to share the full album stream with you now, and you can pre-order Warlust at the link below! Continue reading →
A cold nocturnal Scandinavian wind blows; icy tendrils stabbing southwards, searching, seeking for blackened hearts to infect. The hosts wait, apprehensive, yet welcoming, ideas already pregnant. The frost-bitten hunter swirls at first, before plunging its whole intent deep into the waiting prey. Saarbrücken, Germany, nominally a thriving, modern economic centre, is now the scene for the cultivation of a different type of essence, for that which grows inside it is not the spirit of commerce, but The Spirit of melodic blackened metal. Continue reading →
In the nearly forty years of thrash metal history, there have been a lot of changes to the sonic map. Aggression, Ferocity. Nihilism. Angst. Triumph. Agony. These are some of the ingredients that fueled our collective fires and stoked this furnace ever since. Fifteen years ago, there was a mini-movement of “neo-thrash” bands in love with the classic style and maybe marrying in a more late 80s crossover flavor as well. Newer bands were born, and while some died on the vine, other had come to rise. One such band is Black Fast, From the toughness of their St. Louis roots to their never compromising style, they have been trying to carve a truly original piece of the landscape for themselves. On their new album Spectre of Ruin (eOne), they have finally moved away from the pack.Continue reading →
Mid-western blackened death metallers Skeltonwitch have parted ways with drummer Dustin Boltjes. The band has also announced Jon Rice (Scorpion Child, ex-Job For A Cowboy) will take over duties behind the kit for their upcoming tour with Obituary. Continue reading →
Formed in Linköping, Sweden twenty years ago, Witchery were born from the ashes of cult metal act Satanic Slaughter and have spent the last two decades writing joyful little (de)compositions about all things evil and dead. Or both… After a change in personnel for previous release, In His Infernal Majesty’s Service, the Blackened Thrash act are back with the same line-up to unleash their seventh full-length album, I Am Legion (both Century Media), and to absolutely no-one’s surprise, evil and death remain high on the list of subjects covered.Continue reading →
When you see bands described as “genre-defining” or “indescribable”, the usual outcome is that they’ve got the odd weird bit, or they’ve bolted some styles together that are strange bed-fellows, yet when that gaze of Sauron is brought to bear on Immortal Birdit holds truer than most, as Empress/Abscess (Broken Limbs/Manatee Rampage) builds on the promise of their self-released debut EP Akrasia, and sees them moulding their ideas into more focused, while concurrently increasingly divergent from each other, beings.
The brainchild of Rae Amitay, who has relinquished duel duties to focus purely on vocals with Garry Naples picking up the varied tempos from behind the drumkit, and guitarist Evan Berry,Immortal Bird take influence from all manner of fuels including sludge flecked crusty punk (‘Neoplastic’) controlled melodic black(ened) metal (‘Saprophyte’ and ‘To A Watery Grave’) and Scandinavian death rock (‘Sycophant’), while opening their scarred arms to embrace mid-tempo discordant jangles, djent shudders and thrashing, all supporting Amitay’s envenomed snarl and captured in a granite encased production courtesy of Pete Grossman (Veil of Maya, Weekend Nachos) and mixed by Colin Marston (yes, he of Krallice); the pair finding the requisite abrasiveness of tone, so that each note is clear, defined and scouring your inner ear like sandpaper on rough bark.
All this is clasped together by an impressive force of personality that allows the entity to be Immortal Bird all at the same time, yet, like an ethereal membrane holding together a writhing mass of hungry, angry bacteria (should said bacteria be sentient), listening to Empress/Abscess means being subjected to a complicated relationship as the brain seeks to strengthen its hold on the music within, to find hooks and make sense, to strengthen its ability to contain the multitude of collisions that ultimately lead to breaches, and a feeling of the parts, actually, being greater than the whole… as a collective organism, it just doesn’t quite all work, regardless of the potency of each of the contained pieces.
There is plenty to enrich within this thirty minute explosion of anger, sorrow and frictional metallic exploration, and immortality has to begin somewhere. With the open minded and progressive, musically dissonant talents needed to nurture the host already in situ, once this ornithological wonder fully spreads its wings in years to come, it will display a most vitriolic and impressive plumage. The chick just needs time to grow.
Merch tables at MDF 13, by Hillarie Jason Crowd shot at MDF 13, by Hillarie Jason Photography Vallenfyre, by Hillarie Jason Photography
After a quick breakfast at the hotel and going over merch purchased from the previous day, we made our way out to the main venue, The Edison Lot. The Edison Lot is the center of Maryland Deathfest for the second year in a row and I do not see this changing any time soon. The lot is located underneath the freeway in a parking lot of what appeared to be a storage unit facility. On opposite ends of the lot were both stages that alternate back and forth between one stage sound checking and the other stage having a band performing. Right next to both stages were conveniently placed stations to purchase beer, water, and other beverages. On the opposite side of the stages were food vendors, merch vendors, and a corner dedicated to Port-A-Potties. The food vendors, which were arguably on the expensive side, did offer great variety. The best food vendor was a toss-up between the taco stand and the BBQ truck. The taco stand had superb pork tacos with a slew of dressings on it (one of which was “pure evil”). A friend of mine got the goat tacos and those were reportedly amazing as well. The BBQ truck served a slew of different BBQ favorites, but I went with the pulled pork sandwich. On a table next to the truck were a small selection of different sauces. My favorite was the spiciest selection, “Fuck” Sauce. I feel the sauce earned this name for a multitude of reasons, all having to do with people saying “Fuck” after consuming this hellish sauce. As for the merch vendors, I felt as if I had died and gone to metal heaven. Literally an alley of tents was before me. Each tent contained various shirts, patches, hats, scarves, pins, vinyl, and so on and so forth. In fact, there was even a vendor that was selling, um, “glassware”. After raiding the alley and filling my messenger bag with merch, it was time to really turn my attention to some of the bands that were playing.
Aura Noir, by Hillarie Jason Photography
At this point, I had just enough time to get a great spot for Vallenfyre who were just coming off of the Decibel Magazine tour. Turnout for them was great which I was happy to see. Right after them, my group all ventured over to the Baltimore Soundstage to catch F.I.D. (Flagitious Idiosyncrasy in the Dilapidation). The Japanese grindcore band ripped apart the Soundstage and had quite the turnout for mid-day. Right after this, I opted to return to Edison for the remained of the evening. Aura Noir, Suffocation, and Obituary all put on great sets with great pops from all in attendance. However, as good as these bands were, everyone at the Edison Lot was waiting for Bloodbath to make their US début. The Swedish super group delivered an amazing set ranging across their whole discography. Obviously the encore set opener, ‘Eaten’, got the biggest pop of the night. The walk back to the hotel felt almost victorious knowing I had just seen the only US appearance Bloodbath has ever made. After a quick switch of rooms at the hotel due to the lock mechanism in the door breaking, it was off to bed to rest up for another crazy day!
Lock Up, by Hillarie Jason Photography
Napalm Death, by Hillarie Jason Photography Suffocation, by Hillarie Jason Photography Bloodbath, by Hillarie Jason Photography
Say the words ‘black/thrash’ and the images are instant; bullet belts, leather, re-heated Venom riffs and a slightly worrying pre-occupation with witches, necrophilia, the devil and his merry pals. Greece’s Satan’s Wrath is no exception. They heartily embrace all the clichés of this dirty genre and probably view musical progression like an invitation to a Christian poetry reading. However, they are blessed (by Satan, naturally) with a fiendish musical talent and with third album Die Evil (Metal Blade) have pretty much recorded an unofficial soundtrack to Hammer Horror classic The Devil RidesOut if it were ever to be re-made with Fenriz as the director.
Led by former Electric Wizard bassist Tas Danazoglou, a man with more facial tattoos than Britain has Lib Dem MP’s, Satan’s Wrath, as previously mentioned, deal in serrated blackened thrash riffs that race along like bats out of hell, gruff, barked vocals aided by a liberal dose of reverb, and the belief that metal became irrelevant when more than a dozen people became aware of Bulldozer’s existence. However, they have cast their yellow eyes a few years further back than the mid 80s as demonstrated by the strong NWOBHM influence captured throughout Die Evil, ensuring things don’t get too one dimensional. This is best demonstrated on ‘Coffinlust’, which shamelessly recycles the riff to ‘Two Minutes to Midnight’. Of course, it’s catchier than the common cold.
Whether it’s the frequent over-the-top guitar solos that erupt like grasping hands from a shallow grave, the rampant, galloping riffs on the likes of ‘Raised on Sabbaths’ and ‘Satanic War’ that defy you not to headbang and claw the air like a 14 year old kid who’s just discovered Slayer, or the goofy, trashy horror vibes that just don’t stop being old, Satan’s Wrath may be a one trick pony, but they’re one that gives one hell of a kick. Forget progress, just stick on Die Evil and submit to Satan. It’s the only way.
After subjecting us to a pointless intro that neither builds tension nor sets up the rest of the album (why do bands do this?) Death Curse (Dark Descent) hurtles into the title track with a feral blackened thrash riff that sets the tone for what is to follow over the remaining 35 minutes, a Repulsion inspired rager with a driving D-beat.
With deathly intent, the guitars of Hell Messiah and the wonderfully named C.C. DeKill rage and bluster through the rest of the album in the vein of Sodom, Venom and Kreator, with the odd nod to more Black Metal Bathory, particularly the middle section of ‘Unending Lust For Evil’.
It’s easy to feel this is nothing new, but the band would undoubtedly feel that “something new” is not the point, the point is worshipping at the altar of the old-school. Interestingly, though it is when Gravehill change things up that they reap the benefits, launching into a punky, bass-led ‘Fear The Reaper’, or slowing things down to an Autopsy slab-heavy stab for ‘Open Their Throats’ that they really distinguish themselves.
The problem for Gravehill is that there are too many bands around doing this. Some have been doing it for 30 years and are well established and worshipped, others are just better (Skeletonwitch, Aura Noir). There’s plenty of endeavour and spirit evident on Death Curse but with Mike Abomination’s vocals missing the mark and being unintentionally funny as his delivery turns into a weak throaty gargle more often than he hits the beastly roars, Gravehill have some work to do still.
For such a raw and energetic album Death Curse is well produced, which, while giving the riffs added “neck” and beef, further highlights Abomination’s short-comings, as he’s well and truly shown up by Kam Lee (Massacre) on ‘Unending Lust…’.
Yet, you feel Gravehill don’t care. The core of their ethos is middle-finger up and tongue in cheek. They’re happy churning out 30 year old riffs in homage to their heroes, wearing their leather, bullets and spikes.