REVIEW: Maryland Deathfest 2019

Maryland Deathfest held their annual festival in the venerable city of Baltimore a few weeks back. The four-day is one of the best-run independent underground metal festivals in the world. As usual Ghost Cult was on hand for the festivities, with Hillarie Jason bringing you her spectacular eye on bands through photos.  Continue reading

Light This City – Terminal Bloom

Sometimes you don’t know you miss a band until you remember they’ve been gone.  For California’s Light This City, it’s been over eight years since they broke up. Then they put out a new album in Terminal Bloom (Creator- Destructor) and it sounds like they never left. Plus the production is a killer. It sounds clean and gritty at the same time. Zach Ohren has once again produced a melodic thrash and death metal masterpiece.

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King Parrot – Ugly Produce

Not that I’ve ever thought about this musical cocktail, but what would happen if you took Slayer, Napalm Death and added a dash of Burnt By The Sun and strained into a Collins glass? The result and subsequent hangover could be downright frightening or approximate what Australia’s King Parrot have produced on Ugly Produce (Housecore Records). If that description borders on hyperbole for you, fuck off for questioning me, and I politely urge you to spare a half an hour and listen. Continue reading

The Final Lineup For The Mass Destruction Metal Fest Is Here

The inaugural Mass Destruction Metal Fest will be taking place on November 3rd-4th at The Loft @ Center Stage in Atlanta, Georgia. The initial lineup had extreme metal fans racing to get tickets, and now that the final lineup has been announced, tickets are sure to sell out quick. Continue reading

Keep of Kalessin – Epistemology

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With the departure of long-time vocalist and fan favourite Thebon in 2013 as well as the inevitable backlash from the trve kvlt brigade after flirtations with that most Satanic of institutions Eurovision; the future was not looking bright for Keep of Kalessin. The gap was widening since previous album Reptilian in 2010 and many thought the band had blown it, a depressing development after their successful rebirth in 2003. However, founding member Obsidian Claw refused to admit defeat and after assuming vocal duties has released sixth full-length Epistemology (both Indie Recordings) along with seasoned veterans Vyl and Wizziac along for the ride. It’s a decision that looks set to pay off for the trio, for they have recorded one absolute belter of an album.

For those who would rather cut off their own nuts then listen to another turgid Darkthrone rip-off with an artificially engineered ‘raw’ production job or who refuse to accept that only one-man losers who have never got past copy-and-paste Burzum worship have a monopoly on black metal, Keep of Kalessin are the band for you. Firmly rooted in the melodic side of the genre, although crucially leaving the dual-lead guitars to the Dissection fan boys, the band knows how to pen relatively straightforward compositions that deftly merge brutality and bombast. In short, they are the band that Dimmu Borgir should have become after Death Cult Armageddon (Nuclear Blast). Factor in a high quality, widescreen production job that makes the bass-drum sound like a jack hammer and gives the wailing leads a truly grandiose feel, and you have all the ingredients for a stone-cold classic.

With pretty much all tracks, from the soaring clean vocals and brutal guitar lines of nine-minute opener ‘The Spiritual Relief’ to the choppy melo-death workout of the closing title, following the same expertly written path of pomp and bludgeon, Epistemology may appall traditionalists but will delight those who like to look to the stars as well as into the pits of hell. Thanks for sticking around, guys.

 

8.0/10

Keep of Kalessin on Facebook

 

JAMES CONWAY

 

Goatwhore – Constricting Rage of the Merciless

Goatwhore album cover 2014

 

Goatwhore conjures a musical sound to mind the minute read their name or say it aloud. You know what it stands for, before the words roll off of your tongue. Few modern bands have the grit and the greatness to remain consistently heavy in the face of rising popularity. They are in many ways the Motörhead of their musical generation: without compromise and weakness…. a band that can do no wrong for fans across all of metals fiefdoms and cliques. Certainly there are no Goatwhore haters, only people unaware of them, yet. Maintaining the balance of their message and the quality of their songcraft is the likely secret to their success, beyond some sacred pact with dark forces. Every album is different from the last, yet they never went soft or sold out like some others have. On Constricting Rage of the Merciless (Metal Blade), their sixth album in their 16-year career, Goatwhore rolls up their spiked-sleeves and smashes you in the mouth once again. And you will love it!

 

Where 2012’s Blood for the Master was a little more nuanced and throwback focused, Constricting Rage of the Merciless kicks you with jackbooted foot and maintains the savagery all the way through. The new album has more than a pointed step towards their blackened death metal history, but also carries with it the continued evolution of the sound of recent releases. Opening track ‘Poisonous Existence in Reawakening’ will crush your ear holes with extreme prejudice. Unrelenting blastbeats, deathly sick riffs and the masterful vocals of Rev. L. Ben Falgoust III will make you smile, unless you are dead. In typical fashion for this act, most of the tracks are tight, average under four-minutes each, and have zero B.S. about them. The majestically brutal ‘Unraveling Paradise’ has no less than four different riffs in the song, all of them amazing. Sammy Duet doesn’t rely as much on thrashy pedaling this time around, coming up with some inventive licks and whirling motifs, all that would shame some of the best tech death bands by the way.

 

As was the case on the last album, drummer Zack Simmons demolishes expectations and his kit on every song, inspiring much headbanging and fist-banging. If you have seen the band live, you know Zack is a machine who plays equally well on wax. Tracks such as ‘Baring Teeth for Revolt’ and ‘Reanimated Sacrifice’ are a drum fanatics wet dream. ‘Reanimated…’ as on several tracks herein, sees Rev. Ben switch up his style and make use of different parts of his register vocally. Impressive stuff. Also chipping in with a great chopping riff and a slick, short solo is Duet once again, who continues to enthrall listeners year after year.

 

The bleak and harsh ‘Heaven’s Crumbling Walls of Pity’ flexes the bands black metal muscles again, with a little extra something grim on top. It’s almost like a proggy black metal song you might expect from Ihsahn’s solo work. The ending stanzas are full of cool chords and grooving beats. ‘Cold Earth In Dying Flesh’ is another in a litany of standout, mid-album cuts. It has an eerie intro to set the mood. Not unlike a horror movie soundtrack theme, this slow to simmer beast machine of a song is a great change of pace. Falgoust again just bellows with some of the best vocals he’s ever done. It’s also the longest track on the album; not an epic in length, but with high quality grooves more associated with their other swampy NOLA brethren. When it finally launches into breakneck death thrash territory mid-song, it takes the track to another level without losing the story.

 

‘FBS’ was first played live on the Behemoth tour this spring and is a typical, circle-pit inducing song if there is one on this album. Full of rawness, with two more sweet solos from Sammy. It’s almost punk without being punk, or punk without too much crust. ‘Nocturnal Conjuration of the Accursed’ continues the trend of heady lyrics, and heavy on the evil sounds that is the bands trademark. There is even a little classic metal fun of galloping riffs and thematic soloing. ‘Schadenfreude’ is another gruesome masterpiece. Black metal, death metal and thrash all come together, but in a sensible way you could almost call it American Blackened Thrash. As a style, this would be a worthy counterpart to the Death `n Roll of Scandinavian bands, but much, much more brutal. ‘Schadenfreude’ is also a lyrical masterpiece, with the title defined as enjoying the suffering of others, in this case those whom most deserve it. The album closes with the fitting ‘Externalize this Hidden Savagery’ and sums up the entire album’s intent quite well before its final notes ring out.

 

Goatwhore has made an album nearly worthy of the best work of their career, even though it’s on the short side at under 40 minutes. I doubt you will find a more righteously hostile, fun, and well made album from another heavy band in 2014.

 

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9.0/10

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KEITH (KEEFY) CHACHKES