Satyricon – Nemesis Divina (Remastered)

 

Satyricon - Nemesis Divina reissue cover ghostcultmag
It was twenty years ago that
Satyricon had released their masterpiece Nemesis Divina. Most would agree that not only is Nemesis Divina one of their best albums (if not the best), but that it is also one of the best Black Metal albums to ever be recorded. To celebrate it’s twentieth anniversary, Satyricon have decide to release Nemesis Divina remastered through Century Media Records. Usually I’m rather iffy when it comes to a “remastered” release due to the fact that there is not much of a difference and in the end it feels more like a cash grab than anything.oncert. That would definitely be money well spend to attend that performance.

I would use the term remastered lightly with this release. While yes there is definitely more clarity to the music I wouldn’t say it’s much of an improvement. In fact at times you would really have to listen to notice any difference at all. To me it feels more like a re-release than a remastered edition, which comes right back to my point that it feels more of like a cash grab. If I had to pick the most notable tweak would be that on the original album, around the 2:36 mark of “The Dawn of A New Age” there is the sound of a sword being sheathed. The new remastered release has removed that sound effect. You could argue that it was a pointless addition in the first place. Problem is when you listen to a song so many times over twenty years and have grown used to it, it really throws you off to not hear it.

satyricon band 1996 ghostcultmag
The remastered Nemesis Divina in my opinion could possibly cause more disappointment than Satyricon would hope for. After their self-titled release in 2013, a decently large portion of fans are very reminiscent of their earlier sound such as Nemesis Divina. This release will just further those fans to hoping for a return to form. I am also assuming nearly all fans of Satyricon already own this album unless they’ve been living under a rock. If you already own Nemesis Divina then I don‘t believe you need this release unless you want to shell out the dough for a slight improvement. Especially if you’re one of those serious Black Metal fans that favor a more poor production quality much like early 1990’s Norwegian Black Metal.

I feel Satyricon should jump on the recent bandwagon and celebrate the twentieth anniversary by playing Nemesis Divina in its entirety in concert. That would definitely be money well spend to attend that performance.

6.0 / 10

DEREK RIX

 

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Destroyer 666 – Wildfire

Destroyer 666 Wildfire album cover ghostcultmag

After seven long years Destroyer 666 has finally released their fifth LP, Wildfire (Season of Mist Records). Usually a rather long dull in between releases is worrisome. Thankfully they did not lose a single step, in fact it feels that they’ve improved. As expected, they continues to push boundaries with their ability to blend Black and Thrash metal which continue to make them stand out. In my opinion, Wildfire is the masterpiece in their discography. I have always joked that Destroyer 666 spent absolutely no time deciding what their name will be, placing all focus on their sound. Glad to see that joke remains relevant.

As soon as you start the first track ‘Traitor’, you immediately know what you’re in for. After about a ten second classic metal scream, you’re treated as to what makes Destroyer 666 unique. ‘Traitor’ switching back and forth between Black and Thrash metal so fluently it still remains impressive after several spins. The second track ‘Live and Burn’ is a great example as to the sound they’ve created their own. What feels like sped up Black metal with a Thrash beat and gang vocals in the chorus. The next, ‘Artiglio Del Diavolo’, is obviously a showcase of their sound. Instrumental track that absolutely shatters the boundaries. This is the pinnacle of their sound.

The rest of the album remains on the same course. With lines blurred, this album grabs hold of you and never eases off to give you a moments rest. While this is essentially the same formula they have used in the past, it feels improved. Wildfire is a perfect example of that overused saying, “if it aint broke, don’t fix it”. I don’t feel that it will be a top 20 of 2016, but it’s definitely a contender to be one of the better releases this year. Truly the only really issue I have with this album is that I had to wait so long for it to be released. I guess you could argue you can’t rush near perfection.

8.0/10

DEREK RIX

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Like Rats – II

Like Rats II album cover ghostcultmag

Hailing from Chicago, Like Rats have come to utterly punish you into dust with their new LP. II (Southern Lord Records) could very well be one of the most crushing Death Metal releases in the past few years. Rather than the expected constant blast beasts and speeding riffs, they slowed it down to a rather mid-paced tempo. Essentially capturing what you could consider to be the soundtrack of punching someone in the face. II is an album that I found myself strumming my air guitar along to the constant pulverizing riffs multiple times. II definitely feels inspired by the earlier days of Death Metal. Early Celtic Frost being the shining example that comes to mind when looking for a comparison. You would expect no less for a band that shares members with Weekend Nachos.

Coming in around thirty-four minutes in length, II is a rather straight-forward album. As I mentioned, II is a mid-paced album that doesn’t slow down and rarely speeds up. You could say they played it safe with this release. There are no moments that will blow you away as to how they performed such a complicated riff and/or drum fill. I beg of you to not take it the wrong way as this is no complaint. After a few listens, I found this album to be rather enjoyable. Like Rats wasn’t aiming to be unique but they definitely recorded some refreshing death metal. In fact I feel it’s an album many may enjoy regardless where you elitist opinions lay. It’s a promising release for an up and coming band and I look forward to future material. 

Like Rats has created a bruising sound that they can build on and branch out. Keep your attention on this group.

 

7.0/10

DEREK RIX

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Rivers of Nihil – Monarchy

rivers of nihil monarchy album cover 2015

Rivers of Nihil have unleashed their sophomore effort, Monarchy (Metal Blade), onto the metal world. What an impact it will make, noticed or not. Monarchy wastes no time and neither will I. This could be one of the best metal albums released this year. Rather than fifty minutes of a constant snare and uninspiring distorted low tuned guitars Rivers of Nihil have really focused on expanding like many death metal acts today. Adding more atmosphere and a dynamic to keep a hold of you. As you continue to listen to Monarchy it evolves and shows you all the cards in its hand.

Kicking off with ‘Heirless’ expectations are high when even the instrumental introduction is impressive. A menacing and brooding build-up that hurtles you into ‘Perpetual Growth Machine’. Strong death metal in the beginning with a steady evolution as you inch closer to the five minute mark. Background ambiance help give it a real atmosphere and more powerful vibe. Closer to the end things get a bit more melodic teasing you that this won‘t be your usual death metal album. Much like ‘Perpetual Growth Machine’, Monarchy as a whole expands its boundaries as you continue closer to the end.

The first several tracks are death metal but at times dabble more in melodic death metal. There are moments where it will even be a bit more jazzy similar to prog. Once you hit track number eight, ‘Terrestria II: Thrive’, the more melodic side of Rivers of Nihil gets into the driver’s seat. ‘Terrestria II: Thrive’ really showing off their talents with multiple genres.

Overall Monarchy is a very impressive record. After a couple listens I can safely say this album will make my top ten metal album releases this year. Rivers of Nihil should be much larger than they are. They deserve your attention.

8.5/10

DEREK RIX

Hibria – Hibria

Hibria self titled album cover 2015

 

Brazil’s Hibria have released their new self-titled album from Test Your Metal Records, fifth in their discography. After having experimenting with their sound with their past release Hibria have returned more to their expected power metal influence though we are treated to heavy grit at times. Iuri Sanson’s soaring vocals backed up by technical guitar solos and drumming really help Hibria stand up against many of the other power metal bands through out the world. Songs such as the first track, ‘Pain’, are evidence of them looking to stand out even more. Much like your average heavy/power metal song until you get past the shredding guitar solo. The guitar work gets a bit more of a groove as it is then accompanied by what sounds like saxophones and trumpets. Unexpected and enjoyable. A risk that definitely paid off.

Abel Carmargo and Renato Osorio’s guitar work help the album as a whole grab the listener’s attention. No shortage of great riffs and technical solos. Whether it‘s high flying power metal or a more aggressive pounding, these two don‘t disappoint. ‘Tightrope’ has just flashes of a thrash vibe to it showing Hibria can definitely play material more aggressive. ‘Legacy’ is purely to showcase their ability to be a pure headbanger. The problem is I find the track to be the most underwhelming on the album. Especially Iuri Sanson‘s attempt at harsh vocals. Overall a disappointing track.

It’s a solid album. I also enjoyed their risk of incorporating the use of saxophones and trumpets during a guitar solo, albeit it felt a bit silly. It may be a bit unique, but not unique enough from other heavy/power metal acts.

 

6.5/10

DEREK RIX

Klogr – Make Your Stand EP

Kloger Make Your Stand EP cover 2015

Italian-American group Klogr have release their new EP Make Your Stand, and they really set expectations high on how to release an EP. It’s mostly due to the fact that along with the three brand new tracks, Make Your Stand also offers ten tracks from their past releases that was recorded live. It’s refreshing to see an EP that clocks in nearly at an hour. A live album and EP packed into one. Now how is the music?

 

Klogr play a form of alternative metal, walking along the thin line between rock and heavy metal. They remind me of the sound you can expect from a project involving Mark Tremonti, best example being Alter Bridge. You’ll definitely understand where I’m coming from once you hear the opening track ‘Breaking Down’. At first it sounds a bit thrashy, then switches to a much more melodic groove to compliment Rusty’s clear vocals. Like clockwork the song continues to switch between the two. The second track ‘Make Your Stand’ is much like the first with more of an alternative metal riff than thrash. The third and final new track ‘Breathing Heart’ has much more emotion and atmosphere. Could call it the token power ballad of the album.

I will say with the live portion of the album I have a nitpicky critique. It could translate well when you see them live in person, but listening to the EP there where moments where it didn’t feel live. The performance sounds so well polished, that at times it doesn’t even feel or sound like it was recorded live. I’m not much of a fan of alternative metal. I do however agree that Klogr are great at what they do, and if you enjoy alternative metal acts such as Alter Bridge, definitely give this band a shot.

6.5/10

DEREK RIX

The Sixxis – Hollow Shrine

the sixxis hollow shrine
The Sixxis have been gaining attention for some time, and now we finally see what they are capable of with their debut LP Hollow Shrine (Glassview Records). Produced by David Botrill (Tool, Muse) Hollow Shrine presents a core sound of progressive rock, yet it seems the band’s multiple influences have blended into one. Preventing their music from being just a one trick pony. It’s an album that many people may enjoy regardless of what their usual cup of tea is when it comes to rock and metal.

Hollow Shrine has many facets to it. Songs like ‘Waste of Time’ is pure prog rock with a soaring violin solo performed by front man Vladdy Iskhakov. Then we have ‘Long Ago’. The prog rock feel is there, but they’ve also incorporated a southern rock groove for an interesting combination. The final track ‘Weeping Willow Tree’ with the southern prog sound but is slowed down giving the track a real southern comfort feel. ‘Out Alive’ has more of a prog metal feel. The whole song is just one buildup to the final minute where it really kicks in a finishes with a great guitar solo.

The track that caught my interest the most was ‘Coke Can Steve’. An instrumental track that really showcases all the intrsuments that have managed to remain a presence throughout the entire album. A great prog metal track with each instrument taking center stage at times with drum fills and solos performed by guitars, bass, and violin. Hollow Shrine is finally topped off with Vladdy Iskhakov’s vocal range and ability. At times it may remind you of the late Layne Staley, and other times he hits extended higher or more lower emotional pitches to really get across the emotion or intensity of the music.

I was overall surprised by Hollow Shrine, especially after not being aware of this group. This again feels like an album that many people regardless of their preferred brutality or emotions in music, may enjoy.

7.5/10

DEREK RIX

Morbid Evils – In Hate With the Burning World

morbid evils in hate with a burning world album cover 2015

 

 

Keijo Niinimaa, the vocalist behind Finland’s grindcore group Rotten Sound, has taken his talents to a new sludge/doom metal project. Morbid Evils have released their debut album In Hate With the Burning World and it is an absolute juggernaut. This is a pure heavyweight that demands your attention.

From beginning to end the album drags the listener through pure destruction and never lets up. With the opening track ‘Cruel’ you’re treated to a steady build-up that leads into a crushing riff that could be paired with the stomping of elephants marching. About halfway through the track, the drone aspect picks up a bit of a groove making it very difficult to keep your head from moving in pace.

The next track ‘Crippled’ has more of a haunting groove to it, yet the brutality remains. This groove showcases the freshness of this album, keeping it from becoming just another boring and uninteresting doom album laden with just a simple chugging riff. My favorite track, and unfortunately the shortest of the album, would be ‘South of Hell’. Named rightly so this album will drag you down to the bowels and even further than where the sinners dwell.

In Hate With the Burning World is one hell of a debut release. Dare I say even better than all material Niinimaa created with Rotten Sound? I feel unfortunate that they ended up with the name Morbid Evils, as their sound to me really represents a creature such as a Mastodon or Behemoth. Recently it feels that doom metal has been gaining more of a following, and this album will just strengthen that interest and lust for the sound of dismemberment.

8.0/10

DEREK RIX

 

Immortal Randy Rhoads – The Ultimate Tribute

immortal randy rhoads the ultimate tribute

Just over thirty-three years ago we lost easily one of the most legendary guitarists to grace the Heavy Metal genre. Recording only two albums each with Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osbourne, Randy Rhoads had created guitar riffs and solos that would stand the test of time. Unless they’ve been living under a rock I’m sure the average person could easily recall how the song ‘Crazy Train’ goes. With this much fame still held to his name, it’s not too surprising to see a tribute album. I am speaking of the Immortal Randy Rhoads The Ultimate Tribute (UDR) album.

Right from the start, I began to assume I was in for a nightmare. ‘Crazy Train’ is the first track. Featuring Serj Tankian of System of a Down, it’s about as awkward of a fit as you would expect. It’s not necessarily horrible, but he feels more like a guy at your local karaoke bar. It could be that I was just distracted by the very unfortunate choice for lead guitar. To me one of the most overrated guitar players out there, it’s none other than Tom Morello. He fills the classic with his usual incorporation of feedback and picking/tapping. It’s a bitter pill to swallow when you finally get to the solo just to hear he completely overwhelmed it with his own unique playing. Sounding more like your Atari is skipping beats rather than slightly resembling what may be considered Rhoads most classic guitar solo.

It’s only improvement from this point on right? Couldn’t possibly get any worse? Of the ten remaining tracks, Tim “Ripper” Owens handled vocals. Not a bad choice as his vocal ability is a good fit. But they settled on him for eight of the eleven tracks? Why not try and spice things up? Especially if you’re going to go with the disappointing choice of Serj. The main issue that I have with Owens is that the guitar players that he was paired with played their role note for note, tempo, and tuning just as in the originals. It’s a collection of covers that make you feel compelled to just return to the classic tracks instead.

As with most people I’m sure, I can be rather shallow when it comes to a cover song. Played note for note with the same pace and similar tuning, why bother? When you rework the song into your “signature” sound to the point that it doesn’t in any way resemble the original, why bother? Just a slight change can make the cover that much more enjoyable, which leads me to the one track that stands out. The only track that grabbed my attention and held it tight was ‘Mr. Crowley’ featuring Chuck Billy (Testament) on vocals. That unique, strong, and easily recognizable voice make this the lone track that is a stand out.

Immortal Randy Rhoads: The Ultimate Tribute is not a terrible album, but I would remove ultimate from the title. You finish the album with a feeling that this was a significant loss of great potential. Want to really pay the ultimate tribute to Randy Rhoads? Continue to enjoy the classics that he himself recorded.

6.0/10

DEREK RIX

Dr. Living Dead – Crush the Sublime Gods

dr living dead album cover

 

My first album review with Ghost Cult Mag, and I’m quickly reminded of the great perk when it comes to this line of work. Finding enjoyable bands you may not of found otherwise. Example being the new LP, Crush the Sublime Gods (Century Media), by Sweden’s Dr. Living Dead. Crush The Sublime Gods is very reminiscent of early work by such acts as Stormtroopers of Death, Anthrax, and Suicidal Tendencies. Dr. Living Dead prove classic Crossover Thrash is as strong as ever, and shows no sign of slowing down. This is by no means anything original or ground-breaking, but don’t take it as I am belittling the band. As the saying goes, you can’t fix what isn’t broken.

With a new vocalist and drummer joining Dr. Living Dead in the past couple years,Crush the Sublime Godsproves they’ve clearly had chemistry from the start. From fast riffs to a slow stomp, gang chants galore, and one track even being a Thrash power ballad (‘Salvation’), this album is a complete package. The lyrical content is a bit tongue-in-cheek as it pays homage to classic 80’s horror films. Most obvious one being the track ‘Scanners’, Inspired by the 1981 filmScanners. One of my personal favorites off the album. The lyrics tell the story of those with incredibly strong telekinetic powers known asScanners, who use their powers to deadly effects. All during fast riffs and a familiar thrash beat. Being a fan of the movie the lyrics “We’ll f**k your brain dry” during a break down was far too enjoyable for me. ‘No Way Out’ slows down a bit with a more melodic groove with clear vocals, overall feel of classic Suicidal Tendencies.

Overall I enjoyed Crush the Sublime Gods, and am now inclined to check out the rest of the discography from Dr. Living Dead. As they only formed in 2007, they easily join modern bands such as Municipal Waste as bands that are keeping Thrash a true force in the metal community. I feel like if this album was released twenty years ago, everyone would of heard of it. It would be surprising to me if anyone that is a fan of Thrash did not enjoy this band or album, so I give a strong recommendation.

 

7.0/10

WORDS BY DEREK RIX