ALBUM REVIEW: Ex Deo – The Thirteen Years of Nero


Four years after regaling us with stories of Carthaginian General Hannibal on The Immortal Wars (Napalm Records) Canadian/Italian death metal act Ex Deo return with more tales of ancient Rome on fourth full length release The Thirteen Years of Nero (also Napalm). As its title suggests, the central theme this time is the reign of Imperator Nero Cladius Divi Claudius filius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (or plain old Emperor Nero to his friends) and the matricide, uxoricide, blood, fire and death which followed him.

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In Flames Shares New Lyric Video For “Voices”, Hosting Second Annual Borgholm Brinner Fest This Weekend


In Flames have shared the lyric video for the lead track off of their album I, The Mask (Nuclear Blast/Eleven Seven Music Group), ‘Voices’. The band headlines their second annual Borgholm Brinner festival this weekend August 2nd and 3rd, on the isle of Öland in Sweden. In Flames will perform two sets each day, along with an amazing lineup curated by the band. See the bill below.Continue reading


Cracked Machine – The Call Of The Void


The West Country, the South East corner of England famed for its history and beauty, is also renowned for producing devastating heaviness with a soupçon of versatility. Step forward Cracked Machine who, since emerging from Wiltshire in 2015, have surfed both cosmos and deserts out of the reach of radar.Continue reading


Ævangelist – Matricide In The Temple Of Omega


The incredible productivity of transatlantic duo Ævangelist – six albums and a host of EPs littering its eight-year existence – is matched only by the nerve-shredding nature of the music. The Blackened Death chaos mirrors the evil and pestilence rife in today’s inhumane, technical age, and this is further reflected in latest album Matricide in the Temple of Omega (I, Voidhanger Records).Continue reading


Howls of Ebb – Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows


Howls of Ebb - Cursus Impasse The Pendlomic Vows cover ghostcultmag

Howls of Ebb’s latest album Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows (I, Voidhanger/Nuclear War Now) is monster of an album. Starting off with track ‘The 6th Octopul’th Grin’ which shows a menacing display of low-end power and ferocity: gurgling death growls and blackened guitar. There’s a real textural vibe to it, reminiscent of Portal, with a mix of blackened death metal and discordant jazz.

The confident predatory swagger of the drumming provides a framework for sheer sonic madness. The atmosphere is permeated with unique riffs appearing relentlessly as snarling vocals swirl around. This gives the song a chaotic soundscape which bristles with dark energy and an undulating yet majestic thumping beat.

The bridge on ‘Cabals of Molder’ is out of this world, a shuffling beat, but with a real organic feel to the production. A soundscape rich with decay punctuated by the wail of screaming guitars; demonic vocals whispering hypnotically throughout like an ill wind and the bass line slithers around the piece rattling with menace. The soundscapes seem to alternate between telling a story and summoning some Lovecraftian nightmare. It really feels like a living entity, pulsating, slithering, crawling and Howls of Ebb have to be congratulated on bringing it to life.

The album takes a slower, more doom laden turn at ‘Maat Mons’ Fume’, jangley soundscapes with a raw underlying power reminiscent of Ahab give the sense of being toyed with by an unknown predator. Howls of Ebb’s world is a dark and scary place and this album is the musical equivalent of psychological horror, and instills the listener with a sense of panic.

The next few tracks take a more traditional approach unlike their other releases, after a few listens this can be a little disappointing given the brilliance so far. It’s still good however and throughout there’s a nice rhythm and pace; varied drumming and some really nice percussion and particularly on track 4 more than a passing nod to Pestilence’s spheres album.

Subliminal Lock_ A Precursor to V’ is the most obvious Black Metal infused track with hissy malevolent guitar work and vocals almost providing the rhythm at times whilst the drums go on a free-form whirlwind around the song. But the middle of it is somewhat tame compared to the wild inventiveness of the rest of the album.

Last track ‘The Apocryphalic Wick’ starts of slowly with a feeling of rebirth, reminding me a lot of the atmospheric doom of Botanist before kicking in halfway through with some frenetic drum work, and a flat-out Slayer inspired guitar solo taking the album out on a bit of a high before terminating the journey with an abrupt stop.

8.5/10

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Meshuggah – I (Remastered EP)


Meshuggah - I - Special Edition

 

Meshuggah. I can just end the review at the end of that first sentence, right? The name speaks for itself as easily the most revered and analyzed band of the decade and a half of extreme metal. They certainly have lovers and haters, but they have clearly set themselves apart from any other band. Many bands want to sound like them, but few can really do it. As the band continues to celebrate their 25th Anniversary with a Concert DVD and now this Special Edition remastered EP (Nuclear Blast) coming ten years later, now is as good a time as ever to expend a few more brain cells revisiting this creative and crushing release.

If Chaosphere established the bands footing in the underground, and Nothing foisted them into the consciousness of mainstream metal fans, I was made for unabashed, fan-boying worship. Arriving on the scene as a one-off release from Jason Popson’s (Mushroomhead) Fractured Transmitter label, this unassuming 21-minute plus singular track comprises in it everything great about Meshuggah. ‘I’ has insane time signatures, crushing, mechanical riffing, stellar drumming and the classic ranting vocals of Jens Kidman. The track was a flat-out masterpiece, certainly worthy of the best the group had to offer up to that point. Several movements and expansiveness of themes was a portend of future proggy tracks on releases such as Obzen and Koloss.

But hey, let’s not let our admiration totally blind us to a hole in the original version. The mix, especially up front in the first few minutes of the track was muddy sounding. Once the intro was over and the track really kicked in, it evened out sonically, the adjustment of which is audible with headphones. So audiophiles rejoice! The new re-master is crystal clear, upon A-B-ing the two versions.

As an added bonus to ‘I’, The release includes kickass versions of ‘Bleed’ and ‘Dancers To A Discordant System’ live, and a new version of the ‘Pitch Black’ single from 2013.

Worth picking up for fans and completists.

 

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9.0/10

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KEITH (KEEFY) CHACHKES