2015 proved to be a productive year for the Russian/Welsh act, Venom Prison when they released not one, but two EPs. Their ambition has continued to grow since then by deftly demonstrating the cunning and extreme of their Modern Death Metal sound. This budding band made noticeable waves in the scene when they released their second full-length, Samsara (Prosthetic Records) last year. Vocalist Larissa Stupar presented this rare rage that she and the whole band developed into a massive, contagious fury. Now, these guys are ready to exhibit how much they’ve grown in the last five years. Primeval (Prosthetic Records) is a compilation of their first two Eps re-recorded and reinvigorated.
Kataklysm has proudly been waving the banners of Melodic Death and Death Metal for nearly thirty years. Originally hailing from Canada, this now multinational act has consistently delivered strikingly aggressive music for decades and it has solidified their spot at the Heavy Metal table. It’s only been two years since they released their last record, Meditations (Nuclear Blast). Yet this new full-length, Unconquered (Nuclear Blast) demonstrates how this quartet has a wealth of heaviness still to share.
Sat backstage at Temples Festival in May 2015 were five quiet, unassuming, polite young people, looking for all the world like competition winners nervously waiting in chairs to be shuffled through to meet Taylor Swift having been told to be on best behaviour by their Ma. Fast forward an hour and those five, quiet, unassuming, polite young people had transmogrified into a flailing, seething ten legged beast, spewing forth carnage and devastation. Not Tiamat, no, something far more deadly than that; they had become Venom Prison.
And so, with a buzz that began as a whisper now as incessant as a swarm of wasps inches from your eardrum, the cult of Venom Prison is set to enhance and further itself once more with the release of their debut EP, The Primal Chaos (Soaked In Torment); four tracks, twelve minutes that kick you in the groin and then taser you in the gut until defecation occurs.
The tasering occurs from the lashings of modern death metal wrought with hardcore sensibilities and feel, welded into a substantial spear of chugging attack, while the groinal devastation comes from a thick production that, unlike most present-day death metal sounds, allows room to breathe and spits a raw, live sound, a welcome change to the clinical, dry, overproduced and emotionless offal cuts that so many of today fart out; The Primal Chaos has just the right amount of sloppy to feel like the thump of a ten-ton hammer.
Larissa’s vocals are more scream than guttural, but that suits the urgency expounded by the South Wales quintet, and adds to the overall feel of a contemporary death metal meets metallic hardcore band dousing their offspring in the lighter fluid of the old school 90’s underground before tossing a flaming rag at it and watching the primal chaos burn.
The emphasis on metal music emanating from outside of the Western world has become an increased focus in recent years, and is rightfully celebrated as highlighting our music world’s inclusiveness to all forms of society and regions. Israel as one such example has shown in the last few years a plethora of prog-minded metal acts, from homegrown titans Orphaned Land to lesser known but equally special acts like Distorted Harmony.
Having actually been existent since 1997, Subterranean Masquerade are hardly a new band to add to the list, but their not so prolific back catalogue means they will be an unearthed gem for many; a notion which will hopefully change with their latest album.
The Great Bazaar (Taklit) is the band’s first full length release in 10 years (their second in total) and sees a new singer in Kjetil Nordhus, and a new feeling of energy, being described by guitarist Tomer Pink as finally feeling like a band and not a project; and it is noticeable.
Their sense of diversity on record is still present but it all feels all the more cohesive than before, like they have really found their feet. At its core this takes influence from the 70’s greats of Prog, intertwined with Eastern instrumental elements and modern death metal; with a major Opeth vibe present in style and how it flows, vocally and sonically through cleaner melodies to visceral heaviness without warning. Look a little deeper and there are even more traits slightly hidden away, for example opening track “Early Morning Mantra” has an underlying Ska current, but without sounding daunting or out of place; whilst instrumental piece “Nigen” sees the flute taking the spotlight.
It is very easy to pick out their influences throughout, and at times it does sit very closely to other band’s formulas so is far from being completely revolutionary; but Subterranean Masquerade certainly execute it all very well, and with tremendous fluidity which makes it all seem wholesome. It may have been a long time coming but The Great Bazaar is a strong effort which further highlights the progressive mindset is present further afield.
Ever since they emerged onto the UK death metal scene back in 2006 like a hungry chest-burster from the Alien films, Manchester’s Ingested have been the band to turn to for straight-up brutality. After early flirtations with deathcore on debut album Surpassing the Boundaries of Human Suffering and the slightly weak follow-up The Surreption, the band seem to have nailed a truly killer sound on third full-length The Architect of Extinction (all Siege of Amida Records).
Opening tracks ‘The Divine Right of Kings’ and ‘Narcissistic Apathy’ are both finely tuned monstrosities that are solely interested in repeatedly smashing you over the head with a selection of vicious, pacy riffs and clattering blasts of percussion. The main influence here is strictly the new school of death metal with an appreciation of Aborted and Whitechapel evident in the songwriting. This is further demonstrated by the barely restrained fury of ‘Endless Despondency’ which utilises every trick in the book to get heads banging and roundhouse kicks flying in equal measure.
While this ‘more is more’ approach is undeniably a forceful one, there is always the danger that this method can render proceedings dull as atmosphere and nuance gets sacrificed for the sake of bludgeon. Thankfully Ingested avoid falling into this trap by varying things up a bit such as on the moody ‘I, Despoiler’ and post-metal flavoured instrumental ‘Penance’ which provides an interesting sidestep into more leftfield territory. However, the searing heaviness returns with a vengeance on later tracks such as ‘Extinction Event’ which really allows powerhouse drummer Lyn Jeffs to show off his chops.
For those seeking an instant way to blow away their New Years hangovers, Ingested are the perfect tonic. They’re the equivalent of a kebab shop stabbing; horrible, shocking and over before you know it and The Architect of Extinction is as vicious as anything else out on the street right now.
Huntress and Battlecross joined forces early this summer for a tour, and we were lucky enough to catch up with them in the 013 venue in Tilburg, the Netherlands.
The opener of the evening was the local band Purest of Pain, and started with a promising intro. Guitars unwind and state what kind of band Purest of Pain actually is: a no nonsense, modern death metal band that actually slaps you in the face every time a note strikes and reaches your ears. The vocals of this band are strong, it is like the vocalist pushes its emotions trough your skin and bones and throws its dynamic screams all around the place. It is still quite calm in the venue while Purest of Pain is playing, but as the end of the show is near the venue is quite filled to see Battlecross to play.
At first I wasn’t too familiar with Battlecross, but according to the name I thought that this was some kind of power-metal band. But soon I came to realize that I was completely wrong. Battlecross is a band, a band like Devildriver always tried to be, but always failed at. They succeed in this concept of thrash and power grooves, bringing you music that is accessible and commercial, but without coming across as a commercial band. I personally hope they will keep this vibe. Super tight, with strong songs that get you by the throat, Battlecross is a nuclear explosion full of energy. Catchy vocals exchange with constant aggressive screams, and this brings a diversity, and every song starts off like a steamroller. The first pit of the evening is to be written with the name of Battlecross. Although they bring nothing really new to the genre, but still they know how to bring you a good, refreshing sound.
Do you know the musical Wicked? Well, during the intro music for Huntress I was afraid I landed in a performance of Wicked. But their vocalist Jill Janus came on the stage dressed as a wicked witch; crawling, lurking in the audience and then opened her throat and let out a supersonic scream. It was immediately clear that this is a very strong vocalist. Other that I thought before, “oh this is that kind of band with a fucking hot chick in it”. I think 9 of the 10 times I would be right, but this is the first time that I wasn’t. Huntress is a very entertaining and tight band, and Jill is a hell of a frontwoman! Jeez! I enjoyed every minute of it. The music sometimes is a bit simple, but sometimes we get some nice gems from the musicians on stage. In the meantime, Jill was crawling over the stage doing some songs, while I watched the audience mainly consisting of men in their mid-life crisis, which totally gave me the giggles. If you don’t quite know Huntress, they are as theatrical as Ghost B.C., with a little hint of Manowar. They play simple, occult themed, straight to the point metal. They are a good band, but not a magnificent band with sick riffery and huge guitar solo’s etc. However, they are solid, enjoyable, and fun to watch. And for that, we thank you.
Huntress Set List:
Destroy Your Life
I Want to Fuck You to Death
Eight of Swords
WORDS BY KAAT VAN DOREMALEN
PHOTOS BY SUSANNE A. MAATHUIS