The Artisan Era, 14.06.17
Pure technical death metal is a genre I have largely tired of, as there's quite often a lot of sound with close to random compositions and not necessarily a whole lot of clever substance. If meaningful structures are put to good use, and some progressive approaches are included, the genre can still do the trick.
It's like meat; Tasty, but not very exciting without the right accessories.
As you have realized, Enfold Darkness from Nashville, Tennessee plays death metal of the intricate type.
It's been eight years since the band debuted with the album Our Cursed Rapture The sequel has taken its time, but the quintet has also crafted a seemingly complex fantasy/sci-fi concept to adorn its 13 songs, and the record lasts for as much as 67 minutes. I consider the album to be almost unnecessarily long, but it can probably be explained by the concept that needs time to play out. An underlying story will, after all, normally set the agenda for a concept album. A bit over the hour should nevertheless be manageable for fans who want some bang for their bucks.
The basic concept of the story is written by one of the band's two guitarists, James Turk, along with former guitarist Matt Brown, before being processed further by the band. Matt has by the way cut out the music all together after converting to Islam, where music that can arouse passion, fuel animalistic instincts, weaken the spirituality, and lead to temptation and sin, is forbidden. That's just as well, as we at least don't have to deal with Halal Metal.
Justin Corser was the vocalist on the previous album. Since then, several have filled the role before Andy Nelson has now taken over. Justin was a bit too Dani Filth for my taste, while Andy, who was behind the microphone on Abysmal Dawn's last album, is a good deal darker in his voice, even though he doesn't go entirely down in the basement with his mixture of rasping and growls. The instrumentation is very good, going well with technical extreme metal with suitably calculated and lightly jazzed structures. Some guest artists also contribute. One of them being Malcolm Pugh, who in addition to putting down a guitar solo have sampled a few orchestral sequences on the album. Both sound and dynamics are good, but I'm not going to bore you with more facts.
Sure, Enfold Darkness ain't on par with Alkaloid, but virtually nobody is, and Adversary Omnipotent is an album that I strongly believe will be appreciated by fans of melodic progressive tech-death. Rating: 4-
Xtreem Music, 22.05.17
I probably get a dozen promos of deadly palettes with blood and guts in all nuances every week. Some are quickly weeded out. Others sound good and move on to the next round. The drawback with relatively many is that they are somewhat similar sounding. Kick-ass and qualitative death metal or not. Generic is generic.
Therefore, it's always refreshing with the rare minority who succeeds at standing head and shoulders above the masses.
The band has gone by the name of Soulskinner since 2000, but was formed 20 years ago under the name Terra Tenebrae. (Not Terra Tenebrosa, that is.) After 4 albums and just as many splits under a new moniker, five members participated as Descent to Abaddon hit the street. The guys have been through their share of member replacements, although the figures for redeployment ain't striking. The band consists of folks from Diavolos, Principality of Hell and Thou Art Lord, and more, without no need of naming all of them.
I'm not very familiar with the lads' former exploits. The previous album, Crypts Of Ancient Wisdom, is just one of the many releases I never got around to reviewing in 2014. Yet, I don't disregard the possibility that Descent to Abaddon surpasses most of their works, for Soulskinner really live up to the band name this time. It's first and foremost the remarkable guitar works that make the disc stand out from the crowd. The lead guitar lets down its hair and tear the hair from the skin, the skin from the flesh and the flesh from the soul, and the rhythm giant delivers resounding riffs, working as a monstrously ominous base for evil, howling, ominous, occult and exotic melody lines.
It is clear that the guys are veterans in the Greek scene and that not all local flair is earmarked bands in black landscapes. That's good, for the devil knows that death metal also needs a few refreshing ideas. And that's what Soulskinner offer, along with plenty of atmosphere and variety, without departing unnecessarily from the carved-in-stone recipe for a strict and tough diet we know as old school death metal. Rating: 4+
M & O Music, 24.02.17
One of the aspects I value most in symphonic extreme metal is the diversity that exists. There's lots of extreme metallic expressions, and there are dozens of classical eras bearing diverse characteristic to find inspiration in. This provides a fertile ground for a myriad distinct metallic-orchestral alloys to flourish.
Calling it a genre of its own is thus misleading, but if you allow some generalization, it's a genus with enough elbow room for everyone to find their own expression whilst avoiding generic lack of distinct creative ideas.
The French quartet Entropia Invictus simply called themselves Entropia from 2006 to 2015, and released two albums and two EPs during this time. Whether the change of name is due to a change in style or not, I can't say for sure, but according to Encyclopaedia Metallum, the band used to played melodic black/power. Today, however, the quartet play black/death. A quick listen to random parts of the band's previous album, Black Drop in Clear Water (2012), would suggest that they've become a bit more extreme.
The band's black/death is presented in complete hybrid with dramatic symphony and opera, and their third album, Human Pantocrator, requires time to sink in. Not quite four months, as I have apparently used, though. The music has a theatrical structure that leads my mind towards last year's masterpiece by Winterhorde. Associations to everything from Septicflesh and Carach Angren to Hortus Animae also surface.
The album has at almost any time a lot of sound, but with dynamic mid-tempo and abundant substance, it never feels particularly intense. The music continuously alternates in tempo and expression. Extreme metal, opera, waltz and classicism makes for a seamless backbone in the band's work, but the French also mix in other sources of inspiration if beneficial. That elements of Asian folk music should slip so gallantly in, might not be very strange, but not everyone is bestowed with the imagination to even think out such a concoctive idea.
The band's drummer has taken care of recording and mixing, and Brett Caldas-Lima (Kalisia) has mastered the work in his Tower Studio. The sound is compressed, but clear, clean and quite rich. The sound could have be more organic and juicy, but the sound suit and convey the material's dramaturgic and bombastic touch more than enough. Entropia Invictus have created a very well-composed symphony, and Human Pantocrator (Opus Humani) is definitely close enough to get a whiff of five points. Rating: 4+
Hypnotic Dirge&Cimmerian Shade, 31.05.17 Vin de Mia Trix from Kyiv in Ukraine play progressive funeral doom, offering one of the year's longest albums. Palimpsests* is a concept based on multicultural commonalities; Stories, legends and tales, as well as shared customs and practices that appear to be similar despite various beliefs or geographical, cultural, and ethnic differences. A duration of about 1 hour and 38 minutes makes Palimpsests just short of 100 minutes.
If that sounds insurmountable, the physical edition is naturally a double-album, where each part lasts for about 49 minutes.
The music is mostly calm and fluid like a peaceful stream of clean water. A trickling mountain stream reflecting the shining rays of sun from a bright blue sky and the deep green lush vegetation along the river bank. The river winds, though, creating turbulent currents and swirls, nuances that distort and wipe out the reflections. It strikes rocky obstacles unable to hinder the flow, but that throws the water masses around and shuffle the composition and relative location of each water particle.
Especially Pharmatos and Noe offers a bit of drama, but despite a few harder sequences and sporadic guttural vocals, Palimpsests is a rather calm and pleasant work. It contains a relatively high quantity of clean vocals, plus clear bass strokes and sequences of acoustic plucking among other that help prevent everything from sounding like a steady stream. Although the brook floats calmly, it doesn't just hiss in a hushing manner. It burbles and gurgles comfortably.
Among the quartet's members, there are two seemingly fresh names, in addition to vocalist Andrew Tkachenko from wonderful Human Collapse and bassist, second vocalist and acoustic guitarist Alex Vynogradoff from Kauan. Damon Good from Mournful Congregation and StarGazer has been responsible for mixing and mastering, and the sound is in line with Vin de Mia Trix' high ambitions, helping to enhance Palimpsests' meditative impact. The album is available at an optional price and is recommended whether you want a one and a half hour time-out in the hammock under the shady groves, whether you're a traveller hiking forests and peaks, or you're a fairly ordinary sofa lover that lets five minutes on the couch grow into a hundred. Rating: 4+
Hells Headbangers, 09.06.17
The self-titled full-length from Melbourne-based Cemetery Urn is the band's third album. The guys have been around for more than ten years, categorizing their own metal as “Australian Barbaric Death Metal”.
Band founder, guitarist and songwriter Andrew Gillon is also part of Abominator, and he played in now defunct Bestial Warlust. Two bands that the original vocalist in Cemetery Urn also played in.
The band has, however, replaced most of the line-up since the previous album that came out seven years ago.
Three of the quintet's members were accommodated in the period 2010-2012. The newest member is the new man behind the microphone, Chris Volcano, founder of Abominator.
Sound and drive is rather formidable, and are in line with the band's self-defined style. Cemetery Urn is as such an album suitable for blowing death metal fans away. Demonic growling with a rasping flair lay self-confident on top of fierce riffs and rhythms, preaching its presumably ill-natured tidings.
The band doesn't save its firepower, burning the candle from every conceivable angle, but they don't have much time to waste on unnecessary antics. In just over 40 minutes they carve through ten songs. Surely, they incorporate good transitions at high pace, on two wheels through each turn, but I miss a bit more variety and hooks. At the same time, this is “Panzer Division Death Metal”, so the question is whether you need anything but a scolding that strikes you like a brutal wall of death and intestines. In any case, the album could not have lasted for much longer. The intensity would be a bit too overwhelming and the variation would be too thin.
The music is brutal, but has more killer riffs and groovy flow than the majority of the sub-genre otherwise known as brutal death metal. Tough as the train, albeit without the highest substantial content. A little too few solos of the type you find in the first song, amongst others, can also be considered a minor appeal. You decide whether these items are a loss, or if the raw material alone does the trick. Rating: 4