This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from Carnation, Cemetery Urn, Demise, Doro, Exocrine, Moonspell, Parasite Inc., Pink Mass, Primitive Man, Rebel Wizard, Sulaco, Trappist, Unearthly Trance and Zevious.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Carnation – Chapel Of Abhorrence (Season Of Mist)
The Belgian death metal band Carnation have an interesting discography. They released two live albums prior to issuing a full-length studio album. That full-length debut is Chapel Of Abhorrence, which follows an EP in 2015 and two live releases, both recorded at the Asakusa Deathfest in Tokyo.
Their debut has an old school sensibility with pummeling riffs and throat-shredding harsh vocals. The songs are relatively straightforward, but Carnation avoid monotony by frequent shifts in tempo, going from full blast to deliberate and everywhere in between. It’s derivative, but very well executed with a plethora of memorable riffs and excellent musicianship throughout.
Cemetery Urn – Barbaric Retribution (Hells Headbangers)
After a seven year gap between The Conquered Are Burned and last year’s self-titled effort, Australian crushers Cemetery Urn have a quick turnout of just over a year for Barbaric Retribution, their fourth full-length.
Pared down from a quintet to a quartet, they create sonic destruction with razor-sharp efficiency. Dense death metal gives way to shredding solos before the brutality resumes. Whether they are plodding along at a glacial pace or careening at blazing speed, Cemetery Urn are equally crushing. It’s raw without being sloppy, an album with enough twists and turns to maintain the interest of death metal aficionados.
Demise – De La Manipulacion a La Ignorancia (Brutal)
Venezuelan death metal merchants Demise grace us with their third album, De La Manipulacion a La Ignorancia. This crew specializes in old-school death metal, and on this album the eleven songs are repeated, once with and once without vocals. Fun to listen to, but with the versions directly following each other rather than all of one then the other, it breaks the album flow.
Manipulacion is a full-out assault on the senses, with churning riffs, chaotic, blast-beat-filled drumming, and abyss-deep vocals. Demise know what they want to pull off and they nail the OSDM sound nicely. Razor sharp production helps with their demolition of our senses. I recommend reordering the songs for more enjoyment, though.
Doro – Forever Warriors, Forever United (Nuclear Blast)
Doro Pesch is one of metal’s iconic vocalists, and it has been six years since her last studio album. She has accumulated a lot of material since then, and is issuing the double album Forever Warriors, Forever United. There are a total of 19 songs clocking in at just over 80 minutes.
The two disc set includes some classic Doro songs, such as the opening anthem “All For Metal” and “Turn It Up Again.” The songs are heavy, but also very catchy and melodic. The first disc also includes a guest appearance from Amon Amarth’s Johan Hegg, sounding a bit out of place on the ballad “If I Can’t Have You – No One Will.” She also covers Whitesnake’s “Don’t Break My Heart Again.” The second disc includes both a tribute to Lemmy, “Living Life To The Fullest,” and a Motorhead cover, “Lost In The Ozone.” Both discs have a combination of rockers and ballads, though Forever United is more ballad-heavy. There’s some filler here, but it’s an enjoyable collection of material from one of the greats.
Exocrine – Molten Giant (Unique Leader)
If bands like Obscura and Cynic are your cup of tea, France’s Exocrine will make you pay attention. Molten Giant is the band’s third album, and despite its short length (eight songs, 35 minutes) it is packed to the gills with technically sophisticated progressive death metal. This is a concept album about a battle between a giant lava monster and humans.
The music is lightning fast, with insane guitar playing, a multitude of dynamics, synth waves, and ambiance – and that’s just in a single four-minute song (check out “Backdraft”). The front half of Molten Giant stands up to any other progressive tech-death out there, and while the band seems to run out of steam towards the end, Exocrine have released an album worth taking note of.
Moonspell – Lisboa Under The Spell (Napalm)
On the heels of last year’s 1755 album, Portuguese gothic legends Moonspell return with the massive DVD/3CD collection Lisboa Under The Spell, their first live release in a decade. Last year in their hometown, they played three albums in their entirety: 1995’s Wolfheart, 1996’s Irreligious and 2015’s Extinct.
It’s interesting to hear Moonspell revisit the slightly more extreme style of their first two albums a couple decades after their release. Their musicianship has improved since then, making these versions more polished, but you can still hear their early influences. They also do a good job on Extinct, their most recent release at the time. In addition to the concert, the DVD includes an hour long documentary giving a behind-the-scenes look at the show. Lisboa Under The Spell is much more than the typical live release, and one Moonspell fans will definitely want to add to their collection.
Parasite Inc. – Dead and Alive (Reaper)
Germany’s Parasite Inc. perform a very solid form of melodic death metal on Dead And Alive, their second full length. Their music is full of meaty melodic riffs that have a lot of substance. There is a need to move at maximum velocity and this helps the songs gain momentum as well. Tracks like “Fall of the Idealist” have the right amount of melody to capture your attention and they pull you in for the long haul. The music is also abrasive and will punch you in the face with its ferocity.
The combination of these elements makes for a very solid release of melodic death metal bliss. Though it’s not as strong as something like Omnium Gatherum’s New World Shadows, the album nicely sits in the next tier of the genre and has a very solid vibe that makes it one of a kind. It is a well-rounded release that is one of the better ones of the year so far. Fans of the subgenre wil find a diverse and satisfying release that meets their needs time and time again.
Pink Mass – Necrosexual (Horror Pain Gore Death)
Independently released last year on Halloween, Necrosexual, the raucous sophomore full-length record from New Jersey-based quintet Pink Mass, is getting sloppy seconds courtesy of Horror Pain Gore Death with a limited edition CD. Their brand is a battering style of grinding death and crusty punk metal with a lyrical theme of sexual deviancy and hedonism. The band’s name is purportedly a ‘Satanic ritual performed after death that turns the deceased’s heterosexual spirit into a homosexual one.’
And yes, the music is very over-the-top and unrestrained, a mixture of raw and then rumbling that oozes pure metallic license and a highly salted, bitter underground flavor. The album’s 13 tracks whiz by and while no song is a particular earworm, the franticness of it all, helped by some quirky guitar work, an insatiable drum show, and excellent cover art, makes Necrosexual an oddly, um, pleasurable experience.
Primitive Man/Unearthly Trance – Split (Relapse)
Denver’s Primitive Man and NYC’s Unearthly Trance, two bands well-accustomed to the split-style record, are finally joining forces with an eponymous seven-track effort courtesy of Relapse. Those unaware of either should know that both bands are among the heaviest purveyors of sludge-doom music, with the former integrating a noisier nihilistic tone, and the latter adding sparse elements of melody and groove. Of the three Primitive Man tracks, only one, the middle, would be best defined as a song in the traditional sense, with the bookends serving up a combined 10 minutes of nail-biting experimental noise. Still, the second track, “Naked,” is a beast of a song, with suffocating feedback, a glacial pace, and Ethan Lee McCarthy’s tremendous vocal performance. Few bands execute the doom-noise style as well as Primitive Man.
Unearthly Trance’s four tracks deliver heaving and head-bobbing rhythms that are both catchy and caustic, the sludge-doom din layered with psyched-out guitar solos, a furious drum assault, and a volatile, predatory atmosphere. While not as heavy-handed as the first half of the split, the Unearthly Trance section is a steady dose of reverberating sludge, with the final track, “418,” going full noise-drenched horror-mode. In all, a worthwhile celebration of hope-barren, earth-moving doom.
Rebel Wizard – Voluptuous Worship of Rapture and Response (Prosthetic)
The Australian one-man project Rebel Wizard has been very prolific, releasing seven EPs and two full-lengths since 2015. Voluptuous Worship of Rapture and Response is NKSV’s latest effort.
It’s an intriguing combination of feral black metal and groovy traditional/New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. Icy black metal riffs and harsh screams blend with soaring melodic guitar parts and head bobbing grooves. The song titles are ridiculous (“Drunk Of The Wizdom Of Unicorn Semen” and “Healing The Chakras With Heavy Negative Wizard Metal” are a couple), but the music is surprisingly catchy. On paper the combination sounds awkward, but Rebel Wizard does a good job mixing classic ’80s metal with black metal.
Scream For Me Sarajevo DVD (Eagle Rock)
In 1994, Bruce Dickinson played a concert in war torn Sarajevo. Scream For Me Sarajevo is the story of that show. Just getting to the city was a dangerous ordeal that required a lot of planning to make sure the band arrived safely.
The documentary features Dickinson and a couple of his band members along with some of the organizers of the concert, who were with the UN at the time. There are interviews with numerous attendees of the concert, and just how important it was. There are a lot of emotional moments in the film, and it’s obvious how this concert during the middle of a war has affected participants and attendees to this day. Scream For Me Sarajevo shows the horrors of war, the power of music and the resiliency of people in the face of tremendous hardship. It also features a great soundtrack of music by Dickinson.
Sulaco – The Prize (Translation Loss)
In 15 years together, Sulaco have carefully released new material, going for high-caliber death metal/grindcore over pumping out dozens of tracks every other year. The Prize is only their third album to date, and just so happens to also be their shortest release so far, done within only a half-dozen songs.
So there’s less content, true, but the group makes up for The Prize’s brevity with powerhouse tunes that crisscross genre lines. It’s not unusual for them to get technical with their bendy tempos only to shove off into a raging mood of unwieldy double bass drumming and snapping riffs. Sulaco use the shortness of The Prize to unleash a quick jolt of manic energy to metal in 2018.
Trappist – Ancient Brewing Tactics (Relapse)
As I write this review of Trappist’s Ancient Brewing Tactics, a half-empty bottle of Yuengling sits on my desk. With the group’s affection for craft beer, it’s unclear how they would feel about this particular choice of alcohol. The answer seems clearer since the band includes a recommended list of beers for each song, with names like Saison Bernice.
Trappist take their beer seriously, but their wild crossover thrash has a lighter tone. Songs about the film Old School (“Frank the Tank”) and winks to Jay-Z (“99 Problems (But A Beer Ain’t One)”) make this apparent, though the group also has room for a history lesson (a German law from the 16th century called Reinheitsgebot, which placed restrictions on beer, is the theme of “Giving The Boot To Reinheitsgebot”). Trappist may not like your favorite beer, but Ancient Brewing Tactics is the album to pound a few of those beer to, regardless.
Zevious – Lowlands (Nefarious)
New York City’s Zevious includes members of Dysrhythmia (Jeff Eber), Sabbath Assembly (Johnny DeBlase) and Smother Party (Mike Eber). Lowlands is the instrumental trio’s fourth album.
There are metal elements in Zevious’ sound, with nods to doom and stoner. They also incorporate avant-garde and progressive styles, and even a little jazz. The songs are lengthy (up to nearly 9 minutes), with tracks like “Smear Campaign” being fairly repetitive but catchy, while songs such as “Null Island” have a bit more ebb and flow. Instrumental albums aren’t for everyone, but for those who like the genre will appreciate the creative and eclectic approach Zevious take on Lowlands.