Album Review – Voorhees / Chapter Two (2020)

A Death Metal quartet from France arises from their graves once again with more of their demolishing music inspired by old school horror movies.

If you’re a true metalhead and at the same time a fan of old school horror movies from the 70’s to the 90’s, you’ll have an absolute blast with the music found in Chapter Two, the first full-length opus by a French Death Metal unity that goes by the name of Voorhees. Formed in 2017 in Metz, a city in France’s northeastern Grand Est region, the band comprised of Chris on vocals and guitars, Sébastien “Seb” Valbrecq on lead guitars, Fred on bass and Will on drums obviously had their name, logo and everything else inspired by the one and only Jason Voorhees, the main character from the Friday the 13th franchise, with their old school Death Metal being highly recommended for admirers of the sonic devastation blasted by renowned acts such as Death, Cannibal Corpse, Massacre and Obituary. Having released their debut EP entitled Chapter One on Friday the 13th, October 2017, this talented slasher squad once again chose the iconic date to release Chapter Two, on Friday the 13th, March 2020, dedicating pretty much each one of the eight songs of the album to a specific movie. Recorded by the band’s own drummer Will (known for his work as Willy Lang with French Doom/Death Metal one-man act Nosphares), mixed by Dan Swanö at Unisound, and featuring a classic and visceral artwork by Fabrice Romo (Kaos Obscure Art), Chapter Two is the perfect soundtrack for your horror flick night.

Inspired by the Wes Craven movies The Hills Have Eyes (one of my favorite slasher flicks of all time), the opening track The Lucky Ones Die First exhales pure, undisputed Death Metal form the very beginning, with Chris and Seb doing a great job with their unstoppable riffage while Will smashes his drums in great fashion, followed by My Horror Event, drawing inspiration from the movie Creepshow, directed by George A. Romero in 1982 and with script by Stephen King. Putting the pedal to the metal, the band adds hints of Thrash Metal to their insane riffs in this wicked tune while Chris keeps barking like a true beast, not to mention Fred’s rumbling bass punches, whereas in Evil To Come, largely inspired by the movie The Day of the Beast (or “El Día de la Bestia” in Spanish), directed by Alex de la Iglesia in 1995, we’re treated to more classic Death Metal the likes of Unleashed and Obituary, resulting in the perfect choice for cracking your skull headbanging or for slamming into the circle pit. And in The Will To Kill, their musical representation of the movie Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer, directed by John McNaughton in 1986, a somber start evolves into a mid-tempo, dark sonority led by Fred and Will with their thunderous weapons, while Chris vociferates the songs words deeply and rabidly.

The cryptic voice by Charles Manson kicks off I’m The Man Who Became God, a gruesome, headbanging Death Metal extravaganza re-recorded from their first EP where Chris and Seb sound truly infernal on the guitars, accompanied by Will’s putrid and classic beast and fills, setting the tone for Voorhees II, obviously inspired by the second chapter of the Friday the 13th franchise, directed by Steve Miner in 1981. It’s time to brutally slam into the pit to the sound of this frantic and berserk composition, may favorite of the album by the way, where Will is at the same time groovy and demented on drums and with the band’s stringed trio slashing our minds and ears with their razor-edged riffs and sick bass lines. Then we have Reanimated, originally supposed to be a song inspired by the movie Re-Animator and finally turned into an almost instrumental “tribute” to the evil characters that are Jason, Leatherface, Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger, who always resurrect at the end. Will and Fred generate a menacing atmosphere perfect for Chris to growl and bark like a horror movie monster, all spiced up by Seb’s classic guitar solos, and closing the album it’s time for more obscurity and aggressiveness in the form of Death Metal with the climatic Into Darkness, a crushing, mid-tempo tune led by Will’s fierce beats while Chris keeps vociferating and roaring nonstop, and after all is said and done you’ll feel absolutely disoriented without a shadow of a doubt.

Voorhees’ horror movie-inspired Old School Death Metal feast can be appreciated in full on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your true support to the band (and avoid a visit of Jason Voorhees himself to your home) you should purchase the album from several locations such as the band’s own BandCamp page, the Great Dane Records’ BandCamp page or webstore, Apple Music or Discogs. In addition, don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and to subscribe to their YouTube channel, filling your ears with that traditional Death Metal sonority we all love so much with no shenanigans nor any artificial elements added to it. Will they continue their path of violence and bloodshed with several more chapters in the form of metal albums inspired by each one of the Friday the 13th movies? Only time will tell, but based on the high quality of the music found in Chapter Two I’m sure it won’t take long for the quartet to arise from their graves once again to haunt our damned souls.

Best moments of the album: My Horror Event, Voorhees II and Reanimated.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Great Dane Records

Track listing
1. The Lucky Ones Die First 4:34
2. My Horror Event 3:44
3. Evil To Come 5:12
4. The Will To Kill 5:09
5. I’m The Man Who Became God 6:39
6. Voorhees II 3:31
7. Reanimated 5:14
8. Into Darkness 5:11

Band members
Chris – vocals, guitars
Sébastien “Seb” Valbrecq – lead guitars
Fred – bass
Will – drums

Album Review – Refusal / Epitome of Void (2019)

A straight-to-the-point album of Finnish Crust Old School Death Metal, as pulverizing, heavy and infernal as it can be.

Founded back in 2008 in the city of Helsinki, Finland by guitarist Tero Pirhonen and bassist Timo Pirhonen, before bringing in vocalist Niikka Lius, drummer Aleksi Roitto and more recently guitarist Kalle Kuosmanen to complete the band, the unrelenting squad that goes by the name of Refusal does not just play your regular Death Metal, but something they like to call “Finnish Crust Old School Death Metal”, smashing you like an insect with all their fury and heaviness without showing a single drop of mercy. After releasing several demos and their debut full-length album We Rot Within, in 2016, Refusal are back in action in 2019 with a brand new (and pulverizing) opus, beautifully titled Epitome of Void. Featuring a somber artwork by Finnish artist Sakke Vinko, Epitome of Void is highly recommended for fans of the music by iconic bands like Napalm Death, Nasum and Entombed, being absolutely perfect for slamming into the circle pit like there’s no tomorrow.

The distorted guitars by Tero and Kalle ignite the pulverizing opening track Suffocate, reminding me of the devilish sound by Turkish beasts Diabolizer, or in other words, a brutal slamming Death Metal extravaganza led by Niika and his deep, visceral growls. If you survive their initial onrush of extreme music get ready for the insanely heavy Hectic, showcasing an enraged Niikka on vocals while Aleksi decimates his drums in a precise and groovy manner, accompanied by Timo’s roaring bass; whereas Disregard brings forward a less frantic but still acid and violent version of the band, urging us all to bang our heads manically to the infernal riffs by Tero and Kalle while Timo smashes his bass chords nonstop.

Disgust is just as brutal as Death Metal can be, with Refusal inviting us all to crush our skulls into the circle pit while Niikaa vomits the song’s lyrics in a very traditional way; followed by Slaves, the darkest of all songs in Epitome of Void, showcasing hints of classic, obscure Black Metal added to their unrelenting music. Moreover, Tero and Timo bring some welcome balance to the sonic havoc going on with their crisp solos. Then it’s time for more demented slamming to the infernal beats by Aleksi in Exploit, while Niikka keeps growling and vociferating manically for our total delight. Put differently, this is the undisputed epitome of Refusal’s classic Death Metal, highly recommended for all fans of the genre.

If you think your neck will have a break from all the insane headbanging proposed by Refusal you’re absolutely wrong, as the band ignites their most demonic mode in the rip-roaring Bound, with their guitars and drums being in full destructive force. Then their second to last deranged Death Metal attack comes in the form of Futile, where all band members sound even more infuriated than ever, pleasing anyone who admires old school Brutal Death Metal from the bottom of their (blackened) hearts, setting the stage for the the thunderous and vile closing tune Void, where the smashing sounds of drums and bass provide Niikka the perfect atmosphere for his sick guttural vocals. There’s no escape from Refusal, and their most unfriendly, obscure and intricate creation beautifully represents all their fury and rage, ending the album on a very high note.

Do you have what it takes to face the demolishing Death Metal by Refusal? If your answer is yes, simply slam into the pit by listening to Epitome of Void in full on Spotify, by following the band on Facebook and by subscribing to their YouTube channel. In a nutshell, Epitome of Void, which by the way is on sale from Refusal’s own BandCamp page, from the Great Dane Records’ BandCamp page, from iTunes, from Amazon or from Discogs, will not change or revolutionize the underground metal scene at all; quite the contrary, it’s pure old school Death Metal, without any artificial elements nor any type of shenanigans, thoroughly crafted by five Finnish guys who are beyond loyal to the foundations of the genre, deserving all our admiration and support for keeping the flames of true Death Metal alive and kicking.

Best moments of the album: Hectic, Disgust and Exploit.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Great Dane Records

Track listing
1. Suffocate 2:20
2. Hectic 2:51
3. Disregard 3:13
4. Disgust 3:27
5. Slaves 4:33
6. Exploit 1:48
7. Bound 4:14
8. Futile 4:10
9. Void 5:19

Band members
Niikka Lius – vocals
Tero Pirhonen – guitars
Kalle Kuosmanen – guitars
Timo Pirhonen – bass, backing vocals
Aleksi Roitto – drums