Album Review – Isgalder / To The Hall Of The Stars EP (2018)

Enjoy the story about the journey of a man, wandering old forgotten paths in search of nature and solitude, told by a newcomer German Epic and Pagan Black Metal hailing from the Thuringian Forest.

Founded in 2017 by vocalist and guitarist Grimwald (Dauþuz, Wintarnaht) and drummer, bassist and keyboardist Moppel to hail earth and iron, German horde Isgalder has just emerged from the Thuringian Forest with a splendid piece of Epic and Pagan Black Metal influenced by early Falkenbach and Bathory, titled To The Hall Of The Stars, their debut EP that tells a little story about the journey of a man (the journey to the hall of the stars), wandering old forgotten paths in search of nature and solitude. Comprised of three original songs taken from the band’s forthcoming album and alternate versions of those same songs, the EP will provide you a very good taste of what Isgalder, which by the way is Old-High-German/Germanic and means “cold incantation” or “icy chant”, are capable of. Furthermore, although Grimwald and Moppel played all instruments and vocal parts in the EP, Isgalder are now comprised of the aforementioned dynamic duo plus VRCHTR on rhythm guitar and Aussen Geist on bass, meaning we can definitely (and hopefully) expect to witness the extreme music by Isgalder be materialized in the form of one or more live concerts in the near future.

The keys by Moppel kick off the epic and imposing tune The Ravendale, bringing an interesting “duel” of clean vocals and harsh gnarls, also presenting piercing guitar lines and lyrics that exhale Folk and Pagan Metal (“On farthest shores, there rest my fate / Far from mankind, the morbid, the pale / Native is that soil; silent and primordial / Astute raven summon me, to the hidden vail / The Ravendale / Forgotten and forsaken / The Ravedale / In solitude awaken”), all topped off by a climatic finale. Elder Wisdom, a very detailed and melodic creation by the duo, already starts in full force, bringing elements from Atmospheric Black Metal to their core Pagan and Black Metal, with Grimwald growling and gnarling nonstop while Moppel delivers brutality through his beats and some sort of “peace” through his keys, all at once; and as atmospheric and dense as both previous songs, Soaring Mountains showcases an old school Black Metal base solidified by  the band’s blast beats and scorching riffs, but with a strong Pagan Metal vein present in Grimwald’s growls and Moppel’s keys. Moreover, you’ll certainly feel compelled to sing its lyrics along with Isgalder (“Great soaring Mountains / Grey stone mystic monument / Arise against the sky / Wilderness defend”).

As already mentioned, side B of To The Hall Of The Stars contains an alternative version of the EP, without keyboards, varied vocals and a different mix. For instance, The Ravendale sounds rawer and more piercing, closer to traditional Black Metal, while Elder Wisdom is even more devastating and epic and Soaring Mountains goes straight-to-the-point as well, displaying an enhanced Black Metal vibe and feeling slightly less Pagan Metal. You can compare the regular and alternate versions of each song by listening to the full EP on YouTube, and don’t forget to follow Isgalder on Facebook and on YouTube. In a nutshell, To The Hall Of The Stars (on sale at the band’s own BandCamp, at the Hellthrasher Productions’ BandCamp, at the Naturmacht Productions’ BandCamp and at the Narbentage Produktionen’s BandCamp, as well as at Discogs in CD or cassette version) is a fantastic “appetizer” to what we can expect from Isgalder when they release their first full-length opus, and as soon as that happens we will be able to happily and willingly succumb to their cold incantations.

Best moments of the album: Elder Wisdom (both regular and alternate versions).

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Hellthrasher Productions

Track listing
1. The Ravendale 7:06
2. Elder Wisdom 7:54
3. Soaring Mountains 5:33
4. The Ravendale (alternate version) 6:51
5. Elder Wisdom (alternate version) 7:44
6. Soaring Mountains (alternate version) 5:27

Band members
Grimwald – vocals, guitars
Moppel – bass, keyboards, drums

Album Review – Ljosazabojstwa / Sychodžańnie EP (2017)

Prepare yourself for a 32-minute descent to the bottomless pits of hell while listening to the ancient thrashing Black and Death Metal brought forth by this arcane Belarusian horde.

Anti-Christianity, death, cruelty and other controversial topics, all vociferated in the darkest existing form of Belarusian. That’s what you’ll get in Sychodžańnie, the brand new and extremely occult EP by a Belarusian Death/Black Metal mysterious entity that goes by the name of Ljosazabojstwa, formed in 2013 in the capital city of Belarus, Minsk. If you have absolutely no idea how extreme music sounds when sung in “White Russian”, Sychodžańnie might be the perfect opportunity for you not only to feel the strength of this distinct East Slavic language in metal, but also to get to know more about Ljosazabojstwa, a fresh new name in underground music that will certainly disturb your peace of mind.

After releasing a demo titled Staražytnaje Licha, in 2016, Ljosazabojstwa are more than ready to haunt our minds with their demolishing, blackened sounds found in their new EP. With Sychodžańnie, which by the way was mixed and mastered by Ghostalgy Productions and features artwork and logo by VR, this arcane band takes their brand of ancient thrashing Black and Death Metal to a whole new level, balancing barbaric riffage with uncanny interludes and spoken word samples that make for a unique experience. In other words, prepare yourself for a 32-minute descent to the bottomless pits of hell while listening to the album’s six tracks of ruthless music, definitely not recommended for the faint of heart.

This cavernous album beings with Pozirk U Biezdań, an ominous intro where the mesmerizing sound of an organ opens the gates of the underworld to the dark and puissant Zhuba, where Blackened Doom, Black and Death Metal are united in the most aggressive way, with the deep growling by the band’s mysterious vocalist being supported by the cutting sound of guitars. In addition, its raw and vile beats, together with the song’s eccentric ending, will darken your thoughts without a shadow of a doubt. Then blackness keeps growing in intensity in the lesson in sluggish Blackened Death Metal entitled Piekła, with its guitar riffs feeling like a chainsaw hacking your limbs off. Moreover, its faster passages interspersed with slower Doom Metal-inspired moments add several layers of intricacy to the musicality, and it seems the band loves to include some wicked spoken excerpts (probably taken from underground movies) to their creations, just to give them an awesome slasher-flick soundtrack-like vibe.

Slow and steady beats ignite another feast of primeval, Stygian sounds by Ljosazabojstwa named Šliach Na Miehida, with their demonic lead singer vociferating the song’s cryptic lyrics in a truly threatening manner, also presenting a smooth acoustic break almost at the end before devastation returns in full force (and when you least expect, you’ll find yourself addicted to the band’s hellish music). The title-track Sychodžańnie is a horror movie-inspired instrumental bridge that will invade your senses before Zabojstwa Ljosu comes crushing your skull with a tempest of metallic, rip-roaring sounds, infernal vociferations and demented vocal samples. In addition, its guitars bring an acid hybrid of Death and Doom Metal riffs, while drums continue to smash us mercilessly until its devastating and climatic grand finale.

If you want to take a more detailed listen at Sychodžańnie, simply go to YouTube to fill your ears with Ljosazabojstwa’s dark Belarusian sounds, but if you’re already hooked on their vile music you can grab your copy of the EP at the band’s own BandCamp page, at the Hellthrasher Productions’ BandCamp or webstore, or at Discogs. And there you have the most demonic score you can imagine for some of those extremely somber, sorrowful and distressed moments you’ll face in life, how about that?

Best moments of the album: Piekła and Zabojstwa Ljosu.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Hellthrasher Productions

Track listing
1. Pozirk U Biezdań (Instrumental) 2:06
2. Zhuba 7:37
3. Piekła 6:56
4. Šliach Na Miehida 7:00
5. Sychodžańnie 1:36
6. Zabojstwa Ljosu 6:48

Band members
*Information not available*

Album Review – Engulfed / Engulfed In Obscurity (2017)

Get ready for over 45 minutes of pure Turkish Death Metal darkness that will ruthlessly shatter your skull and rip your spine out.

The arts of death worship and devilry have been executed once again in the madness-filled streets of Kadıköy, a large, cosmopolitan district of Istanbul, Turkey. Engulfed, the notorious Death Metal quartet formed in 2010 and known for their putrid smelling 2012 EP entitled Through The Eternal Damnation, are back with their first full-length album, the crushing Engulfed in Obscurity. Featuring members from other honorable Turkish Metal desecrators such as Decaying Purity, Burial Invocation and Diabolizer, this demonic entity will shatter your skull and rip your spine out in over 45 minutes of visceral extreme music, showing you why whenever a band hails from Turkey, you better be ready for a fantastic devastation.

Two of the members of Engulfed, guitarist Mustafa and drummer Aberrant, were our “guests” at The Headbanging Moose last year with their pulverizing album Apokalypse, from their other band Diabolizer, and if you enjoyed that album you’ll certainly keep banging your head nonstop to the music found in Engulfed In Obscurity, as it’s at the same level of destruction, quality and electricity, showcasing all the talent and passion for Death Metal by those two crusaders. In addition, the classy and grim cover art by renowned New Zealand-based artist Nick Keller brings an additional layer of darkness to Engulfed In Obscurity, strengthening the overall malignancy emanating from the entire album even more.

The ominous Escalation of Darkness opens the gates to the disturbing and violent world ruled by Engulfed in The Halls Of Grim Eternity, and be prepared because, when you enter it, there’s no way out as you’ll be mercilessly smashed by the band’s brutal music. Needless to say how demolishing Aberrant sounds on drums, with lead singer and bassist Serkan violently barking his putrid guttural growls throughout the whole song. Darkened sounds kick off another vile creation by Engulfed named Conqueror From Beyond The Outer Gates, a vile hymn made to crush your spinal cord where Mustafa and Kasil sound beyond gory with their cutting guitar riffs in the best old school Death Metal style imaginable.

The title-track Engulfed In Obscurity begins with a gruesome welcome card by Serkan, almost vomiting the lyrics, while Aberrant is unstoppable on drums just like what he does in Diabolizer. Furthermore, all instruments are roaring like demonic entities, keeping the song’s hellish vibe burning from start to finish. Moving on with the band’s sonic havoc, guitars, bass and drums will smash your senses in the putrid chant of vileness titled Invocation Of Death And Misery, where the cavernous growls by Serkan together with the pounding drums by Aberrant become the epitome of old school Death Metal; whereas Demonic Manifest Of Devastation is a gory Death Metal tune perfect for breaking your neck headbanging or slamming into the pit like a wild beast, with highlights to its rhythmic infernal beats and the truly deep gnarls by Serkan.

A faster and more furious version of Engulfed (if that’s humanly possible) comes in the form of Inseminated With Demon Seed, with its guitar lines reeking of sulfur while Aberrant keeps the musicality as heavy and impactful as it can be. In other words, get ready for six minutes of darkness and demonic sounds from the deepest dungeons of Turkey. If you’re a diehard fan of Death Metal you’ll definitely feel your blood burning listening to the classic tune Mayhemic Flames Of Doom, led by devilish riffs by Mustafa and Kasil until its brutal finale, before the outro The Blackened Skies puts an end to the earthquake named Engulfed In Obscurity, giving a sense of a post-apocalyptic landscape as a conclusion to the album.

After listening to over 45 minutes of the barbaric Death Metal blasted by Engulfed, my respect for underground Turkish Metal only grew in intensity, making me wonder what a fertile country like Turkey could offer the world of heavy music with proper support. You can explore the dark catacombs of Engulfed in more detail through their Facebook page and YouTube channel, and grab your copy of Engulfed In Obscurity (which can be streamed in its entirety HERE or HERE) at Engulfed’s BandCamp page, at the Hellthrasher Productions’ BandCamp page or webshop (as a regular CD or as a two CD bundle containing Engulfed In Obscurity and Through The Eternal Damnation), or at Discogs. But you better be prepared before you descend into the underworld of Engulfed, as you’ll be entrapped in the filthy darkness crafted by this amazing band for all eternity.

Best moments of the album: The Halls Of Grim Eternity, Engulfed In Obscurity and Inseminated With Demon Seed.

Worst moments of the album: Demonic Manifest Of Devastation.

Released in 2017 Hellthrasher Productions/Blood Harvest Records

Track listing
1. Escalation of Darkness 2:17
2. The Halls Of Grim Eternity 5:07
3. Conqueror From Beyond The Outer Gates 6:14
4. Engulfed In Obscurity 7:29
5. Invocation Of Death And Misery 5:32
6. Demonic Manifest Of Devastation 5:04
7. Inseminated With Demon Seed 6:29
8. Mayhemic Flames Of Doom 7:16
9. The Blackened Skies 3:04

Band members
Serkan – vocals, bass
Mustafa – guitars
Kasil – guitar
Aberrant – drums

Album Review – Gespenst / Forfald (2016)

Four lengthy, atmospheric and lugubrious tracks not recommended for the lighthearted, thoroughly crafted by a brand new Danish Black Metal act that will mercilessly disturb your peace of mind.

Rating5

gespenst-forfald-cover-artHailing from Aarhus, the second-largest city in Denmark located around 190 kilometers northwest of the capital Copenhagen, Black Metal act Gespenst (translated to English as “phantom”) is a fresh and uproarious new project featuring former members of Glorior Belli, Woebegone Obscured and Horned Almighty, among other bands, who together bring forth an atmospheric and ominous fusion of Scandinavian Black Metal with Funeral Doom, adding touches of Dark Ambient to their already eccentric extreme music. And the result of that devilish amalgamation, their debut full-length album entitled Forfald, will definitely disturb your peace of mind.

Forfald is the Danish word for “decay”, and that’s quite the sensation you’ll feel while listening to the album’s four lengthy and disturbing tracks. Listening to Forfald is like witnessing the ruin of mankind, descending into an abyss of anguish and darkness to the sound of the lugubrious music engendered by Gespenst. In its almost 40 minutes of duration, Forfald doesn’t provide any single second of tranquility or happiness, always extracting the deepest fears and most obscure thoughts from the listener. Another important piece of the music by Gespenst is the fact that some of their songs are entirely sung in Danish, a bold move that adds an extra layer of mystery and rawness to their music, enhancing the experience of listening to such somber album.

The blackened guitar lines by guitarist and keyboardist Genfærd kick off the demonic hymn Sorgens Taage, which would translate as “sorrow fog” in English, bursting agony and hatred while lead singer and bassist Galskab fires his devilish growls, increasing the obscurity of such an atmospheric and epic composition. This 9-minute aria brings forward somber Atmospheric Black Metal with hints of Funeral Doom and a sensational darkened vibe, with all the changes in rhythm, ferocity and melody adding an extra taste to it, with the doomed ending led by the sluggish beats by guest drummer Andreas Joen piercing your heart mercilessly. Even slower and more tenebrous, Revelation of Maggots offers the listener old school disquieting Funeral Doom, with highlights to the disturbing lyrics grasped by Galskab (“A sea of worms, in crawling pace / All over me, consumes my face / But I still see, without my eyes / As maggots feast, and hatch to flies”). Furthermore, Genfærd makes sure his guitar emanates grief and harasses the listener’s mind, and despite a few breaks a melancholic rhythm is maintained throughout this damned creation by Gespenst, with yet again a sepulchral ending, this time enhanced by a somber narration and anguished screams in the background.

gespenst-photoMin Sjæl Raadner (Danish for “my rotten soul” or “my soul rots”), the shortest of all tracks, presents an atmospheric and sinister beginning before the band attacks us with their dynamic blend of Black and Doom Metal, where the guitar riffs once again sound dark and harmonious, consequently dragging us to the Stygian world of Gespenst. Put differently, this is a song that can easily become a funeral hymn for lovers of extreme music. And in Life Drained to the Black Abyss we’re treated to 12 minutes of sheer darkness, with a horror movie-inspired intro progressively growing into beautiful Funeral Doom with the beats by Andreas getting sharper than before, feeling like a storm is about to begin in the background while Galskab spews the song’s lyrics about the derangement of the human mind (“My eyes have been eternally fixed / At the spectrum of darkness / A blackened stream of despair / It seems I have always been here”). In addition, when the musicality gets heavier, leaning towards classic Black Metal, it’s time for Genfærd to take the lead and guide the band’s demonic performance, haunting our perverted souls until the song’s obscure conclusion.

In summary, this is another of those albums not recommended for the average listener due to its disturbing level of agony and pain, but if you love that extremely dark side of music I can guarantee Forfald has a lot to offer you. You can take a listen at the entire album HERE, and go check Gespenst’s Facebook page for more details on the band’s current and future plans. And if you want to purchase Forfald, you can do so by visiting the band’s BandCamp page, the Hellthrasher Productions’ webstore and BandCamp page, or the Duplicate Records’ webstore and BandCamp page. This Danish Black Metal group has all it takes to take the underworld of extreme music by storm, with Forfald representing exactly what they are capable of with their instruments in their hands and a lot of darkness in their hearts.

Best moments of the album: Min Sjæl Raadner.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Hellthrasher Productions / Duplicate Records

Track listing
1. Sorgens Taage 9:04
2. Revelation of Maggots 10:54
3. Min Sjæl Raadner 7:17
4. Life Drained to the Black Abyss 12:14

Band members
Galskab – vocals, bass
Genfærd – guitar, synths

Guest musician
Andreas Joen – drums 

Live musicians
Christian Søgaard – guitar
Andreas Tagmose – bass
Mads Mortensen – drums

Album Review – Paroxsihzem / Abyss of Excruciating Vexes MLP (2016)

A mini-album of Extreme Metal made in Canada that will suffocate you heartlessly, savagely and diabolically, or everything you always look for when in pursuit of evil music.

Rating5

Paroxsihzem - Abyss of Excruciating Vexes [cover art]If you don’t know what suffocating Black/Death Metal is even being very fond of extreme music, I highly recommend you take a listen at Abyss of Excruciating Vexes, the new release by Canadian metallers Paroxsihzem. For instance, the name chosen by this talented horde formed in 2007 in Toronto, Ontario derives from the word “paroxysm”, which means “a sudden attack or violent expression of a particular emotion or activity”, an honest and precise epitome of what their music represents and all the emotions that will arise when it starts penetrating your mind.

Although Abyss of Excruciating Vexes is a mini-album containing only four brand new compositions and a cover song, you will be able to witness the band moving towards a new and exciting direction in its 25 minutes of the fastest, most violent and most vicious material they have ever done. Featuring a visceral and disturbing artwork by the band’s own lead singer Krag, Abyss of Excruciating Vexes has all the elements we crave in Extreme Metal and more, turning this quick and incendiary album into a must-have item for the collection of any admirer and connoisseur of the darkened heavy music crafted in the underworld.

The dissonant beginning in Dillanties Torture warns the listener of the massacre that’s about to come, a gruesome Black and Death Metal onslaught led by the deep and sick growls by Krag where drummer Abyss seems to be under some kind of evil spell, blasting his furious nonstop beats and fills. In other words, this tune presents a demonic sonority forged in the pits of hell that will please all fans of traditional Black Metal. Then in Bellicose Psychosis you will face bestiality in the form of music, where Impugnor shows how he masters the art of creating wicked riffs, consequently building a dark atmosphere for Krag to fire his vociferations. I would say this is a fusion of pure Black Metal instrumental with pure Death Metal vocals, and the result couldn’t sound more impactful.

Paroxsihzem - photoImpugnor and Abyss are on their satanic mode in BZ Experiment, a song inspired by the Edgewood Arsenal human experiments conducted from 1948 to 1975 by the U.S. Army Chemical Corps, which musically speaking is presented by the band as a feast of blast beats and aggressive riffs and solos, with absolutely no signs of modernity or alternative elements, just plain old school devastation “made in Canada”. Then in the excellent Isolation the band needs less than five seconds to break your spinal cord with their brutal assault of Black Metal, with highlights to the awesome job done by Krag who goes from the deepest guttural a la Chris Barnes to vicious screams closer to what George “Corpsegrinder” Fischer does. Put differently, a powerful “tribute” to ancient and contemporary Cannibal Corpse in what’s the most insane tune of the MLP (and obviously the best).

Lastly, Paroxsihzem have a special gift for us entitled D.C.M., also known as “Dead Cunt Maniac”, a top-notch cover version for a classic song by French Black/Death metal act Arkhon Infaustus, but adding their own touch to the sounding. The song’s growls and riffs get to a truly Stygian level, with its ending leaving you completely disoriented so obscure it is. And you can listen to the entire MLP on the official Hellthrasher Productions’ YouTube channel, if you have an uncontrollable inner desire to experience that disorientation yourself.

All the brutality and doom ignited by Paroxsihzem can be enjoyed by visiting their Facebook page, while Abyss of Excruciating Vexes (which by the way serves as a bridge to the band’s next full-length album) is on sale at the Hellthrasher Productions’ BandCamp page or webshop, released exclusively on 12” vinyl and limited to only 250 copies. This is  high-end Canadian Extreme Metal that will suffocate you heartlessly, savagely and diabolically, or everything you always look for when in pursuit of evil music.

Best moments of the album: Isolation.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Hellthrasher Productions

Track listing
1. Dillanties Torture 7:06
2. Bellicose Psychosis 3:37
3. BZ Experiment 4:52
4. Isolation 4:00
5. D.C.M. (Arkhon Infaustus cover) 4:57

Band members
Krag – vocals
Impugnor – guitars, bass, backing vocals
Abyss – drums

Album Review – Serpents Lair / Circumambulating the Stillborn (2015)

If you’re one of those black metallers who can only live in darkness to survive the downfall of our putrescent society, this album is for you.

Rating4

serpents lair coverLet’s keep the streak of darkness alive and burning at The Headbanging Moose with yet another nefarious, caustic and sulphurous Black Metal brigade, this time hailing from the blazing fires of Sjælland, a large island that’s part of Denmark and that’s home to the capital Copenhagen and to the city of Roskilde, among other smaller towns and villages. The band in question is called Serpents Lair, and they’re bringing forth their debut full-length album entitled Circumambulating the Stillborn, a series of dissonant and kaleidoscopic Black Metal hymns tailored for diehard metallers who chose darkness as their sanctuary.

Formed in 2013, Serpents Lair already took the underworld of metal music by storm in 2014, when they released their demo named MMXIV. What was already evil in that demo became even more heinous in Circumambulating the Stillborn due not only to the refined production of the new album, which can also be seen on the amazing cover art by Misanthropic-Art Illustrations, but mainly to the advancements in their compositions, putting together a classic Black Metal sonority with the heartache and sorrow of Doom Metal and Blackened Doom.

What starts like an aria at the house of worship, named by the band as Epipháneia, suddenly becomes a Black Metal attack entitled Epistemology of Death, sounding cleaner than usual but still putrid and devilish. This 9-minute opus, which was one of their demo tracks, offers the listener winged riffs and beats interspersed with obscure and sluggish passages, always blustering those desperate growls and howls of dark music.

serpents lair photoThe title-track, Circumambulating the Stillborn, an old school Black Metal tune with piercing riffs and unholy lyrics (“We salute thee harbingers of the end of man / Oh ye true nihilists, bringer of empty chalices / For thou shalt be the error correcting itself / As thouest thirst to death / In denial of the nothing you bring”), sounds diabolically mesmerizing especially when it slows down; while Mortui Vivos Docent presents an ominous and ritualistic intro before morphing into a profane mass, displaying a demonic musicality with aggressive vocals and fiendish riffs. Furthermore, it never gets too heavy or too fast, just vile enough to disturb our minds from start to finish.

If you thought things couldn’t get more doomed, Serpents Lair bring you an outstanding ode to torment named The Serpentine Gnosis. It is Blackened Doom breathing sulfur from the pits of hell, with its killer drumming and possessed roars only making things even more gripping. And after an eerie instrumental tune named Dwelling on the Threshold to Tartarus, the band burns our souls with the amazing Devouring Wrathe, an ancient form of Black Metal with the album’s high-end production intensifying its blasphemous words (“Spare no praying man, / As he is not of glorious potential / Invite the odious omnipotence / To descend with divine purpose / Let it revelate itself / Upon the congregations of so called righteousness”), its relentless riffs and a morbid feeling of hopelessness to close the album.

In summary, the doomed Black Metal crafted by Serpents Lair at their unhallowed den undoubtedly deserves a shot, in special if you’re one of those metallers who can only live in darkness to survive the downfall of our putrescent society. With that said, you can listen to their music on their YouTube channel, and find Circumambulating the Stillborn for sale at their BandCamp page, at the Fallen Empire Records webstore (US) or at the Duplicate Records webstore (Europe). Just go for it if you have the guts.

Best moments of the album: Circumambulating the Stillborn and The Serpentine Gnosis.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Hellthrasher Productions/Fallen Empire Records/Duplicate Records

Track listing
1. Epipháneia 1:30
2. Epistemology of Death 9:22
3. Circumambulating the Stillborn 5:17
4. Mortui Vivos Docent 8:30
5. The Serpentine Gnosis 8:57
6. Dwelling on the Threshold to Tartarus 2:55
7. Devouring Wrathe 7:04

Band members
*Information not available*

Album Review – Gateway / Gateway (2015)

May the world come to its tragic end to the sound of the barbaric and inhuman Doom Metal by this promising one-man army from Belgium.

Rating5

C03What does it need for a person to sound so savage, heavy and depressive, to the point you can’t tell if it’s just a regular human being or a grotesque creature of darkness that’s responsible for that eerie and sluggish resonance? If you really want to know the answer for that difficult question, I suggest you take a listen at the self-titled debut album by Belgian Medieval Doom/Death Metal one-man army Gateway. But be extremely careful, because once you start listening to this ode to horror influenced by the likes of Autopsy, Mortician and Evoken there’s no turning back, it’s a one-way journey down to the pits of hell.

Hailing from Bruges, Belgium, the talented musician Robin Van Oyen, who’s by the way responsible for vocals and all other instruments in Gateway, brings forth a concept album inspired by his hometown, offering the listener some depraved tales of ritualistic horror, torture and pain, blending the most obscure and mischievous elements from Death, Doom, Black and Sludge Metal you can think of. The final result, like what we witnessed last year in his three-track demo Aeternae, goes beyond the boundaries of inhumanity and suffering, grinding your body and mind like a genuinely repulsive torture device.

While listening to the wicked intro Prolegomenon, it’s more than obvious that what’s about to come is going to be disturbing, which is precisely what happens in Vox Occultus, a merciless parade of Occult Doom Metal supported by its reverberating riffs. In addition, as per the “unofficial” guide of old school Doom Metal, its drums are there with the unique mission to make the whole thing even more diabolical, and I’m not really sure what to say about the subhuman growls by Robin Van Oyen except for the fact that they won’t let you sleep well at night. Are you still breathing? Because in the following track, Kha’laam, Gateway forged a mystical Doom Metal aria by masterfully blending elements from Tryptikon, Black Sabbath and Celtic Frost, with its primeval rhythm contributing to its mordacity and elevating it to a whole new level of darkness. It doesn’t matter how intricate this tune is, it remains utterly loyal to the foundations of Doom Metal.

Gateway - white logoDon’t expect to see any bright light in the music by Gateway, as the ode to despair continues with yet another grim composition entitled Impaled, where Robin keeps howling like an ancient demon amidst a lugubrious atmosphere that will compel your heart to grow darker and darker; followed by Corrumpert Interludium, a song that will break your fuckin’ neck in a solid display of extreme music, with its riffs giving you goosebumps so demonic they are. I love the name of the next track, Vile Temptress, it transpires darkness and flawlessly connects with its spellbinding rhythm, as if the witch herself wanted to hypnotize us and take us all to her evil kingdom (“I am a witch… AND I CURSE YOU!”). This tune proves that extreme music doesn’t need to be fast at all times to be frightful, don’t you agree?

In the excellent Hollow, it looks like Robin’s plan is to drag us all to hell to the sound of his torture-inspired musicality, this time slightly faster and with an even more enraged growling, growing in desperation until the song’s fiendish ending; before The Shores of Daruk closes the album with almost ten minutes of hatred and occultism, guiding us into the unknown. I don’t know where those shores are exactly but it’s definitely not a happy place, getting even more supernatural halfway through it and evolving to a sorrowful ending. Thus, if you survive this tormented feast of Extreme Metal, you’re indeed a true doom metaller, but if you still want more you can enjoy the brutal and extremely well-engendered Portaclus, an amazing gift to fans who get the physical copy of the album, and of course a visceral exhibit of what Gateway is capable of.

Are you willing to keep having your body and soul tormented by this promising Belgian one-man band? Simply check out Gateway’s Facebook and YouTube, and in order to buy your copy of Gateway go to the band’s official BandCamp page, to the Hellthrasher Productions BandCamp or to their official webstore. When the gates of hell are open and gruesome bands such as Gateway arise from darkness, you know that if the world is actually coming to an atrocious end, may that be to the sound of the rawest and most demonic Doom Metal imaginable.

Best moments of the album: Kha’laam and Vile Temptress.

Worst moments of the album: Corrumpert Interludium.

Released in 2015 Hellthrasher Productions

Track listing
1. Prolegomenon (Intro) 1:08
2. Vox Occultus 6:16
3. Kha’laam 3:43
4. Impaled 6:58
5. Corrumpert Interludium 2:38
6. Vile Temptress 5:07
7. Hollow 5:00
8. The Shores Of Daruk 9:27

CD bonus track
9.Portaclus 3:32

Band members
Robin Van Oyen – vocals, all instruments

Album Review – Vacivus / Rite of Ascension EP (2015)

Fill the void you feel within with the Blackened Death Metal crafted by this devilish British horde.

Rating5

Vacivus - Rite of Ascension - coverDealing with the occult, death and transcendence, here comes British Blackened Death Metal band Vacivus and their debut EP entitled Rite of Ascension, an album that has enough power to darken your mind and spirit despite being relatively short. If you are already aware of how impactful both the music and the message generated by other Blackened Death Metal bands in the world such as the iconic Behemoth, Belphegor and Goatwhore are, you might have a pretty good idea of what Vacivus have to offer. If not, you better get ready because things are about to get heavy and atrocious.

However, this promising horde is not emerging from the depths of the UK depending strictly upon the heaviness of their music, but they also rely on their undeniable capability to add feeling and intricacy to a vortex of wickedness, showing beyond doubt their skills as musicians. On a side note, Vacivus seem to be extremely attentive to all details involving their music, as for example what they did with the already sold-out special cassette edition of the EP, releasing it on a special “Noir Void Shell” and inked with the “blood of their enemies”. In other words, they’re another good example of how the fusion of hard work and talent always results in awesomeness.

When you start listening to the opening track, Dark Apotheosis, you’ll feel like you’re descending into the fires of hell, where a dark void of despair is forged through the demonic vocals by Nick Craggs and the sinister guitar lines by Dan Rochester and Ross Oliver. Although this song is primarily raw Death Metal, you can taste the venom brought forth by its Black Metal elements. In the title-track, Rite of Ascension, it’s time for drummer Ian Finley to guide the rhythm with his raw blast beats, helping the musicality flow from faster and harsher moments to primeval Blackened Doom. I don’t know if anyone will agree with me, but the “filthy” production of the EP ends up enhancing the obscurity of their music, and therefore the overall quality of the album.

VacivusAgeless, Nameless starts in a more melodic way before evil dominates the sounding again, with the suffocating growls by Nick reaching a whole new demonic level. It’s dense and ominous, with highlights to the way its last part morphs into melancholic and infernal Doom Metal. And there’s no sign of hope when Hostis Rei (which probably means “the accused enemies” or something similar to that in English) begins, sounding like this song was literally crafted in hell. The whole band keeps delivering darkness and evil in the form of heavy and constant guitar lines as well as reverberating bass lines, turning it into my favorite of all five tracks. And lastly, we have one more solid display of malignancy in Vacivus Aeternum, which are the Latin words for “eternally void” and also the name of the band if you haven’t noticed yet. A lot closer to Black Metal than the other tracks, its nice guitar solo works as a downward spiral back to the original den where the EP started in a somber and effective way.

As aforementioned, the special cassette version of the album (strictly limited to 100 copies) released through Goatprayer Records is already sold out, but you can still purchase a digital copy of Rite of Ascension at the Gotaprayer Records BandCamp page, or wait until later this year to grab your CD version of the album via Hellthrasher Productions. Vacivus can easily help you fill the void you feel within with their Blackened Death Metal, all you have to do is embrace their nocturnal and unearthly aria and let their poisonous and metallic words intoxicate your psyche.

Best moments of the album: Hostis Rei.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Goatprayer Records/Hellthrasher Productions

Track listing
1. Dark Apotheosis 3:51
2. Rite of Ascension 3:57
3. Ageless, Nameless 5:24
4. Hostis Rei 4:37
5. Vacivus Aeternum 5:31

Band members
Nick Craggs – vocals
Dan Rochester – guitars
Ross Oliver – guitars
Dan Jones – bass
Ian Finley – drums