Album Review – Inanimate Existence / Clockwork (2019)

A pulverizing album of Technical and Progressive Death Metal by a ruthless Bay Area triumvirate, dealing with the human tendency to struggle with the acceptance of mortality and our limited time on earth.

Formed in 2011 in the renowned Bay Area, in the state of California, United States, Progressive/Technical Death Metal trio Inanimate Existence returns in 2019 with a brand new opus entitled Clockwork, the follow-up to the group’s highly praised fourth album, Underneath a Melting Sky, released in 2017. Featuring a futuristic and whimsical cover art by by Justin Abraham (who has already worked with bands like Equipoise, Aepoch and Oubliette), with additional artwork by Mark Erskine (from Erskine Designs), recorded by Inanimate Existence and Zack Ohren, and mixed and mastered by Zack Ohren at Shark Bite Studios in Oakland, California, Clockwork delves deeper into cerebral Progressive Death Metal depths, while buoyed by the group’s established penchant for merciless full-throttle brutality and frenetic tech-death driven terrain.

And the band comprised of Cameron Porras on vocals and guitar, Scott Bradley on bass and backing vocals, and Ron Casey (Continuum, Brain Drill) on drums had a few nice words to say about their newborn spawn. “We’re thrilled to finally be able to share our 5th studio album with all of you! This is definitely the most work we have ever put into an album by a long shot. Sound wise I’d say that it’s a continuation of our last album but much more polished and mature,” commented the band, describing Clockwork’s thematic focus as “dealing with the human tendency to struggle with the acceptance of mortality and our limited time on earth. It explores the questions we torment ourselves with during life along with the irony of how small and insignificant we are in the grand scheme of the universe. The title refers to the mechanisms of a clock and how every tick brings you closer to your doom.”

The trio begins firing their fusion of insanity and progression mercilessly in the title-track Clockwork, with Ron dictating the rhythm with his furious beats while Cameron brings a touch of delicacy to the music with his guitar riffs and solos, sounding at the same time devastating and very melodic; whereas in Voyager we’re treated to lyrics that exhale insanity (“Isolated, trapped inside the capsule / I fear that I may now be on my own / My crew have perished, and I am alone / Orbiting beyond the atmosphere / My communications are down and the power is cut / I gaze back to the Earth / Wondering, will I be remembered?”), with the music bringing elements from smoother styles like Jazz while Scott extracts sheer thunder from his intricate bass lines. This talented American triumvirate keeps smashing our senses with their vicious Progressive Death Metal attack in Apophenia, as complex and pulverizing as possible, sounding as if the almighty Krisiun went full progressive at times, offering to the listener several neck-breaking moments led by Ron’s insane drumming; and their metal extravaganza goes on in Desert, with all three member firing wicked and intricate sounds and tones from their respective instruments. Put differently, it’s straightforward Progressive Death Metal with a vibrant atmosphere, not to mention Cameron’s sick solos adding some welcome lunacy to the overall result.

In Solitude the band offers us pensive and modern lyrics (“I return to solitude / Where once again I contemplate / What my purpose is inside this burdensome reality / I return to solitude / Where once again I contemplate / What is my purpose?”), while its instrumental parts are absolutely mental, with both Cameron and Ron crushing their weapons nonstop, followed by Diagnosis, where the band continues to slash our ears with the modernized and very complex version of Death Metal. Moreover, the bass lines by Scott sound insanely heavy and metallic, with the music also bringing interesting eerie passages and breaks (despite going on for a bit too long). Then back to a more demonic and infuriated mode we have Ocean, blending the most violent and thrilling elements from Progressive and Death Metal with Ron sounding infernal on drums, therefore providing Cameron the perfect ambience for gnarling deeply and rabidly, once again presenting spot-on melodic and ethereal passages. Lastly, Liberation closes the album with more of the dynamic, electrifying sounds from the depths of the human psyche by the trio, with Scott and Ron bringing thunder to the musicality while Cameron keeps delivering harmonious riffs and solos while growling like a beast until the song’s visceral ending.

You can have your brain shredded into pieces by listening to Clockwork in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, and after being stunned by Inanimate Existence simply go check what they’re up to on their official Facebook page, including their tour dates, and purchase your copy of their brand new opus from their BandCamp page, from The Artisan Era webstore (in several exclusive formats and bundles), from Apple Music or from Amazon. As aforementioned, the band itself said that we all struggle with the concept of mortality and our limited time on this planet, which means we should not waste too much time thinking but enjoying some good, destructive and complex Death Metal while we’re alive, with Clockwork being an excellent choice for that.

Best moments of the album: Voyager, Desert and Ocean.

Worst moments of the album: Diagnosis.

Released in 2019 The Artisan Era Records

Track listing
1. Clockwork 4:34
2. Voyager 5:40
3. Apophenia 4:37
4. Desert 4:06
5. Solitude 4:42
6. Diagnosis 5:34
7. Ocean 4:55
8. Liberation 6:43

Band members
Cameron Porras – vocals, guitar
Scott Bradley – bass, vocals
Ron Casey – drums

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Album Review – Augury / Illusive Golden Age (2018)

Following the same path of extreme pounding riffing mixed to the sci-fi and historical concept of their first two albums, this Canadian four-piece act returns with a brand new (and crushing) opus.

Hailing from Montreal, “La Métropole du Québec”, Canadian Progressive Death Metal squad Augury began their journey in 2001 from the ashes of many local acts such as Foreshadow, Kralizec, Atheretic, Quo Vadis, Disembarkation and Neuraxis, with an intent from the start to deliver an extreme dose of Death-Black-Progressive Metal along with an intriguing scientific and esoteric lyrical concept. Comprised of lead singer and guitarist Patrick Loisel, guitarist Mathieu Marcotte (Humanoid), bassist Dominic “Forest” Lapointe (First Fragment, Teramobil, Beyond Creation), and newcomer Antoine Baril (Contemplator) on drums, Augury are back in action with their third full-length installment, titled Illusive Golden Age, following the same path of extreme pounding riffing mixed to the sci-fi and historical concept of their first two albums Concealed and Fragmentary Evidence.

Featuring a somber artwork by Canadian musician Filip Ivanović, from Flat Bathtub, Illusive Golden Age will please all fans of progressive and extreme music who are also in constant pursuit of a good background story or meaningful content, making the entire band really proud of the final result achieved. “It took us quite a long time to concretize so we’re eager to see people’s reaction to our new music. Illusive Golden Age is a poetic tale about the recurrence of downfall and a glance at some factors that bring down societies, influenced by lost civilizations and their enigmas”, said those talented Canadian metallers about their brand new spawn.

Thnigs can’t get any more progressive than the title-track Illusive Golden Age, an epitome of modern Progressive Death Metal where Patrick together with Mathieu and Dominic give a lesson in how to treat your strings with respect, delivering beautiful riffs and solos while Antoine demolishes his drums; and Antoine and Dominic ignite the furious The Living Vault in a groovy and captivating way, before Patrick vociferates deeply like an uncanny beast. Furthermore, the song evolves to a very intricate and exciting musicality, with its slashing riffs blending flawlessly with its insanely complex drums until its wicked grand finale. It’s certainly impressive how they blend Progressive and Death Metal so perfectly, which is exactly the case in another lesson in creativity and fury by the quartet titled Carrion Tide, presenting lyrics fans of the genre will definitely love (“They swarm the clouds / Seeded with the morgellon plague / Falling like manna / Tapeworms weave through your brains / Witness the parasite becoming a host / Witness the anthill getting boiled down / Setting to sail / The carrion tide”), whereas in Mater Dolorosa the band takes their ferocity and madness to a whole new level in a feast of crushing riffs, demented drums and deep, cavernous roars (not to mention how the bass punches by Dominic will make your skull tremble), resulting in one of the best and most pulverizing of all songs.

Then if you love demented metal music you’ll have a blast with Maritime, where the band’s guitar duo is not only in total sync, but they complement Antoine’s bestial drumming in a precise manner, setting the stage for Kevin and his berserk gnarls. Message Sonore leans towards more traditional Progressive Metal, with the metallic sounds emanating from their riffs being the core element in this intricate instrumental exhibit (and I should say it would be extremely nice to see them jamming like this live), while Parallel Biospheres carries a classy name for another frantic onrush of Progressive Death Metal led by Antoine and his phenomenal drumming. Put differently, this is a total delight for lovers of the most insane side of progressive music, with Kevin sounding beyond demonic on vocals. And last but not least, their most complex creation, entitled Anchorite, is also their longest one, presenting utterly melodious guitar lines, rhythmic drums and an enfolding atmosphere, with the brutish growls by Kevin effectively bringing an extra dosage of aggressiveness to the overall musicality, culminating in a true musical journey through the wicked universe ruled by Augury until everything comes to a tempestuous and awesome ending.

You can listen to Illusive Golden Age in full on YouTube, and follow Augury on Facebook for news, tour dates and all other updates by the band. And in case Progressive Death Metal is your cup of tea and you’re eager to put your hands on this thunderous and very progressive album, you can find it on sale at the band’s own BandCamp page, at The Artisan Era’s webstore, on iTunes or on Amazon. In a nutshell, the third full-length opus by Augury not only cements their name as one of the most exciting new groups of the underground extreme scene, but it also points to a bright future for a band that’s not afraid at all to experiment with sounds while at the same time being as aggressive and heavy as they can be.

Best moments of the album: The Living Vault, Mater Dolorosa and Maritime.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 The Artisan Era Records

Track listing
1. Illusive Golden Age 5:49
2. The Living Vault 6:07
3. Carrion Tide 5:03
4. Mater Dolorosa 6:50
5. Maritime 4:31
6. Message Sonore 3:22
7. Parallel Biospheres 4:31
8. Anchorite 8:07

Band members
Patrick Loisel – vocals, guitars
Mathieu Marcotte – guitars
Dominic “Forest” Lapointe – bass
Antoine Baril – drums

Album Review – Virulent Depravity / Fruit of the Poisoned Tree (2017)

Technical Death Metal cannot get more intense, complex and devastating than what Tennessee-based guitarist, bassist and vocalist Colin Butler and his henchmen have to offer in their debut full-length album.

If you’re an admirer of the most technical form of Death Metal, you’ll be excited to know that Virulent Depravity, the brainchild of Nashville, Tennessee-based guitarist, bassist and vocalist Colin Butler, have just released their debut full-length album, a lesson in dexterity and devastation named Fruit of the Poisoned Tree, and that the final result goes beyond the boundaries of awesomeness. Featuring a classic artwork by American designer Justin Abraham (Apotheosys, A Loathing Requiem, Engulfed in Blackness), the album will appeal to fans of Spawn Of Possession, First Fragment, Archspire, Origin, Necrophagist, Deeds of Flesh, Decrepit Birth and tons of other Death Metal acts who unite the words “finesse” and “ravage” in the most electrifying and precise way imaginable.

Formed In 2015, Virulent Depravity might be a new name to many in the world of Death Metal, but its band members are far from being rookies in the fields of extreme music. The impressive musical abilities by Colin attracted the attention of well-known guitarist Malcolm Pugh (Inferi, A Loathing Requiem), who joined the band in 2016 on rhythm guitar and additional solos. Furthermore, the line-up is rounded out by Svart Crown drummer Kévin Paradis, whose incredible playing is the perfect foil to Colin and Malcolm’s dazzling performances, resulting in additional layers of complexity, speed and energy added to the already flammable music by Virulent Depravity, as you’ll be able to thoroughly enjoy in Fruit of the Poisoned Tree due to the album’s fantastic mixing and production.

Colin and Malcolm begin their technical shredding attack in the brutish but still very harmonious Serpentine Messiah, a perfect sample of modern Technical Death Metal where the beastly Kévin provides intricate beats and fills that complement all guitar and bass lines flawlessly, not to mention the sick guitar solo by guest musician Mark Hawkins. After such amazing start, how about a modernized and more metallic version of Cannibal Corpse, titled Spineless Obedience, a demolishing anthem tailored for slamming into the pit? The violent and fast growls by Colin effectively follow the song’s frantic riffs and beats, and once again it’s impressive how demented Kévin sounds with his beats. And their insanity in the form of extreme music goes on with another belligerent creation named Your Demise, where Colin and his bandmates deliver a precise fusion of fury and complexity, sounding more demonic than ever.

Blasting sheer violence through their riffs and solos, Colin and Malcolm have an outstanding performance in Desecrating Eden, while Kévin continues his maniacal onrush behind his drums (not to mention the song’s beyond technical ending), followed by the title-track Fruit of the Poisoned Tree, which not only maintains the intricacy at an absurdly high level, but it brings even more aggressiveness due to the amazing job done by Colin with his deranged gnarls and Kévin with his sick drumming. Put differently, no one can survive such apocalyptic tornado of Technical Death Metal. And guess what? In the next tune, named Bad Drug, they don’t waste a single second with intros or other shenanigans, firing pure Death Metal played to perfection, with its visceral lyrics complementing the song’s already vile musicality (“You’re so sick / You’re infecting the weak / You’re making excuses for all your mistakes / You waste of skin / You remind us all / No matter how high we become / We crash to the ground / You’ve had the devil inside you / You’ve been carrying scars for most of your life / Until finally you found a way to push it down”), also featuring an awesome guitar solo by guest musician Nick Padovani.

Colin definitely knows how to canalize all his hatred and wrath into his unstoppable growling as we can witness in Beyond the Point of No Return, an uproarious chant with progressive elements added to its musicality, in special to its extremely elaborate bass lines and vicious drumming. Then we have Only Human, where we face a calmer intro not seen in any of the previous songs. Although it takes a while for the music to take off, it fairly succeeds in keeping the album at a high level of violence; however, it doesn’t sound as exciting as all previous songs, even with its interesting progressive break and the great guitar oslo by guest musician Craig Peters. Back to a more demonic and rabid mode, Colin once again leads his horde growling like a beast in Mechanized Defilement, while Kévin adds so much intricacy to the musicality with his beats and fills it’s hard to explain in words. The song also features another kick-ass solo by another guest guitarist, this time Elijah Whitehead, resulting in a song that is excellent for some sick headbanging, slamming into the pit or simply enjoying its complex lines. Lastly, in Crushed by Futuristic Filth, we’re treated to a short atmospheric intro before all hell breaks loose in a majestic display of extreme music featuring absolutely mighty lyrics (“Sitting atop my throne of flesh and bone / My power is absolute / My subjects are waiting idly / Their silence is deafening / Embalmed in trash and kerosene / At once triumphant and disgusting”), obscure Latin chants by guest vocalist Nathan “Sounds” Bounds, a soulful guitar solo by guest musician Sims Cashion, a moody Jazz-ish break thanks to the keys by Jimmy Pitts, and a wonderful climatic ending on the piano also provided by Jimmy.

Why don’t you go to YouTube and take a very good listen at Fruit of the Poisoned Tree in its entirety? I’m sure you’ll get stunned by the precision with which Colin, Malcolm and Kévin blend melodious lines with total chaos. Then simply go to Facebook to start following such amazing band, and purchase the album at their BandCamp page, at The Artisan Era Records’ BandCamp or webstore (where you can choose between the regular CD or the special CD + T-shirt combo), on iTunes or on Amazon. Trust me, Technical Death Metal cannot get more complete and intense than this.

Best moments of the album: Serpentine Messiah, Fruit of the Poisoned Tree and Crushed by Futuristic Filth.

Worst moments of the album: Only Human.

Released in 2017 The Artisan Era Records

Track listing   
1. Serpentine Messiah 4:38
2. Spineless Obedience 4:01
3. Your Demise 4:02
4. Desecrating Eden 6:13
5. Fruit of the Poisoned Tree 4:01
6. Bad Drug 3:42
7. Beyond the Point of No Return 3:33
8. Only Human 7:48
9. Mechanized Defilement 6:05
10. Crushed by Futuristic Filth 7:41

Band members
Colin Butler – vocals, guitar, bass
Malcolm Pugh – lead & rhythm guitar
Kévin Paradis – drums

Guest musicians
Jimmy Pitts – keyboards on “Desecrating Eden” and “Crushed by Futuristic Filth”
Mark Hawkins – guitar solo on “Serpentine Messiah”
Nick Padovani – guitar solo on “Bad Drug”
Craig Peters – guitar solo on “Only Human”
Elijah Whitehead – guitar solo on “Mechanized Defilement”
Sims Cashion – guitar solo on “Crushed by Futuristic Filth”
Nathan “Sounds” Bounds – guest vocals and Latin chants on “Crushed by Futuristic Filth”