Album Review – Verthebral / Abysmal Decay (2019)

The abysmal decay of mankind and religion through the eyes of a ruthless Paraguayan Death Metal horde.

Formed in 2013 in Ciudad del Este, a city on the Paraná River in Paraguay, South American Death Metal unity Verthebral is a reminder of the potency of Death Metal coming from their continent, blasting our ears with their ruthless creations without a single drop of mercy. From the traditionally-rooted riffing to the relentless percussive hammering with savage and barked out vocals, Verthebral execute with utter savagery and precision each and every track form their newborn opus Abysmal Decay, tempering it with unpredictable tempo changes and whiplashing breakdowns, proving this is not just mindless brutality, but a well thought out extreme album that must not be taken lightly, being highly recommended for fans of hellish acts like Krisun, Rebaelliun, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Slayer, Death, Sarcófago, Malevolent Creation and Hate Eternal, among others.

Featuring a classic and absolutely incendiary artwork by Brazilian artist Marcos Miller (who has already worked with bands like Exterminate and Mental Horror), and layout by Finnish artist Turkka G. Rantanen (Paganizer, Demilich), Abysmal Decay is a natural and exciting follow-up to their 2017 demolishing album Regeneration, once again dealing with several controversial topics like anti-religion, philosophy, human conduct and death, all embraced by a violent and very detailed sonority brought forth by Christian Rojas on vocals and bass, Daniel Larroza and Alberto Flores on the guitars, and Denis Viveros on drums. Put differently, after you start listening to Abysmal Decay, you’ll undoubtedly feel your head, mind and ears tremble, exactly the way we all love in old school Death Metal.

Get ready to be smashed form the very first second in the opening track Ancient Legion, highly inspired by bands like Krisiun and Cannibal Corpse and with Christian delivering his trademark growling attack supported by the demented drums by Denis, sounding solid and pulverizing form start to finish. The quartet keeps hammering our heads in The Art of Perversion, a rhythmic, multi-layered Death Metal extravaganza led by the razor-edged riffs by Daniel and Alberto that will certainly inspire you to crack your skull into the circle pit, not to mention its amazing sinister break halfway through it; followed by the title-track Abysmal Decay, another brutal display of Death Metal slightly slower than its predecessors but heavy-as-hell, with the band’s guitar duo not only slashing our ears with their riffs but also with their crisp solos, resulting in a perfect choice for banging your head like a maniac.

Then it’s time for an absolutely demolishing display of extreme music by this talented band entitled Isolation Room, alternating between frantic moments and sheer brutality and heaviness where Christian continues to roar and bark like a true beast, elevating the overall quality of the album even more. Coronation of Envy already begins in full force, inspiring us all to slam into the pit like berserk metalheads, with Denis being unstoppable on drums and consequently building a thunderous stage for Daniel and Alberto to shine with their strident guitar solos, whereas in Absence of a God we face almost five minutes of crushing Death Metal made in Paraguay. It’s quite impressive how they never get tired of delivering the most rumbling and disruptive sounds possible, with the music living up to the legacy of bands like Deicide, Krisiun and Death.

Christian leads his horde with his deep, enraged gnarls in Sweet Home Illusion, a classy Death Metal onrush featuring demonic and intricate blast beats and metallic bass punches while Daniel and Alberto keep firing scorching sounds from their stringed weapons, before the instrumental bridge Obsidian Tears enhances our senses for the pulverizing My Dark Existence, a mid-tempo, disturbing chant led by the band’s infernal guitarists where Danis sounds like a sledgehammer on drums, feeling dense and obscure from start to finish (albeit not as creative as all previous songs). And closing the album the band adds tons of progressiveness to their evil music in Testimony of Hate, piercing our minds and ears with their visceral riffs and deranged growls, with the sounds from all instruments growing in intensity and rage until the song’s climatic and vile ending.

If you consider yourself a diehard Death Metal fan and true supporter of the underground, don’t forget to get in touch with the guys from Verthebral on Facebook, and to purchase your copy of Abysmal Decay from the band’s own BandCamp page, or from the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore in digipak CD format, in a digipak CD and T-shirt combo, or in an outstanding CD box set including an 8-panel digipak CD with metallic effect, an autographed card, an album artwork coaster, an album artwork fridge magnet, a gloss finish badge and a silver logo patch. Having said all that, I’m beyond happy to witness the healthy and vibrant rise of South American Death Metal in the past few years, with bands like Verthebral proudly waving the flag of Paraguayan extreme music everywhere they go through their destructive, heavy and anti-religious creations, or in other words, everything we love (and want) in our good old Death Metal.

Best moments of the album: The Art of Perversion, Isolation Room and Sweet Home Illusion.

Worst moments of the album: My Dark Existence.

Released in 2019 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Ancient Legion 3:38
2. The Art of Perversion 4:44
3. Abysmal Decay 4:26
4. Isolation Room 4:17
5. Coronation of Envy 3:39
6. Absence of a God 4:52
7. Sweet Home Illusion 5:33
8. Obsidian Tears 1:19
9. My Dark Existence 4:32
10. Testimony of Hate 4:25

Band members
Christian Rojas – vocals, bass
Daniel Larroza – guitars
Alberto Flores – guitars
Denis Viveros – drums

Album Review – Warcrab / Damned In Endless Night (2019)

May all your nights be damned to the sound of the soul-crushing death and doom blasted by UK’s own monolithic metal workhorses in their brand new opus.

There’s nothing better than a badass and absolutely pulverizing fusion of Death, Sludge and Doom Metal to haunt our souls on a Friday the 13th, don’t you agree? I’m pretty sure not even Jason Voorhees himself is capable of generating such heavy and reverberating sounds like UK’s own monolithic metal workhorses Warcrab, who after three years of silence return with an ever darker and more threatening sonority found in their new full-length opus, entitled Damned In Endless Night, a thunderous display of unbelievable heaviness and groove that will please all fans of the soul-crushing death and doom played by bands like Bolt Thrower, Crowbar and Eyehategod.

Carrying on where they last left in their 2016 release Scars of Aeons with their unique blend of down-tuned Sludge and ponderous Death Metal, Warcrab flesh it out and leave no room for doubt on the efficacy of their powerful and cohesive fusion of underground styles in Damned in Endless Night. Featuring almost the same lineup as from their previous album, with Martyn Grant on vocals (replacing former singer Kane Nelson), Geoff Holmes,  Paul “Budgie” Garbett and Leigh Jones on the guitars, Dave “Guppy” Simmonds on bass, and Rich Parker on drums, the long-awaited full-length from this Plymouth, Devon, England-based band is arguably their best release to date, cementing Warcrab as one of the flagships of the current underground metal scene in their homeland.

Perpetua is a serene intro where the band’s guitar trio warms up our senses for the hammering and bold Halo of Flies, with the sluggish guitars by Geoff, Paul and Leigh dictating the rhythm while Martyn begins vociferating like a demonic entity and Rich pounds his drums slowly and fiercely. In the Arms of Armageddon sounds closer to what the band offered in Scars of Aeons, which means an infernal, low-tuned and grim musicality smashing our heads mercilessly, not to mention the massive wall of sounds created by Dave and Rich in the background, whereas Blood for the Blood God is pure old school Sludge and Doom Metal for your avid ears, with Rich sounding utterly ominous on drums while Martyn basically vomits the song’s lyrics in a brutal and devilish way, therefore being highly recommended for breaking your neck in half headbanging.

Then the creepy guitars by Warcrab’s stringed triumvirate penetrate deep inside our minds in Abyssal Mausoleum, and you better get ready for over eight minutes of damned passages, low-tuned bass lines and endless obscurity, showcasing Geoff on absolute fire with his doomed guitar solos; and  Dave slashes our ears with his distorted bass lines in Magnetic Fields Collapse, a classic display of modern-day Sludge Metal infused with Death Metal-inspired vocals. In other words, simply keep banging your head nonstop and raise your horns to Warcrab until the song’s fulminating grand finale; followed by Kraken Arise (which by the way is also featured in a very interesting 2019 compilation titled Doomed & Stoned in England), a bestial onrush of Sludge Metal by Warcrab spearheaded by Martyn’s enraged roars, with Dave and Rich sounding as thunderous as the music demands with their sonic weapons.

Warcrab Damned in Endless Night Silver-embossed CD Box Set

Dave’s menacing bass lines are embraced by wicked distortions and a somber atmosphere in Unfurling Wings of Damnation, leaning towards classic Doom Metal the likes of Celtic Frost and Black Sabbath, with Geoff, Paul and Leigh extracting minimalist but potent and sharp sounds from their guitars, growing in intensity until it reaches a decimating, rockin’ sonority for our total delectation. Needless to say, Geoff’s solos are insanely heavy and crisp, adding an extra touch of malignancy to the overall result. Swords sounds and feels dark and demonic from start to finish, keeping the album at a truly high level of acidity, rage and madness, with Rich stealing the spotlight with his steady, sluggish beats while Martyn growls and gnarls nonstop. and its lugubrious final moments build an instant connection with the outro Damnati, an instrumental feast of cutting riffs and solos, pounding beats and sheer darkness that puts a climatic ending to such impactful album.

I became a fan of the music by Warcrab in 2016 after listening to Scars of Aeons, but I must admit those guys stepped up their game in terms of aggressiveness, obscurity and intricacy in Damned In Endless Night, on sale from several locations such as the band’s own BandCamp page and the Transcending Obscurity webstore (where you can also find a sensational Damned in Endless Night silver-embossed CD box set, limited to 150 and containing an 8-panel silver digipak CD, an autographed card signed by the band personally, a logo patch, an album artwork badge, a fridge magnet and a 3D sticker), as well as from Apple Music and Amazon. In addition, don’t forget to follow this six-piece infernal horde on Facebook and to bang your head like a maniac to their harsh and ruthless music, and then (only then) may all your nights be endless and damned.

Best moments of the album: Halo of Flies, Blood for the Blood God and Kraken Arise.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Perpetua (instrumental) 1:59
2. Halo of Flies 5:20
3. In the Arms of Armageddon 5:27
4. Blood for the Blood God 5:49
5. Abyssal Mausoleum 8:25
6. Magnetic Fields Collapse 4:22
7. Kraken Arise 3:35
8. Unfurling Wings of Damnation 7:33
9. Swords 6:18
10. Damnati (instrumental) 3:13

Band members
Martyn Grant – vocals
Geoff Holmes – lead guitar
Paul “Budgie” Garbett – guitar
Leigh Jones – guitar
Dave “Guppy” Simmonds – bass
Rich Parker – drums

Album Review – Illimitable Dolor / Leaden Light (2019)

Drenched in wistful melancholy and stirring up faded albeit rich memories, the new album by this Australian-based unity is an ambitious ode to all things doom.

New South Wales, Australia-based Atmospheric Doom/Death Metal masters Illimitable Dolor return from the darkest corners of the earth after the release of their highly acclaimed self-titled debut album in 2017 with a brand new opus, entitled Leaden Light, carrying on where they last left, drenched in wistful melancholy and stirring up faded albeit rich memories, sounding purer, more refined and clearer in expression than before, and lingering for long in your thoughts. With three artworks made by Indonesian artist Varises Otak for the CD, LP and box set editions exclusively (with layout and design by Australian graphic designer Pat Di Palo), this is an ambitious release from the band that features some of the best music in the style without overdoing any aspect of it.

Formed in 2014 in the city of Sydney, the band comprised of Stuart Prickett (The Slow Death, Horrisonous) on vocals, guitars and keyboards, Yonn McLaughlin (The Slow Death, Nazxul) on drums and vocals, Dan Garcia (The Slow Death) and Mat V. Newton (Lycanthia) on the guitars, Gavin Collison on bass and Guy Moore (Elysium) on keyboards offers in Leaden Light a raw and obscure fusion of Atmospheric Doom and Death Metal with Funeral Doom, influenced by renowned acts such as Skepticism, My Dying Bride and Officium Triste, beign therefore recommended for admirers of the music by Mournful Congregation, Evoken, The Slow Death and Chalice of Suffering, among others. Containing five extremely detailed, mournful and lengthy songs in the span of over 51 minutes, Leaden Light is not an easy listen for the lighthearted, consuming your soul and inviting you to join the band in darkness for all eternity.

A thunderstorm warns the listener darkness is upon us, before Yonn and his sluggish beats together with Guy’s phantasmagorical keys invade our senses in Armed He Brings The Dawn, showcasing a dense and heavy atmosphere from start to finish while Stuart vociferates the song’s Stygian words deeply through his low-tuned, devilish gnarls. In addition, the music flows like a river of darkness, alternating between purely somber passages and more piercing sounds, embracing the listener majestically. Soil She Bears is just as damned, lugubrious and grim as its predecessor, with deep and visceral roars permeating the air while the keys by Guy keep the ambience truly menacing. Not only that, Gavin and Yonn bring heaviness to the musicality with their respective punches and beats, dragging you to the bitterly cold crypts of the underworld.

Horses Pale And Four continues form where the previous song ended, building momentum and aiming at reaching a climatic stage where all instruments are darkly connected, with Stuart’s growls and the band’s guitar triumvirate’s riffs complementing each other flawlessly. Put differently, this is a bold and enfolding display of Atmospheric Doom Metal spiced up by Atmospheric Black Metal and Blackened Doom nuances tailored for lovers of the genre. Then the serene, melancholic piano notes by Guy kick off the utterly doomed and depressive Leaden Light Her Coils, where the guitars by Stuart, Dan and Mat feel like a delicate but extremely sharp knife cutting our skin deep. Furthermore, its rhythm is beyond mesmerizing, and you’ll certainly be stunned by how grandiose their music can be, with Guy, Gavin and Yonn giving a lecture in Doom Metal with their slow, steady and reverberating tones. And last but not least, the sextet morphs into their most Atmospheric Black Metal mode possible in 2.12.14 (which is probably the date when the band was created), feeling very touching, ethereal and melancholic, with Stuart, Dan and Mat taking the lead with their gentle guitar lines, followed by Yonn’s precise beats and all other grim instruments and sounds until the song’s dense ending.

As already mentioned, Leaden Light, available in full on Spotify, might not be an easy listen at first for the average rock fan, but it’s definitely worth a shot and a fantastic introduction to the world of modern-day Atmospheric Death and Doom Metal. Hence, you can show your true support to such idiosyncratic entity hailing from Australia by following them on Facebook, and specially by grabbing your copy of Leaden Light from several locations like their own BandCamp page or the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore in the US or in Europe (where by the way you can still purchase the beyond special gold CD or LP box sets), as well as from iTunes or Amazon. In other words, succumb to the most lugubrious side of music by joining Illimitable Dolor in pitch black darkness, and may your life be doomed forever and ever to the sound of their classy and extremely somber music.

Best moments of the album: Horses Pale And Four and Leaden Light Her Coils.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Armed He Brings The Dawn 14:50
2. Soil She Bears 7:18
3. Horses Pale And Four 11:27
4. Leaden Light Her Coils 13:48
5. 2.12.14 4:27

Band members
Stuart Prickett – guitars, vocals, keyboards
Dan Garcia – guitars
Mat V. Newton – guitars
Gavin Collison – bass
Guy Moore – keyboards
Yonn McLaughlin – drums

Album Review – Et Moriemur / Epigrammata (2018)

Transcending the perceptions of the death and doom styles and bringing back forgotten elements from the past, the new opus by this talented Czech band perfectly depicts our attempt to cope with the death of those we loved.

Founded in 2008 in Prague, in the Czech Republic, Atmospheric Black/Death/Doom Metal supergroup Et Moriemur, featuring members of legendary bands like Dissolving of Prodigy, Self-Hatred and Silent Stream of Godless Elegy, has been spreading what they like to call “Existential Doom” all over the world ever since. The name of the band, which is Latin for “and we will die”, already says a lot about how obscure and damned their music sounds, with their brand new album Epigrammata, the third in their already solid career, transcending the perceptions of the death and doom styles and bringing back forgotten elements from Gregorian chanting, delving into the rich European history and using Latin and ancient Greek to convey their message. Featuring an array of amazing guest musicians, Epigrammata has all of its song names in Latin taken from the Requiem Mass, notable for the large number of musical compositions that it has inspired, including settings by Mozart, Verdi, Bruckner, Dvořák, Fauré and Duruflé. Originally, such compositions were meant to be performed in liturgical service, with monophonic chant.

The band, comprised of Zdeněk Nevělík on vocals, piano and keyboards, Aleš Vilingr and Pavel Janouškovec on the guitars, Karel Kovářík on bass and Michal “Datel” Rak on drums, had a few interesting words to say about their new album. “Epigrammata represents our attempt to cope with the dying or death of those we loved. To create a solemn and classical atmosphere we used lyrics in ancient Greek (the title itself means epigrams) and in Latin, more precisely from the Mass for the dead – the album follows the typical Requiem structure, i.e. Introitus, Requiem Aeternum, Dies Irae etc. – and of course the traditional, unisono male Gregorian chant. In any case we tried not to do a uni-dimensional record. So apart from the inevitable grief there is gratitude as well for having had the chance to share our life with them and hope that they are well – wherever they are.”

Whimsical waves invade our senses in Introitus (or “prelude”), with guest Kostas Panagiotou bringing epicness to the intro with his enigmatic words before a massive wall of sounds crushes us all in Requiem Aeternam (“eternal rest”), with the doomed, sluggish beats by Datel and the imposing background choir generating a truly Stygian ambience. Furthermore, Zdeněk sounds as demonic as he can be, not to mention the potency of the music coming from the violin and cello. Then the piano by Zdeněk kicks off a Blackened Doom extravaganza titled Agnus Dei (“lamb of god”), a song that reeks of sheer darkness where cavernous growls get deeper and deeper in a delicate paradox with the smother background elements. In addition, Guest musicians Labrini Karousou and Vangelis Mertzanis provide another anguished and eccentric narration, feeling more doomed than atmospheric, and absolutely haunting and dense from start to finish. And their somber mass of Doom and Black Metal goes on with another fantastic hymn titled Dies Irae (“day of wrath”), with the band’s stringed trio Aleš, Pavel and Karel being extremely precise with their scorching, damned riffs and punches, and with the keyboards by Zdeněk sounding beautifully eccentric and wicked.

In Offertorium (“offering”) we’re treated to a Phantom of the Opera-like vibe blended with the band’s otherworldly sounds and tones, with Datel simply smashing his drums slowly and flawlessly while the choir keeps mesmerizing our minds, remaining dark and vibrant until its grand finale; whereas in the slightly faster and more piercing Communio (“communion”), Et Moriemur continue to fire their low-tuned, demonic tones intertwined with the church-like choir and a huge dosage of melancholy, maintaining the album at a vibrant and perturbing level. And in Libera Me (“rescue me”) an eerie organ together with the cavernous growls by Zdeněk generate a truly enfolding atmosphere, evolving into a lecture in Blackened Doom infused with church music elements. Furthermore, the entire band is utterly focused and energized, extracting the most damned but at the same time melodious sounds you can think of from their instruments, with every single second of this aria being beyond captivating (especially the final recitation by Zdeněk).

Then the piano by Zdeněk dictate the rhythm in Absolve Domine (“release lord”), complemented by his pensive words and cinematic-epic-imposing background sounds, with the music growing beautifully until darkness is upon us once again in the Blackened Doom aria Sanctus (“spirit”), a headbanging mass led by the crawling, gloomy beats by Datel. Hence, this amazing composition will elevate your senses with its potent sonority, not to mention how the entire band is capable of sounding so devilish and gentle at the same time. Lastly we have In Paradisum (“in paradise”), a 10-minute voyage through the realms of Existential Doom where its first part is pure old school Doom Metal, until anguished lamentations permeate the air in one of the most obscure and hypnotizing metal masses I’ve ever listened to in my life. In addition, the song’s sluggish drums, serene guitars and epic keys will penetrate deep inside your soul, with an ethereal feminine voice ending this top-notch album of Atmospheric Doom Metal majestically.

Et Moriemur are one of those bands you won’t listen to anywhere but only during your moments of introspection and melancholy, with Epigrammata representing everything the band stands for in terms of music and lyrical themes. And in order to show your support to such distinguished band, go follow them on Facebook and grab your copy of Epigrammata directly from their BandCamp page or from the Transcending Obscurity Records webstore in a Digipak CD + sticker bundle, as well as from iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and Discogs. However, if you prefer an exclusive and more stylish version of the album, I highly recommend you go after the Epigrammata Gold-embossed and UV-laminated Box Set, containing the digipak CD with booklet, an A3 size poster having a special artwork, a fridge magnet having the album artwork, two stickers of the album artwork + emblem artwork, and an individual hand-numbered certificate of ownership for your copy. It can’t get any better, more doomed and more obscure than this, and I’m sure you’re going to love it.

Best moments of the album: Agnus Dei, Libera Me and Sanctus.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Introitus 1:41
2. Requiem Aeternam 5:15
3. Agnus Dei 5:14
4. Dies Irae 4:12
5. Offertorium 5:44
6. Communio 6:14
7. Libera Me 5:18
8. Absolve Domine 2:47
9. Sanctus 6:05
10. In Paradisum 10:41

Band members
Zdeněk Nevělík – vocals, piano, keyboards
Aleš Vilingr – guitar
Pavel Janouškovec – guitar
Karel Kovářík – bass
Michal “Datel” Rak – drums

Guest musicians
Kostas Panagiotou – vocals on “Introitus”
Nikos Vlachakis – vocals on “Agnus Dei”
Labrini Karousou & Vangelis Mertzanis – recitation on “Agnus Dei”
Jaroslav Klvaňa, Karel Russ & Lukáš Pavlovský – choir
Andrea Michálková – cello
Zuzana Králová – violin
Jindřich Bešťák – trombone
Honza Kapák – acoustic guitar