Author: Alex Coulombe

Visigoth
The Revenant King
Metal Blade Records
Street: 01.27
Visigoth = Icarus Witch + Hammerfall + Manilla Road

Utah’s own heavy metal staple return with their first full-length album—released on none other than Metal Blade Records. Lee Campana and Jamison Palmer use their axes like master warriors, hacking out classic-assed riffs and melodic solos like camps of unsuspecting enemies while bassist Matthew Brotherton and drummer Mikey T. hold down the rhythms steadily and skillfully. The songs are dynamic and ensure that the catchy choruses linger in your mind—with one exception: The track running times never fall below the five-minute mark, making me want to take a drill to my brain à la Pi so I stop waking up with “Blood Sacrifice” on repeat in my head. Those familiar with their other releases will hear polished renditions of older songs, such as “Creature of Desire” and the proclamatory “Iron Brotherhood.” I’m particularly impressed with the increased, raw emotion that vocalist Jake Rogers exhibits on this album. Classic metal purists and basement-dwelling D&D nerds alike are going to need emergency stockpiles of tissues and lotion for this one. If Magic: The Gathering had a soundtrack, this would be it. –Alex Coulombe

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Disturbance Project
Grita Mientras Puedas
EveryDayHate
Street: 05.01
Disturbance Project = Nasum + Toxic Narcotic + Extreme Noise Terror

Disturbance Project turned up both the volume and grind knobs (the latter of which goes far past the 11th mark) and Grita Mientras Puedas was brought to life. It’s also probably safe to assume that they’re really pissed off. The songs speed by like crack-addicted light particles, all the while puking diatribes in Spanish. Both polar ends of the grindcore vocal range (low growls and banshee screams) are employed, which is impressive when pulled off correctly. After an intro of radio sounds, the drummer counts three on the snare, prompting order and harmony to take a smoke break. “Casa Belli” is 57 seconds of blast beats, shrieks and blurred punk riffing. The title track kind of sounds like some of the other ones, but it’s still pretty cool. I have a friend who gets horrific migraines all the time. I think that after giving Grita Mientras Puedas a listen, I can now empathize with that kind of head pain, albeit on a much smaller scale. Grind on, fellas. –Alex Coulombe

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Reverence of the Martyr – The Great Divide

Reverence of the Martyr
The Great Divide

Self-Released
Street: 07.30.14
Reverence of the Martyr = Septicflesh x Whitechapel

Ah, Utah blackened-ish metal-kind-of-core. If I’m going to be honest (why wouldn’t I be?), the drums are a little too low in the mix, and everything seems kind of stale as far as the overall sound goes, but the guitar work is pretty topnotch, and I know how costly a proper studio production can be. Maybe I’m just kind of burned out on this kind of style. I don’t want to discourage the band—The Great Divide shows promise, and as far as many local acts go, ROTM are still leagues above many of the more popular bands in the state. It’s easy to tell that the band has substance—the great riffs and talent indicate this. I wasn’t thoroughly impressed, but I wasn’t pissed off by any means at the end of the album either. I think they just need something that sets them apart from the vast ocean of acts like this in the local scene. –Alex Coulombe

Black Cilice
Mysteries
Iron Bonehead Productions
Street: 01.30
Black Cilice = Striborg + Belketre + Master’s Hammer
 
The scornful, mysterious and raw Portuguese black metal band Black Cilice is not for those afraid of getting their ears spattered in filth, or of recordings made outside of a professional studio setting (the word for these types escapes me … oh yeah, pussies). All the instruments slightly blend together, but this isn’t to the listening experience in any detrimental way—au contraire, each acts as a limb of an evil, angry, lo-fi Voltron. The vocals howl like a lycanthrope on a full-moon night, and any intelligible words are lost within a stream of ghastly effects and pulsing reverberation. Choral keyboards add a melancholic mortar to the wall of majestic yet vile sound, and the result is a grim, atmospheric assault which makes for a satisfying spin. My only gripe is that Mysteries is my first exposure to this kick-assery. I hereby christen Black Cilice: “Lycanthropic Black Metal.” Damn. I should get a T-shirt for coming up with that. –Alex Coulombe 
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Obscure Burial
Epiphany
Invictus Productions
Street: 09.15
Obscure Burial = Nihilist (Sweden) + early Mayhem + Sadistik Exekution

This is a neat, little release from Finland’s death dealers, Obscure Burial. Epiphany can be considered a demo, both in its rough production, length and the grim cover artwork, yet it could stand up to many of the studio albums from major labels that I’ve heard this year. The vocals have a slight delay on them, giving them a ghoulish, inhuman quality (think Deathcrush by Mayhem). “Night Queen” starts with guitar feedback and then builds into a bestial onslaught of fast black/death, uncut and straight from the heart. No melodies here, friend: just buzz-sawing bass lines like the one in the intro to “Dweller In The Abyss,” nauseating guitars (the good kind) and blasting drums. Tremelo riffs and chugs adorn the album in humble doses, and put bluntly, I’m thoroughly impressed. When I’m at the dinner table this Thanksgiving and that certain brother-in-law asks me what I’m thankful for, I’m going to toss a copy of this album over to him and let it speak for me. –Alex Coulombe

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Call Of The Void
Ageless
Relapse Records
Street: 02.10
Call Of The Void = Converge + Nasum + Gaza
 
Though the band is Coloradan, Ageless was recorded by Andy Patterson right here in Salt Lake City. Patterson has a knack for showing bands realistically—his work often has an organic, honest quality, and Ageless presents COTV as they are: crisp, tight, down-tuned hardcore/grind. Local artists also lent their talent to the album—Kim Pack (SubRosa) contributes her violin skills, and Anthony Lucero (Cult Leader) did the album artwork and performs vocals on “The Hive.” “Old Hate” beckons us into the void with a sludgy riff and then shoves the listener into a blast-laden pit of pandemonium, which ensues for most of the album save for the song “II.” The title (and final) track, my favorite of the bunch, makes sure you won’t get breakdown withdrawals and ends the album with a bang. I’m a sucker for albums that can put me on edge, and this will make you feel like your barista snuck six extra shots into your Americano. –Alex Coulombe 
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Johnny Touch
Inner City Wolves
Shadow Kingdom Records
Street: 08.19
Johnny Touch = Riot + Tokyo Blade

Another NWOBHM release! I’m not sure how they came up with the band name, but I have my suspicions—all of which are probably overthought and sickeningly juvenile. The music kicks ass, and these guys are talented, though I wasn’t blown away by any means. “The Metal Embrace” proves that they’re capable not only in their instrumental ability, but also of writing a catchy ’80s style sing-along. “Radiation Axeposure” is an instrumental track mostly consisting of a face-melting guitar solo, not out of place by any means on the album. I enjoyed this release, but I’d be lying if I said it ever ventured outside the well-travelled road of this style and into originality. It’s good, but I would much sooner give Defenders of the Faith or Thundersteel another spin before I put this back on. However, I would be interested to see if their next release will bring in something to set them apart from their peers. –Alex Coulombe

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Violent Hammer
More Victims
Self-Released
Street: 01.21

Violent Hammer = Archgoat + Blasphemy + Darkthrone

Them Finns sure know how to make raw, coming-at-ya-with-no-brakes noise that gives me that elusive “hurts-so-good” feeling (see also: Beherit, Satanic Warmaster, Impaled Nazarene, etc). Violent Hammer continues this glorious Finnish legacy with their new brutal and bestial demo. Tracks about war and annihilation perfectly complement the grisly production and ferocity of the music, which blows apart any genre boundaries except for “extreme,” “fast” and “hateful.” The riffs are primal and somewhat simple and the drumming isn’t mind-blowing, but the speed at which it all comes together makes it awesome, intense and impressive. Amid all the chaos, you can hear all the instruments pretty clearly if you strain your hearing slightly, which is an added bonus.
When the last track ends your ears will be ringing like your cellphone when you don’t bother to show up for work—a small price to pay for the enjoyment you’ll get from the listen. I’m doooooown! –Alex Coulombe

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Necrophagia
WhiteWorm Cathedral
Season Of Mist
Street: 10.28
Necrophagia = Cannibal Corpse + Autopsy

Necrophagia returned with their follow-up to 2011’s masterpiece Deathtrip 69 just in time for Halloween, undoubtedly the band’s favorite holiday. The artwork is fucking silly (this coming from a guy who mostly reviews metal albums, for Christ’s sake) but the tunes more than make up for this. Virtuoso and longtime co-conspirator with Sigh, Mirai Kawashima layers eerie, B-movie keyboards over some of the most horror-drenched, wicked death metal imaginable. Newcomer Abigail Lee Nero had no problems assimilating to the unmistakable style of the band and boy, can she shred. The shrill vocals are what you’d expect from founding member and horror movie guru Killjoy, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t kick ass. On the contrary, I’d be disappointed if he had changed anything—it would be like if John Carpenter re-released The Thing with imposing CGI creatures à la George Lucas. I’ll admit, I’m biased on this one, because Necrophagia are one of my favorite bands, but WhiteWorm Cathedral blasts far beyond mediocrity into a realm where it rains Halloween candy and tits. –Alex Coulombe

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Vardan – Between The Fog and Shadows

Vardan
Between The Fog and Shadows

Moribund Records
Street: 08.21.15
Vardan = Alrakis + Kanashimi x Burzum

Between the Fog and Shadows clocks in at roughly 45 minutes and 10 seconds, but contains only three songs, each with a distinct story to tell. The album steadily rocks along through a liminal space between DSBM and straight-up black metal, but there’s a transcendental evil lurking behind the basic drumbeats and simple but provocative guitar work. The riffs transition so well, I barely realize that they change due to the hypnotic state the music invokes. Rhythmic, new-wave keyboards add to the depression and intrigue. I wish I had Vardan (the name of the guy who does everything) in my contact list on my phone. “Vardan? Yeah, it’s me again. Nice job on the third full -length this year … How do you keep it so fresh?” Then we’d play Mega Man X2 and he’d summon Belial or some shit while drinking blood from a squealing animal and/or human (preferably both … simultaneously). –Alex Coulombe