Given the convoluted intros that have become a bit of a calling card ‘round these parts, we wizened scribes find ourselves in a bit of a situation here. Here's the rub: Entrenched is an outfit about which I know astonishingly little. No niceties regarding city of origin, or band members, or associated acts. In this sense, unless you’ve seen the gloriously indicative album artwork for their sophomore effort Endless Occupation, the music really must speak for itself.
And to be honest, it doesn't speak so much as roar vivaciously. Entrenched play, for all intents and purposes, a speed and thrash-oriented brand of death a la Demolition Hammer or Morbid Saint. They wear the visceral war-torn trappings of Sodom--take the track titles, which range from the obvious ("Meatshield"), to the goofy ("Goreamedic"), to the exclamatory ("Terrorize the Insurgency")--but yet conduct themselves with the juggernautian bombast of Malevolent Rapture-era Legion of the Damned. Imagine if Merciless or Invasion lost their more overtly frantic edges, and gained instead a Vader-esque sense of (moderate) composure. But yet, these comparisons are imperfect, and despite existing in a fairly well-occupied space, Entrenched are seemingly their own bloody beast, taking the bits that work, but never feeling derivative to a consequential degree. Needless to say, if you want thrashy riffs and endless bullet-belted aggression, Endless Occupation will scratches that itch with...well, take your pick of rusty implement. Rake. Machete. Lawnmower.
At 29 brief minutes, Entrenched present an idyllic neck-whipping package. Vocals bark and growl at a wondrously energetic pace, throwing themselves into the fray with a stoicism that arises from well-conceived confidence. Percussion operates exactly how you might hope: pounding, ceaseless, skull-crushingly relentless. Drummers all-too-oft get the short end of the stake--and particularly so in the case of a genre that is exceedingly riff reliant--but here, the percussion is just too damn integral to not receive a well-deserved spot in the limelight. Entrenched bring solid performances across the board, and that goes a long way to making sure that the more overtly gun-brandishing, bandana-wearing, and otherwise cigar-chomping moments aren’t without an appropriately solid foundation.
Highlight tracks are difficult to determine, as I believe, seemingly paradoxically, that Entrenched operate on their highest level when they slow things down. “Interrogation Chamber,” “Terrorize the Insurgency,” and “Assisted Suicide Enlistment” all demonstrate their keen ability to switch gears, and in a genre based so frequently in balls-to-the-wall wild abandon, this is a prime differentiator. Otherwise, give the title track a listen to see what they accomplish at their most visceral.
Endless Occupation is indeed, as I stated a long while ago, a “wild fuckin’ ride.” This album has occupied my listening rotation...well, endlessly, since it first came to my attention. In a world with a near-endless supply of gore, good riffs, and a delightfully kinetic atmosphere, that's saying something. Highly recommended!
The news-report strains of ‘“From the Graves We March” rise, with staticky dial-up gravitas, above the groans. Without further ado it's officially on: Apocalypse by way of Zombie, the viscerally apropos downfall of humanity as we know it. Is there really any better fodder for a death metal album? I think not, and, evidently, neither does the international two-piece Reign of Terror. Comprised of Jereth Fewings on the instrumentation and Oscar Diaz handling vocal duties, these guys brandish their influences on their sleeves with a forthright pride, citing and recalling their heroes--be it Death, Deicide, or Dethklok, among a host of others--with the glee that one simply can not fake. I mean, just look at the logo. These guys love death metal, and their debut album is a well-conceived expression of said passion.
Decimation of Mankind is defined in many ways by the toilet-gurgle vocal stylings, which will either suck you in or reject you violently, depending entirely on your tolerance for the regurgatorial approach of, say, Aborted, Deicide, or Dying Fetus. In our track premiere for “Sacrificial Slaughter," the expulsive vocal tendencies of Vomitory were brought into play, and that descriptor continues to hold well here. Mr. Diaz displays a balance between gurgles and screams mightily, layering a certain raspy scream that, at it's best, inject a little hardcore ‘tude into the melting pot. While, as a whole, the vocals are improved upon in Reign of Terror’s sophomore release, they are still energetic and remarkably dynamic on Decimation.
Given the prior stage-setting, I hesitate to use the term "clean” in reference to Decimation of Mankind, but no bones about it: this is good clean death metal. Nothing flashy. Nothing heady. Just good ol’ brain-pummeling. As it should be. That said, the majority of the tracks herein are strangely hypnotic--recalling, oddly enough, a darkwave-esque sonic quality. Dance With the Dead comes to mind, in terms of the lurching riffs that ebb and flow, typically muffled and subdued by the sheer force of the vocals, but occasionally forthright in a show of primal ferocity.
This album is stuffed to the brim with fun moments. Take the simple yet invigorating buildup on “Thy Savior is Thy End,” which never fails to elicit an ill-advised neck whipping. The eventual tempo changes on this track do wonders to avoid stagnation, as do the electronic leanings on “The Plague”--one of the albums more intriguing moments. “Machine of Vengeance” is an absolute goddamn barnburner, rivaled only by its immediate follow-up in terms of violent zeal. “Creation Breeds Decimation” is a stellar track, grinding and driving with assertive abandon. Here, the Reign of Terror formula operates at its best, as the vocals, guitar, and percussion mesh together in a relentlessly satisfying sense. Tracks such as this demonstrate that at their best, Reign of Terror are genuinely following--and filling--the footprints of brutal death's giants. Tying things up with an intestinal bow, the album ends off with the purely atmospheric church bell ringing of “...And to the Graves We Return.” While outros are largely unnecessary, it works in Reign in Terror's benefit to bring the overall narrative to a satisfying close.
From a needs-improvement standpoint, there are several aspects of note. The first--as is often the case when this particular villager turns a critical eye--is song length. This particular brand of death benefits from punchy runtimes, and with multiple songs stretching across the 6 and 7 minute marks, a trimmed refrain here or there would serve each track's individual impact. As a result, the album’s back half--home to some of the shorter tracks on display--is the more impressive. The vocal cadence is another sticking point, as a similar chanting rhythm appears enough times across the album to become overly familiar. That said, in both cases Reign of Terror's sophomore effort is a giant step in the right direction. Self correction in practice.
Bottom line? These guys aren't revolutionaries of the death metal scene by any means...but this is death metal, after all, and the vast majority of the time all we're looking for is a neck-snapping good time. To this end, Reign in Terror deliver in spades. And if you’re a fan Decimation, fear not: they release new music on a ridiculously impressive timeline, and, as mentioned, their follow-up, entitled Revolution Through Violence, is already out. Listen to "Thy Savior is Thy End" below:
Despite remaining a banner year by most accounts, few 2018 releases exemplified the new era of underground death metal as well as the fantastic split shared between Coffin Rot and Molder. As a certain glowing account reported at the time, Molder's putrid, fetid, and otherwise sarcophagal sound wasn't created so much as uncovered. It's a relic wrestled from the locked jaws of a dusty cadaver. Call it an exercise in grave robbery--albeit committed not with the typical implements of the trade, but rather with ragged fingernails. It is with great pleasure that we here at the Sleeping Village can confirm: neither this split, nor Molder's previous EP, were flukes. Enter the appropriately entitled "Granulated Chunks," the first track off Necrobiome, their forthcoming 3-track demo.
Besides a deliciously lo-fi production value--which contributes immensely and indeed feels essential to the aesthetic--Molder operates on a simple winning formula: meaty riffs, restrained drums, and a dry-bones distressed bark. Making no particular effort to get any too quickly, the guitar evokes a near-doomy bent as it takes on riffage straight out the respective playbooks of early-era Master and Pungent Stench. The bass is buried, yet effective at providing "Granulated Chunks" the weight it oh-so deserves. The percussion does exactly what is needs to do without senseless flair--seldom do drummers receive praise for maintaining a status quo, but I'll be damned if Nick Ayala isn't becoming notably consistent. And of course, Aaren Pantke's dusty, no-nonsense tonality, which made "Condemned to the Catafalque" such a fine track, is here to stay.
All told, "Granulated Chunks" reaffirms a commitment to a core sound. Gloriously, it adds little in terms of fresh content--because let's face it. Molder doesn't deal in fresh. Their climb out of the plague pit doesn't necessitate the destruction of established motifs and boundaries. Molder represents the concentrated form of everything we underground and old school death metal fans love about the genre trappings. Give "Granulated Chunks" a listen below...and keep one eye open. With any luck, Necrobiome shall claw its way out of the grave shortly.
Written by: Tales_of_Deception
The beginning of my journey with metal started nearly two decades ago. Possessed, Testament, Overkill and Death were my life force at the time. I was a strapping young lad with zero spark on what my future would hold. All I knew was that I enjoyed the hell out of the bands mentioned above and couldn't get enough of them. As time went on, I slowly experimented with different genres of music and for some reason, the passion I had for pure thrash metal or head crushing death just sort of went the fuck out of the window. Flash forward to present day and I may have found the saving grace that has more potential to drag me out of the pits when it comes to thrash/death metal than I've heard in nearly a decade.
Suffering In Diseases is the debut record from Germany's own Toxic Trap. At first listen, I was a little on the boarder of "really enjoying this record" and "it could use some work in spaces". By the end, I was in bliss and didn't want to come out of whatever I was in. The opening track, "Black Death," really hits the nail on the head when it comes to embracing the roots of the founding fathers of thrash. A slow melodic, creeping intro for a mere 30-seconds is what you get until the flesh from your ears is ripped apart from the throttling bass and addictive speed of the drums. It might start there but it most definitely does not end at that point. Track by track Toxic Trap does everything they can to hold the listeners attention.
To be honest, it seems that they have it all figured out. When it's time for one track to end and the next to begin, you prepare yourself for the same thing on repeat for damn near 47-minutes. At least that's usually the case with most of the thrash/death records I've heard in the past. Spoiler alert! Suffering In Diseases isn't that! It's a record that can be repeated a hundred times on a loop and you will hear something brand new every single time. Just look at the track below, "Burned To Death." It's a whirlpool of destruction that consistently slaps you right in the fucking mouth but then graciously doctors the wounds it just pounded into your skull. Best of both worlds, right?
In closing, the thought and depth that the guys from Toxic Trap put into this whole project is very welcomed and loved, at least by me. All the words in the world couldn't begin to explain how pleased I am with this record as a whole. From front to back and every inch in between, this record is exactly what I want from a thrash/death record, if you couldn't tell from the above paragraphs. Don't take my opinion for facts, give it a listen and support it if you enjoy it.
Country of Origin: Germany | Genres: Thrash/Death Metal | Record Type: Full-Length | Release Date: September, 2018
Written by: Loveloth
Portal's monstrous shadow inspired many a band to push the boundaries of extreme music, and Basque's Altarage is one of many that follow the Aussies' sinister footsteps. Shrouded in anonymity, the three (formerly four) masked figures exploded on the scene with Nihl in 2016 and caused quite a ruckus. The band wasted no time and released Endinghent just a year and a half later, and here is where I found out about them. I found the record decent, basically a more accessible and stripped-down version of Portal, which is OK but not enough. Cue The Approaching Roar that was released last Friday. I have to say, my opinion on this band has changed. Let me explain.
While the Portal influence is undoubtedly here, The Approaching Roar is more or less (more on that later) its own beast. Vile dissonance, inhuman howls, spastic drumming and angular riffs are still all the rage but, unlike Endinghent, is overall a more memorable and diverse experience. Things start off hellishly great with "Sighting," where you are greeted by a few unpleasant guitar plucks before a wall of noise encircles you. It's swift, vicious, and overwhelming. The best course of action is to stop resisting and simply give in and let the band guide you through their carefully crafted and terrifying soundscapes. However, these alone do not make this record shine, it's firstly the fact Altarage decided to mix things up and I realized this with the arrival of "Urn". Its initial churns and bellows are more akin to Sunn O))) or early Earth, and not only does this change the pace but also continues the sonic onslaught. It also attacks you differently, and I feel that this was lacking in Endinghent.
Like the songwriting, the quality of the production also improved and is surely one of my highlights, as the record walks a very thin line between being disgustingly dense and murky, yet somehow crisp and clear enough for you to properly hear what's exactly happening. Funnily enough Portal did the same thing with ION last year but for my money, this sounds better. I mentioned songwriting and I have to commend the guys for doing an excellent job, although some parts like that outro in "Cyclopean Clash" linger for too long and some songs can be hard to distinguish from one another, but you can only do so much with this style of death metal and Altarage mostly succeed. As for the individual performances, I only have praise. The vocals are gnarly, guttural and perfectly complement the absolute chaos that are those angular and dirty riffs and astonishingly fast and precise drumming that will make fans of Deathspell Omega or Ulcerate very pleased.
Overall, The Approaching Roar is a seemingly infinite abyss that was carved by a band I now think of seriously. I am completely aware how many times I namedropped Portal but make no mistake, Altarage are carving their sound before our very eyes. Expect seeing this record popping up on some year-end death metal lists as its content, no matter how bleak and seemingly impenetrable, hides many treats for you to discover. You only need to be brave or insane enough to dive deep into the approaching roar of Altarage.
Altarage - The Approaching Roar was released Jan. 25th from Season of Mist Underground Activists
A certain groggy-eyed, highfalutin' peasantry