Friday, January 31, 2014

DROWNED IN BLOOD - Deathbringer (2012)

Conflagration and Death It Brings

The band’s name and the title say it all: death metal. This is my first meeting with this Mexican monster, but now I can speak courageously that I will remember it for long. And despite of “Deathbringer” doesn’t bring anything new in my metal world, for sure these tunes are worth the trouble. The base of their music is creativity of Brazilian death metal outfits, especially Krisiun (and “Conquerors of Armageddon” era) is the main influence. But for me personally the lack of originality isn’t obstacle during the listening because Drowned in Blood produces death metal in really good and devastating way. And this is the most important factor.

Production of the album sounds really solidly, maybe vocal lines should be louder a bit. George uses rather semi-growling, it is quite articulated and in my opinion he mixes two ways of singing: Peter from Vader and Alex from Krisiun. Fortunately it makes a final result really good. But the groundwork of this destructive force coming from the speakers is the work of unmerciful drums which can effectively press down the listener. The note “play fast or die” taken from the booklet is a kind determinant of the things to come. Mexicans bathe in really fast tempos, and when they slow down, it is the very short moment to strike again with crushing drum cannonade and guitar riffs. What is interesting, the whole album didn’t bore me, even I liked the way they put some short intros (from “Saw” movie) into the tracks, which take the music on another sick dimension. Good move! “Deathbringer” is maintained on rather equal level, there is no weak song, and especially opening song “Makers of Ravage” (what a proper title!) is a real show that is in this band. Each song has a guitar lead, yet some of them has quite memorable group of riffs (the opener, “Thirst for Vengeance”, “Through the Agony”). So thirty minutes passes by extremely fast, I wrote there is no filler… in the ‘proper’ songs. Namely “Deathbringer” is ended by a bonus instrumental track called “After Death” lasting three minutes and I do not know if it fits to the entirety. Maybe I cannot state that is a mistake here, but it seems to be unnecessary softening of the remainder. For sure it is quite sorrowful yet it gives a… hope? For what???

One thing is certain: Mexicans created bloody piece of death metal based on checked patterns. Even the music reminds some big metal names aforementioned above, I recommend this crew to every death metal head. “Deathbringer” has everything to conquer the senses: brutality, merciless blasts, expressive guitar riffs and optimal length. What else do I need? Just push the play button and with the first words coming from the opening intro sounds: “you can’t hide…” I drown into the territory of Deathbringer remembering that there is no escape… 


(previously written for Encyclopaedia Metallum, on February, 2013, now modified a bit)

TANKARD - The Beauty and the Beast (2006)

The Hepatocytes Disorder

Since the releasing “Two-Faced” album back in 1994, Tankard simply kicks my thrash ass without any mercy. Even if they recorded one average album “The Tankard”, I praise them a lot, especially when Andy Gutjahr joined the team with his guitar. I decided to review this thrashing piece called “The Beauty and the Beer”, because it is the top performance of the band. But the quality of this music didn’t come from nothingness, their previous record “Beast of Bourbon” is a solid base to create such a great album as “The Beauty and the Beer” is.

The man called Andy Classen responsible for sound realization did a really great job. And when I read some interviews with band members, one thing was declared: once again Andy helped the band to create destructive album yet there is no place to hear any tunes of artificiality, everything is maintained in good proportions, even I can admire rhythm section that effectively supports the guitars. So what about the songs? The musicians prepared plenty of delicious delicacies, each song seems to be a thrash highlight, and it is very hard to choose the best one. For sure, after first meetings with this, the song called “We Still Drink the Old Ways” (nota bene, what a great title!) was reigning in my head. Though the beginning may lead into error due to calmer bass parts and lazy Gutjahr guitars, after thirty seconds the track enters the proper way of demolishing: based on superb yet very memorable riffs with excellent solo leads. Now I can assure you that the rest is in the same vein. Let’s take for example “Metaltometal” which I treat as another classic thrash live killer. The song has a really thrilling opening, not so fast, I can even say that is written in balladic way, it seems to be rooted deeply in the mighty eighties, it doesn’t last so long, only forty seconds, but I can’t simply forget it! Then the hard massive riffs strike the reverie with quite fast guitar work and mordant Gerre vocals. The chorus is the next thing to remember and we have a formula for excellent thrashing shot. Tankard doesn’t propose the broken musical structure, I can say the song is rather simple yet my thrash heart gets new portion of metal blood to pump. But when I write about ‘simple’ killers, the best confirmation of my words is the last one “Shaken Not Stirred” – a real avalanche of furious riffs, the chorus with Gerre screams “it’s all you can drink” for sure isn’t forgettable just like crazy guitar lead with galloping rhythm section in the background.

For me this album is the evidence that Tankard still has something to say. They are still active, moreover, in 2012 they recorded another album which is their fifteenth performance. I have an impression that they don’t look on the present fashion or trends, they don’t care about the competition or modern ratrace. Aside from being musicians, they are natural metal supporters. I saw them live only once in my life and they crushed my senses: totally on the loose, to give some fun to the thirsty thrash maniacs, with excellent musical performance, mixing old and new lethal hits… What did I want more??? In a perfect way they smuggles specific sense of humor into their front covers and lyrics. This humor isn’t stupid, just look, from funny Disney-like picture with beast that lusts for two tankards full of cold beer brought by full-breasted blonde, to well written lyrics not only concerning drinking beer and its aspects, but also metal life and personal issues. I didn’t find here any symptoms of boredom (yes, that’s important!), the songs are varied with plenty of memorable guitar works, from fast shots (“Rockstars No. 1”, “Shaken Not Stirred”), to rather in slow tempo (“Ice-olation”, “Dirty Digger”) or with combined tempo (title song, “Frankfurt: We Need More Beer”), but I think my proposition is just a simplification. You won’t find here any filler song or casual moment that softens the entirety, Tankard is well-oiled thrash machine that destroys the silence, each chorus has its own killing melody (it is easy to remember). So, open your refrigerator, take the cold beer and play this incredible piece of metal absolutely loud. And scream with Gerre: the power of metal will always survive!!! Let your neighbors know this elemental truth. 


(previously written for Encyclopaedia Metallum, on December, 2012, now modified a bit)


ASEDIO - El orígen de todos los males (2012)

The Ecatepec Burst: Delivering the Metal Madness

This year is a really good period when it comes to the thrash releases. New albums were recorded by such names as Testament, Kreator, Tankard, Destruction, also many young metal crews stated that they had found thrash metal instead of their blood. I don’t want to write and cogitate if it is the next trend or fashion, or it is not, the main thing from my point of view is that Mexican Asedio is amongst those many young bands playing this kind of metal. The band, coming from Ecatepec, released the second album called “El orígen de todos los males” (in English: “the root of all evil”), but the songs has been published in the web since the end of the previous year. So, delay is enormous, time was dragging on unmercifully, because their first album “Somos nada” really thrilled my metal world and maltreated my senses in absolutely positive way. And what is more, their debut album is the best newcomer in this century in all metal categories. Thus my expectations were gigantic, and Asedio had to face really challenging task to prove metal quality and show that “Somos nada” wasn’t accidental performance. And if the band managed to record the album on proper level, the main question strikes my mind: did new album beat the debut? With hope yet with some anxiety I came into the world of “El orígen de todos los males”…

The first thing I knew about the album was the front cover. And I have to write frankly that is simply perfect, in the nowadays flood of new pictures, this one is very recognizable. In one word: appetizer. Even if all the songs were ready to download from the web, I decided not to listen to them. So I was patiently waiting many months for the package from American Line (Asedio’s label). Someone can say I’m fucking insane or something like this, but I really don’t care. If I have a physical copy, I can listen to the recording and review it. Period. Finally, the cd has landed, so long wait has given its fruits at last. The first surprise: only almost 28 minutes of running time and one instrumental song that opens the entirety. The next element: production, fortunately still drowned in the chains of underground. The sound is massive, selective, vivid and pounding the mind, thus everything is perfectly audible here and served in proper proportions. This sound isn’t so harsh and raw as compared to the debut album, it is given in rather modern way, but fortunately with no signs of artificiality, such common in present metal productions. Simply, the new album has a really good realization of sound.

And what about the main element? What about the music? For sure releasing such killing stuff as “Somos nada” cannot force me to praise blindly new performance, but I can state absolutely consciously that the second album is undisputedly better. In the review of their debut, I had a wish. I knew about the band’s metal talent, and I wanted to hear more their activities in this way. And now, during listening to the material I know that the power of metal has not been lost. The interesting thing is placing instrumental miniature (lasting almost one minute) as an intro, fortunately it isn’t done on keyboards, by on guitars only. It is just perfect start to the upcoming record and in my opinion it is like a small determinant of the things to come. I mean, it has some kind of fearful and horrific yet full of sorrow atmosphere, and to be honest, I didn’t expect such a fine opening. But I assure that Asedio didn’t change the thrash style into death/doom or stuff like that. One minute passes by, and “Morbosidad del alma” enters the stage. And it simply crushes my head! This track is a quintessence of the whole album, where after rather slow riffs work, the voice of Jorge Baez gives a signal to attack. As compared with the debut, Jorge brought more brutality to his vocal lines, now he prefers growling-like style (with some blackish screams in some parts), again in Spanish, however his effort here is very clear and understandable.

Of course riffs are the base of Asedio music, that’s obvious for the thrash crew, mostly they are played in fast tempos. Although I heard many of them, here there is a really fresh work from both guitarists. And each song is confirmation of my words. Still I can hear stunning melodies in thrashy way, but this time Asedio didn’t show melody lines like for example in the first track “Batalla contra la esperanza” from the previous album. Here I got more sounds ‘in hiding’, what makes this album more difficult in overall perception. But do not get me wrong, musicians didn’t serve complicated music and broken arhythmic tempos. This is very direct and straight-forward music which has only one task: to conquer my senses. And only one song is longer than magical three minutes and this is the title one. It is hard to state if it is the best one, but for sure “El orígen de todos los males” is a track which I cannot leave without any words. It is opened by child cry, then very calm yet absolutely sad guitar work lasts until about forty second, when heavy guitars and rhythm section join. Believe me, I heard many so-called songs full of all-embracing sadness, it was characteristic for death/doom scene from the nineties, but aforementioned beginning beats everything I have ever heard in this genre before. In addition, the sadness feeling is strengthened by all artwork inside the booklet. The title killer isn’t maintained in slow or mid-tempo, but I’d like to glorify the chorus, tempo changing and two superb guitar leads. Simply I love this track, its atmosphere and exploiting layers of thrashing energy. So after six minutes the last song “Vastagos del miedo” brings another hurricane tunes, it is still classic band shot in my head, but there is one thing I cannot understand. And I have some remembrances from the closing track “Victimas de la prohibición” from the debut. Here the situation is the same. From my point of view the track is incomplete (yes, that’s correct word!). Well, when the song reaches 2:50, everything becomes calmer and gives place absolutely amazing guitar lead. It is a very good idea to end the album in this way, but it lasts merely 35 seconds and I want to hear more such paralyzing and memorable sounds. I think the sounds disappear suddenly and I can’t put up with this. My overall mark isn’t maximal and it gets out of the ending of “Vastagos del miedo” only… but from the other hand, I don’t treat it as a drawback.

I’m not going to write in detail about the whole musical entirety. The remainder is also maintained in top-notch performance beyond the shadow of a doubt. Fast attacking riffs dominate with some rhythmical breaks here but the drummer Samuel Segura fortunately doesn’t use blast beats (of course he doesn’t, it is pure thrashy energy exclusively!), the solo leads are played in faster tempos (“Esencia de la negación”, “Virtud de la ambición”, “Culto a la rebelión”) or slower (“Morbosidad del alma”, “Monumento a la indignidad”). Each song has an enormous potential to be a live killer for supporters and metal maniacs. The shortness of this material causes that every single second of music coming to my mind is worth its weight in gold. Moreover, Asedio for me is some kind of revelation with a real power of true metal with no idea to pollute their murderous compositions by any modern shit. Everything has its place: music, songs, vast imagination, metal vision, choosing the best form of expression and front cover. What is more, in inundation of so many materials coming from every site, Asedio is like an emperor amongst village fools. I am surprised myself a bit writing such words about this album, when I compare it with the records from this year released even by big and famous metal names, and to put it briefly, I can see no rivals for these Mexicans. I am quite old metal freak, I listened to many metal sounds in my life, and now I am really happy during listening, absorbing and praising such thrilling and stunning thrash record. It gives me a hope that nowadays metal still has something to say, and the foreseeable future is just great for the band with such spirit of metal. And for sure, by this album Asedio joins the pantheon of Mexican metal gods. Yes, absolutely superb stuff…


(previously written for Encyclopaedia Metallum, on December, 2012, now modified a bit)

ALBATRHOZ - La visión de los profetas (2005)

The Prophecy Vision

This band is a big surprise in whole offering of American Line label full of death and black outfits. The band coming from Pedro Escobedo, Mexico, is a representative of pure heavy metal. Originally recorded in 2005, now the album is remastered and with three bonus tracks taken from the previous demo. I don’t know what was the reason to re-release this item, and I really don’t care, because the music simply kicks my heavy metal ass. Of course Mexicans don’t serve completely new original sounds and “La vision de los profetas” is maintained in the vein of Spanish Tierra Santa (especially when it comes to the first albums). It’s not only my observation, the band writes about Tierra Santa influences on their own pages as well. But here I’d like to state that there is no chance of being named as stupid rip-offs, the music is very solid supported by real and expressive heavy metal riffs. In addition, very good sound helps with general perception of tunes.

All right, let’s leave intro (nothing special here), because the first song “Genesis” attacks with quite decent riffs, when after calm (but not acoustic) beginning, the proper guitar work enters the stage. This is the Mexican formula to play good heavy metal: fast tempo, interesting work of guitars, memorable riffs and no artificial melodies. What do I want more? Vocals of Ruben are sung in Spanish (that’s good!), perfectly fit to the music, they are clear and audible, but the difference with Angel (Tierra Santa) is noticeable. Ruben proposes rather steady singing, and for sure it doesn’t bring monotony to the entirety. So, the synopsis of the album is given. But it is worthy to mention about fourth song called “El martir del Golgotha”, the longest one, with calmer opening lasting almost one minute. The song tells the story about last moments of Christ before crucifixion, after about fifth minute I can hear the sounds of nailing to the cross and lamentations, then furious guitar lead tears everything apart. I am really impressed. In turn in next “Ancestros” similarity to mentioned Spanish band is very perceptible when it comes to melodic lines. But the best track is “Llorar en el infierno”: absolutely killing riffs not only on the start, the longest guitar lead on the album and vivid tempo changes. Simply great!

To sum all the things up, it is obvious this band is a tasty bit for all heavy metal hunters. The unknown yet strong, hard music, without wimpy melodies and maintained in rather fast, forward-moving tempo (maybe “Crucifixion” is different a bit because of some balladic moments mixed with hard guitars). Albatrhoz doesn’t play complicated nor broken music, with simple elements they execute good metal spitting the next album into this rotten world. Many years went by, so I think it will be cool to hear any new songs from this band. But is it possible, guys?  


(previously written for Encyclopaedia Metallum, on November, 2012, now modified a bit)

ALTAIR - Demo (1994)

The Oblivion Arbiters

Far, far away from the mainstream and city lights, in the deep depths of underground, there was a Polish band called Altair, split-up many years ago with the only proof of existence. This band is the next metal crew on this mighty page which can be described by means of such adjectives as forgotten, underestimated, unheeded or underrated. For sure these words are used here quite often and in the case of this demo I won’t be an original metal freak. So prepare yourself because in front of your eyes another jewel of thrash metal approaches straight from the Polish land and Jastrzębie Zdrój town. Before writing about musical content, I have to write some words of introduction to get better insight into the matter. The band was born in 1992, in the times when thrash genre started to rot. Assuredly young metal supporters wanted to animate their beloved but dying metal music and after two years of rehearsals, the demo attacked my metalized mind and ears. So, Altair proposed pure thrash release in 1994. Any comments about contemporary scene? At that time practically only Testament recorded thrash metal album (“Low”, but everybody saw some changes as compared to the 80s classic albums). The giants were changing their style, so you can understand my indescribable joy while listening to this crushing demo.

The first seconds show one thing: very good production that knocked me down at the time. Simply the sound is just top-notch and it is hard to believe that I deal with Polish underground demo. Everything is audible here, even bone-crushing bass lines. Unlike many Polish crews that suffered from bad sound or lack of money to record in proper studio with proper and helpful engineer, first attempt of Altair is a perfect example how the metal stuff should be recorded. Of course, sound realization is not enough to praise the thing to the skies, what is more, musicians don’t offer the revolution in music. Anyway, as I signalized earlier, in times of “hey guys, forget about pure thrash and follow death/black trend”, Altair entered my metal heart like a long-awaited messiah, even if musical comparisons go to Polish Kat (especially “Bastard” era) and maybe Sacred Reich. But forget about worthless and miserable imitation here or wanna-be attitude, Altair has his own perceptible metal touch. And in addition they beat aforementioned crews without any hesitation.

Demo is opened by almost two minute instrumental miniature. It’s like a calm before the storm, it has a light beginning with capfuls of wind, then hard powerful guitars appear just like a very good memorable solo lead. The first proper track called “In Vitro” is maintained in mid-paced tempo which is rather preferred by the band, hard and heavy guitars effectively overwhelm the listener, but some speed-up is heard too. Unfortunately they showed too short guitar lead for me. Also there is a necessity to write something about vocals which remind me of R. Kostrzewski (Kat) a bit. Robert vocals aren’t special or unique but perfectly fits to the music, he sings in Polish, the words are very clear and this is most important. The next track “Odmieńcy” is the best one here, slow, monumental tunes on the start with excellent work of rhythm section (techno-thrash?), then the band shows murderous speed-ups supported by massive fat guitar riffing of Mandat brothers with two superb solo leads (the first one shorter, the second fortunately longer) where guitarist creates really good melodic lines. Simply, “Odmieńcy” song is a thrash killer, absolutely base of the genre, and the right smasher to play it live! The next three tracks maybe aren’t played in such an astonishing vein, but the very solid level of “In Vitro” is maintained beyond doubt. The last twenty second of “Głosy nocy” (the last one) has some fast moments, then the band suddenly ends the entirety… 

So, let’s sum all the things up: this is the best demo in my collection when it comes to thrash metal categories. In all-metal: one of the best. And now I wonder how it is possible to record such a great stuff after merely two years.  It is a proof that Altair had everything to record a debut album and conquer fossilized Polish (and maybe worldly?) thrash scene: precise communication within the band and great ideas to compose thrashing killers, moreover, they knew how to record their songs in studio. What is more, these four musicians were musically gifted, in every aspect of musical layers there are things to praise, listen especially to my beloved “Odmieńcy”. Unfortunately those years were deadly enemies of such music, labels were interested only in death and black directions, so Altair felt into scene oblivion inexorably. Even they got quite good review in Polish Metal Hammer magazine (commercial press!), they failed to sign any deal. Our scene has lost a thrash jewel. I am thrash freak from the beginning of my metal education and have many albums with such killing music, and this band, forgotten by the cruel world, is one amongst them. Amongst Testament, Overkill, Forbidden to name a few. I know the reunion is impossible now, but the better these 25 minutes of pure greatness than nothing. And if I am getting balder and balder with every single day, this record seems to be untouchable by the greedy hands of time. A real thrash monolith.  


(previously written for Encyclopaedia Metallum, on October, 2012, now modified a bit)