Category Archives: Reviews

Is WITCHGOAT’s “Umbra Regit” the Heaviest Demo This Year?

witchgoat

Ahh Morbid Skull Records; a label continually delivering the ugliest, most terrorizing forms of thrash and death metal to the black-clad masses worldwide. El Salvadorian blackened thrashers “WITCHGOAT” are no exception.

Their debut to the world, demo tape “Umbra Regit” is blistering thunderstorm of intensity and sickness. If I were, like, 50 years old I’d be talking about how these bullet belt clad, Hispanic beasts brought me back to the tape trading days. The reality is, all true metal heads feel they were a part of the tape trading days despite their age, and a band like “WITCHGOAT” has the momentum and  ferocity in their sound to catapult them right there.

The first adjective that comes to mind upon listening to this honestly killer demo is hungry. From the first blustering notes of “Emanations of the Underworld,” “WITCHGOAT,” sets the tempo for a raging thrash experience that’s steeped in technical virtuosity while maintaining that primitive ambiance that kvlt thrashers crave.

“Umbra Regit’s” production is clean enough to sound professional without stripping the band of their intensity. Their effort here was perfect and allowed for their cool, Destruction like riffs and emotional solos to really shine through. The drumming, while pushed into the background, was still audible and complemented the guitar heavy atmosphere on this album incredibly well. I thought it was perfect. I mean, these guys aren’t “Archgoat” or “Revenge.” This approach worked well for them.

What was really cool was the way the raspy growling vocals sounded over the dual shredding. The blueprint here was perfect for creating that nostalgic feel that brings you back to the golden age of extreme metal. “WITCHGOAT’ is more than just a tired band that’s copying the reverberations of their thrash forefathers, however. The closing track “Towards the Gulgalta” proves these guys are killer musicians with a versatile range. It’\s slow, acoustic ambiance really sets the tone on the album in a cool way.

I have very little negative feedback for this effort. The only thing I might say is that they didn’t bring much new to the table in terms of sound. But with the weird, post-metal direction a lot of bands are going,  a balls to the wall blast from the past is refreshing. I honestly loved this demo and am looking forward to seeing more from these guys in the future really soon. Share this and buy their stuff. It’s always a drag when good bands peter out because of lack of support. Let’s not let that happen.

9/10

 

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666 The Best Death, Black, and Thrash Albums So Far This Year

Tons of metal zines have posted articles highlighting the best albums of 2017 so far. They all did this back in June, which I suppose makes sense.  Unfortunately, none of these lists have met the expectations of Underworld Zine.  Once again favoring a band’s popularity over substance, the mainstream metal magazines have failed to highlight some of the greatest metal of the year.  I’m writing this article in response to that trend.  Underworld Zine has always been dedicated to covering truly underground bands.  These are Underworld Zine’s top six black, death, and thrash albums so far for 2017.

Death Metal

6. Warpath- The Ambience of War

Brutal death metal never sounded so good.  Hailing from murky Irish wilderness, Warpath are a band you probably haven’t heard of or listened to but you should familiarize yourself with them immediately and prepare to have your faced melted.  Unlike the menagerie of brutal death metal bands that have listeners struggling to keep their eyes open halfway through the album, Warpath manages to keep their latest EP, The Ambience of War, interesting from beginning to end.  Pummeling blasts, emotive and technical solos, and absolutely sickening vocals meet to create an onslaught of brutality.  The production value is top notch.  While you can clearly hear all the instruments, the grimy quality of old school death metal isn’t lost in the clarity.  This is sickening brutality at its best.

5. Desultory- Through Aching Aons

No death metal listicle would be complete without the inclusion of a proper, melodic Swedish band. Swedish death metal pioneers, Desultory, take the number five spot with their truly ferocious comeback album entitled Through Aching Aons.  The LP has that classic Swedish feel that pays homage to At the Gates, respectably. But, dare I say it, Desultory has gotten heavier with age.  They always had a bit of a melodic groove to their sound, and that isn’t lost on Through Aching Aeons, but this album is pummeling all the way through.  Their combination of brutality and catchiness is what sets their sound apart from others in the Swedish horde.

4. Contaminated- Final Man

Australia’s Contaminated is possibly the heaviest band to make the list.  In the vein of early Autopsy or Convulse, Contaminated has perfected a kind of doom and gloom death metal aggression on Final Man with guitar tones that sound like they were dragged through muck and vocals akin to gargling blood.  Being a relatively new band, Contaminated’s 90s feel is utterly convincing.  Proper use of downtuning and crushing, doomy passages make Final Man truly memorable in 2017.  This is some seriously heavy shit.

3. Necrot- Blood Offerings

In an age of five string basses and blistering technicality, sometimes simplicity can be refreshing.  This is certainly the case with Necrot’s latest release, Blood Offerings.  There’s been a lot of buzz about the band’s latest album and rightfully so. Necrot have forgone the tech death trend, instead opting to create death metal in the vein of Dismember, early Goreguts, or even Death.  This is driving brutality through and through, with catchy riffs, gritty production, and an overall sickening ambience.  The kind of stuff made for circle pits and the wall of death.

2. Undergang- Misantropologi

It seems old school death metal is making a massive comeback.  Undergang’s fourth full length release exemplifies this trend perfectly.  Not that it’s really a trend.  Misatropoligi would scare the pants off an Avenge Sevenfold fan.  This shit is grimy to the core.  D. Torturdød’s are some of the sickest low grunts I’ve ever heard and A. Dødshjælp’s blasts will figuratively rip your face off. Simplistic riffs are masterfully arranged on Misantropoli to create a captivating experience for listeners.  Misantopologi is hard not to fall in love with.

1. Immolation- Atonement

The number one spot on the list is going to the old school masters of death and destruction, Immolation. Atonement doesn’t ease listeners into its glory, instead punching them in the face from the very first crushing riff.  It’s always a relief when a band from the 90s can still destroy and Immolation does just that.  This album holds no punches.  With a victorious and powerful feel, enunciated lyrics, unrelenting brutality, perfectly timed solos and sqeals of the guitar, and melodic technicality, Atonement does not disappoint. But then, when has Immolation ever truly disappointed us?  With Atonement, Immolation shows us how American death metal should be done, and we’re thankful for that.

Black Metal

6. Sinmara/Misþyrming- Ivory Stone/Hof Split

If I had to pick one scene in black metal today that’s touching on the originality of the early Norwegian scene, it would the current scene in Iceland.  The black metal movement in Iceland is bursting with creativity and bringing a new, chaotic approach to black metal that hasn’t been seen in years.  Sinmara and Misþyrming are leading the pack in Icelandic black metal and this year the two powerhouses teamed up to release a split.  The album delivers a blackness and chaos of a black hole and conveys a message of sheer insanity. Sinmara are the real innovators on this EP as their track is vast improvement in quality to the tracks on Aphotic Womb.  But Misþyrming brings it hard as usual with their addition to the split, Hof.  This is cool.  This is kvlt.

5. White Death- White Death

This band just creeped up out of nowhere.  I’m glad they did because their self titled release is comparable to Satanic Warmaster or early Behexen.  The Finnish foursome has seemingly mastered the aesthetic of early, orthodox black metal and brought it to audiences in a fresh and exciting way.  Gloomy passages pair with dissonant riffs, and screeching vocals effortlessly.  Even the occasional fist pounding rock and roll beat or acoustic lick can be found on the band’s self titled debut.  This album is a must have for anyone who loves straight forward black metal done well.

4. Irae- Crimes Against Humanity

Irae is another orthodox black metal project, deriving significant influence from the early, Norwegian sound, but also paying an obligatory nod to the black thrash pioneers.  Irae is a one man project out of Portugal, spawned from the ominous mind of a man known only as Vulturius.  This is good stuff. Fist pumping hard rock licks meet with blackened dissonance, and thrashy interludes to form a truly killer, and old school sounding LP.  Vulturius doesn’t overdo the ambience on this, making for a heavy black metal experience spawned directly from the pits of Hell.  This will scare the hell out of your neighbors.  Really fantastic.

3. Noktunal Mortum- Істина (Verity)

The first black/folk metal band to make the list, Nokturnal Mortum are quite deserving of their position here. Simply the way the first full length track, entitled Мольфа kicks in, with that beautiful string arrangement that builds up into sheer aggression, is enough the moisten your underwear.  This album is a beautiful mix of ambient folk passages, triumphant battle cries, and sheer ferocity wrapped into an hour and fourteen minutes.  The Verity experience is orchestral and you almost lose yourself in the beauty of it.  Is this Nokturnal Mortum’s best release?  Nah.  But it still blows away many other bands under the same moniker.  I can’t stop listening.  Keep at it guys.  Slava Ukraine!

2. Goatmoon- Stella Polaris

Findland’s Goatmoon seems to improve every year.  Stella Polaris is a far cry from Death Before Dishonor in creativity and overall beauty.  The intro is a beautiful acoustic piece that’s consuming and immediately demands full attention from the listener.  Every song  is more beautiful than the next, as BlackGoat Desacrator focuses on building atmosphere with gorgeous, melodic riffs. Stella Polaris is probably his most melodic release so far, matched only by Varjot, but with a fuller sound and better production.  The second to the last track, entitled Overlord, is the one that really stuck out for me.  The final track, entitled P.A.I.L. was interesting, to say the least.  Almost an attempt on a black metal ballad, the track works surprisingly well.  Overall, a win for Goatmoon.  Hail!  Victory!

1. Wode- Servants of the Countercosmos

This band is probably the most surprising on the list.  A new band out of the United Kingdom, Wode is knocking the socks of black metal fans with two stellar releases.  Wode’s sophomore release, Servants of the Countercosmos has a sound that’s almost legendary.  To risk sounding presumptuous, can you say the next Dissection?  Not that this is another Dissection rip off, far from it actually.  It’s just that their sound is so highly memorable that it harkens back an era of musical perfection only matched by Dissection.  Every song is better than the next, as Wode pummels into your soul with an unrelenting ferocity not seen since the 90’s.  The melodic nature of the sound and clean production is reminiscent of the early Swedish black metal sound.  All this greatness spewing from a band made up of musicians virtually unknown to the black metal scene.  What a fantastic record.

Thrash/Speed Metal

6. Lich King- Omnomniclasm 

Lich King makes the number six spot on this list for their newest release entitled Omnomniclasm.  The sheer improvement of the band over the years has people starting to really take notice.  Omnomniclasm is standard thrash metal done at its best.  Focusing on speed, aggression, and ferocity, the new album holds true to original thrash metal vision.  Halfway through, Lich King even hails its speed metal predecessors with a slow and triumphant display of power in the song Civilization.  Think in the vein of Priest.  What Lich King has always focused on, however, is having the coolest riffs and playing faster than anyone else.  Omnimnoclasm delivers sheer speed like few others in the new wave of thrash and perfects the sound with good production and riffs that will crush your skull.  Lich King is basically Vio-Lence reborn and for that we’re all thankful.

5. Power Trip- Nightmare Logic

This album has been getting a lot of hype from metal elitists this year and I can see why.  This is crossover at its best. While I don’t hear a huge amount of hardcore influences on Nightmare Logic, the ones that are there are tasteful.  Ultimately, this is aggression and speed perfectly executed through buzz saw guitar tones, face ripping riffs, rad tempo changes all spawned from the first crunchy riff.  Nightmare Logic is a fist pumping masterpiece complete with anthemic choruses and some of the coolest riffs I’ve heard all year.  Power Trip is good shit.

4. Witchnight- Unholy Speed Metal

Witchnight is a brand new blackened speed metal band out of Argentina but their sound, name, and overall image may as well be out of 1987.  These Argentinian shredders go straight for the jugular with their unique brand of black speed in the vein of Tormentor or demo era Destroyer 666.  The fifteen minute EP entitled Unholy Speed Metal is marked by its utter intensity, lightening fast riffage, and cool DIY production.  This is the kind of album I can imagine procuring in cassete form from a truer than thou older friend who partied with Jeff Hanneman back in the day.  The entire EP drips of blasphemy and rage.  Unholy Speed metal is Witchnight’s first EP, first anything ever.  I really hope this band succeeds.  I need more.

 

3.Bloodlust- At the Devil’s Left Hand

Three words: Australian blackened thrash.  Bloodlust is a relatively new band that has old pro chops.  At the Devil’s Left Hand is the band’s second full length release but the structure and execution of the album is so perfect you’d think Bloodlust had been at it for decades.  I could chalk this up to expertly executed D666 worship but honestly, Bloodlust bring their own unique flavor to the table. The most notable positive on this album is probably the tempo changes, which are so succinctly placed that you’re transported in a sort of thrash metal void upon listening.  Just be careful when you’re listening to AT the Devil’s Left Hand.  You might just break your neck whipping around to their paralyzing riffs.

 

2. Blood Feast- The Future State of Wicked
The blood thirst is real this year. Blood Feast are old school motherfuckers from Jersey who haven’t slowed down a lick.  The band split back in 1991 and reformed in 2007 coming back with a vengeance.  The Future State of Wicked is the band’s first full length release since reforming and it slays harder than a good majority of the youngin thrashers attempts at reviving the old school. Everything from the chilling artwork to the riffs that cut through you like chainsaw to Chris Natalini’s penetrating screams is as heavy as thrash gets.  It’s as though they reformed just to show the new horde how it’s done.  This albums just kills, plain and simple.

1. Hellripper- Coagulating Darkness

Forming only three years ago, the UK’s Hellripper has already redefined the meaning of speed with break neck riffs and blistering solos.  This is an impressive feat for a one man project.  The band’s first full length release, Coagulating Darkness is more than simply unadulterated speed though, the execution is masterfully coherent and the tracks are catchy and memorable.  This album just sounds evil.  Guitar worship reigns supreme, as it should, on Coagulating Darkness as the solos are masterfully placed and the riffs are as cool as Destruction’s.  Despite being from the UK, Hellripper’s music has an unmistakable Teutonic ambiance about that you can’t help but fall in love with.  Really great stuff.

 

Disclaimer: Before anyone gets their panties in a bunch because I missed something, remember this is opinion.  That said, if there’s anything you think I missed, please post it in the comments.  I listen to a lot of metal but I can’t listen to everything. Also note, Underworld is not interested in anything PC, so if you have a problem with one of the bands on the list keep it to yourself and off my site.  That’s all I’ve got.  Stay trve!  Hails!

Vader- The Empire

Europeans just do it better.  What can I say?  Legendary, Polish, death/thrashers, Vader simply outdid themselves with this release.  As a formative band in the death metal genre, Vader has manged to maintain their energy and aggression after thirty years and remain a dominant force in the death/thrash genre, with riffs that cut to the bone, leads that blister, and drums that pummel. The Empire is the band’s thirteenth full length release and I give them a lot of credit, as it’s notably difficult for many bands to maintain the kind of hungry energy Vader does on this release after so long in the game.  Perhaps their black leather ensembles have melded to their skin and they’ve become some kind of death metal super villains set on destroying the world with blast and leads.  Who knows but whatever they’re doing is working for them.

Many of the tracks on The Empire focus on the band’s thrashier elements.  The opening track, “Angels of Steel”, is as bludgeoning as ever in its ferocity, causing listeners to immediately take notice.  Vader is not intended to be background music.  By the time the third song rolls around, you’re ready for an anthemic kind of thrash hit, like “Prayer to the God of War”.  I wasn’t too impressed by the decision to immediately follow the fist pumping thrasher, “Prayer to the God of War” with another slower, thrashier tune, “Iron Reign”.  I was admittedly craving something a little more crushing.  Thankfully, Vader delivered with the following track, “No Gravity”.

The two songs that really stuck out to me on this album were “Genocidius” and “Parrabellum”, which is arguably the heaviest thrash song released all year.  Ending the album with the slow, chugging, thrash track, “Send Me Back To Hell”, was a bit weak in my opinion, but I have very few complaints about this album overall.  The Empire is old school to the core and I give Vader props for sticking to their guns after over thirty years at it.  This is a good one.

8/10

Gutted- Martyr Creation

I’m admittedly late to the game in discovering Hungary’s technical death/grind outfit, Gutted but after seeing them destroy at Las Vegas Deathfest, I had to say something.  Their energy live blew me away so I found it fit to give them money and procure a CD.  I’m glad I did.  Martyr Creation is bludgeoning from beginning to end.

The CD starts with a dramatic intro entitled “Chaos of the Beginning”.  The remainder of the LP seems to follow the trajectory of a concept album based on the chaotic nature of creation itself.  “Cosmos of Humans” punches listeners in the face immediately following the slow build up of the intro and this energy continues throughout the album.  The sound on Martyr Creation seems to embody a sort of controlled chaos.  Tangible yet entirely insane, in a good way.

The album is heavy in a way that it forces listeners to take notice.  Technical elements are tasteful, however, and not difficult to digest or in any way distracting from the flow of the album.  The leads are prominently pushed to the forefront in production.  They maintain a melodic element while never losing sight of the chaotic theme of the band’s sound.  I really give Gutted credit for their ability to write technical riffs and leads without losing the emotional aspect in the process.  So few technical bands are able to achieve this.  The result is an LP that induces self-administered whiplash.

For the most part, Martyr Creation blast off into an endless fury of speed, energy, and blasts from beginning to end, in true grind fashion, but tracks like “Deeper than Hell” deviate a bit from the formula with a short break into a clip of spooky background noises and creepy, Children of the Corn like echoes.  This is the heart of the band’s originality.  Sándor Hajnali’s growls complement the fury of Gutted’s sound perfectly and the production is good in the sense that you can hear every instrument without losing the rawness of the band’s death/grind style.

My only complaint would be that, in some ways, the tracks seemed to meld together with one track indistinguishable from the next.  Although there were moments that stuck out.  The solo in “Fades Away” is utterly insane and the breakdown in “False Happiness” hits you harder than the belligerent fat dude in the pit.  Overall, this is a solid release from a band you should definitely be listening to if you’re not already.

8/10

Nordland- European Paganism

Russian based record label Satanath Records has been spewing out several solid metal releases from the proverbial hellmouth since their formation back in 2012, and Nordland’s latest effort, entitled European Paganism, is no exception.  Upon first listen, I was ready to chalk this release up to sub par to above average Graveland worship.  But European Paganism is a slow burn effort that requires patience from its listeners.  Ten minutes into the first track, Mountain, the intensity begins to brew and the rest of the track continues on an upward trajectory of frostbitten beauty.  In an epic 27 minutes, Mountain projects listeners into an ice capped, Northern journey, paying homage to everyone from Bathory to Immortal to Dissection along to way.

Nordland hails from Northern England and is the ambitious solo endeavour of multi-instrumentalist, Vohr.  Despite being a one man project, Nordland maintains a full and atmospheric ambiance, expansive in nature.  The production on European Paganism is clear and devoid of lo-fi pretentiousness, which creates a more grandiose aura signature to folk and pagan metal.

Since releasing his self titled debut in 2012, Vorh has incorporated more and more Viking elements into his writing and European Paganism is an embodiment of this stylistic progression.  The straightforward album title and artwork show Vorh makes no apologies for his gradual immersion into the Viking genre.  That’s not to say his prior works didn’t have Viking elements.  But Vorh’s earlier releases had an ambiance similar to Drudkh or Ygg and weaved depressive elements into the sound.  Every album since his debut has gotten more folky and European Paganism reaches its climax.

Is the latest release an impovement on prior releases?  I wouldn’t necessarily say so. European Paganism simply harnesses a different creative energy; more epic and alive. There were, notably, parts on the album that dragged a bit, but the progressions throughout were, on the whole, masterfully executed, which helped me keep interest. “A Burning of Idols” is arguably the most emotionally captivating song on the album with its frequents bursts into atmospheric bliss.

This is truly guitar driven black metal, stripped to its bones while remaining burly.  Nordland doesn’t play orthodox black metal in a predictable way, he adds a heroic kind of power to the feel.  As I said earlier, this album is extremely remiscent of Immortal “At the Heart of Winter” era, or even Graveland.   Overall, I would say that Vorh is putting England on the map for Viking inspired black metal.  This is a solid release.

7.5/10

https://satanath.bandcamp.com/album/sat167-nordland-european-paganism-2017

Viles Vitae- IV

There’s been some hype surrounding the Portugese trio’s Viles Vitae debut release on
Caverna Abismal Records, and for legitimately good reason.  The EP is entitled IV in representation of the four cardinal elements and the music itself is intended to be ceremonial for the black magician.  This kind of camp mystic is something that is missing in a lot of modern black metal that, quite frankly, takes itself too seriously.  This is the kind of dark esotericism that drew me to black metal as a teenager.  Viles Vitae is doing it right with their dark image, kvlt album artwork, and occult focus.

The image is for nothing, however, if they don’t have the music to back it up. Fortunately, Viles Vitae brings it hard with their debut, which is a formidable work of dissonant, hate-filled art.  Lacking a bass player, IV is treble heavy, reminiscent of the old school second wave.  I wonder if the addition of a bass line would fill out the somewhat thin sound in some areas of the album.  This transgression is minor, however, and Viles Vitae seems to do just fine without a bass player.  The polishing of the production is limited, giving the EP a raw and hungry feel.

What stuck out to me were Vulturius’ vocals.  They have a tortured aura to them that feels genuine.  No screeching, Vulturius’ tone is more of an afflicted, emotion inducing wail.  The riffs are somewhat formulaic in parts and lacking in true originality, but they’re so expertly executed that their predictability is forgivable.  I really love the atmosphere this band creates.  Combining the melodic nature of their riffs with long intervals of nature inspired feedback really helped bring to life the ritualistic experience the band was striving for.

Each track on this album could stand alone.  The two tracks that stuck for me were Sunless Redeemer and Theory of Deconstruction, with their emotional atmosphere and captivating progressions.  Overall, Viles Vitae has a promising future playing orthodox black metal and this debut is a testament to that.  I’m excited for what’s to come from this band.

8/10

Vomit of Doom- Magnus Cruelty

When I first started this blog four years ago, my intention was to support good underground bands that had been largely ignored, even by the underground metal elite. Obviously, the site has grown immensely since then, but today I’d like give a throwback to the early days of Underworld by supporting a great band that I haven’t heard anyone talk about on metal forums or at shows.  Argentinian thrashers, Vomit of Doom have been shrouded in obscurity since they formed back in 2009 and for no good reason.  The band kicks ass.

Aside from the fact that I love the band’s name, as it harkens back to a simpler time in heavy metal history, not so pretentious and reliant on medical dictionaries and esoteric grimiores, a time when Bill and Ted and Beavis and Butthead defined what it meant to rock, Vomit of Doom lives up to the coolness of their name by writing neck breaking unapologetic thrash.  Vomit of Doom describes their sound as blackened thrash.  I think these days, blackened thrash has just become a fall back genre for thrash bands that write uglier riffs and can’t be likened to the upbeat bay area sound that has defined the genre.  Not that we don’t love you Vio-Lence.

But Vomit of Doom has created a sound that’s truly old school.  While I don’t hear a huge blackened influence, there is definitely a rawness to their sound that’s reminiscent of extreme metal’s beginnings.  They sound like they came right out of 1987, not like they’re trying to.  They just are.  The band’s most recent EP, entitled Magnus Cruelty, can be compared to the sounds of early Sepultura, or Poison (the German band not the gay ass glam band).  There’s even hints of early death metal sprinkled in the sound, think Death or Possessed.   Tracks are short, generally under three minutes in length, and each one pummels the listener with pure, bludgeoning ferocity.

Vomit of Doom achieves their perfected aggressive sound with slightly dirty, lo-fi production, piercing solos, and sickening riffs that will punch you in the face.  L. Warpig Venomous Abominator’s vocals are absolutely disgusting, high-end growls that will leave you wanting more.  Adding to the band’s classic thrash repertoire is the anthemic quality of each song.  This is definitely the kind of music to pound your fist to while screaming NO DIVINE!!! at the top of your lungs.  Every song on the album is memorable but the interlude in the middle left me, as an American listener confused. Other than that, Magnus Cruelty is practically a perfect old school thrash album, aggressive and fast as fuck.  Even the intro and the outro were perfectly tied in with the rest of album, only adding to the nostalgia of the band’s uniquely old school thrash sound.  But listen for yourself.  Happy listening.  Hails!

9/10