Behemoth’s “I Loved You At Your Darkest” Explores New Styles

Anyone who knows me well knows that I’ve been calling out the extreme elitism of those who attempt to smear the unholy of name of Behemoth for years. The band’s last full length effort, “The Satanist,” held rank as a favorite of mine from Behemoth, especially given the album marked the band’s seeming return to their black metal roots. Naturally, when I found out Behemoth was releasing a new album, entitled “I Loved You at Your Darkest,” I jumped on the opportunity to review it.

The album starts out strong, with a fittingly blasphemous incantation, entitled “Solve.” This intro leads right into the crushing “Wolves of Siberia.” Things seem fine until track 4. That’s when the album goes in a strange direction.

Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica” has a bit of a softened feel to it, as do many of the proceeding songs. There’s an emotional atmosphere that almost attempts to be palatable to a larger audience. While the technical musicianship is present, many of the tracks on “I Loved You at Your Darkest” lack the crushing quality Behemoth is so well known for.

That’s not to say these songs aren’t catchy in their own right. If Nergal has learned one thing throughout his nearly 30 career, it’s superior song writing. That said, some of these tracks struck me as odd. “If Crucifixtion Was Not Enough,” for example, almost had a punk air to it that seemed out of place within the context of the rest of the album. It was as though they were attempting to create a sort of black thrash feel but failed miserably.

As a mentioned earlier, there is a softness to this album that I haven’t heard in previous releases. When one considers the title of the album “I Loved You at Your Darkest” one can only surmise this must be a concept album. It leads to me wonder whether or not Nergal returned to his black metal roots in an attempt to broaden his musical range and experiment with more diverse styles.

That’s not to say this album entirely lacking the crushing breaks and blasphemous chanting that have become Behemoth’s signature. The more emotional aspects overpower the classic elements, however. I can’t help but feel “I Loved You at Your Darkest” will alienate some fans, even if the song structure is good overall . I also think that, at this point, the guys might not care.

“I Loved You at Your Darkest” will undoubtedly attract a broader fan base than Behemoth’s previous albums have, and given the band’s over the top image, it won’t be difficult for them to attract attention. Have they gone soft on us? Nah. I think they’re just experimenting with different approaches to their sound. Will the die hard fans be content with what “I Loved You at Your Darkest” has to offer? That remains to be seen. All I know is that I was a bit confused by this effort.

6.5/10

  originally published at All About the Rock

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Up and Coming Thrashers, Vanik, Streaming New Track on Decibel!

Vanik II Dark Season

Cleveland’s own Vanik has been making waves lately with 2 kick ass, teaser tracks from their upcoming album, entitled II Dark Season. The tracks, “Jack’s Lantern” and “Heresy Undertow” are currently streaming on Decibel.com. What caught the Decibel editors’ attention was the vocalist and guitarist, Shaun Vanak’s previous work as a live musician for popular blackened, thrash and roll band, Midnight.

The fact is, all the members of the band have an impressive metal resume in the Cleveland area. Guitarist, Vic Stown and bassist Ed Stephens are former members of the Cleveland thrash band Vindicator and drummer, Al Biddle is a former member of both Toxic Holocaust traditional heavy metal band, Cauldron. One could say this is a super group, and based on the chops in the 2 teaser tracks, one can’t argue they sound like one.

What caught my immediate attention was the perfect balance of grit and clarity in the production along with the sheer catchiness of the riffs. These tracks are packed to the brim with sick riff magic and shreds — not to mention anthemic choruses that invoke fist pumping. The influence from both Midnight and Toxic Holocaust is obvious, but these guys get a little uglier — a little grimier. These tracks have the hungry appeal of a sick demo elitists brag about owning. I must say, I can’t wait for this album to drop. II Dark Season will be released on Shadow Kingdom Records on October 26.

You can pre-order the new release and all things Vanik here. Before you do, though, prepare yourself for the inevitable whiplash that will ensue.

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Limbsplitter Vocalist Drinks His Own Piss

Late Friday night, Limbsplitter vocalist, Devin Swank wrote a particularly enticing Facebook post that read “if this post gets 100 likes I will drink my own pee and live stream it” compelling hoards of the band’s supporters and friends to react accordingly. Fortunately for everyone, (except Devin of course) the post received the necessary 100 likes in less than an hour and he was forced to drink his warm, dark yellow words.

A man of his word, Swank began preparing for the task ahead by drinking copious amounts of fluids and creating suspense and anticipation for those following the events on social media. Just when everyone was beginning to doubt him, the time came for him to drink his own piss.

The Limbsplitter vocalist donned a mournful expression as his friends mocked him on his way to the bathroom. Nervously, he dropped trou and peed into what appeared to be a Gatorade bottle. He retched as he gazed upon the warm, goldenrod liquid that nearly filled the bottle halfway . His disgust emanated through the screen.

In true brutal death metal fashion, though, Swank gulped down the piss as though it were a shot of strong whiskey (or a Chloroform Cocktail *wink wink*) and chased the putrid liquid with spicy jalapeno mustard. Whether or not he swallowed is unconfirmed as it was not caught in the shot, but this leaves fans wondering just how brutal the vocal tracks on the next release will be, given the singers vocal chords are now lubricated with pee.

The band released their debut album, Chloroform Cocktail, in November of 2017 and is already hard at work on the next effort, but it’s antics like this that really set Limbsplitter apart from the droves of mediocre brutal death metal bands that upload their albums to Bandcamp everyday. These guys live the metal lifestyle take brutal to a whole other level. Fans can only wonder what’s next in Limbsplitter’s arsenal of comedic antics; farting on old ladies, drinking gasoline? Who knows. All I know is these guys keep it professional.

If you’re still having trouble believing this actually happened, watch the video below. You can purchase Chloroform Cocktail here.

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Doom Heads Leave Your Caves, DESCENDANTS OF CROM is Raging in Pittsburgh this Weekend

Decendants of Crom Flyer

Steel City ragers and dedicated out of towners prepared for a road trip should head to Cattivo nightclub in Pittsburgh, PA this weekend for a doom fest unmatched since the last Doomed and Stoned Fest.” Featuring talent from a variety of genres encompassing the doom/stoner tier: including sludge, stoner and even psychedelic rock, Descendants of Crom is keeping it professional by booking only the best talent; young and old, for two hazy days of pure doom bliss.

Weed smoke and the acrid stench of patchouli and Mir will permeate the air as a sea of bearded doom heads sway to the reverberations of bands such as: Lo Pan, Doomstress, Come to Grief, Cavern, Toke, GeezerFreedom Hawk, The Generator, as well as so many more that are scheduled to hit the stage during this 2 day celebration of all things slow and heavy.

DoC Pre Show Flyer

Attendees should also be sure not to miss the pre-gala tonight at Howlers, featuring Mires, Rebreather and Destroyer of Light among others.

Tickets are first come first serve. You can pre-order tickets to the pre-gala here and tickets to the fest here.

Blood Feast Live at the Maple Grove Tavern!

Blood Feast
Official Flyer

Blood Feast’s 2017 comeback album “Future State of Wicked” was easily among the best thrash albums of the year with it’s frenzied intensity and blistering shreds that proved the old school guys still got it, so naturally, when they booked a show in my area I made it a point to attend.

Promoter, Chuck Parsons, booked the event at the up and coming metal venue the Maple Grove Tavern. The Maple Grove Tavern has been gaining a reputation as a cool, metal club in recent months, mainly because they’re willing to book rad shows at decent rates while not charging an arm and a leg for booze. Also, they’re a bit gritty without being disgusting. Girls can feel safe using the bathrooms.

Even better, the lineup consisted of the cream of the crop in local fair. Subtype Zero (formerly known as Cringe), HAMMR and FaithXtractor opened for legendary thrashers, Blood Feast.

Subtype Zero

Subtype Zero
Photo Credit: Eric Chmielewski WCSB 89.3 FM

Perhaps the most impressive band of the evening, other than Blood Feast themselves, Subtype Zero when straight for the audience’s jugular with their harrowing brand of bay area style thrash. Channeling 1985, these Cleveland thrashers melted faces with an intensity reminiscent early Slayer.

These guys are thrash, through and through with distinct hardcore and punk undertones and shreds for weeks. What’s more, with each member’s average age being 21 or younger, these guys left a crowd full of tough dude old enough to be their dads in awe. Subtype Zero played in support of their 2018 release, “The Astral Awakening.” Keep your eyes on these guys. They’re going places.

HAMMR

HAMMR
Photo Credit: Eric Chmielewski WCSB 89.3 FM

Given multi-instrumentalist J. Hammr’s reputation in the local Cleveland scene, I had high hopes for this band’s performance. J. Hammr is known for his work with the band Devils with the label Redefining DarknessDespite Hammr debut album, “Unholy Destruction” being a overall effective balance of calculated blackened slop and distortion heavy thrash riff magic, the band’s performance at the Maple Grove didn’t really come together for me and several others in the crowd.

I think a big reason HAMMR failed to deliver had to do with the loudness of the drums in comparison with the guitars and the vocals. It really drew attention to repetitive patterns in the drumming that could have been easily overlooked if pushed into the background more. That said, the band’s latest effort, “Unholy Destruction,” is great stuff for fans of Black Witchery,  Revenge and Blasphemy. Hopefully they fine tune their live performance in the future.

FaithXtractor

FaithXtractor
Photo Credit: Eric Chmielewski WCSB 89.3 FM

Other than Blood Feast, the band I was most excited about that evening was FaithXtractor. Known for a bludgeoning form of melodic old school death metal, FaithXtractor always delivers an intense and professional live performance.

The band started off a bit rocky, with sound issues being largely to blame, but quickly came into their own on about third track. Drummer, Ash Thomas (of Estuary fame along with the rest of the band) was the true MVP as he belted out demonic growls into the mic while never missing a beat.

Guitarist, Cody Knarr, donned a Grave t-shirt, which perfectly exemplifies where FaithXtractor draws its influences from. Both Cody and bass player, Zdenka Prado, whipped their long manes about furiously and exhibited true stage presence for the entirety of the show.

FaithXtractor II
Not a moment went by when these guys weren’t headbanging in full swing. Photo Credit: Eric Chmielewski WCSB 89.3 FM

Cody Knarr’s solos pierced through skin on tracks such as “Flame of the Death Ritual” and “Damned to Return.” FaithXtractor played new tracks “Forsworn Then Burned” and “Damned to Return“, among others in support of their 2018 release “Proverbial Lambs to the Ultimate Slaughter,” which they released back in July.

Blood Feast

Blood Feast Live III
Photo Credit: Eric Chmielewski WCSB 89.3 FM

Finally, the moment we’d all been waiting on was upon us. Strapped with energy, Blood Feast hit the stage. The band has had some lineup changes since their formation back in 1987, with the only original member being guitar player, Adam Tranquili, but that fact didn’t slow them down one bit.

Adam Tranquili
Guitarist Adam Tranquili  Photo Credit: Eric Chmielewski from WCSB 89.3 FM

Blood Feast opened with “Darkside” a blast from the past from their debut album, “Kill For Pleasure,” setting the tempo for a vigorous night of thrashing to come. They followed this with newer material, such as “INRI” and “Underling,” songs which barely differentiated from the older tracks, in a good way. This is a band that knows their style and does it well, regardless of lineup changes or trends.

Vocalist, Chris Natalini, was energetic and engaged the audience throughout the set. During the new track, “Off With their Heads” he held the mic out to the audience as we all loudly sang along. But, perhaps, the coolest part of the set was when he went live on Facebook with the crowd, leaving a timestamp for fans to look back to for the rest of their days.

The band ended the performance proper with old school tracks, Menacing Thunder and Hunted, Stalked and Slain, leaving the crowd with serious whiplash. One of the coolest things about Blood Feast is how down to earth the guys are. They all stayed after a bit and engaged with fans. If Blood Feast comes to your city, don’t be a poser. Go! You won’t regret it.

 

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Deicide Goes Back to Their Old School Roots With “Overtures of Blasphemy”

2018 seems to be the year of the comeback for many classic bands, Unanimated returned to the spotlight after a nine year hiatus, Judas Priest released a serious banger entitled “Firepower” and even more obscure older bands, like Trauma sprung from their states of hibernation to produce some seriously killer new albums. Deicide can easily add their latest release, “Overtures of Blasphemy,” to the list of killer comeback albums in 2018.

“Overtures of Blasphemy” is the band’s 12th full length release since their formation almost 30 years ago, and the first album they’ve released in over 5 years, and despite receiving some negative feedback from major media outlets such as Banger TV, I have to say that this album was basically worth the wait.

The CD opens with a catchy, grooving track aptly titled “One With Satan.” Singer Glenn Benton hasn’t softened his militantly anti-Christian stance one bit, despite writing music for almost 3 decades. More interestingly, however, this track is truly ear catching. It immediately drew me in with its slow build up in the beginning followed by a kind of calculated intensity and blistering yet melodic solos.

Much of the album continues on this trajectory. It seems that, over the years, the guys have honed their songwriting abilities and deliver every time. Yet, while previous releases were a bit techy for my tastes, “Overtures of Blasphemy” has an air of returning to the bands roots. The feel of this album is old school through and through – just with better production.

What really stood out for me was the guitar work. This makes sense given the introduction of new guitarist, Mark English, of Monstrosity fame. The solos and riff magic was ultimately what drew me in on tracks such as “Seal the Tomb Below,” “Excommunicated” and “Defying the Sacred.” Mark’s riff mastery and shredding made up for Benton’s somewhat lacking vocal on this effort. Benton is known for his vocal range, high to low, but his tone was pretty monotone on this album and really and left much to be desired.

Despite this minor complaint, I don’t have much negative feedback for this release. I think this album was better received than some of Deicide’s previous releases by most of the metal community, and I think that’s for good reason. It’s a banger through and through. “Overtures of Blasphemy” stands out because I doesn’t try too hard. It simply thrashes hard and induces head banging.

It’s rumored, in the underground scene, that this might be the band’s last effort. If that’s the case, it makes sense they would choose to go out with a bang and a nod to their roots. I think that’s what they did here. Overall, good stuff.

8/10

*originally published at All About the Rock

Ennui Conjures a Sense of Mysticism with “End of the Circle”

Ennui- End of the Circle (Album Cover)

According to Webster’s online dictionary, the term ennui refers to “a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement.” That definition is a perfect way to summarize the Georgia based funeral doom duo’s latest effort “End of the Circle.”

As is expected from any funeral doom release, Ennui’s latest LP, “End of the Circle” requires patience from its listeners. Each track is upwards of 20 minutes in length and contains several progressions throughout the mix. Still, for those with a stalwart attention span, the fruits of this listen are truly rewarding.

One element that stood out for me on this release were the infusions of ambiance generously sprinkled throughout each track. Where other funeral doom bands descend into gritty territory pretty quickly into the mix, Ennui’s style captured a more mystical atmosphere because of their liberal use of ambiance and even kvlt elements throughout each track. I say kvlt because I don’t get much of strictly black metal feel on this album per say, primarily because of the lack of Cartoonish aspects.

That said, I would be lying if I were to suggest this release didn’t emote the same expressions as Rundgang um die Transzendentale Säule der Singularität by Burzum. Ennui certainly employs a specific blackened style on this release that lies in tandem with some of the more emotional DSBM bands out there. I think this fusion of different genre elements is what caught my attention to this LP and will catch the ears of others who don’t typically listen to funeral doom.

Ennui is a band that takes themselves seriously by emanating a cerebral air in their sound that demands full attention from the listener. There is something truly magical about the entirety of the release. “End of the Circle” is intended to be digested as single unit; each track complementing the last. With that said, my favorite track was the self titled, first track. With progressions designed to lull the listener into a hypnotic, dream state, “End of the Circle” delivers a truly mind expanding experience, complete with ambiance that would move even the most staunch thrasher with musical ADD.

The unique experience that is “End of the Circle” continues in the proceeding tracks “The Withering Parts I-II,” as Ennui takes its fans on a 40 minute interstellar journey into the heart of a dying star. There is a sense of order in these tracks despite their length. Each element builds into the next seamlessly in order to create a mood. The vocals remain simplistic, low end growls that don’t detract from the music or the atmosphere; instead complementing it perfectly. You’ll be compelled to close your eyes while listening to this – it’s that affecting.

Overall, I really enjoyed this effort. I am not typically a fan of funeral doom, but Ennui’s latest release had enough momentum to keep me entertained for the long haul. “End of the Circle” is must have album for 2018.

https://non-serviam-records.bandcamp.com/album/end-of-the-circle

9/10

 

Only the True Dwell Here

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