Review: Serpent Warning – s/t (I Hate 2014 CD)

 Let's get the facts straight, a doom metal-album released by I Hate means quality. Thinking about it, it's almost unbelievable how they've spoilt us the last few years with stunning releases from bands like Jex Thoth, Black Oath and The Wounded Kings, just to name a few. And I haven't even mentioned classics like The Gates Of Slumber's Suffer No Guilt or The Time Lord by Pagan Altar yet.

 Anyway, this is the first full-lenght album from this new promising band, and it's absolutely not an exception from the fact stated above. As soon as you hear the melancholic nerve and characteristic accent of the vocals, it doesn't take much to identify that they come from Finland. Extra attentive listeners may also notice the vocalist is the same one as in The Wandering Midget.

 Musically, this album is one of those that really puts the metal in doom metal. Forget all those countless bands that just plays the same three tones very slow for 15 minutes. This album is a demonstration of great riffs, great arrangements and great vocals. In other words great songs, actual heavy metal songs, and nothing else. Italy's Doomsword comes to mind several times while listening to this album, Serpent Warning has got a bit less Manowar-influence though.

 The fact that it only contains six songs, which gives it a total playing time of 40 minutes, also settles the heavy metal connection even more. Way too many doom-albums goes on and on for far too long, what every band should have in mind is an LP with a maximum 20 minutes on each side. Just because the music is twice as slow doesn't mean that the playtime must be twice as long. Finally, I have to praise the cover, which definitely increases the overall impression with its dark and eerie atmosphere and mystique. I bet this album would both look and sound very good as a vinyl-release... 7,5/10 /H


Review: Outrage – We The Dead (Metal On Metal 2014 CD)

 The German veterans are back once more, this is their 7th album. Three of the tracks are familiar from their earlier career, Death From Behind, Delos and Spherical appeared on their first, second and fourth demos. Definitely a good choice to include some old tunes, since the sound of their demos wasn't the best, so just like on 2011's Go To Hell, it's great to see these old songs getting the production they deserve. I'd like to make an exception for Delos though, the sound of their second demo is just perfect, and I consider it one of the finest black/thrash treasures of the 80's. Still, I guess I'm one of the very few people who actually have heard it at all, and Delos is simply one of their best songs ever, so re-recording it was probably a good move after all.

 The most interesting part of this album though, is definitely the new songs. With the release of Go To Hell, the expectations were drawn towards a more old school approach, but it's actually more in the vein of their albums from released the mid 00's. Sure, the sound is more or less the same (old school as fuck), but the arrangements and lyrics are way more complex and unique. It's way more diverse as well. You've got the thrash metal rippers like Eye For An Eye and The Biggest Wrench, mid-tempo parts like The Iron Door and Chastiser, and almost outright doom-metal tunes like Be That As It May and Sepia Eyes / Birth To The Flame. Everything flows perfectly together into a wicked symphony of darkness. What also speaks for this album is the production. Especially the drum sound on Go To Hell was a bit to modern, and that decreased the overall impression a little bit, this time the sound is flawless.

 Compared to Go To Hell, which was packed to the limit with songs that knocked you out the first time you heard them, this album will take some time to get into. But mark my words, once you do, it becomes clear that it's actually just as good, maybe even better, as it's predecessor. Outrage are really not taking the easy way out with their strange song-structures and weird lyrics, that sometimes makes no sense at all, but after all it's the dark atmosphere and waywardness of it all that makes this band so brilliant. I'd choose them any day before all the hordes of generic German thrash bands doing what has already been done a thousand times. Outrage stands supreme among all of them, and I really hope more people will check out this album and give it the time and attention it deserves. It will be worth it, trust me. 8/10 /H


Review: Parasit – Bag Of Enemies (Nuclear Fear 2014 7”)

The Swedish death/käng overlords follows up last years Välj Din Egen Bödel LP with four new songs and one cover of Complaint by Disrupt. This is simply one of those bands that you know what you'll get from, razor-sharp riffs, intense grunts/lunacy, and god forbid that the drums would be anything else than d-beat. Ever. The only thing that seems to have changed since the last recording is that all song titles and lyrics are in English, compared to the LP where about half of them were in Swedish. Beside that, everything is as good as intact, so if you liked the album, there's no reason to not get this EP as well. 7/10 /H


Review: Mortalicum – Tears From The Grave (Metal On Metal 2014 CD)

 What I know about this band from before is pretty much only that their bassplayer is Patrik Backlund, whose other band Quicksand Dream's only album I like very much, a very underrated piece of epic heavy metal. Nowadays though, focus seems to be on Mortalicum all the way.
 From the title and the album cover, what I expected was something very slow, dark and super depressive-ish. Therefore, it comes as a surprise that the opening tune of this album, The Endless Sacrifice, is an up-tempo rocker that I even wouldn't mind calling a bit cheerful. Sure there are some real slow and longer songs as well, but still in a very different way compared to my expectations. One of the bands that comes to mind while listening to this album is definitely Grand Magus, much because of the vocals of Henrik Högl reminding a lot of the ones of JB. Which is a very positive thing, since his voice is one of the more superb ones in the Swedish metal-scene of today. Musically though, Mortalicum are moving more towards a rock/doom territory, and the heavy metal is a bit more absent. 80's-era Pentagram would probably be an even better parallel to draw, heavy and a bit metallic, yet with the rock-feeling always present.

 Weaknesses are hard to find on this one actually, it's a very solid album. Some of the solos might be a bit long. The guitar-work is fantastic, but solos that are too long will get boring sooner or later, no matter how good the player is. The eleven minutes long title track could might have been cut a bit shorter as well. Otherwise, the rest of the +7 min-songs, Remember The Fallen, I Am Sin, and especially the incredibly majestic closer The Winding Stair, works very well. A very nice experience of an album, that reminds you to expect the unexpected, and not always judge the content for its cover. 7,5/10 /H

Review: Kafka – s/t (D-takt & Råpunk 2014 MC)

 Time for some mangel from the land of the rising sun. This is Kafka's debut-demo, and it contains four tracks of high energy riffing and those lovely vocals, which ensures you that this band impossibly could me mistaken as anything else than a Japanese one. Compared to some of the members' former band, Dropend, this is more traditional Harcore-sounding, rather than a total distorted mayhem. Regardless of which style you prefer, it's clear that these guys definitely master both of them in an excellent way.

 I like the fact that lyrics are included in English, Japanese and Japanese written in “regular” (latin script) letters. At fist sight, the last song Rensa appears to be a Swedish title, but after studying the lyrics a bit, you notice that it's not the case at all. Small details like these can definitely contribute to make the music itself more interesting.

 All in all, this band introduces themselves in a way that makes you want more instantly, and new stuff seems to be in the works already. A band to keep your eyes on in the hopefully not so distant future, I definitely know I will. 6,5/10 /H


Review: Suffer The Pain – The Face Of Doom (Krig Tejps 2014 MC)

 The metal-scene of Västerås might not be the most diverse one in this country, the active bands I know about can literally be counted on one hand. The few ones that exists seems to have a very good ability of putting out great stuff on a regular basis though. Quality before quantity, I guess. This is the third demo of Suffer The Pain, containing four new songs. It starts of with a sinister and fateful intro that brings to mind the latest album by Tragedy, which I liked a lot. Then it breaks into the title-track, which is a more solid mid-tempo piece. I wish the rest of the song itself could've been a bit more in the vein of the intro though. Sure, it's good the way it is, but I'm left with the feeling that it was going somewhere even better.

 Otherwise, there aren't really any other complaints from my side. World Evil and Faith Through Violence answers my prays of more black metal-inspiration, yet their deadly metal/punk fusion is always present.

 A cover of Motörhead's Killed By Death is also included, and Suffer The Pain's d beat-drenched up-tempo version definitely works very well. Not as great as the cover of Roky Erickson's Bloody Hammer on their first demo though, the further the original song is from their sound, the more interesting it gets, I suppose. Dying to hear what their next choice of cover will be. As much as I'm dying to hear whatever they'll release next. Hopefully a full-length album, they still don't seem to have learned that their releases are too damn short... 7/10 /H


Review: Slough Feg – Digital Resistance (LP 2014 Metal Blade)

 The band that never cease to impress is back once again. For almost two decades, Slough Feg have released album upon album, one more amazing than the other. Digital Resistance is their 9th one, and just as always, the characteristic sound is there, but still it differs from their earlier albums in it's own way. This time the approach is kind of more laid back than ever before. Some of the metal-puritans might not be that satisfied with this direction, but personally I still enjoy it, even though it might not be as groundbreaking as the metallic chaos of their earlier albums. However, Slough Feg's brilliance will always be intact, regardless of the music's being heavy or more laid back. I'd rather have them trying something new than just rehashing their past half as good (anyone heard the new Judas Priest-song?).

 Basically the only thing speaking against this band are themselves. This is definitely one of the best albums released in 2014 so far, but the fact that they have spoilt us with even better albums for so long, you're still thirsty for more. Most important though is that they once again have proved their inability to release an album that's not worth getting. Let's hope it stays that way in the future as well. 7,5/10 /H