The fall weather’s being a bitch here in Kansas. Damn global warming. It doesn’t know whether to be hot or cold, so I spend most of my time inside the house. Then again, I spend most of my time inside the house anyway. What does any of this have to do with this article? Not a damn thing. I needed something to pad out the intro to this article and I couldn’t think of anything interesting. Without further ado, here is a collection of mini-reviews of five death metal albums. Two are familiar territory, three are completely new to me.
Massacre – Condemned to the Shadows
One of my all-time favorite death metal albums is Massacre‘s From Beyond. The riffs kicked all sorts of ass and Kam Lee’s growls were vicious as hell. After releasing the steaming turd that was Promise, the band broke up, but they later reformed around the same time when the world economy went to shit, and they released a new EP called Condemned to the Shadows in 2012.
I feel a bit uneasy as I’m about to listen to this. Although I love the Ed Repka artwork (I later found out it was drawn by Richard Schouten, but the art style reminded me of Ed Repka) and Rick Rozz’s return to the lineup, there’s no Bill Andrews or Kam Lee. No Kam Lee. How can you have Massacre without Kam Lee? It’s like Earthbound without Ness. It’s like Taxi Driver without Travis Bickle. It’s like King of the Hill without Hank Hill. Well, let’s hope this is good.
The first thing I noticed is that Massacre has fallen victim to the “Loudness War”. The guitars here are much louder than they were on From Beyond, which means they drown out the drums, which in turn causes clipping issues. The vocals are performed well, but I still can’t get over the fact that he’s not Kam Lee. The riffs are also great, but again, they don’t feel like the Massacre I used to know. At least Rick Rozz’s solos sound just as crazy and evil as they did back in the day.
You might dismiss all of this as the complaints of an unpleasable purist. But then again, I complain because I care.
Vomitile – Igniting Chaos
Massacre disappointed me, so let’s hope this is better. Vomitile is a death metal band from Cyrpus that released their debut full-length just this year. Let’s listen.
When I heard those first riffs, my mind immediately went to Morbid Angel. This comparison is made even more obvious on songs like “Repulsive Postured Gangrene (RPG)”. Them are some sweet riffs, I tell you what. The tone is so thick and evil and harkens back to the days of Covenant. There are also times when they tap their inner brutal death metal band and let out a bunch of pinch harmonics. The solos are haunting and sort of remind me of Altars of Madness. The bass drums are triggered exactly like Pete Sandoval’s and the drummer lets out some spectacular fills.
However, I do have two problems with this album: the production and the vocals. The production differs from song to song. On one song it’s perfectly audible, but on another it’s quiet and muffled. As for the vocals, they sound more appropriate for death/thrash. They sound much too weak for the music being played here.
This album ain’t the best, but they show a great deal of potential.
Vistery – Sinister Prophecy
Vistery is a Belorussian death metal band that formed in 2011 but have already released two full-lengths. They say they are an old school death metal band inspired by the likes of Six Feet Under, Cannibal Corpse, and Obituary. Cannibal Corpse and Obituary I can get behind, but Six Feet Under. I’m feeling iffy about that one.
Unfortunately for me, their main influence is Six Feet Under. The riffs are simple and groove-oriented and they don’t have a lot of variety. The drums play simple mid-paced rhythms and blasts with lots of double bass. They’re okay, but they’re nothing I haven’t heard before. The vocals sound like a clone of Chris Barnes. I don’t like Chris Barnes. Therefore, I don’t like the vocals. Although, to be fair, they are slightly better than what Chris Barnes sounds like nowadays.
I don’t like this album, but it’s still better than Six Feet Under.
Evocation – Illusions of Grandeur
Alright, Evocation! Now here’s a band I can count on! I think you all remembered how much I enjoyed the demo compilation they put out a while back. Now they’ve released a new full-length called Illusions of Grandeur. Let’s check it out!
Right from the start, you know the production is bold and powerful. Them Swedes sure know how to produce a death metal album. Another thing I noticed is that the riffing is more melodic. Normally, I hate the melodic death metal that comes out of Sweden, but for Evocation, I’ll make an exception, because they play some kickass riffs on here. They can easily beat the shit out of In Flames any day. The drums do not disappoint. They utilize a lot of double bass perform many brilliant fills and they really stand out in the production. The growls sort of remind me of Heartwork-era Jeff Walker, and I love anything that reminds me of Carcass.
You should definitely get this album, and not just for the awesome Dan Seagrave-inspired cover art.
Inset – Last Breath
Finally, we have Inset, a new death metal band from Poland that just released their first EP, Last Breath. Inset doesn’t sound like a very exciting name. Neither does the name of their EP, or even the cover art for that matter, so I didn’t exactly have my hopes up. I thought it was going to be another forgettable piece of average death metal. I was wrong.
Their music has a prominent Deicide influence, but they throw in some groove-tinged start-stop rhythms and some later-era Death influence as well. The Death influence is most prominent in the complex bass riffs and some of the guitar riffs and solos. In fact, some of the riffs on track 3 remind me of “Crystal Mountain”. The guitar tone was spectacularly evil, sounding like a cross between Vader and Immolation. The drums, simply put, would make Gene Hoglan proud with its fills and double bass, and the vocals sound incredibly similar to those implemented by Immolation. Once again, Poland has brought me something amazing.
Of all the albums I was given, this was the biggest and most pleasant surprise. I’m eager to see what they will release next.