This week’s reviews include releases from Aborrence, Cynic, Def Leppard, Nidingr, Wiegedood and Witherfall. The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Abhorrence – Totally Vulgar: Live At Tuska Open Air 2013 (Svart)
Abhorrence were one of the first Finnish death metal bands. They formed in 1989 and split the following year after releasing an EP. Guitarist Tomi Koivusaari then formed Amorphis. 2013 saw a reunion of all the original members except the drummer. Their return was captured for posterity on Totally Vulgar: Live At Tuska Open Air 2013.
After not playing together for more than two decades, they sound good. The songs are standard death metal fare, with mid-tempo grooves and some frantic, uptempo sections. They are taken from their 1989 demo Vulgar Necrolatry and 1990 self-titled EP. They are touring again in 2017 and it will be interesting to see if any new material will be forthcoming.
Cynic – Uroboric Forms: The Complete Demo Recordings (Century Media)
Prior to their 1993 debut full-length Focus, Cynic released several demos between 1988 and 1991. Uroboric Forms: The Complete Demo Collection compiles those demos along with two previously unreleased songs from a vocal audition with Brian DeNeffe of Viogression.
“Uroboric Forms” and “The Eagle Nature” are the only two songs in the collection that would end up on Focus. It’s interesting to hear Cynic’s evolution from more of a death/thrash band to the progressive juggernauts they became. My only quibble is the track listing, which is in reverse chronological order. They did it to separate the two different versions of “Uroboric Forms” and “The Eagle Nature,” but it would have made more sense to put the audition versions first, and then the four demos in chronological order to better hear the progression.
Def Leppard – And There Will Be A Next Time: Live From Detroit (Eagle Rock)
In late 2015 Def Leppard released a self-titled album, their first in seven years. The following summer, they toured in support of that album, which is captured on the DVD/2CD set And There Will Be A Next Time: Live From Detroit.
When you have the back catalog that Def Leppard has, it would require a three or four hour show to play everything fans want to hear, which of course is not possible. There are 17 songs in this set, three from the new album and the rest from throughout their career, ranging from “Let It Go” to “Rock Of Ages” to “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” The band is incredibly tight, and this is a good snapshot of Def Leppard circa 2016.
Nidingr – The High Heat Licks Against Heaven (Indie/Season Of Mist)
The Norwegian band Nidingr was founded by Mayhem guitarist Teloch back in the ’90s, but their proper recorded output didn’t begin until 2005. The High Heat Licks Against Heaven is their fourth full-length.
They play a mix of black and death metal that incorporates both groove and intensity. They even delve into doom and experimental influences on “Gleipnir.” The vocals from Cpt. Estrella Grasa are extreme, but understandable, with lyrics exploring Norse mythology. The guitar work from Teloch is excellent, and the songs have a lot of variety, from somber to blistering.
Wiegedood – De Doden Hebben Het Goed II (Consouling Sounds)
The Belgian trio Wiegedood are back with their second album De Doden Hebben Het Goed II. Their lineup consists of Amenta bassist Levy Seynaeve on vocals and guitar along with Oathbreaker’s Gilles Demolder (guitar) and Wim Sreppoc (drums).
The album is only four songs, but each track is a lengthy exploration of black metal. “Ontzielling” is regal, while “Cataract” goes from a moderate groove to oppressive extremity. The title track has ambient moments, while closer “Smeekbede” is more traditional. While there’s ample variety, the album remains cohesive.
Witherfall – Nocturnes And Requiems (Self)
The Los Angeles band Witherfall‘s lineup includes former White Wizzard vocalist Joseph Michael, guitarist Jake Dryer (Iced Earth, ex-White Wizzard), bassist Anthony Crawford and drummer Adam Sagan (Circle II Circle, Into Eternity). Sagan passed away last December, and Nocturnes And Requiems is dedicated to him.
There are dark and somber moments, like on the opening track “Portrait,” but also upbeat and melodic tracks. There are plenty of progressive elements and top-notch guitar work along with singalong choruses. The songs are lengthy, giving ample room for ebbs and flows and shifting styles. Michael has a wide range, going from melodic singing to King Diamond-esque falsetto. Chris “Zeuss” Harris did the mixing and mastering, giving it a big sound that still allows the subtle elements to shine through.