This week’s Heavy Music HQ reviews include releases from Amorphis, Catafalque, Corrosive, Drawn And Quartered, Felonie, Hegeroth, Krieg, The Lion’s Daughter, Malformed, Oni, Sadistic Force, Tardigrade Inferno and Twin Temple.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Amorphis – Queen Of Time (Live At Tavastia 2021) (Atomic Fire)
During the pandemic, unable to tour, Finnish legends Amorphis decided to put together a show to play their 2018 album Queen Of Time in its entirety. They wouldn’t have had any trouble selling out Helsinki’s Tavastia, but because it was the pandemic, they did the show without an audience.
Amorphis have shot music videos in an empty Tavastia in the past, so it wasn’t an entirely new experience. A live album without applause in between tracks is definitely odd, but Amorphis’ energy doesn’t lag at all. Their musicianship is razor sharp as they play Queen Of Time front to back. Anneke van Giersbergen sang on the album version of “Amongst Stars” and thanks to the magic of technology you see and hear her on this version as well, and it’s actually one of the highlights of the set. Let’s hope there won’t ever have to be shows without audiences again, but this one is entertaining. Queen Of Time (Live At Tavastia 2021) is available on CD, vinyl and Blu-ray.
Catafalque – Dybbuk (Aural/Code666)
How does one even define an entity such as Istanbul’s Catafalque? A mystical and a bizarre presence within the world of extreme metal they’ve proven to be, and their latest volume, Dybbuk, is yet another sinister ambience to take in. Dragging the depths of doom and laying out before you the most dismal soundscapes, prepare for a most palpable and a most intense cerebral mind-fuck.
Each miserable album cut like something out of your worst nightmare, not for the faint of heart or the intestinally infirm. Gut-wrenching progressions that twist and churn your innards with torque and with dredging bass lines to absorb as all hope fades and dread sets in during this most taxing experience. Set your sites upon the monster, feel its gaze as it penetrates into your innermost belly. This album literally feels like the soundtrack to someone’s death. The only drawback being the need for something familiar to see him off into the void. A visceral work of nightmarish proportions, but a riff never hurt anyone…
Corrosive – Wrath Of The Witch (MDD)
Corrosive‘s sixth full-length Wrath Of The Witch features a very impactful type of death metal that is harsh and features a nice buildup in the songs to a more feverish pitch. The German veterans’ musical performances are interesting, with a buzzsaw of guitars making for a good portion of the entertainment. The cascading drums form the backbone of the music while the vocals fit nicely atop the music and provide it with character. It’s a really fun death metal album that has the proper production job to bring the songs to a higher realm.
The songs are crisp and feature a swarming amount of guitars to bring them up a notch. The songs themselves are full of hooks and interesting twists. There is a good variety of material present meaning you won’t become bored easily. With a lot to like and little to dislike, this is a very solid slab of death metal. Wrath Of The Witch has the right ingredients to make for a compelling concoction.
Drawn And Quartered – Return Of The Black Death (Moribund)
Since 1994, Seattle, Washington’s USDM legends of the cult Drawn and Quartered have quietly released some of the most blasphemous, frontal lobe-pulverizing death metal. Having toiled the morgues for almost 30 years, this Pacific Northwest institution has torn from cold dead flesh a familiar kind of gore along with the vilest of defilements and unholy desecrations. In addition to DAQ’s 2004 banger Return Of The Black Death, their previous and longtime label Moribund Records is re-releasing 2003’s Extermination Revelry and their 1998 debut To Kill Is Human later this month.
With Return Of The Black Death, expect straightforward, old-fashioned slobber-knockers like “Orgiastic Feast Of Excremental Blasphema” and “On the Death Farm” that channel Necroticism era Carcass and coattail Suffocation with every twisted riff and every brutal percussive bludgeoning. Nothing too technical, as that would take away from the album’s whole tortured in a basement vibe and not too fast either as the kill must be slow and the flesh must be savored. A death metal album originally released during the genre’s most awkward era, now splattered with fresh shades of crimson, Return Of The Black Death is some damn fine DM done the American way.
Felonie – De Seve et de Sang (Code666)
Felonie is black metal from high up in the Swiss Alps (Nendaz, to be exact), as musician Marc Bourban gets inspiration from local legends and historical events for the band’s debut album, De Seve et de Sang. The Battle of Octodurus, which dates back to 57-56 BC, is one of the topics Bourban uses as a tool to shape his sharp music, mostly conducted with his own two hands save for a session drummer.
Much of De Seve et de Sang relies on a comfortable style of black metal, one that fans of the genre will instantly latch on to. The use of synths and orchestration is where Felonie is able to step out of that zone, like the slow waltz that is performed on the first half of “Nuit des Tourments.” It’s a great divergence from the rest of the album, so it’s a shame more of that isn’t as prevalent on De Seve et de Sang.
Polish Black metal act Hegeroth have had a prolific time during the last five years to become one of the most active polish bands with the release of their fifth album, Disintegration.
Their approach to songwriting on Disintegration is interesting, which in many moments takes a serious look at Morbid Angel’s composition structure. At the same time, this somewhat lacks the required evil and darkness.
When, as always, the main theme of the album’s lyrics revolves around anti-religion and anti-Christianity, Disintegration musically spends most of its time far from the necessary depth to reach the axis of evil. On the other hand, keeping the distance from the trendy sound of today’s Polish black metal scene has made Hegeroth go their own way, while the vocalist’s wicked performance saves the dark soul of the album. It is cruel if it is stated that Disintegration is not victorious and impressive. Indeed it is; even if it fails to summon the devil, it ultimately excites its audience.
Krieg – Ruiner (Profound Lore)
Though it has been nearly a decade since Krieg‘s last full-length, the American black metal quintet has issued material in the interim. That includes two EPs, splits with Integrity, Leviathan and Crucifixion Bell, a collaborative release with The Body and a couple compilation albums.
Ruiner embraces the traditional USBM sound of previous albums, especially on songs such as “Solitarily, A Future Renounced,” but they expand their sound beyond that, such as cranking up the groove to black ‘n roll territory on tracks like “Fragments Of Nothing” that also has some guitar tones not typical for black metal. Intense songs like “Manifested Ritual Horror” have biting vocals and dense moments, but also parts that are downright catchy. The album closes with the 7 minute “The Lantern And The Key,” with ambient parts and dissonance spicing up the proceedings. Ruiner is a welcome return by Krieg, a wide-ranging and eclectic album with that’s compelling from start to finish.
The cover art for Bath House, the latest release from the St. Louis band The Lion’s Daughter is certainly an attention-grabber. Their previous two records had masked characters on the cover, and this creature represents this album’s more transparent approach, especially when it comes to the lyrics.
That approach includes some things they haven’t done in the past. The aggressive songs and horror atmospheres are there, but so are guitar solos and some clean vocals. The Lion’s Daughter span numerous genres ranging from sludge to gothic to industrial and many more. Sarah Vie’s vocals and violins on several tracks also add variety. They visit many musical styles, but never pick a permanent residence. The danger of that approach is it’s hard to write a cohesive sounding album, but they have managed to do that with Bath House.
Malformed – The Gathering Of Souls (Extremely Rotten)
One can always count on Finland to produce muddy death metal, which fits Malformed and their debut EP, The Gathering Of Souls. It comes less than a year after their raw Uncontrolled Malformity demo, and while the production is slightly spruced up for this release, it was still written and recorded in their rehearsal place. There’s a lived-in quality to these songs, as if they spent weeks perfecting how primal they would come out.
Special mention should be given to bassist Pauli Niemi, whose instrument clanks and bolts out with delightful energy. It has an Alex Webster aura to it, especially when he gets the chance to lead off. There aren’t any amazing solos on here like there were on their demo, but it’s always great to hear the bass guitar this upfront. It’s the standout of The Gathering Of Souls, which otherwise is an effective EP of grimy Finnish death metal.
Oni – The Silver Line (Ironshore)
After a six year span between their debut and last year’s Loathing Light, the metalcore/djent band Oni make a quick return with The Silver Line. Like previous Oni albums, there are plenty of guests.
Jake Oni writes songs that combine heaviness and melody, ready-made for both radio and the pit. There are some progressive moments, but The Silver Line has Oni’s most direct and accessible material to-date. Those guests add a lot of variety to the proceedings, from Kellin Quinn (Sleeping With Sirens) on the alt metal “Underneath My Skin” to Howard Jones’s potent vocals on “Aura.” The Contortionist’s Michael Lessard lends his pipes to “Armageddon,” which has some of the album’s heaviest and most melodic parts. Oni does just fine on his own, but the guests do help take The Silver Line to an even higher level.
Sadistic Force – Midnight Assassin (Horror Pain Gore Death)
Sadistic Force enters us into a place full of murder, torture and black leather on their second album, Midnight Assassin. Their blackened thrash metal is now equipped with anthemic heavy metal, adding some fist pumping to their violent delights. Vocalist/guitarist James Oliver wrote all the music and lyrics, as well as being the lone guitarist in the band, so there’s no one to put any restraints on his fiery shredding/harmonies.
There’s no reason to do so anyway, as it gives the album a looseness that helps ease into songs about butchers and serial killers. The black metal angle of the band includes raspy barks and tremolo-picked flourishes, though the latter isn’t as prevalent as it has been on previous releases. There’s more moshing and head banging to do on Midnight Assassin.
They found fame and popularity due to their cover of the internet’s favorite song “We Are Number One” from the show LazyTown on their 2019 album Mastermind. Now Tardigrade Inferno have managed to take the one thing that was already creepy and made it more so: carnivals.
Never has an album given the feeling of wanting to start a mosh pit in a carnival, but Burn The Circus feels just that with tracks like “Ringmaster Has To Die” and “Nailed To The Ferris Wheel.” The eerie instrumentation when paired with vocalist Darya Pavlovich’s astounding performance all lend itself to form an awesomely deranged vibe. It’s honestly refreshing to see a band make something that is outside the norm and sound fresh and exciting.
Twin Temple – God is Dead (Pentagrammaton)
In case you ever wondered what it would sound like if Amy Winehouse was a King Diamond fan, Twin Temple have got you covered. Self-described “Satanic doo-wop,” the duo grafts hokey, devil-worshipping imagery atop a soulful, 1960’s-style rock and roll. Rather than conjuring images of harmonizing street-corner greasers, the lush, reverb-soaked production recalls Phil Spector’s “wall of sound.”
Musically, nothing here will be mistaken for metal. But the imagery is 100 percent classic heavy metal tropes. Opener “Burn Your Bible” kicks off with a clap of thunder and tolling bells that recall Black Sabbath’s debut. “Spellbreaker” features a spoken-word intro that recalls iconic girl group classic, “Leader of the Pack,” and when vocalist Alexandra James vamps on the title track’s outro, “I’m so happy that God’s dead,” you might be forgiven for assuming she’s been possessed by the spirit of Ronnie Spector. Gimmicky good fun, just in time for All Hallow’s Eve.