DEATH / GRIND(-CORE)
 

AGONY LORDS
“Nihilist Passion”
X-rated Records
rating: 4 of 6
As far as I know, AGONY LORDS appears as almost a cult-status band, however I would never assume it after giving this CD a listen. This quintet of Mexican origin performs rather dull mixture of heavy and death metal – and believe me, ARCH ENEMY sound thousand times more exciting (being more technical as well). No, it doesn’t mean this album sucks. Such tracks as “Path Of Pride” and “Self Apocalyptic Defiance” as well as the ones recorded live, “Sounds Of Inner Fire”, “The Shadow And The Silence” and “Sacrifice Me”, show us a mature band, however they seem to lack something… the “atmosphere”, perhaps. (Herr Stalhammar)

DEATHLESS
“The Time To Be Immortal”
Goldtrack Records
rating: 4 of 6
This CD leaves me rather indifferent to it’s contents. DEATHLESS is one of the most famous death metal acts in Spain, and this album, recorded at the infamous Sunlight Studios, proves that they definitely deserve such a status… however I never reckoned melodic death metal to my favorite genres. Few tracks off “The Time To Be Immortal”, such as “Under Fear”, “The Price Of Our Wasting Lives” (actually, most diverse (also vocally) and outstanding song here) and “Where No Sun Shines”, undoubtedly appear as exciting pieces, with a bit “screamy” vocals, magnificent harmonies, tremendous acoustic passages, and so on and so forth. But… I couldn’t give ‘em more than ‘4’ out of ‘6’ anyway. Don’t ask me why. (Herr Stalhammar)

DESCEND / ALL THAT IS EVIL
Split CD
Cutting Edge Records
rating: DESCEND – 3, 5 of 6
            ALL THAT IS EVIL – 3 of 6
This is a split CD by two young death metal combos emerging from US. Well, both acts definitely should work hard to reach more or less original way of sounding; that cannot even be argued. The CD starts with DESCEND whose style is a bit doomy darkened death metal. First of all, there comes a semi-intro / semi-song of a full value, carrying the title “Unseen”, which in fact is not bad. Creepy sounding, with eerie and depraved guitar perversions, later turning into mid-paced DM with vocals which seem to come out of one of the hellish pits. That doesn’t save the whole situation, though. Yes, the recording seem to be pretty well executed and the guys undoubtedly know why does the guitar have six strings instead of one, and what the hell drums are needed for... in the whole they sound pretty boring and raw, anyway. The same goes for ALL THAT IS EVIL, who seem to be fond of performing second-hand death metal (and no, there’s absolutely no fucking trace of BM, even though vocals are mostly pseudo-black metal ones). They remind me of early EDENROT, however EDENROT stand so high in comparison to ALL THAT IS EVIL which are MISERABLE. Not completely miserable, but they’re condemned to stay a mediocrity anyway. And so is this CD – mediocre. (Herr Stalhammar)

DISCIPLES OF MOCKERY
“Prelude To Apocalypse”
self-released
rating: 5 of 6
Surprisingly (?), here comes a self-released CD executed by a US’ foursome – and what a foursome! Actually, all of these guys previously took part in a death metal legend named INCANTATION, therefore this effort inevitably should have been a killer one. And it is! In fact, it differs a lot from John McEntee’s creature, being more, say, “sludgy”, seeming to be influenced by such acts as WINTER and AUTOPSY a lot. Few reminiscences of late 80ties / early 90ties may be discovered here as well, by the way. Add undoubtedly gloomy and somewhat anxious atmosphere and you’ll get rather exciting piece of unholy death metal to listen to. Email Craig (vocals, guitars) at <twocount@bellatlantic.net>
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

DYING BREED
“Fleshflower”
RPM Entertainment
rating: 5 of 6
What would you say if I’ve asked you to name a synonym for Relapse Records? Right, “weirdness”. And what could we expect from a US band whose former CD was unleashed… yes, through the same label I mentioned above. Inevitably, it’s death metal and it’s weird. Coming with an (almost) astounding appearance and perfect sound quality (Sony Music Studio), this CD features seven songs (as well as a hidden track… but later about that) of furious yet somewhat humorous sort of grinding death metal with various freaky samples and keys added. Actually, it’s pretty innovative (yeah, I know, this word seems to be a nonsense when it comes to death metal, but so what…), even though I can’t exactly tell you what makes ‘em to sound that way. They just DIFFER, you see. And finally, track 7, “Repetition”, as well as that “hidden” tune… oh, holy shit, they remind me of what could be if FEAR FACTORY and Mr. Oizo have start up a project of theirs! As I said above – WEIRD. And simultaneously incredibly exciting! (Herr Stalhammar)

INHUMATE
“Growth”
Grind Your Soul Productions
rating: 5, 5 of 6
Continuing the same conceptual line as before lyrically, here comes a third CD by France’s finest grind / death metal act, being truly bewitching musically. While “Ex-Pulsion” was a good piece of work though still far from perfection, “Growth” lacks any drawbacks, at least the visual ones. Perfectly recorded and tremendously performed (a special bonus goes to a certain maniac behind the drumkit), unlike most of death metal works released nowadays, and apart from being tight and mature, it’s diverse to the certain extent – the same extent which doesn’t let you up until this disk’s playing time’s over. Generally speaking, this is excellent grinding death metal at it’s best, the one which doesn’t feature neither loathsome “… core” or “attitude” crap nor commercial blends, i.e. no synths or female voices to be found here. Furthermore, what’s most important, it doesn’t sound archaic at all. More likely, fresh, exciting and even somewhat innovative.
P.S. By the way, could anyone of you out there please explain me why did they entitle one of the songs with the name “Karamazov”? Someone’s getting high on Dostojevskiy?
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

SCRUFF
“Leben”
self-released
rating: 4, 5 of 6
When I first glanced at the coverart and layout, I thought the CD was sent to me by mistake, since I’m not very fond of listening to (and reviewing) various alternative / sugary rock crap. “Sign Of The Sun’s” text (the only one written in English I’ve discovered here) only assured me in this. However, I decided to play this CD anyway… and whatta surprise! What we have here is excellent amalgamation of death and thrash with a bit of hardcore appearing at times. Vocals strike as somewhat strange mixture between usual growling and certain kind of “shouting” voice, whilst the musical canvas is nothing I can cavil at. It’s all professional, enoughly diverse and intriguing, especially when it comes to that, above-mentioned, tune “Sign Of The Sun”. Actually, “Leben” gets better with a second part of the CD, even though the first four tracks are almost equally good. This is definitely worthy release, so check it out. Contact the band at one of the following addresses:
Email: <zimmerhackel@gmx.de> or <scruffpag@aol.com>
Snail mail: Roman Zimmerhackel, Maximilianstr. 26, 90429, Nurnberg, Germany
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

SEPSISM
“Purulent Decomposition”
Repulse Records
rating: 5 of 6
Once I’ve already received a promo of this CD from Repulse Rec., however now I feel I was a bit unfair to the band defining this album as very mediocre release, so let us re-write the review, especially taking into account the fact I received this CD once again (this time it was sent to me by the band). Basically, “Purulent Decomposition” is pure gore death metal, perhaps not at it’s best though still quite excellent. This one somehow reminds me of “The Bleeding” by CANNIBAL CORPSE, however it’s a bit faster (“blast beat”-worship again, you see), and also less boring – moreover, I’d say it’s pretty exciting. All of the twelve tracks presented here come with a splendid sound, thick and definitely brutal. Should I say anything regarding the artwork and overall appearance if it was executed by Joe Petagno…? You have to check out this CD, no doubts. As to me, I expect their second offering quite impatiently. (Herr Stalhammar)

SIEGED MIND
“Lost Life In Evidence”
Oupiric Productions
rating: 5 of 6
If I’m not mistaken, this MC is actually a re-release of one of the early works by SIEGED MIND (dating back to 1993), even though few tracks were re-mastered and a cover on DEATH’s “Leprosy” added. Well, actually, in spite of the status they gained in their hometown and the whole Russia (“one of the best techno-death metal outfits”), I wouldn’t say I got high on their latest work (as far as I remember, “Emptiness…” is the title). Too boring and… let’s say “celestial” for death metal act. I liked the MC I’m reviewing at the moment, though. It’s a way more brutal and raw, however this “rawness” doesn’t harm anything, only making “Lost Life…” sound much more exciting and, what’s most strange, atmospheric. Furthermore, it doesn’t carry too much DEATH reminiscences as their later recordings use too, even though (as I already said above) “Lost Life…” has a cover on the DEATH classic tune. I believe, anyone into death, as well as black or doom… or any kind of metal, should consider this recording a killer one.
Get it through Oupiric Productions: oupiric@mail.ru
(review by Herr Stalhammar)

TEARS OF DECAY
“Redemption”
Cudgel Agency
rating: 5 of 6
Germany’s Cudgel Agency strikes as somewhat a neophyte label, however both releases (the latest ones of theirs) they’ve submitted for my mag appear as truly splendid ones, so it seems like these guys have a bright future ahead. This is what regards the record company. As to the band whose debut MCD’s review you behold… well, they’re good. Really good. This disk is comprised of five tracks as well as an intro (seems like it was borrowed from certain classic composer, with few samples added here and there), five tracks of furious yet well thoughtout and finely structured death metal (even though the singer spawns some kind of black metallish shrieks at times) in it’s purest form. No, it’s far from both, unholy death metal genre represented with acts like DEICIDE, ALTAR, SINISTER, DAMNATION and others of that ilk, as well as US school “blasting the beats”-worship. TEARS OF DECAY certainly embarked on the path of their own, however I wouldn’t say they sound too original. More likely, quite unoriginal, though still surely exciting. Brutal death with actual thought put into each tune they bring forth the light, you see. Besides that, this band somehow manages to force certain kind of dreary atmosphere… and isn’t that delightful, eh? Definitely a kind effort worthy enough to be given a listen… and yet one more listen… and one more… And yes, I await their upcoming full-length work rather impatiently! (Herr Stalhammar)

VENERAL DISEASE
“Verdicts”
self-released
rating: 5 of 6
I knew what would it be alike long before I’ve put this CD into my stereo. Brutal death metal the US way? Yep, exactly. Of course, featuring few horror movies samples’ input here and there. But to be honest, by adding few European elements, i.e. combining German and Finnish DM schools (what about mixing CANNIBAL CORPSE, DEMIGOD and FLESHCRAWL into one, eh?), VENERAL DISEASE manage to reach somewhat distinctive sound, which is of course far from being original or whatever, however that’s enough for me to rate this CD the way you see above. Basically, “Verdicts” consists of seven compositions, although there’re four bonus tracks added. In fact, I don’t really know if I have to say anything further. Those who’re into brutal death metal (the way SENTENCED performed it on “Shadows Of Past”) definitely have to check it out, whilst innovations-lovers may easily pass it by. When it comes to me, I consider VENERAL DISEASE to be an excellent band, hence expect the interview with them next issue.
P.S. Since it’s a self-released work, I’d better give you their address: Ingo Maier, Bahnhofstrasse 32, 69514 Laudenbach, Germany
(tel.: 06201 / 71532)
Check out their website at: http://www.Veneral-Disease.de
(review by Herr Stalhammar)