Thursday, March 16, 2017

Obituary - Obituary (2017)

Apart from the first two records, both excellent, I've been fairly ruthless with the Obituary catalog. There have been occasional tracks of note permeating the last 27 years of material, but so much of it felt phoned in, lazy and lacking in the menace and savagery of Slowly We Rot or its groovier, more minimalist and memorable follow up Cause of Death. The band experimented with a more hardcore, mosh oriented sound and audience at one point, which had mixed results, but have since come back around to exploring their roots in detail, trying to figure out what made those early records stick as classics. I'm surprised to say that the eponymous 10th album has done a better job of that than the last seven, by reaching right back to that wretchedness of their formative years and supplementing with something I just didn't expect, a more pure 'heavy metal' sense of melody and structure to several of the riffs, in particular the bridge and lead sections.

So rather than some dissonant, whipping frenzy of a solo, they'll break out something a little more blues based or accessible sounding, and stunningly, it works rather well. That's not to say it's the first time they've crossed that line, but here it actually complements the more ruthless and ripping rhythm guitar tracks throughout the verses, most of which are more or less paraphrased from the band's huge backlog with an emphasis on the earliest material. A few chords are tweaked here or there, but you'll pretty quickly identify where a lot of the note progressions or grooves are hailing from. Only, because I've felt so long parched for Obituary that I enjoy, I'm a little more forgiving here, especially with how angry and vicious John sounds with these vocals in cuts like "Kneel Before Me" or swaggering "Lesson in Vengeance". He's not belching out anything out of the ordinary, but there's a caustic and mean balance between how his voice is mixed here and the sheer might of the rhythm guitars which totally overpowered my speakers and had me rictus grinning from cheek to cheek.

Granted, it doesn't hurt that cuts like "It Lives" feel like they were taken from the Cause of Death sessions, my favorite record from the band, but this has never been a band that flaunted a lot of progression or originality once they had first made their mark with a more gruesome if simple brand of thrash-infused death metal that their statesmen like Death first created. You're still hearing a few of those meaty, Hellhammer-style groove breaks and fat, oozing bass lines, but a lot of the material here is just this wall of mortuary flesh strengthened by the double kick batteries and the cruel symbiosis of Tardy's grating growls and the murderous bent of his lyrics (love that sustained growl that opens "Turned to Stone"). Obituary isn't a total success for all its retread ground and a few tracks seeming staler than others, but it's for sure the first time in a great many years where I have been so thoroughly entertained by one of their releases, and I've already listened through the thing like a dozen times without getting tired of it. Beyond that, it's got enough of an internal variation that it should sate both fans of the more ripping, faster material or the gym-busting bro-groove. Cool.

Verdict: Win [7.5/10]


http://www.obituary.cc/

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Panikk - Discarded Existence (2017)

It doesn't take a lot of imagination to come up with the sound that Slovenia's Panikk are going for on their sophomore outing Discarded Existence. Those familiar with the second tier of Bay Area thrash from the 80s will remember a certain, violent debut album which also featured an individual being sucked into a swirling vortex, only this time it seems more like a tornado than a series of toothy maws. Sure enough, once you've actually given this a spin, you'll encounter a lot of the frenetic, high strung thrash metal which dominated that unsung masterwork of the genre, and I'm not going to sit here and tell you that's a bad thing, because there while it might take a few pointers from their predecessors, this is solid improvement over their 2013 debut Unbearable Conditions, and proof that putting a little effort and a fraction of complexity to the songwriting can vault you well over the shoulders of much of the useless and redundant pizza re-thrash of the last decade.

To be clear, while the primary propulsion here is a style akin to records like Eternal Nightmare or Oppressing the Masses, I'd actually draw a closer comparison to Japan thrashers Ritual Carnage who have a storied history of translated those same 80s influence into a more modern context. The vocals in particular have that higher pitch in which a lot of the lines spit out the same notes over and over to create a disaffected style first pioneered by Joey Belladonna of Anthrax. In this case, though, while the vocals are certainly well suited to this jerking, thrashing mix, it's really the riffs that take center stage and manifest the rich intensity of the experience, each track being loaded with a good share of variations and occasional subtleties which range from the viciousness of a Destruction or Vio-Lence to even the turbo fueled power/thrash of Artillery that I so admired coming up. It's not insanely technical or unique, but cuts a nice line between clinical neck-straining and familiar but not wholly bitten off riff progressions that you'll recount from both the German and US scenes, from primal S.O.D. mosh to the scalpel-thrash of the aforementioned Schmier and company.

Discarded Existence is carefully calculated to give you both that richer impression of thrash and its musicianship, with soaring, sailing and wailing leads as well as a whole slew of mid-paced pure head banging riffs that keep the experience a lot more grounded than the victim on its cover. Drums and bass provide an accurate level of support, but are never able to take the reins away from the axes for any length of time, which has never really been the point of this genre. Thankfully, that rhythm tone is just excellent, precise and full-bodied enough to satisfy the production gluttons who want a record which sounds 21st century. While I can't say it produces endless replay value or tunes that are likely to become classics, the whole thing is consistent and entertaining to listen through, with lyrics that stick to the social and political topics thrash has long touted, and a level of energy that never lets up, but leaves plenty of room for variation in tempo and lead-work. If you fondly recount the vitriol and testosterone of records like Signs of Life, Eternal Nightmare, Product of Society, Release from Agony and others of that critical 1986-1990 period, Panikk does a swell job of refreshing the formula.

Verdict: Win [7.75/10]

https://www.facebook.com/panikkofficial

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Bannerwar - Anthems of Blood & Soil 7" (2017)

Nestled deep into the Hellenic underground, Bannerwar is a band which must be almost forgotten after a decade plus absence in the wake of its solid if unheralded sophomore Centuries of Heathen Might. And while I can't quite claim that the two tracks present on this Anthems of Blood and Soil 7-inch are going to reverse that fate, it's certainly not because the band is lacking in the hellish energy required to perform the sort of orthodox, traditional and spiteful black metal they employ. But apart from the band's NSBM roots, which may or may not persist in their inspiration, there's just not much of a 'gimmick' to this style, or any single component which can separate them from so many others performing in such a similar, straightforward realm.

If you've never experienced them, it's more or less charging European black metal with a strong 90s feel to it, very basic riffing structures spat out at a faster pace or brought down to a might, barbaric charge. The chord progressions are quite predictable here, but that doesn't really diminish much of their savagery, with the guitars loud and frontal, the vocal rasps doing a good job of providing an evil impetus towards the uptempo blasted sequences. Definitely a classic Swedish or Norse black metal vibe here circa bands like Marduk and Satyricon, but occasionally with "For Blood and Soil" itself they hit a glorious stride reminiscent of vintage Rotting Christ off Thy Mighty Contract or Triarchy. The drums are rather on the tinny side in the mix, but nonetheless efficient, while the bass is good and think, but doesn't otherwise do a lot to carve its own existence from the solidarity of the rhythms.

The two songs are reined in at about 5 minutes each, so thankfully Bannerwar has no interest in beating the listener over the head with ceaseless repetitions of tired riff patterns, and I feel that for the length of the 7" there is enough variation represented, assuming on a hypothetical third full-length they'd have an even broader range (as they did on Centuries). But the question is, at the end of the day, when the onrush of the night is inevitable, do you want another pure atavistic black metal listening session which offers you little to nothing new? If the conventions continue to attract you, then these Greeks are an adequate vehicle for vengeance and ferocity, but although the material here is just as solid as the stuff on their albums, they still just don't stand out against the crowd.

Verdict: Indifference [6.5/10]

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Six Feet Under - Torment (2017)

Despite it's Bleeding-era, trilly little fakeout riff, "Sacrificial Kill" is hands down one of the dullest album openers I've had sitting on my review pile in quite some time, and although it tries to pick itself up with a hustling end section, the riffs being meted out are the kind of low caliber, Six Feet Under material that one would all too quickly delegate to the dustbin as soon as possible, the boredom that at least half this band's albums in the past have choked themselves to death on. Thankfully, elsewhere, Torment gets a little peppier, marginally more ambitious, in that it offers up some more energetic simpleton death metal infused with some groove and nu- metal sequences, but the songwriting overall is just not on the level that they hit with their rare gem Undead or the previous full-length, Crypt of the Devil, which was solid if only because of the temporary roster involved with it.

Speaking of interesting guests, I was interested to hear that ex-Brain Drill bassist was contributing more here than he did on the last one, and once more impressed that he was able to chill out and maintain such a level of restraint throughout the mind numbingly boring half of this disc which is comprised of about 3-4 songs where the idea is to contrast repetitive, barebones primal mugging death metal riffs with the slightly more tech side revealed on Crypt. He doesn't get nearly as flashy as he would in his alma mater, of course, this music couldn't support it, but unfortunately I felt like the content of Torment is just so dry and lacking in real inspiration that it's all for nothing. While a good chunk of this album is far from bumbling or incompetent, I could narrow it's finer moments down to just a couple tracks, like "Schizomaniac" which has some nice thrashing carved out through it's death acrobatics, or the straight neck-jerking base-level death/thrash in "Slaughtered As They Slept", which functions despite how 'heard before' the whole thing plays out. Other than that, there weren't many tracks I enjoyed through and through.

Chris sounds better here than on the previous year's Graveyard Classics IV compilation, where he did an abysmal job of covering Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson with his grunting. Here the battering, bludgeoning timbre of his voice cedes itself to the concussive drumming and viler riff selection a lot more than when he's trying to front such classic riffs; and there are more than a few stylistic nods here to The Bleeding, his finest moment in Cannibal Corpse, but infused with the stoned groove style of riffs that dominated early 6FU recordings like Haunted or Warpath. The mix of the album is quite straightforward, a little dry and doesn't really lend itself well to atmosphere unless Hughell is filling in the blanks with some busier bass lines, but this is par for the course for much of the band's career, and in the end you've got a product here which is the least composed or interesting of their post 2010- works, an era in which they finally seem to most closely have flirted with and even dated some level of quality. Undead, Crypt of the Devil or even Unborn would be more worth your time, but it's not a complete dropping of the ball, just a near-fumble.

Verdict: Indifference [5.75/10]

https://www.facebook.com/sixfeetunder

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Six Feet Under - Graveyard Classics IV: The Number of the Priest (2016)

Chris Barnes' mainstay has been on a strange trajectory these last five years, first stunning me with an album that was actually good, 2012's Undead, and then proceeding to not exactly follow that up with anything worthwhile (Crypt of the Devil was decent), playing some musical chairs with his band line-up, and ultimately deciding for whatever goddamn reason to release another entry in his band's abysmal 'cover tunes' album line, Graveyard Classics. Although this time, it doesn't appear that he's even bothered to come up with a halfway decent cover concept, not like the records predecessors had anything resembling eye candy. IV: The Number of the Beast is, as if you couldn't guess, exactly as lazy as it looks, and it's a collection of strictly Judas Priest and Iron Maiden covers...

...given the 6FU treatment, of course, and by that I mean transformed into bludgeoning low rent death metal lite where the only possible entertainment value is hearing Barnes' caveman grunts fart out the lines of scream-gods Rob Halford and Bruce Dickinson. Musically the trio on this disc attempts to pair up to the originals as much as possible, only with a sluggish, chunkier rhythm guitar tone that is meant to construe some heavier aggression but winds up feeling rather dry, since the record as a whole lacks that reverb and atmosphere that helped immortalize the 70s and 80s material, which this album largely consists of. The bass and drums do their parts over the album, and I won't say it's the least competent of these Graveyard Classics offerings...the focusing on only two bands kind of helps tighten the experience, and the leads feel frilly and fun, but then you go and plaster them with these monotonous grunts, which feel poorly recorded like someone was playing the background music at a karaoke bar and Chris just grabbed up the microphone. It's a little funny to hear Ray Alder appear as a backup on the "Invader" cover, but one wonders why Chris didn't just hire Ray to sing the whole thing...that might have proven a more passable experience.

I'll give Barnes credit, though, he at least has a fairly good taste in songs by these legends, and does not simply offer up the most predicted or obvious choices in their catalogs. I normally wouldn't expect to hear someone's take on "Prowler", "Flash of the Blade", "Starbreaker" or "Genocide", and these are all included along with "Total Eclipse", "Night Crawler", and "The Evil That Men Do". I don't think there's any question the track list was carefully pored over, and without renditions of the bands' most popular tunes, it affords 6FU a little more breathing space for their interpretations. Alas, they are just not very good in the end, and it's largely the vocals and production of the rhythm guitars that don't do these versions a service. If Barnes had excused himself from this, then you might have an average album of its type, but this is just too laughable to take seriously, and the joke loses its humor about 2-3 tracks in when it just becomes sad and boring. Slightly more consistent than the first two such 6FU cover anthologies, but I would say this project 'peaked' with Graveyard Classics III. Granted, that's like saying my lunch peaked when I projectile vomited against the nearest wall, rather than just puking it into its normal porcelain receptacle. Enough already!

Verdict: Fail [3.25/10]

https://www.facebook.com/sixfeetunder

Friday, February 24, 2017

Vendetta - The 5th (2017)

Undoubtedly a promising second stringer during the Golden Age of German thrashing, Vendetta have sadly not had the best comeback streak among their countrymen, being heavily overshadowed in this last decade much as they were in the 80s, with bands like Kreator and Destruction still soaring fairly high over followings that have been cemented for decades to come, if they can keep on kicking out the same competent continuity. Their latest, creatively titled record The 5th does not do a hell of a lot to cultivate either the catchiness of Brain Damage nor the savage velocity of their debut, but that's not to say it's entirely rubbish, only that the band continues to let a little of that 90s groove/thrash influence inflect upon the dynamic riffing and mildly melodic intensity of their prime, and not to the betterment of the finished product.

There are certainly riffing phrases across the tracks here that recall some of the earlier material, and vocalist Mario Vogel once again tries to do his own spin on the original Vendetta style from decades before he joined the ranks, but in the case of the former, they're just not memorable or quirky at all, and the latter seems a little disheveled and sloppy, unable to really drive home a good chorus, not that the rest of the band have really provided him with much to go on there. The riffs in cuts like "Deadly Sin" exhibit a little of that uplifting thrust that you'd recognize from Brain Damage, Destruction or perhaps the power thrash of Danes Artillery, but too many of the progressions rely on rather boring payoffs that don't catch the ear. The production is rather solid, with a good bite to the rhythm tracks and a nice, over the top atmosphere created when the leads enter the fray, providing for some of the better moments on the albums. But then you layer in those vocals, and the lack of a real money shot riff anywhere in a 3-4 minute track and it's average at best, goofy at worst.

It's nice that the band still maintains a fraction of that adventurous spirit they held in their youth, and for instance the classical guitar interlude "The Search" is quite nice, and you can close your eyes and just imagine if they balance that out with vintage Vendetta or Deathrow-quality heavier material, but while this does in fact set up "The Prophecy", which owns 1-2 of the more agreeable riffs on the whole record (before devolving into some lamentable breaky groove thrash), it's buried too deep in the track list to leave much of an impression. There's also something up with the drum mix here, in particular the snares which popped and hissed out of the mix a little much to distract away from the nice, warm crunch of the guitar tone. The bass guitar also doesn't really stand out to me, curving along behind the other guitars but incapable of really standing forth unless it's hitting up the good old slap and pop sound (near the end of "The Prophecy").. All that said, this is a slight bump up from 2011's Feed the Extermination. You can hear some genuine character attempting to seep through the cracks, but it's just not enough, and combined with the relatively weak cover artwork I just think this is an album that's going to be easily overlooked with so much stiff competition. And rightly so.

Verdict: Indifference [5.5/10]

http://www.vendetta-band.de/

Friday, February 17, 2017

Witchery - In His Infernal Majesty's Service (2016)

If Witchery had put out much of any value over since the 90s, I might have felt slightly embarrassed to have ignored the existence of this latest album for the last 3-4 months. However, my interest in the band has just waned that much that any and all expectations or excitement over having any sort of relapse back to Restless & Dead era greatness lie smothered in the tombstones that they emerged from on the cover of that masterful, timeless debut. Efforts like Symphony for the Devil or Witchkrieg were mildly entertaining, or at least a couple tracks on each, but they've just failed to hit it out of the park and have thus sunk into near obscurity. Nobody seems to talk about the Swedes these days, being far more interested in the other projects of the band's constituents, and it's hard to argue with that reaction, because while they continue to set up really cool, varied cover aesthetics for each new album that pique my interest, the music contained on these discs has been inconsistent at best. I am sad to say that In His Infernal Majesty's Service doesn't instill confidence that this is a rut they can ever crawl forth from...

Now, let me back that up a step, because we're far, far from a disaster. This is without question a passable album, better than the last two, and possesses a certain rawness of structure to it that occasionally manifest some nostalgia for their earlier albums. The new vocalist Angus Norder has a fairly standard but efficient guttural rasp which, like his earlier predecessor Toxine, tends to bleed into the rhythm guitar but gives the material that same nasty feel as yesteryear. In truth, there were a number of riffs on the album that felt straight from the 1998-1999 playbook, with the caveat that they really aren't all that catchy or distinct if you span back over the catalogs of bands like The Haunted, Raise Hell and this one to compare or contrast. I.H.I.M.S. vomits forth a balance of 80s German and US thrash, ranging from Sodom to S.O.D., tempered with some clear nods to punk and speed metal. The bass tone is nice and springy, the leads are just about right, never too flashy or overextended, and the drums are crashing everywhere and on fire through much of the track list...but when you just lack those central, impressive riffs to hone in on, the rest of the attempt seems rather fruitless.

Tracks like "Nosferatu" aren't shy about their influence, a pretty direct bite on late 80s Slayer, but even then they can't rise up and compete with the original in any way, shape or form, and they seem like pretty safe tributes to the nostalgia of their remaining audience. "The Burning of Salem" does a similar deed for Dark Angel's ruthless athleticism, and I definitely took away an impression that the Swedes were consciously meting out their influences like they were a checklist written in marker on their sleeves, once again distracting me away from a band that was once in its own right pretty goddamn good. So if you just shut your mind off for a dose of unmitigated death/thrash with no aspirations to anything but survival, I think the tunes here are functional enough not to scoff too hard at. However, the elements that made the band so damn fun and memorable in the first place seem a bit exhausted and watered down to the point that in my review run-throughs I kept wanting to skip about half the songs because the Jensen/Corpse riffing choices were so banal and uninspired. Again, I found it a little superior (if less energetic) than Witchkrieg, but only by a slim margin; it's hardly an offensive experience, but another moderate letdown from a group capable of so much more.

Verdict: Indifference [6.5/10]

https://www.facebook.com/officialwitchery

Friday, February 10, 2017

Deserted Fear - Dead Shores Rising (2017)

Deserted Fear have carved a pretty solid path for themselves on their first two records, and also managed to place their sound into a position which cross-pollinates with several death metal audiences, and should find a warm enough reception with all of them. Not so terribly old school that they're surviving off the aping of a singular band, and not entirely participating in the overabundant trends of early 90s Swedish Left Hand Path/Dismember death or cavernous death, their material is born of a more melodic, hook-laden core and then caked in the heavier aggression via rhythm tone and brute vocals. Certainly they sound like a peppier Bolt Thrower in places, but I think they also have a clear path to the ears of Amon Amarth's considerable fandom, or the Dutch blitz of Asphyx and Hail of Bullets, while cultivating a lot of the more melodic Swedish influence borne off the 90s melodeath explosion (At the Gates, Desultory, Hypocrisy, Dark Tranquillity, etc).

However, they're not flashy or fiddly, reliant heavily on the rhythmic backbone of the meatier guitars and the drums in lockstep. You know where a lot of their riffs are going as soon as you hear them, but they vary up the writing enough that the tunes still feel fresh and leave a moderate impact, provided you aren't averse to the warmer feel the note selections generate. This is hardly an evil sounding death metal record, despite what the skeletons on the cover might otherwise hint at, so it ends up as a more brutal and accessible strain of the style heavily loaded with ceaseless double bass patterns and a really thick and effective tone which operates largely at a mid-pace and then occasionally spurts into a more uplifting, faster tempo like the one that drives the verses of "Open Their Gates". Atmospheric and restrained leads are used to complement the battery beneath them rather than provide vehicles for their performers to show off, and this just adds to the highly structured feel of the Germans' writing, an orderly artillery unit that lays waste in cohesion rather than in spurious, chaotic skirmishes.

It's not without a few flaws. For instance, the bass on the album is fluid and functional, but generally used only as a support for the rhythm guitars, rarely sputtering out a line of interest. Manuel Glatter's vocals do feel somewhat samey after a couple tunes, even though he uses a more abusive and emotional, almost hardcore approach to his gutturals which render them less monotonous than a lot of the band's peers. There are a lot of points to the record where I was headbanging appreciatively in the midst of the experience, but couldn't remember a single lick minutes later, because a lot of the material flows a little too well into its neighbors as well as some of the other bands I mentioned earlier. I felt like, even though it wasn't a far cry from this, the sophomore Kingdom of Worms was a bit more interesting and risky, and even their debut was a bit more crushing, where as this is more safe, solid and dependable from the opener to its close. However, if you like long-time veteran bands like Grave or Unleashed who perform old school death metal with a fair amount of balance to it, not shying from melodies where suitable but also keeping one foot firmly planted in the graveyard dirt, then Dead Shores Rising is worth a listen.

Verdict: Win [7/10]

http://www.desertedfear.de/

Friday, February 3, 2017

Warloghe - Lucifer Ascends EP (2017)

Warloghe has long garnered respect as an infrequent, raw, and wholly vile entity on the Finnish black metal circuit, with an unbent and uncaring attitude manifest through raw production and evil composition which could make some Horna records sound like you were sitting by a warm fireplace toasting marshmallows. Womb of Pestilence is probably the better known of their two full-lengths, and going on about 14 years of absence, the group has decided to issue a 7" with material recorded around that period in the earlier oughts, but not previously released. With this and the band's Dark Ages Return compilation last year, it's possible that a lot more interest is being kicked up through the dust of both the band and listeners, so some might look at this as a 'feeler' for what might lurk around the corner...

Lucifer Ascends is pure Warloghe, raw and caustic black metal which is produced with the guitars at a fuzzy distance from the foreground, the drums transformed into a clanging din, the bass lines an unbroken throb of notes that contribute a lot to the music's sense of fell majesty and melancholy. The tempos here shift between desperate, driving moderate blast-beats, prevalent in the titular A-side, to a slower and more glorious warrior march that dominates "In Hunger And Thirst", which I happen to find the stronger of the two tracks, specifically for how those melodic lines drive into these primal, cutting cords steeped in nostalgia for old Darkthrone, Burzum, Horna, and their ilk. Eorl's vocals are just this wretched, unhallowed rasp which is not news for its genre but seems so perfectly sick and slathered in suffering over these riffs, especially where it creates a contrast against a rhythm guitar line that seems more dignified than the vitriol being spewed onto it.

Nothing involved is a revelation of any sort, these songs are roughly comparable but not entirely equal to the content which actually made the cut for the Womb full-length. The audience here is simply going to be that coven of purists which doesn't want excessive distractions that it feels might detract from their experience. Grim, rime-encrusted and shadowy orthodoxy, on vinyl, through a respected imprint in its feel. There are less than 10 minutes of content here, but while that may seem skimpy, it also means that Warloghe don't pad out their performances to the point that they'll become really boring, and while I don't feel that much of the material here is all that impressive or even really that good (the A-side didn't phase me at all), it's more or less exactly what the band's fans will be seeking out and working as intended. If you're seeking out the band for the first time, however, I would set a course straight for Womb of Pestilence and develop any further interest from there.

Verdict: Indifference [6.5/10]

Monday, January 30, 2017

Bullcreek - Osschaert (2017)

Osschaert is a rather simpler sort of death metal record that you won't hear very often these days, being that it doesn't conform too strictly to the dominant trends of the genre nor does it attempt to blow you over with any level of impressive technicality. This is primitive, choppy death loaded with basic hooks that keep you engaged without offering much nuance. I think a lot of listeners will draw some parallels to Amon Amarth, in how some of the riffs convey just the proper balance of glory and force, but I was feeling a real Asphyx or Hail of Bullets vibe for the most part, only with a vocalist more guttural and less distinct than Martin van Drunen. I also felt a few nods to other low-tech death metal bands of the past like Crack Up, Six Feet Under or Hypocrisy, but even more massive sounding.

This is in no small part due to the crushing rhythm guitar tone here, the closest approximation to their Dutch peers that I mentioned earlier, which grants even the most basic chord structure or voluptuous chugging a level of potency and attention-wrestling. They like to thread these meaty riffs with a lot of solos, which sound rather tiny by comparison but help fill another level of atmosphere, whether they spurt out some bluesier bits or structured harmonies wailing off into the night. The riffs can vary from more straight-up flows of melodic chords to slightly more charging, involved palm mute patterns and this creates a nice variation and contrast across the album that kept me absorbed, especially when they also toss in some melancholic, cleaner guitars or storming grooves. Even though the entirety of this debut remains within the bands stylistic portfolio, I feel like they give you enough fulfillment and deviation from predictability that you won't quite guess everything that follows, and so it just paints the record with a fresh coat of excitement, rather than the dull, dry plodding of a Jungle Rot.

Drumming and the low end in general is really tight here, but apart from affecting the mood of the record it's not all that impressive nor does it really stand out from the production of those guitars. As I mentioned, the vocals weren't super unique sounding, but they do their job if you just want no-frills growling which thrives on a lot of sustained lines which hover over the warlike battery and the fat of the rhythm tracks. Songs get fairly catchy but not to the point that I was thinking much about them after a few spins of the whole thing, and there's just a seasoned restraint about Osschaert which feels like they could fly further off the handle if the band wanted to, but they keep it reined in, and I was not all that surprised to find that the lineup was partially from the cult classic Dutch death metal act Burial, whose Relinquished Souls was a record I used to listen to from time to time. Bullcreek is not quite at the level of a Hail of Bullets, my favorite act from this scene performing death metal at this pacing and level of intricacy, but this is a solid enough start.

Verdict: Win [7/10]

https://www.facebook.com/BullcreekMetal/