Sunday, December 31, 2017


ISR Music Magazine

"Face of Christ"

Neurosis - Locust Star

In the heady mid-90s when Pantera had the #1 album in the US, Phil Anselmo did more than his fair share of spreading the wealth, taking his favorite underground metal bands out on tour and plugging them in interviews every chance he got. That’s how I first heard about Neurosis.

Long story short, I didn’t get it. They were too slow. They looked too normal. I remember seeing them on MTV when I was in high school, listening for a couple minutes, and changing the channel. Yawn.

Fast forward almost 10 years to when I found this video (see below) on YouTube.

"Oh, god! What’s wrong with dude’s eyes?! Is Satan making the keyboardist fist-bomb his bass pedals?!"

By this time, I’d heard a handful of Neurosis songs from every era, but nothing really clicked for me until the palpable mania of this clip. I finally got it. I dived back into their catalog, unearthing the treasures of a band that is a true primary source for the genre I’ll begrudgingly label “post-metal”.

I’d missed them a handful of times live, but I’d heard people go on breathlessly about what a profound and spiritual experience it was seeing them perform. I didn’t NOT believe this, but I approached my first Neurosis live experience with the healthy incredulity of someone who knows the sound of hype and who has a tougher time than most with live music. Perhaps it’s my control freak tendencies, but I have trouble “letting go” whilst at a concert in the way I see others do with ease. I was excited, but wasn’t expecting to see the face of Christ.

The ONLY thing that stood out for me this evening was Neurosis. This was perhaps the most deeply felt and spiritual musical experience I’ve ever had the privilege to witness. I can’t attribute this to anything other than witnessing what Kant describes as the “thing-in-itself”, a beast of selfless propagation without moral or value.

Ascribing any of this to surface qualities like set lists or instrumentation is as relevant as talking about the shirts each band member wore. It was a celebration of life without whitewash or feel-goodery akin to psychically downloading Joseph Campbell’s The Masks of God.

Neurosis do what they do and do it well, and what they do well IS quantifiable. They have a preternatural coherence as a group, every part working independently to define and color an ur-riff whose simplicity always belies its depth.

By fusing the leanness and immediacy of punk with the sprawl and ambition of prog, Neurosis make better on the promise of both, infusing animus into the latter and refinement into the former. “Through Silver in Blood” and “Locust Star”  sound like the future in the same way that Blade Runner or Alien look less dated than The Phantom Menace. Vision gives rise to relevance.

The night ended with no encore nor a single word from band to audience. Perfect. Thank you, Neurosis, for a fantastic healing night – and probably the roughest moshing I’d done since I was in high school.

- Alee Karim


"None So Vile"  


Cryptopsy - None So Vile

Out of Montreal Canada, and consisting of vocalist Lord Worm, guitarist Jon Levasseur, bassist Eric Langlois, and drummer Flo Mounier, this album was released on Sweden's Wrong Again Records in 1996.

This album is simply; "the fucking masterpiece" to say the least. What we have here is a near-perfect blend of brutality, technicality, song structure, and atmosphere. There are few albums as sickening, as vile, as hate-filled as Cryptopsy's sophomore effort.

"None So Vile" was the first Cryptopsy album to feature bassist Eric Langlois, and the last to feature lead vocalist Lord Worm until his return on the "Once Was Not" album, the fifth album by this Canadian technical death metal band.

"None So Vile" took the extreme and technical elements of speed and death metal and merged them and is now considered a benchmark of the "technical death" metal sub-genre.

The riffs vary from extremely technical ("Crown of Horns"), to more grind-core oriented ("Dead and Dripping"), to more standard death metal ("Graves of the Fathers"), to melodic and beautiful, ("Phobophile").

The lyrics reek of vehement hatred for Christianity, but never reach the point of insincerity like some hardcore band's lyrics do.

Here they could be best described as demented poetry due to the free-form style in which they are written and performed. Nonetheless, deliberately disturbing and violent in subject matter.

Here is a small section of the lyrics of "Crown of Horns", the opening track:

"Sire of sin,
You embody me
To you we congregate;
None so vile,
Your magnificent
Crown of horns
Inspires deeds maleficent.

Destroy the parasite [x3],
Destroy Jesus Christ.

They'll crawl in their perdition,
The righteous will be lost
Where gutted angels lie fucked...
Beneath the funeral cross;
We'll dig them a mass grave soon,
And bring to their knees
Those who would have rescinded
The laws of disease."

I usually ignore the majority of speed and death metal lyrics, (Slayer/Metallica/Megadeth excepted), because I only need the syllabic content to power the musical experience and set the scene in my mind's imagination.

But disregarding these lyrics would count as a crime in my book.

I remember hearing a rumor that Lord Worm was drunk when they recorded the vocals and he growled and screamed improvising lyrics along to the music, completely forgetting the original lyrics.

Well it worked out either way, and they still provide for a good read.

The vocal performance on "None So Vile" truly is one of the most superb in hardcore metal. The syllabic grunts and passion could not be more accurate.

The description that suits Lord Worm the lead singer is "king of inhuman bellowing".

His screams, which are used sparingly, sound as if he is being butchered alive. Each Mastiff-like dog bark and guttural grunt fits extremely well with the rhythm and the hateful atmosphere of the music.

Speaking of the music, the musicianship is nothing short of stellar. Guitarist John Levasseur often alternates between pummeling grooves and frantic technical riffs, all of which are memorable.

The guitar solos are quite melodic, and contrasting to the stoic intensity of the riffs. This is thoughtfully constructed guitar work. Practically every riff and solo on this album sounds original.

The technicality of the bass matches the lead guitars. Bassist Éric Langlois is relentlessly plucking away in the background and thankfully, the bass is clearly audible in the mix.

In addition, the drummer is equally up to the task. Veteran drummer Flo Mounier delivers a crushing performance on "None So Vile", ridiculously fast yet meticulously precise.

The double bass drummer's "machine gun" blast beats are furious, yet kept to a minimum, with even more creative beats and fills being used instead.

Flo throws in short, quick rests in his drumming before going all out again, under scoring the jolting, arresting, and sporadic nature of the lyrics and vocal performance.

The musicianship and the vocals come together splendidly to produce one of the most demented-sounding, nefarious, sinister death metal albums ever.

"Technical death metal" is usually criticized for lacking "soul" or atmosphere, but this is not the case on "None So Vile".

This album radiates a shining glow of intense hatred and malice.

32 minutes of brutal pounding without mercy.

One of the greatest albums in the technical death sub-genre and anyone who considers themselves a fan of extreme, hardcore music will enjoy this disc forever.

Honey of The Week



"Blood Fire Death"

Bathory - "Blood Fire Death"

“Blood Fire Death” is definitely my favorite Bathory LP and also one of my favorite metal albums of all time.

Lead vocalist Quorthon managed to compose and record several amazing LPs. But if one would ask me which LP of his I like most, then it would be “Blood Fire Death”.

An amazing originator of what we know nowadays as; "black metal", “Blood Fire Death” is one of the most influential and significant metal albums of all times.

Not only is that due to the music it contains, but also because this LP started something everybody knows today as “Viking metal”.

“Viking metal” is basically any sort of metal music with lyrics about Viking myths and other Nordic stuff.

Prior to this album Bathory was dealing with satanic and other typically dark matters, but with “Blood Fire Death” Quorthon changed some of his lyrics creating something totally new to the scene.

No other band had made an entire album exploring the Vikings theme so much.

And the future Bathory records continued in this vein and single-handedly created a new sub-genre of metal.

I can only honor and admire Quorthon’s impact on the evolution of the metal scene. His early works have been a great influence on Norwegian black metal and then he created and influenced another group of bands – mainly Scandinavian – with something different once more. What a creative person he was.

Amon Amarth, Unleashed, and all the prominent Viking Metal bands of today mention Bathory's "Blood Fire Death" as an important influence.

Anyway, “Blood Fire Death”, released back in 1988, is the fourth album of Quorthon and the boys, and if you listen to all three previous records it will be certain that none of them sounds like its predecessor.

Each album intentionally brings something different to the sound and style of the band.

Starting with their 'Venom-esque' self-titled debut, then going through the more darker and utterly evil; “The Return…” and finishing off with the wonderfully catchy, but epic, dark and evil and way better composed; “Under the Sign of the Black Mark” – each LP is different.

But “Blood Fire Death” is something uniquely daring. Once more Quorthon and his band turned in a different direction than anybody would expect.

On the one hand the album has a handful of savage and fast thrash metal songs, then on the other there are some monumental, more melodic and almost beautiful songs.

These latter songs take the epic side of the previous LP into another dimension.

I guess my - and everybody else’s – favorite songs from “Blood Fire Death” would be the title track and “A Fine Day to Die".

The latter song – opens with a three minute long introduction called “Odens Ride Over Nordland”. Then one of the finest nine minutes of music in all of metal, definitely the best nine minutes which Quorthon has ever composed, begins.

This song is just perfect, the riffs are just amazing, so are the vocals. I just love the way the whole song builds, and how it develops. It creates tension, keeping the listener with mouth open in amazement.

Would anyone expect Bathory to open the album with acoustic guitar and clean vocals, creating a rather peaceful aura? No, and maybe that's why they did.

“A Fine Way to Die” is both thrilling and memorable! With lyrics about the warriors going into battle it feels almost like a fantastic movie soundtrack…just close your eyes and you can see the men, standing in the battlefield, roaring and holding swords, axes or spears, ready to fight or die.

“Along the black mountainside, scattered
by the campfires awaiting the dawn.
Two times a hundred men in battles.
Tried by the steel in the arrow, axe and sword.”

Another epic and impressive song is the title track, coming in at over ten minutes, it finishes the album in a very similar vein to the way the album opens, and you get a strong feeling at the ending, of "completeness".

The riffs on this entire LP are just excellent. Short acoustic themes are quickly followed by thunderous drumming and heavy dark riffs. Some songs are accompanied by thematic keyboards, and there is plenty of variation going on during the songs.

The song structure is often simple, but effective and unique as hell. All the songs are written and composed by Quorthon (aka, Tomas Forsberg r.i.p.).

I always get shivers when I listen to this disc. The vocals of Quorthon are just excellent! They’re way cleaner and more melodic than his usual harsh, raw voice and more understandable. This became something he would continue to do on the future Bathory albums.

This is an album where you can just close your eyes and see all that Nordic stuff…so clearly, it is really awesome!

"For All Those Who Died", “The Golden Walls of Heaven”, "Pace 'Till Death" and “Holocaust” – if we speak of just side A of the vinyl - are all excellent songs.

“Holocaust” is just insane, barbaric and it definitely is the fastest song.

But of course most of the fans of hardcore metal remember Bathory mainly for the epic, visually stunning music that “Blood Fire Death” delivers.

You have to have this LP in your collection if you love hardcore, black metal or viking metal.
Hell, build an altar for it if you haven’t got a whole Bathory chapel in your basement already!

Standout tracks: “A Fine Day to Die”, “Blood Fire Death”, "For All Those Who Died", “Dies Irae”.

A masterpiece of the Black Metal, Viking Metal genre.

- Marcin Olczak

Napalm Death

ISR Music Magazine

 "Smear Campaign"


Napalm Death - "Smear Campaign"

Smear Campaign is the twelfth album by legendary grindcore metal band Napalm Death.

Napalm Death were formed in 1981 in the UK.

They were initially inspired by the early wave of London punk, in particularly the "anarcho-punk" movement (a subgenre of punk that focused on anarchist political discourse).

Then they went on to become one of the innovators of what is now called; Grindcore.

Grindcore is basically a type of "death-metal" with a noisy dense sound utilizing down-tuned guitars, overdrive bass, double bass-drum blast beats, and vocals that consist of low growls and/or high shrieks.

The Grindcore legends like; Anal Cunt, (aka AxCx) and Napalm Death, accompanied their songs with elements of "artistic or deliberate randomness", introducing random fluctuations into their music to obscure the lyrical content or vocal tracks.

While none of the original members remain in Napalm Death, the lineup of vocalist Mark "Barney" Greenway, bassist Shane Embury, guitarist Mitch Harris and drummer Danny Herrera has remained consistent for most of the band's career.

My favorite album by Napalm Death has this lineup.

It's called; Smear Campaign.

The lineup on this utterly brilliant 2006 album is;

Greenway – vocals
Embury – bass
Harris – guitar, backing vocals
and, Herrera – drums

"Smear" is my favorite of all their work because Russ Russell, the grindcore production virtuoso, produced it.

Russell handles the engineering, recording, mixing and even the final EQ mastering of this immaculate album.

In true Russell fashion there is no weak spot.

Just drop the needle, push play, track one, however you make your music player start, just start it and LEAVE IT THE FUCK ALONE!

You will be in "grindcore bliss" until the album is done and completely over.

Russell is a musician and writer as well, with decades of experience. He has worked in every kind of metal rock genre.
Russ is also adept at producing classical, blues, jazz, acoustic pop, country, hip-hop, trip-hop, drum & bass, reggae, psychedelic space music, folk, dance breakbeat, and glam-thrash-boogie to name a few.

In other words Russ is a music junkie, a music nerd, like yours truly, and a man after my own heart.

Russell has such clarity of artistic vision, and such deep artistic integrity that most of the bands he produces are unheard of beyond their host genre.

Dimmu Borgir, The Wildhearts, Evile, Lock Up, Defecation, Meathook Seed, The Berzerker, The Rotted, Space Ritual, Amorphis, New Model Army, Luna Riot, Heretic, Evil Scarecrow, The Peccadillos, and three dozen more that you also probably never heard of.

But this doesn't mean the producer or the artist sucks, since you never heard of them.

To the contrary, it just as likely means what they have executed is so precisely well done, that it's only for that target audience.

Its not watered down, its not trying to "go commercial", or any of that sell-out crap to gain mass approval, or more money and etc.

It means that not even the target audience was as important to the producer and the artist as achieving the artistic goals of the music itself.

Like I said, a man after my own heart.

Anyhoo, "Smear Campaign" is an uncompromising, intense, yet tasteful album. It is 45 minutes of pure hardcore metal with key changes, tempo shifts and varied moods. Just how I like it! 

They sound as hungry, angry, committed, and inspired as ever.

There is the experimental and yet restrained opening track, "Weitschmerz", which features acoustic guitars and organ-like keyboards, and a melodic female vocal by Anneke van Giersbergen.

Conversely on: "In Deference," they are every bit as brutal and extreme as anything the grindcore gods have ever been. About 90 percent of this album is an uncompromising, crushing, take-no-prisoners onslaught.

Russ Russell has corralled the boys and their immense vitriolic, bludgeoning delivery into a very cohesive unified expression.

There is organization in the frighteningly fast tempos and a devastating intricacy.

Much like death-metal gods; Slayer, I could only wonder how many times they rehearsed these songs before Russ accepted a final take. They were nearly "subconsciously" tight on the entire album.

Danny Herrera unleashes lethal double bass-drum blasts, and Mitch Harris' guitar riffs are positively smoking hot, and his leads are just as ridiculous.

In fact, it all goes by so fast that the listener doesn't realize they just spent 45 minutes listening to it.

All you remember is being caught in a whirlwind of guitars, drums, and Barney's belligerent vocals and blood-curdling screams.

The scathing, "anti-everything" lyrics are simply added frosting for your casual reading afterwards. You really won't understand them as he sings them, but that has always been part of the mystique of hardcore and grindcore music.

It's about an attitude; "Just feel me, feel me inside." - GG Allin
"Don't worry about the semantics of whatever I said."
"You either feel me or you don't."
"This is punk-grindcore-hardcore metal, not a doctoral thesis at Oxford."
"You guys care more about what I said, than I do!" - Ozzy

That said, every grunt, bellow, growl, snarl, bark and shriek is perfectly stated and articulated.

The record's production style helps to contribute a clarity to the raw, primal urgency of the overall mood.

"Sink Fast, Let Go", "Fatalist", "Puritanical Punishment," are all highlights. There is an avalanche of great riffs throughout the entire album. 

But not every track is maniacal and overwhelming.

There is restrained heaviness on "Freedom Is The Wage Of Sin" and this adds some strategic texture to the album.

"Short-Lived", "Identity Crisis", and "Eyes Right Out" all begin at the speed of light, but then a well-placed tempo change kicks in and takes the songs down into a mid-tempo heavy groove.

Lastly, "Warped Beyond Logic" moves in reverse, because it begins fairly slowly but then works its way up to a blinding speed with buzzsaw riffs and teeth-shaking double bass-drum blasts throughout.

In short, Napalm Death are as strong now as they were twenty-four years ago.

This album shows "the core four" members have no desire to age, tone it down, or mature. Just what the metal doctor ordered; "Keep going balls out until they send for the hearse!"

"Smear Campaign" could have used a few big anthemic hooks, or some individually memorable riffs, and this would have created a single standout track from the disc.

But Russ Russell doesn't work that way.

The albums he makes are conceived as a "singular art piece" and this is one of the best hardcore metal/grindcore examples of that methodology ever recorded in this genre.

Surely Napalm Death's finest effort in at least six years.

A mandatory purchase for all extreme/underground/hardcore metal fans.

Prepare to be devastated.

By James Clark with A. Stutheit

Trufact: Napalm Death have released fifteen studio albums and are listed by Nielsen SoundScan as the seventh best-selling hardcore metal band in United States history based on sales statistics.

Leave a comment or your opinion for debate and discussion.

Celtic Frost

ISR Music Magazine 




Celtic Frost - "To MegaTherion" 

So finally, our review of Celtic Frost's legendary "MegaTherion" Album.

Inspired by the paintings of Swiss artist H.R. Giger and the poetry of Aleister Crowley, "To MegaTherion" (meaning the great beast in Greek), is a very important heavy metal recording.

Influential on both death metal and thrash metal, "To MegaTherion" is only superseded by Kreator's; Pleasure to Kill, Possessed's; Seven Churches, Megadeth's; Killing is My Business, Metallica's; Kill 'em All, and Slayer's; Reign in Blood. I'll leave out Venom's debut since "Black Metal" is indeed what that album definitively is.

As far as thrash and death goes, Celtic Frost's "To MegaTherion" helped create the sub-genre we today call thrash metal.

Released in 1985 it is a classic in every sense of the word. To "MegaTherion" not only helped in the creation of a new metal genre but it also foresaw the future of the genre and manages to stay forever relevant. It is a seminal document in the thrash and death metal canon.

Celtic Frost is a band from Switzerland that arose from the ashes of Hellhammer, an early hardcore metal band, with two of its members crossing over to form Celtic Frost.

Regarded initially as a Venom-influenced “pioneering” black metal band, thanks to their first EP, Morbid Tales, it wasn’t until their sophomore release, "To MegaTherion" that the band truly found their niche.

Powered by more expressive but simpler power chord patterns than their debut, it’s Tom Fischer's (guitars, vocals) delivery that really makes their second album so IMPRESSIVE.

Even by today standards – Tom (now known as: 'Tom G. Warrior') relishes in lucid vocals that are so charmingly evil, you can’t help but become attracted to them.

It might sound like indecipherable grunts in between the well placed; "HEY!" and "UH!", but where Tom Warrior really outshines himself is in the lyric sheets.

I dare you to pull up the lyrics for the songs on this album and find anything unimaginative about the occult. Tom G. Warrior culled his references straight from reading the best esoteric books.

Verses like: "Silver horses brought us here, to the edge of the universe / We left the falling walls as the stars' collapse began." (From: Jewel Throne).

And: "Humiliated in human form/We have to die to be reborn!"
(From: Dawn of Megiddo).

The lyric images that Tom Warrior paints with his vocal performances are inevitably going to make your mind drift away to battles between good and evil, fallen kings and fallen angels, desolated wastelands, and Celtic/Viking lore from the pagan past.

Coupled with female backing vocals (not overused, but on a few songs), some tracks go even further up on the visionary scale when the female and male voices come together. (Necromantical Screams being the prime example).

The instrumentation is no slouch either; Dominic Steiner's bass provides one hell of a rough ride and lends a gritty backbone to the music.

Reed St. Mark's drumming is not really that diverse, but he keeps the pace really nicely, like a steady walkway ladder leading you down to the depths of an abyss. (Circle of the Tyrants, Return to the Eve, for examples).

Overall, they end up making the album feel genuinely evil, by always managing to get a chilling performance from all involved in the recordings.

The album has the sign of great musicianship and songwriting all over it.

Relating more to thrash and death metal than the sub-genre they were first known for; black metal, Celtic Frost manage to make one hell of an album.

By blending their initial black metal influence into a thrashing death metal sound they introduced many of the clichés well known in today’s hardcore metal scene.

Instrumentation, sound effects, backing female vocals, occult and mystical lyrics - all are delivered in such an honest and precise package that it is really easy to forget some of the minor flaws.

Some riffs tend to repeat themselves for a tad longer than necessary, and become monotonous. There is an instrumental that doesn’t add that much to the album (Tears in a Prophet´s Dream).

And just the way they threw their fans into a tizzy with a musical approach more aligned with thrash metal than what anyone would expect after the sludge of black metal they featured on their debut.

But these are all minor complaints. If someone was to ask me what I thought 80's Black Metal and its epitome was, I would answer by pointing towards Venom's "Black Metal" and Celtic Frost's "To MegaTherion".

It is a great album that doesn’t depend on Black Metal gimmicks. It creates a new vision for the genre by forging a Black Metal essence with the emerging relevance of death metal and thrash metal. This was pretty radical for 1985,
when Black Metal bands and Thrash, Speed, and Death metal bands were solidly entrenched in different camps.

''To MegaTherion'' manages to use all these period influences masterfully, and in turn created an album as relevant today as the classic it was then.

Recommended tracks:
The Usurper
Jewel Throne
Dawn of Megiddo
Circle of the Tyrants
Necromantical Screams

This album and "Morbid Tales" (their debut EP) are beyond essential for your hardcore metal collection.

- By Geadom edited by James Clark

(The original cover artwork is featured below, from a painting by the renown H.R. Giger entitled "Satan I")

Sunday, December 24, 2017

ISR LIVING INSPIRATION: Luxury - "Beverly Hills Masterpiece"

"play at 0.5 speed to soak it in"

Iron Maiden - "Moonchild" (MAIDEN ENGLAND - 1988)


ISR Music Magazine


Sinister - "Diabolical Summoning"

21 years have passed since the formation of Sinister, one of Holland's most persistent death metal acts.

Though most of their albums are good, the band has sadly never achieved the level of recognition that many of their peers rose to. It's a shame, because their first few albums are better than the overrated early 90s output of a Deicide, Hypocrisy or Cannibal Corpse. I can't claim that any of the 8 Sinister albums is a masterpiece, but "Diabolical Summoning" was certainly a Dutch gem which stands alongside Pestilence, Creepmine and Gorefest as a strong offering to the genre.

For the period, Sinister were quite a tight, prolific, unrelenting band. "Diabolical Summoning" pops with controlled aggression, whether it's the sick-fuck drumming of Aad Kloosterwaard, the unending guitar-axe brutality, or the gruff barking of Mike van Mastrigt. The band was every bit as moshpit friendly as their American counterparts, with alternate bursts of speed and breakdowns, very much comparable to an early Suffocation or Cannibal Corpse, and on this album, better.

Tracks like "Magnified Wrath" and "Sense of Demise" groove with abandon, hellish drum battering and bludgeoning guitar tones that sound heavy as fuck even by the standards of the 21st century. The album grows a little more interesting during its latter half, with the punishing "Leviathan", the riffy, grinding "Desecrated Flesh" and the mystical destruction of "Tribes of the Moon."

In closing, Diabolical Summoning is sick. Sick enough for any fan of brutal death metal. You should own it and relish its insanity. The riffs are consistently entertaining, the leads sear and the drumming should hold the attention of the A.D.D. brutes who demand it.

I would say this still ranks as my favorite Sinister album.



ISR Music Magazine

 "The Antichrist"

Destruction - "The Antichrist"

Many seem compelled to call The Antichrist the 'comeback' album for Destruction, but this not chronologically nor logically the case. The sound here is one lifted straight from its predecessor; "All Hell Breaks Loose", but pummeled into perfection. That album was a fresh act of violence borne from a stagnant musical relationship, while this is like a freight train hitting you at a thousand miles an hour, a mushroom cloud being formed over your conscience, an instant window to everything you loved about this band in the 80's and then some.

This is accomplished with a tone as hard as steel girders being lobbed from a high rise down upon the audience, crushing spines and craniums aplomb. Special credit must be given to the Abyss Studios' and Hypocrisy/Pain mogul Peter Tägtgren for producing and recording the finest work of his studio career, because the mix easily surpasses "All Hell Breaks Loose" and clings to the remarkable songwriting like leathery plates to a mutant armadillo. Actually, an armadillo does not do "The Antichrist" justice. It's more like the bony frills of a triceratops. Truly an impressive work of engineering which perfectly places into perspective the storming payload of Sven Vormann's percussion, the unfathomable riffing riots of Mike Sifringer, and both the bottom end sewage and malicious bark of Marcel Schirmer.

All of this might seem meaningless without the songs to match the unparalleled sonic muster, but The Antichrist has them to spare. Remember when thrash metal albums had songs that you could repeat over and over in your head and to your friends until they hated your fucking guts? A brief flyby of the lyric sheet will reveal references in the lyrics to Exodus, Kreator, Possessed, Overkill, Living Death and of course Destruction themselves in what might be the most thinly veiled, shameless self-promotion in thrash history; the chorus of: ''Immortal soul, takes control, immortal soul, thrash 'til death!''

In all, this is 42 minutes of calculated brain concussion. No filler to be found anywhere. Simple yet strangely effective lyrics. A formula of devastation so assured and convincing that Destruction have been using it repeatedly since with diminishing returns, since few of their later albums hit home quite so hard.

If you don't own this album you are wrong.


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Honey of the Week:


Shining (SWE)

ISR Music Magazine 



"Everyone, Everything, Everywhere, Ends."

I really like the way the band SHINING (SWE) and their songs are put together. They're not trying to live in the past of black metal history. They don't look like evil lost pandas.

There is no corpse paint, but there is real blood and plenty of it.

They still have the baser, malevolent elements of black metal, with the all-encompassing spirit of misery, the self-mutilation & cutting, and the nihilist lyrics.

But it's more modernized. Almost pretty. A pretty death.

Shining (SWE) has been around in one form or another since 1996. But due to the mental instability of lead singer and founder Niklas Kvarforth aka Ghoul, they have gone through countless manifestations, labels, and band members in the past 20 years.

Since 2005 their sound has really evolved into a very professional ensemble, capable of superior technical skill and instrumental surprises.

Many consider; Shining - "Halmstad" from 2007 their best studio album. It captures what I want to describe here far more eloquently than I can in words. If that one doesn't grab you try Shining - "The Eerie Cold" from 2005, that one is sure to impress. Ghoul's dramatic vocals are front and center.

They are a very melodic band with sweet acoustic guitar passages, and then power riffs that are almost anthemic.

It's not "pop metal", but there's a ton of solid rock and roll going on here.

Sans the lead singer's overt self-mutilation and glorification of suicide and drug addiction, you'd think you were listening to any other groove-metal band with power riffs and atmospheric bridge sections.

"Någonting är jävligt fel" (Something is Very Wrong), and the 2009 live concert DVD (SHINING -"Live in Brasov, Romania") show their facility for smart composition and arrangements.

There is clever decision-making at work here.

Song passages ebb and flow naturally and inventively. They are always tightly rehearsed, and recorded and mixed professionally.

The interview portion of the aforementioned Romania Live DVD shows lead singer and founder Ghoul (Niklas Kvarforth) to be visionary, witty, and articulate, and definitely no poser. He is a deeply committed vocalist capable of frightening rage and then emotional despair.

The Romania DVD is their best live concert performance footage, clean sound, interviews, and visuals from 2009. The guitar solos are very clean and melodic and the players can shred when required. The drummer is clear with the double bass-drum patterns, and with his drum fills. He grooves really hard with perfect timing. There is a clear separation of each instrument and cymbal crash in the live mix.

With titles like; For the God Below, Submit to Self-Destruction, The Eerie Cold, and Endless Solitude, Shining has a sound that since 2005 has redefined the word; darkness.

To me, this is what black metal should strive to be like going forward. It would help more people understand the genre. Not like any true black metalist would care. Your understanding would only undermine my misery, so please don't understand.

"Despair, is my Inheritance."

 By Mark Möritz-Rabson and James Clark

Wednesday, December 20, 2017



ISR Music Magazine 


"The Oath"


Desaster - "The Oath of an Iron Ritual"

Well goddamn. While 2016 doesn't yet trump 2015’s metal releases, it’s sure making a valiant effort.

Absolutely nothing in metal can replace the visceral satisfaction of a good, well-placed riff over bone-shaking blast beats.

More often than not your head banging is attached to the drummers double bass drum onslaught and the guitar riff in unison.

Veteran German black/thrash quartet; Desaster follows the formula to perfection on "The Oath of an Iron Ritual".

"The Oath" is their 8th full-length album, and 11th official release overall.

With fresh, clean, but hauntingly dark riffs, and a relentless sonic assault of blast beats aplenty, this album grabs you right by your shoulders from the start and shakes the heaven out of you, and NEVER lets you loose.

There isn't one bad song, so there's no need to fast forward or touch anything after you press play. Just crank up the volume and "rattle ya goddamn head".

Perfectly recorded and mastered, and brilliantly performed. The speed metal elements they employ make this a very mosh-pit-worthy disc.

Desaster formed in Germany way back in 1988. Their song themes involve war, violence, mythology, and the occult.

When Desaster formed, they were originally inspired by black-thrash bands like; Venom, Hellhammer and Destruction; the name of their band actually comes from the Destruction song "Total Desaster".

Desaster's style is closer to fist-pumping 80's thrash metal than to dreary Norwegian black metal. They strongly show the influence of old German (Teutonic) thrash; especially Kreator, but still they sound new, refreshing, and honest about it.

"Teutonic mythology" generally refers to non-Scandinavian Germanic myth, as opposed to "Norse", which refers to Scandinavian myth. People use the terms interchangeably, but they are for sure different legacies, but the mythology underneath is very similar.

Although Roman mythology influenced Desaster lyrically for this effort, their instrumental sound is harder, faster, darker and more uncompromising than ever. The blend of the two elements together is thematically a brilliant concept. The cover art is a painting called Pandemonium by John Martin and sums it up better than any words I could write.

Let's dig in...

"The Oath" starts out with an intro that can best be interpreted as "Jesus getting nailed to the cross". I say that because the beginning is much like an ending, and the outro reprises the beginning. It makes you want to play the entire album all over again because of the satisfied feeling of completion. It just takes off and ends like a single complete journey.

“Proclamation in Shadows” hits you square in the face with excellent riffs and blast-beat super power. This opening track has all the essentials of a good fist-pumping metal anthem.

All throughout the disc the passionate vocals from "Sataniac" the lead singer are utterly intense and believable.

"Infernal" the Guitarist never makes an error. His riffs and solos are flawless.

"Odin" the Bassist can be clearly heard in the pristine mix and is perfectly placed in the overall sound.

"Tormentor" the Drummer is especially inspired playing like a bat out of hell.

The album works like a classic, right from the start until the ending, there is no need to change a thing. There is a great cohesion in pace, mood, and riffs, that never errs or lets you go, and yet is never monotonous.

"The Oath" is a very visual and thematic album steeped in mythology. Taking a look at the lyric sheet (highly advised) there are some deep thoughts in the songwriting.

“End of Tyranny”, and “Proclamation” are songs guided by front-man Sataniac’s agonized and convincing roar.

Those first two songs aforementioned really do set the precedent for the rest of the album quite nicely.

The songs all have a monster main riff combined with a strong drum blast underbelly but the pacing is varied and exciting.

There are tasteful touches throughout, like the spoken word section on “Haunting Siren,” or how “The Denial” begins and ends with a classic doom riff over a very solemn drum beat.

There is a raging fire in the band on "The Oath" that hasn’t been present in some time in the bands nearly 30 year history.

Their previous full-length album; "The Arts of Destruction" was fine, but there is a renewed sense of energy on "The Oath" that sounds like the band has really jelled into a set unit after years of line-up changes.

Desaster have yet to make a bad record, many fans would say they haven’t sounded this edgy and precise since "Tyrants of the Netherworld" or 2005’s "Angelwhore" album.

Everyone is clearly bringing their 'A-game' to this record. Sataniac sounds absolutely beastly, coupling his unique screaming vocals with scattered spoken word to add a bit of 'blasphemic gravitas' to the proceedings.

Guitarist Inferno comes up with some of the best riff-work of the band’s career. 24 years of playing to crazed fans have done well to help him hone his 'axe' into a killing machine.

Whether it's the speed-metal in the title track or the death/thrash metal style in; “Conquer and Contaminate” this is one hell of a versatile complete album, perfect in length, pacing, and song sequence.

Tormentor's hard but restrained drumming is very much a large part of why the album forces itself into your head and stays there. Especially since the bass lines are so tight and clear right there beside him.

It helps that the mix is so clear, it punches you in the gut that much harder. There will be no 'ear fatigue' here, I assure you every element in the music is right in your face. Every Roman sword stabbing you right in your ear-holes.

Indeed 2016 has been quite kind to black/thrash thus far, and "Oath of an Iron Ritual" is now leading the bloodthirsty pack.

Top tracks: "EVERYTHING!" Just let it play. This is a 48 minute ritual very much worth committing to.

By Simon Phoenix, edited by James Clark