CD Review: ‘Out Of Respect For The Dead’ By Grave

Swedish death metal band Grave return from the dead with its 11th record. Out Of Respect For The Dead is pure Stockholm death metal, complete with gory lyrics, buzzsaw guitars and manic drumming. The opener “Mass Grave Mass” is a brutal headbanger that does not relent until the final note. “Flesh Before My Eyes” is another thrasher with a macabre breakdown in the middle of the track. The droning, squealing guitars bring things to an unsettling standstill before speeding up again at the end. The Sabbath inspired “Plain Pine Box” is a nice slab of doom metal that is every bit as heavy as the records faster songs. The title track is a suffocating thrasher with an endless spew of riffs and guttural vocals. It is straight ahead, no frills death metal that rips the jugular. The colossal “Grotesque Gory” trudges like a zombie through the graveyard. A fitting end for a record titled as an homage to the dead.

This record’s greatest strength is the balance of simplicity with technicality. Grave is dynamic, but have the musical chops to switch things up when necessary. The record is filled with rhythm changes and complex tempos, but also straight forward metal. This is good as the record is neither monotonous or pretentious. A common problem with new death metal bands are that they place musicianship over songwriting. Thus, the songs are a batch of complicated musical ideas, but fail to translate into songs. Grave never falls into this trap, as the songs sound like songs. Then again, the band has existed for nearly 30 years so it has experience on its side.

Out Of Respect For The Dead is old school death metal done right. Grave once again prove why its one of the most revered and influential bands in extreme music. Grave fans will be pleased as well as extreme metal fans in general. Go out and by the record. The dead will be honored when you do.

Check out the band’s Facebook page for news and tour dates: https://www.facebook.com/GraveOfficial

CD Review: ‘Order Shall Prevail’ by Jungle Rot

Jungle Rot march on the war trail with its eighth album Order Shall Prevail. The band’s previous album, Terror Regime, saw the group at its most technical and progressive. That is not a bad thing, however, the band’s signature groove was less prevalent, causing the album to drag in certain spots. However, on Order Shall Prevail, the old school brutal groove is back mixed along with some progressive elements, making it a solid mix of old and new. The opening thrasher “Doomsday” cuts through like a buzzsaw with high intensity drumming. The standout track “Paralyzed Prey” is the album’s initial single and encapsulates everything great about Jungle Rot. The brutal, laid back groove, sludgey riffs, and Dave Matrise’s barking vocals make this a top notch track. The legendary Max Cavalera of Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy makes a guest appearance on “Fight Where You Stand.” The mechanic riffs move along like a tank rolling over bodies while Max belt outs the chorus “No room for cowards/fight where you stand!” The song is an all out take-no-prisoners charge that will get bodies moving in the pit. The eerie riffing on “The Dread Pestilence” conveys the frightening foreshadowing of a widespread plague.

 

The production on this record is strong just like the band’s previous two releases on Victory Records. The album is not overproduced, and all four instruments are mixed well. The production is much like the band’s songs, simple and to the point. That may turn off some people that want a more “sophisticated” record, but it fits the band perfectly. Besides, this is old school death metal, it’s about the heaviness.

Order Shall Prevail is the band’s best record of the three it has released on Victory Records. It may be the band’s best album in its 20 year history. The record retains Jungle Rot’s signature sound while increasing the technicality of the band. The brutality is not watered down, nor is it too simplified. All is in order on this record and Jungle Rot certainly prevailed.

Check out the band’s website for news and tour dates: http://www.jungle-rot.com/

CD Review: ‘Apex Predator – Easy Meat’ by Napalm Death

The grind continues on Napalm Death’s 15th release, Apex Predator-Easy Meat. Always a band willing to step outside the box, the droning title track stomps in industrial glory. This unorthodox opener may throw some off, but the band kicks things back in thrashing fury on “Smash a Single Digit.” “Smash” is no-frills Napalm complete with blast beats and Barney Greenway’s trademark bark. The vicious “Metaphorically Screw You” is 2 minutes of brutal ecstasy. The twisting riffs and relentless speed reaffirm why Napalm are the kings of grindcore. The dissonant guitars on “Stubborn Stains” oddly complement the frantic drumming on this track, creating an interesting syncopation between the guitar and drums. Then there is “Dear Slum Landlord,” which drew considerable criticism when a video of the band performing the song was leaked. Perhaps some thought the band would do a Morbid Angel and release a soft or “non-metal” album. However, those doubters are wrong and the brief track is certainly not indicative of the album. The first proper single of Apex “Cesspits” certainly put many fans at ease. Its sound is somewhat accessible like “When All Is Said and Done” on 2006’s Smear Campaign. The hardcore punk grit of “Bloodless Coup” shows the versatility of the group. It puts to shame most of the stuff masquerading as “hardcore” these days.

The production on Apex Predator is top notch. The raw digital sound on the group’s four albums or so is present here. It is clear, concise and never overbearing. It is good to hear the bass, guitars and drums without one instrument bleeding into the other. Musically, the band is riding a creative wave. There is a great balance between convention and experiment. In addition, this is the shortest Napalm Death album since Enemy of the Music Business in 2000. At 40 minutes, the band handles business in ample time, thus never becoming stale.

When all is said and done, Napalm has crafted another great album. This is the band’s fifth record since 2005 and it is clear the band are not stopping anytime soon. Apex Predator will thrill fans of the band and anyone looking for some good extreme metal. The blast is strong with this one.

To view more, visit their website at www.napalmdeath.org

CD Review: ‘From the Very Depths’ by Venom

Venom, the very word elicits respect, scorn and even laughter in the metal community. Venom is the band that helped kick start extreme metal in the early 80s. You can mock the band’s image and musicianship all you want, but this is the group that coined the term black metal with its seminal 1982 record of the same name. Now, frontman and bassist Cronos and the boys are back with the band’s 14th release, From the Very Depths. The hellish mid-paced stomp of the title track encompasses what the band is known and loved (or despised) for. That is, of course, lyrics praising Satan, underrated guitar leads and thick riffs. “The Death of Rock n’ Roll” is a punk infused track whose title is more tongue in cheek than anything. Rock ‘n’ roll cannot die when bands like Venom keep on rocking. Satan’s house band gets psychedelic on “Smoke,” with Middle Eastern influenced guitars and pounding drums. It slams like a colossus through a building. The track “Long Haired Punks” is everything one would expect based on the title. Venom were certainly a band of long haired punks as the group blended punk and metal in the 80s. This track seamlessly blends both genres as Cronos gleefully pays tribute to his band. The lyrics define the band perfectly as “dogs of mayhem who don’t give a damn.” The straight ahead attitude of “Crucified” is both harsh and accessible. This is a track that could enjoy airplay on the Internet or satellite radio.

The production of early Venom records is as infamous as the band’s image. It was lo-fi and tinny. Metal fans would deride the production in comparison to Iron Maiden and Judas Priest records. However, this lo-fi sound would become a convention of black metal. But on this record, Venom gets with the times as the album is cleanly produced. The sound is as big as the band’s image, giving the tracks an extra punch.

From the Very Depths is a Venom record. Therefore, people will either pick it up or avoid it like the plague. That said, it is a good record, with the only drawback is it drags on at times. Fourteen tracks is a bit long for a Venom record and it would be just as strong or stronger with 10 tracks. Still, the trio should be commended for stellar musicianship and good songs. From the Very Depths is a solid cut.

For more information, view their website at http://www.venomslegions.com/