CD Review: “In His Infernal Majesty’s Service” by Witchery

Blackened thrash metal supergroup Witchery return after a six year absence with its sixth hellish offering, In His Infernal Majesty’s Service. “Lavey-athan” storms from the abyss like a demon ready to devour innocent souls. The track is full on thrash with chainsaw guitars and punkish drumming. The stomping midsection gives way to an eerie clean guitar and a whispered verse before ending on a heavy note. The chaotic “Netherworld Emperor” is a pugilistic track that strikes from all angles. New drummer Chris Barkensjo showcases his skills here as the track has several time changes but maintains a consistent groove. “Nosferatu” is the initial single and one can see why with its galloping riffs and frontman Angus Norder’s shrieking vocals. The band’s black metal roots show on this track with its dissonant riffs and the atonal guitar lead. Things speed up on “The Burning of Salem” which recalls early Slayer. The suffocating riffs sound like a fiery whirlwind while the drums manage to keep up. The apex of the song is during the middle when we hear a man identifying himself as Salem’s magistrate sentence several defendants to death by hanging. History certainly comes alive on this track. A haunting organ opens up “Escape From Dunwich Valley”which grooves from start to finish. Guitarists Jensen and Rikard Rimfalt put their stamps on this track, as this track as a major Black Sabbath vibe.

 In His Infernal Majesty’s Service main strength is the diverse songwriting. The band draws from death, black, death and even doom metal to forge some unpredictable but dynamic songs. Witchery refuses to play within any parameters, but can play in the pocket when necessary as seen on “Escape From Dunwich Valley.” Musically, the band members all hail from some of metal’s most revered bands. Bassist Sharlee D’Angelo plays in Arch Enemy, guitarist Jensen plays in The Haunted and lead guitarist Rikard Rimfalt played in Seance. These guys can play melodic metal or straight thrash at the drop of a coin. We see this throughout Majesty and it gives the record an extra kick.

The six year absence certainly has not dulled Witchery. In His Infernal Majesty’s Service would please the Dark One as only Witchery can do. It is pure blasphemous heavy metal that rarely lets up. Fans of the band member’s main bands should pick this up as should fans of extreme metal. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and this is the soundtrack for the journey.

For news and tour dates, check out the band’s official Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/officialwitchery/

CD Review: ‘Buried in Violence’ by Product of Hate

Product of Hate bring the brutal groove on its debut album Buried in Violence. The band’s mix of death metal, thrash and hardcore will surely draw unfair comparisons to Lamb of God. However, the Wisconsin quintet has a sound completely distinct from its Virginian peers. The band’s music is no-nonsense metal that gives the listener little breathing room. The first track “Kill.You.Now” opens with a whirlwind riff before the drums smack you to the ground and bash your head in. There is a strong Haunted influence with the band’s modern take on thrash metal. The riffs are complex yet dynamic while frontman Adam Gilley barks like a madman. Things do not relent for most of the record. “Annihilation” has a hardcore groove sprinkled with speed metal riffing that makes for a maniacal contrast. The visceral “Blood Coated Concrete” would make Kerry King and Gary Holt nod their heads in sinister approval. The aggressive percussion and galloping riffs drive this track like a platoon charging towards the enemy. The only time the band shows a modicum of mercy is on the haunting instrumental “Vindicare.” The eerie bassline provides the perfect backdrop for the classical guitar lines which gradually build to a hellish peak before fading out.

Legendary metal guitarist James Murphy produced Buried in Violence. Murphy’s career spans roughly three decades and he has played in Death, Obituary and Testament. Murphy brings his knowledge on all things brutal on this record. The album is somewhat stripped down, but not minimalist. The mix is just right with punchy drums and a sharp guitar sound. It is the perfect sound for the record as it captures the band’s seriousness and no-frills style of playing.

Well, Product of Hate has certainly made its mark with a strong debut album. I can safely say this band is America’s answer to The Haunted and that is not an insult at all. The band does a fine job melding the complexity of thrash with the dynamics of hardcore, something many American metal bands struggle with. Buried in Violence is modern thrash done right and it is refreshing to hear a metal band not emulating metal bands from 1985. Product of Hate bring the violence and the mosh on this one.

For news and tour dates, check out the band’s website: http://www.therockfather.com/productofhate

Top heavy metal albums of 2014

As we close out 2014, we should look back on the metal albums that stood out these past 12 months. 2014 was the year of the comeback as several legendary bands released notable albums after considerably lengthy absences. This includes At the Gates, Behemoth, Entombed A.D. and Sanctuary. With one more year under our belt it is safe to say 2015 will definitely deliver the goods. Now without further ado a list of the best heavy metal albums of 2014.

 

1. Behemoth- The Satanist

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2. At the Gates – At War with Reality

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3. Crowbar – Symmetry in Black

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4. Sanctuary – The Year the Sun Died

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5. The Haunted – Exit Wounds

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6. Prong – Ruining Lives

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7. Entombed A.D. – Back to the Front

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8. Septicflesh – Titan

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9. Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls

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10. Vallenfyre – Splinters

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