CD Review: “Primal Future: 2019” by Toxic Holocaust

Joel Grind’s one man thrashing project Toxic Holocaust has returned to lay waste to the band with devastating d-beat and bellicose, thrashing riffs on album six, Primal Future: 2019. Album opener “Chemical Warlords” is a vicious track that is equal parts Discharge and Carnivore. Grind harshly shrieks about a ravenous horde with the simple goal of annihilating everything in their wake. “Black Out The Code” continues the assault initiated by “Warlords,” with its pummeling drums and faster tempos. The chaotic, yet bluesy guitar lead heightens the intensity of this track. “Deafened By The Roar” is the shortest track on the record, 90 seconds of head banging hardcore and nothing less. A short burst energy to that segues in to the album’s second half. “Time’s Edge” is notable for its slicing riffs and catchy chorus over relentless percussion. The title track is a galloping mid tempo beast that feels like a cyborg unleashed on humanity. There is a nice transition towards the final third of the song that things to a battered conclusion. “Controlled By Fear” has a suppressed feeling throughout the track’s duration, which compliments the song title. This submissive attitude is broken on the following track “Aftermath” which is full on thrash with lumbering riffs and Joel’s signature gruff vocals. Album closer “Cybernetic War” is somewhat primitive and slightly disjointed, accentuating the lyrics of nuclear war. There is a haze of shock and confusion on this track with wayward sounding riffs and a creepy robotic effect at the song’s end. Humanity better shape up.

Primal Future: 2019 is 39 minutes of crossover thrash played right. The resurgence of traditional metal’s popularity has unfortunately lead to a heap of mediocre albums that fail to capture the spirit of crossover and trash. Luckily Joel Grind is back to show the new generation how it is done. There are riffs a plenty and fast paced drums, however there is a depth of complexity to it all. Crossover is noted as the intersection of hardcore and thrash. The music was fast, but not overly technical, precise yet a bit sloppy. Joel captures those elusive elements on Primal with successful results.

Fans of Toxic Holocaust will enjoy Primal Future as it is certainly worth the wait. Over half the tracks on this album are great additions to the band’s set list. Fans of thrash and crossover should also check out this album for a dose of apocalyptic headbanging fun. The future may be dim, but Toxic Holocaust provides the perfect soundtrack to mankind’s demise.

Check out Joel Grind’s official website:

http://joelgrind.com/

CD review: “Death Becomes My Voice” by Ringworm

Ringworm’s eighth release, Death Becomes My Voice, continues the band’s vicious hardcore metal assault over the past three decades. The title track is a pugnacious combination of hardcore drumming and thrashing guitar riffs that grip your jugular for five minutes. HF’s harsh, maniacal vocals stand out on this track. “Carnivores” is another fast number with some brief blast beats thrown in for good measure. The song speeds up towards the final minute before guitarists Matt Sorg and Mark Witherspoon pull out a grooving riff while the track fades. The dissonant riffs and brutal drumming sounds like The Haunted meshed with Napalm Death. “Acquiesce” is an uncomfortable slower track thanks to the apocalyptic main riff and HF’s guttural vocals. The scooping riff on “Do Not Resuscitate” is reminiscent of a hook slicing in to human flesh. Drummer Ryan Steigerwald delivers the punishment on this track as it is pure Slayer worship from beginning to end. “The God Of New Flesh” is the shortest track on Voice, a chaotic assemblage of thrash, punk and grindcore. The band never falters through the constant tempo changes, keeping the listener on their toes until the song concludes. Album closer “Final Division” is a pummeling requiem that ends with a doom riff and sorrowful guitar solo.

Bands playing across extreme musical genres has occurred for roughly 35 years. Metalcore and deathcore have enjoyed varying degrees of popularity in the U.S. for roughly 15 years. Quality is the key issue, and while many bands attempt to meld genres, few succeed. Ringworm are one of those few bands and Death Becomes My Voice solidifies its status in the metal underground. The tracks on this album hit like a bat to the spine and a rusty blade to the lung. The brevity of the tracks and slight diversity makes Voice an interesting listen. There is little monotony due to stellar drumming and above average guitar work.

Fans of Ringworm should purchase Death Becomes My Voice. It is a fun, thrashing record that induces headbanging from the first track. Fans of crossover and thrash will enjoy the band’s speed and demonic guitar harmonies. Thrash ’til death.

Check out the band’s official Facebook page here:

www.facebook.com/Ringworm13/

CD Review: “Slaves Of The Shadow Realm” by Legion Of The Damned

Dutch metal quartet Legion Of The Damned have unleashed its unholy seventh record, Slaves Of The Shadow Realm.

Album opener “The Widow’s Breed” is a blistering track with chainsaw guitar slicing through thrashing drum beats. The lyrical imagery of African witchcraft is especially interesting and a wonderful departure of the conventional satanic/anti-Christian themes.

“Nocturnal Commando” continues with the African lyrical content the previous track as a tribute to Ogun, the God of Iron in the Yoruba religion. Guitarist Twan van Geel’s unrelenting riffs easily keep pace with Erik Fleuren’s ferocious drumming.

Things briefly slow down on the “Charnel Confession” which maintains an uneasy rhythm throughout the song’s duration. There are numerous guitar fills that complement “Confession’s” fierty atmosphere.

“Slaves Of The Southern Cross” is a demonic grooving tune as the band plays in the pocket before speeding things up during the midsection. The chopping guitar riffs and double bass drums conclude the track in hellish fashion.

“Warhounds of Hades”commences with a colossal drum pattern before descending in to a crushing thrash number. Geel’s aggressive double picking in the main riff drives this track, and the midsection will arouse a mosh pit.

“Priest Hunt” features a haunting symphonic sample that segues in to a galloping pattern and a meat hook guitar riff. A contrast from the thrash fused black metal on prior tracks, yet it still fits on Shadow Realm.

Album closer “Dark Coronation” is the longest track on the record at a shade under six minutes. There is a hardcore punk influence on this track that elides with some complex guitar riffs making it a killer album closer.

Shadow Realm is a collision of black, death, thrash metal and punk but Legion pulls it off for most of the record. Some songs are a bit too long, causing the record to drag. Luckily, Legion’s musical prowess compensates for the album’s few low moments. The production is on point, especially on tracks like “Priest Hunt” with the extra scoop on the guitars. The band also experiments with symphonic samples and a melancholy piano intro “Slaves Of The Demonic Mind.” There are a few good surprises on this record.

Legion Of The Damned bring the goods on Slaves Of The Shadow Realm. Fans of Goatwhore and fellow Dutch metal band God Dethroned will appreciate the band’s melding of metal subgenres. However, this album falls slightly short on some tracks. Still, it is a very good album to lead us in to 2019. The dark gods will appreciate this offering.

Check out the band’s official website:

http://www.legionofthedamned.net/

CD Review: “Storm The Gates” by Venom

The devil’s favorite metal trio from Newcastle returns with its fifteennth studio album, Storm The Gates. “Bring Out Your Dead” opens the record and is the initial single. It is a straight forward track with a stomping groove and a plodding guitar riff. Cronos’s signature raspy vocals are in diabolic effect and guitarist Rage throws out a chaotic lead to top it off.

“The Dark Lord” shifts between a dissonant, dreary psychedelic riff and a grinding mid-tempo riff. Venom proves it is capable of writing strong material and this is a top track. The crunching “100 Miles To Hell” commences with a simple guitar riff before the drums kick in to high gear. It is a no frills headbanging track. The ax swinging riffs on “Destroyer” complement drummer Dante’s slow galloping beat while Cronos sings during the fills about demons and the apocalypse.

Things speed up on “The Might Have Fallen” as Dante’s relentless drumming surprisingly does not let up. Rage’s buzzsaw riffing is primal black metal and reaffirms Venom as the fathers of the sub-genre. The title track concludes the album with a sloppy punk edge mingled with NWOBHM guitar riffs, as it should end.

Venom were notorious for playing bad and lacking the musical prowess of its contemporaries. This is unfair, as the band can certainly play complex music, which is evident on tracks “The Dark Lord” and “Immortal.” However, this is black metal, which is devoid of the pretentious pomp found in other metal sub-genres. Storm The Gates is straight forward, Satanic metal with a fusion of punk for good measure. Some tracks are a little weak, but the overall product is Venom.

Fans of Venom will enjoy Storm The Gates with its 13 tracks of unfettered, diabolical fun. However, if you never liked Venom, this record will not change your mind. Folks new to black metal should check this record out to understand its origins. Venom stormed the gates and were victorious.

Check out the band’s official website here:

http://www.venomslegions.com/

CD Review: “The Hunt For White Christ” by Unleashed

Unleashed celebrate its 30th anniversary next year and it is fitting that the Swedish death metal masters release a new record. The Hunt For White Christ is album number thirteen, and is rife with the viking imagery, thrashing riffs and pounding drums the band is known for.

“Lead Us Into War” engulfs the listener in a blizzard of piercing riffs which form a hammer that swings down during the chorus. It is a superb track to open White Christ.Unfortunately the following track “You Will Fall” stifles the album’s momentum. It is not a bad track, but sounds subdued compared to the opening track.

“Stand Your Ground” picks things up with its mid paced main riff and stomping chorus. Vocalist and bassist Johnny Hedlund’s guttural vocals are decipherable and there is an added urgency in his voice as he urges listeners to make a stand and fight. Guitarists Fredrik Folkare and Tomas Olsson lay down some bluesy leads with a classical flair.

The album really picks up on “Terror Christ” with its grinding guitar riffs that sound like a tank descending upon a city in ruins. The guitar leads are again incredible and complement the dark vibe on this track. “They Rape The Land” continues the auditory assault with a galloping thrash riff that causes instant whiplash. This track has several rhythm changes that capture the chaos of battle but it all flows well.

“The City Of Jorsala Shall Fall” is notable for its Middle Eastern inspired chorus riff, which complements the song title as Jorsala is Swedish for Jerusalem. It is another mid paced stomper with sharp riffs that cut at every turn. The title track is a short blast of pummeling drums and bludgeoning guitars that are lockstep with one another. It is the shortest track on the record and the most straightforward.

“Open To All The World” is a blistering track with a smidgen of hardcore for good measure. It rarely relents and concludes the album with a dissonant acoustic guitar.

The Hunt For White Christ shows how impressive Unleashed sounds when it is focused. The album’s second half is almost perfect, as the songs flow well and take the listener on an exciting and bloody journey. That does not mean the first half of White Christ is bad. However, a couple of tracks are rather disjointed and slightly weak compared to the second half. The production is great with special notice to the guitar tones, particularly the solos. The leads are clear and at times possess a supernal feel. The rhythm changes on these tracks are seamless and heighten the overall excitement of the album.

The Hunt For White Christ is the band’s thirteenth album, but it is certainly not unlucky. Unleashed fire on all cylinders for most of the record proving once again its status as a legendary death metal band. Fans will enjoy this record as the few weaker tracks are eclipsed by the entire record. Unleashed should continue the hunt when it results in killer albums like this.

Check out the band’s official website for news and tour dates:

http://www.unleashed.se/odalheim/index.php

CD Review: “Electric Messiah” by High On Fire

High On Fire pay tribute to the legendary Lemmy Kilmister with its aptly titled eighth record, Electric Messiah. The trio’s blend of Motorhead, Black Sabbath and Slayer is in full throttle throughout the record. “Spewn from the Earth” is a straight trasher replete with frontman Matt Pike’s guttural wails and ground shaking guitar riffs. Drummer Des Kensel’s manic double bass only heightens the song’s intensity. “Steps of the Ziggurat/House of Enlil” is one of two epic songs on this album that surpass nine minutes. A metallic take on the history of Sumeria, “Steps” is a towering piece of riffs that trudge forward, engulfing the listener’s ears. Things speed back up on the title track, which would do Lemmy proud. “Electric Messiah” is a blitzing take-no-prisoners assault of pummeling double bass and lighting palm muted riffs. This track offers little breathing room and forces you to bang your head. The way it should be. The second epic track, “Sanctioned Annihilation,” is composed of a driving triplet drum pattern underneath sludgey guitar riffs. This leads to a disjointed, yet cohesive tempo that is slow but mid-paced. There is little drag despite its 10 and a half minute duration, and it stands as the record’s centerpiece. Album closer “Drowning Dog” is a galloping psychedelic rocker that concludes the album in grand fashion.

Electric Messiah rarely lets up throughout its 56 minute duration. This record pays homage to Lemmy in the best way: playing loud, fast and heavy. Matt Pike’s riffs attack from every angle while bassist Jeff Matz and drummer Kensel easily keep up. The record’s primary weak spot is “The Witch and the Christ” which lacks direction. Matt and company are at their best when they are dynamic and have an end goal. Luckily, this is only one misstep and the other eight tracks more than make up for it. The production is rugged yet clear, and one can hear the band’s pugnacious sound in all its glory.

Matt certainly paid proper respect on Electric Messiah. A heavy, thrilling musical journey that will leave ears bleeding and necks hurting. Fans of the band should pick this up as well as folks new to the group. This is certainly worship music for the Church of Metal.

Check out the band’s official website here:

http://highonfire.net/

CD Review: “Jungle Rot” by Jungle Rot

After 25 years, Jungle Rot decided to name an album after the band. Jungle Rot is the tenth album from the band and is replete with the band’s signature sound of death metal groove and thrashing breakouts. Drummer Jesse Beahler, who played on Terror Regime in 2013, has returned and provides a technical edge missing on the band’s 2015 effort Order Shall Prevail. Album opener “Send Forth Oblivion” showcases Beahler’s skills as the song’s tempo seamlessly shifts from fast to mid-paced. The guitar riffs are chaotic and hit the listener from all sides. “Delusional Denial” is an onslaught of death-meets-thrash with front man and guitarist Dave Matrise unleashing machine gun riffs like a cornered gangster. The following track “A Burning Cinder” continues where “Delusional Denial” left off, providing a maelstrom of blast beats, descending riffs and Matrise harsh lyrics aimed at government corruption and greedy corporate officials. “Triggered” is a good ol’ hardcore stomp with Matrise and second guitarist Geoff Bub hammering out plodding riffs. This track induces headbanging and Matrise’s guttural yell before the breakdown is icing on the bloody cake. “Stay Dead” is another dynamic hitter with a bludgeoning riff that drives the song. The band pays homage to Kreator with a cover of the German thrash legends’ 1987 song “Terrible Uncertainty.” We see Jungle Rot’s thrash influence with this track as it twists and turns like a serpent.

Jungle Rot is superior to its predecessor Order Shall Prevail, as this record is more focused and aggressive. When the band plays fast, it plays fast and when it grooves, it grooves. While Matrise, Bub and bassist James Genenz are especially cohesive on this album, Beahler’s drumming provides the technical framework for the others to expound their playing. The riffs are more technical and the songs less restrained than the tracks on Order Shall Prevail .The production is clear and sharp which is great during the fast parts on this record.

Jungle Rot is arguably the band’s best record since Kill On Command in 2011. This record surpasses the band’s previous two albums by successfully melding the band’s penchant for playing in the pocket with technical precision. Jungle Rot is certainly worth the three year wait. I just hope the next record is released sooner. Highly recommended for fans of death metal and thrash.

Check out the band’s official website:

http://www.jungle-rot.com/

CD Review: “Downfall Of Mankind” by Nervosa

Brazilian death-thrash trio Nervosa deliver a blistering dose of speed on its third album, Downfall Of Mankind. The album’s brief intro is dissonant and foreboding, merely hinting at what is in store. The next track, “Horrordrome,” is a full on thrash assault. This song is rife with sharp riffs and blast beats while guitarist Prika Amaral unleashes a chaotic solo. “Never Forget Never Repeat” is a scathing commentary on human history and how bigotry and hatred leads to war and genocide. The brutality of the music complements the lyrics with its maniacal speed and steel cutting guitar riffs. The relentless tempo feels like you are in the midst of a battle among dead bodies and rubble. On “Enslave” there is a tinge of Swedish death metal fused with a hardcore stomp. The song seamlessly speeds up and slows down, and is sure to induce a circle pit at a show. That hardcore influence reappears in all its brutal glory on “…And Justice For Whom?” New drummer Luana Dametto is merciless on the kit, hitting double beats, blast beats and everything in between. Frontwoman Fernanda Lira’s demonic shrieks heighten the energy on this track, making it one of the best on the album. “No Mercy” is one of the fastest songs on Downfall, giving the listener little room to relax save for a brief breakdown during the midsection. This track certainly lives up to its title.

Downfall Of Mankind shows Nervosa maturing as a cohesive unit. The songwriting is technical and precise, but also brutal and unpredictable. The songs twist and turn, but are never wayward. Nervosa are never overambitious, and keep each track under the five minute mark, thus the tracks never linger. The production is great, with no tinny drum sounds or overly thick guitar sound.

Nervosa hit a home run with this album. Downfall Of Mankind is the group’s best record to date and one of the best metal albums of 2018. The social commentary, hardcore drumming and blistering riffs fuse together for an aggressive, unrelenting yet thought provoking album. This record is a mandatory purchase for fans of both old school and contemporary metal.

Check out the band’s official website:

http://nervosaofficial.com/site/eng-band/

CD Review: “Psychosis” by Cavalera Conspiracy

Max and Igor Cavalera continue their brotherly brutality on Cavalera Conspiracy’s fourth record, Psychosis. Sepultura fans can rejoice as Psychosis is primarily based on Arise and Chaos A.D. with its fusion of hardcore, groove and thrash. There is even a smidgen of industrial to liven things up. Album opener “Insane” is a thrashing blitzkrieg with riffs that can slice through a tank. This track is relentless and annihilates everything in its path. “Terror Tactics” continues the metallic assault with maniacal drumming and skull splitting riffs. The song’s tempo abruptly changes into a nice groove with stomping riffs to conclude this track. “Crom” pays homage to the world of Conan the Barbarian. This ode to the Cimmerian god opens with tribal drums before Max breaks out a pummeling riff and Marc Rizzo plays an ear piercing solo and then chaos breaks loose. Rizzo’s hellish solos perfectly fit Max’s cacophonous rhythm guitar. The record takes an industrial detour on “Hellfire” with its repetitive robotic drumming and hypnotic guitar samples. This track seems slightly out of place halfway through a record of straight metal, but hats off to the guys for bringing in Justin Broadrick of Napalm Death and Godflesh to deliver vocals. Luckily, this is a brief detour as “Judas Pariah” is a mix of grindcore and groove metal that works quite well. Of course, a Cavalera album is not complete without a track rife with tribal percussion and we get that on the title track. This four minute instrumental is an amalgamation of tribal beats and electronica that is both mysterious yet uplifting. Oftentimes people underestimate how musically diverse the Cavaleras are and can compose very good world music. Album closer “Excruciating” is pure butchery as are privy to an endless firestorm of fast, sharp riffs and drumming. The track’s midsection then switches gears with a slower tempo and disturbing sound effects that concludes the record in haunting fashion.

Psychosis encapsulates everything fans love about pre-1997 Sepultura with its successful blend of metal and hardcore. The songs transition seamlessly from break neck speed to mid-tempo head movers. Max, Igor, Marc and bassist Andy Rizk can play in the pocket when necessary and then breakout without hesitation. This should not surprise anyone as Max and Igor have played together for over 30 years and made some of the most influential albums in heavy metal. One of the album’s few weak spots is the lack of lead playing from Marc Rizzo. Marc’s guitar work in Soulfly is incendiary and diverse, yet he is afforded few spots on Psychosis to showcase his playing. Hopefully he will show off his chops on the upcoming Soulfly record.

Ultimately, this album is a crusher that will please fans of Sepultura and extreme metal in general. It is Max and Igor Cavalera afterall, yet these brothers do not rest on their laurels and clearly put their hearts and souls into making this record. Psychosis is a lethal dose of thrash, hardcore, grindcore and industrial making it an unpredictable, but exciting listen from beginning to end.

Check out the band’s Facebook page for news and tour dates:

https://www.facebook.com/cavaleraconspiracy/

Slayer’s Summer Tour drenches Baltimore

Drenching wet, save for my camera, I stood dripping under the canopy of the Pier Six Pavilion in Baltimore.  Umbrella or not, blocks of walking through the streets overflowing with water had left me and my fellow concert-goers far from dry.  Our victory: standing in the presence of one another, and soon, of some stellar musicians under the safety of the awning overhead.  Tonight would be one of metal, for we were about to embark upon a journey led by Behemoth, Lamb Of God, and Slayer.

 

Behemoth: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

I had heard great things regarding The Satanist, the newest album from Polish metal band, Behemoth, and thus was excited to experience them trial by fire.  Though I dabbled in a few songs prior to the show, I was largely approaching their music with virgin ears.  Not only did I not burst into flames, but I was stunned by the sheer power exuded by these blood-coated individuals on stage.  Nergal, the frontman of the group, roared out lyrics and waved an incense burner to properly acclimate the crowd, while low-ender, Orion, and lead guitarist, Seth, gave off devilish smiles and riffed out one dissonant chord after the next.  Drummer, Jon Rice, filling in for regular percussionist, Inferno, pounded out one song after another, and I certainly had no complaints.

 

Lamb Of God: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

The Richmond, VA-based groove metalers, Lamb Of God, are the one act who played on July 28 which I probably knew best, especially considering I had reviewed their last full-length release, VII: Sturm und Drang.  However, despite my love of their music, I had yet to see them in concert.  I was not disappointed!  Drawing most of their material from Sacrament, followed by the aforementioned album, the quintet launched through ten of their most recognized songs, even teasing a few seconds of Slayer’s “Raining Blood.”  Throughout, vocalist Randy Blythe hurled himself through the air, belting out his signature guttural tones, while the Adler brothers, along with Mark Morton and John Campbell, created a sonic wall of destruction.  They closed their 50 minute set out with the rhythmically infectious “Redneck,” and it was clear that the crowd would have loved an hour more.

 

Slayer: Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram

As part of thrash metal’s Big Four, alongside Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax, Slayer helped pioneer American thrash metal in the early 1980s.  When I tried to induct myself into the leagues of Slayer fans years ago (when I first became a fan of Metallica and Megadeth), I didn’t see the appeal.  However, with time my tastes has fluctuated, and upon listening to albums like Show No Mercy, Hell Awaits, and Reign In Blood recently, I’ve found that immersing myself in their music is greatly welcomed.  And they were ever bit as intense as I imagined, ripping through an hour and a half of music at breakneck speeds, with guitarists Kerry King and Gary Holt alternating through blistering solos.  Towards the end, someone attempted to yell at frontman and bassist, Tom Araya, between songs.  Tom, unable to hear what the fan was saying, began moving his lips silently in reply.  I couldn’t see the fan from my vantage point, but it seems someone thought a middle-finger was in order, which saw Araya smiling with the release of a few birds of his own.  Next thing you know, the entire audience was waving middle-fingers in the air.

As a metal fan, I greatly enjoyed this show, and I would have been sorely disappointed had I missed it.  While I was still far from dry by the time the last song rolled around, it was time well-spent, and you’d do well not to deprive yourself of the experience.