Bloodbath: Grand Morbid Funeral (Peaceville)
The long awaited fifth long player from death metal super group Bloodbath has landed and dear reader, it is fucking evil. Hammering drums from Opeth sticksman Martin Axenrot, bone crushing bass lines from the normally eloquent and softly spoken Jonas Renke combine with terrifyingly heavy guitar work from Katatonia’s Anders Nystrom and Per Eriksson to deliver one of the blackest, nastiest releases of the year. After two years of speculation since the departure of Mikael Akerfeldt, it was revealed earlier this year that Paradise Lost frontman Nick Holmes would deliver the voice. Questions were asked about his death metal vocal credentials and if he would be able to continue the Bloodbath sound. The answer: Oh yeah. An absolutely devilish opening scream on Let The Stillborn Come To Me leaves you in absolutely no doubt that Holmes is the perfect fit. Total Death Exhumed hammers that final doubt deep in the metaphorical coffin, with a guttural growl of such intensity I struggle to find a more sinister voice this side of Nergal. Of course, early Paradise Lost had a very similar vocal delivery from Holmes but he hasn't had to perform like this for a few years now.
The album is pure death metal, the majority of it played at absolutely breakneck speed, with the guitar duels lacing the tracks with a visceral undercurrent. Renke and Axenrot revel in their freedom and cut loose, driving the tracks forward at unstoppable speeds. There are moments of calm hidden within the assault. You just have to hunt bloody hard for them. Anne is an eerie composition which takes a quick pause before assaulting you whilst Church Of Vastitas opens with an atmospheric build up, doom laden drums combining with slower, crushing riffs and Holmes allowed a slower more measured delivery. And the rest of the album just pulverises you with its demonic overtures, clawing at your intestines and ripping you apart. Mental Abortion, Infernal Necropsy and My Torturer, all are dripping with malevolence and vile intent. Dripping with possibly the most brutal work that Bloodbath has ever delivered, Grand Morbid Funeral just destroys. Even the album closer, the title track is absolutely brutal with a combination of every element of the album; the cloisters echo with chanting until Holmes provides the killer conclusion with the rest of the band blasting away. The Devil does indeed have the best tunes. 9/10
Emigrate: Silent So Long (Vertigo)
The second release from Rammstein guitarist Richard Kruspe is a powerful chunk of industrial soaked rock with a plethora of guests scattered across the album. Emigrate’s first album was released seven years ago and had a slightly less industrial tinge than Kruspe's main gig. Silent So Long has a much greater industrial feel to it, with flavours of NIN, Kraftwerk and Marilyn Manson hitting you in the face from the off. Opener Eat You Alive features Frank Delle from Seeed and is very much a classic opener, rocking guitars hitting the down tuned delivery that immediately brings Manson’s sound to mind. Get Down has a guest appearance from Peaches and is a slower, grittier tune. Rock City features Lemmy leading on the vocals and sounds like a Motörhead track; pounding drumming and a fast pace as Lemmy delivers his unique style of vocal. The god of fuck himself appears on Hypothetical and is one of the stand out tracks on this solid album. Manson's voice combines perfectly with the pulsing techno back beat, huge riffs and dirty guitar. “Let's fuck” commands Manson. It's anthemic and would stand alongside any of Manson's own compositions. Rainbow has a real Depeche Mode feel with synths merging with the driving guitar work. Two other collaborations feature at the tail end of the album; firstly Margaux Bossieux, a French expatriate who was former bassist of punk outfit Dirty Mary and who is Kruspe’s partner and collaborator on his other side project, Slippin Away. Bossieux provides backing vocals on both Emigrate albums and on Happy Times sings a duet with Kruspe. Final track Silent So Long features Korn main man Jonathan Davies and like the rest of the album fuses the guitars of Kruspe and Olsen Involtini with thumping bass lines of long time Emigrate member Arnaud Giroux and Apocalyptica drummer Mikko Siren in an industrial maelstrom bringing the album to a fitting conclusion. It takes a few listens to get into this album and if the darkness of Reznor, Manson et al isn't your thing then it's unlikely that this will do much for you. It's a solid release and certainly worth a spin. It would be interesting to see Emigrate in the live arena at some time in the near future. 7/10
Incinery: Dead Bound and Buried (Independent)
Nottingham based thrashers Incinery's debut album is a fine reminder that the UK can still deliver quality thrash metal. In a year when some of the old school from across the pond have punched hard, (See releases from Exodus and Overkill for starters), Dead Bound And Buried builds on their two earlier EP releases, Nothing Left and Dawn Of War. After the obligatory atmospheric opener With Strange Aeons, it is heads down thrash all the way with riffs screaming out through Death May Die. Deceiver delivers a slightly slower paced track with skull crushing, grinding chords and some awesome solo work from the dual axe attack of Chris Kenny and Jason Chaikeawrung. Having caught some the Incinery set at BOA this year this was an album which contained no surprises but delivered brilliantly. Sometimes you really want to have the comfort of solid, well played music which kicks you in the nuts and this album does that alright. Whilst it won’t win awards for originality, it should win something for the sheer effort and drive that courses throughout. Tragedy Of One only needs the drawl of Chuck Billy to sit comfortably on the next Testament release, though James Rawlings vocals deliver in their own excellent style. Destroy The Gods pinches part of the riff from Sad But True before building into the mid-point epic of the album, slow paced power chord action moving through the Anthrax stomp before a Slayer style full frontal attack rips off the majority of your face in one hit. There is a mass of influences coursing through this release and it is monstrous. With the seemingly hopeless state of once great UK hopes Evile, Incinery along with bands like Seprevation have grasped the UK thrash mantle with both hands and are intent on maintaining a firm grip. Their appearance at Hammerfest already has classic stamped all over it and I can see a number of the MoM crew losing their shit in the pits. Devastating stuff. 8/10