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Saturday, 21 January 2017

Reviews: Beheaded, Damned Pilots, Bloodrainbow, Scáth Na Déithe (Reviews By Rich)

Beheaded: Beast Incarnate (Unique Leader Records)

Beheaded are a death metal band from Malta who formed back in 1991 and Beast Incarnate is the fifth album for these Maltese veterans, their first release in five years since 2012's Never To Dawn. Beast Incarnate is an absolute juggernaut of heaviness, precision and brutality with the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the face. Eight tracks of razor sharp riffing, bludgeoning drumming and the ferocious roar of frontman Frank Calleja. The songs themselves are fast and intense slabs of death metal with the confidence of a band who have been playing the death metal game for over 25 years.

The only song that deviates from the rest is the eight minute plus monolith The Black Death where Beheaded bring their death metal attack down to a slow tempo and in doing so have crafted a song that exudes a malevolent atmosphere along with the trademark skull crushing brutality the band are known for. With Beast Incarnate Beheaded have released possibly the finest album of their 27 year career and is an absolutely essential listen for death metal fans. There is no flashiness on display this is just pure death metal brutality which put a massive grin on my face throughout the whole listen. 9/10

Damned Pilots: Overgalaxy (Sliptrick Records)

Damned Pilots are another band that I am completely unaware of but with their first full length album Overgalaxy they have certainly impressed me. Hailing from Italy, Damned Pilots play a nice mix of doom and stoner metal with a touch of psychedelic rock and influences from classic rock and metal but with a Sci-Fi, steampunk concept running throughout the album. The songs themselves are damn catchy with a pop sensibility combined with doomy and groovy riffs and the rough clean vocals of frontman Sgt. Ote.

The only real failings of the album are the two acoustically-led psychedelic songs which seem to interrupt the flow of the album and the closing song Mos which almost veers into drone territory and as such feels completely out of place. I can easily forgive these missteps though as the rest of the album is so damn enjoyable. 8/10

Bloodrainbow: Upheaval (Self Released)

Blood Rainbow are a death metal band from Hungary and Upheaval is their third album which has been independently released by the band. This is also my first exposure to the band. The music on Upheaval is more melodically leaning death metal but not in the Gothenburg style which has become so synonymous with melodic death metal. This album has more in common with straight up death metal with all the trademarks present such as furious riffing, blast beat riddled drumming and guttural vocals but mixed with strong melodies especially in the impressive lead guitar playing and the music has an overall epic feel to it.

There are some interesting curveballs thrown in as well with the inclusion of trumpets on songs such as Outcast From Eden and Rolling Sand Of Alam Halfa plus the appearance of a saxophone on the epic Stalingrad. Whilst the musicianship and playing on the album is exceptional the songwriting isn't perfect and the album takes a while to get going with a very pointless intro track and the first full song Debauchery, Fall, Expulsion being particularly forgettable. Things start to really kick into gear with third track Outcast From Eden which is one of the highlights of the album. Whilst not a perfect album, Upheaval does have a lot going for it and if you are a fan of melodically leaning death metal it is well worth taking the time out to listen. 7/10

Scáth Na Déithe: Pledge Nothing But Flesh (Self Released)

Scáth Na Déithe are a two piece from Dublin and Pledge Nothing But Flesh is their independently released debut album following on from their 2015 EP The Horrors Of Old. Scáth Na Déithe play an atmospheric style of black metal which also mixes in elements of death metal and doom metal. The music is dense, claustrophobic and suffocating with a maelstrom of dissonant guitars, rumbling bass, ambient keyboards, blasting drums and vicious vocals which switch between a guttural growl and tormented scream.

This is dark music evoking feelings of hatred and despair although broken up by more serene calmer moments. The album is made up of six songs with two of them being short instrumental pieces. The four main songs of the album are all in excess of ten minutes each and all feel like they overstay their welcome a bit but this is a common complaint I have with atmospheric black metal. Overall this is an accomplished and enjoyable album though at points I did find my attention starting to falter. 7/10

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