Primordial: Exile Amongst The Ruins (Metal Blade Records)
Primordial are one of Ireland's most well known metal exports with the band having been releasing albums of their uniquely styled and immediately recognisable brand of celtic metal for nearly 25 years. Primordial are known for their somber yet stirring anthems and with album number nine Exile Amongst The Ruins they continue down this path but with one or two little deviations. The tracks released ahead of the albums release are both the more untraditional with Stolen Years being a very brooding number and positively drowning in melancholy proving to be one of the most beautiful songs Primordial have ever written whilst To Hell Or The Hangman is one of the catchiest songs the band have done with a definite post-punk Killing Joke feel about it.
The rest of the album stands out as well with opener Nail Their Tongues destined to be a live favourite, Upon Our Spiritual Deathbed is a epic masterpiece and Sunken Lungs being a true rousing anthem. Exile Amongst The Ruins is a bit more a slow burner than previous Primordial albums but the time invested in listening to this album is more than rewarded. Primordial have released some fantastic albums in previous years but they have raised the bar even higher for themselves as it is easily one of the best albums the band have done. A magical and emotional listening experience and possible contender for album of the year.10/10
Napalm Death: Coded Smears And More Uncommon Slurs (Century Media)
Napalm Death are a household name in extreme music being one of the most influential bands of all time with numerous albums of theirs quite rightly regarded as genre defining classics. Since 2005 and the release of The Code Is Red...Long Live The Code album it's safe to say that Napalm Death have been on an absolute roll with not a duff album since then with the band almost reinventing their sound for the 21st century by mixing death metal, grindcore, hardcore and crust punk. This collection of rarities covers that time from 2005 to present day being comprised of either bonus songs from the albums, unreleased material from the studio sessions or songs recorded for splits and compilations and it's safe to say that these scraps and leftovers are generally just as strong as the material released on the main albums. There's no fucking around when it comes to Napalm Death and the material on this compilation is an absolute maelstrom of chaos, brutality and attitude never straying too far from tried and tested Napalm Death formula.
There are a few songs which try something a little different such as the gloomy atmospherics of Oxygen Of Duplicity, the discordant riffage of Phonetics For The Stupefied, the misleading piano intro on Clouds Of Cancer/Victims Of Ignorance or the apocalyptic post-punk feel of Atheist Runt. Napalm Death are no stranger to cover versions (check out their Leaders Not Followers releases) and there are a handful of fun cover versions from bands such as Cardiacs, Sacrilege and Despair amongst others. There's plenty of material on this release with 31 songs spread over two discs which does make it an exhausting listen if you listen all in one go but there's such energy and conviction to what Napalm Death do that it's impossible not to get caught up in the chaos and want to start a circle pit in your front room. With this release Napalm Death have shown what an essential band they continue to be. Rarities compilations can be a bit hit or miss but Coded Smears And More Uncommon Slurs is a definitive hit in my eyes. 8/10
Convocation: Scars Across (Everlasting Spew)
Scars Across is the debut album by Convocation who are a Finnish death doom metal band featuring members of Desolate Shrine and Dark Buddha Rising. The album is comprised of four songs with the shortest being 10 minutes in length and is a showcase in absolutely crushing and monolithic doom death metal and funeral doom metal. As well as crushing this album is also incredibly atmospheric, melancholic and sorrowful.
Vocalist Marko Neuman employs guttural death metal growls throughout the album mixing well with the crushing doomy riffs though the use of almost ethereal clean backing vocals and keyboards adds a definite atmosphere throughout. For the uninitiated the albums dark atmosphere and long songs can be a bit of a struggle but if you are a seasoned doom fiend and are looking for 50 minutes of unrelentingly bleak music then this is the album you need to be hearing. 7/10
Quantum Hierarchy: Neutron Breed (Everlasting Spew)
Neutron Breed is the debut EP by Italian death metallers Quantum Hierarchy released on Everlasting Spew Records. This is a very short, sharp and precise EP with three songs and an intro. It manages to combine an old school death metal feel with atmosphere, sheer brutality and impressive technicality and manages to achieve more than most albums do and all in the space of a running time of 12 minutes.
The songs know when to pulverise the listener with savage riffings and unrelenting blastbeats but also when to slow it down to an almost doomy slowness and bring with it a truly dark atmosphere. Unfortunately with such a short duration the EP is over before you know it but it's definitely left me with an appetite for more. Only frontman and guitarist S.M. remains in the band out of the line up that recorded this EP but a new line up has been found and with any luck more music from this band will be on its way soon. 8/10