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Thursday 13 September 2018

Reviews: Monstrosity, Siege Of Power, Burgerkill, Once Human (Reviews By Paul S & Matt)

Monstrosity: The Passage Of Existence (Metal Blade Records) [Paul S]

I really enjoy writing reviews for the Musipedia Of Metal. One of the downsides of it, however, is some of the death metal about at the moment. There seem to be about a billion death metal bands that fit into a category of not quite technical death metal, not quite old school death metal, half arsed, lack lustre, generic death metal. Every week I seem to get at least 1 album like this, and I’ll struggle to think of ways to describe it other than just ‘shit, generic death metal’. After a while, giving these albums enough listens to review them in a fair way starts to feel like a real chore. Sometimes ‘shit, generic death metal’ makes me want to cry, as I force myself to listen to music I knew was awful after 2 songs. I won’t name any names here, but it is the bane of a reviewers life, and it does sometimes make me quite depressed.

But, just when I think I can’t take any more, along comes the new Monstrosity album to make everything good again. The Passage Of Existence is a fantastic death metal album, just stunning. This album has been a long time coming. This is the 6th Monstrosity album, the first since 2007’s Spiritual Apocalypse. In a career that has spanned 28 years, 6 albums might not sound like a lot, but Monstrosity deal in quality, not quantity.

The 12 tracks here, are to a degree, a little old school in style, but the soloing is in a more Technical style, in that they are incredibly well played and melodic. The riffs are incredibly tight and well written, no half arsed Morbid Angel rip offs like in ‘SGDM’. There are a lot of solos on this album, but as they are so well played, and add too the songs, that's not a bad thing. The track Dark Matter Invocation has a solo that carries on through the subsequent verse. With any other band, this would be an incoherent mess, but Monstrosity pull it off brilliantly. The production job on this album is also very good. The guitar and bass sounds are about as good as you’ll hear on any death metal album, the drums sound real and organic, and the overall mix is spot on.

It’s difficult to single out any particular part of The Passage Of Existence for praise, as it’s all so good. There isn’t anything particularly groundbreaking in this album, it isn’t doing anything that hasn’t been done before. It’s just that every component of the album is about 10% better than anything anyone else is doing at the moment. Every aspect is just so beautifully done, so well thought out, so well played. If you’ve never listened to much death metal, this would be one hell of an introduction. If you already like death metal, then this is essential. 9 / 10

Siege Of Power: Warning Blast (Metal Blade Records) [Paul S]

Siege Of Power is an extreme metal super group comprised of Chris Reifert – Vocals (Autopsy, Violation Wound, Abscess, Painted Doll), Paul Baayens – Guitars (Asphyx, ex-Hail of Bullets, Thanatos), Theo van Eekelen – Bass (ex-Hail of Bullets, ex-Houwitser, ex-Grand Supreme Blood Court), Bob Bagchus – Drums (ex-Asphyx, Soulburn, ex-Grand Supreme Blood Court). With a who’s who of death metal illuminates like that, this album, although a first album, has a lot to live up to. The style on offer here is mainly Thrash with a healthy dose of old school Death metal, and a bit of old school Hardcore thrown in for good measure. As the title suggests this album is a blast.

Fast, simple riffs, short screaming solos and through it all Chris Reifert’s distinctive howl, and (bad taste) funny lyrics. the influences here are fairly obvious; Carnivore, Discharge and S.O.D. are a clear influences on this album, although in the case of S.O.D. maybe a little too much. Opening track Conquest For What is so close to S.O.D.’s March Of The S.O.D. I thought I’d put the wrong album on when I first heard it. I’m hoping this was a homage and was done on purpose. Aside from wearing their influences a little too clearly on their sleeves, this is a great album.

It has taken me back to the days (about 1987) when thrash was fun and death metal was fresh new and exiting. The riffs are simple, but they zip and crack with energy, and are about as tight as thrash / death/hardcore riffs get. Most of the songs are under 3 minutes, so it feels like the album shifts along at one hell of a pace. There isn’t anything particularly new or original here, but it is so much fun you don’t really care! 8/10

Burgerkill: Adamantine (BKHC Records) [Paul S]

Burgerkill are an Indonesian extreme metal band that have been active since 1995. The band have been a big deal in their native Indonesia, winning several awards. To be honest, this album is the first thing I’ve heard from the band. Adamantine is the bands 5th album, and is the follow up to 2011’s well received album, Venomous. The bands name is apparently the name of a burger bar in Bandung, capital city of West Java, that the members of the band used to frequent. The band chose the name as a joke, 23 years later they still have the same name, which if nothing else, shows dedication to comedy, which I respect.

So, what do we have from Burgerkill on their fifth album? Well, we get 9 tracks of, mainly, technical death metal. I say mainly, as there are quite a few different styles going on here. In addition to the tech death, there are also several pieces that are more hardcore in feel, some of the verses have this hardcorey style. There is also quite a lot of tech/djent /math metal parts as well, the track integral has a fantastic softer technical part that genuinely could have come from an Animals As Leaders album.

The quality of the musicianship on this album is very impressive. The solos are every bit as impressive as any technical death metal album I’ve heard. The rhythms are tight and well played, and although complex in places, they never sacrifice tunefulness for technicality. Some of the transitions between the more disparate sections on this album could have been handled a little better, maybe the band need to focus this part of their writing to smooth them out. Although, all the parts themselves are very good, and very well played.

This is a very enjoyable technical death metal album, a small amount of focus in the songwriting and Burgerkill could be something really special. I look forward to hearing more from the Indonesian metal scene. 7/10

Once Human: Stage Of Evolution (earMusic) [Matt]

The band formed by Logan Mader and Lauren Hart have released two studio albums but they have taken it on the road and from their US tour last year supporting Dragonforce they have managed to record this live album as Logan Mader says "I know it’s uncommon for a band who is not headlining to record a live album. We were able to pull it off because today’s technology and compact size of the necessary gear is a part of our everyday monitoring system" They've managed to capture this performance well with most of the songs coming from the Evolution and a few from The Life I Remember Hart commands the stage with her snarling deathy vocals which jar with her softly spoken Australian accent (though she is American) when she's talking to the crowd whipping up support for Dragonforce or thanking the fans fro coming.

The songs here don't really differ from the album versions with Mader's grinding riffs the major force behind the chaos as Hart let's rip. If you're not familiar with the songs here don't worry though as there will be one that you will know, the band bring out Fred from Dragonforce for a vicious rendition of Davidian which brings up the problem I've had a few times now which is: can it be cover if you wrote it? Answers on a postcard please. It's a tight set that whizzes past like a good support set should and it's a good reflection of Once Human's electric stage show. 7/10  

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