Possessed: Revelations Of Oblivion (Nuclear Blast Records) [Paul H]
“I’m not going to let anybody dictate what the fuck I’m going to do. I’m Jeff Becerra and I’ll do whatever the fuck I want … If you like it, I love you, right? If you hate it, go fuck yourself, don’t listen to it. I couldn’t give a shit”. The words of Possessed vocalist and founder Jeff Becerra in this month’s Zero Tolerance magazine. If you don’t know who Possessed are then I suggest you leave the room and find out immediately. Arguably the founders of death metal, Possessed’s 1985 opus Seven Churches remains the blueprint for death metal and 34 years after its release, it remains a blistering, face melting epic.
Revelations Of Oblivion is the first full-length release from Possessed since 1986’s Beyond The Gates. Although Possessed has been back in existence since 2007, this is a welcome and quite superb return. Once the eerie Chants Of Oblivion, with its echoes of The Exorcist and The Omen ushers you in, it’s a fasten your seatbelts ride as the flame thrower scorching of No More Room In Hell commences. As ferocious as anything Possessed wrote on their previous two albums, this sets a bar which is incredibly high and which Becerra and co. maintain throughout. Having clung to the back catalogue whilst on the road over the past few years, this is an album that few would have ever anticipated. For those who did, who would have expected it to get near those two seminal albums? Well, the news is that it does, in every way. Becerra’s instantly recognisable gravel laced delivery is immense, roaring throughout.
The guitar work of Daniel Gonzalez and Claudeous Creamer (From Hell) is frenetic and tight, as they riff up and down the frets with a ferocity reminiscent of Larry LaLonde and Mike Torrao. Throw in the machine-gun rapid-fire drumming of Emilio Marquez and the locked in bass work of Robert Cardenas and you have a unit which is fully engaged and firing on all cylinders. Damned spits out bile on humanity, Omen is simply massive with gargantuan riffs, piledriving drums and a welcome old school feel. Revelations Of Oblivion also benefits from a superbly clean production which doesn’t detract from the organic feel of an album which should form part of the top 10 come the end of the year. 9/10
Rendezvous Point: Universal Chaos (Long Branch Records) [Matt]
Rendezvous Point previous albums Universal Chaos and Solar Storm garnered them a lot of critical acclaim and led to them touring with Leprous, Haken and Long Distance Calling. It's these bands too that give you the best insight into what Rendezvous Point sound like, it's especially the Leprous comparison I want to draw on as these Norwegian natives feature Leprous drummer Baard Kolstad who brings the same heavyweight drum patterns to this band as he does Leprous, though the remaining members of also bring their own musical intelligence to the record which has some thumping riffs from both from the guitars and the throbbing bass along with banks of twitchy synthesizers which put this album at the cutting edge of progressive metal.
The members are all musical academics meeting at the University Of Agder in Kristiansand in 2010 and this shows in their complex but somehow effortless compositions, which have them all playing with the intention of There's floating ambience on Apollo, some synthesized space jazz on Digital Waste, fidgeting alternative fuzz on Pressure and even some arena sized noise on Unfaithful. This great third album from these Norwegian proggers, right on the cusp of the progressive metal scene it's vital for any fans of the genre. 8/10
Abnormality: Sociopathic Constructs (Metal Blade Records) [Matt]
Marlborough Massachusetts is the birthplace Carl C. Brigham the inventor of the SAT tests taken by every schoolchild in America, good thing that Abnormality are right at the top of the class then when it comes to brutal, technical extremity. After really establishing their ultra-technical style of death metal on their debut Mechanisms Of Omniscience, they have returned to really destroy with the follow up. If anything this third record is more technical than its predecessor, the song rapidly switching gears and genres, one moment trudging away with a thick beatdown, then a blistering double kick grind, before putting in a bit of groove as well, it’s what Suffocation (whom Abnormality have toured with) have always had the stock in trade with.
Sociopathic Constructs was written almost immediately after the debut as drummer and lyricist Jay Blaisdell puts it: “It's about a constant search for what is real and what is disinformation. It's about realizing that many of our leaders, the people in power, are actually sociopaths” and much like our own Venom Prison the band’s vocalist, Mallika Sundaramurthy stands in a class of her own, her grunts and barks spitting the vile contained in these lyrics over a maelstrom of neck destroying riffs, that shift and change but rarely let up the absolute carnage they cause. From the groove heavy A Seething Perversion, to the stomping of Transmogrification Of The Echoborgs, there is little let up until the instrumental interlude Aeturnum gives you a chance to breathe as it builds up for the end of the record and the audio skull fracture that is Curb Stomp. One of the most technical and brutal albums I’ve heard all year Sociopathic Constructs is not for the fainthearted. 8/10
Astral Doors: Worship Or Die (Metalville Records) [Paul H]
Swedes Astral Doors formed in 2002. Fronted by Nils Patrik Johansson, who also spent time with the ex-Sabaton outfit Civil War, they have a solid back catalogue and are well respected. I’m putting this on record immediately though. Johansson’s vocals really are an acquired taste, a gravely rasp at times, full of power but I must admit I struggled with them by about three songs in. An unflattering combination between Mark Tornillo of Accept and Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens, his soaring anthemic delivery at times drew too much attention from the rest of the band. Musically, Astral Doors deliver traditional heavy metal and power metal, underpinned by thick keyboards and a typically Maiden/Dio/Sabaton story telling style.
The follow up to 2017’s Black Eyed Children, Worship Or Die focuses very much on the state of the world, the title reflecting the increasing fundamentalism which is on the worrying rise across the globe. Night Of The Hunter considers a serial killer, Marathon is a reflective piece about the Boston Marathon bombings whilst St Petersburg gives a take on that old rascal Rasputin. Produced by Eric Martensson, front man of Eclipse and WET guitarist ensures that there is plenty of melody and radio-friendly songs. Concrete Heart sounds like Accept should they ever introduce keyboards, a slightly less dark track considering much of the subject matter contained within this eighth album from the Swedes. Competently played, at times majestic and imposing, but ultimately just a little too repetitive and routine to get excited that about. 6/10