Aborted have graced our hearing holes with many a record over the years, so you might presume this is business as usual. Boy howdy, you are wrong - Aborted have leveled up. La Grande Mascarade is a masterclass in technical ability, surpassing the brutality the band are best known for. There’s a sense of trepidation as the opening sample to Gloom And The Art of Tribulation starts up. Then suddenly, the floor falls out from beneath you - the unstoppable blast beat train has left the station. Next stop Headbangsville. It’s impossible to sit still while listening to Ken’s machine gun drumming, fueling the momentum of this killer track. The intensity is so high there’s barely a moment to catch your breath, before you’d be catapulted back into the pit. This is sure to be one hell of a live track. Serpent Of Depravity treats us to inventive grooves and cheeky riffs linking sections, The guitarwork on this track stands head and shoulders above so many bands out there today, with Ian and Harrison clearly being given the green light to push the boat out and utilise their musical prowess.
The melodies are adventurous, and still the track is absolutely dense. Like a tungsten sousaphone. This is no doubt due to Stefano’s expert bass playing - effortlessly mirroring Ken’s rhythms. The devilishly complex finale threw us both out of the comfortable headbang groove we had fallen into - a welcome deviation that left us poised for the last track. Cast into a howling maelstrom, Funereal Malediction is Sven’s time to shine, showcasing his impressive vocal range; from the grotesque high sections, down to the earthquake-esque lows. Sven has earned his place at the death metal high table. His harrowing opening scream, paired with fevered blasts and chainsaw riffing, conjures an image of desolation. The track proceeds to bludgeon your skull with a hammering riff in the mid section, before ascending to an eye-popping solo section. Just as the album started with a drop into insanity, the song abruptly ends. Sound echoing out into the void. These three tracks left us salivating for more. A lesson in meshing intricacy with brutality. 9/10
The Black Dahlia Murder: Verminous (Metal Blade Records) [Liam True]
I’ve seen Black Dahlia live twice now and they’ve blown me away each time by how tight they are as a band. How spot on the vocals are to the record and their ability to work a crowd. But on record, I've never been able to get into them and I don’t know why. They’re a phenomenal band and they’re my type of music, but alas, I've never been able to enjoy them on record. Verminous is the same for me. Don’t get me wrong the record is solid. It’s a beautiful piece of Death Metal and the majority of the album is killer. While some of it is filler, but even that is just as good. I wish I could be more into them on Verminous but the thing is, to me personally, The Black Dahlia on record sounds messy, repugnant and just doesn’t sit with me. But throw me into one of their live shows and I'll have the best time watching, what I would describe as, ‘Death Metals least Metal band’. Black Dahlia are not a bad band by any means, but for me personally, they don’t do justice on record for me. But Verminous is a beautiful baby of it’s Death Metal forefathers reincarnated and it shouldn’t be passed by. 8/10
Bombs Of Hades: Phantom Bell EP (Black Lodge) [Rich Oliver]
Phantom Bell is the new EP from Swedish crusty death metallers Bombs Of Hades. Formed back in 2002 just to have an excuse to get drunk and bash out some old school crusty death metal, Bombs Of Hades have got four albums plus a vast amount of EP’s and split releases to their name. Frontman, guitarist and founder Jonas Stålhammar also plays in God Macabre, The Lurking Fear and At The Gates so we are in safe hands here. Phantom Bell comprises four songs - two new songs and two cover versions. It is clearly rooted in old school death metal with strong leanings into crust punk and doom metal as well as a clear Motörhead influence. The title track is a fast and pounding number whilst Bridge Of Sighs slows down the pace with a heavy doom influence and dirty sound. The cover songs are both decent though I am unfamiliar with the originals - Kamikaze by Flower Travellin’ Band and Lungs by Townes Van Zant. Lungs has a riff which more than bears a resemblance to the Motörhead classic Orgasmatron. This was my first exposure to Bombs Of Hades despite being a band I have heard of before. With only two original songs this is a decent introduction and shows there is more to Swedish death metal than the tried and tested HM-2 buzzsaw sound. Raw, gnarly and dirty. Just how I like it. 7/10
Bringing the old school metal to your door, Calgary five-piece Traveler have acted quickly to follow up on their eponymous debut with sophomore record Termination Shock. And to be fair, the only way this could be anymore rooted in the NWOBHM style is if we were travelling back to 1982. The frantic energy of Faded Mirror which opens the album is fabulously retro, but in a massively enjoyable style. The musicianship is solid, the riffs plentiful and Jean-Pierre Abboud’s vocals echoing with a warm, 1980s feel. The title track is a monster, an absolute beast of a song, full of power and pace, capturing both the old and new in a glorious four-minute blast. From here, with full interest obtained, it’s just a question of whether the Canadians can maintain the quality?
The answer is yes, the explosive Foreverman and the tribute-rich Diary Of A Maiden bringing contrasting styles. The duel guitar work of Toryin Schadlich and Matt Ries on this track is unsurprisingly reminiscent of those early duels between Maiden’s Murray and Smith, whilst elsewhere images of Messrs Flynn and Oliver of Saxon and Weir and Sykes on those early Tygers albums return. It’s the energy that I really appreciate here, and like their countrymen Cauldron, they’ve managed to give the old school much more than a lick of paint. This is fresh, full of vigour and a damn decent listen. 7/10