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Friday, 7 October 2022

Reviews: De Profundis, Blind Illusion, Asgrauw, Diabology (Reviews By Matt Bladen & Rick Eaglestone)

De Profundis - The Corruption Of Virtue (Transcending Obscurity Records) [Matt Bladen]

De Profundis have been one of the top purveyors of UK death metal for nearly 20 years. Increasingly aggressive they have a breed of technical savagery that is often only associated with Scandinavia. On The Corruption Of Virtue, they have brought another level of ear bashing death metal with a virtuosity that is hard to compete with. Guitarists Shoi Sen and Paul Nazarkardeh using their time in brutal death metal band Monument of Misanthropy wisely on the production especially as it feels claustrophobic, there's no polished production here to speak off. The guitars of both men raw and razor sharp on the biting Scapegoat while the fretless bass of Steve Woodcock is unleashed as often as possible (who does he think he is Steve DiGiorgio?) getting numerous chances to thrown in a contradicting bass line or a lead break such as on Sectarian Warfare.  

Shoi and Paul, shred with precision and technical brilliance, packing as many riffs into tracks such as Ritual Cannibalism as possible, interlinking as if they were one unit, rather than two players. The trio of guitarists have some of the slickest interplay I've heard in death metal for while as drummer Tom Atherton beats the percussion at blistering pace, again throwing several patterns one after another, at times feeling like he could be playing a different song. This increasing dexterity works well with the unrelenting brutality of a track such as Relentless March which changes tact from stomping grooves to tech death battery, before hell breaks loose again on Weaponised Rape, a song that balances melody and barbarity, Desecrating Innocence doing the same with some thrash-like lead playing against savage blastbeats  

Vocalist Craig Land giving a fine performance, as he does across the whole album, his vocals croaked in the style of Glenn Benton or Karl Willetts, very much extreme metal but with the lyrics clear as day, the political message of Embrace Dystopia making this mechanical more potent. De Profundis have always been known as one of the best in the UK DM scene and on The Corruption Of Virtue they nail it home again with 10 inch nails (take that Reznor). If you want your death metal with schizophrenic guitar riffs, maniacal drumming and more fretless bass than Les Claypool then it may be for you. Marrying their expert playing with a remorseless extreme metal beatdown, De Profundis have evolved again, charging towards the fringes without backward glance. 9/10

Blind Illusion – Wrath Of The Gods (Hammerheart Records) [Matt Bladen] 

Originally part of the original Bay Area thrash scene, and notably featuring Larry LaLonde and Les Claypool (there he is again!), who are both now in Primus, Blind Illusion’s debut album The Sane Asylum, pushed thrash into more experimental places crossing over into jazz time signatures and progressive touches. It’s considered to be a bit of gem in the thrash world, more notable due Kirk Hammett being the un-credited producer and that Blind Illusion seemed to dissolve after the first album front man Mark Biedermann left the music business and taught Shaolin Kung-Fu. 

After a 20 year gap he reformed the band releasing The Demon Master in 2010, however they left their thrash roots behind for that record making a prog rock record. But now after 34 years they are following up their debut album with another thrash album. Wrath Of The Gods is an ode to the Bay Area scene with all the technical expertise of Blind Illusion’s history. Biederman (vocals/lead) has recruited Tom Gears on bass, Doug Pearcy on guitar (ex-Heathen) and Any Galon on drums (ex-Death Angel) to up the thrash credentials. The songwriting here is great, tracks chop and change between riffs the lyrics are clever but the choruses can be shouted back, the playing is technically proficient but doesn’t get too difficult to nod your head to. 

Essentially it’s thrash but drawn from a prog approach, where thrash fans will get their kicks is with the raw production that comes straight out of those 80’s-90’s glory days, no modern overdubs or biscuit tin snares, this is analogue savagery done well, suiting the music to a tee. Biderman’s snarl and lead guitar fireworks make tracks such as the frenzied Slow Death, Straight As The Crowbar Flies and the title track have the appeal of bands like Megdeth. While they take risks on the funky, bass driven Spaced and the grooving Lucifer’s Awakening. Lots of this record brought MegaDave to mind and when the song writing is that good and also varied (just check out Amazing Maniacal Monolith) it’s a massive compliment. 

Thrash music has to offer me something other than just pit starting and denim, Blind Illusion do that. A worthy follow up to a seminal record. 8/10

Asgrauw – Facade (Death Prayer Records) [Rick Eaglestone]

If Death Prayer Records were a wrestling company, they would be the talk of the dirt sheets right now as they have continually been unleashing new items for a lot of the year and whilst we await the bumper release day on November 4th Dutch band Asgrauw swoop in with new album Façade. Delivering an immediate no-nonsense approach Versplinterd Hout is full of twisting and turning tempo changes with some nice guitar work leading into the atmospheric and highlight track Geketend

As the album moves along at a ferocious pace more pieces are placed together, I am particularly enjoying the experience of the album being in the band’s native language with the extra gift of some Bathory esque worship being discreetly thrown in, particularly on Hernemen. The final two tracks combine well to conclude an album that highlights a matured element of musicianship from previous release Ijsval. Another worthy addition to the Death Prayer Family. 7/10

Diabology– Father Of Serpents (Dissonant Hymns Records) [Rick Eaglestone]

Combining modern thrash and fantasy LA’s Diabology look to continue to carve a new path with new album Father Of Serpents. Diabology kick proceedings off with the slow building title track Father Of Serpents which quickly gain momentum which has remarkable story building elements which is complimented well with the riff led Writhe

Although laden with solos The Softest Graves has almost touches of early Biohazard in places, whilst follow up track Eat My Heart Out takes a completely different approach, throwback NWOBHM into full on thrash assault. The instrumental interlude of Spoil breaks up the album nicely before the bass of Blackblood fires in through my new headphones.

The last part of the album ties in perfectly with the album artwork created by Anditya Dita and features my favourite track of the album Chimera – this maybe in part to the Bolt Thrower sounding vocals.
Dragging thrash into the fantastical 6/10

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