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Saturday 27 April 2024

Reviews: Tombstoner, Obscurial, Baron, Blessed Black (Reviews By Gavin Brown, Mark Young, Joe Guatieri & Rich Piva)

Tombstoner - Rot Stink Rip (Redefining Darkness Records) [Gavin Brown]

New York has had a long and storied past when it comes to death metal with bands like Suffocation, Immolation, Incantation and Mortician being just four classic examples  that come immediately to mind. The future is in safe hands too with the likes of Pyrrhon at the forefront 

You can definitely also add Staten Island, NY death metal crew Tombstoner to that lists as they stake their claim to be the next to blow when it comes to NYDM and beyond with their latest album Rot Stink Rip, which is a slamming and grooving slab of riff heavy Death Metal from start to finish.

Tombstoner waste no time by proceeding to bludgeon the listener with their sickeningly heavy grooves and this time around, they come armed with an even slicker sound that amplifies their brutality even more.

Songs like Sealed In Blood, Fuckin’ Nasty, Desperate Dreams and Rot Stink Rips filthy title track are perfect examples of the Tombstoner sound and the whole album rolls through with blatant disregard to anything other than crunching death metal, and sounds all the better for it.

With gloriously deranged dual vocals aplenty and a twin guitar attack, this is relentless stuff and Tombstoner go for the jugular constantly with their venomous music and it has to be said that Rot Stink Rip is a nonstop barrage of deathly goodness on their best album yet, and the future of death metal is in safe hands with these guys. 8/10 

Obscurial - Heretic (Violence In The Veins/Memento Mori/Necrolatry Records) [Mark Young]

From Kuala Lumpur, Obscurial spew forth their latest for your delight and delectation with Heretic, their second full-length release. 

There is a grim intro, which could have been lifted from your worst nightmare or from a gore-filled horror and as Hexed wraps with a scream, Blasphemous Cult bangs in and goes straight at you. It’s direct as you might have expected but with one rotted eye on bringing the merest touch of melody to it. Its enough to keep this brutal without it becoming just a one-note affair. 

Circle Of Heretics has this grinding approach, slow and muscular riffing that speeds up as is necessary. It has that ‘chunk’ sound, the strings being brutalised that emphasises the attack upon them. In keeping with that gore-centric theme.

Maggot Incubation unfolds as a high-speed blitzkrieg, charging forward with some razor-sharp picking that hits so well. There are touches of atmosphere and melody within the final third which is welcome as when they take off once more it is brutally effective. 

Locust Plague brings more of those little touches, once again delivering that satisfying chunk that is missing. It cuts through so well and is a definite high point for me. Serpentspawn keeps the momentum running with a riff line that goes for a walk along the neck of the guitar, but it feels as though this could have been shorter to maximise the effect of that riff. Carrion Disease is all frenzied guitar work, the tempo shifting up and down to suit. Like Serpentspawn, it suffers a little from being stretched out when a shorter runtime would have been better suited.

Entering the end zone with A Cure For Sickness, a near 9-minute track that feels is to be meant as their grand opus. There is a class build in here within the main verse, chock full of galloping riffs and all the double bass you can eat. 

Its like the album condensed into one song, showing what they are capable of in one spot. It also shows that they should look to being ruthless with arrangements but that is just me. It has in its favour that it doesn’t stop and throw in a subtle acoustic break. 

Final track, Endless Trauma starts with a subtle guitar and stays with it. I’ve said before those instrumental tracks at the start, the middle or the end have to bring something that gives the album a boost. Hexed, at the start works in setting the scene for what is to come next whereas Endless Trauma sees the energy fall away. Shifting this in front of A Cure For Sickness might have been a better bet and would have resulted in ending on a better note.

As death metal goes, its sits within that genre well. There are blast beats, guttural vocals and questionable lyrics that are generally associated and expected, and they are played with a degree of confidence. Its difficult to enter what is becoming a crowded arena again and have material out there that is different enough to stand out. One on hand this isn’t an original undertaking, but after nearly 40 years of music being released under the death metal banner, I suppose enjoyment of any new material depends upon how you receive it, whether it possesses a certain energy that you know will be translated live. 

Here, the songs have all the key ingredients as noted above and are presented well enough, its possible that some are a tad overlong as sometimes the ideas repeat themselves, but honestly that is a minor note. Overall, you really can’t find fault with the music here because it will tick the necessary boxes required by fans of the genre. For me, the last song should have been A Cure For Sickness, but this is a minor moan. All told, a worthy 7/10

Baron - Beneath The Blazing Sun (Transcending Obscurity Records) [Joe Guatieri]

Finnish Death Doom band Baron have been around for a while now and after a few EP
releases and a Demo, they finally bring us their debut Full-length, Beneath The Blazing Sun in

Track Two, Primordial Possession presents an assault on the senses from start to finish with the
bands three guitarists engaging in massive whaling riffs, all heard and all felt. The drums to me
are the star of the show here, I love their attack and how pronounced they are. By the end of the
track everything is ringing with danger like alarm bells in a laboratory containing an unknown

This proceeds very well into the next track Infernal Abandonment which is my favourite on the
album. The previous warning signs are still felt here but a new Doom Metal riff enters from the
shadows, accented by bends at the end of the notes, each one more unhinged than the last.

This pattern is echoed several times throughout the song in several different ways, showing the
amount of ideas that Baron has available to them. One displays a synthesizers take on it but
what means the most to me here is when a haunting piano has its turn.

This moment feels like Infernal Abandonment as a concept in its inception, showing what beauty there is to be appreciated within it, a real diamond within the rough. To my surprise this wonderful song then
ends with a meditative acoustic guitar, giving me Opeth vibes within its closing moments.

Track seven, Swallowed By Fires Beneath ends the record on a unique note with an
experimental soundscape. Low end rumbles dance with each other in the distance as you’re
being teleported to another world, away from the pain and the anguish that you were suffering

Overall, Beneath The Blazing Sun puts Baron in a good place for a solid debut full-length.
Excitement is offered within the guitars, programming and especially within the drums but with
that being said, the bass unfortunately feels second rate here, just following the guitars and
never having its time to shine. 7/10

Blessed Black - Seasons: Vol 2 (Self Released) [Rich Piva]

Cincinnati, Ohio’s Blessed Black are back with Volume 2 of their Seasons EP set, this time with three more great doom with stoner leaning tracks to continue the excellence of the first volume brought to us back in September of last year.

All three tracks are great, including the opener, Asunder, which brings their usual excellent doom stylings and pairs them with some grungy metal vibes for excellent results.  This one has a killer riff and manages to be catchy as well. The songs on the Seasons EPs all sound great as the production is spot on. 

Serpentine Sisters is more crunchy doom goodness, and when the band includes keys in the mix is when they really excel and stand out amongst the throngs of bands doing this today.  The vocal performance on this track is top notch as well. Solve et Coagula may be my favourite track from the band till date, bringing the heavy and serious Dio era Sabbath vibes that you all will be there for, believe me. 

I can’t help but wonder if Seasons would be more widely consumed and understood as a full-length record, but for now I will take what I can get from Blessed Black. Check out this and the other Seasons EP because this band is just excellent. 8/10

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