BONE AWL: THE LOWEST ROAD
Despite the fact that Bone Awl has been going strong since 2002, the band has only released one full-length album. But they are pretty prolific all the same, putting out at least one release every year until 2011 when the band suddenly went on hiatus. This demo was the band's first release since that time. According to liner notes, these songs were recorded as demos for a full-length that was supposed to have come out in 2013. That apparently never happened. I had always heard a lot about Bone Awl, but never really checked them out. Their mix of black metal and punk is not exactly reinventing the wheel, but it is an impressive blend nonetheless.
COSMIC VOID RITUAL: THE EXECRATED REMAINS OF THE SABATIER SYSTEM
Technically, this one is a compilation. It collects together each of the band's demos and combines them onto one release. It still only comes out to four songs though. Cosmic Void Ritual is an American one-person death metal band that sounds Finnish. The one individual in the band goes by the "name" Unknown Entity. I was definitely drawn into picking this up by the Lovecraftian album cover. The riffs are dark and twisted with an unsettling guitar tone. Unknown Entity is clearly heavily influenced by the early 1990's Finnish death metal scene, with music that calls to mind Demilich (unfortunately, the vocals do not really measure up), Convulse, and others. This is nightmarish death metal that more than lives up to the album art.
CRIME: FIRST CRIME
Ah, yes. I can get behind this band's name. It is simple, yet very effective. Crime is a very new band from Chile, and this is their first release. They play a sleazy brand of traditional metal, which is not at all surprising given their South American location. The band definitely seems to use their name as a theme, opening things up with a hair-raising sample leading into the fist-shaking "Highway Robbery". The best song on the album is the anthemic "Give Your Life to the Ruin". This is a great start from a promising band.
DRAGHKAR: WORLD UNRAVELED
Draghkar is another new death metal band that sounds like they would have been more at home in the early 1990's when death metal was really starting to come around. Draghkar has a raw and filthy, malevolent sound that calls to mind groups like Incantation and Morbid Angel. With those kinds of influences, it is no wonder that this demo tape has garnered some attention. Draghkar do a great job of subverting expectations on this release. Instead of blazing through each song, the band slows things down masterfully, crafting an occasional doom/death sound that Asphyx would be proud to play. Another promising debut.
ENSEPULCHER: NO SANCTITY IN DEATH
And here we have yet another death metal band that is clearly stuck in the past, not that that is necessarily a bad thing. Ensepulcher's frame of reference is the early 1990's Swedish death metal scene. Think Dismember, Nihilist, and others and you have the idea. They even manage to have a similar buzzsaw guitar tone that the Swedish scene was well-known for. If I did not know any better, I would have sworn I was listening to some early Dismember demos when I put this one on. The music is fast-paced and intense, with rough, snarled vocals. Whether or not to check this one out depends entirely upon opinions of the Swedish death scene. I love it, but freely admit that this band really does not offer anything new and innovative.
GHOST HORIZON: THE EROTICS OF DISGUST
I did not choose this one. I placed a decent-sized order with a distro and they sent me a couple of tapes as a bonus. I do not turn down free stuff, but while one of the tapes was a pretty decent melodeath band called Mistweaver, this one is more of a black-gaze album with post-rock influences and not the kind of thing I typically listen to. I probably would not have chosen it at all. This is an emotional release, full of anguished and tortured vocals. There are some decent moments where the black metal influences shine through and it sounds pretty decent, but then a crooning vocal section will start in and change the dynamic completely. I do not mind the album over all, but there are definitely moments that I could do without. It is a little weak for my typical tastes.
KATAKOMB: CHAINED TO A WOLF
Katakomb is a Swedish black metal band of whom there is very little information on the internet. I think it is a one-man act, but I am not even sure of that. This is a two-song demo and the first song is fairly standard for Swedish black metal, with clear influences of Marduk and early Watain. It is a very dark and foreboding release. It is hostile and harsh and not terribly melodic. The only real problem with this release is an extended sample at the end featuring a man singing in what sounds like Russian while flies are buzzing. It sounds like something out of Fiddler on the Roof, other than the flies, which sounds woefully out of place on the rest of this release. And like I said, this continues for about five minutes. Other than that, this is an impressive first release for an uber-kvlt black metal band.
NERVE SAW: CALL OF THE CASKET
Nerve Saw is the one-man death metal project of former Hooded Menace bassist Markus Makkonen. As would be expected for a well-known member of a doom metal band, Nerve Saw's sound is generally slower and heavier, with the exception of third track "We, the People", which is a much faster-paced track. The songs are filthy and grimy, just what one would expect from a Finnish death metal band. This is an impressive release and I look forward to more from Nerve Saw.
PARTY CANNON: PERVERSE PARTY PLATTER
Okay, it is pretty easy to see that this band is absolutely not serious about anything. With the Toys 'R Us-inspired band logo, ridiculous name, and even more ridiculous cover art, this group is definitely tongue-in-cheek. The song names don't really give off a serious vibe either. Of particular note is "Fornicating in Ethically Sourced Fair Trade Chocolate". Party Cannon is a slam band. More particularly, they refer to themselves as "party slam". However, there is nothing that sets Party Cannon apart from other slam bands musically, and you really can not understand the lyrics in most slam bands, so despite the much different and much more positive lyrical content, ultimately it is a difference without an effect. But I like a good slam band and Party Cannon is a good slam band, so I can overlook any of the other issues.
SABRETOOTH: METAL ANIMALS
I was a little disappointed with this one. I love the album cover in a cheesy, sort-of-ironic way. Most of the song titles reference animals ("Steel Falcon", "Iron Rhino", "Sabretooth Strike"), and this is a traditional metal band from Finland. I did not think it could possibly go wrong. Unfortunately, despite some decent ideas, there is one flaw to this release that pretty much completely ruins it. The band uses an echo effect on the vocals. Through. The. Whole. Damn. Thing. It is really fucking annoying. It is impossible to focus on what is actually happening in the music because that damn echo keeps going and going. Honestly, I first thought that I had some sort of defective tape, but I listened to it online and the echo effect is there too. So, Sabretooth, lose the echo effects. Seriously.
TELEPORT: GALACTIC USURPER/STELLAR DAMNATION
Ah yes, here we go. Like the Cosmic Void Ritual release, this one is also a compilation, collecting together the band's 2011 and 2013 demos. I have actually covered this band before, in particular the Stellar Damnation demo, back in 2014 when the band contacted me. I remembered being fairly impressed with the band so when I saw this compilation tape for sale when I was buying some other stuff, I jumped at the opportunity to pick up a physical copy of it. Teleport is a Slovenian band that sounds like a somewhat blackened version of Vektor. They play highly technical thrash metal with vocals performed as more of a black metal rasp. This was the best release of all the stuff I have covered in this post. The only quibble that I have, and it is a very small one, is that it would have been better to have the demos on either side of the tape instead of both being on the same side and repeated on the other. Like I said, it is a small complaint.
VOID TENDRIL: ENSNARING THE DEMIURGE
Recently, I re-discovered the Decibel Blog, in particular their Hall of Fame features and the demo posts. I use both to discover new music and it led me to this demo by U.K. death/doom band Void Tendril. This is one of my favorite demos I have picked up in the last year. It is truly dark and disturbing. It creates an uneasy feeling with fast-pounding drums, but slower dissonant guitar riffs. The vocals are sepulchral and match the tone well. It is a slower, heavier beast of a release. There are some haunting melodies at times, particularly in the beginning of second track "Shivering Residue". I am very anxious to see what this band does next.
VOID TERROR: SOUL HARVEST
This is the other one of two demos that I picked up after reading about them on the Deciblog's demo roundup page (coincidentally both bands have "Void" as the first word in their name). This is the band's first ever release and it is some old-school-sounding death metal in the vein of early Immolation and Incantation. It is the type of filthy and raw, evil-sounding death metal that I love. Hopefully some more stuff will be coming out soon from these guys, because this demo contains just two songs and I would love to hear some more.
WITCH VOMIT: POISONED BLOOD
Witch Vomit is a very classy name for a death metal band. Between the band's name and the pretty cool album cover, I figured I would take a chance. The album cover is very appropriate because the band sounds like they just escaped from a tomb. From the cavernous production to the desiccated vocal style to the meaty riffs, this band pushes all the right buttons for a truly horrific death metal band. Witch Vomit has been around for a few years now, but have only released one full-length album and some other short recordings in addition to this EP. I will be keeping an eye out on this band.