ALBUM REVIEW: Morbid Evils ‘In Hate With The Burning World’

morbid evils cover

‘In Hate With The Burning World’
Svart Records
Released: March 2015

Finnish sludge purveyors Morbid Evils hate everything. They hate the world. They hate sunshine. They hate melodies. They hate happiness. They hate each other. They hate you.

So far, so sludgy, right? You could even argue that ‘In Hate With The Burning World’ is the perfect sludge album, offering as it does absolutely no glimmer of hope, love or beauty. The only downside to such a spectacularly negative outlook, though, is that the band’s failure to allow even the narrowest shard of hope to shine through makes this relentlessly desolate, furious album seem slightly one-dimensional.

Whereas some sludge-trudgers, from Isis to Subrosa, are able to keep the listener guessing by offering elements of light that put the darkness into context, here you just know there is nothing to look forward. Nothing on the horizon, just more of the same.

The band even tell you as much: “Our aim is to create soundscapes that suck the listener into fiery sewers in which there is no hope for a future,” says Keijo Niinimaa (guitars/vocals). And in that sense, it’s mission accomplished; ‘In Hate With The Burning World’ is slow, raucous and agonised.

Morbid Evils commit heart and soul to this bleakest of world views, wilfully luxuriating in their own anguish. The levels of intensity and energy on this debut album are hugely impressive. There are also plenty of cruel, chugging riffs, such as on the powerfully bleak track ‘In Hate’ or the hideous ‘Pollute’, while the growled vocals are consistently raw and bloody.

The album’s six songs do not outstay their welcome (generally clocking in around the seven-minute mark), showing that Morbid Evils have a good understanding of how to hone their noise, making it survivable if not exactly enjoyable. Such dedication, care and expertise suggest that maybe these Finnish misery-mongers don’t hate everything after all.

What’s more, ‘In Hate With The Burning World’ is so self-consciously and absolutely uncommercial that it’s almost sure to be a winner for Svart Records. If you love music that is hopeless to the point of droning depravity, you’ll fall head over heels in hate with Morbid Evils.


REVIEW: Count Absurdo ‘The Night Of The Living Soil’ (EP)

count absurdo

‘The Night Of The Living Soil’
Released: Nov 2014

Terrifying, surprising and plain weird in equal measure, Helsinki power doom trio Count Absurdo certainly leave a memorable aftertaste.

They boast bass tones that could shatter steel, guitars that slowly flay the skin from your body, drums that sound like the echo of a thunderstorm in Hades, finely-crafted compositions and a creepy atmosphere… but all of these finer aspects of the music pale into insignificance against the insane high-pitched vocals of the opening track ‘Welcome To The Mansion’. It’s like King Diamond having a heart attack in a brothel.

‘The Night Of The Living Soil’ is a messed-up and disorientating curiosity. The three songs race by in a flash – even the super-slow and menacing nine-minute opus ‘From Dusk Till Doom’. Here, the crazy sky-scraping vocals make a reappearance, although only in the background, which is probably a blessing. Overall, all three band members contribute to the vocals, which adds to the sense of confusion.

There is not enough glue sticking everything together. The quirky elements come and go, as one moment the band focus on bluesy improv and the next they explore faster power rock. As a result, the various sections will appeal to different audiences, but some people might be distracted by the ever-shifting vibe. With absurdity comes a degree of inaccessibility, and, while Count Absurdo are undoubtedly original, it is difficult to feel a deep connection with a personality that keeps changing.

See if you can unravel the mystery here:

ALBUM REVIEW: DoomLord ‘Black Testament’


‘Black Testament’
Emanes Metal Records
Released: Dec 2014

Take the theatrical majesty of early Candlemass and mix it with the leather-clad energy of Judas Priest… and then leave it to bake in the sun for a few years. The result: DoomLord.

Hailing from steamy Puerto Rico, this band plays a timeless brand of doom metal that the masters of the past would be proud of. Classic, epic, heavy as hell and almost completely devoid of modern trickery – it makes your spine tingle.

Some of the songs are English versions of tracks that appeared on DoomLord’s exciting Spanish-language split with King Heavy earlier last year. This time round, they sound a little more refined and are boosted by a brighter production.

The new songs on offer are delicious, gigantic slices of creamy doom cake. From the creative creepiness of ‘Aminam Possessionem’ to the singalong misery-fest that is ‘Death Penalty’, DoomLord constantly deliver memorable and melodic metal, complete with resplendent keyboards and choruses that soar skywards.

Vestment-clad singer Dark Nerudas falls somewhere between Solitude Aeturnus’s Rob Lowe and former Metal Church front man David Wayne, with maybe a little of Ronnie James Dio’s fist-clenching sense of drama. Nerudas’s big, charismatic vocal performance really helps to bring the music to life.

DoomLord are not quite the finished article just yet though: there are one or two moments during the album that seem little uncertain or unsteady, while a couple of the riffs veer dangerously towards being formulaic. Meanwhile, the handful of spoken-word passages might annoy some listeners. But these are truly minor concerns when set against the album’s overall quality, consistency and pure glory.

Hail the new Lords of epic doom here:

Or here:

ALBUM REVIEW: Apostate ‘Time Of Terror’


‘Time Of Terror’
(Released: March 2015)

Ukraine’s Apostate come howling from the vast expanses of Europe’s largest country (Russia is pan-continental) like a sickly black wind. They create long, twisting hymns of horror, expertly controlling their distinctive mix of woe and fury in order to ensure that we are, in equal measure, surprised and sated.

Ukraine’s oldest doom metal band started life in 1993 as a black/death metal outfit, initially lasting only five years. They reformed in 2009 and unveiled their debut album ‘Trapped In A Sleep’ a year later. Today, reflections of that ferocious past life remain, with the band switching between slow, hellish torture, melancholic groans of suffering and blasts of cataclysmic speed.

There are five songs on offer here, each around the 10-minute mark, and each showing a slightly different side to Apostate’s intriguing personality. ‘World Undying’, for example, showcases their commitment to timeless doom metal standards, while ‘Pain Served Slow’ features a riff that’s as delicate as it is complex, without ever losing the ever-present, house-demolishing power that this Ukrainian five-piece concoct.

The album’s standout track is perhaps ‘Pale Reflections’, with its curious time signatures, artery-popping guitars, tsunami drum work and evil, rasping vocals. When they put it all together, Apostate sound like a potent combination of Hooded Menace, 40 Watt Sun and Mayhem. With a splash of Celtic Frost’s vivid originality and, on the heart-wrenching ‘Memory Eclipse’, the epicness of Candlemass.

The switches to black metal come a little too frequently, almost becoming predictable as the album progresses. But it must be ceded that the songs are brilliantly moulded in order to blend both styles effortlessly. There is method in the madness.

Apostate’s ‘Time Of Terror’ is a confident, dynamic album that merges raw power with sophistication, as black metal brutality crashes into excellent, original doom metal – with devastating results.

ALBUM REVIEW: Atten Ash ‘The Hourglass’


‘The Hourglass’
Hypnotic Dirge Records
(Released: February 2015)

Hailing from North Carolina, Atten Ash create intoxicating death-doom that blends the majestic freedom and expressiveness of Hamferd with the heavyweight despondency of Daylight Dies. The latter connection is hardly surprising, with Barre Gambling, founding guitarist of Daylight Dies, wielding the axe here.

Atten Ash are generous guys, it seems. They pack a hell of a lot of ideas into each song, resulting in an extremely rich and fulfilling listening experience. And yet this US trio – completed by growler Archie Hunt and founder James Greene – are also wily enough not to over-extend within the framework of each arrangement – they develop and embellish their concepts with febrile imagination, while remembering to keep it accessible.

‘The Hourglass’ is a consistently surprising and pleasing album that maintains a high level of quality throughout. Atmospheric and captivating, it is delivered with effortless elegance, whether it’s mid-tempo, string-snapping, snare-pounding catharsis or slow, catastrophic elegy.

Raw growled vocals interweave with beautiful clean singing. Blissful, memorable choruses (“See you… never!”) soar above thick, sweetly melodic guitars. Once or twice, things get a little too delicate and pretty, and there are a few unnecessary, drifting interludes (notably on the otherwise spectacular track ‘Born’). The over-layered vocal harmonies, while expertly handled, can prove a bit of a Daft Punk-style distraction in places, and in fact can be counter-productive in draining out some of the music’s raw energy.

This album was recorded in 2012, but its original, slightly half-hearted release went under-appreciated. So Canadian label Hypnotic Dirge have stepped in to give it the kind of launch it deserves. ‘The Hourglass’ is a thundering success that brings exquisite melody to the moribund world of death-doom metal.

Show some love here:

Pre-order CD:!/Atten-Ash-The-Hourglass/p/46063322/category=6794198

Stream / download two advance tracks:…/the-hourglass

REVIEW: Dö ‘Den’ (EP)


Self-released EP
(January 2015)

One year on from their memorable self-titled debut, Helsinki stoner mongrels Dö are back with another EP, and this time they are angry.

Gone is the youthful frivolity of 2014, and so too the rawness in the band’s sound – 2015 is all about pounding, driving doom metal. The listener may no longer be privy to that original sense of discovery and exploration, but is more than compensated with muscular finesse and high-quality, aggressive Dööm.

This four-song release shows that Dö – who started out in 2007 – have grown and matured, and with that broadening worldliness comes a greater power and darkness. Dö are a well-oiled riff machine and their pummelling stoner guitars are accompanied by seething, blackened death metal vocals to create a glorious contradiction.

At times, such as on the song ‘Frostbites’, their music is half Black Sabbath and half black metal. On ‘The Moon Follows Us’ you can hear the echoes of classic Saint Vitus in the near distance. And, in a few places, there are examples of Metallica-esque guitar work, from catchy hooks to solid chugs.

Not that this Finnish trio have really changed all that much – the band’s sense of spiky fun still glistens amid the bluesy sludge. Dö have their own way of doing things and this EP ripples with energy and personality. On the surface, it may seem like simple stuff, but ‘Den’ is laced with thoughtful, personal touches that set it apart from the usual sludge/stoner fare. A band that stands out for all the right reasons.

REVIEW: The Raven King ‘Red’ (EP)


Released December 2014

The Raven King have flown in from Gran Canaria, Spain, bringing with them an impressive four-track EP of curious and powerful doom/post-metal. The songs link together well to create an alluring, atmospheric and lovingly imagined release. Hints of black, goth and death underpin the doomy post-metal misanthropy. The gentle fuzz and jangle of the guitars does not quite match the ferocity of the vocals, but nevertheless the two sides of the band’s personality fuse together well.

From the moment that the opening song – ‘I, Bringer Of Death’ – begins with cold wind blowing and great bell chiming, it is evident that The Raven King enjoy using their music to build nervous tension. Ghostly string-plucking is interrupted by a thundering riff – a stoner rock beast given a black edge with Eduardo Rodriguez’s roaring voice.

This in turn is interrupted by a Sabbath-mimicking plod that forms a very memorable and enormously satisfying chorus. The song pauses and reinvents itself, losing and then re-establishing momentum.

The band’s propensity for repeated mid-song lulls is more damaging on the following track, ‘Walls Of Flesh’. Its teasing, deceiving death-doom style is cursed by a refusal to settle on the song’s heaviest / best bits. Instead, The Raven King choose to wander from the path in a dream-like and ultimately futile bid for profundity. Subsequently, the song begins to stutter and the hooks and licks sound uncertain, as if arranged in separate sections rather than one whole.

Likewise, ‘Black Light, Red Death’ is a swirling cauldron of misery and emotion that promises greatness but does not fully explode into existence, before the instrumental outro ‘The World In His Eyes’ ends proceedings on a placidly sorrowful note.

This EP is packed with great ideas and original touches, but these are often impeded or abandoned, resulting in a number of frustrating breaks in continuity. At their best, The Raven King create a gigantic torrent of stirring music that sometimes threatens to overwhelm; at which point, the band backs off to take a gentler route through calmer waters.

Listen to ‘Red’ here:


REVIEW: Keeper / Sea Bastard (Split)


‘777 / Astral Rebirth’ (Split)
Dry Cough Records
Released: January 2015

Two bands with differing approaches to sludge, but bound together in their exemplary devotion to the kind of relentless ferocity that makes your ears fall off and your brain implode.

Last year, Californians Keeper released a demo that got people talking, and here again they demonstrate why they are considered such an exciting prospect. ‘777’ is 14 minutes of desolate, shrieking horror. But not just any old horror, this is crafted and finely-honed horror.

Keeper have that rare gift: the ability to batter one chord into submission for an eternity and yet make it sound not only hypnotising but interesting and original. They maintain a high level of intensity, and it will be very interesting to watch these green shoots of misery grow over the next couple of years.

Sea Bastard, meanwhile, are stalwarts of the UK underground and deploy the kind of down-tuned sonic approach that can make a bong explode from three kilometres.

Sea Bastard are so heavy that when you listen to this song, the Earth temporarily adjusts its orbit around the Sun, to compensate for the additional weight. Not a band to worry overly about style, they prefer to obliterate everything in their path with substance, and it’s something they have become rather good at, as this latest composition attests.

The first new material from the band since the 2013 album ‘Scabrous’, this is all about shuddering guitars, long, slow riffs, and relentless anger. Well, not quite relentless. Just past the halfway mark on this 20-minute behemoth, Sea Bastard launch into a fast bit*** which adds a pinch of groove and is sure to get a pit swirling.

This is a great release from Dry Cough Records, showcasing some truly horrifying talent from either side of the Atlantic.

*** We’re not talking Dragonforce here…