It’s that time of the month when once again Getintothis’ Nedim Hassan brings us up to speed with all things heavy. Horns at the ready for beastly releases from the likes of Bloodbath and Cancer.
From the rather stunning initial Download festival line-up, to the announcement of the Scorpions for Bloodstock and Rammstein’s one-off show in Milton Keynes next year, the last few weeks have seen good news galore for the metal community.
Yet, the last few days in our offices have been tinged with a hint of sadness at the thought of never being able to witness Slayer live in all their satanic majesty. To console ourselves and to help all our good readers recover from what was an emotional farewell gig in Manchester, we bring you the latest sonic platters tickling our metallic taste buds.
Bloodbath – The Arrow of Satan is Drawn (Peaceville)
Made up of members of Katatonia, Paradise Lost, Craft and Opeth, Bloodbath certainly know their death metal history and, to paraphrase a saying, this ensures that they are not condemned to repeat it. Bloodbath are long admirers of Swedish death metal pioneers Entombed and Dismember and their ability to make their guitars sound like chainsaws – yet this record is no mere tribute to the past. On the contrary, it is confirmation that this latest incarnation of the group have emerged in 2018 with renewed confidence and vigour.
The major difference between The Arrow of Satan is Drawn and previous long player Grand Morbid Funeral is the vocals. The low menacing rasping style that characterized Grand Morbid Funeral still persists on tracks like Wayward Samaritan but throughout this album vocalist Nick Holmes exhibits a far greater range as a death metal vocalist. This is particularly apparent on opener Fleischmann as well as during the deliciously rotten riff spectacle that is Deader.
Aside from the vocals, this album displays a greater capacity for variation in overall style and song structure. Warhead Ritual is frenzied punk-infused death ‘n’ roll, while Chainsaw Lullaby sees a new emphasis on blackened groove. Make no mistakes, Bloodbath are still sticking to a winning formula, but their ability to both reinvigorate their sound and still spew out glorious death metal anthems shines through in abundance.
Cancer – Shadow Gripped (Peaceville)
The sixth studio album from UK death metal pioneers Cancer sees them return to their classic line-up of John Walker on guitar/vocals, Ian Buchanan on bass and Carl Stokes on drums for the first time since 1995. Shadow Gripped is malignant sounding, mid-paced, old school death metal that lives up to the band’s name and their lofty reputation.
Walker’s vocals are genuinely eerie, especially on opener Down the Steps, which features the most sinister throaty rasps we have heard in some time. Tracks like The Infocidal feature an unrelenting barrage of riffs and drumming that gradually give way to slower tempo sections adorned with chunky, groove-laden hooks. On the whole, this is a very welcome reunion that demonstrates that speed isn’t everything when it comes to constructing death metal that sounds brutal.
Iron Lamb – Blue Haze (The Sign Records)
Iron Lamb know that the apocalypse is coming and we’re all screwed. This doesn’t stop them inviting us to party with them to the end on Blue Haze, which combines riotous punk fuelled numbers, such as opener Apocalypse Express, with songs that have a more classic rock feel. In particular, the excellent Into the Night conjures a smoky neon atmosphere of danger, with its faint keyboard drone and mid-paced rhythm complementing the instantly memorable rock guitar hook.
Songs like The Hunt get straight to the point more quickly with down and dirty riffing and ragged vocals that evoke memories of Lemmy. Yes, at times this feels like Motörhead worship, but when it is done with this much zeal then who cares?
Spearhead – Pacifism is Cowardice (Invictus Productions)
War worshipping UK death metal outfit, Spearhead, have finally returned from the front to bring us another exercise in military precision. Pacifism is Cowardice features a blitzkrieg of technical death metal riffing, epitomized by opening track Of Sun and Steel. Stand out tracks include Ajativada with its merciless blast beat drumming and Wolves of Krypteia, We, which boasts a compelling combination of frenetic riffs, coupled with slower moments that evoke Slayer’s many menacing odes to warfare.
Neonderthal Death – Neonderthal (Nightmare Begins)/Skeleton Brain (Ektro)
Neonderthal Death is the project of Swedish musicians simply known as Morbid and Angel. Their debut single for Ektro records is an intriguing blend of synthwave and death metal.
Neonderthal (Nightmare Begins) draws us in with clean synth hooks that are mirrored by choppy guitar riffs. This provides the song with a pulsating rhythm that demands foot tapping even as we are forewarned by harsh shouted death metal vocals. B side Skeleton Brain provides a more pronounced grunted death metal vocal sound and is accompanied by atonal, distorted synth notes. Synthwave fans take note, the juxtaposition of harsh vocals with synth beats and melodies can feel a little jarring at first, but those willing to give this a few spins will find themselves dancing to the death metal beat.
Well, that’s just about all we have time for folks but, before we go, here are a few upcoming events to save your pennies for.
Firstly, Merseyside’s finest horror metal fiends, Video Nasties, play as part of the line-up for Keep It Heavy in Outpost (formerly Maguire’s) on 24 November. Headlined by the mighty Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard and with all ticket money going to charity, the Lyam Kirkham Foundation, it’d be churlish of you not to part with your cash.
As we enter December, those lovely, lovely people at Deathwave Entertainment bring you a stellar line-up of local metal heroes featuring the likes of Reaper, Scare Tactics and Riptide at Zanzibar on 1 December.
Support your scene, always. We’ll see you at the bar and in the pit.