Neurogenic – Ouroboric Stagnation
Location: Murmansk, Russia
Label: Comatose Music
While Russia has produced some pretty intense bands over the years, particularly in the black metal sub-genre, I don’t usually think of that country when I’m in the mood for some brutal death metal. Murmansk’s Neurogenic have changed that for me, thanks to their soul-crushingly heavy debut, Ouroboric Stagnation.
Guitarist Vlad Melnik founded the band in 2012, and quickly added the living legend in American death metal, Marco Pitruzzella, on drums, Anton Zhikharev on bass, and Italian vocalist Matteo Bazzanella. When I saw that Marco is a member, I immediately got excited, since I’ve enjoyed pretty much everything he has been involved with, and Neurogenic proved to be no exception. Ouroboric Stagnation is full of insanely technical, yet brutal, death metal that will leave your head spinning (after it has been ripped off, of course). Blast beats, guttural death growls (with a big portion of them being inhaled), gut-bursting bass, and dizzying guitar work are the weapons that this band uses to wage sonic warfare on the listener. With a sound that lies somewhere between Disgorge, Deeds Of Flesh, and hints of Gorguts, fans of the modern death metal scene will find a lot to love here. “Allotriophagical Obsession” is a particular favorite of mine, with its blinding speed, crushing “breakdowns,” sweeping lead guitar, and some cool bass bits that are given a moment or two to shine.
The production is exactly what the doctor ordered for this kind of release, with low, rumbly sounding bass that gives the music a good boost in the low-end. The vocals aren’t overly processed, and the guitars aren’t overpowering in the mix, giving everyone else just as much weight in the overall sound. If you’re not a fan of this style of death metal, it might be a bit of a chore trying to tell the songs apart, since there isn’t really any melody, and the majority of the songs are played at a pretty frantic pace. That being said, Neurogenic display an awe-inspiring level of musicianship and chemistry between members that many bands twice their age have still yet to achieve. If you’re a fan of brutal death metal, or are looking for something extremely technical, Ouroboric Stagnation has a little of both for you, and is a worthy addition to any extreme metal fan’s collection.
Warfather – The Grey Eminence
Location: Brazil/Netherlands/United States
Label: Greyhaze Records
Considered by many to be the absolute heaviest form of metal, death metal has gone through a number of sonic changes over the years. My favorite kind of death metal is the old-school, evil sounding records produced by such bands as Deicide and Morbid Angel. Warfather, features Steve Tucker from Morbid Angel, and play exactly the kind of death metal I want to hear.
Warfather have a pretty classic death metal tone, but manage to keep the formula fresh sounding, even if it’s relatively unchanged. There’s a healthy mix of technical prowess, heaviness, and plenty of evil sounding tones, and Steve’s unmistakable guttural growls, making The Grey Eminence a pretty well-rounded record. While there are plenty of time-changes throughout the course of each song, where Warfather really shine is in tracks like “Carnage of the Pious,” which has some pretty straight-forward thrashy riffing, followed by speed-demon tremolo picking. The guitar-work is technical, but manages to avoid going into wankery territory, something a number of the newer bands would do well to learn from. The title track even explores a somewhat death/doom sound similar to Incantation, showing that Warfather aren’t afraid to get a little atmospheric.
The mixing and recording duties were handled by former Morbid Angel axe-slinger/Hate Eternal front-man Erik Rutan. As would be expected, the vocals and guitars are fairly high in the mix, but the drums and bass are also given enough presence as to not be drowned out. The low-end is pretty heavy in some sections, though the bass manages to avoid getting muddy (something that I wish was the case with some of the latest releases by Hate Eternal). All in all, Warfather have crafted a pretty exciting record with The Grey Eminence, and which will appeal to most death metal fans, but especially to fans of Morbid Angel and Hate Eternal. Balancing old-school with modern death metal isn’t an easy task but, thankfully, it seems it’s one that Warfather are more than capable of achieving.
While Sun Ends – Terminus
My understanding of Post as a genre is limited. With post-rock bands such as God is an Astronaut, and We Lost the Sea, I thought the point of the genre was to create instrumental and atmospheric music that is heavy handed with rhythm, and which requires active listening. While Sun Ends challenge this view with their brand of Progressive Post-Death Metal (too many subgenres!), as in their second album Terminus, they smash together the calm melody of Post-Rock with the brutality of Death Metal to both my delight and utter confusion.
According to the band, the album is based on the concept of arrival and departure, and how the two are essentially the same. The theme is evident in the fluid transitions between soft, flowing passages and crunching, off-kilter riffs that have no care for the laws of beat or rhythm. There are also male and female vocals present in the album, with the male side dealing mostly in growls, while the female side takes command of the melodic sections. Both voices suit the music perfectly, although both would have benefitted from a greater focus on enunciation, as I could barely decipher any of the lyrics.
Although Terminus may confound my understanding of genres, the music justifies the confusion. The brutal and melodic aspects of the album are treated with equal care, allowing them to build off one another for a memorable performance. If you like your music laced with elliptic variety, While Sun Ends are worth your time.
Medevil – Conductor of Storms
What happens when you take 80’s Accept, early Opeth, and stick them in a blender powered entirely by force of will? You get Medevil and their sophomore album, Conductor of Storms.
The comparison to Accept is so easy that I researched a bit just to make sure Medevil isn’t some oddball side project of Udo, as the vocals are remarkably similar. The singer packs an arsenal of inflictions and barks that create tracks that would slide in perfectly with Russian Roulette. The rest of the band stays in line with the Accept influences, by hitting hard and fast while keeping a mostly upbeat tone. The performance is strong enough to get heads banging, proving that Medevil are not just some 80’s wannabes, as they’ve got some more tricks up their leather-clad sleeves.
The band shakes it up when they lose the speed and switch over to more dark and sinister tones. A heavy bass line drives the music forward and sharp pops of percussion spark along the riffs. These slower sections also include hollowed-out guitar, low-crooning from the singer, and some cheesy rain-falling sound effects. The variety, while welcome, is not always well-executed and prematurely ended a few sessions of rocking out; demonstrating that variety for variety’s sake is a poor decision.
Conductor of Storms is a solid effort that sacrifices originality for the quality of the music. There are a few missteps in the construction of the album with the uncalled for mood breaks, but these are outweighed by the musical chops that Medevil display. If you desperately miss Udo as frontman of Accept, this one is definitely worth a spin.