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Daniel

Well, better late than never, here I am to praise another superb playlist for The Horde this month.  Bubblegum fucking Octopus aside, there was not a lot not to love here.  Anything from Repulsion is a sure fire winner for me and dropping Cryptopsy, Pestilence and Naplam Death in here made me smile muchly.

My most impressive "finds" of the list are Sermon of Flames and Defacement and I will be checking out more from both acts imminently.

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Daniel

Never really got on with Schammasch (not for want of trying).  I find their avant-garde approach to be at the expenses of the bm in their sound as opposed to marrying with it in any regard.  This track reminds me of Deathspell Omega to start but soon becomes meandering as it lacks the depth of the aforementioned artist.  Similarly, I can't get on with Alcest, just nothing for me to grab hold of to keep me interested.  I even prefer that Moonsorrow over the Alcest track, even though it constantly broods and never really gets going.

One of my kittens was in the room when that Månegarm track was one and was well fascinated by the bird and animal noises if not the battle sounds.  Entertaining for some at least.

Never heard of Vargrav before but they are very Emperor-like and a little too close to worship for me, nothwithstanding Symphonic bm is a very one-dimensional offering.  I don't feel they do anything exceptional though.  Great to hear some Drudkh on the list and the furious stabs of war metal punctuated the list pretty well to give a real sense of variety.  I need more Teitanblood in my life, just never get around to spending a lot of time with their stuff for some reason even though I have never heard anything by them that I did not like.  Like Sonny I just don't gel with Seth; in all honesty I am yet to figure out why but I soon reached for the skip button on this list when they came on as I had tried their album earlier this year to no avail.

The classic bands ruled the roost for me this month with Blasphemy, Sarcofago and Kvist sitting nicely against my familiar band choices.

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Daniel

Danish power metal with folk/symphonic influences. For fans of Falconer, Manticora & Lost Horizon.

Quoted Daniel

An incredible highlight that fits well for guitarist Erik Ravn, not just because of his guitar talents but also because of his name. You'll also witness flawless bass work that's often hard to find elsewhere.

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Daniel

You're right about me loving The Shadow Cabinet, Daniel. A bombastic progressive power metal album with folk influences standing its unique ground. Cheers for the rec! 5/5

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Daniel

I think that there would have to be some sort of Clan nomination thing so each top album can have their case explained, but that goes into normal award show bullshit and we don't have the amount of people necessary so...I think that just keeping it as it is currently is the only way. 

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Daniel

Sorry, Theo. I've already submitted my completed December Revolution playlist to Daniel, but I can definitely save those submissions for when I make the January playlist.

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Daniel

Kode9 & Burial - "Fabriclive 100" (2018)

I was expecting a DJ mix from these two highly acclaimed dubstep/future garage/footwork/UK bass producers but "Fabriclive 100" ended up being more of compilation given that there's very little actual mixing going on. There are some really interesting & extremely varied tracks included but it certainly sounds pretty jerky & tossed together when taken as an holistic piece. I don't think I'll be returning to this one any time soon.

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Daniel

My favourite track from this month's Horde feature release. Brutal but technical death metal with one of the best solos I've heard on a DM album.

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Daniel

I have documented previously how I struggle with large chunks of death metal, especially the exaggerated violence and brutality. Overtly technical death metal doesn't really chime with me either as it's often staccato nature disrupts the flow of the tracks too much to my ears. Consequently I have a pool of favoured bands I tend to turn to for my death metal fix - Autopsy, Bolt Thrower and Vader for example. Near the very top of that list come Nile.

Nile were one of the first bands I got into upon my return to metal after my hiatus during most of the 1990s, via their Black Seeds of Vengeance and In Their Darkened Shrines albums, so I remember anticipating the release of  Annihilation of the Wicked with some relish. Luckily we Nile fans were not disappointed and with AotW Nile unleashed their tour de force. Though it is technically superb, it doesn't flog that technicality to the expense of the flow of the tracks, each of which run like a dream nor does it short-change on the heaviness front, battering the listener relentlessly with wave after wave of brutal riffs and some of the finest solos I have ever heard on a death metal album, such as those heard on Cast Down the Heretic and Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten. The Ancient Egyptian theme is a great motif but doesn't really have any defining impact on the actual music as we are mercifully spared any goofy, faux-authentic egyptian passages, save the odd intro or interjection such as the intro to User-Maat-Re and briefly during Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten. There is plenty of variation in pacing from hulking, almost doom-like passages to brutal headlong charges with the longer tracks making for some seriously epic death metal. Tracks like the title track and Cast Down the Heretic are honestly some of the finest death metal I have ever heard and the quality overall is exquisite, revealing a band that were absolutely on top of their game as both technicians and songwriters. One of my all-time favourite death metal releases and I salute you Daniel for picking this gem for a monthly showcase.

5/5

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Daniel

Devourment = "Molesting The Decapitated" (1999)

After putting together yesterday's list I felt like indulging in some slamming death metal while driving around the city to pick up one of my wife's event styling jobs so I pulled out this oldy that I haven't heard for a while. It was extremely influential in the underground death metal scene at the time but I didn't get to experience it until around 2009, by which time every man & his dog was doing this stuff so it had lost some of its impact. Honestly, nothing has changed much with how this Dallas-based outfit conduct themselves in the more than two decades since this debut album. "Molesting The Decapitated" concentrates entirely on two concepts: ultra-fast blast beats with a super-tight pinging snare drum sound & slow-to-mid-paced Suffocation-worshipping slam riffs. That really does sound very good to me on paper & in honesty I was always going to find this record enjoyable for that reason but it's definitely not without its flaws. Firstly, the blast beats aren't very tightly performed, particularly the gravity-blasts which is no doubt accentuated by the snare sound which sounds like a toy monkey playing a tiny drum. Secondly, the vocals are ridiculously gutteral & unintelligible to the point of ridiculousness & there's been no attempt whatsoever to resemble the actual lyrics which are admittedly some of the most vile & putrid you'll ever read. As with 2019's "Obscene Majesty", the lack of guitar solos is a clear missed opportunity too as there's very little to break up the monotony. All things considered though, I just love super-brutal death metal with chunky riffs & it's hard to argue against this album possessing those attributes in spades, even if it does sound very generic by today's standards. "Molesting The Decapitated" does easily enough to keep me interested & in doing so has managed to usurp Kraanium's "Post Mortal Coital Fixation" by breaking into the top ten slam death metal releases list I only put together yesterday.

For fans of Cephalotripsy, Abominable Putridity & Kraanium.

3.5/5

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Daniel

Hi Ben, I'm not sure if I've requested their inclusions before, but can you add Tar Hag (USA) and Olde (Canada).


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Daniel

Title track from the latest Exodus album.  Not half as bad as expected and I will definitely be dipping in for a full listen through in the coming weeks.

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Daniel



As for Death Angel, I still love their debut, but can't get on with any of their other releases at all.
Quoted Sonny

I've always liked "The Ultra-Violence" but I can't deny my feeling that it's a flawed & overrated release, particularly vocally. To my ears "Act III" is the band's peak as it saw them ironing out all of the kinks & producing a well thought-out & mature metal record that may not be all that thrashy but makes up for it with quality song-writing & execution. Death Angel's 2000's material is worth a look but I wouldn't say it's essential while their 1988 sophomore album "Frolic Through the Park" is an absolute abomination.

Quoted Daniel

Flawed it may be but when the band hit the sweet spot, man they thrash like a muthafucker. As for being overrated? I personally don't think an album that contains a song like Voracious Souls can ever be deemed overrated!


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Daniel


Girlschool were one of those bands that were embraced by the wide arms of the NWOBHM movement but were really no more than hard rock. I'd like to see their debut album "Demolition" removed from The Guardians & added to Non-Metal.

Quoted Daniel

I completely agree and I'm wondering if now is the time for the Academy to do away with the NWOBHM genre tag altogether as it was only ever a location specific scene within the early years of metal when the definition of what constituted heavy metal was very different to what it is today. I know we don't actually use the acronym as a genre definition ourselves but perhaps it should be disregarded as a metal genre within RYM's genre-tree when considering bands for inclusion in the Metal Academy. It kind of irks that an album like Demolition can get in (even if ultimately as a non-metal entry) but not Machine Head, Secret Treaties or 2112 (it does for me anyway). A band like Demon can get sixteen entries but far more significant and heavier acts like Deep Purple can't get a mention. Shit, even Ted Nugent is ten times more metal than half the NWOBHM. Anyway, it's just a thought.

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Daniel

Overkill - "The Years Of Decay" (1989)

The 1989 fourth full-length from legendary New Jersey thrashers Overkill summarizes my feelings on the band nicely. It's very well composed & executed & I find the vast majority of it to be pretty enjoyable but it rarely takes me to the upper echelons of my excitement. I actually think that Ben & Sonny's reviews sum up my own thoughts pretty well as I definitely think that Overkill are at their best when they tone the velocity down a little & focus on atmosphere over aggression but their tendency to want to indulge in their classic metal influences at key moments does detract from the intensity a bit at times, despite a few welcome tributes to the mighty Black Sabbath. The album takes a while to get going & we have to wait until right at the end for the highlight track in the thrashy Anthrax-inspired "E.vil N.ever D.ies". They rely very heavily on their impressively charismatic front man Bobby 'Blitz' Ellsworth for the fireworks as the instrumentation is generally pretty basic but admittedly very tightly performed & produced with the bass guitar sitting very nicely in the mix. There's not much to complain about with "The Years Of Decay" as it's a quality thrash record but (as with Overkill's earlier works) it's hard to see why people regard it as such a classic for the genre. In saying that, I do think it was their best album to the time but they hadn't quite reached their peak just yet with their next record (1991's "Horrorscope") seeing them taking a step up to the next level.

For fans of Anthrax, Testament & Annihilator.

3.5/5

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Daniel

I was obviously taking the piss. :yum: That said, you're correct to assume that I wouldn't enjoy that track. It's pretty horrible. But then, like you, I don't like this sort of Folk Metal at all. I hated it when Isengard did it and I hated it when Windir and Enslaved did it. Others seem to enjoy it. I guess I personally don't see the point of adding tracks to the Stinkers thread when you despise the style of music in general. It's probably interesting and useful for people if you call a Thrash Metal or Brutal Death Metal track a stinker, or if I state that a Funeral Doom track is a stinker, because we normally love those genres, and are therefore suitable people to judge them. To be honest, I could add half the Power Metal tracks I've ever heard to the stinkers thread, but would that really be a fair assessment? I think I'd just offend people who shouldn't listen to my judgement of Power Metal anyway.

To be clear, I'm not telling you (or anyone) what they should or shouldn't call a stinker. You do you! There's just an obvious pattern to the last 6 entries here that I couldn't help but comment on.

As an aside, there's much to like on Arntor for me, and I totally get why so many see it as a classic. Tracks like The Blacksmith and the Troll of Lundamyri and The Longing are very enjoyable for me.

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Daniel

The clan has spoken! Feel free to carry on taking submissions then. Just an idea but perhaps the guidelines could be that non-clan members can submit multiple tracks as long as they've genuinely listened to those records during the month prior? Otherwise they get just the one.

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Daniel


I think you've turned all of us into Warning fans over the past couple of years. :yum:

Quoted Ben

Yeah I didn't mind Warning prior to that but my last revisit blew my mind. The vocals were always a problem for me but they finally clicked & WOH!!!!! "Footsteps" isn't one of my top few songs from the album (I prefer the title track, "Bridges" & "Echoes" which are pretty much perfect examples of the doom metal genre in my opinion) but it's still a damn fine piece in its own right which is a clear indication of the consistent strength of the album overall.

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Daniel

I haven't listened to many metal albums that I have less of an affinity for or less of a connection to than Eternal Blue. It's like eating a meal made from ingredients I personally find unpallatable - I am unable to tell if it's well-cooked or not because it tastes unpleasant to me no matter what. Spiritbox's brand of metal I also find thusly unpallatable. I am soon going to turn 60, so of course this may be a generational thing and I seriously doubt if I am part of the band's intended demographic, but all these bouncy rhythms and faux-earnest shouting do absolutely zero for me. To me this sounds like Linkin' Park with a female vocalist.

2/5

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Daniel

Highly atmospheric Swedish doom/death for fans of October Tide & early Paradise Lost/Anathema.

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Daniel

Katatonia - "Dance of December Souls" (1993)

To be honest, I've never understood the unanimous praise that Katatonia's debut full-length seems to inevitably draw. Sure, it's got some lovely melodies & creates a uniquely sombre atmosphere at times but is it really a genuine classic? I don't think so. The musicianship is pretty amateurish, the vocals are lacking in power & control, the arrangements are pretty loose, it's lacking in heaviness for a doom release & Dan Swano's keyboards are cheesy as hell for the most part. Somehow though, the overall package seems to draw me in just enough to qualify for a pass mark. I think the first couple of proper songs taint my impression a bit as they both sound pretty lethargic & this is exacerbated by the fact that the closer is absolutely awful but there's a lengthy four track run in between that I really enjoy & it just does enough to overcome my concerns. In fact, you can pretty easily see where a classic like "Brave Murder Day" came from during that stronger period & perhaps that fact alone is enough to command a 3.5/5 rating from me. I have to say that I've never understood the links to melodic black metal though. There's approximately one minute of black metal here if you look closely. There's a lot more of the gothic component which would stay with Katatonia for most of their career. Overall, I'd suggest that "Dance of December Souls" is a mildly enjoyable if inessential & overrated release that kicked off a consistently high quality discography.

For fans of October Tide & early Paradise Lost/Anathema.

3.5/5

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Daniel

Superbly chunky progressive metal for Seattle, USA. For fans of Sanctuary, Communic & Warrel Dane.

Quoted Daniel

The heaviest, most technical song on the album, probably by the band. The intro and part of the first verse both have a crazily technical riff, and there's a killer guitar solo battle in the middle of the song.

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Daniel

Nevermore's classic 2005 sixth album "This Godless Endveavour" is generally regarded as progressive thrash metal however I'm not comfortable with the link to thrash & want to see it removed from The Pit while remaining in The Infinite.

0
Daniel

Nevermore - "This Godless Endeavour" (2005)

Another very solid outing from an undeniably high quality progressive metal outfit. The production & performances are outstanding, particularly the lead guitar work of Jeff Loomis. I don't think this is a classic release for me personally though. Perhaps it's the groove metal style of some of the riffs or that the vocal hooks don't dig their teeth in quite far enough to allow me to reach the upper levels of my adoration but ultimately I don't think there are enough genuine highlight tracks for a classic release even if everything sounds super impressive. It's interesting that this album is generally regarded as a progressive thrash metal too. Progressive? Yeah definitely. Thrash? Hhhmmmm.... that's a considerable stretch in my opinion & I'll be raising an entry for the Hall of Judgement for this one. Anyway... I really enjoyed my "This Godless Endeavour" experience & place it in third place behind 1999's "Dreaming Neon Black" (their true classic in my opinion) & 2000's "Dead Heart in a Dead World" for Nevermore's overall discography.

For fans of Sanctuary, Communic & Warrel Dane.

4/5

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Daniel

I'm really glad Ben suggested this as a monthly feature as I'm sure I may never have stumbled across it otherwise. It is absolutely the case that this is a grower rather than being the type of album that grabs you by the throat from the off and I enjoy those sort of albums hugely as they seem to offer something new upon every listen. Anyway here's my review:

To be honest upon first listen at the start of the month I wasn't especially impressed with Skullreader. However, each time I've returned to it it has dug it's claws deeper into me and now I think it has finally "clicked". To be sure it isn't an "immediate" listen and it certainly doesn't grab you like Zhaaral's Darkspace bandmate, Wintherr's Paysage d'Hiver work does (and in truth it isn't really on the same level as Paysage d'Hiver, but then again, not a lot is).

Anyway, back to the release on hand and what Zhaaral has served up is a hybrid of melodic and atmospheric black metal with some occasional, brief post-metal-ly sections. There is a fair predominance of keyboards present, but they aren't at all overbearing or cloying and are very tastefully incorporated into the overall sound. I have seen the album compared to Blut Aus Nord and that is a fitting comparison I feel, especially when compared to the Memoria Vetusta series (although, again, it isn't on the same level of accomplishment). The layers of guitar and synth build an all-enveloping ambience that does allow for some nice mental pictures to flow. Lord of Mind, for example, with it's slower pacing feels like a journey through a huge abandoned alien city.

I initialy disliked the fact that the vocals are buried in the mix, but have actually grown to enjoy that aspect, as the fact that you have to strain a little to hear them properly makes it feel like a voice is reaching out between dimensions or across the veil between life and death to impart some profound insight. This is not merely an album built on atmosphere though, it also has some quite cool riffs, Fire and Thirst for example, which also has some nice Middle-Eastern influenced guitar work and Vanitas whose main riff sounds imperious.

Overall a very good album, albeit one that takes a bit to get into, but one that is worth persevering with. May not ultimately stack up against his more celebrated colleague's back catalogue, or his original band's output, but I would have welcomed hearing further releases from this project to see where they may have led. As it stands however, Sun of the Blind is a one-shot deal so presumably Zharaal has scratched whatever creative itch he may have been feeling within Darkspace, for now at least.

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