2017 First Quarter Label Roundup: Unspeakable Axe Records
It was the best of times, it was the wor-… wait, wrong intro, nevermind. Come check out these rad releases from Unspeakable Axe instead!
Unless you’ve been living in a whole for the past 5 years or were literally born yesterday (if so, congratulations on the early reading capability!), you should know about Unspeakable Axe Records. And if you’re one of the cool kids, own a few albums or have at least heard a great number of the releases from this most bodacious record label. The Toilet’s connection with Unspeakable Axe Records (UAR) has been well documented in the past and suffice it to say, shall continue to grow in the future. 2017 has seen a bit of a slow start for the label, but that doesn’t take away from the gravitas of the releases so far. To perform my due diligence, I’ve gathered for you UAR’s 1st quarter of releases. Enjoy!
Hellish – Grimoire
Hailing from Chile, Hellish initially released their debut album of Blackened Thrash digitally back in 2016, but upon discovery Unspeakable Axe Records has released Grimoire on CD this year.
After a blistering display of riffage and speed on the instrumental album-opener, Hellish jump into the fire with “Warlock’s Flight” and a raspy bark greets you with malicious intent. Vocalist and bassist Necromancer is here for your soul and you will not escape him. His sharp, mid-toned style reminds me of a beefier Joël Thomas (Occult Burial, a personal favorite from last year) but not enough to distract me from enjoying his own vocal performance. Sporadically letting out yells and growls, he bends Grimoire to his will, emphasizing chord changes and song passages. Now, everyone here should now my infatuation with the almighty “UGH!” and Necromancer belts out his fair share to satiate my primal needs, therefore boosting this album to the caliber it deserves. However, vocals can’t carry an album on their own. There have to be RIFFS. And Hellish has them in spades. Straddling the fine line between Thrash, Black Metal and Punk the band’s performance and execution of said riffs are merciless in every way. “The Valley”, a true standout track, boasts periodic hammer-ons and frills placed meticulously between open string tremolos while a sporadic solo melds perfectly into the grim atmosphere. Meanwhile, follow-up track “Total Darkness” begins with a melodically clean passage reminiscent of At The Heart of Winter era Immortal and Blood Fire Death era Bathory. Tonally as well, Hellish calls back to early Black Metal and evoke a strong mid-boosted guitar crunch that accentuates their more intricate riffs and to top it all off, the bass sits audibly in the center of the mix, an aspect that I can and always will appreciate.
As Grimoire comes to an end with its title track, I can’t help but enjoy Hellish’s brand of Metal that, while nothing quite new or boundary pushing, is quite infectious and I won’t tire of anytime soon.
Sewercide/Cemetery Filth – Split
Side 1 of the split features Sewercide’s newly re-recorded “Shackled By Ignorance.” Originally appearing on the band’s debut Severing The Mortal Coil EP, this track has been revamped with a beefier sound. The previous version stands strong but the production quality was rather thin and listening to it, you can tell the band was still budding into their sound, featuring a more Thrash-oriented guitar tone and vocally performing a throaty rasp. If 2016’s Immortalized In Suffering has taught us anything, though, it is that Sewercide found their path. With this re-recording, however, the band are developing their sound even further. Now, you can hear the death metal influence stronger within their sound. The guitars have the bass-soaked, chainsaw, sound and the drums pop while simultaneously laying back in the mix. Overall, if this is the new direction for the band, many folks should be pleased with their next album.
Side 2 is composed of two brand new tracks from Cemetery Filth, a teaser if you will for their upcoming full-length which is due out late this year on UAR. Track 1 “Devoured By Dead” busts out the gate with a quick drum fill and a precisely tremoloed guitar riff before assaulting the listener with a wildly executed guitar solo. The song’s main structure begins shortly afterward and we are treated with what Cemetery Filth do best. And that is writing barbaric, old-school death metal infused riffs. In contrast to the maniacal speed featured on “Devoured By Dead,” “Service For A Vacant Coffin” plods along with intermittent moments of slow and low death-doom riffing. This atmosphere doesn’t last through the whole song, however, as by its end the band is thrashing along at peak speeds. Much like with Sewercide’s track, Cemetery Filth’s duo of jams has a markedly different production than their previous work, representing a more bass-heavy and crisper sound.
Both bands give outstanding performances here, though in very small doses and this split represents a prologue to their next chapters.
Algebra – Rust In Peace… Polaris
In 2014 Unspeakable Axe Records released Algebra’s sophomore album Feed The Ego and after a few years and a lineup change, the band is back.
While this isn’t exactly an official release, Algebra proves to their fans that they are set to kick off their third full-length album without a hitch. What better way to show the world you are ready for your next entry in technical Thrash Metal than to cover a classic song from thrash titan Megadeth‘s seminal 1990 album Rust In Peace? Short of releasing new material, this is a damn fine representation and view into the band’s current frame of mind. By performing this cover, Algebra exhibits their technical prowess and give their audience a little taste of what to come. My favorite aspect of this cover, though, is the vocal performance. Unlike some current Thrash bands, Algebra doesn’t try to sound like Mustaine, instead opting for their own path and moving forward. I must say, this cover has whet my appetite for
I must say, this cover has whet my appetite for Feed The Ego‘s follow up and I await eagerly.
Disincarnation – By The Old Gods and The New
By The Old Gods and The New marks Disincarnation’s first recording and has been released with UAR on cassette, as is crucial in proper demo fashion.
After stabbing play you’ll notice the guitar’s buzzsaw tone that is critical to Disincarnation’s sound, reminiscent of a slightly hollower and unmastered take on Asphyx‘s The Rack mixed with Entombed‘s Left Hand Path. Keeping in mind that this is a demo, the band is not overly jarring or too rough. They perform well together, locked into each other’s playing and are precise. Throughout the rest of opening track “Talisman To Seal The Hopping Corpse Before It Steals Your Qi” the riffs take you on a journey through some of Death Metal’s greatest tropes. Around the 1:20 mark I hear some intricate fretwork and Nile‘s signature tremolo string bends, which leads me to believe that maybe the song’s title is a reference to the Death Metal giants as well. As the track progresses, we are greeted by some Bolt Thrower styled grooves that round out what I perceive to be the band’s biggest influences. However, don’t pawn off Disincarnation as a copycat band, because while they may wear their influences on their sleeves, the mixture here is catchy, well articulated and for gracious sakes its only a demo! From this song alone, we can expect great music from this band in the future. Meanwhile, continuing throughout By The Old Gods and The New, we hear the band exploring a multitude of moods and atmospheres from slow, death-doom crawls to bouncy headbanging breaks to slick soloing and even moments of brisk clean interludes, as heard on closer “Slime God.” Betwixt this wide variety of sounds, the vocals punch through as a sharp snarl but will also tend to rest in the pocket as a throaty growl, adapting well to the surrounding riffs.
My preferred track here would have to be “Prayer For Total Death” but I think there is a song here that will appeal to any and all fans of Death Metal. Disincarnation, we’ve received your message and await further instructions.
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