21 June 2018

Down Among The Dead Men - …And You Will Obey Me


Band: Down Among The Dead Men
Album: …And You Will Obey Me
Lable: Transcending Obscurity 
Release Date: June 15th 2018
Country: International
Format reviewed: Digital MP3

Obviously sleeping is for the weak. Why sleep when you can spend every waking minute writing riffs and constructing death metal tunes ad infinitum until you die. This, my friends, is how one Rogga Johansson and Dave Ingram choose to operate on what is, seemingly, a daily basis! 

The roll call for these two metal reprobates is a veritable feast of Death – Ingram, currently set down with ‘Just Before Dawn/Echelon/Ursinne and Ex of the mighty ‘Benediction’ and ‘Bolt Thrower’. Johansson? – Well, whom hasn’t he worked with? – But for the sake of examples; Megascavenger/Paganizer/Revolting/Ribspreader/The Grotesquery…you get the idea? Prolific is an understatement. 

Somehow, with the help of the talents of session musicians Kjetil Lynghaug on leads and Erik R. 
Bevenrud on session drums, Dave and Rogga have put together the third offering from their ‘Down Among The Dead Men’ (DATDM) collaboration. From the outset and to the very end of this thirty-minute beast, it is clear that DATDM take no prisoners. No reprieve, no mercy – just all out annihilation.

DATDM play exactly the type of steamrolling Death Metal I love to hear. Nothing complex about it – straight forward Old school Death (think Ingram’s other legendary acts) combined with a killer Crust/Dirty Punk element that is captured and delivered with sublime ferocity and power. Furthermore, there is a dark melodic feel to the 10 compositions on offer here. Match that with the deep-seated grooves that Rogga employs with his riffs and the whole thing just explodes with a fire and energy that is truly addictive. The album title itself is almost prophetic in nature as it implores you to reach for the repeat button just one more time. Oh yes, repeated spins is a given such is the spell that this album casts over the listener! 

For me personally, it must be stated that as great as Rogga’s work is on this album, it is Dave Ingram’s vocal performance that has me doing cartwheels. As a massive fan of classic Benediction, nothing pleases more that to hear Dave’s characteristic roar and distinctive tone given the full treatment on this record. Like a Willets or a Van Drunen, Dave’s phrasing and enunciation stands out amongst the crowd, and he is truly one of a kind in the way he constructs his lyrical delivery for maximum impact. For me, Barney Greenway is his only peer when it comes to all out Death Metal style conveyance.

The sound of this album is also a major deal breaker! So Heavy! Superbly crafted with just enough dirt and grime in the back end to heighten it’s ‘Crust’ vibe, ‘Obey..’ possesses a thick pummelling production that only accentuates further the power and devastating intensity of Rogga and co! Such is the experience of the two main protagonist here; they just simply know how to play to each other’s strengths and as such, the whole album flows with unadulterated conviction and sonic precision. Put simply, ‘Obey..’ crushes. 

‘Obey..’ is a fantastic album. At its core, a record that pays pure homage to Old School Death Metal – dark and foreboding, yet the direct and unyielding Crust/Punk element gives a real streamlined edge to DATDM’s compositions. Not a second is wasted here. From the get go of ‘Destroy the Infinite’ to the superb crunch of ‘Darkness of Glass’, ‘Obey…’ is turn on, tune in, heads down, see you at the end! It will be your master…You will Obey! Confident this will be considered as one of the Death Metal albums of the year.  8/10 KMaN



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20 June 2018

Taphos - Come Ethereal Somberness


Band: Taphos
Title: Come Ethereal Somberness
Label: Blood Harvest Records
Release Date: 8 June 2018
Country: Denmark
Format Reviewed: High Quality Digital Promo

If we talk about pure Death Metal assault, uncompromising, aggressive, with a great sense of rottenness and a great old school aura, then we can not ignore Taphos, a Danish quartet ready to shake off the drowsiness of the world's most cavernous Death scene.

"Come Ethereal Somberness" is an album that shouts to the four winds its passion and devotion to the foundations of the best Death Metal of the late 80's, although trying to define the style can become a somewhat complicated task. You could say that the strength of the combo lies in the ability to amalgamate different influences of the past, passing them through a modern prism (in terms of sound quality) that leads to a vicious and frenetic concatenation of Death Metal very well made, simple and terribly addictive.

Of course, the greatness of a band like Taphos lies in the distinctive grace that they apply to their compositions, which places them in a position of substantial privilege, unlike the multitude of acts that only remain in an attempt of homage that, unintentionally, they do not stop having a certain aftertaste to a simple carbon copy of past glories, like Gruesome, for example.

Taphos is responsible for redefining the teachings of legends such as Sadistic Intent, with some obscurity à la Incantation, Autopsy's own maniacal obsession and a tendency, in a lower percentage, for certain Blackened Death characteristics, which are so fashionable today.
The attack is fierce, with excellent riffs and fast tempos. Many millimeter-calculated blasts and tremolo techniques, in the most intense parts, stand out in structures made directly to create internal traumas in cervical areas.

The machine stops its march, at times, to delight us and give us a break with small acoustic interludes, although they are not very durable and, before we know it, we are quickly submerged again in a frenzied whirlwind of endless assault riffs. The formula works perfectly.

"Come Ethereal Somberness" is an absolute pleasure of pure classic Death Metal, totally punishing and very easy to assimilate and enjoy, made by a young band of which I hope to have more news in the near future. Put Taphos to 11 and break your neck!. 8.5/10 Sergio.




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19 June 2018

Malauriu - Morte


Band: Malauriu
Title: Morte
Country: Italy
Label: Southern Hell Records
Release date: 21 May 2018
Format reviewed: Digital Mp3

Malauriu is a Black metal band from Sicily, Italy founded in 2013. They have participated numerous split releases and compilations in their relatively short existence. A band with a serious approach to the genre, personally I am not familiar with their earlier offerings. Some releases you just happen to come across, and how sweet it is to find some gold…

This 5 track ep starts off with a intro track to get the listener into the mood of some serious Black Metal. It closes with an outro track much in the same way. Though I understand the choice to create an atmosphere, black metal is about atmosphere! With an ep ticking in at 19 minutes, it seems a bit out of place.
The first real track, Vortex of supremacy, is a kick of a tune. Full blast ahead, raw vocals and old school guitars. The drumming is fast and intricate.
Revenge of the shadows is up next. Sets of in slower pace, drums all over the place (in a good way). More of an epic song, if brutal BM can be described as epic. This song has many variations and grooves big time.
The last real song is Behold the Damnation, here Malauriu is back to a full assault again. Great vocals and drums, classic BM guitars. What`s not to like?
With this ep Malauriu is proving that they have their own take on BM, though firmly planted in the early 90`s, they show creativity and technical ability to bring something new to the table. If I could change anything I would have skipped the intro (and outro), and given it a fourth real track.
All in all, 19 minutes well spent: 8/10 Harald


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18 June 2018

Paroxsihzem Interview

Paroxsihzem is a Black/Death band from Toronto, Canada who formed in 2007. Hellthrasher Productions is their current label but they also have releases in different formats and distribution as well from Dark Descent records, Vault of Dried Bones and Krucyator Productions too. Inspired by nuclear warfare, darkness, chaos, and negativity, Paroxsihzem has been destroying the light for eleven years now. This is an interview with Krag, the vocalist from the band.


Hello Krag and thank you for doing this interview with me for Blessed Altar Zine! What are the near future plans for Paroxsihzem?
Thanks, we've just finished playing 2 shows very close together so now we are going to lay low and focus on writing for our next full-length album and then go from there.

I see on Bandcamp, that you recently put up a previously unreleased track from 2013, titled Excavation of Despair. Is this a single release on its own or is this going to be part of a future release?
It was an old demo track that we recorded before the split with Adversarial. We were pleased with how it turned out but it won’t be part of any future releases we just wanted to release it on its own as a 1 song demo track.

Will Paroxsihzem do a tour in the future, whether for Canada, USA or elsewhere?
We plan to eventually. Most likely after our next album comes out.

Is there a main writer in the band musically or lyrically or do you all collaborate in this process?
Impugnor is the main writer for all the music and I collaborate with him on the lyrics.

Considering Paroxsihzem’s inspirations for lyrical or topic matters, are there certain main musical influences that have had a big impact on the sound or direction of Paroxshizem?
Influences come from all over the place and there are too many to name, but a few of them are Incantation, Arkhon Infaustus, Archgoat, Revenge and Morbid Angel. For lyrics inspiration

Being a musical collector myself, I tend to ask everyone this question. Which do you prefer for listening? Vinyl, CD, Cassette or digital format?
Vinyl and CD for sure.

Out of all the releases from Paroxsihzem so far, is there a release that you like the most?
I would say our newest EP, Abyss of Excruciating Vexes is my favourite Paroxsihzem release.

How do you feel about the ways and means of social media now and how information is used or conducted?
I try to use social media as little as possible and usually only for contacting people. I have mostly a negative view on it these days.

What are your main preferences in musical styles? Whether for metal or other types of music too?
Filthy death metal

Ok, in closing and thanks again Krag for your time with this interview. What inspired the creation of Paroxsihzem as a band and with the name itself too?
We found we disliked the direction of most “metal” bands in the local scene and decided to start our own project. The name Paroxysm, “a sudden attack or violent expression of a particular emotion or activity.” Another meaning, “a sudden recurrence or attack of disease; a sudden worsening of symptoms”. Both apply to our influences, direction and intention with the band. The spelling was slightly altered to fit our directive as well as looks more aesthetically appealing in our opinion.



Interview by: Wolven Deadsoul

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16 June 2018

Abythic "Beneath Ancient Portals

Band: Abythic
Title: Beneath Ancient Portals
Label: Blood Harvest
Release Date: 11 May 2018
Country: Germany
Format reviewed: Digital CD quality

"Beneath Ancient Portals" is Abythic’s debut full-length release which contains eight tracks and goes a little over forty minutes in its entirety. Although Abythic is a death metal band and fairly much influenced by the old school, there are at times, quite the hints of doom here too. This can be heard on and off throughout the tracks, especially in the first track, "Prelude to Obscurity", which comes across as a bit of an intro style track as well and without any vocals present either, and in the track, "T.H.O.N." and also in the track "Depths of Oblivion" too. In these moments the listener is cast into a world of slow, heavy, sustaining, sorrowful riffs which can be accompanied by dark harmonies and sometimes eerie solos as well. The sound here reminds me a bit of the likes of Desecresy and their style of a doomy death metal that they are known for. This combination of death and doom that Abythic does, works well together while the vocals remain guttural and brutal throughout despite the pace being either slow, mid-pace or fast. The more faster tracks on this full-length are Purulent Phantasm and the track "Afterwards Behind Beyond", which presents the more aggressive attack of old school death metal styles, that is also part of this release by Abythic. Not having heard this band before, until now, has made me take a further interest and shows how variations of styles can complement each other. What you have here, is raw, heavy, doomy death metal of the old school flavour taking you down a road of obscurities and dread. Abythic "Beneath Ancient Portals", is an example of underground death metal with a unique blend and worthy of your attention! 9/10 Wolven Deadsoul  




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15 June 2018

TRAITOR Interview


New merciless and heavily devastating Teutonic storm is raging over the world! With three crushing albums so far, Traitor have the very responsible duty to carry on raising the mighty German thrash flag. They prove no wrong – Traitor are among the finest thrash acts from the past decade and we are more than sure – Teutonic thrash is in very safe hands!
I invited Andreas, one of the founding members of Traitor, also performing drums and vocals, for a friendly and very special punching chat, in order to share with us some inside information about the secrets of the Teutonic thrash. (And pelase make sure to check here the review of Traitor's brand new album, which my brother in arms UHF made for Blessed Altar ZIne)

- Hello Andreas, it is a real pleasure to have you here on Blessed Altar Zine! Busy times for you now?
- Hey Ho! Thank you for having us here. Not busier than usual. It got a little bit more administrational work, but its fun.

Photo by Martin Kubowski / KUBO Fotoart
- Who is the Traitor, what are his typical features and what are his sins so far? A fictional character from our two songs „Traitor“ and „Hell-Hammer“. His typical features are very evil. Just listen to the songs. His sins  are told there in all their evilness. 

- You have changed the band’s name several time before choosing Traitor...
- Yes. The ones before were silly and/or to complicated.

- The band is already in the echelons of the Teutonic thrash. With such musical heritage on this scene, how hard is to get there?
- If you are from a German-speaking country (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) and if you play Thrash Metal, you are in the Teutonic Thrash scene! It´s not that hard, isn’t it? But you are right: the heritage is glorious. It's nearly impossible to compete with the heroes from the 80s. But we are not trying to compete. We just want to honour the time and the Bands from then. And we want to play the music we love.

- I guess your main influences are in the Teutonic thrash scene, right? Are there more bands or genres, or even types of music, that inspire you?
- We love all types of music. And for example, I am listening to all kinds of music I enjoy and like. There are days where I listen to Ice Cube, Slayer and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in one row. But the main influences are the great Bands from the 80s like Darkness, Assassin, Violent Force, Tankard and all the others.

- What has changed for you since “Thrash Command”?
- We got better and improved our playing.

- Is this the hard road to success?
- I would not call it hard. We had to make mistakes, we had to play bad shows and had to learn some lessons. But it was fun!

- You have a brand new record “Knee-Deep In The Dead”. Could you please tell us more about it? What does it mean for you?
- The writing and recording process was the most intense so far. Pure aggression and power. But we also focused on groove and variable vocals.  In my opinion it's our best record so far. 

- What is the initial response of the audience so far?
- The response of the press was not that good. But the response of our listeners was very good! 

- You had a special guest in “Xenomorph”...
- Yes. Gus Drax from Suicidal Angels.

- Since I saw the artwork of the album for the first time, I’ve always wanted to ask you about it. Whose head is the Predator carrying? Of course, I’m curious about “Venomizer” and “Thrash Command as well”!
- It's not meant to be the predator. It's our mascot, inspired by Arnold Schwarzenegger from the Predator movie. And he is holding the head of Duke Nukem. On the other artworks, it's also our mascot. Always in different outfits. 

- You have been always very critical in your lyrics pointing out all the venom spilling around. How dead is the society and the world, and how deep-knee are we in it? 
- Not really to be honest. I try to avoid political lyrics because it got some kind of trendy mainstream to do that. We got very negative reviews because of that. But I don’t want to write the 101st lyrics about Donald Trump, Refugees or the climate change. When I listen to music, I want to have fun. So our lyrics are fictional and entertaining. Not about things, making a bad mood. They are about things we love. About things that let you enter a different world. It's better to be for something than to be against something. 

Photo by Martin Kubowski / KUBO Fotoart
- You are going to play Wacken very soon. How do you feel about it, what are your expectations? 
- We are very excited and we hope to make a very special and unique experience.

- What are your plans after Wacken?
- Business as usual. 

- I know it is early, but have you thought about the next record already? Is it planned yet?
- We are celebrating our 10th anniversary next year. So you can expect something. Definitely!

- Can we expect any change stylistically or any compromises?
- No way!


- How do you see the thrash scene nowadays?
- Great! Its growing and it's going in the right direction. 

- Where the fans can find vinyls of your records? It seems they are already hard to find...:-))
- You can find them at our online store on www.traitor-band.de/shop. If they are out of stock, we will reissue them as soon as possible.

- Is there anything you would like to add or exclusively to share with Blessed Altar Zine readers?
- Hmmm… (thinking) …I never learned to play the drums. I just started to play. Sometimes I regret that. That's exclusive! ;-)

- Thank you very much for taking time for this interview despite of your busy schedule. It’s been a real pleasure! We are wishing you much success and you guys have our full support! Thrash’em all!
- Thank YOU for your support and the chance to share our thoughts and opinions with your readers. 






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Traitor - Knee-Deep In The Dead


Band: Traitor 
Album: Knee-Deep In The Dead 
Label: Violent Creek Records 
Release date: April 27, 2018 
Country: Germany 
Format reviewed: Limited Edition Vinyl LP 

Teutonic Thrash Metal is equally important to the rise to glory of the entire Thrash Metal genre, as is the Bay Area Thrash Metal. Circa 1982, German acts, Destruction and Holy Moses, and shortly after, Sodom, made the obvious move towards, and developed upon what Venom did on their 1981 debut album “Welcome To Hell” and the 1982 sophomore effort, “Black Metal”. Two releases that are rightfully credited with having a huge influential impact on what was to become Thrash, Death and Black Metal. Formed in 1982 in Essen as Tyrant, Kreator released their full-length debut “Endless Pain” in 1985, further cementing this European strain of Thrash, alongside the American (Bay Area & East Coast) and Brazilian counterparts. The Teutonic Thrash Metal scene also includes acts from Austria, Czech Republic and Switzerland, with the Swiss highly technical band Coroner, being the biggest name to come from outside Germany. Other notable acts of the Teutonic scene are: Iron Angel, Paradox, Exumer and Tankard, among many others. Notably, in 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Coroner, Tankard, Kreator and UK’s Sabbat, captured and released their live appearances in East Berlin, on video, individually and as a video compilation billed “Thrashing East”. The Teutonic Thrash Alliance, forefronted by Kreator, continued to develop and grow to worldwide domination level, releasing strong, epic and iconic albums to these days. 

The brainchild of Andreas Mozer and Gerd Hery, the band existed under different names (Meatgrinder, Patricide, and Premature Burial) since 2004, and adopted their current, and final tag: TRAITOR, in 2009. Hailing from the southwestern city of Balingen, in the German state of Baden-Württemberg, TRAITOR, plays pure Teutonic Thrash Metal! Starting with their debut full-length release, in 2012, the current lineup of Andreas Mozer (drums/vocals), Gerd Hery (guitars/backing vocals), Lorenz Kandolf (bass/backing vocals), and Matthias Koch (guitars/backing vocals), provided three intense full-length productions: “Thrash Command” (2012), “Venomizer” (2015), and most recently, “KneeDeep In The Dead”. Released on April 27, 2018, with help from the Hamburg based label Violent Creek Records, “Knee-Deep In The Dead” showcases TRAITOR’s most aggressive, and at the same time, polished offering. To fully understand this band trajectory, I feel that the potential listener should be somewhat familiarized with the initial two albums. From the energy and enthusiasm of their 2012 debut release, “Thrash Command”, with its old-school vibe, slightly influenced by Slayer and Destruction, the band moved on to their 2015 sophomore album
Photo by Martin Kubowski / KUBO Fotoart
“Venomizer”, a faster, stepped up aggression, clearly influenced by Kreator (Extreme Aggression) and Metallica (Kill ‘Em All) - seamlessly combined into a distinctive style, which I fondly like to call “Motoratmung”. On to the current “Knee-Deep In The Dead”: a vital step forward, as production value, composition complexity and, as aforementioned, aggressiveness. The obvious Kreator (90's) influence is still present, yet, on this release, some (early) Sodom nuances are also palpable. TRAITOR sustains their path through the world of Thrash Metal with precision, aplomb and ferocity! An absolutely crushing array of impressive riffs, in perfect fusion, courtesy of Hery/Koch guitar duo’s interplay, completed with Kandolf’s omnipresent bass lines, punctually accenting Mozer’s first class, utterly precise Thrash Metal drumming. Hats off to Andreas Mozer for his ability to provide quality, genre standard vocals in addition to playing the drums. Lyrically a great part of the tracks on this album is influenced by horror movies and video games, a slight departure from their past two full-length offerings. The catchy lyrics combined with the all-band background intoned tracks’ choruses, makes for an easy to follow, scream along listening experience, on this eleven tracks, just under 40 minutes release. Gus Drax (Black Fate, Suicidal Angels & Sunburst) provides a guest guitar solo on one of the album’s tracks. The album closes with a bonus track cover of Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop”. The album’s cover art, a clear indication of what the listener is about to witness, was created by the legendary artist Ed Repka, responsible for a renowned collection of metal albums cover art, on display from acts such: Death, Megadeth, Gruesome, Whiplash and Atheist, among many others. A very special mention goes to Vagelis Maranis (Sanvoisen, Arrayan Path), whom not only produced, recorded, mixed and mastered “Knee-Deep In The Dead”, and the previous two full-length albums for the band, but he is also the additive, if you wish, that maintains TRAITOR’s consistency, their friend and mentor. 

“(..) Prepare for the attack, there is no turning back, Hail to the TRAITOR!” - “KneeDeep In Dead” is an accessible, mad fun, beer gatherings appropriate, album for all: seasoned Thrash Metal maniacs and newcomers eager to dive into a new, more aggressive metal genre! Highly recommended! 8.5/10 UHF

For more things TRAITOR, check Count Vlad's exclusive interview with Andreas Mozer here.



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