Toxic Bonkers—Seeds of Cruelty (2004)

Toxic Bonkers—Seeds of Cruelty (2004)

Toxic Bonkers—Seeds of Cruelty (2004)

Details

Recorded at P J-Reda Studio in April 2003. Mastered at Kutno in February 2004.

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Band

  • Qboot—Vocals
  • Mumin—Guitars
  • Sme—Guitars
  • Grela—Bass and vocals
  • Klimer—Drums

Tracks

  1. Seeds of cruelty
  2. Homeless
  3. TV god
  4. Wrong way direction
  5. Weep
  6. Poisoned
  7. Can you see
  8. Free world
  9. Liars
  10. Don’t be afraid
  11. Vision

Review

Seeds of Cruelty represents album number three of five for Polish death/grindcore  metallers Toxic Bonkers and it is quite tremendous.

They sound like a perfect fusion of Florida’s Entombed with Brummie grindcore pioneers Napalm Death, certainly from the turn of the millennium.

The production on the album is a little poor, it’s very quiet which I particularly noticed while switching between Obituary, Napalm Death and Toxic Bonkers albums to compare them. The better supported artists certainly enjoy a clearer sound. But it’s nothing that turning up the volume doesn’t fix!

But the playing is fabulous. Not a note out of place. The bass and drums are tight, the guitars produce a wall of sound, which Qboot yells over.

The whole album weighs in at just a little over half an hour and it certainly doesn’t outstay its welcome. I would quite happily have listened to an album twice its length.

Conclusion

While I’m not overly fond of the band name, or the album cover, the music is fabulous and that, after all, is what it’s all about. If you like your grindcore to have a socio-political and anti-nazi slant, then I thoroughly recommend Toxic Bonkers.

Other than the production, I really can’t fault this album. It’s going up there with my favourites from this project.

Review score: 100%

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Schizma—Hardcore Enemies (2006)

Schizma—Hardcore Enemies (2006)

Schizma—Hardcore Enemies (2006)

Details

Produced, recorded and mixed by Perlazza at Studio Taklamakan, Opalnica, Poland in February 2006. Mastered by Szymon Czech. Released on Madmob Records.

Band

  • Pestka—Vocals
  • Schizmaciek—Guitars and vocals
  • Wania—Guitars
  • Krzyżak—Bass guitar
  • Młody—Drums

Tracks

  1. Hardcore enemies
  2. Fed up
  3. Parasite
  4. Don’t look back
  5. No regrets
  6. Let it burn
  7. Angry god
  8. Pushed around
  9. Nothing’s left
  10. Dead end
  11. Two words down
  12. Great leap
  13. Kings without a land

Review

Another cracking album that has yet again derailed my finely tuned schedule for catching up with reviews. It’s albums like this one that make me thankful for this project and the opportunity to discover artists that I otherwise would likely never encounter, at least not easily.

Schizma, formed in 1990 in Bydgoszcz, Poland, are one of the more enduring and most popular hardcore bands to emerge from Poland, and they certainly do justice to the genre.

The songs are heavy and melodic, they twist and turn, and Pestka’s vocals (a hardcore holler) fit the music perfectly.

It’s albums like this that make me want to go back and listen to everything else that I have that is labelled ‘hardcore’, which thanks to this project is more than I had remembered.

 

Conclusion

I’m going to be lazy and jump straight to the conclusion. I suspect that I do write less about the albums that I really like, selfishly keeping my thoughts to myself when I really should be shouting every detail from the rooftops. If indeed blogs have roofs.

Brilliant album. I loved listening to this again and again. And again. And again.

These guys have just knocked Biohazard off my top spot as favourite hardcore band.

Review score: 100%

Imperator—The Time before Time (1991)

Imperator—The Time Before Time (1997)

Imperator—The Time Before Time (1997)

Details

Recorded on 4-9 December 1990 and 13-14 January 1991 at CCS Studio Warsaw. Mixed on 21-22 February 1991 by Staszek Bokowy and Imperator. All songs written by Bariel. Produced by Tomasz Grabowski and Robert Grabowski. Released on Pagan Records. (This edition 1997.)

Band

  • Piotr “Bariel” Tomczyk — Vocals and guitar
  • Maciej “Mefisto” Dymitrowski — Bass
  • Karol “Carol” Skwarczewski — Drums

Tracks

Tracks 1–4 “The Side of the Beginning”, tracks 5–7 “The Side of the End”

  1. Eternal might
  2. Abhorrence
  3. Necronomicon
  4. Persecutor
  5. Defunct dimension
  6. External extinction
  7. Ancient race
  8. Love is the law (love under will) (bonus track)
  9. The rest is silence (bonus track)

Review

The date on this edition says 1997 which rather confused me a little when I started to listen to this album. “Nineteen ninety-seven?!” I exclaimed. “This sounds very retro death metal for 1997.”

Of course, it’s a re-release. The original album, Imperator’s debut and to date only album, dates from 1991 while some of the tracks feature on demos dating back to 1986. That makes much more sense.

This is Polish death metal / thrash metal from the school of Kreator and Hellhammer. And it is really rather good.

It has the mandatory illegible death metal band logo. The CD booklet is printed entirely in black and silver, and contained a six page essay about the history of the band.

It’s years since I’ve heard something as raw and honest as this album. It really took me back to listening to Show no Mercy (Slayer, 1983), Hell Awaits (Slayer, 1984) or Pleasure to Kill (Kreator, 1986). Or even early Voivod. It has the riffs, the screeching, squealing guitar solos, the throaty vocals.

It’s unpredictable but is has integrity. It really feels like this is music that’s coming from the heart. This is music that is a response to life in Poland behind the communist “Iron Curtain”.

Conclusion

Brilliant! This is definitely going on my playlist. A mid- to late-80s death metal gem.

Review score: 96%

Hate—Awakening of the Liar (2003)

Hate—Awakening of the Liar (2003)

Hate—Awakening of the Liar (2003)

Details

Recorded at Hard Studio, Warsaw and Hertz Studio, Bialystok, October–November 2002. Engineered by Kris Wawrzak at Hard Studio; Slawek and Wojtek, Wieslawscy at Hertz Studio. Mixed and mastered by Slawek and Wojtek Wieslawscy at Hertz Studio, January 2003. “Grail in the flesh” recorded and mixed by Kris Wawrzak at Hard Studio, November 2002. Produced by Adam ‘The First Sinner’ and Hate.

Released on Mercenary Musik, 2003.

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Band

  • Adam the first sinner—Vocals and guitars (lead and acoustic)
  • Kaos—Rhythm guitar
  • Cyprian—Bass
  • Hellrizer—Drums

Tracks

  1. Flagellation 02:40
  2. Anti-god extremity 02:42
  3. Close to the Nephilim 04:19
  4. Immolate the pope 03:48
  5. The shroud (a hellish value) 02:55
  6. The scrolls 04:16
  7. Awakening of the liar 03:36
  8. Serve god, rely on me (Hymn of Asa’el) 02:44
  9. Grail in the flesh (instrumental) 01:44
  10. Spirit of Gospa

Review

Awakening of the Liar is Polish death metal band Hate’s fourth studio album but tenth release in an impressive back catalogue that includes three demos, an EP, and a couple of appearances on compilation albums.

Poland has its fair share of death metal bands, Behemoth and Vader perhaps being the best known. I’d never heard of Hate before but judging by this album they certainly have the quality.

The production and mix is spot on, the song writing is solid death metal fare, the CD artwork is very well done (although annoyingly the lyrics inside the booklet are not listed in the same order as the tracks which means having to jump back and forth while  listening through the album—perhaps the running order was changed at the last minute after the booklets had been designed). But… somehow the album failed to excite me.

The album kicks off at a rattling pace. “Flagellation” has a Napalm Death in-your-face attitude. Typically of this genre, the lyrics are bleak: “I’m the emptiness, I’ll break your soul and give you mine / Embodiment of the fire!”

“Anti-god extremity” has a cool opening riff overflowing with blast beats and staccato-ed guitars… but that slower, heavier feel is soon lost in a storm of machine gun fire, slowing down only ten seconds from the end and reconnecting with the opening riff. It’s really well done, but I’d have loved to have heard how that riff could have developed. But hey! this is straight-up death metal not progressive death metal.

And that’s the pattern that seems to be repeated throughout the album: imaginative opening riff transitioning into full-out death metal thrashing at 200+ bpm. By about track six it’s all beginning to sound very same-y.

“The scrolls” (track 6). I guess being a little longer than most songs on the album, has the opportunity to indulge in a change of pace about halfway through. It’s a welcome introduction that really helps the song breathe.

“Grail in the flesh” (track 9) is a gentle, acoustic instrumental. The kind that I loved when getting into metal back in the 80s, the kind that Sepultura, Kreator, Exodus, et al used to record. Brilliant! And definitely my highlight of the album.

Conclusion

As a death metal album this is bang on the money. It represents the genre well and if anyone was wanting to get into death metal you couldn’t go too wrong starting here.

But that’s perhaps my issue with the album: it represents the genre so well that it runs the risk of becoming generic.

There are some beautiful moments here (the opening to “Anti-god extremity”, the mid-song riffs in “The scrolls”, “Grail in the flesh”, and the guitar duels in “Spirit of Gospa”) but is it enough to bring me back again and again? I don’t know. The album is definitely a keeper for me, but I’ll be interested to see just how often I do return

Review score: 70%

Devilish Impressions—Diabolicanos – Act III: Armageddon (2007)

Devilish Impressions—Diabolicanos - Act III: Armageddon (2007)

Devilish Impressions—Diabolicanos – Act III: Armageddon (2007)

Details

Recorded during May–June 2007 at Studio X, Olsztyn, Poland. Engineered by Szymon Czech. Mixed in June–July 2007 by Szymon Czech, Quazarre and Turquoissa. Mastered in July 2007 by Andy Classen at Stage One Studio, Borgentreich, Germany.

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Band

  • Quazarre—Vocals, guitars
  • Armers—Guitars
  • Starash—Bass
  • Turqouissa—Keyboards
  • Icanraz—Drums

Tracks

  1. T.H.O.R.N.S.
  2. Rex inferni
  3. The word was made flesh turned into chaos again
  4. I am the son of God
  5. Tales of Babylon’s whore
  6. Diabolicanos
  7. Natas ro dog on si ereht (of plagues and blasphemy)
  8. Har-magedon
  9. Mass for the dead

Review

Diabolicanos – Act III: Armageddon is Poland’s Devilish Impressions’ second full-length album, perhaps they regard their demo as act one.

This album falls firmly between the genres of death metal and symphonic black metal. There are clear influences of both, at times sounding like a generic latter-day Napalm Death album on one hand and something from the likes of Dimmu Borgir or Behemoth on the other.

This is reflected in the lyrical content with a bias towards black metal, anti-Christian lyrics and song titles (“I am the son of God”, and the not so subtle, backwards-titled “There is no God or Satan” / “Natas ro dog on si ereht”).

Musically, the album is acceptable but there’s really nothing special that stands out. It’s all very on-genre (even though it spans at least two), and the musicianship, composition and production qualities are all top notch.

This is yet another album that I’ve listened through a number of times and by the end can’t remember a single melodic hook or riff. It’s like the metal equivalent of fast-food: it fills a gap but I wouldn’t necessarily sit down specifically to enjoy it. I imagine that seeing the band live might be where the music comes into its own and you can feel the power and beat pounding on your chest and vibrating through your body.

Conclusion

I will likely keep this album in my collection. It’s interesting enough, it’s not an unpleasant listen at least, but I can’t find myself getting particularly excited by it.

Review score: 70%

 

Antigama — Resonance (2007)

Antigama — Resonance (2007)

Antigama — Resonance (2007)

Details

Recorded and mixed at Studio X, Olsztyn, Poland in December 2006. Recorded and mixed by Szymon Czech and mastered at Elephant Studio by Szymon Czech. All songs written by Antigama. Words and electronic sequences written by Lukasz Myszkowski. Released in May 2007 on Relapse Records.

Band

  • Lukasz Myszkowski (Vocals)
  • Krzysztof Bentkowski (Drums)
  • Sebastian Rokicki (Guitar)
  • Michał Pietrasik (Bass)

Tracks

  1. Pursuit
  2. Seismic report
  3. Ecstasy
  4. Neutral balance
  5. Order
  6. Pending
  7. Remembering nothing
  8. Barbapapex
  9. Psychonaut
  10. No
  11. After
  12. By and by
  13. Shymrok
  14. Types of waste
  15. Asylum
  16. Unreachable
  17. Stars

Review

A shorter review of this album might read something like: for fans of Order of the Leech-era Napalm Death hijacked by someone playing utterly random jazz (if that’s not a tautology) on an electric piano on track 8, and on guitar on track 13.

A longer review might just say the same thing but in a more drawn out way. So here goes…

When I first played this album this album I had two thoughts. The first was immediate relief that I’d found another album that I liked. The second was “Wow! They sound incredibly like Napalm Death”.

Of course, Napalm Death are the godfathers of grindcore so it is perhaps inevitable that you can hear an influence or two. But I’ve just been playing Antigama‘s Resonance and Napalm Death‘s Order of the Leech (2002) back to back, and on random play, and it’s remarkable just how hard it is to tell them apart.

If anything the production on Resonance is much better. It has a much crisper sound, it’s a less muddy sound.

Not everything is played at a hundred miles per hour, though. “Psychonaut” (track 9) is a heavy, slowed-down affair; almost doom metal in places. It doesn’t quite have the soul of Down but it’s getting there. It’s like the sound of a grindcore band being played deep underground (undergroundcore?).

And then there are two completely random sounding experimental tracks, “Barbapapex” at track 8 and “Shymrok” at track 13. “Barbapapex” reminds me of the silliness at the end of the Galactic Cowboys‘ song “Speak to Me” from their 1991 self-titled, debut album, where someone reads out a school dinner menu which ends, “…and for the Catholic students: FISH!”

“Shymrok” has a more Soulfly feel, or even like something from Andreas Kisser (Sepultura)’s solo album Hubris (2009).

Conclusion

For this project, each week I try to listen to my album-of-the-week at least once a day. My Last.fm stats are revealing:

  • Antigama — 45 tracks played
  • Napalm Death — 43 tracks played

I really like the early-/mid-2000s era Napalm Death so this hasn’t been a difficult week to listen. I now even have this album on my phone to listen to in bed and, again, that has to reveal something.

Review score: 85%

Bonus

Here’s the undergroundcore track 9: Psychonaut

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcAM2n2pDWc]

Unborn Suffer — Is This What We’ve Created? (2006)

Unborn Suffer - Is This What We've Created?

Unborn Suffer – Is This What We’ve Created?

Details

Recorded at Bleyd Studio in Bydgoszcz, Poland between 21 of January and 23 of March 2006. Released on the Russian label Soulflesh Collector Records.

Track listing

  1. Human
  2. Death’s Birth
  3. …And You’re No More
  4. P.N.M.
  5. Whore
  6. Drink Until I Die
  7. Progression/Suppression
  8. Deceived, Betrayed, Killed, Enslaved
  9. Drilling For Brains (Mortician cover)
  10. Collateral Damage (Brutal Truth cover)
  11. Times Of Lament (instrumental)
  12. Throwaway

Review

I’d never heard of Unborn Suffer before. Or if I have then they will have been one of the hundreds of bands whose album reviews I’ve glanced over in the pages of Terrorizer magazine but never had the opportunity to listen to.

Thanks to the mighty Encyclopaedia Metallum I discovered that Unborn Suffer are a death metal / grindcore band hailing from Poland. This is their second full-length album, released in 2006. It contains 12 tracks and comes in at 25′ 06″; five tracks are under one minute in length.

The album opens with some sweeping chords from a keyboard, overlaid with a spoken narrative. Not quite what I expected.

There is almost an unwritten rule in metal that if you can’t read the band’s name on the album then they must be from one of the extreme sub-genres; and the more illegible the logo the more extreme the music.

I was expecting something brutal, not this gentle wash of electronic keyb… ah! there it is now! Head crushing guitars, tuned-down bass, superhuman blast beats and what my mum would probably called “just a lot of noise and shouting”.

The album reminds me of a cross between Florida’s Morbid Angel (around the Blessed are the Sick era) and Entombed; Birmingham’s Napalm Death and New York grindcore band Brutal Truth (which isn’t surprising really given that they cover Brutal Truth’s Collateral Damage.

In many ways the album is unremarkable: it’s very generic, a very able example of the genre with a couple of cover tunes thrown in from New York grindcore bands Brutal Truth and Mortician, but little more. But that kind of does it a disservice because as it stands, on its own, it is a very fine example of extreme metal.

It’s a bit like watching the film of an avalanche. On the first viewing you are struck by the sheer power and violence of the landslide. But on further viewings you begin to notice the smaller details.

One track that stands out on the album, but equally is unrepresentative of Unborn Suffer, is the penultimate song, an instrumental, Times of Lament which opens with the eerie sound of a child crying in an echoing building which leads into a couple of minutes of death metal riffage, a few samples and then some discordant acoustic riffs. It feels experimental, but I quite liked it for that… even if the child crying really freaked me out at the start!

Conclusion

While the album is fairly generic I did rather enjoy it…so long as I didn’t read the lyrics! Would I listen to it again? I’ve listened to it three times through this evening and with each listening I heard something different, something new, as I went deeper into it. More than just the noise and shouting that it immediately presents on the first listen. Yes, I’d listen to this again.

Review score: 70%

Bonus

Human (I Am) taken from the upcoming album Unborn Suffer which will be released on 02 July 2012.