Friday, July 17, 2015

Back Door to Asylum - Cerberus Millenia

A little under three years ago, I wrote a review of the debut album by the Russian technical death outfit Backdoor to Asylum (of which you can read HERE). Nothing too outstanding for myself personally, but nonetheless fairly solid and promising. So having decided to stick with the mighty Amputated Vein Records for their second release, we now have the sophomore release by this brutal Russian quintet, titled Cerberus Millenia. Amputated Vein was my gateway into the underground world of the much more brutal side of death metal and grindcore. By showing me bands such as Pathology, Disentomb, Bloodboil, Cease of Breeding, Eden Beast, Visceral Disgorge, Mucopus, and many other bands (most of which only released one album before completely dropping off the face of the earth without a single word), this label has become very important to me and I still follow them very closely.

Now that this band has been around for a bit longer and have gained some amount of popularity, we know more about them. Back when I wrote that review on their first album, I knew next to nothing about them. Two years later, they have some credibility and a name now. The production on this album is much, much better than their first. You can hear everything clearer and it doesn’t sound like they recorded it in their garage. Their first album had some guest vocal spots from some other underground vocalists (Fleshbomb, Gorgasm, etc.) whereas this new album has some bigger names lending their vocals, namely the vocalist for French brutal death band Benighted. But of course, to keep things underground, they have a vocal spot from the Internal Suffering vocalist and a guest guitar slot from some Russian guy that’s played in a bunch of bands I’ve never heard of.

The artwork is fantastic, and was done by a Ukrainian guy that also has done the artwork for the most recent albums by Aborted Fetus, Fleshbomb, Delusional Parasitosis, Epicardiectomy, Cremated Lives, and most recently, the new upcoming album by The Black Dahlia Murder.

A huge fad in this genre as of lately has been doing whatever possible to be as technical and as fast as humanly possible. Bands like Brain Drill, Rings of Saturn, Slaughterbox, Spawn of Possession, Deformatory, and countless others have been introducing some of the fastest and most technical recordings ever heard. Many of them have even been challenged with accusations of recording at half-speed or using computerized instruments in the studio and then speeding them up. But Back Door to Asylum does everything 100% and keeps their music raw and pure. If there’s one thing I can say about this band, it’s that they have matured immensely since their debut. And because of that, and the fact that they play technical death in its purest form with a little bit of added brutality, this is a great album if you are looking for a solid example of what pure technical death SHOULD sound like.

Like I just said above, this band has matured and developed their sound immensely. The artwork is amazing, the music is brutal as all fuck, and the uniqueness of the basslines are unforgettable. The vocals are deep and on-point, the guitars have just the perfect amount of technicality, and the overall vibe of the album stays consistent throughout all of the songs. I would recommend this to all fans of death metal and even to some that are looking to discover some lesser-known artists. This album gets my score of 16/20. 

Decapitated - Blood Mantra

Last year, Polish technical death band, Decapitated, released the highly anticipated follow-up to their critically-acclaimed Carnival is Forever. Since their debut release in 2000, this band has developed a reputation of being fairly consistent with the style of each release, as well has never really having any poor albums. Having gotten much better over time (their first two releases were better than average, but nothing compared to the three that followed), it’s safe to say that they are very much among the much better and most popular bands in there genre. One of the main reasons that I waited to write this review is because I felt that the initial reaction to this album of almost everyone (myself included) was kind of exaggerated and overly judgmental. Those of you that remember the release of the title track from this album know exactly what I’m talking about.

Blood Mantra, the title track off of the most recent Decapitated album took everyone by surprise with its (as most people described it) nu metal vibe. Upon the first 5 listens, I could hear this nu metal vibe loud and clear; and like most people, I was honestly not too attracted to this choice of direction. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t still get the album and listen to it every once in a while, but it was definitely a major letdown after Carnival is Forever. But now, fast-forward one year, and a few days ago I decided to give it another honest listen, because usually if you don’t like something the first time, it’s never a bad idea to give it a few weeks (or months) before picking it up again. Because you never know how much different it’ll sound the second time.

In retrospect, yes, the album DOES have some groove and some bounce, but not that of a nu metal band, but more so like the kind you hear from a thrash death band like DevilDriver, Battlecross, or Soulfly (no, not their first three albums). But other than that, there really hasn’t been that much change, so I think that the world heard some extra groove on that new single, someone called out “nu metal!” and the world overreacted. But that bounce is still present.

The sound of the guitar distortion can have a huge effect on what a metal album sounds like. One thing that I loved about Carnival is Forever is that the band abandoned the really loud, metallic, sawblade-like guitar distortion for a much fuzzier distortion. Well, I guess that was just a one-time thing because they’ve returned to their usual obnoxious metallic distortion, except this time sounding a bit more polished and refined (probably to help compliment the extra groove this album has). The drumming is a bit more chaotic, as I said in my review of Carnival is Forever, this is the best vocalist that Decapitated has had yet and I really hope he sticks with them, and the band for the most part is very tight as they have always been.

Although not remarkable, this is a good solid technical death album and I would recommend it to just about anyone. There isn’t anything bad about it; it’s just nothing like Carnival is Forever, Negation, or Organic Hallucinosis. Hopefully they continue making quality death metal and we see more of them in the future. I’m extremely excited to FINALLY be seeing them later this year with Soulfly and Soilwork. To conclude this article, I am going to give this album an above-average score of 14/20.