Archive for the ‘Horrendous’ Category

Critical Mass’ Top 10 Albums of 2015

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

The Critical Mass crew share their top picks from the year in metal.

It has been an interesting year for metal. We’ve had releases from veteran bands (Iron Maiden, Slayer, Motorhead), releases from upper tier/mainstream bands (Fear Factory, Lamb Of God, Amorphis) releases from more underground bands and several ‘follow up’ albums from bands with something to prove.

Until very recently, there hasn’t been any single release that resulted in a chorus of praise and/or ridicule as had happened in previous years. The new Slayer album came and went, the general consensus being that it sounded like Slayer, but was dull at best. The new High On Fire album impressed many with its no nonsense Matt Pike rollercoaster. The new Deafheaven album silenced critics of the Sunbather era by ratcheting up the heaviness, but some were disappointed that they did not continue further down the post/shoegaze path. Liturgy turned ears and heads with their wonderfully bizarre The Ark Work, but it seems as though the uniqueness of that album didn’t cause as many people to get as upset as they had been in the past. Perhaps people are getting older? Maybe people are sick of being addicted to outrage?

Then right at the end of the year two albums dropped (or are about to at the time of writing) that have gotten a lot of people very excited: Sunn O)))‘s Kannon and Baroness’ Purple. The new Baroness being the followup to the very successful double album Yellow & Green and their first recording since the devastating bus accident in 2012. I’ve heard snippets of both, and both sound incredible, however for roster and time commitments my list was finalised during the first week in December. So those albums will be honourable mentions. Also some more obvious albums such as the new High On Fire and VHOL are absent; I know both are great, but I haven’t heard them as much as the others on this list. I’ve also made a note to listen to the new Tribulation album soon.

There was also a lot of good synth/horror/score music coming out that weirdly goes well with a lot of metalheads. Goblin Rebirth, Zombi etc put out some great mood music in 2015. Ultimately there are many albums that won’t make the list, a lot of good stuff in the ‘to listen to’ pile, but these are the albums that made an impact with me.

Honourable mentions:
Enslaved — In Times
Iron Maiden — The Book Of Souls
Silent Knight — Conquer & Command
Cattle Decapitation — The Anthropocene Extinction
Napalm Death — Apex Predator/Easy Meat
Tangled Thoughts Of Leaving — Yield To Despair

10. Raven — Extermination
This album shouldn’t be on my list. The 40-year-strong NWOBHM veterans made an album full of big, dumb, sing-songy, verse-chorus-verse metal/rock that belongs in a bad 80s action movie. But you know what, sometimes I LOVE big dumb metal.

9. Between the Buried and Me — Coma Ecliptic
I’ve never really been an BTBAM fan, and couldn’t really name much of their back catalogue, but the bands seventh album blends heavy, technical prog with some catchy synths, choruses and some damn good songs.

8. Deafheaven — New Bermuda
Alternately silencing critics and isolating fans of the more post/shoegazey Sunbather sound in one fell swoop, Deafheaven ratcheted up the heaviness on New Burmuda.

7. Ghost — Meliora
Meliora impresses after 2013’s slightly lacklustre Infestissumam. A cocktail of occult rock, ABBA-style song arrangements and some Queen-esque vocal harmonies (!) makes for a great third album.

6. Gama Bomb — Untouchable Glory
Gama Bomb cement themselves as one of the strongest thrash bands around — this absolutely smokes Slayer’s new one by a country mile.

5. Bloodlust — Cultus Diaboli
Blackened thrash from two veterans of the Perth metal scene. The catchiness of Venom mixed with the epicness and force of Bathory.

4. Ur Draugr– With Hunger Undying
The second release this year from the band sees them produce the kind of backwards riffing and power of early Morbid Angel mixed with some feral black metal and beyond. Stunning.

3. Horrendous — Anareta
Old school howling death metal that twists and turns in ways that follow the path of Chuck Schuldiners vision. Worth going out of your way to hear.

2. Drowning Horse — Sheltering Sky
Dark and heavy, low and slow. Elements of Neurosis and Earth abundant. By just tweaking their sound a touch they stand head and shoulders above any and all pretenders playing heavy doom.

1. Sigh — Graveward
The veteran black metal band (once signed to Euronymous’ DLS label) have expanded their sound, exclusively playing ‘Cinematic Horror Metal’. Harsh vocals, swirling synths, saxophone, crazy solos and much more. Listen to this album on headphones — LOUD.

Deryk from Critical Mass had these as his top 10:

Hate Eternal — Infernus
Enslaved — In Times
Torche — Restarter
Nightwish — Endless Forms Most Beautiful
Fear Factory — Genexus
With The Dead– With The Dead
High On Fire – Luminiferous
Elder — Lore
Ghost — Meliora
Intronaut — The Direction of Last Things

Scott Williams is still working on his, but included albums from the likes of: Enslaved, Locrian, Steve Moore, Blind Guardian, Ghost and Baroness.

Thanks to all our listeners and supporters! See you in 2016!

Critical Mass airs every Wednesday from 9PM (GMT+8) on RTR FM 92.1 in Perth, Australia.

Anger Management: End of Year Round-up

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

Every fortnight, we check in with all things heavy on RTRFM’s Critical Mass show.


It’s been a rough couple of years for Evil Elvis himself, Glenn Danzig. He’s been the brunt of many a joke or meme and various ongoing legal dramas surrounding The Misfits. But underneath it all there is always the music, 2010’s Deth Red Sabaoth wasn’t too bad and Tommy Victor (Prong) is riffing and harmonic pinching like it’s going out of style, so it was with great interest that we listened to his latest effort of cover songs Skeletons.

With a list of bands covered including ZZ Top, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, The Troggs and yes, Elvis Presley, Skeletons seemed like it would be a good time if nothing else. Sadly it is hindered by a lousy production job: a lot of the tracks sound like the product of a first take in the studio, a sub-par demo recording at best. I get that the early Misfits albums were rough and maybe the style they were deliberately going for was Garage Days–era Metallica, but it really is a poor effort.

Black Sabbath’s ‘N.I.B’ is woefully flat (not that Ozzy has ever been a vocalist known for his range) – its a damn shame. The one shining light is the Elvis cover ‘Let Yourself Go’. Danzig NAILS it. Get the Elvis cover, skip the rest.


There is something endearing about Swedish death metal veterans Grave – Ola Lindgren and clan have been churning out old-style death metal since 1988. Despite having a large discography and some killer tracks (e.g. ‘Souless’, ‘Into The Grave’) they never achieved the success that many of their contemporaries did (e.g. Dismember, Entombed or Unleashed).

Grave were never really going to outblast a band such as Nile, or be super technical and dissonant like Gorguts, but they have stood the course (aside from a brief flirtation with a slightly more accessible style with 1996’s Hating Life, which for lack of a better description was a death metal version of Helmet) and turned the Boss HM-2 pedals all the way up for that buzzsaw guitar tone. They also have some interesting song titles that have really been at odds with the sounds and made me enjoy them more (‘Lovesong’, ‘In Love’, ‘I Need You’).

Out Of Respect For The Dead offers little in the way of surprises or new sounds. Everything is bordering on being in the red and that Swedish death metal tone is loud and clear – possibly the best-produced album they’ve done. That said, Grave offer some great songs here, with tracks such as ‘Deified’, ‘Mass Grave Mass’ and ‘Plain Pine Box’ all getting the head banging. Grave seem content here, in ‘Mass Grave Mass’ Ola sings “Can’t Believe I’m Still Alive”. The world is better for Grave still being Grave.


Writing album reviews and presenting radio is great fun. Inevitably though, lots of worthy albums slip through the cracks due to time and lack of knowledge, sometimes though you find great stuff unexpectedly. I found out about American death metallers Horrendous through the sheer amount of support and praise they were getting, topping several best of 2015 lists as early as November. So, curiosity piqued, I checked out the band’s third album Anareta, knowing only that the band played something of an old school brand of death metal.

Although definitely inspired by the old school Anareta is so much more, taking many twists and turns. The vocals are a bellowed howl that remind me a bit of a cross between Atheist’s Kelly Shaefer and Chuck Schuldiner. The songs twist and turn in a way that would make ‘Evil Chuck’ proud. There are some epic moments on here that are indebted to the likes of Gojira and even some post-metal bands (check the closing five minutes of ‘Acolytes’). Phenomenal stuff. Worth your time and the hype.


A new five-piece band blasting out of Gothenburg, but eschewing the more common Gothenburg-style melodic death metal of In Flames and At The Gates (among others) for an older pre-thrash style of metal. Night Viper play old style heavy metal that mixes a bit of Judas Priest, a dash of Iron Maiden and some Megadeth-style soloing with just a touch of doom heaviness (guitarist Tom Sutton having played with Japanese doomsters Church Of Misery for a spell).

Vocalist Sofie-Lee Johansson has a style that mixes a bit of Joan Jett and Joey Belladonna with Paul Di’anno but is all her own, a unique voice that stays low and doesn’t try to reach the falsetto highs that dominate the genre. There’s some great stuff here, especially the faster tracks such as ‘The Hammer’ and ‘Faces In The Mirror’. Like ALL the good bands they have a song named after themselves (Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Voivod, The Devil Rides Out etc).


I haven’t listened to this release that much, but it’s still found its way into my top ten for 2015 (more on that in the coming weeks). That’s how good Ur Draugr are. The band’s follow-up to the The Wretched Ascetic EP, released in January, was apparently plagued by a major hard drive crash that resulted in the loss of a lot of material. The wait was certainly worth it though as With Hunger Undying is an amazing album.

A mix of dark black metal and death metal, the band have created some epic songs here that invoke Enslaved, Gojira and many more upper tier bands. Riffs weave in and out hypnotically (check the dizzying rollercoaster ride that is ‘Augur Incarnate (Distended Crown)’). Some phenomenal drumming from ‘drum machine for hire’ Dan Grainger and some pleasingly complex bass from Drew Griffiths make this all the more enjoyable.

Critical Mass airs every Wednesday from 9PM (GMT+8) on RTR FM 92.1 in Perth, Australia.