SATHANAS – Flesh for the Devil

SATHANAS
Flesh for the Devil
(Agonia)
I have heard some good things about this Philadelphia based band and was interested in checking them out for myself. When this CD Flesh for the Devil began, I was faced with the cheesy opening of the first track (“Invocation”), which had me thinking “Oh shit, this is going to be stupid and suck!” (A supposedly evil voice gives a spoken intro, but to me it sounded more like Darth Vader.) -But then I heard the opening riffs as the song actually kicked in and I felt incredibly better!
Growling type vocals that range from semi-guttural to mid-level tone are surprisingly easy on the ears for extreme metal music. (That isn’t an insult either, for this band isn’t lacking in brutality or intensity!)
The vocals are pretty clear and obviously Satanic/blasphemous lyrics prevail here. Such is actually starting to get boring to me these days. (Ok, maybe it was cool in high school and all, but I’m in my mid thirty’s now…) Fortunately, I care more about the songs in general than the lyrical messages.
Regardless of any seemingly negative comments I have suggested, Sathanas is a very talented band and I can’t believe I haven’t heard them before (since they’ve been around for quite a few years now, I guess).
The music of Sathanas is a good dose of all traditional metal features. We have the thrash of bands like Slayer and Kreator, with the incorporation of the original black and death sounds in the realms of early bands like Death, Venom and Bathory. You can hardly go wrong with all that!
The best thing is, that while Sathanas brings to mind lots of different bands when trying to compare their style, they don’t actually sound like any particular one band. That’s an impressive feat to pull off. Sathanas is definitely not run of the mill as a lot of other bands of this genre that I have heard lately.
The title track is one of the best for excellent guitar riffing and all around musicianship.
“Nocturnal Hell” has some great fast-fingered riffing leading into it and hell yeah, I found myself head banging.
The beginning of “Reign of the Anti-Christ” sounds like a long lost track from Slayer’s South of Heaven musically. Vocally, it is much ‘barkier’ sounding than Tom Araya’s raspier spews.
The three above mentioned are my personal favorites from this six track demo, but I have found myself listening to the entire CD often and will definitely be checking more into this band as their career continues to unfold.
Heavy guitar riffs and drumming and doom-inspiring bass and all the beloved elements of traditional extreme metal are here, rolled into one bands by the name of Sathanas. I would definitely raise the ‘devil horns’ proudly at one of their shows.
(Mary Orren-Spunelli)

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FATES WARNING – FWX

FATES WARNING
FWX
(Metal Blade)
Depending on my mood, I find this band either deeply emotional and all consuming or just kind of boring. I never hate them though. They are too talented to inspire that kind of negativity ever and Ray Alder has always been an exceptional vocalist.
On the beginning track, “Left Here” Alder used some kind of vocal effects that make him sound rather distorted and nasal. I don’t really understand the purpose behind his doing that, but fortunately, it is only for one verse.  The music beginning this song is really moving and overall is very emotional and captivating.
The next track, “Simple Human,” is heavier than the previous yet sadly, I am not too crazy about Alder’s vocals here.
Track # 3, “River Wide Ocean Deep” starts with some Middle Eastern sounding female vocals that are soon joined by Alder’s heartfelt vocals. This is a song of deep passion that literally flows through my heart and is definitely one of my favorites, if not my absolute favorite. It has a mellow, almost smoky feel. The song does kick into some harder hitting tempos mid way through with some cool Dream Theater style drumming.
All in all, the next track, “Another Perfect Day” is my least favorite on this release. It is, to put it simply, boring. Again, Alder’s voice isn’t as strong as I know he is capable of. I just can’t find anything about this song to inspire me.
“Heal Me’ is a soul stirring tune however, in which Alder more than compensates for any previous vocal deficiency.  His vocals here are like a calm pool of water, although they do get heavier in parts.
“Sequence # 7” starts off with voices and talking along with a display of Joey Vera’s bass playing. More music soon joins in with the bass and this track would make for good suspenseful build-up music in a movie. This track may be short, but it manages to still be effective.
“Crawl” is another one that fails to impress me, however, the following two, “A Handful of Doubt” and “Stranger (With a Familiar Face)” are good as well as being among the heavier tracks (musically and vocally) on this CD.
The final track, “Wish” is very stirring. It is gorgeous and tranquil, yet kind of dark. This song seems to balance between light and dark, innocence and sinister-ness. This is a very strong song in many ways and a good choice to round it all up with as it will leave the listener with a vibe of convolution and emotion.
The all-star cast of musicians that comprise Fates Warning is: Ray Alder on vocals, Joey Vera on bass, Mark Zonder on drums and Jim Matheos on guitars, keys and programming.
In addition to the (usually) passion filled music and vocals, Matheos and Alder also write thoughtful lyrical poetry with deep reflections of personal feelings, relationships and general observances. They continue to prove their abilities to multi-task by also producing the CD.
One listen to this album, and it should be abundantly clear why Fates Warning is considered very high ranking among the ultimate prog-heroes.
(Mary Orren-Spunelli)

GOD AWFUL – Root of All Evil

GOD-AWFUL
Root of all Evil
There is absolutely no information about this band on this one-song sampler CD other than the song featured, “Shades Darker than Black” is a “Pre-release track from the upcoming album: The Awful Truth.”
I must say that prior to listening to this, I was wary that a band by the name of God-Awful may be inclined to live up to it. But I bravely went into this with the thought that ‘it’s only one song.’ Now after listening to it, I wish it wasn’t.
“Shades Darker than Black” is 5 minutes and 15 seconds long and has a nice reflective 80’s sound, reminding me of bands like Annihilator or even Death, especially during their Spiritual Healing era. Bands like Kreator and, in fact many from the 80’s German thrash/speed metal movement also come to mind.
With heavy guitars and drums, no nonsense bass, and a vintage raspy vocal style that is powerful, skull-crushing and downright kick-ass, fans of the 80’s more extreme metal will recall those golden years with this.
As a matter of fact, I feel a good 20 years younger listening to this and on that note; I think I’ll hit the re-play button. This should remind metal fans of the roots of the music we all love. I know it brings it all back for me.
If all the songs on The Awful Truth are like “Shades Darker than Black,” then I am eager to hear more, as this band is anything but god-awful (except maybe to those who don’t like metal).
To learn more, go to: http://www.rootofallevil.com.
(Mary Orren-Spunelli)

CARNAL FORGE – Aren’t You Dead Yet?

CARNAL FORGE
Aren’t You Dead Yet?
(Century Media)
Well, it would seem that Carnal Forge is back to kick your butt all over the place! If you think you can handle the pain, speed, and pummeling aggression, then check this one out for sure!
A lot of the songs on this CD remind me heavily of Pantera in the Vulgar Display of Power days (only faster). Bands like (old) Slayer and At the Gates also come to mind.     Quite a few of the insane, yet strangely melodic guitar solos really make me think of Slayer. It seems that Carnal Forge guitarists, Jari and Petri Kuusisto learned a few tricks from Slayer’s Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman. Along with said guitar work is the deep bass playing of Lars Linden and ferocious rapid fire drumming of Stefan Westerberg all of which back the brutal throat-tearing vocals of Jonas Kjellgren.
On this release, you will be treated to good exploding riffs that are brutal and chaotic but not exactly melody-less or unmemorable and drumming that will pound mercilessly into your skull. Personally, I think Carnal Forge could show Pantera a thing or two about being “Fucking Hostile.” There is no mercy to be had from these guys. Violence and brutality never felt as good as it does when delivered by these Swedish firebrands. Don’t expect any ballads on here. This is relentless from start to finish. Listen to this one too long and your neck will snap for sure!
The opening track “Decades of Despair” kicks this off with a mighty bang. This is one of my favorites and is definitely burning hot with sheer intensity and aggressive non-stop power. Track # 3 “Burn Them Alive” is one of my favorites as well. It has a slightly doomier thrash feel to the music ala Megadeth or Seasons in the Abyss era Slayer.
Besides the elements of the above mentioned classic thrash bands, Carnal Forge naturally has that beloved Swedish thrash/death sound along with an underlying hardcore feel. And with song titles like (besides the two aforementioned) “My Suicide,” “Exploding Veins,” and “Final Hour in Hell,” you should get some inclination of what you’re going to be up against here.
Imagine a pack of savage and starving dogs getting a hold of a pheasant or something. They’re fighting and snarling viciously as they shake the poor creature in their mighty jaws-twisting and tearing it in the process. Yes, that’s one fitting analogy that indicates the brutality of this latest from Carnal Forge.
Let’s not forget the cover while we’re at it… The picture would appear to be part of the face of an open-eyed corpse with a nasty looking bullet hole above the eye. It actually makes me think of a zombie from Dawn of the Dead or something. Pretty creepy.
In addition to all this, there are two live video clips included. They are taken from the band’s DVD entitled Destroy Live. It features the song “H.B.F. Suicide” from The More You Suffer CD and “Welcome to your Funeral” from the Please…Die! CD. Watching these makes me wish I had been there to partake in that super energy rush. This should be a nice bonus for any fans that have had the privilege of seeing this forceful band live.
The next time you are really pissed off, Aren’t You Dead Yet? by Carnal Forge may be exactly what you need. Caution: this is not for the weak!
(Mary Orren-Spunelli)