Stillbirth – Back To The Stoned Age

Label: Unique Leader Records. Release date: 30 August 2019.

German slamming death metal band STILLBIRTH have been riding on the wave of success after signing with Unique Leader Records last year for their album Annihilation Of Mankind. Playing shows with the other hottest slamming stalwarts around (i.e. VULVODYNIA and WITHIN DESTRUCTION) has only raised their profile even higher. Mad to know then, that STILLBIRTH have been alive since 1999 and releasing albums since 2002! Before embarking on their next chapter, us lucky sods will be treated to Back To The Stoned Age, a collection of reworked songs from their back catalogue. Spoiler alert: it’s as fresh and as brutal as ever.

Killing it with Riot Auffer Buehne 2.0, even with the new mix is sounds like the filthiest detritus. With their CREPITATION-esque deathgrind moments and best pig squeals, this is one hell of a revisit. The slamming groove continues with Open Up This Fucking Pit 2.0 which features its genius gunshot breakdown and punishing slam riffs. An absolutely disgusting assault of a song, it still crushes today.

Endgame Is Near 2.0 is STILLBIRTH at their most unforgiving. The plunging depths the band go to with this track is something else entirely. Much like Human Parasite 2.0 which is immediately penetrating with its slamming groove and death metal bluntness. The demonic vocals harvest your soul as the riffs pummel you into oblivion. Chainsaw VS Face 2.0 is equally as relentless making sure you are unable to stop for breath for all its 49 seconds.

Beating Pacifists 2.0 is a dark and menacing track. Its pace is stepped down a notch which adds to its creeping lust for maximum damage. Add a feature by EXTERMINATION DISMEMBERMENT’s Vladislav Martirosov and you’re onto a punishing winner. The focussed savagery continues with Global Error 2.0 which boasts one of the filthiest breakdowns of the whole album (if not their whole back catalogue). When will the brutality end?! Thankfully not during Individual Related 2.0 which features the disgusting vocals of CUMBEAST’s Iiro Rosonen. This short but sweet track is a rollercoaster throughout and is a must-listen for any aspiring extreme metal vocalists. Incredible stuff.

Legalize It is a phenomenal example of all which STILLBIRTH have to offer (and their love of the green stuff). Beastly blastbeats, whirring riffs and guttural growls are the rule of the land here. The band maintain the pace with Steuerklasse 1 Und Keiner Sagt Danke 2.0 and its hard, metallic edge. This is what slamming hardcore thrash would sound like and we want more! The ridiculous Addicted To Abortion 2.0 is also a morbid treat, bordering on grindcore delights. So much is happening in this track it’s one to keep crawling back to!

BENIGHTED fans rejoice! Julien Truchan lays down his obliterating vocals for On The Edge Of Society 2.0 and it’s an absolute beast! Hard, fast and nightmarish it sounds like it was composed from the very depths of the lagoon itself. By the time Brootal Party 2.0 rolls round your ears will be at risk of turning to sludge after the battering they’ve been receiving. The energy and build-up of this song is unforgettable. Mix in a guest feature by VULVODYNIA’s guitar god Kris Xenopoulos and you’ll soon be begging for more.

Back To The Stoned Age is one of those rare records when the reworkings really do bring the material up to scratch to match the current material. A band full of fun with a tongue in cheek attitude but serious riffage is a winner. Hopefully when they drop their new album next year they would have climbed the slam ranks and gained the recognition they deserve.

Stillbirth – Annihilation of Mankind

Label: Unique Leader Records. Release date: 31 August 2018.

It’s shaping up to be a stellar year for slamming death metal, with brutal releases already from the likes of WITHIN DESTRUCTION and INGESTED. Now it’s time for the return of Germany’s STILLBIRTH – and they’re taking no prisoners. Fifth album Annihilation of Mankind is an evident step up in terms of brutality and groove – no wonder Unique Leader Records want a piece of the forthcoming carnage. Like its namesake, this record absolutely annihilates the lugholes.

Opening track Fictional Entertainment would please Unique Leader fans with its similarities to other bands on its roster; the unforgiving brutality and technicality of EXOCRINE coupled with the bold grooves and stomping riffs of DYSCARNATE and not forgetting the outrageous slam elements of INGESTED. This is going to be a death metal fan’s idea of paradise. Enemy of the Enemy is when we really start receiving a colossal battering. The rumbling bass is akin to the impending doom of a hardcore beatdown, but we don’t get away so lightly. Instead we’re subjected to screeching guitars, slamming screams, ferocious drums and a glorious DECAPITATED Organic Hallucinosis-esque riotous middle.

Hypnotized By Lies is an impeccable slab of hardcore riffs, slamming beatdowns and just an outrageous violence to proceedings. INGESTED fans will approve. Psychological Manipulation begins as a straight-up death metal track but the extreme vocal expertise of Lukas Swiaczny comes to the fore. A disgustingly awesome track, it is utterly unforgiving.

Firstrike is a bit of a stomper. Not as obliterating as previous tracks, it feels like more of a slow death. A terrific groove kicks in after a minute and a half and pulls you in further. The technicality of this track shines amongst the dimness of the concept. Next track Highest of Malice features the incredible Duncan Bentley of VULVODYNIA, so you know it’s going to sound like the aural equivalent of getting your face ripped off. Bentley has guested on several tracks this year including songs by WITHIN DESTRUCTION and MIRE LORE, but this just tears a new one. Steam-rolling their way through the album, we’re halfway through Annihilation of Mankind already. Still alive? Stay with me.

Torturized says it on the tin. With an enticing beginning, it soon pulls you in for a hiding. This song is absolutely insane. The same could be said for the epic Plague of Warfare, with its intriguing electronics which gives this belter an extra edge. This is a no-nonsense track. It gets the job done of obliterating our senses and leaving us helpless in its wake. With spectacular deathcore screams, things take a menacing turn. This darker vibe continues with Torn Apart. Absolutely superb.

The ferocious drums and guitars in Nuclear Stench make it one of the most instantly punishing tracks on the album. However, when The Sky Turns Black kicks in you’ll immediately run for cover. A fantastically fast-paced tune, the old DECAPITATED influences are back again but STILLBIRTH ramps things up tenfold with their hardcore beats and irresistible grooves.

Annihilation of Mankind is brought to a crushing close with its title track. It is four minutes of all that STILLBIRTH have to offer. If you haven’t already gathered what I mean from reading this review, then what I mean is PURE, RELENTLESS BRUTALITY. Listen at your own peril.

Exocrine – Molten Giant

Label: Unique Leader Records. Release date: 17 August 2018.

This year has already seen beastly album artwork of alien monster beings in the form of WITHIN DESTRUCTION’s  D E A T H W I S H, but now we have another hellish creature waiting to be unleashed upon the world. EXOCRINE’s Molten Giant is a concept album about a nuclear war between a gigantic lava minster and the surviving human beings. Quite fitting for this deathly heat wave we’re having, this album is a slab of progressive technical death metal perfection. The French metallers have been snapped up by Unique Leader Records after catching the label’s eye on last year’s tour with OBSCURA and ARCHSPIRE in Japan and their two previous albums. This year should spell the year of the lava monster. With an abhorrent concept, the music needed to be monstrous to match and EXOCRINE have delivered an absolutely blistering and ferocious third offering.

EXOCRINE have a manifestly mammoth sound for Molten Giant and with opening track Scorched Human Society all the terror and violence tumbles out in an aural assault. Atmospheric and suffocatingly heavy, the technical influences are there with hints of NECROPHAGIST and OBSCURA rattling around while your lugholes are subjected to a progressive battering. Riff city with touches of NILE, it’s an opener that will decimate the senses. I think you get the idea now. From the first track you will be hooked, trust me.

Lead single Hayato has a fantastic oriental sounding intro and it erupts into a BEYOND CREATION type brawl. It has a glorious old school sound with fresh production, but the chops and changes throughout the song are incredible. The verse has a chaotic feel like THE BERZERKER or CARNIVAL IN COAL then the middle eight has a strong OPETH oomph to proceedings. The ending has a nice touch of piano before things start raging again with third track Backdraft. This tune is a proper stomper, with a magnificent groove running throughout. There are spacey elements, hints of dissonance and an uplifting ending which is quite unexpected.

The title track Molten Giant has a newer DECAPITATED vibe with some slam elements whereas Flamewalkers has more of a Spheres of Madness-era DECAPITATED stance. The riffs on this album are consistently phenomenal as well as the flawless drumming. The more ‘melodic’ moments truly shine and also emphasise the brutality of the EXOCRINE. I think Flamewalkers has it all; atmosphere, tension, technicality and savagery.

Lavaburst is another intense ball of insane fury but Behind The Wall provides a FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE/SEPTIC FLESH orchestral break to proceedings. Then before we know it we’ve reached the album finale The Shape of New World and it spells our untimely apocalypse. With a strong progressive leaning, it’s the ambition and drive of this song which makes it a suitable climax of such a punishing album. It has to be heard to be believed. Dramatic, colossal and unforgiving, The Shape of New World brings Molten Giant to an astonishing close. Say hello to your new favourite progressive tech-death band.