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I just had an unprecedented amount of music cross my desk, so I’m going to attempt to separate by respective subgenre or classification (to the extent applicable, given all the boundary-breaking being done by modern musicians, for better or worse) and post as a few separate articles for your delectation.

My apologies if these reviews seem a dash too brief or perhaps even a bit arch at times.  But a certain sameness does tend to evince itself, particularly among some of the more genre specific entries represented herein.  As always, all I can offer are my honest takes on the material – whether to buy or try is always in the reader’s hands in the grand scheme of things.

With that said, here we begin the first of a series of capsule reviews on a whole shitload of new material coming your way from a number of labels looking for some percentage of your respective paychecks.

So if you’re ready, let’s roll:

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Insanity – Death after Death

A reissue of a forgotten late entry into the death metal sweepstakes, which had the misfortune of coming out subsequent to the decline and fall of the genre in the mid 90’s, as Morbid Angel signed to a major, Carcass folded, Scott Burns quit producing, and Sunlight Studios was flooded with a glut of would-be Entombed soundalikes.  That said, it seems unlikely that this would ever have been a top tier release of the genre, given its subpar production and unusual drunk-punk style vocals.

Somewhat akin to Scott Ruth in Ripping Corpse crossed with Gary Markovich of Blood Feast and Bobby Ebz of Genocide (“live to fuck” will always be my personal anthem), vocalist Bob Martinez sort of shout-pukes lyrics in a strange, fairly awkward fashion over crazed guitars and drums that call both the aforementioned Ripping Corpse and Grotesque to mind.

There’s even a flamenco flavored instrumental in there, to completely throw the listener off balance (“in memory”) before returning to the barely controlled chaos that comprises the bulk of the album.  Yeah, I liked this one.

Blazing fast and off kilter, there’s more than a little Slayer worship going on here, and while the vocals take a bit of getting used to, it’s definitely worthwhile for fans of the style or any of the bands previously noted.

Insanity comes to you from Hell’s Headbangers records.
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Aggressa – Nuclear Death w/Demo 1-2

Aussie act from the glory days of metal getting a re-release from Iron Bonehead Records.  As Nuclear Death was an (8 track) EP, they tossed in the first 2 of 3 demos the band recorded.

The sound is pretty rough – fans of more obscure, lower tier metal acts of the period should have an idea of what to expect here.  It’s ultimately somewhere between the excellent Saint circa Warriors of the Son and Texas’ Anialator – somewhat naive, but totally in earnest and bearing far more power and resonance than more produced and polished “mainstream” acts of the same period and general style.

Sure, the vocals aren’t the best, hailing more from a punk meets thrash school ala Impaler, and yep, he goes flat and hits bum notes with some regularity.  But honestly, I’d rather have a whole collection of bands like this, raw, down and dirty and totally meaning it, than a hundred bands of the likes of, say, Ratt and Quiet Riot (all merits of such bands for pro or con aside).  Classic in every sense, totally brings back memories – Iron Bonehad deserves thanks for resurrecting this one.  Highly recommended for serious old school metal fans only.

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Bolzer – Aura

A reasonably brutal Swiss death metal record hearkening back to the days when “brutal” was a descriptive adjective and not indicative of a particular subset of the genre.  Think somewhere between Incantation, early Immolation and Grave.  Short but sweet.  Comes to you thanks to Iron Bonehead records.

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Death Karma – A Life Not Worth Living

Really nasty sounding blackened death metal (has that even been coined as a genre yet?) marked by severely overdriven “production” akin to sticking a boom box in front of a Marshall stack and hitting “record”.  Closest analogy I can come up with would be a slightly more musically proficient Nunslaughter.

It’s from Czechoslovakia, so you know it’s going to be a bit more unusual than the rest.  Has some merit, but nothing to get excited over.  Another one from the gang at Iron Bonehead records.