‘MESSAGES FROM THE DAMNED’ UKEM RECORDS COMPILATION
By Alan Oliver
This 18 tracker comes straight from UKEM (United Kingdom Extreme Metal) Records who are an underground label supporting UK bands and this CD is a 1st anniversary sampler compilation showcasing what the UK underground has to offer. Each band offers up a track to try and lure you into their world, and to get their music out there to the willing audience.
LACERATION hit you with some hefty variable pace brutal death metal from machine gun battery to chugging menace. Top that off with gurgling grunt like vocals and they deliver what you would might expect from the likes of acts such as Skinless.
THE OBSCENE hand out death metal, that is not over produced, with a fast almost punk like flavour that bleeds into slower more old school 90’s style sections add into the mix the varied vocals of harsh grunt and tortured scream it serves up a well rounded track.
UNHOLY DEATHCUNT spit forth with their brand of black metal both fast, raw and under produced that merges into slower, up and down the chords riffing giving it an almost retro 90’s feel. Top with a range of cold shrill vocals with deeper gruffer moments and you are delivered what their name suggests.
CRYOSTORM offer up a more melodic (I really don’t like using that term) death metal style with thrash elements. It opens with some Fear Factory-esqe riffing that blends into a more technical style with mid range gruff vocals. Variation comes in the form of slower more chugalong sections sprinkled with a melodious guitar solo to round things off.
HELVELLYN are another with an old school flavour to their black metal with an up and down the fret board melody that is interjected with more rocking riffs in between. The screamed vocals are a little quiet in the mix but the overall style is one 90’s black metal fans will know and like.
MISCREATION are another of the brutal style of death metal. Fast almost thrash like riffs complimented with plenty of blast beats and gruff growling vocals. They also have a good change of pace to a sinister chug that also has the lead guitar overlaid that make for a balanced track.
ULFARR play a brand of bleak black metal with plenty of cold atmosphere. The repetitive melody of the track slow and depressive with gruffly screamed vocals and some well used wind blowing effects putting them on the melancholic side of the blackened soul.
NECROGRINDER hit you square in the face with some speeding death grind but with a ‘melody’ added into the mix. Blast beats lay way to slower heavier chugging passages with varied deep grunts and torturous screamed vocal outlay. Brutal is often overused but it sums these guys up indeed.
FOUL BODY AUTOPSY, as the name may indicate, give us rotting death metal from this one man band and his drum machine, but slightly off the norm with fast guitar leads and an almost thrash-like undercurrent. Machine gun battery drums combined with some technical lead guitar that pave the way for a break into slower brooding section and then surprises you by an ever slower ending with picked string melody giving a pleasingly diverse track.
AGHAST offer up some progressive death metal that hits you with a Fear Factory style riffing intro that breaks into a faster more blast laden style with plenty of technical guitar topped off with a traditional death/thrash style of vocal delivery. A straight forward well executed track.
PRIMITIVE GRAVEN IMAGE are old news to me as their style harks back to the old school 90’s of black metal with a slow repetitive intro breaking into faster up and down the fret riffing topped with a trad screaming vocal delivery. They also blend in a more melodic rocking section and some deeper, more gruff vocals. A band clearly influenced by earlier days of the second coming of black metal.
DEPRAVED PLAGUE slam you with a blasting intro that then melds into a slower, almost melodic, sections with guitar and bass solos overlaid. Later into the track you get a chugging part that lends to a more melodic latter section again with guitar lead giving a little variety to the style.
ETHEREAL pay more than a passing resemblance to the style of latter day Emperor. An atmospheric keyboard intro with a film clip precedes a hit of black/death metal combined with symphonic keyboard backdrop combining to form a well put together track that is both hard hitting and atmospheric.
ZOMBIFIED lead in with a grandiose intro that is guitar led before snapping into some fast riffing death metal. Gruff growled vocals and a decent pace change to a more hefty heavy riffing all topped of with a twiddley guitar solo with added squeal. A good combination of styles create a well put together track.
PUTREFY are a kick in the balls brutal death metal of the old school variety band. A heavy, plodding battery of a track led with deep grunt/gurgling vocals. This breaks into a more slower paced staccato style heavy riff before pummelling you again once more. Good use of the left to right mono switch of the speakers in the recording too.
BASEMENT TORTURE KILLINGS lure you in with a film clip intro before unravelling their fast death/grind onto your eardrums. Vicious vocals, blast beats, slower more repetitive sections, a high end guitar solo and a melodic section towards the end all combine nicely in the amalgamation of this track.
MIDNIGHT REALM confused me with a very power metal sounding intro before their brand of ’melodic’ (yes that word again) death metal kicks in. Melodic then choppy riffs and varied pitch hoarse vocals changing midway into a more Opethesqe style of music with clean vocals and a piano melody. Not what I’d class as ‘melodic’ death metal but an interesting combination for people who are fans of both styles.
INFERNAL CREATION are the final band on the CD. A creepy voice intro becons you into a slow drum and picked guitar intro that then breaks into a modern style black metal sound with a heavy mix. Deep toned screams are the vocal style and the track gives variety with stop start stop start sections with a harder hitting drum style. Three quarters in and there is a deeply spoken passage as an interlude which then picks up pace again to the end. Black metal with more than a hint of death in the mix to make things interesting.
This CD besides being value for money, is a good stage to show what the UK has to offer in extreme metal. I would have liked to see a greater variation of styles represented (thrash, doom, drone etc) but then you can only form this kind of compilation with what you are offered to feature on it. If you want to know what’s going on in the UK underground metal world and have a preference for black, death and grind metal then get yourself a copy of this and give yourself a brutalising UK style. 7/10
Get your copy now from the UKEM Records webstore.