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Category Archives: Archived Demo Reviews

Reviews 2000 – in NO particular order other than the one I was playing them in! By Melanie unless otherwise noted.

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Arius: The Last Suffer

I was going to make my friends blast it, but the cat took it and hid it, so I couldn’t let them hear the coolness. Dang. (Even the cats like it! Well, she is a black cat…)

Four extremely powerful songs. Each standing alone. Professionally recorded. Cohesive band with decent subject material for lyrical inspiration. Very convincing live act. Need I say more? This demo would be a great addition to a metal collection, for it has a different sound to it. This is not to say that the demo is lame, or cheesy, or washed-out…it’s actually extremely aggressive, evil, and well-thought out.

Although it came out in 1995, the demo still has a current feel to it. (It’s not that slow thing, don’t worry…I mean current DM!!) Quite speedy in places, the thing which I can say stood out the most as a pleasurable listening experience was the leads. The guitarist can play! A revelation! (Maybe I have just heard way too many mediocre solos?) Well, check him out!!

If I remember correctly, the demo is $5 US and can be obtained from the band. Or, e-mail Melanie and she’ll try to get her paws on one…

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Beheaded – “Perpetual Mockery” Promo
X-Treme Records (1998)
Review By Eric “Teufel” Crookes

What’s that up in the trees? It’s a bird, it’s a plane… no, it’s the most brutal death metal band in the metal scene today; Beheaded!

All kidding aside, I’ve been greatly anticipating this five piece’s debut CD Perpetual Mockery since I first heard their demo tape Souldead over a year ago. The demo was a masterpiece of brutal, technical & melodic death metal.  Perpetual Mockery takes the Beheaded sound to the next level.

From the beginning of the intros through to the very end of the outros, guitarists Omar Grech and David Bugeja easily outplay the riffing from Souldead (if you can believe it), while bassist David Cachia rumbles around at a solid pace and drummer Chris Brincat mangles his drumkit with ferocious authority. The vocals, handled by frontman Marcel Scalpello are simply incredible. He ranges from a Frank Mullen-esque snarl, to a black metal squeal to a deep guttural growl effortlessly from word to word. Put it all together and you get a slab of pure technical, melodic brutality that will appeal to fans of Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse and Cryptopsy. Fast, technical, brutal.  What else needs to be said?

The only problem with Perpetual Mockery is… it isn’t out yet! Somehow the fuck-ups running X-Treme Records in Sweden have found innumerable ways to delay the release of this masterpiece, originally scheduled for an early 1997 release. Death Metal fans are missing out on this incredible act, and that’s a real shame, because with decent label support Beheaded could easily be headlining a world tour. I’ve heard some of the new material they’re working on and it is even more powerful and brutal than what they’ve recorded so far… Check out Beheaded, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

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BesiegeD – BesiegeD
Self-titled Demo release – 1995

BesiegeDNow, this is a worthy demo to review. I can see why they got signed… this material is quite good. Not all blastbeats, low E, and growlie-vocals.  Guess what? They have more than a shred of originality and what seems to be a large dose of talent to go along with that!

Hallmarks of the release: a bass sound you can hear, a very good balance of sound (the vocals and drums or whatnot are not too high or too low…), and more than 3 songs. (Don’t you hate it when you get a demo that is excellent but has only 3-4 songs?) This release has 8! If the CD “AkeldamA” has these songs on it – which I heard it does – then it should be a “must buy as soon as possible” for all of the death metal fans.

The music is unrelenting, pounding, and aggressive. The vocals are low and true to the deathmetal styling. Drums are clean. There are a variety of tempoes but the band seems comfortable in both the superfast range as well as the groove/ midtempo range, which is refreshing. Nor do the lyrics reflect gore and imbecility  this is a well-spoken, literate, intelligent band, which is a MAJOR refreshment in the scene! (so if you are “into” lyrics you will like this release)

I have no “bones to pick” with this churning release. Nor do my pets.  <grin> Highly recommended.

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Blood Coven
CD – Ashes of An Autumn Burning
Bloodfiend Productions, 50+ min., CD, 1998

Blood CovenJim McIntyre wrote a track-by-track review of Brutal Truth’s CD for Necrosis; thus I follow his example with Ashes of An Autumn Burning, the debut CD release by Akron, Ohio’s, Blood Coven.

Overall, the production is excellent. This is rare among underground recordings, it seems. It’s crystal clear, and the balance of the instruments is such that no one instrument overpowers any others. All instruments are “present”, by this I mean that you can actually hear the bass guitar, rythym guitar, overlays, et cetera. It is a very rich tapestry of sound. This is not the case in a lot of the material I review, so was quite refreshing when I heard it. There is also some originality and creativity here, not the usual “speed for speed’s sake” death metal, or “more Satanic than thou” blackmetal. It’s nice to be able to listen to *music* rather than the above farce sometimes passed off as music.

Ashes of An Autumn Burning – Title track. Nice quiet slow “Darth Vader-ish” intro… best listened to at high volumes, why? When the guitars kick in, the crispness of the production and the sheer heaviness and volume of them, will probably beat you into the next room. I made the “mistake” of doing this, on our 400 watt home theater system, and it scared the cats and birds into stunned silence *two floors away*. It’s definitely a good thing if a band can do that. I have reviewed a lot of material over the past year, and this moment in the CD, about thirty seconds into it, is one of the most memorable.  The Medium – Someone told me this song was written in 1992. Still a great song for live performances. Lyrical content is good, and the groove is better. One of several “ow, my neck!” songs on this CD that induce whiplash in susceptible fans.  The Burning Season – 90 percent instrumental. The shortest track on the album. Guess what? Metal bands are allowed to have skill at their instruments, and show it off, and still be bloodthirsty demons onstage (or on the rest of the album)! Very listenable, especially if you are in a bad/depressed mood.  The Firm Grip of Darkness – Experimentation with vocal effects and placement of guitar solos, as well as the crisp, clear new production, mark this re-worked, remixed version from the 1995 demo. It continues to sport some really good material, chiefly the guitar work in the last third of the song. Plus some genuinely vicious hate-filled lyrics. To Reach Serenity – Excellent mix of harmony and musical influences. It’s a slower, doomy song replete with pain, suffering, and the like. Very listenable. Another good song to listen to while in a bad mood. Pity they don’t play it live more than once every year and a half (or so it seems..)  Kiss of Akhkharu – I originally heard this song on their 1995 (?) demo Dark Harmonies. It kicked my ass then, and continues to do so. A lot of groove, and a good mixture of tempos. True Name of God – Another oldie but goodie.. More of the straight antichrist blackmetal lyrical content, not the strongest on the album, but some really good groove. The Final Silencing – Good strong midtempo groove, plus some rather interesting guitar synth experimentation. It’s the end of the “story” meant to be woven by the lyrics in the CD (or so I am told).  I believe the CD was released on Lifeless Records and Bloodfiend Productions. It can be obtained from the band (and some distroes which I am not privy to yet). E-mail them for further information.

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Disinterment – “Endless”
CD-12 tracks; Sevared Records

From the New York underground, Disinterment rages forth with their debut release on Sevared Records to ensure anyone in doubt that integrity and originality still exist in U.S. death metal. From the first somber notes of “Beyond the Horizon” the string work of Tommy, Chris, Jason and Kris proceed to break the throes that attempt to bind death metal as either brutal or melodic. The song writing is strong and quite sophisticated for a debut; melodies are well-developed, surging from brutal staccato phrases to melodic and acoustic harmonies that are intermittently fast, slow and unpredictable.

Overall the string-work is reminiscent of black-death cross over, with primarily surging, chorded riffs as opposed to arpaggioc.  Effective use of terraced dynamics by means looping from acoustic to distorted melodies in pieces such as “Blood of My Veins.” The frequent use of some articulate, clean channel and acoustic interludes really intensifies the ferocity of the entire disk. The modulation of vocal patterns from clean shouts to guttural and black metal shrieks to spoken phases enhances the mood of the pieces dramatically.. Guest vocalist Asley Dyer offers up some throat splitting guttural tone on “Requiem For the Carrion!” Drummer Ryan’s foot-work is unrelenting and he’s still able to pull-off some good rolls and original snare-work. My personal favorite from this disk is “Upon the Darkest Day” due to the use of deeper, more-guttural vocals and its more arpeggioic string-work. Endless” is 12 songs of intense, melodic brutality that dares to rear its head above the trendy, derived cheese-pits of mediocrity!

-Scot

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Somber Blessings – “Legend”
1998 – Independent; CD – 7 tracks

Somber Blessings have returned with their follow-up to their 1995 demo. “The Winds of the Earth” with a new installment of lamenting ferocity entitled “Legend.”  With complete disregard for any preconceived musical genre, Scott Randall and company employ concepts and writing techniques from classical, folk, new age, ambient, doom, and death metal (to name a few) in coordination with folklore and romantic era poetry/literature to compose some intricately original material. Hard to believe this project remains unsigned..

Sultry female vocals, chanting, and male/female vocal harmonies, bound by shrieks reminiscent of those common to modern black metal and underlying guttural phrasing conglomerate layer upon layer throughout the disk.  Melodies seer from elegiac violin, cello and piano interludes into metal(ish) crescendos surging with double bass sequencing. Shrill violin counter melodies accompany the guitar and even in some of the more upbeat melodies cast a constant eeriness.. The terracing effect of so many instruments playing at once and then all dropping out, spare a piano or guitar maintaining the melody, adds tons of dynamic power and intensity to the songs. Every song is an entity unto itself with its own mood and direction that is completely different than any of the others.

The lyrics are poetically well written and cast a cultural antiquity over the entire disk. Excellent use of conversational (almost opera-like) lyrical mood painting in tracks such as “By the Light of a Winter’s Moon.”  Verses such as: “My staff has giants killed, my bag a long knife carries;  To cut meat-pies from children’s thighs and feed them to the fairies” shift from solemn female to villainous male vocals establishing character definition that is more reminiscent of Baroque period classical than today’s extreme metal… Anyone bored with the plagiarist mimickings of the derived masses and trend chasers should check out Somber Blessings.

-Scot

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Ember
Demos ’95 and ’97

Agressive, very heavy, melodic-at-times, black metal “tinged with blood and death”. The “unholy minion of Bill Zebub”, Abbas, pounds the skins for Ember (in an accurate and technical fashion, I must add.) Unusual, interesting, decipherable screaming vocals – kind of like a cross between Matti Karki and Paul Baloff – not the usual “cookie monster burp” of death metal nor the “I’ve been castrated!” howl of black metal. They have some really awesome midtempo crunchy breakdowns in here… many plus points. It’s a tape I’m glad to have; you should definitely be, too. Nice stuff. Hey, a possessed vocalist, a nice guitar heavy mix, and great music – what more could one ask for? Maybe the tape – beg one from the band.

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Epoch of Unlight

Drum heavy (not too great) mix. Lots of the technical guitar work is buried! Bass is clear and sounds *quite* skilled. Clear, professionally done. It’s black/death metal, moreso black than death, not Pessimist-caliber, but quite listenable. Especially if you miss Coroner, Oppressor, Pestilence, and Sadus. With that little group of (extremel talented, technical, good) musicians and bands, should I say more? *grin* It’s worth buying, especially if you are a genre-collector.

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Ossuary Insane – Demonize the Flesh
Independent

I put this in the black metal pile, thinking that’s what it would be.. nope! It’s slower to mid-paced death metal. The production’s a little muted, compared to the production of the Mayhem I just listened to, which is a little odd, but the music is still present, and good. It’s a little more simplistic than I am used to for death metal, making me wonder if it was recorded in like 1995 or so. Regardless if so or not, it gives a nice retro feeling. It’s good music to drive through say, thick rain or snow with – good enough to keep you pissed off and slogging through, without becoming a maniac speeding. To get to the guts of the CD, you have to start with the third song, which will rip your ears off. It loses some of it’s momentum, but none of it’s brutality as the song emerges. The vocals remind me very vaguely of early John Tardy .. I haven’t heard -that- in ages! I bet this is a great live band – all these slower, low grinding riffs .. that just sounds like a recipe for neck breaking success at the venues. My favorite song so far is the fourth – and not because it contains the fastest part, but because it has a really killer “Amon-ish” riff at the beginning. There are a lot of good ideas here, present in bits and pieces – it’s up to the listener to pick them out and thrash accordingly.

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Entorturement
Descend Into Deprivation

I waited for weeks while the post office fucked up and lost this CD in the mail… When I finally got it, I was not disappointed. I guess you could say some things are worth the wait. It is no wonder these guys were booked to play almost every big fest this summer…

Pit inducing, groove oriented, thrash your ass off music. Sound good?  You’ll want to pick this CD up.

The first song opens with a sound bite from some movie discussing fondling genitals and a lack of respect for anything. This, followed by fast, heavy brutalizing guitars and Tim’s angry growling vocals leading into a slower rhythmic guitar breakdown sets the overall pace for the rest of the CD.

What sets Entorturement a step above many is the incorporation of Pete and Kirill’s technically proficient, heavy crunching guitars, the intricate drumming of Brian, backed by solid bass from Jay. Constant tempo changes make the music more interesting to listen to. Along the lines of other New York greats Internal Bleeding, there isn’t one minute
on this CD that a person couldn’t mosh or thrash to.

A few of the many highlights are the first song “Forsaken for Perseverance”, the catchy guitar riffs of “Defilement of Innocence” and overall brutality of “Time Reveals all”. I can’t say I like any one song on here more than another, they are all really good.

I believe the saying goes “A rose by any other name would be as sweet…”  People should look beyond words and listen to the music… Last time I checked the music was more important than the name of the band playing it.

Recently plagued with lineup changes, Entorturement is back on track and practicing for future shows. Look for them to be decimating a town near you soon. In the meantime get in contact with them and pick up this CD and practice your thrashing and moshing, you’re gonna need it!

– Jo

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November’s Doom
‘For Every Leaf That Falls…’

Soothing, yet sometimes shattering, doom as the band name implies. I have not seen the layout or printing from this CD, but I’m sure it’s excellent, having seen LOTS of Paul Kuhr’s other works. Soothing female vocals (backing), nice synth work, and calming leads occasionally lead into fast black-ish metal a la My Dying Bride… overall enjoyable listening for fans of the slower, doomy gothic dark “stuff”. I have a cassette copy (thanks Abbas!), but it’s very nice quality. This is definetly more “mood oriented” music – I have to be in a certain mood to enjoy this and absorb all of it’s intricacies to their fullest. Recent lineup changes within the band have revamped and refreshed their spirit – don’t miss them live! Recommended.

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Vastion – Cold Stares of the Dead

Whilst on the Corpse kick, I figured I’d put a band in who matches them for intensity. None other than Georgia’s Vastion. They can match for speed, groove, and brutality. The slow doomy parts and the fast grind set them apart from most other DM bands by their use of melody, which instruments they choose to accent, and a different (high) vocal style. Their mix is always a little grungy which prevents you from getting the ear shattering cymbal hiss which seems so necessary these days to get the masses converted. Luckily someone picked up on Vastion’s coolness besides their circle of dedicated press reviewers and friends – they got signed a few weeks after I got this demo. Just goes to show you – pounding the pavement with a string of good releases, and having the skills – can get you into a favorable situation. I’e said it before and will say it again – Vastion’s stuff is good and definetly worth checking out.

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Blood Coven: Serenade for the Bleeding (live tape)

Rating: Well, the truck tape player didn’t eat it, so… it must be cool. (This is the player that snapped Six Feet Under in half, and ate Terrorizer! For shame.) Listenable.

A blue parakeet gave the tape to me (in the first place!) So, happy to have finally gotten my paws on it, I decided to give it a listen.

Sound clarity: excellent. Not a hiss. This is great, but live? Do I hear studio overdubs in this tape’s repertoire? That’s not bad, but it’s not live! There is also like half a second of crowd screaming on the tape, if that. (I don’t like to waste time listening to a crowd yelling either, but…) The tape is excellent. There are no major detractions in quality, the sound is cool, etc…Live in the studio maybe?

Tempos are pounding, volume should be high, and musicianship is cool. Nice tape.

All the good/best/classic songs are on here. You can actually hear the guitar synth stuff that Dann has put so much effort into! I was told I’d barely be able to tell the difference in the screeches/growls as to who was doing them, but since I have seen the band umpteen times live, I could pick out who was who. (I was trying just to be a snot as well!) Tis a cool tape.  Definitely worth $4…(or however much they were, but I recall being quoted $4…) I’m not going to scream about it because they already have a cool demo out, as well as a new album coming out soon. Get the new album first, then this, then the (old!) demo…to complete your collections.

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Disillusioned : Pulpit in The Shadows
Independent – 1996; 7 Tracks

Among the most brutally talented unsigned projects I have ever encountered!  A devastating mesh of speed metal and old school death metal, the likes of which I feared no longer existed. The product of running (The Legacy era) Testament, (Stillborn era) Malevolent Creation, (Butchered at Birth-era) Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation through a bench grinder..these guys rip!  Speed, groove, melodic and brutal with enough grind to shear away the first few layers of skin.

The string-work of Eric Snodgrass, John McNab and Terry Allen vacillate between slower melodic and grind riffs into late 80s speed metal-type signatures and early 90s-style death/grind riffs as unpredictably as a rabid dog.. Even the string-work of the faster, more staccato rhythms are discernible and well textured (at last guitarist that do not rely on excessive distortion to cover their lack of technique during 16th note progressions). The bass-work of drummer Rob Stewart dominates the lower frequency range of the mix with some impressive, well-executed 16th and 32nd note plumelling. His blasts are evenly executed with raging authority and used tastefully with the crescendos of the strings.. Use of intermittent vocal trade-offs between Eric Snodgrass and Terry Allen add still another layer to a sound that is already as thick as 50-weight oil. Both possess strong guttural tone that are similar and accommodating yet distinguishable from one another.

The clarity, separation and overall good production of the tape make it hard to believe that the entire tape was Recorded in the drummer’s basement and engineered entirely by guitarist John McNab!? The production is superior (even on cassette) to that I myself have received from 32-track studios and pressed to CD… The production is not flawless but you would never guess that this release was recorded in a basement and engineered by the band if the J-Card did not attest to it. I would encourage anyone into old-school death metal check out this project.

-Scot

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Bloodsimple – From The Darkness, Into The Abyss

I’m just doing this review tonight because if I don’t, Kris will nag me to death. (Nagsimple) Now that I have the music a little louder, I can hear there is less Quorthon to the vocals, and it’s heavier/lower toned than I thought before. I like the speeds at which the band sets itself. It’s not technical or contrived music – just your garden variety good slower death/black metal. I know I compared them to Blood Coven a while ago – and they do share similarities both in tempo and the lack of “excess frill” to the music – but similarity ends there. BC uses a lot of guitar synth and adds flesh with about 6 zillion riffs a song .. whereas Bloodsimple picks one kickass riff and pounds it into you for about 4 minutes at a time. You are thus compelled to thrash until you are dizzy.  ;)  Oddly, the production on this tape is better than that of Azazel’s, and Az got signed, and Bloodsimple did not. What did I tell you about there being no love in this world?! Then again, this is obviously a rougher tape – endings and beginnings are slopped (a la band practice – not a fault!) .. so who knows. I love rough mixes and beta tapes .. so this is of course a cool “snag”. I like the little acoustic-ish interlude too. You’re on the right track, guys, keep it up.

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Catholicon – Lost Chronicles of the War in Heaven

Guys, are you old enough to hate god that much?  (fuckyourgod.com)  Besides that … to the music … I just listened to Bloodstorm, so of course, it’s probably not going to be par for the course (if it’s *anything* like the tape…) * Hits play and waits for the intro to end * OK, the intro is good. It’s the screaming and the eerie guitar effects I like, not the harmonizer cookie monster “demon” vocals. So then the music kicks in, and it’s this REALLY slow thing with a clear but kind of unbalanced production, and this really harsh screechy effect on the vocalist .. The third track is really good albeit bass-less. WAY too “high” drum mix though. I guess with a halfway decent production, Catholicon might go places.

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From The Depths
From The Depths: Promo Demo 96

Rating: Really cool. Didn’t scare off any BM-haters or put me to sleep (and I am not a big BM person). Recommended…better than Novembre!!

Ooh, complexity! Quite good at keeping me up at 7 am while I was driving home from my friend’s house, 1/10th awake!! I had to listen to all the songs several times, memorize the hummable parts, etc…so by the time I got home, I really enjoyed the tape!!

This is one six-piece outfit with no extra members. Each member is very active musically.

It’s black metal, but not the standard fare. The screeches and rasp are not unbearable, and (completely irrelevant to the demo tape itself) there’s none of that church-burning, corpsepaint-wearing crap. As for the musicianship, talent, etc…present on the tape, well…what would you expect? The bassist used to be in Incantation, and Decrepit. (not a bad group musical resume.) Ex-members of Blood of Christ, Decrepit, and Incantation are represented here. It’s quite good. They can play well, and deliver a consistency of sound I have not heard in a while on a demo…

Check out the keyboard orchestration. They have a fulltime keyboardist who is no slouch! You can even hear the keyboards live, and this adds a nice dimension to a good, rich sound.

I am not a black metal expert, but it seems that with the level of originality present on the tape, that this band may be a reckoning force in the future. Dismal Records has done a good job here in selection!

Check it out for sure!! Very well-produced, quite intricate in the arrangement of songs and content of songs, no horridly blasphemous lyrics… worth whatever they are charging for it! (I believe $5, but I borrowed a copy for review.)

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Malamor: Condemn the Rising (demo 96?)

MalamorRating: constant play in the car for 3 days after the Michigan Metalfest. Not because I had a lack of tapes, but because it was good, and fun to drive around blasting! Offend thy neighbor!

Well-thought, well-packaged, and inspired by the correct sources. Finally a demo that doesn’t have the vocals, or the drums, etc…cranked up too high, and have that ruin the balance of the sound. Now, this is the “atonal, deconstructed art form known as death metal,” so I cannot say that it is melodious and easy listening for all audiences, but it has many good moments for death metal fans.

Mid-tempo grind (not that slow stuff…) and judicious use of blast beats are two creative strokes well used here. Thus giving the listener a break from the monotony of blasts, or the drudgery of “slow groove” or whatever else that plague is called. They can play, and they can riff, and they are not frightened to show that off.

It’s not like it needs to be done as the career of any of the members. They “all have real lives, and real jobs”, so it is a labor of love. (Prime example: the website for the band was designed by the lead guitarist Ben, who also mixed sound for Suffocation and does “all that production stuff”.) When one puts 110% into a project, it shows.

It’s fast, and aggressive, and mean, definitely drawing on some New York hardcore and/or metal influence. The demo would be a worthy addition to the underground supporter’s catalogue…and it’s nearly sold out! Watch for this demo, as well as the new CD, coming out soon. The present demo is $5, and available from the band.

Contacting them is easy, for they have online access!!

Until then…enjoy!!

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Narcolepsy: Compilation CD-ROM
(various demos from various years)

I can’t remember the title because he didn’t leave it here for me to look at!!

Rating: Very good. I can’t say “the pets were terrified of it” (they were!) because that sounds bad… so I will just say “in my humble opinion, the demos are very good”. Takes away from the panache of the rating, but… leaves nothing to doubt.

The production and the excellent mix are the most outstanding features. It sounds like it was recorded on a multi thousand dollar budget with a head honcho engineer… everything is crisp, there is no hiss, no muddy guitar work (except on the 16 track analog demo, but that was “deliberate” and very likeable, I am informed and agree)…

Now, if this band can get this kind of quality sound, as well as having virtually no errors in a very crunchy, texture-rich sound, why don’t all bands do this? It’s not that the band recorded onto a CDR master. Nor that they used digital recording at all. It was obviously the pre-recording practice time, the overall good composition of the songs, and a wise choice of which material to include to put “their best face forward”.

Sound-wise (I got yelled at for this) I heard touches of Slayer to Suffocation influence. (hey, it’s a compliment!) Low growly vocals, dropped tuning, blasting percussion (but not boring, check out some of the syncopation!)… The mid-tempo riffs and crunch are enjoyable at any volume (this was the first demo I ever reviewed on the Bose house stereo, and when I cranked it the floor shook!!! ::tingle shiver::)

Recommended!

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Regurgitation: Conceived Through Vomit

Rating: I made my friends blast it, so it must be good…

Well! Just under my nose are a bunch of guys who actually know how to play their instruments! No blurry solos here…you can even understand some of (old) vocalist Ben Deskins’s lyrics! (The new growler Rob makes this a bit more deathish…less intelligible but more true to style!)

Why should you check this one out?

Alas, another talented band gets passed up for a record deal…Ben and co. have been at this metal thing for quite a few years, and Ben is a tireless promoter and organizer of the scene…his band is no slouch, either! They have been actively engaged in the scene since 1994, making them a veteran act worthy of followers.

From the bio: “It contains five tracks of pure musical brutality that will crush any listener with its pulverising riffs, pounding drums, and growling vocals.” It was professionally recorded on 16 tracks by engineer Robert Fugate in Chillocothe, OH.

My faves on the demo were: “Rotting in the Bowels of the Dead” and “Sandpaper Abrasions”…I didn’t take a poll of my friends, but I assume they enjoyed it as well, judging by the maniacal driving we did after that, tires a-squealin’…

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Somnus
Somnus: To Return the Crimson Skies
EP, 5 songs, 1997
Recorded at DIMM Studios, 1996-97.

Cover art Rating: I wouldn’t let the pets near it. I was begging the tape player in my friend’s car not to eat it. It doesn’t leave the room (the same room that the valuables are in…:)

First of all, I waited three months to get a copy. I think it was worth it…the production, sound, musicianship, etc…are all top-notch. I’d not like this to be a two line review, so… (since that’s a very brief statement of my opinion)

I think what I heard first was an instrumental intro. There is an “outro” as well. These are quite “creepy” sounding things that would make excellent music for the Halloween party (creep out the kiddies!) The dungeon door, the lightning, storms, driving rain, dismal air, etc…all here (in various places on the album. Listen for them, they add a rich element to the music.)

Especially good is the judicious use of female lead vocal in places… sounds good, gives it an edge… and keeps them from being insta-labeled into one genre or another. The effects on the synth/keyboard, and the other standard vocals for the extreme genre (abrasive! :) are quite effective in accomplishing a goal… (get the unique sound across…)

Originally, after hearing My Dying Bride, I thought this tape would be another one “of those”, but it’s not! It’s a lot more mellow than I figured (from hearing all that crunch live, and less layers of synth, keyboards, etc…) and a lot richer in texture.

The recording itself has very few flaws. It dosen’t sound like a “demo”. The cover is not the black and white standard for such demos. A lot of work (six-seven months at least! I remember standing in the Agora in Cleveland, talking to Scott in Nov. 96 about the album that they were already in the studio for.) The clarity of each instrument, as well as the playing of such, are carefully done so as to surround the listener with this brand of unique music. Not quite black metal, death metal, ambient, doom, etc…but a blend of all styles. No screeches, no cheesy blasts and mentions of Satan, etc… it’s original. It’s not boring. Not so outlandishly provocative as to be dismissed (like when people try to combine, say country and rap). Definitely worth $5!!

Enough of me. Check Somnus out live too, if you ever get the chance. They rock.

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Carved In Flesh

GOOD death metal! My first impression was that they sounded like Deaden (and may have taken a song title as their name – although Deaden’s song is ‘Scuplted In Flesh’). I was already poised at the edge of my seat, ready to thrash, then the tempo changed once again – and my second impression, of Sadus, or Cynic, arose. Carved In Flesh seem to enjoy the musical playing field – exploring jazzy off tempos, straying from the schtick of everyday “brootal death metal” which is a -welcome- relief. They have some really neat use of acoustic passages stuck neatly in between homocidal death riffs. It’s got lots of mid-tempo as promised.. which remins me alternately of Obituary, Jungle Rot, and Disinter’s older release, ‘Desecrated’. They do stray into the realm of hyper-blasting blackmetal occasionally but return to their roots quickly to snap your neck and finish you off. HIGHLY recommended listening and acquisition!! Pick of the Litter!!

Epoch of Unlight

Drum heavy (not too great) mix. Lots of the technical guitar work is buried! Bass is clear and sounds *quite* skilled. Clear, professionally done. It’s black/death metal, moreso black than death, not Pessimist-caliber, but quite listenable. Especially if you miss Coroner, Oppressor, Pestilence, and Sadus. With that little group of (extremel talented, technical, good) musicians and bands, should I say more? *grin* It’s worth buying, especially if you are a genre-collector.

Corpsevomit
Invasion Of Deformities, Demo 1999

I was given this cassette at March Metal Meltdown, which was very cool! I laughed at the fine print – “Fuck you in advance, we’re not from Europe”. That takes some balls! Both songs on this demo are equal in merit, showing good musicianship and WELL above average arrangement and songwriting skills. As usual, I couldn’t understand the death-growled lyrics the first time around, but not to fear – you will thoroughly enjoy the overall presentation. The mostly fast, blasting to doom tempo swings and changes keep even the most experienced and hardened death metal listener on their toes. I could NOT predict the next tempo sequence, so I was quite impressed! I like things which are unique, and things which hold my attention versus cause it to turn away. Raw, bloodsoaked bastard vocals and a seething, angry, goat-inspired guitar line throughout just add to the intrigue. I recommend acquiring this 7″ from United Guttural if at all possible – or get a cassette copy from the band. Then, put it in your stereo, and turn the volume UP – prepare to be shredded!

Lucifer’s Hammer (The Mists of Time CD)

It’s always so nice to see a CD in your review pile you’ve heard before, and know you’ll love. These moments are bright spots in review sessions. Such a moment occured with Lucifer’s Hammer. I’ve heard all the material before, I know the band, and I run their website. Thus, I am biased. I’ll just have to stick to a description of the material and let you decide for yourselves! Mid-tempo to fast, black/doom metal with a touch of bleeding death. The material is old so the mix is a bit muted. It’s not as “tight” as some of the better-produced mixes of today but still – excellent. They never cease to satisfy with technical interludes, orchestrated keyboard parts, crushing technical moments, and other “catch you off guard” points. ‘Sad Birds Mist’ is the highlight track on the CD – one of their better known compositions for good reason.

Decrepit – Acrimonium

Ohio homegrown melodic black/death metal from beyond. Some of the tracks on this CD are much more death metal oriented than I previously remember. The production is quite crisp yet doesn’t cause the band to lose their thick raw edge. The differing vocal styles and changes in tempo, harmony, and arrangement will please listeners of today – even though this CD was originally recorded quite a few years ago. The simple death midtempo riffs and hooks are still fresh, and still crushing, after the years have passed. Heavy, dark, and definetly extreme – Decrepit is a must listen for fans of the genre who want something besides a “million miles an hour” “brootal death metal” which gets old, fast. Highlights of the album are – track 2 and track 4 (which is a cover).

Defiled (Japan – Demo Cassette)

7 songs in 15 minutes?! Sheesh! It’s not what I expected (I expected grindcore and I am thankful it is not) when I put it into the tape player though – it’s *very* technical, fast death metal. It reminds me a lot of Disincarnate and Pestilence, but with a cookie monster growler. It’s got some -very- intricate riffing which is a major plus. The mix is a little dry but it lends itself well to bringing out each note and the silences between. It’s not music you can mosh to without missing a LOT of it’s appeal. They sound like a true musician’s band, which all you axemen should appreciate. A must-acquire (just sit through the cookie monster vox.. you’ll be richly rewarded with the music.)

The Cold Beyond

Agressive from the start. Sounds like a live-recorded 8 track mix tape. VERY trebly. It’s mid-tempo to *very* fast black metal. Midrange to castrato howling black metal vocals. The bass and low end are *buried* and then the EQ switches and the guitar buries itself. Formerly this band was Dead By Morning, so if you liked their former stuff – you’ll probably like this too as something tells me, they switched monikers but not recording equipment. Excellent live band. Not a lot to offer in the originality dept., but if you’re one of those “too true” undergrounders, you’ll love it.

Vastion – Cold Stares of the Dead

Whilst on the Corpse kick, I figured I’d put a band in who matches them for intensity. None other than Georgia’s Vastion. They can match for speed, groove, and brutality. The slow doomy parts and the fast grind set them apart from most other DM bands by their use of melody, which instruments they choose to accent, and a different (high) vocal style. Their mix is always a little grungy which prevents you from getting the ear shattering cymbal hiss which seems so necessary these days to get the masses converted. Luckily someone picked up on Vastion’s coolness besides their circle of dedicated press reviewers and friends – they got signed a few weeks after I got this demo. Just goes to show you – pounding the pavement with a string of good releases, and having the skills – can get you into a favorable situation. I’e said it before and will say it again – Vastion’s stuff is good and definetly worth checking out.

Veneficum (Promo 2000)

Back to black metal *sigh*.. but it’s the in thing these days you know? There’s one of those evil movie-samples at the beginning of this CD. They seem to have Dani Filth singing.. Here’s my ‘impression list’ – 1st : Burzum, 2nd : Amsvartner, 3rd : Marduk. It’s really fast, sometimes melodic black metal. A muted mix though – unusual, for these bands generally prefer a very crisp “loud” and perfect production. American black metal seems to be of the “raw and underground sounding” pride though.. first Sarcophagus started it and now everyone’s doing it. *smirk* It’s NOT a bad demo in the least, and if you’re a fan of American black metal you should definetly acquire it.

Disciples of Mockery

Wow – a CD which is exactly as I expected! It sounds like old Incantation, probably because DOM is comprised of half the old Incantation lineup – the masters responsible for their original ascent to notiriety. It’s really good – the production is similar, unfortunately – but the music itself, and the compositions – pick up exactly where Incant left off. (or should have left off) Satanic and antichristian, dark and pounding, brooding and evil, most *definetly* brutal – DOM is for all fans of kiss-the-goat evil within the genre. It doesn’t get old after the first ten seconds like some of these CD’s tend to get – it just keeps killing you. A must-acquire. *grin*

Sarcophagus (Promo 1999; Breath of Night Records)

Blazing fast, hail and kill, antichristian American black metal with the aforementioned rough/muted mix. Since they switched from a death to a black metal band (the old schoolers never forget, hail Darkthrone!) nearly 7 years ago – they’ve just gotten to be more and more of a “look upon this band for inspiration/genre founder” type icon in the scene. I am told all the time that Sarco draws influence from Darkthrone, so I’ll parrot that off here. If you are in the market for true “old-school” American black metal full of hate for one thing – the christian faith – replete with ungodly howls and hyperfast blasting, chord-sawing and downpicking, then of course you must acquire Sarcophagus’s material!

Anoxia

Vader, Incantation, and Avulsion all pulverized together. A somewhat dampened mix, which is not too typical of demo cd releases of this caliber (full color print on cd, duplicated vs. replicated, jewel cased, staff graphic designer, whole 9 yards). It’s got more than it’s fair share of rather catchy slow doomy parts and death/blast beat “brutal death metal” points. It’s got a definite Dying Fetus feel on the second track.. so they have a nice series of influences – and they do a pretty decent job of wrapping them up for the listener. They have a lot of potential. Hey, I’m just slogging through the review pile here..

Bloodstorm – Pestilence From the Dragonstar

Yes! I knew the second I put this in, it was going to blast out of the speakers and scare me and at least one cat. I’m LOVING the buzzy guitar and bass sound, and the infernal howling. For this style, the production is perfect. Plus, it’s not all blast! It’s kind of like… a warped Quorthon and Bathory, or maybe Sodom, but much more modern and much more threatening. I can’t understand a word this dude is rasping out, but I’m loving it. It’s very “old-school”. It sounds like he’s being tortured, like raked across some coals or drinking acid .. and I am a big torture fan. No castrato vocals here, no false blackmetal crap .. just really evil midtempo stuff. There was a blackmetal band called War I believe, who played somewhat similarly to this, and I loved them too. I’m also a big Sodom and Bathory fan. So it’s just natural that this CD fall into my hands and I love it. Highly recommended.. and I’ve never even met these guys. They’re forever cancelling their shows and giving my friends from IL longer or better set times!  ;) Pick of the Litter.

Fleshtized – Divide and Counquer

Speedy and thankfully not boring. It is free of the usual blahs in DM – no cookie monster and no low E grinding. *phew*. Overall, the sheer speed and time switches, interspersed with little odd passages here and there, make it really interesting. I am not fond of how “high” the drums are in the mix, because it kept me from being able to turn UP the cd to really listen to it. From what I could hear at the volume I had it at – the bassist was doing some REALLY cool funky stuff under a pretty rote DM riff. Very cool, and original. I liked Fleshtized in Milwaukee and Ohio, and the CD reminds me why. They’re fast, original, use a variety of tempoes to keep your attention, and not boring to the ear (even after listening to a few other bands)! The production stands out as the CD’s weakness, so only the “great production freaks” need not buy this. Everyone else, who can see past a studio engineer’s fingers, should definetly give this a listen for it’s many good points.

Ad Infinitum – Contorted

I remember the mp3 of Tom Tangelos singing <and it wasn’t all that wonderful, but not so bad, either.> Either I forget and it’s still Tom and it just sounds completely different, or they got a new vocalist (who sounds kickass). It’s a bassy and mildly hissy production, but it’s clear, and it’s eevvviill. Nothing boring about these riffs – the band switches between the super-fast grind and the slower “death metal paces” effortlessly. Of course, whenever they venture into the “Swedish midtempo territory”, I pay rapt attention.. even if the CD is competing with my birds screaming because they love it too! I’m loving the solo work, the slower interludes, and the Corpsevomit-esque growling.. The compositions flow – which of course, is vital. If I wasn’t sitting here at the PC typing – I’d be thrashing. I’m REALLY liking the <short> melodic acoustic guitar composition on this CD. Just brace yourself for the next tune! *grin* Hey – I don’t know who’s playing drums on this CD (I didn’t get an “insert”) – I think the band got a new drummer – so don’t be thinking I’m just jocking the band because I think it’s Tom from Disinter … so that little bias aside, recommended highly for anyone who’s out of their 15 year old “everything has to be fast, gory, slutty, and low E” stage.

Lorde Of All Desires – Crowned in Blasphemy

I hope the CD is like the live set <which I really liked>… (typing as it fades in) The production’s a little “thick” – the volume’s erratic at times, and the bass fades in and out a little. Overall, on the production end though, it’s not “deliberately shitty” like those “true underground black metal” bands, so it’s acceptable. It’s reminding me of Somnus or From The Depths 3-4 years ago though. The “affected spoken vocals” are NOT my cup of tea.. they’re very forward in the mix though, so they’re kind of hard to tune out during the riffing.. I’m just glad it’s not a hyper-speed BM band.

Morgue Supplier – Not Dead Enough

<Paul> Gillis better make some “morning animal noises”! (You had to be there in the hotel room, that morning in Milwaukee.. I have not heard such loud hilarious noises in many moons. My side was hurting from laughing so hard. I hope we all woke up a lot of guests.) It’s a little muddy .. but it’s really fast, like promised, and really heavy, which I didn’t expect. (I’m of the “most grind is just fast drumming and sawing on an E chord” mentality) The EQ’s are a little off, and the production is way bassy, but this is a demo CD .. and a first pressing at that. Well, whoever’s singing is not making the animal noises .. just some enraged howling a la Odious Sanction. It has (older) Fetus-esque moments, which I am enjoying. What’s REALLY cool about this cd is that it’s supposed to be gore-grind, which basically means “the drums are going to be REALLY loud and fast”, but that’s not the case (as in loud – they are really fast). It’s a crazy cd – utter mayhem! The drums are nicely mixed in so that they don’t overpower any other instrument. Refreshing. The fact that you can’t understand a word of the lyrics kind of makes the “gore grind” point moot .. it just ends up being good, fast metal. Recommended.

The Chasm – Procession to the Underworld

Kind of like a mutated Novembers Doom … at least the first track is. I remember them being a lot faster in Milwaukee, so maybe I am missing something here … ah ha! Just a pokey-ass first track. A lot of CD’s do that, why I will never know. It bores the listener. Anyway, Daniel and cohorts never sucked in Incantation, and they certianly don’t suck in the Chasm! Daniel had this band before he ever had Incantation .. and it’s cool to see him getting back to his roots – and doing it so well. Fast, kind of trebly, black/death metal, delivered with vengeance from the soul. They are pretty dern technical, with lots of cool leads and riffs .. you have to listen carefully while thrashing to enjoy The Chasm to their fullest.

Coffin Texts – Gods of Death, Creation, and Afterlife

Ah ha, here we go, I can get an Egypt buzz and not have to resort to Nile. It’s like the PC and the Mac I guess.. like nobody’s ever heard of Coffin Texts compared to Nile, but once you’ve heard them, you’re like “damn, I was missing something killer!” I’m loving the guitar sound these guys are getting. It’s a nice mix of something American, and some “buzzsaw” distortion. Sure, Coffin Texts play some REALLY fast stuff, but they also slow down. When they do, a distinct Incantation-doom buzz floats across the soundscape. The band is one of those “anything goes, we take our music seriously and whip your ass with it, but we’re not pompous” types, which makes them a joy to be around too. The fact that Coffin Texts is comfortable at a slower pace, as well as a hyper-grind, and pretty much all in between, speaks for their musicianship well. At times they remind me of Hate Eternal .. and other times of Impaled .. but what’s nice is that always, they stand unique. Highly recommended, both as a ‘seeing the live show’, and as a ‘CD purchase’.

Lividity – The Age of Clitoral Decay

Dedicated to Nick Null. I’m not into porno-gore. Just wanted to dedicate some space to the guy.

Thornspawn – Blood of the Holy, Taint Thy Steel

This CD will kick my ass if it’s anything like their live set! I’m not one for skunk-painted black metallers (and god damn you Dave M. for shaving your head, and leaving me with such a cool quote!), but I know Bjorn from another project, so I know it’s not all Black Metal and Eye Candy. (way too much “fire” and “inner bevel” on the cover guys..) Yup .. it’s ripping me up! Super fast, black metal in the um.. whatever you’d call the “everyone was doing it 2 years ago – super fast and blasphemous” vein. Veneficum is superior, but Thornspawn is more convincing in their delivery. If you put the 2 bands in the same room, like say the Curtain Room during next year’s March Metal Meltdown <*gack – sarcasm alert*>, it would definetly be an ear-bleeding fest of pain, masochism on the listener’s part, and torment. If you threw Sarcophagus into the mix, it would be utter mayhem. Way cool USBM. Recommended. I just wish I was more BM-educated so I could point out *why*, besides “Bjorn and his band are cool and the CD kicks ass.”

Usurper – ‘Visions…’ (Demo Re-Release) Usurper – VFTG cover

There is no love in this world. I had to get a cassette dub from some dorkass in Canada to even hear this release, and I’ve been running the Usurper site for over a year now .. and have been in close contact with the band, the label, and the PR guy. *sigh* Anyway! I don’t know who’s playing drums on this one either (and it’s killing me; they’re a wee bit erratic in spots so I’m hoping I can blame Warlord..), so you can toss out your little “bias” ideas and just read on. The first time I heard this tape (while copying), I was amazed by the sheer speed and “black metal mayhem” sheer terror of the first track .. but then I was wondering when it was going to kick into ‘Frost mode’. I’m sitting here doing the same thing again .. hehe .. Hey, those mid-tempo passages are absolutely neck-breaking live in concert! They’re my favorites! High points of the release – production is good, the killer effects on the guitars, the slower passages one can inflict whiplash on themselves to, and the aural interludes of despair. Again, it’s a band who doesn’t rely on “low E grind-speed” to carry them, nor ‘cookie monster vocals’, nor 665 tracks of affected keyboards .. so it’s good, even if everyone and their mother calls them Celtic Frost. <these demos sound almost nothing like Frost..> Recommended. Even if you have to beg some jackoff loser in Canada because the band strategically disappeared.

Kult ov Azazel – Of Evil and Hatred – 2 song demo

Ah, the tortured screaming vocalist from hell! Besides his input, we have the musical contributions from other chord-sawing, grind-blasting members. The first song’s mix leaves a little to be desired .. but then again, this is a pre-signing demo release. It’s basically obnoxious black metal. Not my cup of tea. When they slow down and shed the obnoxious “aol band” image though, they show a nice degree of talent and versatility! I like the second song on this tape, because the vocals are BURIED .. <and it sounds less contrived – like it was recorded at band practice> That howl was pretty annoying. The guitar is very heavy on this song, which rules – because it’s also nice and slow. Something to whip my hair around, for sure. Azazel of course has something different to offer – at least this second (last) song is worth getting the demo for! (postscript: I heard it’s a cover song – “Chainsaw Gutfuck”?)

Reprobation – One Rotted Autopsy

Whoa, they don’t suck at all! For some strange reason until now, I thought, well the lack of peer review must mean *something*, maybe they’re nicer people than they are good musicians .. I guess Reprobation’s just a well kept secret. This demo tape is extremely heavy, with a great range of tempos, a dual vocal style, some brief solo work, and a whole bunch of other extras I have come to expect from only “album bands” it seems. (for example: the volume on this tape is easily controlled, and the mix is clear.) I’m loving the false harmonics and the wicked fast riffs, and the slower parts. No frills added into this death metal – just good death! The demo “goes thin” in production/mix, in a few places, but hey, this is a demo *tape*, not some third CD .. You can’t understand the vocalist, so I’ll just pretend I didn’t just see a song title “cum covered coma patient” or something else completely whacked .. (All porno gore bands must remember, Eyegouger did it first and best!! Tits down!!) I wish Reprobation had more of a “buzz” outside of the South Side of Chicago .. they’re aeons better than some of the stuff I heard from Metal Blade tonight. There is no love in this world.. *moan, groan* Recommended.

Bloodsimple – From The Darkness, Into The Abyss

I’m just doing this review tonight because if I don’t, Kris will nag me to death. (Nagsimple) Now that I have the music a little louder, I can hear there is less Quorthon to the vocals, and it’s heavier/lower toned than I thought before. I like the speeds at which the band sets itself. It’s not technical or contrived music – just your garden variety good slower death/black metal. I know I compared them to Blood Coven a while ago – and they do share similarities both in tempo and the lack of “excess frill” to the music – but similarity ends there. BC uses a lot of guitar synth and adds flesh with about 6 zillion riffs a song .. whereas Bloodsimple picks one kickass riff and pounds it into you for about 4 minutes at a time. You are thus compelled to thrash until you are dizzy.  ;)  Oddly, the production on this tape is better than that of Azazel’s, and Az got signed, and Bloodsimple did not. What did I tell you about there being no love in this world?! Then again, this is obviously a rougher tape – endings and beginnings are slopped (a la band practice – not a fault!) .. so who knows. I love rough mixes and beta tapes .. so this is of course a cool “snag”. I like the little acoustic-ish interlude too. You’re on the right track, guys, keep it up.

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Catholicon – Lost Chronicles of the War in Heaven

Guys, are you old enough to hate god that much?  (fuckyourgod.com)  Besides that … to the music … I just listened to Bloodstorm, so of course, it’s probably not going to be par for the course (if it’s *anything* like the tape…) * Hits play and waits for the intro to end * OK, the intro is good. It’s the screaming and the eerie guitar effects I like, not the harmonizer cookie monster “demon” vocals. So then the music kicks in, and it’s this REALLY slow thing with a clear but kind of unbalanced production, and this really harsh screechy effect on the vocalist .. The third track is really good albeit bass-less. WAY too “high” drum mix though. I guess with a halfway decent production, Catholicon might go places.

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Sanity’s Void – Sculpted

© 1993?! I got this in 2000! How odd! That’s all.

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