MASTIC SCUM, Dust (2009, Twilight Vertrieb)
Wheels within wheels, man. Or gears within skulls, whatever. This is a sharp looking biomech who succeeds on the details. Note the plate in his forehead and the exhaust vents astern, and of course the obligatory barcode (here emblazoned on his jaw). Lots of skulls go for this grimy industrial look, but most of them come off looking like rejected drafts for a Photoshop class. This guy nails it, and though he is to be docked points for presenting his skullacity in profile, and perhaps for a cliched surfeit of brown, he compensates with tasteful highlighting and some truly spectacular teeth.
Mastic Scum grind after the fashion of Napalm Death, with the death metal quotient turned up a bit. Though not as endearingly jarring as the godfathers of grind, Mastic Scum apply the formula well. The buzzy, super-high-gain guitars and the precise drum work summon a recollection of Fear Factory in better days, but really, most of the “industrial” in Mastic Scum is delegated to the artwork. I won’t say that this sort of music thrills me especially, but I can appreciate craft when I hear it, and Mastic Scum do this style about as well as anyone.
— Friar Johnsen
EXILED, Exiled (2002, Hellion)
The fact that this is Exiled’s first-ever release — no demo, no EP, and on a fairly well-known label — and it looks like THIS tells you that almost no thought whatsoever went into the artwork. They’re like a baby fresh out of the womb that’s expected to get dressed in its finest and make an immediate public appearance. No wonder Exiled just went “uh…skull, that’s it!” Grab any skull you can find on your favorite clip-art page, make it glow and stamp a barcode on its forehead…voila! There you have your first album cover. Brilliant.
Well-crafted, highly energetic, aggressive power metal with plenty of speed but also enough timing shifts to keep you on your toes. The vocalist hovers in a mid-range, but dips low sometimes and every now and then well move to higher ground — he’s pretty good, although lacks something truly identifiable. The capability of each musician is fairly high too, and the songwriting is solid, if nothing groundbreaking. Exiled do what they do pretty well, delivering passion, darkness, melancholy and spirit in equal measure, played with remarkable ability, and you can’t help but like it at least a little bit. I wouldn’t return unless they really started finding their own unique muse, but it was good for one-time listen.
— Friar Wagner
MAGOR, Túl Mindenen (2008, demo)
This poor skull! All manner of junk is going into his boney being, for a reason we will likely never know. Túl Mindenen means “beyond all” in Hungarian, and the torture this skull is enduring here is truly beyond all reasonability. Some big ol’ stubby cylindrical thing has been jammed into the top of his head while various tubes run in and out of both sides of the skull. He’s chained in four spots, like he’s gonna get drawn and quartered, and to add insult to injury his forehead’s been stamped with a barcode. Wisps of smoke or some gaseous stuff trails from the tubes on the right. He silently screams “I’m not an animal, I’m a…skull!!!” There’s just no dignity in what’s happening here.
Lately I’ve been real hard on newer bands here at BDS, but admit something: if you’re a modern band putting a skull on your cover and playing fifth-generation tough-guy metal, you have no reason to exist. Hungary’s Magor are another band that toss together one-dimensional riffs and terrible yelled vocals and call it metal. But they do have some distinctive elements that make them a bit more enjoyable than the bland norm. One thing Magor does is throw in sublime lead guitar lines and thematic passages, as heard near the end of this demo’s third and final song, “Rejts el Magadban.” More of that and less of almost everything else would be cool. I appreciate the tightness displayed in “Arccal a Feny Fele,” so credit drummer Zoltan Csatai on that, and the doom-ish element within “Túlélő Vagyok, Nem Aldozat” keeps things interesting, so that’s appreciated. Still, Magor will likely sound pointless to any seasoned metalhead. But if you just got turned onto Sepultura, Metallica and Pantera yesterday, and you live in Hungary, you’re gonna love this.
— Friar Wagner