NIGHTMARE CITY, Nightmare Tape (2014, Electric Assault)

The skull:
Now this here is a stunningly awesome hand-drawn Big Dumb Skull. The best way to look at it is to imagine that the giant flaming skull is neither attacking the city nor being attacked, but rather is just sitting there. Like, one night people looked out the windows of their high rise condominiums and instead of the sunset saw an enormous skull with smoke and fire pouring out of its eyes. What could be more terrifying than that? I mean, aside from the skull smiling.

The music:
Imagine if Sodom had recorded their debut EP with the relative instrumental prowess of Venom (a massive upgrade, if you can imagine it). That’s what Nightmare City sounds like, more or less. I guess that Nightmare City are a lot more concerned with the powers of Rock than the powers of Satan, and they lean a bit more punk than metal sometimes, but in those cases, just imagine a missing link between The Damned’s Machine Gun Etiquette and Tank’s Filth Hounds of Hades. These guys capture the raw early 80s more or less perfectly, and they do it while avoiding the winking tone that scuttles a lot of these sorts of retro acts. I like a lot of the bands that inspire Nightmare City and their ilk (think: Superchrist, Asomvel) but I’m not totally sold on the need for anything new in this style, but if you’re on board with the scene, you need to check these guys out.
— Friar Johnsen


DAY OF EXECUTION, Dead Burning to Ashes  (2012, Brewery Prod.)

The skull:
Here we have yet another album cover depicting some post-apocalyptic nonsense, a cover that’s probably supposed to look bad-ass but really looks sorta stupid. Whether or not the technical execution of the idea is good or not is a moot point when the concept you’re working with is artistically bankrupt. A skull chomping down on demolished skyscrapers — oh boy! He’s late to the party. The bomb, or wrecking ball, got here way before you, Mr. Skull — all you get are sloppy seconds.

The music:
These Bulgarians play simplistic death metal that seems to draw equal influence from Dying Fetus, Sinister and Bolt Thrower, but without any distinctive, distinguishing element of their own. While it certainly could be worse (their playing skills are decent), this has about as much appeal as that latest Massacre album. And if you’ve heard that, you know what I mean:  redundancy incarnate. I have a soft spot for the almost Psychotic Waltz-esque lead guitar tones, as heard to best effect in “Warriors of Uruk” — they’ve got the sound down, that vapory, cosmic, heavily chorused sort of thing. Unfortunately they don’t make as much out of it as Mssrs. Rock and McAlpin. These leads, though, keep Dead Burning to Ashes from feeling entirely vacant. Ultimately this band’s sound would have already sounded tired back in 1995…it certainly cannot hold much appeal here in 2014. Bonus points for the cover of Bolt Thrower’s “Cenotaph”? Nah, not really, but nice try anyway.
— Friar Wagner