DEATHEVOKER, Eternally Rot  (2012, demo)

The cover:
A stylish skull, this one, encircled to bring out the wrath this guy’s going through: drowned in slime, maggots, tendrils, offal and various other unpleasant junk. Par for the course for a death metal skull, basically. This is clearly inspired by Dan Seagrave and could have been a demo cover from the good ol’ days of Carnage or Dismember. It actually closely resembles the artwork on Dismember’s 1990 demo, Reborn in Blasphemy. With the logo looking 1001% Swedish and traditional gothic font used for the demo title, you don’t have to be a fancypants Nostradamus to figure out what kind of music Deathevoker plays. It’s a good little piece of art from this Malaysian band whose every release to date features a skull or skulls — we Friars and the ever-onlooking Council hail their good taste!

The music:
While I figured this demo would totally sound like demo-era Dismember, there’s a bit more going on here. Even if many riffs — monolithic, cruel and raw in the finest Swedish tradition — are deadringers for Dismember, the vocals are of a more scathing, unhinged sort, not as low as a Karki or Petrov, more like a synthesis of early King Fowley (Deceased) and early Pete Helmkamp (Order From Chaos) with a bit of a black metal snarl on the fringes. And they will, occasionally, add a melodic sequence that recalls a majestic Metallica or Megadeth passage, veering closer than you’d guess to balls-out power metal in these rare instances. It’s still death metal through and through, but Deathevoker are somewhat refreshing in that they use their considerable abilities to carve out something relatively unique rather than treading the same old boards most other retro-minded bands are content to.
— Friar Wagner


PITIFUL REIGN, Toxic Choke (2006, self-released)

The skull:
Drawing your album cover with a pencil: that’s oldschool. Adorning it with a grinning, deformed, and dripping mascot skull: that’s going all the way. But if the skull isn’t named Pete Evil (get it?), I’d say that at a minimum, an opportunity was missed. In any case, I appreciate the DIY charm on display here, and the ridiculous skull is exactly the right kind of ridiculous.

The music:
I feel like every time I have to review British thrash, old or new, I end up insulting it by comparing it to Cerebral Fix, so I won’t do that this time. And anyway, Pitiful Reign don’t really sound like them, but they do sound very British, in the worst way, even if the bass tone is 100% Souls at Black, all rubbery and bad. Musically, this would probably fall in the middle of the rethrash quality spectrum, but the production is so bad that it’s hard to appreciate at face value. The vocals, clearly recorded without a pop screen, are clipped so badly that I wonder if the mic used was the one built into the singer’s laptop or phone. The entire mix is punishingly loud and in very short order listening to Pitiful Reign becomes quite taxing on the ears. Coming out as it did in 2006, this album was at least a little bit ahead of the rethrash trend, but it’ sadly no better than anything that’s come out since.
— Friar Johnsen