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Shadow Music Ryan Harding Review by
Ryan Harding
Olympic Recordings / Osmose Productions

Finally, ANGEL CORPSE in stores. Chicago-based label Olympic has done the States a favor by making one of the USA's most punishing acts readily available. They picked the ideal time to do it, too, because while HAMMER OF GODS and EXTERMINATE elevated ANGEL CORPSE to the top of the hierarchy, THE INEXORABLE levels the entire genre with its focus and intensity.

The group is now down to three - Pete Helmkamp (bass/vocals), Gene Palubicki (guitars), and new drummer Tony, who has played for AURORA BOREALIS and MALEVOLENT CREATION among others. He replaces John Longstreth, and completely lays waste to everything John did for ANGEL CORPSE and then some. His performance is on par with Pete Sandoval, Hellhammer, and Fredrik Andersson, displaying an inhuman stamina and precision throughout the eight tracks of dominating aggression. "Stormgods Unbound" leads off, equalling and then annihilating the penultimate opener "Christhammer." Tony's blasting arsenal is replete with techniques I haven't heard before; he rides double bass for added momentum -- not unheard of, but sparsely used by other skinsmen -- but on "Stormgods" and later on "The Fall of the Idols of Flesh" he keeps gallop patterns under the blast that heighten the insanity.

Helmkamp fronts with his recognizable vocal style, delivering even faster than previous outings this time. That would be because of Palubicki, whose riffs just explode through the album while maintaining a solid identity and variety. They do an even better job of separating one song from the next than on EXTERMINATE, but again the components are still assembled from speed. They have a little fun with this on "Wolflust," finally recorded on cd after being on seven inch for a few years, with its intermittent catchiness and acceleration.

On the misleading "Begotten (Through Blood and Flame)" they move along at a determined marching pace and just as suddenly release both barrels in one of the most pulverizing blast sections I've had the privilige of hearing. "Solar Wills" is another jaw-dropping track, where Gene's amazing 7-string axework propels the song well beyond the stratosphere. It's hard to conceive of a more talented trio alongside ANGEL CORPSE, KRISIUN, and MORBID ANGEL right now, and ANGEL CORPSE has definitely met their competition and raised the stakes. It's been a decent year for death metal, but this is the conqueror.

5 Perplex Skulls

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This review copyright 1999 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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