Album Review – Black Hole Deity / Lair Of Xenolich EP (2021)

This new American entity comes ripping with their debut dimension-altering listening experience, overflowing their supernatural and sci-fi-themed Death Metal.

When you put together past and present members of ruthless metal acts like Chaos Inception, Malignancy, Fear Factory, Cruelty Exalted and Calcemia, the result is obviously going to be demolishing to say the least. That’s exactly what vocalist Chris White, guitarists Alec Cordero and Cam Pinkerton, and renowned drummer Mike Heller, collectively known as Birmingham, Alabama-based Death Metal horde Black Hole Deity, have to offer us all in their debut EP entitled Lair Of Xenolich, highly recommended for fans of the likes of Nocturnus, Morbid Angel, Hate Eternal and Deeds of Flesh, just to name a few. Produced and mixed by Mike Heller at Heaven and Heller Studios, re-amped and mastered by Lasse Lammert at LSD Studios, and featuring a blasphemous artwork by Chris Kiesling from Misanthropic Art, Lair Of Xenolich is a dimension-altering listening experience, bringing to our ears supernatural and sci-fi-themed Death Metal, sounding progressive yet dark and brutal throughout its intense 16 minutes of music.

Mike showcases all his brutality and skills behind his drums in the fulminating opening tune Razed Earth Edict, where the band goes straight to the point, with Chris’ demented roars complementing their razor-edged riffs flawlessly. Then in Railgun Combat we’re treated to venomous lyrics barked by Chris (“Incandescent / Blaze through steel corridors / Priming our armaments / To sear their flesh / Break the covenant / Carnage in the church of Nihilanth / Bursts of plasma, claims their souls”) while Alec and Cam continue to kill with their stringed axes in another bestial Death Metal exhibit by the quartet, and featuring guest violinist Ally Storch, Hypersleep Dementia is a melodic and introspective interlude that will penetrate deep inside our psyche before the band comes ripping in Multiverse Incantations, with Mike hammering his drums mercilessly accompanied by the obscure riffage by Alec and Cam, resulting in a headbanging extravaganza with absolutely no shenanigans nor any artificial elements. And lastly, the title-track Lair Of Xenolich will offer your avid ears three minutes of top-of-the-line Death Metal, with Alec’s soulful solos and Mike’s crushing beats adding an extra touch of malignancy to the overall result, therefore putting an amazing ending to the album.

After all is said and done, although we’re talking about just 16 minutes of music, let’s say the dexterity, rage and intensity those four horsemen of Death Metal put into the making of the EP make it sound like a full-bodied album, pointing to an exciting future ahead of them full of wicked, multi-layered releases. Hence, don’t forget to show Black Hole Deity your appreciation by following them on Facebook, and especially by purchasing Lair Of Xenolich from the Everlasting Spew Records’ BandCamp page or webstore (and soon from other retailers like Apple Music and Amazon), keeping the fires of underground Death Metal burning bright and, of course, inspiring us to slam into the pit like true metalmaniacs to the furious sound of their top-of-the-line sci-fi inspired creations.

Best moments of the album: Razed Earth Edict and Lair Of Xenolich.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Everlasting Spew Records

Track listing
1. Razed Earth Edict 4:22
2. Railgun Combat 3:28
3. Hypersleep Dementia 1:49
4. Multiverse Incantations 4:10
5. Lair Of Xenolich 3:03

Band members
Chris White – vocals
Alec Cordero – lead guitar
Cam Pinkerton – rhythm guitar, bass, backing vocals
Mike Heller – drums

Guest musician
Ally Storch – violin on “Hypersleep Dementia”

Album Review – Fear Factory / Genexus (2015)

Once again, it’s time to enter the machine and surrender to the mechanized reign ruled by the undisputed masters of Industrial Metal.

Rating4

fear factory_genexusI honestly don’t understand why the music by American Industrial Metal masters Fear Factory has never been part of any of the Terminator movies. I mean, ANY of their songs are powerful, metallic and atmospheric enough to provide the perfect background for all the destruction and chaos caused by the one and only Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger, which is also the case with the music found in their brand new automaton entitled Genexus, the ninth studio album in their exceptional career and the first to feature drummer Mike Heller (Malignancy, System Divide).

However, it’s not only the density and strength of the music by this Los Angeles-based nonstop machine that amazes me every single time they release a new album, but also the whole futuristic concept surrounding their work. For instance, the new artwork, designed by American artist Anthony Clarkson, reminds me a lot of three iconic movie characters that have everything to do with what the music proposes: the unstoppable killing machine known as the Terminator; the brainy and rebel hero Iron Man; and the mesmerizing but extremely dangerous Ava (from the cult flick Ex Machina). Put differently, Fear Factory marvelously know how to give life and emotion to cold metal.

The opening track, Autonomous Combat System, is Industrial Metal at its finest from the very first second, a violent and harmonious tune just like we always expect from this amazing band, and when the sick riffs by the unparalleled Dino Cazares and the band’s famous industrial drums begin the energy level goes through the roof. And their futuristic awesomeness goes on in Anodized, another masterful lesson in shredding (who doesn’t love riffs like these?) supporting its meaningful lyrics from a not-so-impossible future for all of us (“A transhuman state / Will liberate man’s evolution / A singularity / Maintains the peace / Machined solution / Lacerate, eviscerate / My body to redefine / My design”). The performance by Mr. Burton C. Bell with both his harsh screams and clean vocals is superb, and if you’re a fan of Alternative Metal or Nu Metal let me tell you this is an awesome example of how everything started. In Dielectric, you can feel the electricity flowing nonstop, especially through its drums that sound like a machine gun, with its background effects being so important I cannot imagine this amazing tune without them.

Then it’s time to bang your fuckin’ head to the low-tuned bass lines by Tony Campos and the vicious riffs by Mr. Cazares in Soul Hacker, where its great chorus will stick inside your mind for sure, followed by the dynamic and thrilling rhythm of ProtoMech, enhanced by its excellent lyrics (“Take everything away from me / Replace my skin with circuitry / All that I have bleeding from me / To feed the machine”) and an amazing feeling provided by its mechanized atmosphere. In my humble opinion, this is the best song of the whole album, proving once again how skillfully Fear Factory are capable of feeding the Heavy Metal machine we all love so much.

fear factoryThe superb title-track, Genexus, is like a journey to a desolated world ruled by machines, exactly like what the future shows in the Terminator franchise, showcasing all the elements that took Fear Factory to stardom, with Burton sounding enraged and ready to confront the machine for his freedom. Church of Execution also provides that mechanic and industrialized sounding and an eerie ambience with lots of groove, despite not being as kick-ass as the others due to the lack of a more violent chorus; while Regenerate, with its weird robotic effects in the background, is perhaps one of the best examples of traditional Thrash Metal modernized by Industrial and Groove Metal. Moreover, I love the energy of its chorus, and how can we not bang our heads to it?

Battle for Utopia is intended to represent the march of the machines with its furious and imposing sonority, including lots of special effects to create the atmosphere desired by the band, before Expiration Date closes the album in a very traditional way, which in the case of Fear Factory means in the form of a melancholic music voyage. Pay good attention to the beauty of its lyrics, gently declaimed by Burton (“Under the surface we’re not machines / Under the surface we’re living dreams / Death lives just one breath away / Somewhere my heart beats in silence / I made my way through the violence / Nobody lives forever”), close your eyes and let yourself be absorbed by the music and its message, the final result is outstanding.

And finally, on a side note, the bonus tracks that come with the limited edition of Genexus keep up with the rest of the album in terms of complexity, violence and electricity, with highlights to the ominous atmosphere in the smooth Enhanced Reality. In summary, if you’re ready to enter the machine engendered  by Fear Factory for the first time, or if you already surrendered to their mechanized reign a long time ago, Genexus is definitely a must-have album to your collection of extreme and melodic music.

Best moments of the album: Autonomous Combat System, ProtoMech and Genexus.

Worst moments of the album: Church of Execution and Battle for Utopia.

Released in 2015 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Autonomous Combat System 5:28
2. Anodized 4:47
3. Dielectric 4:19
4. Soul Hacker 3:12
5. ProtoMech 4:56
6. Genexus 4:48
7. Church of Execution 3:21
8. Regenerate 4:02
9. Battle for Utopia 4:14
10. Expiration Date 8:48

Limited Digipak bonus tracks
11. Mandatory Sacrifice (Genexus Remix) 5:43
12. Enhanced Reality 5:36

Band members
Burton C. Bell – vocals
Dino Cazares – guitar
Tony Campos – bass guitar
Mike Heller – drums

Guest musicians
Deen Castronovo – drums on “Soul Hacker”
Laurent Tardy – piano on “Autonomous Combat System” and “Protomech”
Mister Sam – spoken words on “Autonomous Combat System” and “Expiration Date”
Damien Rainuad – programming, keyboards
Giuseppe Bassi – samples, keyboards