Old Skool United Kingdom Death Metal should, as far as I’m concerned, be its own genre. Yes OSUKDM may sound like something you may find on the porn channel of your choice, but it is indeed a much finer thing than watching some guy ‘clean the pool’ as they say. And with that nasty thought in your head I present to you the almighty Blasphemer! It’s a no brainer to then reason that they are indeed, from the United Kingdom, a place that has brought me much joy over the years as far as Metal goes.
They hail from Dewsbury, which is in West Yorkshire, in ye olde merry England. According to Google, the god of all gods, “It is to the west of Wakefield, east of Huddersfield, and south of Leeds. It lies by the River Calder and an arm of the Calder and Hebble Navigation”. If that makes any sense to you then you either live there, stare at maps for way to long, or visited once and long to get back to it’s finery. Very boring facts right there old chaps, but what I CAN tell you is that the region is also renowned for such acts as My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, Saxon, The Cult, Evile, and way many more. Also of note is the fact that a certain place named ‘Academy Music Studio’ is located there.
A studio of special note perhaps? Well, fucking duh. For the unknowing it is where a lot of bands such as the aforementioned Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride, Primordial and Anathema even recorded some of their finest work. Peaceville Records was their vessel, and such mightiness did they produce. Legend has it that certain members of Blasphemer may have well sat in on some of the recording sessions, or maybe a little bird told me, I’m unsure as my brain has become addled over the years..
So around those special times a band was formed, and they named it Blasphemer, lucky for us or you wouldn’t be reading about them. Yay, and also verily did they release a few awesome demos upon the world and all was good, then they signed with Peaceville under the name of Dominion and blah blah blah I could go on for hours or you can just go look it all up on the interwebs..I found it, and I’m an idiot, so you will do just fine I assure you.
SO, anyway, after a very fucking long time we now have before us Blasphemer’s debut album, and after about 25 years of dicking around as I’m sure they did, is this worthy of us even bothering with? The results are in, and they say “Yes, you are the Father, and the son, and the…Holy shit this is good!”. Fucking exceptional really, and there is a damn good reason for it being so, of which I will indubitably elaborate. They have a long history, you get a long review, go figure..
One would think that the combination of hanging around in the presence of such famous Peaceville acts, being around northern England with all it’s medieval type history and all the rest would somehow show in the final product wouldn’t you think? Am I being unreasonable by coming to this assumption? Apparently yes, and no would be the answer..These guys are as far removed from what most would think is ‘traditional’ OSUKDM as a fool can be from his teeth, but not in a bad way. Yes, they certainly are keeping the dream alive without a doubt, but the way they do things, at least to my mind, makes it all the more special. Let me explain in more detail.
Opener “Death Note” starts off with an ominous tone, and then rips layers off your skin in an almost “Bonded by Blood”, Exodus type of way when it blends into track two, “Immortality”. You are being flayed alive motherfucker, and you can feel every little bit of skin being pulled away from your hapless self. Rest assured though that it does get a little more soothing after this. More like pulling the skin off a nasty blister. You are okay for a minute, then it gets fucking far worse. These guys are not here to make you feel anything but pain, and that’s the way we like it yes? Almost Thrash like to begin with, but most certainly Death by all means.
“Sutcliffe” enters the room, and apart from being a song about the notorious Yorkshire Ripper, one slightly fucked up individual named Peter Sutcliffe who you can bloody well go look up yourself as well you lazy bastard, is also a ripper in itself of the highest order. Putting the sin back into sinister as it where, a tale of mayhem and murder with the all the subtlety of a hammer to the back of the head and a quick rogering in the bushes, so to speak. One can almost feel the confusion in his mind as the music chugs along, sometimes flat out, other times orderly and then the voices, those voices begin and all hell breaks loose.
“March of the War Priests” has a definite Peaceville tone to it, and could quite easily fit in alongside some of the greats on any given compilation. A more mid paced affair, with melodies to boot, and some real chunk to keep the whole thing as deadly as can be. The lyrical delivery being exceptional, as with all the tracks on this album, you will indeed pick up the finest mace of your choice, praise whatever bastard God you believe in and join this crusade. Title track “Blasphemer” has a definite Tampa flavour about it, and some pretty fucking mad riff sections ala early Vio-lence and even everyone’s beloved Death. The solo’s sound almost like Kerry King popped in for a quick beer with his mate Jeff at times, and this in itself shows the sheer amount of talent we are dealing with here. There is nothing this pack of awesome bastards cannot do.
“Cult of the Conquerors” is quite simply Death Metal incarnate until it opens up around the three quarter mark, and becomes another fine example of just how quickly these fine chaps are able to alter the mood of a song in a single heartbeat. The end zone almost becoming Melodeath like in delivery, and that again shows us the amount of stuff these guys have absorbed over time, and again they own every little section on display. Sensational. “Wonderland of Cruelty” would have to be my fave out of such wonder, classic riffing on display creating a web of brutal effectiveness. Yet again the line between classic UK Death and everything else being slightly blurred into a frenetic burst of utter joy. Again another song that can quite easily hold its hand up and join the realm of almost instant you must have kind of Death Metal.
Closer, “Sarcastic Ideology” leads us out on a high note, as all good albums should. A pretty much picture perfect example of what we began talking about, Old School United Kingdom Death Metal. Big fat sound, big fat riffs, amazing bits all over the shop and a killer style that would, nay WILL, make a huge fan out of anyone even remotely interested in this kind of shit. And when it (the album) is all over, you will shake your head in disbelief, and time willing play it again, and again, and again. Every listen provides a different facet or angle upon which to ponder, which song was the highlight, and which riff or musical passage will stick in your head for the longest.
What a time to be alive. Between these chaps and a host of others that I have been discovering lately, my musical needs are being well met. I hear whispers that they have another out soonish, and by Christ I can’t wait to get my hands upon it. Long live all forms of Death Metal, but for me, may UKOSDM reign forever!!
Grab this before you even take another breath right here.