20 years ago, local death metal band, Blasphemer, released their Halls of Hades LP, and in recent weeks, this blog was contacted about doing a throwback review on it. Brian Rosenberg (guitar), put the entire album up on YouTube just last month and is hoping the next generation of death metal fans in Buffalo will be able to appreciate it, thus carrying on the legacy of classic ’90s death metal.
I must confess, as a first time Blasphemer listener, it’s been a long time since I’ve heard an album like this. Right off the bat, listening to the opening track, “The AngelRipper”, I’m immediately reminded of bands like Human Remains or Sadus. Granted, Human Remains is more grindcore and Sadus is more thrash metal, I can’t get away from those two comparisons. Blasphemer is erratic, speedy, bone crushingly heavy, slow and patient at times, dissonant at times, melodic at times; Halls of Hades is really all over the place from start to finish.
The lead guitar work in track 4, “Destroy the Churches Reign” is masterful to say the least. It’s impressive throughout the entire album, but the shredding ability between Glenn and Brian Rosenberg is stellar. The speed picking behind most of the rhythm riffs is beyond impressive too.
The vocals are exactly what they should be for this genre. Glenn brings classic death/thrash harsh vocals (more yelling with natural rasps) to the table, without the use of shrill highs or gutturals, which are more common in modern death metal, deathcore, etc. So, if you’re looking for Trevor Strnad (The Black Dahlia Murder) sounding vocals, this probably isn’t the album for you. However, if Glenn Benton (Deicide) or Chuck Schuldiner (Death) are more your sound, definitely stream this album to your heart’s content.
You also can’t mess with Blasphemer’s rhythm section. Greg Prenatt (drums) and Dave Lopian (bass) are fully loaded on each track, bringing thrashing drums that just don’t quit, mixed with heavy, distorted bass that is actually AUDIBLE and goes note for note with even the most intricate drum segments.
You can compare Halls of Hades to any number of classic death metal albums from the ’80s and ’90s, but it’s hard to think of a band that fuses the influence of death metal, grindcore and thrash metal in the exact manner that Blasphemer does. I’d recommend this blast from the past of an album to anyone with an ear for these genres. Furthermore, if you’re new to Buffalo/Rochester death metal and you want to check out some heavy hitters revitalizing this sound in the area, you’ll want to give a listen to Seplophile, Nethergrave, Gutted Alive and Sastruga.
We’re giving this two thumbs way up, for reminding us all too well about death metal’s primordial form.
Stream the whole thing on YouTube by clicking the video below: