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Hungry Flames Lick Your Skin - 80%

Left Hand Ov Dog, October 3rd, 2012

Goddamnit Poland, I’m serious! Stop corrupting all my free time, it’s getting out of hand! Stillborn have been around for a dozen years, and this here filthy phantasm is their 4th full-length, a perfectly abstract, putrescent pit of blackened death metal debauchery that will have your soul crying out in terror as it’s subsumed in this psychedelic bog of blood. While the constituent parts of Los Asesinos del Sur don’t all sound equally inspired, it’s the mad Frankenstein creation that is the entirety that feels so ferociously decadent. It’s a bit hard to name direct influences (some odd mutation of 1349, Entombed, Deicide, and mid-era Behemoth), but I feel this will appeal equally to ravaging black metal barons and filthy death fucks equally, a shambling 31 minute monster to accompany you through the coming Fall. Try blasting this from your house come Halloween, and see how many prospective candy cravers have the balls to approach your humble home. My guess is few.

It’s impossible to shake the constant horror movie atmosphere, an old-school charm that will have the greedy hands of Autopsy and Dismember fans wringing in carnal delight. However, this is beyond the rollicking simplicity of the classic Swedish or American gore scenes, with a lot of variety in pacing and notation that belies the simplicity of its innate tone, which is like a couple of mud-covered chainsaws making their way through a mountain of torso’s. Indeed, the death metal aspect is largely in the tone, and as well as the dynamic precision with which the band looses its storms, but the actual riffing is almost without fail quite blackened, purveying a tremolo riffing style that reeks indelibly of darkness. While none of the individual riffs feel incredibly unique, they’re still quite strong, interesting waves of pure hellfire, rolling out and consuming you like a twig in an inferno. The vocals help the stylistic marriage even further along by utilizing lower, drawling grunts (like Glen Benton meets LG Petrov or Nergal). It truly feels like a black metal record that utilizes thick, soupy death metal aesthetics, certainly not a combination I’m used to, but one I seem to enjoy quite a bit. That’s perhaps not so surprising, that I would like the kid, since I’m such an enthusiast of its parents.

Stillborn really nail a dynamic atmosphere here, a sort of primordial land teeming with gouts of fire and psychotically violent spirits on the prowl. This record is all over the place, lurching from frenzied blasting to dilapidated, discordant rhythms with ease, like some hungry corpse shambling towards you, one leg crippled and flopping but still gaining ground. There’s an overwhelming thickness to the sound here, truly submersing the listener, dragging you clawing and screaming into its hellish world. The production is nice and muddy, in a good way, essential to the punishing old-school charm, the bass bubbling up nicely from the fetid, murky, buzzing guitars. Drums are nice and earthy, as is befitting, with a professional finesse and a knack for flow. It’s all pretty damn compelling, and beyond innate familiarity, I don’t really have any problems with it.

The more I listen to this, the more I’m reminded of the excellent Satanica by Behemoth. I’m surprised I didn’t pick up on this earlier, but it really is amazingly similar at its more hurried moments, by far the dominant influence as far as I can discern. That, however, is no bad thing, and Los Asesinos del Sur is a consistent pleasure to listen to, another brigadier in my growing black/death army that likely won’t be gathering dust any time soon. It didn’t blow me away, to be sure, but it was an unfailingly interesting listening experience that grew on me with repeated exposures, an expedition worth the price of admission for the more innately depraved amongst you. Just remember to wear a gas mask, because breathing this shit directly could cause mutations untreatable by modern science.

-Left Hand of Dog
http://reaperdivision.blogspot.com/

Stillborn - 70%

Zerberus, May 14th, 2012

Having listened to and reviewed all these great Polish bands these last couple of weeks has made me think Poland doesn't have bad metal bands. Let's just say that Stillborn isn't going to change my mind.

Boasting a severe arsenal of semi-technical and fast blackened death metal with a ton of blast beats this fourth album from Stillborn is by no means a light-weight in terms of brutality. Their evil sound and focus on blasphemic themes fits perfectly with their choice of genre, and they do what they do very well. In conjunction with the pretty good vocals, the good production and the tremolo-based riffs this makes for an overall great recipe for fast-as-hell blackened death metal.

What the album Los Asesinos del Sur really lacks is hooks. Getting into it took me quite a few listens, and even then I'm having troubling remembering the individual songs from time to time, even if these are really good in their own right. Other than Antonym, which I feel is Stillborn's best effort on this album, the tracks tend to be "listen-and-forget", probably because they mostly follow the same formular all the way through. It simply isn't as catchy as I would've liked, but then again some may argue that blackened death metal isn't about catchiness.

To boil it all down to a few sentences, Stillborn's Los Asesinos del Sur is a worthy and above average effort in the genre. They should be proud of themselves and I'd recommend listening to Stillborn if you're into blasphemous, malevolent death metal with a twist of black metal.

Originally written for http://gouls-crypt.blogspot.com/

Ushering Old School into the Modern Era... - 84%

Conceived_in_Chaos, March 3rd, 2012

Rather than pull away from early death metal roots, this band not only stuck to them but thrived off of the rich soil of riff work and skill that the subgenre has come to encompass. Inject a “healthy” dose of blackened venom and you get the idea of the sound that Stillborn is going for on this album (imagine a cross between Vader and Tsjuder). Slightly betraying the vintage quality, the band displays an ability to smoothly integrate a variety of slick techniques throughout the course of ten tracks. All techniques are done in fair taste, and are used to vividly color each track. The fourth track: Antonym, for example, shows the guitarist’s ability to seamlessly intersperse strange sounding diminished and suspended chords with hard hitting chugging lines. The end result is a track that leaves you with a feeling of being chased through a twisted labyrinth by platoon of undead soldiers. The band certainly leaves the door open for songwriting methods beyond just the classic death metal realm.

Regarding the individual instruments, all are handled with great proficiency and aplomb. The band displays their abilities, traits, and chops (or whatever else you want to call it) through the course of album. In the case of Stillborn it’s best to pick a singular song in which to reference, as they do maintain a signature sound throughout the LP. I could think of no better track to sum up the instrumentation in Los Asesinos del Sur as a whole than the final song: Whore of the Whores. This track consists of a lot of searing tremolo picked lines, which is interplayed with a lot of oppressive palm muted riffage. This is laced with frenzied, weaving guitar lines that seem to come from left field (believe me… THIS IS A GOOD THING!). The vocals in this track range from a deep, militaristic bark to a piercing black metal screech (sometimes the two are layered together); this is peppered with a spoken line or two. Underlying this is drum work that is on point and varied. One moment you’ll hear the machine-gun like pummeling of double bass drums and the next, you’ll lays ears to a pelting drum fill. The bass is unfortunately really low in the mix, but it follows the guitar appropriately when it is heard. A lot of the songs follow in a similar fashion – displaying the band’s ability to consistently create devastating yet catchy pieces.

As far as the sound quality of the album - it is simply suitable for the style that Stillborn plays. The guitars definitely have a raw tinge to them, and the drums are punchy without out sounding too modern (no typewriters for bass drums here!). The vocals are mixed so that they are loud enough to be heard clearly without drowning out the rest of the instruments while they are in play. The bass as mentioned previously - is really low in the mix; this is probably due to the trebly production on this album. Overall, the production does lend Stillborn a gritty edge here – which makes for a fun listen in long run!

I will say that at the end of the listening experience I was pleasantly- if not- LARGELY surprised by Stillborn in this outing. This band is definitely one that deserves greater recognition; they not only expose the true essence of the extreme metal scene but they also add enough personal touch to the music to keep it interesting. This is must listen for anyone who likes a bit of modern refinement with an aural ass beating. Recommended tracks include: Diamonds of the Last Water, Antonym, Blood Dust, and… Oh hell, pretty much the rest of the album!

No-Bullshit Extreme Metal from Poland - 80%

FullMetalAttorney, December 13th, 2011

Poland is probably the most underrated country in all of metal. There's Behemoth, Vader, and Decapitated, but how many of the country's other 2,445 bands (per Metal Archives) can you name? And when a band comes out of the cold winters of a country that's been repeatedly trampled down in war simply because it's between superpowers, you can be pretty confident they're not going to fuck around with anything melodic or metalcore.

Stillborn fits perfectly with the no bullshit metal traditions of that nation. Promotion company Godz ov War Productions sent me a review copy of the band's fourth full-length, Los Asesinos del Sur.

Like Behemoth, Stillborn practice an incredibly aggressive form of blackened death metal. The sound is built from fast tremolo riffing, death metal riffs, blast beats, and a hoarse Swe-death style growl, plus a handful of Slayer-esque solos. But Stillborn aren't going for the polished sheen of Poland's top metal exports. This is raw, as it should be, and has a thrashy edge, so it will appeal equally to fans of Skeletonwitch. A couple of times they slow it down to a mid-pace, but most of the time this is all-out aggression with plenty of great riffs and hooks.

I have a couple of nitpicky points, as usual. Why the Spanish title? Spanish is not a metal-sounding language, and presumably they speak Polish; I would have preferred a Polish language title. I'm not even sure why they're talking about assassins from the south when clearly these guys are not from the south. "Kot Wolanda" (which may actually be Polish for all I know) is just filler. And even though closer "Whore of the Whores" is a good song, the hook just makes me think "Roots, Bloody Roots".

The verdict: this is some great, honest extreme metal from an unappreciated metal stronghold.

Originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/

A potent blackish deathrash attack - 78%

Lane, November 25th, 2011

Death, thrash, black. Brutality, rawness, profanity. Polish band Stillborn's, who formed in 1997, fourth coming 'Los Asesinos del Sur' surely possesses all those traits, and more...

And that means all kinds of cool things from 1980s and early 1990s, as there is no modern bullshit to be heard on this platter. Stillborn's attacking, militaristic take on extremities is on rawer side of things. The album starts with short and sweet intro to armageddon, where sirens wail and metal plays! Stillborn may heave some familiar riffs, but it does not really matter, because I at least cannot place where they are lifted from, if anywhere. At times, these Poles manage to sound pretty characteristic, which is very rare in nowadays world. No matter if it's familiar or more of Stillborn's own style, some of the stuff that the band darts are such surgical strikes, that one can but grow spiky gauntlets and wail like a banshee with the music. Stillborn differ from many a Polish band, and do sound unlike Polish legends such as Vader and Behemoth for example. Stillborn is like a mixture, of its own kind, of Impiety (not as raw nor blackish alone), Krisiun (not as precise nor deathy alone), and why not belligerent Aussies Destroyer 666.

The guitar work is finger-melting. I like the squeals and scrapes, that those rusty sharp-edged instruments are capable of here. The rhythm section are able to enter heavy-duty manic temper. To my surprise, it was already on song number two, where the band shifted to slower gear. The band really know when it is time to give a breather for a listener, too. The bass is really well audible in all this chaos. The album sounds dirty, raw and organic. This is mixed really well, as every element of the music is audible enough and none is exaggerated or overlaying. Well, there are some moments, where it sounds like another song was penetrating through, like happens on 'Kot Wolanda'. This occurs because of disharmonics, which often are pretty intense. The vocals are growled and throaty, plus there are various scream and shouts. All in all, very varied and nasty, picking practices from all extreme genres that the band ramble in.

Stillborn bewilders with sharp riffage and well composed song material. Their energetic and barbaric performance crowns it all, making 'Los Asesinos del Sur' a true surprise attack, that should please even the most bloodthirsty maniaxxx out there wanting to hear some new raw, blackish deathrash chaos.

(originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com)

Los Asesinos del Sur - 72%

todesengel89, October 17th, 2011

Poland's veteran black/death metal band Stillborn this year returns with their fourth full length album, Los Asesinos del Sur. With excellent Polish exports in recent years such as Infernal War, Vader and the likes pushing the limits of extreme metal, it will be exciting to hear what Stillborn, as one of the veterans out of Poland has to offer with their latest output.

Overture .966 sets the mood right with an intro that is fit for a Black Sabbath record, but brutalised with the ominous sounds of war sirens overhead, giving listeners a hint of the chaos that Stillborn is going to wreak in the coming 30 minutes. The intro gives a taste to what is coming, and as Hymn of Destruction begins, the listener is instantly reminded of a heavier version of fellow Polish blackened death metal bands such as Behemoth and Hate, though they have chosen to devote their energy into their crushing riffs rather than on speed. The chaotic and sharp lead guitars that are so characteristic of the Polish style of extreme metal is also present throughout, and Stillborn provides a nice balance between sheer brutality and face-ripping speed.

There are some gripes here and there though, as at times the drums threaten to go out of sync with the rest of the instruments, but this surprisingly adds to the authenticity of the album, complete with a raw and loud production job that brings out the raw energy bursting from the band. The abilities of the individual members are also evident, and drummer August unleashes some serious punishment on the skins with the constant blast beats and furious fills. The martial sounding drumming at the beginning of Blood and Dust also reinforces the mood of the album. The guitarists' innovation are also evident such as the play on the whammy bar on Antonym, though guitar solos are pretty rare affairs on the album.

Songs like Son of the Holy Motherfucker provides some nice fist-pumping moments as well, with listeners easily following the catchy song title. Blood and Dust and the title track Los Asesinos del Sur further displays the songwriting capabilities of the band, with the band building up the atmosphere and climax before letting all hell break loose. The beginning of Los Asesinos del Sur further brings in the comparison with Behemoth with what they have done in their later works, and is sure to captivate fans of the aforementioned band. The Spanish lyrics also somehow make the song sound more gruff and barbaric, to my delight. It is also on this track that finally lets guitarists Rzułty and Killer display their prowess on their instruments. Stillborn II is one of the speediest number on the album, and further displays the versatility of the band.

While the beginning of the album takes some getting used to, Los Aesinos del Sur certainly gets more enjoyable as it progresses, with some of the best tracks being located towards the end of the album. The generally short run times of the track also ensure that those with ADD have enough patience to sit through the tracks from start to end.

(http://www.heavymetaltribune.com/)

Polish Assassins - 85%

Thatshowkidsdie, September 29th, 2011

Being previously unfamiliar with Poland’s Stillborn, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when the folks at Godz of War Productions (the band’s PR reps) offered to send me the band’s latest album, Los Asesinos del Sur. However, knowing full well that Polish metal has an uncanny tendency to kick copious amounts of ass (see: Vader, Behemoth, Azarath, Iperyt, Graveland, Decapitated, etc), I couldn’t resist the opportunity to potentially add another name to my list of elite metal practitioners hailing from the country. If Los Asesinos del Sur is any indication, Stillborn not only deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as their more well known countrymen, they’re also damn near the top of the heap.

Stillborn’s approach to death/black metal can be likened to that of a mixed martial arts fighter. The band hits hard and often, alternating between clubbing blows and precision strikes. The songwriting is sharp and tightly coiled, but often explodes into flurries of violence. Clocking it at just a little over thirty minutes, the band switches up its attack frequently throughout the album’s ten tracks, making it difficult to determine when and where they’ll hit you next. Get in, kick ass, get out is the philosophy of Los Asesinos del Sur. There isn’t an ounce of fat to be found here, songs such as “Hymn of Destruction” “Antonym” and “Kot Wolanda” last just long enough to break bones, rip tendons and fracture skulls. When the band does stretch songs out past the three minute mark, as on “Blood and Dust” and the title track, they’re still all muscle, never deviating from their intention to inflict as much pain as possible.

To put things in more musical terms, Los Asesinos del Sur is an exercise in concise songwriting with an extremely high level of craftsmanship. Stillborn are able to fit more cool, crushing riffs into a two-minute-and-forty-second song than most bands are able to muster in twice that amount of time. Given the band’s nationality, it seems natural to assume that Stillborn learned the lessons of brevity and badass-ness from Vader, but the quartet are by no means a carbon copy of herr Piotr Wiwczarek and Co. Instead, Stillborn plays a hybrid of a black and death metal that’s largely all their own, leaning more heavily to the death metal side of things in terms of power and production, but seething with pure malevolence and hatred (and the occasional tremolo riff) that most certainly comes from black metal. In this respect, the sound is probably closer to Behemoth, but Stillborn come off as leaner, meaner and hungrier than Behemoth have been in years.

An album as devastating and ambitious as Los Asesinos del Sur can’t be viewed as anything other than a statement of intent. The intent is to put other bands on notice. No more resting on your laurels or coasting on your reputations. No more pretentious, self-indulgent songs and bloated, overly long albums. No more “Radikult” and no more bullshit. Stillborn have arrived and they want you fucking dead.

originally written for http://thatshowkidsdie.com

In the name of all that is murder - 82%

autothrall, September 12th, 2011

Poland's black metal exports are very often known for their intensely punishing speed and violence, often able to out-muscle even their Scandinavian influences and their more prominent, local death metal peerage. Acts like Massemord, Thunderbolt and Besatt stand surely among the more harried and brutal of the age, even if they remain heavily bound to the underlying traditions of the medium; and such traits can certainly also be attributed to another of the scene's veterans: Stillborn. Yes, the band which has made a name for itself with its Spanish album titles, but also a formidable bevy of brutes whose fourth full-length, Los Asesinos del Sur, expands into a more tactile, flexible amalgamation of the black, death and thrash genres.

This album is not just a beast to experience in its audio form, but also incorporates the surreal and terrifying works of a local Polish artist (Kamil Kukla) into one of the more fascinating visual packages I've witnessed in some months. Grotesque and unforgettable maps and mutations of the flesh, from the eerie, spidery eye which emerges from the arch on the cover to the carnal copulations of limbs and muscles which accompany the rather fucked lyrics within the booklet. But all this wretched candy would mean nothing if the music itself were not ugly enough to do it justice, and I promise you: it fucking is. The hugely organic, honest guitar tone almost conjures comparisons to how unusual it felt the first time I listened to Reign in Blood, South of Heaven and Season in the Abyss when they were first released.

The gang shouts and grisly, central death and rasp vocals give the impression the listener is being cornered in some rank, stone alley and about to be beaten limbless with blunt objects, a feeling I've rarely experienced outside of December Wolves' Completely Dehumanized or the past few albums from Denmark's Horned Almighty. But fear not, all of the hallmarks of the straight and sinister black metal are still present, including vibrant and dynamic blast beats ("Hymn of Destruction", "Antonym", "Stillborn II") or slower, percussive grooves in the vein of earlier Morbid Angel ("Kot Wolanda", "Los Asesinos del Sur"), or even a few pieces that just thrash out like catapults of razorblades ("Son of the Holy Motherfucker").

Whats more, each track is in of itself a work of thuggish, wrenching dynamics that keep the ears attuned even when individual riffs might come up shy of perfection, and clearly the band is reaching for something more sporadic, natural and enduring than previous albums like Manifesto de Blasfemia. It's not necessarily hinging on the avant-garde, like a Furia, but its inherent ugliness and lyrical psychosis are sure to thrill fans who are sick of the same, stagnant blasting monotony and corpse-painted theatrics. Los Asesinos del Sur feels fresh, like a recent kill on the butcher block, cuts agape from where the organs were removed, gamy scraps and lines of drying blood everywhere, eyes open in shock, damning each lucky, living beholder to a considerably bottomless pit.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com