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Blackened Metalpunks Unite - 75%

TheStormIRide, December 21st, 2015

Courtesy of Contaminated Tones Productions, a label that continuously manages to find some of the underground's most promising bands, comes a three way split between Acid Cross, Kriegg and Hellripper. All three bands reside in the new wave of blackened heavy metal that really isn't new at all, as it takes inspiration straight the primordial foundations of extreme metal. Doses of thrash, death metal, speed metal and a dash of punk all mix together with blackened aesthetics to form an unholy amalgamation of blackened metalpunk. This split sees these three bands each bring their own distinct take with two tracks a piece.

Canada's Acid Cross, an Ottawa based band starts off the split with their self-described blackened metal punk. The tracks are raw and filthy, with a constantly rollicking swagger to the punkened metal riffing. The band claims that their debut album, Black Moon Rites, was soaked in beer and evil, and if these two tracks are any indication that's a damn good description. There's no doubt that this is blackened, as the vocals are raspy croaks and music has that volatile, edge to it, but the band's use of rollicking power chords and punk beats keep things firmly rooted in the metalpunk camp.

California's Kriegg will never win the award for most original name. I have no clue why they chose the name, but I think it might have something to do with people mistakenly purchasing a demo because they think it's from one of USBM's mainstays. Regardless of their name, Kriegg plays some pretty rabid blackened metal with traces of thrash and speed metal strewn throughout. The sound quality is pretty rough, and seems to focus on the raspy, barked shouts and rampant double bass runs, but for the style it's about average. The riffing is solid, featuring a lot thrashing and high energy speed metal riffing, but the guitars aren't as far to the front of the mix as they should be. It's a little more on the raw and necro side of the style, but it really gives the band a more depraved and festering sound than the others on the demo.

Scotland-based Hellripper released one of my favorite demos of the year with the Manifestation of Evil tape, which originally dropped in January of 2015. The two tracks on the split continue the band's blackened speed metal leanings, with primitive double kick percussion and a mix of rampant, speedy power chord progressions and highly melodic, syncopated guitar harmonies. James McBain really seems to have a keen ear for what works with this style, as the blackened speed metal and punkened riffing merge seamlessly with the rocking guitar leads, all the while barking out the vocals in a distinctive vicious growl.

This three way pairing is great for those looking to dabble in the realms of blackened metal. While Hellripper completely steals the show, Kriegg and Acid Cross also bring a solid arsenal of tracks with them. While each band brings their own style, they all pay tribute to the forefathers of the style. Fans of Hellhammer, Venom and Sabbat should certainly dig in.