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Quite the pleasant surprise - 88%

Writhingchaos, October 7th, 2016

Quite the surprise indeed, that too from the Balkans. The only band from that region that currently comes to mind is Lykathea Aflame, but I'm given to understand that these guys have had quite a thriving underground metal scene for a while now with some bizarrely underrated death metal acts soldiering on for years in the 90s despite having little to no success or exposure in the overall European metal scene due to lack of distribution and other factors. A vicious little nugget of pounding groove metal with small slices of industrial/electronic and melodic death/black metal thrown in for good measure. Still confused? Let me explain.

While most other groove metal albums mainly focus on the machine-gun repetitive riffing to provide a solid groove to sink into, this album also changes it up every now and then with a generous helping of atmospheric and electronic elements, not to mention some sizzling leads. Like a good dollop of butter or cheese spread over warm toast, the aforementioned elements are quite subtle, but they do hit the senses after a few good listens of the album and sink in with the pummeling grooves of the songs as well. While there are definite nods to bands like Pantera, By Night and the like in terms of influences, the subtle electronic and black metal elements on this disc make this album a far more immersive and invigorating experiences than other releases of the same ilk. I'd hesitate to call this approach completely unique in that sense, but clearly it's not something a lot of bands out there have attempted, or at least not that I've heard of.

Though I haven't heard any of the band's previous releases, I can definitely say for sure that these guys definitely know what the fuck they're doing and go straight for the jugular while keeping you on your toes with some interesting experimentation that keeps you on your toes as you eagerly anticipate what's coming next. Honestly there aren't a lot of albums out there that I can say the same for. There also seems to be a scathing anti-political stance on this album judging by the speech in the intro track and the lyrics in general. Think Nevermore and Megadeth in in terms of similar lyrics about war, the oppression of the masses and terrorism and you're not that far off. Check out "Slavedriver", "Terror", "Demoncracy" (that intro riff!) , "Monarch" (with an awesome mid-section with an even better outro), "" for the brutality and pummeling grooves and if your looking for the more electronic-laced anvil-to-the-face songs then "Non Individumm" (another killer intro riff followed by a searing mid-section), "Demagog", "Holymen" (with an amazing breakdown) "Deluders & Followers" and "Rust" will suit you just fine.

I will ultimately say this - While not a masterpiece, this one isn't too far from having the potential to become one had they just trimmed off a bit of the fat (gets a tad monotonous towards the end plus too many speaking parts/interludes perhaps?). Not to mention far from being a gimmick like most other bands tend to use, the keys do actually enhance the atmosphere of the album giving it quite the haunting aura making it more akin to the OST of a dark and silent slasher/sci-fi action film rather than the more straightforward soundtrack to break someones face to or an action flick for that matter, which is the feel most of the other groove metal albums out there do tend to go for in general. An album that actually does something noticeably different and pulls it off with startling ease. Maybe their next album will seize the potential that this album shows. I for one will be waiting. Pretty damn good stuff overall.

Terminal beach volleyball with explosives - 70%

autothrall, May 24th, 2010

Death Culture is the latest incarnation of Slovenia's Noctiferia, a band that have slowly and gradually carved out a niche for themselves in nearly two decades of existence. Earlier efforts were written in a more derivative, melodic black/death metal style, but as of this, their 5th full-length they have arrived at something quite a bit more precise and edgy. This record is an intricate mesh of industrial and metal music which, while incorporating some modern, down-tuned grooves that we might negatively associate with the previous decade's nu and groove metal scenes, is never slack of its musicians' individual merits for a lick or two of further complexity.

It would be easy to write this band off as a European Fear Factory, and in fact the band does share some things in common, with the constant shuffle of chugging guitar rhythms and mechanical beats performed by an actual drummer. Certainly if you enjoyed a Demanufacture or Souls of a New Machine, you could find something comparable within Death Culture. One can also find a streak of Meshuggah here, in the bands bouncing, cold grooves. But there is something more to Noctiferia, a rampant death metal impulse that runs just below the rudder, and an ability to transmit a glorious signal through the writhing, bludgeoning mass comprising a largest fraction of their compositions.

Refer to the track "Deluders & Followers", which showcases the wealth of this band's range. It's ridden with technical chops, double bass rolls and momentum, and yet, at its height, it incorporates sallow synthesizer backdrops which provide for an 'epic' atmosphere that I am not often accustomed to in industrial metal. I don't love all the band's riffs, even in this song. They're busy enough that the guitarists are not about to feel bored, but only as they rush to the climax of the various, accessible keyboard rhythms does it all culminate into something of exotic beauty. Other songs create a more bouncing, constant, emotional duress such as "Non Individuum", in which you feel like Samael, The Kovenant and Fear Factory are in a free throw competition or the relentless grooves of "Demagog". Again, they're decent songs with good atmospheres, but a few of the groove metal-like guitar parts turned me off slightly. The mystical, Middle Eastern choral weavings of "Samsara" make for perhaps the single most interesting track on the album, and hearing Noctiferia branch even further into this ethnic direction might make for a more interesting package. The strange closer "S.M. 02" is also intriguing.

The effort that went into Death Culture is hard to dispute. It's a brash, loud, modern sounding album which booms at you from your stereo, through each chugging gait. The band can arrange leads and complex rhythms with ease into the more forgettable fare, so it feels like you are being strung along, each second in the dry expanse of ennui splashed upon by the wetness of some previously undiscovered oasis. The lyrics seem like a potpourri of political and individualist concepts as you'd find on a Fear Factory or modern Sepultura record, but Gianni Poposki's vocals are hammering along enough that even when you feel a line is cliche or cheesy, the band's energy wins the day. With this band and Sybreed, it seems Listenable is building quite a roster of electronic fused metal potential, so it will be interesting to see further developments. I was not enthralled by the Slovenians' album here, but if you fancy Fear Factory, Sybreed, harder KMFDM, Meshuggah, Mnemic or Samael (Passage and beyond), you will find they give the style a fairly effective punch in the nose.