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Whore of Bethlehem > Upon Judas' Throne > Reviews
Whore of Bethlehem - Upon Judas' Throne

Solid US black/death metal - 72%

Lustmord56, March 24th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Independent

Review originally published at www.teethofthedivine.com by E.Thomas

Here’s a nice little 2014, self released gem of blackened death metal from the depths of Austin, Texas spawned from a few obscure Texas veteran acts like Disfigured, Scattered Remains and Carnal Befoulment. But the group has come together to form a pretty impressive debut album that lies somewhere between Behemoth, Morbid Angel and Goatwhore (I mean, just listen to second track “Christ Crusher”).

I’m reminded a little of local Missouri act Tyranny Enthroned, in the bands overall sound; a commanding, authoritative mix of riffs and bellows with some blackened shrieks and gritty lurches thrown in. It all comes together to make for an impressive debut that makes for a nice low profile release many of your should check out and enjoy. The production has that big burly tone, though I wish the drums had a little more oomph to complement James VanDenBerg’s bellows.

The no nonsense 33 minutes opens with a solid Morbid Angel-ish groove to start the title track, and the band never looks back, delivering 10 tracks in compact, effective 3-4 minute bursts of rumbling razor sharp fury. There’s no real peaks or valleys, and certainly nothing to bring the “HOLY FUCK”, but just a consistent, head bobbing, grimace inducing competence that satisfying any black or death metal urges.

Big muscular lurches like the”The Crowning Moment” or “Storm of Plague” collide with the aforementioned Goatwhore reference not only in the southern tinged “Christ Crusher” but also the blackened groove thrash of “Nocturnal” “Castle of Meth” and arguable standout “Leviathan’s Crown” which mixes both. Closer “Conjuring Your Death” ends the album with a high energy blast of blackened death fury, going out with a bang rather than a winding down whimper, highlighting the energy these unsigned guys bring to the table. Blast Head records - you reading this?

Upon Judas' Throne - 77%

Daemonlord, March 23rd, 2015
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Independent

Forming in 2009, this is the debut album from Texas’ Whore of Bethlehem, a band who very quickly enraptured me with their high quality musical output. The first thing which surprised me was that I was expecting something which sat much more firmly in the ‘blackened’ spectrum musically (perhaps from the band name, logo, Christ-hating lyrical stance and outlook befitting a black metal band? Or perhaps I just had a brain-fart, missing the clearly more death metal inspired Jon Zig styled artwork – probably the latter). Either way, overall I’d say these guys are perhaps slightly more comfortably categorized as a death metal band, and a pretty crushing one at that. Let’s go with Brutal blackened death shall we?!

Whore of Bethlehem do very much have a black metal edge to their sound, and it comes mostly from a shimmering, icy blade edge to their guitar sound which adds a mysterious and brooding touch to their otherwise crushing and efficient death metal riff work. As influences go, I’d say there’s a good few later Cannibal Corpse albums in the bands collective collections (the pounding, clinical riffery), some Immolation (the threatening melodic leads, and swathes of true evil) and probably some good old fashioned Mayhem when they thoroughly ramp up their chill-factor on one of their swirling, mesmerizing riffs. When they’re not rattling your teeth with blastbeats, they are churning violently; fizzing blasphemes aplenty from their parapet of hate. Add in to this with plenty of meaty riffage, and you have the recipe for a fine album – especially considering this is self released off the bands own back.

Share your name with an Archgoat album and you’re alright in my book, so these guys certainly hit the ground running when combining their severe sound with the rest of their output to create an unholy union of extremity. Does plain old black metal generally not have the balls for you, death metal heads? Check these guys out and be pleasantly surprised by their crushing (yet tenebrous) brutality.

Originally written for www.avenoctum.com

They Are Upon the Throne! - 100%

Akerthorpe, January 18th, 2015

From the state of Texas in the United States is Whore of Bethlehem and their debut full-length, regurgitated from the depths of hell, makes a strong statement that these guys are sick and disgusted and they don't give a damn who knows it. Despite a few minor issues, mostly in the layout and color scheme department, this was a sheer slab of seething hatred from beginning to end. I'll get these minor issues out of the way now. The cover of this CD is the typical type of cover you would find for a band such as this although there wasn't much color to it which didn't impress me a whole lot. Even so, it was still a fairly cool looking cover for what it was. What was absolutely annoying as all hell was the fact that on the inside of the booklet the color scheme of the background and the lyrics is all messed up. That combine with the fact that the lyrics are printed so small, it made them extremely unreadable. So as I see it the band, or whoever was in control of the cover, layout and color schemes, really screwed things up. Enough about that. Let's get on to the good stuff!

As for the music on this release, it is unbelievably sharp and crystal clear, both in presentation and production. the riffs here are absolutely phenomenal! I immediately was taken back to the days of Morbid Angel's "Domination" release. I mean its right in your face from the first note. Usually bands build up to a point, but these guys go all out from the get go. On top of the Morbid Angel influence, you can also pic up on a vibe in the tone that is reminiscent of that on Cannibal Corpses "Tomb of the Mutilated". In some places these riffs are filled with so much agony, as if you can feel the equality of passion and effort put into the guitar work of this material. This is 100% pure, unadulterated, absolute death metal the way it should be played. Along with that, the band also incorporates a well used thrash influence and an a slight black metal influence where needed, although this aspect of the music is so brutal you really don't need anything to carry it along for it does just fine on it's own. The solos on this release are slightly intricate but not to an insane degree and the band could not have done better on the placement of said solos. My highest respects go out to the guitarists for the work put into this release. this is some of the finest shredding I heard in the year 2014.

The drum work on this release was equally as impressive. I have not heard a drummer like this, in ages, who sounds this brutal who doesn't incorporate any other influences or styles outside of the genre of death/black metal. I could hear no thrash or progressive metal influences, but I tell you now this guy is so brutal in his delivery that he doesn't need any other vibes or influences. Usually I can pick these things out pretty well and when you hear this CD you will totally understand why this band doesn't need any fillers or unnecessary influences clogging up the delivery of their material. If you could imagine what it would be like if Marduk played death metal, this is probably what it would sound like. The vocals were typical of this genre ranging from low growls to mid-range screams, but are well placed and delivered on this CD complimenting the music perfectly. Dare I say the two patterns together give a gore grind type of feel to the vocal delivery kind of like what you would hear in early Carcass of Haemorrhage. Trust me on this, when you put all of these elements together, you have one hell of a release. All fans of the black/death genre definitely need to get this release. It will satisfy even the most meticulous metal head who is extremely picky on what he/she listens to. One of the best underground releases of 2014!

There's hanging around, and there's hanging out - 75%

autothrall, November 14th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Independent

If the lurching, roiling pace of the intro riff in the title track of this album sounds a little similar to Domination or Blessed Are the Sick era Morbid Angel, I don't think that's such a coincidence, because the Floridian death metal gods are clearly the chief inspirations for Texans Whore of Bethlehem, and that's probably not such a bad thing if you crave a lot more of that sound and less of the New York subterranean gloom or Swedish soil churning, which individually or in unison represent the two primary camps of retro death metal that are so prominent in recent years. That's not to say this exact style hasn't been resurrected quite a number of times since the masters mastered it in the 90s, but in general I find that the inspiration of bands like Morbid Angel and Deicide seems to have translated largely to the more brutal and technical sect of bands who at one time were forcing at the boundaries of the genre.

The caveat for Whore of Bethlehem is how they also fuse traces of archaic Scandinavian black metal into that matrix of morbidity, in particular through the desperate, dissonant chord patterns that erupt during blast sections, slightly less through the rasped vocal which is used to contrast against pissed off Dave Vincent/Steve Tucker growls. So, while Upon Judas' Throne might sound derivative to a fault, there are at least a few riffing patterns that come out of left field, and in general they are just really damned good at what they do. Guitar progressions are pretty catchy, especially when you break them down to their individual components. The rich, bulkier rhythm tone carries well into the chugs, but is constantly being offset by a lot of more intricately evil, airier ballast which really resonates over the pounding, frenzied undercurrent. Leads are sporadic but elegant, and while the Texans are playing in a fairly mapped-out niche of the death metal genre, I definitely experienced dozens of instances in which the precise direction the tunes and riffs were taking did not play out quite as I predicted. And in this day and age, where jaded veterans have heard the same shit a billion times and then some, the value of that cannot be underestimated. I'm not trying to imply that they consistently throw you for a loop, only some refreshingly solid ideas which implement with confidence.

The drums are great, the bass a fraction understated but functional, the vocals abusive and the guitars almost always on point. I really can't imagine anyone who counts Morbid Angel, Marduk, 1349, Hate Eternal and Dark Funeral among his/her collection not finding something admirable in the obvious effort, and love for the craft on parade here. Plenty enough variation between the outright stormers like "Castle of Meth" and the more brooding pieces like "Leviathan's Crown", and the band sounds eternally pissed off rather than phoned in, a positive quality that goes a long way towards compensating for any real lack of innovation and ingenuity. For an unsigned debut, it's astounding just how professional this sounds, and how well they play, even if the guys have been involved with other Texan acts like Scattered Remains or Disfigured which operate in a more bluntly brutal, contemporary arena. I frankly haven't heard a wealth of albums in this vein that I've enjoyed since Trey and crew dropped Gateways to Annihilation, so this definitely helped fill that void, plus the seamless integration of the black metal stuff gave it the benefit of the marginally unexpected. As the band develops I hope they'll branch out even further, but this is a sinister, rock solid start.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com