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Burial Ground

Listenable (2014)
Rating: 7.5/10

Now here’s a band who wouldn’t mind me calling them veterans of the metal scene. Having first formed back in 1985, Loudblast were arguably the first real death metal band to emerge from France, and have been responsible for some decent if not mind-blowing albums over the years, the last being 2011’s Frozen Moments Between Life And Death.

There have been various changes in personnel over the decades with only vocalist / guitarist Stéphane Buriez remaining from the original line-up. On Burial Ground, the band’s seventh studio album, Buriez is accompanied by guitarist Drakhian, bassist Alex Lenormand and drummer Hervé Coquerel.

Like a lot of stuff which emerged in the 80s, Loudblast’s 1989 debut Sensorial Treatment did have a touch of Slayer about it, but over time and through varying trends and natural progression, they have transformed into a weighty and at times melodic death metal act. It’s not a bad thing when a band can effortlessly evolve throughout their career. After all, we don’t want a new album to sound like something that was released 20 or so years previous – just as long as they don’t deviate in extreme fashion from their original sound to become unrecognisable.

Loudblast, however, have always managed to stay heavy and as soon as opener ‘A Bloody Oath’ kicks in we know we’re in for a ride to the dark side. Crushing percussion and an ominous guitar sound is what it’s always been about, coupled with those sneering, despicable grunts, growls and rasps. ‘A Bloody Oath’ is deep and furious, altering its tempo throughout from doom-laden aggression lead by an ominous bass to those fierce and fiery steps up in pace.

Although very much modern in their sound Loudblast still conjure up atmosphere of dread. “Turning your world upside down”, Buriez growls, and then makes way for a series of cavernous solos which harkens back to the early days. And all the while that drum and bass is clanking along with such conviction, we know we are okay with whatever sound Loudblast choose to inflict upon us. I don’t think anyone expected the traditional groove that leads us into the silence, though.

There is much diversity within the Loudblast framework, and the fearsome energy is no doubt created by way of Buriez enlisting Alex Lenormand and Drakhian who add an extra layer of hostility to proceedings. Their presence lifts a track like ‘Darkness Will Abide’ from being a mediocre extreme metal track into something domineering and refreshing. The same could also be said for my favourite brace of tracks; the blackened belch of ‘From Dried Bones’, with its aching, grim sprawl, and the crushing bombardment of ‘Abstract God’ which has spurts of gnarly pace.

Burial Ground is a quality all-rounder when it comes to piecing together shards of aggression and lashings of melody, and with the frightful cut ‘The Path’ we can only heed the warnings to “Beware the demons you conjured in darkness”, the sort of lyric we come to expect from this bunch of seasoned lords of extremity.

Neil Arnold

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