Nuclear Winter Records unleashes more death metal hell with Altars, Ensnared



It’ll be chilly really soon, and just having returned from a week at the beach, that makes me kind of sad. Winter is coming, as a certain television show has reminded us repeatedly, and while I actually kind of like that frigid, dead season that’s encased in ice and frigid temperatures, it doesn’t sound appealing in September.

We’re not really going to talk about wintry music today, so sorry about that somewhat misleading intro. Instead, we’re going to talk about a label whose name makes me think of that terribly freezing time with a side of Armageddon, that being Nuclear Winter Records. The Greek label has brought on some of the finest of underground black and death metal, including the awesome Cruciamentum, Trials, and Drawn and Quartered, and yes, when I was at the beach sifting through my promos I was planning to write about, it did put a bit of chill in my bones thinking about death and winter.

Nuclear Winter have two new releases about to hit the market (actually, three, though one, Temple Nightside we’ll talk about in the future since Dark Descent will be releasing it domestically), and both maintain the label’s reputation of finding ugly, punishing, bone-crushing bands that keep real, true death metal pumping through heavy metal’s disgusting body. One band is Altars, who hail from Australia and combine technical wizardry, off-balanced weirdness, and pure brutality on their first full-length effort “Paramnesia” that is a pretty mind-blowing document. The other is Ensnared, a bizarre, punishing band from Gothenburg, Sweden, that keeps thing raw but also carves a bloody new path toward death metal’s future. Both are perfect examples of remaining true to death’s past, but each band also has their quirks that separate them the rest of the pack (as well as from each other) and make them worth following going forward.

altars coverAltars, not to be confused with the Christian hardcore band by the same name, has been around since 2005 and have offered up a few split efforts and a demo before finally getting down to their debut long player. The trio is really well polished and machine-like, and their “Paramnesia” could excite people who like really techy death metal and stuff that sounds like it shot in from outer space aboard an asteroid from light years away. Their record is a really strong listen, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this album breaks them out to a larger amount of people.

The trio of bassist/vocalist Cale Schmidt, guitarist Lewis Fischer, and drummer Alan Cadman let things rip early with opening track “Mare,” a weird dose of death complete with gurgly growling, trudging melodies, and blistering drumming that sounds like a panicked soul rapidly pounding on a door for hopes of help avoiding total destruction. “Terse” is a short, violent burst of a song that is one of the most relentless tracks on the album, and that leads toward the mind-altering “Khaz’neh” that is guttural and gritty but also spacious and adventurous. Despite it running near eight minutes, it never feels half as long because the journey is so intoxicating and fun to jump aboard. “Solar Barge” certainly feels spacey, and though it takes a little time to get going, once it does, it rips you through the stars with whirring soloing and technically astonishing playing.

“Husk” is a shorter song that hulks open and gets fully aggressive right away, with punchy, punishing playing and melody presented in a really strange way. The final three tracks comprise the “Paramnesia” triptych, a trio of tracks that run the gamut of Altars’ sound and make for a really adventurous back end.”Descent” is the first part, with its weird, tricky makeup, drums that go nuts, and a nice groove that leads the song to its conclusion and collision with “Gibbous,” the interlude that makes up the middle portion of the piece. “Ouroboros” is the final section, a 10-minute piece that crushes with dizzying riffs, throat-ripping vocals, and bruising drums. The tempo rises and falls, as the song subsides about halfway through only to come blasting back with a healthy serving of thrash and blistering death, eventually letting the song drown out in a haze of noise that buries you in feedback.

Altars’ incredible debut is worth going out of your way to hear, especially if you like your death metal a little more dramatic and technically mangling. Chances are this is only the beginning for these Aussie titans, and we have Nuclear Winter’s excellent ears for talent to thank for that.

For more on the band, go here:



Ensnared started their filthy existence as Gravehammer in 2005, until their name change in 2010, and their ranks include two members who also ply their trade in their aforementioned band Trials. Their new EP “Ravenous Damnation’s Dawn” is a six-track effort that is as long as some band’s full-length displays and is a blood-rushing joy from start to finish. They play fast–really fast– at times, but when it’s time for them to slow it down and be more menacing, they’re just as adept at that.

ensnared coverThis mysterious, occult-driven group of mad men let their music explode in your face with “Adorations,” an insane, massive cut that slithers, circles you like a crazed freak, and sometimes sounds warped like Blut Aus Nord. The song also is pretty weird and mind-warping, but it’s also bloodthirsty and brutal as fuck. “With Roots Below” has a punk-fueled edge that reminds of thrash and death’s early years, and the evil-drenched vocals combined with the lighting-fast speed that bursts from the seams makes for a nasty, tasty track. “Kimiya Ye Al Molekhat” is ominous and a total chokehold of metallic rage, with drumming that turns the world to dust and maniacal mashing that could leave you running for cover.

“The Hungry Darkness of Death,” a song that’s just over eight minutes long, has a clean, eerie introduction that could make you see ghosts, and the long, calculated buildup eventually bubbles over, with Ensnared going back to their endless amounts of speed and devastation. This song will knock you on your side and gallop all over your prone body. The final two tracks are CD bonus cuts, both sounding a little more raw and less polished than the first four but maintaining a killer edge. “Fields of Resurrection” sounds like the guys just letting loose and letting their fists fly, with the drubbing drumming standing out over everything else. “Baneful Blood” is mean and churning, with strong soloing, forceful vocals, and commanding, speed-filled playing leaving you dizzy and gasping for air.

Just like Altars, you’re bound to hear more from Ensnared, though they may appeal more to the heathen, maniac audience. These guys have a knack for playing fast and leaving no drop of blood and sweat unused, and it’ll be fun to watch them accumulate their body count as they go from here.

For more on the band, go here:

To buy the albums, or for more on the label, go here:


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