2019 Crew Review: Ricky Fleming – Reviewer/Interviewer

For me, 2019 has been one hell of a year both on and off the park, as they say in football, but that doesn’t even begin to explain how big a year 2019 was in metal. A sad demise, with the unlikely chance of witnessing the metal institution that is Slayer on the live front, brings the end of an era, while on the other hand, festivals cropping up all over the place are keeping metal alive for bands wanting to be the new Slayer. Metal, in general, is at an all-time high in popularity, while ironically, fans are going back in time with vinyl sales outselling CD sales for the first time in decades.

For those that know me and read my articles, I generally cater for the more extreme end of the market and I personally feel that 2019 has been a huge year for extreme metal. This may be due to everybody being fed up with fucking Brexit or the sheer fact that there is a multitude of extreme metal, and in particular death metal, releases that have hit new heights and made metal even more extreme. Then again, there are a plethora of bands who worship the old days and relive the days that maybe they were too young to experience for themselves, but cannot deny the influence they have on the scene they live and breathe.

Enough of my ramblings though, as we have an end of year list to go through that I am extremely proud of. I have made contact with people that, me being a nobody from Glasgow could ever dream of being in contact with, have welcomed me speaks volumes about the tightness and the friendship within the metal community. Quite simply, we are one and we shall do all we can to help each other.

The year started the way last year finished off, with myself wanting to find out about different sides of the music industry. Asking questions to Moshville Times own photographers and our own deputy Editor in Chief, Ross Green (don’t worry Iain Purdie, you are on my radar). I am always up for these kinds of interviews, so if any photographers, promoters, music producers, band managers, etc wish to be interviewed, then I am more than happy to do these.

We are here today though to see what I liked in 2019. 2019 was not the best year for me privately and to be honest, it had limited my motivation for writing quite considerably. To those that I said I would do things for them and I didn’t, I will take this opportunity now to humbly apologise for that as I hate letting people down. Rest assured, 2020 will see me back bigger and better than ever before with new ventures in the pipeline for me ahead.

Now to the music and can I say first of all that there is an abundance of UK talent that’s playing their asses off and waiting to be heard by as many people as they can. In particular, progressive band Fractions got the year off to a good start with their excellent single “Soundness of Mind”, Flowers in Sulphur with their early Pitchshifter industrial “Utopia Denied” or Left for Red and their Deftones influenced Human Complex album. Throughout the year, I got to listen to a number of albums that were equally as noteworthy, with Spreading the Disease and their Mindcell EP creating a few earthquakes wherever it was being listened to or Till the Fall with their take on classic heavy metal on the album The Seventh Circle. More akin to my personal taste were Leeds based  with their take on old school death metal on To Betray the Creator. There was however a band from Edinburgh called Dog Tired who absolutely nailed it with their fourth album The Electric Abyss. Packed with enough groove to shake your booty, a gargantuan amount of riffs to raise your horns to and pummeling drums to bang your head to. How the hell these mongrels are unsigned is beyond me but I bet a few doors have been opened on the back of this release and they get my independent release of 2019. Good luck to Dog Tired and all the aforementioned bands in 2020.

Albums 0f 2020

I am going to be cheeky and have two albums of the year for 2019. I have listened to and reviewed fantastic albums throughout 2019, these and other fantastic albums that I didn’t get round to reviewing due to personal circumstances will make up two lists. So first of all, for the albums that I reviewed, I came across a few nice surprises such as Finnish blackened death metal warriors Kaamos Warriors with their debut Ikuisen Talven Sarastus, Spanish/Swedish band Inert with their punishing death metal assault Vermin and a most beautiful, experimental and punishing alum from French experimentalists Epitaphe with I. It was also a pleasure to review probably the best sounding live album I have heard in a long time with Entombed playing Clandestine Live, an album which brought back almost thirty years of death metal memories. A most welcome surprise was getting the mighty MZ.412 and their best album in my opinion, In Nomine Dei Nostri Luciferi Excelsi, with the most ear blistering and punishing sounds ever to be heard. But now, I shall give you my personal top three albums that I reviewed for 2019:

  1. Sentient Horror – Morbid Realms  I think I described Morbid Realms as “Sentient Horror have with this album created ten songs of old school worshipping, arse kicking, face melting, head banging, fist pumping death fucking metal the way it’s meant to be played.” I think that just about covers it!
  2. Wretched Fate – Fleshletting A truly stunning album from these young Swedes who with their debut I said that  “I don’t care about originality – if music pleases me and urges me to press the repeat button as often as this album has, then I will do my damnedest to spread the word about this band.
  3.  Vacivus – Annihilism It’s always good to hear an excellent album from the UK and with Annihilism, Vacivus have raised the bar tenfold. “There are song structures in abundance, creativity en masse and vicious and punishing songs that will surely elevate Vacivus to the forefront of the UK blackened death metal scene.”

For one reason or another, I purchased albums that I did not get a chance to review, so I will also give this a top three:-

  1. Humanity’s Last BreathAbyssal This is one of the heaviest albums I have ever heard and with songs that are hymns to the destruction of the world, HLB are getting the recognition that they thoroughly deserve. I cannot tell you how many times I have growled in the car to this album. These guys will take over the world. Favourite track – “Abyssal Mouth”.
  2. Vitriol – To Bathe from the Throat of Cowardice Once again, it was the power of youtube where I watched a guy tattooed from head to toe doing a playthrough of “Violence, a Worthy Truth”. I had never seen a guy so passionate about guitar playing than Kyle Rasmussen and they thoroughly deserve the success that they are getting. I saw them supporting Nile, and look forward to seeing them again in April supporting Krisiun and Gruesome. Vitriol will take over where Hate Eternal left off. Favourite track – “Violence, a Worthy Truth”.
  3. Infant Annihilator – The Battle of Yaldabaoth It’s fair to say that this band were like to shock and if I were to write some of their lyrics on here, Moshville Times will be shut down immediately. The music though is far more mature than their two previous outings but still brilliant and jaw-droppingly good. For some over the top extreme metal with shocking lyrics but good laughs, you cannot go wrong with Infant Annihilator. Favourite track – “Swinaecologist”.

Highlights of 2019

I got to interview some stalwarts of the scene that I have loved since the late ’80s/early ’90s, namely David Ingram who I found to be most welcoming and would have been happy to answer more of my questions.  For someone that must be inundated with requests, I was overjoyed with the detailed responses I got in my email inbox. I hear that you have taken unwell and I wish you a swift recovery. The same could be said for Jimmy Lundqvist of Entrails who had just released their sixth album since reforming in the late ’00s. All in all, a most friendly character and was a pleasure to deal with him. I also make sure that I interview bands when I have released anything and I always find it humbling when a band says a simple thank you. I always give my bit back to the band and buy the CD from them and do ask for them to be signed (Nick Craggs, get in touch!).

Worst things in 2019

Letting people down and that includes some of my comrades within Moshville Times. 2020 will be different I promise you that.

Evocation who with their last album The Shadow Archetype in 2017 have called it a day. After 5 albums of Swedish melodic death metal, life has taken over and the band is on an indefinite hiatus. With the band remaining friends and the album I still play regularly to this day will maybe one day have a follow-up.

Looking forward to in 2020

New material from Imperivm (Mike is it ready yet?)

New material from Vorgok (Edu, the same question applies!)

So many good gigs coming up next year. I will definitely be more active and brave on the live front.

Final Thoughts

I have been in correspondence with some amazing people and have considered them to be friends, so I thank the following in no particular order:-

Iain Purdie, Ross Green and all the Moshville Times maniacs that I work with.

Rachael Harrison and Elliott Alderman – Broom of Enso Music Management.

Vivanne Leonard and Amanda Weston of Roulette Media.

All the bands that I have interviewed and been introduced to in 2019, an eternal thank you. For those readers that have commented on my articles, you have no idea how much it means to me. I wish I could do this full time. I leave you with my song of the year – Humanity’s Last Breath with “Abyssal Mouth”.

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