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'Harvester Of Shadows'
(Inverse Records)

jools green

Jools Green

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'Harvester Of Shadows' is the latest offering from Kansas based one man death/thrash machine Derek Neilbarger and follows his debut release, 'Year One' from 2013 and the 2014 EP 'Dying Dead Undead Unholy'.

Once again Derek is responsible for all aspects from the writing to the performing of the album including vocals, which are varied, well intonated and reasonably legible. I don't know if he plays the drums or whether they are programmed samples but either way they are done well but where he really excels is in the shredding department; he is an absolute maniac behind the guitar.

The album features nine tracks of intense death laced thrash Metal, encompassing lyrical themes of horror, death as well as aspects of occultism and sound wise the album is a relentless sonic assault. There is no real stand out track, neither are there any duff ones either.

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From a critical perspective, the aspects that make this release good also have their downsides. It's a bit like listening to some Danish death Metal, a full on, high speed assault of the senses and too much to digest in one sitting. The theme to the sound is very strong and consistent throughout and after about four tracks you need a change of scenery, but it's a good listen taken in two sittings.

Although opening track 'Witching Hour At The Gates Of Stull' is an instrumental and I really like it for the way it builds but it also showcases all of Derek's talents and stylisation, except the vocals, in one chunk, so all that follows doesn't offer much of a surprise.

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Despite that slightly negative comment there are a lot of positive aspects that merit a mention; 'The Swarm Feeds' has the catchiest opening riff of the whole album, 'Suffering The Wrath Of The Goddess' has a superb understated dark opener with a great build while on 'Summoning Darkness' there is a nice, gradually building, dark opener with an addictive, chugging groove.

'To Shred the Soul' has a classic death Metal fast tempo yet in some ways it's calmer than some of the other tracks and further in has shredding that would make Kerry King give a nod of respect; also one of the best tracks for rise and fall of tempo keeping my attention end to end.

Derek Neilbarger is clearly a hugely talented musician and there is a vast amount of scope here but a little more diversity to the sound on future offerings would really expand and enhance that which is laid out here.

I do like this album; I just can't listen to it all in one go.

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