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SOULBURN
SOULBURN
Feeding On Angels
(Century Media Records)
76:35min

Since 1991, ASPHYX had some really turbulent years even at the times of "Last One On Earth". During the next couple of years, Eric Daniels (as the sole original ASPHYX member) with the help of Ron Van Pol and Sander van Hoof released the self-titled "Asphyx" album in 1994. "Asphyx" sounded more esoteric and hard to absorb than the older material, although it contained among others re-arrangements of a couple of old ASPHYX tunes. Even to this day, the album is in fact ingenious and a great release worth the history of the band. In 1996, "God Cries" followed which featured once again a different line-up, including Bob Bagchus and Theo Loomans as the main core. In retrospect, "God Cries" is a really solid album but I guess back then it "divided" the fans of ASPHYX to those who approved it as worth the ASPHYX banner, while others thought differently. In any case, truth remains that the main ASPHYX core, namely Bagchus-Daniels was what made the classic ASPHYX sound so damn special and it's evident that this unique chemistry is missing from both "Asphyx" and "God Cries". In 1996, Eric Daniels contacted Bob Bagchus to start a new project and initially Theo Loomans was also involved, but Theo decided to follow his own path and leave this project behind. After Theo's departure, Eric and Bob offered the position to none other than Wannes Gubbels, mastermind and driving force behind the cult Death Metal band PENTACLE. The three Dutchmen chose the distinctive name SOULBURN and employed none other than Christophe Szpajdel to draw the great logo of the project. The choice of a new name has been an intentional move in order for this specific project not to be compared with ASPHYX in the sense that Eric, Bob and Wannes wanted to relieve themselves from any possible comparisons that could be made between the two bands. Soon after they released a promo / demo tape that featured four tracks ('Enter The Flames Of Soulburn (Intro)', 'Hellish Entrapment', 'Behold The Funeral Candle' and '... The Flames Of Soulburn (Outro)'). The sound of SOULBURN is really hard to describe... it's a totally dark and evil version of classic ASPHYX, but simpler in structure with a sound that pays tribute to the likes of VENOM, HELLHAMMER, DEATH STRIKE, SLAUGHTER etc. The Eric Daniels - Bob Bagchus chemistry was once again put to action, but I think that the presence of Wannes Gubbels acted like a catalyst that threw more oil into the fires of SOULBURN. In 1998, the debut SOULBURN album has been released. Entitled "Feeding On Angels" and with a sick Axel Hermann cover artwork depicting a demon in a red "blasphemic" background prepared the fans for a serious attack that should not be taken lightly. The haunting intro 'Enter The Flames Of Soulburn' creates a deathlike, intense atmosphere. When the first track 'Hellish Entrapment' enters, the morbid scream "Ugh!" of Wannes gives the signal for the attack to begin... and all hell breaks loose with a sound totally obscure like ASPHYX meets NECROVORE. Eric playing is a real bulldozer that paves the way so that Bob's stable drumming crushes everything in sight. Wannes sounds more demonic and possessed than ever with a dark energy that brings shivers down the spine. When the fast part of 'Hellish Entrapment' enters then it's obvious that a merciless massacre begins. The onslaught continues with the menacing 'Crypts Of The Black', a real hymn for all worshippers of the ancient Death Metal sound, with a guitar riffing that shreds. 'Hymn Of The Forsaken' is more slow and tormenting like a saw in action only for the fast part to enter so the madness can continue. 'Feeding On Angels' is the "epic" point of the album and a shift in the atmosphere so the listener can take a breath for a while, still a great track. 'Storming Hordes' is an absolutely grotesque tune that surfaces the unearthly riffing of "classic" Eric Daniels, but in a bit more primitive way until we reach the mid / final part of the song where the simplistic chainsaw riffing and hammering return for more bloodshed. 'Throne Of Hatred' continues with the obscure, archaic sound to reach the 'Behold The Funeral Candle' which remains one of the most characteristic SOULBURN tracks ever, so "asphyxiating", crushing and evil-sounding it's hard to describe. At that point the album closes with the same haunting intro '... The Flames Of Soulburn' that opened it. Personally, I believe that "Feeding On Angels" is without any doubt one of the best Death Metal records ever, no exaggeration here. Eric Daniels guitar playing is incredibly effective and really difficult to take out of your head. Sound-master Harry Wijering has offered a devastating, huge production to the album in Harrow Studios which helps Eric's guitar sound great (and not only). Bob's drumming is just a bulldozer with no remorse, simple and to the point. Wannes has combined the morbidity and obscurity that Theo Loomans offered during the "Embrace The Death" days with the deathliness of Martin van Drunen during "The Rack" and "Last One On Earth". Don't take me wrong, Wannes has always maintained his own, unique, unmistaken vocal-style and on "Feeding On Angels" he sounds more evil and possessed than ever when compared with PENTACLE or later-ASPHYX. I never understood why the album has not reached the status it deserved because by all means it's flawless and a real classic. Even to this day, the original version of the album is easy to get and that makes one wonder why. In any case, what we have here is the re-release of this classic piece of Death Metal in its definite version. First of all, the lyrics are included for the first time and that is a great addition because the fans can read them at last. Some changes in the layout of the cover-artwork have been applied as well. Still the most important addition to this re-release is none other, than the bonus, rehearsal tracks. If you thought that the album was sick and brutal then the rehearsal tracks are the ultimate bonus and will blow you away! It's like listening to a late-80s / early-90s rehearsal tape, same atmosphere and obscure vibe with a really intense feeling, that's precious material! The tracks are: 'The Sickening Dwell', 'Storming Hordes', 'Crypts Of The Black', 'Hymn Of The Forsaken', 'Feeding On Angels', 'Throne Of Hatred' and 'Behold The Funeral Candle'. All in all, this re-release is absolutely essential for all serious Death Metal fans and very special for all die-hard fans of SOULBURN and ASPHYX. I really hope that people appreciate "Feeding On Angels" better this time because it's one of the most important masterpieces of the '90s. Soon after the album's release, SOULBURN transformed into ASPHYX and delivered another masterpiece called "On The Wings Of Inferno". But the vow has been given one time, down in the underworld, where Bob, Eric and Wannes entered the flames of SOULBURN... www.centurymedia.com

Manolis A.

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