Welcome to the first installment of my two-part feature involving the latest, deadliest offerings from Abyss Records. Founded by Dan Ferguson in 2008, the label has since stretched its bloodied talons around the globe, always in search of the hardest-hitting outfits from various areas of extreme music.

First up, are Norwegian black metal devastators, Fester. A Celebration of Death marks the band’s return after going off the radar for about seventeen years. Here, the band’s sound takes on a more menacing and raw approach than past efforts. Old-school riffs and the raspy screech of vocalist Thomas Andresen drag the listener into decidedly grimy depths on the slower, doomier numbers like “The Black Tower” and “March of Death”, as well as the more aggressively paced “I’ll Hunt You Down!” When all is said and done, the rest of the record follows suit, making for a solid effort, save for a bit of a repetitious lull a little after the midway point. Ears perk up again for the closer, “A Face for a Funeral”, and an industrial remix of sorts from that pointy-nosed, demonic elf guy, Mortiis!

The latest effort from Desultor (not to be confused with fellow Swedes, the somewhat legendary Desultory) appears to be an experiment in melodic death and thrash gone completely off the deep end. Upon first listen, a comparison to acts such as Devin Townsend’s Strapping Young Lad and Seattle’s own Nevermore are undeniable. “Another World” and “Division Insane” are prime examples of what kind of destruction this duo is capable of. “And So We Bleed…” ignites like a hellish pipebomb, further showcasing that same kind of fury. “The Luxury of Pain” serves as a somber instrumental intermission before the whirlwind of “Caged” lets the listener know the journey’s not over just yet. Energetic and seemingly locked into warp speed, Desultor (aside from their suspicious name choice) undoubtedly know exactly what they’re doing.

Hailing from Anchorage, Alaska, the trio known as Thousand Year War present their latest release in the form of ten raging, blackened death, with occasional stylistic similarities to that of Swedish fanatics of Viking lore, Amon Amarth. Vocals range from low growl to black metal screech, and fit well with the march-into-battle feel of the instrumentation. “Defiance”, “The Sea” (involving vocalist Hiram Lohr’s fondness for the briny deep), “Open Casket”, and a galloping take on Immortal’s “The Storm I Ride” are all definite highlights of Tyrants and Men. “Weak souls fight their battles, I will never kneel!”

After nothing more than a handful of demo releases, Swedish old school thrash-a-holic warriors, Entrench bring a full-length release to the extreme music table in the form of Inevitable Decay. It’s a safe bet that at first listen, one can easily feel like they’ve been zapped back to the mid-80’s, when high tops and painted on denim was all the rage in thrash circles. This whole thing sounds like it was recorded back then. Where style is concerned, it’s like classic Kreator,  Kill ‘Em All-era Metallica, and Slayer all went in on a bastard lovechild and the angry outcome was Entrench. Headbanging little ditties like “Debt of Sorrow”, “Portrait of a Phobia”, and the closer, “Where Only Ruins Remain” are all sure to get fists pumping in a hairnado-filled frenzy of metal thrashing madness. You have been warned!