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Immortality Through Ashes EP (Tragic End Records)

Though mortality and fear are universal themes, most people don't regularly ponder death, suffering, and obliteration; they let artists do it for them, which creates work for people like Nightbreed frontman Ray Terry. Burdened with conflicting -- though not incompatible -- agnostic and romantic world views, he tells tales of broken characters who lose their grip and try to find it through violence and pain. Nobody said being authentic was easy.

The enshrouded Terry's last formal appearance was on 1331: Chaos A.D. , a gothic swan song of sophisticated hardcore from his former outfit, Allergic to Whores -- which died and rose as Nightbreed. Where 1331 sounded like the work of a Samhain tribute band, Immortality has a more subtle Danzig influence. Slower and heavier, the trio makes a quintet's worth of noise. Terry's scraped-raw voice creates the convincing impression that the darkness he's singing about -- melting skin, dead children, and other variations of pain and sickness -- comes from firsthand experience. And, like many horrible scenes, it's gripping.

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