If you want to write about music, have no friends.

Not self-pitying, just a warning about what it takes to do this job correctly. If you want to be an assassin, you can’t get easily distracted by compassion. Same for record reviewers: you must be ready to kill, rape, sodomize, and write accurately about the value of music in its own right and in context:

I wrote this in an email to someone whose opinion of me I respect, but wanted to be very clear about what my obligations can and cannot be in reviewing a submitted work. I figured I’d elaborate, because these words should exist somewhere:

This will sound like horseshit, but it’s not: a really good reviewer has no friends, and isn’t nice. He must be honest, brutal and quite honestly biased AGAINST most of what he or she hears. It’s not a job for people who like people, which is why I’m only partially good at it.

If you send anything here, keep in mind that it’s my job to be harsh

A good reviewer walks alone. If your dedication is to the music, a subset of art, and thus to the integrity of individual works and their genres, you have to be a real critic. That does not mean someone who is blanket negative, but someone who is able to look into the purpose a work serves and comment on it. Your job is to find artistic vitality only if it exists. 99% of reviewers do not understand this and either approve of everything (which makes them popular with labels and fans, who have short attention spans) or are poseurish negatives who hate everything even if it’s good.

The problem is this: there are many more good people out there than there are musicians who express something profound. Our time on life is short, and we only want the great music, because anything else is filling your time with something relatively inconsequential. Great art requires natural talent, discipline to get control of it, and finally, some stirring in the soul that gives you some content. What passion of life, what conflict and what love, do you express? Most bands express nothing more than wanting to be a band.

Even many good people just want to participate, and so make worshipful but contentless tributes to their favorite genres.

The above makes me sound like Satan or Stalin, but it’s all true. To be a good reviewer, you cannot be a friend to anyone. You must be a reviewer and you must be cynical. Most music is passing in its value, and will be forgotten before the ink dries… your job is to pull out the eternal, and in so doing, you need high standards, and in doing that, you will alienate almost everyone you know and become a leper-like pariah who wanders the earth alone, scorned even by his cats. – Facerook

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Blaspherian – Infernal Warriors of Death

Blaspherian improve upon their promising debute Allegiance to the Will of Damnation, sharpening their focus by developing riffs as themes, stacking multiple variations of a similar idea and then slaughtering it with counter-themes. In the best tradition of death metal, these songs make sense once you’ve heard all the riffs in sequence, but you would not think they’d fit together if you heard them separately. This gestalt allows Blaspherian to create a deepening atmosphere of cavernous doom, using the time-worn technique of old school death metal bands but wrapping it around a new spirit, one in which evil is deliberate and contemplative instead of chaotic. Through this evolution we see Blaspherian staying true to the old school, but allowing gentle influence from the developments of black metal and more recent maturations of the style such as those seen on later Immolation and Beherit albums. The emotional side of death metal emerges but is confined within a cold and inhuman logic, making this music both as natural as an open summer sky and brilliantly outside of the human norm under which we suffer. Blaspherian use a low-tech approach, with percussion that sounds like early Incantation and anchors the riff-fest generated by former Imprecation guitarist Wes Weaver. Detuned, bassy riffs of one to four chords hammer out patterns that then mutate and contort, often with a dropped note or changed picking technique, to produce textural layers through which melody filters. While firmly grounded in the old school, Infernal Warriors of Death opens up new horizons for the old school death metal genre, which now exists in parallel with others. It also shows what made this genre powerful in the early 1990s and makes it doubly relevant now, in the process delivering powerful music with an intense and resonant atmosphere.

-Brett Stevens-

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Death Metal and mass media

An oldie but a goodie. It’s good of Blabbermouth to report stuff like this, because although it’s not the fanboy stuff, it’s interesting:

The following are the total sales figures for several of the genre’s forerunners, according to Nielsen SoundScan (all numbers include any DVD and VHS releases, where applicable):

CANNIBAL CORPSE: 558,929
DEICIDE: 481,131
MORBID ANGEL: 445,147
SIX FEET UNDER: 370,660
OBITUARY: 368,616
DEATH: 368,184
NAPALM DEATH: 367,654
CARCASS: 220,734
ENTOMBED: 198,764

The top-selling death metal albums of the SoundScan era are as follows:

MORBID ANGEL – “Covenant” (1993): 127,154
DEICIDE – “Deicide” (1990): 110,719*
DEICIDE – “Legion” (1992): 103,544
OBITUARY – “The End Complete” (1992): 103,378
CANNIBAL CORPSE – “The Bleeding” (1994): 98,319

Blabbermouth

We forget now that these bands also were the first into stores, back in the time before 1997 when suddenly you could get obscure death metal in chain stores. During most of the early 1990s, the only things you’d find in regular record stores were the Roadrunner releases. I’m surprised “The End Complete” outsold “Cause of Death,” but it was a bit more musically refined in a conventional sense. Doubly amused that 18 years on, these are the only albums I still listen to from that list:

MORBID ANGEL – “Covenant” (1993): 127,154
DEICIDE – “Deicide” (1990): 110,719*
DEICIDE – “Legion” (1992): 103,544

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Lemmy: ‘Hip Hop Is Not Music’

While we love Motorhead, this needs commentary:

Never one to mince his words, Motörhead front man Lemmy Kilmister recently shared his views on the state of modern music with Atlantic City Weekly. When asked to express his thoughts on hip hop, the metal legend had the following to say:

“Why should I do that when it’s not music… There’s nothing creative about doing that [rapping] over music someone else created. They go out and take John Bonham’s drumming. I don’t call that music. You think they [rappers] could come up with sounds of their own, even some basic sounds and they can’t do it. Sad.”

Lemmy: ‘Hip Hop Is Not Music’

Not to offend one of the gods of metal, but:

  1. We disagree: we think hip-hop is music. It is organized sound; it uses rhythm primarily, but also incorporates some melodic snippets. That it is borrowed and requires less musical ability is somewhat irrelevant. Compared to Beethoven or Mozart, who could improvise structured pieces with ease and even re-configure to change the emotional direction of the piece on the fly, we’re all just about that untalented and derivative.
  2. The bigger point is that type of music determines the audience it attracts, and says a lot about them. People who like hip-hop are blockheads. They’re the same blockheads who were listening to disco in the 1970s, techno in the 1980s, grunge in the 1990s and nu-indie in the 2000s. They follow the trend because it’s “different” and have zero clue that the trend is actually just the latest manifestation of the same average stuff that people always chase. Hip-hop isn’t revolutionary; it’s no different than rock, if you replace the guitars with samples. Same song structures, roughly the same topics, even the same type of person producing it. These guys aren’t out there committing crimes and accidentally having musical careers; they’re committing crimes as a calculated status boost for their musical careers. They probably played first violin in high school band. It’s about the money.
  3. Populist music sucks because it chases trends and thus has no depth. It’s all appearance, nothing under the surface. But that’s what is called for. If you want music many people like all at once, it has to be similar to other things they already like but so they don’t feel cheated, it has to appear to be “different.” You win the multi-million dollar lottery if you take yesterday’s songs and make them seem fresh and exciting today. Whether that music is rap, rock, techno, indie, emo, screamo, disco or hip-hop, it’s all the same crap. Metal is the exception.

Sensible people know that elitism in music means you value quality over quantity. If you want quantity, you chase trends and get more of the same old crap, tricked out to be new. If you want quality, you are very careful about what you listen to and keep the best around. This however means you’ll never be trendy, which is why metal is inherently elitist: we don’t want to be part of the trends not to be “different” like hipsters/poseurs, but because we want higher quality music so we have a more intense experience.

If you want to know why rap, rock et cetera are incompatible with metal, that’s a good place to start your thinking. Lemmy is kick-starting the process to warm over a little tepid controversy to sell Motorhead’s 415th album, which is due out next month and is titled The Argle-Bargle of the Whatdumacallit or something similarly gnomic.

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Blaspherian CD, tshirt released and shipping

In a tribute to the first Immolation album, the new BLASPHERIAN CD Infernal Warriors of Death sports a scene of demonic conquest over angelic realms. That will probably be tame in comparison to the music, which from the two tracks leaked so far, is punishing old school death metal in the style of INCANTATION, DEICIDE, OBITUARY and IMMOLATION.

Deathgasm Records now has the CDs and tshirts in stock and is shipping them as orders come in.

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Glorious Times: A Pictorial of the Death Metal Scene (1984-1991)

Some readers may have noticed the recent addition of a side bar promoting “Glorious Times – A Pictorial of the Death Metal scene (1981-1991)” and this inclusion is not without good reason. Laid out like the highly evolved Heavy Metal magazine we all wish we would see at the nearest news-stand, “Glorious Times” in true discriminatory fashion includes amongst its pages bands actually worth discovering and rediscovering, and although the layout is consciously rooted in the DIY mentality of early fanzines, this highly professional document provides a genuine glimpse into the workings of the early and mainly North American Death metal phenomenon.

Providing a visual assault via rare and intriguing photos that both neophyte and seasoned veteran alike will find delightful, “Glorious Times” also includes entertaining and enlightening anecdotes by and about many of the foundational North American death metal acts. Although some of the accounts are funny, juvenile and downright adolescent, they remain above all inspiring, standing as a testament to the devoted individuals who were dedicated to an art form that for them was the last bastion of truthful expression in the time of “The Great Lie”.

Given the “glory” of the documented time era we read thus with a slight sense of melancholy and loss, the release of a text such as this proving that these times have passed. With some misgivings we witness within ourselves a nostalgic longing for the mutual respect that those participatory individuals had for one another by virtue of their commitment to a common goal. We marvel additionally at the perseverance and DIY mentality of these restless and visionary artists, and commend their youthful and innocent intensity. We look fondly upon the early exuberance and the inherent excitement that permeated a movement that was giving birth to new and truthful forms of expression, but above all we witness and thus long for a genuine spirit of brotherhood and camaraderie such that now seems lost, although not dead, on the Hessian community.

However, the potent power of a document such as this, its capacity to inspire, rally and excite may yet prove itself invaluable in infusing the Hessian community with the spirit with which it was once animated. The seeds are laid – Onward!

Written by TheWaters

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Demonaz releases debut

Demonaz’ debut album “March Of The Norse” will be released April 1 (Europe) and May 17 (US).

The album will be available as a limited edition digipak, limited picture disc and regular black vinyl.

There will also be a limited mail order vinyl edition and a mail order box edition.

http://www.facebook.com/demonaz

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Jeff Hanneman of SLAYER has necrotizing fascitis

Medical misfortune has befallen thrash metal progenitors Slayer once again. Guitarist/founding member Jeff Hanneman reportedly underwent emergency surgery on his right arm late last month. He was diagnosed with having contracted necrotizing fasciitis — kind of sounds like a Slayer song, actually — a rare yet serious infection also known as flesh-eating disease. – Exclaim

Hope he gets through this intact.

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Massacra – Enjoy the Violence

Know how to kill! Nothing is rarer, and everything depends on that. Know how to kill! That is to say, how to work the human body like a sculptor works his day or piece of ivory, and evoke the entire sum, every prodigy of suffering it conceals in the depths of its shadows and its mysteries. There! Science is required, variety, taste, imagination… genius, after all.

 

… So spake the lyrically impassioned and thoroughly blood-splattered master torturer from Octave Mirbeau’s exploitative allegory ‘Le Jardin des Supplices‘ — a work often regarded as the French parallel to Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ in its mutual objective towards smashing the moral edifices of Western civilization and exposing the corrupted, putrefying soul beneath. Framed in this excerpt is a rational, eloquent and yet sickeningly grotesque declaration of sadism as a fine art — or even a manifestation of divine love — which so happens to mesh very excellently with the more measured methods that Massacra had undertaken for their second opus Enjoy The Violence, an album that has historically competed with its predecessor Final Holocaust for total lordship over the death metal world. While the ivory sceptre is generally awarded to the debut by merit of its raw, inexorable and blindingly brilliant riff-saladry, an equally convincing case can be argued on behalf of Enjoy The Violence — a sophomore effort in the greatest sense of the word. No longer does songwriting resemble frantic tornadoes of jagged phrases, bewildering developments and hazardously unhinged instrumentation: here we find Massacra, having done their thorough “research of tortures”, limiting their machinations of aural infliction down to a choice but variegated selection, with all parts oiled, honed, and sharpened for excruciating efficiency.

Markedly fewer motifs are employed — a few even resurface on multiple songs — and yet it is this very spareness that imparts such character and memorability unto each composition, along with a newfound, almost cinematic command over tempo, texture, voicing and atmosphere. In addition to the familiar Destruction-esque, adrenaline-rushed thrashing fare, songs of pure death-doom are introduced, serving to showcase both the band’s ability to stage ominous and imposing dirges in the grandiosely operatic tradition, as well as the most tasteful musicianship yet to be wrought by the Duval/Tristani guitar duo and even percussionist Chris Palengat. Bassist and co-vocalist Pascal Jörgensen, whose efforts were unfortunately somewhat smothered by the crêpe-flat production on Final Holocaust, now rises to the status of an eminent narrator, complete with audible basslines and a dictatorial roar that bears with it the all the glorious and savage atavisms of the Gallic warrior spirit. A richly imagined, brutal and at times sardonic album, Enjoy The Violence is very much Massacra’s second masterpiece and — like the aforementioned Mirbeau — speaks to the undercurrent of murder and pillage that flows blackly through even the modern, safe, and plastic societies that have pleasantly stultified us in this age of oblivion.

You take pleasure
In using violence
It’s in your nature
Psychopathic sense
Psychological conflict
You’re under my influence
You can’t repress your instinct
I incite you to violence

-Thanatotron-

 

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