Death Metal Underground

Judas Priest launches “Epitaph” live concert film

April 30, 2013 –

judas_priest-epitaphLegendary heavy metal band Judas Priest has announced that they will be releasing concert footage off their last tour. Entitled Epitaph, it features the band playing selections ranging the scope of their long career. The film will be screened at select theaters starting in May, culminating in worldwide release on May 28 on DVD.

Says the band: “The Epitaph world tour came to an exciting conclusion at the renowned Hammersmith Odeon (now known as the Apollo) in London. Knowing our fans around the planet recognize that venue for many legendary metal moments, and of course with Judas Priest being a British metal band it was the perfect gig for us to film and record. Big thanks as always to you our metal family of fans – so start banging your heads one more time with us as we scream together ‘The Priest is back!’”

As one of the earliest heavy metal bands, many later genres were influenced by Judas Priest. The band was one of the first to use rapid palm-muted riffs and connecting structures that later inspired speed metal, death metal, and proto-black metal bands.

Summoning – Old Mornings Dawn

April 29, 2013 –

summoning-old_mornings_dawnAfter the first wave of Norwegian black metal entirely re-defined the genre into a melodic and intensely artistic form of music, it seemed metal had culminated. Its technique exploded in death metal, and with black metal, it began the process of creating narrative melodic compositions.

Summoning jumped into this heap by evolving from a relatively straightforward downtempo black metal band into a melange of keyboards, lengthy fast-picked slow melodic passages, and soundtrack-style framing of song structures in the context of atmospheric, Tolkien-inspired vaguely medievalist metal. Ever since they nailed that combination on Dol Guldur, Summoning has been a legend in the metal scene.

After the experiment in greater use of vocals and folk-like dynamics that was Stronghold, Summoning returned with Oath Bound, which edged them closer to the territory last explored on Dol Guldur before the music got more atmospheric on the Nightshade Forests EP. Seven years later, anticipation ran high for their latest, named Old Mornings Dawn.

Coming from the same creative wellspring as other Summoning works, Old Mornings Dawn channels three separate influences: the classic downtempo black metal of its origins, the “Renaissance Faire” style of folk/world music that it became, and an influence that can only be described as dark 1980s industrial goth pop. This album fits in with Joy Division, Soft Cell, Sisters of Mercy and other darker forms of synthpop and EBM, much in the same way that Nightshade Forests picked up similar influences. At the same time, hints of the Stronghold style where vocals lead composition help define these songs.

What is most pronounced on this album however is that Summoning are using the layered style that worked so well on not only Nightshade Forests but the Lost Tales EP as well, but have removed even more of the metal “forward” style narrative composition. Instead, these are circular compositions with layers, but in the best metal style, moods accrue and eventually force change into an entirely different but complementary riff. The result is a ferment of slightly differentiated influences fit into the only song structures that could incorporate them all. The result is like an exotic tour alongside a riverbank populated by fantastic figures from dreams.

Old Mornings Dawn is a creative journey into the recesses of the mind and embraces the sentimental alongside the epic, using its ambient structuring to immerse the listener in a world far beyond anything they have experienced. The result drifts farther from black metal without betraying black metal, and instead creates a voice unique to Summoning which sensibly does not try to be Dol Guldur II, but to create a niche for itself. Its decreased distance from the listener allows emotion to meld with music and create an atmosphere unique to this band and the spread of time they have chosen with their music.

After Death – Retronomicon

April 28, 2013 –

after_death-retronomiconRetronomicon compiles the demos and EP of After Death, the band Mike Browning formed as a replacement for Nocturnus as Nocturnus A.D., and then renamed to avoid confusion with the other version of Nocturnus that resurrected itself briefly in the 2000s.

While the roots of After Death are in death metal, the majority of this music is epic heavy metal or what would be called power metal at this point. It uses heavy metal riffs, has a melodic sense similar to that of later Budgie, and has a theatrical atmosphere like more recent Therion.

Most importantly, the rhythms and the way riffs fit together are not in the death metal style, but sort of like a “dinner theatre” version of heavy metal. These riffs are closer to leitmotifs than motifs, meaning that they reflect characters or themes of a developing drama directly, rather than conveying changes in overall mood as they do in regular death metal. Add to this groove and bouncy rhythms and what comes out is radio-friendly heavy metal with some death riffs and an occult vibe.

Retronomicon features odd vocals of wide-ranging sounds, some seemingly demonic processed voices, others like children or wailing women, and some in the death growl. This and the tendency to make very theatrical combinations of riffs give this music an otherworldly feel. Add to that the active keyboards that highlight riffs and also provide contrary motions and textures, and the result is the kind of subversively imaginative and esoteric musical pathway that Marilyn Manson and others could barely dream of.

It’s unfortunate radio metal did not go in this way rather than the more mundane ways that it did, but if After Death want to go mainstream, they’ll have to be a bit more consistently intense and emotional. People like simple because they’re generally distracted when listening. This music may be a bit beyond most because it requires an attention span, but it’s strikingly beautiful and multifaceted. The Nocturnus influence can clearly be heard in temp changes and the decision points before the conclusions of songs.

This will not be for everyone. Most death metal fans will be turned off by the aesthetics; Marilyn Manson, Rammstein, Ministry, Therion, et al. fans may be turned off by how rough and ambiguous much of this is. However, both groups should attend to this interesting musical pathway that could well be the most subversive and occult thing ever to visit radio.

New Summoning songs leaked

Were you one of the nerdy kids that wept a little bit when Boromir fell to the orcs? If so, you’ll be very excited for the new Summoning album Old Mornings Dawn. It appears that the album has already been leaked, but I encourage you to pre-order Old Mornings Dawn at this location if you like the music.

Eternal Rest – Prophetic

eternal_rest-propheticThis upcoming death metal band tries to explore the style that Immolation developed on Harnessing Ruin but give it additional forward force with war-metal-styled ripping fast phrasal riffs and battle-style percussion attacking in clusters of quick notes. What distinguishes this band is the inventiveness of its riffs and the ferocity of its attack.

Prophetic as a result carries through the intensity of death metal but imports many additions from both older speed metal, and modern metal. Vocals lead the riffs, giving the music a sense of uniformity interrupted by bursts of activity. Drums tend to blast or make textures out of alternating blasts and slower material. Songs often drop from a frenzy into a mid-paced death metal rhythmic harbor in which the band injects slowly played, resonant melodies.

Eternal Rest presents a strong compositional voice, and in many ways, this is what they work against; their language of songwriting is so clear and their ability to craft riffs so powerful that sometimes it swallows up everything else and thus songs seem like extensions of one another. Many riffs descend from the speed metal technique, like a more aggressive Exhorder or Exodus, but others are straight death metal and often quite inventive. The use of gentler melodies to balance the extended periods of furious blasting breaks up any grip on the sound any particular technique has.

Much like later Immolation, Prophetic shows us a band trying to find a way to merge high-intensity death metal with a mellower, almost doom-influenced melodic influence. Eternal Rest achieve this quite handily and throw out some powerful riffs besides. While the vocals may not be strong enough for traditional death metal, and the frenetic tendency may be too modern metal for some, the promise of this band is in its ability to create a mood on two levels of intensity and support each with the other.

Sadistic Intent prepares “Reawakening Horrid Thoughts”

sadistic_intent-reawakening_horrid_thoughtsLong-dormant old school death metal band Sadistic Intent, whose members toured with the resuscitated Possessed during the resurrection of that august act, now prepares to release its first new material in many years.

Legendary for its 1990s material in the style of Slayer or Morbid Angel, the band continues in this style with three new songs which are being billed as “the unholy return of Sadistic Intent.” True to form, they will be released on 10″ vinyl from Iron Pegazus records.

Reawakening Horrid Thoughts could be crucial to getting Sadistic Intent material back into print, since the band’s prior releases, Resurrection and Ancient Black Earth, are out of print and the former is a re-release of earlier out-of-print material. If this attracts an audience, the band may be able to re-release compiled material so that new generations can appreciate this classic act.

Bands that keep making the same album but do it well

unleashed-where_no_life_dwellsAlthough AC/DC and Motorhead have been putting out basically the same album over and over for 30 years, fans of these two bands never blamed them for not being different.

Instead the audience continues to cherish this phenomenon, as this straightforward, wild and raw music style is the trademark of these bands. Risen from rock music and propelled by underground metal, this kind of music stands for the desire of liberation, freedom and simplicity in this plastic world. It will never go out of time.

In the realm of death metal, there is a band which greatly influenced by AC/DC and Motorhead also has a constant style of music. This band is Unleashed.

Unleashed was formed after the disbanding of Nihilist. Unlike the other key figures Entombed and Carnage whose members were in Nihilist, Unleashed brought the roadhouse rock style of AC/DC and Motorhead into death metal. However as a death metal band, Unleashed has more creative ideas than the old classics. You can tell that by just looking at the names and covers of their albums, each one is as exciting to look forward to as a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The scent of fighting in their music also demonstrates that death metal ponders on our existences in world.

The mystic and adventurous sense of Unleashed comes from the extension of the typical “verse-chorus-bridge-verse-chorus” structure the phrasal riffs of death metal. Under an emphasized theme, each phrasal riff acts like a puzzle and combine into an epic scenery. Therefore Unleashed’s musics are richer and more narrative comparing to AC/DC and Motorhead (Before the Victory which completely lost all apprehension of mysticism). To the fans of AC/CD, Motorhead who also enjoy underground metal, do not miss Unleashed.

Translated from this post.

Megadeth – Super Collider preview

megadeth-super_colliderSpeed metal legends Megadeth have released the title track from their upcoming album Super Collider. Sounding similar to the late 90s albums which found Megadeth exploring a more commercial direction, the new work features the standard hard rock structure designed for maximum radio exposure.

Although fans of their older material may not appreciate the return to that style of music, it will almost assuredly increase awareness of the Megadeth brand. Along with Metallica and Slayer, Megadeth was one of the foundational pillars of speed metal.

Mixing a blend of bursts of aggression in among longer songwriting narratives, the bands created an organic presentation of death, war, and other dark subjects; not simply to glorify the carnage but to break free of the politically correct time in which they were conceived and to present an alternative.

Bring us another Toba catastrophe

April 27, 2013 –

volc1For those that are unaware of the Toba catastrophe theory – it’s based on a supervolcanic event in present-day Indonesia that changed the world. Around 75,000 years ago one volcanic eruption bottle-necked the human species and put the Earth into a decade-long volcanic winter. The human species was rendered to less than 10,000 breeding pairs and the planet was cooled. These volcanic events are nature’s way of bringing a balance back to the planet; something that modern civilization doesn’t pay any heed to because most people pigeonhole themselves in mundane routines.

How do volcanoes transpose to metal? Well aside from their “bad” nature, the Earth reclaims its shell by cutting out the fat on its crust. This is something that needs to happen in the metal community.

How often do you find yourself at a show and every band on the bill are generic rehashes of the past or common variations of pop formulas? The scene is infested with hundreds and hundreds of boredom inducing clones that mimic their favorite bands – not extending upon the concepts that were previously founded. They are imitations. The prolegomenon of mediocre bands doesn’t leave much room for more quality music to thrive. Perhaps a metaphorical influx of lava and ash clouds would keep the weak at bay and let true metal flourish.

Last Burzum metal recording ever

burzumBurzum composer Varg Vikernes has posted a “goodbye” to his old self as a metal composer and in a sentimental posting, announced his retirement from metal and his intent to pursue ambient music alone.

Burzum appeared from nowhere in 1991 with a demo tape made up of a dozen guitars-and-bass-only tracks in rehearsal quality. I made a few more or less successful metal albums, but they all always included at least some ambient music. With time I moved further and further away from metal, and today only the ambient music remains. Today (2013) I think I am done playing metal music for good.

Many of you followed Burzum through the years, some even from the beginning, and I think metal-Burzum deserves a proper “good bye”. So, just like I started out I will finish metal-Burzum with a guitars-and-bass-only track in rehearsal quality. “Back to the Shadows” is made up of the last metal riffs I ever made (in 2012). It was never released in any way, or recorded (beyond what you hear here), and it will not either — beyond this short “video”.

Take it for what it is; a sentimental good bye to metal-Burzum.

The music is playing with an image of the 17 year-old me, taken from the time when some of the first Burzum tracks were made. You can see this track as a good bye to that fellow too.

For those of us who have been watching Burzum and Vikernes over the years, this is a welcome development. Heavy metal is beautiful but it will always be attached to popular conceptions of entertainment. Ambient music, especially complex material, gets treated as culture.

While we hope to change that perception of metal and to have it be studied as art and part of culture, that’s an uphill battle when the fans routinely rush to gimmick bands and depthless clones in a hope to be part of the next popular trend.

Either way, this bodes well for more interesting compositions in Burzum’s future.