Death Metal Underground

Codex Obscurum – Issue Number 2

August 31, 2013 –

codex_obscurum_zinePeople thought the golden age of metal zines was over. However, now that the internet has flooded the world with low quality information, including Garage Band musical projects, there’s a new need for zines: to find the good stuff and celebrate it.

When you think about it, almost everything you’re exposed to on a daily basis is a commercial message. Whether it’s some commercial on TV selling you Viagra, someone soliciting “likes” on Facebook, renting your apartment on AirBnB or even a news broadcast, money is changing hands.

How this works is that the person creating the information makes it about a topic on the surface, but in its inner structure, it’s about the sale. Some material works from the opposite direction, and makes its inner structure about the music itself. We call that media “underground.”

Codex Obscurum’s second issue has two dimensions to it. The first is how it looks, and the second in the quality of information inside. As someone who lived through the years of four-track production and grainy xeroxed zines, the former doesn’t influence me much. It’s in the information zone that Codex Obscurum thrives.

The staff behind this magazine have clearly put a lot of effort into acquiring interesting interviews, stories and relevant record reviews. What other zine do you know would contact Burzum mastermind and known church-burning neo-Nazi Varg Vikernes, and only ask him about his new role-playing game? Or would create a Slayer tribute that’s this personal?

In addition to the human interest stories, the bread and butter of this zine is its scene reporting. An interview with Incantation shows more of the band than we’ve seen in a long time, getting into the depths of its motivations and musicality. There’s a killer Morpheus Descends interview and a wad of record reviews that are not only coherent but insightful.

No zine will be perfect in form or content. Some of what goes into this issue of Codex Obscurum struck me as irrelevant to my personal pursuits but it’s hard to argue against inclusion of longstanding local scene veteran bands, and those interviews turned out to be interesting, so it’s a quibble at best.

In form, this zine could improve. Luckily, their error is that they are trying too hard. The editors created a number of different layouts, with different fonts and background colors, to try to liven up the layout. My advice is to stop doing this, and to go back to the whitespace backgrounds of bygone days, but use space more efficiently.

Codex Obscurum could fit in more content by modifying its layouts in this way. Similarly, for record reviews, just use a table grid. You don’t need to come up with something visually arresting in every case because if you’re using the space efficiently, it will be packed with information. Typerwriter font is fine because it copies well, unlike some of the Olde English and Stencil fonts used here.

That being said however I thoroughly enjoyed this zine and its writing style. Unlike the blog-influenced writing of the mainstream media, this zine does not take a few nuggets of information and drown them in a sea of happy social noises. It cuts to the chase, and starts dishing the vital knowledge without a lot of backstory and chatter.

Best of all, this zine understands the underground. Codex Obscurum is written from the perspective that the truth is out there and most people don’t want to see it and refuse to even take hints that it exists. Thus, that which wants to keep its integrity must stay underground, and requires dedicated zines to explain it to others.

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Spike Cassidy from DRI needs donations for surgery costs

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spike_cassidy-dirty_rotten_imbecilesThrash band DRI posted an update about the condition of Spike Cassidy, who has been their guitarist since DRI’s formative lineup in the early 1980s.

Many know that Cassidy has been battling health woes over the past decade. Last September, he needed to have emergency surgery. This surgery cost $57,000 and now he needs to pay it.

As a result, the band is selling whatever merchandise they can through eBay to make up the funds. If you want to help out, go to the Spike Cassidy/DRI medical fund page.

Sammath Godless Arrogance to be released February 3, 2014

August 30, 2013 –

sammath-godless_arroganceHammerheart Records has set a release date for the fifth Sammath album, Godless Arrogance, which will see worldwide release by the Dutch label on February 3, 2014.

You can hear a sample track in high definition at the Hammerheart Records Sammath Godless Arrogance page for “Fear Upon Them”. This track showcases not only the songwriting of the new album but the production you’ll hear which improves upon past Sammath releases.

Creating music in the style of fast ripping death metal with the underlying melody and moodiness of black metal, Sammath deliver a blast of fury and beauty that resembles the second Immortal album crossed with Fallen Christ. Godless Arrogance may help renovate metal in 2014.

Parasitic Ejaculation – Rationing the Sacred Remains

parasitic_ejaculation-rationing_the_sacred_human_remainsBearing one of the more enjoyable band names of recent note, Parasitic Ejaculation bring a focused, percussive take on death metal while simultaneously grotesquely offending any person with mainstream sensibilities.

The band chooses to play death metal in its purest form, with a focus on the morbid and postmortem. Riffs naturally lead from one into the next, without ever letting the listener get complacent with verse-chorus simplicity. Instead, the songwriters focus on the underlying structure and how modifying its form can produce creative results.

Rationing the Sacred Remains utilizes competent instrumentalism in which all instruments are well-played and eject an exciting contribution to the whole. Steady low-pitched belches provide a framework that pushes the songs forward. In its best moments, the band plays in a highly evocative manner, in which melting chords and pinch-harmonics simulate the death throes of the prey of a violent predator.

However, at times the band seems to dip into parody, such as allowing harmonics to become the driving element of a song rather than as ornaments, in addition to incorporation of rhythms that become self-referential rather than contributive to the overall design. In such instances, the “spell” is broken and the listener is given the impression that the song is merely something to mosh to, rather than the art it has the potential of being.

Regardless, this is a band to keep an eye on as they refine their music into the future. Their debut album, Rationing the Sacred Remains, can be heard in full over at their Bandcamp page.

Abominant – Onward to Annihilation

August 29, 2013 –

abominant-onward_to_annihilationAbominant make midwestern death metal which showcases its extensive and varied influences within the metal genre. Astute observers will note charging death metal like Afterlife, but simpler and more direct, mixed with heavily Iron Maiden influenced heavy metal.

Onward to Annihilation exhibits Abominant at the height of their powers, having been making metal for over two decades. The tempo changes are crisper, the riffs faster, and the vocals put the sore abraded throat sound of death metal singing to a powerful use. The lengthy fast and emotional bluesy solos are still rippling through the bridge riffs.

Songs are fundamentally riff salad wrapped around a verse-chorus construction like a DUI driver wraps her SUV around a light pole. Structures veer off the beaten path, but do so as a way of returning, and tend to go through a series of riffs from heavy metal and speed metal before returning to the death metal norm.

Abominant have improved on previous efforts by evening out the balance of melodic material to the rest, and keeping the intensity up by tossing out less intense riffs. This shows the band at their leanest and meanest, smashing their heavy metal-death metal fusion into the faces of an oblivious world.

Onward to Annihilation, Abominant’s 10th studio album, is out now on Deathgasm Records.

  1. We Are Coming
  2. Conquerors of Dust
  3. Left to Rot
  4. Battlescarred
  5. Onward to Annihilation
  6. Hold Your Ground
  7. Beside the Dying Flame
  8. Legions of Hell

Origin of Feces podcast features Imprecation

origin_of_the_feces-radio_showNotorious multi-national underground metal revival radio show podcast Origin of Feces has launched a new episode featuring a retrospective of the career of Texan occult death metallers Imprecation.

Combining classic death metal and black metal with slapstick humor and mockery of the metal world and the world at large beyond it, Origin of Feces is an attempt to return metal to its more vital days gone by.

DJs Alligator and Tesla run through several classics, including the origins of death metal itself, before battering their way into a block of Imprecation tracks from the past and present works of the band. Expect random commentary and true death metal dedication on this show.

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Scalpel “The Black Juices” stream from Sorrow and Skin

scalpel-sorrow_and_skinOn September 3rd, Sevared Records will release Sorrow and Skin from Boston Death Metal Force Scalpel. Unlike most metal music of this time, Scalpel preserves the old school compositional framework and incorporates some modern metal touches.

In style, Sorrow and Skin represents a mix between West Coast dynamism and East Coast rhythmic intensity in the style of metal pioneered by Suffocation and Deeds of Flesh. Working melody into their blasting intensity, the band craft small adventures in power chords.

DeathMetal.org is pleased and honored to be able to live stream a track, “The Black Juices,” from Scalpel’s Sorrow and Skin. As this release works its way through the underground we are convinced it will win over the dark hearts of many a metal fan.

Scalpel – “The Black Juices” – Sorrow and Skin [mp3]

Scalpel – “The Black Juices” – Sorrow and Skin [ogg]

Track List:

  1. Ripe
  2. Gutmulch
  3. The Woodsman
  4. The black juices
  5. Skullscraper
  6. Mincemaster
  7. Sentinels of Severed Flesh
  8. Sorrow and Skin
  9. The Exterminator/Human Slaw
  10. Unspeakable

Dark Funeral to re-issue first six albums including In the Sign…

August 26, 2013 –

dark_funeral-in_the_signDark Funeral, the Swedish black metal band started by Necrophobic guitarist David Parland (whose untimely demise this year shocked the metal world), has a long and storied career. The band is now re-releasing its earlier works with the usual remaster and rare tracks treatment.

The important album to look forward, however, is In the Sign…. This one, which features the guitar work and composition of Parland, shows melodic Swedish black metal at its raging best. With the energy of Belial, and the general aesthetic of a simplified Dissection, early Dark Funeral is a more heavy metal take on black metal that often resembles tremolo-picked version of Ride the Lightning.

In the Sign… as re-issued will be almost twice as long, with the original self-titled MCD/EP combined with four Bathory covers to produce an approximation of an eight-song album. These titles will be released in Europe on September 9 and in North America on November 12 via Century Media Records.

In The Sign… (re-issue+bonus) track-listing **available as CD, LP (plus poster), digital download**
1. Open The Gates (4:36)
2. Shadows Over Transylvania (4:22)
3. My Dark Desires (3:52)
4. In The Sign Of The Horns (3:43)
5. Equimanthorn (BATHORY cover) (3:21)
6. Call From The Grave (BATHORY cover) (4:34)
7. Open The Gates (live 2003) (3:54)
8. Shadows Over Transylvania (live 2003) (3:16)
9. My Dark Desires (live 2003) (3:48)
NOTE: tracks 1-4 are taken from the self-titled MCD (1994), tracks 6-7 are taken from ‘In Conspiracy With Satan’ BATHORY-tribute sampler

The Secrets Of The Black Arts (re-issue+bonus) track-listing **available as 2CD, Gatefold 2LP (plus poster), digital download**
CD1:
1. The Dark Age Has Arrived (00:18)
2. The Secrets Of The Black Arts (03:40)
3. My Dark Desires (03:46)
4. The Dawn No More Rises (03:58)
5. When Angels Forever Die (04:06)
6. The Fire Eternal (03:54)
7. Satan’s Mayhem (04:52)
8. Shadows Over Transylvania (03:41)
9. Bloodfrozen (04:20)
10. Satanic Blood (VON cover) (02:12)
11. Dark Are The Paths To Eternity (A Summoning Nocturnal) (05:56)
CD2:
1. Shadows Over Transylvania (Unisound version (03:39)
2. The Dawn No More Rises (Unisound version) (03:40)
3. The Secrets Of The Black Arts (Unisound version) (03:26)
4. Satan’s Mayhem (Unisound Version) (04:48)
5. Bloodfrozen (Unisound Version) (03:36)
6. My Dark Desires (Unisound Version) (03:21)
7. Dark Are The Paths To Eternity (A Summoning Nocturnal) (Unisound Version) (05:39)
8. The Fire Eternal (Unisound Version) (03:38)

Vobiscum Satanas (re-issue+bonus) track-listing **available as CD, LP, digital download**
1. Ravenna Strigoi Mortii (04:26)
2. Enriched By Evil (04:40)
3. Thy Legions Come (04:11)
4. Evil Prevail (04:28)
5. Slava Satan (03:56)
6. The Black Winged Horde (04:37)
7. Vobiscum Satanas (05:00)
8. Ineffable King Of Darkness (03:38)
9. Enriched By Evil (live 1998) (04:43)
10. Thy Legions Come (live 1998) (04:14)
11. Vobiscum Satanas (live 1998) (05:00)
12. Ineffable King Of Darkness (live 1998) (03:28)

Woe – Withdrawal

woe-withdrawalYour average person perceives music as good and bad, with a whole lot of bad and some good. The truth is more shocking: truly bad is rare like truly good, but the vast majority is just so-so.

So-so occurs not because an album has too much bad, but because it doesn’t have enough good. And this isn’t a by-the-pound determination. It needs to be good in a number of ways, including structurally and conceptually, or it devolves into chaos. Randomness. Disorder.

The average album usually has no defects. The instrumentation is good, the production is good, and individual members put in strong performances. They can write songs according to the book, and often have a unique concept. It just doesn’t hold together because it lacks a central idea.

Withdrawal is an example of a truly bad album. It is not bad because it is incompetent, but because it is whore. Woe takes the techniques of orthodox black metal and applies them to hard rock with touches of indie. This produces disorder with a face value different from its content.

On the surface, this album emulates Gorgoroth and Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger; a little bit under the surface, you find Ulver and Taake. Dig down deep enough and you find recycled Def Leppard and Quiet Riot riffs, with repetitive use of black metalTM technique like blast beats, melodic drone, bad production, and so forth.

As a product, Withdrawal is great because it’s open to everyone. On the surface, it’s rebellion; underneath, it’s the same complacent crap your parents were listening to. Maybe it’s a good pop album; I got bored halfway through. But it’s not black metal.

Aborym – Dirty

August 25, 2013 –

aborym-dirtyBlack metal doesn’t hybridize with much because black metal is by itself a distinctive genre. This distinctiveness comes not from its technique, which is borrowed from atmospheric heavy metal and crustcore, but its attitude and outlook.

Unlike almost every other genre on earth, black metal is not about people in the singular. It’s about life itself. It has no pretense of stooping to your perspective, or making itself appealing and interesting like a crooner. It is like the cold winds of winter nights: untouchable, aloof, lawless and immune to human guilt, morality and fear.

Aborym blend black metal of the blasting type — think Mythos, Zyklon-B or Impaled Nazarene — with both extremely clubby techno and 1980s Gothic power pop. The result is compelling but more on the side of those other genres, because the black metal technique is absorbed. To counter this, Aborym create clever song structures out of variations in texture and on top of those drop in additional layers of melody or rhythm.

Like more mass consumption musics, Aborym uses static riffing here, where a chord is used to sketch out a rhythm. This is different from the normal phrasal riffs of black metal and death metal, where chords are used as notes in melodic phrases that resemble the objects of their symbolic role in the song.

The mixture of sheer keyboards and heavily reverbed guitar chording creates an immersion of sound that must be an unholy terror live. It creates total disconnect in the listener and puts emphasis on the voice and excessively front-ended percussion, which causes the overall song to more resemble 1980s rock than 1990s black metal.

On Dirty, the band work hard to keep each song interesting. The initial thrust of the style is overwhelming, but would becalm itself without the quirky variations that the band throw in for later tracks. As a result, it is listenable without being abrasive, but I’m not sure I’d reach for this a second time as a black metal listener. As a Gothic pop or techno fan, most definitely.

Aborym find themselves in a difficult time frame where black metal has burnt its initial thrust and waits for more clarity. Many of us think it is not stylistic, but a lack of ongoing growth in attitude and outlook. By returning to deconstructed roots and hybridizing, Aborym inject the black metal spirit into something else. However, it is a mistake to approach Dirty as a black metal album.

This is a 2-disc release, with the first disc being extensively techno-industrial new material from this band, and the second reworking of older songs and covers.