Scalpel – Sorrow and Skin

August 21, 2013 –

scalpel-sorrow_and_skinOne effect of the recent uptick in nostalgia bands and reunions is that newer bands have seen the light. This illumination is that if a band simply continues where the past left off, it can both have a unique perspective and uphold the traditions that have made metal great. This escapes the dual ills of false novelty and being a tribute band.

Scalpel combines the West Coast style of blasting percussive death metal, commonly called the Unique Leader sound after the label that signed the innovators of this style, with the East Coast post-Suffocation form of grinding pneumatic explosive technical death. The result is high-intensity percussion mated with simple riffs that proliferate into layered textures that expand in complexity as the song develops.

Sorrow and Skin will immediately call to mind recent Deeds of Flesh and Northeasterners Dehumanized, who made similar percussion-intensive death metal with similar pacing: frenetic, but with lots of pauses and interludes, drawing together high intensity moments like scenes in an atmospheric horror film. Scalpel pair up riffs and let them develop, but keep it simple so that no element rises above the others.

The result is high-intensity music that also has enough internal musical meat to keep the brain occupied and searching for meaning in its patterns, which creates a vertiginous effect of discovery when the unpredictable occurs. Use of melody allows songs to embed moods within previous sensations crafted only by the pattern of riffs.

While Scalpel uses little of metal’s classic phrasal riffing, preferring the more speed metal percussive and choppy styles, these riffs branch out to include different textures and rhythms. The result is a sense of each song like a mini-golf course, where each riff has a mechanism and after you play through, a surprise that reveals its purpose in the whole.

In keeping with the West Coast school of percussive death metal, Scalpel uses the “dog barking into the wind” style of vocals that are both guttural but not exclusively bass-heavy, giving them greater range to match instruments. The result packages a good deal of musical activity within songs that, while made from simple parts, end up being tiny visions of inward journeys that take us to more interesting places than the sum of their pieces.

    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

For more information about Scalpel, visit the band store or band website.

Dialogue with a reader

August 20, 2013 –

An interested reader wrote in, and so we continue our discussion of whether modern metal is important at all, and whither the future of metal.

So, metal music is over? Or do you that have a big journey to happen?

No, it’s not over. It needs to find new content. Its form is a refinement of its original form, and it can be refined further, but not by hybridizing it with other genres. Jazz-metal is dead, math-metal is dead, blues-metal is dead, indie-metal is dead, alt-metal is dead because these were always old and tired ideas. Alternative rock is punk mixed with 1980s indie rock. It’s self-pity music. Indie metal is emo and Fugazi mixed with d-beat and black metal. Post-metal is just slowed down indie metal. All of this music sounds more like Nirvana, Jawbreaker, Fugazi, Rites of Spring, etc. than metal. All of that stuff was born dead. What’s alive is the metal spirit. From Black Sabbath through Judas Priest through Slayer through Incantation through Immortal, it’s a continuum. Metal has just finally left rock behind with death/black metal and it needs to continue that transformation. It needs to finally become its own musical language entirely separate from everything else.

What is your opinion about mathcore (Botch, Converge)?

It’s an extension of late hardcore. Black Flag “The Process of Weeding Out” is the grandfather, and they ran it through the Fugazi filter. Neurosis was a better direction but the people who’ve cloned that don’t understand what Neurosis was on about. They can imitate the music, not understand the soul.

And what will happen with the black metal genre?

It died in 1996. Since then, with maybe five exceptions, the new bands have been imitators. Their goal is to make music that’s like black metal on the surface, but like regular indie rock underneath, so they can sell it to the kids for weekend rebellion but not so much that it sets them off-course and they can’t return to school, jobs, watching TV and voting for idiots during the week.

What will happen with metal? It’s over? There new things to create?

See the first question. “Big journey” is more true than “over.”

Is nu/alt/indie metal at the same level of quality as old school underground death metal?

August 19, 2013 –

A reader writes:

Do you think the new underground waves bands like Cryptopsy are good like the old school bands. Or do you think that death metal is the only good option?

The new school metal has not, so far, come close to what the older death metal was able to do.

I don’t think this is stylistic, so much that people are thinking about different things. When you think about things like death metal, the big topics in life like death and justice and war, you are able to make death metal (complex thoughts). When you think about yourself, who are you gonna party with and what your parents are doing that you don’t like, you end up with nu-metal, metalcore, indie metal and other new-wave underground metal band types.

Cóndor – Nadia

condor-nadiaOne of the enduring critiques of modern metal bands is their lack of stylistic coherence. The mashing of various genres and influences over the course of an album with no unifying principle produces a product that is difficult to absorb from start to finish.

On their newly released album Nadia, Cóndor attempt to solve this dilemma by creating what may best be described as contemplative metal. Composed with a purpose, the metal sections of the album album consist primarily of low-to-mid-paced riffs ranging the gamut from doom, death, and black metal. These are complimented by influences from progressive rock, in which tonal contrasts add nuance and a way of connecting differing parts within the album.

What this band does well is elegantly shaping this vast array of influences into a package that is understandable and actually enjoyable to listen to. Everything is structured with care and attention, avoiding the “genres in a blender” sensation that many of their contemporaries produce. Throughout the span of a single track, snapshots of each moment lead organically into the next, while low-pitched vocals provide a sturdy framework and induce continuity. At the conclusion of the album, the listener feels as if he experienced something meaningful, which is at the heart of metal and unfortunately is something that often seems missing among contemporary bands.

Curmudgeons (of which the author admittedly is) will initially be put off by the non-metal elements and unorthodox structure. However, when viewed in context of the whole, these fall into place and do achieve meaning within the album, producing something both the strident Hessian and modern metal fan can appreciate.

Rippikoulu – Musta Seremonia

August 18, 2013 –

rippikoulu-musta_seremoniaRippikoulu are a relatively unknown Finnish band whose potential was cut short because the band never developed past the demo phase after the death of the main songwriter. The first death metal band to “sing” entirely in Finnish, Rippikoulu saw a significant rise in popularity in the internet age, releasing their second and final 1993 demo on CD and vinyl through Svart Records in 2010.

One of many bands from Finland to realize the potency in doom elements in death metal, Rippikoulu quickly switched gears from the Bolt Thrower Realm of Chaos meets Autopsy style of their first demo into a morbid, down tuned style more along the lines of Lost Paradise stylistically updated by Incantation’s cavernous style similar to many other early 90s experiments like Mythic or Disembowelment, with similarly mixed results.

The music here eschews the ambient gestures of Disembowelment and Thergothon entirely, opting for a more bludgeoning, rhythmic approach. Like Winter, slow doom passages move forth at a glacial pace and are highlighted by macabre lead melodies in a manner similar to early Amorphis or Paradise Lost.

Unfortunately, these parts are the highlights of the songs, as they are sandwiched between often disconnected Incantation-esque blasting sections or Bolt Thrower heavy rhythm riffs. Too often, the excessive down tuned rhythms gets repetitive to the point of going nowhere (tracks one and four) or seeming like an in-between for the “money riff” effect of ponderous doom riffs (track two). Here we hear the weakness of the band in their inability to marry these opposing elements through developed riff sequences like Bolt Thrower on War Master. The other tracks feel more like complete statements but the speedier rhythm riffs are often sparse compared to their sluggish counterparts.

While the band successfully conveys the aura of mystique that made the Finnish death metal scene revered by many, this release was perhaps a bridge to them moving on to doomier terrain as evidenced best by the most focused track, “Pimeys Yllä Jumalan Maan,” sounding more like Skepticism covering Incantation at their slowest.

The good news is that this release functions well as divisions of a singular idea, much like how Belial’s Wisdom of Darkness used repetitive songs with shared themes to their advantage, giving the listening experience a ritualistic quality. It’s a great alternative to what the modern OSDM scene is currently churning out, but much like God Macabre’s The Winterlong, it is more a collection of slight variations on a theme than an album.

Nu/Alt/Indie metal honors its origins in late 1980s Dischord bands, Fugazi included

August 17, 2013 –

strangelight-9_daysStrangelight, a new nu/alt-metal/indiemetal/metalcore/drone band comprised of members of Made Out Of Babies, Thursday, Red Sparowes, Pigs, United Nations, Goes Cube, Mussels and Kiss It Goodbye, will release its debut EP 9 Days on October 1, 2013 on Brooklyn hipster label Sacrament Music.

Written and recorded at vocalist Brendan Tobin’s own Ice Cream Audio in Brooklyn, New York in just nine days (hence the title), 9 Days aims to be a low-pretense version of the music presently in vogue in the hybrid metal/indie scene.

While their past and current bands share little in common, Strangelight — comprised of Tobin, Cooper, Kenneth Appel, John Niccoli and Geoff Rickly — focuses on the modern indie/metal hybrid ideal of jarring music that is also melancholic and self-indulgent.

But here’s where it gets interesting. The press release reveals the roots of indie/metal:

Drawing heavily upon DC visionaries, Amphetamine Reptile destroyers and Touch & Go noisemakers and named in honor of a track off Fugazi’s last record, The Argument, STRANGELIGHT offers up all the signature makings of an early ’90s Dischord band

DeathMetal.org has consistently offered up the idea that post-Minor Threat band Fugazi, along with Rites of Spring and Jawbreaker, provided the post-punk basis to all modern metalcore, drone, nu-metal, alt-metal, indie metal and tek-deth.

It’s good to see that a band such as Strangelight, which contains influences from foundations of the nu-indie-metal scene such as Red Sparowes, Pigs, United Nations, Goes Cube, Mussels and Kiss It Goodbye, in addition to more recent offerings Out Of Babies and Thursday, acknowledges this fundamental influence.

9 Days Track Listing:

  1. Split And Divide
  2. Mosh Party
  3. High Five Hailstorm
  4. Tiers Of Joy
  5. Xmas
  6. White Feather

Profanatica to release Thy Kingdom Cum on November 26

August 16, 2013 –

profanatica-thy_kingdom_cumDemonic occultist black metal band Profanatica, also known sometimes as Havohej, continues its quest to demolish holiness with impure sexual abuse of the incarnate divine.

This legendary band have been active in many forms since the late 1980s, with founding member Paul Ledney contributing to Revenant, Incantation, Havohej and Profanatica as well as being an anchor of the true black metal movement in North America.

Thy Kingdom Cum will see release on Hell’s Headbangers label in both CD and LP formats on November 26, 2013. This follows up to a series of releases following Profanatica’s Profanatitas de Domonatia, which in 2007 marked the rebirth of this vital blasphemous cult.

The album can be pre-ordered and advance tracks heard on the label website.

Tracklist:

  1. Ruptureholyhymen
  2. Foul The Air With Blasphemy
  3. Denounce Him
  4. False Doctrina
  5. Definite Atonement
  6. Thy Kingdom Cum
  7. Ropes of Hatred
  8. Water to Blood

Agathocles to release split with Hogra on Unholy Anarchy Records

August 15, 2013 –

agathocles-hogra-splitIn conjunction with At War With False Noise (UK), Jerkoff Records (USA) and Blackseed Records (USA), Unholy Anarchy Records will release a split 7″ by Belgian grind/mincecore gods AGATHOCLES and Pittsburgh power electronics outfit HOGRA.

AGATHOCLES have for over two decades created abrasive but creative grind. During that time, the band has appeared on well over 100 split 7″ releases, as well as numerous comps, EPs, demos and full-length albums. The Agathocles/Hogra split sees the legendary trio take an unexpected departure from their traditional and patented mincecore style of grind and unleash two tracks that were written to complement the power electronics of Pittsburgh’s HOGRA, who have built a solid catalog of splits, tapes and EPs over the past year.

Those who were around in the 1990s may remember Agathocles’ Theatric Symbolisation of Life, an artistic yet not reality-removed album of inventive grindcore. The band have since then continued to tour, release and antagonize, providing us with enjoyable music in the meantime.

Underground Never Dies! by Andrés Padilla to be released by Doomentia Records

underground_never_dies-andres_padillaUnderground Never Dies!, a book about the underground metal explosion of the 1990s, will address the complex interweaving of bands, fans, zines, promoters, DJs, artists and labels that fostered the underground metal movement and allowed it to expand with maximum flexibility.

The book will include tons of fanzines from all over the world, plus a huge selection of underground flyers, so the book will be not only a narrative of the history of underground metal, but also a massive and interesting menu of diverse viewpoints for all those Death Metal devotes.

Doomentia Press will release/publish/distribute Underground Never Dies!, which will be released with a compilation 12″LP including some of the finest acts exhumed from the 80s, such as Slaughter Lord (Aus), Mutilated (Fra), Incubus (Florida, US), Poison (Ger), Exmortis (US), Fatal (US), Armoros (Can), Mental Decay (Dk), Funeral Nation (US) and Insanity (US) among others. Gatefold format ! Limited to 500 copies. CD + Tape version will include bonus tracks.

The cover art will be done by Mark Riddick. Introductions come from by Ian Christe (Bazillion Points), Chris Reifert (Autopsy), Erik Danielsson (Watain) and Alan Moses (Glorious Times). This celebration of the underground will attempt to make sense of the fertile but chaotic years of its origins.

Master to release The Witchhunt

master-the_witchhuntOn September 27, famous proto-death metal band Master unleash The Witchhunt, the band’s twelfth album since the early days when Paul Speckmann moved from heavy metal band War Cry to the more punk-influenced band Death Strike, who released their classic and only album Fuckin’ Death at about the same time Master released its first opus.

(If you ask us, the Master albums to get are Collection of Souls and the Master-related band Speckmann Project’s self-titled album, which contains many updated versions of classic Master works.)

Over the past two decades, Master has steadily been abandoning its heavy metal and bounding punk influenced style for a tighter, more complex, and more rigid attack that compares favorably to mid-1990s death metal.

The new Master album, featuring musicians Paul Speckmann recruited in his new home nation of Czech Republic, has an even tighter and more energetic sound. If the past is any guide, this will be an album to enjoy for all death metal, heavy metal, punk and blues fans.

  1. The Witchhunt
  2. Plans of Hate
  3. Another Suicide
  4. Waiting to Die
  5. The Parable
  6. God of Thunder
  7. Remove the Clowns
  8. Raise your Sword
  9. Wipe out the Aggressor
  10. Manipulated to Exterminate
  11. The American Dream

For updates and to see if Master is coming to your town, check out the band’s official homepage.