Convulse – Evil Prevails

convulse-evil_prevailsAs has been said countless times before, the worst record review is a waffle: “It’s OK for what it is, if you like that.” This corresponds to someone neither moved to ire or adoration by a work; in other words, it barely registered. Convulse is not like that. It is a band to both love and hate, but at the same time.

Evil Prevails should be loved for the rare moments of clarity in which riffs are glued together to reach a conclusion that makes sense out of them, causing a sense of rising above the confusion of life as the various dots connect. Themes add up and then grow, and this is where the band shines. They develop beautiful riffs from less interesting ones, and in those riffs, have a sublime sense of how phrase corresponds to emotion.

On the other hand, the dark side of this release is twofold. First, many of its riffs are simplistic in an American football death metal way, reminiscent of Carbonized or Grave but less enigmatic. Second, when riffs aren’t galloping across your forehead, the band likes to work in random rock, blues and jazz influences that don’t fit with the whole. These are not only incongruous, but relatively undistinguished.

Some might say that this in itself is an unorthodox aesthetic. By making a grab-bag of parts, Convulse is exuding deconstruction or nihilism, in other words. However, more likely, this mirrors a committee. The average is bad, but occasionally someone has a flash of inspiration; in the meantime, dramatic people who are good at what’s normally accepted are busy getting in their moments in the sun, showing off and getting promoted.

As a result, it’s hard to like Evil Prevails; it’s a mess with some nuggets of gold. If you like plodding bands like Gorement, the brutal riffs will not disappoint; if you like incomplete-synthesis bands like Afflicted you’ll enjoy the guitar fireworks. But more likely you will background the music until a nugget appears, have an “Aha!” moment, and then forget it as the churn goes on.

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The Black Moriah launches “Trail of Texas Terror” tour

the_black_moriah-trail_of_texas_terror_tour

Following the Housecore Horror Film Festival, speed metal/math metal band The Black Moriah will embark on a short tour of Texas to showcase its most recent album, Casket Prospects. Formed by a former Absu member and experienced metal musicians, The Black Moriah attempts to bridge classic and modern metal.

Casket Prospects shows the band integrating the indie-metal styles in black and death metal with classic metal hooks. Droning dissonant riffs compete for space with speed metal riffs, heavy metal choruses, and complex conjurations of song structure underneath the modern metal “surge style” vocals.

While the alternative metal stylings may not appeal to the average Absu fan, the technicality and frenetic intensity of this release may satisfy in its stead. The “Trail of Texas Terror” tour shows the band reaching out to a new fanbase more on the alternative/indie side while attempting to keep its core fanbase in more traditional metal.

The Black Moriah – Trail of Texas Terror tour 2013

     
October 17 Dallas, TX The Wits End
October 18 San Angelo, TX Penny Pub
October 19 Amarillo, TX The Wreck Room
October 20 El Paso, TX Alumni Bar
October 24 Austin, TX The Dirty Dog
Housecore Horror Film Festival
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Grave unleashes Morbid Ascent EP

grave-morbid_ascentToday classic Swedish death metal band Grave releases its comeback EP, Morbid Ascent, featuring four tracks of death metal and a cover of a Satyricon song. The US version of this release is pressed on mustard-yellow vinyl and can be purchased Century Media.

Known for their debut album Into the Grave from the early 1990s, Grave introduced the rudimentary form of the Swedish death metal sound to a new generation who appreciated the raw intensity of their primal music. Joining a small circle of European bands who were as poundingly violent as their American counterparts, Grave became a staple before fading away in the late 1990s.

Morbid Ascent shows the band resurrecting itself in the present era and attempting to adapt its classic sound and improved technical performance to the demands of a new time, following their 2012 release Endless Procession of Souls. If you’re in Europe, you can catch Grave live on October 5 at Zombie Fest II in Oostenede, Belgium.

Side 1:
1. Venial Sin
2. Morbid Ascent
Side 2:
1. Possessed (originally by SATYRICON)
2. Epos (Risen From The Tomb – Remix)
3. Reality Of Life

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Exhumer releases Degraded by Sepsis and embarks on European tour

exhumer-degraded_by_sepsisExhumer will release their second album Degraded by Sepsis on October 15, 2013 through Comatose Music. The Italian deathgrind band embarks on a full European tour with Psycroptic, Hour of Penance and Dyscarnate starting this Friday. Tour dates follow.

Degraded by Sepsis presents an efficient and well-executed take on standard deathgrind. Guttural blasting abounds, underscored with melody, emphasizing a buildup to a vocal and percussion tirade that brings the song to its peak. Song development is minimal and mostly verse-chorus.

While this may not win any points with those who demand innovation and profundity, Exhumer’s second work shows us material that is deliberate, with no extraneous parts hanging around like at a poorly-cleaned morgue, and tasteful in that all pieces fit together and the song experience as a whole is enjoyable.

Psycroptic, Hour of Penance, Dyscarnate and Exhumer European Tour 2013

 
September 20 Aarshot, Belgium JC De Klinker
September 21 Essen, Germany Turock
September 22 London UK Electrowerkz
September 23 Dublin, Ireland The Pint
September 24 Glasgow, UK Ivory Blacks
September 25 Cardiff, UK Bogiez Rock Club
September 26 Margate, UK Westcoast
September 27 Paris, France Glazart
September 28 Lausanne, Switzerland Metal Assault Festival
September 29 Zurich, Switzerland Planet 5
September 30 Munich, Germany Feierwerk Kranhalle
October 1 Kosice, Slovakia Collosseum
October 2 Ostrava, Czech Rep Barrack Music Club
October 4 Rotterdam, Netherlands Baroeg
October 5 Copenhagen, Denmark Beta
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Gorgoroth to release Instinctus Bestialis in early 2014

gorgoroth-black_metalNorwegian black metal band Gorgoroth have announced a tentative schedule for their new album, Instinctus Bestialis. In a recent interview, the band stated that their goal was to have the album released by the early part of 2014, later adding that the demos had already been finalized.

This will be the band’s first release with this lineup; having replaced vocalist Pest with Atterigner, vocalist for modern black metal band Triumfall. In 2009, Gorgoroth released Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt, which saw the band furthering their post-millennial style of playing black-flavored heavy metal, relying primarily on verse-chorus arrangements.

Most relevant for their ’90s work, the decade saw Gorgoroth perfecting the style of melodic narrative metal, linear yet intriguing in its possibilities. Simultaneously unsettling and inviting, Gorgoroth bridged the gap between the progenitors of the genre and the many bands that would later follow.

The band will be touring in support of Instinctus Bestialis, starting in March and beginning in Europe, with Hoest from Taake on vocals. No tour dates have yet been announced.

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Incantation – Mortal Throne of Nazarene LP re-issue

incantation-mortal_throne_of_nazarene_lp_reissueThe good thing about the transition to two decades of operation is that a genre may benefit from advances in technology and funding to re-release its classics in restored or originally-intended form. Through this channel a burst of classics on vinyl has emerged over the past five years.

Mortal Throne of Nazarene is Incantation‘s most controversial album. People either love it or hate it, and a huge part of this is the simple fact that it’s impossible to follow up to Onward to Golgotha. That album walks the earth like an ice giant or Norse god, crushing all in its path. How to top that?

Part of what makes this album so controversial was its original production which captured a searing guitar tone but also managed to blend the vocals and guitars to create a stream of noise that often made it impossible to discern chord changes. It wasn’t terrible, for the time, but it made it harder to listen to the music under the vocals.

The LP re-issue of Mortal Throne of Nazarene fixes these problems. Not only are instruments clear, but the vocals are also present with great force. Not only that but the warmth of vinyl is put to good use preserving the color of distorted guitar, bass and drums, which fleshes out this album. It does it all without losing volume, making this an intense compacted flow of sound.

As far as the album itself, my supposition is that the controversy will never die. It has its inspired parts and flashes of genius, but large portions of the rest feel incomplete, like they got sketched out but never fully adjusted and shaped to serve at optimal power. Much of those are lengthy chromatic connective passages that seem to repeat where they would have branched on earlier releases.

It’s reminiscent of Suffocation’s Breeding the Spawn in that way. For confirmation, listen to the Forsaken Mourning of Angelic Anguish EP which follows this album and adjusts details of many songs such that they work together instead of divergently. Several LP songs are on that shorter release at greater effect.

What this re-issue of Mortal Throne of Nazarene will do is to fan those flames of controversy by letting us hear this album with a production on par to that of Onward to Golgotha. This means that with this LP re-issue, the band separate controversy over production from controversy over composition, and let the underground see this album in a new light.

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Gnaw – Horrible Chamber

6_Panel_DigipakPowerviolence is a con. It’s pitched to us as the most extreme possible version of punk-based music, but under an affinity for noise, it’s a cross between sloppy hardcore and noise interludes with emo-derived vocals. There’s nothing new here or any particularity extremity.

The trick with extremity, by the way, is to make it musical. Any dunce can make droning ear pain. Very few can structure it in a way such that it becomes a meaningful listening experience. And if you don’t want a meaningful listening experience, you’re basically listening to Justin Bieber, even if you trick it out as noisecore.

Horrible Chamber isn’t horrible (heh) but it’s boring. The vocals require long decay, so there’s a process of syllables surging forth and then fading out, which requires slower tempi on the drums which in turn requires a certain amount of oversimplification. The percussion isn’t like metal, cadence-based, but tries to keep some bop under the rant and noise.

Riff-wise, there’s nothing in Gnaw we didn’t hear in the past thirty years of grindcore, hardcore and punk rock. Many of these riffs in fact sound more like rock hybrids, where the simplified punk version of a riff is gradually shaped back toward its pentatonic-friendly cousins. Nothing other than aesthetics distinguishes this.

And while Horrible Chamber achieves a good balance of noise to catchy parts, it also doesn’t really add anything to the life of anyone who has experienced more than entry-level punk music. Thus it gets the most damning of all record reviews, which is the default: it does little wrong, but not enough right, to stay relevant for long.

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Glorious Times presents “A Day of Death 2013” on Saturday, September 28, 2013

a_day_of_death_2013The guys behind Glorious Times, the book that helped many rediscover the early death metal and black metal underground, are presenting the latest in their series of classic death metal concerts named after the original “A Day of Death” back in 1990.

Unfortunately, this one is also the last they’re going to do of this series.

Like many shows, this has brought several bands out of retirement. This will be the first show of Baphomet/Banished, famous for their brooding chunky heavy metal, and bands such as Sin-Eater who have been inactive until this time.

A Day of Death 2013
Saturday, September 28, 2013
The Forvm Buffalo
4224 Maple Rd Buffalo, NY 14226
(716) 831-3271
Doors at 5 pm, 1st band at 5:30pm
$20 advance, $25 day of show

Here’s the list of bands performing:

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Glorious Times team produces Jill Funerus benefit show on October 17, 2013

jill_funerus_mcenteeAs you may have read on this site, recently Jill Funerus (bassist/vocalist for FUNERUS) who is also the wife of John McEntee from Incantation ran into a spate of health problems. In addition to battling neuropathy and diabetes, she suffered a heart attack and related kidney dysfunction, but has pulled through.

We congratulate her on having survived such an intense health challenge. However, neither she nor her husband have health insurance and thus, they’re facing some intense bills for the surgery, medicine and several days she spent at the hospital.

The metal community is banding together to help them. Through the hands of Brian Pattison, one-half of the Glorious Times team, a benefit show has been established with 100% of the profits going to Jill Funerus’ medical bills.

Jill Funerus Benefit
Thursday, October 17 at 7:00pm EDT
The Forvm in Buffalo, New York
4224 Maple Rd Buffalo, NY 14226
(716) 831-3271

If you can’t make the show, like many of us who are thousands of miles away, you can send money via paypal to info@funerus.com. If you are from a metal band or have something else you can donate for sale/raffle at the benefit, please message the Glorious Times team via glorioustimesdeathbook@gmail.com. See also the Facebook event listing.

List of bands supporting the Jill Funerus benefit:

  • Abnormality
  • Abolishment of flesh
  • Abysme
  • Autopsy
  • Barzakh
  • Bernd Backhaus
  • Black Bear Printing
  • Blood Coven
  • Brutality
  • Buried
  • Butchered Records
  • Cannibal Corpse
  • Cardiac Arrest
  • Capathian Funeral
  • Chuck “Patchmaster General” Parsons
  • Cianide
  • Circle of Dead Children
  • Dark Descent Records
  • Darkapathy
  • Deathcrawl
  • Deceased
  • Deformity
  • Demented Dream States
  • Dismemberment (OH)
  • Druid Lord
  • Embalmer
  • Emblazoned
  • Fleshbound Productions
  • Full Blown A.I.D.S.
  • Glorious Times
  • Grave Descent
  • Gravehill
  • Gutter Christ
  • HPGD
  • Horrormerch.com
  • HRA
  • Immolation
  • Impetigo
  • Insanity
  • Jaymz Delisle
  • Jeff Standish
  • Legacy of Death Productions
  • Liquified Guts
  • Low Road Revival
  • Lucertola
  • Malevolent Creation
  • Malignancy
  • Manticore
  • Master
  • Mat Romero
  • Mausoleum
  • Mike Browning (Incubus)
  • Misery Index
  • Music Matters
  • New Order Records
  • Nokturnel
  • Nokturnel Eclipse
  • Pathos Productions
  • Prime Evil
  • Radiation Sickness
  • Randy Kastner
  • Repulsion
  • Rottrevore
  • Sacrific
  • Sam Biles
  • Sathanas
  • Seplophile
  • Signature Riff
  • Soulless
  • Splatterreah
  • Stevo (Impetigo, Tombstones)
  • Tainted Entertainment
  • Vile Records
  • Visions of the Night
  • Wehrmacht

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Letters: Why isn’t Metallica “thrash metal”?

metallica-kill_em_allA reader writes with a few questions:

Why is Metallica’s debut classified in your website as Speed Metal and not Thrash Metal? What defines Thrash Metal and why are Metallica and Kreator placed under Speed Metal? The second question really being what defines Speed Metal?

What is speed metal? Speed metal is the music formed of the hybrid of NWOBHM and punk music. NWOBHM itself was a fusion of Black Sabbath and the “metal-like” hard rock genres of the time, including some progressive rock, given an underground and DIY outlook. The definitive speed metal album is the first Metallica work, but we could also look to Overkill, Nuclear Assault, Anthrax, Megadeth, Testament and Prong.

What is thrash metal? A marketing term for “speed metal.” Some argue that it’s a separate genre, namely speed metal with “broken beats” or d-beats, but the fact of the matter is that the d-beat-influenced drumming was already part of speed metal. Musically, anything regarded as “thrash metal” is speed metal. Hence use of that term instead.

Now, as to Kreator — why is it speed metal? Kreator is on the line between speed metal and death metal but ultimately has more in common with later speed metal like Destruction and Sodom than it does with outright death metal. It was a previous generation to the music that expanded in the late 1980s through early 1990s.

What is thrash? Thrash is a hybrid form of heavy metal and punk music preferred by thrashers, i.e. skaters. This music evolved out of the explosion of punk music at the end of the 1970s and the tendency of bands like Discharge, Amebix, The Exploited, the Cro-Mags and others to take on metal riff-styles, especially as inspired by Slayer and other heavily punk-influenced bands. However, many thrash bands used riff influences from NWOBHM or before, with Black Sabbath being prominent.

The reason we separate speed metal and thrash is that they are different movements. Speed metal is metal that incorporates some aspects of punk; thrash is a metal/punk hybrid that generally uses punk song structures and metal riffs, laying the groundwork for grindcore. There’s also no point in expanding the speed metal franchise into many different sub-types when all are essentially musically identical.

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