Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces

albert_mudrian-precious_metal_decibel_presents_the_stories_behind_25_extreme_metal_masterpiecesIn our heavy metal books section today, there’s a review of Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces, by Albert Mudrian.

This lengthy exploration of heavy metal classics collects the highlights of interviews with bands about classic albums and assembles them into a single Q&A session. In doing so, the writers of Decibel have assembled a formidable amount of information and answered many of the hanging questions about these metal epics.

Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces covers twenty-five band/album pairings and, while not all will be enjoyed by everyone, the wizardry of its selection is that just about everyone can find at least a dozen that will interest them. It brings the classics to life in a new form.

Read our review of Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces, by Albert Mudrian.

No Comments

Tags: ,

Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces, by Albert Mudrian


Precious Metal:
Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces
edited by Albert Mudrian
365 pages, Da Capo Press, $14

The 25 Masterpieces
Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell
Diamond Head – Lightning to the Nations
Celtic Frost – Morbid Tales
Slayer – Reign in Blood
Napalm Death – Scum
Repulsion – Horrified
Morbid Angel – Altars of Madness
Obituary – Cause of Death
Entombed – Left Hand Path
Paradise Lost – Gothic
Carcass – Necroticism — Descanting the Insalubrious
Cannibal Corpse – Tomb of the Mutilated
Darkthrone – Transilvanian Hunger
Kyuss – Welcome to Sky Valley
Meshuggah – Destroy Erase Improve
Monster Magnet – Dopes to Infinity
At the Gates – Slaughter of the Soul
Opeth – Orchid
Down – NOLA
Emperor – In the Nightside Eclipse
Sleep – Jerusalem
The Dillinger Escape Plan – Calculating Infinity
Botch – We Are the Romans
Converge – Jane Doe
Eyehategod – Take as Needed for Pain

 

albert_mudrian-precious_metal_decibel_presents_the_stories_behind_25_extreme_metal_masterpiecesRock journalism challenges even the bravest writer. Musicians are not known for being articulate, nor is it easy to pin them down, and lore snowballs in that vacuum. For this reason it’s great to see the series of in-depth explorations that have come about recently regarding many classic events of metal. As musicians age, given that musicians have a shorter life-span than average, this is also a race against time in many cases.

Albert Mudrian’s Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces presents a welcome addition to the genre of historical metal journalism. Combing through archives, the writers of each piece compiled band statements about the album and put them together in linear form, like a conversation. The result is a whole lot of information delivered in a very digestible form, with the extraneous confusion of live interviews edited right out of the picture. It’s a good starting point for anyone looking into these historical nodal points in the evolution of metal.

Mudrian seems aware how easily a book like this could become repetitive. Not just in the answers, where musicians might make roughly similar statements about touring, band formation, the troubles of collaboration and so forth, but in the similarity of bands. If for example he added another three Swedish death metal bands, it might start to get a little bit stuffy in the virtual room he’s created. Instead, he gives us space between acts and a wide variety of acts, but avoids the really awful nu-metal and tek-deth. However, the price of that spaciousness is that he includes bands like Monster Magnet and Kyuss which really aren’t metal at all.

There are some shockers in content, too. Some of these bands, despite their professions of various depraved behaviors, are insanely business-like in how they go about getting recorded and published. Sleep, Cannibal Corpse, Dillinger Escape Plan, Botch and Converge really had their act together. For a few moments, it was more like reading Forbes than Decibel, but it’s really gratifying to see this side of the business portrayed honestly. If you want your music heard, there’s a certain amount of business activity that must precede that event.

On the whole, these chapters are extremely well edited including the choice of material. They are in question-answer form, where the questions are usually prompts about historical events or general questions applied to specific moments or activities. When an incidental or minor character is cited, he or she speaks up for a few questions and then fades out. The bulk of the material favors the most articulate band members and major actors, but the writers shoehorn in as many diverse perspectives as they can. This makes reading Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces feel like being in a comfortable pub with these bands, on a rainy day, with a tape recorder next to the ashtray.

Each chapter corresponds to a classic album and comes with an intro paragraph. If anything, here’s where the book could benefit from some uniformity and toning down the “rock journalism” aspects. Perhaps not a just-the-facts-ma’am approach, but more of an assessment of where the band fits into history and why people like them, and leave it at that. Some of these were over the top for the actual function they serve. However, among the bombast is a lot of good information.

At that point the interview(s) compiled into a single form take over. Most of Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces is the bands speaking, and that is the power of Mudrian’s editing and the work of his colleagues. They’ve trimmed out the transient stuff, the window dressing and repetition, and left us with clear statements from the bands that show them in their own voices and approaching the situation at their own angle. This also helps create an epic feel to the epic interviews because it’s a compilation of the best moments of the band commenting on this album, put into one form that flows naturally.

Was the intro, “Human,” something you had conceived of before you went into the studio?
Ain: Yes, we had the idea before we went into the studio — we wanted to loop a scream and make it perpetual. We also wanted to use it as an intro for the live shows. A regular human scream would never last that long, so we wanted to loop it and make it sound like a scream from hell, like how you would scream if the pain was everlasting.
Warrior: We had talked about it, but we were basically still laymen, so we had no idea how we could put it together. So we told Horst what we wanted to do, and he proposed how to do it. But as I said, we only had six days to do everything. If one thing failed, we would’ve gone over budget or had to go home. So, in hindsight, it’s a miracle that tracks like “Human” or “Danse Macabre” came out the way we wanted them to. We couldn’t rehearse some of those parts, you know? I have no idea how we did that in just a few days, especially given our lack of experience. But therein lies one of the strengths of Celtic Frost to this day: Martin and I usually visualize certain pieces of music down to the last detail without even touching an instrument.

This excerpt reveals the power of Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces. In the midst of the mundane description of studio struggles, Tom Warrior articulates part of the essence of his band. Many such moments of insight, casually and offhandedly mentioned in describing some rather ordinary thing, flesh out this book and make it more than a fan’s quest but a resource for musicians and anyone else curious about the origins and process of creating extreme metal.

Not everyone will agree on certain aspects of this book and naturally any choices made along these lines are divisive. However, the book has enough to offer just about anyone who loves metal so that the purchase will not be regretted, even if there are chapters you skipped. In fact, I recommend skipping those chapters and approaching this book as a buffet. No matter what sub-genres you adore, you’re going to have at least five you’re dying to read, another five you’re very excited to read, and another five you’re curious about, and the rest will be uncertain but you might find some interesting information there, as I did.

It is impossible to find just 25 to represent metal. Some of these choices are nods to the music industry and mainstream fanbase, like Dillinger Escape Plan, or to history, like Botch, who were the vanguard of the metalcore movement. Some are near-misses like the apologetic At the Gates treatment of their best-seller, but this interview also confirms a lot that reviewers said about this album, namely that it was retro to the past generation of metal and somewhat hasty. Some others, like Converge and Eyehategod, seem marginal in that these bands spent a lot of time disclaiming metal back in the day.

On the whole however Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces offers a good pan-and-scan perspective of what was going on in metal at the time, and by showing us the fly-over accumulation of variety, Mudrian and Decibel show us not only what these bands were doing, but the forces against which they were struggling to define themselves. The result is a treasure hunt of a book, bristling with secrets and previously undiscovered pathways, for those who enjoy extreme heavy metal.

7 Comments

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Nocturno Culto’s Gift of Gods to release Receive

gift_of_gods-receiveNocturno Culto, who forms one-half of the nefarious duo known as Darkthrone, has a long history of side projects. Among other contributions, he worked out the intricate riffcraft behind Satyricon’s Nemesis Divina, making it a favorite in that band’s catalog.

Now he has embarked on a new side project which is a pure traditional heavy metal band called Gift of Gods. Gift of Gods will release its debut mini-album Receive on Peaceville Records on November 5, 2013.

Commented Nocturno Culto, “Finally, the mini-album is done. Gift Of Gods has been a great ride for me. I don’t want this to end now, so I will most likely work on new material. Thanks to my partner in crime, K.A. Hubred, we got to rehearse during the last two years. What to expect? I have no idea how to describe this, but it’s metal for sure.”

Receive was performed and recorded by Culto and Hubred at Culto’s home studio, and mixed and mastered by Jack Control at Enormous Door, who recently worked with Nocturno on Darkthrone’s The Underground Resistance.

So far the only reports tell us this will be traditional heavy metal with a wide range of influences and that it will lead toward the melodic side of things. This EP/mini-album will be a half-hour of material including a cover of “Looking For an Answer” originally by obscure Swedish 80s band Universe.

  1. Intro
  2. Enlightning Strikes
  3. Receive
  4. Looking For An Answer
  5. Last Solstice
  6. Outro

15 Comments

Tags: , , , , ,

Krieg announces release of Transient in 2014

imperial-kriegThe next Krieg full length will be titled Transient and will be recorded in 2014, according to Krieg frontman Imperial. The new album will be 40-50 minutes long, “with some return to the old Krieg style in the sense that there will be a lot of very aggressive parts and a fair amount of samples.”

Transient will also blend in more influences from strange industrial projects, nothing you can dance to obviously, but the feeling you get from certain Coil, Whitehouse, and Controlled Bleeding recordings as well as a strong push into the more crusty rock n roll moments from the last three records.

Active since the middle 1990s, Krieg pioneered a unique sound of semi-improvisational and chaotic New World black metal that took many influences from violent and disoriented punk music and merged them with the minimalistic black metal of Darkthrone and Havohej. Recently, Krieg has been incorporating more post-metal influences in their music with The Isolationist, the record releases in 2010.

“It’s going to be a strange beast for sure, as always uncomfortable and hopefully challenging to the listener. We will be recording the majority at a different studio than we’ve used previously as to try to bring a newer feeling to the overall recording,” said Imperial.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkOqE7MzzYA

No Comments

Tags: , ,

Glorious Times team producing benefit show for Jill Funerus

jill_funerus-funerusFirst, a quick update on Jill Funerus and her health challenges. She had 100% blockage in one artery and less in another, but the damage was still extensive enough to cause a heart attack and kidney problems.

She went into surgery about 22 hours ago. However, she does not have health insurance and neither does her husband. Thus, she’s going to face some heft medical bills when this is all over.

To counter those bills, the Glorious Times team have partnered with death metal bands across the world to throw a fundraiser. Bands will donate items for a raffle, and perform, with the proceeds going to Jill for payment of her medical bills.

If you, dear reader, wish to help her out in this time of need, you can send funds via PayPal to info@funerus.com. Here’s the list of bands who have pledged donations for the Jill Funerus benefit:

  • Cardiac Arrest
  • Gravehill
  • Repulsion
  • Rottrevore
  • Insanity
  • Embalmer
  • Mike Browning (Incubus)
  • Cianide
  • Druid Lord
  • Impetigo
  • Wehrmacht
  • Master

If you are a band, label or distro and want to help out with the Jill Funerus benefit, please send an email to glorioustimesdeathbook@gmail.com.

Otherwise, check back here or on the Glorious Times Facebook.

2 Comments

Tags: , , , ,

Glorious Times team releases Nuclear Death profile

glorious_times_coverThe book Glorious Times portrayed the experience of being involved in the early metal underground in a way that no one else has attempted before or since. It awakened in many of us a desire for such times again, when truth mattered more than commerce and popularity.

Despite being initially scoffed at by publishers, Glorious Times exceeded all expectations and became a metal institution. The publishers, Alan Moses and Brian Pattison, have stayed active in the underground by promoting shows, writing reviews, and pushing forward bands that seem to have that sense of connection to reality that defined the early underground.

As part of their continued activity, Moses and Pattison have released a profile of longstanding band Nuclear Death. According to Pattison, the material had been slated to be part of the first printing of Glorious Times, but for scheduling reasons was never part of that issue.

Instead, it’s now available for free download thanks to the Glorious Times team wanting to update Facebook friends with a reward for their loyalty and continued attention to both Glorious Times and the underground.

This multi-page spread features a unique story by Lori Bravo of Nuclear Death, previously undiscovered pictures from the era, and the classic zine-style layout which made Glorious Times a hit with the oldschooler crowd as well as new generations looking for an alternative to corporate media.

2 Comments

Tags: , , , , ,

Jill Funerus diagnosed with heart attack

jill_funerusJill Funerus, wife and bandmate of Ibex Moon label head and Incantation guitarist John McEntee, and composer of songs for Funerus along with McEntee and Sam Inzerra on drums, has been diagnosed with a heart attack in response to recent health problems.

Funerus began in the early 1990s in Pennsylvania as a Swedish death metal-influenced doom-death band. Jill Daily, who uses the stage name Jill Funerus, went on to become the bassist for this band influenced by Entombed, Bolt Thrower, Obituary and Carcass.

After terminating in 1994, the band resurrected itself with a new line-up in the early 2000s, and with the help of John McEntee (Ibex Moon/Incantation), rose again in a new form and began gigging. The band are known for being professional and easy-going at the same time, in addition to making crushing grinding doomy music.

Our thoughts are will Jill, John and their family and friends at this time.

5 Comments

Tags: , ,

The origin of all underground metal

discharge-hear_nothing_see_nothing_say_nothingSuppose that you’re a dying society (“the human race was dying out / no one left to scream and shout” – the Doors) and that you decide to give it one last hurrah. To try honesty instead of manipulation.

You might come up with punk music. It strips out everything that reeks of manipulation. The good production, gone; the complex chords, gone; any pretense of musicianship, out the window.

But then people realize that you’re going about it backward. You can’t change your methods to change your goal. You have to change your goal. That means you’re thinking about composing music in a new way, not just how you’re going to play differently with something rather familiar.

This lets loose the dogs of war.

No longer is music carved from a known pattern; the song is the pattern, and it obeys no rule other than its content. Face value is made secondary to internal value. Like it is in human, whether we have souls or not.

This is what Discharge did to the world of punk — and later, to metal:

Musically, punk’s first wave hadn’t been all that far removed from regular rock’n’roll. “God Save the Queen,” with its hummable melody and simplistic chord changes, is clearly a relation, albeit distant, of Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones. The difference is in the attitude, in Johnny Rotten’s adenoidal snarl.

Discharge’s revamped version of punk bore little resemblance to anything that had come before. It was faster, harsher, and often almost entirely lacking in melody. The riffs were generally three-chord affairs, but they were played at warp speed, accompanied by a rumbling bass and a merciless, galloping drumbeat. The songs rarely topped the two-minute mark. As Garry Maloney, who drummed on some of the band’s best recordings, explained to a ‘zine called Trakmarx, “We just embraced speed—the concept—not the drug—took it to its logical limit.”

Away went the blues scale, playing in uniform musical measures, and having pop song format work for you. Instead, the new vision was the lawless chromatic scale, a lack of key and thus of soaring bridge and chorus, or even any fixed song format. It was repetition made into its own undoing, a type of ambient music made from noise.

Rock ‘n’ roll died with Discharge. Others, like Amebix and The Exploited, followed. On US shores the Cro-Mags and thrash (DRI, COC, Cryptic Slaughter, Dead Horse, Fearless Iranians From Hell) further put metal into punk. With metal’s phrasal riffs and punk’s lack of structure, music got closer to ancient times.

Suddenly, the melody determined the song, and since the songs were topical, the melody was determined by the idea. Like ancient Greek dramas, where the chorus sang poetry as the story was acted out on stage, the new punk-metal hybrid entered the world of motifs and mimetic meaning, where art imitates life to tell the story of a journey or adventure and how it changed those who sallied forth.

The end of the second song, nearly eight minutes in, elicited a weak cheer, a few claps, and a robust chant of “D.R.I.”—a local thrash band on the rise, which had played earlier that night.

This was the new legion, thrash and underground metal (death metal and black metal), and it ushered in a new era. Where music was plain-spoken like punk, but mythological like metal. Where it took metal’s criticism of human behavior and used that to explain punk’s extreme political dissidence. Where people started looking at what they’d die for instead of what they’d live for.

Since that time, metal and punk have both gone through many generations. None have gotten very far from those originals who broke free however. They had to destroy before they could create and, when the dust of destruction and subsequent self-destruction finally settles, creation will begin anew.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DmSbqmJaig

3 Comments

Tags: , , , , ,

Serocs – The Next

serocs-the_nextThis intensely rhythmic music is strong in its level of energy and ability to make songs that trap and redirect that energy, creating the “oh wow” effect of complex riffs interactions that expand context with subsequent changes, causing a sensation like discovering new passageways in an ancient building.

The Next is like a roller coaster in that while you whisk through it, and while there are many fast twists and turns, the territory is ultimately very similar. Serocs understand how to link riffs together in a powerful way and differentiate these songs by riff-grouping and unique themes and motifs to each. However, the underlying mechanics are similar.

This accusation could be leveled at the deathgrind genre as a whole because the techniques used to make it and the speeds at which it executes itself require such fast fingerwork that chromatic charges and string-skipping are necessary conveniences. Serocs avoid the worst of this tendency by forcing each song to have its own format, tempo changes and some degree of melody.

High-speed blasting marks each track and like the roller coaster of our metaphor, lifts up the listener so that a rhythm drop or melodic hook can send them falling downward. These intense dynamics drive a need to combine riffs and make them emerge in some other direction so the roller coaster can begin its ascent again.

Deep guttural vocals propel The Next to a posture of enjoyment among fans of deathgrind and extreme death metal. Modernizing influences have been kept to a minimum, which gives this album the full-bore coherence it needs to channel its intensity. While the tenets of the genre may drive most away, Serocs acquits itself well and will join the secondary echelon of bands like Scythe and Disgorge.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENmq-liKwcM

3 Comments

Tags: ,

Necrotic Disgorgement – Documentaries of Dementia

necrotic_disgorgement-documentaries_of_dementiaCreating within the style of old school percussive death metal, Necrotic Disgorgement add in the catchier rhythms of deathgrind and know when to break songs for melodic detours that add hook to these relentlessly rhythmic songs.

Documentaries of Dementia builds in the style of later Suffocation, with frequent tempo changes, and frenetic drum buildups followed by proto-breakdowns, layered in choppy riffs made from intricate textures. They tend toward a higher-energy version with near-constant blasts in many songs, but know when to drop out of linear blast and vary things up a bit.

Unlike Suffocation, Necrotic Disgorgement has another decade of deathgrind to draw from and elicits some of the extremities from that influence. Among those are slightly more friendly lead guitar that sometimes even gets bluesy, absurdist riffs thrown in amongst the blast, and a tendency to be relentless where Suffocation would have brought the song to a peak and mellowed. The problem with any kind of uniformity is that it norms quickly and loses its intensity.

Necrotic Disgorgement keep this release raging with diligent riffcraft and the ability to cut the stream of riffs into songs, and then crest it with elements of other metal genres. This provides a complete package that, if you can stand the incessant blast and percussive riff medleys, provides a deathgrind experience of greater power than the norm for this genre.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCuQyKLnqtU

9 Comments

Tags: ,