Pestilence avoids controversy poorly. After the legendary Consvming Impvlse, the band went on to produce a series of albums culminating in the synth-sounding jazz-heavy Spheres, which remains one of metal’s most divisive albums: people either love it or hate it, with few in the middle gray areas.
Then after years apart, Pestilence returned in 2009 with Resurrection Macabre followed two years later by Doctrine. These albums showed Pestilence trying more for a contemporary style of modern technical metalcore (sometimes called “tek-deth”) without as much of the crazy instrumental embellishment of past albums. Now, possibly from a better state of balance within the band, Pestilence unleash Obsideo.
Obsideo returns to a long-running controversy in this band which is not metal-versus-jazz as many would think, but among two types of metal. Specifically, the album Malleus Maleficarum showed Pestilence reining back the death metal of their later demos, and trying for a death metal infused with American-style speed metal. Think Kreator covered Megadeth and you have roughly the same style, although in Pestilence’s case this revealing a longstanding tendency with the band: eschewing the phrase-based riffs of death metal for more rhythmic variations on chord progressions in the speed metal style, then filling in the space with leads.
But if we were to extrapolate Malleus Maleficarum into the present, updating its 1980s speed metal on the cusp of death metal with the metalcore-inspired insistence on variety and riffs that ride a vocal rhythm on the nose, we might find the blueprint for Obsideo. It’s more repetitive and confrontational, simpler and less nuanced, and reflects more of the industrial and hardcore influence into metal of the late 1990s. In addition, songs have fewer fireworks in terms of song structure, but more in lead guitar, which is often used as transitional material in song or for kinds of extended fills to denote layering in riff motif.
Fortunately the space-age jazz-fusion guitar of Spheres has returned in the lead guitar department. While not every lead is quite as distant from normalcy as those, these are more confident, both proficient and playful, showing these musicians at a point where they’ve absorbed the changes in their own ability and can put them to better use. Often a song will snowball with power chord riffs but flesh out its mood with leads, and then fade out into the use of similar themes in the lead to take over the direction of the song.
Production sounds like a chunkier, bassier version of Spheres but doesn’t have the compressed and blasted feel of the two comeback albums. This album shows metal at an interesting place as it tries to recap the thirty years of growth since heavy metal transitioned to speed metal, but on the whole, Pestilence have done a good job of it. This is more listenable than their last two, seems more compelling and personal, but also brings musicianship back into the mix in a way that coincides with these musicians’ instrumental focus.
Of all the newer school bands out there, Oblivion struck us here at deathmetal HQ as one of the more imaginative ones.
It is clearly of the modern metal model, following the “great contrast” approach in riffing rather than the integrative nature of the old school, but it displays intense creativity and technical mastery. In addition, Oblivion seem to know how to make a song out of a musical idea and not devolve into randomness like so many of their contemporaries.
Other aspects of Called to Rise impressed us as well. There’s experimentation with sound on these tracks, a willingness to corrupt the metalcore “great contrast” riffing with some integrative ideas, and an adoption of classical forms, songs and approaches that pushes this album over the top.
Oblivion is a modern metal metal band to watch, and Call to Rise is an album that will surely stimulate some depth of discussion. We are thus fortunate here at DeathMetal.org to be able to both stream this album live, and present our interview with Oblivion’s Nick Vasallo:
What got you into metal?
I resisted Metal as long as I could. I was more of a punk rocker as a teenager, but I realized the awesomeness of Metallica’s “One” when it came out. During the double bass, palm-muted, open-E breakdown I was a secret admirer of metal. Seeing a band from Oakland called Eldopa (1332) sealed the deal. Then my good friend at the time (Ben Orum, who is now in Oblivion), turned me onto Death Metal. For this reason I still think Cannibal Corpse’s The Bleeding and Deicide’s Legion are the best albums from this genre.
As you grew into metal, what brought you to your current form? How did you all come together, and what types of music and ideas were influencing you at the time?
I formed Antagony with Ben, our best friend Carlos Saldana, and our late friend Jody Handy. We just wanted to create the heaviest, darkest music possible. We ended up creating something that was, in hindsight, very influential to other bands that came after us. I stepped away from music for a while, but had the urge to come back and write music that was more technically demanding on the musician and listener.
You’ve outlined a clear relationship between classical music and metal on this CD, with three string orchestra pieces and a cover of “Canon in E Minor.” What inspired you to write and cover these pieces?
I wanted listeners to hear that there is a direct parallel between these two musics. For instance, when the song “Multiverse” is initially presented it is a metal song because it is played by a metal band. In context we are stuck to this association. But when the song is reprised it is performed by a strong orchestra and we perceive it differently. Perhaps the complexities emerge because we now listen to it and look at it through a different lens.
Do you think metal and classical share anything in common?
Where did you guys get your technical chops? Are you professionally trained musicians?
I don’t like the term “professionally” trained. There are some musicians I know that have never taken up formal music training, but can play better than someone that has been trained since they were a toddler. Every musician picks up something from another. That is how music was taught originally. But to answer the question, yes – Luis and I have been trained academically. Everyone else has either taken guitar lessons with a talented musician and/or learned in from playing with a multitude of other talented musicians.
Can you tell us how you got the distortion on your guitars? Are you using pedals, processors, virtual amps, amplifier settings or a combination of the above?
We use tube amps with distortion. Ted is sponsored by Rhodes, Ben by ENGL.
Do you think metal is evolving? Where do you think it’s going?
Yes, Metal is evolving. And it better evolve or it will stagnate and die! Most bands stagnate and eventually die. Movement is necessary to encourage growth and progress. I don’t know where Metal is going. If it follows the same pattern, it will continue to find avenues of transgression. Only to revert back to its fundamentals one day, searching for truth.
What’s next for Oblivion? Will you be touring, and/or writing new material?
Begin writing our second album.
If you could ask fans to do one thing in order to understand your music, what would it be?
Put your phone away, put your internet away, and give your undivided attention. Listen carefully…
Do you think metal fans are open-minded or closed-minded or somewhere in between?
A paradox of open minded close-mindedness.
Now that you’ve completed this massive work of complex metal, what’s the next challenge for you as songwriters?
If you bought Immortal’s Pure Holocaust the day it was released, and conceived a child in the ensuing fury, that child would be entering college age today.
Our review, written in the year of this CD’s release, captures much of what makes this album great. There are two levels to its greatness, stylistic and content, and while related they cannot be made equivalent.
Stylistically, Immortal on their second album saw the ambient and atmospheric tendencies of black metal and developed them. First, they used lightning fast chaotic drumming that quickly reduced the drums to a background timekeeper, allowing riffs to change phrase freely without being trapped by a specific rhythmic pattern. Second, they upgraded the speed of their guitars and level of reverbed distortion to create a sonic tunnel of sound that from a distance, sounds more like a synthesizer with heavy sustain than a guitar.
In content, Immortal focused what it was to be black metal: naturalism. Like the creatures of nature, or its mercurial winds and storms, black metal is not “rational” and “moral” in the human way, but practical in a way that humans — even non-Christian ones — are often afraid to understand. However, it is a method that a forest creature or great tree would understand, a cross between Zen buddhism and the feral antagonism of a wandering predator. Incorporating previous themes of occultism, tribalism, cosmicism and warfare, Immortal fused the ideas of black metal into a singular concept. As such, this album defies all categories of logic or music, at least the human ones. To a wolf or jaguar, it would make perfect sense.
The result was a blaze of noise and musical terror that swept black metal into its second age. Pure Holocaust, along with Transilvanian Hunger (Darkthrone) the following year, moved black metal beyond the framework established by its 1980s origins in Bathory and Celtic Frost. Now it was something new, something emotional without being self-pitying, some cold and element floating above the clouds. Something that could not be tamed.
While most popular entertainment fades away after only a few years, and with good reason, Pure Holocaust remains strong two decades later. Without having heard it, or any black metal, a music listener can take this off the rack and throw it on the player — even if that means double-clicking — and be lost in an entirely different world, and inspired to try to create that here on modern earth.
Famed label Thrash Corner Records and Bloodstained World Entertainment will promote the “Metal Expo” in Puerto Rico on March 29-30, 2014. According to the promoters, this festival will feature international and local acts, guitar and drum clinics, seminars, discussion panels, documentaries, exhibitions, competitions and a chance to meet your favorite metal bands and musicians.
Although planning is in the early stages, a number of heavy hitters have signed up for this one, including Nelson Varas and the crew of Puerto Rico Heavy Metal Studies, Khaosmaster Productions Power Music PR, Melek Music and the aforementioned Thrash Corner Records and Bloodstained World Entertainment.
According to Thrash Corner headman Ray López, this project has been in the works but now is an optimal time for it to occur. “Right now our scene is in the best time of the last 20 years. It is time to shine outside the island,” he said in a message on the Metal Expo faceplant page.
“This project has been in my mind for many years now, and finally all the pieces of the puzzle are together and we can make this dream come true. This project is very important for our scene and it will take us one step forward in the international metal community,” said López.
If anyone works for an airline and can get us comp tickets, now’s the time to speak up.
Massacra picked up the mantle of Slayer and Morbid Angel and crafted phrasal riffs into complex constructions which breathed pure energy but yet managed to take your breath away with their vast inner contrasts.
Final Holocaust and Enjoy the Violence never seemed to receive the acclaim that other death metal bands did, in part because for years they were tied up in legal struggles or out of print, but the influences of those two albums can be heard in death metal to this day.
Celebrating the influence of this foundational band, Century Media will on November 4 release Day of the Massacra, a compilation of the re-mastered “Nearer From Death”, “Final Holocaust” and “Legion Of Torture” demos. The sound is surprisingly good, considering that the raw material comes from tape and isn’t easy to work with, although “Legion of Torture” sounds raw enough that no amount of modern technology can save it.
Known mostly for their imaginative riffs, Massacra also knew how to make songs that felt like subconscious patterns that most of us have experienced in our day-to-day lives. There is something natural, second nature and familiar about these songs and how their riffs fit together like forest paths on the ascent of a mountain.
“Nearer From Death” of the three demos is the one that sounds most like Massacra in its final death metal form, and resemble the tracks that made it onto Final Holocaust. “Final Holocaust” reveals more of the latent speed metal influences of the 1980s, but also shows Massacra at some of their most experimental, with unorthodox riffing matching up to rhythms borrowed from old Metallica and Slayer songs.
“Legion of Torture” on the other hand shows this band as it came into form in 1987, and is amazingly advanced for that year. The experimental influence reveals itself as well, but here it’s harder to separate from the contortionist riffing that seems designed to be odd enough to invert people’s thinking about the world around them. There is even more of a speed metal influence here, but this compares reasonably with its primary influences, which sound like Slayer, Sepultura, Merciless and Sarcofago.
Having these formative demos on CD or LP will be a delight for any metalhead, and Century Media suggests that it will re-release the early albums as well. Although most people have focused on early the very early stages of death metal, or its maturity, not many have caught on to its fiery adolescence when speed and labyrinthine decoding ruled the day. Day of the Massacra brings back those amazing days and shows us the majesty of death metal in creation.
The organizers of the Maryland Deathfest (MDF), which took over from the deceased Milwaukee Deathfest, have released lineup and venue information from the forthcoming 2014 festival which will occur from May 22-25, 2014.
In its newest incarnation, MDF will launch on Thursday, May 22, with bands playing only at the Rams Head Live located in the Power Plant Live! section of downtown Baltimore at 20 Market Place.
However, from Friday through Sunday, two venues will be shared. Metal bands will play the Rams Head Live from 10 pm – 2am, and across the street at the Baltimore Soundstage, grind/crust/HxC/punk bands will be playing simultaneously.
On October 30, Dutch band Warmaster released its second full-length album The End of Humanity. As our earlier review points out, this is an old school death metal release with influences from grindcore.
What makes Warmaster worth paying attention to is not style but substance. These songs are made of familiar elements, and don’t push any envelopes, but unlike most “old school” releases these days, they fit together well and sound deliberate. You will not find new revelations here but the music works like an entity of its own, not a grab-bag of parts from 1994.
In The End of Humanity, you will find the same power that made death metal a force of musical empire in the 1990s: crushing riffs fit together in tight labyrinths that expand as you traverse them, sonic intensity in distortion and vocals, seemingly unattainable levels of alienation from everyday “be nice to everyone” humanity. You’ll also find a band with its unique voice.
Because of this, we’re excited to introduce Warmaster in interview and a live stream of The End of Humanity. Let’s hear what they have to say.
You formed as a band in 2004 with the purpose of making old school death metal. What prompted this decision?
We all grew up with death metal in the 90s and death metal wasn’t that hot around 2004. We felt the urge and pleasure to revisit Death Metal, the old school way. Inspired by bands such as Bolt Thrower, Obituary, Master and Entombed,we started to write our own songs, blending all the good, which became WARMASTER, straight forward, rude and extremely heavy!
What are your own musical influences? Do these match with favorites you listen to on a regular basis? Do you listen to any of the newer-style metal?
We all have different influences, The binding influence for us all is 90s death metal. As songwriter bands such as Bolt Thrower, Entombed and Hypocrisy influence me. The newer styles do not influence us much. We respect the wave, but it is not our thing.
I had a blast trying to piece together some of the musical allusions you made on this record. So far I’ve identified Blood, Massacre, Terrorizer, Master and perhaps Malevolent Creation. Did I miss any?
Thank you, you just compared us with bands we never thought of. Thinking about it, yes you are right on those, but we are also identified us with Six Feet Under, Bolt Thrower, Asphyx, Benediction and many more.
Do you feel a need to live up to a “Dutch style” of death metal? Are you fans of the older Dutch bands like Pestilence, Sinister, Ceremony and Asphyx?
Not at all! We do it the Warmaster way! The common feel though is same with these bands you mention!
Have you talked to the guys from War Master (TX) about having such similar names? Are you worried about causing confusion?
Actually there are multiple Masters of War. You also a thrashy Warmaster from Canada and a Portuguese black metal band called War Master, who were the first using this name.
I do not think people will mess it us up. We both play old school, but you definitely hear differences in music and sound. War Master is a bit faster, while we mostly keep it midpaced, doomy and groovy!
On “Medestrijders Voor Volk en Vaderland” you experiment with some unnerving guitar sounds. Can you tell me how this develops the theme of the song?
This is actually one of the fastest songs we wrote. Rik came to rehearsal with the opening riff and without boundaries and jamming, the song wrote itself. Half of the songs on this album have been written this way.
“The End of Humanity” begins with an intro that recalls the 1980s style sonic paste-ups that Discharge did. What made you choose this intro?
We were playing with song and album title. The original title for the album and the song “Nuclear Warfare” was “Massive Kill Capacity,” which gave Corné, who created the samples for the album, some great ideas. He is very much into bombastic, theatrical themes. He made several samples of which some are used on the album. This is a great opening of the album!
It seems to me the album has a theme based on the title. Why did you choose this now, after most people assumed nuclear war and human self-destruction were off the table after the end of the Cold War? Or did the Cold War not end, or are there newer threats?
Decimation of humanity the horrific way are good themes to write song lyrics about. They cannot be bound to one war or another. “Death Factory” is WWII, with “Barbarians” we go back to prehistoric warfare. And “Medestrijders voor Volk en Vaderland” is about the 80-year war in the 1600s in Europe.
I quote from a punk band of great repute: “World peace can’t be done. It just can’t exist.” Do you think there are solutions to humanity’s problems? Will they be revealed through death metal?
The only solution to world peace is going out with a big bang! …Destruction of the planet!
As long as there are humans, war will be there as well!
Death metal is the solution to write about war in the best way, brutal and aggressive!
You have this great guitar sound on the album, that’s fuzzy and warm like a sweater but mean like the metal treads of a tank. How did you record this album? Do you have a “Warmaster method” of recording yourselves?
The guitar sounds really fits; we experiment a lot with guitar sounds. We have our own Studio, so it’s easy to realise this. After all those years we receive a lot of experience while recording other and own bands. Also listing to recordings of other bands it give you an idea what you want.
Members of Warmaster come from other bands. Can you tell us about those bands, and whether they’re still active, and if not, why they ended and what you hope will be different with Warmaster?
We all played in different bands, some still play in other bands.
Alex and André both play in Dark Remains (Death Metal)
Rik has also played in this band as a bass player. He quit to fully concentrate on Warmaster.
Alex replaced his spot in this band. This band is still active and busy with their fourth studio album.
Alex also played in a band called Exploded (Thrash Metal) but he stopped with this band this year. It is still active.
Marcel plays also in Ceremony of Opposites (Death Metal).
Please forgive me for this question. This cover looks a bit… uh… well, maybe people seem to be reacting badly to it. Can you tell us why you chose it, and why it’s important to the album’s theme and vision? Are you planning on having an alternate cover?
Hahaha…. I have one short answer for your last question.. No! We don’t have an alternative cover.
Because we like this cover! After the first album First War we wanted something different.
I think we accomplished that task. It is different, it is rare.
When recording the album we asked a friend (Ammar) of ours to draw some of our ideas, it ended like it is right now.
We knew what kind of artist he was and what he could do. We wanted to give him a opportunity and he took it.
We took the chance what people think about the cover but we don’t care what others think. We like it!
Maybe with the third album we do something else, something unexpected. Some people will like it, others will not.
But hey, so will our music! You like it or you don’t like it!
What’s next for Warmaster? Will you tour, or write more material? Do you have a long-term plan or are you just enjoying the ride?
We are very creative lately. So far we have released a split 7” EP with Humiliation from Malaysia and our album The End of Humanity on DeadBeat Media and Slaughterhouse Records. And we already have enough material for a new album ……so new album next year!
With the album out we want to play many shows, because playing live is what makes us go on! Maybe tour if the right options are there, but we prefer single shows or weekends instead.
Released on October 30, 1983, the first album from Denmark’s Mercyful Fate proved to be a decisive one for metal. While the band never ventured behind a NWOBHM-speed metal hybrid comparable to Blitzkrieg/Satan, Tank or Diamond Head, the uniquely operatic vocals of King Diamond and the band’s ability to write compelling heavy metal that also had a touch of the otherworldly quickly made Mercyful Fate an important band.
While many have written about their influence on black metal, it’s important to mention that this is not a black metal band, or album. Expect heavy metal, with the type of muted-strum riffs that later made speed metal capture the attention of metalheads worldwide, but with a greater focus on dynamics and pacing. On the surface, it sounds like many other bands from the era, but Mercyful Fate gave the music a unique spin and pushed quality over the top.
As a result, the band, fronted by the legendary King Diamond in his Alice Cooper-inspired face paint, became a staple of the “below-mainstream” metal crowd and quickly won a place on every metal record store’s walls. Through a series of early albums such as Melissa and Don’t Break the Oath, the band gradually shaped metal’s underground away from repetitive intensity and more toward the type of operatic variation in intensity that marked the influences on King Diamond’s vocals.
30 years have passed since this album first detonated car stereos and home units, but its influence is vast and hard to estimate. First, it shaped bands like Metallica toward more imaginative and melodic songwriting; next, it shaped black metal as a melodic, dynamic, motif-driven genre. Finally, the band’s outright flirtation with Satanism as a form of successor philosophy to the genteel benevolence of the society at the time influenced the metal to follow in non-musical as well as musical ways.
Originally shunned by most of the “new and wise” black metal community in the post-1995 era, Ildjarn emerged shrouded in mystery, and its renown has increased over the past almost two decades through the appreciation of writers and fellow musicians.
Seven Harmonies of Unknown Truths packages an early Ildjarn demo by the same name into a CD/LP release that showcases this band’s potent sound that mixed black metal, oi, drone and primitive folk music. The album has been released on Eisenwald Records and can be ordered here.
While those who have heard early Ildjarn will note the similarity to both the self-titled release and the material on the Ildjarn-Nidhogg compilation, but like other Ildjarn EP-length material Seven Harmonies of Unknown Truths presents a slower and more atmospheric vision of this band.
Structured as seven numbered tracks plus the archetypal Ildjarn song “Death Dynamics,” Seven Harmonies of Unknown Truths is like most Ildjarn releases an ambient composition as a whole where songs serve as motifs. Varying between the doomy and the faster edge of mid-paced, these songs return us to the lawless forest where the spirit of Ildjarn resides.