Warbeast – Destroy

warbeast-destroyThe second album from Warbeast meets metalhead speakers with great expectations because the personnel involved have such a history of metal on the edge of mainstream that still retains the intensity of the underground. Destroy fulfills all of that promise.

Rigor Mortis vocalist Bruce Corbitt joins with four local musicians of renown to create a band that upholds the ideals of the past but modernizes its sound. On 2010’s Krush the Enemy, the band ventured more into a modern metal sound that verged on deathcore at times, but Destroy goes back to the roots and makes speed metal with the added pummeling technique of later death metal.

Destroy sounds more like Exodus crossed with Slayer and a few instances of the classic Rigor Mortis high-speed melodic sound. The choruses are dominated by the chanting aggressive voice of Corbitt, who sounds like the vocalist Philip Anselmo (who produced this album) wanted to be for Pantera. Choruses are less “spoken” and closer to death growls.

If this album has a fault, it’s that it’s too relentless, such that after a half hour songs start to run together because they are all turned up to 11. However, the appropriately vicious and complex guitar work provides enough depth to fill out these songs and keep the listener wanting more. The good things is that unlike post-Pantera experiments, this band doesn’t rely on groove or rock-style bounce, but on pure metal cadences and ripping speed rhythms.

Where many bands have tried to modernize the 1980s speed metal sound that made Metallica, Pantera, Exodus and Prong big names, Warbeast accomplish this through going back to the roots of metal and keeping it intense instead of trying to get bouncier or groovier. The result is an album that ties together past and present into a single extreme package.

Imprecation uncovers “From Beyond the Fiery Temples” from new album Satanae Tenebris Infinita

imprecation-satan_and_wenchesImprecation reveals the he second song off its long-awaited debut full-length which will be released on CD and vinyl through Dark Descent Records in Spring 2013.

The new album from Imprecation, Satanae Tenebris Infinita, will continue the legacy of dark ritual death metal that has seen this band rise from obscurity not once but twice, the second time being during its 2000s-era revival.

Cover art by the legendary Chris Moyen graces this slab of untamed and relentless death metal by members of Bahimiron, Adumus, Morbus 666 and other Houston death metal ancient ones. The past joins the present, and keeps on going where it was going in 1993, but even stronger and with more experience.

Earthen Grave signs to Ripple Music for debut album

earthen_grave-earthen_graveTraditional and yet untraditional, doom metal band Earthen Grave plan to unleash their first album, Earthen Grave, on Ripple Music for worldwide release on July 9, 2013.

Featuring ex-Trouble member Ron Holzner and classical virtuoso Rachel Barton Pine, Earthen Grave craft 1970s style doom with the addition of progressive touches and Pine’s elegant but savage violin fretwork. On top of this, the band modernize their sound with a throbbing intensity that is unique to their interpretation of metal.

Originally released in 2012, Earthen Grave was originally released on Claude + Elmo music (and can still be purchased here) but sees re-release with four new tracks and a cover of Dio’s “Stargazer,” complete with the violin talents of Pine, who plays a new type of violin-like instrument called “the Viper.”

In addition to the new album, Earthen Grave launches on a US tour with the following dates in addition to others soon to come:

Death Melodies Series: Dmitri Shostakovich

The Death Melodies Series (DMS) continues with the modernist composer Dmitri Shostakovich.

Dmitrij_Dmitrijevič_Šostakovič_(Дми́трий_Дми́триевич_Шостако́вич)

At the age of nine it became apparent that Shostakovich was a child prodigy on piano. He was also impassioned for composition. His first major musical achievement was his first symphony when he was nineteen.

He had successes and failures in the Soviet Union. In 1936, Stalin attended a premiere of Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth and was noted that he laughed at the performance. Soon after, critics insulted Shostakovich to the point that his commissions were substantially decreased and he became poor.

Shostakovich had a rather saddening life. During the Great Purge in the late 1930’s, many of the composer’s relatives and friends perished. In 1960, Shostakovich decided to join the Communist Party to become the General Secretary of the Composer’s Union. However, his health started to decline soon after. He was diagnosed with polio and encountered many falls that crippled him. Shostakovich was keen to excessively drinking vodka and smoking cigarettes, which led to his death. In 1975 he died of lung cancer.

I decided to share Shostakovich’s first violin concerto. It was written when there were severe censorships and hostilities from the Russian government. Shostakovich didn’t publish this concerto until after Stalin’s death.

http://youtu.be/vcTZ6ckxVUA

 

Pathogen – Miscreants of Bloodlusting Aberrations

pathogen-miscreants_of_blood_lusting_aberrationsIf you were to combine the full military power approach of bands like Krisiun or Angelcorpse with the catchy and slightly dissonant songwriting of Master, the result might be like Pathogen. This band has its own personality however which comes out in this battle-force release.

Miscreants of Bloodlusting Aberrations aims to be rhythmically compelling and to add some additional interest in its tendency to massage a maze of related riffs out of the midst of a riff salad so dense it would defy mapping. The result is like urban exploration: entering a building late at night through a forgotten basement window, and wandering in the dark with a flashlight and .45, until you find that one room that takes your breath away.

Pathogen hustle through songs that are a mix of death metal, heavy metal and war metal riffs driving toward a culmination in dissonance and chaos. Drums are mostly influenced by the speed metal bands of the mid-1980s, but vocals come from the recent school of high-speed rasp punctuated by deep gutturals. The result is very much a hybrid, but true to the spirit of its many influences and the genre.

Where this album gets confusing is that it is a riff-maze of familiar patterns and repeated types of themes, so it is best listened to as a kind of concept album formed of a snapshot in time when all of these different songs overlaid each other in concept and overlap in music. Infectious and warlike, Miscreants of Bloodlusting Aberrations captures the spirit of high-speed metal and gives it a unique spin.

A Transylvanian Funeral – Gorgos Goetia streaming from Forbidden Records

Forbidden Records has begun streaming the new A Transylvanian Hunger album, Gorgos Goetia, from their bandcamp website.

Combining the traditions of early-era Darkthrone and the melodic tracks from Gorgoroth, Gorgos Goetia represents a descent into the dark and restless mentality of black metal, and shows no mercy to the newer traditions which have usurped an honorable lineage.

Divine Eve debuts new track “Sword Called Fate”

divine_eve-iconAfter three years of radio silence since their last EP, Vengeful & Obstinate, Divine Eve are returning with a new full-length to be out on Dark Descent Records in 2013.

This Texas band rocketed to influence in the early 1990s by releasing a Swedish-tinged doom/death masterpiece, As the Angels Weep, which showed a band with potential among the many confused offerings created as death metal bloomed.

Equal parts raging death metal and raging roadhouse heavy metal with a darker Motorhead flair, the music of Divine Eve emphasizes both dark places and an uncanny energy emerging from confrontation with them.

Vengeful & Obstinate shows the band refining their songwriting and picking up some new themes, using this added proficiency to make the tunes have more momentum and be more memorable.

While no date has yet been set for the release of the finished product, the release of this sample track is a tantalizing hint of what is to come for all fans of doom-death and related music.

Interview with Lord Necron of Hod

hodSan Antonio’s Hod are no strangers to the metal scene. Seemingly playing live every weekend in Texas, they’ve amassed a strong underground following since their inception in 2007.

I received an exclusive listen to three of the songs that will be on their sophomore album Book of the Worm. Fans of their first album Serpent will be appropriately pleased with this stronger display, which is a natural progression from their earlier material. The most noticeable difference is that the drums are played faster than their earlier recordings. The riffs flow like they did on Serpent, but with more dynamics.

Carl “Lord Necron” Snyder shed some light on the band’s progressions throughout its existence:

In 2007, Hod released its debut demo, Cry and Piss Yourself, which led to Ibex Moon Records releasing your debut album Serpent in 2009. How would you say your music has progressed since Serpent?

The band has jelled together more. I believe the writing flows better. The band has a better and vision and identity of where it is going. Also we have a quite a few lineup of changes which has left me as the sole riff writer of the band up till now. So our next album Book of the Worm was placed on my shoulders to finish up and do all the guitar tracking. The good news is Blackwolf our new guitarist is bringing some devastating riffs to the table for new material.

You’ve been involved in the Texas Metal scene since it began, involving yourself numerous bands. How would you compare the early days to the Texas scene today?

The 80s and early 90s had much better turnouts for shows. Local shows were way more attended than nowadays. But I think now it easier for your music to reach more people with the internet. So more people are listening, but less are attending. MP3 culture is a double edge sword. So much is available but people do not get absorbed into albums like they used to. Kids download entire discographies of bands, and fly through the albums. How can you really grasp an album that fast. We used to buy maybe three albums tops over a two week period and just listen to those records over and over. But I admit quality control was better back then too. How are you going to say getting Seven Churches, Bonded By Blood, and Hell Awaits at the record shop compares to getting 25 albums on MP3 by some obscure bands that you are never going to listen to again.

HOD is known as one of the most hardworking bands in Texas, playing live every weekend it seems. This appears to be a 180 since your Thornspawn days. Has playing live often strengthened the band?

Of course playing live strengthens the band. Your band can only improve by taking the stage. Real bands play live. Real men take to the stage. This nonsense of just releasing music and never performing live is boring and a waste of time. The true power of metal is to hear in its organic form live. You cannot beat that feeling. Keep your bedroom bands in the bedroom, and stop trying to compete with real bands. I hate it and it needs to be put to a death.

The Texas scene is looking forward to your next album, Book of the Worm, can you shed some light on it for our readers? Lyrical themes, progression in sound, etc.

We all know what to expect from Hod. Death and Darkness. More Lovecraftian themes and influences in the lyrics for sure. It will be better produced for sure. The guitar tone is crushing! The tempo is faster. It’s like Serpent x 100. Beer’s vocal performance is just deranged and his delivery has really improved.

Will all of the songs featured on the “Uncreated” demo be on your full-length? Is there label lined up already, or is this demo to get a new one?

Yes they will. That is why the demo is being printed up super-limited. The demo is to showcase the material for the album. We are not sure what label we will go with. We are in no rush just to get it out. We will make sure when we sign with a label it is what we want. Also, we wanted the people that had been loyal to Hod to hear some of the new stuff.

What have been Hod’s most successful/memorable shows?

The tour with Marduk was quite an experience. They set the bar high every night and it opens your eyes to what you have to do to make an impression in the metal scene. Canadian Metal fans rule. Of course Houston scene is awesome. Austin is strong too. Mesa Arizona was killer when we toured with Monstrosity. Sorry for no specifics. It kinda all runs together at this point.

What advice would your give to the younger metal bands that are emerging in Texas?

Just practice hard and be ready to lay it all on the stage. Don’t get up there unsure of yourself. Don’t waste your time and more importantly the audiences’ time. Be prepared. Because most likely it will not go smooth. Record a kickass demo too! Don’t worry about freaking getting signed right off the bat.

You live and breathe the old school, what are your all-time favorite albums?

  • Morbid Angel – Altars Of Madness
  • Possessed – Seven Churches
  • Slayer – Reign in Blood
  • Mayhem – De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas
  • Deicide – self titled debut
  • Celtic Frost – Morbid Tales
  • Venom – Black Metal
  • Bathory – Under the Sign of the Black Mark
  • Sarcofago – INRI
  • Dissection – Storm of the Light’s Bane
  • Sodom – In the Sign of Evil
  • Kreator – Pleasure to Kill
  • Voivod – RRROOAAARRR
  • Mercyful Fate – Melissa & Don’t Break the Oath

To name a few…..

Centurian – Contra Rationem (Listenable Records, 2013)

centurian-contra_rationemAfter some time absent from making music, Centurian returns with another album of ripping music made in the style of later Morbid Angel infused with the type of battering riffing that made Master’s On the Seventh Day… such an underground favorite.

This is precise high energy playing in that rhythmic but phrase-based style innovated by Morbid Angel, Vader, Mortuary and Massacra. Its strength is its intensity, but its weakness has in the past been knowing when to tone it down for a bit of variation. On this album, the band use more variation and melody to break up the unrelenting intensity of this approach.

Contra Rationem develops through an inner conflict based on the collision of extremely violent riffs, and the doubts and ambiguities of this situation revealed by changes in the intensity. This saves it from being a blowhard full-ahead band in which turning everything up to “11” makes that the norm, and by so doing removes its power. Centurian break up their forward assault with guitar solos, use of melody, dirge riffs and most importantly, abrupt shifts in direction. The result is that these songs negotiate internally and develop, instead of being presented as a final state that must be pounded into your head.

The most obvious influence here is Morbid Angel, especially the post-Covenant era, but the chant-heavy choruses and ripping speed riffs in many ways recall the best days of Destruction. There are no broken beats or trudging progressions because this album prefers to stack riffs against one another and then reach a natural conclusion at which point a total break from the expected occurs. The result naturally merges the listenability of speed metal (Destruction) with the power of the unexpected in death metal (Morbid Angel).

Centurian’s strength is their sheer momentum and pounding frenetic energy. Their weakness is the converse of this, which is that sometimes songs come across as hasty exercises in all-ahead-go, and as a result are less memorable than the finely-sculpted classics of death metal which removed extraneous complexity to create unbreakable moods. However, this is a small weakness, since this album shows great creativity in riffcraft which results in songs that shape themselves as distinct from one another.

For those who want a death metal album of the warlike style that made Morbid Angel and Vader such perennial favorites, Contra Rationem is a good place to begin the search. It avoids both the newer style of “carnival music” that has infested death metal and the faux retro style that insists on playing everything so fast the audience falls asleep, and uncovers in this band a more developed musicality and sense of mood.

Satan – Life Sentence

satan-life_sentenceBack in the 1980s, the wisdom was that Satan had something to do with the founding of speed metal, along with Blitzkrieg and a few others who got into the choppier, more muted strum side of NWOBHM.

Having two members go on to avant-progressive speed metal act Skyclad did not hurt the legend. Thirty years later, Satan return with Life Sentence, an album that is musical enough for power metallers but uses the same efficient mix of speed and classic riffing that made Judas Priests’s Painkiller such an enduring favorite.

In addition, this band has internal quality control, which is something that seemed to go out the window with the rise of MP3s. This album fits together as an album, not as a concept album but as enough and varied interpretations of a style to make a consistent but not repetitive package.

Riffs on Life Sentence are of known general types but are not recognizably derived from anything else, and while they are generally used in pop-style song structures, tend to illustrate the theme of each song in sound. In addition, Satan use riffs as archetypes and vary them for fills or changes in song direction. This distinguishes them from many of the more template-based heavy metal bands.

The strong underpinning of riffs supports a subtly jazz-influenced percussion that mimics the guitar while trying to stay as much in the background as possible until it is time for a strategically interesting fill, at which point it explodes. Over this the melodic vocals of Brian Ross, who also sang in Blitzkrieg, surge in both full operatic style and a more surly half-chant.

Lead guitar fireworks are minimized but like everything else on this album, appear when it helps push the song along. However, songwriting on its own is strong, with each song having a clear theme that is played out in the tension between verse and chorus riffs. Nothing sounds hasty or ill-thought; it all fits together and moves as one.

For metalheads who like musicality but might want something more aggressive than your average power metal band, Satan offer a powerful competitor that does not fall into excesses, but keeps its own spirit alive. Life Sentence does not sound like it came out in the 1980s, but also, evokes much of the strength and beauty of the music of that era. This should be a major contender for the thinking metalhead vote in 2013.