Corpse Machine – Depths of the Abyss

corpse-machine-_-depths-of-the-abyss

Perhaps you hoped that Venom would put out a technical album without losing the energy of its primitive side. Corpse Machine aims for that gap with a heavy metal album dressed up as death/black metal, using mostly old school heavy metal riffs but concluding its songs in the soaring melodic motions which made black metal a favorite of its audience. Like Fester, Dissection and other heavy metal/black metal hybrids, the result has relatively predictable song structures and high doses of repetition but creates emotional tension through melody and makes songs into little worlds where the listener can cycle through a brief contrast in emotions.

While the stylistic aspects of this album will drive away the purist black metal fan, the underlying melodic composition is good: both compelling rhythmically and harmonically, it creates layered spaces of emotion with simple riffing formed in pairs. When Corpse Machine turn up the intensity the result is more energy behind the music but not a fundamental change in mood. The result seems crushed by its decision to straddle two different worlds, as this would make an amazing heavy metal album but ranks as confused for black metal. In many ways, it represents what Venom should have become if it had chosen to stay current with metal technique, and might fit alongside bands like Gehenna and Dodheimsgard which have a similar approach.

For Corpse Machine to rise to the next level, it makes sense for them to clarify this confusion in style and add more internal tension to give the satisfying moments of this release more power and thus to enhance their atmosphere. Depths of the Abyss shows an aptitude for engaging songs but does not rise to the black metal level of intensity despite having a similar approach to melody. Like other experiments in heavy/black like Dissection and Immortal At the Heart of Winter, it has an almost sentimental tint that amplifies its autumnal and post-apocalyptic sensations, but unlike those the darker parts of its composition cannot quite separate themselves from technique. Still there is great promise here that may develop on future works.

Ancient Wind – The Chosen Slain

ancient-wind-_-the_chosen_slain

Properly belonging to the power metal camp that hybridized heavy metal with death metal technique, Ancient Wind plays fast melodic songs with conventional structure in a style influenced by melodic death metal favorites like At the Gates Slaughter of the Soul but also takes its influence from higher-energy bands in that style like Unanimated Ancient God of Evil and Merciless Unbound.

Within that context, this band is highly competent but it is possible to win the battle and lose the war, and unfortunately by managing their technique so carefully Ancient Wind have created the most unfortunate of all metal mis-steps, which is the album of constant intensity. This same disadvantage plagues bands like Perdition Temple and Fallen Christ with an energy that is so incessant it causes the music to fade into the background because of its invariant nature. That being said, there is some quality riffing here although nothing all that surprising, much of which recycles the 1980s era of heavy metal with a focus on Iron Maiden. Bluesy leads with staggered tonal center shifts complete that part of the picture. With all of that considered, it begs the question whether Ancient Wind should keep up the death metal front at all because with more internal tempo changes and a classic Hetfield-style strong male vocal, they could be on the edge of a speed metal revival which not only is a less crowded field than melodic “death metal” — put in quotations because at its heart this is heavy metal or speed metal with death metal technique but not composition — but more accurately represents the inclinations of this band. Liking classic heavy metal has never been a bad thing, but a modern tribute to that style will have to achieve the same distinction that the original had or it fades into the stylistic background much like constant high intensity and similar song structures causes it to flow past like a faucet on “high.”

The Chosen Slain displays many strong attributes including impeccable musicianship through riffs that demand not just precision siting of chords in the technical heavy metal style, but accurate textural strumming in the death metal method. Clearly a lot of effort went into this release. With more tempo changes, song structures that wait to present conclusions until they culminate tension in the music, and a few stylistic adjustments, this could be a really excellent record. As it is now, it faces a difficult struggle differentiating itself in the melodic death metal field despite being better than most contenders. As this band gains more confidence and listens more to their own material, it is likely these changes will come naturally, and an album which strikes the listener as competent but not memorable like The Chosen Slain will give way to something more like its inspiration in Merciless and Unanimated and less like the immensely popular but saccharine and uninspiring drivel that At the Gates put out after giving up on their own art and wanting metal to be a day job instead.

Demolition Man (1993)

demolition_man-movie_poster

Cult movies must take on an attitude similar to heavy metal and horror films: as outsiders looking in at a society whose institutions and ideals are entirely corrupted by what humans wish were true, and populated by humans who refuse to see the obvious because of their socially-defined rules and ideals which deny reality. Every good horror film involves people fighting an evil or mortal threat, but first they must fight themselves and purge from within the assumptions that make them useless, then get their war faces on and conquer the enemy or perish.

In that respect, Demolition Man is more like sci-fi horror cloaked beneath an action film. The plot is simple: ballbusting cop John “Demolition Man” Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) is convicted of mass murder for an arrest gone awry and imprisoned in a cryostasis facility. Forty years later, the vile criminal Simon Phoenix — portrayed with humor and energy by the engaging Wesley Snipes — is thawed by what looks like a computer error. Phoenix emerges into a new world: under a utopian system of government, people have become equal parts politically correct and 1980s “have a nice day” posi-culture, rendering them utterly useless against any real threat. The criminal rages across the land and in helpless confusion, the neutered future denizens thaw Spartan and send him out to get the bad guy in a decision summarized as “it takes a maniac to catch a maniac.” The movie follows Spartan as he tries to both capture Phoenix and deal with the shadowy forces that threaten revolution in this future paradise that may not be as paradisic as it claims to be. Aiding him is officer Lenina Huxley (Sandra Bullock) who although she accepts her future world as perfect, also grates against its insipid pacifism and the boredom created by its regimentation of all activity into simple steps with almost no consequences.

The underlying influence on this movie is Brave New World, alluded to not only by the use of both Vladimir Lenin and Brave New World author Aldous Huxley to construct the name of the heroine, but also revealed in the type of hell into which Spartan falls: a society dedicated to avoiding conflict and maintaining safety that has eliminated all risk, adventure, masculinity and fun. Demolition Man shows us the horror of a society that we design based on our fears. This future world has no purpose except the negative purpose of avoiding bad vibes, risk and conflict. As officer Huxley discovers, this makes for not only a boring society, but a docile one which is manipulated by leaders who are not corrupt in the ordinary sense of accepting bribes, but in a moral and spiritual sense in that they wish to stamp out all defects and create a kind of varied uniformity that resembles the hipster scene in AD 2015. John Spartan, like heavy metal, represents the primal id of humanity which desires intense experience more than it wants safety like the neurotic ego. Simon Phoenix represents the lurking psychic shadow of such a civilization, motivated only to destroy because he rightfully detests the precious snowflake-world he finds himself in, and also because as someone entirely devoid of soul his only pleasures are found through dominating others. His addiction to victimization of others makes him a menace in any age, but the future world is entirely unprepared to deal with him because it has made is own emptiness a positive value. This conflict plays out throughout the film as Spartan finds himself caught between docile social engineers and anarchic revolutionaries.

Naturally with Stallone in this movie it requires high levels of carefully choreographed violence, but these are brainier — taking advantage of the anticipated “cult” audience — than those in big blockbusters like The Expendables which converge on the moronic. Bullock, known best for romantic comedy roles, performs convincingly as a character who is blithely indoctrinated in her new world order on the surface, but covertly hoping for something of significance to distinguish her days from one another. In particular, her comedic timing is exceptional. Stallone also reveals why action films favor him through his ability to deliver absurd lines which are both masochistic-masculinist and cryptically insightful. As the film progresses, these characters converge on a middle ground and understand each other, which brings out one of the themes of the movie: while designing utopia is a terrible idea, the anarchic void also threatens, and people are desperate for a middle zone where they are both not living in fear of random violence and also not managed like slaughterhouse animals.

Demolition Man deserves every bit of its cult movie credential. Some of these scenes are painful to watch because of the high ingenue factor of people in the future, but like other movies in this vein such as Idiocracy, the pain is necessary to reveal the full absurdity of the type of goal that our politicians, entertainers and corporate overlords routinely announce as desirable. Although this movie is hammy, it is not ham-handed in that a viewer can appreciate it as a simple story without worrying about its implications, but that layer of interpretation lurks beneath the surface and brings out an emotional depth that action films normally do not have. In this satirical treatment the crisis of humanity’s attempt to manage itself becomes painfully clear, and while these characters represent broad positions in that battle, these roles occur within the spectrum of this question and allow the allegory to work without being reduced to the level of pure personal drama. Movies such as this make us fear our wishful thinking and realize that perhaps our best intentions — with which the road to hell is paved as folklore informs us — will create a prison for our souls that only raw animal violence and blind will to crush what is empty can resolve.

First look at the new Demoncy fold-out Joined in Darkness digipak

demoncy-joined_in_darkness-foldout

Forever Plagued Records has licensed Demoncy Joined in Darkness and issued it with an inverted-cross fold-out digipak, in addition to giving the album a remastering that may enhance the original recording.

The label has posted the first pictures of the inverted digipak and it is likely that it will inflame some Hessian aggression. Not only is the new artwork striking, but the inverted cross motif underscores the totality of commitment which has made Demoncy one of the few USBM bands to retain a fanatical following.

#metalgate defies critics, continues growing

so_sorry

SJWs tried to deny #metalgate at first. “There’s no censorship. You’re writing about a non-issue.”

Then at some point, the articles kept piling up. In them, SJWs — who seem to share membership in music journalism and record labels to a disproportionate degree relative to bands and fans — continually attempt to coerce metal fans into thinking the right way… the SJW way.

Then SJWs tried another tactic: go on the offensive. No one mentioned that when you shift your position from “it doesn’t exist” to “it’s the worst thing ever” as they did, you have admitted that your first position was dishonest.

In the most recent attack, Metal Injection writer Shayne Mathis attempted to humiliate #metalgate group founder Scott Vogler.

It didn’t work out how he hoped.

Throughout this interview, Mathis repeats himself many times, but does not seem to understand his own argument. There are lengthy pauses as he gropes to understand an idea outside the few memorized tropes he knows. Finally he gives up — several times — and backtracks by saying the argument is going nowhere.

Owned. OWNED.

Vogler does not even attempt to go on the offensive. He simply explains his point of view and is consistent. Mathis contorts, in his high-pitched and wordy rambling speech, trying to make his argument fit the circumstances.

What is interesting is that both parties are using the same argument: social coercion through fear of ostracism is a form of control as powerful as a law.

Mathis says that he is not censoring anyone because he is only shaming them for using racial or homosexual slurs. Vogler points out that this is a form of threat if slurs themselves are a threat. Same principle.

Mathis stumbles and fumbles, tries deflections and redefinitions, but the fact is that his argument is nonsense because it defeats itself. Like all SJWs, he argues from a civil rights perspective but seems to not understand how he resembles the people he sees as oppressors. When the discussion finally returns to #metalgate, Mathis has fallen back on the “agree to disagree” trope. It’s as if he has only a few memorized mini-speeches, and anything else is beyond his understanding.

This is typical of SJWs: they do not actually understand their subject matter. Mathis denies that SJW coercion — doxxing, calling labels and trying to censor bands, harassing venues until they cancel shows, and the journalist conspiracy to exclude anyone who does not agree with them — even exists. When he is called on the threat of social ostracism wielded by the power of media and the presumed moral good of the SJW perspective, he waffles and backtracks.

#gamergate happened because SJWs infiltrated video game journalism and formed a conspiracy of silence to exclude those who did not agree with their ideology. Not those who offend them, but those who merely do not agree. In the same way, in #metalgate SJWs decided to exclude those who did not follow the hipster indie-metal mold and systematically ignored and denied the actual underground in order to replace it with relatively mainstream music. They then used the power of shame and the threat of ostracism to try to exclude non-SJW ideology from metal.

Mathis denies this. Vogler calls him on it. Victory is had, but not by the SJW here.

What SJWs do not understand is that they are not outsiders. They are insiders. Government, media and big corporations all agree: SJW ideology is the best. They want it. They endorse it and write it into law, and defend it with billions of dollars of media time and public appearances.

Metalheads are the true outcasts and outsiders. We do not follow the zombie conformist obedience train of society. We understand that if society endorses something, it is probably a lie. If something is popular, it is probably a lie. We realize that “ideology” itself is a distraction from the real issues in life, and that SJWs don’t actually care about black people or gay power. This is just SJWs using ideology as a justification to seize power.

In metal, that translates into replacing metal with rock. The goal is the obliteration of metal because it does not conform to social forces like SJW ideology.

This parallels the tendency of industry to induce metal bands to “sell out.” Selling out is no different than the assimilation offered by SJW ideology: do what is popular instead of what is right. Accept what society tells you is true, not what you know is true.

As if on the same wavelength, djent fan SJWs made this statement:

People do take the freedom of the internet to say things that they would probably not say to someone’s face, and as a writer, I would never want to step on someone’s freedom of speech. This is about a very real issue in society, and more specifically, in the metal community.

…Metal, and all of its subgenres, are composed of a culture of outsiders. So why are we so insistent on casting out fellow outcasts?

…So until Veil of Maya release a song about how great a guy’s abs are, calling them gay and faggy is out. Don’t do it. Actually, you should probably just take variations of “fag” out of your vocabulary. Just…stop.

Just do you see what’s missing here? An argument. He never says why it’s important to obey the speech codes here, only uses the magical term “homophobia” and assumes everyone will fall down and bow before the religious symbol of political correctness.

This is typical of the SJW movement.

What scares SJWs is that when they are revealed, people stop supporting them. Most people assume that the world is a simplistic place. Homophobia is bad, racism is bad, and if we can cure those, everything is fine. Except that the real problems of our society lie elsewhere and these surface window-dressings are just distractions from what most people experience. Racial discrimination has been illegal for fifty years and government, media and business — those evil capitalists — have thrown their full weight behind eliminating it. The days of oppression are long gone.

When people realize that SJWs are not the side of good, but self-interested people repeating the same ideas that our government wants them to believe, they stop listening to the SJWs. This is what they fear in #metalgate and #gamergate: once revealed as merely self-interested people, they lose their magic get out of jail free card.

For SJWs, their ideology gives them superpowers. All they need to do is find something that is plausibly racist, sexist, or anti-homosexual and they get immediate media attention. Labels and video game studios bow down to them, the mainstream media hangs on their every word, and people get out of their way and hand control over to them through social deference. Your average SJW is not an exceptional person but an unexceptional one, but being presumed to be ideologically correct makes him powerful.

And he lusts for that power, having none by nature. His indie-metal bands are boring. His blogs are screechy and banal. His academic “research” tends to be circular and contentless. The SJW is a failure at life who wants to become a success by toadying up to the “right” ideas.

The change in our society since the 1960s has flipped the script. No longer is The Establishment composed of old, rich, Christian white heterosexual men; in fact, it’s the opposite. Government supports all which is not that former establishment, and has made a new Establishment of liberals, minorities, homosexuals, transgenders and other groups for which SJWs claim to speak. This apparently conservative source explains it well:

This anti-establishment and anti-authority bent is what made heavy metal clash with traditional values Christians in the 80’s. I have never been a fan of metal, even in its heyday, even though I had some friends who liked it. I didn’t find it pleasant to listen too. It’s not the type of music you can listen to and chill. It hypes you up. That is its purpose. I’ve never wanted to be hyped up after a hard days work. I want to relax, but that’s just me. And I also think that its Christian critics were correct in that it was deliberately subversive of Christianity. And while I don’t doubt that a lot of that was more show than real, I still think there were a lot of stupid and vulnerable kids who got sucked up by all of it.

But while Christianity was a reigning authority to be anti-ed in the 80s with its buzz kill message of no drugs and no sex before marriage, Christianity is in cultural retreat these days so heavy metal finds itself at odds with the even more militantly puritanical enforcers of rightthink.

Christianity and WASP-dominance are no longer in effect in America.

Diversity and acceptance of transgenderism and homosexuality is the new normal. It is what our leaders and the power structure approve of.

It is the new version of The Establishment.

When the nu-Establishment accuses you of being “closed minded” or hateful, bigoted, racist, etc. it’s important to realize that they are doing so for their convenience.

In the same way, SJWs are acting as they do for their own interests only. It allows mediocre minds like Mathis to become important for their opinions, even if they can’t think.

It allows women to feel powerful by demanding that men accept these viewpoints, which puts those men in a position of inferiority.

In their view, SJWs are reversing the order of nature by putting the powerful on the bottom and the weaker on top.

Enjoy some satire:

Metal is a threat to SJWs because it points out that SJWs are mainstream conformists pretending to be underground hipsters.

It doesn’t mean to do this, but when someone chooses not to follow the crowd, it makes everyone in the crowd question their own membership in that group. It shows that there is another way.

That is why SJWs panicked at #metalgate.

Notice the panic that Decibel Magazine experienced in response to a recent Burzum video:

In one video he may tell schoolchildren to defy their teachers in order to immunize themselves against toxic brainwashing, while in another he’ll spread urban legend bullshit about Egyptians. It’s a rich grab bag of narcissism, ethnocentrism, the Dunning-Kruger effect and utter tedium.

You may be shocked to find out that he is against feminism, literally claiming it will end humanity, and that he’s a LARPer, but as the man is nearing a thousand videos, and clearly doesn’t have a job, he has thrown out any attempt at quality control, even if it’s a scientifically-unsound rant next to a big bag of fun-sized Twix.

The SJWs of today are the nagging censors of yesteryear. “No one believes that! You are wrong! And you’re morally bad!” they say. This is the same whether they are angry Christians defending their society against Satanists or angry SJWs demanding that everyone agrees with their binary point of view.

First impressions: Kaeck (NL)

kaeck-logo

Composed of members of Kjeld, Noordelingen and Sammath, Kaeck is a new style of black metal that upholds the intensity of war metal but infuses it with the elegant melody of classic black metal. The result is a surging malevolence on the surface with an inner core of transcendent beauty.

To the experienced ear, comparisons arise immediately to Impaled Nazarene and Zyklon-B, both of whom used the blasting full-speed attack with undertones of melody to its advantage. A more bestial presence occurs here, taking influence from both the death metal crossover of later black metal and the burly high-intensity rhythm and noisy attack of war metal. The result melds sawing riffs with rising hints of melody and then runs that violence into archly ascending phrases which emphasize a union of the aggression and the beauty into a rejection of all but the pure feral naturalism of both beast and forest.

Although Kaeck is in its earliest stages, the band has material currently being mastered which will unleash itself within the week. Several labels have shown interest and one will probably snap up this promising new take on older sounds because it achieves the rhythmic intensity of current metal in concert with the elements of black metal that made it the most enduring underground metal genre, namely its ability to find purpose in nature and alienation from the corrupted mess that is our society. Both listenable and true to its genre roots, Kaeck opens a door to new possibilities in black metal.

Dark Descent Records plans US death metal compilation

dark_descent-logo

Dark Descent Records has announced plans to unleash a compilation of US death metal bands which will accompany an upcoming issue of Legacy magazine from Germany which will be themed around death metal.

Bands confirmed so far:

Morpheus Descends
Thevetat
Blood Incantation
Spectral Voice
House of Atreus
Grave Ritual
Imprecation
Blaspherian
Horrendous
Father Befouled

Dark Descent Records label head Matt Calvert adds: “We’re still working on a couple others as well. These will be rare/unreleased tracks on this CD compilation and may include 7” tracks, vinyl or cassette only tracks or some early teasers (in the case of Grave Ritual). More soon.”

In the meantime, interested listeners can look to the last Dark Descent Records compilation which unleashes free digital music in the underground metal styles.

Hells Headbangers unleashes free digital compilation Compilation Volume 8

hells_headbangers-compilation_volume_8

Underground survivalist label Hells Headbangers has released a free digital music compilation entitled Compilation Volume 8. Featuring cover art by maniac visualizer Antichrist Kramer in clear homage to Blasphemy Fallen Angel of Doom, the compilation provides free listening to introductory tracks to a number of bands from new and old undergrounds alike.

Hells Headbangers described it thus: “30 TRACKS TOTAL featuring brand new songs from upcoming albums by DEATHHAMMER, PROFANATICA, DEIPHAGO, DESTRUKTOR, NYOGTHAEBLISZ, CIANIDE, SCYTHIAN, BARBATOS, NOCTURNAL BLOOD, DIAVOLOS, BONEHUNTER, PERVERSOR, ABYSMAL LORD, and NEXUL, songs from newer EP releases by FORCE OF DARKNESS, DEMONA, The HAUNTING PRESENCE, DWELL, SHED THE SKIN, as well as material from earlier releases in 2015 and mid-late 2014 by SATANIC WARMASTER, GOAT SEMEN, ATOMIC AGGRESSOR, ABOMINATOR, DESTROYER 666, OCTOBER 31, AEVANGELIST, PERDITION TEMPLE, EXECRATION, GOUGE and The LURKING CORPSES.”

Deceased completes work on Cadaver Traditions

deceased-cadaver_traditions

Speed/death metal band Deceased has gradually been drifting toward its heavy metal roots over the past two decades. Its personnel went on to create Doomstone and October 31, the former trying death vocals and guitars with traditional heavy metal, and the latter launching full-on into the old school of the old school.

After Doomstone Those Whom Satan Hath Joined appeared as the album that did Deceased better than Deceased, the band reconsidered and began to incorporate traditional heavy metal on albums like Surreal Overdose. Now the band formalizes its past with Cadaver Traditions, a 2CD set of 50 cover songs from the past three decades.

Deceased vocalist/drummer King Fowley noted on social media the progress made: “DECEASED ‘cadaver traditions’ update. i’m finishing the liner notes to it all this week and its going to press. 2 cd set of 50 cover songs from our 30 years together!!! june release as said before; stays right on projected time.”

Those of us who have often wished for an end to the split personality in Deceased look forward to this. Not only will it be many classics re-imagined, but it will show Deceased in the full power of its style which unites past to present and future.

Graveland works around mass media, opens own store

graveland-2015-celtic_winter-hoodie

Despite being one of the premiere third wave black metal bands, Graveland have long been excluded from mainstream media and most distros as much for their esoteric music as their rumored controversial beliefs. Now, to work around that blockade, Graveland has opened its own web-store:

Graveland has also announced a split CD with droning fifth-wave black metal band Nokturnal Mortum. The band issued this statement: “After many years of staying as a solo project the time has come for some serious, epochal changes! Again, Graveland will be joined by other musicians that will be supposed to prepare the band for live performances. Working on two Gravleand tracks for the cd split with Nokturnal Mortum will be a little test for the cooperation within the new line-up. On the 7th/8th of March 2015 we have recorded drum section for both new Graveland compositions. The new drummer is no one else than previously announced Mirosław Rosiński (Mystherium, Horns, ex-Moontower, ex-Warfist). You can check the sample from the session below. In April we will record guitars again, later bass and vocals. Anna “Alruna” Oklejewicz also take part in those recordings, she is responsible for chello and medieval viella. Both compositions will be ready by the end of April. One of them will be also used for a video clip consisting of material recorded by Darken in Austrian mountains and forests.”

The first wave of black metal emerged out of the proto-black metal movement which appeared with the unholy union of Hellhammer, Slayer, Bathory and Sodom. From that, a second wave emerged in Norway starting with early Immortal, Burzum, Darkthrone and Mayhem. The third wave, led by bands like Ancient and Graveland, showed a willingness to refine this music into a more soundtrack-like and ambient form, going quasi-progressive in song structure as a way of evading assimilation by the rock music hordes. After that came the more mainstream revisitation of past black metal forms with the fourth wave, and finally the fifth wave of bands who reduced it to a form of droning punk music with minor-key motifs and black metal themes. After that, only retro and assimilation have remained.