Artists and fans against censorship start anti-Baltimore group

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In response to stories of political censorship by the Maryland Metalfest, attacks on Demonic Christ, and alleged SJW exclusion of political non-conformists, a loose-knit group of fans, musicians and writers has formed the Facebook group Make Baltimore – NO PLAY ZONE! to express disagreement with censorship.

The group organizers issued the following statement:

This group was founded to promote the idea that bands should stay out of Baltimore or risk millennial crybabies attempting to ruin band’s careers over the numerous things they find offensive. Every city has this problem, true. But, the children of Baltimore have made this particular city undesirable for having a good time and enjoying a show.
ENTER BALTIMORE AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Once in the underground, #metalgate is heating up as people oppose the idea of censorship and political conformity in metal. Many remember what such herd-thinking did to hardcore in the 1980s and the attempts to censor metal from right and left during the same decade. Others simply believe that genres dedicated to extremity should keep all ideas on the table, especially when the standard of political conformity seems to agree with what most governments, media and large corporations endorse. Time will tell.

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Beorn – Time to Dare (2015)

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Power metal, the post-2000 incarnation of speed metal that mixes radio rock and Hollywood-style theatrical music into a hybrid, gets a lot of flack for being cheesy. This is true. However, it is also one of the few areas where metal musicians can create epic music and still have a large audience, since the underground metal audience disconnected from quality with war metal and was replaced with post-hardcore at the hands of vegan SJWs riding fixies to their artisanal bagel shops.

Beorn is quite cheesy, but musically creative, and they know how to write a competent song. Expect verse chorus with interruptions for operatics and dynamics, but generally heavy metal riffs with speed metal and some death metal technique, mated together with Queen- and Judas Priest-styled vocals. The melodies are awfully similar to those from other power metal acts, but this betrays the hidden influences of the genre in movie music, dinner theater and vaudeville, and even inspirational music. There are certain patterns, and these set up the need to deliver certain conclusions, and these songs do it along with the best of them.

High-pitched vocals guide melodic riffs over jazz-style drums which guide and comment but do not take a leading role. The vocals follow the guitar riff less in rhythm that in riffing off its basic melody, which allows more instrumental depth per passage than the unified approach of underground metal. Constant double-bass keeps the pulse pumping, and choruses carefully silhouette the chant-style rhythm of the vocals, but songs break to interludes and stack those with variations on the major themes. Lead guitars stay within the canon of guitar-rock heroics from the 70s but accelerate themselves to a frenetic postmodern pace.

I sometimes write about the difference between appreciating musical quality and liking something. I will never pick up a Beorn album because the cheesiness of this style repulses me, but I’d be a liar to not acknowledge the quality of the music here and its ability to be powerful in the right context. This type of power metal gives heavy metal the breadth of musicality it always wanted and, while cheesy, brings out a wide range of emotions and evokes the powerful sense of taking a journey that the best prog rock albums did. For those who appreciate that, Time to Dare will be a delight.

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Affliction Gate – Dying Alone (2015)

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This unruly album launches into a mid-paced, melodic death metal style and then turns up the intensity with constant pounding rhythm. Each song builds itself around a distinctive riff and uses modifications of it to fashion structure out of a stream of creative guitar work that aims first to make a strong statement, and only later to make it fit within a groove the audience can appreciate.

Vocals follow the riffs, giving guitars plenty of room to experiment, and consist of a harsh-throated partial enunciation that allows them to serve as a rhythm and textural instrument. Songs develop according to a rhythm emphasized by both the primary riff and the chorus, evoking the notion of Immolation hybridized with Sodom, and the rest of the song plays with that fundamental tension, although most of the song consists of a verse-chorus loop with one riff per section. Some songs show a riff sensibility derived from European giants such as Demigod and Sinister.

Unlike almost everything that flies over my desk, this band stands on their own, not as much stylistically as in composition. These songs pop out of the album as independent, and while there are many similar rhythms and tempi used, these are interrupted by many changes that shape the chaos into a smooth expression. For a band that works in the area of later classic death metal to withstand modernity and go its own way, and do so smoothly, is exceptional and results in an enjoyable release.

Thanks to Kunal Choksi at Transcending Obscurity, we are able to present this exclusive stream of “Manicheism Inertia” from Dying Alone by Affliction Gate:

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Cirith Gorgor – Visions of Exhalted Lucifer (2016)

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Cirith Gorgor bases its music around a strong vocal in the modern metal style of several emphatic syllables which then trail off, and this primary rhythm instrument propels the music forward. Underneath it flow melodic riffs which are not based on unique shape for its own ends, but fit around the rhythm of the vocals, approximating the style of later Emperor.

All of the familiar patterns are here: the sweeps, the gently falling melodic riffs, and the sawing upsurge riffs, and they are ordered in sensible songs. These songs do not particularly distinguish themselves from one another, nor evoke any type of emotion other than a general sense of feelings about the genre, but they are not random and are better assembled than the average. They resemble a sort of ongoing conversation that appears in different forms.

If this band has a weakness, it is reliance on the modern style of “yapping chihuaha” vocals. These are easier to follow than the old way, but place too many demands on the guitars for them to lead songwriting. The melodic hooks are pleasant and the discourse of songs orderly, but this band has a way to go before it expresses something like the power this genre has sleeping within it.

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Hail of Bullets employs SJW David Ingram on vocals

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Modern death metal (speed metal song form, static riffs) band Hail of Bullets has appointed censorious SJW David Ingram to vocal duties for their show at Maryland Deathfest. The band states:

Mister DAVID INGRAM (ex-Bolt Thrower/Benediction) will be teaming up with HAIL OF BULLETS for our show at Maryland Deathfest, Baltimore USA, May 28th 2016!

This will be the only HAIL OF BULLETS show until the Summer of 2016. We’re happy to have David on board and we will see and announce what the future brings us after the MDF show.

And yes, we intend to start working on new material next year.

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Insision – Terminal Reckoning (2015)

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Insision take on the dying underground by combining brutal death metal, early technical death metal and adding in mild touches of modern death metal, creating a sound that hammers its listeners with intensity but works melodic leads and song construction into the mix for variety and depth. The result is a cornucopia of charging riffs and melodic turnarounds, in a style similar to later Gorguts mixed with Deeds of Flesh.

The band makes skillful use of dynamics to intensify songs and carefully presents each as a standalone concept. Guttural vocals ride the rhythm riff but break away to freestyle over the more open patterns. This allows Insision to work atmosphere into the blasting and otherwise violent guitar work. Fans of classic German speed metal like Destruction and Kreator will notice similarities as the album goes on; like the best from those bands, Terminal Reckoning uses single chord riffs with chromatic fills for pure rhythm effect.

If this album could improve, it would be in more internal diversity of riff and pace. Its use of melody thrusts aside the modern metal conventions and instead serves to develop songs, which avoids the becalming effect of too much similarity, and the interplay of vocals and guitar follows the mid-80s style instead of trying to constantly contrast the riffs. That and its inherent aggressive attack allows this album to escape the modern metal doldrums and bring back much of what fans adored in old school, technical and brutal death metal.

Thanks to Cátia Cunha from Against PR, Sevared Records and Insision, we can present to you the following streaming track from Terminal Reckoning

You can find out more about Insision at Facebook, YouTube or via Sevared Records.

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Borknagar is selling beard oil

Beard oil.

As part of their buildup to Winter Thrice, Borknagar is releasing a beard oil, thus pushing the boundaries a little further for band merchandise. Now, I tend to give my own beard very simple care (cheap razors, cheap shave cream, occasional scissor trimming to keep the length manageable), so the idea of applying any sort of beard oil is foreign to me, and I’m not exactly persuaded to start by the existence of this product. Those who are should note that Borknagar’s foray into this genre of lifestyle products is enabled by Rædical, a company that sells several different variants of the stuff. Borknagar’s beard oil is admittedly a rebrand of one of Rædical’s previous products, but it also comes with a wooden box and band logos, which are both clearly essential to the beard oil lifestyle.

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Blackdeath – Totentanz (2016)

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Blackdeath is a Russian black metal band that just so happens to perform their lyrics in German. Funny how that works out. I’m not sure what the motivation is, but it’s a mildly interesting bit of trivia that you might get a kick out of. The actual album (which is intended to release on January 1st, 2016, and was provided via promos) was initially released in two parts in 2004, as parts of splits with Mortifera and Leviathan produced in exceedingly small qualities, so while the material is far from new, this may be your first chance to hear what comes off as a competent, but unremarkable and therefore disposable piece of old school black metal. Definitely not “best of 2016” material.

Now, the promo message we were sent claims that Totentanz is “…nothing like you have heard before”, but in my personal experience, there’s not much here that’s particularly novel. Blackdeath’s PR agency was probably listening primarily to the guitar, which showcase a nice mixture of standard melodic black metal phrases with more dissonant, atonal phrases. By not confining themselves to tonal centers, the band has opened up some realms of musical technique that could come in handy. That’s about all I can say in favor of the instrumental end of this album – nothing here is “wrong” or out of place (even the drum machine), but it’s otherwise very standard for its subgenre.

I suppose the specific problem with Totentanz is that it does little to coordinate its individual elements into a coherent whole. Blackdeath seemingly values the “kvlt” side of black metal, and thusly this album is blessed with a stereotypical low fidelity mix. The most prominent issue here is that the percussion is nearly inaudible; this appears to be a constant problem throughout the band’s discography. It’s not really a problem for a more ambient black metal act like Darkthrone or Sorcier des Glaces, but Blackdeath seemingly aspires towards the more violent side of the genre, at least if the rest of their musical elements aren’t misleading me. Totentanz also has the sort of arbitrary songwriting that so many other metal bands fall into. In this case, I find it unusually hard to isolate specific elements for criticism; however, the aesthetic/songwriting mismatch seems to be most responsible for this recording going in one ear and out the other without getting much in the way of proper mental attention.

I guess it’s a dubious honor that the first upcoming release of 2016 I’ve reviewed avoids the Sadistic Metal Reviews pile, but honestly, the best thing I can say about Totentanz is that it’s surrounded by mildly interesting circumstances.

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#Metalgate: SJWs trying to block Demonic Christ appearances

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If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that SJWs speak in code. “I’m just going to pass this along” is the dog whistle for “if you’re one of Us, you should ready for attack mode now.” Apparently, SJWs are disturbed by an early 1990s interview with Demonic Christ frontwoman Dana Duffey, and because they disagree with her, they’re forming a Two Minutes Hate to get her removed from upcoming festival appearances.

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Shawn Wright clarifies what seemed like threats of violence

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After an interview surfaced showing that Shawn Wright of Bestial Evil has stated that he opposes the idea of violent solutions, we reached out to him regarding what appeared to be a series of violent threats against Diabolic Force Distro’s Tim Snodgrass. Wright clarified as follows:

I’m anti violence. Just because I want to fuck him up doesn’t mean I’m going to. So he can fuck off with that bullshit. If I was gonna destroy him I would have.

According to Wright, he communicated the same to Snodgrass with the following message:

“It’s all good Tim. I have no intentions of fighting you or hurting you. A) because I know for a fact you’d lose. B) because you’re not worth my time. And C) you have no relevant place in our scene and absolutely no effect on me.

Nice try I’m done allowing you to get a rise out of me. Have fun being alone. That’s your karma being disliked by us all.

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In the meantime, Wright has launched a new initiative, No Room For Hate, which plans to sponsor a local festival for anti-racist, anti-sexist, anarchist and anti-fascist bands. However, their logo seems to indicate violent intentions, so maybe this will be clarified in the future.

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