Is nu/alt/indie metal at the same level of quality as old school underground death metal?

A reader writes:

Do you think the new underground waves bands like Cryptopsy are good like the old school bands. Or do you think that death metal is the only good option?

The new school metal has not, so far, come close to what the older death metal was able to do.

I don’t think this is stylistic, so much that people are thinking about different things. When you think about things like death metal, the big topics in life like death and justice and war, you are able to make death metal (complex thoughts). When you think about yourself, who are you gonna party with and what your parents are doing that you don’t like, you end up with nu-metal, metalcore, indie metal and other new-wave underground metal band types.


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Resurrection of the old school spirit in Atlanta, GA

sadistic_ritual-death_metal_atlanta_georgiaHistory is a big circle, and it’s coming around again. According to the loafers at Creative Loafing Atlanta, Atlanta, GA has resurrected an old school style metal scene.

First, these bands are playing 1985-1995 fodder. Second, they live together and promote each other. Finally, there’s no hint of the nu-core blight that has afflicted metal from 1998 through the present day, which allows these bands to develop their own take on an older sound.

For example, Sadistic Ritual sounds like Kreator…. to a point. Somewhere, they diverge and find their own voice, although as a demo band, they’re still trying to get a handle on that. But the fact is that they’re aping the past in form without aping its content, which separates them from the nu-thrash “revival” that first ripped off 1980s speed metal, then Swedish death metal, and now has moved on to punk.


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Non-profit old school metal zine Codex Obscurum launches

codex-obscurum-zineCodex Obscurum fills a void left open when the old school fled to the basement in advance of encroaching hardcore hybrids like metalcore and nu-metal: the print zine that exists to promote a community against impossible odds.

For those who weren’t there, back in the “old days” (like, 20 years ago), zines were the most common means of spreading information. You couldn’t buy death metal in regular record stores, society hated it and often tried to ban it, and most people regarded metalheads as declasse outcastes who should be viewed with suspicion.

Enter the zines. For the price of postage, sometimes plus a little more for printing costs, although most were paid for (unknowingly) by corporate stooge employers, you would get fifty pages of xeroxed hand-drawn mayhem delivered to your door, including interviews and reviews of your favorite bands, and the all-important advertising by mail-order distros that you otherwise did not know existed.

Codex Obscurum fills this void with its release this week. To get a copy, you “mail-order them, old school style. No profit, you’ll just be paying for postage costs.” The publishers describe it as “a New England based old-school print zine dedicated to music, art, and all things dark.” And it looks traditional: fifty xeroxed pages of wisdom, chaos and brilliance.

To order, send $3 plus shipping via BigCartel.

Direct all further questions to the staff through their Facebook page.


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Vallenfyre: old school death metal

Old school death metal from Paradise Lost, Extinction of Mankind, My Dying Bride and Doom members:

Adrian, the drummer of Vallenfyre, is also the drummer for the band Paradise Lost. I’ve known him for quite a long time, because the European death metal scene a long time ago was quite small and everyone knew each other and traded tapes. It was a little bit incestuous at times because everyone knew each other. Scoot, the bass player, he played in Doom and Extinction of Mankind. He was my roommate back 20 years ago, he shared a house with me. We’ve remained friends since then and I couldn’t think of anyone else to do it when the idea to do this band came up. Hamish, the lead guitarist, he’s another old friend and he’s in My Dying Bride, which was kind of the same genre as Paradise Lost. He’s my drinking buddy and we go out drinking. Mully, the other guitarist in the band, every Thursday night we go listen to old metal and get drunk and we’re all friends so it kind of easy to choose these people.


The main subject is that we’re trying to play it like a proper old school death metal band in the production and the song writing and most elements of it. We also incorporate a lot of other elements we grew up with like the crust punk scene, the doom scene, and like the grind scene. We wanted to make it something that instantly transports us back to ’86 or ’87. Apart from that there wasn’t really a big plan behind it, it was just to get that sound really. – Metal Funderground

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Underground Record Labels in 2159 Pt. 3

The pigeon decided to return.  Had it not, the retro-Powermetalers would have maimed him fatally, with buckshot fire. Despite his cute appearance with those tiny post apocalyptic goggles of his, he would have then been eaten slowly by cockroaches over time after falling from grace.  Before he returned to Daryl he grabbed a 5 Bolivar silver coin from what was left of Panama. It was hard to fly back over the 500 foot wall that Trump had built, back in the technology age.  Not only did it have retracting metal spikes on top, but there was a moat with alligators on both sides.  Dead bodies were strewn along both sides of the fence, with vital organs missing.  No one ever came in.  No one got out alive either. Fortunately for Latin America, the wall mitigated the radiation winds on that side.

Upon the bird’s return, Daryl noticed the silver Panamanian coin in his beak.  It was a very low mintage coin and he was thrilled of the indication that there was power still now in that region of the world.


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Paramaecium – Exhumed of the Earth (1993)

In addition to its notoriously contradictive definitional nature, doom metal remains something of an enigma in terms of its enduring popularity. Whether or not one chooses to view it as a distinctive subgenre, style or even technique, doom metal must bear one of the most in-proportionate quotas within metal music when it comes to quantity over quality.  If attempting to depict doom metal from the perspective of enduring releases, the list of canonical works would become surprisingly short.  It seems plausible that part of the explanation to this sad state is embedded in the very characteristics of the style.  Doom bands have generally prioritized development of exceptionally powerful tools for conveying sonic heaviness at the expense of other aspects of the music. It might even be so that the techniques in themselves has forced artists into a particular way of writing music. Either way, there appears to be a widespread discrepancy between the means of expression and what is actually being expressed in doom metal; which in turn provides clues as to what makes for a genuinely satisfying doom-offering. With the above discussion in mind, today’s written offering presents the Australian death/doom act Paramaecium – one of few bands bearing the doom-tag that has managed to write compositions to match the sonic gravitas associated with said style.


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Accept – Rise of Chaos

Accept is a band best remembered for their old school song called “Balls to the Wall”, which used to play on the Headbanger’s Ball. Driving my BMV down the Autobahn at 120MPH through the Black Forest, I stopped in Bad Reichenhall.  You know how they always have insane amounts of Gummy Bears everywhere in Germany.  And then next to them are porno mags and stuff like biker lifestyle mags.  Those were where I found out that Accept was still going strong at the time. It never ceases to amaze. This band just keeps hanging around, like a bad STD. Here they are again 20 years later. And they have this new album Rise of Chaos, which sounds like a cross between Sabbath’s Dehumanizer and an Exodus album.



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Sammath Releases “Godless” Live Track

Furious Dutch black metal band Sammath have issued forth a live recording of “Godless” featuring founder/guitarist Jan Kruitwagen on vocals. The band takes a high-intensity old school approach to this track, emphasizing the multitude of death metal and black metal influences on this band, but with technical aptitude making the song flow together in the style of later black metal.



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Defeated Sanity – Disposal of the Dead Dharmata

This band from Germany has been around in one form or another since the 90s.  Besides having a reputation as an under-rated act, they actively tour and record.  They are considered technical/brutal death metal.  I would probably count them as old school death metal.  Several releases are available, and it feels somewhat unfair to look at just one release and judge, but lets try.


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