Death metal folk wisdom tells that the epithet “technical” generally connotes music that is bad for a unique reason: it tends to get trapped in technique, including cute tricks from music theory, for its own sake, which in turn deprecates the art of composing memorable and relevant songs.
Finnish death metal band Abhorrence are releasing a live album of their comeback performance at the 2013 Tuska Open Air Festival. Totally Vulgar – Live at Tuska Open Air 2013 is coming out February 10th on Svart Records. Svart released an earlier anthology of the band, Completely Vulgar, that was some of The Best Underground Metal of 2012.
Article by David Rosales
Published as an EP last year, Omens of Perdition is a minimalist death metal act that could easily draw comparisons with Desecresy. They share the spacious (and spacey-vortexy) approach to an Incantation like style through the sound of the Finns. When we go into particulars, however, the differences make it clear that resemblances are mostly a matter of general sound preferences, not methodology.
While Desecresy as most perfectly materialized in Stoic Death gives us a Finnish death metal that depends on high-note, short melodies as hooks with laid-back riffs for support, meat and almost harmonic accompaniment, Condemner goes through no such hoops, cutting to the chase, delivering an unrefined but naturally compelling train of dark thoughts. Riffs in Omens of Perdition are essentially melodies with few notes that constitute the bare-bone themes of the music, with nothing else but a bass unison and soft-punch, minimalist blast-beating drums.
These drums are played lightly but insistently, providing for emphasis on dynamics and accent in an application somewhat reminiscent of Paul Ledney’s style on Dethrone the Son of God by Havohej without the occasional flair. Rather than complement each other, the instrumentation in this music forms a total unison, even the percussion. Intensity varies evenly, changes affect all instruments towards the same side of the spectrum. When arriving at the slowest and vastest, the music may even exhibit silences on the drums, while huge guitar power chords roar as the drums only mark accents, reminding one of certain parts of Skepticism’s Stormcrowfleet.
Songs alternate thematic riffs that run over mirroring, enhancing drums, with scantly-clad doomy statements covered by a mantle of skeletal power chords. To the detriment of this otherwise quite satisfying music, what effaces the identity of individual songs (and of the release and band itself) is the complete lack of obvious climaxes. We can also take this as both the strength and willing limitation of Condemner, which presents a clear, solid monolithic picture. This steadiness may allow the author to draw an abstract parallel with J.S. Bach’s fugal writing for the keyboard or chorales.
While there doesn’t seem to be any particular goal in Condemner Omens of Perdition, the straight-forward treatment is accompanied by an inconspicuously dexterous development of themes. This in itself is more than could be wished as a saving grace. It becomes both a protection of higher music from the pop-hook addicts and a mystical gateway which opens up through direct intuitional experience to he who is listening.
Much of 2015 passed me by without commentary before I took up my position as the editor here at DMU. As the year draws ever closer to its end, I see the need to rectify that. How about some pseudo-prog? Arcturus began as a black metal band so underwhelming and half-hearted, to the point that their metamorphosis into a more obviously overwrought, melodramatic rock act on La Masquerade Infernale was actually an improvement. Their vaguely symphonic, electronic, and generally etcetera-based approach, along with a couple of other prominent bands (Borknagar, Solefald, etc) sold well around the turn of the millennium before, like most trends, people lost interest. Somewhere along the line, Arcturus decided to reform and write/sell more material.
Things haven’t changed much on Arcturian, but a few changes in the overall sound did catch my attention. There’s more synthesizers – I’d say “contemporary electronic music”, but metal musicians seem to lag a few years behind popular electronic music trends for better or worse. Furthermore, longtime collaborator Kristoffer Rygg is long gone. One thing I enjoyed about La Masquerade Infernale many years ago was his vocal performance – a powerful, assertive bass that was admittedly used primarily in this sort of post-black context. Simen Hestnæs (ICS Vortex) is similarly charismatic, but he performs in a much more heavily explored vein, so he doesn’t have novelty in his favor. Given that an album of this shape relies on aesthetic novelty to retain reader interest, that’s a strike against it. Otherwise, instrumentation here is reminiscent of Arcturus’s first two full lengths – modal, often mid-paced, sometimes drowned in symphonic instruments.
Arcturian does end up hitting some of my aesthetic buttons, but I’d be a pathological liar if I said I found it particularly interesting. The band relies primarily on varying its sound; the songwriting underneath is fairly standard. There’s a little bit of effort to vary up actual structures through use of dynamics, and techniques pulled from earlier eras of the band’s lifestyle, and there is a sinister sort of consistency here in that every track sounds different from the last. However, the emphasis on aesthetic changes over everything else basically relegates this to the level of soundtrack, presumably adequate for a high budget science fiction themed film or television series but not very interesting on its own. Nothing offensively bad or stupid here by my standards, but it’s essentially a rehash of a style that relies too heavily on its own novelty to be particularly valuable.
More unworthy garbage keeps coming our way, the splatter pattern created after all the filth has hit the surface behind us is put into words in our Sadistic Metal Reviews.
Reverie – Bliss (2015)
With a band name like Reverie and a seemingly ironic album title like Bliss you might have expected postmodern post-indie shoegaze hipster black metal to roar and pounce at you like an enraged kitten, but luckily, we are met with something at the very least resembling a lion here; pity this one just so happens to not be the king of the jungle.
In homage to the oldest Bathory-tradition, we find Reverie struggling to bring hardcore punk and ominous metal harmonics into a vileful matrimony. Where Reverie, like most other modern exploits of this scheme fail, is in the insistence on very low-brow hooks and plodding “anti-cosmic” disharmonics which only further leads the listener astray from whatever good basic riff the song was initially edified around. Acoustic interludes and vapid diversity in riffs can’t overshadow the monotony that all songs eventually end up in – Imagine a less successful and inspired newer Autopsy, and you’d be close to what the songwriting sounds like for the most part.
There are shining, spirited moments, but if this band is to evolve beyond the hordes of Katharsis-clones, they still have years of sadistic refinement to come.
Arvas – Black Satanic Mysticism (2015)
If there’s something the modern black metal scene likes to fawn over, it’s music with empty calories -Excellent riffs, delectably prepared into a concoction without any lasting impressions. Black Metal has at this point made it into the realms of nostalgia, and genre-pandering releases such as this one clearly proves this. The music found here clearly harkens back to the glory days of the Norwegian early 90’s, but are so firmly entrenched in their own sentimentality that they miss the original explorative spirit of the genre.
Nothing on here is offensive, as background-music it is highly soothing and comforting for anyone already introduced into the genre, since it is so highly conscious not to disrupt its conventions. If you’re the kind of person that likes Choco Puffs for breakfast rather than a swordfight with your mortal enemy to the death, then this release might just be the one for you.
Dystopia Nå! – Dweller on the Threshold (2015)
What else does the modern underground cherish? High-functioning blenders. The ingredients aren’t all that important, as long as the blend is interesting and “unique”. Once we taste the results after the blend, we’ll go into denial over its real flavours, and instead gaze at the moon as it reflects our own ego shining bright ëíIím the only one who understands this! This is the new wave!íí
What is Dystopia Nå!? It’s Screamo and Nu-metal of the 2000’s with instrumentation and lacing from De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Ironic, depressive quotes rumble through the wall of sound and powerless anguished screams echo through chuggy deathcore breakdowns, but neither of these elements hold any gravitas whatsoever, even for the most unscrupulous of hipsters. Like all other depressive black metal/rock, this is professional duping of young indie girls into the new “edgy” trend. No soothing ëartfulí piano-interludes or post-rock guitars could save this abomination. Avoid.
Harrow – Fallow Fields (2015)
Some bands don’t even know how to be subtle and mask their blatant source-material. Harrow is a pure rip-off of more successful atmospheric/post-rock black metal bands, and it becomes obvious from the very first seconds of the first track.
If you have heard Agalloch, Kroda and Drudkh, you have heard the instrumental ingredients of this release, but never before has someone managed to achieve this level of tedium in the faux-ambient genre. Pass this one up, and you’ll get some extra time to listen to Hvis Lyset Tar Oss instead.
Vardan – Between the Fog and Shadows (2015
Droning minor chords for minutes on end, replete with “catchy” piano and synth-“bloops” akin to a new-wave pop band. The dominant theory in our contemporary music scene is that this drivel was conjured up by the evocative gloom of Burzum, but there we must vehemently disagree. This is a spawn of the same old ego that spawned Grateful Dead, Opeth and Liturgy, this time merely slapped unto a production that they think would sell with the lower echelon of the black metal hordes; incapable of distinguishing a duck from an ostrich. It worked ten years ago, and we’re still seeing bands such as Vardan cashing in on the plastic underground credibility to this day.
Trials – This Ruined World (2015)
The instrumental performance of Pantera amalgamated with metalcore production and composition, sprinkled with the most basic uninspired Metallica-worship gallop and Sepultura breakdown. What do we get? Imagine a cake concocted by a skilled chemist lacking any taste buds. Technically, it’s proficient, but the emperor wears no clothes, and even the most passing glance at this record might confirm this. I’m sure these fellows think their murky, crusty chugs mixed with catchy melodic death metal riffs and pop choruses was a top notch idea to get all the chicks on the beach, but I assure them that for this atrocity they’ll receive only personal embarrassment in the future.
SoulLine – Welcome My Sun (2015)
At some point in the mid-to-late 90’s, the term melodic death metal, once the moniker used for bands using the death metal labyrinth-riff through leitmotifs of recognizable melodies more so than percussive grounding, became usurped by the most twee of electro-pop bands, grunge-rejects and the burgeoning modern screamo and post-hardcore genres.
The band might define itself as a melodic death metal band, but one would be hard-pressed to find any differences in this material from your typical screamo/crunkcore-band. A band like Attack Attack will have the same moronic, oversimplified Pantera-grooves, monotone, emotionless vocals, random disco drums and pop structures with a slaphappy yet indignant “mad-at-father” choruses. The only differing elements are the chunkier metal production and the fact that there are a few more listless harmonies in the breakdowns. Melodic death metal is a sham, it has nothing to do with death metal, and just about anything labelled this after 1995 is a marketing ploy to get both the listless Cannibal Corpse-fans who will gobble up anything death metal-related for the “br00tal” street cred and the emo kids who’ve had enough of the bullying at school into bands like this in this putrid, yawn-inducing horror of a genre.
Shrapnel Storm – Mother War (2015)
Looking at this record superficially we see the image of a forsaken mother clutching a decayed baby as though it was all that was left for her in her life. The Apocalypse is raging all around in an urban environment and the future is bleak. This imagery has a striking resemblance to what crust punk constantly portrayed.
This is no accident. One of the bases for the Swedish death metal sound which this Finnish band pursues was this Discharge/Amebix-influence. The Stockholm HM-2 Boss guitar sound was the natural evolution of the bass-driven, gritty rasp that could be heard on Amebix releases as early as 1983’s Winter. Shrapnel Storm’s idea on how to elaborate on this legacy is to strip back the evolution of Swedish Death Metal one step further into the lost realm of Crust-bleakness where monotony and desolation rules. This is a valid endeavour and the result does predictably come off similar to a modernized, groovier version of what Deviated Instinct and Bolt Thrower did in the late 80’s.
There’s only one vital flaw: The music isn’t very engaging and hearkens back to Wolverine Blues and Welcome to the Orgy more than it does Left Hand Path and Arise!. Rather than exploring the ambiance that could be found in both of these genres when played with expertise, in actual content, Shrapnel Storm for the most part makes this seem like just another mediocre death-n-roll record rather than the potential their sound actually might possess.
If they drop the simple bluesy riffs, focus on the monotone but engaging crusty riffs, play around with song structures more you might actually find a worthwhile record from these guys sometime in the future, but for now, it’s not salvageable and we’re left with dull and mediocre riffs that go nowhere but straight into the bin.
Nihilosaur – Icebreaker Hope (2014)
Reminiscent of the overtly artsy post-death metal bands in Finland after the countries initial boom of creativity died out, this band tries to take death metal in an interesting direction, but ends up sounding like a mediocre Sludge Metal band with no clear direction on how to escape the forest of their own design.
Loud, buzzing bass-distortion and peculiar, sometimes Godflesh-like guitar-notes screech in the distance. But no one will listen, except for their mothers who assure that they’re as special and unique as ever. The main differing factor between Godflesh or other quirky but successful bands like Carbonized and this is ultimately the fact that Nihilosaur merely know how to take you on an obscure journey through industrial film noir-visuals, but then leave they leave you with no satisfying conclusion. It starts and ends with a vortex of randomness where listlessness is king.
This is the Mulholland Drive of death metal, it wishes it was Voivod or other narrative bands, but for this fairytale, the narrator has long been asleep at the wheel, never to be found again. Good riddance.
Minority Sound – Drowner’s Dance (2015)
Did you ever want Marilyn Manson with a bit more EBM, injected with leftover riffs from Megadeth Risk album to then be spiced with movie soundtrack electronic orchestras, desperately trying to inject some novelty into the tween-metal? No? You elitist bigot!
The band is definitely more instrumentally competent than most in the industrial metal genre but like other novel bands like Babymetal the music is pop music on steroids, disguised as an ironic, competent “new” take on metal. If the fair is too expensive for you but you still want that roaring deluge of incomprehensible, meaningless sounds and images to barrage before your senses and this might be just right for you.
Lothlöryen – Principles of a Past Tomorrow (2015)
The trouble with the modern power metal genre is its overwhelming mediocrity, where the bulk of the music sounds like pop music on speed conjured up by the high from their own auto-effluvial sniffings. It is truly a rare gift to see anything even resembling what Iron Maiden could achieve with the beginnings of this sound in the mid-80ís. But that’s Is a story for another time.
This isn’t utterly horrific by modern power metal standards, it’s just so average that it could be any tired Blind Guardian-influenced attire shuffling through the fog for an original approach to songwriting that isn’t copy-pasted from an early Helloween album. The occasional EBM interlude and gimmicky parody of a Celtic major-driven song-and-dance isn’t doing this already stillborn record any favours – the only favour I can ask of the band members to do for themselves would be to stop wasting valuable plastic on this insipid tripe. That, or move to Finland, join a Polka-troupe and finally kill themselves.
Crown – Natron (2015)
Indie rock will always find new aesthetic means to plague us and infest any worthwhile medium of creative composition. They will perpetuate Shakespeare’s legacy as if it were Comic Sans in their vain vision of art.
What does this new incarnation bring us? Well, the black rider in the night wears the robes of sludge/doom metal of the lowest caliber, laced with post-rock and industrial clichès. If you’re a fan of pseudo-prog of the last decade but would like it artsier, “spiritually deeper”, more Agalloch-infused and Rammstein-attuned, then this might be for you. Mind you, you would have had to have lost your taste buds ages ago if you find that sounding remotely palatable, so I’m sure you’ll gobble it up like a any fine happy meal from the garbage bin.
Locrian – Infinite Dissolution (2015)
As the album initiates its sonic onslaught, we are at first greeted with something resembling early Godflesh, but with a more derivative, flaccid production. Where will this lead us? I’ll tell you where, to post-rock and Wolves In the Throne Room-tedium. The industrial aesthetic attempt to hide the fact that this is the same tired quasi-ambient formula where emotionless “emotional” sounds roll unto the listener until a barrage of harmonic, almost Liturgy-like random melodic throwaways strikes as if it is the only path for the music to take, until it dies a tragic death in reflection of its own hubris.
This pattern is repeated throughout the entire record. It’s clear that they want to be Drudkh 2.0 and some of the slower melodies hold some meagre musical merit, but the approach and composition is botched with no saving grace to be found. Avoid or fall into oblivion, as is the fate of this album.
Credit where credit is due: The album title perfectly describes how focused the composition is on the record.
Sonick Plague – Street Wars (2015)
An 80’s speed metal band, forgotten by time and space, decide to make a new record almost 30 years after being out of business. One can wonder if anyone ever found their output special to begin with, as what we find here is something akin to early Megadeth without any substantial riff variation and a latter-day groove metal influence, pedalling in these similar motifs that don’t go much further than tying themselves up in a nice enough fashion. This is the barcode for mediocre, it might get them some high fives from their friends at the pub that they haven’t met since the late 80’s, but to the general public this is as forgettable as they come.
Funebria – In Dominus Blasfemical Est… Ad Noctum Sathania (2015)
Some bands are only after the lipstick and aesthetics. Funebria is a Venezuelan black metal band that despite their best efforts, come off as a modern melodic death metal/metalcore act with dynamics borrowed from Marduk and Cradle of Filth. They try their best to disguise this under raw, simplistic war metal lyrics and scene pandering, but for the discerning ear this is as vapid as the latest Dimmu Borgir albums, unfortunately for this album however, they lack even the instrumental proficiency of the latter. Let this abortion sink into the depths that their doted Ea might give them a final mercy kill so we might never hear such belligerently tedious music ever again.
Note: Oddly, this sounds like “Fun”+ “ebria” (drunk in Spanish).
Black Metal: European Roots & Musical Extremities
Edited by Troy Southgate
200 pages, Black Front Press, $20
From the snow-covered environs of Norway and secluded graveyards of England to the dark forests of Germany and remote woodlands of Poland and Ukraine, an unstoppable Black Metal beast has dominated the extreme end of the musical scale for more than two decades.
Black Metal is an aesthetic, an emotion, an attitude and, for many, a way of life. Exposing the inner workings of your delicate eardrums to unbridled screams of primeval fury, an unending torrent of galloping rhythms and indomitable wall of buzzing guitars is like being thrown head-first into the whirling eye of a chthonic vortex. Black Metal can be disturbing, invigorating, provoking and empowering. One persistent and enduring image that is often associated with Black Metal is that of semi-comedic corpse-paint, futile church-burnings and Satanic ritual; but the genre itself can often take on a decidedly political and cultural form and many of its exponents have controversial views and opinions that are frequently overlooked by the commentators of the underground music industry.
We aim to examine some of those tendencies in Black Metal: European Roots & Musical Extremities. Ever since Varg Vikernes was courting media headlines for all the wrong reasons, Black Metal – like a fine wine, perhaps – has matured a great deal. The steady process of counter-cultural ripening has led to the formation of various sub-genres, among them Viking Metal, Progressive Black Metal, Blackened Death Metal, Symphonic Black Metal and National Socialist Black Metal.
So whether you like your Black Metal traditional and ground-breaking like Venom, Bathory and Hellhammer; raw and brutal like Mayhem, Emperor and Immortal; slick and polished like Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir and Old Man’s Child; or politically controversial like Graveland, Drudkh and Absurd; this book is for you.
- Troy Southgate
- Tony ‘The Demolition Man’ Dolan (Venom/Atomkraft/M-Pire of Evil)
- Jeff ‘Mantas’ Dunn (Venom/Mantas/M-Pire of Evil)
- Hendrik Möbus (Absurd)
- Alex Kurtagic (Supernal Records)
- Jarl von Hagall (Der Stürmer)
- Alexander Wieser (Uruk-Hai)
- William Vithólf (Fanisk)
- Gareth Giles (Hrafnblóð)
- Matt Kay (Wodfreca Records)
- Vijay Prozak/DeathMetal.org
- Elena Semenyaka
- Erik Proft
- Smierc Polarstern
- Neil Hiatt
- Nils Wegner
- Chris G. Hicks
Signed copies of Black Metal: European Roots & Musical Extremities are now available to pre-order. The book will be around 200 pages in length and costs just £15 with free postage to anywhere in the world. The Paypal address is:
Editor’s note: this originally appeared in issue #3 of the zine “voices wake us…” (“Voices Wake Us…” Zine. $1ppd. email@example.com) but it can be disseminated freely so long as this notice remains intact.
Questions by “Voices Wake Us…” Zine.
Answers by MkM (vokillz).
First off, what is your name and what part do you play in the band (instrument or vocals, etc.)?
vokalist, disease holder of AntaeuS. Satanik stigmata & preacher of the Void. 27 years old up to this day, non dead to most humans. Frontman & main voice for AntaeuS, I do speak for Him.
Now to the real questions. Black Metal’s legendary “first wave” included so many legendary bands like Mayhem, Darkthrone, and Immortal. Many conclude that the evolution of BM ceased after this period, so what do you think Antaeus’ relation is to the progression of the art? Is it justifiable to be merely more extreme? Can anything be added to the music at this point that has not been done already?
Black Metal does mix both ideology & musick, on this level, I would have to point out that most of nowadays bands have no linkz with the real meaning of this Art.Immortal never really took part of the bm kult, though their sound is very similar, their concept would be more based on northern landscapes, while bands like dark throne & mayhem had a more nihilitic death feels to the lyrikz & the aura was a bit more depressive in most cases.
We are payin hommage to those bands of the second wave, for their dedication in the early days & the message they did spread. We do evolve in the same vein, we hold the same message & our speech is based on hatred, denial of life & anything that would be related to “holyness” any religions wise, anything “human” related would be a target.
Black metal = SataN in its most strikt vision, we here speak of death, total death & the praise of the vortex that would swallow all. Though the utopia of such an ending is known of us, we do work in this way, spreading our disease & disgust of life and the concept related to it.
Sound wise, we are more extreme than the suscited bands, we couldn’t perform the same of art, for multiple reasons : we do breed violence more than depression (as individuals) & we do perform what we are & breath. The band is composed of 5 individuals more or less evolving on the Hate path. Me & Set being at the forefront of this, & since we are the main composer (him for the music & I being the sole responsible for any lyrikz & propaganda), we are the trademark of AntaeuS.
Also our approach is more destruktive than the “90s” gloomy approach of darkness, while they were opening gates of despair, we are opening gates of torment & pain.
Both are as effective, I truely find my inspiration in both, but violence is our key, our vektor.
Feel his pulse through us.
We are one stone of the edifice.
Black Metal is like a kathedral of Hate, it is not a question of evolution, the “evil”ution within takes place within the rankz of devotee evolving & praising the kult.
You have expressed dissatisfaction with the Cut Your Flesh and Worship Satan album as being too rushed in the studio. To me, I can say I do not think it harms the record and adds to the urgency of the album. However, you have a new album coming out and will this be different and in what way a “representation” of the band that we have not already seen?
Somehow you are right, now that the album is older to my ears (two years or so) I get to listen to it in different perspectives, not rekalling all the shitty detailz about its conception & its spreading.CYFAWS was a gathering of mostly old trackz, like demos & reh tracks, all gathered on the same full lenght. Only one track never appeared anywhere before the cd release (though I am not even too sure about that now, I should check the live tape on chanteloup creations…) also the cd had three different rekording on it, which was a bit messy & made it sound more like a recollection than anything else.
Now, I think that baphomet did allow the band to put all together the most efficient earlier track of the band (inner war, devotee, nihil khaos…) but a rerecording of the whole album would have been best, now that would be the main complain about this lp.
Also this album did cost us a lot of money, but I do not fool myself, it is the same way for many bands around here, still having labels to cash on your work without being fair to the band is something I will never tolerate. That made me freak out, the band never got a fuckin cent out of the sale of the band, considering it did reach around 3000 copies (which is amazing to us, we never expected this much) one could easily guess that we got massively fucked on this one.
DE PRINCIPII EVANGELIKUM the newest release presents a more compact release, being composed on a two years basis, the whole has a more “united” strukture & lyrikz wise, that did allow me to have something fully solid. This time the lyrikz are included, I had the time to type all in time so people will finally get to understand what lies behind antaeus, though it will remain obscure to most or simply fucked up.
DPE is less easy to get into, it took me a few month to get into some trackz myself, having one hell of a hard time to lay vokalz on those & get the whole strukture in the reh’ room
The band does reh’ around 6/7 hours per week in the reh’ room & more when we get nearer to live exp or studio rekording. We get ridd off a lot of material, our work is very serious & we are making sure to have the most efficient offering to the black metal kult.
I think that one thing that would lack on DPE would be the intro sektion that are truely important to me, this time the drummer & I did lack time to meet & do something of my taste, that is my main “negative critic” to the new album. Next release shall see a return to those sonic landscapes & all the frustration that did hide behind those.
Many BM bands are one-person projects (Burzum, Bathory, Taake, Krieg, Ildjarn, eventually Emperor, and at times Darkthrone). What is the band construct of Antaeus? How does the song-writing process work and who does most of the “legwork” for the band, ie: setting up gigs and record-related business. Any comments on past members or development of the band over time?
You would mention there strongminded individuals that had one hard time finding the right members to perform their art with, or simply couldn’t deal with others, due to ego conflikts.I was just a session member in the early days, being too busy with my zine & my distribution (& my former band)
When AntaeuS turned into a virus in me, I felt like it had to evolve further than the limitations that the main man back then had for it. I think that all took shape when I got hold of all the strukture of AntaeuS, getting set as main guitarist was the best move ever, since we have known each other for years & we had the same musikal taste (for the early 90s sound, nowadays we tend to listen to different aktz yet our basis are the same).
Drum wise, we decided to get ridd off the drum machine & never changed since.
Bass & rythm guitar wise, we might have had more than 20 different members within the band, but in 98 we did finally find the right one, being also involved in Eternal Majesty with whom we did a split demo back then. I did know them since they were working a lot with SPIKEKULT (since their first demo, “dark empire”).
Since then, the line up is perfekt & all of us are united & work on the musikal struktures.
For all the rest, interviewz, ideals, propaganda, kontaktz, ALL is done by me & me only. Mostly due to the fact that I am the only one speakin & writtin in english.
That does take a lot of my time, due to this I did stop all others implications (my zine, other bands & even spikekult for some months/years).
We do not seek gigs really, since conditions are always fuckin ridiculous or awful, I try to avoid to the max getting to play live, though we had two or three great shows since 94; mostly over the two past years.
Getting gas money & some beers seems to be the VERY best we could get in europe, even if we perform in front of 300 people… the cost to rent a place is so high that none could ever pay the band.
A couple reviews I’ve read of CYFaWS, while positive, have accused the band of not bringing anything new to the table. Stylistically, I would say that Antaeus is a) faster (I’d say only Krieg is as fast), b) more “grind”, c) less atmospheric, d) more brutal and divided into penetrating structures of noise than in an “epic” sense of many bands. Agree? What is the aesthetic you are going for here, other than just “fast.” Because it is definitely a unique and not just a retro sound.
I do agree with those reviewz, still we never did claim to bring anything to new, so I sometimes wonder why we are accused of that, just like we were lyin about it.True, we are faster, though I would use “more brutal” instead, since speed for itself doesn’t mean much to us, tons of swedish bands are playin hyper fast, but both the drumz & riffs are without any effects on the listener.
Brutality & Hate are the main faktors in AntaeuS sound, we do hold this pulse & seek to create such aura within any rekording of ours.
Our epic approach might be linked to the tension we do put in the rekordin process.
The grind aspect cannot be denied as well, musik wise, some bands are truely unique to me, but the message, most of the time, would be simply ridiculous or be the opposite of my ideas.
Older grind bands had more of a dark or sick approach compared to today’s fun/gore/political bands.
Hate is a large concept of the band. Does this reach over into politics at all? Many BM are clearly fascist, a politics based on hate, while others are nihilistic (and in that sense, partially anarchistic). Views of politics in yourself and in the scene?
Hate is anywhere, but most politics would serve some instead of others, while we support the death of ALL; all those fascist bands are always a source of interrogation in my kamp. All those linked to black metal & openly using both the sigils of SataNism & those of Nazism are creating a nonsense to me.the nihilistic part is often dealing with one hope for a brighter future, built on the ashes of nowadays society & values.
I do not have any hope of this kind, the only hope I have is tattooed on my chest.
Let’s go back on the nonsense, I don’t care about NS bands as long as they are not linked with black metal. Politics would limit the initial meaning of black metal.
NSBM seems more serious to the young than the “inverted cross”, since it would represent something more “socially involved”, having to deal with values that would be more “linked” to todays world & having more impact due to the importance of sigils (ie : the use of swastika or SS sigils are full of meaning & related to happening that took place less than a century ago). Politics are giving black metal a more “humanistic” approach, which I don’t really understand. I would understand sadistik exekution using SS symbols or funeral mist for their vision of death in general, but as far as “human values” are involved, I simply don’t get it.
Any individuals mixin bm with ns should realize that there is already a scene for that, anything metal related is more or less viewed as “outcast” due to the code of life (destruktive, alcohol, aggression)…
anyway when I think of those teens doing “sieg heil” here & there with their beers & long hair, they would be among the first to enter the gas kamp that does make me laugh
Death is the main goal anyway.
In what sense is Antaeus a “do it yourself” band that controls the aspects of recording, promotion, management, and production itself? You are clearly dedicated to the underground, but many people are not familiar with the metal underground as much as the more-established and cohesive American punk underground. How does the underground work and how much is Antaeus a separate entity from outside control and influence of labels, promoters, etc?
A would be my band then, since I would be responsible for most of those aspects.Being honest, I am not too aware of the punk scene, though got to meet up with some labels from around here pressing punk vinylz & their scene seemed much more “supportive” & less “inner war” in between labels & so on. I might have a wrong of it though.
I would be totally dedicated to one aspect of the ug scene, which I could describe as the only real scene, with true sick freakz & not wannabes & morons of any kind that would pollute the bm kult.
those idiots are numerous & for the past years, I would have spent way too much time on those inbreed fags instead on workin on my code of life & supporting what had to be supported with the scene (bands & labels wise). Now we are viewed as traitors to most, since we did sign to Osmose.
Osmose allows us a studio rekording budget & having the whole distribution in their hand, I could never deal with that myself, my daily job takes around 50 hours per week now (compared to 70 h per week for last year) which makes it nearly impossible to cope with the mail & any correspondance in general. Even reh’ with the band got closed to impossible for me. All is getting better now, but as far as I am concerned, if A didn’t sign to Osmose, all would have stopped. I couldn’t go on paying 300 usd per month for the band, not having enough to cope for my own living cost.
Now we do loose less cash, but we still loose. So when I get to read that we did become fucking rockstars or sell out, I might ask to whom did we sell out???
A band selling 5000 copies (which even ain’t our case) could never live out of it, I am sure that you are aware of that, but many readers out there that did write us do think that we do earn enough money with the band to live with….
It was ok to reply to those questions the first years, but after a while, it killed me that most people wouldn’t get how it workz…
But hell, we are talking about fuckin labels detailz & how bands are getting fucked most of the time
Right now with Osmose, all is doing ok, we just did spend around 400 usd for this one, (lay out & mastering) since we did excess a bit the budget allowed for the studio rekording.
How is the French “scene?” Are there many bands, zines, or venues to play in? Are there a lot of posers?
Scene in france is not my fave subjekt, I did support many bands from around here in the past, being proud of my “local scene”, but all those bands did fuckin backstabb us for no reasons or so. “allies of today are the backstabbers of tomorrow”, thus I don’t mention too much about bands from around here.There is a fair deal of akts though, most of them are amateurish to the core & spending more time in front of camera or doing shirtz than working on the musikal parts.
All of them are envious little morons who are offended when they realize it is not that “easy” to have a cd out. They all think that demos are useless & that the underground is just a chat room on the net.
For the older ones, we had either conflikts with them or totally different views.
Apart from a few dozen individual in the whole france, we don’t get along too much with individuals from around here.
I had my fair deal of war around here.
In the newer band ; dark opus & aosoth are among my faves
DEATHSPELL OMEGA must be the ultimate black metal band the traditionnal way. END ALL LIFE is without any doubt the best vinyl bm label, they must have by now the CYFAWS on lp out, & that is one Honour for us to be on that label.
Zines? well 666 is the best in the extreme bm/dm way, eternal fire was killer too but defunct (or simply no newz from them since long), stregoica was kult in its dayz, now they are doing ordealis rekords which is very promising (killer work from their part), deadfuckinchurch is a good zine but he said that his final issue will be the next…
Some distro are great too, like paleur mortelle & warchangel.
AntaeuS will have a split 10″ with AOSOTH on Paleur Mortelle (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the comin month btw.
Gigs wise, the audience is way better than any us gigs that I got to visit (& I had my fair deal of us deals over the three or four stayz I did over there), we usually get from 150 to 400 nowadays, but places are not so numerous & each venues does cost around 2000 to 3000 usd to rent for a night, with such prices, no bands would get any payment, asking for gas payment is already a dream for bands.
Due to that, in 2001, antaeus only performed live Once.
We did perform a bit more over the past months, with bands like nargaroth, taake, enthroned, eternal majesty…
The last hellish gig we did do was in Paris with taake & enthroned, our best set ever since 2001
In nov 002 we will be among the opening bands for the DEICIDE european tour, we shall desecrate new countries & I do expekt that tour I must say.
It’s nothing you’d understand, but I do have something to say. In fact, I have a lot to say, but now is not the time or place. I don’t know why I’m wasting my time or breath. But what the hell? As for what is said of my life, there have been lies in the past and there will be lies in the future. I don’t believe in the hypocritical, moralistic dogma of this so-called civilized society. I need not look beyond this room to see all the liars, haters, the killers, the crooks, the paranoid cowards — truly trematodes of the Earth, each one in his own legal profession. You maggots make me sick — hypocrites one and all. And no one knows that better than those who kill for policy, clandestinely or openly, as do the governments of the world, which kill in the name of God and country or for whatever reason they deem appropriate. I don’t need to hear all of society’s rationalizations, I’ve heard them all before and the fact remains that what is, is. You don’t understand me. You are not expected to. You are not capable of it. I am beyond your experience. I am beyond good and evil, Legions of the night — night breed — repeat not the errors of the Night Prowler and show no mercy. I will be avenged. Lucifer dwells within us all. That’s it.
– Richard Ramirez
Most BM has diverged into “symphonic,” commercial crap. I’m sure you have some ventings on bands like this (Dimmu Borgir, Anorexia Nervosa, Ancient), or on “retro” bands like Dark Funeral. To many, Black Metal must remain underground and elite, and yet within it are elements that are more palatable to the masses- a band like Immortal proving that BM can be commodified over time. Thoughts on this phenomenon in Black Metal?
Like anywhere, when you get an artistic style that would be perceived as elitist & underground, one will have the wish to “extand” it on a different level, for various reasons.Some considers that the message should not be limited to one handful of individuals
some seems to think that they would sell more rekords having an “evil” image Some just find it “cool” to use such imagery Others are living the black metal kult, on a daily basis.
Music wise, I am closed minded when it comes to black metal, not opening myself too much to new genres, though I did try to pay attention to all those bands poppin up & crossing goth, indus & so on with black metal.
I must admit that diabolicum & mysticum were the only one that did match my expektations when it comes to the aura created.
On the other level, I also pay attention to the “performers”, for example : Anorexia Nervosa is often quoted as fag band, mostly due to the COF sounding of the musick. But on a personal level, the frontman is really a sicko & is among those few individuals I consider. Yet he would be a bit too much “rock n roll” sometimes eh too much drugz & autodestruction for me (which does provide a smile, that does you an idea on how fucked the man can be) aktually I think that when you get to meet him, he would be more in his place belongin to sadistik exekution than anorexia (musick wise) Ancient & dimmu borgir never made it to me, not even one track from their early days (the ep of ancient was ok though).
You did qualify some elements of black metal as “palatable” for the masses, yet we have to redefine masses then, since those masses would be the “extreme metal scene” which is not that wide, only a few thousands people I would say.
Not something that could be play on the air of any local radio show & musical tv shows or whatever. We are not dealing with “pop” music. But I do agree, black metal did sadly evolve to a wider audience & that doesn’t mean that the real audience did grow bigger, just that it did expand to people that simply don’t get a clue of what real black metal is about.
Having some individuals to compare napalm death to dark throne amazes me… the only link between those bands is mostly in the instruments used & some beats. (& some would kill me for the “rythm” comparaison)
Anyway, on our level, like other bands, we remain an underground band, you will most likely always find “cyfaws” & “dpe” on cd format, but we will go on doing limited tapes & vinylz. Only for those few sick ones that are also the pulse of the band.
It does mean a lot to us to be supported by like minded individuals, band members or zine editors or just listeners.
I do not get much letters in that vein, but with those few with whom we share visions, getting to read some comments on AntaeuS work is always rewarding.
Our satanik audio violence would be a weapon & only some individuals know how to handle it & how to view it properly.
Carcass or Bolt Thrower? Pick one.
Fuck… Bolt Thrower
at least they didn’t change & “cenotaph” is an instant classic for me, such as the “in the battle there is no law” lp. carcass had amazing trackz but fuckin wimped out too much for my taste.
When can we expect the new album (on Osmose, right?) and will there ever be an American tour??
the new rekordin shall be out on sept 23rd in europe, so obviously a bit later in the usa, osmose doesn’t have a distributor over there I think, so most releases are available mostly through ug mailorders & so on. I doubt one will find it as easily as CYFAWS over there. I seriously doubt on the american tour thing, though I wish we could go over there & perform with bands like black witchery, thornspawn, krieg, demoncy, gbk & so on. Since we are doing a european tour for “DPE” in november, as opening band for Deicide, I am not nearly sure that no tour will happen until the next release (the third album that is).Having us on a european tour would mean getting the band on a bigger “bill”, having an headlining band that could make it possible. As of now, I have no big expectation about a us tour, since it seems nearly impossible, we are not “selling” enough to be pushed that way.
The Deicide tour is already something really expensive.
In the future, who knowz? but I wouldn’t be surprised if the band never gets to perform over there.
Bands like marduk, satyricon & others took forever to go to the other continent & most of the time, itz like a money vortex more than anything else.
Time shall tell, we still have to perform over here first, that is our territory & we haven’t visited more than three countries as of now (which would be like performin in three different states for a us bands).
To you, what is most important in sustaining black Metal into the coming years, as it is increasingly an “endangered” form of music?
I see it that way : Evil will never dies, it might change shape, as long as some form of Art will be dedicated to its “grandeur”, I see no problem with itBlack Metal has somehow a more raw approach to it, a darker incarnation meant to appeal to more extreme masses, thus a minority of individuals are truely meant to understand fully the concept behind this genre.
Black metal is nowadays marketed as a musical genre only, with gimmicks to help the sales. Many bands did take the opportunity to rise using those “eye catching” ideas related to black metal.
Your top 5 BM records?
DarkThrone “a blaze in the northern sky”
Funeral Mist “devilry”
Katharsis “666” + “red eye of wrath” demo
Blasphemy “fallen angel of doom”
Beherit “D. down the moon” (& oath of the black blood)those are the ultimategettin near to that, I’d add sadistik exekution (all releases), profanatica, demoncy, krieg… I’d easily give 20 names that would represent the whole list of bands I really support…. Giving 30 names would be impossible though. not enough bands have individuals matchin the right ideology one should have within the bm scene.
Thanks for the interview! Good luck on your upcoming record and in the inevitable Satanic victory over the forces of light. Have a nice day
Forces of Light are forces of lies as well, they are their own failure & we shall be the witness & the temptation for them.Take a look in the abyss & the abyss will stare back at you
For we hold the ultimate void, we shall go on, we are Omega.
Once again the streams of ancient songcraft from the kantele of Finnish past extended their freezing grasp across the ages to bring death-skalds from around the world to gather in a morbid mass of heavy sound at Dante’s Highlight, Helsinki, on the wake of the massively successful event one year ago headlined by the supreme warmongers Blasphemy and Revenge. As if gripped by demiurgish megalomania the organizers deemed that two days of black/death hybrids and Blasphemy clones are not enough, this time the event spanned three nights of violence, bloodshed and alcohol while the weak were trampled upon the mossy floor of the woodlands.
The gates of Dante’s church opened wide for the worshipers to enter in the middle of the busy workweek of the middle class, but true to the ethos of Death Metal, it didn’t stop the venue from being filled to the brim with headbangers ’til the late AM hours. The attendance of underground gigs in Finland, especially near the capital area, has steadily grown from the meager cult of the 90′s and this contributes to the possibility of gig organizers to summon up massive events the likes of which are unknown probably everywhere else but Germany and USA. By all criteria, three nights of underground death metal mostly in a similar sub-style is an overdose but we couldn’t help but step up to the challenge. Even though the day already had included work, exercise and painting, I dragged my sorry ass up to the venue to get brutalized by the sounds of the foreign bands who deemed to come across the seas to herald the apocalyptic messages of old school Death Metal once again.
Vorum and Neutron Hammer from Finland are decent bands, but I didn’t care enough to try fitting their ritual into the schedule since plenty of chances to observe them await the locals. While traveling through the nocturnal cityspace, which always seems to bring forward a more grey, industrial, overcast threat when Metal is imminent, I inadvertently also lost the chance to see UK’s Craven Idol, reputedly a doomy, crisp and unpretentious massacre. I did get to see Diocletian‘s more old school incarnation Witchrist though, who spent about an hour conjuring a tempo-flipping contrast between Doom and Grind much like the forte of Finnish cult classic Rippikoulu, except lacking for one thing: intricate melody. Without it, the maiming down tuned web of chords seemed like a mockery of the modern war metal ethos with its Black Witchery spawned “street credible” ghetto hoodie “evilness”; lacking a dimension where essential things are said. Tough without purpose, the heartless spawn of urban netherworlds.
The wait for the main band of the evening, for this reviewer the main band of the entire festival, was torturously long since the Californians Sadistic Intent had but just arrived on their star-crossed flight and carefully proceeded with their soundcheck, as if carefully honing their weapons for the one and only decisive battle. At this point the atmosphere at the venue was expectant but relaxed, much less strung than the hysterical chaos that gripped even the most balanced partygoer in the insanity of 2009. When the sadists got their shit together, there was no evading the invincible force of Death Metal roaring from the stage. Sadistic Intent, who never released a full-length album in their career, had nevertheless realized the essence of Death Metal better than all those blackened bands of the 2000′s who were too caught up in “necro” manifestations of ghastly pallor; this band breathed energy, blasted away as if it was the world’s final hour. One of the central pillars of Sadistic Intent’s dark symphony was the sharply dynamic percussion work of Emilio Marquez, though we must not forget the clarity and precision of Rick Cortez’ and Ernesto Bueno’s dueling guitars. Through this band, the young audience glimpsed a mighty vision of the history of 80′s underground metal, with all its sensible and senseless implications – to me, it meant much more than the routine Morbid Angel gig in this land two years ago. –Devamitra-
This sound is no Nirvana
When arriving at Dante’s, I couldn’t help but feeling this visitation was to only a regular festival in the Finnish capital, for so strongly the walls of the old church emitted still the atmosphere of madness from the Blasphemy live ritual a year ago. That being said, it was time to commence the forthcoming aural hammerings. I didn’t see the beginning act, Stench of Decay, due to overlap in my tactical schedule. Them being a domestic act, I presume many more chances of seeing them in the future. Maveth didn’t ring any bells before the festival, and being the quick replacement for perhaps my most anticipated act personally, Cauldron Black Ram, I felt somewhat disappointed and in the end, Maveth doesn’t ring any even now after the whole event! Next up was Grave Miasma, who delivered their material as well as they could, I believe. Their precise playing and overall presence pretty much reflected the visions I have had from their “Exalted Emanation” EP. Even the sounds of the venue, in some odd way, seemed to back up their aural pathworking in the catacombs of darkness.
The muddy sound seemed to haunt all the bands during the three nights and not everyone profited from its nature. Mainly the rhythm and tempo of the bands seemed to dictate the clarity and catchiness of the acts, if one was without better acquaintance of the material being performed. This facet of reality added a huge positive impact into Hooded Menace‘s first live appearance, for their slower, blind-dead-worshiping, doomy metal profited from the overall muddiness of the sound, and structure-wise, concerning the night’s band line-up, their gig acted as a very functional breathing space between the other, more faster majority of bands, while Karnarium played their Swedish death metal of which I had only a few short experiences beforehand. The wickedness of live situations is that even though some bands do sound quite all right from their recordings, the reality of the gig can be just the opposite. All elements are right, but for some reason, the whole thing just doesn’t deliver. Unfortunately this was the case with Karnarium.
Although I expected things from Excoriate, their act suffered from the shitty sound at Dante’s and the whole gig just entirely passed me by, while my comrades praised their straight-forward deathrash brutality and merciless un-pretentious playing. Maybe I get to witness them again at some point in time and space. Also meeting an incognito man of mystery, who bribed me with a 7″ EP of best Finnish death metal and oversees the Finnish underground scene and the happenings from the shadows of the European Union committee, might have added an element of disturbance into following the deeds of the Germaniac necromancers. Nirvana 2002‘s classical Swedish death metal sound echoed throughout the church as the last act of Friday. I was a little suspicious about them being just another band riding the reunion wave. After the gig I really couldn’t tell if it was so. Maybe to some it served as a good soundtrack to beer-drinking, to some it might have refreshed the memories of the early scene of Sweden, and the band seemed to enjoy playing – might have been a reaction to the audience’s reaction. I guess that those not into the Swedish sound didn’t really get much out of Nirvana 2002, although they were supposed to be the very headlining act of the evening. –SS Law-
Towards the mist-enshrouded Infinity
For those who have not inhaled anything like the cold, northern atmospheres of Finland, it’s possible that they have never really taken a breath at all and filled their lungs with so much ancient mystery and natural purity. That these primordial dimensions of the Finnish experience could give rise to such canonical works of the Metal underground as are unquestionably from this realm, in all their brutal and grotesque yet contemplative and spiritual totality, is a unique and unsurprising fact. To be in the company of two proud Finns, journeying through eerie woods of twisted fractal forms, landscapes that crumble before the sea to be swallowed by sinister mists, and sites of the unknown dead, buried by millenia and rocks is nothing short of an education in the origins of Finnish Death Metal. An education that would close with the ultimate but unofficial final statement of this 3-day long Black Mass Ritual, taught by true professors of unholy metaphysics.
The doors of Dante were already wide open and broadcasting the buzz of hordes and other indeterminable bestial sounds from deep within, as one more apocalyptic night of darkness and chaos was underway. The bloodstained figures of Cruciamentum were the first band to be witnessed onstage as their set was nearing it’s end. The familiar polish and precision to their otherwise rumbling riffs, like a more rhythmical Grave Miasma, would be a sign that the sound of the venue would be favourable to this kind of band who played according to a careful dynamic framework, only to leave the blasting War Metal legions that comprised the middle-era of the evening struggling to convey their manifestos with enough clarity to lead any would-be army into battle. Blasphemophager from Italy followed with a set that would epitomise all the technical difficulties of the festival, with a lengthy period of being at odds with the sound before finally commencing their angry and drunken attack; a musical mess but nevertheless potent in the way the band creates a time-travelling vortex of sound, caught between the war worship of Blasphemy and the tropical heat of 80′s Death/Thrash from Brazil. Though not as peturbed by the failings of technology, Diocletian‘s sound would receive no favours from the set-up, with the indistinct noise of raging guitars falling short a much needed quality in this type of band, to justify their existence apart from the countless others who cast global nuclear omens. If there was any positive element of these New Zealanders’ performance, it lies exclusively with the hands and feet of their drummer, an expert in militaristic precision and the cascade of bombed city ruins and rubble.
With civilisation’s demise at least envisioned in some form, the time of more abyssic and introspective prognostications had arrived in the form of the legendary Death Metal band from Loimaa, Demigod, to once again reveal the eternal fate of all mankind. With all but a session guitarist returning as the force that channelled the transcendental ‘Slumber of Sullen Eyes’ album – one of the undisputed masterpieces of the genre – this was something of a special moment for anybody who recognises the importance of Finnish Death Metal and as the introductory keyboard motif of ‘Apocryphal’ finally sounded, this was the signal that the atmosphere of the venue was metamorphosising into a Dead Can Dance state of mystical curiosity. The band’s near perfect, though slightly re-ordered rendition of the album was a masterclass in riffcraft and energy as only the most elite Finns know how to deliver, demonstrating control over the requirements of their complex sound. Most notoriously is their penchant for disharmony which gives the songs their expansive and cosmic sense of beauty, as the blasphemy and discord of tearing down layers of ignorance and the control of human terror only serves to reveal the awakened visions of reality. Closing the set with the ‘Slumber of Sullen Eyes’ song itself, echoing those final words behind the mists of eternity, Demigod had completed a mesmerising and what should have been a headlining performance and dispelled all memories of the last couple of albums associated with this band.
Having shown all the young guys how to do it, even with an aging roster of musicians, Demigod entrusted the stage to one of the few worthy inheritors of true Death Metal spirit that remains in this current age. Greece’s Dead Congregation provided a highly competent and tightly delivered set that surprised the fuck out of the entranced onlookers. The sound was well-balanced enough to facilitate both the most crushing riffs and otherworldly ambiences, showing the strength of melodic composition as spectral leads passed through songs like an occultic storm of neutrinos. Dead Congregation demonstrated how they excel where other bands in this style fall straight into insignificance, putting many acts on this bill in their places. However, holding the supreme position on this night, as the night grew old and entered the early hours of a new day, Necros Christos had the daunting task of not just following two excellent bands, one being exceptional, but also risked lulling the entire audience into a deep sleep. Perhaps it could be said that they did just that, but with confidence and morbid intent, grasping the reins of the creeping, collective subconscious and transporting the entire venue to distant lands and times where the revelations of Hebrew gods are oppresed by the rule of tyrannical death-worshippers. Even Dante’s mists turned into a deep sandstorm as the cyberchrist-like figure of Mors Dalor Ra addressed the bloody, brainwashed crowds and launched into the sardonic dirges of the ‘Triune Impurity Rites‘, while introducing the promising and lengthy compositions from the upcoming Doom of the Occult. This veteran act concluded the night’s ritual with a sense of overwhelming evil power, regality and clarity, leaving the hordes to disassemble in a daze of hypnosis. A fitting end to the festival, and definitely justifying Necros Christos’ headlining status. Only the blackness of the morning unlight remained, to disappear into the mists where, in the words of Amorphis, “men can realise the meaning of life”.
Written by Pearson, Devamitra and ObscuraHessian
All historical events at some stage pertain to a barrier, or a Rubicon that when crossed marks a watershed in the life cycle of an organism in which an achievement cannot be matched in terms of it’s overall qualities. In particular instances, these successes are such that what succeeds can only be a steady decline, or an outcome that pales in comparison to the glory that prevailed at a particular stage of time. This feature aims to give insight into some known examples of the ‘Pyrrhic Victory’ in the metal genre and give light to releases that represent strengths of once great acts, and at the same time foreshadowed artistic saturation.
A common thread that seems to run through these turning points in the careers of metal bands is the apparent contradiction between a musician’s personal evolution and the progress of the musical style into more authentic and expressive forms in service of the concept. We all understand that a maturing musician is not going to be satisfied with the same apparently simple techniques he mastered upon his first year of guitar practice for ages. He probably has musical heroes he is looking up to and he always wanted to learn that Eddie Van Halen or Ritchie Blackmore solo.
Vital musical forms rely on creativity, spontaneity and message over matter. It is the curse of the artist that often the best of their work is at the behest of youthful lunacy and drunken madness, the early recordings where they grasp at the straws of vision without quite having formulated the techniques for achieving them – so they improvise and as Nietzsche would say, “give birth to a dancing star“. ‘Human‘, ‘Tales from the Thousand Lakes‘ and ‘Heartwork‘ are all perfect examples of a band with the full arsenal of accumulated weapons, evolved to near its maximum potential in knowing exactly how to compose all the contemporary forms of metal, from death metal and grindcore to pop progressive, even soft rock.
But here comes the paradox. Instead of sounding updated, the recording sounds more dated every passing year, because what has happened is that the band has incorporated a plethora of archaisms to a sound that used to be cutting edge. The bludgeoning dark tremolos of ‘Leprosy‘ that used to climax in nearly atonal solos become melodious post-modernist “cut up” riff salads; the doomy Wagnerian grandeur and slow movements reminiscent of historical battles in ‘The Karelian Isthmus‘ is stealthily exchanged with stoner rock and circular meditations that happen after a couple too many smoked joints; the to-the-point socio-anatomical parody of the hilariously grotesque and twisted ‘Symphonies of Sickness‘ gets discursive and bloated with instrumental worship, as if the band suddenly turned from anarchists into voters. The core question would be: did the band think these are more sensible ways of composition and a better illustration of the topic at hand – or did they forget the composition and the topic altogether in the name of randomly generating “music” with cold technique?
Coming off the back of the raging, deathly, speed metal of ‘Beneath The Remains‘, Sepultura stay true to the compact musical execution that began making itself clear on the ‘Schizophrenia‘ album onwards. There is more variation in pace, with the lower tempo compositions often resemblant of the riotous and anthemic cycles of of ‘Beneath The Remains’ played out in suspended animation. The introduction of the now ‘tribal’ meme that first makes itself present in Sepultura’s music introduces itself through in various songs, and whilst here it is applied in a more than tasteful enough manner it sometimes gives the idea that whilst this indicates an ‘open-mindedness’ to the average listener, on deeper insight it gives light to the possibility that the band by this time may have been starting to run short of creative ideas. Whilst this is a very good record by Sepultura, prevailing characteristics get the upper hand, and in a year where speed metal had long had it’s glory days, and death metal attaining new peaks of aggression in a period of artistic blossom, it’s no surprise looking back that the dumbed down and singularly ‘angry’ mosh-fodder that was ‘Chaos A.D.’ would suceed this work. –Pearson
A controversial pick, Metallica’s excellent third album fulfills the incorporation of progressive themes but seems to crystallize them to such an extent that no more creative spark would emanate from their later works. Cliff Burton’s presence in the unit, and his bridging of neo-classicist influences into their progressive speed metal was a defining feature of what many hessians and metallers saw to be the main component of their excellence. Having let this seep in on ‘Kill Em All‘ and fully realise itself on ‘Ride The Lightning‘, ‘Master Of Puppets’ steps further towards punchier and anthemic songs, with a steeping emphasis on percussive, palm-muted rhythm riffs which are the dominant motif in the album’s musical execution. This is structurally still in the exact same mould as ‘Ride The Lightining’, in that despite a different order of where songs are, we get aggression in ‘Damage Inc.’ and ‘Battery’ where there was once ‘Fight Fire With Fire’ and ‘Trapped Under Ice’. Songs such as ‘Sanitarium’ continue a rock music inclined sense of songwriting that continues what started with ‘Fade To Black’ and inevitably foreshadows the growing commercialism of Metallica on later releases. The excellence of ‘Orion’ also signals a continuity shift that began with ‘Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)’ and fulfilled itself with the ‘Call Of Ktulu’ instrumental. This is a great album that solidifies the importance of Metallica in the genre’s history, though the death of Cliff Burton and the lack of creative steam that ensued signalled the artistic decline that came in 1988 with ‘And Justice For All…’. –Pearson
While the speed and thrash metal boom was crumbling all around in the wake of Seattle and LA-based clothing styles storming the nation, a few European stalwarts lingered on the fringes and while some of them didn’t dare to take up the arms for intricate, narrative death metal, they were influenced by its vicious aggression and psychedelic subject matter. Coroner from Zürich, around Tom G. Warrior‘s circle of the tyrants, never became a vastly recognized or influential name in extreme metal but superceded most of its peers in technicality and consistency, releasing a discography of five albums ranging from the raging “R.I.P.” to the eclectic “Grin“, where the fourth one “Mental Vortex” is where the playing abilities peak but the ultimate purpose of the band is starting to wane. When the idealism of youth fades and with it the spontaneous power of iconographic assault, the only avenue left for speed metal to challenge the moral preconceptions of hypocritical generations was to turn to psychology and explore lies and paranoia in the internal spheres, cutting up joy and sadness into fusion-esque rhythm riff salads (with the timing of an atomic clock) cut up from brilliant small pieces akin to Burroughs’ or Gysin’s style of literature. Such a hectic style provides an engaging rhythmic tension for this album, arguably one of the last triumphs of the entire genre, but it’s also cold and calculated like a scientific experiment. The vastly more popular but not much better Carcass realized essentially the same things many years later on their hit album “Heartwork” and ended up on the pages of guitar magazines, while Coroner was already entombed to the mausoleums of Noise Records’ speed metal roster. –Devamitra
Among the most ancient, recognisable and influential cults in Death Metal’s history, Morbid Angel’s tale of decline is a prolonged one, and raised continuous questions about the band’s creative state, as though their instruments were being channelled purely at the whim of the Outer Gods. The Floridan giants finally resisted the unearthly impulses that once guided them to create powerful statements of occult awareness bound up with a Nietzschean sense of overcoming and will-to-power, such that with the releases of ‘Gateways of Annihilation’ and ‘Heretic’, the band fell victim to triviality. Incremental lapses in quality can be traced back to much earlier albums however, with the departure of guitarist Richard Brunelle being the first to impact the legendary line-up responsible for two of the finest Metal albums ever recorded, meaning that ‘Covenant’ would initiate the band’s slow decay. In addition, Morbid Angel’s growing populist tendencies were perhaps never more commercially viable than at this time, with the production left in the hands of Fleming Rasmussen, and not one but two music videos filmed to promote the album. Brunelle’s exit would mean that Trey Azagthoth would be fully responsible for filling the suffocating mix with his trademarked guitarwork, to the surprising detriment of ‘Covenant’s sound wherever the album’s conceptual direction becomes overwhelmed by a one-dimensional bluntness. Characterised by unfocused and uniform phrasing and only held in place by Pete Sandoval’s tightly militaristic drumming, the latter half of the album demonstrates little of the dynamism that could be heard on every one of their preceeding songs. The spiritual inversion of Morbid Angel, a transvaluation of religious language to re-vitalise and Paganise the path of transcendence and condemn the submissive and world-denying, corrupt parasites turns into an unaltering, blind rage that’s summarised by the lyric of ‘God of Emptiness‘, “So, what makes you supreme?”, setting a blueprint for the band to follow on ‘Domination‘ and the hordes of imitators that were given an undeserved license to record by virtue of Death Metal’s growing popularity. ‘Covenant’ in this sense is not dissimilar to Deicide’s Pyrrhic fall from the adept demonology of ‘Legion‘ to the dumbed-down ‘Once Upon the Cross‘, though Azagthoth’s wizardry would earn Morbid Angel some redemption with the primordial dance of cosmic energies to be heard on ‘Formulas Fatal to the Flesh‘ before finally digging their own grave without cursing their own reputation quite as badly as the truly shattered idols from the golden age of Death Metal. –ObscuraHessian
Avulsion – Dimensions of Darkness
Production: thick and blurry like sound behind a curtain.
Review: As death metal diversified from its roots, a branch extended from those who made their death metal at slower paces. The cavernous impact of Avulsion emerges from the mental moment of this conception even if the music was released some years later: trudging, echoing, flattening sound that like a vortex of destruction immerses a listener in a sense of the vast before dissolving it with retrograde motion.
The most obvious influence on this album comes from Incantation, whose riff styles and tempo changes appear throughout the work, including the title track, but Avulsion develop their own style with a feral mixture of primitive death metal and the thunderous doomy styles that Obituary, Gorguts and Therion made into a language. This album broadcasts its American tendencies but also reveals influences from a panoply of metal bands worldwide.
Like doom metal, this music roars slowly into a medium pace with a compelling rhythmic hook, and then through a series of full stops and redirects builds up to a tempo change, after which it takes off only to decay, shift timing again, and then end in a complementary riff in the same rhythm. Similar to the interlocking passages of a maze, it unites itself through constant contrast.
Vocals rush over the microphone in a whisper-infused roar, and drums guide each song expertly with a wide range fashioned from simple techniques. Guitar composition favors harmonically localized riffs, giving these songs an ashen feel in the absence of melodic development, but makes up for it with motivational rhythm. In the old school death metal style, Avulsion makes complexity from simplicity and intriguing aesthetics from morbid droning.
1. Nocturnal Wrath (4:16)
2. Disgorged Entrails (4:09)
3. Skin Defilement (4:53)
4. Inexorable Suffering (3:44)
5. Near Death (4:07)
6. Dimensions of Darkness (3:54)
7. Desecrated Ground (3:43)
8. Gathered in Ashes (3:44)
Avulsion – Indoctrination Into the Cult of Death
Avulsion’s Indoctrination into the Cult of Death is a record that scratches the same itch that Blaspherian does: oldschool without being “retro”. It’s a very dark album that melds together the slow parts of early Carcass, spooky Finnish stuff like Demigod, and the doomier side of NYDM and Swedish death metal. The atmosphere it exudes is comparable to that of the first Demoncy album, which makes sense, seeing as the band features members of Demoncy. – Chapel of Torment