Hipster celebrity and accused tattoo gun rapist Wrest from Leviathan returns with a new sidekick in an attempt to restore some underground credibility. This is a common gimmick used in rap music whenever an artist has faded from the mainstream but wants to continue making money off the young kids consuming the underground’s newest flavors. Unfortunately for Leviathan, they were never respected in the underground and Crawl displays very little potential to make any sort of impact. The split is one twelve minute song from each artist that both manage to be terrible but for very different reasons. Wrest promised “Aural Mizery” and has ironically maintained that promise.
Tower Records and Musicland didn’t seem to have much the other day. So I went by Camelot music instead. I was wearing my old green Slayer demon head shirt. I had built up points at that store, and they gave me a free purple shirt with their logo on it. I hated the shirt and donated it to Goodwill. In the metal section was the cassette soundtrack to Troll 2. I was almost certain this was a mis-categorization. I didn’t have the money to buy it that day and it sold out before I could get my hands on it.
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.
Daniel Cochardo loves metal. It is no question- from his tenure fronting The Chasm, his work in Cenotaph and his contributions to the last above-average Incantation album Diabolical Conquest that the man is steadfast in his dedication to extreme metal. Throughout his impressive library of work, we haven’t seen any indication of a wavering of passion or hints of selling out in any way. What we however have seen is a middling assemblage of efforts that come close to sublime heights but ultimately fall short of the metal ideal. Therfore The Chasm has always flown a bit under the radar, consistently releasing material that has a unique voice commanding the charge but a lack of cohesion giving the music a timeless appeal. With CCI, The Chasm ends their longest drought between records with an assertive gesture in the form of an instrumental concept album, and although that may hint at a rejuvenated band that is hungry to finally make the profound artistic statement they have always fallen short of, unfortunately The Chasm has given us a release more puzzling than declarative.
Gutteral vocals are the only true vocal innovation in metal as other singing styles are derived from other genres. The growed vocal technique is a combination of multiple frequencies and is harmonically too rich to be treated in the same way as more tonal styles. Since they are different to all that came before them they must be analyzed differently. And as metal continues to be penetrated by the mainstream it is important to understand what should be expected from a vocalist and what each one brings to the table since as humans we are inclined to judge vocals first.
In the spirit of understanding the wide variety that the technique has to offer, take a look at some of the more interesting and/or well known vocalists that death metal has given us throughout the years: (more…)
November 8th, 2016. Manhattan, NY. Election night. I was there.
Wading back and forth between a crowd of suits and red hats gathered outside the Fox News building on 6th ave and a similar group gathered a few blocks north outside the Hilton hotel where the soon-to-be President-Elect was present, I celebrated ecstatically as electoral college results came in showing my favorite politician on the cusp of capturing the presidency. All of us were over the moon with excitement and bliss, particularly because New York City had seldom presented a place where support of the man the media branded as Hitler 2.0 could be expressed openly.
While walking home and passing virtually every media truck parked for a mile along the road where America’s next President prepared his victory speech, a young NPR reporter excitedly rushed over to me with her microphone and cameraman after seeing the ridiculous “Trump 2020” pins on my shirt. I agreed to her request for interview and explained why I thought Trump’s non-interventionist foreign policy and realist economic objectives would benefit the country’s middle and working classes. Admitting her surprise to learn that I was a compliance director working near Wall St. and not the basic redneck Trump voter the media had branded us as, she asked if I was excited about the likelihood of supporting Trump being more socially acceptable now that he was president. “Yeah” I said “It finally won’t be taboo now!”
Listen to a track from the upcoming Hadeon from longstanding Dutch band Pestilence, one is immediately struck by the similarity to late-1990s Morbid Angel: the riffs are there, albeit a bit impatient and tightly circular, but the whole experience is not. What is missing? To understand this, we must go to the core of what made death metal what it is.
If you wanted to explain to a normal person what death metal is, looking at the core of its spirit, you might haul out Slayer Hell Awaits, Hellhammer Apocalyptic Raids, and Bathory The Return… because these influenced the techniques, composition, and spirit of death metal. From Hellhammer and Slayer, it got its song structure and aesthetics; from Bathory its themes and riff technique.
Death metal took the original idea of metal, formed when Black Sabbath and others began using power chords to make phrasal riffs instead of harmony-oriented open chord riffs, and developed it further. This is different than doing something “new” or “progressing” because it means undertaking the much harder task of developing an idea further at a structural level instead of just changing aesthetics.
With the rise of underground metal, death metal adopted chromatic riffing and made the interplay between riffs form a narrative to each song. This abolished typical rock song structure and, because the guitar served as a melodic instrument instead of a harmonic one, forced vocals, bass and drums into a background role. How well the riffs fit together and portrayed an atmosphere, idea, or sensation defined the quality of the music.
Pestilence came from a solid death metal background with Consuming Impulse but showed a speed metal styled approach on Malleus Maleficarum, and this tension has stayed with the band for its entire career. The speed metal style of verse and chorus built on a singular theme that is present in the music is easier to jam on and use harmony to complement, where death metal rarely explicitly states its theme, only silhouetting it in the interaction between its many riffs. With speed metal, bands can set up a chord progression and develop it in layers of internal commentary like jazz, and this puts vocals back in position number one among the lead instruments.
“Non-Physical Existent” is a two-riff song with both based on the same note progression. It creates its intensity through the clash between a ripping circular high speed riff and a slower chromatic riff that uses odd harmony to distinguish notes in an otherwise linear theme. The song breaks into a solo section over one of the riffs, and has a type of turnaround the drops into the faster riff as a return. But there is no real interplay nor any narrative.
From the riffs themselves, this is a good song, but unfortunately, it is not death metal. Nor will it last because essentially it is a closed-circuit video of itself, a riff commented on by another, without resembling any particular experience or emotion, therefore being a null journey, more like stasis in space while riffs loop. It is better than not bad, but still not of real interest to the death metal fan.
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. (more…)
At the truest heart of metal lies a voice embodied, somewhat childishly, somewhat ineptly, but no less clearly and latent with potential, by Mayhem’s Deathcrush. The re-inversion of all values that metal enacts starts with the embracing of what modernity would see as its sickness unto death. The despair and sin of sickness unto death become vital active elements in the morbid minds of those who would vanquish dogmatic preconceptions in the Sky God Religions and their secular humanist counterparts. Being, in essence a way of connecting back to itself, the ideological blockages set up by this dead-end society had to be faced head on. Herein lies the relevance and meaning of the present album. Despair is converted into pure energy, the rules disavowed, the road of sin is tread fanatically as a method of purification —a negative unity of evil towards the beyond, away from human-ness in its modern form, away from mundanity. For the burgeoning underground, as seen from Mayhem’s perspective, primacy would placed on being and its dark discovery of self, against the presumption of knowing, and the oppressive, futile impositions from above. All knowing, all value of music, would come from this ‘being’, from a dark exploration of the soul possessed by a cosmic force of destruction.