DESTROYING TEXAS FEST 7
OATH OF CRUELTY
American black metal outlaws BAHIMIRON are ready to unleash their wolves to the flesh of Christ with Rebel Hymns of Left Handed Terror this fall on MORIBUND RECORDS. Set for release on October 25th, BAHIMIRON’s Rebel Hymns of Left Handed Terror will contain nine hymns of rabid bestial nightmares, all in devotion to total death and the fiery depths of the black abyss. Full of rusty edges, this third shank in the guts will host such songs as “Their Blood Shall Fill My Chalice,” “Bestial Raids of Antichrist Darkness,” “Goathorned Messiah of the 7 Gates,” and “Anointed in Serpents Blood.” ”This is the album that goes back to the true roots of black death metal for us,” confirms vocalist/guitarist Grimlord, ”all the things that originally hooked me into playing this type of heresy – the kind of stuff that comes at you with knives and the blood of Satan.”
With members of IMPRECATION and MORBUS 666.
Bahimiron, Averse Sefira, and Masochism
August 28, 2004
This city stretches like a dry riverbed across the flat land of South Texas, ending near the mud-brown ocean in which floats medical waste and human shit. Like most modern cities, it is both strikingly ugly and possessing some rare beautiful architecture, but the majority of it is open shopping centers and freeways. Lots of concrete to reflect sunlight and absorb toxic rain which rises in a sticky mist. Its strength is its verdant natural land, but as more people from every country on earth pour into it, this too is consumed.
Naturally, a place like this is perfect for a black metal show.
The show promoters at Extreme Texas Metal put together a type of show that is popular today, called in the vernacular the “shotgun,” since it is formed of a collection of marginally related bands fired out in sequence with the hopes of finding at least one that each member of the audience can like. Consequently, they are schizophrenic in atmosphere, with the decorum of a food court as portions of the audience assemble for each band while others sit back and comment. However, this is how one must make money in a bloated “scene,” and the Extreme Texas Metal staff did a competent and fair job of setting up the show.
Being a dilatory malcontent, our reviewer showed up late and was able to catch the last three bands, who together represented a battering ram of black and death metal.
At this point, Bahimiron were barely taking to the stage. With an original member of Texas evil metal legends Imprecation (think of a more ritualistic, less bassy take on first-album Incantation) on vocals and lead guitar, and the two deviant minds of “Where’s My Skin?” magazine on bass and drums, this band is clearly a powerhouse of minds in the present community. Its adaptation to the current scene both affirms and negates it, making for a rocky adjustment as this band finds and refines its style.
Their style is a hybrid of the grim and necrotic fast and simple black metal of the later changes to the style, merged smoothly with the grand interiors presented by architectural melodic black metal such as Gorgoroth or Impaled Nazarene. Songs generally cycle between riff pairs at different tempos, then reach a stage of presentation in which pace often shifts dramatically, before inverting the process of reaching it and drawing out to a violent and usually abrupt conclusion.
On this night, the band professionally presented the same, with the addition of more confidence in moving and playing onstage and greater technical accuracy and synchronization. A new guitarist has joined the band to their fortune, as his rhythm guitar solidity allows a foundation on which other members can build. Percussion varied from hardcore rally beats to the metals-heavy blasts which allow them to pick up speed, no simple task since most chords are strummed at high speed regardless of tempo.
Vocalist/guitarist Grimlord, formerly of Imprecation, commanded the stage with his voice whipping from guttural to shriek to conventional singing as demanded by the material; his guitar playing is fluid and self-assured, and allows him to enhance his vocal delivery. Bassist Jenocide added a mute aggression and bulletlike low-note commentary to her impassive stage presence, while drummer Blaash was precise and energetic. Tearing through a mixture of old and new material, this longstanding Texas-Arizona front presented well and left no doubt as to their stature.
As many bands have, they suffered under the hands of sound production problems, mainly because Cardi’s was breaking in a journeyman audio engineer that night, and as a result peaking monitors cut out and distortion sometimes became a wash, disrupting the forward motion of the band. To their credit, Bahimiron held out until the problem was mostly corrected and then moved forward without losing atmosphere or becoming bitter, which was as unusual for a current band as it was appreciated by the audience.
If our reviewer had to make irritating suggestions, it would be that they worry not at all about having a “unique” personality and let their music talk. There is no need for a whisky-based endorsement in black metal, nor does this band need any cachet to invoke their (dark) spirit. The music addresses all that they have to say. If they have a weakness, it is on the knife-edge between minimalism and the hopelessly indeterminate riffing of the black hardcore bands; they will be fortunate if their more ancient and eternal influences win out. Regardless of these footnotes, this band is one of the few worth tracking in this age of black metal.
Many in the audience assembled had come to see Averse Sefira, if the sudden proliferation of metalheads at the stage and their equally conspicuous disappearance after the show was any indication, and the veteran metal band did not disappoint. Having apparently decided long ago to focus more on bringing their music to the world than on gratifying the comatose Austin metal market, Averse Sefira showed every bit of their touring experience and nailed out a highly professional set with very few breaks. This reviewer wonders why the club did not let them continue further, as there was time to spare thanks to three-count pauses between songs.
Guitarist and vocalist Sanguine A. Nocturne, astride a gleaming red B.C. Rich monster axe, seared the halls with a hissing and animalistic vocal delivery, backed up with the more on-the-beat enunciations of his cohort Wrath Satariel Diabolus, who roared into life with a black monster of a bass whose undertones drove the music forward with an urgent possession of emotion. This was framed and accentuated by the bullet-precise drumming of The Carcass, whose experience in numerous death and grind bands does not hide his familiarity with the technicality of percussion, mastering both exact timing and the deft transition of texture necessary to impel the music without drowning it in method.
Lucky enough to hear new material, the audience absorbed it in a state of contemplation and shock that would have pleased a Vedic philosopher, watching for details and essence alike. The newer songs can be described as an outpouring of this band reaching a musical and worldview apex, in which their mission has developed past requiring elaboration to the point of being demonstrated in many different forms; with their intent clear, they are confident in approaching even broader range of technique without fear of corrupting what is to be communicated.
As an example, rhythm is far from the rigidity of their first album or the delighted violence of the second, but like a groundswell changes topography to accentuate the expression particular to each part of a song. What was once abrupt is now sublime, and without venturing into jazz-metal territory, they invoke the languid as well as the militant in alternating sequence, creating an aura of insidious infiltration. Guitar technique has branched as well to use quick erratic notes in a wash of distortion as an instrument of harmony, creating a queasy uneasiness that like oil on water blooms into a rainbow when revealed in the contrast of light.
Newer songwriting continues the Averse Sefira tradition of writing epics, confronting the audience with a basic motif and then descending into its explanation, letting dissonance swirl around the audience as unexpected twists and turns converge on an occult mystery unifying the visible and the unseen. Clearly the presentation of older material has been affected, as it shows successive layers of adaptation reflecting both the changes in writing for Battle’s Clarion and the preparatory musical adaptation for the new album. It will be both exciting for the fan and an event for the community when their new work comes out.
Their playing reflected precision and professionalism throughout, with the presence that only an experienced band can have, dominating the stage and, as most cannot, using that supremacy to take a wide range of emotions and channel them into an expression of their work. Without falling into matyrdom at all, they bore out the indignities of periodic sound production problems and humidity without flinching, even honorably dedicating their set to the memory and continuing legacy of Imprecation.
It was with a great deal of professional integrity that this band took the stage, the hour having grown late and most of the fans departing after Averse Sefira slashed through their set. This would crush most bands, and is the most difficult circumstance under which to perform, but to their credit Masochism took the stage and wouldn’t let it go until they had sent their sonic disturbance into the universe.
This was fortunate for our reviewer, who remembering the performance of this secretive and rarely-sighted act from an Austin event two years prior, anticipated the set with high expectations. These were not disappointed.
Lead guitarist Juan Torres, who has supported a diversity of metal acts with his practiced and charged playing, forms the majority of the sound and direction of this band, and this night he led with alternately pummeling chords and incredibly fast lead picking which makes this music a study in contrasts. A progression leads into a song and varies through two riffs, then slams home with a conclusive dirge, only to be torn apart in the undulating rise and fall of melodic lead rhythm playing.
Similar in style thus to older Incantation and Sinister, the essential form of this band stretches to include a plurality of influences, ranging from older speed and heavy metal to modern black metal styles, something which is absorbed by a deft understanding of how riffs fit together. Transitions are often breathtaking in their boldness with enough subtlety that they are unexpected, and the procession of textures that compose verse material are both hypnotic and jarring.
Bassist/vocalist Kean Koite held down the set with remarkable free-hand (not picked) stringwork, being a master of both the techniques required to give his playing thunder and enough of bass playing as a science to insert adept fills and accents. One of the highlights of the show were his semi-poetic introductions to each song, in the style of Tom Araya many years ago, where a small vignette concluded in the topic and then name of each song; this may not be to everyone’s taste (and what is?) but it was appreciated by those of us attending as it brought a small intrigue to anticipation.
Percussion was exact and bellicose, matching the tight structure required by this style with an underplayed reliability that eschewed sophistication for effectiveness; few players have the ability to set aside getting more personal attention for the promotion of the aura of the presentation as a whole. Masochism are musically ahead of most local bands as they are in songwriting, but song titles and some stylings seem stuck in the late 1980s-early 1990s death metal movement, which suggests an update.
While Masochism are masters of fitting together surprisingly convoluted riffing with adept translation between radically different textures, their songwriting could benefit from more use of a unifying theme or concept around which to wrap this tapestry of forms. It is not a disadvantage, but this final tiny fraction of the creative process is what awaits to take this band from being overpowered for the style they have chosen, dominating it almost too much with their talent, to matching form and content and creating something of enduring breadth and significance.
As a side note, it was gratifying to see a clear national pride in Mexican origins shared between band and fans, with Mexican flag present on an amplifier; nationalism fits all ethnic groups, and pride in one’s tribe is a trait common to all strong individuals. If anything, this should no longer be downplayed, and in an age when NSBM and covert use of nationalist symbols is common in black metal, perhaps Masochism should visit aztlan.net more frequently and take advantage of that freedom and speak loudly and clearly about their cultural preference.
Impressive in performance, and in professionalism, they were an essential part of this concert presentation, and those who left early missed out. As a symptom of their single-minded determination to perform well, the band did not let it usurp their intent and ploughed right ahead. If you get a chance, witness Masochism when they come to your area; the right-hand guitar technique and interplay between bass and drums from a technical perspective, alone, makes it a worthwhile experience.
At this point the night was well underway, and even a giant cosmopolitan wasteland charged by the momentary escape of work drudgery afforded by a Saturday night was finding closure, so all departed into the flamboyant heat and uncountable incandescent advertisements of the Texas night. The show was a success because of the strength of the bands and the relative laxity of the promoters in encrusting a successful platform with too many local band-of-the-moments, but if this reviewer had one wish, it would be that next time these three bands and one local band (perhaps the reformed Crimson Massacre, who could not play because of personnel issues) could share the stage and complete the show earlier, giving each of these standouts more time to show us that among the few quality underground metal lives on.
Texas is a huge place, which is why Texas metalheads spend most of our time driving between cities to attend shows far away. We drive the equivalent of several eastern states — Texans measure distance between cities in a unit called a Massachusetts because that dinky little state is a great yardstick — just to see some of the many great bands that Texas has produced.
It is for this reason that Alfred Fuentes III is known to most of us. A fixture at Houston, Austin and San Antonio shows for the last two decades, he always shows up early and supports the bands through intangible ways as well as tangible. He has known many of the Texas metal musicians for even longer. Unfortunately, he has run into health challenges and to counter this, Texas metalheads are throwing a benefit bash to help his family.
Article by Corey M
Featuring members of two well-respected underground metal bands – Imprecation and Bahimiron – the professional aptitude of the musicians is obvious as soon as Morbus 666’s album Ignis Divine Imperium is through with the first song, though that’s not to say that there is any showboating whatsoever from the players here. The sonic texture of this album is very similar to that of the latest releases by the aforementioned bands; dry, gritty guitars dominate the soundscape with a harsh midrange attack while scratchy vocals and a beautifully live-sounding drum set do little to assert their presence, but effectively support the hypnotically whirlpooling riffs.
Aesthetics aside, comparing Morbus 666’s music to that of Bahimiron is fair, because both feature a similar general sense of dynamics, method of structuring songs, and overall level of complexity (which is relatively minimalist in terms of modern metal in general). In both cases, we’re dealing with no-frills black metal that emphasizes gradual evolution of songs (strategically avoiding distracting melodic tangents) while eschewing ornamentation and anything other than rudimentary black metal technique: That is to say, the band’s whole arsenal consists mostly of tremolo picking, some creepy ringing chords, marching beats, and sometimes blasts. There are no guitar leads, acoustic interludes, stretches of vaguely disturbing ambient noise, or synthesized string sections. In fact, there aren’t even any drum fills or the sort of herky-jerky, stop-start tricks you might expect to hear from some of the more chaotic modern black metal acts. The engine of Ignis Divine Imperium is pure and relentlessly sinister melody, and for the most part, the band delivers impactful hymns that praise Satan as an anti-humanist archetype, denying (both lyrically and musically, and by extension ideologically) the casual fan the luxury of a comfortably passive listening experience.
The most effective bits of music in Ignis Divine Imperium are so simple and subtle that they may first pass by in a blur, but become more rewarding with repeated listens. For instance, the first track (“Fiery Abyss”) begins and ends with the same simple two-chord phrase, acting as bookends to the song. It works as an engaging introduction, but by the time this phrase is reintroduced, the experience of hearing it again is not just that of familiarity, but a more lucid contemplation of what sort of hidden meaning the melody implied at first, since it has now been contrasted with the winding riffs that have occurred in between the opening and closing.
To borrow another author’s* metaphor: Imagine standing at the edge of a valley, observing the lay of the land before you, and then descending into its depths and eventually emerging on top of the opposite edge. Looking back, you gain a more complete perspective of the depth and width of the valley through which you passed, since you are able to compare the span of time and steepness of the cliffs which you must have climbed down and then back up. In this same way, the introductory riffs of each song on the album serve to give the listener a general idea of what to expect, but it is not until emerging on the other side of the tangle of melodies that one can fully appreciate, by looking back, the journey as a continuum of experience, and realize that there was more to the introductory riff sequences than could be guessed by hearing them alone, as they relate to the riffs in the middle and then the end of a song. This seems like an obvious way to structure any song but amazingly (or not), many bands fail to make their songs interesting without drastic changes in rhythm and guitar techniques and naturally drifting from any main point that they wish to express. Meanwhile, the music of Morbus 666 succeeds by having strong riffs alone.
All this praise but some criticism yet; the simplicity of some of the riff sequences on this album work against the development of the song. There are definite stand-out tracks like “Fiery Abyss” and another near the end of the album, “Through the Black Fog Burns the Eyes of the Devil”, which explores the more majestic aspect of Satanic might with off-puttingly somber and yearning melodies, much like can be heard on the best Behexen tracks, but utilized much more convincingly by Morbus 666. However, other tracks sometimes fall into ruts which sound insincerely placid amidst the more viciously hateful passages. The band exercise possibly more restraint than is needed during these parts, which understandably serve as dynamic fluctuations to contrast and therefore highlight the harsher riffs, but they sound somewhat forced (as in uninspired) and can cause the concentration to falter after carrying on for so long. These minor flaws notwithstanding, the album earned a purchase from me, as I’m sure I’ll continue listening to it for some time to come. Besides, I’m very interested to hear another album from them, and hope that they can sharpen their songs even more, because they are on a war path and possess the firepower to eradicate any and all belligerents.
Texas black metal band Morbus 666 plans to release its new album, Igniis Divine Imperium, on Moribund Records in the near future. The new album is nearing completion and should soon be available for pressing. The band issued a statement through vocalist/composer David Herrera:
New MORBUS is nearing completion. All tracks have been recorded and mixed at Big Door studios, and they are on their way to get mastered. The album is entitled “Igniis Divine Imperium” and will be released via MORIBUND CULT. Here is a sample of the cover art, painted by none other than Worthless of FAMINE. The album will feature 8 songs, including a cover version of “Worms of Sephiroth” originally done in 2003 by my old band BAHIMIRON……
For a brief moment in time, forces of the cosmos united to shape from raw aether a new style of music. This music, called “death metal,” brought together a total alienation from modern life with a desire for the forbidden realms of death and the occult. In this new form, a few sage voices prevailed.
One such voice was Houston’s Imprecation, who combined several styles of death metal to make a compelling and darkly atmospheric version of death metal that remains distinctive to this day. They flourished for some time, and as the death metal scene faltered and was absorbed by trend-minded imitators, they returned to their homes under the black earth and waited. In the early 2000s, they were reborn.
The result has been a flourishing of death metal here on the third coast. Imprecation leads the way with its morbid and esoteric music and left hand path imagery. Its rebirth seemingly brought other bands out of the obscurity and rallied interest around a movement which challenges the apathy of even a major industrial city.
We were fortunate to catch up with frontman David Herrera to talk about all things death metal and the state of Imprecation, who are a few months from release of a new album on Dark Descent Records.
You have a new album due out on Dark Descent, Satanae Tenebris Infinita. What’s this album going to be like and how will it be different from your past work, including 1995’s demo compilation Theurgia Goetia Summa?
It has not strayed far from our path that we set in 1992, there are different elements to it but nothing outrageously different about the album.
Some have told me that it sounds like we took the past and gave it a touch of modern dynamics, but have stayed true to our approach and sound.
Personally, I feel that it is a triumph for the band, and a proper representation of where we stand presently and a glimpse of future songwriting as well.
This album is a great triumph for you, because Imprecation has struggled through the years to maintain itself and only now is issuing a followup to the early 1990s work. What did you change in order to make this happen?
I agree, and it feels like a tremendous weight has been lifted off of our backs, especially for Ruben and myself. When we got back together it was to execute unfinished business, and the making of a proper full length was on the tops of our list of goals to achieve with the band. Our next goal is to take our craft overseas, who knows if and when that will ever come to be.
Is all the good metal “the music of Satan”?
Not necessarily, but it doesn’t hurt! The age old saying about the Devil having the best tunes rings true, and I am a firm supporter of all true hymns of the Left Hand Path. I also do believe that the music has to come from a Death, Black or Doom metal background to embrace the impious fires and nature of Hell.
I find all sorts of devilry in other forms of music, from old Delta blues to classical. One of my biggest inspirations comes from the songs of Glenn Danzig, especially his era of Samhain and his first four solo albums. Of course I am a big fan of the Misfits as well. Also I am very much driven by dark ambience, especially artists such as Lustmord and the music that you hear in the Kubrick masterpiece of “The Shining”. The Devil is also very much present in artists such as Diamanda Galas, The Swans, Coil, Bauhaus, and Ministry to name a few. At least to my ears!
Dark Descent has already released a new track, “From Beyond the Fiery Temples,” which shows a style that seems to emphasize ritual in its pacing and song development. Is this for occult reasons, or musical ones?
The song is steeped in the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft; it’s mainly visions and dreams states that I have been in. I wanted to pen some lyrics on that imagery, it’s been some time since I’ve touched on that path.
Imprecation is composed of active musicians who have multiple projects. You have Morbus 666 and Bahimiron, Reuben Elizondo has too many to count, and Archfiend is in Adumus. How do you keep the balance going?
Imprecation is the main priority with all involved. I’m still active in Bahimiron, and the triad of Milton, Ruben and myself plan on releasing some future stuff with Morbus 666, but nothing is set in stone at the moment. I do not think that Adumus exists any more, but it is ironic that all the members of that band excluding myself now currently play in Imprecation.
It seems that in 2002, Imprecation got back together with Wes Weaver on guitars, but then he split off into his own band, Blaspherian. How do you see the two musical visions as similar, and how are they different?
I don’t really know how to answer this one exept that Wes is a good friend and I fully support his endeavors with Blaspherian. The style that he developed with his time in Imprecation is present in Blaspherian, but I feel that his band has achieved its own vision and personality.
There’s no other way to ask this but bluntly: is death metal coming back? It seems like we had a decade of mewling guitars and pig squeals, but now the old school is rising. If so, what do you think brought it back? Necromancy?
It does seem to be emerging once again, there are some really killer bands coming out true to the Death metal cult. I think it has come back to life simply because in metal people always go back to the old ways. Some of these kids are getting into what they perceive as Death metal because it is what they are told Death metal is. But when they hear the reference points such as Celtic Frost, Possessed, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Autopsy, Death, Bathory they realize that the shit they have been supporting like Job for a Cowboy and Slipknot is actually not Death, and all of a sudden they have a wealth of classics to feast on. I can’t tell you how many times people tell me how refreshing it is to hear the sound that Imprecation has, and they always ask why more bands are not doing this style anymore. The truth is that there are some cults doing it right, and the Death metal scene is stronger now that it has been in a long time.
My only complaint is that there is a lot of bands that are embracing the true spirit of Death, but they are only imitating it rather than using it as a tool to explore their own path. There seems to be a shitoad of Incantation wannabes out there right now, and before that was a slew of Blasphemy clones. With that said I’d much rather hear these bands than the ones that are flooding the underground with their weak death-slam sounds, with the stop/go guitars and drum hits and pig grunts and squeals.
And I especially HATE those over-triggered drums, they have absolutely no power behind them.
The way you choose to write song titles and lyrics reminds me of 19th century literature, yet you’ve been alive exclusively in the 20th and 21st centuries (excluding reincarnations and avatara, I suppose). What books, poems, writings, etc. have been influential on you?
As far as poetry, I’m pretty limited on influences though I really dig the poems of Frost. The isolation in his work takes me to wonderous places. I also love the poems of Edgar Allan Poe, the hallucinations he emits with his words are fantastic. As far as books I admire the works of Crowley and Jack London. I also get into old Clive Barker stuff as well.
But I’m not going to lie to you and have you believe I have a wealth of books and am a big reader. It’s not that I don’t want to read, I just simply do not have the time in the day to commit to a book. Gilles de Rais from Teratism is releasing his own material right now, I just got a first edition of his book Black Magic Evocation of the Shem ha Mephorash and it’s proving to be a great and interesting read. There is some killer, dark shit going on in that book!
Where did you record Satanae Tenebris Infinita and who produced it? Can you tell us what the title means? How do you feel it differs from previous Imprecation releases?
David: We recorded it at Big Door Studios in Webster, TX. The guy who owns the studio is a good friend of mine who goes by Mike BBQ, he’s an excellent engineer and has a keen understanding of brutal sounds. I’ve been working with him for years, all of Bahimiron’s albums were recorded there. What I like about him is he wants to bring out the natural sounds of the instruments and my voice, but also is not afraid to experiment from time to time.
The title of the album simply translates to The Infinite Darkness of Satan. The album was originally going to be called “Of the Black Earth”, but our labelmates Maveth just released an album entitled “Coils of the Black Earth”. Being that we also have a song on our album called “The coils of Eden” we just felt that there were too many similarities to release our album with that name. Of course we have much different sounds, but you catch my drift.
What’s funny is that in 1992 I printed out shirts for the “Ceremony of the Nine Angles” demo with the phrase “Of the Black Earth” on it, as that was going to be the name of our album to be. 20 years later, Maveth beat us to the punch! I do, however, like the new title better. I think it fits with the vibe we had on our only other LP Theurgia Goetia Summa.
What’s next for the band? Will you tour, or try to get “American Idol,” or work on more material? Do you have other releases like splits or 7″ coming out?
Hahah, fuck that plastic show! No tours will happen, as we are all working guys with families to support. But there are shows coming up in Birmingham, New York, Philadelphia, and Boston this year. Looking forward to getting back up north in allegience with Signature Riff, Vinny runs a tight ship up there and is great to do business with. As far as upcoming material, we have a split 7 inch coming out on Dark Descent with none other than Blaspherian!
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Please keep us informed about your news and events in the future.
Hails Brett! Thanks for all of the support you have given Imprecation throughout the years, all the best to you.
Imprecation reveals the he second song off its long-awaited debut full-length which will be released on CD and vinyl through Dark Descent Records in Spring 2013.
The new album from Imprecation, Satanae Tenebris Infinita, will continue the legacy of dark ritual death metal that has seen this band rise from obscurity not once but twice, the second time being during its 2000s-era revival.
Cover art by the legendary Chris Moyen graces this slab of untamed and relentless death metal by members of Bahimiron, Adumus, Morbus 666 and other Houston death metal ancient ones. The past joins the present, and keeps on going where it was going in 1993, but even stronger and with more experience.
Legendary Texas occult death metal band Imprecation released a song from their upcoming album, Satanae Tenebris Infinita. Although the band has been around for over 20 years, this will be their first true full-length, following up on 1995’s compilation of demo material Theurgia Goetia Summa.
This track shows Imprecation tending toward a more stripped down and mid-paced style, with more emphasis on song development than vigorously chorded speed riffs. The result is that songs are simpler but focus more on development, and a meshing of vocal rhythms and instruments. All of these tendencies give the band a more ritual and subaltern feel.
Background keyboards help guide this song but are used tastefully in a way that modern black and death metal bands would do well to note. Vocals emerge from Bahimiron/Morbus 666 throatsman Grimlord with searing distortion and an otherworldly detachment from human rhythms. The result is archly removed from the world of normal and “safe” human interactions.
Death metal fans across the world are looking forward to this album, which will be released on CD and vinyl through Dark Descent Records in the Spring 2013. Cover art by Chris Moyen will grace the front of Satanae Tenebris Infinita, which if it resembles this track, will be one of the highlights of 2013 if not a longer time period.
I’ve just completed reading the 2011 “best of” lists from a number of popular websites. The results are predictably dismal. Are these people incompetent or just deaf?
These lists tend to favor the nu-style of metal, which is to say a mixture of indie rock, post hardcore, shoegaze, emo, alternative rock and popular metal influences.
This new style is especially noisome when disguised as “underground metal” (Krallice) or letting its alt-rock roots hang out (Boris). Since this stuff is not metal at all, but rather a sad old product dressed up like some “new” version of metal, it appeals exclusively to over-educated idiots, and so these pathetic reviewers throw in some “old school” metal, but they invariably pick the one-note derivative ripoffs that ape the past but never come close to its attention span or clarity.
To save you from the fools and their delusion vision of music, we present this year’s list of especially violent music because the metal audience of today needs to experience metal of actual integrity and power, not pretenders of either commercial or faux underground types.
Esoteric – Paragon of Dissonance
Minor key dirge pace lamentation defines this funeral doom album on which Esoteric discover a new exhaustion that enables them to winnow their approach. At the cadence of a nocturnal mausoleum tour, the band alternate between spacious chord progressions with internal harmony, and grinding chromatic intervals. Chords collide and abrade one another slowly, letting distortion hang over the listener like curtains of lead, and then a second guitar fills the space with gentle sweeps to bring in a sense of melody. Semi-circular song structures take frequent detours, providing the most listenable and organized album from this band.
Gridlink – Orphan
Napalm Death deconstructed music by transcending scale, key, tempo and even intelligibility. What cultural purists of the 1950s said about rock ‘n’ roll came true in Scum, but with Brutal Truth grindcore shifted from deconstruction to a postmodern imitation of information overload. Gridlink picks up this mantle by throwing many different influences together into a high-speed stream of sound that mocks modern life by flinging at us an extensive lexicon of riffery in minute-long songs that never relent from their sprint. The ensuing rush holds together because these diverse riffs are variations on a not-immediately-visible common thread, delivering a cryptic but satisfying listening experience.
Death Strike – Fuckin’ Death
For the past 40 years musicians have sought the elusive metal/punk hybrid, but few have come close to the power of Paul Speckmann’s series of bands (Master, Death Strike and Abomination). Merging angry hardcore with streetwise heavy metal, these bands created simple songs with energetic riffs that avoided the rock cliches for the day to become a form of resistance music directed at modern society. This re-issue shows the songwriter at his best. Like punk, these songs construct themselves around simple riffs of a constant rhythm, but like metal the riffs fit together to drive tempo and structural changes. The result is plain-spoken but infectious and captures the spirit of metal in an instant of screaming anger.
Cianide – Gods of Death
Having contributed fundamentals of the doom-death genre, Cianide return with a late career album that shows them casting aside expectations to make the metal they enjoy, which is a cross between Hellhammer and Motorhead that thunders through the skull like an avalanche. They keep their riffs bold and simple so the resonating repetition can change over the course of each song as transitions change the nature of each song. Unlike most old school revivals, this album comprises changing moods that are startingly “mature” in that they are not polarized anger but moral ambiguity and relish for the morbid and aggressive. By escaping the self-conscious nature of most retroactive metal, Cianide land a slab of explosive power.
Deceased – Surreal Overdose
People want speed metal back and Deceased have listened. They replaced death vocals with a hoarse shout and upped the pace but otherwise this album comes straight from the days of Metallica and Rigor Mortis. Riffcraft shows familiarity with forty years of metal but for every couple of driving riffs, Deceased have thrown in something sweet like the candied fruit in a fruitcake: melodic interludes, doomy detours and passages of mixed emotion wrought in adroit lead guitar. If they want to take it to the next level, they can slow it down like Doomstone and make better use of dynamics, but as it is, this album is both more musical and more powerful than most of contemporary metal.
Heresiarch – Hammer of Intransigence
If you crossed an old school death metal band like Morpheus Descends with an energetic blasting terror like Angelcorpse, you might have something like Heresiarch. Chromatic riffs hammer you while war metal drumming races to keep up. Each song stays focused on a throbbingly catchy rhythm which it counterpoints with oppositional textures. Like a constant counterattack, this album is as primitive and amusical as possible, verging on the relativity that defined free jazz and noise. Rhythmic hooks and a pounding intensity make this EP a compelling effort from a newer band.
Morbus 666 – Mortuus Cultus
Going back to the roots of black metal, this album attempts to unify the melodic sound with the feral atavism of rhythmic violence that defined the birth of the genre. Showing familiarity with the wide range of melodic black metal riffs from the past, Morbus 666 nevertheless veer away from the noodly “Iron Maiden” style riffs for the kind of austere rigid blasting that early Gorgoroth and Impaled Nazarene made fly. Vocals vary from rasps, to shouts and Attila Csihar-inspired operatic singing with possible inspirations from Benedictine chants. Nothing too complex occurs here but it organizes itself around a singular intent, giving it a power most music lacks.
Nunslaughter – Demoslaughter
This two-disc retrospective reviews the career of this immensely prolific and influential band. This is primitive, rhythmic music that barely touches on concepts of key or harmony. Nonetheless, it uses vocal rhythm and riff to create strong themes that are distinct between each of the many songs from this band. If you like shades of grey in your riffcraft and emotions in the range of terror and despair, this highly creative band offer what are like horror movie soundtracks distilled to the barest of elements and infused with a rage for order that no human civilization can tame.
Ungod – Cloaked in Eternal Darkness
Back in the 1990s Ungod crafted primitive black metal from elementary guitar riffs and catchy choruses. Twenty years later and they return to do exactly the same thing. While guitar playing has improved, using more awareness of harmony and some influences from other metal subgenres, the basics remain unchanged. These songs are like the whispers of a devil who knows the simple self-referential phrases will stay in your mind and corrupt it. Songs emerge from a basic verse-chorus idea to mutate and discover new territory before returning to form, packing a lot of complexity into what seems like a basic form. The result is compelling.
Apocalypse Command – Damnation Scythes of Invincible Abomination
The approach of this high-energy outfit may be familiar to Angelcorpse fans since with songwriter Gene Palublicki is a founding member. If you combined early Bathory and early Slayer, you might have this constant stream of fluid riffs strummed at humingbird pace over drums which clatter to catch up. Songs charge through several interludes on top of the a circular structure of paired riffs, creating a discourse that is overwhelming by sheer energy and singular purpose. If you found yourself wishing that Fallen Christ would make a new album, and stretch out those hard-hitting riffs into pure ripping rhythm textures, then this will appeal.
Blotted Science – The Animation of Entomology
Despite the recent influence of faux progressive and technical death metal in the form of warmed over post-hardcore, Blotted Science start with later King Crimson-styled musically literate rock and add to it the ability to weave seeminly unrelated riffs into a narrative that made death metal great. Like Jarzombek’s other projects, Blotted Science use counterpoint and diatonic melodies to create a broad spectrum of emotions that transition through the course of each song. Aesthetically, the band eschew vocals and like to have a “kitchen sink” approach, but underlying that seeming chaos is strong technique. As they do not forget the metal soul in doing so, this band remains a favorite for those who seek additional dimensions of musicality in their metal.
Bahimiron – Rebel Hymns of Left-Handed Terror
After starting out as a band attempting to make black metal both feral and melodic in the style of Gorgoroth or Zyklon-B, Bahimiron detoured through a series of new sounds — swamp metal, raw and fast war metal, and chaotic rising of the Id — before finding their voice again with this most recent album. These songs are composed of only a few riffs, some variations of each other, but each has a topic idea that it expresses fully, giving this album a pleasant sense of being whole. Despite having a rushed second half that holds together less palpably, this album possesses songs that have a sense of being about something, even if an undefinable emotion. The result combines technique from the different eras of this band into a hard-hitting, ripping package.
Vallenfyre – A Fragile King
Using songwriting techniques from melodic doom metal, this band up the tempo and make a Swedish-style old school death metal band. Crude-hewn riffs are boxy and sparse but capture the death metal style of phrasal composition with a tantalizing melody buried within and emerging through hints, creating powerful mood pieces. While the riff tropes are simpler and fewer riffs are used than in proper death metal, if you view this album as sped-up doom metal it becomes a new experiment in mood music using old school death metal as a tapestry. It is more interesting than the death metal revivals which use nothing but disorganized rhythm riffs, and at times refreshingly beautiful.
Cruciamentum – Engulfed in Desolation
Working in the style of continuous long-phrase old school death metal like early Incantation, this newer band craft riffs of great potential energy and for the most part triumph into making them into onrushing apocalyptic songs. If they want to make it to the next level, they will drop some vestiges of pre-death metal genres — to be supreme in this form of music one must sound inhuman, arch, abstract and disinterested in petty human concerns like foot-tapping rhythms — but at present, the band create a reality distortion field that allows the listener to see past the ruined industrial horizon into the dark forces gathering in the future. Ominous, this release thrives on powerful riffcraft and vocals that sound like occult rage shouted from the depths of a funeral shaft, and portends great things from this UK band.
Rudra – Brahmavidya: Immortal I
Unlike most underground bands, Rudra embrace a highly musical approach as exemplified by their construction of riffs with a melodic basis to their structure yet without the surface element of “melodic” caused by overuse of fast strum and certain repetitive intervals on the higher strings. Over the course of songs, simple riffs develop into themes which then subdivide and evolve in linear progressions within the overall cycle of each song. Vocals are higher-pitched like black metal, but riffing is reminiscent of Demigod as fused with Afflicted’s first album. On the whole, this is an impressive work of music that includes some influences from progressive alternative rock within its death metal but never loses its direction and perhaps as a result makes more interesting music than all the “top ten” lists of commercial sites combined.
Abhor – Ab Luna Lucenti, Ab Noctua Protecti
This Italian band combines the open-string drone of Graveland Following the Voice of Blood with a seemingly horror-influenced, frequently melodic older black metal style. Vocals follow the Graveland model but the band alternates this homage with melodic riffs from other areas of melodic metal. As if forecasting a future for black metal, songs specialize in the transition of moods, suspending the listener in the midst of a dreamlike trance state based on more fluid harmonic motion. While not unique in style, this band makes up for it in spirit.
Primordial – Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand
Working in a hybrid between metal and celtic rock, Primordial craft a sound that is not unlike Iron Maiden using slower and more doom-metal style chord progressions for its choruses. Over this, a man bellows and then curves his straight enunciation into singing. This music is thoughtfully not noodly, and while repetitive, gains intensity from the building of a mood through a trope, and knows when to break the verse-chorus with profoundly musical variation. This is what U2 should have been: an emotional appeal to the common sense of land, heritage and history as expressed through dark songs which allude to rather than reveal their soul, which is a maudlin determination to resurrect the energy of creative destruction in all humans.
Beherit – At the Devil’s Studio 1990
For years, Beherit’s first “album” — a collection of noisy demos pressed onto CD by the label — have been a source of contention. Many love their devil-may-care chaotic burst of raw enthusiasm and dark, Blasphemy- and Sarcofago-inspired morbid rage, but others point to later material by the band and show a discontinuity. However, through their career Beherit have shown a fondness for noise, ambience, ambient noise, and highly structured experiences that like Wagnerian mini-operas walk us through a transition of realizations. At the Devil’s Studio 1990 shows us all of these influences in nascent birth from the noise into a more austere, deliberate and subversive vision of evil. This album gives these songs new life and black metal new dark energy.
Sorcier des Glaces – The Puressence of Primeval Forests
This unabashedly sentimental melodic assault creates a melancholic beauty through its two opposition parts, which are dark minor key wanderings and a counterpart in soaring powerful melodies that expand through variation on theme. The result is like Summoning a transition state from black metal in which the verse-chorus grouping has been replaced by a sense of unravelling or a story being told. While this is more polished than early Norsk black metal, it preserves that intensity with some of the lush melodic development of the Greek and French varieties integrated for a new sensation of possibility.
Obsequiae – Suspended in the Brume of Eos
Fortunately, this release replaces two odious variants of contemporary “black metal.” First is the faux progressive style which insists that a series of fast riffs with offtime picking of notes from “unexpected” chord shapes somehow constitutes interesting music. The second is a tendency to milk any boring three-note melody into “folk music” by playing it without distortion while beating on an ox-skin. Obsequia belt out a Celtic music hybrid not unlike what Celtic revivalists did in the 1970s by combining their music with jazz fusion and progressive rock. The songs sound very similar and by their focus on depth of musicality, often obscure the direction of melodic development or song structure, but are technically adept and offer a better vision of Celtic black metal than most of what has come before.
Amebix – Sonic Mass
In their return after two decades of absence, Amebix create a hybrid of their original crustcore, speed metal and shoegaze. If you can imagine Killing Joke, Prong and My Bloody Valentine in some kind of bizarre collision with UK pop, you will be able to envision the style of this album, which varies quite a bit as it tends to be ad hoc adapted in order to express what each song calls for. The hidden influence seems to be an influence as in early 1980s music on making songs that correspond to a visual idea (for an MTV video), much like the ancient Greeks combined poetry, music and theatre. This album wisely does not try to re-live the past. Instead, it gives us tuneful music that can compete with the best from the slick mega-media bands, and replace their quasi-truths with a more insightful vision of reality.
War Master – Pyramid of the Necropolis
The new style of old school death metal that War Master brings to the table wears its influences on its sleeve, from the expected Bolt Thrower influence to other notables like Obituary and Suffocation. The resulting fusion is a thunder of bassy power chords piled on each other in a series of inventive riffs, with song structure following along as best it can. Like a good puzzle or maze, the passages make sense when they connect but not before, and War Master avoid riff salad by judiciously using repetition of several main themes per song, some conforming to verse-chorus and some more abstruse in nature. Purists will appreciate the low end open-throated growl and the warlike percussion, as well as the range of tempi from doom-death to the more energetic grinding of later death metal. The end result is low-tech but powerful and brings a new language to the ancient art of old school death metal composition.
Blaspherian – Infernal Warriors of Death
Among those who still yearn for the epic power of old school death metal, Blaspherian deliver a satisfying cavernous descent into the dark netherlands of the subconscious. Drawing from older Incantation, Deicide and songwriter Wes Weaver’s previous efforts in Imprecation, Blaspherian sculpt songs out of a few chords twisted into protean riffs like bent wire, stringing it together with a sense of inexorable rhythm. Over this roars an unrelenting guttural growl and the decimating battery of militant percussion. No guitar solos mar the insurgent tunnel of destructive sound, but through its internal consistency it creates and then selectively textures a mood, creating a constantly changing experience that like the winding passages of a subterranean fortress leads through confusion to clarity.