Conan’s Top 10 Underground Metal Songs

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Growing up as a ruthless barbarian in a desolate and cruel world born made Conan the toughest around. He is the wet dream of every orthodox power metal fan and the unspoken desire of funderground war metal addicts. This is a list of the 10 underground metal songs that this head crusher chose for us:

10. Blood – Sodomize the Weak

Crush your enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of their women.

9. Atrocity – Hold Out (To The End)

Crom, I have never prayed to you before. I have no tongue for it. No one, not even you, will remember if we were good men or bad. Why we fought, or why we died. All that matters is that two stood against many. That’s what’s important! Valor pleases you, Crom… so grant me one request. Grant me revenge! And if you do not listen, then to HELL with you!

8. Cirith Ungol – Master of the Pit

The riddle… of steel.

7. Iron Maiden- The Duelist

For us, there is no spring. Just the wind that smells fresh before the storm.

6. Bathory – To Enter Your Mountain

He is strong! If I die, I have to go before him, and he will ask me, “What is the riddle of steel?” If I don’t know it, he will cast me out of Valhalla and laugh at me. That’s Crom, strong on his mountain!

5. Manowar – Pleasure Slave

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wA-tNjnecog

They’re all sluts! He’s dead already!

4. Rhapsody – Steelgods Of The Last Apocalypse

Crom laughs at your four winds. He laughs from his mountain.

3. Kreator – Carrion

Does it always smell like this? How does the wind ever get in here?

2. Candlemass – Demons Gate

CONAN: You killed my mother! You killed my father, you killed my people! You took my father’s sword!

1. Immortal – As the Eternity Opens

Adieu!

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Morbid Angel Fail at Shilling Kingdoms Disdained

Former death metal band Morbid Angel announced that their upcoming crappy album will be called Kingdoms Disdained and revealed themselves to have wussed out as much as Chuck Schuldiner from Death.

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Ereb Altor Premier “En Synd Svart Som” Music Video

Swedish viking themed heavy metal band Ereb Altor premiered a new music video, “En Synd Svart Som” from their upcoming album Ulfven, which comes out July 7th on Hammerheart Records. Ereb Altor of course worship Hammerheart era Bathory but of course more boring with the rhythm section giving hints of being rooted in metalcore. Hopefully the rest of the tracks on Ulfven will have less wailing, less breakdowns, and more riffs. Hopefully the composition will actually progress to something interesting.

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The Best Underground Metal of 2016

2016 is over. The funderground mentality continued spreading forth, infesting metal over the last year just the same as it had in the decades past the genre’s artistic high-point in the early nineties. Rehashes of past greats pandering to a lowest common denominator audience continue to dominate the release schedules of metal labels all too willing to please the lemmings with music fit to safely ignore during drunken socializing. Ever-flowing streams of posers are desperate to be rock stars, pumping out plagiarism, and paying their way to record deals. File sharing and streaming reducing the cost of hearing new music to essentially nothing has led fans to constantly consume whatever is new regardless of quality. However the purging is at last at hand. The day of doom is here. The filth who have lied and corrupted the underground must be cleansed while the commendable elite few will remain.

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Vomitor – The Escalation (2012)

vomitor the escalation

Article by Lance Viggiano.

The Escalation perfects the misunderstood Australian art of Cimmerian metal – a deliberately low-brow affair which has little tangible relationship to the Common Practice Period and therefore easily panned. Vomitor deliberately flaunt rock’s loud and emotive ethos through boorish motifs qualified further by a thin and mid-centric texture executed in characteristically poor-taste. Constructed primarily out of recombination of past forms, The Escalation is a deliberately retro affair which succeeds by forming a singular and immediately identifiable voice. Historical precedence for this identity is found in the work of Spear of Longinus – specifically the first demo contained within Black Sun Society. Vomitor do not present a way forward for metal; instead the entity finely maps a territory which was discovered but left largely unexplored by ancestors who clung to the safety and security of the coastlines looking into an inhospitable thicket which obscures a familiar but nonetheless unique landscape.

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Good Friday Crucifixion Playlist

conan crucified boris vallejo

Billions celebrate Constantine’s syncretic solar deity’s crucifixion by eating fish today. Here’s a playlist of seven classic speed and death metal songs to contemplate this excruciating Roman suffocation method:

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Graveland to play live dates

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Flowing black metal band Graveland will play its first live dates ever in August of this year. Composer, guitarist and vocalist Robert Fudali announced his intent to play live on Facebook with the tantalizing detail that most of the set will be older songs with several new ones thrown in the mix, “more or less.”

To longtime underground metal aficionados, this represents a sort of holy grail as like many early black metal acts, Graveland never played live. Formed of a hybrid between grinding Oi and melodic black metal, Graveland distinguished itself early on for its landscape-like melodies and ambient atmosphere, but has since developed its sound to be more like movie soundtracks with layers of instrumentation and composition inspired by ancient traditions in European music, as well as epic soundtracks such as those from the Conan movies by Vangelis. To hear the full evolution in a single show would be of great interest to most black metal fans.

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Exmortus returns to the studio, announces summer tour dates

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Exmortus will return to Sharkbite Studios with producer Zack Ohren (Suffocation, Immolation) to begin tracking their sophomore album for Prosthetic Records. The follow-up to last year’s Slave To The Sword, expected out this fall, will feature new bassist Michael Cosio (ex-Abysmal Dawn) alongside the band’s existing core of Conan (vocals/guitars), Mario Moreno (drums) and David Rivera (guitars).

Moreno announced:
2014 was a great year for Exmortus and the campaign for ‘Slave to the Sword’ has been relentless since its release. This year has been a little quiet for us but with good reason. We’re excited to announce that we’ll be entering the studio at the end of this month to once again record with the mighty Zack Ohren. Zack did a phenomenal job on ‘Slave to the Sword’ and we’re ready to record some more bone-crushing, face-melting shred for you all!
Dates for both tours can be found below. For tickets and further information on the band, visit the band online at www.facebook.com/exmortusofficial.

UPCOMING TOUR DATES

  • 7/10    Fullerton, CA – Riff Haus
  • 7/11    Glendale, CA – The Complex (Prosthetic Showcase)
  • 7/15    Denver, CO – Marquis at The Parkway #
  • 7/17    Chicago, IL – Double Door #
  • 7/21    Kansas City, MO – Aftershocklive Musicvenue #
  • 7/22    Colorado Springs, CO – The Black Sheep #
  • 7/24    Tucson, AZ – The Flycatcher #

# with Kyng

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Usnea, Portland Cosmic Sludge Quartet Begins Most Extensive Tour To Date

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In support of their Relapse Records debut LP, Random Cosmic Violence, Portland, Oregon’s decimating cosmic doom/sludge act, USNEA, has just embarked on the band’s most extensive tour ever. Kicking off in their hometown tonight, the quartet will take their dredging hymns across North America with nearly three dozen shows through mid-June. Leading off with several solo gigs,USNEA will rendezvous with Italian psychedelic doom trio, Ufomammut, mid-next week, and will directly support them for the entirety of their first North American tour, with several one-off shows confirmed along the way, in addition to a performance at this year’s Maryland Deathfest with Ufomammut as well as Primitive Man, Mantar, Conan, Yob and more.

USNEA Tour Dates:

  • 5/08/2015 High Water Mark – Portland, OR * tour kick-off w/ Eye of Nix, Hiding, Shine of the Serpent
  • 5/09/2015 Neurolux – Boise, ID – w/ Inter Arma, Uzala, Yautja5/10/2015 Metro Bar – Salt Lake City, UT w/ Odium Totus
  • 5/11/2015 Lost Lake Lounge – Denver, CO w/ Inter Arma, Yautja, Prison Death
  • 5/12/2015 Frank’s North Star Tavern – Lawrence, KS

USNEA North America Spring 2015 w/ Ufomammut:

  • 5/13/2015 Reggies – Chicago, IL w/ Bloodiest, Cokegoat5/14/2015 Now That’s Class – Cleveland, OH w/ Contra
  • 5/15/2015 Bug Jar – Rochester, NY w/ Blizaro, The Highest Leviathan5/16/2015 Mod Club – Toronto, ON w/ Olde, Sons of Otis
  • 5/17/2015 Le Ritz – Montreal, QC w/ Tunguska Mammoth, Show Of Bedlam5/18/2015 Middle East Upstairs – Boston, MA w/ Stomach Earth, Wormwood, Slow Mover [no Ufomammut]
  • 5/19/2015 Saint Vitus Bar – Brooklyn, NY
  • 5/20/2015 Johnny Brenda’s – Philadelphia, PA w/ Ominous Black
  • 5/21/2015 Ram’s Head Live – Baltimore, MD @ Maryland Deathfest
  • 5/22/2015 King’s – Raleigh, NC w/ Make
  • 5/23/2015 Drunken Unicorn – Atlanta, GA w/ Order Of The Owl
  • 5/24/2015 HiTone Café – Memphis, TN [no Ufomammut]
  • 5/25/2015 Siberia – New Orleans, LA w/ Space Cadaver
  • 5/26/2015 Walter’s – Houston, TX w/ Holy Money, Defending The Kingdom5/27/2015 Red 7 – Austin, TX w/ Unmothered
  • 5/29/2015 Sister – Albuquerque, NM w/ Black Maria
  • 5/30/2015 Flycatcher – Tucson, AZ w/ Sorxe, Inoculara
  • 5/31/2015 Complex – Los Angeles, CA w/ Kata
  • 6/01/2015 Sweet Spring Saloon – Los Osos, CA [no Ufomammut]
  • 6/02/2015 Catalyst – Santa Cruz, CA w/ The Bad Light
  • 6/03/2015 Elbo Room – San Francisco, CA w/ Badr Vogu, Hornss
  • 6/04/2015 Press Club – Sacramento, CA w/ Lycus, Church
  • 6/06/2015 Rotture – Portland, OR w/ Survival Knife, Church
  • 6/07/2015 Chop Suey – Seattle, WA w/ Survival Knife
  • 6/08/2015 Neurolux – Boise, ID w/ Brett Nelson & Snakes
  • 6/09/2015 Bar Deluxe – Salt Lake City, UT w/ Subrosa
  • 6/10/2015 Hi-Dive – Denver, CO w/ In the Company of Serpents
  • 6/12/2015 Turf Club – St Paul, MN w/ Vulgaari
  • 6/13/2015 Metal Grill – Milwaukee, WI w/ Asatta
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Resurrecting the best of the underground

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It is a seldom-known fact that you get more of what you allow to exist. In a musical community, this means that whatever albums sell enough to attract some audience will produce imitators.

When a community is thriving, this means that good albums replace bad. When a community is dying, it means that labels pump out thousands of near-duplicates in an effort to reap profit.

The community that proves intolerant of the bad is a good step, but the community must act in the corresponding opposite, which is to celebrate the good. To hold up all that is excellent means that more of it will come, because it is rewarded.

As we pass through the 20th anniversary of the demise of death metal and black metal, which perished in a flood of imitators who pushed the quality material to the periphery, it behooves us to celebrate the excellent and use it to push aside the rest.

What follows is a partial summary of the highlights of the last five years. These are albums that should be played loudly, given to metalheads at Christmas, forced onto MP3 playlists and constantly affirmed as excellent. This is the only path to better metal.

Blaspherian – Infernal Warriors of Death

blaspherian-infernal_warriors_of_death Underground metal began with Slayer, which mixed hardcore punk and heavy metal to make a new sound, inspiring in the next generation bands like Bathory, Hellhammer and Sodom who made a darker and more detuned sound. By the time the genre flowered in the late 1980s many bands integrated the Hellhammer style of bass-heavy thunderous material alongside the faster Slayer style of tremolo phrasal riffs. Picking up from that era, Blaspherian combines the thunder of Deicide and Immolation with the simplicity of early doom-death, creating songs that simultaneously use primitive parts and arrange them into more than the sum of those parts. A morbid and violent atmosphere emanates from this music as it rolls through a few basic riffs per song, setting up a Possessed-style verse chorus but then like Incantation and other old school acts, expanding on that context to create a ritual atmosphere. This mysticism of thunder and subterranean blackness pervades the resulting metallic onslaught which favors the dark, antisocial and evil side of metal. What defined the underground was this stepping away from the modes of seeing that most people use to look at society, and to instead associate itself with the bestial forces of nature and occultism that array against any form of order that has no goal but itself.


Beherit – Engram

beherit-engram When Beherit makes an album, the result will not only open full throttle on the ears of its listeners, but also change how we think of black metal. Its violent and simplistic early days took the deliberate primitivism of Blasphemy and Sarcofago and made from it violent amalgamation of dark moods and the unleashed human id which wants nothing more than to crush this overgrown, spoiled, decadent and indulgent world of directionless people and purposeless activity. With Drawing Down the Moon, Beherit created a standard that few bands could exceed, which was an album both inventive in its use of occult symbolism and distinct for its memorable, infectious and yet dread-intensifying riffs. After years and permutations later, Beherit returned to the fray with an album that aimed to expand the relationship between black metal and ambient music and operate as an album, moving us from one frame of mind to another through immersion in fragments of idea that add up to a whole picture. This is no trivial task! Engram begins in tribute to Venom and Bathory and ends in an entirely different style where hermetic atmospheres mingle with riffs that seem to use ancient numerology to achieve the balance between ear-addictingly hook-laden and a dark mood like atavism which creates a feral disconnection from the failed mentality of this world and transports us to another. The violence seems subdued at first but emerges in the mindset this album creates. It literally reprograms the mind, much like the thought objects that its title references. Better than most of its critics realized, Engram showed black metal a new way but that set the bar too high for most of the hack ‘n slash three riff crowd. It remains a testament to what this style can achieve even two decades from its foundation.


Sammath – Godless Arrogance

sammath-godless_arrogance-cover_photo Sammath always made quality black metal that favored the duality of the original work: primitive/barbaric and yet elegant/beautiful. Shocking as it is, black metal appears designed after the dictatorships of Stalin and Hitler, which favored fancy uniforms and grand ceremony as they bombed, murdered, and subjugated their way across the world. If you can imagine a beautiful warplane with graceful curves and an inner beauty, and then visualize it destroying 10,000 enemies without mercy or even a pause for a snack, that is the sound of the new Sammath. It combines the elegant melodies and song structure of the band’s first album with the battering ram war machine approach of their middle works, resulting in an album that has the melodic elegance of early Immortal but the attack speed of Morbid Angel. Not only that, but this album shows across the board upgrades in songwriting for this Dutch band, with no extraneous material and tightly integrated arrangements.


Graveland – Thunderbolts of the Gods

graveland-thunderbolts_of_the_gods Later Graveland inhabits the difficult zone between black metal, the Conan soundtrack and ambient neofolk. These albums are harder to distinguish at first listen because songs are based on the interaction and harmonization between different melodies instead of the emergence of a single guitar line melody which then defines the song. Starting with Memory and Destiny, Graveland morphed into its own genre with more in common with Summoning and Empyrium than conventional black metal. As a result, few know how to understand these albums, but it appears the best approach is to listen to them as albums and to fully intend to lose yourself in the sonic environment they create. Most descriptions of Thunderbolts of the Gods will combine “lush” with descriptions of martial power and motivation because true to its name, this is an album not just about war, but the reasons for war that mix sociology and theology in a potent brew that stimulates emotions deep within your average red-blooded metalhead. Like the earliest of Graveland releases, these describe lonely Celtic nights in the frozen Pagan mountains while waging warfare against unnamed unending enemies (like a buffet gone wrong). Not only does Graveland possess the same epic vision as before, but now the band has added epic instrumentation including layers of keyboards, synth instruments, strings and a guitar line that now organizes the other melodies instead of trying to dominate all alone. The result is like being lost in a book more than tapping your foot along to a record.


Profanatica – Profanatitas de Domonatia

profanatica-profanatitas_de_domonatia Many are turned off by the somewhat amateurish album title but they should stick around for the music, which combines the best complex long-phrase tremolo riffing in the Incantation school with the acerbic and vigorously rhythmic black metal for which Havohej/Profanatica are famous. Before you can say “I vomit on God’s child!” (and you should say this daily) the album tears into its circuitous riffs that give relatively straightforward compositions an air of esoteric bafflement in addition to enjoyment of a good tune with forward momentum and acrobatic guitar work. While this album is not as raw and purely rhythmic as earlier Profanatica, it makes up for that by creating instead an air of mystery and paranoia, like walking into the court of a Satanic adversary and being told to justify oneself. Vocals retain their traditional rasp and as usual, Paul Ledney’s drum playing adds a richness of rhythm that most bands do not have. The result is pure enjoyment of the musical aspects of this band with the constant blasphemy as a garnish. Its inventive riffing and foray into death metal territory adds a depth to black metal that corresponds to the raw aggression this band has always used as the charge behind its warhead of apostatic occultism, and in this album the entirety comes together for a complex series of moods within a similar idea. If anything, this improves on older works which could be too straightforward for repeated listening, where Profanatitas de Domonatia holds up as a musical companion.


Demoncy – Enthroned is the Night

demoncy-enthroned_is_the_night Always an outlier, Demoncy saw its greatest career height when it produced a death metal record with black metal atmosphere in Joined in Darkness. Not content to revisit past victories, Demoncy launch in a melodic direction and mix death metal and black metal influences into a smooth voice by always retaining the black metal atmosphere and refusing to get into the more abrupt stop/start mentality of death metal which loves contrast. Black metal is after all about emergence of ideas instead of discovering them at the end of labyrinth, and so Demoncy creates an album where riffs establish atmosphere and song structure provides gathering mood, creating a momentum of dark emotion which eventually dominates the entire experience. Unlike most black metal bands, Demoncy prefers to create atmosphere through steady application of layers and then selective removal, which avoids the charge into the abyss sensation but instead creates a sense of slowly sinking into the depths of human emotion. Riffs and ideas on this album borrow from the classic years of death metal, specifically the first two albums from Unleashed, but add to it the sense of an arch-predator on vigilant patrol above a wasteland of miserable, helpless souls that Joined in Darkness made so effective. Instead Demoncy lets these riffs ring out and then join simultaneously simpler and more cryptic song structures to create a sense of delight in the possibilities of darkness.


Divine Eve – Vengeful and Obstinate

divine_eve-vengeful_and_obstinate Divine Eve combine death metal with the newer veins of doom metal, mixing in classic heavy metal and punk to give the genre more of a listenable approach and higher energy. What results is a command to battle that suffuses with the dread and morbidity of doom metal but joins it to a violent but almost boyish delight in the possibilities of music and life itself. As a result despite its doom inclinations and death metal styling, this album more resembles the adventurous explorations of a world falling apart that bands like The Doors embarked upon a generation ago. Guitar work prefers the boxy charging approach of punk bands or minimal acts like Cianide and Motorhead, giving these songs a bounding energy even when they slow down and removing the polish that later death metal used to obscure its dark intent. Although this is an EP and so runs shorter than an album, it gives a vision of Divine Eve joining the style and substance of their 1990s EP As the Angels Weep with the material most of the band released as Crimson Relic and some of its recent appearances. Rumor has it that Divine Eve are currently working on new material for release in the near future, which makes it more exciting that this promising release presages onslaughts which may amplify the promise it unveiled.


Blotted Science – The Animation of Entomology

12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007} Modern metal makes itself hard to like, both because it is a hybrid and thus a loss of direction, and because it is fundamentally annoying, being based in the late hardcore style of “carnival music” where the goal is to make each riff dramatically contrasting the rest, resulting in a type of randomness that appeals to lost teenagers in a lost land. Blotted Science take that approach to its logical conclusion by removing the vocals and the randomness, and preferring instead to stack together related riffs that initially do not appear to be so, causing songs to flow together like collapsing buildings where many disparate parts suddenly become a single momentum. Most reviewers will focus on technical ability, which is not lacking here, but the real triumph of this band is using adept songwriting to pull together a mess of a genre and make something better out of it. These songs, like those on Gorguts Obscura, embrace the chaos of life and impose order on it in unconventional ways, much like objects seen through a microscope do not resemble the physical whole seen without magnification. These songs speak to a delight in the power of music itself and the imagination to twist and obscure a message only to bring it out with greater impact after a roller coaster of riffing distorts reality and deranges the senses.


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