These random, gimped releases are held in high regard by high-pitched “metal” critics and core pogo stickers. The Death Metal Underground staff takes it upon themselves to scorn and defile them in the name of all that is good in the metal genre.
These sludgy noise rockers from Phoenix show potential, but ruin this release by having too much reverb and weird noises getting in the way of the songs. This album is too ambitious for its own good.
Destruction plans to release their next studio album, Under Attack, on May 13th, 2016; amusingly enough this’ll be their 13th album as well; at least if you count the especially disastrous mid-’90s lineup’s material. “Neo-Destruction”, as they call it these days, is especially important to understanding this band. Its studio work blew up so violently in their faces that it locked the band into the self-referential and especially formulaic route they tread today. Under Attack is unlikely to end that, and the trailer showcases little of the inventive riffcraft and melodic development that made the band influential and interesting in the ’80s, even though the rest of their songwriting eventually fell behind more advanced underground acts.
Earlier in the Coffins review, it was mentioned how that band was little more than a superficial imitator of bands like Cianide, and that apart from imitating the same types of riffs, achieved little in the way of communication. This has everything to do with how a piece of music is organized. It is is not in the riff itself but the relationship between riffs and in how, in relation to each other, they sketch a landscape. Cianide understands this, Coffins and the multitudes of third-rate imitators do not.
While the tag of “doom” is attached to Cianide, it is only right to call them death metal. Period. A death metal band that sometimes plays in relatively slow tempos using completely diatonic schemes. This is strongly reminiscent of Black Sabbath, which were dubbed “doom” only in hindsight after later acts like Saint Vitus or Witchfinder General. Both of these bands just play simple heavy metal in a style that emphasizes the weight of riffs. Being the talented musicians they are, their song-construction is fluent and their parts inter-related. This goes without saying when it comes to good metal. The term “doom” only makes sense as a genre tags for acts such as Skepticism, Worship or Thergothon which definitely do not follow a death metal or a heavy metal template but operate on entirely different “ideological” (so to speak, but not politically, rather, artistically) premises.
In Death, Doom and Destruction, Cianide bring a more mobile conception of their particular style that emphasizes the dynamics afforded by their mid-paced trudging that allows them to waiver between heavy-trudging riffs ala Celtic Frost and faster tremolo-picked passages. Compared to their early work, this newer album is slightly simplified at the riff-level, although the construction has suffered little deterioration that this listener can perceive. The songwriting skills that allow them channel the rhythmic and harmonic impulse of one section onto the next and to trace a roller-coaster-like curve in the course of these musical pieces is stronger than ever. If anything, I would call this a condensed Cianide.
Deathgasm records, like most old school labels before it, puts out a low-cost compilation of the bands on the label or distributed by the label. Their sixth volume of the series contains some of the newer and more exciting metal in the old school style.
Various Artists – Destruction of the Heavenly Realms: Volume VI
1. Diabolic – Evil in Disguise: This is charging death metal that most resembles a cross between Mortem and Vader; the song has two main riffs with budget riff variations, a blistering solo, and doesn’t vary its high intensity drive.
2. Infinitum Obscure – Messenger of Chaos, I: Combining Dissection/Sacramentum style melodic metal with instrumentally adept American power metal like Helstar, Infinitum Obscure come up with a winding, pleasant tune that still manages quite a few martial rhythms.
3. Azarath – Invocation: Blending ripping fast-forward war metal of the Angelcorpse variety with bluesy solos and high speed fills like technical modern death metal bands, Azarath keeps the approach of an older speed/death metal band like Destruction but with updated technique.
4. Nominon – Undead Beast: Despite all the death metal trimmings, this track is basically later Sodom — complete with ultra-catchy chorus and noodly solos — updated with a bit of the slick pop trimmings the Swedes do so well, which makes it easy to listen to but hard to want to hear again.
5. Avenger – The Birth of Muse: Unsung because of low drama, Avenger created the template that all Slavic droning black metal uses, and like a better version of Drudkh or Nokturnal Mortum this song cruises through abrupt riffs and high-contrast, loping beats with fluttering melodic riffs to match. Good but not exciting.
6. Kult Ofenzivy – Jaky jsem nalezl Duvod?: High speed simple melodic riffs under a croaking black metal vocal like Immortal, with songwriting like a simplified Gorgoroth or Emperor, this band makes pleasant noise that varies little between start and finish.
7. The New Plague – Welcome to the End: Fast melodic black/death with riffs that pick a basic chord progression and then work around it with longer phrases to escape the inevitability of such an obvious approach; as a result, this seems to be evading whatever truth it wanted to convey, although its competent songwriting includes humor.
8. Semargl – Cult of the Crucified: People compare this band to Emperor, but it makes more sense to say they’re a lot like Kreator with keyboards and black metal riffs, but a bouncier, less furtive version. Many of these riffs have been a staple of melodic death metal bands for fifteen years and haven’t gotten better.
9. Quinta Essentia – Formative Evasion: This odd melodic band chose to incorporate many elements of power metal, including a chanted/cleanly sung passage that’s intriguing yet too pop to keep going for long; it reminds me of Pyogenesis merged with Blind Guardian.
10. Abominant – Evil Inside: Abominant is the ultimate anonymous band. Their CDs pop up everywhere but no one can remember what they sound like. A start — Fallen Christ with every other riff being a melodic fill stretched to carry two rhythms at once, with the frenetic drumming of Krisiun and bombast of later Vader.
11. Cystic Dysentery – Parastic Demise: Blasting frenetic deathgrind in the Unique Leader style, this track shows good judgment in its pacing and a powerful balance between melodic riffs and purely percussive ones, but like most of this style is often too overwhelming in lightspeed repetition of similar ideas for regular listening.
12. Manticore – Praising the Whore…On the Altar of Darkness: Generic death/black metal played at high speed of drums and strumming but relatively mid-paced speed of chord changes and transitions, this track is sticks to a basic verse/chorus style with a few chaotic deviations, reminiscent of Krieg.
13. Nominon – Night of Damnation: The retro-Swedish death metal bands are expert at taking a standard pop song and dressing it up with death metal techniques so that you think you’ve found another Carnage, but on repeated listens, you realize it’s the same generic heavy metal that’s been around since 1974.
14. Nex – Exit: This wanderlust instrumental conveys a sense of melancholic adventure through careful shifting between different forms of a handful of melodic riffs, each riff shape becoming a repeated figure on a chord progression, slowly building a mood. Whispered death vocals guide it.
You can get this compilation at Deathgasm Records for $5.
Will every single one of these bands eventually get AIDS? Let’s find out!
As part of our Retro Reviews series, DMU looks into one of those classic bands that was on every Gen X death metal fan’s shelf, but probably never made it out for repeated playing after the early 1990s. Some bands just seem to fade… into the background.
Old Disgruntled Bastard, one of the few quality metal blogs around, accused Death Metal Underground of writing clickbait on Facebook for our recent Sadistic Metal Reviews of older albums our staff had noticed to be inferior to the best of the past:
To Death Metal Underground: Certain albums have endured – for musical and extra-musical reasons – across decades and among generations of metalheads of diverse backgrounds, and the least they warrant is treatment with the respect they’ve earned. There is no revelation to be made and there is no current of general perception to be reversed by “raping sacred favorites”. Clickbait is distinctly unelitist and pissing in the wind for the fuck of it isn’t terribly smart either.
Death Metal Underground has received criticism for our review of limp-wristed, warmed-over Swedish heavy metal act In Flames. Our staff called them the Swedish version of Christian glam rock band Stryper. However despite being hard rock, Stryper were actually heavier, more sincere in purpose, and more aggressive than the Comic Sans In Flames. Stryper and the speed metal influenced glam rock of Skid Row were at least far more musical than Fredrik Nordstrom produced melodeaf such as post-Alf Svensson At the Gates, Arch Enemy, Dark Tranquility, In Flames, and Soilwork. Stryper and Skid Row were at least well-versed in 60s and 70s riff rock while directly influenced by Metallica and Slayer: