Death metal albums of which I will never tire

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Early death metal (Bathory, Slayer, Hellhammer, Sodom, Master) emerged as an aggregate of the past, comprised of speed metal (Metallica, Exodus, Nuclear Assault, Testament, Megadeth), late hardcore (Cro-Mags, Amebix, Discharge, The Exploited, GBH), classic heavy metal (Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Motorhead) and thrash (DRI, COC, Cryptic Slaughter). As a result, most death metal bands exhibited some tendencies more than others, although the founding early death metal bands tended toward the type of tremolo-powered phrase-based riffing exemplified by Slayer.

For example, Deicide on its second album Legion arguably made the album that …And Justice For All wanted to be, with lots of choppy percussive riffing forming intricate textures from which a melody emerged. Early Master sounded more like a punk band with its simple song structures and emphasis on droning, protest-like vocals. Second-wave death metal like Death and Possessed had a tendency to apply speed metal song structures and riff styles. Even advanced death metal like Pestilence often sounded like a more technical and complex version of early speed metal.

But focusing on death metal requires we look at what was unique to it. Getting past the vocals and the intensity, what distinguishes it musically is its use of that tremolo-strummed phrasal riff. This in turn forced bands to escape from riffs integrated strictly with drums, and to as a result put more riffs into the song to drive changes that previous would have been done by the drums. That in turn forced bands to make those riffs fit together, what Asphyx call “riff-gluing,” so that songs avoided the “riff salad” plague that captured later speed metal.

These bands exploded onto the world from 1983-1985, inspired in part by Discharge’s Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing which hit the ground in 1982. Slayer in particular stitched together classic heavy metal and ambient hardcore like Discharge and GBH and ended up with its particular formulation, taking the tremolo and riffs independent of drums from Discharge and matching them to the complex proggy structures of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden with Motorhead speed and aggression. This was what launched death metal free from the shadow of speed metal, which was the first metal genre to break out of underground status despite being — for the time — fast, aggressive and dark.

If you want to get to the core of death metal, these albums might help. They’re albums I keep returning to year after year because they have enough complexity and that unquantifiable quality of having purpose and being expressive, perhaps even emulating the life around them and converting it into a beast of mythological quality, which makes them interesting each time I pick them up. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, the players….

Slayer – Show No Mercy

While Hell Awaits has more expert composition, South of Heaven better control of mood and melody, and Reign in Blood more pure rhythmic intensity, Show No Mercy captures Slayer flush with the fervor of youth and the belief in big concepts. As a result, it is an intensity mystical album, uniting a narrative about war between good and evil with the actions of people on earth. It is not like Hell Awaits more solidly situated in a single mythology, nor like Reign in Blood and after an attempt to explore the dark side of modern existence in a literal sense. Instead, it is a flight of imagination mated to an apocalyptic vision of a society crumbling from within. As a result it is musically the most imaginative of Slayer albums, creating grand constructions of visions of worlds beyond that stimulate the fantasy dwelling within our otherwise obedient minds.

Massacra – Enjoy the Violence

Another early album in very much the style of Slayer but with intensity cranked to the ceiling, Enjoy the Violence shows a band intent on conveying intense energy through their music. To do this, they rely on not only near-constant breakneck speed but also vivid contrasts between the types of riffs that are used in a song, welding a rich narrative from riffs that initially seem simple like the scattered twisted bits of metal left after a battle. The result is closer to epic poem that punk music and blows conventional heavy metal and speed metal out of the water with the sense of unbridled aggression and lust for life that surges through its passages. In addition, it carries on the mythological tradition of Slayer but adds a Nietzschean spin whereby constant war for supremacy and domination is the only path not only to victory, but to personal integrity.

Morbid Angel – Abominations of Desolation

Most prefer the more refined versions of these songs from Altars of Madness and Blessed Are the Sick, but my ear favors these nuanced and unsystematic detail-heavy songs which feature more of a blending of textures into what sounds like a communication from another world heard underwater or through the croaking voice of a medium. Trey Azagthoth’s solos were best when he used his half-whole step leaps to make solos that sounded like the creation of gnarly sculptures, and these songs powered by Mike Browning’s drums and voice have more of an organic jauntiness to them than the later mechanistic tanks-crushing-the-shopping-mall sound of the full albums. In addition, this combination of songs strays from the later more interruption-based riffing this band would attempt and instead brings out their inner desire to rip all ahead go at all times, creating a suspension of reality like war itself.

Incantation – Onward to Golgotha

When the idea comes to mind of death metal at its essence, this album will be mentioned because it creates a sound unlike anything else. Incantation took the Slayer riff and song formula and slowed it down, doubled the complexity, and focused on alternating tempos and riff styles to create a building mood of immersive darkness. The result was not only aggressive, but melancholic and contemplative, like a warrior looking out over an abandoned bullet-pocked city. Detuned riffs collide and deconstruct one another, resulting in a sound like the inexorable flow of black water through underground caverns as civilizations collapse above. This rare group of musicians achieved a triumph here that none have been able to repeat individually, suggesting this album was born of a magic confluence of ideas more than a process (ham sandwiches on a conveyor belt).

Carnage – Dark Recollections

If you want “the Swedish sound” at its most powerful, Dark Recollections offers every component synthesized into a package that has not yet had time to become self-critical and neurotic, and thus is an unfettered expression of the thoughts of precocious adolescents translated into sound. The components of Swedish death metal are the modified d-beat, the use of melody to expand song development, a gritty electric explosion of guitar sound, and a tendency to write songs that are half searing budget riff and half horror movie sound track.

Sepultura – Morbid Visions/Bestial Devastation

The first EP in this two-EP package is the more classic death metal version and packs a solid blast of inventive riffcraft staged with theatrical precision into songs that form narratives of the topics denoted in their titles. But the riffs are instant creations of their own, shaped from raw chromaticism and whipped into fury by two levels of rhythm, both in the change of chords and the texturing of the sounding of them. The result owes quite a bit to Slayer, Bathory and Hellhammer, but also to the punk hardcore underlying those acts and a good knowledge of dark metal of the time, and yet is still its own animal. Nothing sounds like this except it, and by giving itself a unique voice, it conjures a power of revelation that endows these songs with lasting enjoyment for the listener.

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Metal Will Never Die

Online music magazine Perfect Sound Forever (nice job stealing the 1980s advertising slogan for the then new CD format) recently posted a piece entitled “Metal For the New Millennium” by an idiotic hipster named Cam Netland who said that metal was a limited music genre as result of being a “as an offset of rock music”. Netland claims that metal became “more hardcore” as a result of the “radicalization” of other genres in this period citing staid examples such as Bad Brains (softened hardcore punk for idiotic affirmative action multi-culturalists) and Public Enemy (rap made into pop music with tough street gang lyrics to make suburban white jocks feel good about their short penises). He goes onto claim that metal is divided into many “micro-genres” and that the new millennium has seen the rise of many new ones such as what Neton terms Babymetal‘s grass-eater Japanese pop music, djent (random post-hardcore jazz fusion) Deafheaven‘s “blackgaze” (screamo pretending to be tough that is neither black metal nor shoegaze), and Vektor‘s random techno speed metal idiocy. Netland cites such turd non-metal albums as MastodonLeviathan (alternative rock), Converge – Jane Doe (post-hardcore math rock), and System of a Down – Toxicity (nu-“metal” which is in actuality of course rap rock).

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Underground Never Dies! by Andrés Padilla

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This review includes a 3-page sample of the book, and streaming audio of the tracks on Side A of the accompanying LP of underground metal rarities. Side B follows with the continuation of this review.

Underground Never Dies! fills a void in the literature about metal so far, which is the “why” behind the underground. We know the facts from other sources, but facts are deceiving because they take on a life of their own. Underground Never Dies! knits the facts together with a narrative of the reasons people expressed for joining the underground.

Angling toward its topic matter from a zine-based perspective, Underground Never Dies! describes the informal network of fans, bands, labels and writers who stayed connected through postal mail and xeroxed 50-page fanzines. This substituted for the huge media network and financial power of the major labels, who soon found themselves wishing they had an underground also.

The reason for this is that, as any advertiser can tell you, the most effective force in marketing is word of mouth. It takes ten TV ads about how awesome Altars of Madness is to be equal — possibly — to one friend telling you about “the most intense album ever.” Zines were a personal connection by people who threw out the false objectivity of mainstream media, and instead focused on presenting what they found meaningful.

Underground Never Dies! unites several threads while explaining this phenomenon. On one hand, this book is an incredible treasure trove of images and words from the past, reproduced exactly as they appeared in the original zines, flyers and letters. Looking more deeply, it’s an exploration of what it means to have the underground mentality through the words of those who participated and distinguished themselves, including luminaries like Fenriz of Darkthrone and musicians from At the Gates.

What makes this book exceptional is that it takes the same approach a zine would, which makes sense seeing how the author Andrés Padilla is editor of Chilean zine Grinder Magazine. Using his practiced approach, he goes for a metal version of Hunter S. Thompson’s “gonzo journalism” and discards the pretense of objectivity, instead looking at the scene as a personal experience with shared objective components between a select group who actually did notable things back in the day.

Parts of this book will take your breath away as you realize you are looking at historical objects reproduced as if in a museum, and that these objects represent the time and place where movements that are with us to this day were launched. From demo covers of bands that were later genre-defining to classic interviews where bands explained their motivation, even extending to lost promotional photos of bands 30 years ago, Underground Never Dies! is like an inverted periscope into the deep and murky world of underground extreme metal.

What makes this book more than a souvenir is its intense exploration of the why, however. Personal statements from notable scene personalities, including Alan Moses of Glorious Times fame, as well as clear articulations from zines in the day about what motivated the participants, line these pages and show us how the underground wasn’t just a musical movement, but a social movement, if not a separate society entirely.

The first 500 copies of the book come with a LP recording of unreleased classic metal tracks from back in the day. You can peruse the tracklist here, or listen to the live soundstream that follows this article. The CD/LP will be sold separately in addition to the book, but it’s hard to imagine wanting one without the other since both are essentially archives of rare information.

Interested fans may wish to seek our initial report on Underground Never Dies!, or our announcement of the book’s impending release. Of interest also is our interview with Underground Never Dies! and Grinder Magazine author Andrés Padilla (which you can also read in Spanish). For background, you might also enjoy reading The Heavy Metal FAQ and our public domain metal zines archive.

3-page PDF sampler of Underground Never Dies!

Streaming MP3s of Underground Never Dies! LP/CD – Side A

1. Incubus – “Engulfed in Unspeakable Horrors” (5:19)

2. Slaughter Lord – “Taste Of Blood” (3:13)

3. Mutilated – “Hysterical Corpse Dislocation” (3:05)

4. Dr. Shrinker – “Cerebral Seizure” (3:06)

5. Aftermath – “When You Will Die” (3:52)

6. Exmortis – “Beyond The Realm Of Madness” (3:24)

Side B will follow with the second part of this review.

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/smr/ Sadistic Metal Reviews – Post Black Metal Eulogy (Part 2)

In post black metal, we saw riffs being declared null and void in favor of atmosphere.  Gone were the melodic harmonies of Iron Maiden and Dissection, the savage atonal decimation of Morbid Angel and Blasphemy, and the memorable rhythm and lead guitarwork of Slayer and Death.  All this came in favor of completely forgettable riffs and songs in favor of an overall spacey “transcendental” experience.  Aesthetically, post metal was the reflection of progressive societal values of the 2010s- the emassculation of men (all musicians were Nu Males), artwork made by douche bag art degree scumbags that live in ghettos, and tame, timid, “spiritual but not religious” lyrics that had not a shred of aggression or danger.

It didn’t have to be like this.  There could have been ways for bands to experiment with post rock/shoegaze elements and still maintain the foundation of a metal presentation, maintain metal aesthetics, and have attitude or edge.  But not a single band- NOT A SINGLE ONE- was capable of doing so, proving that the accusations of these bands/musicians not being metal were to be fully valid and accurate.

This is the absolute end of post black metal before it circles the drain of a shit-stained toilet and is flushed to the bowels of irrelevancy.  A finally eulogy to a genre that never should have happened.  The musicians will bleed out their parents money and then become homeless, get aids from a bad batch of heroin, and die a miserable death in an alleyway gutter where they should have been left to rot at birth.

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Norway’s Wordless Abyss

Studies have shown that listening to instrumental music while writing, studying, doing accounting, or any other productive task can increase stimulation without the distraction that the words of vocals provide.  But for Hessian, Templar, Heathen and other true metalheads instrumental works can be difficult to come by as extreme metal has not dabbled much into the realms of instrumental savagery.  But thanks to the necrophiliac obsession that many have had with Norwegian black metal and its culture, there are a few enjoyable demos and early rehearsals from Norway’s finest that can provide a motivational grim instrumental experience without demanding too much from the attention of the listener.

Join me if you will for a vocal-less adventure through some of Norway’s best kept foreboding hidden secrets.

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Nightworld (2017)

At the final level, every object or idea in our world becomes reduced to a single line said in passing between people. This usually consists of a quality assessment plus a scope, such as, “The FIAT 500 is a great car for driving between your garage and a repair shop.”

If we were to do this for Nightworld, a movie featuring the charismatic Robert Englund of Freddy Krueger fame, our summary would be, “It is a good first chapter for a horror novel.” (more…)

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Analysis of Demilich’s “When the Sun Drank the Weight of Water”

[Sections of this article by Jerry Hauppa].

The Finnish scene has spawned an impressive number of death metal giants, possibly the strongest overall scene with no band searching for shallow fame or popularity and each band exploring their own sound in complete artistic integrity and more often than not achieving powerful results. Though all these bands have captured the hearts and the imaginations of Hessians everywhere, one four-piece has managed to completely change the face of death metal. Releasing one album that elevated metal into being recognized as an intellectual genre in the eyes of the mainstream, so much so that the mainstream metal media fled from this album as no one could commercialize and democratize what was being played here, Demilich were unfairly pushed back into the underground when they deserved adoration from the masses.

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Polarized Metal Genres Must Unite Against The Funderground

Metal is facing a decisive moment in time. As a genre and an entire sub culture, it’s threatened with a massive flux of outsider interest into what was once an isolated community forged in passion. Metal was a cause for tight bonds among like minded disillusioned youth that wanted nothing to do with the status quo, a lawless free for all where no ideology or point of view was too extreme. Thus grew a voice to rally against the farce of mainstream politics, social acceptability, resolute contentment with mundane lifestyles and herd mentality. Though acts like Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden were to find great success within the public large, they laid the groundwork for that rebel yell that gave the disgruntled youth the foundations for connecting with others so disconnected. And with such a ground roots movement that metal was, true artists and musicians who may have never have been given an opportunity to rise otherwise were now rising and exponentially so. Quickly NWOBHM became speed metal became death metal became black metal. Then, as with all great explosive cultural movements, metal began losing its traction and sight of its original goals of fighting against the mainstream culture of quantity over quality. But it is now that we see its greatest threat in its acceptance by the masses. Now it is being taken for a boutique exotic exploration into what most really don’t want to explore: cold unforgiving reality.

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/smr/ Sadistic Metal Reviews: Post Black Eulogy (Part 1)

[Join DMU editor Brock Dorsey on the first of a two part massacre of the soy metal sub genre that has bastaradized black metal beyond the belief!  Also, this image is an actual cover from an actual post black metal album- you can’t make this stuff up!]

Post black metal was an embarrassing sub genre of soy metal.  Built upon a foundation of either screamo, pop punk, metalcore, math rock, shoegaze, or avant-garde and fused with the most minimal touches of black metal, post black metal was a flavor of the week(/weak) trend that lasted from around 2009 to 2014.  The genre name is misleading, however, as most bands only claimed to be metal and incorporated only slight touches of metal characteristics before abandoning them completely in future releases.  As indicated by its core standard bearers being dropped by labels, performing terribly in sales and Facebook likes, and being forgotten by fans, post black metal has finally passed away.  As we lay it to rest with one final cremation in the SMR fashion, let us learn from its failings as the future looks to more traditional forms of heavy metal  to restore a once proud genre.

First, we must understand metal history to understand how such an abomination could happen, as Post-black metal followed a number of flavor of the week black metal trends and bands.  The first of these, symphonic black metal, sent many fans of the original (true) black metal genre into a frenzy with their incorporation of gothic influences.  What was to come would be much worse, however, as the soy metal bands marketed as black metal would prove to be far more embarrassing than the Victorian campiness of Cradle of Filth or the industrial meddling of …And Oceans.  The next flavor of the week black metal trend was cleverly concealed in a cloak of static, but the hipsterisms of “depressive black metal” would soon be known to the world.  Time was not kind to the legacy of Xasthur and Leviathan, both of whom are now widely panned against the metal community, as where the thousands of “bedroom black metal” clones who polluted Myspace.  With many short lived flavor of the week trends (such as “Norsecore” and “Cascadian black metal”) and bands (Kult ov Azazel, Inquisition) in between, the soy metal- black metal hybird that was post black metal was the next successful marketing scheme to deceive young and retarded metal fans alike.

Performed mostly by wealthy but useless trust fund kinds from liberal cities, post black metal was to metal as emo was to rock music: feminine, tame, and a complete and utter bastardazation.  Thus, post metal was eventually abandoned by its former fans, spat on by the metal community, dropped by metal/rock record labels, and remembered poorly by music lovers.  Much like how the rent some of its musicians was eventually cut off from their parent’s bank roll, post metal was eventually told to stop leaching off the metal community so that the genre may maintain a shred of dignity.

Brace yourselves for an infernal evisceration unlike aynthing you’ve ever seen before, because in this edition of SMR, we won’t just be sadistically reviewing albums…

 

 

we’ll be sadistically reviewing careers.

 

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Hipsters Discover That Black Metal Musicians Are Bad

Another scandal!  Yes folks, for the fourth time in the past two or three weeks, hipster journalists and fake metal fans are shocked and appalled that a black metal musician has done something immoral.  Despite black metal being a music genre for 30 years, smelly neckbeard losers and dreadlocked trust fund crusties are figuratively (though literally in some cases) throwing their own feces every time they catch a mid-tier black metal musician doing something not socially acceptable.  This time, the horrific act came from Marduk, whose purchasing of German World War II merchandise from a sketchy online retailer made them too evil for a fest called Stockholm Slaughter (who apparently think slaughter is cool, but just not when it pertains to 1940s Europe).

Because millennials are too dumb to learn any history that doesn’t involve student loans, let’s quickly look back and see if any criminal or immoral things were done by the original black metal bands.  Maybe there’s something that we can learn from  that fateful 1990s Norwegian scene:

Band                   Criminal/Immoral Act

Burzum                Murder, violating parole with a shitload of explosives, arson, Nazism, white supremacy

Dimmu Borgir    Using the N word in an interview/proclaiming the desire to genocide Africans

Emperor              Hate crime murder of a homosexual, arson

Gorgoroth           Rape, battery and torture, violation of Poland’s animal rights laws, homosexuality

Immortal             Arson

Mayhem              Murder, 2nd degree murder, arson, public mutilation, trashing hotels

Satyricon            Rape, arson, rape

Thorns                2nd degree murder

I’m sorry to break this to everyone living in a liberal bubble, but a painfully obvious truth exists:  black metal musicians are bad men.

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