Zealotry – The Last Witness (2016)

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Article by David Rosales.

On their tantalizing debut album, Zealotry showed charm that often characterizes first releases. Debuting bands earnestly try to capture the aura of the music as they juggle with the technical aspects of playing it. First albums often come off as awkward or even flawed but there still containing endearing and thoroughly captivating elements. Many groups lose this enchantment in their sophomore album only to recover it with the third. This happened to Sepultura, who reached the pinnacle of their transcendental contributions on their only death metal album, Morbid Visions. They followed it with a boring mass of riffs with no heads or tails. Their much superior 1989 speed metal album, Beneath the Remainsfortunately corrected this.  Hopefully, this will be the case with Zealotry as well.

The Last Witness plays like an extension of The Charnel Expanse‘s final track, “The Unmaking”, the least structured song on the album. The band tangentially explored the technical ramifications found by playing their particular style. From the creators’ perspective, this seemed like a clear path. In taking this choice to focus on a narrower voice, the evocative deficiencies of that streamlined, tremolo-picked, sequence-of-riffs approach had to be compensated for. This was completely ignored and instead there is a heavier emphasis on playing the technical parts of the songs correctly.

Musically, there is a lot of worthwhile content here; It just doesn’t tell a story as much as give scattered visions that are not arranged properly, do not have clear beginnings, and even less conclusions. The painstaking composition in a self-conscious style with a corrective attitude is extremely promising. This is admittedly the hard route as it requires extreme discipline; it is the classical composer’s way for reaching to perfection on all fronts. However, composers need many, many errors before turning trial into triumph.

As it stands, The Last Witness is a collection of exquisite details into which a very attentive reader can dive. He will discover many forms but nothing solid enough to materialize a clear vision. In part, this is due to the tendency towards extreme variation and superficial indulgence of musicianship, and too much escapism in the codas. Follow the title track attentively to hear what I am referring to. The problems here mirror those of Monsieur Tougas on his side project except that Zealotry has a much more individualized voice.

Zealotry would also do well to stay away from the death and war metal influences with atmospheric pretensions seen in the empty music of Phobocosm. Instead, they should work on their motific death metal,  develop the themes to establish long-range links, and fully utilize their proper sense of breathing space. Zealotry should play to their strengths instead of diverging horribly and incoherently as in the final track, “Silence”. I am sure with practice and discipline, the time will come when this band will dominate a wider range of expressions. For now, shaping up this very narrow music into that which breathes, lives, and envisions a story is still a goal.

Readers may listen to The Last Witness on Zealotry’s Bandcamp page.

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1983

A footnote in an article we ran last week sparked a lot of controversy among our very passionate friends who lurk the DMU comment sections.  No, it wasn’t that we correctly identified SJW journalists as the nail in the coffin of metal as we know it; instead it was an observation of the last death of heavy metal:

In the early 1970s, heavy metal was an exciting new musical and cultural movement. So much so, that it surpassed even rock music (thought to be revolutionary just a few years before). But towards the end of the decade came a near-lethal blow: punk rock. Faster, louder, more abrasive and aggressive, punk had risen the bar and metal couldn’t compete. From 1977-1983, metal was almost completely obliterated. Many had declared the movement dead – a fleeting flavor of the week experiment that did not stand the test of time.

Many took issue with this: “metal wasn’t dead!”  they cried.  “Albums were released, things happened!”  “You’re erasing history Brock, your articles ruined this site and my life!”

The intrigue and utter distraction of this phrase sparked the need to further elaborate:  Did metal actually die, during this time period, or did I somehow just miss a few years of quality metal development?

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On The Ending Of American Psycho (2000)

The classic film portrayal of Bret Easton Ellis’s viciously dark novel American psycho has an incredibly open-ended ending that ultimately leaves the film’s conclusion up to the viewers. Chronicling the growing insanity of Christian Bale’s outstanding Patrick Bateman character, the film never makes a firm establishment of how real any of what we were seeing actually was. After eluding what seemed like certain doom in the form of confessing a massive killing spree to his lawyer, Bateman himself wonders if his murders really did happen.

This leaves the opportunity to make a case for three different theories:

  1. Bateman committed none of the murders, all of them happened inside of his mind.
  2. Bateman committed some of the murders, but hallucinated the others.
  3. Bateman committed all of the murders.

My belief was always the least popular of these three theories, but before I elaborate let’s take a moment to examine the other two.

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Infamous “A Su Connottu, Oro Sa Lei De S’Antigoriu”

For centuries Italian engineers were valued throughout the western world for their skill in both destruction and construction. The great Imperial warlord Albrecht Wallenstein, who exhibited a keen eye for excellence, had Italian mercenaries in his army and Italian architects for his for his manors. With their relatively recent split release with German band Gorrenje, the Italian black metal band Infamous carry on this tradition of dual excellence.

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Concert Review: Metalmania 2018

On  7th  April, another edition of a long standing Polish festival Metalmania took place. One day, two stages, twenty four bands. It was the second one organized after a recent reactivation. The original Metalmania was an early big metal event in that part of the Europe – quite a feat given Polish Communist and post-Communist realities. Then, due to various reasons, the festival was gradually losing its relevance, dwindling and finally went into hiatus for 8 years. There is no sense, however, to cling to its bygone local importance or whatever glorious past. So how does it look now? 

While too much reliance on more mainstream gothic and heavy contributed to a collapse of previous incarnation of the festival, and now it was death and black oriented, the music on the big scene is rather consistently aimed at straight metal through all of its generations and styles, ending with bands like Dead Congregation or Blaze of Perdition and with some of the more modern sounds on a small scene. On a downside, the fest resurfacing mainly as a stage for classic bands may be reflecting the actual state of metal, indicating that the newer bands are unable to fill the void with something equally strong to their predecessors. 

The festival was obviously rough around the edges (and surprisingly violent – I almost got caught into two different fights just from where I was standing) and the sound was uneven and average overall. It was organized better than in the past, but still perceptibly within Polish standards, that is crudely and with lack of imagination or simply negligence in some areas (although Martin van Drunen said on stage that the organization was great!). Perhaps a very fortunate by-product of these characteristics, which may contribute to the positive reception of this festival, is how – I dare to say – conservative it is, both in terms of lineup and general spirit. With Napalm Death and (I suppose) liberal speed metallers on one side and sort of crypto-nazis on the other, who always find a way to show up in some form, the fest also covered broadest ideological spectrum that is possible for a mainstream event. 

As of 2018 this festival is yet to experience types of modern degeneracy, often coming from outside, which can be seen on festivals elsewhere. There were some obligatory side attractions, like exhibition of works of Christophe Szpajdel (who actually speaks Polish fluently), meet-up with the bands and lots of merch, but nothing delving too much into a fan idiocy or really not related to metal. Very few freaks, zero exotic people, no random participants, just fairly traditional metalheads, mostly in the 90s style, as it should be, world without end. However, those spoiled by abundance of propositions and by big festivals in Germany or Czech Republic will probably miss out on some of these modest qualities. 

And then there’s the surreal, sci-fi sight at the arrival – a monumental, Communistic “The Saucer” occupied by nothing but a tribe of long haired, black clad drunks… 

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/smr/ Sadistic Metal Reviews: Massacre of Death Metal’s Mainstream

Yesterday, we gave you the 10 most popular death metal bands of all time.  Now one by one they will face public execution as we absolutely massacre their most recent release.  No mercy will be shown- orders are to kill everything that moves.

Did you fucking soy metal nu males really think they would get off easy?  This is Death Metal Underground- the most savage music site on the internet!  Death to soy metal, death to sellouts, burn and die all falses!  Mayhem- war- sadism- brutalization!  No death metal band should have 1 million Facebook likes!  No death metal band should be on Facebook at all!  Pussies!  Behead the corpses, throw them into the streets- the Templar way!

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Twilight of the Guitarist?

It is a harsh truth that all things in our finite world will end at some point or another.  I was fortunate enough to learn this lesson at young age, with friends moving out of state and death claiming some of those closest to me. But there are many who are not so lucky to experience the cruelty of life during their youth and are now struggling to adapt to the harsh political and cultural upheaval that is sweeping the world at large.

This failure mainly stems from a cultural and educational system that leads us to to believe none of the beloved things in our safe American bubble will ever see massive change and upheaval- that our world and lives probably won’t be much different than that of our parents and teachers. But already, we are witnessing the death of malls, the value of college degrees, major retail chains, cable television, Hollywood movies, mainstream media, atheism, and an the age of idealism.

And sadly for fans of rock and metal music, the final hour may be at hand for a beacon of our pride and culture: the guitar hero.  With the impending bankruptcy of Gibson and now the imminent bankruptcy of Guitar Center, it would be foolish for anyone to still proclaim the immortality of the “guitar god.” For all things of this world must one day end, and dare I must ask… could the twilight of the guitarist truly be at hand?

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Some Thoughts on Nature

I enjoy camping. Solitude. Enjoying primitive conditions. Witnessing the power and beauty of nature. It helps one keep a good Hessian frame of mind. I try to go as often as is possible and there is one location near me that I frequent rather often. After a bit of a drive over old logging roads through the hills I stop and pull my car off the side of the road and put on my pack and get my rifle at port arms. To get to my favoured camping area it is a 5 mile hike that for a short while follows an abandoned narrow-gauge railroad that some logging company built to expedite the extraction of resources from the area many years back. The place I like to set up camp is a tiny, elevated clearing in the pine trees next to a small creek from which I can get water. The area is a temperate rain forest of sorts, so there are 3-6 foot tall ferns everywhere, and in old-growth areas that have not fallen prey to logging, you can see the triple-canopy growth that is common to all rain forests. However, most of the forests around have been logged at some point so this sight is rare. I use a small shovel or a machete to clear out the ferns so I have a nice place to build a camp fire and an area to lay out my sleeping bag. The chopped down ferns double as a nice mattress.

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Introduction to Power Metal, Part II: The First Wave of European Power Metal

[The epic continues!  Read part I of Johan’s journey here and listen for yourself via this playlist]

While working with what was intended to be the second part of a tripartite article series covering the history and general properties of the power metal subgenre, it soon became clear that a sufficiently thorough treatment of the subject would require more space and time than what was originally intended. This insight subsequently led to the conclusion that individual parts needed to be subdivided and portioned out in order to not grow out of proportion. The initial plan to present the material into three consecutive parts has thus been revised.

Another related issue that arose during “research” concerns the historical development of European power metal. As have been noted in previous articles on this site relating to the history of metal music, artistic “movements” or periods of development tend last about five years speaking in generalized terms. This phenomenon can be observed in European power metal as well. After having studied Euro-power metal as a composite phenomenon, a rough sketch outlining the developmental trajectory of said music began to take form:

1984-1989: The first wave of European power metal.

1990-1995: Intermediate period.

1996-2001: The second wave of European power metal.

While not a perfect model, this rough periodic division will be used as a framework for discussion in the articles to follow. The relatively lengthy timespan that has passed since the putatively defined second wave of European power metal will be left out for the moment, primarily (and regrettably) because there hasn’t really occurred much of a development in power metal since the early 2000s. If anyone sits on information that invalidates the above statement, feel free to chip in – this writer would be very pleased to be proven wrong on this front.

Accordingly, the second part of this article series will be mainly devoted to the development and characteristics of the first wave of European power metal and the intermediate period that followed in its wake. Instead of approaching the subject in thoroughly generalized manner, a ???-track compilation will be used as source material to make observations about the historical development and specific traits of first wave Euro-styled power metal. Please not that this collection of tracks is by no means intended as a “best of”-compilation but should rather be viewed of as a springboard for further discussion.

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