Morbid Angel – Kingdoms Disdained (2017)

There are twelve notes. There are twenty-six letters. We can form them into combinations/patterns. The ones that stay with us are the ones that communicate. This takes us above the level of riff (metal), harmony (jazz/rock), and into the realm of melody, which uses phrase and harmony as means of strengthening the expression of a melody, or a unique combination which resembles the psychological sensation of a certain experience.

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Morbid Angel – Kingdoms Disdained (2017)

It has been twenty years since Formulas Fatal to the Flesh first graced record store shelves, which still existed back then. That comeback album was the strongest statement from Morbid Angel after their initial surge of genre-defining creativity. It may have also been their high-water mark because everything since has shown a downward trajectory.

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Morbid Angel Only Playing Steve Tucker Era Material on Upcoming Tour

Current Morbid Angel vocalist Steve Tucker claimed in an interview with the Orlando Weekly that Morbid Angel will only be playing material that he originally recorded in the studio on their upcoming tour with Suffocation. Sole original member Trey Azagthoth will not be playing any of the band’s best material off of Abominations of Desolation.

You and Trey have been working on a new studio album, Morbid Angel’s first in six years. Will the new music be featured in the live set?

Probably one or two new songs; the album’s almost done, but we don’t want to put out too much with YouTube putting it up the next day. The setlist will be different, too – in the past, we’ve covered all of Morbid Angel’s discography, but this time we went with the discography between Trey and I. I’m really excited about the fact that every song we play is a song I was a part of. There are some Morbid Angel classics that aren’t there, but we made our own classics.

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The new Morbid Angel

No review of the new Morbid Angel is enclosed here; by the time you read to the end, you’ll know why.

First supposition: there’s no point wallowing in what you hate.

Second supposition: if a linear trend toward worse is in existence, it is most likely that the most recent products are bad.

Combine those two.

Morbid Angel was a great and promising band for the first three albums because they were cruising on the strength of material they wrote in their lean and hungry days. By lean and hungry days, I mean their time in Tampa, working in a car wash, living together in the same house, doing an assload of drugs and most importantly, writing and playing the material that would be on the first album. As in, playing it over and over again until they got it right. This is a lot like what Slayer did in the early days.

Abominations of Desolation was a great album, but a bit disorganized. Mike Browning offered creative and prescient material; David Vincent acted like an MBA or business manager, cutting it down to the bare essence. As a result, Altars of Madness and the non-frufru parts of Blessed Are the Sick are pure power and come across without any fat on them. Having reached a degree of musical maturity, they knocked out Covenant …but just barely. The instrumental was convenient, many of the other tracks were ideas capitalized on from rejected earlier songs, they threw in an incongruous cover of “Angel of Disease” and wrote a few new songs that were powerful but not connected as a unit like those on the first two albums.

That was their great creative output.

Do you really need someone to bash the albums after that?

Let’s try this: once you enter the music industry, someone else owns your rectum. They own the right to open it up and put something into it. The reason for this is that musicians are as a whole sloppy people who don’t read contracts, refuse to understand business, and pretend that this stuff doesn’t matter in order to compensate.

As a result, they’re ripe for picking by the music industry. There’s no point blaming the music industry; in fact, they’re the heroes here because they are taking the output of dramatic, over-self-indulgent, narcissistic perpetual adolescents and shaping it into a product so those same quasi-functional people can continue existing. However, as a result, they take over the role of parent… and have to remind the musicians to make output.

In the meantime, the musicians are looking at the market. Death metal sells fifty thousand records; Pantera, Slayer, Marilyn Manson, Metallica, Megadeth, Tool, Primus, Rage Against the Machine, Nirvana, Mudhoney and Sonic Youth sell millions of records. That’s what the market looked like in 1995. So with some urging from the record label, bands change. Here they make a fatal mistake: their fans like them because they’re not Nirvana/Pantera, and trying to be something you’re not is a good way to become an inferior copy of it. (The correct response at this point is to make your albums more technical, more passionate and more realistic, but that’s difficult and requires you to NOT buy the comfy townhouse, but go back to the shitty day job at the car wash and living in a house together, making music. You have to give your life to it, for the most part. Sure, maybe you could live elsewhere in a townhouse, but each step into comfort puts you further from being able to knock off work and race home, looking forward to jamming all night and getting the music really right. Not the product — the music. But I digress.)

A lot of death metal bands, about 1994, realized they were kissing cousins of the Nirvana/Pantera/Tool crowd, and that if those guys were making an assload of money, maybe the death metal bands could too, if they just changed a bit. They changed, became inferior copies of the others, and promptly stepped out of the history books. Had they just kept making quality music, they would have lived in shitty housing for another seven years, then suddenly had an Introduction to Microeconomics moment: when you have seven albums out, and they’re all really good, you don’t sell as many records as Pantera does with one album, but you have a constant stream of fans who see you as “the real deal” and while they buy fewer albums, they buy consistently. And they buy all of the albums, so your first album charts about the same as your most recent. (This was proven by Metallica, before they went fluff, having all four of their albums and one EP in the top 200.)

With all that in mind, you know what happened to Morbid Angel. It must’ve been ugly: lots of fighting over trivial stuff, lots of negotiating about contracts they never read before they signed them, lots of hatred between band members blaming each other for the failure. And almost no time spent thinking about the music, about making music that they (Morbid Angel) would be really excited to hear, not think was on par with whatever Tool or Pantera were puking out at the time.

Do you really want a review of the new Morbid Angel? Formulas Fatal to the Flesh was good; everything else has been a failure. Domination tried to combine grunge, Pantera and death metal; Heretic was pure Pantera-doing-Tool; the live album was decent but everyone wanted to hear Brunelle solos on the older stuff; Gateways to Annihilation was just confused between styles, and now there’ s a new one, which most likely continues this progression.

We’re not looking at a musical entity called Morbid Angel anymore; we’re looking at a business. This business succeeds by hoodwinking teenage morons into buying trendy crap. This is a workable business model only because our society values morons, protects them, and wants to ensure that we’re all equal so the morons drown out the smart people. The guys in Morbid Angel agree with this. However, right now, they either puke out another commercialish album and capitalism on the raped necrophile whore of their good name, or they go back to working at the car wash.

What would you do?

Yeah, I thought so.

by Steve Brettens, Lontinuak, Pijay Vrozak and L.M. Hencken

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Sadistic Metal Reviews 1-22-2017

Everything you love is eventually butchered, emulsified, digested, and squeezed out by lesser life forms ranging from head hunters to bacterium to mediocre metal bands. Here are some Sadistic Metal Reviews for our readers’ pleasure:

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Interview with Mike Browning 05-30-15

morbid_angel_-_demon_logo

As mentioned in our first article on the topic, the “first album” from Morbid Angel remains a vague category because the band recorded two first albums, each given a name starting with the letter A which fits into the alphabetical sequence to which their albums have conformed to this day. We took a few moments to speak to original drummer/vocalist Mike Browning (Nocturnus, After Death) about Abominations of Desolation versus Altars of Madness as the true first album of this essential band…

You were one of the original players on Morbid Angel’s Abominations of Desolation (referred to as AOD), which was released before most of the publicly acknowledged death metal classics. What was the band lineup for AOD? How does it feel to have participated in such a historic and musically intense recording?

The line-­up on the AOD album was:

  • Mike Browning -­‐ drums and vocals
  • Trey Azagthoth -­‐ guitar
  • Richard Brunelle -­‐ guitar
  • John Ortega -­‐ bass

At the time back in 1986 everything was just still called metal and it didn’t matter if you were more on the death or power metal side, it was still all considered Metal and the Metal crowd was unified and everyone got along for the most part, so to us back then we were just recording another new metal album and we weren’t concerned with being the fastest or the heaviest, we just did our own thing and kept it as original as possible. Back then the main thing was to be real and not fake in what we were doing.

Was it intended to be the first Morbid Angel album? How do you know? Was this fact …inconvenient… for anyone?

It still amazes me that this is even questionable, but here is the thing, we were offered a RECORD CONTRACT to record an ALBUM under the name MORBID ANGEL by Goreque Records, a label owned by  David Vincent and his partner Mark Anderson. We signed the contract and Bill Metoyer of Metal Blade  producer/engineer that recorded and mixed more albums than I can even think of, was hired to  engineer the album.

So Goreque Records rented us a UHaul truck and we packed up our gear and went  to a studio in Charlotte, North Carolina. We were furnished with hotel rooms and I met David Vincent and Mark Anderson for the first time face to face and the next day we started to record the album, after  about 5 or 6 days there we were finished with the recording and David Vincent sent all of us but Trey back to Tampa and kept Trey there by himself for the mixdown, little did the rest of us know that the whole time David Vincent was really brainwashing Trey and telling him how bad the album was and that  he should quit the band and come join his band. When Trey came back from the mixing, he acted like a  completely different person and everything went downhill from there.

What was the reaction to its release at the time (1986) and five years later in 1991?

Well that is the thing, the album never got released because I ended up catching Trey with my girlfriend and I beat him up for it and that was the end of me being in Morbid Angel because Trey and Richard moved from Tampa to Charlotte and did get in a band with David and his drummer Wayne Hartsell. I know that John Ortega had a copy of a rough mix that we had at the point that we all left to go back to Tampa, so when Trey got back he said that David Vincent told him that the bass playing was so bad on the album that we had to fire John Ortega if we wanted the album to still come out on his label and replace him with Sterling Scarborough, we didn’t even know who Sterling was, but again it was David’s idea for us to replace Johnny with Sterling, so Trey did it and the band only lasted a couple months once this happened.

When [AOD] came out in 1991 I think it confused a lot of people as to what it was because there was no information or pictures as to who was actually playing on the album, except for a couple of  lines in the front right corner of the cover that said it was AN ALBUM that was recorded in 1986, but never released, so even on the Earache version it says that it was an unreleased album, not a demo, it just also didn’t give any info on who was on it!

When did Morbid Angel decide to record Altars of Madness (referred to as AOM), and what were the changes between songs on that album and AOD?

I guess about two years later, so they had two years to actually work on most of those same songs and make them tighter and faster, they only changed a few words here and there to most of them and a lot of the drum parts were similar only faster.

When Earache released AOD, did they make any changes to the original recording?

I really don’t think they did, of course it never really got released back in 1986, so there is nothing to compare it to except the rough mix that John Ortega had and released as a bootleg.

Who is Sterling von Scarborough?

John Sterling Scarborough was his real name, but he went by Sterling Von Scarborough. He was a bass player from Atlanta that had a band called Incubus and David Vincent knew him and told Trey that we had to replace John Ortega, so he recommended Sterling and so Sterling came to Tampa and tried out for us and became our bass player. He was never on the AOD recording and he joined the band after we recorded the AOD album. We only did one live show with him at a place called The Volley Club in 1986 and Ammon (now Deicide) opened for us that night. Unfortunately that show was never recorded and it was the last show I ever played with Morbid Angel as well.

Why do you think Earache released AOD in 1991, five years after it was originally recorded? Why do you think they chose to claim AOM as the first album instead of AOD?

From what I heard was that they released AOD in 1991 to stop all the bootleg versions of it that were being made, from that one tape that Ortega had, all the bootlegs of it were made from that, so generation after generation they got sounding worse and worse. Earache and David and Trey made a deal to release the AOD album because David had the master reels, so he sold them to Earache and they gave Trey some money as well and they released it to stop the bootlegging.

Funny thing was I was on Earache Records at the time in Nocturnus and they never even told me that they were putting it out, I didn’t even find out about it until after it was already out and in the stores. That album has, guitar, bass, drums and vocals and I am doing 2 of those 4 things and I was never even told that it was gonna be released!

Did Morbid Angel take a different  compositional (choice of notes, not production or vocals) direction with AOM versus AOD? Why did they do that? What did the original direction offer that the new one did not?

Well it was a couple years later that they had quite a bit of time to work on those songs and a few more and with everything but the guitar being new, of course it was going to have a new and different sound, especially when you change vocalists. And if you notice, David tries to sing a lot more like me, but he gave that up and went for a completely different style on Blessed Are The Sick. They also had a big budget and recorded the album in Morrisound which is a studio known for Metal, that studio that we recorded AOD in was actually some kind of a country music recording studio, so the guys that ran that place had never even had any type of metal band even in there before, so of course you are gonna have a huge difference in the production because of those things alone.

Rumor has it that you formed a band named “Ice” with Trey Azagthoth, pre-­Morbid Angel. Wow… a moment in death metal history! What did you want to do with that band, and what was inspiring you at that moment?

Trey and I met in high school back in 1981 and I even remember his mom buying him his first guitar, a wood colored Gibson SG and we started jamming together in my mom’s back room of my house, so we put a little high school band together and even played the high school talent show. It was literally the beginning of what would become Morbid Angel.

I find that musical “inspiration” extends beyond other albums, but includes them. Were there any non‐musical experiences, books, ideas, plays, movies, thoughts, etc. that influenced you, and how did they parallel what you found in the music that influenced you?

Both Trey and I were into the occult, so when he moved into my area of Tampa and started going to school at my school and we met and started talking about what we were both into and we both were musicians that liked the occult and most especially we were both into a book called The Necronomicon and we really believed every bit of that book was true and real, so we decide to put a band together that was based on music that would please these Sumerian Gods that were in The Necronomicon. We were totally serious about what we were doing and the whole purpose of the band was to make music that would bring forth these Ancient Ones back to the Earth.

Did you and other members of Morbid Angel meet in high school, as is the rumor? Where was that? What was it like (hell?) and how did that help you bond?

It was only Trey and I as far as that ended up in Morbid Angel that knew each other in high school. Morbid Angel itself started around 1984 with me, Trey and Dallas Ward on bass.

The High School we went to was called HB Plant High school and it still is in South Tampa, there was an area where all the cool cigarette smokers and hippy type people hung out at the high school called The Alley and everyone would hang out there before school and at lunch and we met there and would always talk about music and The Necronomicon.

As “Ice,” what kind of material did you play? What songs did you cover? How did they mold your style? What was your practice schedule like? Did this influence how Morbid Angel did things later?

We really only played cover songs at first, like Judas Priest and Scorpions and Black Sabbath, because there was no Slayer or Celtic Frost or even Hellhammer yet back then. We did start messing around with some original stuff, but when I graduated from high school, Trey moved again at that time to the North end of Tampa, so for probably a good 6 months I didn’t even see him, so I started jamming with some other guys playing metal covers and Trey met Dallas and Charles, a singer and they had a drummer that was older than all of them and he lived in another town north of Tampa and he only came into town on some weekends to jam with them, so when I started talking to Trey again I decided to quit the cover band and start playing with Trey and these new guys Dallas and Charles and they already had a name for the band and it was called Death Watch. The singer got arrested and went to jail, so that is when we became a three-piece and Dallas was singing and we called the band Heretic, but we quickly found out that there was already another Heretic, so that’s when we finally became Morbid Angel.

How do you conceptualize death metal? Was progressive rock an influence? What about classical or  jazz?

I don’t really think most of the music I have done was only considered to be death metal, because it had a lot of different elements to it, especially with Nocturnus. But I would say that death metal is a very heavy, fast and aggressive type of music with lyrics mainly focused on death, gore and a lot of anti-Christian themes. For me progressive rock has always been an influence, I really liked Rush when I was in high school and they were about as progressive as you could get back then. I also liked classical because I had been in the school band, from grades 6-­‐10 playing percussion, so I learned to play all kinds of percussion like tympanis and bells playing classical and marching band music. I never really got into the jazz style of music, although I wish I had now, because jazz has some of the most amazing drummers and really off timing drum parts.

Your musical style is both highly proficient and idiosyncratic. How did you learn to play? What deepened your understanding of music? How important was the rising death metal scene in changing how you understood music?

It started even before that though because my mom had a 70s rock band that she sang for and they used to practice in the same back room that Trey and I ended up practicing in and I was only about 9 or 10, so I used to sit back there and watch them rehearse and I always liked watching the drummer play the most, so when they offered band when I got in 6th grade I wanted to take the drums of course!

Playing that style of music like marching band and classical stuff and also seeing my mom play in a band really gave me the early understanding of what it was like to play music and be in a band. I was into bands like Led Zeppelin and Styx when I first started and then I got into heavier stuff like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple and then Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and from there I discovered Slayer, Venom Mercyful Fate, Hellhammer and I wanted to be in a band like that, but I also wanted to be different, I have never been into copying anyones style and being like someone else, so I guess why even today I still kind of just do my own thing whether it makes money or not has never been a concern to me, I only play music because I get enjoyment out of it and if other people like what I do, then that is awesome to me!

How was AOD recorded? It sounds rough but preserves the texture of the instruments, instead of trading detail for loudness and polished sound like AOM. What made you choose to record it this way?

Back when we recorded AOD in 1986, we really didn’t know much about recording or what equipment was best for recording, so even though we went into a real professional 24 track studio, we still weren’t that prepared to do a well polished album. I had only been singing a couple months and some of the songs were just put together and we were also under a time constraint because we were in another state recording in an unfamiliar place and we only had so much studio time to get it all done.

If we had better equipment and more knowledge on recording, it probably would have sounded much better, but we were just a bunch of crazy kids with a record contract! I was also never included in the mixdown of the music, so all I got to hear was pretty much the raw unmixed tracks until Trey came back with the album mixed and finished. At least the album has a certain energy to it that was still able to come through, even with all the problems that we did have.

Can you tell us about your current projects, such as (but not limited to!) Afer Death 666? How are these efforts different from typical death metal, AOD and AOM? If people want to find out more about what you’re up to these days, where should they go?

Right now I have 2 bands with the same members in both bands, one is Nocturnus AD, which is a continuation of what I wanted to do with Nocturnus after we recorded The Key in 1990, it is much more technical sci-­fi stuff than what is on AOD and it has keyboards and it is tuned in E-flat which is what Nocturnus was tuned in back in 1987­‐1992 and the other band is just called After Death and as I mentioned it does have the same members, but After Death is a little heavier on the occult side of things and the music is less technical and more atmospheric and tuned in D.

The thing I keep up with most is my Facebook page, which is just under Mike Browning and it has the most up to date info on it, but we also have Facebook pages for Nocturnus AD and After Death and we also have a website www.afterdeath666.com , which has info for both bands on the site.

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Interview: Mike Perun (Cianide)

Cianide are massive stalwarts of American death metal for whom little has changed in twenty years. Their impact is a bludgeoning and brute force one derived almost wholly from the genre’s progenitors; Slaughter (Canada), Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Slayer are touched with the plodding heavy metal of the previous generation to shore up their unwavering sound.

Interview originally from Heidenlarm e-zine #5.

When you formed Cianide, how did you describe the music you wanted to create?

Always was, is and will be: DEATH METAL. Granted we’re probably not the exact textbook definition of the genre, but that is what we’ve always set out to be. Could explain why we’ve managed to outlast a lot of more “popular” or “successful” of the bands that started around the same time we did. Our vision has always stayed the course and to play any other kind of music would just be stupid.

Of the artists who influenced you, which most directly affected your conception of the style of music you create with Cianide?

Of all of our influences the bands that immediately come to mind are FROST/HELLHAMMER (of course!), SLAUGHTER and MASTER/DEATHSTRIKE. Bands that incorporated various speeds/tempos as opposed to just speed for speed’s sake 100% of the time. Another band is POST MORTEM. “Coroner’s Office” is a fuckin’ classic!

The first Cianide album seemed to me to be more grinding than death metal, straying into the ambiguous and underexplored territory where Bolt Thrower, Blood and later Napalm Death wander. a) Do you think this perception is (semi-)accurate and b) what do you see as the differences emerging on later albums?

a. I guess you could say it’s accurate, though at the time we were just doing what we were able to do and not giving a fuck. Looking at the big picture, not a lot of bands call themselves Death Metal and play the sick, slow, dirgy stuff. I guess they call it gay “stoner” now. Remember when it used to be called DOOM METAL??

b. Well obviously we’ve picked up the pace a bit!! Theres only so many times you can hit an open E chord over a slow drum beat. Now were doing open E over faster beats!! Har Har! Seriously, slow heavy shit was just the order for that time for us. Mainly we got Andy on drums and he was more capable to handle faster stuff after Jeff left, so things just got faster from there. We haven’t completely abandoned our death-dirge roots though.

Over the course of development, Cianide has landed – for lack of a better phrase – into the category of “old school death metal,” joining luminaries such as Asphyx and Morpheus Descends. How do you think this music is different in its aim from other forms of death metal?

For us, we’re just playing the music that WE want to hear. If people call it “old school” well fuck, we are old school! I can’t speak for any other bands, but for us, this is the only way we know how to do it. It’s hard to pin down because nowadays bands like Cannibal and Morbid Angel are labeled “old school” but I think you must be referring to an actual “old school” sound. If that’s what you mean, you could say a band like CIANIDE is sort of a preservation of very early death metal. We’re not looking to break any new ground with this, nor do we have any aspirations for commercial success (though that would be nice if it came along!!), just trying to emulate the sound and style of the ancient GODS OF DEATH.

Someone once drew the distinction between hum-along metal like Motörhead or Venom, and “subversive metal,” meaning stuff that tries to be avantgarde, progressive or regressive. It seems to me that no band since Venom has captured the sense of popular and hum-along (really, is there a better term for this? songs that stay in your head and are relevant to aspects of everyday normal life) metal in the same way Cianide has, with bouncy, heavy, catchy songs hammering home simple ideas in smoothly integrated structures. How did you achieve this, and what are your thoughts on the accuracy of these statements? (I am no big fan of the hacked together terms like hum-along and subversive, but for now am not sure what I’d use in their place except extensive tedious descriptions)

I agree with the statement and take it as a compliment! Again we just write what we like and want to hear. Every riff we write has to fucking kill, no filler songs or parts with CIANIDE as far as I’m concerned. Bands with catchy choruses is the style of metal that we grew up with so it only makes sense that we would emulate that. Even stuff like early Death, Terrorizer, Repulsion, Massacre and even Morbid Angel had choruses that you could consider “catchy”. I can appreciate bands that play overly technical, but most of the time I prefer something that sticks in my head and kicks my ass.

Cianide seems to have stayed with no single label for more than an album. Is this true? Are there reasons the band had for doing this, or was this a product of what I call the “usual label chaos,” e.g. labels falling apart, dropping bands at random and going bankrupt?

Our first label, Grindcore merely changed their name to Red Light so our first two releases were basically on the same label. They went chapter 13, so we did DDD with Lost Horizon. That label was basically two friends of ours wanting to do a label. They were flipping the bill and nobody was asking us to dance at the time so we said, “what the fuck”. They went belly up also. Merciless re- released DDD on vinyl and did our latest, Divide and Conquer and are all set to our our forthcoming “The Age of Hell’s Rebirth”. So far so good.

Someone once told me I was not “open-minded” for automatically hating some band that attempted to merge alternative rock and metal; what do you think?

Liking different styles of music is actually just a matter of taste and really has nothing to do with having a so-called “open mind”, which has been such an over-used term ever since the 80’s that it is now pointless and irrelevant to label anybody as such (closed minded). What this egotistical person actually means is, ‘my opinion in music is much better than yours because I have no real convictions and simply like what is deemed “cool” by the mainstream, even though I think I’m hip and into new and crazy things just to impress ditzy college girls’.

Tell that person to stick his alternative/metal/rock/bastard hybrid up his open-minded ass.

Metal has changed in demographic since the so-called “glory (hole) days” of 1988-1994, with a broader and bigger audience now tuning in to even the most antisocial black metal. What changes do you think this demographic has caused to occur in the music itself?

From what I can see, when a band achieves some sort of success be it either underground or commercial, the band will try to write what it thinks is popular in an attempt to “keep up with the times” (ie. Entombed, Morgoth, Mayhem). On the other side of the coin, if a band is successful and stays true to their original ideals, they still will get dismissed by all the death-metal weenies and black metal trendies who are only into listening to shitty bands that YOU never heard of. So in essence, nothing has really changed.

Will you ever work to re-release the old Cianide albums?

There has been talk about re-releasing the first two on vinyl but nothing serious as of yet. We are planning on putting all our demos out on a double cd, with all kinds of extras and shit. Should rule.

A Descent Into Hell seems to me, sonically, to be one of the “heaviest” albums ever created, and not just through production – how did you achieve this, and what was your aim in creating that album? (see disclaimer above about hacked together terms again)

Again, we just do what we do. I think at that time we were tuned to like Z or something. We did all of those songs live, most only in one or two takes. The kicks and snare were sampled though. I remember after we got done doing the first song, the engineers came in and they were like, “everything sounds good guys but we do need more bass” we thought they were serious. Then they started laughing at us and they were like, “jeezzzzus, you guys are FUCKING HEAVY!!” “Decent…” is also a personal favorite of mine. I think it’s impossible to get that sound back again but who knows…………..

Has Cianide toured, or is it more of a band that you do when not leading a normal life?

Tour?? Shit, we’re lucky we play out once a year!! The time for touring is past. We’re smart enough to realize early on that playing underground metal, be it Black, Death or otherwise, wasn’t going to be a very lucrative career choice. Insecure “we’re truer than thou” hard-on’s would probably classify us as hobbyists, and they may be right. A hobby is defined as any activity that one enjoys in their spare time. Though I guarantee you this, we’ll still be doing what we do long after today’s hip-name-to-drops have changed their style/names/haircuts and end up in the washed up file cut-out bins.

To put it bluntly, what are you guys like in real life? Are you closer to maniacs who live out the lyrics to cianide songs, or artists who metaphorically describe what they perceive?

We’re just your above average beer swilling metalheads. What you see is what you get. No tattoos, no gay piercings. Dirty, Ugly, loud and proud!

One other thing about Cianide that is gratifying: a sense of humor. What do you see as the role of humor in “serious” metal? Do you consider Cianide a serious band? If not, what motivates you to have the standards you do in the creation of the music?

I’m not really into “joke” or “message” bands. Injecting humor into Metal can be tricky. It’s hard to do it correct without sounding lame. Obviously we’re not a joke band, but we like to inject some humor, like our thank you lists are always filled with jags. POST MORTEM were the originators of that. At least that’s who we stole it from!! I love who I am and love being a Metalhead. But there are some people out there who take this music and themselves way too seriously who are just rubbers. It’s just music after all. Who know’s though, I’m sure to some people it looks like I take it too seriously. The grass is always greener……………

If you could tour with any two death metal bands in history, which would they be?

Slaughter – original line-up
Master – original line-up

What do you think of the following:

1. Asphyx – I have “The Rack” on cassette…..good heavy death metal
2. Master – The early stuff is immortal…the new stuff ain’t so bad
either
3. Suffer (SWE) – never heard them
4. Kittie – never heard them
5. Carnage (SWE) – Entombed clones

Do you have any views on religion? How religion effects politics? How this affects us now?

Religion and politics are needed to keep the general population in line. I think they’re both brilliant. You can’t have people just running wild, doing what they want. It sounds good on paper and makes for a lot of cool lyrical ideas, be it Metal, Punk or otherwise, but when you return back to the real world the majority of people out there simply cannot handle the responsibility of being an individual, and I don’t want to deal with them. It’s not my job.

Religion, of course, does make some men better, and perhaps even many men. There can be no doubt of it. But making them better by filling their poor heads with grotesque nonsense is an irrational and wasteful process, and the harm it does greatly outweighs the good. If men could be made better — or even only happier — by teaching them that two and two make five there would be plenty of fools to advocate that method, but it would remain anti-social none the less. If the theologians could only agree on their doctrines their unanimity might have some evidential value, just as the agreement of all politicians that the first duty of the citizen is to obey them and admire them has some evidential value. It may not be true, but it is at least undisputed by all save a small fraction of heretics, which is certainly something. Fortunately for common sense, the theologians are never able to agree. Even within the sects, and under the more rigid discipline, there is constant wrangling, as, for example, between the Jesuits and the Dominicans. Thus the cocksureness of one outfit is cancelled out by the ribald denial of all the rest, and rational men are able to consign the whole gang to statistics and the Devil.

– Henry Louis Mencken

What are your views on wealth, and its ideal relationship to individual humans?

People who go around saying, “money isn’t everything” are usually already rich and never had to work hard to achieve their wealth/success. Give me enough money so I don’t ever have to work again in my life and I’ll show you one happy, fat little man!!!

Do you support or reject anti-bestiality laws?

Hey, whatever blows yer skirt up!

What in your view are the a) strengths and b) weaknesses that metal took on by going “underground” instead of attempting to be a mainstream genre?

For one thing, since all true metal is underground it is not scrutinized and kept in check by the politically correct mainstream. Bands can say and write whatever they feel without any pressure of pissing this one off or offending others. Imagine how lame your favorite metal bands would become if they had to kow-tow to the whole music industry just to create music. I have one word for people who may disagree with this: METALLICA!! I love the fact that metal is underground. The people who want it know where to get it. It sucks for the bands who I’m sure need to play to eat, but that’s not my problem.

What do you think of nu-metal? Can metal ever be in the mainstream, like it was with Black Sabbath?

Any band can get big if marketed properly and shoved down the masses throats. For instance, if MTV tells their audience that Christraping Black Metal is “cool” and says that the bandmembers are “cute”, all Black Metal bands would get huge and you would not like them anymore. Sabbath were/are huge, but in their day, they never got any radio airplay (except for “Paranoid” late at night), let alone videos. They just did it through word of mouth and constant touring. As for nu-metal, it’s just like the 80’s. Instead of big- hair you have buzz-cuts. Instead of eyeliner you have piercings. Instead of glamed out clothes you have tribal tattoos. The music is just a watered down, bastardized, marketed and hyped version of the real deal.

Does metal keep evolving, or is it cyclic?

Everything is the same, just different haircuts!!

What’s the next Cianide album going to be like?

Just like the last one, except HEAVIER!!

Will you ever do a live album?

Hopefully someday. Guess you need to play live to do that!!!

What is your stance on mp3 trading of rare materials?

It doesn’t affect me either way, if I hear something I’ll just go out and buy it.

I’m the same way, if I like something, I’ll go and buy it. I have other things to do on my computer than sitting there waiting for a song to download, like looking for porn!! I do think it’s good for people to hear what a band sounds like from their website etc before they go out and buy it. It’s just another medium.

Did Cianide have any demos? If so, what were they?

We did three official demo’s: “Funeral” in 1990, “Second Life” in 91′ and “Cianide Kills” in I think 1993. We also had 2 different three-song promos for DDD and Divide……, but those weren’t really for sale. Everything will probably be on a single release for CURSED PRODUCTIONS if we can get off our lazy asses and get started on it.

Are reactions to Cianide different in Europe and Asia versus the USA?

Reactions seem to be pretty much the same everywhere. We’re regarded as throwbacks from all over!!

Are there any metal zines or websites you read, and, if so, what makes them useful to you?

The only zines I’ll plug that come to mind are Metal Curse and Midwest Metal cuz they are cool!

Will metal survive the wave of hip-hop music in America?

It already is as far as I can tell. Rap is already regarded as a joke whose core audience is rich, white, suburban kids. Hip-hop and rap do provide a very important service to us Metal fans however for which I’m truly thankful: BY KEEPING A GREAT MAJORITY OF ALL MORONS, MEATHEADS AND FUCKUP’S OUT OF OUR SCENE!!!! Every time I happen to turn on some MTV special or video, I get a big smile and feel great inside. That’s right dummies, keep being spoon-fed your entertainment you mindless fools! Yo Dawg!!! Bling Bling!! Comedy!!

Does metal’s being different from jazz, blues, hip-hop make it a cultural or political statement?

The fact that underground metal is the only form of rock and roll that has yet to be turned into a marketable mainstream commodity surely says something. It almost happened to death metal in the early 90’s. Then Nirvana killed that, thankfully!! STAY UNDERGROUND!!!

Anything I forgot you’d care to add?

I think you covered it all my man!!

Thanks for the interview. Visit the official CIANIDE WEBSITE at www.cianide-metal.com

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Interview: Anders Odden (Cadaver)

Anders Odden is here with us from the band Cadaver, inc. He was an original member of Cadaver by its release schedule, and was with them on their two most popularly-known works on Earache records. He has now launched with others Cadaver, inc., which is an entirely different type of music within the same genre.

When did Cadaver form and what bands inspired the members at the time?

The first Cadaver was formed when a Black metal band called Baphomet split in 1988. We then got the bassplayer from Decay Lust and recorded the first album in 1989/90. The bands who inspired us at the time were Voivod, Slayer, Carcass, Celtic Frost and Morbid Angel.

Do any of you have strong political, religious, or philosophical beliefs, and what are they?

I’m a public enemy. I doubt that anything created by man ever will bring us to a higher level. I deny the church and all its powersymbols. Why is it that all the main religions come out of the middle east?! Religon and politics are there to oppress people. I feel the life we have today is basically without any goals and I’d like to own a little stuff as possible. I tend to get lots of shit piled up anyway, but I’m a fan of throwing stuff away. I dont know, maybe I’m full of BS…

If a drunken man falls down the stairs, he does not feel what would be painful for me. Some say the same applies to youthful indifference to death. How do you feel this influenced, if at all, your music?

I don’t think it had anything to do with what our music was. We just wanted to be able to play as good as our favorite bands, nothing more.

Did you have any favorites in the Swedish death metal genre? What did you think of God Macabre, Demigod, Dismember and Therion?

Not really. Of the bands you mention I’ve only heard Dismember and Therion. I like Black metal more than death metal.

Now that you’ve come back with Cadaver, inc., are people responding to the older material as well as the newer? Are you going to repress the first two albums?

We have played Innominate and Corrosive Delirium from Hallucinating and Mr. Tumour’s Misery from In pains… live. Those songs go down really well, but Earache has no plans for reissuing yet. It will be done some day with lots of extrastuff on it I guess. I have tons of live, demos and unreleased shit around my house, so it will be done.

It seems to me that …In Pains is from the same era as the first Darkthrone album, where metal experimented with mood and mellower textures in the death metal style. What inspired this album’s genesis?

This is easy to say now looking back. It’s never in your thought when you make stuff what the historic aspect of things will be. In Pains was released around the same time as Blaze in the Northern sky, so I felt we were very different band then. In 1992 I turned into industrial music for some time and didn’t follow black metal until 95 again. I saw the death metal era end in 92/93 when black metal revitalized everything, but felt it was my past and didnt care that much. You got to remember that the difference between death/black wasnt that obvious before 91/92. Mobid Angel is the best example of a band in between the genres. I always wanted to gain that sort of independent ground for my stuff and this is where I feel Cadaver Inc. belong. Along towards the genres and trends.

The first album had a tuba player as a member of the band. While some called this a gimmick, it seemed a natural experiment at thetime, since the tuba provides a gnarly low-end sound that could complement higher guitars.

What do you think of this when looking back upon it, and for what reason was this choice made?

It was trombone. You have to remember that Celtic Frost inspired us very much in the experimenting with things such as this. Into the Pandemonium and To Megatherion have lots of “brass” sections and weird things in it. It is still our intro when we play live, so it’s a trademark I guess.

Who are your personal musical idols?

In metal it’s forever Slayer, Celtic Frost, Voivod and Morbid Angel. These bands offer their own personal twist that you can hear on all their records. Apart from this I’m a big fan of classical composers such as Grieg and Mozart. They are true genius.

If you recorded another album in the worldview of the original Cadaver, what do you think it would be?

It will never happen.

What’s next for Cadaver, inc? Are you planning to evolve further in the direction that seems to be current, or taking a different step?

We have started working on the next album and I can reveal that it’s going to be much darker than this one. If Discipline is a agressive record the next will be more insane. I have left some of the writing to our drummer Czral this time, and his ideas are very sick. It’s very inspiring to have a band with such a high level of musicalityflowing. We are sure the next record will bring us a long step forward and that’s our focus all the time.

You mention that you like throwing things away. This touches a part of all of us I think that wishes to be unencumbered by material things. I’ve noticed many of the more intelligent people I know choose to live light given the unstable nature of the times and the tedious requirements of having stuff. It also resembles the destruction of memories and irrelevant or enslaving alliances, metaphorically and in dreams (from the relation of others). Do you think that removal or consolidation of stuffs, let’s call it garbage removal, is philosophically significant at this time in history?

You are probably right that this is something lots of people now are turning to. I think it’s a reaction towards the main-religion now, which is consumerism. Some people feel very attached to their stuff, and I think it’s a disturbing thing to be this way. We think what we have is important to us, but it’s all tools or necessities for living. The last time I moved me and my wife gave away 5 (!) big plastic bags of clothing. It’s ridiculous to have so much to wear, and we said farewell to a time in our life by throwing it away. It made me think, how the hell did I get so much stuff. I could not remember buying it all or anything. It’s more important to gain selfrespect by doing something rather than buying yourself status. Money alone makes no-one happy, and that’s the bottom line in anyones life. Happiness.

What do you think are the similarities between black metal and industrial music?

I don’t know how anyone see the similarities. It all depends on your perspective about what you think is black metal or industrial. Industrial to me is Skinny Puppy and Front 242. They are not very close to BM.

It seems to me that both have a similar approach to rhythm, relative to death or heavy or speed metal, and that both also focus on atmosphere and originate in a classically-influenced genre. Do you like the music of Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream and Einsturzende Neubauten?

I enjoy Kraftwerk yes. I just have one Einstrutzene album which is great, but I’ve never sat down to listen to Tangerine Dream.

I’m going to rip off a line from Wrath of Averse Sefira (who could name songs from Hallucinating Anxiety in detail when queried at random, not having heard the album in seven years) who said that Celtic Crost in many ways were the first to unify visual aspect, and presentation, of their band with the content of their music and its raw, gnarly aesthetic. in many ways, they birthed grandeur in metal also. Is this something you feel?

Well, they had it all for themself for a long time and came up with very original concepts for album covers, lyrix and musical experimentation. They took metal places it had not been before with their avant garde style of composing. I admire their original style very much and they are the only band I really want to see on a reunion tour.

I agree that Grieg and Mozart are genius. How much of the effect of classical music do you feel is a result of its form, or the abstraction of artistic form in general (in view of jazz, Hendrix and progressive derivations of classical in modern popular music), where form is defined as the method of artistic presentation itself relative to the content, or unique expression within, each work?

Classical music from the 18th century (Grieg, Wagner etc. ) was a result of anti-darwinism and used to show that humans were special and not animals. I think the extreme metal has many of the same thoughts behind it as it’s normally very strict and concrete when it’s performed. The kind of metal we play has no room for improvisation in the way of music with blues/jazz roots. Form and content belong together to produce the music we make. I dont know what you are compearing jazz and hendrix to this for, but maybe I didnt understand your question..(?)

Do you compose with emphasis on rhythmic expectancy, or write riffs for conclusive melodic phrasing?

It’s too abstract to say it this way. I just play what sounds good and experiment alot with strange chords and melodic lines. I’m a riffmaker who needs a great drummer to complete my ideas. I view the overall sound first and foremost.

I asked earlier: if you recorded another album in the worldview of the original Cadaver, what do you think it would be? and you said: “It will never happen.” If we created a temporary reality somewhere where someone like you and the original members of the band somehow came together now, independent of this reality entirely, what would the next Cadaver album sound like? Imagine outside influences of tedium like job, mortality, items, etc.

What was will never be again. I have so different views on music to the rest of the original members that it’s nothing I would even like to do for fun. We have no plans for this and I’m pretty sure it’s never gonna happen…

You mentioned that Czral was writing more of the material on this round. Are you still influenced by black metal and industrial, or reaching toward a different sound?

We have written 3 new songs now. Czral has one song which is entirely with his riffs, and the other 2 have 1 riff from him and 1 riff from LJ in it. It sounds very exiting to us right now, but we dont know where it’s taking us yet. It’s more midpaced tempos now, but the blastbeats are still there too. I dont know what kind of industrial you’re taking about, but it’s got some more black metal to it than “discipline” so far.

How do you write songs as a band? Have you taken advantage of virtual songwriting (sending MP3s, tapes, WAVs, CDRs, to each other)?

We have 1 rehearsal a week were we try to complete 1 song each time. It’s a very ambitious project, but it’s forcing us to work on ideas all the rest of the week. We just meet now and then to check out riff and ideas with each other at home. We all live pretty close so that’s why it works.

I saw a little of your Milwaukee Metalfest performance last year (I think – I was wasted, and never visited the bar – it may have been a couple years ago) and it seemed like the music acquired a very linear quality with the tunneling dynamics of the hall. What would it be like to write music if you practiced in a huge thunderous concert hall?

That would have been useless. We play with volume down to hear all details and work towards recording in a studio, so the less noisy the better. I’m not 15 years old anymore…

I like the idea of practicing softly for better discernment. Do you play any acoustic instruments? By the same principle, they must also strengthen musicianship.

I play the piano and acoustic guitar too yes.

Do any of the members of Cadaver, inc endorse any lifestyles including drugs, cannibalism, sodomy, genocide, war, polygamy, polyamory or Judeo-Christian homegrown goodness?

We are so different people privately that I really don’t know that much about the rest of the guys in those terms. I don’t like bands that assure people they are normal all of the time. What is normal? I’m a creative person that seeks oppertunities for myself, and I work in the music-business fulltime. It’s lifestyle bound together by the music, all of the above is for people that needs a hobby. . .
very interesting. as a professional musician, you are here for musical reasons only. this explains the musical contributions of your works. what do you think are your largest contributions, as a musician, to the musical lexicon of death and black metal?

I dont know really. I find that the people who really remember what Cadaver did are mostly musicians themselves. It’s not easy for me to see what my contribution might be. Maybe it’s almost nothing so far, and that my real contribution will be in the future.

Anything else you’d like to talk about?

Another thing, I feel very much more in relation to the Black metal scene than the death metal scene of today. If you file Cadaver Inc. under anything, it should be black metal.

Thank you. Keep on buying CD’s so we can release as many as we can write!

This eternal accusation against Christianity I shall write upon all walls, wherever walls are to be found—I have letters that even the blind will be able to see. . . . I call Christianity the one great curse, the one great intrinsic depravity, the one great instinct of revenge, for which no means are venomous enough, or secret, subterranean and small enough,—I call it the one immortal blemish upon the human race. . . . And mankind reckons time from the dies nefastus when this fatality befell—from the first day of Christianity!—Why not rather from its last?—From today?—The transvaluation of all values! . . .

– F.W. Nietzsche, The Antichrist

Monotheistic religions alone furnish the spectacle of religious wars, religious persecutions, heretical tribunals, that breaking of idols and destruction of images of the gods, that razing of Indian temples and Egyptian colossi, which had looked on the sun 3,000 years: just because a jealous god had said, “Thou shalt make no graven image.”

– Arthur Schopenhauer, Religion: a Dialogue (1851)

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Under a Toltec Moon – Memories on Mexican Metal

1. Introduction
2. A desert walk
3. Nahuatli steel
4. Pactum: M.O.D.L.
5. Mortuary: Blackened Images
6. Transmetal: Amanecer en el Mausuleo
7. Cenotaph: Riding Our Black Oceans
8. Shub Niggurath: The Kinglike Celebration
9.  Sargatanas: The Enlightenment
10. Aztec rites of darkness
11. Xibalba: Ah Dzam Poop Ek
12. Funereal Moon: Beneath the Cursed Light…
13. Avzhia: The Key of Throne
14. Demolish: Remembering the Cabalisticae Laments
15. Argentum: Ad Interitum Funebrarum
16. The Chasm: Conjuration of the Spectral Empire
17. The resurrection of the necrocults
18. Necroccultus: Encircling the Mysterious Necrorevelation
19. Yaotl Mictlan: Guerreros de la Tierra de los Muertos
20. Infinitum Obscure: Sub Atris Caelis
21. Denial: Catacombs of the Grotesque

Written by DevamitraObscuraHessianPearson and Xavier with Eduardo (Shub Niggurath / Necroccultus), Demogorgon (Avzhia), Marco (Xibalba) and Joel (Mortuary)

Introduction

In Mexico the god appears; thy banner is unfolded in all directions, and no one weeps.

The Hymn of Tlaloc

Goedel’s law tells us that no logical system can anticipate all of the demands of reality, because reality as an inarticulated mass of events and causes is naturally bigger in scope than any description of reality. The fallout from this is that every society loves to have a no man’s land, an anarchy zone and a lawless frontier. It’s hard to talk of Mexico as a singular entity when it is comprises so much more. It’s a former Spanish colony, containing the vestiges of two of the greatest empires to walk the earth — the Aztec and Maya, both of whom were warlike, enjoyed human sacrifice, and compiled more learning that any modern group would voluntarily undertake. In addition, it’s also part very learned place, part chaotic third-world disaster, and part anarchy zone. From this ferment comes some of the best metal to grace the earth. After Scandinavia and the US, Mexico produces the most quality underground music. And even more, the Mexican bands seem to “get it”: they can reconcile a nihilistic morality, technological warfare and even gutter-level fighting sensibilities with the arch, elegant and imposing formality and bravery of the past.

A desert walk

Muerte. That word, in Mexican art, embodies religious and historical streams of life so much more than the anglosphere’s clinically worldly emphasis on death as medical phenomenon. This muerte is a gate to antiquity, a divine storm, a holy mystery – contemplation of its secrets connects the Catholic superstition, still so powerful and affecting to common people, to the cruel and decadent rituals of the Toltecs and Olmecs, when no purpose higher could be envisioned than to bleed for the gods. Glimpses into Mexican tradition most often involve the morbid signature of supernatural belief in a strange form of unearthly life, represented by the skull worship of the Day of the Dead and the various devil masks and bizarre colourful monsters decorating the fiestas, as in embodiment of death metal aphorisms such as “the past is alive”.

It would be fairly easy and obvious to point out social ills, crime rates and poverty as motivating factors for religiously oriented fatalistic thoughts, but for the psychologist and the occultist the pathology of the morbid mind is not only a reaction, it is also a cause itself, deeply ingrained in behavior and culture. To go into this sphere in depth would require another kind of a broader study and it is hardly of interest to most of our readers, so we shall mostly be occupied with the mythical, visionary image of Mexico, closest to us who are far away. It is the land of the eagle and the scorpion, of the peyote cactus and tropical steam, of the sea and the canyon. As we see everywhere in the world, the landscape becomes the structure of the mind, which gives life to stories and archetypes showing the apparent chaotic complexity of nature in symmetrical solutions. And musically, what can offer better representations of the occult-mathematical beauty of life than the hymnals of muerte: Death Metal and Black Metal?

To this day, Mexico has not produced vapid mainstream metal sensations nor hard rock imitations to speak of, at least not ones that would have entered our awareness. It’s as if the inward drawn nacional spirit shuns the idea of establishing false identities and masks of life through exports, but instead entertains the Mexicans with whatever art or entertainment the local masses wish to be produced – but this is a realm mostly obscure to outsiders. Even in order to scratch the surface of Mexican rock and metal, one needs to stress the importance of such luminaries as Luzbel and Transmetal, names mostly unknown even in cult metal collector circles. As a more recent example, the astral and progressive death metal of The Chasm has certainly been gathering well deserved praise and attention in the underground, but as a phenomenon it’s still far from gracing the cover in Terrorizer or Decibel magazine.

Nahuatli steel

As the youth of the world tripped in the pseudo-spiritual chemical bliss of the 60′s, the seeds were sown in Mexico as well with an interest towards Rock music merged with esoteric and mystical themes, but true to its violent century, the nation oppressed its bravest minds, declaring them “communist”. Thus was quenched the initial surge of Heavy Metal, as clubs were closed, magazines censored and subversive content in radios minimized. Everywhere else the initial 70′s where the pivotal time for the realization of all kinds of “satanic” and “occult” music manifestations, so in the case of Mexico it took at least a decade to recover from vandalism espoused by the government.

As the wave of Americanization hit Mexican youth culture in the early 80′s, it was inevitable that some unique voices would rise against manipulation and show their own kind of “metal mass”, inflected with the Catholic superstitions and violent streets they saw all around them with innocent, idealistic eyes. Two names especially can not go unmentioned: the original thrashers Death Warrant from Ciudad Juarez and the more classical but frighteningly psychic Luzbel from Mexico City, one of the greatest metal institutions to rise from the sand of Mexico and a prophet of Doom Metal themes and aspirations.

Huizar, the maniac behind Luzbel, managed to also put forth with his comrades at Escuadron Metalico label a series of compilations which in the mid-80′s showed the sounds of the new metal generation inspired by, mainly, American thrash metal and European speed metal. These “Proyecto” vinyls featured Transmetal, Ramses, Six Beer and practically everyone else who dominated the end of the 80′s when finally Mexican metal was too strong to be quenched by sporadic police raids and random accusations of blasphemy and iniquity. These troubles were akin to an anvil upon which the hammer of the light bringer shaped and pounded the minds that were to break free of the shackles of social upbringing and even “humanness” itself.

Eduardo: Well, to have a live appearance was not easy at all, because many people in Mexico (until this day) are a very difficult audience towards the Mexican bands. But we showed them that we were true about our ideals and that we gave 666% in every show! So we got the support of all the metalheads and they gave us in return a total storm of headbanging and full support. These were unforgettable moments to Shub Niggurath.

Joel: There was a small metal scene hungry to hear more extreme metal, so we always had great support from the beginning. I think there were more people supporting the scene than there is now supporting new metal bands, it’s a weird thing! Authority and “normal” people, as usual here, they didn’t understand our music. Sometimes the police were around looking to bother us, came up to the rehearsals and trying to get us, but never had luck, hahaha! And the people, those normal people, were the ones to send the police. I remember a show in Guadalajara or Leon in which the flyers had a circle in our logo and said: Watch out, Catholic, don’t assist! That was really funny.

Already before the decade was over, the most evil of the bands inspired by Thrash, namely Mortuary, Pactum, the inimitable Toxodeth and Transmetal (who tightened their sound album by album and still continue to do so after more than 20 years of career) had overtaken the gap between the international underground and the Mexican one. Suddenly the Judas Priest and Scorpions influence as the mainstream Mexican sound was replaced by a streetborn brutality and occult gore visions that would have made Slayer shudder. Studio and recording conditions were hardly ideal, but creating an easily digestible sound was hardly the intent of these iconoclasts, who repeated the slightly anterior efforts of the Brazilian scene in unleashing a torrent of noisy darkness easily mistaken for hardcore punk as the antithesis to forgetfulness and ignorance in adult human life.

Joel: Musically, our influences were basically Slayer, Venom, Possessed, Celtic Frost, and some classical masters. Lyrically important were the things inside my mind, my way to see this life, and obviously some great writers like Nietzsche, Poe and Lovecraft influenced us. Before Mortuary, each of us were playing in various bands songs of the bands that influenced us. When I was a child I studied some basic piano as well.

Eduardo: Also I had musical experience before Shub Niggurath: we created the Death Thrash Metal band called Tormentor. This was the origins for the unnameable abhorrence later known as Shub Niggurath.

Pactum – M.O.D.L.

A mob of confusion, alike crawling insects, attacks the strings as early blasphemists Pactum struggle to make sense of violent, anti-religious ideas called forth by their satanic subconscious in Mexico City’s extreme response to Bathory and Sarcofago. While the anally raped vocalist rants meaninglessly on, the guitars manipulate suggestive, dischordant layers of picked notes and speedy runs that often sound chaotic but on a closer listen reveal an affinity with classical construction much like the early methods of Burzum and Ildjarn to call forth elegance from pieces of degeneration. Be it dissidence, incompetence or imagination that made Pactum to mangle the pieces of thrash they built upon nearly inrecognizable, the originality and harsh, spontaneous electric discharge that carries these songs onwards makes for a curious and surprising listen for those who are able to listen to the nearly unlistenable. In “M.O.D.L.” the band has discovered one of the valuable early lessons of black and death metal, that of desecrating the sanctity of rigid social structure by defying musical conventions and bringing the expression closer to the fractal noise of nature.

Mortuary – Blackened Images

The elaborate and malign death metal of Mortuary is one of the most recognized funereal voices of early Mexican scene in cult circles and totally deservedly so, as the melodious and grinding old school sound hasn’t dated one bit but preserves the vital energy field of the times when death metal was not taken for granted, the quest for the ultimate density and sobriety. The rhythmic intensity brings to mind the debuts of Morbid Angel and Vader while the gloomy melody disposed as the interconnector of the more thrashing riffs is without question Central or South American in character (think: “INRI”). Joel Alanis’ voice escapes the trap that caused problems for many a thrasher, holding the rhythm of the syllables in position when reciting the blasphemies in English, and his powerful roar commands the fast, climactic and concise songs effortlessly to their logical conclusions. Even today Mortuary’s short but perfectly articulate album could serve as a protocol for building enjoyable but deep death metal, one that incites both head-banging and heart-scrutiny as the ultra-infectious “Reign of Dead” and “Asphyxiation” attack your brain with sensations from beyond and memories from the depths of the layers of mental programming.

Transmetal – Amanecer en el Mausuleo

As the inaugural saints of muerte spread their leathery wings over Michoacán and the 80′s were drawing to a close, Mexico’s silence was ruptured by these mangled, hellspawned shouts and nearly arbitrary riff structures envisioned by the scene’s godfathers Transmetal as the path leading to the aerie of the future. Simple and pitiless like a less experienced Sepultura or Slayer debut, this early collection sees Transmetal attempting to bludgeon their way through a barrage of speed metal in an endless call-and-response of rhythm riff and hoarse barking. Germans had invented most of these figures and refrains as early as 1984 but the untamed desert frontier of their homeland does bestow Transmetal with a rancor bringing it closer to the most subterranean and spontaenous garage punk bands that had the chance to practice their instruments on brief relapses from fighting social corruption. The sketchy but decisive melodies of “Temor a la Cruz” and “Fuerza Invisible” hardly represent an international or even local pinnacle of art, but they were enjoyed by a legion of punks and metalheads for their absolute breakup with the more mainstream appealing qualities of traditional heavy metal.

If there is a style of metal one thinks of in regards to Mexico, it must be Death Metal, in its brutal but most oblique forms, the sonic heir to Aztecs’ solar blood rites and Toltecs’ shadowy sorceries, an amalgamation of heretical thought inspired by Crowley and Lovecraft with a deep respect for the sacred and universal forces of nature which permeates the continuity of godforms in Catholic religious language in shades of traditional paganism which it overtook in surface but never in spirit. The first of these classics was undoubtedly Mortuary’s famous “Blackened Images” (also one of the earliest important Mexican releases sung in English) but no underground Death Metal maniac would forget the splendid, churning visions of Shub Niggurath (“Evilness and Darkness Prevails”, “The Kinglike Celebration”) or Sargatanas (“The Enlightenment”) either, not to mention the virile luminary Cenotaph (“The Gloomy Reflections of Our Hidden Sorrows”, “Riding Our Black Oceans”) whose lifeblood still runs in the veins of the most prized names of today’s underground (The Chasm, Denial and Hacavitz among others feature former Cenotaph members).

Demogorgon: Our ancient strain of blood has always been important to us, as on it are real human sacrifices and that is something we deeply connect with. We are proud of it and it deserves all of our respect. But anyway, we are mostly influenced by European Black Metal.

Joel: Definitely the legacy of our past has been influential in what we do, also the current situation in which the country has plunged. All the ups and downs of the past of our culture influence us directly or indirectly. The difference is the window from which we look at it, it’s definitely not the same as for the rest.

Eduardo: Mostly these bands’ message is about Death, destruction and occultism. If I’m not wrong, only Xibalba took our cultural roots into his concept – they even wrote “Unique Mayan Black” on their debut album. Cenotaph, Mortuary, Shub Niggurath, Tormentor, Deus Mortis, Deadly Dark, Necrophiliac and Pentagram among others were influenced by the Florida and Scandinavian scenes when they built Death Metal during the late 80′s and the early 90′s. My influences have always been bands like Morbid Angel, Deicide, Bathory (old), Sodom (old), Nihilist, Therion (demos), Thergothon, Winter, Necroschizma, Bolt Thrower, Slayer (old) and H.P. Lovecraft’s masterpieces. In Shub Niggurath, Arturo (who handled vocal invocations) was always in charge of the lyrical concept. Regarding “Evilness and Darkness Prevails” I only did the guitar solos, after that I had to leave the band. I have nothing to do with “The Kinglike Celebration” – for me this is not the real Shub Niggurath. For me, this was just some kind of project, without Arturo there, I am not sure about the result.

Cenotaph – Riding Our Black Oceans

Coming off the back of an excellent debut in the form of ‘The Gloomy Reflections Of Our Hidden Sorrows’ and losing a prominent member in the form of Daniel Corchado, Mexican horde Cenotaph radically altered their sound aesthetically and showed a refinement of production and to a smaller extent, musical technique. Whereas the first full-length resembled a prototypical version of Nile, with an exotic though nonetheless esoteric and original take on New York death metal (think Incantation, Morpheus Descends), ‘Riding Our Black Oceans’ owes its musical framework, when speaking of instrumental technique, to European metal, most notably the first two albums of At The Gates, with a much more classicist approach to melody. With the outgoing of previous throatman Corchado a new vocal makes itself at home, not far from the tortured howls of Anders Friden. The same sense of aggression is also present in this work, but is less of a catharsis than the aforementioned Swedish band or the German act Atrocity, and has a motive towards evoking a nostalgic depth, rather than a psychological-emotional one. The percussion is chaotic and structurally brings to mind a more rigid and maze-like ‘Beneath The Remains’ by Sepultura, with more adventurous battery that evokes their ‘Morbid Visions’ record. Acoustic guitars embellish and interlock with these intricate arrangements, and are an obvious nod to Mediterranean and Southern European music. This stylistic admixture works brilliantly, rather than being a work that is merely imitative of an established style, it works the more obvious traits for its own ends, borrowing rather than copying. Cenotaph make a very distinct and profound work here, one of the finest releases to come out of Latin America.

Shub-Niggurath – The Kinglike Celebration (Final Aeon On Earth)

From the extra-dimensional plane of unspeakable horrors that’s revealed in our nightmares by black, arachnoid creatures, prying open our sub-conscious to witness terrible visions, comes this brutal classic of Lovecraftian Death Metal. As a later album in the old-school tradition, ‘The Kinglike Celebration’ has the strength of dynamic and coherent composition under the unmistakeably nefarious atmospheres that could only come from the first generation to be instructed by the likes of Possessed and Sepultura. Unlike more recent acts such as Portal that also delve into the Non-Euclidean realm of Howard Phillip, this work remains an highly geometric one, as if to frame the malevolent world of the Ancient Ones within the scope of human cognition, enabling the sensations of fear and awe and involuntary submission to the higher, evil will. The symmetrical structure of these songs oversee a central melodic theme being deconstructed with the horror of trembling and ominously churning, Deicidean riff-work that builds to a majestic revelation of cosmic power, usually embellished by eerie synths. From this expanse, the band reintroduces the central riff, re-contextualising it through powerful lead overlays and purposeful percussive and rhythmic enunciation, with the crescendo-inducing prowess of a Classical symphony. Shub-Niggurath advance the pulsating Slayerisms of Deicide’s first album to encompass thoughtful formulae of occult melodicism and awaken the unspeakable entities of the grand, cosmic hierachy.

Sargatanas – The Enlightenment

These blasphemers from Guadalajara were around as early as 1986 according to their biography. Only denizens of the infernal layers know what they must have sounded like back then, but their full length revelation is also nothing less than ancient and horrific, of deeply atmospheric and disturbed vision of extended, simple and dragging death metal torment. Shunning the eloquent melodies of Cenotaph and likewise the rhythmic energy of Mortuary, Sargatanas withdraws into ascetic and morbidly elongated tremolos pillared by blasphemous growls mostly maintaining the emotionless, yet commanding tone of satanic artifice, as a stone statue summoned to unholy life and crushing Christians with no haste or passionate compulsion – determinate, almost peaceful. The meditative quality is carried to the extreme in mid-paced or even slower songs such as “Fear and Suffering” or “The Proclamation” (featuring drum patterns motivated rather by ritual ambient than Dave Lombardo) making it even somewhat plodding. The band barely animates for a gloomy rendition of Possessed’s “Satan Curse” in a version that sounds like bubbling lava or tremors preceding an earthquake and one of the most delightful tracks on offer, the chaotic “Satanist” whose main riff recalls Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” and as many other tracks on here, is seemingly randomly interrupted for a mock satanistic prayer. In any case, this inward bound attraction and solitude of vision will open only to deepest underground death metal cultists and fans of subtle terror based on psychological expectation and illogical mood cues, examples of which are found plenty in Mexican horror movies and early black metal in the vein of Samael and Barathrum, which undoubtedly heavily weigh on Sargatanas’ study list regardless of this band’s origins being placed even further back in the dimension of time.

Aztec rites of darkness

Without prior knowledge it would be easy to assume that the Black Metal biosphere of Mexico would have been overtaken by bulletbelted battalions fueled by alcohol and sexual lust, but instead some of the most purely mystical and meditative classics of the 90′s underground arose from under the wings of Guttural Records, the all time prime supporter of Mexican occult metal who still keeps cranking out occasional re-releases of material whose quality is, occasionally, simply beyond our dreams. To name some, if you have not heard the most moving moments of Xibalba, Avzhia, Funereal Moon and Shub Niggurath, you don’t know how astral and insane Black Metal can simultaneously be while resorting neither to “progressive” nor “raw” clichés, instead being alive with the fervent force of Mexican demons that feast on the souls of succumbed sorcerers, the experience and experiment being total.

Marco: We have been listening to Metal music for a long, long time. We began by listening to a lot of ’70s bands (Purple, Priest, etc), we experienced the radical change and the explosion of the new bands from the ’80s (Venom, Bathory, etc.) and we just grew with the evolution of this music through the end of the ’80s and the beginning of the ’90s. I think all of this music has influenced us a lot. Books that have inspired us throughout all of this has been ancient literature from the pre-Hispanic cultures of our homeland – with special focus on the Mayan topics mainly, though we also like H.P. Lovecraft’s books. In those days, there were not many bands like us around. I remember that on the few gigs we had, some people were just staring at us, and some other were just enjoying the sound. It was really small and we just seem to get more attention from other countries than ours. Sometimes, regular people were inventing silly stories about bad things happening to them simply because we were about to play on that day. I don’t think the media was focused on this kind of extreme music back in those days, as it is now.

Demogorgon: Avzhia was formed with influence from Death, Thrash etc. Metal, absorbing and swallowing the blackest of these styles of Metal to form a dark and melancholic sound. Musically we were influenced by the old school of Black Metal, bands such as Bathory, Celtic Frost, Hellhammer, etc. and ideologically for example Emperor, Dissection, Satyricon, Black Crucifixion, Grand Belial’s Key, The Black, Tormentor, etc. We were never schooled musicians, we started doing it simply like we felt at the time in the earlier 90′s and we’re still doing music the same way. Avzhia was the only Black Metal band playing in the midst of a lot of Death Metal bands, we remember brutal mosh pits and hostility… so when Avzhia took the stage the audience seemed to be taken by a great fucking depression! In the early 90′s it was a big challenge to keep moving forward into the majestic world of Black Metal.

Xibalba – Ah Dzam Poop Ek

Like Cenotaph, but in the context of a Nordic black metal band, Xibalba take obvious cues from mid-period Darkthrone and Burzum’s ‘Det Som En Gang Var’, and use various aesthetic tricks to distinguish the artistic and ethnic context herein, whilst also succeeding in not letting grandeur overwhelm the beauty of their work. Flowing, harmonic riffs, much like an upbeat version of ‘Panzerfaust’ work their way through catchy, waltzing rhythms that would fit nicely into balladic pieces, sounding just as apt as an interpretation of ethnic, triplet based patterns, transferred onto the modern drumkit. Samples to introduce particular songs use ancient Mexican folk music to accentuate the ‘Mayan’ character of this record, this is done sparingly and is non-excessive, charming and ensnaring. This album is strictly traditionalist in its execution, but successfully incorporates unique, exotic elements into its framework, retains its dignity without compromising it’s honesty. This was released in 1994 and was a time where many metal acts were on the verge of signing artistic death warrants by trying too hard to be different. Xibalba continued the legacy of black metal’s orthodoxy and breathed new life into it.

Marco: I think “Ah Dzam Poop Ek” is a great album, we express the essence and the atmosphere of our past in every song. Maybe it could have had a better production, but in the end that is the sound that captures the environment we are related to. And it’s good to stay away from a trite, standard and expected programmed sound. We hope to release our new album soon.

Funereal Moon – Beneath the Cursed Light of a Spectral Moon

Easily one of the most obscure and horrifying symphonies ever composed on the Mexican soil, the drug-addled, hypnotic and twisted black ambient scenarios of Funereal Moon despite the Guttural Records connection bear little resemblance to the warm crusted ground of Xibalba or the quasi-Nordic beauty of Avzhia – or any other formal black metal for that matter. If you have heard some of the unsane abstractions concocted by the French black legionnaires or Texan congregation of Equimanthorn on their mostly private tape mayhem, you might have an inkling of what to expect. Subsonar synths throb, cheap reverbs multiply growling voices to comical intensities, layers merge into a ritual cacoon of violent concentration in a macabre crescendo of not-so-subtly erotic (especially in the hideous “Vrykolkas (White Irish Eyes)” backed by whiplashes and female moans) palpitations begging for release through the dagger of the proponent. When synthetic guitars and mechanically stumbling drumscapes kick in to approximate occult metal architectures, the effect is close to what Black Funeral evoked years later in the industrial black metal revivals of “Az-i-Dahak” and “Ordog” – here achieved without any excess stylistic measures, simply thrown in your face in the name of blasphemy and contempt. Cheesy and immature to the extreme, but at the same time mercilessly compelling like an exploitation movie, these desolate voices of sorcery seem somehow one of the closest to the alienation and horror of the Mexican “Nocturnos dominion”, where immoving cacti stand upon the chaparral as guardians of twilight and coyotes raise their chant to the bloodred moon, all ensorcelled by the forgotten spells of Tulan sorcerers.

Avzhia – The Key of Throne

From out of Mexico City’s chaotic and concrete urban sprawl arose this monumental Black Metal album as a statement of militaristic and natural order, inextricably linked as they would have been to the inhabitants of Tenochtitlan, the former capital of the great Aztec civilisation. Avzhia here develop the ritualistic and prolonged, ‘Pentagram’ by Gorgoroth-like phrasing of ‘Dark Emperors’ into even grander arrangements panning across vast battlefields and landscapes, bringing keyboards to the foreground for a sense of epic melody that resembles Graveland’s ‘Creed of Iron’ being guided by the expansive compositions of Emperor. There is none of the lead guitarwork that’s central to ‘In The Nightside Eclipse’ in forming esoteric musical themes, so the symphonic majesty of ‘The Key of Throne’ is simply and effectively accompanied by the fullness of sweeping powerchords and this approach brings a lot of primitive but intelligent flavours to the sound and the composition as far as bringing the themes to a successful conclusion is concerned. When stripping away the keyboards from the guitars to reveal the simple beauty of an idea, almost Punk-like riffs of the sort Impaled Nazarene are infamous for are unleashed in a warlike clash of thought and action. With the inclusion of the keyboard, there’s a sense that Avzhia might have heard Skepticism’s ‘Stormcrowfleet’ as the same feeling of ethereal beauty and earthy power is evoked. The bass plays an important role as well, during the drawn-out riffing, reminiscent of Primordial’s ‘A Journey’s End’, folkier parts can be heard echoing underneath like a dormant race building its power to strike, and strike it does as the full instrumental ensemble combines to reiterate this idea. Perhaps this is Avzhia’s vision, like the Norwegian Black Metallers once possessed, of Satan’s adversarial power conquering the modern, Christian lands, once again appeasing with the blood of fallen enemies the ancient gods who had long ago died for their race.

Demogorgon: To analize this album, well, it contains too few tracks but each one of them satisfies us and yes, there’s both ideological and musical evolution – but as always, firmly obscure roots that define Avzhia.

As the populist variants of Nordic Black Metal and Gothenburg Death Metal grew in volume and number, so did the attempts at “romantic” or “psychedelic” sound in Mexico, mostly misguided through a lack of coherence and real inspiration beyond the mundane wish to belong in a clandestine good-looking cult of gothic clothes; an unfortunate occurrence of middle class commercial mentality in a society otherwise unnaturally divided and polarized (the shades of civil war never left, nor the even deeper bloody roots of muerte culture). Prominent American label Full Moon Productions signed Argentum for their one interesting album, “Ad Interitum Funebrarum”, while many in the vein of cloak-and-hood-gothic Demolish and the rather interesting Black Vomit toiled in obscurity. The Chasm, a masterful brainchild of Cenotaph alumnus Daniel Corchado, advanced from Mexican beginnings to dominate the forthcoming decade (now in Chicago) with a progressive (structural, non-gimmick) Death Metal tour de force. Another relocator was the grinding, blasphemous and simplistic “bonehead black metal” group Morbosidad, whose several drummers died in accidents.

Demolish – Remembering the Cabalisticae Laments

To be honest, and there is a reason to be because we are not here to create empty hype and false promise, most of Mexican metal of the 1990′s was comprised of worthless copies aping whatever neo-gothic metal trend was looming in the world at large and it’s nowhere more clear than in this compilation of the successive 1995 and 1997 demos of Demolish and the progression from mediocre to bad influence. The bouncy, hyper-emotional and lethargic black groove of the first part “Reinforcement Laments from the Lamb” (That’s just about what I emitted halfway through this concoction!?) is an incriminating example of heavy metal dressed as black metal, enveloped in saccharine keyboards which occasionally would inspire a vomitous reflex from even that top hatted abortion of Dimmu Borgir (old). Suffice to say there’s a lot of Anne Rice-y occult romance and affective screaming and bombast with hardly any musical surprise or moment of interest, as they would probably distract from the singular intent of securing the attention of fat gothic Wiccan bitches. I guess you might be into this if Covenant’s mercifully forgotten “In Times Before the Light” or earlier Cradle of Filth was the best thing that ever happened to you in black metal. The older more creeping old school death metal influenced occult metal in the earlier recorded second part “Artis Cabalisticae” includes violent moments of hope, but not enough to convince any further than, say, that first EP from Portuguese womanizers Moonspell. Hardly any Toltec spirit here, so move along.

Argentum – Ad Interitum Funebrarum

Hooded Wallachians prowl the crenellated wall tops of ancient castles, Mediterranean bards wield their lutes as metallic Paco de Lucias and some thin, wimpy goth called Philix Pherboreon (is this a Harry Potter character?) attacks the cheap Roland determined to reign as nocturnal dominion over every Mexican black metal wannabe circa 1996. With surprising class and flair, Argentum’s hymns to darkness remind one that the atmospheres descended part from “The Principle of Evil Made Flesh” and part from “Goetia”, might not stand the highest in today’s black metal elitists’ repertoire but today, sounds more exciting and unique because of their severe emotional and dimensional indulgement in a nearly forgotten quest – to compose music, not meaningless random noise or robotic riff patterns. The band is undoubtedly at their peak with the sustained moods of “Enter an Encysted Hibernation” and other slower pieces such as “The Serpent’s Lament” which traces the ethereal scents of the black lotus much as My Dying Bride would have if they had obsessed with black metal during the time of their first album. When the bands decides to thrash onwards in speed, and yet retain the “gloomy” keyboards in “Mortuus Infradaemoni”, it’s undoubtedly a bad choice, sounding ridiculous and swamping their intentions of occult credibility observed with “Lections on texts including English, latin, Catalan, Creol, and Ancientdark Language & Spanish”. The question mark imprinted by this upon one’s brain is better than mere satisfaction, though.

The Chasm – Conjuration of the Spectral Empire

The Chasm’s fifth album in a productive and populated discography continues their journey through the astralic realms of the dead, traversing a heterogenous soundscape much like the cultural topography of Mexico itself. Where Corchado’s work with Cenotaph was inspired by the rhythmic power of Swedish Death Metal, this album is more in tune with not only the melodicism of old troops from Gotenborg like At The Gates, Unleashed and Dark Tranquility but the morbid disharmony of Norsk Black Metal classics ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’ and ‘Under A Funeral Moon’, which owe much to the Latin American primitivism of Sepultura that also goes into the sound of ‘Conjuration of the Spectral Empire’. The expansive melting pot of sounds and styles is guided by Shamanic visions that peer into the inpenetrable abode of Mictlantehcuhtli, coloured and contrasted by the opposing principles that intersect this psychic plane, giving this album a vast sense of direction proportional to the longing for ancient wisdom in a world torn from the continuum of tradition. From the very outset of ‘Conjuration…’, the winds of the Chihuahuan desert are conjured by guitars and effects, bringing to mind the main theme composed by Ennio Morricone for the nihilistic Western classic, ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’. Each song develops from or towards a single, clear and always beautifully poignant melodic idea, fusing the structural framework of early Dismember with the technique of Technical Death Metal bands like Cynic and Atrocity and their insistence on rhythmic and melodic interaction, although the use of inverted powerchords amidst the South American chaos and Melodeath flourishes, to create a more sombre atmosphere recalls the obscure Black Metal of Mütiilation’s second album. The Chasm avoid the pitfalls of Melodic Death Metal by having this focus, removing themselves from the tendency of bands to resemble a Scandinavian folk riff-salad with no conceptual reasoning behind it. Instead, songs qualify as movements and the phrasal development therein demonstrates an awareness of Classical music that restores the grand aspirations of the Swedes and therefore stands alongside the likes of ‘The Red In The Sky Is Ours’ and ‘Like An Everflowing Stream’ as monuments to the primal, cosmic darkness of our true, inner nature.

Through the international contact and amalgamation of principles brought about by simultaneously World Wide Web access and the extent of educating the young generation in English language (movies, videogames and music being elemental and important here) the new millennium saw Mexico closer than ever to its northern neighbour. Youth factions such as the hated “emo” culture would have been out of place in 1980′s conservative Mexico, but despite clashes between groups they are widely approved today. All in all, it seemed to weaken the unique characteristic of the Mexican underground which was the tough rebelliousness in speed metal and occult/mystical lyrical tendency in Death Metal. In other words, too many corpse painted posers (such as the unending repertoire of Azermedoth Records) and uneventful, funny “goregrinders” (Disgorge, the original of this style, still continues to exist) infected the underground.

Eduardo: Certainly this isn’t an easy way to get money, fame or groupies. If that’s what a band is looking for, it’s just a bunch of shitty losers. You should work because you love what you are doing, and doing this just to be a sell out and gain a living from the people who manage you is a completely Shitty attitude. Underground Death Metal is for true warriors who eat, shit and talk metal, and love it as a son! To know all the underground beasts that still dwell on the catacombs of the worldwide scene and support them as brothers… In Europe it’s awesome how the Metal way of life is still the way for the chosen to die with their boots on. Metal in Europe is bigger than other music styles without the need of being in a popularity contest. Metal is for metalheads and that’s it.

On the other hand, in Mexico, Metal has been taken as a trend. Every single metal subgenre such as death, thrash, black or speed has been invaded by stupid bastards with childish ideas and only commercial purposes. This is not only certain individuals, as even labels have mutated into money makers – signing bands created to give a commercial and false name to metal. They think that they know everything and even take the image of the old gods as costumes. Please! All those denim jackets full of patches from Possessed and Slayer, just to name a few, worn by kids of 18 years and claiming to be “thrash ’til death”! Jajajajajajajaja! Or the new trend of “old school death metal”? Please, when those bands were out, nobody cared about them! But now everybody is looking for those bands, jajajaja! Only the true ones we’ll meet at the end of the road. The other ones will escape to the next trend, because they never really belonged to us!

The resurrection of the necrocults

This is not to say Mexico’s soil doesn’t still bleed black at the desolate fullmoon hours. Old bands all the way to Luzbel are still sporadically active and the promised Avzhia offering “In My Domains” is one of our most awaited forthcoming releases in several years. Infinitum Obscure featuring The Chasm’s Roberto Lizárraga is a throwback to the days when death metallers weren’t afraid to expose religious mysticism, supernatural fervour and psychological “dark” addiction in one package, while Hacavitz and Yaotl Mictlan bring back the Aztec themes but do not retain the climactic level of Xibalba’s “Unique Mayan Black Metal”. Satanists who preach the ontology of Self and the theurgies of netherworlds remain plentiful, Denial and Necroccultus (both featuring scene veterans such as Supplicium’s Isaíah Huerta, Shub Niggurath’s Eduardo and Cenotaph’s Oscar Clorio) being probably the best of the bunch, and also for example Ravager enjoys wide exposure and releases on prominent European metal labels (while Avzhia sadly toils without a record deal).

Demogorgon: Look out for “In My Domains” – this album is strong in itself, riff by riff. It’s raw while plentiful in melodic interludes, grim voices and depressive atmospheres. We do what satisfies us, then other metalheads can satisfy themselves with Avzhia’s music. It’s great to meet true people when we do shows. Avzhia is always going to exist in the dark side of true Black Metal and we will keep doing our work full of darkness of our Lord Sathanas. Grim, cold, melancholic and depressive are characteristics of what Avzhia is! Only the true emperors live, eternal life to Black Metal! See you soon wherever you are… on “In My Domains” tour.

Marco: We just like the sound of a good song, no matter what style it is. As long as it reflects honesty and passion, clearly away from the rules of the mainstream. We have made this music since the ’90s, and still I can have ideas for a song that sounds great, even when there’s hundreds of bands around. You just need to find the right notes and stay focused on the path. This music has been really distorted from the original roots. What makes it worth I don’t know, but maybe just to know the right path is still there and the fact that we’re contributing to it. I think it depends on the integrity and personal convictions everybody has. It’s all part of finding personal freedom or spiritual release.

Joel: We are satisfied with the music that we did. It represents the things we felt at that time, and it’s a real condition that still prevails. Songwriting for us has been a natural change in the evolution of the band, as new songs have the seal of Mortuary but are definitely not the same. We have an evolutionary progress, you’ll see.

Necroccultus – Encircling the Mysterious Necrorevelation

On the footsteps of Irapuato bands such as the Paradise Lost influenced Supplicium and the Chasm-ic A Perpetual Dying Mirror the mad inverters of music decided to go for an irate, warlike sound most akin to Vader’s most brutal incantations. For a fan of Sargatanas and earlier Shub-Niggurath, there are plenty of morbid mental cavities to succumb into in atmospheric death-thrashing of “Mirage of Death” or the more Northern sound of “Descent To Requiem”, actually close to Absu’s early efforts in mingling Swedish death metal and the more ritualistic and sensual sound of ambient black. As regrettably is the case with neo-death metal, there is a great temptation to succumb into a patterned safe manifestation of used riffs, which no longer have the capacity to shock or inspire but the most fresh and innocent listeners. One can only imagine what impact “The Necrosphere Within” would have had in 1987, but the lack of a honest exploration of death metal horizons arouses the question how long can “formulaic death metal” be “death metal” at all, since the genre was incepted to scare the listener into an acceptance of devious un-life. In a hodgepodge of riffs, the social instinct takes over and the music loses the “death-feeling”. A slight rescue is obtained by preserving much of the doom character of the members’ earlier bands, as well as wicked and proficient guitar solos. In total, “Encircling the Mysterious Necrorevelation” is far from bad, but it also lacks the essential magic and forceful intellect characteristic of Mexican metal peaks.

Yaotl Mictlan – Guerreros De La Tierra De Los Muertos

Yaotl Mictlan in a similar respect to Xibalba borrow stylistically from European black metal. Their debut full-length contains a battle-hardened ferocity not unlike Graveland’s ‘Thousand Swords’, and in attitude resembles a less esoteric version of the classic Polish black metal acts. Musically this has the precision and sharp execution of Enslaved’s ‘Frost’ album, but with is overlaid with meandering, arpeggiated guitar forms that bring to mind a more rock-inclined take on Burzum’s first album. True to backdrop, the band bring elements unique to their Mexican heritage to the fore, in the form of wind instruments, percussives and acoustic guitar passages that are distinct within flamenco music. This is no doubt a unique approach, and firmly grasps a sound it can call it’s own, though lacking the cohesion and charge to put them in the same tier as Xibalba or Avzhia. As a result of this, ‘Guerreros De La Tierra De Los Muertos’ comes across as a tiresome listen, but not without the occasional flourish of excellence. Now signed with Candlelight records, it will be interesting to see what results their next release will artistically yield, as there are moments of promise here.

Infinitum Obscure – Sub Atris Caelis

Often referred to as a clone of The Chasm, Infinitum Obscure do indeed share more than a few identifiable traits with their fellow Mexicans, most notably the tremolo picking and those galloping triplets that lend so much power and vigour to the rhythm. There is something that ultimately separates the two bands, however; that being the conceptual direction each band embarks upon: while The Chasm invokes a strong, dark atmosphere that emphasizes the mystical, esoteric passage through some evanescent portal, Infinitum Obscure are far more direct in organizing a forceful rhythm in such a way as to remain concentrated on a single, grounded idea, often reinforcing this focus by frequently returning to familiar themes. So, while their main inspiration might take flight into stranger landscapes, Infinitum Obscure are quite content to portray the lost chasms of this world with an evocative atmosphere of imaginative melodies and, most importantly, direct and uncompromising riffing. On ‘Sub Atris Caelis’, Infinitum Obscure’s sophomore album, these points are emphasized more clearly, making it their definitive accomplishment to date. The need to shake off the burden of being a mere clone band is eminently present; the band tasks itself with creating something altogether their own, resulting in a real sense of the epic emerging from the patterns interwoven throughout the record; each song is striking at something profound, grasping wildly in the search for solidarity. The consequence of these compulsions is an album that sounds like it is still very much in The Chasm camp; while really it has taken several progressive leaps forward, leaving us with a work of art brimming with the self-confidence of autonomy.

Denial – Catacombs of the Grotesque

Some of the most impressive new death metal from anywhere in the world, this churning, impactful and bodily animalistic accomplishment from former Cenotaph and Shub Niggurath madmen is not a joke. What Cannibal Corpse always intended with their chromatic, bass-heavy and relentlessly rhythmic one dimensional stream of riff becomes an amalgamation of melodic motifs and devastatingly experimental squeals in the hands of these  perpetrators, as the background noise boils and envelops much as the classic “Onward to Golgotha” did, while the constant, FX enhanced, ridiculously monstrous voice of Ivan Velazquez intones all the perspiring tension of underworld nexus, the twilight threshold of life and death where sorcerers and demons whisper secrets to the warrior, offering true and false guidance, representing the violent archaic generations that waged war on Mexico’s bloody soil and continue to make many lives into living hell. I have alluded to the monotone nature, which is probably intentional and it hardly detracts from enjoying this cryptic abomination for further and further listenings, as the heights such as “The Pestilent Pits of Disgrace” or “Necrotic Invocations” are deceptively complex mazes of chords and melodies disguised as straightforward infernal metal by the tight manner of production and the guitarists’ sparse use of leads or interludes. Most importantly, the unrelenting hopelessness of these afterworld visions will force the listener to abandon the illusion of safety and immortality that makes the common man succumb to faulty, immoral decisions from day to day, thus achieving one of the highest principles of death metal: mental change (abomination). One would hesitate to lift such a recent work to the hallowed pantheon of Cenotaph and Mortuary after a brief listening span, but if a candidate is chosen from this tournée, this must be it.

It can be said that while Mexico’s metal offerings are not especially plentiful, they are generally interesting and spirited while the best of the country are just about the best these genres have ever seen, on an international scale. Mexicans’ natural groundedness coupled with the mystical tendencies is an excellent standpoint for witnessing the oblique directions of Death and Black Metal from an unpretentious, furious, “Luciferian” angle. It’s almost a surprise there isn’t so much more of it, even though I’m surprised if any reader of this article gets a sense of scarcity regarding items of interest in Mexican metal. So, that being said, it’s about time we leave you to contemplate the mysteries of Toltecs and Satan in the consummation of the extreme, Romantic and evil compositional systems of these modern Mexican warriors and dreamers.

Marco: I think this music is very individual and very personal, and it can take you to a spiritual level, if you listen carefully. Our ancient cultures are based on spirituality, so that’s the point in our just making this weird mix. One song can take you to the top of the pyramids, and reach for the skies, and another one could take you to a scenario of a war against the conquerors. In the end it’s all about finding your own roots, it’s some kind of, another, resource to open your eyes and to step away from the enslavement of social rules and moral unconsciousness (Christian superstition included). In the end the people in power need a dormant society, so they can keep on corrupting, spreading corruption in every corner, and people are just playing the game. Only the connection to your roots will set you free.

Joel: It’s a matter of self confidence in all the things we do, the feeling of greatness inside, the feeling of power, to reach new levels in the extreme brutal metal music we make! I’m not here to convince anyone to do anything, we are selected persons, we the whole scene… the others, the weak, must die!

Highest hails from Deathmetal.Org to Joel of Mortuary, Marco of Xibalba, Demogorgon of Avzhia, Eduardo of Necroccultus and last but not least Noe of Guttural Records for providing in-depth thoughts from the original perpetrators of real Mexican Metal! All of these bands are active so look out for forthcoming events of true massacre of the highest order.

Once you decided to come to Mexico you should have put all your petty fears away. Your decision to come should have vanquished them. You came because you wanted to come. That’s the warrior’s way.

– Don Juan Matus

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Pyrrhic Victories: A Brief Study Of Artistic Decline

1. Introduction
2. Sepultura – Arise
3. Metallica – Master of Puppets
4. Coroner – Mental Vortex
5. Morbid Angel – Covenant

Written by Pearson, Devamitra and ObscuraHessian

Introduction

All historical events at some stage pertain to a barrier, or a Rubicon that when crossed marks a watershed in the life cycle of an organism in which an achievement cannot be matched in terms of it’s overall qualities. In particular instances, these successes are such that what succeeds can only be a steady decline, or an outcome that pales in comparison to the glory that prevailed at a particular stage of time. This feature aims to give insight into some known examples of the ‘Pyrrhic Victory’ in the metal genre and give light to releases that represent strengths of once great acts, and at the same time foreshadowed artistic saturation.

A common thread that seems to run through these turning points in the careers of metal bands is the apparent contradiction between a musician’s personal evolution and the progress of the musical style into more authentic and expressive forms in service of the concept. We all understand that a maturing musician is not going to be satisfied with the same apparently simple techniques he mastered upon his first year of guitar practice for ages. He probably has musical heroes he is looking up to and he always wanted to learn that Eddie Van Halen or Ritchie Blackmore solo.

Vital musical forms rely on creativity, spontaneity and message over matter. It is the curse of the artist that often the best of their work is at the behest of youthful lunacy and drunken madness, the early recordings where they grasp at the straws of vision without quite having formulated the techniques for achieving them – so they improvise and as Nietzsche would say, “give birth to a dancing star“. ‘Human‘, ‘Tales from the Thousand Lakes‘ and ‘Heartwork‘ are all perfect examples of a band with the full arsenal of accumulated weapons, evolved to near its maximum potential in knowing exactly how to compose all the contemporary forms of metal, from death metal and grindcore to pop progressive, even soft rock.

But here comes the paradox. Instead of sounding updated, the recording sounds more dated every passing year, because what has happened is that the band has incorporated a plethora of archaisms to a sound that used to be cutting edge. The bludgeoning dark tremolos of ‘Leprosy‘ that used to climax in nearly atonal solos become melodious post-modernist “cut up” riff salads; the doomy Wagnerian grandeur and slow movements reminiscent of historical battles in ‘The Karelian Isthmus‘ is stealthily exchanged with stoner rock and circular meditations that happen after a couple too many smoked joints; the to-the-point socio-anatomical parody of the hilariously grotesque and twisted ‘Symphonies of Sickness‘ gets discursive and bloated with instrumental worship, as if the band suddenly turned from anarchists into voters. The core question would be: did the band think these are more sensible ways of composition and a better illustration of the topic at hand – or did they forget the composition and the topic altogether in the name of randomly generating “music” with cold technique?

Sepultura – Arise

Coming off the back of the raging, deathly, speed metal of ‘Beneath The Remains‘, Sepultura stay true to the compact musical execution that began making itself clear on the ‘Schizophrenia‘ album onwards. There is more variation in pace, with the lower tempo compositions often resemblant of the riotous and anthemic cycles of of ‘Beneath The Remains’ played out in suspended animation. The introduction of the now ‘tribal’ meme that first makes itself present in Sepultura’s music introduces itself through in various songs, and whilst here it is applied in a more than tasteful enough manner it sometimes gives the idea that whilst this indicates an ‘open-mindedness’ to the average listener, on deeper insight it gives light to the possibility that the band by this time may have been starting to run short of creative ideas. Whilst this is a very good record by Sepultura, prevailing characteristics get the upper hand, and in a year where speed metal had long had it’s glory days, and death metal attaining new peaks of aggression in a period of artistic blossom, it’s no surprise looking back that the dumbed down and singularly ‘angry’ mosh-fodder that was ‘Chaos A.D.’ would suceed this work. –Pearson

Metallica – Master Of Puppets

A controversial pick, Metallica’s excellent third album fulfills the incorporation of progressive themes but seems to crystallize them to such an extent that no more creative spark would emanate from their later works. Cliff Burton’s presence in the unit, and his bridging of neo-classicist influences into their progressive speed metal was a defining feature of what many hessians and metallers saw to be the main component of their excellence. Having let this seep in on ‘Kill Em All‘ and fully realise itself on ‘Ride The Lightning‘, ‘Master Of Puppets’ steps further towards punchier and anthemic songs, with a steeping emphasis on percussive, palm-muted rhythm riffs which are the dominant motif in the album’s musical execution. This is structurally still in the exact same mould as ‘Ride The Lightining’, in that despite a different order of where songs are, we get aggression in ‘Damage Inc.’ and ‘Battery’ where there was once ‘Fight Fire With Fire’ and ‘Trapped Under Ice’. Songs such as ‘Sanitarium’ continue a rock music inclined sense of songwriting that continues what started with ‘Fade To Black’ and inevitably foreshadows the growing commercialism of Metallica on later releases. The excellence of ‘Orion’ also signals a continuity shift that began with ‘Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)’ and fulfilled itself with the ‘Call Of Ktulu’ instrumental. This is a great album that solidifies the importance of Metallica in the genre’s history, though the death of Cliff Burton and the lack of creative steam that ensued signalled the artistic decline that came in 1988 with ‘And Justice For All…’. –Pearson

Coroner – Mental Vortex

While the speed and thrash metal boom was crumbling all around in the wake of Seattle and LA-based clothing styles storming the nation, a few European stalwarts lingered on the fringes and while some of them didn’t dare to take up the arms for intricate, narrative death metal, they were influenced by its vicious aggression and psychedelic subject matter. Coroner from Zürich, around Tom G. Warrior‘s circle of the tyrants, never became a vastly recognized or influential name in extreme metal but superceded most of its peers in technicality and consistency, releasing a discography of five albums ranging from the raging “R.I.P.” to the eclectic “Grin“, where the fourth one “Mental Vortex” is where the playing abilities peak but the ultimate purpose of the band is starting to wane. When the idealism of youth fades and with it the spontaneous power of iconographic assault, the only avenue left for speed metal to challenge the moral preconceptions of hypocritical generations was to turn to psychology and explore lies and paranoia in the internal spheres, cutting up joy and sadness into fusion-esque rhythm riff salads (with the timing of an atomic clock) cut up from brilliant small pieces akin to Burroughs’ or Gysin’s style of literature. Such a hectic style provides an engaging rhythmic tension for this album, arguably one of the last triumphs of the entire genre, but it’s also cold and calculated like a scientific experiment. The vastly more popular but not much better Carcass realized essentially the same things many years later on their hit album “Heartwork” and ended up on the pages of guitar magazines, while Coroner was already entombed to the mausoleums of Noise Records’ speed metal roster. –Devamitra

Morbid Angel – Covenant

Among the most ancient, recognisable and influential cults in Death Metal’s history, Morbid Angel’s tale of decline is a prolonged one, and raised continuous questions about the band’s creative state, as though their instruments were being channelled purely at the whim of the Outer Gods. The Floridan giants finally resisted the unearthly impulses that once guided them to create powerful statements of occult awareness bound up with a Nietzschean sense of overcoming and will-to-power, such that with the releases of ‘Gateways of Annihilation’ and ‘Heretic’, the band fell victim to triviality. Incremental lapses in quality can be traced back to much earlier albums however, with the departure of guitarist Richard Brunelle being the first to impact the legendary line-up responsible for two of the finest Metal albums ever recorded, meaning that ‘Covenant’ would initiate the band’s slow decay. In addition, Morbid Angel’s growing populist tendencies were perhaps never more commercially viable than at this time, with the production left in the hands of Fleming Rasmussen, and not one but two music videos filmed to promote the album. Brunelle’s exit would mean that Trey Azagthoth would be fully responsible for filling the suffocating mix with his trademarked guitarwork, to the surprising detriment of ‘Covenant’s sound wherever the album’s conceptual direction becomes overwhelmed by a one-dimensional bluntness. Characterised by unfocused and uniform phrasing and only held in place by Pete Sandoval’s tightly militaristic drumming, the latter half of the album demonstrates little of the dynamism that could be heard on every one of their preceeding songs. The spiritual inversion of Morbid Angel, a transvaluation of religious language to re-vitalise and Paganise the path of transcendence and condemn the submissive and world-denying, corrupt parasites turns into an unaltering, blind rage that’s summarised by the lyric of ‘God of Emptiness‘, “So, what makes you supreme?”, setting a blueprint for the band to follow on ‘Domination‘ and the hordes of imitators that were given an undeserved license to record by virtue of Death Metal’s growing popularity. ‘Covenant’ in this sense is not dissimilar to Deicide’s Pyrrhic fall from the adept demonology of ‘Legion‘ to the dumbed-down ‘Once Upon the Cross‘, though Azagthoth’s wizardry would earn Morbid Angel some redemption with the primordial dance of cosmic energies to be heard on ‘Formulas Fatal to the Flesh‘ before finally digging their own grave without cursing their own reputation quite as badly as the truly shattered idols from the golden age of Death Metal. –ObscuraHessian

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