Composition: it does what production, image, glamour and lyrics cannot.
Memoriam posted the first track and track list for their upcoming death ‘n’ roll album For the Fallen. Hear Karl Willets sound tired and rip off himself on “Reduced to Zero” over riffs that make Benediction‘s The Grand Leveller sound like a peak of death metal in comparison. I’m so excited! Let’s find out what this single sounds like!
Graveland announced a new album of studio rerecordings of prior material and premiered a new music video for “Thousand Swords” on their Facebook page. 1050 Years of Pagan Cult comes out this November.
Metalheads tend to be wary of punk, recognizing it only for its role as an influence on metal. This attitude obscures the fact that the best of punk is worth exploring on its own terms and merits, starting with perhaps the greatest influence of punk technique and heightened aesthetics in that genre, hardcore punk‘s The Misfits.
Memoriam, the new project of Karl Willets and Andy Whale from Bolt Thrower with former Benediction members Frank Healy and Scott Fairfax, have signed to Nuclear Blast Records and announced an upcoming album for early next year. Since they’re on Nuclear Blast, fans should expect a sterile production even though Andy Whale doesn’t use triggers. From Nuclear Blast’s press release:
Nuclear Blast proudly announces the signing of MEMORIAM, the death metal band founded by Karl Willetts (BOLT THROWER) and Frank Healy (BENEDICTION)!
MEMORIAM was primarily developed to fill the void that was left following the tragic death of Martin ‘Kiddie’ Kearns, the drummer from BOLT THROWER, back in September 2015. BOLT THROWER subsequently placed all activity on hold for the foreseeable future, which gave vocalist Karl Willetts an opportunity to develop a new project with friends, that had expressed interest in forming a band for some time.
Comments the band:
“The war rages on… It is with great pleasure that MEMORIAM announces that we have signed a recording contract with Nuclear Blast Records.
“Throughout our long careers, 30 years to be precise, within the music industry and specifically within the death metal scene we have witnessed the growth of Nuclear Blast Records to become the number one record company within our genre.
“When we started MEMORIAM back in January 2016 we intended just to form a band to go into the rehearsal rooms to jam out some cover versions of old classic songs that had influenced us in the past along with some cover versions from the bands we had played with over the years, and maybe eventually do a few low key gigs.
“With the introduction of Scott Fairfax into the line up all this changed, Scott has brought with him a wealth of killer riffs and new ideas which has totally changed things around from our original intentions. Very soon we decided to scrap the idea of being a covers band and to formulate our own songs using these riffs and ideas that Scott introduced to us, and from this we developed a whole load of new crushing brutal old school death metal songs which we are very proud of and can’t wait to unleash upon the world!
“When we started developing the songs we talked about the possibility of signing to a label and releasing an album, at that point we all decided that if Nuclear Blast approached us we would sign to them. This is because amongst all the labels out there none have a better relationship with the bands on their roster, none communicate better with both the bands and the fans of the music. None care as much about the music and the scene as Nuclear Blast Records.
“Nuclear Blast currently boasts the best artist roster of all the labels within the death metal genre, we are proud and honored amongst this list! 2016 is the year of MEMORIAM. Let the resistance begin…”
Markus Staiger, CEO of Nuclear Blast, adds:
“Being a lifetime fan of both BENEDICTION and BOLT THROWER, it is with great pride that I announce that the new band of Frank Healy and Karl Willets has now joined the Nuclear Blast family! Following the first news regarding the band, I have been keeping a close eye on them and was very curious to hear their material.
“Besides me, a lot of metal magazines have been in touch with the band even before they had heard a single note of music, while the band has also received many invitations to play several summer festivals. After hearing their first demo songs I was completely sold and knew that I had to get in contact with Frank and Karl to seal the deal. MEMORIAM will please all the fans of old school death metal and especially the worldwide fan base of BOLT THROWER and BENEDICTION! With bands like MEMORIAM, Nuclear Blast remains the no # 1 in extreme metal!!”
MEMORIAM maintains the standards set by their previous bands, focusing on the themes of death, loss and war. Initially, the band members got together to play covers of songs that had influenced them throughout their careers within the death metal scene. However, it soon became apparent that the new songs they had created were of a superior quality and that they needed to be heard. Currently the band is tentatively scheduled to release their debut album in early 2017 via Nuclear Blast Records.
Karl Willetts (BOLT THROWER) – vocals
Frank Healy (BENEDICTION, SACRILEGE) – bass
Andy Whale (ex-BOLT THROWER) – drums
Scott Fairfax (ex-LIFE DENIED, BENEDICTION) – guitars
The upcoming record probably won’t be as good as the prime period of Bolt Thrower’s career so enjoy For Victory!
“Melodic death metal” is meaningless. What is popularly called “melodic” death or black metal can be roughly divided into the three different types of music sketched out by Ludvig Boysen in his “The Three Types of Melodic Death Metal” article for Death Metal Underground. While Ludvig’s three categories are essentially correct, refining and broadening them allows formal classification of all “melodic” death and black metal. Note that Death Metal Underground’s extensive Heavy Metal FAQ covers the topic of genre in great depth but a brief rundown for the ignorant and lazy is in order.
Article by Corey M
An astounding eighteen years after releasing their debut full-length, Sorcier des Glaces releases North, maintaining their streak of high-quality albums. The themes of their last album, Ritual of the End (one of 2014’s best releases), are still present here and revolve around the band’s signature lyrical and melodic concepts; descriptions of people and places undergoing freezing damnation, in their unique vision of death occurring over epic spans of time.
This music holds the rare power to instill visions and sensations of ice-covered ruins and crippling cold by its melodic prowess alone. However, the vocals and lyrics are praiseworthy as well as the delivery is unnervingly clear, poetically orating scenes of melancholic morbidity illustrated by the music. This is achieved by Sorcier des Glaces’ idiosyncratic approach to writing long riffs with slow and steady chord changes all augmented by faster-moving melodies that anticipate and resolve the myriad melodically unorthodox transitions. It’s so rare to hear this style of complex harmonic activity performed this adroitly that the only similar album I can think of that achieves this level of complexity tempered by an intuitive sense of coherency is Far Away from the Sun. That is a high compliment.
In terms of technical performance, the musicians’ set-up is very similar to what is heard on Ritual of the End. Driving drums impel the helical, tremolo-picked, complimentary melodies which the lone guitarist/bassist cleanly divides into trios. The main melodies are carried by the rhythm guitar’s very long chains of power chords and the bass guitar modifies the basic root notes of the rhythm guitar, adding much harmonic depth to the songs. Meanwhile, one or more guitars play high-register leading melodies that expertly illuminate the emotive potential of the progressions. Playing their instruments at such a wide range of timbre and speed creates a broad, orchestral sound. The band’s creative flexibility allows the orchestra to tower indomitably, or branch out and flow smoothly, winding naturally around musical obstacles, like the trickle of water over irregular, rocky terrain.
The musicians even get a little bit more boldly experimental on North, particularly during the title track “North”, utilizing some long sections of cleanly picked chords that mutate and creep toward obscure resolutions while the bass dances its own giddy cadenza beneath the reverberating guitars. Typically this sort of deviation would wreck the feel of a song in the hands of inadept musicians, but here it is a delight. “Dawn of the Apocalypse” features an epic lyrical narrative enhanced by some more extreme shifts in dynamic intensity of the music. None of the changes are jarring or illogical; rather, they occur organically.
Despite the long and winding song progressions, I would recommend this album even to uninitiated metal fans. The sweeping guitar orchestration will ensnare anyone with a keen sense of musical passion, allowing Sorcier des Glaces’ malevolent shroud to obscure their sense of righteousness as they succumb to the awesome power of ice and occultic magic. North is an excellent album that will provide many journeys into the frigid recesses of the unconscious, at once harrowing and wondrous.
Nocturnal doom/black metal band No God Only Pain are finalizing details on their upcoming EP Roads to Serfdom which demonstrates a transition in styles of this band toward apocalyptic roadhouse dark metal. This new style features all of the Motorhead-inspired choruses, Darkthrone-infused verses and oddball, doomy structures and atmospheres of the earlier work, but with more of a nod to early Danzig in an exploration of classic heavy metal.
An exclusive stream of one track, “Who Forgives God?,” is below:
We were fortunate to catch a few minutes with the band, who dictated the following release:
This recording is a dissonant experiment under the Barkeresque transmutational concept that “anything can be created.” There’s five songs total, hinging on the theme of how (despite its appearances) modern society is still feudal in nature. Riff wise the songs still attempt to flow as a single voice yet are purposely more diverse than on Joy of Suffering.
This recording demonstrates a singular musical concept: simple Burzumy punk tunes to some epic song progressions. The album challenges itself like a madman and aims to polarize opinion like a bad Zogby poll.
Half the recording is purposely super lo-fi with a very minimal number of microphones. Purposely using so few mics (and nothing direct ) seems ridiculous, but previous attempts at for lo-fi but discernible sound sucked for me. We acquired many pieces of gear at flea markets and pawn shops to try to capture the sound we required, and most failed, but we perservered.
Our goal was to get a dark and grungy sound, like Transylvanian Hunger, but with bass and vocals done way more professionally (Scott Burns Obituary style) which creates irony since our bassist plays groovy and fuzzy like Blue Cheer. A large part of the point of doing the recording this way is to allow more time for the bass and vocals to experiment and color the songs more, while the guitars and drums maintain more basic driving tones. The bass is not on this recording yet.
The title track is an experiment in itself as it questions how much variety in riffs and song structure a song can have and still make sense. It attempts capture in one song the variety of genres of music in metal and juxtaposes them as a metaphor for the cornucopia of ways that society trys to exert control over the individual. There are many diverse experiences, but all roads lead to serfdom.
We live in an alienating society. I speak not of mere platitudes referring to ‘the elite’ or ‘the powers that be’, for they are mere symptoms in the overall system. Whether it was born with intent or unconsciously, the modern individual is mentally thrown off by paranoia, surreality, and above all else an apparent lack of purpose. This is not to say the past holds what we seek. On the contrary, nothing has quite changed in this regard, but it has become distorted and confused to such an extent that all we can wonder about when considering an actual meaning in our world is… why?
The underlying story of Deception Ignored is more important to understanding the album than one might realize. Each song details a different aspect of life, linearly progressing in time, that has been assaulted by this society’s entropic alienation all from a nameless man’s perspective. It would likely be best to lay out a brief explanation for this supposed macrostructure, would it not? Thus this lays out the ‘journey’ of the nameless man through the unconscious order of the world:
- Inception: Immersion in society’s paranoid mindset
- Depression born from inability to end this alienation, but overcoming desire for death
- Contemplation on the self’s meaninglessness versus holding onto an ideal within sleep
- Internalization of routine and coping with the world
- Comprehension of the world’s apathy
- Defeatism through distracting oneself from the events of the world
- Finale: Realization of the breadth of the system and struggle to change
A rather depressing story, eh?
Beyond just the conceptual outline of this album exists its wonderfully constructed music. Despite repetition of lyrics within the tracks, the unconventional construction makes it apparent that these tracks do not simply follow a cyclic pattern. Through-composition integrated in with the unorthodox chorus usage renders the choruses’ purpose as a means to express the thematic development; it is not so much a mere return to a section as it is reintroducing melodies for the next section to work off.
Uwe Osterlehner, who joined the band in 1988, is responsible for much of this. Prior to then, Deathrow’s sound was stylistically within the Teutonic thrash metal scene, albeit with their own quirks here and there. Uwe played a role similar to that of Alf Svensson (of At the Gates) for Deathrow, acting as a guiding hand and showing the true potential bound within them as a group. His intensely neoclassical compositional style, bringing the music to the utmost technical extents of thrash, was essentially a transcendental conception of that which is speed/thrash metal. Melodies are interwoven in every which way across each point within the overarching structure of this work; each song expresses a theme, develops it in seemingly every way possible, and brings it all to a conclusion. Yet it seems as if the songs themselves don’t have traditional climaxes, eh? The overarching structure is quite important to recognize. Just as Alf Svensson talents transcended ATG’ abilities through taking command up until 1993, Uwe Osterlehner was the mastermind behind Deception Ignored.
“Triocton” itself deserves a mention. It is the third track, and despite its instrumental nature, the music speaks for itself and contributes to the narrative. The complexity of the album is brought to its zenith, and it bestows on us an inimitable display of thematic interrelationships. To the listener, this may appear at first to be a ‘riff-salad’ due to the seemingly ridiculous amount of thematic introductions within this track. Disregarding it as such a meaningless term would be foolish, however. Several thematic melodies all centered around one overarching melodic phrase which is constantly subject to variation itself. Such a labyrinthine structure is truly daunting.
Uwe, as the primary guitarist and songwriter, and assisted by the other guitarist Sven Flügge, used a heavily nuanced and technical melodicism in his compositions that expressed simultaneously two predominant emotions found within the story: a sense of mechanical alienation and the triumphant will to overcome. This dual embodiment gives a feeling of uncertainty across the album, but not in the sense that it’s directionless. The narrative is in fact enhanced by this emotive confusion as the two emotions embodied in the melodic elements carry each other through each passage, as ebb and flow, to demonstrate the complex emotional structure inherent – a fine balance of order and chaos.
The basswork of Milo (also the vocalist) and the drumming of Markus Hahn provides far more than simply an adequate rhythmic backing to the complex melodicism acting above. Myriads of time changes, winding exchanges between the dueling guitars and the underlying rhythmic patterns, and (even beyond mere technical aspects) the tremendous aggression expressed all show the sheer power underlying the melodies within Deathrow’s sound. The cryptic time signature changes do far more than the typical progressive metal band does with such things; the time is constantly altering itself to suit the emotional context of each present moment and to develop each track’s narrative. Far from technical masturbation, Deathrow utilizes the utmost technicality to express far more than sterile proficiency.
Bizarrely enough, Deathrow (likely not including Uwe) disowned Deception Ignored. Despite its sheer immensity, they perhaps felt that Uwe’s direction was not what they desired. It’s a shame since his genius resulted in this masterwork, even if their talents allowed Uwe to express his ideas. It always confuses me when bands disown their works…
Regardless of this nonsense, Deception Ignored stands high as a daunting yet beautiful expression of both alienation and will within the framework of metal.
Canadian death metal band Adversarial are ready to release Death, Endless Nothing and the Black Knife of Nihilism. The band’s first full-length since 2010’s All Idols Fall Before the Hammer is made up nine tracks of blasphemous metal.
Dark Descent Records has announced an August 21 release date for Death, Endless Nothing and the Black Knife of Nihilism on CD, vinyl and digital formats.
M.M. – Bass
E.K. – Drums
C.S. – Guitars/Vocals