Final Fright – Artificial Perfection

finalfright-artificialperfection-cover2015

Hailing from Italy, Final Fright play ripping speed metal right out of the mid 1980s. Established in 2010, the band played covers, released the demo Abusive Grindhouse in 2012 and now in 2015 present us with their first full-length album, Artificial Perfection.

Unabashedly retro in their choice of style, Final Fright feels completely at home and does not try to impose modern conventions on the language of this particular brand of speed metal. Neither is the band copy pasting from particular acts. Artificial Perfection sounds like a someone learning and dominating a foreign language. When this happens, the music does not come out sounding like a cardboard front disguising something else, but the artists are able to express themselves as native speakers in the lingo of the genre.

But speaking a language does not necessarily imply you have something worth saying. So it is that the honest and proficient handling of the musical language by Final Fright is satisfactory and even enjoyable but unexceptional all the same. People looking for bouncy, authentic speed metal in a different mouth and voice but offering nothing different will find this is a fantastic release for them.

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“Hacker Metal” by Brett Stevens on Perfect Sound Forever

wopr

I wrote an article about the cross-influence between hacking and heavy metal. It covers the use of alternative media, like BBS and AE lines, to convey a hidden truth that is shared between metalheads and hackers. The article is entitled “Hacker Metal” and it is published in Perfect Sound Forever webzine.

For those who remember the early web, Perfect Sound Forever is an e-zine that started in 1993 and has run continuously since. It derived its name from an early Sony/Philips ad designed to convince people to switch to compact disks, and covers all forms of music including a fair amount of metal.

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In search of the ‘perfect album’

The mainstream media finally asks a good question:

People love to talk about music. A story about Ken Caillat’s new book covering the inside story behind the Fleetwood Mac album, “Rumours,” had several readers gushing about their own favorite albums. Seems there are all kinds of “perfect albums” for all kinds of tastes.

Take a look at what readers said, and then let us know what “perfect albums” pop up into your mind. Do people still think albums are still a big deal? And, for that matter, what are the qualities that make a great album? – CNN

Other than the fact that I agree with Paul Ledney that perfection does not exist (or rather, to be perfect must be imperfect) I’ll bite. A perfect album is one with a concept that holds it all together, consistent songwriting, good quality and that takes on important topics or emotional changes. It has to be something you can throw on again and again and not get bored.

  1. Morbid Angel – Altars of Madness
  2. Slayer – Hell Awaits and South of Heaven
  3. Deicide – Legion
  4. Sepultura – Morbid Visions/Bestial Devastation
  5. Incantation – Onward to Golgotha
  6. Pestilence – Consvming Impvlse
  7. Celtic Frost – To Mega Therion
  8. Enslaved – Vikinglgr Veldi
  9. Summoning – Dol Goldur
  10. Beherit – Drawing Down the Moon and Electric Doom Synthesis
  11. Demigod – Slumber of Sullen Eyes
  12. Bolt Thrower – …For Victory

These are the kind of albums that people should aim to emulate, not the trendy flavor-of-the-day black metal or indie rock hybrids!

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Jesu – Why Are We Not Perfect

Jesu – Why Are We Not Perfect
Hydra Head, 2008

Justin Broadrick demonstrated through his early works a desire for that moment of unitivity when the conscious mind and emotions synchronized. Through Godflesh, and later Techno Animal and Final, he showed a passion for bringing colossal structures to bear on moments of quiet contemplation. With Jesu, he resurrects his music outside the ghetto that extremist offerings can be, and melds into post-rock disparate influences from industrial, shoegaze, noisepop, and so forth. Jesu, protean as all Broadrick projects are, in turn twisted from more radiantly noisy to its current softer state. On “Why Are We Not Perfect” Jesu moves the slider closest to shoegaze and pop, losing much of the more complicated structuring and sound that made earlier Jesu challenging. This gambit may prove risky: many in the post-rock fanclub would like to leave behind what so rigidly defines rock and brings the moths to its one-size-fits-all dose, and “Why Are Not Perfect” drapes its nearly ecclesiastical encompassing layered sound over the exuberant shuffle beats of rock/pop. Song structures are not linear but follow a verse chorus pattern culminating in a serenity like the moment after a surf crashes on the beach when water lapses into absorbent, silent sand. Less jagged distortion and cleaner, plaintive emo vocals guide each song and sounds elide smoothly from abrasive feedback to silken, reminiscent of shoegaze classics like Medicine and My Bloody Valentine. While this EP satisfies as a taste, and an exploration, this reviewer hopes Broadrick abandons the past — and doesn’t relapse into his influences — so he can keep exploring the seemingly erratic, intense jigsaw song structures he served up on the self-titled Jesu debut.

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Victory Over Peace

There are those who would make us think that peace is essential for life. They demand we must reconcile all manner of disagreements and simply live happily together. In reality, what happens in a real compromise (if indeed it is a compromise) is that every one involved gets a bit of what he bargained for. It is not unlike Celtic Frost, a.k.a. the failed post-Hellhammer experiment that tried going mainstream a step at a time. By the time the band released Into the Pandemonium it was clear that by trying to bring the monster of underground black/death metal into the light they only degenerated it into a joke that no one, except masochists, want to ever hear again. The reader may want to attribute the downfall of Celtic Frost to a host of other causes, but the decision was in fact simple: give in to niceties and benefits through a compromise, or keep on fighting, towards a transcendental victory.
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PCU‘s Dark Forecast

A few times every decade, a work of literature or film comes along that astonishingly predicts the future with unbelievable accuracy.  Back in 1994, we were given a dead-on glimpse of the social climate that we’re currently living in across modern western civilization through a seemingly harmless silly, good times college comedy, as it advertised itself to be. But instead, PCU showed us the world we would be inhabiting twenty years later.

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Underground Record Labels in the Year 2159

It is the year 2159. All the world’s capitols have been obliterated- save South America and Africa (the only continents free of nuclear weapons)- and humanity is no longer able to reproduce due to the over-manufacturing of sex-bots.  There had been three nuclear wars already, first of which involved USA and North Korea and the most recent involving Britain and Iran.  EMP’s and cyber-hacks had taken out the grid long ago, leaving only a strand of humanity left whose bodies could physically adapt to life without WI-FI.  Most of the main bands in the US which were based out of major cities perished as urban conditioning caused them to starve with no wherewithal to survive in the wild.  All that was left were rag tag bunches of malnourished but darkly inspired bands of street trash scavengers who roamed the land with metal detectors seeking alkaline batteries to power their equipment (though these were also needed to power their sex-bots).  Guitarists went back to using hand cranked Pignose amps, with vintage EV megaphones held in front to further amplify the vocals and guitars.
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Dusk-Bound

The success of endeavors that carry with them the implication of development or transformation, such as the evolution of an artistic genre (without any relation to the ‘progress’ of dialectical materialism), requires the constant testing of strength, the crossing of one’s boundaries. Contrary to the beliefs of the simple minded, this does not mean that the act of crossing those lines is in itself enough for a fully-formed conclusion to be presented, although there is indeed great value in violation itself. But one could argue that the great weapons of the mind, enacted, come as a result of a full digestion and re-application of invaluable experience and information that comes from the crude testing of strength, directed towards the intuited limits of the yet unexplored.
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Demos and a Forsaken Future

“Dude, their demos were so much better” is one of the most obnoxious cliches of underground metal.  Usually a sign of virtue signaling used to mask one’s insecurities about their knowledge or taste, many lost souls of a nostalgia-obsessed age will use this one as a pale attempt to one up their brethren.  However in many cases within metal’s sonic sphere, bands that were truly fantastic on their early demos left much to be desired and ultimately left listeners unfulfilled.  Whether it be a record company’s influence, a change in heart or band members, or a touch of genius quickly fumbled away, may bands throughout the history of metal have never quite been able to match the quality of their demo recordings.

With death metal built on an entire sub culture of tape trading, demos were more than a proverbial foot-in-the-door to a potential record deal.  For musicians of the genre’s early days, the demo was the equivalent to having your record in the store- it was being shipped all around the world to fans desperate for something they couldn’t find in shops and to musicians hungry for new ideas.  Furthermore, a band’s demo was untainted by the direction and input of record labels who, in those days, quite often suppressed what was deemed “too weird” or “too extreme” as death metal was often determined by the suits of those days.  Tape trading death metal demos was an underground of its own, and your band’s demo tape wasn’t just a pathway to commercialization or musical success- but a often the start of new friendships in a rapidly globalizing world.  Given all of these unique factors, it’s no surprise death metal was full of bands who could never quite capture the magic of their demos.

To offer a complete list would be a dishonor and disservice to the legions of quality works that fall under this umbrella.  Therefore in today’s editorial, I will briefly offer a handful of my personal favorite death metal demos from bands that could never quite capture the magic.  Though I pay little mind to what happens in our comment sections, this will mark a special occurrence where I’d be delighted to know what DMU’s readers would have on this list.

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Elegiac Black Clouds of War 2018

Elegiac is a one man band from California formed in 2014 by sole composer Zane Young, whom has released a large number of records under the name of Elegiac- far too much for any band yet alone a one man band.  Like many bands of this generation, Elegiac play a basic form of black metal that can be described as the bastard child of Bathory, Satanic Warmaster and generic modern rock.  This is not what one expects from USBM at all despite their promo toting this release as the return of the micro genre’s glory days.
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