Slaughterday – Cosmic Horror

slaughterday-cosmic_horrorImagine that time zoomed back to the moment before Entombed came out with Wolverine Blues. It was inevitable the Motorhead- and Roky Erickson-loving Swedes would turn to death ‘n’ roll, but they lost the gnarly bassy power chords and distortion in the process.

Slaughterday fix this situation by making a hybrid between Motorhead and Left Hand Path. The riffs are crunchy power chorded and bouncy, and every three riffs there’s a melodic interlude, but the essence of this composition is a good racing beat (probably 2x as fast as Motorhead) and a chant-heavy chorus. Bluesy leads flicker in and out to give it some spice.

This isn’t quite death metal. It’s more like death metal influenced roadhouse heavy metal, and as a result, it doesn’t have the odd constructions and difficult mood passages that death metal has, but instead rocks along nicely like an older heavy metal or hard rock album, but graces itself with the dressings of older Swedish death metal.

If you like At the Gates’ Slaughter of the Soul but wish it had been a little more aggressive and violent, or wondered why Entombed went so civilized and tidy with Wolverine Blues, this demo might warm your dark heart. Its appeal is as simple and timeless as heavy metal itself, and the added Swedish guitar tone and riff technique just gives it that much more punch.

Birth A.D. “I Blame You” available for pre-order

birth_a_d-i_blame_youBirth A.D., the “continuation thrash” band that picked up where DRI’s Four of a Kind and SOD’s Speak English Or Die left off and then took the style to new levels of insanity, will unleash its full-length album I Blame You on April 1, 2013.

However, you can make sure you get it as soon as possible by placing a pre-order ($10) with Dark Descent’s sub-label, Unspeakable Axe records, who will be sending this slab of vigilant virulence out to the stores and distros that get it into your sweaty hand.

In other words, get it from the source. Produced by legendary 80s metal and crossover producer Alex Perialas, this disc showcases the best of Birth A.D.‘s work to date, including some tracks from their killer EP Stillbirth of a Nation as well as new material.

Expect this to be out the door very quickly and taking over the world of metal-punk crossover music. Unlike the “retro” musicians who re-live the past by imitating it from a distance, Birth A.D. lives the past by bringing its spirit and technique into the future. The result is heartening for anyone who wanted metal to recover its intestinal fortitude and sense of honest humor.

Warbeast – Destroy

warbeast-destroyThe second album from Warbeast meets metalhead speakers with great expectations because the personnel involved have such a history of metal on the edge of mainstream that still retains the intensity of the underground. Destroy fulfills all of that promise.

Rigor Mortis vocalist Bruce Corbitt joins with four local musicians of renown to create a band that upholds the ideals of the past but modernizes its sound. On 2010’s Krush the Enemy, the band ventured more into a modern metal sound that verged on deathcore at times, but Destroy goes back to the roots and makes speed metal with the added pummeling technique of later death metal.

Destroy sounds more like Exodus crossed with Slayer and a few instances of the classic Rigor Mortis high-speed melodic sound. The choruses are dominated by the chanting aggressive voice of Corbitt, who sounds like the vocalist Philip Anselmo (who produced this album) wanted to be for Pantera. Choruses are less “spoken” and closer to death growls.

If this album has a fault, it’s that it’s too relentless, such that after a half hour songs start to run together because they are all turned up to 11. However, the appropriately vicious and complex guitar work provides enough depth to fill out these songs and keep the listener wanting more. The good things is that unlike post-Pantera experiments, this band doesn’t rely on groove or rock-style bounce, but on pure metal cadences and ripping speed rhythms.

Where many bands have tried to modernize the 1980s speed metal sound that made Metallica, Pantera, Exodus and Prong big names, Warbeast accomplish this through going back to the roots of metal and keeping it intense instead of trying to get bouncier or groovier. The result is an album that ties together past and present into a single extreme package.

Imprecation uncovers “From Beyond the Fiery Temples” from new album Satanae Tenebris Infinita

imprecation-satan_and_wenchesImprecation reveals the he second song off its long-awaited debut full-length which will be released on CD and vinyl through Dark Descent Records in Spring 2013.

The new album from Imprecation, Satanae Tenebris Infinita, will continue the legacy of dark ritual death metal that has seen this band rise from obscurity not once but twice, the second time being during its 2000s-era revival.

Cover art by the legendary Chris Moyen graces this slab of untamed and relentless death metal by members of Bahimiron, Adumus, Morbus 666 and other Houston death metal ancient ones. The past joins the present, and keeps on going where it was going in 1993, but even stronger and with more experience.

Earthen Grave signs to Ripple Music for debut album

earthen_grave-earthen_graveTraditional and yet untraditional, doom metal band Earthen Grave plan to unleash their first album, Earthen Grave, on Ripple Music for worldwide release on July 9, 2013.

Featuring ex-Trouble member Ron Holzner and classical virtuoso Rachel Barton Pine, Earthen Grave craft 1970s style doom with the addition of progressive touches and Pine’s elegant but savage violin fretwork. On top of this, the band modernize their sound with a throbbing intensity that is unique to their interpretation of metal.

Originally released in 2012, Earthen Grave was originally released on Claude + Elmo music (and can still be purchased here) but sees re-release with four new tracks and a cover of Dio’s “Stargazer,” complete with the violin talents of Pine, who plays a new type of violin-like instrument called “the Viper.”

In addition to the new album, Earthen Grave launches on a US tour with the following dates in addition to others soon to come:

Pathogen – Miscreants of Bloodlusting Aberrations

pathogen-miscreants_of_blood_lusting_aberrationsIf you were to combine the full military power approach of bands like Krisiun or Angelcorpse with the catchy and slightly dissonant songwriting of Master, the result might be like Pathogen. This band has its own personality however which comes out in this battle-force release.

Miscreants of Bloodlusting Aberrations aims to be rhythmically compelling and to add some additional interest in its tendency to massage a maze of related riffs out of the midst of a riff salad so dense it would defy mapping. The result is like urban exploration: entering a building late at night through a forgotten basement window, and wandering in the dark with a flashlight and .45, until you find that one room that takes your breath away.

Pathogen hustle through songs that are a mix of death metal, heavy metal and war metal riffs driving toward a culmination in dissonance and chaos. Drums are mostly influenced by the speed metal bands of the mid-1980s, but vocals come from the recent school of high-speed rasp punctuated by deep gutturals. The result is very much a hybrid, but true to the spirit of its many influences and the genre.

Where this album gets confusing is that it is a riff-maze of familiar patterns and repeated types of themes, so it is best listened to as a kind of concept album formed of a snapshot in time when all of these different songs overlaid each other in concept and overlap in music. Infectious and warlike, Miscreants of Bloodlusting Aberrations captures the spirit of high-speed metal and gives it a unique spin.

A Transylvanian Funeral – Gorgos Goetia streaming from Forbidden Records

Forbidden Records has begun streaming the new A Transylvanian Hunger album, Gorgos Goetia, from their bandcamp website.

Combining the traditions of early-era Darkthrone and the melodic tracks from Gorgoroth, Gorgos Goetia represents a descent into the dark and restless mentality of black metal, and shows no mercy to the newer traditions which have usurped an honorable lineage.

Divine Eve debuts new track “Sword Called Fate”

divine_eve-iconAfter three years of radio silence since their last EP, Vengeful & Obstinate, Divine Eve are returning with a new full-length to be out on Dark Descent Records in 2013.

This Texas band rocketed to influence in the early 1990s by releasing a Swedish-tinged doom/death masterpiece, As the Angels Weep, which showed a band with potential among the many confused offerings created as death metal bloomed.

Equal parts raging death metal and raging roadhouse heavy metal with a darker Motorhead flair, the music of Divine Eve emphasizes both dark places and an uncanny energy emerging from confrontation with them.

Vengeful & Obstinate shows the band refining their songwriting and picking up some new themes, using this added proficiency to make the tunes have more momentum and be more memorable.

While no date has yet been set for the release of the finished product, the release of this sample track is a tantalizing hint of what is to come for all fans of doom-death and related music.

Centurian – Contra Rationem (Listenable Records, 2013)

centurian-contra_rationemAfter some time absent from making music, Centurian returns with another album of ripping music made in the style of later Morbid Angel infused with the type of battering riffing that made Master’s On the Seventh Day… such an underground favorite.

This is precise high energy playing in that rhythmic but phrase-based style innovated by Morbid Angel, Vader, Mortuary and Massacra. Its strength is its intensity, but its weakness has in the past been knowing when to tone it down for a bit of variation. On this album, the band use more variation and melody to break up the unrelenting intensity of this approach.

Contra Rationem develops through an inner conflict based on the collision of extremely violent riffs, and the doubts and ambiguities of this situation revealed by changes in the intensity. This saves it from being a blowhard full-ahead band in which turning everything up to “11” makes that the norm, and by so doing removes its power. Centurian break up their forward assault with guitar solos, use of melody, dirge riffs and most importantly, abrupt shifts in direction. The result is that these songs negotiate internally and develop, instead of being presented as a final state that must be pounded into your head.

The most obvious influence here is Morbid Angel, especially the post-Covenant era, but the chant-heavy choruses and ripping speed riffs in many ways recall the best days of Destruction. There are no broken beats or trudging progressions because this album prefers to stack riffs against one another and then reach a natural conclusion at which point a total break from the expected occurs. The result naturally merges the listenability of speed metal (Destruction) with the power of the unexpected in death metal (Morbid Angel).

Centurian’s strength is their sheer momentum and pounding frenetic energy. Their weakness is the converse of this, which is that sometimes songs come across as hasty exercises in all-ahead-go, and as a result are less memorable than the finely-sculpted classics of death metal which removed extraneous complexity to create unbreakable moods. However, this is a small weakness, since this album shows great creativity in riffcraft which results in songs that shape themselves as distinct from one another.

For those who want a death metal album of the warlike style that made Morbid Angel and Vader such perennial favorites, Contra Rationem is a good place to begin the search. It avoids both the newer style of “carnival music” that has infested death metal and the faux retro style that insists on playing everything so fast the audience falls asleep, and uncovers in this band a more developed musicality and sense of mood.