Birth A.D. releases title track from new album “I Blame You”

Thrash band Birth A.D., who seem to be a continuation of later 1980s thrash like SOD and DRI, have released a streaming track from their new album, I Blame You.

The new album has been recorded with 80s metal guru producer Alex Perialas and includes re-recorded tracks from the first Birth A.D. release, Stillbirth of a Nation. Much like early DRI albums, this will give fans the band’s entire oeuvre in an updated form.

According to Blistering.com, the new album is “angry, fast, catchy as hell.” Should be a contender for album of the year if nothing else.

Thrash was a hybrid between extreme hardcore and extreme metal that arose in the early 1980s with bands like DRI, MDC, COC, Cryptic Slaughter, Fearless Iranians From Hell and Suicidal Tendencies making short, fast, punk-structure songs with metal riffs.

Currently most people refer to the genre as “crossover thrash” in order to differentiate the term from “thrash metal,” which was a 1980s teen metal name for “speed metal,” and comprises the range of music from Metallica through Destruction.

Immolation recording new album

NYDM founders Immolation are in the studio and preparing work on their ninth full-length album, according to apeshit zine.

According to the report, Immolation are in Sound Studios in Milbrook, NY with veteran producer Paul Orofino with Zack Ohren behind the mixing desk. The band state the album will be “one of their strongest yet.”

Starting out in the late 1980s as a speed metal band with death metal vocals, Immolation morphed in death metal and then technical death metal with 1996’s Here In After, regarded by many as the apex of the band.

After a long absence, they returned with a series of late death metal albums like Unholy Cult which used a simpler but more streamlined style of death metal.

With 2010’s Majesty and Decay, and later the Providence EP, Immolation went in a more commercial direction, taking the simple songwriting of radio metal like Slipknot and adding to it death metal and speed metal riffs.

As long-time fans, we’re hoping they’ll return to death metal because they do it so well, but we’re not so delusional as to forget that death metal very rarely pays the bills. Good luck to this long-running NY band.

Music has gone Emo over the past 50 years

Boo Fucking HooA lot has happened in the last 50 years.

A whole cultural revolution took over, starting in the 1960s, that combined the post-war “Me generation” with the progressive theories of the 1930s. Birth control, Viet Nam, Civil Rights, better quality marijuana, educating women, white flight to the suburbs, the EU, a radical decrease in traditional values and religion. We’ve been weaving in and out of that great cultural change ever since.

Generally, we think of modern pop music as the “counter-culture,” meaning it opposed the culture of its time. Many consider metal counter-culture, still others (paying attention to the early words of Black Sabbath, who claimed they were there to rain on the hippies’ parade) see metal as a counter-counter-culture or a subculture.

Either way, metal’s roots are in pop. Pop music is as eternal as the wind; millennia ago, it was the folk songs of isolated people who sang them to each other in their small towns. In the cities, these became High Art through theatre and later specialized music. But roughly the same idea remains: catchy tunes that make people think of important things in life in an offhand, slightly cynical, humorous and casual way.

During these last 50 years, pop has changed quite a bit as it has become more introspective, less complex and more minor-key:

In the 1960s, 85 percent of the songs were written in a major key, compared with only about 40 percent of them now. Broadly speaking, the sound has shifted from bright and happy to something more complicated.

When the researchers analyzed the beats per minutes (BPM) of each song, they found a decrease from an average 116 BPM in the 1960s to approximately 100 BPM in the 2000s. Songs in the 1960s tended to run under three minutes, whereas more recent hits are longer, around four minutes on average.

Even more interesting, perhaps, is that our current favorites are more likely to be emotionally ambiguous…studies in the past have linked music preferences to personality traits, such as a preference for sadder music being tied to more empathy, openness to experience, and less extroversion.

This points to an interesting facet of our culture during this time.

We too have become “tied to more empathy, openness to experience, and less extroversion.”

We’ve also become more alienated, and more likely to retreat to familiar experience.

Part of this can be explained by the sheer terror of the times. With nuclear missiles ranging around the skies, and non-stop internal turmoil and war abroad, we can’t be blamed for wanting to stay in the basement sometimes.

But even more, we’ve become Emo. Emo music is self-indulgent, a bit more depressed than melancholic, but most of all, it is self-pitying. It is music of the hopeless, kids who’ve given up and so they cut themselves to feel alive.

Our whole society has slowly gone Emo. People talk about their feelings and want someone to make it right for them. If something is difficult, people throw up a half-hearted stab and then run off to the TV or pub. We pity ourselves and idealize being a victim, because then others will take care of us.

In short, we’re an exhausted culture and our music, too, is exhausted.

Where does metal fit in? It’s usually minor key, but also chromatic. It throws the “complicated” emotions out on their ear and replaces them with fervid, warlike, and muscular riffing that fits together into a story.

If Emo is the disease, metal is the cure.

Punk: caught between protest music and poetry

It’s worth quoting Greil Marcus at length in this regard:

“[I]n the beginning, punk was indeed a sort of secret society, dedicated not to the guarding of a secret but to its pursuit, a society based on a blind conviction that there was a secret to be found. Was it that once the secret was seemingly discovered, once punk became an ideology of protest and self-expression – once people knew what to expect, once they understood just what they would get when they paid their money, or what they would do to earn it – the story was ready for its footnotes? In the United States, primitive enclaves had formed across the country (nightclubs, fanzines, record stores, a half-dozen high school students here, a trio of artists there, a girl locked in her room staring at her new haircut in the mirror) though perhaps less in response to the thrill of hearing $10 import copies of the banned ‘Anarchy in the UK’ single than to newspaper and TV features about London teenagers mutilating their faces with common household objects. Real discoveries were taking place, out of nothing (‘The original scene,’ said a founder of the Los Angeles punk milieu, ‘was made of people who were taking chances and operating on obscure fragments of information.’).” – Souciant

Punk was unformed but searching.

Then later, it became streamlined.

It struggled to escape its rock heritage as protest music, and reconnect with its inner poetry, which wanted more than what life offered.

Punk was initially an orgasmic, messy, uncategorizable cultural explosion of mutually contradictory tendencies. Visually, dayglo pinks and greens (X-Ray Spex) collided with fascist and communist imagery (Sex Pistols) and stark black military surplus (Crass) – or bondage — gear. Meanwhile, guitar-driven rock and roll (Ramones) mixed weirdly with androgynous, keyboard-driven experimentation (The Screamers;) and also, inflammatory and reactionary sentiments (Black Flag’s “White Minority,” or the original version of Siouxsie’s “Love in a Void”) were combined confusingly with Marxist and anti-capitalist motifs (The Dils’ “Class War” or anything by The Clash.) That was why punk was so genuinely scary to the public at large. It was a mess of conflicting imagery and sentiment, all of it intentionally provocative.

After punk died, metal carried on this spirit.

Instead of being confused, it went in a literary direction: aspire to the poetic and epic in life.

For this reason, it is less social, political and concrete, and more spaced out. Hobbits, aliens, zombies, knights and wizards.

It’s worth noting that now metal is trapped between the protest music (Gojira) and that which still aspires (Demoncy).

After Mayhem metal radio show

“Christian metal,” Led Zeppelin the person, lack of good tour packages, and Benjie’s top 10 EPs. We talk about upcoming possible interviews, lots of gas, and lonely old Benjie after Sawyer graduates. We talk giant bruises, phone attacks during the show, and our upcoming Halloween special. Enjoy this little nugget until we return on Oct. 27th. Keep it METAL!

Thevetat – Disease to Divide

Two of the most epic styles of death metal were the aggressive flood-of-noise NY style exemplified by Incantation, and the melodic style demonstrated by bands like Asphyx or Demigod which added a melodic superstructure to a series of vicious riffs. Without losing its distinctively New World character, Thevetat joins the abrasive and inhuman sounds of early Incantation with an occult melodic sound.

A mystical death metal experience results. While on the surface this music sounds like a train rushing past in a subway tunnel (preferably during total warfare) its underlying mood is that of hidden potential, arising from violence to show us not a structure within a structure, but a structure enclosing the visible structure we see. Its occult nature derives from this ability.

Guitars tend to follow the surging stream of power chords that defined Demoncy and Profanatica as much as Incantation, and the staccato muted-picking rhythms more like what Immolation or Revenant were using during the classic days of death metal. The result varies itself enough, between its raw side, its melodic elements, and its hookish rhythm riffing, to keep its consistency from being overwhelming.

What is impressive about its consistency is that these songs hold together and make sense, unlike post-modern style “death metal” which uses what’s essentially carnival or cartoon music that attempts to string together radically “different” riff styles to keep the groundlings amused, these different riffs flow together to show us an expanding vision of what the song is trying to communicate.

Personnel on this album played on Ceremonium (Thomas Pioli) and Immolation (Craig Smilowski) albums of the past, and not only does the competence show, but so does the influence. The earth-moving forward thrusting riffs and aggressive attack of Immolation are mated with the somber and emotional moods of Ceremonium, then shaped into something of its own direction with the overall personality of the band. While this three-song CD is just a start, expect good things from this new/old band.

1. Lifeless

2. Transmigration of Souls

3. Nihilistic Doctrine

“Nihilistic Doctrine” and the other two songs can be heard on the bandcamp page for this EP.

Buy the CD

You can acquire this pro-press CD EP from its distributor, Dark Descent, for a moderate $6.

Learn more about the band on Thevetat’s Facebook page.

Epidemic releases Pandemic: The Demo Anthology (2012)

epidemic_-_pandemic_the_demo_anthology

Bay area speed metal band Epidemic, which had touches of death metal hybrids like Kreator and Merciless mixed into its Exodus-style speed metal, released Pandemic: The Demo Anthology on Divebomb Records. The label reports:

Bay Area thrashers Epidemic are probably best known for their two classic Metal Blade albums, Decameron and Exit Paradise, released in 1992 and 1994 respectively, but what fans have been truly clamoring for is what we present now as Pandemic: The Demo Anthology.

This 2012 collection compiles all three self-released demos (Immortal Minority, Demo 89 and Extremities ’91) in one 19 track set. The newly remastered audio is accompanied by a 16-page booklet full of band-supplied archival photos and show flyers to give their fans the ultimate experience. For the fans, by the fans!

For those who like the more Metallica side of the bands between speed and death, this may offer something of interest.

Agonized – “Gods…” demo CD-R available

Agonized’s 1991 demo, “Gods…”, has been restored at the local professional studio. Noise has been removed and worst odd tape anomalies filtered but the demo has not been remastered or has its sound changed in any other way. It sounds as muddy and bad and sinister it ever was in 1991.

Quick review: sounds like first album Sentenced combined with Belial, with vocals like Demilich (deep, burpish). For additional sound samples, see the band’s MySpace page.

This release is a CD-R copy of the demo on a JVC-Taiyo Yuden Premium branded CD. 5 euros+shipping. Contact directly for shipping details, payment information and/or other questions via Jari’s email.

1. Intro
2. Tortured

3. Long Live the New Flesh

4. Gods…

5. Devour the Saviour

Irony is the sign of the hipster and the death of metal

What is the sign of the modern person? Cause and effect have become reversed: like buying products on a shelf, the modern person expects to see the effect he wants, purchase it, and have substituted that action for causing what he desires.

In music, you either stand for what you believe because you think the music embodies the cause of values you desire, or you choose music as an accessory or effect to make yourself look cool, and hope that by changing your appearance, you become cool.

This is why people who are reversed (confused cause and effect) are always ironic. For them, the music is an accessory to make themselves look good, and so when that fails, they backpedal. The best backpedaling is not to reverse your opinion — “Oh no, I don’t like that at all” — but to keep a foot in both worlds: “I just like that ironically.”

The ironists are ultimately a sad bunch, because they cannot enjoy what they claim to believe in. They believe in nothing, except themselves, and only then in a past tense and not a future tense, as in “I will achieve things.” They want to borrow cool from things they buy or know, but don’t actually like themselves.

In the 80’s music was quite tribalistic. Those who grew their hair long and listened to metal incurred the ridicule of those with spiky hair and synthesisers. It was a complete lifestyle and those who bought into it lived it 24/7.

Looking at all the guys in wigs and spandex, I was struck by how we now accept that you can buy into a lifestyle at whim, experiencing the external signifiers for a night, but not having any long term involvement. It’s all very ironic, and it is irony that now allows us to have an escape clause for just about anything. Rather than risk looking foolish we can just say the magic word ‘irony’. Is everything all about external signifiers and short term experience these days? – Sunsaria Music

They’re afraid of looking foolish, of believing in anything, of taking a stand. On the other hand, music that stands for what it believes attracts fans who feel the same way. These are the groups that invent everything. The ironists then recombine it, parrot it, vamp off it, but give nothing back.

If you want to know the difference between True MetalTM and ironist hipster metal, this is it: the ironists are afraid to stake a claim, stand up for an idea, and defend it. True MetalTM is composed of pure idea and a desire to make it real.