Hammerheart Records will re-issue Swedish black/heavy/death metal band Grotesque In the Embrace of Evil plus the first release of the band which shortly succeeded it, At the Gates Gardens of Grief. These will be released on vinyl on August 21, 2015.
Grotesque, like Merciless, Morbid, Slaughter Lord, Tormentor (Hungary) and Sarcofago, represented an interstitial state in black metal where bands still in the style of older speed/death like Possessed moved into a sound that approximated black metal without the musical developments of the full genre as came bursting out of Norway shortly afterwards.
When members of Grotesque moved on to form At the Gates, they took their music more in a direction of melodic black metal, starting with their first EP, Gardens of Grief, which showcases their unconventional approach to songwriting and solid melodic development.
Rock star Gene Simmons says that when it comes to making money he is like a great white shark.
And that despite being worth more than $300m (£200m), he will never stop wanting to make more.
…”I’ll never stop hunting more money, I’ll never have enough.”
On the other hand, many excellent metal bands are probably clearing $300/month in royalties or less. At that point, we tend to call the making of metal a hobby and talk about their day jobs. The advantage to that approach is that the metal can remain un-tainted by commerce and with consumerism, the need to appeal to an audience by jumping on trend bandwagons or otherwise showing them what they already know they like, sort of like how baby food is ground-up vegetables.
Looking at the other side, it must be nice to be worth $300m and to have the power to do great things with that. Maybe Mr. Simmons has done so. But one might think that at some point, the money becomes more important than the music, which turns metal away from its mission of brutal realism and makes it a friendly, happy, warm and fuzzy product like your average American beer or hamburger.
Perhaps a middle ground exists, where fewer metal bands make $300m but also fewer worthy metal bands subsist on $300. Most metal musicians would be very happy with $60-80,000 a year. They tend not to be materialistic, except for collecting vinyl and guitars, but in the grand scheme of things those aren’t very expensive.
In response to recent questions, I present the following (brief) history of the Death Metal Underground:
The predecessor of the Death Metal Underground, the Dark Legions Archives, started as the project of a hacking group back in the 1980s of which I was a member. Most people did not use computers and saw them as “totally uncool” and for nerds only. A loose network existed of bulletin board systems (BBSs) which were accessed by using a modem to dial over phone lines and connect to another computer. These offered information in the precursor to web pages called “g-files” or “text files” which were ASCII documents containing information cribbed from other sources or written from personal experience. Many of these were of a hacker nature, describing the workings of the phone systems and different computer systems, but others focused on music. Crossover between the hacker community and the metal community occurred frequently since many middle-class kids had access to C-64 or Apple II computers. I describe this event in my article “Hacker Metal”, which talks about how a lack of information prompted hackers to share files about metal.
Free speech became an important issue. BBSs were individual property and system operators (“sysops”) often deleted messages or users that disagreed with them. This was my first glance at the tyrant present in ordinary people and how even the best rules failed to prevent it. For example, some sysops formed an alliance of free speech boards, and their first act — before the digital ink was even dry on the words “free speech” — was to determine what speech was acceptable and what was not. The vast majority of users simply saw the words “free speech” and took it at face value.
This hacking group appeared one evening through the work of a small group of people. We wanted to make a force for free speech and rebellion against the choking society of the 1980s, which was caught between its 1950s commercialism and its 1960s libertinism. While contemporary writers often focus on the political aspects of the 80s, the real story was in the massive social conflict going on at this time. We ran a series of boards on which you had actual free speech. We let anyone post anything. This meant that perfectly ordinary political discussions overlapped with the release of hacked information and any number of radical theories, including anti-government sentiment, violent atheism and blasphemy, racialism, Satan-endorsing metal lyrics, Communism, and holocaust denial. It was like getting launched into the roughest crowd that one can imagine, where self-described intellectuals rubbed shoulders with complete society dropouts who lived under bridges in the light of their monitors. We were fortunate to have as users not only members of one of the most thriving hacker communities in the world but also students from nearby universities and advanced placement style high schools. This was a brainy bunch but they were not prone to following rules. Since that time, I have viewed this kind of “free speech” as essential to actual communication, and it has made me wonder how much privileged information actually needs to stay secret.
The files that I had been writing since the mid-1980s on topics ranging from anarchy to hacking to heavy metal had attracted an audience back in the BBS days, specifically on a type of single-password BBS called an “AE” (for Ascii Express, the software that allowed the standalone mode required to achieve it), continued to find an audience. A site named the “Metal AE” was a world-wide HQ for metalhead hackers back in the day, and I started posting them there. As technology proliferated, I moved the files to an anonymous FTP site, then a Gopher site, and finally to a web site. At first it was a simple server running on one of my computers, but later, it moved to commercial hosting. At this point, the “free speech” notions of our group began to conflict with the need of commerce to control its public image by avoiding the type of “offensive” material that it hosted. For the next decade the site moved constantly as complaints drove us off ISPs and free hosts.
As time went on, I saw that people were reading the philosophy writings as much as the metal ones. I had pioneered “e-zine” or electronic zine publishing, combining 1980s g-file culture with the rising indie music zine scene, with a literary publication called “the undiscovered country” during the early days of the 1990s, but now, I began publishing in a style that would later be assimilated by web logs. I wrote small essay-screed hybrids and posted them to the web site. The essay form took inspiration from early French and American writers who put together pamphlets and newspaper articles in which they argued strongly for a mixture of political and social changes. As a result, these essays did not resemble the kind of conversational material that most people posted to their internet sites, in which they intermixed personal events with political or social analysis, and that enraged people even more, which encouraged me to work with more extreme ideas. This is why the Dark Legions Archive in the early 1990s was a bizarre mixture of occultism, death metal, trolling, blasphemy and realist philosophy.
If you, Dear Readers, have further questions based on the above, feel free to ask them in the comments.
Imprecation composer/vocalist David Herrera unleashes his new project, Wülfskol, with a 7″ entitled Hellshock which has been released in time for Record Store Day (today). To kick off the release, the band is handing out free copies of a CD version of their songs at local record stores in their hometown of Houston, TX.
If you are at Vinyl Edge or Sound Exchange tomorrow, pick up a free Wülfskol cd while you are there. There will be 20 copies at each store, with 2 songs “I Am The Devils Blood” and a cover song of the Dwarves “Satan”. Hails!
The band, which describes its music as “songs in the tradition of early Bathory, Sodom, Misfits and Broken Bones. All about drugs, death, and the Devil,” also released cover artwork for the new release by underground artist Daniel Shaw:
This might kick off Record Store Day 2015 with a bit of a celebration.
The classic releases from pre-Borknagar death metal band Molested will see re-issue on Dark Symphonies Records in their original form. The 2009 re-issues on Galgenstrang Produktionen and Ars Magna Recordings provoked criticism for their modern, compressed and loud sound that some felt reduced the clarity of the original.
Known for being a boutique label that re-issues classic metal releases on vinyl with collector-friendly exclusive packaging, Dark Symphonies Records and its imprint The Crypt have decided to issue the Molested re-releases as jewelcase CDs. These include bonus tracks on Stormvold and will be faithful to the original recordings. Dark Symphonies Records released the following statement:
DARK SYMPHONIES / THE CRYPT is honored to work with Borknagar mastermind Øystein G. Brun to reissue official stand alone CDs of the brutal, classic debut album “Blod Draum” and the classic EP “Stormvold” from the legendary Norse death metal act MOLESTED.
We are proud to announce that we are working directly with Øystein to obtain a wealth of material. “Blod Draum” will include the original film negative of the cover artwork for best visual presentation, unpublished band photos, lyrics and new liner notes. The CD will include the original 1995 studio recording, which was carefully mastered from the original DAT source as well a revised version of the album, which will be remixed by Øystein from the original multi-track studio tapes. This CD is designed after the original 1995 CD release, taking elements from the original layout with attention to detail, even down to the logo and typeface for a touch of nostalgia.
“Stormvold” will include the band’s “Stalk the Dead” and “Unborn Woods in Doom’ demos. Including the original cover artwork, unpublished band photos, lyrics, new liner notes and the original 1997 DAT tape for the Stormvold audio source and original analog tapes for the DEMO audio sources.
“Stormvold” will be presented as a metallic gold printed insert and will be designed after the original 1997 Effigy Productions release, taking elements from the original layout with attention to detail, even down to the logo and typeface for a touch of nostalgia.
No date has yet been announced for these re-issues.
#metalgate came about as a reaction to the growing intrusion of social justice dogma into heavy metal through journalists, bloggers and indie-metal bands. All of them share the same basic ideology, which is a demasculinization of society and forced conformity to political correctness. This is not merely 1990s style political correctness but a rigid ideology which goes in search of victims to defend, which gives power to those who follow this ideology.
At this point, the situation has passed into comedy. Noted mincingly PC blog Boing Boingposted a picture of a kitty that makes a gentle iteration on a well-known joke, which is that if we are choosing our identities and denying the obvious physical reality, why not choose anything? Satire includes the helisexual, the A-10 Thunderbolt and was even satirized in left-of-PravdaThe New York Times.
Let’s face it: people think it is ridiculous, and therefore both funny and provocative in that “neighbor playing ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ on repeat at 4am” way, that people “identify” as something which they are physically just… well, there’s no gentle way to say this… not.
This however provokes ire from the SJWs, who see the idea that you cannot arbitrarily choose your sex as being an attack on the idea of transsexualism. While it may be indirectly so, it seems more that what is being attacked is the idea of arbitrary identity of all forms, and the attackers are laying into the method of transsexuals asserting themselves, while not making a comment on transsexualism itself (neither attacking nor approving).
The blog in question backed down, cowered and apologized in response to this blatant Mau-Mauing. What else could they do? They have done it to others for almost a decade, so turnabout is fair play. Their statement:
We’re sorry for this offensive tweet. Its transphobia was unintentional, but the hurt it caused is our responsibility
Perhaps represents a high-water mark for SJW intrusion into Western culture. When you cannot use a kitty to make fun of a stupid method that some people are using to force you to validate their life choices, without necessarily commenting on those life choices, the days of the legalized witch-hunt are here.
Old school horror books often focused on plotlines where an inner psychological trauma became manifested in a physical evil. Metaphorically, this plot generates a lot of appeal because it mimics the worst of the human condition: neurotic and blinded to our own inner corruption, we humans have a tendency to act out our psychological dysfunction on the world. The horror story takes this only one step further by mythologizing it, and putting abstract dysfunction into a visual form so we can recognize it, unlike when it remains within us.
The Babadook takes on this plot family — comparable to riff archetype in metal — and makes of it a movie that is one-half tedium and one-half incoherence. It holds up the metaphor reasonably well, but loses sight of its purpose early on, and like many movies with female directors, concentrates on “atmosphere” to the point of making the audience lose sympathy for the characters. Although it brings itself full circle without pandering to the easy options for plot conclusion, such as character insanity or dream, its failure to make sense of the challenge to the main character, Amelia, renders the storyline into gibberish at the end.
The setup is simple: Amelia has a son, Samuel, who was born on the day her husband died. The husband, Oskar, was killed in a car crash on a rainy night as he drove Amelia to the hospital to birth Samuel. Seven years later, she still becomes morbid and withdrawn as the day that Samuel was born approaches. The child, on the other hand, never has a guilt-free birthday party. Working the standard pointless modern job, and struggling with her own inability to snap out of her reverie, Amelia struggles with the more profound problem of Samuel, who acts like a child with severe emotional problems. As the movie goes on, both Amelia and Samuel essentially retreat or are exiled from the world as their increasingly bizarre and dangerous behavior threatens others.
During the midst of this, Samuel finds a pop-up book that tells the story of a creature called the Babadook. The book is written in annoying sing-song rhyme, but it makes its point that is essential to the metaphor of the story: the more you deny the presence of the Babadook, the more he takes over you. The obvious analogy to grief itself, and the inability to escape or unwillingness to give up prolonged mourning, shows us the weakness in Amelia that allows evil to enter… or escape. In some of the most tired plot devices in horror, the book keeps re-appearing after being destroyed or hidden, adding new lines to the rhyme as life falls apart for Amelia and Samuel.
Like many other modern films, The Babadook features characters who are chronically sleep-deprived. This bit of realism resonates with audiences, so many of the newer generation of psychological horror films adopt it. Here it is worn to death and repeated to the point of tedium during the first half of the film. At the midpoint of the film, everyone changes roles. Samuel, the useless and destructive child, suddenly becomes responsible. Amelia suddenly spaces out and becomes useless. Unfortunately for all viewers of this film, the remaining “suspense” repeats the same three techniques very slowly so we understand the atmosphere, and as a result avoids sheer tedium but replaces it with predictability and storyline nonsense as characters undergo brain damage in order to allow the plot to stay together. That and gratuitous (and mostly ineffectual) pet death are supposed to shock us into dropping our iPhones into our arugula salad and calling our husband who are working late at their corporate jobs, in hysterics at how “shocking” it all is. Except that it is not. It is babble.
This film could have been great because the metaphor resonates with us all in this time of intense victimhood. For it to do that, however, it would have to overcome its favorable view of victimhood and get serious about its own metaphor, producing a creature that is believable which mimics grief in its ability to consume people, instead of just making them go crazy and act completely against common sense, which makes it impossible for the audience to identify with them. The plot needed a careful structuring to show the reason for the projection of grief into this creature, and then needed some kind of plot device that defeats the evil. It has neither of these. It hides behind sloppy screenwriting which it justifies with the idea that it enhances the mystery or atmosphere, but it does neither. This script is incomplete and what was there did not stretch for the full length of the film.
The Babadook falls short of not only its own potential, but the standard it would need to meet for the experienced suspense-horror audience, but could easily have achieved greatness. The acting — especially by Essie Davis as Amelia — is very well-executed. Cinematography does not strike an excessive note, nor does it stand out as particularly excellent, but it rises far above mediocre. The problem of the storyline dooms this film. “Atmosphere” serves as a cop-out for what really needed to be done: to tell the story of grief and self-pity with an unblinking eye, and by showing us that psychology as a metaphorical monster, revealing what must be done to defeat that crippling choice and sensation in ourselves.
17. Let’s talk about your other site, Deathmetal.org. As A.N.U.S. began to die down the real heart and soul of the website, the metal reviews, migrated over to Deathmetal.org. You and the other reviewers are notorious for having incredibly harsh reviews. You show a particular hatred of shoegaze-infused metal, blackened punk, Eastern European droning vacuum cleaner music, and bands with females and spotted owls on vocals. Few bands seem to be able to stand up to scrutiny and as a result your annual ‘Best of’ picks are strikingly different from all the shit that we find published on other sites. What would you say are your favorite metal albums of all time?
I mostly listen to classical music, but these metal albums have stayed in weekly rotation over the years:
Massacra – Final Holocaust
Slayer – Show No Mercy
Incantation – Onward to Golgotha
Sepultura – Morbid Visions/Bestial Devastation
Deicide – Legion
Beherit – Drawing Down the Moon
Cianide – A Descent Into Hell
Atheist – Unquestionable Presence
Demilich – Nespithe
Demoncy – Joined in Darkness
The reason my analysis is different than that of other metal sites is that populist writers prioritize surface novelty and underlying similarity to mainstream rock, where I look at metal as a form of art in its own right. It should be measured by the quality of its internal organization and ability to artistically represent a vision of power. The popular “best of” lists specialize in bands that will be forgotten in a few years because when the novelty is gone, they are the same old stuff you could get anywhere else.
18. What contemporary bands should we be paying attention to?
In music as in all things, I am an elitist. This means that I want the best music available because time is short and there is no point wasting it on the trivial. Keep an eye on Demoncy, Sammath, Blaspherian, Kjeld, Desecresy, Kaeck, Blood Urn, and Kever.
This may be the coolest job title ever: Heavy Metal Consultant. Vocalist Bruce Corbitt, of Rigor Mortis and Warbeast fame, has been appointed by the Texas Musicians Museum as its expert on all things heavy metal. The Museum, which is awaiting construction of its new facility at 222 E. Irving Blvd in Irving/Dallas metroplex, issued the following statement:
The Texas Musicians Museum is proud to announce that the talented Texas musician Bruce Corbitt will be assisting us as our Heavy Metal consultant.
Since the early/mid eighties, vocalist Bruce Corbitt has been in the midst of creating Texas Metal music that won’t be forgotten anytime soon. From his days in the legendary Rigor Mortis to his current band Warbeast, he has truly given us his all and made his mark on the history of Texas music. The self-titled debut Rigor Mortis album was inducted into the Decibel Magazine “Metal Album Hall Of Fame” in 2013. Both Warbeast full-length albums “Krush The Enemy” and “Destroy” have also received end-of-the-year honors by numerous metal magazines and metal news websites. Bruce also has the distinguished honor of being the only vocalist to win a Dallas Observer Award in the category for “Best Metal Band” with two different bands… twice with Rigor Mortis and once with Warbeast.
Corbitt sent out a request to all metal fans for Texas Metal Memorabilia and contact information as follows:
My first step is assembling my own panel of Texas Metal Legends and Gurus. To help me make sure we do this the way it should be done. I am very familiar with the history of Texas Metal since the beginning. But I obviously don’t know the entire history of every region as good as I do D/FW. So I have already reached out to many Texas Metal historians that I want to be part of this team/panel. Such as Jason McMaster, John Perez, Rick Perry, Rodney Dunsmore, Carcass John Fossum… and I will reach out to more for other areas. Between us all… we will brainstorm and come up with the best gameplan to do this the way it should be done.
The Museum itself will be 8,500 square feet and it will have an outdoor event area that can also have live music. Yes we will have some Texas Metal bands playing on some of these events too.
Ok… so obviously one of our main goals is to start collecting actual donations for the museum itself. So we will be starting a huge Texas Metal Memorabilia hunt for the bands and musicians that we want to include. I’m sure that I will be listing the bands as musicians soon enough that we want to induct into the museum… but it is common sense to many of you who some our legendary Texas Metal Bands are… but just to name a few Pantera, Rigor Mortis, Helstar, WatchTower, Devastation, Absu, Big Iron, Drowning Pool, The Sword, Gammacide, Deadhorse, Angkor Wat, Aska, Warlock, Militia, Solitude Aeturnus, Prophecy, Sedition, Devourment, Rotting Corpse and we are just getting started on the possibilities.
So for now… until we get further along and I make more announcements. If you have anything like historic Texas Metal memorabilia… or any ideas for bands or musicians you think should be included, or any other suggestions you think would be beneficial to our cause…
please contact me at email@example.com
This now gives Texas two metal archives for the history and theory behind heavy metal and associated genres. The other, to which users of this site have been mailing metal artifacts for over eight years, is at the University of Texas at Austin:
Dr. David Hunter
Music Librarian and Curator, Historical Music Recordings Collection
Fine Arts Library (DFA 3.200)
University of Texas Libraries
1 University Station (S5437)
Austin, TX 78712
It is great to see metal ignored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and accepted by these independent but reputable authorities who are studying metal through its personalities and source documents like recordings, flyers, zines, letters and posters.
Swedish heavy metal/death metal band Desultory, who along with Dissection, Unanimated, and Sacramentum paved the way for legions of melodeath to follow, are back in wartime formation and planning to record a new album. The band posted the following to social media:
Ok, so finally! We´re back into the Necromorbus studio, now to record our next full lenght album. We will record during the spring and hope for a release during the fall. Thanx for all your support and patience, this album is for you!
While most of us know this band through their Metal Blade debut (and one of the first big label acknowledgements of death metal) Into Eternity, their collection of demos entitled From Beyond the Visions of Death is also quite worth attending to. It combines the melodic approach of Unanimated with a heavy metal core, which makes it both more accessible and prettier than regular death metal.