Serocs – The Next

serocs-the_nextThis intensely rhythmic music is strong in its level of energy and ability to make songs that trap and redirect that energy, creating the “oh wow” effect of complex riffs interactions that expand context with subsequent changes, causing a sensation like discovering new passageways in an ancient building.

The Next is like a roller coaster in that while you whisk through it, and while there are many fast twists and turns, the territory is ultimately very similar. Serocs understand how to link riffs together in a powerful way and differentiate these songs by riff-grouping and unique themes and motifs to each. However, the underlying mechanics are similar.

This accusation could be leveled at the deathgrind genre as a whole because the techniques used to make it and the speeds at which it executes itself require such fast fingerwork that chromatic charges and string-skipping are necessary conveniences. Serocs avoid the worst of this tendency by forcing each song to have its own format, tempo changes and some degree of melody.

High-speed blasting marks each track and like the roller coaster of our metaphor, lifts up the listener so that a rhythm drop or melodic hook can send them falling downward. These intense dynamics drive a need to combine riffs and make them emerge in some other direction so the roller coaster can begin its ascent again.

Deep guttural vocals propel The Next to a posture of enjoyment among fans of deathgrind and extreme death metal. Modernizing influences have been kept to a minimum, which gives this album the full-bore coherence it needs to channel its intensity. While the tenets of the genre may drive most away, Serocs acquits itself well and will join the secondary echelon of bands like Scythe and Disgorge.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENmq-liKwcM

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Necrotic Disgorgement – Documentaries of Dementia

necrotic_disgorgement-documentaries_of_dementiaCreating within the style of old school percussive death metal, Necrotic Disgorgement add in the catchier rhythms of deathgrind and know when to break songs for melodic detours that add hook to these relentlessly rhythmic songs.

Documentaries of Dementia builds in the style of later Suffocation, with frequent tempo changes, and frenetic drum buildups followed by proto-breakdowns, layered in choppy riffs made from intricate textures. They tend toward a higher-energy version with near-constant blasts in many songs, but know when to drop out of linear blast and vary things up a bit.

Unlike Suffocation, Necrotic Disgorgement has another decade of deathgrind to draw from and elicits some of the extremities from that influence. Among those are slightly more friendly lead guitar that sometimes even gets bluesy, absurdist riffs thrown in amongst the blast, and a tendency to be relentless where Suffocation would have brought the song to a peak and mellowed. The problem with any kind of uniformity is that it norms quickly and loses its intensity.

Necrotic Disgorgement keep this release raging with diligent riffcraft and the ability to cut the stream of riffs into songs, and then crest it with elements of other metal genres. This provides a complete package that, if you can stand the incessant blast and percussive riff medleys, provides a deathgrind experience of greater power than the norm for this genre.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCuQyKLnqtU

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Classic metal artist Dan Seagrave offering prints of famous metal cover art

dan_seagrave-altars_of_madnessArtist Dan Seagrave, whose works adorned the cover of classic death metal bands like Morbid Angel, Suffocation, Entombed and Pestilence, sells prints of the art uses for these classic covers. This means the underlying image, without the logo and title.

Seagrave has begun offering the art from the Morbid Angel album Altars of Madness as a large format limited edition of 99 prints and ten artist proofs. Printed on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Pearl, the prints measure 28 inches to a side and are specially made to order for $350 each plus shipping.

In addition, he’s offering the art from the Suffocation album Effigy of the Forgotten in the same size for $270 each in an edition of 450 on Somerset Velvet matte stock paper. He cites the increased cost of printing on high-quality paper as the reason for the rise in price for this longstanding favorite.

For more information, you can seek out the Dan Seagrave art home page.

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Arthouse Hours – All For One

arthouse_hours-all_for_oneIn the 1980s, the big news was metal-punk hybrids. Now it’s metal-rock hybrids, specifically alternative rock and then its less sarcastic ancestor, indie rock.

Arthouse Hours combines 1970s art rock with 1990s indie rock and throws in stitches of metal riffing to keep the whole thing urgent. Over this, dreamy high-pitched vocals blend with soaring background sounds to create a dreamlike audience not unlike an updated version of The Velvet Underground.

All For One keeps energy high with constantly changing riff forms and textures but still manages to pull out sweet melodic hooks in choruses. With its protean texture, this album creates an experience of delirium that allows these different riffs to meld together elegantly.

The only vital gap is that it is unclear what this band hopes to portray except the experience of being drunk in an afterhours coffeehouse talking about art. Having more of a point of view and less participation might organize it internally as well as externally.

Standout elements are the aforementioned outer-space vocals and the well-studied guitars which are able to allude to, without citing from, forty years of art-rock and shredder delights. It will be interesting to see where this band develops on its subsequent releases.

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Interview with Abominant

abominant-onward_to_annihilationKentucky death metal band Abominant recently released its tenth studio album, Onward to Annihilation, in a style of death metal we don’t see much anymore: fast, melodic and yet riff-based and chaotic. This band is well-known in the underground, having released albums in the 1990s on feral label Wild Rags and toured across the country.

Onward to Annihilation shows Abominant nurturing the style that kept them going back in the 1990s, which uses fast riffs in complex patterns but always returns to a triumphant chorus which outlines the purpose of each song. The trademark Slayer-ish fast guitars and Dark Angel-styled drum breaks are also present.

You can hear Onward to Annihilation below in an exclusive live stream provided by Clawhammer PR and Abominant. It takes just a few seconds of your time to sample and explore this dark work of twisted death metal. (Your browser will show only the OGG files if Firefox, but both sets if Opera, Chrome or IE.)

In a time when the music industry is in upheaval, and most bands are changing styles and outlooks in order to chase the trends of the day, it’s gratifying to see some bands remain constant and constantly improving themselves. We were lucky to have a few moments with bassist Mike May, who was able to fill us in on all things Abominant, including the past and plans for the future.

Stream Abominant Onward to Annihilation here
MP3 OGG
1. We Are Coming
2. Conquerors of Dust
Left to Rot
Battlescarred
Onward to Annihilation
Hold Your Ground
Beside the Dying Flame
Legions of Hell

For starters, I had to do a double-take when I saw that Abominant is on your 10th album. How have you managed to stick together as a band, face adversity and still enjoy what you’re doing after all these years?

We just don’t know how to do anything else? We are all just fans and friends that love to play metal and love to do it together. Some guys work on cars or hunt or play fantasy sports. We write death metal songs, simple as that.

I don’t think anyone in the band has any delusions of being famous or changing the world musically. We just like to drink beer, have fun and play death metal.

Pretty much by choice we never miss a practice and if any of us do, our week just seems less fulfilled. Whether anyone likes us or not, or if we ever put out another CD, I think we’ll still be getting together to do what we do.

Can you tell us how Abominant formed and what your influences were at the time? In other words, what inspired you to become Abominant and
how did you come together?

From say 1990 to 1993 Tim and I were in a band called Sarcoma. Mike and Jim had a band called Cataclysm. Also ex-members Buck and Craig had a band called Effigy, which were all the death metal realm.

All of those bands eventually fell apart and the six of us were pretty much the diehards that wanted to keep it going.

Worked out for the best in the long run. Weed out the weak and whatnot…. I was a big fan of the other guys’ bands prior to hooking up with them as well.

Overall I’d say alot of our main influences are shared in the 1986-1990 transition from thrash metal to death metal. Bands like Possessed, DarkAngel, Sacrifice, Bloodfeast, Kreator and so on really were happening at the time most of us were learning to play and we all still listen to that stuff pretty religiously.

I will say that as time rolls on we still get influenced even up to today, and no secret that black metal has come into the fold much more since we got Jim in 2005. We all listen to alot of different styles of metal, and its not like we love EVERYTHING, but it is very cool to be have extended conversations about which era of Darkthrone is our favorite and ten minutes later we’re talking about the new Candlemass while we listen to old Scanner cds. Variety is the spice of life.

Is there a “Midwestern sound” to death metal?

As a fan, I’d almost relate it to the “Chicago” sound. Bands like Master, Cianide, Macabre, Deathstrike and some outside Chicago like Repulsion and Impetigo is what I think of when you talk about “Midwest” sound.

It seems kinda true that most metal comes more from the burbs and bored teenagers rebelling against the middle class life than coming from inner city areas where punk and hip hop seem to have deeper roots, so i guess maybe thats a factor.Both Mike and Jim are natives but I was raised in Denver and Tim was born in Thailand, so i think our location has very little to do with our sound.

Do you consider yourselves a death metal band, or have another take on it?

Personally, Yeah… I would call us death metal, although by “scene police” standards, we would be called more “black death” which is also fine. Since we started, it seems that the death metal name has been leaning more toward ultra brutal bands, which i think usually end up being heavy on the DEATH but light on the METAL, which is sad. But I mean younger bands were introduced to Cannibal Corpse/Suffocation as their starting point in the same way I evolved from KISS to Sabbath to Slayer, so i cant really even blame them, its a different time, you know? We were kind of using the term “Goat Metal” for the longest time to blur what exactly we were doing, but in the end as long as it includes the word METAL, I think we’re fine with whatever.

Your songs show wide-ranging influences from within the metal genre. Is this a deliberate attempt to include the whole genre, or is this the product of your many influences? How have those influences changed over the years?

As I said, we all go all over the map as far as listening to metal goes, and I feel that every genre has its merits, but it also seems every genre is cluttered with mediocrity too.

As far as writing different styles, we just don’t want all of our songs to be the same and variety is also one of the things that keep us going. Not everything always works but at least we try stuff and dont want to limit exactly how an Abominant song is supposed to sound.

If you’re talking mainly about “Hold your Ground” from the new album, we had been playing “The Mob Rules” live for about a year after Dio died and ended up recording it for “Battlescarred”. After having so much fun with it and feeling so natural about it, I think we all wanted to take a shot at a straight up “Heavy Metal” song. I think it came out terrific and think if we set our sights on it, we could do a whole album in that style.

We have a new song that is kinda similar although a little more Mercyful Fate in style and I love playing that one.

I will say that we all really love blasting and fast Slayer headbang parts so I dont see us playing traditional heavy metal full time, but it is alot of fun, especially live.

How do you like working with Evan and the DeathGasm Records crew? (Did you have to explain what a “DeathGasm” is to any family members…?)

Working with Evan has been great. He stepped up right after Wild Rags and I had known him long time before that. He’s always supported what we do. I think our first album together Ungodly (2000) was pretty “next level” both for us and for him as a label, and what a way to start out!

Evan has booked us shows in Marietta and we’ve stayed at his house, so it really is very much a friendship. He knows what we’re going for and even what other bands we like so we just really couldnt be much happier. I also like alot of the stuff he puts out like Nominon, Manticore, Avenger so its its a good fit for Abominant overall. We havent had alot of backlash from the label name…personally, I think it sounds cool.

When you recorded “Onward to Annihilation,” what technique did you use to get your guitar sound? Have you changed much in how you produce albums since the last nine?

I know most of the guitar was a PRS going through a brand new Peavey head, but aside from that , you’d have to ask Tim.

He gets new stuff just about every six months it seems, so I would be surprised if ANY of our albums used the exact same equipment.

After hooking up with Scott at Velocity things really have just become more laid back and also more practical for us. Scott is a death metal guy, a hell of a drummer and inspires to be a great studio guy, which I think he is.. but I imagine 10 years from now he will be a fucking guru. Nothing negative to say about working with him at all, wish he was doing this in 1996!

Are you going to tour for this album?

Naw, as we get older and have families, touring just doesn’t work for us. Responsibility is our downfall :)

I wanna say 2008 we did like 24 shows, and that was our most ever, but we normally like to play out only around 8 -10 times a year.

We are all kinda reclusive, and I personally hate hanging out in bars, so I don’t guess we’ll ever get to be road warriors, but I like to think we are pretty solid when we do play live.

If you’re fans of the old underground, does it still exist? Who’s keeping the flag flying these days? Bands, zines, labels, etc.

I like alot of the more METAL death metal bands like Sathanas, Gravehill, Ares Kingdom, Cardiac Arrest, Mausoleum and so on (old guys I guess!) but even locally I think most of black/death bands here are putting out releases in 2013 or just did in 2012. So there still is stuff going on, but I dont know if theres much of a fan base for it.

Some of my favorite records are the newest releases from Immolation, Asphyx, VoiVod , Absu, Darkthrone, Autopsy and so on, so I dont go by the “only stuff in early 90s” like some people do.

Hells headbangers seems to be doing quite well and releasing cool stuff, and I like most of what Dark Descent puts out as well.

Where do you think Abominant will be when album 15 rolls out?

We average about two years for a record, so I’m guessing we’ll all be pushing 55 by our 15th album!

As it seems now, doing this for another ten years seems pretty viable and realistic, and barring any tragedy and/or line up shifts, I for one am looking forward to it! You can purchase the album for $6.89 here!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hC6feSmom3A

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPwLppaGe04

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hn2Xo4t2iRM

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Slayer launches five-week North American tour

slayer-2013-north-american-tourLegendary moshers Slayer, who combined NWOBHM and hardcore punk to invent their own style of music which bridged speed metal and the nascent death metal movement, along with Hellhammer and Bathory creating the sound of underground metal, are back on tour.

Slayer‘s five-week North American tour shows the band with replacement musicians — guitarist Gary Holt and drummer Paul Bostaph — replacing musicians Jeff Hanneman and Dave Lombardo, respectively. The band was shaken by Hanneman’s untimely death earlier this year and have been struggling to return to routine.

This is Slayer‘s first North American tour in two years and will include the band’s previously announced return to New York’s Theatre at Madison Square Garden and the Hollywood Palladium, venues the band hasn’t performed at in 25 years.

Tickets for all dates on Slayer‘s U.S. tour, go on sale beginning this Friday, September 6. Click here for complete on-sale dates and ticketing information.

OCTOBER
22 Sullivan Sports Arena, Anchorage, AK
25 The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV
28 Hollywood Palladium, Hollywood, CA
30 Events Center @ San Jose State, San Jose, CA

NOVEMBER
1WAMU Center, Seattle, WA
3Stampede Corrall, Calgary, AB
4Shaw Center, Edmonton, AB
5Praireland Park Center, Saskatoon, SK
7MTS Center, Winnipeg, MB
8 Myth, Minneapolis, MN
10 FunFunFun Fest, Austin, TX
12 Bayou Music Center, Houston, TX
13 South Side Ballroom, Dallas, TX
15 Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL
16 The Fillmore, Detroit, MI
17 LC Pavilion, Columbus, OH
19 The Fillmore, Washington, D.C.
20 Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
21Ricoh Colibsum, Toronto, ON
23CEPSUM/University of Montreal, Montreal, QC
24Pavilion de la Jeunesse, Quebec, QC
26 Oakdale Theatre, Wallingford, CT
27 Theatre @ MSG, New York, NY
29 Susquehanna Bank Center, Camden, NJ
30 Tsongas Arena, Boston, MA

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Scalpel releases Sorrow and Skin on September 3

scalpel-sorrow_and_skinBoston death metal band Scalpel release their debut full-length, Sorrow and Skin, tomorrow (September 3rd) via Sevared Records. To mark the occasion, SCALPEL teamed up with DeathMetal.org for the premiere of album track “The Black Juices.” Stream the tune at this location.

Creating brutal percussive death metal in the style pioneered by Suffocation, Scalpel integrate West Coast influences (Deeds of Flesh) with their traditional East Coast approach and mix in dissonant melody and more frenetic song structures. To hear more of their music, watch videos on the Scalpel official YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/scalpelofficial.

To celebrate the release of Sorrow and Skin, Scalpel will perform with the mighty GORGUTS on September 8th at The Palladium in Worcester, Mass.. The band will follow that gig with another blockbuster opening for MORBID ANGEL on November 10th at The Middle East in Cambridge, Mass. To order your copy of Sorrow and Skin, visit the band’s store at www.scalpel.bigcartel.com.

clawhammer

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Empyrium Into the Pantheon DVD and documentary to be released on September 24, 2013

empyrium-into_the_pantheonCult doom metal/goth band Empyrium plan to release their new DVD, Into the Pantheon, on September 24, 2013 through Prophecy Productions. At the same time, the band will release a documentary on the making of Into the Pantheon.

Following in the footsteps of Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride but at a pace more familiar to funeral doom fans, Empyrium have gained a cult following through their melodic doom metal that uses tropes from Gothic music as well as extensive clean vocals and orchestral instruments like violin and cello.

On Into the Pantheon, you will see the band present an hour and a half of live material featuring live musicians playing those orchestral instruments alongside guitars, keyboards, bass, vocals and drums in the traditional metal style. While this is slower-paced and more elegant than much of metal, it preserves the doom metal atmosphere of melancholic and bereft moribund moods.

In addition, the band will release an hour-long documentary about the making of the live show and the band and its attitudes toward life, death and everything in-between, which will answer many of the questions of the die-hard fan. This band is highly secretive, and does not give interviews, so even a concert was a rare event. This DVD chronicles the band’s first live concert ever.

Some have described Empyrium as taking a power metal attitude to doom metal, and much of what you see here will fit that description. Musicianship is excellent, professional standards are upheld, and the music while emotional and dark is also quite accessible. For more information, see the label page.

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Master – The Witchhunt

master-the_witchhuntUntil you succeed, you face a threat from competition. Once you succeed, you may face a worse threat, which is competition from yourself.

The history of Master may be divided into roughly two parts, those albums before …And On the Seventh Day God Created and after it. Before, Master was a proto-death metal with a punk and old school rock vibe; after, it was tight and rigid high intensity death metal.

The Witchhunt picks up on that style and adds a bit more melody and riffcraft, but returns to the classic punk-style open percussion that Master used on its earlier albums, but sped up. As a result, there’s less stop-start and more raging fast lead-picked riffs.

Other than that, not much has changed. Speckmann is still the primary songwriter and builds songs around a vocal rhythm and bassline, which his band cohorts fill with guitar riffs and drum patterns. The current lineup seems to have effected positive change in his sense of tempo and change.

Intensely consistent, Master sound like themselves on this album and thanks to some modernization of sound are competitive with the more intense bands out there. What might be great is if they expanded to use more riffing and less verse-chorus construction such that the band fully moved into the death metal era.

Speckmann’s vocals are both strained and emotional and gruff and functional at the same time, creating a type of voice of authority which channels the music between its extremities and coherence. Percussion is reminiscent of early Vader or Sinister.

While some will argue that this album offers nothing more than what Master has done in the past, The Witchhunt may surprise them. Songs are more distinctive in rhythm, riff and aesthetics, and the uptempo change has forced more efficiency in songwriting.

In other words, this is not “just another Master album,” but a steady improvement that is consistent both with the second era of Master and the general direction of the first. This makes it a complement to the near present and distant past.

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Ancient Modernism: An Exhibition of Letter Art and Illustration in Heavy Metal and Beyond

ancient_modernismNoted black metal logo designer Christophe Szpajdel is featured in an upcoming exhibit in New Zealand of metal and other illustrators and the logos and embellishments they create.

The exhibit will run simultaneously in Auckland at Nature: Art + Design and in Wellington at The Rogue & Vagabond from September 28 – October 15, 2013, and will feature Szpajdel as well as four New Zealand-based designers.

As underground metal expands its reach and influence, events like Ancient Modernism: An Exhibition of Letter Art and Illustration in Heavy Metal and Beyond will contribute further to understanding the meaning beneath the menacing imagery and sonically terrorizing music.

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