If you bought Immortal’s Pure Holocaust the day it was released, and conceived a child in the ensuing fury, that child would be entering college age today.
Our review, written in the year of this CD’s release, captures much of what makes this album great. There are two levels to its greatness, stylistic and content, and while related they cannot be made equivalent.
Stylistically, Immortal on their second album saw the ambient and atmospheric tendencies of black metal and developed them. First, they used lightning fast chaotic drumming that quickly reduced the drums to a background timekeeper, allowing riffs to change phrase freely without being trapped by a specific rhythmic pattern. Second, they upgraded the speed of their guitars and level of reverbed distortion to create a sonic tunnel of sound that from a distance, sounds more like a synthesizer with heavy sustain than a guitar.
In content, Immortal focused what it was to be black metal: naturalism. Like the creatures of nature, or its mercurial winds and storms, black metal is not “rational” and “moral” in the human way, but practical in a way that humans — even non-Christian ones — are often afraid to understand. However, it is a method that a forest creature or great tree would understand, a cross between Zen buddhism and the feral antagonism of a wandering predator. Incorporating previous themes of occultism, tribalism, cosmicism and warfare, Immortal fused the ideas of black metal into a singular concept. As such, this album defies all categories of logic or music, at least the human ones. To a wolf or jaguar, it would make perfect sense.
The result was a blaze of noise and musical terror that swept black metal into its second age. Pure Holocaust, along with Transilvanian Hunger (Darkthrone) the following year, moved black metal beyond the framework established by its 1980s origins in Bathory and Celtic Frost. Now it was something new, something emotional without being self-pitying, some cold and element floating above the clouds. Something that could not be tamed.
While most popular entertainment fades away after only a few years, and with good reason, Pure Holocaust remains strong two decades later. Without having heard it, or any black metal, a music listener can take this off the rack and throw it on the player — even if that means double-clicking — and be lost in an entirely different world, and inspired to try to create that here on modern earth.
Famed label Thrash Corner Records and Bloodstained World Entertainment will promote the “Metal Expo” in Puerto Rico on March 29-30, 2014. According to the promoters, this festival will feature international and local acts, guitar and drum clinics, seminars, discussion panels, documentaries, exhibitions, competitions and a chance to meet your favorite metal bands and musicians.
Although planning is in the early stages, a number of heavy hitters have signed up for this one, including Nelson Varas and the crew of Puerto Rico Heavy Metal Studies, Khaosmaster Productions Power Music PR, Melek Music and the aforementioned Thrash Corner Records and Bloodstained World Entertainment.
According to Thrash Corner headman Ray López, this project has been in the works but now is an optimal time for it to occur. “Right now our scene is in the best time of the last 20 years. It is time to shine outside the island,” he said in a message on the Metal Expo faceplant page.
“This project has been in my mind for many years now, and finally all the pieces of the puzzle are together and we can make this dream come true. This project is very important for our scene and it will take us one step forward in the international metal community,” said López.
If anyone works for an airline and can get us comp tickets, now’s the time to speak up.
Massacra picked up the mantle of Slayer and Morbid Angel and crafted phrasal riffs into complex constructions which breathed pure energy but yet managed to take your breath away with their vast inner contrasts.
Final Holocaust and Enjoy the Violence never seemed to receive the acclaim that other death metal bands did, in part because for years they were tied up in legal struggles or out of print, but the influences of those two albums can be heard in death metal to this day.
Celebrating the influence of this foundational band, Century Media will on November 4 release Day of the Massacra, a compilation of the re-mastered “Nearer From Death”, “Final Holocaust” and “Legion Of Torture” demos. The sound is surprisingly good, considering that the raw material comes from tape and isn’t easy to work with, although “Legion of Torture” sounds raw enough that no amount of modern technology can save it.
Known mostly for their imaginative riffs, Massacra also knew how to make songs that felt like subconscious patterns that most of us have experienced in our day-to-day lives. There is something natural, second nature and familiar about these songs and how their riffs fit together like forest paths on the ascent of a mountain.
“Nearer From Death” of the three demos is the one that sounds most like Massacra in its final death metal form, and resemble the tracks that made it onto Final Holocaust. “Final Holocaust” reveals more of the latent speed metal influences of the 1980s, but also shows Massacra at some of their most experimental, with unorthodox riffing matching up to rhythms borrowed from old Metallica and Slayer songs.
“Legion of Torture” on the other hand shows this band as it came into form in 1987, and is amazingly advanced for that year. The experimental influence reveals itself as well, but here it’s harder to separate from the contortionist riffing that seems designed to be odd enough to invert people’s thinking about the world around them. There is even more of a speed metal influence here, but this compares reasonably with its primary influences, which sound like Slayer, Sepultura, Merciless and Sarcofago.
Having these formative demos on CD or LP will be a delight for any metalhead, and Century Media suggests that it will re-release the early albums as well. Although most people have focused on early the very early stages of death metal, or its maturity, not many have caught on to its fiery adolescence when speed and labyrinthine decoding ruled the day. Day of the Massacra brings back those amazing days and shows us the majesty of death metal in creation.
The organizers of the Maryland Deathfest (MDF), which took over from the deceased Milwaukee Deathfest, have released lineup and venue information from the forthcoming 2014 festival which will occur from May 22-25, 2014.
In its newest incarnation, MDF will launch on Thursday, May 22, with bands playing only at the Rams Head Live located in the Power Plant Live! section of downtown Baltimore at 20 Market Place.
However, from Friday through Sunday, two venues will be shared. Metal bands will play the Rams Head Live from 10 pm – 2am, and across the street at the Baltimore Soundstage, grind/crust/HxC/punk bands will be playing simultaneously.
On October 30, Dutch band Warmaster released its second full-length album The End of Humanity. As our earlier review points out, this is an old school death metal release with influences from grindcore.
What makes Warmaster worth paying attention to is not style but substance. These songs are made of familiar elements, and don’t push any envelopes, but unlike most “old school” releases these days, they fit together well and sound deliberate. You will not find new revelations here but the music works like an entity of its own, not a grab-bag of parts from 1994.
In The End of Humanity, you will find the same power that made death metal a force of musical empire in the 1990s: crushing riffs fit together in tight labyrinths that expand as you traverse them, sonic intensity in distortion and vocals, seemingly unattainable levels of alienation from everyday “be nice to everyone” humanity. You’ll also find a band with its unique voice.
Because of this, we’re excited to introduce Warmaster in interview and a live stream of The End of Humanity. Let’s hear what they have to say.
You formed as a band in 2004 with the purpose of making old school death metal. What prompted this decision?
We all grew up with death metal in the 90s and death metal wasn’t that hot around 2004. We felt the urge and pleasure to revisit Death Metal, the old school way. Inspired by bands such as Bolt Thrower, Obituary, Master and Entombed,we started to write our own songs, blending all the good, which became WARMASTER, straight forward, rude and extremely heavy!
What are your own musical influences? Do these match with favorites you listen to on a regular basis? Do you listen to any of the newer-style metal?
We all have different influences, The binding influence for us all is 90s death metal. As songwriter bands such as Bolt Thrower, Entombed and Hypocrisy influence me. The newer styles do not influence us much. We respect the wave, but it is not our thing.
I had a blast trying to piece together some of the musical allusions you made on this record. So far I’ve identified Blood, Massacre, Terrorizer, Master and perhaps Malevolent Creation. Did I miss any?
Thank you, you just compared us with bands we never thought of. Thinking about it, yes you are right on those, but we are also identified us with Six Feet Under, Bolt Thrower, Asphyx, Benediction and many more.
Do you feel a need to live up to a “Dutch style” of death metal? Are you fans of the older Dutch bands like Pestilence, Sinister, Ceremony and Asphyx?
Not at all! We do it the Warmaster way! The common feel though is same with these bands you mention!
Have you talked to the guys from War Master (TX) about having such similar names? Are you worried about causing confusion?
Actually there are multiple Masters of War. You also a thrashy Warmaster from Canada and a Portuguese black metal band called War Master, who were the first using this name.
I do not think people will mess it us up. We both play old school, but you definitely hear differences in music and sound. War Master is a bit faster, while we mostly keep it midpaced, doomy and groovy!
On “Medestrijders Voor Volk en Vaderland” you experiment with some unnerving guitar sounds. Can you tell me how this develops the theme of the song?
This is actually one of the fastest songs we wrote. Rik came to rehearsal with the opening riff and without boundaries and jamming, the song wrote itself. Half of the songs on this album have been written this way.
“The End of Humanity” begins with an intro that recalls the 1980s style sonic paste-ups that Discharge did. What made you choose this intro?
We were playing with song and album title. The original title for the album and the song “Nuclear Warfare” was “Massive Kill Capacity,” which gave Corné, who created the samples for the album, some great ideas. He is very much into bombastic, theatrical themes. He made several samples of which some are used on the album. This is a great opening of the album!
It seems to me the album has a theme based on the title. Why did you choose this now, after most people assumed nuclear war and human self-destruction were off the table after the end of the Cold War? Or did the Cold War not end, or are there newer threats?
Decimation of humanity the horrific way are good themes to write song lyrics about. They cannot be bound to one war or another. “Death Factory” is WWII, with “Barbarians” we go back to prehistoric warfare. And “Medestrijders voor Volk en Vaderland” is about the 80-year war in the 1600s in Europe.
I quote from a punk band of great repute: “World peace can’t be done. It just can’t exist.” Do you think there are solutions to humanity’s problems? Will they be revealed through death metal?
The only solution to world peace is going out with a big bang! …Destruction of the planet!
As long as there are humans, war will be there as well!
Death metal is the solution to write about war in the best way, brutal and aggressive!
You have this great guitar sound on the album, that’s fuzzy and warm like a sweater but mean like the metal treads of a tank. How did you record this album? Do you have a “Warmaster method” of recording yourselves?
The guitar sounds really fits; we experiment a lot with guitar sounds. We have our own Studio, so it’s easy to realise this. After all those years we receive a lot of experience while recording other and own bands. Also listing to recordings of other bands it give you an idea what you want.
Members of Warmaster come from other bands. Can you tell us about those bands, and whether they’re still active, and if not, why they ended and what you hope will be different with Warmaster?
We all played in different bands, some still play in other bands.
Alex and André both play in Dark Remains (Death Metal)
Rik has also played in this band as a bass player. He quit to fully concentrate on Warmaster.
Alex replaced his spot in this band. This band is still active and busy with their fourth studio album.
Alex also played in a band called Exploded (Thrash Metal) but he stopped with this band this year. It is still active.
Marcel plays also in Ceremony of Opposites (Death Metal).
Please forgive me for this question. This cover looks a bit… uh… well, maybe people seem to be reacting badly to it. Can you tell us why you chose it, and why it’s important to the album’s theme and vision? Are you planning on having an alternate cover?
Hahaha…. I have one short answer for your last question.. No! We don’t have an alternative cover.
Because we like this cover! After the first album First War we wanted something different.
I think we accomplished that task. It is different, it is rare.
When recording the album we asked a friend (Ammar) of ours to draw some of our ideas, it ended like it is right now.
We knew what kind of artist he was and what he could do. We wanted to give him a opportunity and he took it.
We took the chance what people think about the cover but we don’t care what others think. We like it!
Maybe with the third album we do something else, something unexpected. Some people will like it, others will not.
But hey, so will our music! You like it or you don’t like it!
What’s next for Warmaster? Will you tour, or write more material? Do you have a long-term plan or are you just enjoying the ride?
We are very creative lately. So far we have released a split 7” EP with Humiliation from Malaysia and our album The End of Humanity on DeadBeat Media and Slaughterhouse Records. And we already have enough material for a new album ……so new album next year!
With the album out we want to play many shows, because playing live is what makes us go on! Maybe tour if the right options are there, but we prefer single shows or weekends instead.
Released on October 30, 1983, the first album from Denmark’s Mercyful Fate proved to be a decisive one for metal. While the band never ventured behind a NWOBHM-speed metal hybrid comparable to Blitzkrieg/Satan, Tank or Diamond Head, the uniquely operatic vocals of King Diamond and the band’s ability to write compelling heavy metal that also had a touch of the otherworldly quickly made Mercyful Fate an important band.
While many have written about their influence on black metal, it’s important to mention that this is not a black metal band, or album. Expect heavy metal, with the type of muted-strum riffs that later made speed metal capture the attention of metalheads worldwide, but with a greater focus on dynamics and pacing. On the surface, it sounds like many other bands from the era, but Mercyful Fate gave the music a unique spin and pushed quality over the top.
As a result, the band, fronted by the legendary King Diamond in his Alice Cooper-inspired face paint, became a staple of the “below-mainstream” metal crowd and quickly won a place on every metal record store’s walls. Through a series of early albums such as Melissa and Don’t Break the Oath, the band gradually shaped metal’s underground away from repetitive intensity and more toward the type of operatic variation in intensity that marked the influences on King Diamond’s vocals.
30 years have passed since this album first detonated car stereos and home units, but its influence is vast and hard to estimate. First, it shaped bands like Metallica toward more imaginative and melodic songwriting; next, it shaped black metal as a melodic, dynamic, motif-driven genre. Finally, the band’s outright flirtation with Satanism as a form of successor philosophy to the genteel benevolence of the society at the time influenced the metal to follow in non-musical as well as musical ways.
Originally shunned by most of the “new and wise” black metal community in the post-1995 era, Ildjarn emerged shrouded in mystery, and its renown has increased over the past almost two decades through the appreciation of writers and fellow musicians.
Seven Harmonies of Unknown Truths packages an early Ildjarn demo by the same name into a CD/LP release that showcases this band’s potent sound that mixed black metal, oi, drone and primitive folk music. The album has been released on Eisenwald Records and can be ordered here.
While those who have heard early Ildjarn will note the similarity to both the self-titled release and the material on the Ildjarn-Nidhogg compilation, but like other Ildjarn EP-length material Seven Harmonies of Unknown Truths presents a slower and more atmospheric vision of this band.
Structured as seven numbered tracks plus the archetypal Ildjarn song “Death Dynamics,” Seven Harmonies of Unknown Truths is like most Ildjarn releases an ambient composition as a whole where songs serve as motifs. Varying between the doomy and the faster edge of mid-paced, these songs return us to the lawless forest where the spirit of Ildjarn resides.
Queensrÿche began their reign as an Iron Maiden-inspired band that blended American west coast hard rock and progressive guitar rock with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.
The result peaked in their most famous release, Operation: Mindcrime, which showed equal parts influences from Yes, Led Zeppelin and The Number of the Beast. The result plus passionate songwriting and intensely theatrical vocals proved a hit with fans and critics alike.
Currently, Queensrÿche are preparing a mini movie that uses tracks from their current self-titled album to tell a ten-minute story. The film, Queensrÿche: Ad Lucem, is expected to be released later this month with the followed embedded Queensrÿche songs: “Spore” “Midnight Lullaby” “A World Without” and “X2.”
Queensrÿche: Ad Lucem was created by Veva Entertainment in coordination with Queensrÿche and is directed by Daniel Andres Gomez Bagby and produced by Marco De Molina. It was filmed last month on location at Central City Stages in Los Angeles.
Many years ago, when I was desperately buying up any and all death metal to feed the voracious ears of the listeners of an underground metal radio program, I stumbled upon an album by a band called Organic Infest. The cover used unusual covers, but was dripping in gore-imagery, so I gave it a listen.
Organic Infest is now Organic, and we were lucky to be able to speak with Chewy Correa, bassist and driving force behind this long-standing underground metal band.