Death Metal Underground

Sadistic Intent prepares “Reawakening Horrid Thoughts”

April 28, 2013 –

sadistic_intent-reawakening_horrid_thoughtsLong-dormant old school death metal band Sadistic Intent, whose members toured with the resuscitated Possessed during the resurrection of that august act, now prepares to release its first new material in many years.

Legendary for its 1990s material in the style of Slayer or Morbid Angel, the band continues in this style with three new songs which are being billed as “the unholy return of Sadistic Intent.” True to form, they will be released on 10″ vinyl from Iron Pegazus records.

Reawakening Horrid Thoughts could be crucial to getting Sadistic Intent material back into print, since the band’s prior releases, Resurrection and Ancient Black Earth, are out of print and the former is a re-release of earlier out-of-print material. If this attracts an audience, the band may be able to re-release compiled material so that new generations can appreciate this classic act.

Bands that keep making the same album but do it well

unleashed-where_no_life_dwellsAlthough AC/DC and Motorhead have been putting out basically the same album over and over for 30 years, fans of these two bands never blamed them for not being different.

Instead the audience continues to cherish this phenomenon, as this straightforward, wild and raw music style is the trademark of these bands. Risen from rock music and propelled by underground metal, this kind of music stands for the desire of liberation, freedom and simplicity in this plastic world. It will never go out of time.

In the realm of death metal, there is a band which greatly influenced by AC/DC and Motorhead also has a constant style of music. This band is Unleashed.

Unleashed was formed after the disbanding of Nihilist. Unlike the other key figures Entombed and Carnage whose members were in Nihilist, Unleashed brought the roadhouse rock style of AC/DC and Motorhead into death metal. However as a death metal band, Unleashed has more creative ideas than the old classics. You can tell that by just looking at the names and covers of their albums, each one is as exciting to look forward to as a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The scent of fighting in their music also demonstrates that death metal ponders on our existences in world.

The mystic and adventurous sense of Unleashed comes from the extension of the typical “verse-chorus-bridge-verse-chorus” structure the phrasal riffs of death metal. Under an emphasized theme, each phrasal riff acts like a puzzle and combine into an epic scenery. Therefore Unleashed’s musics are richer and more narrative comparing to AC/DC and Motorhead (Before the Victory which completely lost all apprehension of mysticism). To the fans of AC/CD, Motorhead who also enjoy underground metal, do not miss Unleashed.

Translated from this post.

Last Burzum metal recording ever

April 27, 2013 –

burzumBurzum composer Varg Vikernes has posted a “goodbye” to his old self as a metal composer and in a sentimental posting, announced his retirement from metal and his intent to pursue ambient music alone.

Burzum appeared from nowhere in 1991 with a demo tape made up of a dozen guitars-and-bass-only tracks in rehearsal quality. I made a few more or less successful metal albums, but they all always included at least some ambient music. With time I moved further and further away from metal, and today only the ambient music remains. Today (2013) I think I am done playing metal music for good.

Many of you followed Burzum through the years, some even from the beginning, and I think metal-Burzum deserves a proper “good bye”. So, just like I started out I will finish metal-Burzum with a guitars-and-bass-only track in rehearsal quality. “Back to the Shadows” is made up of the last metal riffs I ever made (in 2012). It was never released in any way, or recorded (beyond what you hear here), and it will not either — beyond this short “video”.

Take it for what it is; a sentimental good bye to metal-Burzum.

The music is playing with an image of the 17 year-old me, taken from the time when some of the first Burzum tracks were made. You can see this track as a good bye to that fellow too.

For those of us who have been watching Burzum and Vikernes over the years, this is a welcome development. Heavy metal is beautiful but it will always be attached to popular conceptions of entertainment. Ambient music, especially complex material, gets treated as culture.

While we hope to change that perception of metal and to have it be studied as art and part of culture, that’s an uphill battle when the fans routinely rush to gimmick bands and depthless clones in a hope to be part of the next popular trend.

Either way, this bodes well for more interesting compositions in Burzum’s future.

Iced Earth announce new album “Plagues of Babylon”

April 26, 2013 –

iced_earth-live_in_ancient_kourionPower metal is a sub-genre composed of aggregates. The most basic definition of it is heavy metal catching up with speed metal and (sometimes) death metal. There are variants within that.

For example, there’s the Blind Guardian fusion of inspirational rock, speed metal, death metal technique, glam metal and heavy metal that forms one branch. Then there’s Helstar, who sound like Iron Maiden meets Slayer. And on the far side, there’s Iced Earth, which sounds like really advanced speed metal.

Plagues of Babylon is to be Iced Earth’s latest album. Frontman Jon Schaffer describes the release as having a “late 2013″ touch-down date, and being “something very special” and that he is “very excited about how killer things are sounding this early in the writing/demo process.”

Iced Earth is coming off the release of Live in Ancient Kourion, a CD/DVD of a recording of a 2.5 hour show in a 6,000 year old amphitheater on the island of Cyprus. In support of this and other past work, the band is touring Europe this summer.

The tracklist for Plagues of Babylon was announced by Schaffer as follows:

1. Plagues of Babylon
2. Democide
3. Among The Living Dead
4. The Resistance
5. If I Could See You
6. Peacemaker
7. Cthulhu
8. Parasite

Iced Earth will be appearing at numerous festivals and a full range of European dates this summer. Catch them at the following locations:

ICED EARTH – summer festivals 2013:

  • 6.20.2013 – GER Sankt – Goarshausen Metalfest
  • 6.21.2013 – NED Dokkum – Dokkem Open Air
  • 6.22.2013 – GER Dischingen – Rock am Härtsfeldsee
  • 7.12.2013 – GER Ballenstedt – Rock Harz Open Air
  • 7.13.2013 – GER Balingen – Bang Your Head Festival
  • 7.25.2013 – SLO Tolmin – Metaldays
  • 7.27.2013 – GER Obersinn – Eisenwahn Festival
  • 8.8.2013 – SWE Gävle – Getaway Rock Festival
  • 8.10.2013 – POR Quinta do Ega, Vagos – Vagos Open Air

ICED EARTH – European Tour 2014:

  • 1.9.2014 – GER Saarbrücken – Garage
  • 1.10.2014 – NED Hengelo – Metropol
  • 1.11.2014 – BEL Antwerp – Trix
  • 1.12.2014 – GBR Birmingham – O2 Academy
  • 1.13.2014 – IRE Dublin – Button Factory
  • 1.14.2014 – GBR London – O2 Academy Islington
  • 1.15.2014 – FRA Paris – Le Trabendo
  • 1.17.2014 – ESP Madrid – Sala Caracol
  • 1.19.2014 – ESP Valencia – Rock City
  • 1.20.2014 – ESP Barcelona – Razzmatazz 2
  • 1.22.2014 – SWI Pratteln – Z7
  • 1.23.2014 – ITA Romagnano – Rock ‘n’ Roll Arena
  • 1.24.2014 – SLO Ljubljana – Kino Siska
  • 1.25.2014 – CRO Zagreb – Pogon Jedinstvo
  • 1.26.2014 – BIH Sarajevo – Club Sloga
  • 1.28.2014 – ROM Bucarest – Juke Box
  • 1.29.2014 – TUR Istanbul – Kucukciftlik Park
  • 1.31.2014 – GRE Athens – Gagarin 205
  • 2.1.2014 – GRE Thessaloniki – Principal Club
  • 2.2.2014 – BUL Sofia – Mixtape 5
  • 2.4.2014 – SER Belgrade – Dom Omladine
  • 2.5.2014 – HUN Budapest – Club 202
  • 2.7.2014 – GER Nürnberg – Rockfabrik
  • 2.8.2014 – TCH Zlin – Masters Of Rock
  • 2.9.2014 – GER München – Backstage Werk
  • 2.11.2014 – GER Berlin – Astra
  • 2.12.2014 – GER Köln – Essigfabrik
  • 2.13.2014 – GER Bochum – Zeche
  • 2.14.2014 – GER Osnabrück – Rosenhof
  • 2.15.2014 – GER Hamburg – Markthalle
  • 2.16.2014 – DEN Copenhagen – Vega
  • 2.18.2014 – SWE Gothenburg – Sticky Fingers
  • 2.19.2014 – SWE Stockholm – Debaser Medis
  • 2.22.2014 – ISR Tel Aviv – Reading 3

Zombiefication – At the Caves of Eternal

zombiefication-at_the_caves_of_eternalZombiefication incorporate many styles into their old school styled death metal but their ultimate forte is melodic death metal in the style made popular by early Necrophobic or Unanimated.

This band contributed a track to the Cenotaph tribute album and it’s hard not to think of the second and third Cenotaph albums which used the stylistic span between At the Gates and Therion’s Lepaca Kliffoth. In addition, Zombiefication use riffs much like early Amorphis, if Amorphis were interested in single-string picking of quick melodies.

Not all is old school however. At the Caves of Eternal features vocals that might be more at place on later At the Gates or The Haunted albums. They are nearly monotonic and do not vary style or inflection between songs, which gives them a consistency that breaks from the death metal tradition that all instruments labor toward the same effect. Drumming is more modern as well, with a jazz-fusion influence that is understated but prevalent. In addition, many of the leads follow more of a rock sense of theme and balance than the metal goal of high intensity chaos forming order despite itself.

At the Caves of Eternal uses the melodic death metal style effectively across this album, with the songs clustered near beginning and end having the most punch. If it has a fault, it is not stylistic, but in substance; the emotions and approach do not seem to vary between songs, making them variations on a theme that may be entirely musical. However, if you want to revive the old school melodic style, this album presents a potent option.

Burzum – Sôl austan, Mâni vestan preview

burzum-sol_austan_mani_vestanThe latest album from Norwegian one-man black metal/dark ambient band Burzum will be entitled Sôl austan, Mâni vestan (East of the Sun, West of the Moon) and will be released in coming months on the Peaceville sub-label Byelobog.

According to the press release authored by Varg Vikernes, this album will be like the other Burzum albums a concept album.

Sôl austan, Mâni vestan is near release but as of this morning samples were released, and the following teaser video combines visual and sound to reveal what to expect on this forthcoming work. Like the previous Burzum albums, it features use layered sampled sounds and keyboards, including some tribal drums, but without the constant percussion of modern pop.

Comparing it to Tangerine Dream, Vikernes described the new album as “relaxing, slow-paced, contemplative and very much original.” The topic on this one is said to be the “Pagan religious-spiritual concept of a descent into darkness and the follwoing ascend back into the light; the Pagan initiation, the elevation of man to the divine, the enlightenment of the mind, the feeding of the elven light in man.”

Why metal riffs delight us

April 24, 2013 –

hedge-labyrinthWhy is metal riff-crazy? These twisted little quasi-melodies of sliding power chords, notes and harmonics are tiny puzzles for our brains. Now science hints at why metal loves them.

Apparently, our brains love guessing what’s next in music, and perceive an intense sensation of reward if they guess correctly. For all those who identified metal’s riff-salad as a “puzzle,” you win a prize.

Like the labyrinths to which they are frequently compared, metal songs create a prediction game within the brain and cause an explosion of neural activity in a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. This tiny wad of cells, which sits in the pleasure/reward center of the brain, gives us a throbbing blast of “reward” every time we play the guess-where-this-riff-goes game.

Both metal and classical play this game. They specialize in intense repetition of certain phrases, but unlike rock music, the repeated phrases do not necessarily lead to the same conclusions, and in fact alter their destinations and form throughout the work. This keeps the guessing game intense and, while we’re distracted with the riffology, shows a change in themes, which if themes are metaphorical, shows a learning process by whatever protagonist may be inferred from the work.

Musicologists have often wondered at the tendency of metal fans and classical fans to be more devoted and to be more likely to enjoy the music over the course of life itself than your average rock or pop fan. In fact, the similarities between metal and classical frequently emerge among those who take their music very seriously. Could it be they’re simply getting a higher sense of reward from the riff-puzzle and its tendency toward non-repetitive repetition than they are from the relatively straightforward repetition of other styles?

Vemod – Venter på stormene

April 16, 2013 –

vemod-venter_pa_stormeneNostalgia is like going back to your rapist and asking for your first kiss. If I were a 2000s kid, I’d want to be part of those glorious days of the early 1990s. As a 1990s kid, I might want to “go back.”

Yet you can’t go home again. All you can do is re-heat and imitate the past, and hope that the magic comes back. But the magic came from the convergence of the time, what was going on in the world, and the art. That isn’t to say the music isn’t still relevant; it is eternally relevant. But what made it great was how it was organized in the minds of its creators, not the techniques they use. Trying to imitate the techniques is thinking backward, or going from the whole impression to try to recreate the idea it conveys, instead of finding that idea and using it to make another (not necessarily new, but more accurate) impression. I could buy ten truckloads of these retro-imitative albums and I’d still be in nowheresland, ready to trade my left testicle for the ability to buy Transilvanian Hunger or Pure Holocaust again and to experience the joy of discovering it again, like the very first time!

But it is not to be. We wouldn’t want it to be that way. Time marches us forward both toward doom and toward greater heights. Vemod adopts a mix between the Ulver-styled late Nordic material and the French-style barely-holding-on black metal of the wave after the Nordic black metal explosion. That being said, there’s nothing to criticize Vemod for. They play perfectly, many of these riffs are catchy, and they use extended interludes well. There’s just something missing at the center, sort of like there has been in modern life, where we wonder what the point of it all is. As it is, these songs leave us with a feeling of melancholy, having missed the bus to the land of adventure, and maybe a bit of dark loneliness. But after that, it is just decoration.

New York Times on “the best voices in heavy metal”

March 30, 2013 –

demilich-live-finland

In the 1990s, mainstream media pretty much ignored heavy metal except to report on the hair bands. The fear of radicals of an unknown quantity scared them away. Then, gradually, media began to find some things in metal they could identify with. And so it became part of the news cycle, with NPR reporting on folk-metal bands and even double-breasted suit The Wall Street Journal getting into the game.

As a result, in 2013 it’s not surprising to see a mainstream newspaper covering metal, and including some of the more extreme varieties in its article. The New York Times ArtsBeat asks “Who are the best voices in heavy metal?” and comes up with a reasonable list, considering that they’re picking from four decades of metal and no conceivable list will satisfy any single metalhead or group of metalheads:

1. Ronnie James Dio (Black Sabbath, Dio)
2. Rob Halford (Judas Priest)
3. Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden)
4. Eric Adams (Manowar)
5. Geoff Tate (Queensrÿche)
6. King Diamond (Mercyful Fate, King Diamond)
7. Tom Araya (Slayer)
8. John Bush (Armored Saint/Anthrax)
9. James Hetfield (Metallica)
10. Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Soulfly)

Slayer made it in, as did Sepultura. How did that happen? It could be that, as with most things mass media, this data was culled from a series of press releases or advertising partners. It’s unfortunate that this is too often the situation, even at world-renowned major papers. Equally possible is that this is what an informal survey of the metalheads in the office produced. Either way, it’s good to see this list, and it probably deserves a list of its own.

As our domain name indicates (“deathmetal.org”), we are primarily a death metal site. This means that we treat all influences on death metal, whether heavy metal or progressive rock or even Kraftwerk, as part of our world, but not really the focus. Our focus is death metal and the genres it spawned, starting with the unholy trinity of Slayer, Bathory and Hellhammer back in 1983, following what Discharge unleashed the previous year. So we thought we’d do our own list of the best voices in death metal and associated genres:

1. Matti Kärki – Carnage
2. Antti Boman – Demilich
3. Nocturno Culto – Darkthrone
4. Abbath Doom Occulta – Immortal
5. Varg Vikernes – Burzum
6. Tomas Lindberg – At the Gates
7. Nuclear Holocausto Vengeance – Beherit
8. Frank Mullen – Suffocation
9. Glen Benton - Deicide
10. Tom G. Warrior – Celtic Frost/Hellhammer

This wasn’t an easy list. There are so many vocalists who perfected the death metal growl, or adopted it as their own style, that it’s hard to assess who should go on a list of only ten items. Yet each of the vocalists above contributed to a certain use of the vocal rasp or guttural howl, and thus they all deserve a place on this list, even if we’d like to add a few more (for example, Esa Linden of Demigod or John Tardy from Obituary).

We’d like to think the NYT will read this article, drop everything, and start rockin’ out to Morbid Tales, but that’s probably a bit much to expect. We hope someday they learn to enjoy this vibrant metal subgenre and appreciate it for the unique skills it requires, and the talents it has brought forth from these musicians.

Photo Credit: Kingsnake Club.

Frankenslayer tears up Australia

February 26, 2013 –

Slayer, performing with Jon Dette as Dave Lombardo and Gary Holt as Jeff Hanneman, has launched its new tour in Australia. This fan-filmed video shows how the new ‘Frankenslayer’ performs.

‘Frankenslayer’ refers to the two original members plus two hired hands that now forms the ‘Slayer’ you see on tour. Some have a problem with this, and rumors and doubt circle around the Slayer camp.

This is a complex issue. We are the biggest Slayer fans on earth around here, and some of the few people who have given them credit for their contributions to death metal (we’re also huge fans of Hellhammer and Bathory, the other .666 of the Unholy Triad of the origins of black and death metal).

However, we’d never want them to keep carrying on for the sake of carrying on. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Slayer’s output has been uncertain since South of Heaven, with some real dips in there as the band have tried to adapt to the new nu-metal landscape. If their hearts aren’t in it, we’d want them to do something they enjoyed more instead. It might not be appropriate to do it under the Slayer name, but having Slayer members in the band carries a great weight.

In addition, we know that the record industry burns out bands. Musicians should spend most of their time goofing off and playing their instruments. Instead, they’re spending most of their time on media relations, business, office-type stuff and negotiating with suits. In addition, most have families now so it’s an additional burden since they have less time. The result means that band practice is like a 4-hr-per-week job and whatever comes out of it gets chopped up like sausage into the “next album.” Concept, deliberation, inspiration and imagination take a back seat to the raw demands of the trade.

We’re hoping (of course) that Jeff Hanneman recovers, but that’s for the reason that he’s Jeff Hanneman and we hope he recovers. His choice about being in Slayer after that is his choice. Similarly, we hope that Dave Lombardo can work out his contract with Slayer to be part of the band again, but that’s because he’s Dave Lombardo. We don’t make any requests on Slayer itself. It will decide, as a group or as the singular identity that is more than the sum of its parts, to carry on.

In the meantime, ‘Frankenslayer’ is obviously putting on a heck of a performance. However, there is something about Lombardo’s accusations that rankles:

Last year, I discovered 90% of Slayer’s tour income was being deducted as expenses including the professional fees paid to management, costing the band millions of dollars and leaving 10% or less to split amongst the four of us. In my opinion, this is not the way a band’s business should operate. I tried rectifying it by letting my band mates know, and Tom and I hired auditors to figure out what happened, but I was denied access to detailed information and the necessary back up documents. – Dave Lombardo/Facebook

As others have pointed out, Lombardo has been out of the band for some time, and he’s now a hired gun. He doesn’t receive his split of the band’s profits for the tour because he’s not technically a member of the band. Instead, he gets paid like any hired drummer, although we hope perhaps gets paid a bit more for being Dave Lombardo.

The problem with this arrangement is that it’s the antithesis of what a band is. Fans are showing up to see Slayer as Slayer, meaning the guys who originally created this music in the first place. Instead, we get two members and a hired troupe of musicians who are basically putting money into the Slayer bank account without being Slayer.

It’s difficult for great music to emerge from a job-style relationship. Adequate, sure, but these guys can do “adequate” in their sleep. If something positive can come out of this debacle and the ‘Frankenslayer’ Australia tour, it’s that Slayer may need to recalibrate and if they’re going to continue, try doing it as a band in love with their own music instead of a band as a day job.