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Coffins / Noothgrush – Split

coffins-noothgrush-split2013 has been a big year for Coffins, with the release of their debut album The Fleshland for Relapse Records in July and the recent announcement of their upcoming appearance at Baltimore’s Maryland Deathfest in 2014. Coffins toured with Noothgrush in 2013 in Japan, thus it is not surprising that the two, who have gifted each other with fresh ideas, have decided to release a split EP on Southern Lord Records.

While Coffins have always had their fair share of sludge influence, the band up the ante by incorporating more stoner rock riffing and melody. The result is slower and stripped down, with less of an Autopsy and more inspiration from Eyehategod. The band still retain their core sound with mid-paced riffing hybridizing Coffins’ downpicked death metal chug and Noothgrush’s crawling musical ethic. Lead work, although sparse, brings a brightly colored spark. The drums straddle the line between D-beat infused percussion in the style of Deathstrike and the breakdowns that are archetypal to the sludge hybrid-genre. Inflected riffing pounds through both tracks in the stoner metal style, inserting absurd jauntiness into droning music.

Noothgrush on their half of the split apply characteristic sludge riffing accompanied by sample-infused soundscapes which provide abstract narratives pertaining to the song titles. The material retains an earthy, doomy sound without digitised production artifacts. “Jundland Wastes” samples the kick drum from “Tusken Raiders” amidst desert winds, reminiscent of the tripped out atmospherics of “Dystopia” but with a more concrete narrative function. “Thoth” follows in very much the same footsteps, with a sample-driven interlude halfway through — complete with layers of ear-piercing feedback and tasteful synth pads — provides a welcome break from the crushing, monolithic riffing.

Whilst Noothgrush ominously work their trademark, sample inflected sludge machine, Coffins’ foray into the sludgier side of the doom-influenced musical spectrum is somewhat generic; it feels lacklustre in comparison to Noothgrush’s experienced assault. Where Noothgrush manage to keep things interesting, if a bit mundane, Coffins’ offering for this split EP feels rushed and uninspired.

Death Metal Underground Weekly Newsletter 11/18-11/24

Death Metal Underground
Weekly Newsletter 11/18-11/24
Because Metal Is Art

Five things every musician needs

Those of us who have had the fortune to hang around the music industry for a few decades tend to pick up a few ideas about what works and what doesn’t.

If you are trying to get your music out there, you’ll get a lot of advice from people with agendas. They want you to do x so that they get y. What follows is generic advice for putting your best foot forward.

http://www.deathmetal.org/news/five-things-every-aspiring-musician-needs/

Demilich box details revealed

Back in 1993, Demilich released a killer album entitled Nespithe. The album innovated consciously in every way possible. It took the audience a decade to warm up to it, but by the time Demilich re-united in 2006 for a reunion tour, death metal had fully bonded with this inventive act.

Fast forward a few more years and Demilich is finally getting the recognition it deserves through re-releases of its classic material. These were originally planned in 2006, but got delayed a bit as the wheels of music justice ground. Demilich has just announced the release of a limited edition box set with a 44-page booklet, sticker and new cover art.

http://www.deathmetal.org/news/demilich-box-set-details-released/

Black metal album titles illustrated like children’s books

These pictures were originally innocent illustrations for children’s books. They were drawn by well-known but now deceased Czech artist Helena Zmatlíková who illustrated numerous books for children.

At some time after that, they were creatively edited by a member of Umbrtka who also writes for Czech Maxim. The innocence drained away, replaced by the eternal darkness of the blackest of souls.

http://www.deathmetal.org/news/black-metal-album-titles-illustrated-like-childrens-books/

Deicide – In the Minds of Evil

If you break any ground as a band, you will suffer from momentum inertia. Your initial direction will carry you quickly to its end, and after three albums, you will find yourself with a loss of direction.

This occurs because in your vision, substance and form were joined, and you made a language out of what you wished to express. For some visions, a lifetime of specifics can be created; for most, there are big picture things to do, and then emptiness.

http://www.deathmetal.org/news/deicide-in-the-minds-of-evil/

Cryogen – Continuum

Two revelations before listening to this: first, when I first got into music I thought talent and ability were rare; now I realize they’re commonplace, but the ability to apply them in some non-inert interesting way is rare. Second, that metalcore — the mix of metal genres in the post-hardcore style of “contrast without continuity” riffing — borrows almost everything it has from 1980s speed metal.

http://www.deathmetal.org/news/cryogen-continuum/

Micro-songs: the shortest songs in heavy metal

About a decade ago, the trend of flash fiction or micro-stories seized the literary world by storm. The reasoning was that as people did more of their reading via phones and portable computers, they would want shorter, harder-hitting fiction.

Of course, metal was there first.

http://www.deathmetal.org/news/microsongs/

Pink Frothy AIDS frontman says metal fans are “close-minded”

Heavy metal music gets a bad rap, not just from people who dislike it, but from people who claim to like it. The problem is that criticism draws attention to the speaker, so there’s no better way to stand out than to stand up and say, “All of this is wrong!”

While some critics of the current way are motivated by a desire to create useful change, most people are motivated by self-interest and change for change’s sake, which lets them seize attention and/or power. Pink Frothy AIDS’s frontman Mikael “Mick” Åkerfeldt recently attempted such a power grab.

His statements, recorded in a Metal Hammer interview via Metal Injection, are harshly critical of metal but suffer a gigantic logical “plot hole” that makes them totally nonsense.

http://www.deathmetal.org/news/Pink Frothy AIDS-frontman-says-metal-fans-are-closed-minded/

Sadistic Metal Reviews 11-24-13

What are Sadistic Metal Reviews? These reviews address the music itself, instead of the social impact of assembling a public persona out of bands you claim to like. Since almost all human endeavors are mostly mediocrity, there will be tender self-pity follow by rage. Come for the laughs, stay for the schadenfreude… and occasional quality metal.

http://www.deathmetal.org/news/sadistic-metal-reviews-11-24-13/

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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.

Why I hate youth culture

Youth culture is a misnomer, since it’s not culture. It’s products. These products take two forms:

  1. Explicitly corporate products that embrace conformity.
  2. Anti-corporate products that embrace non-conformity, sold for profit.

The only difference is where the money goes. If you buy aboveground, all of your money goes to large corporations. If you buy belowground, your money goes to small labels, who then spend most of it back to large corporations in CD pressing, licensing, etc.

The message of non-conformity is a hilarious one. First, the idea that conformity to a norm has no purpose; like waiting in line in the grocery store is a personality statement, instead of a means to an end. Second, the idea that if we all “non-conform” there will be any way to non-conform, since non-conformity is defined by conformity.

Finally, the idea that non-conformity is anything but a behavior on the surface of a person. Is one’s goal in life to “be different”? To what end? And what about where it matters, which is character itself? Must that be different, or can it simply be good, realistic, honorable and kind?

Non-conformists are the biggest “conformists” that exist.

Youth culture is product-driven because it is not actual culture. It is a set of attitudes designed for you by people in their 40s-70s. They then pass this on to people your age, who see a possibility of profit (and thus no hateful day job) and so they ape it up.

In youth culture, everything is personal. There is no goal except how you look to other people. You are not trying to gain abilities, or become clearer in what you know, but to act in a way that makes other people think you are “different” and “interesting.” It is total whore.

You are a perfect consumer because you are in the process of self-definition as a youth. Youth culture short-circuits that by instead telling you what to think and how to act. It is inherently defensive, in that it requires you to have a tantrum against your parents and “conformity” in order to buy into it.

A better plan is to grow up without growing old, which is to make your own decisions based on the reality you experience, and to stop pretending to be something you are not. Non-conformity, posing, adopting a style, etc. is all pretending.

But if you do that, you won’t make a bunch of old people money as they profit off your confusion.

Metal Styles and Techniques

“Styles” are divisions of a subgenre not pronounced enough to warrant a new subgenre. “Sounds” are aesthetic variants of a subgenre. Just as “doom metal” means music that is either heavy metal or death metal played slowly with morbid/gothic surfacing, “sounds” differentiate groups of similar musical approach from each other. The evolution of “sounds” can be viewed as a hierarchy of specialized technique and aesthetic within a genre, the technique creating an effect that reveals the intent of the creators as communicated to the listener.

Technique and “Sounds”

Rhythm

Melody

Aesthetic

Structure

Vocals

Aesthetic and “Styles”

Heavy Metal

Ambient/Prog

Punk

Death

Black

 

 Heavy Metal

  Speed Metal

 

 Ambient

 

 Punk/Hardcore

 Thrash

 Grindcore

 

 Death Metal

 

 Black Metal

 

You can understand the styles of heavy metal by looking at the musical techniques and theory used, the aeshetic created, and the patterns of underlying structure pursued (as you can do in differentiated not just genres but types of music). Styles of death metal, black metal, heavy metal and crossover metal divide into “containers” for stylistic and compositional tendencies which reveal the interpretative structures in the music evoking the larger meta-perception or “life philosophy” beneath.

Aesthetic — or styles, arrangement, and production decisions — “works” where it supports the internal compositional structures of whatever music it encloses. Technique and production and performance come together to produce an aesthetic, which matches a compositional style, which in turn reflects the ideas that inspired the artist to communicate with his or her audience.

Heavy metal, in general, is music of loud, intense, nihilistic, feral, atavistic sound that reduces the individual and places them in a context of history where they are nothing (some would call this realism or nihilism). Accepting the reaction of despair to the violence and paranoia and insanity of human world living in denial of fear/death, and turning it into a living, willful, and distinctive nihilism that affirms nothingness as a gateway into more profound realms of thought — this is the goal of heavy metal, and it has many voices, or styles.

Rhythm

Syncopation

By playing off of internal rhythms, metal bands achieve syncopation — the inversion of stress in a passage. Normally strong beats are weak and the weak are strong; this effect is often achieved through polyrhythmic overlay by double-bass in death metal bands or by the chaotic, threshing blast beat of blackmetal drummers.

The variation enables an excited internal sub-rhythm to drive the song, as many bands do with double bass drums, letting snare and high hat/cymbal disassociate for key structural textures.

  • Slayer
    “Hell Awaits” and beyond featured the granddaddy of double-bass technique.
  • Deicide
    “Deicide” featured songs with anti-synchronized pump-beat percussion similar to the “Jaws” theme.
  • Suffocation
    The master planners of moving syncopated air and bass drum integration.
  • Unleashed
    “Shadows in the Deep” used this technique to warlike effect via guitar player forearm.

Polyrhythm

Using multiple rhythms to enhance layering effects bands create multiple dimensions of rhythmic space, using a normally linear framework in new shapes and often long or indeterminate phrases. This can occur in the dominant rhythmic instrument (guitars) or the background rhythm (drums/bass).

Some bands have taken this to extremes of chaos piling into itself, revealing an inner consistency and beauty, where others have interpreted this in the way of more contemporary ambient composers and have layered counterpoint or complementary rhythms in complex neo-electronic compositions.

  • Immortal
    “Pure Holocaust” features raging chaotic polyrhythm and ambient melody.
  • Burzum
    “Hvis Lyset Tar Oss” layered repetition to create epic meta-structures.
  • Morbid Angel
    “Altars of Madness” began with an inverted polyrhythmic beat.
  • Mayhem
    “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” used high-speed polyrhythms under ambient guitar.

Percussion

Explosive or definitive notes in a phrase are accentuated by percussion in drums or stringed instrument. Most often in guitars this occurs in the bands who muffle chords and strum staccato or interplay phrasing for conclusive effect, more than open-ended styles.

  • Metallica
    “Master of Puppets” used emphatic muffled chords for percussive centering in riffs.
  • Suffocation
    “Effigy of the Forgotten” used intricate polyrhythmic progressions to center complex songs.
  • Sepultura
    “Beneath the Remains” combined speed metal percussive strumming and death metal speeds.

Texture

Often bands give texture to rhythms by playing multiple levels of rhythm. For example, a guitar changing chords has a dominant rhythm in the beats on which the change occurs, but the chords themselves have a layer of rhythm in the speed with which they are strummed, or in death metal technique, at which their two most essential notes are varied through strumming or hammering. Even further, often the strumming itself has an independent texture which moves with the composition as a whole.

  • Slayer
    “Haunting the Chapel” invented the flying wrist technique of achieving hummingbird tremelo strumming.
  • Unleashed
    “Shadows in the Deep” featured slow masterpieces of micromotion and precision.
  • Morbid Angel
    After their monumental “Altars of Madness” which used this technique to create ambient melody and rhythm, Morbid Angel used it for prog-rock precision in the details of their epic “Blessed Are the Sick.”
  • Mayhem
    “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” features ambient strumming over Bathory-style rigid percussion matrix.
  • Rigor Mortis
    “Rigor Mortis” and more significantly “Freaks” built this technique into classical melody and structure.
  • Cadaver
    These Norwegians made rhythmic expectancy a part of their half-sliding, half-paused progressive metal.

Melody

Consonance

“Normal” melodies are used by older styles of heavy metal and sometimes by progressive bands integrating a jazz or rock influence. They are built around the scales used by these forms of music historically and in present essence, and as such are more easily recognized by listeners familiar with more mainstream music.

  • Atheist
    “Unquestionable Presence” built jazz harmony into a style of melodic progressive death metal.
  • Metallica
    “Kill ‘Em All” brought metal’s separate blues legacy into focus with new styles and heavy metal essence.
  • At the Gates
    “Slaughter of the Soul,” this band’s final work, made use of mainstreamification in the death metal sound.

Dissonance

Using dissonant alignment of notes in melodies produces a mournful yet technical sound, so many bands use this technique in both melodic and harmonic construction.

  • Voivod
    From “Dimension Hatross” onward Voivod have built songs around dissonant melodic tension.
  • Obliveon
    “From This Day Forward” established the ability of dissonance and atonality to build complex jazzlike compositions.
  • Immortal
    “Pure Holocaust” and “Blizzard Beasts” feature dissonant melody and use of inversion contra rhythm.

Atonality

Atonal arrangements of notes produce bizarre and perverse melodies, causing instigation of uprising in the mentality of the listener. The “not tonal” nature of this etymology comes from the lack of a fixed scale, or use of an cycling scale of arbitrary tones.

Most metal musicians use this style of composition in conjunction with chromatic scales, dynamically acquiring tone centers through counterpoint and experimenting with classical music theory in key-less anti-melodic architectures.

  • Morbid Angel
    “Altars of Madness” through “Covenant” used atonal solos to great effect over dissonant compositions.
  • Deicide
    “Legion” used atonal lead guitar to emphasize the nihilism of chromatic composition.

Layered

In the style of classical composers from years past augmented with an focus geared more toward an attention span “in the now,” metal bands often use modal layers to create songs.

These layers, each forming a portion of the main melody in the song which changes over time to narrate song development, create a resonant harmony which the composer can change to develop the complex matrix of emotions required to manipulate atmospheric mood.

This style easily succumbs to being only technique, but is useful for developing a language of melody in which harmony serves a subordinate role.

  • Burzum
    Simple in outcome but complex in how far it varies from predictable in conception, the music of Burzum unfolds longer narrative by manipulating environmental depth to melody.
  • Ildjarn
    Short deranged pieces create atmosphere through two or three melodies sequenced in different orders to form narrative, with layers of two-note modal complements influencing direction in mood.

Harmony

Classical

Classical harmonic formations stay within the same key and manipulate different registers of mode or tone. The chromatic scales and intricate arpeggio formations of death and black metal lay their ancestry here and develop into a more direct sense of musical motion.

  • Morbid Angel
    “Altars of Madness” evolved this technique into fast-picking and ambient relationship to beat, accentuating it with atonal lead guitars.
  • Deicide
    “Feasting the Beast” demonstrated this technique in an ambient but violent setting.
  • Burzum
    “Det Som Engang Var” built simple classical music out of power chord arpeggios.

Jazz

The freedom and complexity of jazz harmonics attracted many metal composers, who have worked in that area to create bizarre and startling freaks of brutality.

  • Atheist
    “Unquestionable Presence” built jazz harmony into a style of melodic progressive death metal.
  • Metallica
    “Kill ‘Em All” brought metal’s separate blues legacy into focus with new styles and heavy metal essence.
  • Demilich
    “Nespithe” built bizarre harmonies from rudimentary fusionesque randomness

Rock

Oftentimes rock-n-roll influences creep into metal bands and are easily identified by their influence on the dominant rhythms, and by the more mainstream tonal ideas of the pieces. Since rock is essentially blues filtered through the cowboy hobo country music eyepiece, these bands often bear a lot in common with jazz-influence acts.

  • Metallica
    “Kill ‘Em All” brought metal’s separate blues legacy into focus with new styles and heavy metal essence.

Structure

Cyclic

Most rock songs come of the verse-chorus tradition and consequently so does unstudied death and black metal, as well as most grindcore. The tedium of this technique is sometimes temporarily alleviated by adding another structure or riff pattern on top of the double elements of cycle but even this is transparent.

Narrative

When many riffs are joined to form a progression of ideas not as much concerned with creating a piece but a sequence of moods a narrative composition occurs; others call this “riff salad” or “grab-bag metal.”

Architected

Music created with massive conceptions in mind often builds entirely unconventional structures to serve the individualized needs of each song. At this level of composition, nothing is as fits the norm as each piece has an entirely custom use in unique and intricate compositions where details matter.

  • Emperor
    “In the Nightside Eclipse” featured drifting and meandering songs built around central melodies.
  • Burzum
    “Hvis Lyset Tar Oss” used bafflingly simple and distinctive riffs in layer