Morgengrau unleash an album described as classic death metal, while in actuality it sounds more like 1980s metal merged with progressive death metal from a decade later. Despite being a relatively new band, Morgengrau includes several experienced players alongside enthusiastic new blood, and the result shows on this thoroughly professional album.
With detuned guitars, death vocals and cluster-munition drumming, Morgengrau tears into songs like a death metal band. However, songs are structured more around vocal/guitar cadences and lengthy fills in the style of later Exodus, augmented with progressive touches that are reminiscent of later 1990s Death. This makes them easier to listen to than riff salad and gives them more of a compelling groove.
Extrinsic Pathway features the hooky rhythms you might expect from a classic 1980s speed metal album with the more elaborate atmosphere of a progressive metal band, without the noodly flights of fancy of prog metal. Lead guitars are elegant and yet obscure, and rhythm guitar is rigid with enough swing to give it a groove of its own. In this, it’s reminiscent of Death’s The Sound of Perseverance.
A cover of Sepultura’s “Inner Self” finds a home in the middle of the album and complements the other tracks, which pick up in intensity from the mid-paced death metal model to more of a ripping death metal pace as the album goes on. On the whole, this is a good first effort as this band finds its voice in the raging chaos of extreme metal.
Sammath, Dutch-German furious black metal band, continues to work toward the release of its next album, Godless Arrogance.
To this end, the band released two tracks in demo form from the forthcoming album on Folter Records. These show the black/death thrashing hybrid that this band has become over the years.
On the new album, expect the instrumental prowess of 2009’s Triumph in Hatred with a stripped-down and vicious style more akin to 2006’s Dodengang. The band shows high confidence going into this album and it will be great to see it hit the shelves soon!
Back in the 1980s thrasher music — a hybrid of punk and metal listened to by skateboarders — was big. In the 2000s, Birth A.D. has resurrected this style not through retro-nostalgia but by picking it up where it left off and taking it further.
Thrash grew up from simple short and fast punk songs with metal riffs and reached its peak with S.O.D.’s Speak English or Die and D.R.I.‘s Crossover. These albums packed the intensity of the blur-speed earlier work into lengthier songs with more emotional depth and variation. Birth A.D. picked up from that point with their first EP, Stillbirth of a Nation, which kept the chunky riffing but added melodic vocals and song structures customized to the topic of each song.
Returning with wisdom and more vitriol, I Blame You shows Birth A.D. reforming their style. The album comprises songs from Stillbirth of a Nation matched to new material which is tighter, faster and harder-hitting. It hits both with ripping riffs and militant time changes, but also with a greater internal contrast between themes which gives these songs a greater poetic intensity.
Lyrically, Birth A.D. emerges straight from the thrash tradition, which is to criticize our society as having made a wrong turn somewhere and now heading for doom. The lyrics defy categorization unless you imagine a systems architect looking at modern society as a whole and suggesting changes that management has overlooked for its own reasons. Of note is “Popular War” which criticizes the tendency of people to really enjoy killing other people when it’s easy, fail-safe and creates a good opportunity for business.
The original thrash movement burned out because it burned too bright. It had a lot to say, but instead of drawing it out into long dramatic pieces, it blasted us with rapid-fire alienation. Easily understood, it was rarely understood, because it was too radical. Birth A.D. bring this idea back not by imitating it, but by upholding its spirit, which makes for an exhilarating and violent listening experience.
Taking their name from an Entombed song, Swedish-style metallers Revel in Flesh mix Motorhead-esque rowdy roadhouse metal song formats with Swedish death metal riffs and production.
Like many of the newer generation, they combine the heavy metal style melodic Swedish metal with the more hardcore influenced old school death metal which kicked off the movement. The result is easy on the ears like a Motorhead tune, but has all the bass and crunch that an alienated outlaw anti-social metalhead might need.
One thing that’s refreshing about this band is that they are not trying to rehash the past. They’re trying to be a metal band with influences. The result is that this is not first album Entombed. It’s Revel in Flesh, and unlike some of the recent bands, it offers not nostalgia but a current sound of heavy metal style death metal.
We are pleased and excited to, in coordination with Clawhammer PR and Revel in Flesh, offer you this live stream of a song named “Dominate the Rotten” from the new Revel in Flesh album, Manifested Darkness.
For your listening pleasure:
Revel in Flesh
“Dominate the Rotten”
Manifested Darkness FDA Rekotz (2013)
No one doubts the importance of style, but at the end of the day, style is not what makes one album great and others mundane. Like a technique used in painting, style is essential to convey particular meaning, but its inclusion alone doesn’t make the painting great. Only the skill of the artist and the composition of the painting can do that.
Supuration emerged years before the current alternative metal and progressive metal trends, mixing 1980s dark pop and indie with a strong progressive undercurrent in the style of Rush or Jethro Tull. Their legendary album, The Cube, divided metal listeners because while it had many aspects of off-mainstream rock, it sported death metal vocals and metal riffs. However, it also made them many fans who liked their adventurous use of music and very personal, evocative songwriting.
Cube 3 hits the target set by this first album by not imitating the style of the past but instead developing changes to that style naturally and focusing instead on songwriting. This allows Supuration to gratify older fans but not force themselves into acting out the past as remembered from a far off-distance. The style is mostly similar to The Cube, being alternative/indie-rock harmonies mixed in with metal riffs and progressive chord progressions, melodic leads and oddball song structures.
What makes this album work is that each song unites two concepts: first, a pop style hook; second, a theatrical staging of the conflict between two or more tendencies. These songs pull themselves apart between bassy heavy metal riffs, bittersweet vocal melodies, and intricately picked melodic guitar that expands the context of the music and shows a broader context.
These songs are full of musical oddities picked to stimulate, amuse and delight, but what fundamentally drives this band is its songwriting which has a strong connection to the idea of metal. The result is a metal hybrid that keeps the intensity of metal while creating a technical achievement that also has the emotional appeal of negative pop.
Prong is hitting stages across Europe this summer as part of a wide-reaching tour. If you’ve been looking for a chance to witness this legendary band, now’s a good time, especially if you’re in Europe or work for an airline.
The story of Prong begins with their mid-1980s origins as a messy hardcore/metal crossover thrash band with their Force Fed and Primitive Origins releases that set new standards for raw intensity. Some musical experience later, they released their mid-paced speed metal classic, Beg to Differ.
As they describe it, they were art school grads trying to make metal. The sound they embarked upon eventually integrated some aspects of art-rock into metal, and has never gone for a full-on traditional metal vibe. In recent years, the band has gone further into its own style, starting with Cleansing, that more resembles the power-pop and late hardcore mix of bands like Helmet fused with some of the underground metal acts.
Their newer material continues in this vein but with modern metal influences. If you’re out there on the European continent, catch them live this summer with these handy tour dates:
June 23, 2013
June 25, 2013
June 26, 2013
June 27, 2013
June 28, .2013
Graspop Metal Meeting
June 29, 2013
June 30, 2013
July 12, 2013
Zlin, CZECH REPUBLIC
Masters Of Rock
Revel in Flesh explores the area previously inhabited by recent Swedish tribute bands such as Entrails, who mix the bludgeoning simple music of Grave or Suffer with the wisps of melody that make recent Swedish death metal offerings both listenable and murderous.
Riffs slam along with a rudimentary intensity that resembles that of battlements carved roughly from ancient rock, but then are contrasted by melodic single-picked leads that add an infectious hook to the relentlessly compelling rhythm. Over this, two vocal tracks play off each other in the style of older Carcass.
Manifested Darkness bypasses imitating first album Entombed for the more ear-catching sounds of the recent Swedish death metal revival, which mix the cudgel-like chromatic riffing of early Swedish death metal with the relaxed song structures and 1970s heavy metal melodic and chorus riffs that bands like Unanimated and Desultory used to great effect.
Having Revel in Flesh discover its own path instead of emulating the past works out well for the band. Like later offerings from Fleshcrawl, little time is spent on complex arrangements that take five minutes to get to the point. Like early Motorhead, these songs are rough and ready and charge right into their groove and then exploit it. As each song reaches conclusion, riffs shift and melody leaves a sense of lingering loneliness and isolation.
On Manifested Darkness, Revel in Flesh upholds the best Motorhead-ish tradition of simple riffs and verse-chorus song structures with transitions to liven the experience. It reminds me of Motorhead’s 1916 crossed with Entombed’s To Ride, Shoot and Speak the Truth.
The soaring melodies and melancholic moods conceal how much roadhouse heavy metal hides within these album. The trademark crunchy “Swedish style” distortion accelerates the classic metal power of thunderous riffs and gives this album a balance between rocking out and musical destructiveness that any heavy metal fan will appreciate.
Shane and Amy Bugbee, authors and entrepreneurs who helped organize the Milwaukee Metalfest and interviewed metal luminaries including Jeff Becerra and Gene Hoglan, also interviewed Ian Mackaye of Minor Threat.
Ian Mackaye and Minor Threat were part of the American hardcore punk scene which followed closely on the English scene of 1977-1983 that provided the formative basis for metal and punk after, and instrumental in both the founding of the straightedge (SxE) and post-hardcore (Fugazi, Rites of Spring) scene.
Kings and Demons: Francisco Goya [Scroll over each picture for information]
In this series I will be examining art and artists whose works have been used in metal band artwork or whose themes have been source for inspiration for metal musicians. The first artist is Francisco Goya of Spain, whose later works have been found on album covers for Anaal Nathrakh, Belsebub, Amon, Mortem, Torgeist and others.
I feel strongly that to truly appreciate art – visual or otherwise – that it is important to understand its context. Goya’s life and and the time period in which he lived made him one of the world’s most influential and important artists. It is said that he was the primary artist that ushered in the Romanticism era and it was his attention to detail, even in the most graphic of subject matter, that shocked his contemporaries.
Francisco Goya was born in the late 1700s in Spain, during a very tumultuous period of time artistically and politically. His talent for art was recognized at a young age and he traveled to Rome to learn his craft from the masters there. Upon returning to his hometown in Spain as a young man, he created quite a reputation for himself by drinking, whoring, and brawling. His reputation preceded him when he fled to Madrid after killing a man in a bar fight and being sought by the Inquisition for his crime.
Arriving in Madrid, Goya was greeted by a city full of newly-minted aristocrats being placated by lazy “masters” selling them poorly painted Baroque style cherubs and nature scenes to decorate their palaces. Goya’s more realistic and new Romanticist style was a breath of fresh air to the stagnant art scene of the time and he quickly earned himself a top position as the official painter for the Spanish Royal Family.
In 1792 Goya was afflicted with an unknown illness that left him completely deaf. There has been wide speculation that it was lead poisoning from his paints that caused his illness, but there has been no evidence to support this theory and it is genuinely not considered to be valid by historians. Following the recovery from his illness, Goya returned to work for the Spanish Royal Court, becoming named the director of the Royal Academy in 1795.
In the late 1790s in Spain and elsewhere in western Europe, political dissent and social unrest began to build. The French Revolution had reached its peak in 1789, and there the people revolted against the established monarchies and deposed of those in power. This dissent spread to Spain as well, and Goya, despite having been in the employ of the Monarchy, was well in tune with the plights of the common people.
In 1799 he released a series of 80 etchings known collectively as “Los Caprichos” (The Caprices), which is one of the first examples of Goya’s work turning darker. They were designed as social commentary against the rampant corruption, greed, and inequality he saw to draw attention to the struggles of the average Spaniard. These were published and then almost immediately withdrawn due to political pressure. The original printing plates and unsold prints were offered to the King to avoid the wrath of the Inquisition.
Goya’s political dissent began to creep into his “professional” works, as well. In 1800, he painted an official portrait of the Spanish royal family of King Charles IV.
It was well-known, but not publicly discussed, that the Queen was the true head of the household, and to nod to this, she is positioned in the center and larger than the rest of the family. Goya himself is in this portrait, off to the left in the shadows behind the canvas. The queen and her mother (pictured fourth from the left) are depicted as quite ugly, and the whole family has been described as looking like common people who just won the lottery: bewildered and uncomfortable.
In 1808, Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Spain and installed his brother, Joseph, as ruler. Goya, surprisingly, was not cast out with the rest of the royal family and their staff, and continued to paint under Joseph Bonaparte during his seven year rule, until Spanish nobility, under King Ferdinand VII, regained power. King Ferdinand famously quipped to Goya, “you deserve to be garroted, but you are a great artist so we forgive you” and let him keep his position as court painter. Goya was tortured by what he had seen during the fighting and the conditions that the Spanish people were subjected to during the Napoleonic invasion and subsequent retaking of Spain by King Ferdinand during the Peninsular War. Similar to his Los Caprichos series, he released another series of sketches called Los Desastres de la Guerra (The Disasters of War) to depict these horrors with his characteristic sarcasm and cryptic descriptions. Others in this series depicted his dissatisfaction with Ferdinand’s rule, despite the great personal risk in doing so.
With the political climate only getting worse and his health in decline, Goya went into self-imposed exile in Bordeaux, France, in 1824 at the age of 72. He took with him only one servant and became a near recluse in the house that was known as Quinta del Sordo, or the Deaf Man’s Villa. Here he would paint his most famous paintings on the walls of his own house. Without titles and likely never intended for anyone to see, the works that are now known as The Black Paintings (for their technique as well as their subject matter) were never even titled by Goya; their names have all been given by historians. Exploring the subjects of the wars and the inquisitions, many of the Black Paintings had anti-clerical themes and were inspired by the fears brought out during the Inquisition.
One of the most famous of the Black Paintings is The Witches Sabbath, which depicts a goat-headed man wearing priest robes being feared and adored by a group of grotesque witches. At center is a woman wearing what appears to be a white nun’s habit. Mouths in particular are quite prominent in Goya’s works during this time; gaping, drooling, oversized and ugly, they are the center of expression on many of the faces in his scenes. To the right in this painting we see a woman seated in a chair, wearing black, seemingly uninterested and defiant. This painting represents what Goya felt was the cult of superstition whipped up during the Inquisition, the dangerous descent into medieval thinking and the suppression of scientific thought. The “he-goat” represents evil and the fawning witches represent the clerics and nuns in a frenzy over it. The lone dissenting woman represents the last bastion of reason, helplessly overlooking the fray.
Saturn Devouring One Of His Sons is a play on the Greek myth of the titan Saturn (Kronos) who, upon hearing a prophesy that he would be destroyed by one of his children, killed and devoured them as soon as they were born. Here, the eternal Titan represents royalty, and he – fearing his “children” (the common people) will ultimately turn on him, destroys them at their most vulnerable. Again in this piece we see Goya’s use of grotesque facial expressions in the oversized, gaping mouth rending the headless child to pieces.
Goya remained in Bordeaux until his death in 1828. His final works remained in his house for 50 years, until they were carefully removed and transferred to canvas. Works of his are still being discovered to this day, and can be viewed in museums and private collections around the world.
Earthen Grave casts doom metal with a twist: this traditional doom metal in a form very much like Black Sabbath, Pentagram (US) or Witchfinder General adds a virtuoso violin player and occasional touches of high-speed riffing in the style of death metal bands.
Dismal Times (if they named a newspaper after this album, I’d subscribe) powers itself with good ol’ 1970s metal riffs, appropriated detuned and given the mid-paced treatment that made early Cathedral so successful. They rock along, create a groove, and then into it drop dissonant sounds and a slow-down, imitating what it feels like to run into bad news.
The bad news theme continues throughout this album. “Relentless” rips along in the style of Slayer’s South of Heaven, but then stalls into a dark collision of melody, sounding like a day of ambition that ran full-tilt into a morass of oblivion. The violin of Rachel Barton Pine, renowned classical player and life-long metalhead, dips in and out of the music to accent a riff or zip in a quick fill, contrasting the slow churning riffs.
Vocals are of the higher register type that listeners may be familiar with from Pentagram or Witchfinder General. These work to great effect because the guitars are downtuned and slow, allowing the more able vocals and violin to dart around them and flesh out the layers of sound.
Dismal Times will satisfy metalheads because it is something old and something new; it is classic metal riffs, put together in songs with a mid-paced slightly upbeat feel, but it doesn’t lose what makes it doom metal. Instead, it amplifies it, and shows us that the bad news can be fun reading indeed.