Death Metal Underground

Resurrection of the old school spirit in Atlanta, GA

by Brett Stevens
June 20, 2013 –

sadistic_ritual-death_metal_atlanta_georgiaHistory is a big circle, and it’s coming around again. According to the loafers at Creative Loafing Atlanta, Atlanta, GA has resurrected an old school style metal scene.

First, these bands are playing 1985-1995 fodder. Second, they live together and promote each other. Finally, there’s no hint of the nu-core blight that has afflicted metal from 1998 through the present day, which allows these bands to develop their own take on an older sound.

For example, Sadistic Ritual sounds like Kreator…. to a point. Somewhere, they diverge and find their own voice, although as a demo band, they’re still trying to get a handle on that. But the fact is that they’re aping the past in form without aping its content, which separates them from the nu-thrash “revival” that first ripped off 1980s speed metal, then Swedish death metal, and now has moved on to punk.

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6 comments

  • SERIOUS QUESTIONER

    I have a serious question for Brett Stevens:
    Is Speed-Death Metal historically just a transitional style,
    meaning, that late 80s bands gradually moved from Speed Metal
    to Death Metal?, or is it also derivative yet established style as Power Metal is?
    For instance bands like Magnus from Poland or Hellwitch from the US or Invocator from
    Denmark, are they Speed or Death Metal?

    Let’s say that Slayer’s Hell Awaits and Reign in Blood are Death Metal albums.
    Then the music from 80s bands that take those albums as template without
    necessarily ripping them off (too much) is it also Death Metal?

    1. Brett Stevens Post author

      I think it was a transitional style, meaning that it was a tentative hybrid that didn’t last long because most bands went to one side or the other. If you went pentatonic and choppy rhythms, you ended up in speed metal; if you used the new riff textures as more than a contrast, you ended up in an entirely different style, which was death metal or heading toward it. Invocator sounds more speed metal “in spirit” to me than death metal, but I’m not very familiar with their work.

      That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to incorporate a bit of death metal into something else, as you pointed out with the speed metal comment. A 1980s band that imported some Slayer into what was basically speed metal remains basically speed metal. The most interesting cases are Kreator and Destruction, which really were right on the line, but never could really develop a synthesized style and thus totally fell apart at some point (and with more experience, returning to a speed metal outlook, pulled it together several albums later).

  • Annihilation

    Metal’s dead, like other once-pioneering forms of pop music. Doesn’t mean the genre’s now without meaning, or its form without potential – but, apart from really good emulation, the best we can expect is the occasional “exception to the rule” album.

    1. Carg

      This is complete and utter bollocks, though – Metal is alive and well in the underground, even if more “mainstream” attempts are failing. There are solid, inspiring, original works popping up everywhere at the same rate they’ve always come about. The pool of shit surrounding these islands of wonder grows eternally, but despite the foul miasma exuded by the bubbling broth, the true of heart will always find a shore.

      I’m really enjoying this scene’s output. It’s old school, yes, but it has its own feeling, which is distinctly “modern” (i.e. hasn’t been done before?).

      1. Annihilation

        Let me rephrase:

        In the early 90s, there was a period where about 5+ *classic* albums were released a year, innumerable forgotten demos notwithstanding. Since then, what has there been?

        Otherwise, please share. I have encountered only a handful of recent artists that fit your description (and I suspect they differ from yours).

        A great band from Atlanta not mentioned: Living Decay
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSiAYAAJ1cI

        Solid, A- to A material. Not “original”, but excels at replicating and improving on what made stuff like Consuming Impulse and Severed Survival great.

  • Nate

    Man, playing in Sadistic Ritual was a lot of fun. We use to have crazy shows at this one loft that smelled like cat piss that was run by some punks. We had a big rap battle one night after a show which turned into a brawl and we all ended up at a rave next door where the singer for disfigurement got mad as fuck when I called the ladies he was trying to dance with “Old as shit”