Sadistic Metal Reviews 01-26-15

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Sturgeon’s law holds that 90% of everything is mediocre. This condition occurs because most people are not thinking at all about what they are doing. When they want to be important, they create a metal band to make them look important, instead of trying to make good music. With brutal cruelty and ecstatic sadism we separate the poseurs and tryhards from the real deal with Sadistic Metal Reviews

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Collision/The Rotted – Split

Three tracks comprise this aggressive split. Collision leads in with two tracks of rigid, violent grindcore which incorporates a few ideas from percussive death metal to give it additional crush. These tracks keep intensity through speed and chaotic blasting but harbor no surprises in chord progression of phrase, which makes them fun to listen to incidentally but perhaps nothing one would seek out. The Rotted on the other hand slashes out a single track of old-school hardcore with a catchy chorus, extremely rudimentary but melodically hookish riff balanced against a sawing (but not grinding) verse riff, and genre conventions from older punk. Both of these bands aim to uphold the genres they are from and do it competently but when a genre is well-established, every band is a local band until it rises above from some distinctive personality or idiosyncratic perception. They do not need to be “unique,” since such a thing has never really existed, but they must be their own creation. Both bands here feel like minor variations on known archetypes and, while competent, do not inspire particular allegiance. That being said, they both remain enjoyable for that local grindcore/band experience, and together these tracks enhance each other like memories of the set you saw while drinking craft beer and talking up that sexy Facebook consultant at a bar that has changed hands eleven times in the last quarter. It would be interesting to see what these bands did with a longer recording as that would put more pressure on them to differentiate style or at least expand upon it.

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Decline of the I – Rebellion

Someone raised this question the other day: is metalcore a new style, or simply incompetent death metal? After all, we had bands who tried that Pantera-Fugazi-Nasum hybrid stuff in the past and generally it turned out that they were simply terrible songwriters who had no idea how to focus on an idea and bring it to clarity. Similarly, one wonders about “post-metal.” Is this just idiots dressing up garbage and incompetence as the avantgarde, because that’s what the avantgarde really is? Seriously, I’d love to see one of these artists who makes sculptures of his own feces that interpret the metaphysics of Schopenhauer as quantum physics, for once, just for once, make a classically beautiful art work first so I don’t simply think he’s a Damien Hirsch style conjob. Decline of the I is really hilarious when you realize that it thrusts this question upon us. It sounds like stoned desperation with a home studio: random bits of metal songs that went nowhere, stitched together with what every 90s con man used in his band, the sampler. It doesn’t flow in any direction or express anything other than “moments” of perception, like standing on a street corner while two cars collide and a pigeon defecates on a 24-year-old copy of Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Rebellion amalgamates speed metal, death metal and punk riffs together with a bunch of influences outside of metal. There is no continuity, only a series of exhibits like a subway train going through an art gallery. These clowns use the different styles as wallpaper slides to color otherwise empty music and hide the collection of hackneyed tropes made “new” by hackneyed avantgarde tomfoolery and snake oil salesperson confidence jobs. Even the most incompetent ordinary metal band is preferable because its dishonesty is limited to its music, while Decline of the I brings in every posture, pose, pretense and fabrication necessary to make this hacked-up studio defecation seem like music.

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Napalm Death – Apex Predator – Easy Meat

It has often been suspected that bands, when they run out of actual motivation, pick one off the shelf to make themselves seem profound. Their profundity means our guilt if we do not buy the album because we have turned down a great gift to humanity, you dig? But the fact is that they went into the big closet of Hollywood motivations — the poor, the downtrodden, the children, suffering animals, drug addiction and being raped — and pulled out one giant compulsion to make you like their empty music. Napalm Death went down this route when after Fear, Emptiness, Despair guitarist Jesse Pintado embarked on a course of alcoholism so crippling he could not bail out the rest of the band anymore. That is too bad, since Pintado essentially revitalized the band and created three of their best albums with his homegrown grindcore know-how. Ever since then, Napalm Death has been wandering in a wilderness of not giving a damn buuutttt something needs to pay for this condo, so they puke out another album. Apex Predator – Easy Meat takes Napalm Death full cycle from a band that protested pop music to a band that makes the worst of pop. This pretense-pop would be OK if it were good pop, because then we could laugh off the guilt, but instead it is a series of very similar riffs that break into very similar choruses which cycle until the end with a few breaks that are almost visual or high school theater department drama because they are so transparent and obviously manipulative. It was embarrassing to be noticed listening to this because it is not just bad, it is inept; its ineptitude is covered up with rock star glitz and production, but it still sounds hollow and horrifyingly empty. Please, give these guys jobs in media relations because they are done as a band and this embarrassing formalization just removes whatever shreds of self-respect they once had.

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The Chasm – Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm

Although Daniel Corchado is obviously one of the most talented composers in underground metal, The Chasm does not present his best work. The appeal can be immediately seen: epic metal band with lengthy songs that play out internal conflicts in a way the audience can identify with. Under the hood, while there are some touches of DBC-style riffing, what greets us here is the cliches of 1980s speed metal with added progressive-ish fills that demonstrate guitar talent and knowledge of harmony. The songs remain basic when you factor these out, excepting the longer instrumental passages, which also rely on riffs from the past dressed up or lots of rhythmic downpicking that adds little other than keeping a place in the harmony. Additionally, occasionally comical vocals and a number of hackneyed metal stalwarts mar this release, but the real crisis here is the lack of interesting riffs, the shamminess of the songs in dressing up the mundane as exotic, and the coup de grace which is the inability of this album or its songs to convey an emotional experience outside of the music itself. They resemble nothing other than constant variations in a style of technical speed metal riffing that bands like Anacrusis made great by putting around evocative songs, but the latter part is missing here. Individual moments shine with the brilliance that can be expected of Corchado, and moments in songwriting show insight. The problem is that there needs to be more of the random or evocative in riffs, which would allow Corchado’s song structure ideas to take on significance, and less of the highly talented progressive tinged touches that are impressive on a guitar-playing level but compositionally, serve the role of filler. On the whole, this album resembles the kind of tuned-up musical entropy that all of us ran to death metal to escape around 1989 or so.

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Edge of Haze – Illumine

In theory, this should be hated: a hybrid of Gothic music, power metal and djent-inspired percussive speed metal. In reality, Edge of Haze restore balance to these genres by putting them in the right context. Speed metal is the hard rock of the 2010s, thirty years after its release, and updating it with a smary 1980s Gothic pop vocal and power metal “inspirational” choruses gives it the right context as the popular music of the age. It may be cheesy, as one might expect from these populist niche genres, but Edge of Haze seems at least comfortable in its own skin and the removal of the usual death metal vocals gives this album both greater levity and a greater intensity, as well as removing the crowding effect of harsh monotonic vocals. In addition, this re-introduces the voice as a melodic instrument which allows guitars to focus purely on rhythm and rudiments of harmony without losing direction to a song. Edge of Haze executes this hybrid well by capturing the dark pop aspects of Gothic and creating for them a framing of boldly abrasive metal that runs the gamut of styles from the last three decades without creating an oil-on-water effect by having those styles dominant the rhythm and song structure for a segment so that other parts seem like extra organs in a cadaver, puzzling the drunken pathologist at 4 AM as he files the report on the latest Jane Doe. Edge of Haze present something as intense as nu-metal but with a darker aesthetic that carries more gravitas than the dad-hating victimhood affirmation that nu-metal conveyed, also removing the rap/rock beats and making a form of popular metal that can be not only relatively heavy, but have a grace of beauty in darkness, and still write some quality pop songs. Aesthetically, this makes my skin crawl; musically, it is well-done and should be praised for putting this style of music in the context it warrants and deserves.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qw8qJedbrjA

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23 thoughts on “Sadistic Metal Reviews 01-26-15”

  1. ODB says:

    Way too harsh on The Chasm. Their talent and beauty in my opinion has always been taking the simplest of elements and creating something evocative on a grander scale. Farseeing… was the path they were leading down to all their careers and while it doesn’t uproot Deathcult.. as my favourite album, it’s still a pretty damned good underground metal album.

    1. Deaf says:

      I agree. “the inability of this album or its songs to convey an emotional experience outside of the music itself” strikes me as particularly strange. The Chasm has always utilized basic elements and turned them into something greater, which here seems to be seen as “shamminess of the songs in dressing up the mundane as exotic”.

      It comes down to the view held on this site that heavy and speed metal are inferior to death and black metal.

      1. fenrir says:

        Wrong!

        It doesn’t come down to that.

        This seems to be a comprehension problem between those who see what is behind the form and those who see critique of form as just that: critique of the surface, the aesthetics. The critique of the form in this site is done by poking at what is behind it, unlike other sites which only poke at the aesthetics themselves.

        The SMR dedicated to it might not be enough for a thorough explanation, which is why those who love the album unreasonably will jump in indignation and say there is no justification behind this. A full review by someone with insight and deep familiarity with the album (may I suggest Uri O’Reilly) might shed light on the subject in a more convincing manner. Unlike the other albums in a typical SMR, I think Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm fully deserves this attention as it is an underground cult favorite that should be put in its rightful place.

        1. Deaf says:

          I do see the content, I’ve barely ever worried myself too much about surface traits alone. I also happen to like a lot of older heavy and speed metal along with the kind of death and black metal usually spoken about here. While it’s usually pointless if not done right, I think there is a place for the kind of mixture of styles, infusion of speed metal tropes in death metal, that bands like The Chasm, Ares Kingdom etc. play – and that right there is a differing point, possibly. Beyond that, I’m most pleased by what I find in this band’s music and the listening through of some of their albums is a cherished experience akin to sitting down for a soul-probing, intense discussion leading up to realizations. But that doesn’t mean I’ll jump in indignation, though I might say there is little anyone could say that might convince me as sufficient justification at this point. It would be interesting to read what that had to say, anyway.

        2. ODB says:

          But fenrir, I feel that the SMR and you are the ones missing the forest for the trees in this case! I would love to read opposing views on the album, I really would, but to call The Chasm music for lifting weights is doing it a great disservice. Bolt Thrower is lifting music, Cannibal Corpse is lifting music. The Chasm’s graver yet unmanufactured aspect itself demands far more attention. It contains so many of the attributes that DMU/ANUS has traditionally credited to good metal over the years that it’s a bit of a surprise to see it panned in this manner. But yes, a more comprehensive review would be most welcome.

    2. fenrir says:

      You see, The Chasm has never been THAT good.
      They are cool, they make some interesting, fun and really honest music. But they don’t really reach the highest refinement and clarity. You are right, they made *good* underground metal albums. Good, but not THAT good. OK albums.

      And I for one think that their earlier material is better than their latter. Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm is great when lifting weights, but it is quite flat and pointless if you sit down and actually pay attention to it.

      You should stick to Cenotaph. More content and less waste of words. Which is what you see The Chasm do a lot. It becomes ALMOST wallpaper at times, especially in their longer songs.

  2. fenrir says:

    Exactly what I think of The Chasm and that particular album.

  3. PLEASE INSERT BIG COCK says:

    Any feelings or opinions on French ambient darkwave band DARK SANCTUARY ?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puu3fzQGMFY

    It is not exactly Winglord because it aims for pleasant emotions but it’s a good find I think.

  4. Richard Head 9002 says:

    What are Napalm Death’s best releases? I don’t know their history enough to figure which albums were being referred to in the review. I know Harmony Corruption and Scum are both good but get tired after a while. Their split with SxOxBx has killer tracks from both bands. Weird that they started to suck so much later in life. The flame of youth was extinguished, I guess.

    1. Mentally Murdered

      Fear, Emptiness, Despair

      1. Richard Head 9002 says:

        Thanks.

  5. Ara says:

    I too had a hard time with that new Chasm, which was surprising since it got such rave reviews elsewhere. It seemed more texture based and less riffy. But they are awesome live.

    1. abc123 says:

      You’re a great guy ara. Please stick around.

      1. Ara says:

        Scanning for sarcasm…it’s clean!

        1. abc123 says:

          Yeah dude, do stick around my genital area. Ha !

  6. parasite says:

    Mentally murdered is the absolute best. If only they did another full length in that style.

    Harmony corruption suffers from that bland ass Scotty burns production yuuuuck!

    1. Richard Head 9002 says:

      Production doesn’t bother me as much as the riffs. They sound like what a hardcore band thinks death metal bands play.

  7. parasite says:

    And fear emptiness and despair has try hard vocals. Not nearly as corrosive as the earlier stuff.

  8. Susa says:

    Seriously, I’d love to see one of these artists who makes sculptures of his own feces that interpret the metaphysics of Schopenhauer as quantum physics, for once, just for once, make a classically beautiful art work first so I don’t simply think he’s a Damien Hirsch style conjob.

    The master can break the form; if you never bother to learn how to make the form you are worse than a hack.
    And I believe it is Damien Hirst you mean, just marvel at this profound imagery.
    http://www.damienhirst.com/mother-and-child-divided-1

  9. wEEman33 says:

    The Chasm’s latest CD reminds me of Dark Angel’s “Time Does Not Heal” in how it uses about a hundred more riffs than are necessary to create a compelling speed metal album.

    There are maybe thirty good riffs combined on both of those discs. But each one just gets used and thrown away so quickly that you don’t get any chance to appreciate them.

    The overwhelming majority of riffs on those two albums have no personalty and go absolutely nowhere.

    “Conjuration of the Spectral Empire” is The Chasm’s best work by far. The songwriting is extremely fluid and the riffs/melodies are much more memorable.

  10. Linux or Death says:

    Is The Chasm dismissed completely or is it just this album that is not good? I have been trying to get into this band for a long time because of all the praise they get but I simply don’t get it.

    1. Fire Agate says:

      The problem I had with this band is that the songwriting isn’t that good, so they dress up the music with tricks. The earlier albums had too many instrumental parts that seemed meandering, than the later albums ditched all of that and used these emotional riffs. I got suckered into them because of those emotional riffs, but when you sit down and listen to the music like Fenrir said, there really isn’t anything there.

    2. Juancho says:

      That particular album is a bit disappointing considering some of their past efforts, but the band should not be dismissed as a whole. Brett and his crew may not like The Chasm very much, but Devamitra, the former writer/editor of this website, and his pals really gave the band the credit they deserve, as you can read in this insightful article: http://www.deathmetal.org/zine/under-a-toltec-moon-memories-on-mexican-metal/#chasm

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