These random, gimped releases are held in high regard by high-pitched “metal” critics and core pogo stickers. The Death Metal Underground staff takes it upon themselves to scorn and defile them in the name of all that is good in the metal genre.
Cynic – Focus (1993)
Cynic moved on from the promising death/speed metal of their demos to present a queer techno smorgasbord of random jazz fusion on Focus. Funk bass lines mix with techno beats, speed metal rhythmic riffs, bouncy Pantera grooves, ambient interludes, bluesy guitar leads, and shred solos. Tracks are made up of a bunch of random shit thrown onto a tape and held together loosely in a verse-chorus-verse fashion with a common chorus. Vocal styles are similarly a random conglomeration of castrated choirs, Enya, a vocoder, and rasps. Cynic’s composition is awful, atonal, off-key, and gives the mood of a conga line rather than a death metal head trip through time and space like Demilich‘s Nespithe. Cynic is a turtlenecked Pantera for pudgy Berkeley Jazz Institute douchebags wearing blazers over t shirts with pitiful goatees to add a jawline to their corpulent faces. Without the straightforward single-mindedness of a straight, sober, and strongly heterosexual songwriter such as Chuck Schuldiner, Cynic could never hope to equal their contributions to Death‘s Human.
In Flames – The Jester Race (1996)
The Jester Race is the VH1 version of Slaughter of the Soul. In Flames are not a poorly-done, warmed over Iron Maiden or Artillery; In Flames are the type of lame sing-along lite rock that can otherwise be found on the heavier Motley Crue LPs. The closest comparison I can think of would actually be the speed metal influenced Skid Row – Slave to the Grind but In Flames have more estrogen in their bloodstream. Medical literature reports that listeners testicles retreat into the body cavity upon hearing the opening riff. To make an In Flames album one must merely kidnap five relatively sane beer metal fans in Iron Maiden t-shirts, inject them with potent cocktails of various benzodiazepines, and buy them an afternoon of studio time. The Jester Race is what would result. In Flames were not a band who wanted to kill everyone like Metallica in 1983, rather they were the assholes in Animal House with the acoustic guitar attempting to make New Wave of British Heavy Metal music a few years later for born again Christians. In Flames are the Swedish Stryper.
Lykathea Aflame – Elvenfris (2000)
Lykathea Aflame make slightly more sense than Cynic despite their songs also being completely random; compositions on Elvenfris are usually based around a few, sometimes related, riffs with a rhythmic continuity of sorts backing the ambient mid-song interludes. Lead guitar candy sometimes attempts to tie it all together in heavy metal fashion but never succeeds as Lykathea Alfame play almost completely random, carnival music tekdeaf. Tomas Corn‘s drumming should not be taken as tasteful by the previous comment; rather it is fittingly fluid, bouncing-off-the-wall, batshit insane acid casualty percussion in the manner of Cryptopsy and Absu, which fits the music better than Cynic’s jazz lounge act drumming would. Neither should the leads, which are often completely atonal, shifting into major scales like symphonic cuckholded power metal. The riffing is heavily influenced by Jon Levasseur’s work in Cryptopsy, Central European folk music, and the new age crap favored by Cynic, switching between the three in verse-chorus, soft-hard manner like Opeth, nu-“metal”, and “metal”core. While Lykathea Aflame often have promising ideas, they are never actually well used as the overall mood and music on Elvenfris is that of a schizophrenic, ticked-off Tourette’s sufferer who needs to to be institutionalized. Nobody who pays attention to the music actually being played and arranged could perceive the tracks on Elvenfris as coherent musical compositions of any genre other than free-form fusion bukkake. The flavor savored (Nikki Sixx, Evil D, Metal-Archives autists) will eat this ass up.
Dripping – Disintegration of Thought Patterns During a Synthetic Mind Traveling Bliss (2002)
Dripping are not a lost death metal legend; Disintegration of Thought Patterns During a Synthetic Mind Traveling Bliss sounds like a group of white boy rappers who heard Suffocation and Morpheus Descends, smoked a ton of dope, and decided to make an album full of catchy, proto-deathcore rhythms atop primitive Beherit style riffing. Unfortunately the only thing Dripping were successful at on Disintegration of Thought Patterns During a Synthetic Mind Traveling Bliss is an atmosphere of an acid trip gone wrong similar to Infester but atop random slam songs. Songs mostly go nowhere except for random ambient choruses, hip hop beats, and breakdowns arranged as choruses in a verse-chorus-verse fashion as in nu-metal. Dripping is ultimately a Morpheus Descends for wigger degenerates and Offspring fans.
Stepping slowly past the cold gates of consciousness,
the fact’ry worker waits his release of tension.
From the dark distance, thunder rumbles east to west;
where he goes, he has no need for pretension,
nor for fearful introspection.
From his pocket he removes a blotter,
lifts it to his eyes and solemnly says:
“Oh, my lover, I must spot her,
I am so far from my home, Fez,
that I must soon see, in my mind,
that beut’ful land I left behind!
He swallows soon and grabs his green guitar;
already drop tuned, he is ready for Slipknot.
But for him, his style ranges from near to far;
he adds deep feeling; but, fighting a lot
to refrain from adding serious slam,
he finally snaps: “Let this be not bland!”
Amon Amarth – With Oden on Our Side (2006)
With Oden on Our Side is another Amon Amarth album of mediocre speed metal with riffing incluenced by Metallica, Slaughter of the Soul, and Kreator. Song structures are again rock ‘n’ roll constructions with catchy leads and choruses for drunk frat boys to sing along to. Everything Amon Amarth play here is forgettable, generic, recycled, and nondescript stadium heavy metal. With Oden on Our Side is one of those albums of entirely rehashed filler produced for an experienced band to tour behind and sell something for the label. Listening to it is like reusing tea bags or old coffee grounds found in a trash can. Occasionally riffs are so awful to be metalcore breakdowns as that wasn’t coffee, that was dirt. Amon Amarth ultimately sound like Opeth trying to be Iron Maiden and failing just as hard at playing heavy metal as they did at death metal under the Bloodbath moniker. Amon Amarth need to throw the towel into the shower in hope that they slip on it and crack their skulls open. Being found dead with their brains all over the floor like Dead from Mayhem on the cover of Dawn of the Black Hearts would be the closest Amon Amarth will have ever come to well-written metal music.