Diocletian – Doom Cult

One of the most well known of the close-knit and virile New Zealand death/black scene, Kiwi act Diocletian‘s full length falls and fits clearly within the war metal sound as was pioneered by Blasphemy, and taken to a more nihilist, apocalyptic climax by fellow Canadians, Conqueror and their suceeding act, Revenge.

Structurally, the songs of Diocletian adhere to the musical formulas that define Canadian death/black metal hybrids, but the production whilst still raw, is not as lo-fi and has more streamlined engineering on the guitars and drums, with the bass guitar playing, an unlikely rarity in such high intensity music, thankfully audible. Barked, roaring vocals commonplace within this niche of metal predominate Doom Cult. The tonal quality of the guitars whilst not trebly are less bass-heavy than what you would expect from an Revenge or Sacramentary Abolishment record, is of enough clarity to possess a harmonic distinction that has a similar quality to a less Norse-influenced Demoncy, and even draws a parallel to the first full length by Profanatica. To add to this, a similarity that vaguely resembles the Cut Your Flesh And Worship Satan album by Antaeus is present, in that nuances of distortion and feedback, samples of a warlike nature are used to build and intensity the framework of the album.

Along with a savage execution and great understanding of the pattern language that informs this style of music, Diocletian put forth an excellent full length.

-Pearson-

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Glorious Times: A Pictorial History of the Death Metal Scene 1984-1991

Glorious Times: A Pictorial of the Death Metal Scene (1984-1991) presents a retrospective of the early death metal scene, written by the bands themselves, and edited by Alan Moses (Buttface Zine) and Brian Pattison (Chainsaw Abortions Zine). If you want to see what the early bands were thinking, doing and how they helped invent death metal, this original book gives you a window into the past and future of death metal.

Here’s my original review of the book from August 6, 2010:

When Kontinual lent me his copy of this great book, I had no idea what I was in for. It’s not a retrospective and not so much a nostalgia swipe as an attempt to preserve the past of the death metal genre through the words of the musicians who created it.

Outside of an introduction by Laurent Ramadier, the book is entirely composed of short retrospectives written by the bands themselves. Some are apologetic and wistful, others charging ahead full of verve, and still others factual or like the odd literary piece by Revenant’s Henry Veggian, insights into the mentality of those days.

It doesn’t make sense to group this book in with other death metal books like Choosing Death or Lords of Chaos, which attempt to analyze and formulate a coherent single narrative for the evolution of the genre. Instead, this is primary research material, with each essay providing approximately a short interview’s worth of primary source material for the growth of the death metal underground.

Compiled by Alan Moses (BUTTFACE ‘zine) and Brian Pattison (CHAINSAW ABORTIONS ‘zine), this half-folio tome brings out the best in death metal, including introductions to a veritable treasure trove of early partial evolutions of death metal. If you want a shopping list for the most obscure neo-death out there, get a pad and paper before you read this.

Printed in an initial run of 150 copies, the book will be heading back for a reprint soon. In the meantime, here’s the list of bands who contributed material:

  • Autopsy
  • Paineater
  • Deicide
  • Baphomet/Banished
  • Groovy Aardvark
  • Sepultura
  • Prime Evil
  • Brutality
  • Master/Abomination/Death Strike
  • Nuclear Death
  • Hellwitch
  • Malevolent Creation
  • Vomit
  • Death
  • Derketa
  • Cannibal Corpse
  • Deceased
  • Massacre
  • Insanity
  • Disharmonic Orchestra
  • Possessed
  • Incubus/Opprobrium
  • Revenant
  • Massappeal
  • Unseen Terror
  • Lethal Aggression
  • Incantation
  • Tirant Sin
  • Morbid Angel
  • Hideous Mangleus
  • Dream Death
  • Nocturnus
  • Ripping Corpse
  • Soothsayer
  • Acheron
  • Where’s The Pope?
  • Napalm Death

It will be great to see this book hit the racks for the long term, because it’s chock full of raw material for anyone curious as to the birth of death metal, the underground, and the related genres that spawned from the raw ferment of metallic anguish in that era.

For more information, consult the blog about the book, or its myspace.

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“Heavy metal is tribal music”

Someone finally explained heavy metal in terms simple enough for the nodding nobodies to comprehend:

Biff Byford, lead singer of 1980s heavy metal behemoths Saxon, is preaching to convert the non- ferrous among us to his cause. “Heavy metal is a tribal music and everyone is a member of the tribe,” he explains.

A wistful look passes across the features of a man memorably described by one critic as “the dray horse of heavy metal”. “The music’s not about love,” he adds, warming to his theme. “Our songs are more about Richard the Lionheart, steel trains and thunder. But when you do click with a big audience, it can be quite an experience, a massive connection… I suppose you could say it is a religious experience in a way.” – The Independent

As some people have been saying for years, metal is the one true alternative in pop culture — most of pop culture is about the individual and its desires, and the ethic of convenience that accompanies them. Don’t do the right thing — do what feels good! Ignore history, we’re inventing a new regime! One for the people, by the people, about the people. And when we gain power, and throw out those bad old fuddies with their social standards, everything will be totally awesome!

Heavy metal is the opposite. It minimizes the individual, and reduces you to the role of one in a tribe. It de-emphasizes the now, and replaces it with a broader view of history. It makes desires secondary to quests, goals and heroic struggles. It’s the anti-pop-culture, or the counter-counterculture. It’s a war against all of the illusions that allow our modern time to be corrupt. You can’t fight a corrupt society with flower power, pacifism and universal tolerance.

You can fight it by taking a look at reality for once, which is what heavy metal does. And because we’re the oddballs, we are the tribe of those who drop out of the “consensual reality” created by media, social pressures, advertising, government propaganda and what the crowd is talking about. We look at hard reality, fire and iron and blood, instead. While we may look like the other drop-outs, space-outs and individualists from the outside, we are in fact made of different stuff.

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Hayaino Daisuki – The Invincible Gate Mind of the Infernal Fire Hell, or Did You Mean Hawaii Daisuki?

Hayaino Daisuki – The Invincible Gate Mind of the Infernal Fire Hell, or Did You Mean Hawaii Daisuki?

Although this band is hipster fodder because everything they do is ironic, and it’s out-of-the-closet postmodern in that method of finding narratives in randomness that has been trendy since Joyce, I find it excusable because their music resembles the ranting of an abused child. No, in a good — well, maybe not good but a mixed bag — maybe in a way that’s half good and half horrible.

I don’t want to listen to it again because it’s screeching and annoying, but I think it valid as music and art, and you shouldn’t care what I think, anyway. The really good record reviewer is not a personality engine but as close to transparent as you can get, by using their own personality as an obvious, visible, repetitive filter and thus one you can Photoshop out of your mind to get the gist of what you want to see in each record.

But back to the record: on the surface this is blister speed grindcore with some of the comic circus of random influences that made bands like Mr Bungle and Fantomas so annoying, but here it’s moderate. Most of this is straight ahead grindcore, or I should say, in grindcore format. Underneath it are nursery rhymes and children’s songs, in this case hidden (think steganography) within the fertile ground of 1980s sentimental metal like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest or Queensryche. Except here, they’re played at sixty times the speed.

That speed ruins drumming as an instrument, and backgrounds bass most of the time, and reduces vocals to a timekeeper with some nuance, which lets the guitars sing. And the guitars are singing a song of a child alone who has maybe thirty minutes a day when he listens to Iron Maiden and dreams of being on stage, or maybe of being a powerslave in Ancient Egypt or being a WWII flying ace. Escapism collides with an unyielding, high intensity, too-fast-to-be-anything-but oblivious reality here.

The riffs are good, by the way, like what a creative child might do; they’re cut from archetypes you recognize, mostly NWOBHM and speed metal, but with enough of their own interpretation to be quality. They fit together. Songs masquerade as chromatic blasting chaos but underneath a melody sneaks out, like a fantasy you dare not name.

And as your civilization crumbles, as you go off today to another boring job and to spend time with insincere frenemies and business associates who wouldn’t dust you off if you died, through streets of glowing neon hawking products for morons, you should think: is humanity the kicked child? How would its inner voice of clarity gain retribution, or breathing space, as the world presses on ever faster because it’s in denial and never wants to slow down and face the obvious.

The kind of thing a child would see, a kicked child maybe. Maybe it’s irrelevant in this case that hipsters like this band to be ironic; a big part of me thinks the joke is on them and big, ugly and mean in a way they will never understand. I hope they play more of this on the radio because it throws back at our time exactly the kind of crap it throws at us every day, except someone snuck in a counter-virus, and this one is the hope of a youngster for the moments of beauty and clarity found in the stadium heavy metal of years past.

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Metalbolical Compilation Volume 1

Metalbolical Compilation Volume 1

1. Equinox – Night of Churchyard Watcher

Florida death metal with a tiny bit of groove, like a cross between Massacre and Cadaver, this track grows from a a verse/chorus loop with infectious chant-rhythm vocals into Exodus-style speed metal. The rather straightforward nature of these riffs may make it hard for this band to carve a niche for themselves.

2. Seeking Obscure – Battle of the Undead

Reminiscent of a slower and more brooding Deicide, this one-man band writes strong but non-distinctive riffs that would echo the infectious vocal rhythm, but this in turn reduces internal tension between instruments in the song and consequently, development of the song itself over time.

3. Waxen – I Claim Your Throne

This unabashedly sentimental heavy metal cloaks itself in death metal, then black metal, and finally brings out its true soul, a Dissection/Judas Priest style band with lots of lead rhythm guitar riffs showing off chops that get lost in a song that does not develop much beyond its initial ideas. Add to that the vocals that resemble a chihuahua with a head cold and you can see how confused this approach is.

4. Unburied – Domicile of flesh

Coming to us from the death metal styles of the mid-1990s, this song is half bouncing riffs reminiscent of a more organic version of what Six Feet Under does, and the other half is charging two-chord riffs. If you can imagine a sped up, groovier and more porn/gore-obsessed version of Mortician, the essence of this band takes form in your mind.

5. Archaic Winter – Colors of Despair

This band is at its peak when it sticks to fast death metal riffs that come in clusters of two complementary phrases and a melodic fill, and while the song structure doesn’t evolve much, it varies just enough to bring the mood to a closure. This track suffers from some confusion as to how to stick to the style at which this band is best.

6. Toby Knapp – Polarizing Lines

If you took Joe Satriani and Dissection and put them together in a goofy, over-the-top package like Iron Maiden, you would see the essence of shredder Toby Knapp’s style (he’s also in Waxen). The entire song is like a solo divided into a series of motifs that evolve briefly and then repeat, leaving us without the sense of vast emotional conflict and resolution that made Satriani’s solo albums reviewer favorites. Knapp might do best with some supporting musicians to help shape his raw energy with less musically precise riffing.

7. Dyngyr – Scourge

Reminiscent of other carnival metal bands like Tartaros, this raw black metal with keyboards band manages to keep a basic surging rhythm but throws in too many divergent impulses to tie them all together, creating a riff salad that because its riffs are so similar in rhythm, represents a rotation through different views of the same basic idea. The result is a fun roller coaster that is not particularly memorable afterwards.

8. Onward – Beyond the Strong

As if anticipating that only a few years later, men would stand on stage in tights with guitars and sing about Odin as part of the folk-metal movement that birthed out of black metal, Onward get out there with the old school NWOBHM and speed metal riffs and a soulful, bittersweet vocal track. This is well composed and unabashed in its worship of metal past, like a more hopeful version of In Battle but too pouring out its soul for most power metal listeners to take at face value.

9. Serpent Son – False Hope for Survival

This credible death metal offering aims to throw out many different riffs without them becoming divergent, in the style of bands like Demigod or Pestilence, and succeeds to a degree although many of its melodies use too many connecting notes to unleash their inner atmosphere and subtlety. Instead of throwing in everything but the kitchen sink, they need to refine what they have so its interplay keeps the song intense and growing throughout.

10. Fetid Zombie – Pleasures of the Scalpel

Reminiscent of where Deceased took their music, this band works hard to disguise old school British heavy metal as American guttural goregrind. It’s pounding, chortling, gurgling, burping, crepitating madness until you realize the underpinning riffs are jaunty melodic middle fingers at common sense, similar to Gwar.

11. Nepente – Red Suns

Raw riffing meets interesting combinations of those riffs to make a dark atmosphere that submerges us in repetition made unexpected by changes in context. If you ever wondered what a hybrid of Von and Mortem might sound like, this is a good candidate.

12. Unearthed Corpse – Stench of your Decayed Blood

Ultra-basic death metal in the older style like Master meeting Malevolent Creation, this simple but catchy song uses a few riffs to good effect, pounding out a very similar verse/chorus pattern and then opening a sonorous transitional riff like a wormhole. Reminiscent of early Insidious Decrepancy.

13. Killing Addiction – Thresholds

This theatrical take on the mayhem of old school death metal combines slow necrotic riffing of the style Morpheus Descends made with the upbeat variations of post-Suffocation percussive death metal bands, challenging themselves with tempo changes that remind me of cats leaping between vehicles moving in different lanes of a superhighway. Like their undernoticed “Omega Factor” from 1993, this track has potential but suffers from dominating vocals and messy production.

14. Unit 100 – Bring Me the Circular Time Collapse

Of all the Toby Knapp projects in existence, this one provides the most interesting outlook because it mixes metal genres so fluidly, pacing Fallen Christ style chromatic riffing against avantgarde stylings reminiscent of Supuration. It’s enjoyable to see how the band hold them together and then blend them, creating a confusing musical experience that lingers in the mind after it has passed by, even if aesthetically the mix of stadium rock, Iron Maiden, death metal, crossover and progressive rock is too much of a buffet and not enough of a main course.

You can get this comp for $2 from Metalbolic Records. This is an older compilation, and volumes 2-3 are now available as well for the same price.

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Cryptopsy – Blasphemy Made Flesh

Pre-1994 Death Metal’s dystopian discharge of sobering glimpses into the eschewed nature of reality left in its wake veritable visions of death, fire and unprecedented destruction. Given the release date of Blasphemy Made Flesh, we conclude that this album best represents a near last ditch effort on the part of the primordial fire that is death metal to burn with the glory of years past amidst an ominous yet inevitable decline in quality.

A refreshingly explosive album, the intensity of Blasphemy Made Flesh reveals an unrelenting desire to exhume much of the prerequisite spirit necessary to create a genuine death metal record. Exuberant, joyful and multifaceted Blasphemy Made Flesh employs indefatigably demented and blistering motifs and phrases to create omniscient and nihilistic visions of the perennial struggle between victim and victimizer. In so doing the listener is effectively reminded of this one eternal fact- that wolves lie in wait among the unsuspecting. Exploited down stroke technique combined with the resulting texture compounds this experience leaving one with the impression of being violated both physically and mentally with a blunted weapon. Left battered and bruised the listener is urged to synthesize and understand the presented raging struggles and their psychological implications.

However, despite the pummeling and crushing riff-work an acknowledged necessity of contrast is utilized to create ambiguous moods of contemplation from whence the deranged seemingly view the hideous work wrought upon their most recent victim. In addition to this, the rhythmically dynamic nature of this record fosters the development of a structurally complex album as Cryptopsy utilize a tactful rhythmic precision that through its capacity to delicately change the complexion of motifs, somewhat rivals the expert precision of Suffocation. It is in fact here that we discover much of the vaunted complexity of Cryptopsy, where motifs are manipulated via rhythmic dynamics, and while this may come across as tedious and perhaps overused to some, such technique creates an interesting layer of ever shifting context which listeners are challenged to follow and to interpret. These elements combined with an esoteric yet absurd and morbid sense of melody make this album a twisted and cryptic work whose seemingly contradictory elements point to higher level from whence this work must be contemplated. Although some tracks lack a consistently coherent narrative and may seem erratic at times, expert use of technique, brutality and vision combined with a haughty and commendable sense of ambition makes this work enduring and enjoyable.

-TheWaters-

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Ray Miller (Metal Curse zine) wins Bloodstock T-shirt competition

Many of you know Ray Miller from Cursed Productions, Metal Curse zine and the death metal band Adversary:

Bloodbath is very pleased to announce Ray Miller from Elkhart, Indiana, USA as the winner of our Bloodbath over Bloodstock t-shirt competition. Blakkheim and Mikael hard a real hard time picking the winner out of so many great submissions but finally managed to come to a decision. Blakkheim had the following to say: “The reason why we picked this design to be the winner is simply because it looks like it was dragged out of a closet that hasn’t been opened since 1990! It pays tribute to rest in festering slime after the bloodbath over bloodstock!!!!” – Bloodstock

Congratulations, fellow old-schooler. May many a corpse be sodomized in the presence of this tshirt!

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Hell’s Headbangers Compilation Volume 3

Hell’s Headbangers Compilation Volume 3

1-2. Destruktor – Embrace the Fire/Nailed: At the core of this band beats a heart of NWOBHM sensibilities, although it is enwrapped in a melodic death metal influenced power metal shell, like Seance covering Helstar covering Holocaust.

3-4. Shackles – Coiled in Sin/Iron Crosses: Continuing the NWOBHM theme, this band come have come straight out of industrial England during the mid-1970s except for the fast strumming and death metal vocals; these are anthemic, heavy-hitting tunes that are easy to hum. Fans of Judas Priest’s “Painkiller” take note — this band uses a similar mix of fast riffs and dramatic anthemic choruses.

5. Trench Hell – Southern Cross Ripper: This track could have come off a Diamond Head record, and shares a more intense version of the sensibility that band shared with Metallica and Blitzkrieg, in that this is high speed NWOBHM with melodic underpinnings and lots of fast strumming like the first Metallica album.

6-8. Dishammer – Bomb In the Womb/Smoke Of Death/Wish Of Suffering: No compilation would be complete without a Discharge tribute band, and an unusually metalish one here. The first track uses the same riff that graced not only Discharge but vaulted Disfear to prominence as the premiere track on “Soul Scars,” and other tracks are similar, probably best described as Discharge with small doses of Carcass and Autopsy in the rhythm section.

9-10. Manticore – Our Will Is His/Feast Of The Beast: This speed metal/black metal hybrid exceeds most USBM by keeping true to an idea per song, but gets lost in developing those ideas, so you end up with circular songwriting like the waning days of bands like Destruction, Artillery, Assassin and Nuclear Assault.

11-12. Profanatica – Black Cum/Christs Precious Blood Poisoned: Backing away from the more complex and melodic style of “Profanatitas de Domonatia,” Profanatica attempt to relive the days of their split with Masacre by reducing their music to its bare elements, but in doing so, lose a lot of their momentum. We don’t love you for making basic offensive statements, Mr. Ledney, we love you for making idiot savant metaphors of great clarity, both musical and lyrical.

13-14. Havohej – Kembatinan Premaster/Pious Breath: These tracks continue the Havohej experimentation from “Man and Djinn” that involves sampling noise to use in lieu of guitar, by using it like guitar. The difference isn’t great from standard black metal attic production of intense distortion, but the songs while ritualistic are mostly repetitive and never achieve the distinctive song structures of early Profanatica.

15-16. Arphaxat – Potrait D’un Pretre Debauche/Le Pacte Diabolique: This band makes another attempt to approach black metal as if it were a 1980s genre, taking a hybrid of Angelcorpse and Funeral Mist and giving it the distinctive percussion and catchy choruses of middle 1980s speed metal like Sodom.

17. Hunters Moon – A Light In the Abyss: Seemingly inspired by the first Immortal and second Burzum albums, this track consists of a trudging part, and a sweeping melodic part that resembles both “Call of the Wintermoon” and “Snu Mikrokosmos Tegn.” It’s not bad but the song doesn’t grow from this state, just cycles until it works itself up enough for a small explosion and foot-tapping, fist-pumping final chorus.

18-19. Atomizer – A Song to Swing To/All Disfigured and Blue: One of the more unusual things to cross my desk, these two tracks sound like The Smiths doing their version of a tribute to later Bathory; on both the vocals lead each piece like a small opera, with black metal and heavy metal riffs duking it out for support. Not everyone will like the style but this is a far more sensible direction for an indie/metal hybrid to take than the wishy-washy metalcore-cum-shoegaze/emo crap they’re pumping out of the US Northeast.

20. Atomic Aggressor – Bloody Ceremonial: During the early days of death metal, there were more bands that took this approach where a chanting hoarse voice entirely guides the music, so that an infectious rhythmic chant organizes the guitars and drums around it instead of being an instrument supporting the guitars. The problem is that this reduces music to a chant and compresses the development of the rest of the song.

21-23. Nunslaughter – Born In Hell/Power of Darkness/You Bleed: Nunslaughter is basic death metal with a heavy punk influence, a lot like Master but uptempo and charging like the first Death album. These tracks seem to be taken from different recordings and vary in quality, but expect ripping two chord riffs and hummable choruses.

You can get this CD from Hell’s Headbangers Records for free with any order. In their words, “FREE CD IN EVERY ORDER (included upon request – only valid for orders containing CDs, Vinyl, Shirts & Tapes). Simply add it to your shopping cart, you will not be charged any postage cost.” In addition, all Hell’s Headbangers compilations are streaming free online at the HHR website.

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July 21st 2010 – Inquisition, Vancouver, Canada

Situated at the edge of the notorious East Hastings St., where the filth and grime of Vancouver gravitates, the little dive bar known as Funky Winker Beans was to play host to the Columbian black metal duo, Inquisition. While it usually boasts a motley crowd of hipsters and various scenesters, tonight it would be assaulted by a crew decoratively attired in combat boots, bullet belts, balaclavas, even fur hunting caps (the guys in Blasphemy also made their appearance).  Contrasting the sickness of the outside locale with a barbarity of our own, the environment was quite prepared for the night’s festivities.

Radioactive Vomit

Opening the show, Radioactive Vomit seized the stage with an appropriate aggression, advancing forth into standard blasting war metal procedure. Obviously not set out to transcend the bounds of convention in the immediate future, this band nevertheless play a competent grinding affair in the vein of post-Blasphemy black metal, perhaps being more inclined to the singular darkness of Archgoat. One cannot accuse Radioactive Vomit of progressing beyond the first dimension of musical creation, but that straight-forward imitation proved to be the perfect formula for introducing the forthcoming acts.

Mitochondrion

The second of three B.C. bands playing tonight, Mitochondrion are a three-piece hailing from the province’s capital, Victoria. Instead of simply marching in the solid tradition of their metal forebears in the Ross Bay Cult, Mitochondrion elect to string together an articulate death metal that is actually quite unique in its vision, in its titanic aura that exudes some nefarious mystery. The ‘typical’ Mitochondrion track moves from an incessant vocal and percussive onslaught to a period of reflection and meditation, and then to a relentless storm that finishes in a brilliant rush of deep, throaty riffing and climactic songwriting. At times doomy, at others ferocious, Mitochondrion are a nascent band that has already advanced far in their development, which showed tonight in their surprisingly long performance (I believe that they had the longest set of the night). Mature and uncompromising, Mitochondrion were in full control, giving us a death metal that was as intelligent as it was brutal; despite a slight sound problem with the guitars, there was never a flagging moment throughout their lengthy show.

Gyibaaw

Crawling out from the frigid bitterness of Prince George, Gyibaaw descended upon the city in direct support of Inquisition, headed by lead guitarist J. Pahl who masterminded the entire tour. While not entirely death metal, black metal, nor entirely ‘war metal’ either, Gyibaaw are quite successful in not succumbing to ‘clonedom’, being able to combine elements from the past and make them into something that fits what they are trying to accomplish. A band that could probably be best described as ‘organic’, Gyibaaw summoned their brand of ‘Tsimshian war metal’ with a natural candour, playing with a fervent conviction that spoke to the youth and the spirit of the performers. Although they played a somewhat shorter set, we were not at all disappointed with the talent and the charisma that makes a band like Gyibaaw worth experiencing.

Inquisition

Image DetailMost would think that a bassist is an indispensable component of any metal band; Inquisition disagree. Far from the average live band, these two Columbians consider themselves quite adequate at performing between themselves, minus a bassist, despite their reliance on a strong rhythm section, something which was notably present during their ‘ritual’. The music of Inquisition is fairly straightforward, with a steady, pulsing rhythm occasionally giving space for an eerie melody to shine through the tempest; it is simple, almost formulaic, but the key timing and the pure quality of the melodies are what really gives life to the compositions. Anyway, the most important thing for Inquisition to accomplish in the live setting is to invoke a real sense of the ritual, to make manifest the strong feeling of darkness prevalent throughout their post-thrash metal albums. With an identifiable aura of black villainy (achieved using only the scarcest amount of corpse paint), and with a loud, flawless manipulation of their respective instruments (irrespective of the audience’s cries of ‘get a bassist!’), Dagon and Incubus succeeded in demonstrating the nocturnal power of their music through the medium of stage, conquering any doubts that might have been made along the way. On a more personal note, I was most pleased to hear a favourite of mine played, namely, ‘Empire of Luciferian Race‘, off of the seminal Into the Infernal Regions of the Ancient Cult album. Although it ended up being a bit of a shorter set, Inquisition nevertheless came out strong, and, with at least one new song amidst a number of staples, surely made lasting impressions upon everyone in the audience, bassist or no bassist.

-Xavier-

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Compilation: Destruction of the Heavenly Realms Volume VI

Deathgasm records, like most old school labels before it, puts out a low-cost compilation of the bands on the label or distributed by the label. Their sixth volume of the series contains some of the newer and more exciting metal in the old school style.

Various Artists – Destruction of the Heavenly Realms: Volume VI

1. Diabolic – Evil in Disguise: This is charging death metal that most resembles a cross between Mortem and Vader; the song has two main riffs with budget riff variations, a blistering solo, and doesn’t vary its high intensity drive.

2. Infinitum Obscure – Messenger of Chaos, I: Combining Dissection/Sacramentum style melodic metal with instrumentally adept American power metal like Helstar, Infinitum Obscure come up with a winding, pleasant tune that still manages quite a few martial rhythms.

3. Azarath – Invocation: Blending ripping fast-forward war metal of the Angelcorpse variety with bluesy solos and high speed fills like technical modern death metal bands, Azarath keeps the approach of an older speed/death metal band like Destruction but with updated technique.

4. Nominon – Undead Beast: Despite all the death metal trimmings, this track is basically later Sodom — complete with ultra-catchy chorus and noodly solos — updated with a bit of the slick pop trimmings the Swedes do so well, which makes it easy to listen to but hard to want to hear again.

5. Avenger – The Birth of Muse: Unsung because of low drama, Avenger created the template that all Slavic droning black metal uses, and like a better version of Drudkh or Nokturnal Mortum this song cruises through abrupt riffs and high-contrast, loping beats with fluttering melodic riffs to match. Good but not exciting.

6. Kult Ofenzivy – Jaky jsem nalezl Duvod?: High speed simple melodic riffs under a croaking black metal vocal like Immortal, with songwriting like a simplified Gorgoroth or Emperor, this band makes pleasant noise that varies little between start and finish.

7. The New Plague – Welcome to the End: Fast melodic black/death with riffs that pick a basic chord progression and then work around it with longer phrases to escape the inevitability of such an obvious approach; as a result, this seems to be evading whatever truth it wanted to convey, although its competent songwriting includes humor.

8. Semargl – Cult of the Crucified: People compare this band to Emperor, but it makes more sense to say they’re a lot like Kreator with keyboards and black metal riffs, but a bouncier, less furtive version. Many of these riffs have been a staple of melodic death metal bands for fifteen years and haven’t gotten better.

9. Quinta Essentia – Formative Evasion: This odd melodic band chose to incorporate many elements of power metal, including a chanted/cleanly sung passage that’s intriguing yet too pop to keep going for long; it reminds me of Pyogenesis merged with Blind Guardian.

10. Abominant – Evil Inside: Abominant is the ultimate anonymous band. Their CDs pop up everywhere but no one can remember what they sound like. A start — Fallen Christ with every other riff being a melodic fill stretched to carry two rhythms at once, with the frenetic drumming of Krisiun and bombast of later Vader.

11. Cystic Dysentery – Parastic Demise: Blasting frenetic deathgrind in the Unique Leader style, this track shows good judgment in its pacing and a powerful balance between melodic riffs and purely percussive ones, but like most of this style is often too overwhelming in lightspeed repetition of similar ideas for regular listening.

12. Manticore – Praising the Whore…On the Altar of Darkness: Generic death/black metal played at high speed of drums and strumming but relatively mid-paced speed of chord changes and transitions, this track is sticks to a basic verse/chorus style with a few chaotic deviations, reminiscent of Krieg.

13. Nominon – Night of Damnation: The retro-Swedish death metal bands are expert at taking a standard pop song and dressing it up with death metal techniques so that you think you’ve found another Carnage, but on repeated listens, you realize it’s the same generic heavy metal that’s been around since 1974.

14. Nex – Exit: This wanderlust instrumental conveys a sense of melancholic adventure through careful shifting between different forms of a handful of melodic riffs, each riff shape becoming a repeated figure on a chord progression, slowly building a mood. Whispered death vocals guide it.

You can get this compilation at Deathgasm Records for $5.

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