Desolation – Chorus From The Ruins (2008)

“Detail shows the face of Stela D which rises 12 ft beside the altar of sacrifice with a death god effigy. The stele represents the 13th ruler of Copán, King Waxaklajun Ub’aah K’awiil (in English, Lord 18 Rabbit), showing half of his face as it was sculpted, and the other half stripped as it would look in Death.”

“Detail shows the face of Stela D which rises 12 ft beside the altar of sacrifice with a death god effigy. The stele represents the 13th ruler of Copán, King Waxaklajun Ub’aah K’awiil (in English, Lord 18 Rabbit), showing half of his face as it was sculpted, and the other half stripped as it would look in Death.” – Akherra Phasmatanás

Article by David Rosales.

Desolation is a full-on ambient project that blends simple and solid harmonic backgrounds, repetitive phrases of a dark coloring, with recorded lamentations both human and otherwise. The aim seems to be to produce the whole array of impressions encapsulated within that single word: desolation. The music’s structure is progressive and appears to be segmented in an episodic manner, which normally implies a loss of continuity between sections. This unwanted effect is expertly avoided by providing smooth transitions, interleaving ambient soundscapes, nature sounds, vocal improvisations, all of which bring variety within a strongly directly concept that never loses content density or a strong sense of purpose. Furthermore, the album being simply distributed between two long tracks reinforces its unity and the requirement that the audience listens to the whole work as if commencing a mental journey, which once begun must be seen through to its very end.

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Sadistic Metal Reviews (07/04/16)

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Why write bad reviews at all? Good music is rare, and bad is everywhere, but if you do not explicitly identify the failings of bad, most people will find it appealing because it does not interrupt their steady stream of self-centered thoughts and is easier than seeking good. If you like good music and want more of it, you must bash as well as praise, as Machiavelli would tell you. And with that, the latest installment of the Sadistic Metal Reviews

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Sadistic Metal Reviews: Pushing It All Out

unicorn poop

The Sadistic Metal Reviews are were we squeeze all the empty calories out of our guts into easily digestible packages for readers’ amusement. The leftovers are distributed to starving third world children to hasten their Malthusian death through infection with the type of drug-resistant bacteria that can only thrive in a Honey Bun.

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Nokturnal Mortum & Graveland – The Spirit Never Dies (2016)

graveland & nokturnal mortum

Article by David Rosales.

Splits are usually revealing for reasons the bands do not intend. By allowing their music to be placed alongside that of another band in a way that listening to them one after the other is not only encouraged but, in metal culture, almost mandatory, they make comparisons and judgements based on performance differences inevitable. The aim might be to publish a few tracks more efficiently and getting the music to more people since people who know one of the two bands will listen to the other band out of curiosity. The more zealous metal fans, however, are bound to make harsher judgements of anything that is placed too close to the band they follow.

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Sadistic Metal Reviews: Speed Metal Sodomy!

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Beer metal exists on the weekends for bored western, white collar office workers wanting a safespace where they can shoot the shit with their flanneled friends and show off their tattoos three times a month. Self-aggrandizing social metal must be impaled on an iron spike.

 

opprobrium serpent temptation
Incubus (Opprobrium) – Serpent Temptation (1988, 2016)

Everything old is getting repressed, even horrible Jesus metal that doesn’t deserve it. Jesus wept when he saw Relapse repressed this “lost gem”. All of Jesus’s favorite eighties speed metal that he got wine drunk to with his apostles in Joseph’s garage was sodomized like an altar boy. His favorite riffs were simplified so drunk Brazilians who crucify themselves as they don’t understand Catholic theology could play them. Metallica, Sodom, Kreator, Bathory, Destruction, Slayer, and Sepultura all were held down, bent over, stripped, and had their riffs forcibly tossed into salads. Jesus couldn’t think of anyone else that wasn’t defiled by Incubus in his name. “Why do they always have to break before they start blasting like Sarcofago?” wondered Jesus, pondering Incubus’s instrumental inadequacy as he hung upon the cross. Jesus wished he had approved of abortion so these Brazilians with microcephaly would never have been born. The pain and horror to his eardrums were much worse than his shoulders screaming in pain. Why hadn’t he just listened to Cogumelo’s Warfare Noise compilations again? Incubus were two additional nails in his ears. Jesus would torture all the straight-edge hardcore kids and their youth pastors who wanted to channel their passionate slam dancing onto their penises for all eternity in the lake of fire. He would sear the flesh from their faces and force them to consume their fellow sinners. As the majestic pantocrator sitting on the throne of the former sky-father Jupiter Optimus Maximus, it was he who cursed Brazil with favelas, mosquitos, and raw sewage for Incubus’s cargo-cult copying.

 

Coma Of Souls
Kreator – Coma of Souls (1990)
Frank Blackfire was the only fumes keeping Kreator going by the nineties. Jumping shit from Sodom, his riffs and leads “enlightened” Kreator from their Extreme Aggression manifested as Teutonic speed metal to a toned-down, NWOBHM made “technical” approach. This emasculation reveals every song as a verse-chorus-verse riff salad composed of riffs that can sometimes be considered clever and catchy alone by themselves but together don’t come close to anything resembling coherency. Three tracks in and you’re fucking bored and wish that annoying Mille Petroza would go back to his pizza parlor and stick his head in the oven. This proto-Heartwork polished turd is the origin of melodeaf: Euro speed metal meets whiny, post-hardcore randomnessComa of Souls has as much Pleasure to Kill left in it as Bob Dole’s limp, Viagra-less penis.

 

Malokarpatan cover
Malokarpatan – Stridžie dni (2016)
There’s not a lot to do in Slovakia except drink beer and listen to Bathory. Malokarpatan get shitfaced on Golden Pheasant every day. You know the ten-thousand hour rule? These guys definitely listened to ten-thousand hours of eighties metal while drinking. Being a hard rock band at heart, they rape Batlord in every song , constantly breaking into something Kansas could have written. Malokarpatan probably couldn’t find a good singer so they went faux black metal with the folksy Slovak schtick to appeal to hiking hipsters. Those Mercyful Fate leads are there as Malokarpatan were supposed to be djing at the metal pub. Note that the album was recorded in the cellar keg storage room with the landlord’s fish tank. Malokarpatan even pestered the barmaid into doing female voices to ape Absu and Goatlord Darkthrone! Stridžie dni is pilsner metal complete with farmer’s tan cutoffs and aviator shades in black metal bar rituals.

 

Malokarpatan promo pic

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Spinefarm Records acquires Candlelight Records

spinefarm logo

According to a source at Blabbermouth, the owners of Candlelight Records in the UK have recently sold their assets to Spinefarm Records in Finland. By doing this, they have consolidated even more label power into Universal Media Group. For now, former Candlelight members keep their previous licensing deals, and the deal has prompted the usual pieces of corporate rhetoric; what becomes of the former label’s assets is really more of a question for the roster. Spinefarm and Candlelight Records have both made indelible marks on metal history by releasing many famous metal recordings. In Spinefarm’s case, this includes formative works by Sentenced and Beherit, while Candlelight brought out Emperor’s studio work, as well as the debuts of Havohej and Opeth. Both went on to even more commercially successful artists.

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Criticism of SJW infiltration of metal peeks out behind media blackout

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Despite being mostly in favor of the SJW infiltration of heavy metal, media sources sometimes reveal skepticism of this rigid mind-meld that is replacing quality metal with an inferior but politically-correct substitute. In fact, the political correctness is merely a method of inducing you to buy it because it has the right “message,” while ignoring the low artistic quality of the material as a whole.

But the SJWs don’t know that. They are not unique, having appeared first in the 1980s with a group that would not call itself politically-correct but acted the same way as today’s SJWs. As hardcore waned, local scenes arose in which people wanted to participate for social reasons: to be popular, find dates, have parties. Their music was not ground-breaking, so they took over with superior numbers, and used politics as a means of filtering out all other music. Thus they triumphed, and promptly made punk so boring it self-destructed in dissipation.

Today’s SJWs are not history students of hardcore punk or any other subject. Their goal is to make themselves important, and to seize control of a genre they think will give them social power, but they cannot replicate its greatness nor understand it, and so they are doomed to failure. What do they care, however — they will simply move on to the next genre, take it over, and have their five years of glory there too before covering up those tats and going to a cubicle job just like everyone else.

But doubt is spreading already. In an editorial over at Stereogum, Michael Nelson launches into the usual SJW rhetoric, and then does something really interesting. The article is a top 50 of metal of the year, but as is typical these days, it must editorialize. So he makes an introduction and then cuts to the real topic on his mind:

But mostly, more than ever before, metal found its very character scrutinized by a hyper-aware, politically divided public — a public largely informed by metrics-focused media outlets eager to weigh in on the issues of the day. This was a carryover from late 2014, when popular blogs like Metal Injection and Metalsucks ran essays with titles like “The Problem With Heavy Metal Is Metalheads: Stop Calling Everyone A Faggot” and “Why Is It Okay To Be Racist And Misogynistic About Babymetal?” And in 2015, the takes arrived on an almost daily basis, via articles like “Racism And Sexism In Heavy Metal Highlighted In New Study” and “Why Is The Convicted Murderer Of A Gay Man Being Celebrated At A Major Metal Festival?“

This past July, renowned metal journalist (and occasional Stereogum contributor) Adrien Begrand wrote a piece for Pop Matters titled “Some Talk, No Action,” putting the entire metal community on blast for failing to effectively flush out certain musicians whose art and/or actions seemed to suggest some form of bigotry or separatist ideology. Begrand called out by name such bands as Cobalt, Inquisition, Lord Mantis, and Bölzer, but he extended the indictment to include countless participants — primarily the media and fans who support (or fail to condemn) any artists who support (or fail to condemn) intolerant worldviews.

This is actually a good (albeit incomplete, but give him a break, he had two paragraphs) history of the explosion of #metalgate. In the late 1990s, the underground fizzled because it had no more greats to offer, and the imitators surged in. Since that time, record labels and hipsters have been trying to find a way to make rock and punk rock — which, unlike metal, which emphasizes transcending the individual, emphasize the importance of individual desires over attention to consequences — into a “metal flavored” form. This is an ideal product for local mediocre bands to make and labels to hype since anyone can do it so there can be a steady stream of profits. SJW-metal is just their tool of forcing everyone else out and taking over.

Nelson goes on to look into the chaos that followed Disma being accused of being horrible Nazis, and he pretty much beats the SJW tin drum here, but then, something interesting happens:

The last thing any of us here wants to do is give additional exposure to artists who peddle or preach hatred or intolerance. The other last thing we want to do is act as some Orwellian thought police slowly sanitizing metal by doling out oxygen only to those artists whose views reflect our own, whose actions meet our personal standards of acceptability. It’s easy enough to treat Burzum’s Varg Vikernes as a pariah: The guy is an enthusiastic, unrepentant bigot and a convicted murderer. (It helps, too, that he hasn’t released a decent album since 2011.) I often wonder, though, how the world would react to “Angel Of Death” or “Unsuccessfully Coping With The Natural Beauty Of Infidelity” if those songs were released today. This is dark music! It’s not supposed to be safe! It can be safe, but nobody ever got into this shit because it was safe; we got into it because it was scary and transgressive and primal. Who are we to make it safe?

Then again, who are we to promote art or artists fostering unsafe environments?

I’m not winding up for some big, poignant conclusion here, sadly. I’m leaving this as an ellipsis.

There’s a certain subtle brilliance in this. The whole point of this lengthy introduction was to get himself SJW cred, then point out that censorship is just like the totalitarian ideologies that SJWs claim to dislike. In fact, Nelson writes that it is even worse, since it is done in the name of good, and points out that many of metal’s classics would not pass this test. Then he leaves the question up to us, since he obviously cannot directly contradict the herd or they will amass and ruin his life (or a least get Stereogum to fire him, and then mob his Facebook account!).

SJW is still a potent movement because it gives power to the unmemorable by allowing them to take down people better than themselves. It gives a voice to the mediocre and a reason why their mediocrity should jump the line ahead of artistic superiority. Like all mass movements, it is a revolt against quality, with the pleasant notion that everyone will be equally important concealing the reality, which is that when everyone is the same nothing good can rise. Metal stands against that, and this is why SJWs target it. But the tide is turning even now.

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Smoking with Tolkien: Capstan – Original Navy Cut

j_r_r_tolkien_-_smoking_pipe

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote without an outline using only the thoughts gathered in his head over long hours of smoking his pipe and staring into a fireplace. Sitting at his typewriter, head wreathed in smoke, he pounded out a first draft of the Lord of the Rings mythos, and then discarded it, beginning again from scratch. As the story took form, it left behind a litter of empty blue-painted cans of tobacco.

The tobacco was Capstan Original Navy Cut. Members of his family remember the tins proliferating around the house and being used to store household items. When Tolkien and other members of his literary group The Inklings met, nicotine burned in abundance, and they could be found by following the trail of smoke. In his books, Tolkien inserted characters finding great comfort and wisdom in their pipes much as he did in his.

capstan_-_original_navy_cut

As part of a recent binge of writings by Tolkien and fellow Inkling C.S. Lewis, this writer has indulged in their favorite tobaccos. Capstan Original Navy Cut comes in “flake” form, having been pressed into table-sized cakes and then sliced into wafers about a third the size of a playing card. These are either stuffed into the pipe or “rubbed out” which converts them into ribbons of tobacco. Throughout this experiment, the thought lingers at the back of the mind: why this tobacco, and does it resemble the Longbottom Leaf or Old Toby of his legends?

Original Navy Cut is composed of pure Virginias, but the pressing and aging has converted some of their sugar and acid into a more hay-like flavor, the partial decomposition of the leaf having released its most irksome elements. What remains is a sweet smoke, with slightly more Nicotine (PBUH) than the average medium smoke, which burns evenly and rewards small “sips” or short slow puffs, as one might take while hammering out words on a typewriter. It also admirably complements the smell of typewriter ribbon, for whatever that is worth.

Virginia flakes such as this tend to appeal to either new smokers who want a blend that is sweet and strong like a cigarette, or to the experienced who can nurse a pipe for hours. Since Tolkien was a master pipe smoker, he fit the latter category, and apparently always kept a pipe going with this and other blends to power himself through late-night endurance test writing sessions. And we can enjoy the results, and the metal inspired by them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8IC4aSq-Mg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oNVGi-dZ_E

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pq1JrJHQlAc

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Codex Obscurum – Issue Eight

codex_obscurum_-_issue_eight

Codex Obscurum has distinguished itself over the course of seven issues by putting the underground first and focusing on quality of music, in addition to a range of topics about what we might call metal culture, or other areas of life in which metalheads find an interest. Over time, the editors have become more adventurous and now include a wide diversity of genres, artists and the ever-popular gaming features and editorials.

Issue Eight takes up the mantle with eleven band interviews, two live reviews, thirty-nine album reviews and an artist interview. These span genres from traditional underground bands to rough roadhouse hard rock, touching on grindcore and punk and even juggalo rock, giving the kind of panoramic view of the genre that big glossy magazines pretend they have. Speaking of, apparently Decibel referred to Codex Obscurum as “elitist,” which is a media code word for not regurgitating the spew from promotional mailers, and that gratifying tendency means that a refreshing honesty about the limits of many of these bands cuts back the hype and focuses on the actual.

Interviews abound. This latest edition begins with a relaxed interview with The 3rd Attempt that gives some context to the last two generations of black metal, then launches into an energetic discussion with PanzerBastard that reveals some of the Motorhead plus apocalypse thinking behind that act. It follows with an honest and ambitious interview with Skelethal, whose thoughtful responses make me want to listen past the name, and a somewhat guarded interview with Castrator where the band’s attempt to repeat its talking points fades under wily questioning. Then comes an interview with songwriter Ninkaszi about his latest project, Impenitent Thief, which covers a decade of New England metal in a few pages. Noisem follows with an interview of probing questions and somewhat surface-level answers, revealing more about this band than the band intended. After that, Jake Holmes of Plutonian Shore, Under the Sign of the Lone Star zine, and about ten other bands talks Morgengrau and gives some context to what this band has released. Then arrives a rough-hewn interview with hard rock band Rawhide, a contemplative discussion with Zemial, and a detailed look into Blood Red Throne. After the centerpiece of pen and ink art, Teutonic speed metal lords Blizzard weigh in with an irreverent but topical interview.

CO: You’ve started your own paper zine called Under the Sign of the Lone Star. Can you tell us a little about it, and how we can order a copy?

JH – Under the Sign… started as a reaction against click-baiting, witch-hunting, hypersensitive-PC and overall-clueless “metal” blogs/mags that are unfortunately ubiquitous these days. The PMRC may have been the enemy of the 80s, but at least they never passed themselves off as “one of us” like these rags do! The premise of Ut-SotLS was to write about Texan bands that I really like without stirring controversy or spreading gossip for increased ad revenue: passion, not profit. (16)

The centerpiece takes the form of a deliciously gory mythological-apocalyptic-dystopian scene hanging in blackness, which adds to the mood of the zine, and divides an interview with artist Sebastian Mazuera, who reveals quite a bit about the craft of metal art and the thought process behind it. Then the zine takes a Burzum/Bolt Thrower turn with an article about Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, showing the development and pitfalls of this very metal pastime. Most interesting here is the analysis of how fan interaction shaped, and possibly limited, the game. From the gonzo journalism department, two honest reviews of metal festivals — Blastfest and Messes de Morts — revealing the alcohol abuse and manic social aspects as well as the performances by bands both well-known and nearly unknown. These gave more of a feeling of “being there” than the usual paint-by-numbers reviews, plus hilarity in an honest and uncensored look at how well these bands actually performed.

Incorporating elements of crust, doom, even death metal at times this band can take a left turn in their composition at a moment’s notice. From open palm droning and melodic riff structures moving into driving thrash renditions and crusty d beats, these types of elements give the band a really varied and aggressive sound…With tasty build ups making use of both dynamics and tempo, their song structure is quite complex and makes for an entertaining replay value without seeming repetitive after multiple listens. (47)

From there, it is on to the reviews. These establish both how a band composes and records, and reviewer reaction to the utility of listening to the material in question. Although the review of juggalo band The Convalescence is a high point for sadistic mockery in the best offhand zine style, the bread and butter here is nailing a realistic buy/avoid assessment of bands from Empyrium to Tau Cross, Dysentery to Malthusian, and W.A.S.P. to Paradise Lost. These read well, are witty and biting, but are unstinting with praise where it is deserved. Choice of albums here shows more of a strong hand with the reviewers choosing both movers ‘n’ shakers of the underground as well as undernoticed contributions of interest. It would be hard to find a more straightforward and observant review section in print.

Many have claimed the death of the zine, but with more people cutting the cord to the internet because of the sheer amount of spam disguised as reporting, having a volume like this — that you can pick up and then feel you have a good basic grasp of the scene after an hour of reading — reduces the chaos and puts many metalheads with otherwise full lives back into the game. On its eighth issue, Codex Obscurum has expanded its reach without losing touch with its direction, which is a feat of focus that most metal writers should aspire to.

You can still get copies of Issue Eight through the CO online store.

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