The battle of the serfs has come to an end and only six competitors remain with only one to remain standing at the top. For the first time in DMU history, the senior writing staff has combined forces to decide which one of these candidates should be crowned the king of the serfs. For the winner to be chosen this time, he must face the scrutiny of not one but three judges and the song with the best aggregate score shall win the the battle of the sefs.The grand prize of the competition shall be a standalone review for the winners (if their future/past or present work has merit, else we shall simply spare them from our Sadistic Metal Reviews – for now!).
Let the final battle commence!
1.Mefitis – “Kolossos”
An excellent understanding of metal as the band combine an incredible diversity of styles and times sound like a mixture of Adramalech and Mayhem and never fall into the traps of being incoherent or using stark contrast between adjacent melodies to force a reaction from the listener. Every idea is perfectly built and the transitions flow like honey. Multiple layers of arpeggios come and go as this composition continuously seeks progress. Certain additional layers return in different contexts and work very well. The only issue is that the band suffer from hyperactivity and could allow more repetitions of each riff and the time necessary for the listener to absorb everything while marking each section with more emphasis as the song swiftly flows to the climax and conclusion in the blink of an eye.
Steeped Horsehair – “Running in A Maze”
Caught between a sincere desire to make good metal and a desire to make purposefully bizarre and hilarious music. Unfortunately both attempts fail as those are contradictory ambitions. While the music transitions well and offer some great melodies that are given a chance to progress with some motifs returning during later passages the band find themselves at a time having to use comedy to hide their lesser idea and possible lack of vocal ability. The band can shorten the length of their songs to remove the need for non necessary ideas while focusing on how to introduce previous riffs effectively while opting for either a serious vocalist or for no vocalist at all.
Iron Flesh – “Invade,Conquer & Dominate”
The band definitely understand Death metal and what makes it so great and keep a small set of motifs that are constantly used in the same handful of riffs that burst through at breakneck speed with bad intentions and reach a short climax that finishes the song on a fairly timid note. This short break towards the end is completely useless and kills the momentum of the song that has to almost restart from the beginning and rebuild all the tension and making the error of stopping before the summit. A fun listen that is derivative of quite a few bands but understands them.
Saturnus Terrorism – “La Garde d’acier”
Brilliantly constructed as the band know when to prolong certain passages to create their atmosphere and then break away from that atmosphere into more urgent and violent passages. The substantial length of the song does create the band as the last two minutes could have easily been cut off and the band should have ended on one of the more violent riffs or during a heavily layered arpeggiated passage. The riffs as well as they are utilized bear their influences far too heavily and detract from the overall experience. This suffers the same issues as its country mate Iron Flesh but has more ambition and does work in evoking a mighty “steel guard”.
Chupacabra – “Glimt”
The composer has such a developed ear for creating music and here at DMU we would love to see what Chupacabra could create within a metal context. Everything exists in fragile balance until a mood is set before moving on to another state of complete unrest and building from there. If Chupacabra could push towards a louder expression of his music there could be a modern classic coming from this man. For that reason Chupacabra wins it for me.
Underlight – “naibu no kage”
Very interesting music that still works despite its obvious flaws and shows a lot of potential, an artist that will hopefully expand on these ideas and create something more cohesive from them. By far the most debated of all the songs present in the contest but the flaws do make this difficult to listen to multiple times.
1. Mefitis wins for me. Gold metal. In terms of everything they have been head and shoulders ahead of the competition and they have the talent to write what we are looking for: good metal. Thus, as with their demo, if they deliver, they shall get a stand-alone review of their own on their upcoming work, since we have already covered their work. Try to make it as positive as you can guys!
2. Chupacambra is the second winner. Why? Just imagine his music played Ildjarn style with minimalistic guitars, where strings of tremolo notes replace the echoing sounds – this is metal in disguise. The sense of rhythm is great and makes one want to dance crazy Indian dances over the graves of his enemies, which is quite metal I think, even though a bit funny. Then again, while metal bands produce a stream of notes, Chupacambra uses more color and textures as he is not limited by distortion to create a sickening atmosphere as reverberating bending chords come from various directions, like flies over a carcass. This artist is clearly mature and coherent on his themes. The only think that he can push more is the romantic raw energy of epic revelations through more direct climaxes, but then again, I don’t know how this would fit the hints of perversion and death-worship. He uses also plenty of sounds to make his music interesting and manages to fit them together in a coherent whole. See for example the bridges that he uses to progress naturally from idea to idea. Haunting.
3. Steeped horsehair need direction and less gay parts. And I am being harsh, because I really like their concept. Imagine Suffocation with nintendocore under the sea. This could either fail terribly or raise the bar guys, just start listening to the classics of death metal, do some covers from Obituary, Atheist, IMMOLATION AND INCANTATION MOST OF ALL to get a sense of how to write riffs, coherent songs that don’t fuck around and develop the cavernous atmosphere that you create. Then within those limits go bananas.
4. Dark Burzum and dark ambient influences build a good piece of music for Underlight. Immense power on the buildups. I find the videogame influences and the roaring sound quite nostalgic, in a good way, they are reminiscent of cool adventures and epic quests in a dubstep version of Hyrule. The song itself is adventurous, it goes places and although it might often lose direction, previous themes appear hidden behind more obvious ones. The downside is some parts which are really naïve and feel like even I could compose them, yet on subsequent listens, the underlying motifs are revealed in a classical/Wagner opera kind of way easily. The advantage is that thanks to those parts, when everything explodes, the listener may exclaim a ‘hell yeah!’ and raise the horns while the heavier parts kick-in. I would like to listen to this artist again in the future, because there is a factor of wild potential here that can give you a glimpse of electrifying power. In contrast with a lot of contestants, they know how to be heavy and how to use imagination in order to tie the songs together.
5. Saturnus understand the grandeur of To Mega Therion on the intro. The arpeggios with the background feedback create a suffocating atmosphere. Although it seems modernized and kind of flirting with post/impressionist aesthetics, they know how to riff. They know how to write music alright, they just need to be more original on their riffing if they want to walk the Road of Kings and complement their quite good compositions. I think that such music needs at least one motif that becomes memorable, otherwise it is chaotic. But there’s a lot of meat artfully hidden within their dense arrays of sounds.
6. Iron Flesh are more along what this site appreciates. Like Saturnus, the riffing is too simple for me and this time the structure is too linear. However, they are quite direct and the song survives due to its laconicity. Yet again, I am not quite surprised by what I hear. Iron Flesh seem to understand what metal is about, they just need a spark of madness to go to the next level. Push your berserk extremity to the limits lads, but mind you, passion from your side while executing the song might not be enough if you cannot arouse passion in others.
Tyrell Dahlstrom: Behold my ranking of the final contestants!
1. IRON FLESH: Invade, Conquer & Dominate
I have already stated my thoughts here. This is unquestionably the best of these six finalists.
2. SATURNUS TERRORISM: La Garde d’Acier
I have already stated my thoughts here. This has also grown on me a little bit since I listened to it for my last article.
3. UNDERLIGHT: Naibo no Kage
This is pretty cool. At first, listening to that intro, I thought this was going to be another Dungeon Synth piece (which, to be fair, I am always up for), but this ended up morphing into something else entirely. A sort of Hotline Miami-type deal, with a little bit of a glitchy twist. Overall, a little rough around the edges, but I enjoyed this.
4. MEFITIS: Kolossos
This is alright. A lot of cool ideas in here, however so many new transitions constantly pile up they barely get a chance to breathe and develop themselves. This almost sounds like an attempt at an “overture”-type intro track or a demo compilation of potential riff/songs ideas compiled together with some awkward 21st century Prog Metal-esque transitions, as opposed to an internally consistent self-contained piece. Not being previously familiar with any of this band’s other work, just based off of this piece it would appear this band’s potential is on the borderline of being a comparatively-above-average Prog Metal act or a solid DM/BM act, depending on how they decide to structure their future compositions.
5. CHUPACABRA: Glimt
This almost sounds like an attempt to cross Oneohtrix Point Never with a tinge of Autechre on a Fisher Price keyboard. Interesting in a novelty sense perhaps, but not really enjoyable or memorable.
6. STEEPED HORSEHAIR: Running in a Maze
This is lame as hell. Angular/“avant-garde”/lolrandum “Metal” is in general anathema to the present author, but this is especially inane and embarrassing. Commit it to the flames!
Steeped Horsehair 6th
Iron Flesh 4th
Saturnus Terrorism 3rd
And the winner by the closest of possible margins is Mefitis!!!!.
That leaves Chupacabra as a runner up by one point in the overall points for the second time as Mefitis will obtain a guaranteed review for their future works. Though Chupacabra lost, it would be a shame to forego such a brilliant so he too shall receive a review for any of his projects. The rest will have to lick their wounds and return to honing their craft.