Sadistic Metal Reviews — September 1, 2016

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Humans are by nature delusional. They overestimate their importance and demand that reality fit their simple expectations. And yet, they are very good at mastering known skills, so they are highly proficient, but void of purpose. This hollowness is the left side of the metal Bell Curve, and to separate it from the good stuff, we have Sadistic Metal Reviews!

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Toderlebend – Day Of Resurrection

If you crossed old Autopsy with some of the German speed/death metal of the late 1980s, you might end up with something like Toderlebend: a bouncy, exuberant take on death metal that brings out the goofy and experimental sides of the genre without losing the basic sensation of doubtful, atavistic anomie that good death metal communicates. Verses tend to follow the speed/death format, with rushing drums and foot-tapping vocal and drum hooks, but choruses are more like the Tampa and Northern California death metal bands in that they like to build up an unconcealed progression of increasing dread like that used in horror films. A few parts here are too obvious, and overplay their hands, but on the whole, this is enjoyable basic death metal with a sense of humor that does not replace its basic mood of austere morbidity. There are numerous experiments, including layering of keyboards and other sounds, and the band enjoys making a transition between a detuned hard rock riff, a speed metal riff adapted, and a death metal riff that might have come off the second Atrocity album, all within the same song, as if trying to see how far they can push the envelope and still hold together. For most, the crepitant Autopsy style vocals will be the selling point, but what makes this album more than a passing retro-aesthetic fad is that these songs fit together and have an energy and personality all their own, despite being made from recycled parts in a new order.

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Autokrator – The Obedience To Authority

Someone hybridized Teitanblood, or the simplest extreme of the Incantation clones, with basic war metal, and then gave that war metal the pacing more of Sacramentary Abolishment than the all-ahead-go thinly-disguised punk clones which later war metal adopted. The result calls to mind Portal in its use of a wall of sound and diminished interval internal harmony, but is more like Teitanblood in its approach: a single rushing rhythm, told three different ways, and then a counterpoint pace with a different sonic texture to give it some context. The result is not particularly convincing because while it is not one-dimensional, it is not far removed, maybe like 1.5 dimensions, but then again, it intends nothing else. This is pure musical aesthetic trying to catch the listener up in a sensation of a wave of chaotic sonic information catching them up and bearing them away. In that way, it is more like early Napalm Death than black metal or death metal, and has about the same lasting power. The difference here is that the higher level aesthetic gives it an air of profundity, after which the emptiness is even more cutting. Like Teitanblood, this ultimately rings hollow: two aesthetic concepts stacked up in a song make for an impressive beginning, but go nowhere, much like your average dot-com startup.

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Cortege – Touching the Void

This death metal comes from the school of death metal which, from a fully mature (1991-1994) death metal perspective, re-incorporated some of the intensity of speed metal, much like the second Vader album. As a result, Touching The Void relies on speed metal style rhythm and tempo changes for its song structures, but incorporates a fair amount of death metal technique and aesthetics in order to give this more energy and coherence than it would have had otherwise. The savagery relies quite a bit on what was once considered “technical,” or timing and combinations that are hard to finger, regardless of their level of musical theory. The precision rhythm guitar is its main weapon, but a lack of chord progressions that stand out from the others and from the norm, and a tendency to fall back onto speed metal rhythms with a relentlessness that quickly equalizes all extremes tend to lessen the impact of this album. Still, for those who want to revisit the glory days when death metal took on the previous generation and made it more intense, Cortege offers excellent musicianship, tuneful solos and extensive highly adept riffing to expand on the ideas of the past.

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Serpent Ascending – Ananku

Serpent Ascending has mashed up the ambient indie rock of Fields of the Nephilim and Gothic stylings of bands like Sisters of Mercy with the occult mythological metal of later Therion and Sentenced, then injected its own type of atmospheric death metal, to produce a new style of music that is as much indie rock as metal without losing the metal spirit. This is much like how Queensryche and Iron Maiden made very metal albums out of styles that were more geared toward hard rock during the 1980s. The aim of Ananku is to produce a bewildering suspension of reality like how geographical layout is flexible in dreams, and you can step from your childhood bedroom into the capsule of an Apollo rocket without feeling any dislocation of spatial awareness. Like later Therion, this album finds its roots in slowed-down power metal restructured to use occult symbolic relationships in number and riff phrase shape, but then adds to this the pervasive atmospherics of both dark Gothic rock and atmospheric death metal like related project Desecresy. On that the composer layers levels of percussive texture, oddball vocals, and guitar accents which build harmony like a tapestry from its roots to extremities and back again. The result will please Goth rockers and 1980s fans more than death metal fans, perhaps, but the death metal is there, just translated into abstract idea instead of concrete technique. This allows Serpent Ascending more flexibility in tempo and tone, which in turn allows them to use contrast as more of a weapon, creating songs which feel like a transition between a series of underground cities while searching for the soul of humanity. A lot like Danzig or Tau Cross, this album aims to create an emotional sense paired to an awareness of subject matter, in this case through a hermetic filter. It brings back the thrills of the 1980s, when profound and jarring material made it onto the radio in a form that high school kids could appreciate alongside casual music fans of adult stature. This album will be a sleeper favorite much like later Queensryche in the 1980s in that it will appeal to extreme metal fans but in a form that ordinary people can also appreciate.

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12 thoughts on “Sadistic Metal Reviews — September 1, 2016”

  1. matters says:

    These reviews didn’t seem too harsh this time around. This Serpent Ascending seems promising.

  2. Tastee freeze says:

    That Cortège is rather terrible.

  3. Belisario says:

    That was so polite this time! It includes even the most positive words written on this site about Ananku… strange.

  4. All 4 Trump says:

    Speaking of death metal, what do you guys think of this band?

    Blackthorn – The Rotten Ways of Human Misery Full Album

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YStM0gwJkxo

    1. Rainer Weikusat says:

      I like the sound. This is very ‘Bay Area’ in large parts, just downtuned and with odd tempo changes. The drummer sometimes walks on the cymbals where one would usually expect a drum (tom or snare) instead. He also consistently ahead of the beat of the the other instruments most of the time by about the same amount which adds somewhat submerged tension to the overall sound, a feeling of something which is about to become unleashed. This is effectively complemented by the vocals. There’s no outward aggression in this, more a dark, brooding, madness.

      I can’t really say if I would end up liking this as the straight ‘Bay Area’ parts immediately jump on my nerves whenever they occur again.

      1. Rainer Weikusat says:

        Forgotten postscriptum: Don’t fight hedonists, they’ll die for their toys. Give them more toys instead. That keeps them busy with themselves.

        1. Crack Daddy says:

          “free heroin inside”

          1. Rainer Weikusat says:

            Assuming the human brain is hardwired to self-destruct, we can at least rest assured that this certainly won’t work.

  5. POOP SUIT RIOT says:

    WHERE’S THE FUCKING SADISM I’M TRYING TO JERK OFF HERE

  6. Rainer Weikusat says:

    I followed Courtege throughout the first track, wondering what to make of it. The riffing is interesting but directionless/ navel-gazing. Drums are adept but that’s exactly everything they are. The vocals are awful. And the solo is much too long for it’s aural simplicity. This may be interesting ‘fingers on fretboard’ porn (I can’t judge that) but nothing special in its effects. The the second track started and went until the “Do you remember/ that smell of burning flesh” with its ‘schoolboy after puberty’ singalong melody. I suggest that everyone interested in this starts with the second track: If that doesn’t make you reaching for a barf bag, you’ll likely like all of it.

    I managed about 1.5minutes of Serpent Ascending: Ueberfluessig — overliquid (IMHO, this captures the Latin meaning better than the correct superfluous). I guess that’s what something capable of running through a hermetic, that is, airtight, filter has to be :->.

  7. Hræsvelgr says:

    With the exception of Autokrator these reviews are mostly positive and end as recommendations. Why call them sadistic in the headline?

    Anyway, a thanks to Brett for these interesting reviews.

  8. Billy Foss says:

    The embedded streams are a welcome addition. I like the guitars on that Toderlebend album. Maybe it’s just the cover art, but I can easily imagine that in a Romero film.

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