Deep Switch – Nine Inches of God (1986)

The NWOBHM movement defined the basis for what both underground and commercial metal would become, everything was present from the gallops, the harmonized melodies, unconventional song structures and the reverence for the riff above all else. The movement struggled with commercializing itself and so even the more vicious bands were obligated in selling out and writing a ballad or a mid-paced rock song in hopes of being picked up by a major label as there was at that time money to be made. The micro-genre eventually burned out due to two main reasons. First was that the door to mainstream success had been closed permanently for the British bands as the media loved Def Leppard and the like. The second reason was that there were far too many bands releasing the same rehashed material while bands elsewhere were exploring unventured paths and the standards were on average raised as the pub rock riffs of most of the NWOBHM were simply not up to par. Enter Deep Switch, a band that appeared in the scene after the death of the genre and were set to make some of the most bizarre NWOBHM imaginable but falling to the same pitfalls as their predecessors.

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Andrzej Sapkowski – The Last Wish

Andrzej Sapkowski’s “The Witcher” series has seen itself appropriated and simplified in the form of a ridiculous TV show and movie that never garnered much respect in its native Poland and has been heavily critiqued by Sapkowski himself. The books find themselves once again simplified and denied of their essence in the form of three large budget video games that do attempt to bring to life the world of the series, but gameplay, endless superfluous content and the lack of understanding from the writers hinder this. Fortunately we are blessed by a truly transcendent series of books that despite the mainstream’s attempts at commercializing them remain unaffected in their message and expression. Enter “The Last Wish” which is the first book of a majestic saga that soars above the common man’s need for digestible media.

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Sabbat – Envenom (1991)

Sabbat are a cult Japanese band known for primarily for being Japanese and playing a heavily Venom influenced style of Heavy metal that sometimes crosses over to real black metal though rarely and for the briefest of periods. This record is actually more known for the exotic origins of its creators rather than the actual quality presented here. Replacing the seriousness of other similar bands with a certain rock and roll cheese and tongue in cheek lyrics that ultimately pull this band behind the rest.

Sabbat have a terrible habit of wearing their influences on their sleeves with far too much pride. “Satan Bless you” has a main motif particular similar to Venom’s “Black Metal” and all of the speed metal parts can be attributed to the English Sabbat. “Evil Nation” is so reminiscent of Iron Maiden’s “2 minutes to midnight” that you can easily sing the verse parts on top of it and there would be almost no difference as the chord progression, rhythm and techniques are practically identical. Carcassvoice steals the first two passages of Mayhem’s “Deathcrush” and only slightly changes the rhythm and added to this package is a hilarious imitation of Maniac’s high pitch rasp. Though these are the most obvious acts of plagiarism, the entirety of the album is drenched in déja-vu and this refrains the album from reaching the same level as their Norwegian and Brazilian peers.

Arrangements tend to be in the classic pop style except for some brilliant moments of over the top soloing and the inclusion of speed metal breakdowns. Though some tracks experiment with the stop and start mechanics from Motorhead’s Overkill (1979) but ultimately fail as the individual parts function in solitude but do not combine as a whole and we are treated to separate songs encapsulated within a single track. There is nothing to be found of the narrative Death and Black metal structures here as this album is firmly rooted in Heavy metal.

The note selection stays within the usual combination of the natural minor scale and the minor pentatonic except when the band allows themselves forays into fully developed black metal territory as seen on track “King of Hell” which has a long droning sequence with a lot of chromaticism that contrasts most of this record but then on closer inspection this feels more like a reject on Bathory’s The Return (1985). The drums hint towards more developed black metal at times as they play a martial techno beat here and there without fills but this record is exceedingly behind what was going during that time period. The best part of the entire record are the solos and how are they given the kind of space and freedom suited for the more commercial strands of metal. The solos first and foremost obey the whims of the accompanying riffs and seek to amplify what they convey with the use of a large repertoire taking from the most famous relevant shredders. The compositions do have their charm in how they use the energetic approach of their heroes to create uplifting and fun music but ultimately play on shock rock tropes like main influence Venom.

The best composition here is the instrumental “Dead March” which takes a simple Judas Priest like motif and advances it forward with perfect control of mood as the motif twists and turns and the interactions between it and the second guitar that either harmonizes in conventional thirds or plays some contrapuntal melodies. The song conveys perfectly a march of the dead and escapes the pop structure through the reuse of certain passages and a complete lack of chorus. A fantastic bridge between the Heavy metal of the past and the Black metal of the future as it takes those elements and applies it in ways that the Norwegian bands would then apply on darker melodies.

Envenom shows a band going through multiple periods as this album was released seven years after the band initially formed and shows this progression from NWOBHM worship to Mayhem’s Deathcrush unfortunately this record shows the timeline of the genre but fails to do anything with it nor add a unique twist to it. Envenom remains a fun record but lacks any transcendent quality that separates it from some of the more forward-thinking acts in the genre and probably because there seems to be not a single ounce of influence from what was going in the Death metal or a willful ignorance to the innovations brought over. An easy listening album to bring over neophytes but for the experienced listener this is enjoyable for a few listens with a beer or two but has nothing else to offer.

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Death metal influence on power metal

After the initial explosion of Death metal, metal had finally made the breach into untapped territory. Gone were the tropes of previous influences and the race to reach new summits of musical expression had begun. On the sidelines the speed metal bands saw themselves pushed into irrelevance; hardcore had now evolved into Grindcore and heavy metal heroes had now degenerated into more commercial sounds in order to expand their fanbase in a world that had left them behind. The European power metal bands found escape in Tolkienesque fantasy and escapism. In America, the USPM movement was not interested in the more flowery interpretation of European power metal. Some of these artists recognized the power of the early Death metal moved by Slayer and sought to integrate it into their own music for greater effect. Here we shall omit the failures of bands that attempted such experiments like Satan’s Host or Iron Cross.
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Afflicted

Afflicted were a Swedish metal band from the late 80’s to the mid 90’s releasing only two albums and a handful of demos. They began as Afflicted Convulsion playing primitive yet erratic death metal/grindcore. Although the riffs on their earliest (listenable) demo, Beyond Redemption, do little to set themselves apart from their contemporaries, we are presented with nuanced compositions that keep the listener enticed through each track, presenting satisfying wholes rather than myopic moments of inspiration. As Afflicted, the band would take their compositional skills and apply them to unique riffs on their demos and first album, Prodigal Sun. (more…)

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Varathron – Patriarchs of Evil (2018)

Article by Belisario

Almost four years after their previous full-length, Varathron is back with a new effort that meets expectations and offers a fantastic black metal listening experience in the distinctive Greek variety. The veterans from Ioannina have been able to maintain a difficult balance between respecting their classic sound and developing new forms, something they had already achieved on Untrodden Corridors of Hades. These new forms are slightly different and more modern, yet clearly related to their older albums.
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Immortal Release Title Track of New Album “Northern Chaos Gods”

Cash grab alert!  After giving the classic board room “fuck you” to cornerstone musician Abbath, the corporate conglomerate of Demonaz and Horgh have secured the legal rights to the band name “Immortal” and are now positioned to promptly squeeze their fans to blindly buy music and merch advertised as that of a Norwegian black metal legend.  Although the pair have only played together on one album out of 12, they’re billing this as “the comeback of Immortal!” and have already gotten the infamously money-hungry Nuclear Blast records to set up the most overused rock n’ roll ponzi scheme.

Together, the pair have released a new song “Northern Chaos Gods,” the title/intro track of their first foray into commercialized rehash.  So how did the miraculous (fake?) recovery of Demonaz’s tendonitis work out?  Exactly how far into the waters of retro-rehash did the band wonder?  Have they evolved even the slightest as musicians or do they remain forever trapped in the 90’s? As trust fund life-dropouts living in the woods at the expense of their family might say:

“Let’s find out!”

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/smr/ Sadistic Metal Reviews: Flavor of the Week Metal Pt 1: Black Metal

The ability to spot flavor of the week(/weak) trends in metal is a key element of elitism and will save you a load of embarrassment further down the road.  Both death metal and black metal have seen their share of torrid but temporary trends in the form of herd pleasing bastardizations that quickly spike in popularity and then evaporate from relevancy as their fans move on to something even worse (usually after a period of denial and/or clinging to a safe intermediary genre).  Crowdism is for losers but it’s heavily pushed in the metal scene and thus one must stay sharp to avoid it’s pitfalls.

Therefore in the interest of providing you, the reader,  with the knowledge of how to identify and properly dismantle future flavor of the week trends as they appear, this two part series SMR series will focus on a trend, a selected album from that defines it’s failings, and the worst offenders for each of these forgettable movements.  This week, we will focus on black metal’s most embarrassing waves of herd-fandom and sadistically dissect their unfortunate rise and much needed fall.

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Dimmu Borgir – Eonian 2018

Dimmu Borgir are through and through, the most popular and most successful Norwegian metal band.  They are also #2 in bands that were at one point in their career black metal (falling just behind Cradle of Filth).  Since 1993, Shagrath and Silonez have clawed and breathed fire and went through dozens of musicians- some very well known- and marketed themselves as the “evil fantasy/RPG villian” better than any other band.  The brand, however obscure and seemingly non-conformist, resonated with millions as it’s two core musicians have turned their Hollywood Satanism gimmick into a big moneymaker for Nuclear Blast Records.
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