Agonized – “Gods…” demo CD-R available

Agonized’s 1991 demo, “Gods…”, has been restored at the local professional studio. Noise has been removed and worst odd tape anomalies filtered but the demo has not been remastered or has its sound changed in any other way. It sounds as muddy and bad and sinister it ever was in 1991.

Quick review: sounds like first album Sentenced combined with Belial, with vocals like Demilich (deep, burpish). For additional sound samples, see the band’s MySpace page.

This release is a CD-R copy of the demo on a JVC-Taiyo Yuden Premium branded CD. 5 euros+shipping. Contact directly for shipping details, payment information and/or other questions via Jari’s email.

1. Intro
2. Tortured

3. Long Live the New Flesh

4. Gods…

5. Devour the Saviour

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Irony is the sign of the hipster and the death of metal

What is the sign of the modern person? Cause and effect have become reversed: like buying products on a shelf, the modern person expects to see the effect he wants, purchase it, and have substituted that action for causing what he desires.

In music, you either stand for what you believe because you think the music embodies the cause of values you desire, or you choose music as an accessory or effect to make yourself look cool, and hope that by changing your appearance, you become cool.

This is why people who are reversed (confused cause and effect) are always ironic. For them, the music is an accessory to make themselves look good, and so when that fails, they backpedal. The best backpedaling is not to reverse your opinion — “Oh no, I don’t like that at all” — but to keep a foot in both worlds: “I just like that ironically.”

The ironists are ultimately a sad bunch, because they cannot enjoy what they claim to believe in. They believe in nothing, except themselves, and only then in a past tense and not a future tense, as in “I will achieve things.” They want to borrow cool from things they buy or know, but don’t actually like themselves.

In the 80’s music was quite tribalistic. Those who grew their hair long and listened to metal incurred the ridicule of those with spiky hair and synthesisers. It was a complete lifestyle and those who bought into it lived it 24/7.

Looking at all the guys in wigs and spandex, I was struck by how we now accept that you can buy into a lifestyle at whim, experiencing the external signifiers for a night, but not having any long term involvement. It’s all very ironic, and it is irony that now allows us to have an escape clause for just about anything. Rather than risk looking foolish we can just say the magic word ‘irony’. Is everything all about external signifiers and short term experience these days? – Sunsaria Music

They’re afraid of looking foolish, of believing in anything, of taking a stand. On the other hand, music that stands for what it believes attracts fans who feel the same way. These are the groups that invent everything. The ironists then recombine it, parrot it, vamp off it, but give nothing back.

If you want to know the difference between True MetalTM and ironist hipster metal, this is it: the ironists are afraid to stake a claim, stand up for an idea, and defend it. True MetalTM is composed of pure idea and a desire to make it real.

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Desultory – Counting Our Scars

The term “melodic death metal” has lost all meaning with the rise of its postmodern form, which is essentially heavy metal or power metal (speed metal + later heavy metal) with death vocals, played at twice normal speed and using tuning and mode to achieve a melodic sound. The genre often fails because in an effort to deliver lots of those sweet ripping melodic moments, it renders itself uniform and thus passes like sonic wallpaper.

The best of the genre either takes after early Dissection, which is essentially heavy metal, or early At the Gates, which is essentially death metal. In the middle, there are those who combine the two, making what sounds like a cross between early Dissection and early Necrophobic. In this area, bands like Unanimated, Sentenced, Cemetary and Sacramentum made their great works. Desultory fit into this picture as well but was always just a bit more predictable and catchy than those bands would admit into their own music.

Some call it obvious, but the history of art shows us that the person who makes the most evocative form of obvious basically states what everyone is too neurotic to think clearly, and becomes a winner. For that reason, it’s a terrible shame that this album has been overlooked since it is better than almost everything to come out in the genre recently. Opeth and BloodBath fans in particular might enjoy this album which is equal balanced parts beauty and virulent darkness.

Riffs are catchy and strike a good balance between melodic hook and infectious rhythm with some aggression to it, a form which is downplayed but provides a good internal counterpoint to the sweet spots (in contrast to most bands, who do this externally by playing the verses as grinding madness and the chorus as undistorted or sickeningly over-harmonized AOR riffs). In song structure, this album is more like older death metal of the melodic type, but its soul is pure heavy metal of the type that dominated the airwaves in the 1980s, just with twice the complexity and technicality.

In many ways, this album fulfills the promise of melodic metal. It’s like a cross between Iron Maiden Number of the Beast and Slayer Reign in Blood. This is a hard mix to get right, and it’s fair to note that there’s more hard rock in this than even in Iron Maiden, but the end result is very pleasant listening that maintains a sense of longing and beauty in its atmosphere, while simultaneously raging against the darkness.

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Anata – Under a Stone with No Inscription

There is so much to appreciate about this album, starting with its technicality, but most prominently extended to its sense of a notched lock between a good rhythm and a good melody. The problem is that this release is infected with the post-modern-metal fascination for the carnival music style of intense variation, which ends up creating a lack of narrative, which must be substituted with primitive means like repetition and hook, pushing these out of place. The result is listenable but too busy; it turns everything up to 11 and as a result, almost nothing stands out, and its careful inventiveness in riff and variation becomes textural background. However, like Neuraxis — to which it is a close relative — this is at least a listenable form of metalcore-influenced late death metal.

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Earache sale on classics this weekend only

Tell Phil we sent you.

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Worm Gear zine returns

Worm Gear Zine has officially relaunched, with 19 reviews and new interviews with Agalloch and Forefather! We know it has been a long time, but we are excited to have revived this stalwart bastion of extreme music. Expect more frequent updates and more of the quality writing you’ve always depended upon. We welcome all readers to this resurrected endeavor, and are eager to hear your thoughts and to get your participation in our ongoing discussion of the underground. And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter as well!

From our original review of Worm Gear zine back in 1998:

Professional layout belies the depth to which this magazine sinks into the underground, asking up-front questions in a variety of reviews, features and interviews. Excellent coverage on an individual basis of those bands and individuals lucky enough to be featured in this solid zine from Michigan.

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Sabrewulf – Condemned

Sabrewulf make doomy music in the new interzone of hybrid between post-punk, metal and drone. These boxy riffs are aggressive and forthright, and hammer home a brainworm of a rhythm and then lapse into drone, as if subjugating the listener with a vision that cannot quite be realized in the present dimension.

(more…)

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Intolitarian – Berserker Savagery (2012)

In the intersection between harsh industrial noise and blasting war metal/grindcore, Intolitarian carves a place for itself by being unique in its absolute inferno of abrasive sound. These two tracks contain rasping vocals over abrasive waves of noise that sound like a high-tuned bass played through a storm of distortion, spaced out with loudspeaker spoken word designed to evoke a futuristic totalitarian feeling.

The Orwellian nature of this music takes the listener away from the now with a dramatic surge toward the extreme. Drumming resembles some of the more adventurous drum and bass from the late 1980s, riding a wave of gated grinding power electronic noise while the incessant vocals enunciate like a martial arts competition over the top. It is like a news report from hell, or from a future time when all pretense of humanity and morality has been cast aside.

As an intensely reductive medium, this type of grinding industrial noise has almost no musical elements: it is pure rhythm, pure spoken word, and pure texture, but no harmony or melody. The spoken word portions are produced to sound like either 1940s radio or the off-world propaganda spaceships from Blade Runner, giving it an apocalyptic military urgency. Every syllable throbs with violence.

If war metal were to go in this direction, it would get closer to its own ideal. All meaning is destroyed except conflict and propaganda. This isn’t music; it’s mental conditioning, from that moment during the midnight air raid when the world is shaking with explosions and the ranting of state propaganda from a nearby loudspeaker is the only comforting sound. It encourages survival, to push onward, and a confrontation with nothingness.

  1. Intolitarian – Weapon Of Revolution (21:10)
  2. Intolitarian – Death Campaign (23:05)

Intolitarian, Berserker Savagery, S.S.P., $10 (Hell’s Headbangers)

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The roots of metal: dark and occult Romanticism

You’re on the one metal site that has identified the roots of metal imagery, content and outlook: Romanticism, or the artistic movement which swept the West in response to the Enlightenment and consequent industrial revolution.

Some 240 works from more than 70 artists comprise the show, encompassing some 150 years of fascination with mysticism and the supernatural. The paintings, sculptures, photographs and films were created by prominent artists such as Francisco de Goya, William Blake, Caspar David Friedrich, Johann Heinrich Fuseli, Edvard Munch, René Magritte, Hans Bellmer, Salvador Dalí, and Max Ernst. While some come from the Städel’s own halls, others are on loan from internationally recognized collections like the Musée d’Orsay and Musée du Louvre in Paris, the Museo del Prado in Madrid and the Art Institute of Chicago.

'Abtei im Eichwald' (1809-1810) by Caspar David Friedrich

The exhibition categorizes the works both chronologically and geographically with an aim toward linking various interpretations of Romanticism, the post-Enlightenment movement that began sweeping across Europe by the end of the 18th century and continued its influence long after.- Der Spiegel

In literature, Romanticism includes Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, H.P. Lovecraft and E.A. Poe, from the later years of Romanticism.

In its earlier years, it includes Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, John Keats, John Milton and William Blake.

All of these feature prominently in metal lyrics, as do horror movies derived from those Gothic Romantic works.

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