Sold to us by a promo company as “melodic” death/black metal, Des Endes Anfang by Tranquillizer (sic) is an ungainly fusion of In Flames type melodeath, Pantera flavored brocore grooves, and maybe a slight hint of extreme metal writing at times… by mistake. It occasionally amuses me to see a long-abandoned style of pop metal get some attention after years of neglect, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that this album is simply terrible. It’s so bad that I’ve decided to explicitly label it a bad album, in spite of my tendency to pass off most of the review subjects here at DMU as mediocre (medio-core?) and forgettable.
The songwriting here, admittedly, is only weak in a pedestrian fashion. If you were to strip away all the references to past forms of mainstream metal, you’d end up with just another set of random, generic metal riffs like so many albums before this; nothing actually worth discussing. To be fair, Tranquillizer’s “varied” influences give them a wide set of material to pull upon, similar to something like Children of Bodom‘s latest. I Worship Chaos is actually a decent comparison; Tranquillizer doesn’t have the neoclassical backing that helped contribute to that band’s popularity, but they do replace it with slightly more varied (albeit stupid sounding) vocals. In this reviewer’s opinion, that’s not a great trade, but it’s not like either point of comparison has any real merit.
While the substrate of this band is hollow at best, most of what I find contemptible in Des Endes Anfang is its immediately apparent, surface level stupidity. A clean, dry, sterile production allows the panderingly simplistic rhythms of this album to burst forth, as well as a dual vocal system of generic shrieks and vomited grunts. For our purposes, it should suffice to say that this is, at best, a modern rehash of older substyles. You could make the case that none of this is innately bad, despite its similarities to previous bad metal albums, but even if you did, it seems apparent that Tranquillizer doesn’t have the musical knowledge or aptitude to make this album come off as more than half-hearted worship of a warmed over god. Not that I should be raising our old whipping posts to the level of divinity, but the analogy is sound, and Des Endes Anfang isn’t exactly worthy of more precise flogging.
Today sees the release of “The Fool”, which is definitely the first single from Fleshgod Apocalypse’s upcoming King, and apparently the first time they’ve ever released a promotional single. It certainly seems to cast the band’s music in a poppier light than you’d expect from the rest of the marketing material; consonant orchestral sections and generic melodeath progressions alternate in rapid succession with occasional clean choruses making for an especially basic experience. It seems as if Fleshgod Apocalypse’s modus operandi is to shock and awe potential customers with the novelty of their sound and the clear technical and organizational aptitude that it takes to perform it. If you end up converted and purchase the entire album (which you should be able to starting on February 5th, 2016), don’t be surprised if you tire of it after only a few tracks.
Many lost “gems” have been reissued to capture undiscerning millennial money. Most never found a market as they weren’t up to par. The Death Metal Underground hopes that readers were not gifted any of these on the Unconquered Sun’s birthday.
Hydra Vein – Rather Death than False of Faith (1988) Raining blood, from a lacerated sky! What? This isn’t Slayer. What the hell is this? Did Tom Araya have too much to drink? Wait this idiot’s British and doing drunken Motorhead karaoke and Kerry King air guitar solos at the pub. The cover looks like a ten year old’s Clash of the Titans fan art. This album is a fifteen year old’s Slayer fan art. Maybe if I drink half a bottle of whiskey my brain will think Hydra Vein is actually Slayer. I could just turn it off and play Slayer.
Morpheus – Son of Hypnos (1993) Morpheus (no relation to Morpheus Descends) was an early nineties musical project put together by four residents of a Stockholm group home. The vocalist sounded like Sylvester Stallone imitating Glenn Benton, the guitarists idolized the Hoffmans, and everyone attempted to cover Kreator. During the recording sessions, the band members expressed situational homosexual behavior by prostate massaging one another with their genitalia. The orgasmic screams of these disturbed sodomites echoed jungle fowl being rended by monkeys. Son of Hypnos makes for an amusing pornographic soundtrack.
Bloodstone – Hour of the Gate(1996)
Hour of the Gate was produced by Tomas Skogsberg and Fred Estby at Sunlight Studios. I hit play and instead of crusty Swedeath my ears hear Incantation’s “Profanation” breaking down into Necrophobic riffing. Then Gothenburg leads and more Profanation. That lick’s from Megadeth. How many salads were tossed here? The shit-buttered anus of death metal was licked right well and clean. I need to get a drink. I blacked out listening to this turkey. This CD was not repressed as history wanted to black it out too.
Sacrificial – Forever Entangled (1993)
The sound of groove riffs ‘cross the glade,
Heshers cover your ears in horror.
This death trash is rather staid
Chugging along into the gutter.
Pantera meets Destruction
What a horrible production
Vocals are just way too loud.
Matti Karki would not be very proud.
Many metal songs are raped.
Their holes torn apart and gaped.
Watched Blackadder the Third.
Another reissued turd.
Martin van Drunen may be out of Hail of Bullets, but he still apparently has time to dedicate to Asphyx. After releasing a demo compilation on compact cassette earlier this year (Embrace the Death) and touring throughout South America (see the silly attached video), the band is now working on a new studio album. The band’s Facebook page claims the band will spend January 2016 working on the new album’s material, and furthermore that this will be their first album to feature Stefan ‘Tormentor’ Hueskens on percussion. No official release date has been set yet, and the band’s previous album(Deathhammer) didn’t go over well on the DMU forums back in its day, but that this upcoming album is planned is at least relevant to our interests.
Freaked out by the refusal of metal to bow to their guilt-induced accusations, SJWs have reverted to their first tactic: acting as wise teachers, instructing us in how metal thinks, which always includes the narrative of progress and enlightenment replacing those bad old ways.
The latest comes from Vice, which should know better but keeps hiring cheap talent. In this year-end review, somehow an agenda of political control slips in:
Once the go-to genre for tasteless gore and shock value, most younger bands seem to have cleaned up their image. The violent misogyny that frequently appeared in the genre’s golden age is now passé if you’re not a generic slam band. There just isn’t any room for “Entrails Ripped From a Virgin’s Cunt” or “Skin Her Alive” in today’s metal scene, and more importantly fans have responded angrily when actual violence against women occurs, as blackened death band Deiphago learned when guitarist Sidalpa was accused of punching a woman in the face backstage.
…Death metal listeners are also clearly taking a stand against racism. Over the summer, Malevolent Creation were raked over the coals because of blatantly racist and xenophobic Facebook posts. In the fall, Disma were booted from multiple festivals due to frontman Craig Pillard’s alleged Nazi associations. Netherlands Deathfest organizers said that “at least 10 bands” would have refused to play on the same bill as Disma had they not been removed. Pillard is a major figure in the scene, having been an integral part of Incantation’s prime years, but even in the normally apolitical (and extremely white) world of death metal, fans and artists are starting to lose patience with prejudice—even if the majority of listeners are not yet swinging left.
…So, what is the state of death metal in 2015? The music is still as vital as ever and the genre is flooded with talented musicians.
“Vital as ever” seems a stretch considering how the writer struggled to find examples and came up with very little other than classic bands continuing, but in order for his narrative to succeed, he has to brainwash the audience into believing that the new material is just as good as the old. And as usual, this is implied to “prove” that metal has simply matured, not been taken over by the same people who converted hardcore punk into insipid soundalike material in the name of political correctness.
The group organizers issued the following statement:
This group was founded to promote the idea that bands should stay out of Baltimore or risk millennial crybabies attempting to ruin band’s careers over the numerous things they find offensive. Every city has this problem, true. But, the children of Baltimore have made this particular city undesirable for having a good time and enjoying a show.
ENTER BALTIMORE AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Once in the underground, #metalgate is heating up as people oppose the idea of censorship and political conformity in metal. Many remember what such herd-thinking did to hardcore in the 1980s and the attempts to censor metal from right and left during the same decade. Others simply believe that genres dedicated to extremity should keep all ideas on the table, especially when the standard of political conformity seems to agree with what most governments, media and large corporations endorse. Time will tell.
This unruly album launches into a mid-paced, melodic death metal style and then turns up the intensity with constant pounding rhythm. Each song builds itself around a distinctive riff and uses modifications of it to fashion structure out of a stream of creative guitar work that aims first to make a strong statement, and only later to make it fit within a groove the audience can appreciate.
Vocals follow the riffs, giving guitars plenty of room to experiment, and consist of a harsh-throated partial enunciation that allows them to serve as a rhythm and textural instrument. Songs develop according to a rhythm emphasized by both the primary riff and the chorus, evoking the notion of Immolation hybridized with Sodom, and the rest of the song plays with that fundamental tension, although most of the song consists of a verse-chorus loop with one riff per section. Some songs show a riff sensibility derived from European giants such as Demigod and Sinister.
Unlike almost everything that flies over my desk, this band stands on their own, not as much stylistically as in composition. These songs pop out of the album as independent, and while there are many similar rhythms and tempi used, these are interrupted by many changes that shape the chaos into a smooth expression. For a band that works in the area of later classic death metal to withstand modernity and go its own way, and do so smoothly, is exceptional and results in an enjoyable release.
Thanks to Kunal Choksi at Transcending Obscurity, we are able to present this exclusive stream of “Manicheism Inertia” from Dying Alone by Affliction Gate:
Insision take on the dying underground by combining brutal death metal, early technical death metal and adding in mild touches of modern death metal, creating a sound that hammers its listeners with intensity but works melodic leads and song construction into the mix for variety and depth. The result is a cornucopia of charging riffs and melodic turnarounds, in a style similar to later Gorguts mixed with Deeds of Flesh.
The band makes skillful use of dynamics to intensify songs and carefully presents each as a standalone concept. Guttural vocals ride the rhythm riff but break away to freestyle over the more open patterns. This allows Insision to work atmosphere into the blasting and otherwise violent guitar work. Fans of classic German speed metal like Destruction and Kreator will notice similarities as the album goes on; like the best from those bands, Terminal Reckoning uses single chord riffs with chromatic fills for pure rhythm effect.
If this album could improve, it would be in more internal diversity of riff and pace. Its use of melody thrusts aside the modern metal conventions and instead serves to develop songs, which avoids the becalming effect of too much similarity, and the interplay of vocals and guitar follows the mid-80s style instead of trying to constantly contrast the riffs. That and its inherent aggressive attack allows this album to escape the modern metal doldrums and bring back much of what fans adored in old school, technical and brutal death metal.
Thanks to Cátia Cunha from Against PR, Sevared Records and Insision, we can present to you the following streaming track from Terminal Reckoning
Black metal emerged as a reaction to the trend of death metal which had already established a musical vocabulary and through that achieved a higher degree of technicality as well as abstraction.
These bands took inspiration from the proto-black Hellhammer, Venom, Bathory and Sodom. The music of these early hybrid bands was quite unlike what became the second wave of black metal or death metal in that its motifs were simple yet concrete; overlaid onto a structure which juxtaposes seemingly unrelated motifs next to one another in an uncomplicated and often superficially nonsensical form. Yet, the result was surprisingly successful as a visceral and chaotic experience of raw, concrete, sensory imagery.
The black metal to follow refined this approach through retaining much of the simplicity and visceral nature of the earlier music while placing the motifs in a more logical format through phrasal composition, in which each riff has a shape created by its phrase and these form a language within each song. This and the trademark atmospheric riffs driven by waves of reverb and tremolo picking – largely invented by the Norwegian bands of note – came to define the public perception of black metal as a genre. Consequently, the Norwegian sound moved away from the rhythmic lineage of rock to music to something closer to the traditional western sensibility: harmony and melody over static, invariant rhythm as famously codified by the experimental gothic sensibilities of Transilvanian Hunger.
Profanatica, from what can be intuited from rare interviews, had strong reactions towards both the Norwegian sound and death metal itself. As such their music took on a different character which has not garnered the band near as much acclaim. The Norwegian sound is, after all, is the standard against which all black metal music is held. Given the fact that all genres are imposed by observation after the fact, it seems that the difference between Profanatica and the Norwegian giants is not one of quality, but of a band not fitting within the aesthetic boundaries of a genre that the audience expects. That and the mad rush for Norwegian black metal pushed Profanatica to the boundaries of the black metal movement where its influence on artists and hardcore fans tells a different story of its importance.
Much like the Norwegians, Profanatica refined the approach of its influences by emphasizing an incoherent structure and seemingly random construction. The motifs themselves are anything but abstract; often sounding vaguely familiar if not recycled both literally and intuitively. The listener will detect a clear sense of familiarity with the image of a particular motif, yet its contextual placement is such that it reveals a new perspective on something familiar. To draw a metaphor, it is as if one obtains a view of the same landscape from the peak of different mountains. This freedom of association allows a particular feeling, idea or image to be used as appropriate, anywhere in a song without sounding out of place. That particular innovation is unique to this band alone.
Structurally, Profanatica develop the proto-black method by emphasizing its motif contrast and non-rational composition. The infamous “Weeping in Heaven” demonstrates this technique through a collection of riff ideas which bears little relationship to one another, nor are treated in such a way that might cause the music to blend seamlessly. The contrast is emphasized which leaves the listener in a position to experience the music on an intuitive level. The result speaks to the body and it speaks towards the id. Logical progression, causality and abstract musical language are rejected abjectly. Profanatica embraces the rhythmic tradition of non-Western forms; using it to give meaning to chaos and incoherence of raw experience. Where one might perceive conceptual weakness and compositional immaturity in the early black metal music, Profanatica matured their approach to the point of strength.
The greatest contrast between the Norwegian sound and their influences lay at the relationship between the subject and the perceiver. The musical component of the proto-black bands described the emotional reactions to a phenomenon portrayed, resulting in the internal discourse one expects when reacting to the representations given to them by their nervous system. The Norwegian sound attempts to paint the external world through its musical discourse. The valuations of the perceiver are never absent quite absent and serve to describe the relationship of the internal world to the external. It asks the question, “where do we fit in the image of the world as presented?”
In a sense it attempts to categorize a dark forest in nonverbal symbols. Profanatica, resting firmly in the proto-black tradition, presents the terror of a solitary human being in a forest without describing the forest itself through its musical symbols. The dialogue then, becomes a matter of internal sensation which is untamed and instinctual. In terms of artistry, that innovation ultimately expanded the initial range of expression without reasoning categorically about it.
The effectiveness of this particular approach may be observed on the medley from the Grand Masters Sessions release. The track consists of portions of the band’s demo material stitched together to form a single track. A listener familiar with Profanatica’s back catalog will no doubt sense the familiarity of the material yet what is most striking is the functionality of the piece as a whole. Despite being composed from entirely different songs, the song involves juxtaposition of each motif and its partial ordering, and as a result manages a level of unity as a stream of consciousness which reveals new perspectives on the material through context.
Profanatitas de Domonatia (2007) distills the familiar Incantation sound made famous on their debut record Onward to Golgotha – which Paul Ledney had a strong hand in developing – by stripping the material down to its most basic instincts. The result is a fierce and destructive force of will whose aim is deconstruction. The follow up Disgusting Blasphemies Against God saw the band barbarizing the famous emotional sensitivity of black metal’s melodic heritage and assembling those remains into hideous totems. The record’s defining characteristic is, after all, something of a crescendo implying the process of construction, perhaps out of the remains of that which its predecessor tore down. The latest record, Thy Kingdom Cum, lays siege to its two previous approaches by simplifying its rhythms to the point of idiocy while contorting its melodic forms to the point of mockery. The defining character of its predominant motifs is laughter which can be gleaned easily in the opening moments of the track “False Doctrina.” The aforementioned qualities are not something which need to be abstracted from the music; they are clear and obvious.
Profanatica’s approach is much like an uncivilized warband conducting raids on the civilized. Such groups are as much a tribal patchwork out of violent young men as they are a patchwork of the spoils of their activities: contradictory compositions of the basic human and technological components of a greater civilization whose assemblage is entirely pragmatic and allows for them to serve functions other than intended, but no less effective than their original purpose. Out of elements bound tenuously is something effective, something purposeful, something deadly. The world this music operates in is one which is defined almost entirely by nature rather than one defined by humans.
Where proto-black metal is defined by its visceral nature and deconstructive character, Profanatica embrace the ignorance in a brash display of unconcern for the perfume-soaked intellectuals which decry those outside their borders. Dwelling within the primitive backwater fringe has its advantages by bearing immunity to the abstract and desperate silliness of the rest of the genre. The similarly-goaled war metal attempts to reach back into black metal’s foundations but does so in a way which reduces the motif as an objectified emotion or image into pure texture reducing its communicative efficacy. The work of Ledney and company retains the concrete sensory experiences which drove metal in each of its original incarnations and were later given musical scrutiny before completely fossilizing, allowing their art to pick the last of the low-hanging fruit of metal as a form while others languish in petty revivalism, soulless displays of technical mastery, or vapid experimentation that desperately seeks revitalization by looking to external music genres; copying but not transforming its clichés.
When you’re like us and operate on the assumption that most metal music is bad (or at least mediocre), you probably want to avoid Cannibal Corpse, since they’re still kind of the poster child of lame albeit studio-proficient death metal. In case you don’t, you can always see them on their upcoming US tour. As mentioned in the title, Obituary, Cryptopsy, and Abysmal Dawn will be supporting them. The first two bands in that selection admittedly produced some good content in their early days, but seem to be operating at a similar level of tired rehashes these days. Tickets will go on sale this Friday (December 11th), so you should soon be able to ignore our warning if you feel doing so is absolutely necessary.