Sorcier des Glaces‘ Ritual of the End, some of The Best Underground Metal of 2014, is coming out soon on compact cassette courtesy of Dread Records. French Canadian black metal maniacs who drive beat up old serial killer vans from the 80s like Buffalo Bill’s should pick it up. Everyone else should listen to Snowland MMXII and hate the human race.No Comments
Infamous have delivered us yet another split with a weaker but by no means incompetent band. Winter Darkness provide the almost filler this time on Symbols of Scarlet Revenge, playing somewhat generic, riff salad black metal that doesn’t really go anywhere special on this split has promise if they could unite the various parts together in order to express something greater than merely “We actually play black metal, we wrote riffs, they’re not random, and our music is not that so bad that it will make the Death Metal Underground editor press a power drill into his skull.”1 In their defense, Winter Blackness use RAC-like drumming, and songs that conserve sneering tension that sometimes resolves on “Demons of Winter Blackness” and leaves you wishing the band would explode on “Frozen Nocturnal Blood”. A slow burning match that burns out into darkness rather than lighting a fire is not the best way to conclude a record. At least Winter Darkness are way more aggressive than Gratzug’s half of the Infamous / Gratzug split.6 Comments
Compact cassette music sales rose 140% over last year. Wow, noise, and flutter! How quaint. Hipsters have declared their love for a format that, unlike the vinyl LP, does not even sound particularly good. The most commonplace Dolby noise reduction systems in most cassette decks cause immense loss of high end detail. Most hipsters collecting cassettes can’t even find a player with a properly aligned tape head. Most will probably be using ghetto blasters or Talkboys as they were six in 1992 when Home Alone 2 came out.16 Comments
Kaeck‘s Stormkult, Death Metal Underground’s 2015 Album of the Year, is out on cassette for all the Volvo station wagons, Ford Fiestas, Dodge Neons, and Mystery Machines lacking CD players. The cassette may be purchased at the Bandcamp link below while the original Folter Records CD is still available from many metal distributors.6 Comments
Profanatica‘s new album, The Curling Flame of Blasphemy, has been released early on tape by Hells Headbanger Records for jaded eighties headbangers with old cars and cassette decks. Profanatica being one of the few bands still releasing quality material in this age of rehashed mainstream pandering makes this worth checking out. A higher quality CD version for the audiophiles is coming out in late May and the LP for the hipsters in early August.21 Comments
Kaeck‘s Stormkult is about to be pressed to cassette by Heathen Tribes for all the heshers who still drive their parents’ 1990 Volvo station wagons. Death Metal Underground’s 2015 Album of the Year is perfect for blasting from your steel battle wagon or Dodge Neon to herald the coming of the god of this world to your fellow commuters.8 Comments
Floga Records is releasing a box set of Septic Flesh’s first era in cassette format. While this box-set is limited to 300 copies and the format is somewhat obscure, much of the content included is of high quality, as Septic Flesh’s early discography is one of the high points of Greek underground metal, measuring up to such luminaries as Rotting Christ, Varathron, and Necromantia.
Septic Flesh began their career playing rough death metal, but even on their earliest demo (Forgotten Path) showed signs of the melodic, atmospheric sound that would become their signature. The abrasive death metal elements would remain for some years, but the band’s heavy keyboard presence, an emphasis on consonant guitar leads, and elaborate compositions make for a a more contemplative experience than, for instance, the generally more aggressive American metal acts. Septic Flesh’s first full-lengths admittedly suffer from flaws in their production that detract from the possible intensity they could reach (like the use of a weak drum machine), but they still capitalize on the band’s ability to create ethereal soundscapes in the context of metal. Mystic Places of Dawn and Esoptron in particular are masterpieces of this style, effortlessly integrating this into the admittedly declining quantities of death metal that this era showcases.
Later albums in this collection showcase the band reaching simultaneously towards higher heights of orchestration and problematically trying to secure some gothic metal money. This niche became enormously popular in the mid-90s despite being so wide as to encompass similar acreage of musical ground. Septic Flesh never discarded their ability to write melodic hooks, but after 1995, they were quick to simplify their style and write more accessible, less cavernous songs. These changes become strikingly obvious on Revolution DNA, which trades in the mythological and occult themes of previous works for sleek, shining futurism. That the band manages to retain their melodic prowess makes it serve as a functional and adequate work of pop music, but it is truly a low point of the compilation. The band’s previous overtures towards the mainstream (primarily in the form of operatic vocalists) were spun off into their own project (Chaostar), and Septic Flesh was arguably sundered. In recent years, partially represented on this compilation’s finale, Sumerian Daemons, the band has embraced the great simplification of their past, albeit overlaid and decorated with modern metal technique and an orchestral presence, creating music that in its strengths resembles that of mainstream film music filtered through the extreme metal mold. The new Septic Flesh is a much louder and brutish beast, separated from the atmospheric voice it was born with, but hints of the past permeate even the band’s latest releases to give it strength in its darkest hours.
1991-2003 is excellent as a historical archive and a collector’s item, at least for those few who value compact cassettes. It is probably entirely useless outside that niche, although it’s always possible that a similar box set may come out in a more accessible format. In addition, like other comprehensive box sets, it comes with its share of chaff and filler. Individual albums by Septic Flesh should not be too difficult to find, though, and some of them have even been reissued with new artwork and bonus rarities. The early full lengths are certainly worth the listener’s time.5 Comments