Master – The Witchhunt

master-the_witchhuntUntil you succeed, you face a threat from competition. Once you succeed, you may face a worse threat, which is competition from yourself.

The history of Master may be divided into roughly two parts, those albums before …And On the Seventh Day God Created and after it. Before, Master was a proto-death metal with a punk and old school rock vibe; after, it was tight and rigid high intensity death metal.

The Witchhunt picks up on that style and adds a bit more melody and riffcraft, but returns to the classic punk-style open percussion that Master used on its earlier albums, but sped up. As a result, there’s less stop-start and more raging fast lead-picked riffs.

Other than that, not much has changed. Speckmann is still the primary songwriter and builds songs around a vocal rhythm and bassline, which his band cohorts fill with guitar riffs and drum patterns. The current lineup seems to have effected positive change in his sense of tempo and change.

Intensely consistent, Master sound like themselves on this album and thanks to some modernization of sound are competitive with the more intense bands out there. What might be great is if they expanded to use more riffing and less verse-chorus construction such that the band fully moved into the death metal era.

Speckmann’s vocals are both strained and emotional and gruff and functional at the same time, creating a type of voice of authority which channels the music between its extremities and coherence. Percussion is reminiscent of early Vader or Sinister.

While some will argue that this album offers nothing more than what Master has done in the past, The Witchhunt may surprise them. Songs are more distinctive in rhythm, riff and aesthetics, and the uptempo change has forced more efficiency in songwriting.

In other words, this is not “just another Master album,” but a steady improvement that is consistent both with the second era of Master and the general direction of the first. This makes it a complement to the near present and distant past.

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Sammath Godless Arrogance to be released February 3, 2014

sammath-godless_arroganceHammerheart Records has set a release date for the fifth Sammath album, Godless Arrogance, which will see worldwide release by the Dutch label on February 3, 2014.

You can hear a sample track in high definition at the Hammerheart Records Sammath Godless Arrogance page for “Fear Upon Them”. This track showcases not only the songwriting of the new album but the production you’ll hear which improves upon past Sammath releases.

Creating music in the style of fast ripping death metal with the underlying melody and moodiness of black metal, Sammath deliver a blast of fury and beauty that resembles the second Immortal album crossed with Fallen Christ. Godless Arrogance may help renovate metal in 2014.

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Parasitic Ejaculation – Rationing the Sacred Remains

parasitic_ejaculation-rationing_the_sacred_human_remainsBearing one of the more enjoyable band names of recent note, Parasitic Ejaculation bring a focused, percussive take on death metal while simultaneously grotesquely offending any person with mainstream sensibilities.

The band chooses to play death metal in its purest form, with a focus on the morbid and postmortem. Riffs naturally lead from one into the next, without ever letting the listener get complacent with verse-chorus simplicity. Instead, the songwriters focus on the underlying structure and how modifying its form can produce creative results.

Rationing the Sacred Remains utilizes competent instrumentalism in which all instruments are well-played and eject an exciting contribution to the whole. Steady low-pitched belches provide a framework that pushes the songs forward. In its best moments, the band plays in a highly evocative manner, in which melting chords and pinch-harmonics simulate the death throes of the prey of a violent predator.

However, at times the band seems to dip into parody, such as allowing harmonics to become the driving element of a song rather than as ornaments, in addition to incorporation of rhythms that become self-referential rather than contributive to the overall design. In such instances, the “spell” is broken and the listener is given the impression that the song is merely something to mosh to, rather than the art it has the potential of being.

Regardless, this is a band to keep an eye on as they refine their music into the future. Their debut album, Rationing the Sacred Remains, can be heard in full over at their Bandcamp page.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frlki3zvX9U

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Abominant – Onward to Annihilation

abominant-onward_to_annihilationAbominant make midwestern death metal which showcases its extensive and varied influences within the metal genre. Astute observers will note charging death metal like Afterlife, but simpler and more direct, mixed with heavily Iron Maiden influenced heavy metal.

Onward to Annihilation exhibits Abominant at the height of their powers, having been making metal for over two decades. The tempo changes are crisper, the riffs faster, and the vocals put the sore abraded throat sound of death metal singing to a powerful use. The lengthy fast and emotional bluesy solos are still rippling through the bridge riffs.

Songs are fundamentally riff salad wrapped around a verse-chorus construction like a DUI driver wraps her SUV around a light pole. Structures veer off the beaten path, but do so as a way of returning, and tend to go through a series of riffs from heavy metal and speed metal before returning to the death metal norm.

Abominant have improved on previous efforts by evening out the balance of melodic material to the rest, and keeping the intensity up by tossing out less intense riffs. This shows the band at their leanest and meanest, smashing their heavy metal-death metal fusion into the faces of an oblivious world.

Onward to Annihilation, Abominant’s 10th studio album, is out now on Deathgasm Records.

  1. We Are Coming
  2. Conquerors of Dust
  3. Left to Rot
  4. Battlescarred
  5. Onward to Annihilation
  6. Hold Your Ground
  7. Beside the Dying Flame
  8. Legions of Hell

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPwLppaGe04

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hn2Xo4t2iRM

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Scalpel “The Black Juices” stream from Sorrow and Skin

scalpel-sorrow_and_skinOn September 3rd, Sevared Records will release Sorrow and Skin from Boston Death Metal Force Scalpel. Unlike most metal music of this time, Scalpel preserves the old school compositional framework and incorporates some modern metal touches.

In style, Sorrow and Skin represents a mix between West Coast dynamism and East Coast rhythmic intensity in the style of metal pioneered by Suffocation and Deeds of Flesh. Working melody into their blasting intensity, the band craft small adventures in power chords.

DeathMetal.org is pleased and honored to be able to live stream a track, “The Black Juices,” from Scalpel’s Sorrow and Skin. As this release works its way through the underground we are convinced it will win over the dark hearts of many a metal fan.

Scalpel – “The Black Juices” – Sorrow and Skin [mp3]

Scalpel – “The Black Juices” – Sorrow and Skin [ogg]

Track List:

  1. Ripe
  2. Gutmulch
  3. The Woodsman
  4. The black juices
  5. Skullscraper
  6. Mincemaster
  7. Sentinels of Severed Flesh
  8. Sorrow and Skin
  9. The Exterminator/Human Slaw
  10. Unspeakable
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Scalpel – Sorrow and Skin

scalpel-sorrow_and_skinOne effect of the recent uptick in nostalgia bands and reunions is that newer bands have seen the light. This illumination is that if a band simply continues where the past left off, it can both have a unique perspective and uphold the traditions that have made metal great. This escapes the dual ills of false novelty and being a tribute band.

Scalpel combines the West Coast style of blasting percussive death metal, commonly called the Unique Leader sound after the label that signed the innovators of this style, with the East Coast post-Suffocation form of grinding pneumatic explosive technical death. The result is high-intensity percussion mated with simple riffs that proliferate into layered textures that expand in complexity as the song develops.

Sorrow and Skin will immediately call to mind recent Deeds of Flesh and Northeasterners Dehumanized, who made similar percussion-intensive death metal with similar pacing: frenetic, but with lots of pauses and interludes, drawing together high intensity moments like scenes in an atmospheric horror film. Scalpel pair up riffs and let them develop, but keep it simple so that no element rises above the others.

The result is high-intensity music that also has enough internal musical meat to keep the brain occupied and searching for meaning in its patterns, which creates a vertiginous effect of discovery when the unpredictable occurs. Use of melody allows songs to embed moods within previous sensations crafted only by the pattern of riffs.

While Scalpel uses little of metal’s classic phrasal riffing, preferring the more speed metal percussive and choppy styles, these riffs branch out to include different textures and rhythms. The result is a sense of each song like a mini-golf course, where each riff has a mechanism and after you play through, a surprise that reveals its purpose in the whole.

In keeping with the West Coast school of percussive death metal, Scalpel uses the “dog barking into the wind” style of vocals that are both guttural but not exclusively bass-heavy, giving them greater range to match instruments. The result packages a good deal of musical activity within songs that, while made from simple parts, end up being tiny visions of inward journeys that take us to more interesting places than the sum of their pieces.

    Track List

  1. Ripe
  2. Gutmulch
  3. The Woodsman
  4. The black juices
  5. Skullscraper
  6. Mincemaster
  7. Sentinels of Severed Flesh
  8. Sorrow and Skin
  9. The Exterminator/Human Slaw
  10. Unspeakable

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-wrs5R8Ebg

For more information about Scalpel, visit the band store or band website.

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Is nu/alt/indie metal at the same level of quality as old school underground death metal?

A reader writes:

Do you think the new underground waves bands like Cryptopsy are good like the old school bands. Or do you think that death metal is the only good option?

The new school metal has not, so far, come close to what the older death metal was able to do.

I don’t think this is stylistic, so much that people are thinking about different things. When you think about things like death metal, the big topics in life like death and justice and war, you are able to make death metal (complex thoughts). When you think about yourself, who are you gonna party with and what your parents are doing that you don’t like, you end up with nu-metal, metalcore, indie metal and other new-wave underground metal band types.

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Cóndor – Nadia

condor-nadiaOne of the enduring critiques of modern metal bands is their lack of stylistic coherence. The mashing of various genres and influences over the course of an album with no unifying principle produces a product that is difficult to absorb from start to finish.

On their newly released album Nadia, Cóndor attempt to solve this dilemma by creating what may best be described as contemplative metal. Composed with a purpose, the metal sections of the album album consist primarily of low-to-mid-paced riffs ranging the gamut from doom, death, and black metal. These are complimented by influences from progressive rock, in which tonal contrasts add nuance and a way of connecting differing parts within the album.

What this band does well is elegantly shaping this vast array of influences into a package that is understandable and actually enjoyable to listen to. Everything is structured with care and attention, avoiding the “genres in a blender” sensation that many of their contemporaries produce. Throughout the span of a single track, snapshots of each moment lead organically into the next, while low-pitched vocals provide a sturdy framework and induce continuity. At the conclusion of the album, the listener feels as if he experienced something meaningful, which is at the heart of metal and unfortunately is something that often seems missing among contemporary bands.

Curmudgeons (of which the author admittedly is) will initially be put off by the non-metal elements and unorthodox structure. However, when viewed in context of the whole, these fall into place and do achieve meaning within the album, producing something both the strident Hessian and modern metal fan can appreciate.

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Rippikoulu – Musta Seremonia

rippikoulu-musta_seremoniaRippikoulu are a relatively unknown Finnish band whose potential was cut short because the band never developed past the demo phase after the death of the main songwriter. The first death metal band to “sing” entirely in Finnish, Rippikoulu saw a significant rise in popularity in the internet age, releasing their second and final 1993 demo on CD and vinyl through Svart Records in 2010.

One of many bands from Finland to realize the potency in doom elements in death metal, Rippikoulu quickly switched gears from the Bolt Thrower Realm of Chaos meets Autopsy style of their first demo into a morbid, down tuned style more along the lines of Lost Paradise stylistically updated by Incantation’s cavernous style similar to many other early 90s experiments like Mythic or Disembowelment, with similarly mixed results.

The music here eschews the ambient gestures of Disembowelment and Thergothon entirely, opting for a more bludgeoning, rhythmic approach. Like Winter, slow doom passages move forth at a glacial pace and are highlighted by macabre lead melodies in a manner similar to early Amorphis or Paradise Lost.

Unfortunately, these parts are the highlights of the songs, as they are sandwiched between often disconnected Incantation-esque blasting sections or Bolt Thrower heavy rhythm riffs. Too often, the excessive down tuned rhythms gets repetitive to the point of going nowhere (tracks one and four) or seeming like an in-between for the “money riff” effect of ponderous doom riffs (track two). Here we hear the weakness of the band in their inability to marry these opposing elements through developed riff sequences like Bolt Thrower on War Master. The other tracks feel more like complete statements but the speedier rhythm riffs are often sparse compared to their sluggish counterparts.

While the band successfully conveys the aura of mystique that made the Finnish death metal scene revered by many, this release was perhaps a bridge to them moving on to doomier terrain as evidenced best by the most focused track, “Pimeys Yllä Jumalan Maan,” sounding more like Skepticism covering Incantation at their slowest.

The good news is that this release functions well as divisions of a singular idea, much like how Belial’s Wisdom of Darkness used repetitive songs with shared themes to their advantage, giving the listening experience a ritualistic quality. It’s a great alternative to what the modern OSDM scene is currently churning out, but much like God Macabre’s The Winterlong, it is more a collection of slight variations on a theme than an album.

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Master to release The Witchhunt

master-the_witchhuntOn September 27, famous proto-death metal band Master unleash The Witchhunt, the band’s twelfth album since the early days when Paul Speckmann moved from heavy metal band War Cry to the more punk-influenced band Death Strike, who released their classic and only album Fuckin’ Death at about the same time Master released its first opus.

(If you ask us, the Master albums to get are Collection of Souls and the Master-related band Speckmann Project’s self-titled album, which contains many updated versions of classic Master works.)

Over the past two decades, Master has steadily been abandoning its heavy metal and bounding punk influenced style for a tighter, more complex, and more rigid attack that compares favorably to mid-1990s death metal.

The new Master album, featuring musicians Paul Speckmann recruited in his new home nation of Czech Republic, has an even tighter and more energetic sound. If the past is any guide, this will be an album to enjoy for all death metal, heavy metal, punk and blues fans.

  1. The Witchhunt
  2. Plans of Hate
  3. Another Suicide
  4. Waiting to Die
  5. The Parable
  6. God of Thunder
  7. Remove the Clowns
  8. Raise your Sword
  9. Wipe out the Aggressor
  10. Manipulated to Exterminate
  11. The American Dream

For updates and to see if Master is coming to your town, check out the band’s official homepage.

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