Undead – False Prophecies

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Undead plays a well-tried formula of simple, middle-paced death metal while achieving effective songwriting. At times we can hear a tinge of Scandinavian sound, while some other parts scream out early and straight up U.S. death metal like Obituary or Death in Spiritual Healing. This isn’t as complex, structure-wise, as Cause of Death (which isn’t very complex to begin with either), and so approaches Schuldiner’s ultra simplistic death metal much more. Having mentioned both bands, fans of James Murphy’s work in them will not be disappointed with the soloing in False Prophecies.

This album shows the perfect balance between variety of content and consistency in style with clarity of voice. Songs do not sound like they are based on a template (even if they are, the important thing is that they do not appear like they are, that is the final product), but you can easily recognize them as belonging together. As in any album with good songwriting, the mood and character of riffs from one section of the song flows and dives into the next, carrying the listener forward without the obstacle of forced expressions. This style is heavily based on introducing appropriate variations in riff character without deviating from the mood at all.

The weaknesses of this album may lie in individual riffs, which in the end does more merit to the songwriting abilities of these gentlemen. This is to say, if you make a boring riff, sound appropriate, useful, and driving because of its context, then you have succeeded in your task as a composer. Still, this minor complaint will be on the minds of metalheads as it is the nature of the genre to look forward to strong riffs, the muscles of metal, even more important in the straight forward style of Undead.

Undergang – Døden Læger Alle Sår

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Playing a cavernous underground music, Undergang have crystallized a style in Døden Læger Alle Sår that harks back to the sound not only of obvious Scandinavian forefathers but also to that of Morpheus Descends and Demoncy. Rather than spiraling through serpentine corridors as Incantation does, Undergang uses vocabulary from the Swedeath lingo here, and then the atmospheric death metal riff of Morpheus Descends there, only to descend into a the more inconspicuous atmospheric tremoloing of Demoncy to further the expression. Enriching this mixture of influences, we can also find unexpected doom-like moments with the economical and spacious approach of Worship.

Even though all these are present in Døden Læger Alle Sår, the style parade that a collection of influences often results in is not present here. It is also very important to stress that Undergang does not fall into trope repetition nor does it wink at the listener with a cliche here and a cliche there. The band expertly appropriates the different stylistic conventions under a overall Swedish death metal mantle and, more impressively, escapes the cliches of the latter as well. The reason why it can work is because the grindy Nihilist, the American Morpheus Descends and the decorative ends in Demoncy and Worship – like breaths are all compatible. It is only unfortunate that while all this has been accomplished, Undergang’s own voice still seems only visible as a blurry image behind this coherent, translucid tapestry.

Entrails stream track Obliterate

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Two weeks away from the release of their next full-length album, Obliteration, Entrails are giving the public a small taste of what is to come. Captured by guitarist Jimmy Lundqvist at his own Bloodshed Studios and mixed and mastered by the famous musician and producer Dan Swanö (Edge Of Sanity, Bloodbath, Aeon, Hail Of Bullets etc.) at Unisound, Obliteration is a nine-track old-school Swedish death metal album.

Producer Dan Swanö commented:

I guess Entrails have sold their souls to the Devil because there is no other way to explain how a band that’s been doing the same style of SweDeath for more than twenty years, can keep making better and better records! In fact, some of the tracks on this album are among the best death metal songs I have ever heard. Such a great album…it pisses me off!

You can listen to Obliterate on Soundcloud.

Into Oblivion / Disinterred Split – Oblivion’s Oceans (2013)

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Being a split, it is necessary to judge both bands here separately and the release itself as a whole. Both bands play death metal, but while the former is provisioned with a modern war-doom arsenal, the latter seem at least partially influenced by Scandinavian old-school black/death tremolo riffing. The production itself is much more clear and powerful in Into Oblivion’s songs.

Into Oblivion play death metal in a combination of modern voices including saturated style of war metal and the heavy, doom-oriented riffing of certain sludge bands. The more impetuous of these is reminiscent of Teitanblood or Heresiarch, except it is difficult to distinguish an original personality present in Into Oblivion’s music. Individually, some sections are engaging, even mesmerizing and  beautiful (the beginning of By this Marvel Overthrown) but as a whole, the result is far from outstanding. Construction of the songs could be deemed lazy and/or cheap, advancing through alternations of saturated and doom textures by inserting riffs that are played until their momentum runs out and its balancing counterpart is inserted, and not according to a direction or necessity of expression in the music.

Disinterred also play with this alternation of fast and slow sections, except that Disinterred is better able to maintain a train of thought and expand it. The songs in this latter half seem more mature, the converging styles in it being more difficult to disentangle, a more solid product arising from a clear vision making use of its influences. One can also observe the use of saturation, but instead of a modern war metal, we have a disguised and worked Scandinavian spell at work. A strong advice for Disinterred would be to get rid of the triggered drums and do away with the cheap double-bass-drum-saturated  drum fills that sound like Godflesh Apocalypse hiding its lack of ideas. This second half of the split brings a visible shape into focus, a haunting shadow reflecting the maddened character of the music. Still, it is only a vague shadow which Disinterred have not finished summoning just yet.

At this point, Oblivion’s Oceans shows us what is mostly a soulless collection of voices. Despite this, there is some promise in the music. Personally, this writer would not place too much hope on the nature of these bands changing or growing much as the nature of proper death metal bands itself seems to be monolithic. Any attempt to change them often results in their destruction and watering down. Few manage achieving the required reincarnation, often coming to life again as a simpler life form.

 

Zealotry Announces New Drummer

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Boston-Quebec old-school technical death metalers Zealotry have announced that Alex Zalatan (Inhumatus) will be joining their ranks as the band’s permanent drummer. Zalatan will be in charge of percussion duties for Zealotry’s upcoming sophomore release, The Last Witness. Besides mastermind Roman Temin, Zealotry’s line up also includes Phil Tougas, single member of the project Chthe’ilist, on lead guitars.

Zealotry have made the following announcement on their facebook page:

It is with great pleasure that we announce today that for the first time in our history Zealotry has a permanent drummer.
Alex Zalatan, also of Inhumatus, Cymatics and Burial Moss.
Alex will be performing on our upcoming second album The Last Witness and any future shows we play. We’re very excited abut having someone of his considerable talents behind the drum kit for us.

A demo of what is to come in the second album was uploaded in 2014 and can be heard here.

 

 

Classical String Quartets for the Death Metal Fan, A Second Look

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In order to help death metallers make a smooth transition into string quartets, the first edition of this series presented the reader with two quartets that are superficially and at least partially, in terms of a simplistic judgement of mood, akin to underground death metal. Today, we will venture into a territory that is equally relevant to metal, composition-wise, not because metal artists compose in this way, but as I suggested last time, because there are many ideas relating to refinement that could be extrapolated and applied in a death metal context. In order to make this transition smoothly, one of the quartets introduced in this second edition is still superficially dark in atmosphere.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: String Quartet No. 19, “Dissonance”

Nicknamed after the prominent dissonances right at beginning of the first movement, it was the last of six quartets that Mozart dedicated to Haydn, who defined the classical way to write for string quartets. Even Beethoven recalls a before-and-after marked by the study of Haydn’s quartets. Mozart describes these quartets as “the culmination of a long and laborious effort” and many think it is the display of composer’s finest faculties.

As with any string quartet, the listener is encouraged to pay attention to each moment, absorb it, but not dwell on it. References to the exercise in dissonance application to an otherwise strict style can be found in other places in the quartet. A challenge may be to spot where this happens. We can start trying to wait for the moment in the second movement when the cello receives a leading line and the rest of the instruments play dissonant harmonies around it.

 

Béla Viktor János Bartók: String Quartet No. 4

An important influence to many from Benjamin Britten to King Crimson’s Robert Fripp, Bartók’s string quartets’ particular sound owed a great deal to the composer’s extensive field research on European folk music. Paul Wilson in his book, The Music of Béla Bartók, wrote that it was this research that allowed the composer to rid himself of the “tyrannical rule of the major and minor keys, leading eventually to a new conception of the chromatic scale, every tone of which came to be considered of equal value and could be used freely and independently.”. The astute and attentive observer may note that this, Bartók’s fourth string quartet, uses no prominent themes (complete musical expressions in themselves), but advances through developing motifs (musical cryptograms) only.

Masacre to release new album Brutal Aggre666ion

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Colombian true living Death Metal legends MASACRE have inked a deal with Xtreem Music for the European version of their latest album “Brutal Aggre666ion”, the 5th in their long career for this band formed back in 1988 that has built a truly incorruptible cult status as one of the most mythic south american bands ever!!

First released only for the colombian territory through the band’s own label Mórbida Prod. in October 2014, “Brutal Aggre666ion” is another solid step in the band’s discography, showing a truly brutal form of Death Metal in their traditional style, empowered, once again, by the production skills of HATE ETERNAL/ ex-MORBID ANGEL’s Erik Rutan at his own Mana Studios in Tampa, Florida.

Track listing for “Brutal Aggre666ion” is as follows:

1. La Guerra
2. Mutilated
3. Bullets
4. War in Hell
5. Donde Habital el Mal
6. Satanic Peace Agreement
7. Reality Death
8. The Calm Before the Storm
9. Valle de la Muerte

 

Deicide and Entombed A.D. to kick off the “Metal Alliance Tour” this month

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Floridian death metal masters Deicide will be back on the road again this month, this time as headliners of the “Metal Alliance Tour”! Joining them on the run is Swedish death metal legends Entombed A.D., along with Hate Eternal, Black Crown Initiate, Lorna Shore, and Svart Crown – making this one bill not to miss!

Ddeicide’s Glen Benton (bass/vocals) comments:

It’s with great pleasure to announce our involvement in this year’s Metal Alliance Tour 2015. We look forward to bringing our style of extreme…satanic death metal to all who attend and seeing old friends and making new ones as we travel the highways and byways of this great country of ours…As always we can’t wait to get out there and do what we do best…Crush…HAIL!

Entombed A.D.’s L-G Petrov (vocals) adds:

It’s going to be really good to tour the States again after a long absence overseas– and doing it with The Metal Alliance Tour is a great comeback! We are looking forward to sharing the stage with all the bands on the bill. Expect total headbang!!!

See below for all upcoming dates!

Metal Alliance Tour” dates feat. DEICIDE, ENTOMBED A.D., HATE ETERNAL, BLACK CROWN INITIATE, LORNA SHORE, SVART CROWN
May 26 – Montreal, QC @ Theatre Corona
May 28 – Columbus, OH @ Alrosa Villa
May 30 – Indianapolis, IN @ Emerson Theater
May 31 – Chicago, IL @ Metro
June 1 – St. Paul, MN @ Amsterdam
June 2 – Kansas City, MO @ Riot Room*
Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews**
June 3 – Denver, CO @ Summit Music Hall
June 5 – Spokane, WA @ The Pin!
June 6 – Seattle, WA @ Studio Seven
June 7 – Portland, OR @ Tonic Lounge
June 8 – Oakland, CA @ Metro Opera House
June 9 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Regent Theater
June 11 – Las Vegas, NV @ LVCS
June 12 – Mesa, AZ @ Club Red
June 13 – El Paso, TX @ Mesa Music Hall
June 14 – Lubbock, TX @ Depot “O” Bar Live*
Houston, TX @ TBC**
June 15 – Austin, TX @ Empire Garage
June 16 – Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Live!
June 18 – New York, NY @ Gramercy Theater
June 19 – Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar
June 20 – Charlotte, NC @ Tremont Music Hall
June 21 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl**
June 22 – Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum**

* = DEICIDE, HATE ETERNAL, BLACK CROWN INITIATE, LORNA SHORE
** = ENTOMBED A.D., SVART CROWN

Nex Carnis – Obscure Visions of Dark

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Iranian band Nex Carnis plays death metal in the old school vein with flashes of what they describe as experimentation. The actual state of affairs is a little different. The old school differences are pretty clear as one can hear the spirit of Morbid Angel and Sinister in the music.  But there is also a tendency towards phrasings and sound paintings that would be completely at home with more surreptitiously mainstream acts like Sylosis or Goatwhore. Regarding the descriptive term experimental there is much to be said.

To begin with, every time the word experimental is used to describe any album, it causes cautious eyebrows to be raised. Here is a wiki-description of what is  experimental music:

Elements of experimental music include indeterminate music in which the composer introduces the elements of chance or unpredictability with regard to either the composition or its performance. There are many ideas broadly utilized by experimental musicians which are not, however, strictly experimental music concepts, having seen significant application prior to the advent of experimental music, particularly by the avant garde. Examples include: extended techniques (Instrumental or vocal performance techniques that step outside (often far outside) conventional performance techniques) and graphic notation (music which is written in the form of diagrams or drawings. Other elements include “Prepared” instruments—ordinary instruments modified in their tuning or sound-producing characteristics; using instruments, tunings, rhythms or scales from non-Western musical traditions; using sound sources other than conventional musical instruments, such as trash cans, telephone ringers, or doors slamming; creating experimental musical instruments for enhancing the timbre of compositions and exploring new techniques or possibilities; using a tape loop to create a tape phase; and removing perceived barriers of traditional concert settings by putting performers scattered among the audience.

In other words, mostly gimmicky music. Music that intends to attract through the use of unconventional techniques. The very nature of experimental music, it has huge pitfalls, a dangerous land which only the most visionary and steadfast artists tread safely. One of these treks was successfully undertaken by the Candian band Gorguts and  the result was Obscura. Incredibly aware and well-constructed, but also conventional and even orthodox death metal which could only be described as experimental in regards to the guitar techniques, pitches and noises they used in their improvisation-born riffs.

Obscure Visions of Dark, however, are more in line with the experimentation as exemplified by Deathspell Omega. Although not going to the extreme that band went to, Nex Carnis’ music is characterized by digressions and branch-outs from the main ideas in the songs. These often take the form of atmospheric interludes. Nex Carnis will appeal to Deathspell Omega fans looking for something slightly more conventional and inconspicuous.

UnKured – Mutated Earth

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A riff-salad is often deemed to be intrinsically affiliated to music with no order and random ideas.  But the best use of this song-writing approach make use of different kinds relationships between one riff and the next, and between all riffs in the song. Given the superficial independence of motifs and patterns of different riffs, stylistic consistency is, above all, indispensable.

Advertised as Thrash, UnKured make schyzophrenic music materializing the worse riff-salad nightmares.  Not only does each new riff that comes do away with whatever the previous riff was saying, but influences from the most undefined and messy prog-speed albums like The Sound of Perseverance to almost deathcore-like breakdown rhythms and back to late 1980s barking death metal make an appearance.

Fans looking for the fun provided by Chuck Schuldiner’s naivete will enjoy this release even though this is less organized and more confusing for anyone trying to get an integral view of the music.