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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyNFElawfTg

 

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.

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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

 

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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

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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.

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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.

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Nex Carnis announce Obscure Visions of Dark

Nex Carnis Logo

Nex Carnis are announcing the release of their first full-length album, Obscure Visions of Dark with Nightbreaker Productions. The exact release date remains undisclosed but will be sometime in late May.

Nex Carnis describe themselves as a dark and twisted death metal in the old school vein. The band attempts to fuse these death metal roots with an experimental touch to create something innovative and unique. Officially established as a project in 2012, a demo with programmed drum tracks was produced by the Nex Carnis. Unsatisfied with the result, the band recorded two new demo tracks in 2013 with the aim of finding a drummer abroad as they felt that none of the local musicians were able to handle the speed and the intensity required for the project’s music.

Nex Carnis can be contacted at:

nexcarnis@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/nexcarnis

Their label can be contacted at:

http://www.nightbreakerprod.com/

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On Obscura and metal albums as song collections

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Arising from modern popular music, underground metal has retained many vestigial traits that several artists have consciously tried to erase and that some observers have started to question as detrimental to the effective expression of the genre. As the title of this article reveals, the case in point is the matter of albums as song collections. A good example of this becoming a hindrance to the message of the music is Gorguts’ Obscura.

Clocking in at one hour, Obscura consists of twelve songs, a little over the typical ten tracks of metal albums since the mid 1970s. The number ten has traditionally been associated with wholeness or completeness. In the most mainstream heavy metal circles it is considered only right to fill that exact number. No more, no less. A lot of death and black metal albums have veered slightly away from this rule and tend close their albums with eight or twelve tracks. Grindcore degenerates have never let numbers stand in their way and have completely given the finger to this rule as Repulsion, Napalm Death and Blood have shown us with their two-digit track lists.

The reason why more original and progressive-minded artists pay no attention to these unofficial guidelines is because whatever the artist has to say in an album should not be restricted by too many tracks. Even worse than being limited by the number of tracks is having to fill up tracks in order to reach the required number. This is precisely how we get the albums with “filler” tracks. Tracks nobody cares for but which make the album more “meaty” for those who care about such things.

More important than the adherence to a particular number of songs or tracks in an album is the fact that most bands produce precisely that: individual tracks bundled up in collections. This is Gorguts’ worse enemy even on their classic of classics. Every one of the songs up to the sixth track, Clouded, expresses a very distinct message in its method. After that, we basically get more of the same. The songs aren’t bad at all, but they do not add anything more to the album except extra minutes and more good songs whose essence is not any different from the ones before them. It’s basically thesaurus recitation.

Some propose that metal needs to look beyond the number, both as a rule and as a kind of indulgence. Just because that you have more songs does not mean you have to put them in the album. Just because you have more riffs does not mean they need a song to contain them. It is suggested that the album format in underground metal be exchanged for the classical opus format, where we have movements belonging to a coherent whole work, in which saying the same thing again and again is unnecessary and highly discouraged but in which consistency in style and voice is required to a healthy but not over-restrictive degree. Metal is not young anymore, the time to consciously take the step to the next level has come.

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Exhumation – Opus Death (2015)

EXHUMATION - Opus Death - cover

When receiving descriptions of new releases from labels, one can read all sort of outrageous and preposterous claims on par with “the beginning of a new era in metal”, “unprecedented innovation”, “I’m tougher than Vladimir Putin” or “We went to Afghanistan to bring democracy to the people”. It wasn’t all that surprising, then, to read the first introductory line and find that young Indonesian band Exhumation was being hailed as a classic. I rolled my eyes at this and proceeded to get my face punched.

Exhumation plays a violent proto-black metal in the vein of Sarcófago and an aftertaste of Blasphemy. I will stress that they play in the vein of those bands. But they escape the clone-curse and give the listener a familiar but altogether new and original experience. As underground metal styles death and black have moved well past the initial stages of formation and definition, most bands have turned to simple rehashing or attempts at innovation. Unfortunately innovation is often perceived superficially. We should talk about progress and not innovation, which is often confused with novelty. I would not hesitate to call this album true progress. Albeit a conservative, cautious progress in this particular style.

Opus Death, a silly title which made me seriously doubt the album at first, is Exhumation’s second album. Exhumation understand the language and are proficient users of the same, knowing how to formulate their own statements. Not only are they original in what they say, but they also learn from the classics by avoiding their errors and carefully expanding where there is potential to expand. Ideas and the riffs they span let the listener become familiar with them as is required in the black metal tradition, but they do not overstay their visit nor overstep their roles. Transition riffs are adequately unstable and work effectively with drum patterns to create the gasping effect so that the listener can breath before the music goes on, unrelenting.

Both highly chromatic, Slayeresque solos as well the simple, rough and tonal melodies make an appearance in the record without sounding disparate in any way. The balance of taste and style always carefully preserved. Much can be said of the placing of the solos which is always optimal and contributing to the emotional upheaval they cause within the emotional predictability of this kind of music.

Another feature of this album that should not be overlooked or underestimated is the use of piano and guitar interludes right at the middle and at the end of the album, respectively.  It is hard not to draw a parallel with Blessed are the Sick, but I am willing to venture and say that as to their contribution to the album as a whole, they are much more powerful and relevant in Opus Death. Both beautiful in their minimalist rendition of the harmonic skeleton behind the ripping black metal of the band, they contrast the slaughtering slashes of the rest of the album and serve as inverted climaxes.

Trying to praise this as uncompromising is an insult to Exhumation. Rather, the mature and sensible compromises Exhumation incurs in are what account for the steady and sure steps of their music. It might be too soon to call it a classic, but it sure feels like one. Far from naive or wanting in any technical respect, Opus Death shows us that even though traditional and true underground metal may be difficult to carry on whilst being original, it is not impossible, but we need to look beyond juvenile feelings of rebellion to do so. Metal is not young anymore, act accordingly.

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Centinex releases Redeeming Filth

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2015’s Redeeming Filth
, the successor to World Declension (2005), was recorded at Amplified Studios and mixed & mastered at Garageland Studios by Ronnie Björnström (Aeon) during the spring of 2014. Album cover has been created by Twilight 13 Media (At The Gates, Arch Enemy, Darkthrone).

Tracklist:
01. When Bodies Are Deformed
02. Moist Purple Skin
03. Death Glance
04. Stone Of Choice
05. Unrestrained
06. Bloodraze
07. Without Motives
08. Rotting Below
09. Dead, Buried and Forgotten
10. Eye Sockets Empty

Line-up:
Alexander Högbom – vocals
Sverker Widgren – guitars
Martin Schulman – bass
Kennet Englund – drums

The album  is available in: digipack CD, digital format, black vinyl, limitedbrown vinyl and digital formats.
CD/LP/TS/LS:
http://tinyurl.com/CentinexOrder

Digital copies (via Bandcamp):
https://agoniarecords.bandcamp.com/album/redeeming-filth

Follow the band:
https://www.facebook.com/Centinexofficial

Agonia Records:
http://agoniarecords.com
https://facebook.com/agoniarecords
https://twitter.com/agoniarecords
https://soundcloud.com/agoniarecords
http://youtube.com/AgoniaRec

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Centinex reveals “Moist Purple Skin” video and announce summer dates

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Centinex has revealed the music video for Moist Purple Skin, from their upcoming album titled Redeeming Filth.

The band will perform a short string of selected dates this summer, including the following festivals:

12.06 2015 ROM – Bucharest – Metalhead Meeting Festival
26.06 2015 GER – Protzen – Protzen Open Air
10.07 2015 CZE – Trutnov – Obscene Extreme Festival
25.09 2015 SWE – Hultsfred – Mörkaste Småland Festival

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