Sabbat – Envenom (1991)

Sabbat are a cult Japanese band known for primarily for being Japanese and playing a heavily Venom influenced style of Heavy metal that sometimes crosses over to real black metal though rarely and for the briefest of periods. This record is actually more known for the exotic origins of its creators rather than the actual quality presented here. Replacing the seriousness of other similar bands with a certain rock and roll cheese and tongue in cheek lyrics that ultimately pull this band behind the rest.

Sabbat have a terrible habit of wearing their influences on their sleeves with far too much pride. “Satan Bless you” has a main motif particular similar to Venom’s “Black Metal” and all of the speed metal parts can be attributed to the English Sabbat. “Evil Nation” is so reminiscent of Iron Maiden’s “2 minutes to midnight” that you can easily sing the verse parts on top of it and there would be almost no difference as the chord progression, rhythm and techniques are practically identical. Carcassvoice steals the first two passages of Mayhem’s “Deathcrush” and only slightly changes the rhythm and added to this package is a hilarious imitation of Maniac’s high pitch rasp. Though these are the most obvious acts of plagiarism, the entirety of the album is drenched in déja-vu and this refrains the album from reaching the same level as their Norwegian and Brazilian peers.

Arrangements tend to be in the classic pop style except for some brilliant moments of over the top soloing and the inclusion of speed metal breakdowns. Though some tracks experiment with the stop and start mechanics from Motorhead’s Overkill (1979) but ultimately fail as the individual parts function in solitude but do not combine as a whole and we are treated to separate songs encapsulated within a single track. There is nothing to be found of the narrative Death and Black metal structures here as this album is firmly rooted in Heavy metal.

The note selection stays within the usual combination of the natural minor scale and the minor pentatonic except when the band allows themselves forays into fully developed black metal territory as seen on track “King of Hell” which has a long droning sequence with a lot of chromaticism that contrasts most of this record but then on closer inspection this feels more like a reject on Bathory’s The Return (1985). The drums hint towards more developed black metal at times as they play a martial techno beat here and there without fills but this record is exceedingly behind what was going during that time period. The best part of the entire record are the solos and how are they given the kind of space and freedom suited for the more commercial strands of metal. The solos first and foremost obey the whims of the accompanying riffs and seek to amplify what they convey with the use of a large repertoire taking from the most famous relevant shredders. The compositions do have their charm in how they use the energetic approach of their heroes to create uplifting and fun music but ultimately play on shock rock tropes like main influence Venom.

The best composition here is the instrumental “Dead March” which takes a simple Judas Priest like motif and advances it forward with perfect control of mood as the motif twists and turns and the interactions between it and the second guitar that either harmonizes in conventional thirds or plays some contrapuntal melodies. The song conveys perfectly a march of the dead and escapes the pop structure through the reuse of certain passages and a complete lack of chorus. A fantastic bridge between the Heavy metal of the past and the Black metal of the future as it takes those elements and applies it in ways that the Norwegian bands would then apply on darker melodies.

Envenom shows a band going through multiple periods as this album was released seven years after the band initially formed and shows this progression from NWOBHM worship to Mayhem’s Deathcrush unfortunately this record shows the timeline of the genre but fails to do anything with it nor add a unique twist to it. Envenom remains a fun record but lacks any transcendent quality that separates it from some of the more forward-thinking acts in the genre and probably because there seems to be not a single ounce of influence from what was going in the Death metal or a willful ignorance to the innovations brought over. An easy listening album to bring over neophytes but for the experienced listener this is enjoyable for a few listens with a beer or two but has nothing else to offer.

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Retortion Terror & Invidiosus Record Split

Grindcore guitar god Takafumi Matsubara (Gridlink and Mortalized) has a new band now, Retortion Terror. They have recorded a split with an American grind band called Invidiosus. Both bands are currently seeking labels to print and distribute the release on CD, cassette, and LP.

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The Mask of Yosuke Konishi

Metal interview blog Bardo Methodology interviewed Nuclear War Now! Productions owner Yosuke Kinishi earlier this week about his motivations for starting his mostly war metal label. Konishi spoke about his mild misanthropy, veganism, “die hard” edition cash grabs, and how most war metal bands (presumably on his label) fail to live up to the social Darwinism they spout.

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Metalucifer Release “We Are Still Metal Kids” Video

Metalucifer, the heavy metal loving parody side project of Gezol from Sabbat (Japan), released a new video to Youtube from their upcoming split 7″ with Sabbat. “We Are Still Metal Kids” is a  disposable, haphazard parody of NWOBHM bands such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest just like all other Metalucifer songs . It will also eventually appear on an upcoming album to be released on Iron Pegasus / R.I.P Records. Metalucifer’s previous albums (Heavy Metal Drill, Heavy Metal Chainsaw, and Heavy Metal Bulldozer) and all of their other cash grab releases are all pretty much disposable kitsch but still better than most of the war metal, metalcore, and crypto-indie rock the Funderground attempts to force down our throats.

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Mortalized – 呪われた …Complete Mortality (2016)

Mortalized was the other grindcore band of Gridlink guitarist and riff master Takafumi Matsubara呪われた …Complete Mortality is the total and complete collection of everything the Japanese grindcore legends ever recorded. Since Mortalized is a grindcore band, Complete Mortality is effectively a giant collection of effective riffs in various styles: grindcore, death metal, heavy metal, black metal, Gothenburg, hardcore, post-hardcore, crust, speed metal, you name it and Matsubara probably had an original riff resembling that style of metal or hardcore on this release. Complete Mortality is a true riff bible from the mind of an incredibly creative and talented guitarist.

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Abigail – The Final Damnation (2016)

Abigail - The Final Damnation - cover

Article by Johan P.

The Final Damnation could be Abigail’s most worthwhile release since their sleazy blackened speed metal debut Intercourse and Lust twenty years ago. After tons of insipid punk/speed metal releases, more vicious black metal elements have once again made their way into Abigail’s repertoire.

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Upcoming War Master Anthology

war master compilation

Japanese label Obliteration Records is releasing a War Master anthology CD consisting of both the debut Pyramids of the Necropolis LP and the Blood Dawn EP, along with a slew of bonus tracks from demo tapes and splits. The Houston, Texas throwers of bolts are one of the better modern death metal bands and a perennial on Death Metal Underground’s best of lists. This release will be an easy way for Hessians in Asia to obtain the band’s material on a physical format.

For all Death heaz in Japan,
Finally, Bolt Death Metal WAR MASTER attack in Japan!
They will change battlefield here and take no prisoners!
Are you ready to die??

Obliteration records proudly release their Blood Dawn EP + 1st album and bonus trax on CD format.
Limited of 500 copies in Asian coutry only.
First sale on their Japan tour in May.

Join us.
May the Metal be with you

Listen to War Master and “Sever the head that does not bang!” on their Bandcamp page.

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Coffins – Craving to Eternal Slumber (2015)

hhr2015-13 coffins - craving to eternal slumber

While acts such as Immolation, Suffocation or Vader are routinely and falsely accused of making the same unchallenging album all over every few years without bringing anything to the table, this judgement is much more accurate when directed at a band like Coffins. While the attack leveled on the former bands is merely a lack of appreciation of the subtlety of the progression (in their early career) and latter downfall (mostly after the year 2000) of bands that were never stagnant but rather extremely consistent in their trajectory, in Coffins we find a band presenting Cianide-like doom-death cliches in a string of riffs that have no head, no tails, no climax, but rather a sequence of pleasing moments for the fan of the style.

These Japanese death metallers started this project right during the start of the worse decade for metal, the decade when all progress was dead and which had, apart from a few respectable echoing the remains of a golden era ten years in the past, a penchant for completely empty and lavishing parading of style cliches. Four full-length albums and a billion demos, EPs, and splits into their career, and Coffins still does not have a sound of its own. In them we can hear Cianide, and echos of other bands (but most Cianide). There is absolutely no trace of something that belongs to them. In fact, when played back to back with the aforementioned underground classic one wonders if Coffins’ release isn’t just an uninspired album by the first band.

Cult classics are usually (but not always) “cult” — that is having a very particular and reduced audience that listens to them almost as a guilty pleasure or with a fanatical eye for a very special reason — because they are not very good to begin with. Their is the underground, and then there are the “cult” bands. We can not apply the same rule to every band, but a good rule of thumb is: they did not make it for a reason, and they also became cult for a reason. In the case of Coffins, it is just a very faithful superficial imitation of cliches of the genre, which pleases all those looking for the exterior fascination but who apparently perceive very little of the progress of a music piece and what it has to communicate. Any serious death metal fan would do well to avoid losing their time with this passing bland piece of junk.

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