Often when analyzing music, it can be useful to look to other genres to develop an understanding its relation to the order of nature. Written and recorded music has been around for centuries, and with a multitude of genres emerging in the last hundred years, few have completely died out and disappeared.42 Comments
Article by Anton Rudrick.
Mgła provides us with a perfect example to round a trio of examples that together shape the main misunderstandings as to what black metal is through their misrepresentation of it in either carelessness or ignorance. While modern Watain plays a completely undefined mixture of incoherent tropes around a stomping heavy rock that never condenses into anything original, and modern Behemoth is a shock rock outfit with sterile tekdeaf (modern technical “death metal”) techniques, Mgła is the one that closest comes to black metal by its purposely limited form closely resembling it. However, at best it could be said that they are a musically poor black metal band devoid of the traditional character that fuels the adversarial music, and at worst it could be classified as a post metal band experimenting with close variations on a very simple theme.26 Comments
This band has been around for two decades. I recently found out about them and recommend the album Ruined from 2014.
If you would enjoy a fusion of Cynic and Satyricon, you should enjoy this. Some of the tracks are less effective than others because the band is experimenting with different song arrangements and techniques. The core of this band is killer chord progressions which are very melodic and form a basis for adding riffs to a song without randomness. The bass guitar playing is most excellent throughout. The vocals are simply effective in context with nice rhythmic placement but fairly generic texture. I give Ruined an A-. I had to deduct a point because there was one track I disliked, “Prey.”
- “Not Competent”: Drummer has some unusual time signatures like early Cynic. This is a great mix on this recording. I like how you can hear the bass guitar. The feel of the double kick drums lacks a bit of groove. There is a great amount of variety in the guitar parts and some nice melodies. The leads early on sound like a Satriani jam slowed down or something. The vocals don’t add much to the recording, but they do not harm it either. And he does a great job of singing in the right spots and not over-doing it. It’s a bit mellow and understated for a black death band, and that actually makes it more relaxing and pleasant to listen to. The riff changes are pretty smooth. However, they lead to surprising places. And the songs suck you in and then end before you are ready for them to. Which keeps me listening to the next track.
- “Redacted”: Here’s more of a tight blast beat type intro with a mellow Killing Joke styled guitar riff over it. Now we finally start hearing some thrash and it rules, but then we get stuck in some doom mire before thrashing again. Around the three minute mark we start to get into some utterly awesome late 80s thrash guitar riffage, but with death metal highs. Then a sudden surprising uptick into a blast-beat outro.
- “Ruined”: An alternate time-signature intro which doesn’t seem to fit in well. Followed by A Perfect Circle Type Riff and then back to the intro again, and then soloing. Not so sure about this tune. Skip.
- “Prey”: A mysterious sounding intro riff which is very enticing. Followed by a double kick groove with a really unusually beautiful sounding chord progression with some nice bass touches also. This song has a very nice riff progression overall and it takes you deeper and deeper into its reality.
- “Wasting Games”: Horror film score-like catchy grinding intro riff rules. Killer slow groovy, heavy riff with some Danzig styled vocals. Nice! Followed by a blast beat. WTF?! This is F’ing weird progression and it conquers. This song should have been like first on the album ha. More hard rock, but different riff (plus blues solo) after that. Oh yeah mama!
- “Orthodoxy”: Grainy whiskey inducing into. Starts to get kind of apocalyptic with a dreary tempo. This song is kinda chill. It’s smooth with a charcoal flavor and its on the rocks. Not sure about going straight into the blast though after that. Oh well. Its a cool riff though at least. Picks up into insane blasting and jazzy chords. Thinking this track would have been better split into two separate shorter tracks. I dig them individually, except for the 6/8 time riff because I hate A Perfect Circle and stuff like that. But that’s over quick and we get a radical sounding simple riff which triumphs. This song is very interesting overall.
- “Downturn”: This song starts with a Gothic sounding blasted riff which is neat. The second riff has a Swedish death metal beat and it rules. I am now wishing they had used that beat way more on the recording because it rules. Around the 1:25 mark there is an extremely nice epic black metal riff which is simply unusually Gothic and melodic sounding. Nicely done. I am confused to why they ruin that mood by putting the technical jazzy stuff afterwards. But then back into black metal riff with Swedish beat again, and at that moment I am loving it.
Article by David Rosales
Ocerco’s brand of atmospheric death metal is strongly reminiscent of what Ulcerate has taken to extremes in albums like Vermis. However, the wankery is under control, so Ocerco comes out slightly ahead if you have to (metaphorically) take the pulse and listen to the breathing of their music. While Ulcerate drowns the listener under raw impact and worn-out variations on a theme stretched beyond credibility, Ocerco seems to at least move on with an idea of build up in mind.
On A Desolação, Ocero seems to have something of an ear for an ambient-like build up and song extension that is augmented by their wise decision to make ample use of silence to refresh the listeners’ senses. However, there is only so much one can do when given these limited working materials. Ocerco’s limits are self-imposed and consist of revolving around dissonant chords which have no particular direction or purpose other than upholding circular music that returns again and again to the same idea with a slightly different coloring.
Fans of French harmonic stroking who have a knack for making up excuses for pleasure-oriented music with little use but evoke a single idea per album might rush to defend this album. But hipsters like Debussy have salvageable merits within their confines, especially when it comes to his piano oeuvres, which are best experienced as a set rather than expecting too much from one of their songs, which play more like a short sentence. Ocerco, on the other hand, is simply post-rock with harsh vocals and dissonant chords.5 Comments
One of the long-running metaphors here at DMU is the metal or grindcore band that adds flute parts to their music in an attempt to seem progressive and intelligent, but in doing so adds nothing of value of interest to their music beyond a slight hint of aesthetic novelty and a couple laughs for those of us who can see through their attempts. The fact that the flute solo that takes up most of of Gojira’s latest brief studio teaser has nothing to do with the rest of the video (some brief scratchings that may become indie-metal songs) only reinforces our understanding.6 Comments
By the mid-1990s, it was clear that death metal and black metal were winding down if not over as far as their creative impetus was concerned. The great sell-out albums were yet to come, and bands explored the time-honored method of being “new” by mixing in established genres and calling the hybrid a new path. Where hybridization works, it brings something different to a genre and makes it work within the style of that genre; when it fails, it reverts to an ancestor.
Cultus Sanguine jumped in through a mixture of doom metal, suicidal black metal and shoegaze with influences from bands like Joy Division who worked through atmosphere. This early form of post-metal emphasized theatrical vocals and melodic simple guitar lines that emphasized a trudging rhythm, making it a lot like the post-metal explosion to come but with a more forceful approach.
Unlike many of the more recent bands, Cultus Sanguine attempted a narrative approach. This became absorbed within the need of vocals and atmosphere to predominate, creating a sense of interrupted mood with heavy emphasis on its return, but ultimately the simpler, rock-style riffs and their underlying progressions did not give the band enough to work with. Now a historical curiosity, this album was lauded for its “creativity” at the time and then rapidly faded into obscurity.2 Comments
Controversial early footage has emerged of post-metal band Deafheaven in an earlier look for them: rigorous, military, and intolerant with shaved heads and NSBM styling to their approach.
Obviously this has changed over time, as the band now follow a retro-hipster aesthetic, but you can see the early footage here:5 Comments
Ever get the feeling that some of the material featured on Death Metal Underground was constructed solely to bait us into posting something vitriolic and derisive? Brett-baiting is illegal in 43 countries, most recently Uzbekistan and Finland, but apparently not in America, where Relapse Records recently pushed out Myrkur’s M, a suitably ironic title for bittersweet indie-rock ironism pretending to be metal.
As a fan of analyzing music in its historical context, I’ve decided that digging too deeply into Relapse’s little stunt is to lose to them at the marketing game. You can read about the legends and myths surrounding M by Myrkur on your own time. For our purposes, it suffices to say that M is one of those “post-black metal” albums, and like most of the more commercially notorious content featured here, it’s a standard entry to the subgenre. Myrkur’s real problem isn’t that it’s a fusion, or even that it’s a failed fusion, but that the individual elements it pulls upon are not executed effectively, even in isolation. This is essentially the filler moments from a handful of black metal and indie pop albums spliced together and hastily glued by a the efforts of an ethereal vocalist who has trouble making much of an impression beyond that of vague prettiness.
That such an album as M might be a record of juxtapositions and asides is unsurprising, as this is a common and well-understood way to vary otherwise typically structured songwriting. However, it’s hard to find music with transitions and instrumentation shifts this awkward without delving into the wind-swept lands of the allegedly avant-garde. This generally applies only to the more dynamic tracks that make more effort to sound nominally metallic, but many were the times tracks melted into claustrophobic noise and reverb in order to dodge ending in a coherent fashion. Were these transitions better realized, we could probably pass this off as the mildly depressive shoegazing alternative rock recording it apparently wants to be when it grows up. But the occasional (and unsurprisingly rare) sections of overt black metal without obvious concessions to Myrkur’s shoegazing roots is poorly spent, with little in the way of intelligible riffing to the point that it’s almost a relief when the recording tries to do something different, even though it just ends up rehashing its previous ideas again.
You would have more luck loading up your favorite black metal recordings into a copy of Pro Tools and mixing in the misplaced indie pop promos we frequently receive, perhaps adding your own little twee ornamentation here and there. Perhaps this is why there are so many blackgaze recordings out there; Myrkur’s contributions would probably sink into the morass were it not for the incessant marketing of their label.4 Comments
More unworthy garbage keeps coming our way, the splatter pattern created after all the filth has hit the surface behind us is put into words in our Sadistic Metal Reviews.
Reverie – Bliss (2015)
With a band name like Reverie and a seemingly ironic album title like Bliss you might have expected postmodern post-indie shoegaze hipster black metal to roar and pounce at you like an enraged kitten, but luckily, we are met with something at the very least resembling a lion here; pity this one just so happens to not be the king of the jungle.
In homage to the oldest Bathory-tradition, we find Reverie struggling to bring hardcore punk and ominous metal harmonics into a vileful matrimony. Where Reverie, like most other modern exploits of this scheme fail, is in the insistence on very low-brow hooks and plodding “anti-cosmic” disharmonics which only further leads the listener astray from whatever good basic riff the song was initially edified around. Acoustic interludes and vapid diversity in riffs can’t overshadow the monotony that all songs eventually end up in – Imagine a less successful and inspired newer Autopsy, and you’d be close to what the songwriting sounds like for the most part.
There are shining, spirited moments, but if this band is to evolve beyond the hordes of Katharsis-clones, they still have years of sadistic refinement to come.
Arvas – Black Satanic Mysticism (2015)
If there’s something the modern black metal scene likes to fawn over, it’s music with empty calories -Excellent riffs, delectably prepared into a concoction without any lasting impressions. Black Metal has at this point made it into the realms of nostalgia, and genre-pandering releases such as this one clearly proves this. The music found here clearly harkens back to the glory days of the Norwegian early 90’s, but are so firmly entrenched in their own sentimentality that they miss the original explorative spirit of the genre.
Nothing on here is offensive, as background-music it is highly soothing and comforting for anyone already introduced into the genre, since it is so highly conscious not to disrupt its conventions. If you’re the kind of person that likes Choco Puffs for breakfast rather than a swordfight with your mortal enemy to the death, then this release might just be the one for you.
Dystopia Nå! – Dweller on the Threshold (2015)
What else does the modern underground cherish? High-functioning blenders. The ingredients aren’t all that important, as long as the blend is interesting and “unique”. Once we taste the results after the blend, we’ll go into denial over its real flavours, and instead gaze at the moon as it reflects our own ego shining bright ëíIím the only one who understands this! This is the new wave!íí
What is Dystopia Nå!? It’s Screamo and Nu-metal of the 2000’s with instrumentation and lacing from De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Ironic, depressive quotes rumble through the wall of sound and powerless anguished screams echo through chuggy deathcore breakdowns, but neither of these elements hold any gravitas whatsoever, even for the most unscrupulous of hipsters. Like all other depressive black metal/rock, this is professional duping of young indie girls into the new “edgy” trend. No soothing ëartfulí piano-interludes or post-rock guitars could save this abomination. Avoid.
Harrow – Fallow Fields (2015)
Some bands don’t even know how to be subtle and mask their blatant source-material. Harrow is a pure rip-off of more successful atmospheric/post-rock black metal bands, and it becomes obvious from the very first seconds of the first track.
If you have heard Agalloch, Kroda and Drudkh, you have heard the instrumental ingredients of this release, but never before has someone managed to achieve this level of tedium in the faux-ambient genre. Pass this one up, and you’ll get some extra time to listen to Hvis Lyset Tar Oss instead.
Vardan – Between the Fog and Shadows (2015
Droning minor chords for minutes on end, replete with “catchy” piano and synth-“bloops” akin to a new-wave pop band. The dominant theory in our contemporary music scene is that this drivel was conjured up by the evocative gloom of Burzum, but there we must vehemently disagree. This is a spawn of the same old ego that spawned Grateful Dead, Opeth and Liturgy, this time merely slapped unto a production that they think would sell with the lower echelon of the black metal hordes; incapable of distinguishing a duck from an ostrich. It worked ten years ago, and we’re still seeing bands such as Vardan cashing in on the plastic underground credibility to this day.
Trials – This Ruined World (2015)
The instrumental performance of Pantera amalgamated with metalcore production and composition, sprinkled with the most basic uninspired Metallica-worship gallop and Sepultura breakdown. What do we get? Imagine a cake concocted by a skilled chemist lacking any taste buds. Technically, it’s proficient, but the emperor wears no clothes, and even the most passing glance at this record might confirm this. I’m sure these fellows think their murky, crusty chugs mixed with catchy melodic death metal riffs and pop choruses was a top notch idea to get all the chicks on the beach, but I assure them that for this atrocity they’ll receive only personal embarrassment in the future.
SoulLine – Welcome My Sun (2015)
At some point in the mid-to-late 90’s, the term melodic death metal, once the moniker used for bands using the death metal labyrinth-riff through leitmotifs of recognizable melodies more so than percussive grounding, became usurped by the most twee of electro-pop bands, grunge-rejects and the burgeoning modern screamo and post-hardcore genres.
The band might define itself as a melodic death metal band, but one would be hard-pressed to find any differences in this material from your typical screamo/crunkcore-band. A band like Attack Attack will have the same moronic, oversimplified Pantera-grooves, monotone, emotionless vocals, random disco drums and pop structures with a slaphappy yet indignant “mad-at-father” choruses. The only differing elements are the chunkier metal production and the fact that there are a few more listless harmonies in the breakdowns. Melodic death metal is a sham, it has nothing to do with death metal, and just about anything labelled this after 1995 is a marketing ploy to get both the listless Cannibal Corpse-fans who will gobble up anything death metal-related for the “br00tal” street cred and the emo kids who’ve had enough of the bullying at school into bands like this in this putrid, yawn-inducing horror of a genre.
Shrapnel Storm – Mother War (2015)
Looking at this record superficially we see the image of a forsaken mother clutching a decayed baby as though it was all that was left for her in her life. The Apocalypse is raging all around in an urban environment and the future is bleak. This imagery has a striking resemblance to what crust punk constantly portrayed.
This is no accident. One of the bases for the Swedish death metal sound which this Finnish band pursues was this Discharge/Amebix-influence. The Stockholm HM-2 Boss guitar sound was the natural evolution of the bass-driven, gritty rasp that could be heard on Amebix releases as early as 1983’s Winter. Shrapnel Storm’s idea on how to elaborate on this legacy is to strip back the evolution of Swedish Death Metal one step further into the lost realm of Crust-bleakness where monotony and desolation rules. This is a valid endeavour and the result does predictably come off similar to a modernized, groovier version of what Deviated Instinct and Bolt Thrower did in the late 80’s.
There’s only one vital flaw: The music isn’t very engaging and hearkens back to Wolverine Blues and Welcome to the Orgy more than it does Left Hand Path and Arise!. Rather than exploring the ambiance that could be found in both of these genres when played with expertise, in actual content, Shrapnel Storm for the most part makes this seem like just another mediocre death-n-roll record rather than the potential their sound actually might possess.
If they drop the simple bluesy riffs, focus on the monotone but engaging crusty riffs, play around with song structures more you might actually find a worthwhile record from these guys sometime in the future, but for now, it’s not salvageable and we’re left with dull and mediocre riffs that go nowhere but straight into the bin.
Nihilosaur – Icebreaker Hope (2014)
Reminiscent of the overtly artsy post-death metal bands in Finland after the countries initial boom of creativity died out, this band tries to take death metal in an interesting direction, but ends up sounding like a mediocre Sludge Metal band with no clear direction on how to escape the forest of their own design.
Loud, buzzing bass-distortion and peculiar, sometimes Godflesh-like guitar-notes screech in the distance. But no one will listen, except for their mothers who assure that they’re as special and unique as ever. The main differing factor between Godflesh or other quirky but successful bands like Carbonized and this is ultimately the fact that Nihilosaur merely know how to take you on an obscure journey through industrial film noir-visuals, but then leave they leave you with no satisfying conclusion. It starts and ends with a vortex of randomness where listlessness is king.
This is the Mulholland Drive of death metal, it wishes it was Voivod or other narrative bands, but for this fairytale, the narrator has long been asleep at the wheel, never to be found again. Good riddance.
Minority Sound – Drowner’s Dance (2015)
Did you ever want Marilyn Manson with a bit more EBM, injected with leftover riffs from Megadeth Risk album to then be spiced with movie soundtrack electronic orchestras, desperately trying to inject some novelty into the tween-metal? No? You elitist bigot!
The band is definitely more instrumentally competent than most in the industrial metal genre but like other novel bands like Babymetal the music is pop music on steroids, disguised as an ironic, competent “new” take on metal. If the fair is too expensive for you but you still want that roaring deluge of incomprehensible, meaningless sounds and images to barrage before your senses and this might be just right for you.
Lothlöryen – Principles of a Past Tomorrow (2015)
The trouble with the modern power metal genre is its overwhelming mediocrity, where the bulk of the music sounds like pop music on speed conjured up by the high from their own auto-effluvial sniffings. It is truly a rare gift to see anything even resembling what Iron Maiden could achieve with the beginnings of this sound in the mid-80ís. But that’s Is a story for another time.
This isn’t utterly horrific by modern power metal standards, it’s just so average that it could be any tired Blind Guardian-influenced attire shuffling through the fog for an original approach to songwriting that isn’t copy-pasted from an early Helloween album. The occasional EBM interlude and gimmicky parody of a Celtic major-driven song-and-dance isn’t doing this already stillborn record any favours – the only favour I can ask of the band members to do for themselves would be to stop wasting valuable plastic on this insipid tripe. That, or move to Finland, join a Polka-troupe and finally kill themselves.
Crown – Natron (2015)
Indie rock will always find new aesthetic means to plague us and infest any worthwhile medium of creative composition. They will perpetuate Shakespeare’s legacy as if it were Comic Sans in their vain vision of art.
What does this new incarnation bring us? Well, the black rider in the night wears the robes of sludge/doom metal of the lowest caliber, laced with post-rock and industrial clichès. If you’re a fan of pseudo-prog of the last decade but would like it artsier, “spiritually deeper”, more Agalloch-infused and Rammstein-attuned, then this might be for you. Mind you, you would have had to have lost your taste buds ages ago if you find that sounding remotely palatable, so I’m sure you’ll gobble it up like a any fine happy meal from the garbage bin.
Locrian – Infinite Dissolution (2015)
As the album initiates its sonic onslaught, we are at first greeted with something resembling early Godflesh, but with a more derivative, flaccid production. Where will this lead us? I’ll tell you where, to post-rock and Wolves In the Throne Room-tedium. The industrial aesthetic attempt to hide the fact that this is the same tired quasi-ambient formula where emotionless “emotional” sounds roll unto the listener until a barrage of harmonic, almost Liturgy-like random melodic throwaways strikes as if it is the only path for the music to take, until it dies a tragic death in reflection of its own hubris.
This pattern is repeated throughout the entire record. It’s clear that they want to be Drudkh 2.0 and some of the slower melodies hold some meagre musical merit, but the approach and composition is botched with no saving grace to be found. Avoid or fall into oblivion, as is the fate of this album.
Credit where credit is due: The album title perfectly describes how focused the composition is on the record.
Sonick Plague – Street Wars (2015)
An 80’s speed metal band, forgotten by time and space, decide to make a new record almost 30 years after being out of business. One can wonder if anyone ever found their output special to begin with, as what we find here is something akin to early Megadeth without any substantial riff variation and a latter-day groove metal influence, pedalling in these similar motifs that don’t go much further than tying themselves up in a nice enough fashion. This is the barcode for mediocre, it might get them some high fives from their friends at the pub that they haven’t met since the late 80’s, but to the general public this is as forgettable as they come.
Funebria – In Dominus Blasfemical Est… Ad Noctum Sathania (2015)
Some bands are only after the lipstick and aesthetics. Funebria is a Venezuelan black metal band that despite their best efforts, come off as a modern melodic death metal/metalcore act with dynamics borrowed from Marduk and Cradle of Filth. They try their best to disguise this under raw, simplistic war metal lyrics and scene pandering, but for the discerning ear this is as vapid as the latest Dimmu Borgir albums, unfortunately for this album however, they lack even the instrumental proficiency of the latter. Let this abortion sink into the depths that their doted Ea might give them a final mercy kill so we might never hear such belligerently tedious music ever again.
Note: Oddly, this sounds like “Fun”+ “ebria” (drunk in Spanish).22 Comments
Tags: 2015, Arvas, Between the Fog and Shadows, Black Satanic Mysticism, Bliss, Crown, Dweller on the Threshold, Dystopia Nå, Fallow Fields, Funebria, Harrow, hipster bullshit, Icebreaker Hope, In Dominus Blasfemical Est... Ad Noctum Sathania, Infinite Dissolution, Locrian, Lothlöryen, metalcore, Mother War, Natron, Nihilosaur, piece of shit, poser metal, post-metal, Principles of a Past Tomorrow, Reverie, sadistic metal reviews, Shrapnel Storm, sludge metal, Sonick Plague, SoulLine, stinking shit, This Ruined World, Trials, vardan, Welcome My Sun, worthless scum