Sadistic Metal Reviews function as your goto list for albums that should be recycled as material for making more copies of actually good music, if that’s even possible. These releases deserve no better than to be piled up and flattened by a machine. They’re wasting space and resources on completely useless, half-assed art.
Ethereal – Opus Aethereum (2015)
Playing a pseudo-symphonic black metal, Ethereal play a speed metal blanketed by racing, blasting drums with no creativity at all. The blanket comes in the form of the synth special “orchestral” effects which outline melodies on top of the repetitive music which never builds up to anything. The emphasis of the music is on how fast and brutal it is alone, in the spirit of the gimmicks of Godflesh Apocalypse. There are a few beautiful moments here and there in the album and this is the sort of candy some people will latch on to, but as an integral music work, it is of extremely sparse quality.
Mellevon – Solace (2015)
Somehow trying to unite ambient, pop “metal” and deathcore, Opium Lord embarrass themselves with this blatant attempt at making pseudo-progressive music, the modern misconception of what progressive music is. The songs are driven by groovy rhythms in power chords, alternated by single-string tremolos that are just the backbones for chords (as opposed to being motifs), with a synth outlining the Epica/Nightwish – like melodies with a modern cliche “prog” twist.
Opium Lord – Eye Of Earth (2015)
Your typical sludge and, this band’s music goes nowhere. It all relies on one rhythm, one riff and the pushing of this sole element by upholding how “heavy” it is. Representing one of the most superficial genres, Opium Lord give us 7 tracks with 10 riffs that are “ultra-heavy”. Get ready to headbang, brainless potheads.
Saturnian Mist – Chaos Magick (2015)
Saturnian Mist play a cheap brand of alternative metal that tries very hard to be tough and to insert “extreme” elements to sound tougher. The whole attitude of this band seems to be based on that all too common sentiment of posing at being a tough kid. The songs follow a pop format, and are based on chords with screamed lyrics on top of them. Major impact is in the contrast of certain sections. Endings are just abrupt, the songs do not lead from one clear point to another, but are rather just very messy.
Svärta – Sepultus (2015)
Ah, the black metal stereotype of flat-dynamics throughout a song have lead so many astray. With the idea tha black metal consists only on flat and intense sound repeated ad nauseam without any other aim than “Creatng atmosphere”, Svärta gives the world yet another bland modern black metal album. This band at least has the sense to be relatively consistent and they try to bring riffs back, or their main ideas at least. The lacking vision shows most clearly when they insert sections with no drums and clean guitar strums out of the blue with little relation to the rest of the song in order to create the cliche anti-climax that the unimaginative minds can summon as their only proposition.
Cold Cell – Lowlife (2015)
More pseudo black metal from the modern sludge crowd with post-metal tendencies. They try to “improve” on black metal by bringing in more clean picked chords, inserting more blank spaces in the music and forcing variety on songs. Not the kind of variety that is linked strongly within a song through different musical dimensions, but the kind of variety that results from not fucking knowing what to write and so being forced to insert whatever comes into your mind. This is not creativity, this is mediocrity.
Nightwish – Forms Most Beautiful (2015)
Representing the cheapest moves by the so-called symphonic metal bands, Nightwish makes songs with long, varied intros that vary from straight-up pop flares to the modern pseudo-prog groovy intros. Do not let anything here fool you, this is is just simple and low-quality pop music with catchy leads. The whole value fans of this music fine is “nice melodies”. It’s insulting that these people even want to sell themselves as metal. This is pop music, accept it once and for all and put all these candy-rock pop in the shelf next to Miley Cyrus.
Profezia – Black Misanthropic Elite – Moon Anthem (2015)
More intense, low-fi black metal that does nothing but ride a riff and repeat it until the band feels it has filled enough minutes. Combine this with slower tracks to create variety and you have more repetitive songs that try very hard at the same trope of “creating atmosphere” by virtue of their repetition. This is as tiring on its own as it is as a result of having heard this approach by countless other mediocre bands.
Flooding publishing news, the waves of garbage promos present an ecological problem that can only be dealt with extreme measures. A swift bombardment of napalm would suit all these studios producing garbage albums every day. Even those with high quality production are only hiding behind it. Having a crispy sound, good double bass rendering and perfect sound engineering does not make the music better when it is the equivalent of rat feces, it only makes the odor stronger and more difficult to bear.
Blunt Knife Idol – (2015)
Grindcore is the most misunderstood underground genre after black metal. The simpler something appears on the surface. Blunt Knife Idol things that if they play a groovy or a brutal riff with blast beats or racing double bass drums a grindcore song is automatically produced. Music for empty-headed “headbangers” who want to show their friends how “brutal” and “extreme” they are. Fucking rad, man.
Impurity – Into the Ritual Chamber (2015)
Hard rock with croaking vocals. Not particularly good hard rock at that. Just flat-sounding and never actually doing anything besides existing. Not as distinctive as Sarcófago, but just as bad and far blander. Sometimes, Impurity tries to give songs a twist by inserting a completely random and unrelated blasting section only to finish it with a stadium rock move… or a flute. Other songs start off with the minimalist “black metal” style and then transition into hard rock riffs. Structure-wise it is pretty unpredictable, but it’s only because there is no particular plan behind this. It does not feel like it even makes any sense, parts are just pasted to continue. Stay away from this old turd.
Khors – Night Falls Onto the Fronts of Ours (2015)
Starting out as a light, slavic-styled black rock band, Khors now play depressive alternative rock with double bass drums and black metal vocals in a manner similar to that of Swedish band Katatonia. The difference is that in Cold Khors lacked the content that Katatonia present time-efficiently in their pop-structured songs. Khors pretends to deliver little content inside long-drawn structures in the black metal manner. This makes for ambient rock that is only “atmospheric” but little else. Now they went all the way and became one more alternative-rock-with-harsh-vocals band like the previously mentioned Swedish band or like the Finnish Amorphis. Despite this, Night Falls onto the Fronts of Ours seems to reach its goal within its mainstream constraints. It does not fail, it is just rubbish mainstream music.
My Silent Wake – Damnatio Memoriae (2015)
Funny, confused, tough-guy music for fans of Sludge and the Pink Frothy AIDS approach to songwriting in “diverse” styles stitched together in self-indulgent manner. Each song here is meaningless but has a strong “attitude”. This satisfies most of the Homer Simpsons among metalheads, which is why this will have enough impact. This stretches from the idiotic to the simple music that pretends to be more refined or sensitive. My Silent Wake are a sure commercial bet for labels and a sure formula for artistic failure.
Possession – 1585-1646 (2015)
When you try to make black metal with a punk mentality, you will end up with a very long and repetitive punk song. This is NOT what primitive black metal is, folks. Like most music of its kind, and like most extreme music, this is 80% posturing, 15% music and 5% of something to say. The only reason this sort of band is given any chance is that with the commercial long tail effect the internet provides, niche tastes can be offered a product. Statistically, some clueless idiot is bound to like this heap of messy punk riffs put together by a talentless band.
Here’s a group of musical vermin whose mothers we wish had had a medical plan that included abortion.
Bone Gnawer – Cannibal Crematorium (2015)
An assault not only on the senses as their promoters say, but on human intellect, this is lowest common denominator death metal for the Cannibal Corpse crowd who think Scream Bloody Gore is an actual classic of the genre. Produced like later Vader albums, most of the appeal this release has relies on processed vocals, guitar tone and crispy drum sound. Everything about his album screams out mental retardation and posturing. A plage on the genre, this crowd should be stirred in the direction of rap, deathcore or any brutal or violent posturing “music”.
Korsakov – Unique Remains (2015)
As their name migt suggest, yes, this is yet another Swedeath clone. But it also shares traits with the 80s speed-going-on-death of Master or Death. Unique Remains is unimpressive in any way. You will not remember it for being the worse, but it is uneventful music showing no great blunders but nothing of value either. It is merely repeating what others have said in simpler and more incomplete ways. Genuinely boring, if you want anything like this, listen to Master.
Paganland – Fatherland (2015)
Full of feeling and good intentions, this music is as endearing as it is hilarious. Using the style of magical power-pagan-black metal so popular among the slavs, Fatherland presents us with a particularly derivative, musically uneducated and melodic-hook-based music. This music is more of a folk-themed pop rock music for people who do not actually listen to metal but like to think they do.
Massenhinrichtung – Закон Збро (2015)
Another slavic band making meandering folkish-paganish-blackish metal. Too many feelings and too little thinking. This is ambient music for nationalist teenagers of the region. This becomes evident when some macho man screams are heard in rapping style along with a numetal background. And for those who fetishize eastern Europeans and their culture. This music is like a souvenir, it can be attractive because it is reminder of something else. On its own it’s quite poor. A little similar to music like Cromlech’s or Primordial, guilty pleasures for those who like epic nationalism or medieval warrior themes.
Zatokrev – Silk Spiders Underwater (2015)
Ah, more casual black metal. No, kids, black metal does not do casual. Black metal is not “cool”. Silk Spiders Underwater is repetitive alternative rock-metal with stoner inclinations. Oriented towards appearing tough, but casual. Aloof music for angsty teenagers… don’t we have plenty of this subpar shit already?
Purging the releases by posers, the hipsters and the lowlifes from metal is the only way to rise from the decadent state of affairs and into glory. This is why Sadistic Metal Reviews exist in the first place. Slaughter them!
Blastomycosis – Covered in Flies and Afterbirth (2015)
Ignoring the stupid band, album and song names which already betray not only the intention but easily distracted mind with a penchant for gore themes that make little sense, the music they represent is as aimless as it is self-indulging in the most base of manners. Consisting in a quasi death metal which underneath is more akin to deathcore, Blastomycosis builds excuses for songs on changing basic rhythms that have become a staple of that sorry sub-genre. Filing rhythmically catchy and extremely simple riffs long enough to fill up space to say all the ridiculously disgusting things these subhumans want to say, I am reluctant to even call this music. Even if we could take this as grindcore, it would fail, as it lacks the forward momentum and drive of that style.
Druzhina – Third Henosis (2015)
While not outright offensive to the sensible music listener, Druzhina make the kind of music that is too moment-based. The band knows this type of Slavic power – pagan – black metal has to allow the listener to fall into each moment, letting each melody become part of the familiar landscape. However, like most second-rate bands, it lacks the long-distance vision of musical construction that knows where it is going. Instead of going somewhere, developing in any significant way, Third Henosis sort of just floats where it first appears. A still image of Slavic sorrow.
Insane Mind – Strip Club Cannibal (2015)
As the name implies, yet again, this music is pure ironic brutal posturing. I believe that the IQ necessary to like this is limited to around 90. If you even slightly above this, the stupidity of this “music” will be too unbearable for you to stand more than one of these songs. Like the Blastomycosis above, there is little to say about their lacking songwriting. A useful note here would be to point out that much more elaborate bands like Ara basically use the same nonsensical template, except that the upper levels of the music are refined and details are many times more polished than this embarrassment of an album.
Leere – Bleak (2015)
Beware of self-pitying, crying black metal. It isn’t black metal at heart, which is why the musical style displayed is more of an imitation than a proficient elaboration. Black metal builds on repetition, not only changes to maintain an atmosphere. Some excellent black metal writes about desperation and madness, but it never falls into the emo-sobbing we hear here. Incredibly boring music for depressive people.
Nikharsag – The Blood of Celestial Kings (2015)
D-beats, descending-bass progressions, catchy and melancholic melodies over power chords, this is the late At the Gates – inspired death metal. As a result of the voice, some cliché use of chords and rhythms, someone may want to say this is black metal, but it really isn’t. They even try really hard to make this obvious by inserting unimpressive but recognizably black metal sections in the middle of the song. The songs end as uneventfully as they begin, having gone nowhere. While retaining some decency, The Blood of Celestial Kings is ultimately a forgettable affair no metal fan would want to listen to a second time.
Sadistic Metal Reviews: Uncompromising judgement and merciless punishment for the mediocre, the pretentious clueless and the posers. The releases shown here could be seen by kinder eyes as “not truly bad, just amateur imitations of better albums”, but those kind eyes fail to see the true evil of this plague. What do you do when the health of specimens is compromised beyond repair and they threaten to bring decay to the rest of the group? You round them up you end their misery.
Biotoxic Warfare – Lobotomized (2015)
Lobotomized is one of the most difficult albums to judge when releases go through the first quality test on DMU because it is not an outright offensive album, the production is satisfying and does its job appropriately, the songs are not messy and the musicianship is appropriate. Then, what is the problem? Biotoxic Warfare cover the basics. Songwriting 101, if you will. But that is not enough for art. Each section appeals to a cliche. Furthermore, the music is advanced through rhythmic hooks. These two things together are basically the engine of this music. It is basically cheap metalcore that does not know how to end songs. They put some cool and simple catchy leads together with some pumping rhythms and then call it a day. Average trash.
Cromm Cruac – Senecio (2015)
This music is as funny as the name. Pretentious in the way only pseudo-prog speed metal can be, Cromm Cruac play carnival rhythms that change every half a minute, only to introduce a meaningless, long, emotional melody. This is one of those mindless acts that in confused masturbatory delirium confuses randomness with open-mindedness and exploration. Exemplifying the fraudulent “experimental” genre tag, Senecio is an insult to music composition.
Infection – Acrotomophile Mutilator (2015)
Cannibal Corpse – influenced nonsense. Death metal deals with reality. Impending reality. Especially the heavy reality beyond human affairs or complete human control: death, violence, madness, strife and even abuse. But when this is made into an ironic joke it becomes a cartoon that cannot be taken seriously. The intention that goes into the topic and lyrics of a musician inevitably influences the music. Just as the embarrassingly pointless gore lyrics are offensive to the intellect, so is this average death metal full of tropes lacking in any major goal beyond “having fun”. Far from being “brutal”, this should be labeled moronic death metal for the brain-dead.
Nocturnal Depression – Spleen Black Metal (2015)
Beware of bands named after pathetic emotions and generic album names and covers as they betray a lot about the intention of the band. A band that understands repetition of riffs only for what it superficially entails, Nocturnal Depression play an aimless sentimental black metal consisting of a few riffs per song that do not precisely continue or build after each other but are just chosen for their tongue-in-cheek sweetness bordering of self-pitying whining. Uneventful and boring black metal that exists for the sake of existing, not because it has anything to communicate beyond a lolita’s self-centered quiet emotional manipulation.
Ygodeh – Inside the Womb of Horizonless Dystopia (2015)
Why this was labelled grindcore is beyond me. Its defects are those of most terrible music. Which is at least 90% of the music out there. Aimless music writing, self-absorbed individual sections that mean nothing in the larger context. The point of each of the tracks is to introduce a mood. Very cliche and in the style of modern soundtracks that put together rap, electric guitars, synth-strings and electronic music, Inside the Womb of Horizonless Dystopia is aptly name as it represents some of the worse outcomes of lacking songwriting. Having no horizon at all and reflecting the expectations of a mainstream audience rather than having something to say, this is a collection of preludes to nothing.
In an age when anyone can pretend to be a musician it becomes paramount to have a guard at the gates, a slashing axe to cut the unworthy products of these confused minds in half. This bloodied instrument of justice is what the Sadistic Metal Reviews are. Cut away the dead weight of the metal world. Make them walk the plank instead of wasting resources and time on their worthless existence.
Forward Unto Dawn – Alpha
That this music is not metal is evident within less than a minute, as a promising synth intro modulates into a soothing melody that would not be out of place in a Disney movie soundtrack. However, this metalcore band does not pretend to be anything else, and in fact shows promise with some interesting riffs, structures, and lyrical themes that avoid the overt homoeroticism of most metalcore. This band also avoids the “carnival music” feeling of much of their kin by writing songs with solid narrative progression – perhaps an influence from death metal. Unfortunately, the “slamming”, chugging, rhythmically similar riffs soon grow tiring and difficult to distinguish. We encourage this band to progress in their chosen genre and further pursue the unification of theme and musical expression.
Tormention – Chaotic Delusions
Tormention hide their incoherent, metalcore-influenced music behind the veneer of being a death metal band. This release is random, indistinct, and lacking in content. Somewhat in the vein of Cannibal Corpse and Necrophagist, with pointless guitar diddles, chugging, and rapidly shifting structures. This is the kind of band that could probably weasel their way into major metalfests with their presentation of “metal” surface forms, which demands their excoriation, whereas a honest and talented metalcore band like Forward Unto Death (reviewed above) poses no such threat. Avoid.
Nahtrunar – Symbolismus
Within seconds of the first track, Nahtrunar display an obvious influence from Quebecois black-metallers Sorcier des Glaces, with sweeping and romantic tremolo-picked melodies supported by simple, prancing drums. Nahtrunar showcase talented and knowledgeable black metal composition and technique, but fall into the same trap as the aforementioned Sorcier des Glaces – becoming at times so sweetly catchy that the primal and feral nature of black metal is subsumed into an incongruous tender romanticism, more fitting for a lonely and intelligent teenage girl than a savage Hessian warrior. The interludes between every song contribute nothing.
Saturnalia – Temple to the Other
Ah, Sweden. You will never find a more wretched hive of SJWs and cuckoldry. But this talented if confused people have certainly proved their worth in the annals of metal history, which makes a garbage release such as this all the more pathetic. Story: some stoned hipsters into bad psychedelic rock figured out that if they included some “occult” imagery in their music they could sell it to metalheads, who have more money to spend than their barista/thrift-store-clerk/community-college social circle. As they made it into the now totally discredited “Metal” Archives, their plan seems to be working. The music? Just poorly done “stoner” psychedelic rock with the riffs shifted around a few half-steps to give it a pseudo-metal dissonance. These dorks are too incompetent to even make it in the dazed world of drugged-out rock’n’roll, where they belong. INCINERATE!
Some albums ignite the listener’s imagination with visions of the different ways in which the would-be composers of atrocious musical attempts could be punished, not for their stupidity as they were just born that way, but for forcing it upon the rest of humanity. This is what the Sadistic Metal Reviews are, symbolic impalement for the weaklings that overstep their bounds. Maleficence – Journey to the Depths
That at a first glance even the classics of black metal appear to be simple, minimalist patterns stringed together is one of the most misleading aspects of the genre. Being a music born out of elitism and of outstanding men, black metal was not meant to be understood by the undermen, the subpar scum made up not by a particular race or ethnicity (which is what the undermen who do not understand Nietzsche actually think) but by the half-assers and those with limited neural capacity. When these imbeciles get together to make what they believe is black metal, all they can come up with is meaningless satanic gibberish that is both blatantly shallow and evidently ironic bullshit.
Satanic Ripper – Southern Black Spells
This is the kind of album that is reviewed sadistically because there is nothing to it. It is not the worse, but it isn’t actually good either. It is your average Sarcofago descendant that makes the same sort of unimproved rubbish as their idols. Add in some squealing leads here and there. Randomly located, of course, these things don’t mean anything. Satanic is Satanic. Praise the Dark Lord. So scary. So black metal. So trve, man.And then reveal your sludge-doom occult rock influences. Take your boring shit elsewhere.
Third Ion – 13-8Bit
Streamlined Dream Theater pseudo-prog, a bit of 8-bit sounds here and there and gay power metal vocals that sometimes drift into Disturbed-like colorations. Contrasting sections for major impact. Reciting of Petrucci-like patterns in the riffs, the phrygian mode has to make an appearance. Disorganized, pointless, showy, unoriginal, thoughtless. Made even more annoying by the way these musicians go out of their way to say “look at me!, look at me!”. Kill that drummer and his ill-placed polyrhythms.
Tyrant Goatgaldrakona – Horns in the Dark
The brutal riff syndrome. Although the band manages to put together riffs that are derived from each other, each song is made of a short progression of ideas that just ends. As ideas, the problem is that they are not concluded in any sort of way. Does all music have to be Beethovenian conclusion-oriented music? No, it doesn’t. But if you make music that appears to do that and then you fail to give appropriate conclusions, then, you have failed. Tyrant Goatgaldrakona, you have failed.
Like the clueless cannon fodder that most sacrificed soldiers end up being in major wars, so too are the hordes of albums of clueless “musicians” working on a way to cash in on the lack of attention span and seriousness of the masses. Lazy music for lazy minds, candy music for people wearing rose-colored glasses. It all ends up here, sadistically reviewed, their corpses lying on the ground. Perhaps comparing these releases to massacred soldiers is giving them too much life. These sterile releases are more akin to cardboard boxes with Andy Warhole (yes, War-HOLE) colored stupidity. Heathen Beast – The Carnage of Godhra
Scream lyrics in monochromatic vox, make cavemannish groove riffs that mimic the vocal rhythms, and then overlay or alternate with middle-eastern instruments from a keyboard. Apparently Heathen Beast thinks this is enough to make some sort of progressive folk music. Of course, you need the narrated sections, or the dialogues. Then this becomes a conceptual release. Just because you can release your musical creations does not mean you should unleash your turds on the world. Some of the cheapest music to hit the mail this month. Osculum Infame – The Axis of Blood
Make-believe black metal that grooves like alternative metal. The nonsensical juxtaposition of sections to surprise and contradict expectation is rampant. The point is not to make the music coherent in any sense. The point is to posture. We are black metal, man, we are hardcore black metal. The reliance of this music on grooving rhythms and macho-man vocals ala Phil Anselmo is as sickening as it is disgraceful. The true black metal fan will do well to stay away from this one. Save yourself some precious minutes of your mortal life.
VoidCeremony – Dystheism
The epitome of the riff salad disaster in the so-called atmospheric death metal. The trick here is simple: make obscure, messy riffs, lots of them, more than you can count. They do not need to progress in any particular direction, they do not need to be necessarily related. They do need to keep a character, at least. This will make the fans laud your music for creating “such a dark and oppressive atmosphere”. You will hear poser hipsters like Anthony Fantano who know nothing about the graceful art of musical construction praising poorly thought-out death metal such as this. They equate “I do not know what the fuck is going on with the music but I can get the feeling” with good quality in death metal. Tough-sounding ambient music for blockheads.
The cause: Too many labels, too many resources, too many enabled idiots. The result: tons and tons of mediocre music. Occasionally a decent release or two. A handful of good albums each year. A classic every few years. In the advent of such a shitstorm, should we ignore the fecal matter covering our windshields, obstructing our view as we look for actually worthwhile releases?
Groteskh – Code: END
Some think death metal is all about brutal riffs. The brutaller your riff, the awesomer your music. And if you pack your music with brutal riff after brutal riff, then of course, your music will be the brutallest. Some also think that black metal is “all about the atmosphere”. And what does atmosphere mean, according to simple minds? Well, come flat-sounding strummed riffs with an “evil” feeling. Groteskh plays in the modern style of boring death metal pretending to be black metal. And in doing so, trying to excuse the lacking death metal the band produces. Code:END amounts to “brutal riffs with atmosphere”, a delight for the moronic modern extreme metal commoner. Add in some parts with groovy drums, bopping bass and strummed “evil sounding” chords, and you got your death black party metal formula.
Seven7 – The Follower
Best described as Mike Portnoy syncopations, Matt Halpern groove poserism, power metal inclinations with Fred Durst and Chester Bennington deciding the musical direction, Seven7 make Nu Metal bent on taking the fraud of Dream Theater’s pseudo-prog as part of its language. Frankly, it sounds like a Dream Theater unveiled to what it truly is: pretentious pop music. Disgusting at every level, this album is a collection of tropes from the mainstream melodic extreme metal appropriated to a Nu Metal and Alternative Metal context.
Jarun – Pod niebem utkanym z popiołu
Jarun gives us a musically consistent Blackwater Park that is only folk in name. Lose melodies out of context, racing double bass drums and “progressive” riffs riding under disorganized music that attempts to hide its simple structure under a lot of flare and affectation. The music here is essentially rhythmic appeal to headbangs and slightly bittersweet melodies ala Pink Frothy Aids. The introduction of purposeless riffs is a clear sign of a lack of vision in composition, but this crowd and those who surround them are oblivious to what this means. Condemned to live in delusion and pretension, this music appeals to those who want to pose as if they listen to deep or complex music but only want music that is easy to digest and headbang to.
What is the human problem? Everything we do is insincere, and any time someone rises above that standard, they are torn down out of the fear that their excellence might offend those who are mediocre, who (conveniently) comprise the majority of humanity. We separate mediocre conformity from people who make realistic, sincere and inspired art out of heavy metal genres, and ignore the blood on the floor and the tears on the fedora because feelings are always less important than truth. Step over the bodies of hipsters, poseurs, tryhards, SJWs, scenesters, day trippers, rationalization hamsters and sell-outs, and welcome to Sadistic Metal Reviews…
Torche – Restarter
What is sludge? It is what failed in other forms slowing itself down and mixing metal into its techniques in order to disguise that it has failed. If you tuned the guitars up, played it at mid-pace and avoiding the metal downstroke technique, Torche would be just another indie rock band in the late 90s style. The focus is on melancholic but egotistical vocal lines which are almost autistic and certainly narcissistic (and aren’t the two degrees of the same problem, which is exclusive self-referentiality?) in their tendency to confirm their precepts with their conclusions, backed by lots of downstrummed guitars and slow drums. In the 1990s, labels tried this style with Fudge Tunnel and later even Godflesh got in the game, but went nowhere, because people could realize the basic “Nirvana + doom” formula used back then. The formula now is even more basic. It is indie rock with metal technique and nothing else. Much of this sounds like outtakes from a Filter or Faith No More album, but updated with the kind of simplistic approach that became popular when music videos faded and became incorporated into mainstream cinema instead. This would be great background music for teenagers smoking dope by the old reservoir or similarly pointless rebellion that ends with them just getting locked into the system harder. This music is a fraud and its fans are idiots.
Armageddon – Captivity & Devourment
The title refers to the album itself: it lures you in with the promise of extreme metal, then subjects you to the 80s speed metal/nu-metal/melodeath hybrid cooked up by music industry executives looking over Excel spreadsheets of sales successes, or maybe just opportunistic musicians. Either way, most of our species are simple-minded idiots and this music panders to them with lots of Pantera/Meshuggah style violent verses and binary riffs that sort of wiggle around in the space between two points, ending symmetrically on the opposite note from the one that resolves the first half of the phrase. Lots of e-chord rhythm riffing in this style combines randomly with other influences and creates an end result that is not quite as blatantly distracting “carnival music” as Behemoth but more like heavy metal featured in movies: it sounds good when the solo kicks in, but the rest is lead-up to that with industrial music style vocals disguised as metal, and random riffs fleshing out what are otherwise pop songs whose parts barely relate to one another. For all the instrumental prowess of this band, they seem to have no idea what to write, and it shows in this amalgam of label darlings lashed together with rhythm for the brain-damaged.
Vermis Mortem – Evil Never Dies
The intro to this EP is pointless and should be deleted for being both without purpose and annoying. What follows is very closed-circuit death metal in a style like Angelcorpse merged with Hate Eternal and older Death, which is to say a very modern style, that emphasizes the vocals which lead songs through some rather stereotypical and extremely balanced and basic riffs. The result is painful boredom unless you like the vocals, which enunciate and jump around like a performer at a Shakespeare revival in the park, but this over-acting does not save us from the musical tedium of this release. It is catchy, its rhythms are compelling, but it develops nowhere. Vocal rhythms are obvious like children’s rhymes and riffs represent streamlined versions of what has worked well in the past 20 years, but in this streamlining, the parts of the riff that gave its shape interesting dimension are removed, and we are left with a three-part puzzle with no mystery. Burden a riff like that with the duty to provide support for vocals which are blurting out similarly quasi-catchy patterns and the result is a song which seems to chant in unison the most simplistic elements it has in common, and the listener is back in pop territory where repetition becomes a bludgeon and even small variations seem exciting. For as much as this band wants to be old school, its reliance on the ego — the vocals — forces it into surface-level composition and obliterates whatever of depth it may have hoped to express.
Pentagram – Relentless
We can all agree that 90% of everything on earth is crap and that most people are merely self-interested, meaning that there is no greater dimension to them, and as they tend to be incompetent they become the type of parasite that takes everything for itself and then destroys it, left blaming others for its “misfortune.” Most people behave this way and because they are somewhat aware of this, they seek material to camouflage their mediocrity with irony, novelty and other “different” and “unique” signals. These signals allow them to defer criticism by showing how they aren’t like the rest, which is a way of saying they are afraid we will find out that they are exactly like the rest. Pentagram has become somewhat of a media favorite and a crowd favorite mainly because it is not metal. This is straight out of the 1960s rock explosion, focused on melodic hooks in chorus and voice acting on the verses. They even made a movie about this band and its strung out vocalist, as if trying to make Pentagram into the doom metal version of Roky Erikson. The problem here is that Pentagram is a step back to before Black Sabbath but uses the muted strum of speed metal and the detuning of a heavy metal band, although its songs really have more in common with the previous generation. Beware of what the herd likes because they are liars trying to conceal their mediocrity, and this applies doubly with Pentagram. This band would not have gone far as a regular rock band but if you add the novelty factor of doom metal plus Satan-ish overtones, people are interested. Stoner doom metal is generally a fraud that disguises failed rock as innovative metal, and Pentagram is no exception. The herd lies and it will destroy anything it can control in its desperate quest to hide its own lack of soul, integrity and purpose. Throw this band in the ditch with the other 60s burnouts and move on to real, actual metal instead.
Acid King – Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere
Heavy metal grew out of many influences including psychedelic music. The challenge to psychedelic music is to make sound that induces hallucinogenic experience in sober people, not to create music which appeals only to the very stoned with cover art that looks good next to a bag of Cheetos. Like most stoner rock, Acid King is a fraud: basically slow jam rock with heavy distortion played with a few aesthetic elements of doom metal, but essentially unchanged from the 1970s jive that sent people fleeing to heavy metal in the first place. This is boring music played slowly to disguise how little actually goes on. A female vocal drones alongside a rock-style riff, with no “shape” as metal riffs have, and then guitars wheedle-beedle and zeetly-zeetly-zeet after prolonged “melodic” solo introductions that are merely repetitive. If you are very high, preferably on the higher grade of cheap weed that deactivates all higher brain function except what is required to order pizza and play NES ironically, you may find this appealing because it is sonically well-formed and texturally distinctive enough. But there is no meaning here, nor even a really good distraction, which tends to be the case with all stoner doom (which we might as well be honest and call “nu-doom” or “nu-heavy” metal).
Eternal Solstice – Remnants of Immortality
What a horror: death metal styling applied like vinyl siding to what is essentially hard rock with an addiction to uniform conclusions and obvious riff forms. It is just blockhead, paint-by-numbers death metal. At this point, nothing more needs be said except to mention the electronic vocals, which would not be a problem except they sound like a bad American crime show where the bad guy uses a voice disguiser bought from Radio Shack back in the 1970s to hide his identity when calling over a pay phone. The style alone would not doom this band, if they could simply make hard rock in the heavier vein somewhere between early Motley Crue and later Pantera, but their music is just boring. No harmonic or melodic hook exists, and the rhythmic hook consists of the same type of expectation that comes from waiting for the person in the apartment above to drop the second shoe on the floor before retiring to bed for the night. Sometimes, bands like this get miscalled “heavy” because they are numbing through repetition and sheer simplistic mentality to their riff-writing, and Eternal Solstice qualifies in this department. What drives you to listen to this band is the quasi-OCD that people on the internet talk about, which is that if there is a basic sequence of events, you want to see it completed. Other than that, no appeal, and this one should go back to the pits of hell for recycling.
Recueil Morbide – Morbid Collection
Recueil Morbide takes the fertile music of the late 1980s where bands verged on death metal from speed metal and adds to it a sense of melody and modern metal vocals. The result attempts to fuse the Unique Leader style of brutal deathcore with melodeath and come out with a good result, which this band mostly does, but is limited by the demands of the style that it keep within one level of cause and effect, resulting in pounding riffs and soaring melodic passages being used as effects in otherwise fairly straightforward death metal songs. That is distinct from the classic death metal approach which used structure to express content, instead of doing so on the surface where structure was recombinant and vocals, lyrics, effects, etc. were required to make an impression on the listener. Too much of Recueil Morbide takes the same approach and the result is that meaning and interest — what distinguishes this band from all others — are left on the surface with a feeling of being unexplored. If this band wants to succeed, they will focus less on the stuff everyone else does and more on what they do, taking it from 10% of this album to a much higher figure. As a side note, the melodies that this band writes sound like variations on the James Bond theme, which happens several times on this release. Maybe it’s an allusion.
Znafelriff – Ruin
Creating melodic death/black with simple song structures, Znafelriff uses a number of influences along these lines — “Ruin” borrows quite a bit from “Mountains of Might” from Immortal Blizzard Beasts — to forge together music which keeps charging energy high but never intensifies the energy itself, leading to a kind of circularity. Songs start, launch into a riff, add a counterpoint riff, and then cycle until they wear down. When the band wants more power, they add blasting drums and more extreme vocals; for emotion, they work in melody. Many parts of this resemble early Tormentor given a death metal makeover. While nothing is particularly wrong here, it leaves no particular impression either since songs are exercises in maintaining a mood rather than developing it, and the style is a semi-unique mix of standard influences resulting in a genericism of low expectations. If this band wants to move further toward excellent, it should rely less on vocals and more on combining riffs to create a focal point at which atmosphere shifts, and to make that atmosphere resemble something other than a vague uncertainty, darkness and rage.
Nader Sadek – The Malefic: Chapter III
When I first heard this artist, I thought: someone attempting to make something of the Hate Eternal style, itself a smart move by Eric Tucker which tried to harness the appeal of modern metal through a style that still retained the coherence of older metal. The problem artists deal with is that this style brooks no compromise. It demands constant charging vocals ahead of the drums with insistent patterns and those lead the song, which crowds out other instruments as lead, which demotes guitar to a secondary role and thus demotes melody and structure as well, in favor of relatively monotonic vocals. Guitars appear as adornments to this basic style, which is closer to pop than heavy metal, but when the detour is over the ranting vocals resume. This forces the band to cram its best activities into relatively small areas of each song. Nader Sadek struggles with this impossible burden as well. It is simply paradoxical. The interesting parts of these songs are the little transitions and flights of fancy between the “hard” verse riffs with charging vocals and the parts of the solos that are designed to be fireworks for a “wow factor” with the mouth-breathing, fetus-hands and neck-bearded audience. Can’t some label give this artist enough money that he can write songs based on those interesting parts, instead of the parts which we know the herd will clap its little hands without forearms for? The style betrays the artist.
For that feeling of old school mid-paced death metal, Ossuaire makes a credible stab: good riff variation, songs fit together well, but with too much emphasis on vocals and not enough on structure, and often too much reliance on riffs that make their hook out of brief interruption of utter predictability. Those disadvantages are minor compared to the overall appeal of this brief recording which is its ability to keep intensity in a death metal style without relying on crutches, and while maintaining a character of its own, somewhere between old Morgoth, Infester and later Suffocation. The challenge for this band will not be to develop its own style, although it will want to go further in that direction, but to edit its material so that it presents its most dramatic elements at the right time after the right build-up, and so creates the kind of mood-shifting experience that made classic death metal great. All of the parts are there and the execution rapidly approaches that place; it would be aided with less reliance on the vocalist, which as many classic death metal bands found out, results in lessening of the influence of other instruments which bends composition back toward the rock/pop standard, which is designed as background music for vocals which exist to blurt out some message of peacelove or happiness, which was generally the point of rock ‘n roll. Ossuaire have done well to escape that, but if they do better, can be a top-flight death metal band.
Keep of Kalessin – Epistemology
This band went from being a bad black metal imitation to being a thinly-disguised modern metal band that uses melodic choruses to hide its otherwise bog-standard post-Pantera speed metal approach. Their “black metal” combined boring tryhard blasting with purposeless folk-metal styling and fooled a number of people, most notably the clueless NWN/FMP crowd, but apparently eventually the market caught up with them and started over-producing sing-song black metal so Keep of Kalessin switched to what could easily fit into the MTV hard rock of the late 80s with a stylistic upgrade to be contemporary. The melodic hooks are adequate but of well-known forms, and verses emphasize some kind of drama to distract from the underlying purposelessness, and the songs progress according to the formula of friendly verse, dramatic chorus, a brief bridge with noodly solo and then return to the loop. This formula appears in all rock, techno, blues, etc. and serves its purpose well for being background music to the unexceptional lives of the many people out there who, unwilling to step beyond the bounds of self to escape narcissism, flit from one distraction to the next without caring much about content. For anyone with a functional brain or any listening experience, Keep of Kalessin rings hollow and seems as commercial as it secretly is underneath the skin. It would be more honest to pick up an old Def Leppard album where these riff patterns and song forms are crafted with more conviction, and the nature of the music does not have to hide itself behind pretense, subterfuge and illusion.