Coming up with the concept for the music video for ‘Contaminate’ was quite simple. The subject matter of the song deals with impending doom of the apocalypse, radiation sickness, and the suffering that war brings about in general. We combined disturbing archival footage from atrocities committed in the last century with a live show we played at Saint Vitus, in Brooklyn, to create a visual aesthetic to match the bleak subject matter and overall feeling of despair that we attempted to create when we wrote this song.
Having watched this zine grow from humble origins to the reliable source of underground metal feature stories that it is today, the metalheads who comprise the underground — including death metal, black metal, grindcore, and some speed metal and doom metal — now expect high-quality on-point content from this zine, and Issue Seven delivers with style. Now possessing the journalistic weight and audience to command high-profile bands, Codex Obscurum returns with wide-ranging interviews, reviews, features and editorials with adventurous literary fiction as well.
Interviews have always pushed this zine above the rest because of their conversational nature but tendency to explore the thinking behind the musical decisions made by the band, with little attention spent on the surface fluff, but some questions that bring out the personalities of the musicians and explain their connection to the art. In this issue, the biggest name in interviews is Deceased, but perhaps the most powerful interview belongs to Thanatos. Covering both Hail of Bullets and Thanatos, this interview with Stephan Gebedi is as detailed and congenial as death metal interviews get, and covers a lot of history. The Deceased interview will strike most as idiosyncratic because it covers much of King Fowley personally and recent news, with less emphasis on background, but this reflects the general abundance of Deceased interviews on the early days. This updates us on the status of the band including information new to most sources. Other interviews with Wastelander, Drug Honkey, FaithXTractor, Crypt Sermon, Magic Circle, Dawn of Demise, Untergang, Slaughtbath and Blood Incantation follow similar patterns of compiling biographical details and consulting on musical intent, with the Untergang and Crypt Sermon being most compelling. All of these are well-executed and constitute the backbone of this zine.
Issue Seven contains a number of features, one of which takes the form of an interview. Artist Tony Cosgrove gives his points of view in a story which interweaves his images with his words, creating the sensation of being a museum exhibit with slightly longer detail cards. A feature on asymmetrical board games offers a glimpse into a world that overlaps with metal but is too nerdly for the mainstream tuffguy websites to cover. A lengthy write-up of the Kill-Town death fest in Denmark follows, which captures much of the atmosphere without excessive detail, but also skimps on a few vital points and may be the least powerful part of the zine. Then again, fest writeups are nearly impossible because everyone is tired and/or drunk (and stoned) so what remains are hazy recollections and the ability to look through the heaps of scored merch. Possibly my favorite features lurks at the rear of the zine, which is a malevolent and tongue-in-cheek editorial about the nature of battle jackets and how they should be worn. This piece reminds me of the 1980s text-files that hackers used to pass around: it has an off-the-cuff feel to the writing, but the thinking seems refined over time, which creates an interesting casual intensity. One intriguing feature, to my knowledge unique among current zines, comes in the form of a short story. Like a condensed zombie sci-fi horror movie, “Evil Seed” (named for the Morbid Angel tune?) efficiently whips through a haunting mystery of an experience with a powerful organic metaphor. This story not only adds to the zine, but its placement dead in the middle creates a break like that when flipping over a vinyl album to hear side two.
Toward the rear of the zine festers another important section: reviews. For metalheads without much time to wade through the mountains of spurious and often spiteful opinions in online comments, or the completely idiotic sales jobs that mainstream zines and web sites put out in place of reviews, where every release is the greatest ever and will tear your head off or make you look intellectual to the girlies, zine reviews offer peace of mind in purchasing by offering better than even chances that a given release will be a match. This occurs both through qualitative assessment, and quantitative description, both of which are featured here. These take a conversational tone but know when to drop the one or two lines of most vital description, and then an assessment, separating observations from judgments enough that the reader can shop by the relative distance between the taste of the reviewer and their own. In this issue, the selection of reviews is a lot more strategic and covers all of the vital ground for what was released during the press period of this issue.
As Codex Obscurum has grown, so has its proficiency in layout. This is the most readable issue yet, generally sticking a band logo at the start of an interview and then being sparse with other images and keeping the text high-contrast usually of a light grey on black variety. This format works well and the use of distinctly shaped fonts also keeps this from falling into the trap of the illegible muddy blur of a xerox disaster that many zines are. Reviews are black text on grey background for added readability, and whether from rush or deliberation, the black-on-white table of contents is if nothing else clear as a bell. Writing standards have inched upward, too, with tightly edited pieces and almost no typos and spelling errors. All of the above make it easy to pick up this zine, which at half-page size can be handily carried anywhere you would take a paperback, and to relax and absorb the content. It would not be surprising to see someone whip this out at a university library, transhumanist rally or on the international space station, because it has that kind of density of information and yet casual enjoyment factor. It is good to see this zine getting the recognition it deserves and its growth both in size and technique for an intensely professional and yet familiar metal reading experience.
- Codex Obscurum – Issue Seven $4 + shipping
Hailing from Israel, Psynthesis plays a style of death metal with riffing that shows a connection to speed metal in the same way that Slayer’s Hell Awaits is, by definition, a death metal album while maintaining a riff-style and vocal-music interplay similar to speed metal. Following a conservative line, Psynthesis’ power lies in its deliberate limitation of musical scope and expression which results in a focused and clear result.
While the band has only released one track, “Den of Wolves”, they are planning to either release an EP or a full album in the near future. The band consists of two members and are still looking for a permanent drummer. If the full album parts from the quality of this single, Psynthesis promises to give us one of the best albums this year worthy of remembering years later as mature and subtle metal in a traditional vein.
With their tenth album “Intermination” due out later this month, German metalcore group Dew-Scented have released a third new track, “Ode to Extinction” with a lyric video.
Due to technical problems in the website, the review of Dew-Scented’s album previously published on DMU cannot be readily accessed. You can read it below:
Having been called everything from thrash to death or melodic death metal, Dew-Scented play metalcore in its original inception, as inspired by At the Gates’ style on Slaughter of the Soul. Everything from the simple drums which half of the time fall into variations of fast d-beats, catchy and short melodic ideas on the guitars with a tendency towards breakdowns for variety, to the blatant imitation of Tomas Lindberg. Being an heir to this tradition reviled by the fans of the old school styles and hailed as an improvement and distillation of the best aspects of the older music by the mainstream audience, Intermination invites a comparison with At the Gates’ come back album released last year, At War with Reality.
While the seminal band tried to bridge a gap between fans of its older and later styles by taking its metalcore-founding album and introducing more complex elements as visited in Terminal Spirit Disease and vaguely from With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness, thereby creating a middle-of-the-road offering that pleased neither group, Dew-Scented plant themselves solidly on the style developed in Slaughter of the Soul and part faithfully from there to create variations without bringing down the delicate and extremely constricted walls delimiting the definition of this minimalist, extreme pop genre.
Being the catchy, duple-time riff-fest that this genre is, Dew-Scented do a phenomenal job at creating solid, punching riffs which if not necessarily connect concretely with each other too well throughout a song (given the shock-oriented nature of this modern style), go a long way to maintain the drive of songs by switching and keeping the overall feel, avoiding the over-use of a particular riff. Without any ill-will towards this talented band, we must clarify that the album presents a very flat result, which is a necessary result of the definition of the genre as driven by impacting riffs and sonic shock tactics. The tight upholding of ideals of the genre in Dew-Scented’s hands, even with their carefully and appropriately crafted variations, becomes a hindrance in the context of a crippling genre.
A cult classic of death metal, Nocturnus’ The Key often elicits outwardly moderate yet intense praise from connoisseurs of the genre. Reading online reviews and commentaries on the album one realizes that these praises are based on a three points. The first is the prominent use of keyboards throughout the album, then there is the ubiquitous, ripping guitar solos and last, its supposed resemblance to Morbid Angel, which is mainly based on the fact that Mike Browning took charge of the vocals on Nocturnus but also on the so-called thrash/speed-death amalgam this style is supposed to be. Let’s shoot each of these down one at a time.
The much-mentioned “pioneering” death metal with keyboards is an example of how too much of the metal critique is bent on praising novelty. Not only is the use of keyboards in the album amateur but it is often gimmicky, half of the time being out of place, the other half being completely extra and unnecessary — not strongly integrated into the music except in a very few places (“Neolithic” has a gesture in the solo section that shows promise). There are very good reasons why you do not hear keyboards often in death metal, and it goes beyond the fact that most death metal musicians are not learned enough to integrate them and would rather just make “pummeling and brutal riffs”. Style has to accommodate instrument choice. As it stands, The Key only crams keyboards wherever it can, but it is little more than a gimmick. Overall, a metalhead should look up to In the Nightside Eclipse for a better example of keyboards in underground metal.
On to the much lauded guitar solos in this album. What can I say? Besides being mindlessly infantile and trivial in their transparent scale runs, the solos throughout this album are, like the keyboard sections, often out of place and come off as being only superimposed on top of the rest of the music rather than composed within it. On their own and apart from the discussion on whether they fit into the music or not, it is not the messiness of the solos but their complete lack of character that would give one a good reason to ditch them and never think about them again.
Regarding Nocturnus sounding like a “Morbid Angel on steroids” or “an improved version of Morbid Angel”, we can say it comes from extremely superficial comparisons and a complete lack of discernment concerning composition quality. While Nocturnus perfectly exemplifies the brand of speed metal that wants to be death metal but is not quite there yet, early Morbid Angel was known as “death-thrash” only as a result of the audience’s ignorance. In this respect and given that The Key was released in 1990, when death metal had already solidified as a genre, we can say Nocturnus’ music is retrograde gimmick. The distinction between the death metal of Morbid Angel and the harsh, late-speed metal of Nocturnus lies in the phrase construction of the first that becomes the central development of the music, while the latter produces riffs to carry the voice that end in hooks. Death metal is progressive-symphonic phrasal music, speed metal is still heavy metal of a pop nature. Rather than compare them to Morbid Angel it would be more fitting to compare them to that other famous retrograde and gimmicky act called Death.
All in all, The Key still captures the imagination despite its amateur character and its great faults. I believe the reason for this is that in spite of its immature musical notions, its concept is very clear and this comes through in a very strong manner, outshining the blunders it houses. For the sake of metal, its future and the education of the audience, it is important to give albums like this their correct place. This is enjoyable and fun in much the same way that Sharknado is. You know it is silly, you know its appeal comes from its exaggerations and awkwardness, but a focused awkwardness with a clear idea in mind.
Masturbate on the throne of god
Crucifixion of a thousand saints
Stakes are mounted with the heads of angels
Nocturnal spells are casted,
Heaven begins to bleed
Speed-power metal band Warbringer have announced their North American tour with Enforcer and South American tour with Nervo Chaos and Hateful Murder.
Frontman John Kevill said this about their 2016 North American tour:
We are excited to announce the return of Warbringer to the road across North America. It looks to be a completely excellent lineup, with heavy metal warriors Enforcer and Cauldron, and longtime friends/total shredders Exmortus. Looking forward to firing up the engines again and getting back out there on the warpath, hell, it’s about time!
North American tour dates
- 1/5/16 – Gramercy Theatre – New York, NY
- 1/6/16 – Championship – Trenton, NJ
- 1/7/16 – Trickshots – Clifton Park, NY
- 1/8/16 – Webster Theatre – Hartford, CT
- 1/9/16 – Palladium – Worcester, MA
- 1/10/16 – Foufounes – Montreal, QU
- 1/11/16 – Salle Multi – Quebec City, QU
- 1/12/16 – Ritual – Ottawa, ON
- 1/13/16 – Hard Luck – Toronto, ON
- 1/14/16 – The Apk – London, ON
- 1/15/16 – Montage Music Hall – Rochester, NY
- 1/16/16 – Agora – Cleveland, OH
- 1/17/16 – Altar Bar – Pittsburgh, PA
- 1/18/16 – Ace of Cups – Columbus, OH
- 1/20/16 – Token Lounge – Westland, MI
- 1/21/16 – Fubar – St. Louis, MO
- 1/22/16 – Mojoes – Joliet, IL
- 1/23/16 – The Metal Grill – Cudahy, WI
- 1/24/16 – Triple Rock – Minneapolis, MN
- 1/25/16 – Zoo Cabaret – Winnipeg, MB
- 1/27/16 – Nite Owl – Calgary, AL
- 1/28/16 – Pawn Shop – Edmonton, AL
- 1/30/16 – Rickshaw – Vancouver, BC
- 1/31/16 – Studio Seven – Seattle, WA
- 2/1/16 – Hawthorne Theatre – Portland, OR
- 2/2/16 – Thee Parkside – San Francisco, CA
- 2/3/16 – Whisky – W. Hollywood, CA
- 2/4/16 – Brick By Brick – San Diego, CA
- 2/5/16 – Club Red – Tempe, AZ
- 2/6/16 – LVCS – Las Vegas, NV
- 2/8/16 – In the Venue – Salt Lake City, UT
- 2/9/16 – Bluebird Theatre – Denver, CO
- 2/10/16 – Aftershock – Merrriam, KS
- 2/11/16 – Red 7 – Austin, TX
- 2/12/16 – 210 Kapones – San Antonio, TX
- 2/13/16 – Scout Bar – Houston, TX
- 2/14/16 – Trees – Dallas, TX
- 2/15/16 – Siberia – New Orleans, LA
- 2/16/16 – Orpheum – Tampa, FL
- 2/17/16 – Haven – Orlando, FL
- 2/18/16 – Masquerade – Atlanta, GA
- 2/19/16 – Expo Five – Louisville, KY
- 2/20/16 – Canal Club – Richmond, VA
Regarding their upcoming South American tour, Kevill said:
We are excited to venture forth on our first-ever full South American tour. We are covering a lot of new ground here, and we can’t wait to go down there and wreck some people. Let’s see which country can mosh the hardest! Cheers!
South American tour dates
- 7/16/15 – Mistika – Lima, Peru
- 7/17/15 – Monolith Festival – La Paz, Bolivia
- 7/18/15 – tba – Bogota, Colombia
- 7/19/15 – Cuerdas de Acero Open Air – Cali, Colombia
- 7/22/15 – Encuentro Gutural – Quito, Ecuador
- 7/23/15 – tba – Santiago, Chile
- 7/24/15 – Asbury Club – Buenos Aires, Argentina
- 7/25/15 – Circle of Infinity Fest 3 – Limeira, Brazil
- 7/26/15 – Circulo Operario do Cruzeiro – Brasilia, Brazil
- 7/27/15 – Aristos Pub – Caxias do Sul, Brazil
- 7/30/15 – Let’s Go Rock Pub – Forteleza, Brazil
- 7/31/15 – Estelita – Recife, Brazil
- 8/1/15 – Che Pesticaria- Areceju, Brazil
- 8/2/15 – Baba da Amizade – Paulo Afonso, Brazil
Nu-thrash band Gomorrah has revealed one track from their upcoming album to be released later this year. The single is called “Phantom Sun” and bears unmistakable resemblance to modern acts like Sylosis.
Guitarist Colton Deem says:
This song is but a sample of the new refined Gomorrah sound we’re trying to encompass with the new record. A lot of the new tracks are a bit more diverse in their flow and construct than our prior work. “Phantom Sun” is one of the first songs we finished writing for the album and it’s a good representation of what’s to come.
This is a “best of the month” list for this month, but making the title “Best of May 2015” sounds like giving too much of a spotlight for such a short span of time, and devaluating the word “Best of” somewhat, in my opinion. Therefore I chose a title to reflect reality more clearly: these are the only albums we heard of on this website this month that were decent enough to not be considered utter disgraces to the metal genre (those were in the SMRs or were ignored). The “decent” are those that show consistency in style, coherence, a direction and a clear artistic voice and goals. The “rescuable” are those that are still confused in their composition — unclear, or that seemed to be impeded from development by their own approach to music-making (or that of their own genre).
- Ascended Dead – The Advent review
- Blasphemic Cruelty – Crucible of the Infernum review
- Exhumation – Opus Death review
- Luciferian Rites – When the Light Dies review
- Necrophor – Exterminatus review
- Nekromanteion – Cosmic Horrors review
- Perversor – Anticosmocrator review
- Shroud of the Heretic – Unorthodox Equilibrium review
- Undead – False Prophecies review
Austrian speed metal band Cemetery Dust presents their 3rd full length album To Rule Them All. Nine songs of technical wanking and groovy speed metal in a style influenced by Death, Coroner, Kreator, Testament, Megadeth and Sepultura.