FRANK MULLEN RETIRES

Aging Suffocation vocalist Frank Muller has officially announced his retirementtarget=”_blank” rel=”nofollow external” from music as the extreme metal retirement wave continues.  Spanning an almost 3 decade career exclusively with the same band, Frank had one of the deepest gutteral vocal tones of the early 90s and enjoyed an unusual amount of success in his later years when Suffocation’s technical death metal style became interchangeable with the deathcore fad of last decade.  Frank now plans on attempting an acting career but will probably end up giving up on it soon and opening up a pizza restaurant in Staten Island instead.

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Portal – Ion

Newer metal bands in the mid-2000s went one of few ways: the competition among users of extreme techniques caused a degree of one-upmanship that obscured the message of the music of “technical” bands, while the desire to get the audience to move caused the compositions of -core bands to be infiltrated by danceable open-note rhythms, and those left outside these groups grew more and more abstract in execution as if to rebel against conventional songwriting.  The issue here is that all three avenues, despite the latter being the most declarative, require an aesthetic sleight-of-hand to mask the lack of authoritative message in composition while the music is steered with the effects on the listener in mind rather than coming from the innate desire of a composer to communicate.  Portal, along with Ulcerate and Deathspell Omega, ushered in a style of metal that is entirely rooted in audience manipulation through a reliance on discordance that borders on desperation.  A challenge in viewing bands like this objectively is that it is difficult to fully understand whether the intent is holistically realized or if the sound and execution is the result of having no spirit of communication beyond purely aesthetic virtues.  Perhaps the evolution in sound was the understanding that metal did need to progress, and although there were surely undiscovered ways to do so, an analysis of all prior compositions reveal that metal was comprised of a multitude of expressions utilizing the same symbols: songs needed intros, various types of phrases that build tension, bridges, climaxes, and resolutions, and the catalog of conventional music that we have is constructed of various shufflings of these elements.  So, although a new act could in theory have a unique approach to music, they were essentially draping a new skin on a tired skeleton.  Metal, and music in general, had to go somewhere and it had to be led by someone that had a clear vision of something to communicate. And most importantly, it had to be done so without a reliance on the tropes that human nature has formulated with respect to the idea of song; ultimately, it needed to cripple it from within.

Is Portal the band to breach these waters, or are the efforts of the band a reflection of a lack of having anything to say intrinsically while still being able to coast on a formulaic command of discordant textures where fully realized phrases once guided the listener through a narrative journey?

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Gorguts – Pleiades’ Dust (2016)

Gorguts is a band that for a majority of its career has resembled an act that is at war with itself artistically.  After a serviceable debut comprised of purely death metal notions and peaking with its most dense and progressive release in The Erosion of Sanity, the band chose to scale back its arrangements while imbuing its approach with a discordance that may have laterally trespassed its prior unsullied metal constructs but at the same time gave Gorguts an identity all their own.  With regards to their contemporaries, you cannot currently say a band “sounds like Gorguts” without indirectly focusing on the sound created on Obscura, and the band’s own knowledge of that most likely has controlled their writing ever since — to the detriment of their overall intents in each record from then on…

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Crimson Massacre – The Luster of Pandemonium (2005)

Death metal folk wisdom tells that the epithet “technical” generally connotes music that is bad for a unique reason: it tends to get trapped in technique, including cute tricks from music theory, for its own sake, which in turn deprecates the art of composing memorable and relevant songs.

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Garroted – In the Court of Nyarlahotep (2016)

garroted in the court of nyarlahotep

Article by David Rosales. Occasionally our staff have differing opinions on unpristine works from upcoming or past their prime bands. The editor’s sobering take on Garroted – In the Court of Nyarlahotep was presented in Sadistic Metal Reviews: Taste the Rainbow!

A modernist acoustic guitar intro, an undefined progressive death metal tirade, cavernous vocals and death-grind guitar tones. An exquisite Old School written all over it, and yet, the young Garroted manage to avoid becoming guides in nostalgia trips. Like Colombian Condor, Garroted takes the tools from the past and forges a future strictly on the loyalty to those traditions.

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