Decoding metal reviews

Here is a list of common terms, as used in trendy metal reviews on indie-rockpost-2000 “metal” sites, and their actual meanings as the album reviewer will cynically tell his friends but not you the reader, because your job is to buy the product. You can use this to decode mainstream and “true underground” reviews alike, since the “true underground” got captured by indie rockers and so is about as underground as Stephanie Meyer at this point. Note that if confronted, music reviewers will deny use of these terms, but if you go through your average metal magazine and highlight how many times these appear, you will see how scattering these terms through music reviews allows your average underpaid reviewer to write enough about the latest crap from the labels to make it seem important.

Innovative = new arrangement of cliches
Melodic = plays on the higher strings
Brutal = incoherent
Gauzy = low-fi style distortion
Self-indulgent = self-pitying
Unique = crap but the label likes it
Sublime = really obvious
Emotional = target audience is losers
Straightforward = repetitive
Evocative = catchy
Dynamic = random changes
Soulful = repetitive and catchy
Heart-wrenching = emo
Sui Generis = new arrangement of other genres
Je ne sais quoi = so bad I have nothing left to write
Faithful = derivative
Chops = masturbatory
Epic = either (a) dramatic or (b) Manowar
Bombastic = obvious
Progressive = knows open chords
Enormous = big dumb riff
Dazzle = deceive
Atmospheric = slow drums
Authenticity = popularity




Timeghoul – Complete Discography CD

For the first time ever on CD Dark Descent Records proudly presents the complete discography from the legendary Science Fiction / Fantasy Death Metal TIMEGHOUL (USA). Born in the Midwest United States in 1987, Doom’s Lyre remained relatively quiet, recording no material before changing their name. In 1991, Doom’s Lyre, now renamed Timeghoul, set out by releasing two demos; 1992’s Tumultuous Travelings and 1994’s Panaramic Twilight.

Largely ignored and mostly forgotten, these recordings did not receive the recognition they deserved until years later. Timeghoul’s eclectic and complex style of US death metal started to gain momentum within the underground as overlooked and classic material.

Prepare for one of the most unique and complex death metal offerings the early 90’s had to offer.

Mark Riddick’s fantastic original tri-panel artwork covers this fitting six-panel digipak with matte finish. Additionally, this digipak comes with a six-page folder with lyrics and additional notes. This is a one-time limited edition pressing. Get your copy before it’s too late!


Horrendous – The Chills CD

Horrendous’ 2010 demo titled “Sweet Blasphemies” was merely a brief showcasing of this band’s tremendous potential. In addition to the CD-r version of the demo, two separate 200 copy pro tape pressings were made and sold; first via a cooperation with Dark Descent and Skeleton Plague then later through Dark Descent Records.

Horrendous’ debut full-length titled “The Chills” is a full-on assault of the aural senses. Horrendous mixes HM-2 sound with unique melody and solos creating memorable and terrific song-writing . This is no “retro” band but a band that has clearly created a nine-song death metal masterpiece which ends with the epic nine-minute closer “The Eye of Madness.”

Do not mistake this band for a clone of Entombed, Autopsy or Incantation. Doing this would be a great disservice to a masterful album and you would obviously miss out on what will be one of 2012’s best death metal albums, hands down.

Cover art by Raul Gonzalez (Morbus Chron, Deceased, etc.) adorns this eight page booklet.


Cianide – Hell’s Rebirth Digipak CD
Cultes Des Ghoules – Spectres over Transylvania CD (Restock)
Decrepitaph – Conjuring Chaos MCD (Restock)
Fidei Defensor – Cognoscenti CD
Galdr – Galdr CD
Omision – In the Shadow of the Cross CD
Shemhamforash – Spintriam Satyriazis (Phallus Prestige) CD
Shemhamforash- Luciferi Omnis Ysighda…CD
Spectral Mortuary – Total Depravity CD (Restock)
The Cleansing – Feeding the Inevitable CD (Restock)
Turbocharged – AntiXtian CD
Warfield – Trivmvirat CD
Weltmacht – The Call to Battle CD

Dead To This World- First Strike for Spiritual Renewance (Color)
Hacavitz – Hacavitz 7″ EP
Mpire of Evil – Creatures of the Black LP
Sabbat – Sabbatrinity LP

Questions –


Dark Descent Records
PO Box 18056
Colorado Springs, CO 80935

Timeghoul – Complete Discography Digipak CD


Heavy Metal Genres


Death Metal

Structuralist, atonal, modal metal that combines hardcore punk compositional technique with metal riffs and song structure. “Only death is real,” its guiding statement, pointed out that most of social mores and morals are illusory, and that we need to pay attention to the structure of reality instead. Its specialty is seeming random until you hear the piece as a whole.

Demigod – Dead Soul


Black Metal

Lawless romanticism that praised isolation from the crowd, denial of individuality in the face of nature, natural selection, war and conflict, this genre used melody to construct atmospheric emotion. It guiding statement might well have been “the cut worm forgives the plough,” and its feral explosion left murders and mayhem across two continents.

Darkthrone – En As I Dype Skogen


Speed Metal

Punk technique applied to neoclassical heavy metal with the use of muffled strumming made the most enigmatic heavy music ever, thanks to the use of the muted strum which produced a buffeting, battering sound. This was closest to heavy metal in composition but began the evolution of the phrasal riff as used in death metal.

Nuclear Assault – Nuclear War



Heavy metal riffs in punk song structures, with a combination of the epic view of history that metal favors with the punk anarchist criticism, resulting in one long questioning of the experiential value of modern society and its impact on people, especially teenage skateboarders (“thrashers,” hence the name). Many songs under thirty seconds; direct ancestor of grindcore.

Cryptic Slaughter – Nuclear Future


Heavy Metal

Progressive rock, Celtic folk and heavy rock forged this genre from the ruins of pop music, designed to sound like a horror movie and shock flower children into reality. Its innovation was the moveable power chord riff, creating for the first time rock compositions made of phrases and not based around open chords to which vocals harmonize.

Candlemass – A Sorcerer’s Pledge



Grindcore combined thrash, hardcore punk and death metal vocals to create a blur of intensity whose goal was to sound muddy, offtime, semi-coherent and like an ugly churning manifestation of the outsider underworld. Incorporating the organic post-political concepts of death metal, many grindcore bands expressed themselves through lyrics about gore, death and other limits to human control.

Blood – Linear Logic Intelligence


Other Music

Other genres influenced metal as it evolved. Ranging from ambient music, horror film soundtracks, punk hardcore, industrial noise and progressive rock, metal’s many influences are documented here, with an emphasis on those that reflected a paradigm shift in their time and passed that on, through their music and ideas, to metal out of compatibility with the spirit of metal.

King Crimson – One More Red Nightmare

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Two near hits

The two albums discussed here are very similar in one crucial way: both use riffs that are derived from obvious “inherent” musical structures in such a way to appear modifications of an off-the-shelf technique, which muffles the clarity of organic expression the artist is trying to achieve. Of the two, I’m more positively disposed to the Beithíoch because it is less self-consciously aware of its audience, but is still too self-conscious regarding itself. The end result in both is like seeing someone put up a bone-normal scaffold, and then strategically paint it random colors or alter its shape; you can still discern the underlying shape, so it does not appear to have a genesis of its own, but be a conscious alteration of a normal format for some demonstrative purpose. In the Beithíoch it is acceptable because this band is attempting to stretch itself past its previous tendency to make wallpaper music, which cycled in the background but achieved no direction. Blut Aus Nord should know better.

Beithíoch – Dúchas

A music reviewer can have no friends. He cannot allow any personal motivations or feelings to get in the way. If he likes you, or you just stole his girlfriend and he hates you, he has to separate your album from you and judge it on its artistic merits, with an eye not for casting aside so much as pulling out whatever of value is there. As said above, Beithíoch resembles scaffolding that has been strategically modified to game your brain into thinking you see a different shape. It is boxy. However, when it waxes ambient, it does well, both in the keyboardy/distortiony parts and in the use of King Crimson-esque lead picked chord progressions and high speed noodling. Like earlier Beithíoch, this one has a crisis of knowing what the songs are about. This one-man band has just about nailed his technique, including song development and epic-feeling conclusions, but the parts don’t all connect up and so the boxiness hits us in the face. Much like myself, often he needs to de-cerebralize and just let fly with some feeling and if it comes out as three notes and someone chanting “Watermelon Penis Bouffant Christ,” that’s OK too. There’s a lot of promise here but it’s like a vocabulary in search of a topic.

Blut Aus Nord – 777 – The Desanctification

Thematically this is a near remake of Abyssic Hate’s much-celebrated and immediately forgotten 2000 album “Suicidal Emotions” and will be forgotten for much the same reason: it is a manipulation of surface attributes without any underlying direction, narrative or structure. The result is that you become immersed in a particular mood, and then it stops. Each song is like a fragment of a painting, enough to pick up on one mood that is in common between all of these songs, but not enough to figure out the story or where it fits in. In addition, it’s “boxy” in the sense of using archetypes with slight modifications that are designed to game your perception and make you think something new has been created. This is as much deskwork as crafting a memo or making a sales call. The resulting insincere shit is not particularly interesting musically and has nothing to offer otherwise, although it appears to be intense and so fools the same people who are getting fooled by Opeth and Ulver but want something “heavier.” d00d


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GORGUTS new album near ready

From Gorguts: “This is still all the news we have. Patience.”

Reactivated Quebec, Canada-based technical death metal band GORGUTS recently entered the studio to begin pre-production on their new album for a tentative late 2011 release via an as-yet-undetermined record label. The group’s current lineup features genre heavyweights John Longstreth (drums; DIM MAK, ORIGIN, THE RED CHORD, SKINLESS, POSSESSION, ANGELCORPSE), Colin Marston (bass; DYSRHYTHMIA, BEHOLD… THE ARCTOPUS, BYLA, KRALLICE, INDRICOTHERE) and Kevin Hufnagel (guitar; DYSRHYTHMIA, WHILE HEAVEN WEPT, BYLA, EUCLID STREET, THE FIFTH SEASON, GREY DIVISION BLUE) alongside guitarist/vocalist Luc Lemay.

“Just a few words to let you know where we are with the songwriting of the new album. We got together at the end of January to finish up the last songs to complete the album. Colin and Kevin have contributed to the album with a song each. Amazingly well composed, their songs suit the GORGUTS aesthetic wonderfully.

“The album will have a total of nine songs, including one instrumental piece for string orchestra composed by me. [It] is going to be over one hour long. It still very brutal but darkly, ambient and progressive as well.

“The album main concept is going to be a musical journey that will talk about the wonders of Tibet as well as the dramatic fate they’ve been going through for over 50 years now. – BlabberMouth

This band still has no idea why people liked them in the first place.

Obscura was death metal with a progressive flair without leaving death metal behind.

The newer stuff tries too hard to be current; there are too many “modern metal” influences.

What made Gorguts great was never the style, but the content, which expressed a beauty in darkness.

This new stuff expresses a desire to free-form jam as trapped in a post-hardcore style. It is far from bad, but it is also a work about itself. Old Gorguts was a work about life.

Throw in the towel and just make an all-out progressive rock album. There’s no need to hold on to metal after it has run out on you.



Thrash combined the short, fast songs of hardcore punk bands with the more structured, architected and melodic aspects of metal riffing. Deriving its name from the skaters who listened to it, called “thrashers,” thrash was a true crossover genre in that it was not purely metal and not purely punk, which both caused it trouble finding an initial audience and made it almost universally accessible. Its songs, often under thirty seconds, blasted away at society not so much from ideological principles but to mock and criticize the end result of ideology, which was a numb utilitarian society oblivious to the passage of time or the possibility of meaning to human existence.

House recommendations: Cryptic Slaughter, Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, dead horse and Fearless Iranians From Hell.



Speed Metal

After hardcore made music harder and faster, speed metal upgraded heavy metal by mixing hardcore speed and aggression with the architectural riffs of NWOBHM, and downgraded the reliance on pentatonic scales in favor of minor-key complex riffing. The technique that defines speed metal is the muted strum, where the palm of the strumming hands rests on the strings, making a short percussive blast of distortion instead of a ringing chord. As a result, speed metal sounded like the machines of the 1980s: blasting like factories, rattling like tank treads and chattering like computers and their printers.

House recommendations: Metallica and Prong.

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A further evolution of the sound hardcore punk created and thrash developed, grindcore slams together abrasive riffs in order to achieve a release from intensity at the end of each song. Its name comes from that grinding, caused by fast alternation between chromatic notes and the contrast with rigid whole note patterns that lift the listener up from the directionless thrashing. Where purest, grindcore celebrates individual life and rejects social mores by reminding us that we are mortal, frail and the clock is ticking, so we need to cast aside the pointless and frustrating (grinding) in life and replace it with open spaces of our own imaginations.

House recommendations: Repulsion, Bolt Thrower, Carbonized, Carcass or Godflesh.


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Demoncy “Enthroned Is The Night” Update

Demoncy “Enthroned Is The Night” Update

We’re are still patiently in the proofing stages for this. We are making sure everything is the way we want it to be and once this is done and approved it will move into production. We are expecting a mid January release although it will still be printed as a 2011 release. This album has been recorded for awhile now its just taken longer than we expected making it ready for the final product. – Forever Plagued Records

Classic reviews: