Welcome to the second and final part of the second DMU song contest, where we cherish the winners and destroy the losers in what has been a very eventful and varied list of bands.
Funeral of God – “Meaningless Existence”
Speed metal riffs greets the listener before breaking off randomly to a rehashed Darkthrone riff that then leads to another Speed metal riff before the whole song downgrades into a pastiche of loosely connected riffs and ideas. There are too many tempo changes that feel far too abrupt while halting any progress up to that point. Due to the consistent musical language shown here, the listener does feel that instead of skipping from unrelated song to unrelated song, they are skipping songs within the same album. The note selection is very typical of the genre and is often obscured by a reliance on Speed metal rhythm. There is nothing of note but a crudely assembled piece from varying influences that sounds like a playlist condensed into the three minutes or so of this track. Completely forgettable!
Undermine – “Corpus vile”
A strong Sepultura melody emerges in death/speed form that slowly mutates and transforms discretely to a more traditional Death metal riff as the motif twists and turns in all directions. The song progresses awkwardly through many chugs before falling into the easy bait of a catchy chorus that is well executed as the melody progresses fluidly at this point and the low string chugs take a minor rôle. The mid song breakdown destroys the momentum momentarily before the excellent solo over an iteration of the initial motif picks up the broken pieces. The main motif followed by the chorus leads to an interesting arpeggio dominated section that seeks conclusion through a ridiculous Slam section that has no place on this track. Undermine do create good melodies that are related from a confined musical language, what this band struggles to do is to maintain theme as the well connected melodies lead nowhere and often have to really on some rhythmic gymnastics for their stop and stop mechanics to work. The vocals avoid the sheep like tendency to fall into the shouts and high pitched histrionics of similar bands in the style and are very good at meshing the main growl with a much deeper growl to add depth to certain parts. The ultimate issue here is that the band are straying the line between the extended Speed metal arrangement and the riff salad, If Undermine focus at first at leading towards a powerful chorus without relieving the tension prematurely and then building either a breakdown which doesn’t exclusively rely on rhythm, or a chord progression working with a solo to recreate momentum until arriving at a climax within their own musical langage that doesn’t stray into other more modern genres, then Undermine can truly carve a niche for themselves in these dying times for the underground that doesn’t rely on extra-musical characteristics or the creation of a forced gimmick. Undermine are capable musicians with good basics in metal and possess all the tools to break away from the herd if they can avoid the pitfalls that plague modern metal, there is no doubt that they can carve their own identity in an overly saturated genre but Undermine shows far too many problems to be anything more than a rare listen.
Minervium – “Invocando il passato”:
The title of this Italian black metal track translates to “Invoking the Past.” Minervium seek to pay tribute to the grandeur of the ruins left by the Roman Empire in their lands and do so by also invoking the classic Norwegian bands of the times especially Emperor. Fluidity and continuity are particularly well mastered as the band uses a handful of ideas that progress the song while portraying the feelings of grandeur. The guitar abruptly cuts to a clean section without warning as it builds momentum to a conclusion that is an iteration of the initial motif but has a completely different rôle in regards to context. The title and the theme summarize this band perfectly as nothing unique is to be found here and this lacks any form of identity at all. Saving the transitional hiccup this has been done before plenty times and though this band have some really good ideas in the way they build tension in the conclusion with the short tremolo picked phrases, ultimately there is no actual point in listening to something that has been done thousands of time. The musicianship is top notch as the band is very good at creating this image of walking through grandiose relics of the past but nothing incites the listener to associate this with Ancient Rome. Minervium have shown that they can emulate their heroes with a lot of fidelity but are just another band in ever growing horde of revival bands.
Chupacabra – “Mart Am Ta Ratt (ad ABRAXAS)”
The Abject can be defined as being the earnest unrestrained expression of the individual behind Chupacabra as this composition seeks to impose its own unique identity and is a portal into the mind of the artist. Breakbeats and various synths form the basis of this track as multi-layered vocals complement this work. Though the aesthetic elements hearken to a multitude of genres except for metal this seems to follow the melodic narrative set by Black metal as a few motifs chain together to form a coherent story. The initial motif is long and shows the darkness presented here perfectly through the inclusion of some interesting notes from outside the scale. The initial motif is then deconstructed to accommodate the vocals as the tension then increases. Unlike metal where the creation of the tension moves the song forward, here the listener is invited to accommodate himself to the sounds before returning to stability in such a way one can feel the light that emanates from this supposed darkness in a song that takes from Burzum’s notion in how what is perceived as darkness is actually light. The timbre of the vocals remain close to the speaking voice and though well executed cut out all excess effects for a laid back and personal approach. At times they may shock the listener as they effortlessly glide through semi-tone intervals and follow the synths outside of the key. No need for vibrato or unnatural changes in tone as they accomplish their job with the minimum effort required. The beats do not impose a specific rhythm like in hip-hop and electronic genres and stick to a time keeping rôle except during the conclusion where they switch to double time so they accentuate the final melody. There are multiple melodies in superposition that often go through pretty complex counterpoint variations or just accentuate tactical points within certain phrases. What holds down this brilliant song is the lack of refinement in the transitions, sounding not forced but jarring as Chupacabra uses a very wide palette of notes and intervals between these notes that do at times drift off into the more experimental jazz territories which can suspend immersion in the emotions conveyed by this song. The jazz influence should only be kept for note selection as it enriches the note selection with some very unique arpeggios. An excellent song that thrives in its weirdness but unlike a lot of bizarre artists, it makes sense and portrays certain truths and is conceived by a Hessian mind that successfully introduced metal into a genre beyond generic distorted guitar and screamed vocals. This is not music for the impatient and uninitiated but for those patient enough to allow themselves the time necessary to absorb such a deceptively large amount of information. This can’t be declared the winner due to the lackluster introduction of certain motifs and the lack of exploration that some of the ideas require in order to be fully digested but is a close second and a piece of art that we here at DMU wholeheartedly recommend to our readers.
(You will find here a previous interview conducted on this website: https://www.deathmetal.org/interview/interview-chupacabra/ )
Pheretrum – Alienated Demons
Blasting through in no-holds-barred death metal, fast tremolo riffs burst through and the frenetic pace is established as each melody is played to its full potential before making way for the next one that either leads to a new melody or a previous one that keeps the momentum going for as long as possible. A few solos emerge furiously and explode away. None of the motifs return through different iterations and when the handful of ideas has been worn out the composition abruptly stops and a repetitive Speed metal breakdown rears its ugly head as the previous tension has been discarded and thrown to the side. Eventually a long solo and a previous melody return before the song halts but the damage has already been caused at this point and the listener feels that they are listening to separate songs rather than a whole with the second part being practically worthless save for the end. The relationship between both guitars is rather interesting as the rhythm guitar either supplements the lead or works tightly with the bass and the drum to create accentuations on certain phrases and leads the way in maintaining the flow of the first half where while the lead guitar never lets go of the pace. The individual motifs are well composed and executed but possess nothing new and do not evolve which possibly forced the inclusion of the break in the middle of the track. All Pheretrum need to do is to learn how to recycle their ideas under a slightly different form and lead their compositions to some form of revelation and they could potentially create some good Death metal, this remains an enjoyable underground listen until the end of the first half but is immediately halted by its obvious limitations.
Tardus Mortem – Nun of the Pyre:
Floridian death metal with a lot of groove as the strong beats are well emphasized just before the blast beats and the tremolo riffs come through. The song then returns to the groovy melody as an atonal solo glides on top. Another tremolo section appears before it predictably leads into another groovy riff. Far too much importance has been given to the rhythmic interplay here and not enough to the melodies which are very evocative of the original Floridian wave of Death metal. The immaturity and the youth of the band members betrays them here as this does sound rushed both in composition and in production. Each member is capable in the style of their chosen heroes but beyond that there is nothing else. Tardus Mortem need to learn that rhythm and style mean nothing if the music doesn’t express something through the use of melody and that all else is secondary. There is the will and the ability to make potent music. There is no need to rush their development, they have all the time in the world to make worthwhile music. For now they need to stick together and to keep honing their craft before coming out of their cocoon fully evolved. We congratulate these young men for their efforts and wish them luck along the long arduous path.
Salustiano – “Unrelenting Tides Are Also God’s Plan”:
Dissonant chords crash through like large waves wrecking havoc before this composition takes us through the now desolate landscape with a more controlled tremolo picked riff that slowly builds tension as the previous chords reintroduce themselves in different progressions. The music stops as the bass takes the charge through it’s heavily distorted tone and slowly leads into the climax of this track as the opening motif now fully developed falls into pure unrelenting chaos like an incessant storm just before the motif is deconstructed to its most basic form before achieving finality and concluding on a final crash that combines elements of the previously used tremolo motif and the dissonant chords that form the backbone of this song. From two motifs and a few iterations with subtle variations Salustiano creates potent death metal due to his strong understanding of arrangements. Every moment flows logically to the next without any forceful copy-paste tactics. The use of the singular bass to reintroduce the main motif at its apex is very creative and further cements the theme that large scale catastrophes that are beyond man’s control are regular and a constant part of human life. One can easily imagine a large tsunami crushing a metropolis repeatedly while each moment of respite guides the listener through the nothingness created by such destruction and the inevitable truth that it is bound to happen constantly. The song arrangement conjures the title of the song perfectly as first there is a quick destructive tide that attacks the shore before building up to a greater one that then fades away just in time for the greater wave to wreak more destruction before leading on to the horrible revelation that this is a constantly reoccurring cycle without any end in sight. A truly great song that lacks some individuality and its own unique identity but easily holds its head up high in regards to the pitiful state of modern metal. All that is left to do is to add the vocals and this should hopefully be the start of a truly powerful project. Salustiano it is without a shadow of a doubt that you win this competition with this awe-inspiring piece.
This contest has yielded some very interesting submissions as well as some truly terrible music. Asgardsrei, Chupacabra, and Salustiano show themselves to be highly capable of measuring themselves with the best in the current underground scene yet still have some room to maneuver if they want to compete with the likes of Sammath.
Pheretrum, Undermine, and S.O.C.O.M.D represent the second tier of the competition with their enjoyable yet completely unrefined output that still necessitates large amounts of work before becoming producing compelling records.
Peymakalir and Tardus Mortem have not produced anything of value but are making the right steps in a metal scene that seems to lead the younger generation astray with its ridiculously easy access to content and the lack of a voice to lead to the better artists in metal.
Hitwood and User 2220902 have produced pretty terrible music due to the limitations of the genres they are working in but their inner voices each burst that are hidden in a mountain of mediocrity still point to hidden potential that they have to allow to pierce through otherwise they will never make anything of value.
Josefarno has created the perfect meme and seems to have won the popular vote by virtue of his screams that make notorious DMU assailant Tulio Baars virile in comparison.
The remaining four bands have not produced music that is worth mentioning at all.
As this contest closes, a new one will surely come to fruition in a few months giving a chance for old contestants to show their evolution and for new-comers who were not yet ready to participate. The elite tier of each contest can choose to participate in the upcoming Death metal Underground compilation. The second tier will also have the chance to redeem themselves and if they succeed they shall be allowed to enter. May the strong prevail and the weak perish!