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Rivethead Magazine

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, this was a regular metal magazine that you could get for free at record stores in Houston.

Every concert and new record release was in it. Not only that, but it covered ANUSian topics — much like the Metal AE — such as the history of metal, music theory, what defined metal, genrology, the spirit of metal and the clash between metal and the counter-culture as well as the pop-culture above it.

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The website has a comprehensive archive of their late 1980s and early 1990s issues, which focus on a mixture of heavy metal, speed metal and the birthing of death metal. The approach is professional even if the methods are homebrew:

Also see our article on Examiner.com.

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Overview of obscure Finnish death metal

The arch-wizards over at DEATHMETAL.ORG summon forth an article covering the breadth of Finnish underground metal, and cap it off with a hour of music in a compilation of Finnish bands both well-known, and totally unknown.

We are proud to present a sequence of tracks collected by Fenno-American Death Metal connoisseur Benjamin Tianen in tribute to Finland and its strain of artists and conjurers. This compilation of obscure quality Finnish Death Metal is recommended for listening in the twilit hours of day, preferably in rather uninhabited locations as most of Finland is. If there is one teaching one must bring home from Finnish artists and Finnish school of mental exploration, it is that one must not love happiness as much as one loves truth.

Forgotten Death Cults from Finland: an Overview

Includes all the classics: Demigod, Abhorrence, Beherit, Adramelech, Sentenced, Cartilage, Belial, Necropsy, Unholy, Phlegethon, and more.

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Kam Lee explains selling out

From a notoriously fractious and insightful source, a rant that nails it — on Facebook, of all places:

It’s from “formula” in metal music that has either been the downfall or the up rise in the genre and among many of the bands. When bands set a distinct genre – and a set “formula” is established, once those bands begin the mix or change that formula, is when they take a risk of failing.

Sure some newer fans may take to the new formula – but those already established fans in the formula have a certain “taste” for what they prefer. Change the ‘taste’ – take the risk of having the already established fan base spitting it out after the first bite. Sure, some will attempt to stick around and nibble at the edges… attempting to find a similair taste and familiar feeling…

They will even attempt to make excuses, attempt to rationalize it, and even go as far as to use controversial behaviors or feelings in an attempt to explain in a rational or logical manner their intrepid points. They wish to avoid any true explanation of the utter disgust and disappointment they are truly feeling, and thus hide behind pitiful excuses and whitewashed ideals and values.

However, in my opinion – when a band decides to forsake the formula that works, and forsakes integrity in exchange to gain “a piece of bread” (make $money) – I personally do not feel my loyalty is any longer of importance to the band. They have already decided that my personal opinion is no longer valid, and that other fans too that may share the same or similair opinions are also no longer important as well.

Integrity and pride more so than often get’s washed away in favor of the notoriety and tempting promise of “fame and glory”.

[…]

As well… with “formula” when a new genre is attempted to be made – by changing an already established genre, and trying to “mix” in something new to that genre. It is NOT likely to be accepted by those fans who already – as I said above – have an established taste for what the genre already has been dishing out.

Perfect example: DEATH-CORE is NOT DEATH METAL!

And as I said above –
some newer fans may take to the new formula – they will even attempt to make excuses, attempt to rationalize it…

even go as far as to pretend to accept is as inevitable change.

Translating into cause->effect logic:

Formula means repeating what others did.

However, that “what others did” is an effect, not a cause.

The cause of what they did was the need to translate an idea/mood into music.

The effect was how they did it.

You can’t get the same effect by imitating their effect; instead, you must rediscover their cause.

But if your motive is fame/notoriety/kvltstatus/$$$ instead of “making art” (to translate that idea/mood into music), you will not understand that cause.

Metal is the spawn of early punk, progressive rock and horror film soundtracks — it’s more Anton Bruckner than Chuck Berry, more King Crimson than Blue Cheer, more Jethro Tull and Procul Harum than Led Zeppelin, and more Iggy Pop than The Beatles.

As a result, it takes integrity/authenticity seriously — it is music of the Idea, and by that I do not mean dogma or the reality-detached idea, but an enmeshment with reality.

Like Romantic literature, it is born of a time in crisis… it is mixed-blood, with some blood being the feel-good prole average (rock) and some being the rising above (ambitious music->art).

Romantic literature had both Shelley and Blake, after all. Wordsworth and Keats; Coleridge and Bram Stoker (later Romantic literature sort of diverged into Gothic lit).

What does it mean?

When metal loses its honest intent to create art, and to translate an idea/mood into music, it becomes window-dressing: pandering to the crowd for popularity points.

And then, it becomes the same callow manipulation we’re running away from, and that running away got us into metal.

Beware the rock-n-roll formula.

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Antisocial behavior is necessary

Despite 20+ years of experience in the music industry, I remain a deliberate outsider. I cannot be bought; if I like your band, it’s because it’s good, and not that I want to get paid, care about you personally or expect you to like me. This is why I’m an outsider. I’m not part of the paycheck chain that seems to influence peoples’ judgment and make them whores. – “Home taping is killing music — mp3s are saving it” @ Anal-Examiner.com

It’s true though: being social gets you screwed.

People expect you to be a whore, so that if they treat you like a friend, you’re obligated to support their band.

The problem is that this cuts out quality control.

Instead, it’s a bunch of false friends sitting around supporting each others’ go-nowhere do-nothing make-work local bands.

Hobbyists versus people who have talent, in other words. The hobbyists have nothing better to do; their day jobs in service industries aren’t going to get any more exciting. Might as well be a big cheese on stage for a few minutes.

They have one dogma, and it’s that people should be rewarded for participation, not excellence.

This is why local scenes are cancerous morasses of ethical quicksand that suffocate any band or musician of quality. (A quality band will rise above the herd, and when people look at the herd so far below the other band, it makes the herd look bad. For that reason, the herd tries to squash any band of quality that rises.)

At first I just wanted to know how it drew the shapes so fast without flickering. Then I wondered how it made sounds. Before long I had disassembled and printed the entire game. I penned colored lines to signify the loops. Named the anonymous routines. Reconstructed many of the shapes on graph paper.

Astonishingly, I could read thought processes as easily as their results. I was seeing into the mind of the developer! The process was invigorating.

Euphoria is half wasted if not shared it with others, so gathering up my early printouts, I headed for campus. I gleefully flagged the first CS guys I knew from the hallway and bent their ears for twenty minutes. I explained the color coded arrows, memory location notations. Showed off my bitmap grids and shared my new insights into high speed blitting. Both nodded in appreciation as I spoke.

When I finished speaking I didn’t get the response I had expected. The first said something to the effect of, “Wow! But are you allowed to do that?” The second followed with, “I thought it was protected? I mean like company secrets.” The odd non sequitur was a bit deflating. They hadn’t empathized at all. They recognized my triumph as something akin to a salacious conquest. Gossip to be discussed in hushed tones. I could see curiosity in their eyes yet wariness on their face. As if they risked ostracism just for knowing. I’d peeked through a forbidden window to lear at someone’s naked code.

These were upper level CS honor students. Geeks in most regards. But unlike me they hadn’t grown up fighting to learn computers. They had gone to college because that’s what high school honor students do. Once finished with their core classes they had to choose some major and computers seemed like the future.

Only Loyd actually shared my feelings. I brought my printouts into his office almost as a last resort. He looked at my diagramming with a Cheshire grin commenting on each page before I could complete a sentence. He shared a couple of disassembly stories of his own. It wasn’t a long talk, five or ten minutes, but it was re-inflating. Loyd and I were totally different on the outside but inside we were somehow alike. – “Detente”

The problem with the music industry isn’t the industry. Money-grubbing suit-wearing bastards? Yep, they built the modern world, especially the good parts. They operate very consistently by making sure they provide what people want to buy.

The problem with the music industry is the flakiness of the people in it, specifically musicians, and specifically, all those local bands and supporting acts who drama- and karma-whore for attention so that you have to consider their trivial band alongside any that might be good.

This process drives away quality musicians.

The only solution is to be an outsider. Seek no friends, take no cash, expect everyone to hate you.

It seems harsh, but that way, you not only keep your soul, but get to keep your ability to tell garbage from gold intact.

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DeathMetal.Org imperious choice picks of 2010 a.y.p.s.

Ares Kingdom – Incendiary
Avzhia – In My Domains
Divine Eve – Vengeful and Obstinate
Graveland – Cold Winter Blades
Immolation – Majesty and Decay
Inquisition – Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm
Into Oblivion – Creation of a Monolith
Mutant Supremacy – Infinite Suffering
Profanatica – Disgusting Blasphemies Against God
Slaughter Strike – At Life’s End

Looking back on another fallen year, we might be reminded that the prior chapter of 2009 represented a global uprising of Death and Black Metal bands opposed to the phenomenon of underground Metal as a commodity as perpetuated by an impulsive, media-consumed, mass internet cult who denounce the culture of values which necessitated the very form of the music itself. This served to strengthen already riotous scenes of desecration and barbarity in extreme territories such as Australia and Canada, and forces across the United States and Europe began to mobilise with a renewed sense of dedication, guided by a selection of ancient voices who have not compromised their integrity to capture a new but deluded fanbase like their peers. The golden ages of Death and Black Metal have long since past and any campaigns to revive the spirit of Hessianism in Metal are not only in their infancy but vastly overshadowed by the populist trends that define the landscape of the genre today. As such, with the burden of anticipation on it’s shoulders, 2010 was by and large seized by veteran armies determined to distill the essence of their unholy craft from the impurities of our age, guiding further generations of warriors to victory. And though our imperious choices of 2010 are dominated by the hands of experience, a few young hordes also rose to the yawning of this battlefield to make bold and vigourous statements as the continuing legacy of true Metal’s eternal spirit.

Ares Kingdom – Incendiary

There is a certain door that any contemporary thrash band seeking quality must go through, a certain threshold that requires imagination and the indispensable talents of assimilation to really cross; in metal today, we see countless fragile trends that depend upon a rigid nostalgia and a lifeless worship of what has already happened, fully ignorant of the fact that what has true staying power is never something that was an idle imitation of something that was actually born of genius. In contrast to these bands, specifically the ones which belong to the so-called ‘retro-thrash’ trend, Ares Kingdom is of the opposite mindset; Ares Kingdom does not want to merely copy its primary influences, but to implement and authentically incorporate these influences into a relatively bold and forward-looking composition. The basic idea of Incendiary is quite simple: destroy the phoenix so that she may be reborn, an idea which is not so far from the opening narration of the Destroyer 666 track, Rise of the Predator. The execution, on the other hand, is what brings the band closer to actually demonstrating this vision than any other insignificant band that elects to portray death and apocalypse for aesthetic reasons alone; from the dismal album artwork to the indifference in Alex’s vocals, from the sad, painful melodies to the caustic and fiery riffs and solos that Chuck Keller (Order From Chaos) delivers, the listener can derive a sure sense of impending, even immediate doom. In conclusion, Ares Kingdom is not your average headbangin’, beer-swillin’, hell-worshipping thrash metal; ‘Incendiary’ offers us all the pace and vigour of the classic eighties bands, only it is properly assimilated and raised to a higher level through the cold visage of death metal and the individual imagination of the album’s creators. While sacrificing a bit of the rampant speed of the earlier recordings, ‘Incendiary’ compensates with a thoughtful development that is essential in allowing the band to convey its dark, apocalyptic vision; in other words, through the utility of a confident and dynamic mindset, Ares Kingdom has defiantly revealed a genuine idea independent of its forebears, and in so doing has crossed the threshold that has left so many inferior bands begging at the door.

Xavier

Autopsy – The Tomb Within

Of the artists who remain from times past, under whose names were unleashed the most disturbing and poignant sounds that defined Death Metal, Autopsy belong to a radical minority in rejecting the expectations of the contemporary audience and find their way back to the essence of their own sound on pure instinct alone. While the last couple of years has seen a rising of undead hordes practicing the ancient forms in a global campaign to transcend the pollutant mainstreamification of Death Metal, very few of these bands have really unlocked the primal secrets which were channelled into every classic of the old school – the dynamics of energy and the implementation within a brutal-violent, hysteric-emotional or transcendental-contemplative narrative, which the veteran likes of Asphyx, Autopsy and Goreaphobia have all recently demonstrated. The simple, largely hysteric level that The Tomb Within operates on makes it a powerful exercise of a seamless compositional style that is completely shaped by a savage state of consciousness, unintelligent yet impulsively aware of it’s own imminent death. Like an onrush of blood pumped through contracting arteries, guitars portray the frantic inner drama of one of Dr. Herbert West’s re-animations, diametrically opposed to his precise formulations regarding post-mortem. Atonal layering in the manner of Slayer’s more pathological works increases tension during these surging passages, punctuated by lead guitars that put to rest any hope of sanity returning. The trademark sludginess of Autopsy’s sound comes from instruments that are seemingly encased in adipocere, retaining within them all the character of their most memorable titles; not aspiring for a modern, clinical definition to their riffs but instead emphasising the rhythmic flow of energy in order to convey the sensations and suffocating experience of mortal dread. The band finds the balance once again of deathly force and doomy realisations as slower riffs offset the hysteria with tollings of morbid heaviness and an inescapable fate. Though Autopsy have stripped Death Metal to an essential skeletal frame, with the added simplicity of a horror movie-like thematic approach, this EP brings a much needed dimension of fear and madness to a world obsessed with ‘zombie horror’ as a populist, retro-hipster, marketing aesthetic.

ObscuraHessian

Avzhia – In My Domains

Another excellent tonal poem by this Mexican symphonic horde sees a sense of orchestration and riff balance that has all the consistency of ‘The Key Of Throne from 2004, though takes a deeper foray into the realm of cinematic, ambient orchestration that recalls what Summoning have been getting at for the last 15 years, mixed with the battle hardened epics of Lord Wind. This new turn in a more heavily instrumental form recalls what fellow countrymen The Chasm brought about in the form of last year’s Farseeing The Paranormal Abysm with a little less emphasis on the central role of vocals. Though rather than the syncretic, melodic death metal of their peers, Avzhia’s black metal assault owes it’s periphery to the best works of Emperor, Graveland, Ancient, Summoning and Xibalba, throwing them into a cohesive and bombastic mould. I would not say that this tops their previous full length, but this follow up is very worthy indeed and consolidates their status as one of the great torch bearers of what black metal stood to express, the embodiment of restoring mystical imagination in the listener.

Pearson

Divine Eve – Vengeful and Obstinate

See review here.

 

 

 

 

Graveland – Cold Winter Blades

The unstoppable Rob Darken took again some time from swordfights and armour forging to take a look at the barbaric-modernist thematic system devised by composers such as Richard Wagner and Basil Poledouris, with a metallic energetic pulse rarely witnessed since Following the Voice of Blood; the last of the fast Graveland albums. The lack of Capricornus hardly matters because the authentic or perfectly synthesized drumkit recalls the same Celtic tribal warmarches and the raw, unsymmetric heartbeat of a primal man hunted by wolves, perfectly countered by the dark druid’s usual cold and hardened vocal delivery. A deeply neo-classical realization how to build heaviness through doomy speeds and chordal supplements still elevates the Polish seeker-initiator into a force far beyond today’s puny black and heathen metal “royalty”, looming beyond as a frightening presence of unrealized wisdom; nothing less than the Manowar of black metal, with no hint of irony or self-loathing. There exist two directions of expansion since the ethereal melodic chime of alfar nature in “From the Beginning of Time” is Summoning-esque (“Spear of Wotan” even features a variation of the “Marching Homewards” melody) while the harmonic perception takes a sudden dive into folkloric origins in the proto-rock riffing of “White Winged Hussary”, reminiscent of the most “redneckish” moments of the early albums. No essential component has been changed in a decade of work, but slight improvements of formula keep the mystically oriented listener spinning towards the distantly heard croaking ravens that herald the upcoming axe age, one that shall bless our corrupted world with a merciful blow from Wotan’s spear of un-death.

Devamitra

Immolation – Majesty and Decay

See review here.

 

 

 

 

Inquisition – Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm

Recent history has borne witness to developments in Black Metal that sets the music more at war against itself than with it’s traditional enemies and time has accumulated vast quantities of debris resulting from this internal crisis of identity and credibility. The shape of all the rubble is appropriately rocky, resembling the multitude of “fairy land” daydreams based on genres of alternative popular music incorporated to gain the approval of outsiders who possess no more understanding of the wolfish, warlike and mystic poetry of Black Metal’s spiritual essence, but want to claim this ‘niche market’ as their own. Even the cloak of demonic symbology, long-since regarded as a joke to even the casual listener – little more than a generic garb for posturing and associating with the genre’s ancestors – has been accordingly stripped of all occultic luminance, which shined too fiercely over the eyes of the humanist infiltrator, such that the tears of depressive-suicidal ideologies would instantly evaporate. None of these signs of the times, however, have influenced the veteran duo of Dagon and Incubus, who, in an ultimate statement of Satanic zealotry and inhuman purity, tunnel back to the hypnotic primitivism of Black Metal’s first waves, re-formulating and refining the style of early Bathory to produce an album that reveals the inherent mystical wisdom which inspires Black Metal’s sinister imagery, with no recourse to obvious cliches nor over-intellectualisations in order to clutch at some idea of artistic credibility and potency. Based on the technique of Immortal’s ‘Pure Holocaust‘, Inquisition craft expansive yet blasting soundscapes from swirling portals of riffing immediately reminiscent of ‘The Return……by Bathory in it’s Punkish brevity. These are inflected by dissonant open-chords and all manner of string-bending and sliding chaos to create a legitimate sense of increasing cosmic awareness and trans-dimensional ascension, as they circulate around each song’s central melody in a bizzarely motivic fashion. This is a component that bands such as Blut Aus Nord, who aspire to embellish their songs in such an experimental way, simply do not possess. Even the most meandering of arpeggiated open-chords don’t feel derivative as they sound out powerful and song-defining melodies rather than merely filling out time and space. Similarly to fellow Latin Americans Avzhia, Inquisition create a total sense of grandeur by bringing songs to an apex of expression through essentially simple but epic power-chord riffs. The masterful percussive transitions of Incubus guide the album fluidly between the various evolutionary elements of Inquisition’s sound, from the majestically crashing and pounding cadences of Burzum to the rolling avalanche of Immortal. Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm is in many ways the album that the Blashyrkh horde should have recorded instead of ‘All Shall Fall’, as even Dagon’s toneless chanting style is somehow more expressive than past vocalisations in its similarity to Abbath. But all comparisons aside, there is no doubt as to which band reigns the Black Metal underground almost alone these days as Inquisition have created another uncompromising and profound work that no other so-called Satanists have the power to match.

ObscuraHessian

Into Oblivion – Creation of a Monolith

See review here.

 

 

 

 

Mutant Supremacy – Infinite Suffering

The New York City borough of Brooklyn might be better known to the universal consciousness as “The Hipster Capital of the World”, “A Fantastic Place to Collect STDs”, or “Where Culture Goes to be Sodomized”, amongst other colorful and imaginative epithets. Naturally, any self-touting Metal bands originating from this region ought to be approached with utmost scrutiny, as these are all almost invariably revealed to be alternative rock acts hiding beneath a masquerade of long hair and Dionysian discord. Breaking decisively away from this brand of perfidious whoredom are nouveau death metallers Mutant Supremacy, who occupy a peculiar nexus in between Monstrosity, Dismember, and Infester — thus setting them apart from the archetypal NYDM style as well. Seemingly fueled by an intense hatred for the free-loving cosmopolitanism that surrounds them, this band constructs theatrically explosive war-anthems conceptualized around a post-nuclear-apocalyptic Hell on Earth, rife with Thrasymachan rhetoric, biological abominations, and grisly accounts of human extermination. Songwriting on this debut mostly shows a clean-cut and sharp sense of narration clearly indicative of a studied discipline in the arts of classic Slayer, although there are a few odd weak moments where stylistic confusion vomits forth a spate of old school clichés and uncompelling Flori-death/Swe-death/British Grindcore aggregates. Overall, however, there is certainly something refreshingly violent in development here, and it’s a victory to hear such a proud death knell coming from what is otherwise an utterly syphilis-addled portion of the planet.

Thanatotron

Profanatica – Disgusting Blasphemies Against God

True to form, Profanatica release a focused, energetic and iconoclastic opus that shatters and mocks any infantile and moralistic conception of reality. Both compositionally and aesthetically powerful, the production on Disgusting Blasphemies against God is both clear and full, lending itself nicely to an analysis of its subtleties and providing the clarity necessary to gain a chuckle at the expense of nearby spectators privy to the album’s intrusive vitriol. Ledney’s vocals are hilariously clear yet retain a threateningly violent quality that is becoming of this style of Black Metal. As Ledney vomits forth his blasphemic ritual, listeners are treated to a notably ominous musical atmosphere that is uncomfortably somber, deranged and challenging. Utilizing single note tremolo picking, reminiscent of a cross between a more consonant Havohej and the effective and simple melodies of VON, Ledney in is his genius, develops motifs, that while perhaps more obvious and accessible, remain potent and successfully create an intriguing state of anxiety. These motifs both seamlessly emerge from, and return to sinister Incantation style riffs which work together to develop a unity and structural coherence that while primal and simple is undoubtedly effective. The interplay between these musical variable creates an overall experience that portends the celebration of the powerful, living and animated chthonic mysteries and perhaps more pressingly the apotheosis of their necessary destructive capacities.

TheWaters

Slaughter Strike – At Life’s End

Toronto’s death dealers unearth the forgotten formulas of 80s-90s extreme metal in their second offering, a follow-up to the debut cassette “A Litany of Vileness”. This punk-driven death metal statement delivered by veterans of Canadian scene (former members of The Endless Blockade and Rammer) shows no mercy: it is short, volatile and dirty.  Yet, at the same time the material is well weighed and balanced, blessed with the genuine feel of old-school art. The production helps conveying old metal nostalgia whereas Spartan songwriting confronts useless acrobatic tendencies of the modern scene. The band’s uncompromising music is perfectly collaborated with artwork by Moscow artist Denis Kostromitin. Standing on the shoulders of giants like Autopsy, Carnage, Pestilence, Repulsion and Discharge these reapers managed to find a voice of their own. We can only hope that this beautifully presented vinyl-only release is a “carnal promise” of Slaughter Strike’s prospects.

The Eye in the Smoke


 

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Of Power Metal and Other Tales

1. Introduction
2. The Two Faces of the Genre: European and American Power Metal
3. European Power Metal
4. Power Metal of the United States
(more…)

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Re-engaging vital elements – combustions in underground demonolatry

Desecration Rites – Hallowed Depravity
Wiht – Wiht
Into Oblivion – Creation of a Monolith
Bloodfiend – Revolting Death
Exylum – Blood for the Ancients
Logistic Slaughter – Biophage

Desecration Rites – Hallowed Depravity

As if poisonous arachnoids had woven a sticky web around a hermit of the desolate Pampas, the multitude of savage Angelcorpsean riffs blasts from Desecration Rites’ rehearsal room with hardly any control or structure for the confounded listener to immerse in. The Argentinian blackened death duo did not have the time to execute all matters properly here because of unfortunate circumstances, and it shows in the deprecated, spastic rhythm of machine, the hysterical frequency and bouts of unclean guitar work all over the place. If something is keeping these dogs of sequences under leash, it is the deep, rumbling voice of Wolf intoning Faustian misery from the bottomless depths of darkness, occasionally unwinding power lines of similar effect to Craig Pillard’s majestic demon voice in the eternally classic Onward to Golgotha. For the modern death metal fan expecting a digitized, synthetic robot surgery there is probably no more horrific sight than this deluge of an album, but internally it is far more hypnotic, intricate and deadly than one could hope for. Just listen to the freezing pseudo-Nordic moments of “Death Sentence to an Agonizing World” or the ethereal, solar and jarring interlude of “Carnal Dictum” and you might just get a slight moment of hope in the future generations after all.

Wiht – Wiht

This British debutant lets loose the heathen wolves of war with a triumphant fanfare akin to Vlad Tepes’ famous Wladimir’s March before leading us to a journey of mountainous black metal landscapes, Graveland-esque meditations, ancient English fire-lit caves and Zoroastrian philosophy. The same sort of extended pagan tremolo epics (18 minutes of length at worst) that made countrymen Forefather and Wodensthrone veritable trials to sit through are pretty close at hand here, but the sparkling energy of youth helps a lot; there is a wildness and intrigue that contributes variation in sense even when there is none in content. Much of the logic of the songs seems to be emotionally stringing disparate sequences into a journey or a fictional narrative, which is essentially never a bad choice but some of the material here could be cut off to be brutally honest. Sound quality is the pseudo-spatial vacuum of too much reverb common for demo-level bands, but the instruments are clearly audible and the mid-rangeness is efficaceous. Unmoving and halfhearted chants and throwaway happy riffs are the blight of heathen metal, but Lord Revenant possesses sufficient pathos to allude to traces of occult evil and memories of ancient war at the same time; while this effort is not enough to coin him as a master of British metal, it would be a disappointment to hear these same songs performed by a more professional, disinterested voice in the future, or see him disappear without a trace after such a promising start.

Into Oblivion – Creation of a Monolith

More than one and a half hours of harsh, pummelling death metal is neither a mean feat to compose nor to listen. As if Wagner, Brahms or even Stravinskij decided in the otherworld that these wimpy rock/metal kids have had it too easy and possessed various souls to spend hundreds of nights writing progressive Romantic/Faustian death metal partitures, 20+ minute pieces such as the title track or “On the Throne’s Heavenward” lumber and crush with such interminable weight that it is hard to not feel like attacked by a divine hammer from above as designed by Gustave Doré. You can forget about them mosh parts, since this is material about as brainy as anything by Atheist, with slow-moving adagios and creeping crescendos more familiar from Brian Eno’s ambient music or Esoteric’s hypno-doom than anything in satanic metal realm. Vocals are sparse and it feels like about a half of the album is purely instrumental and this creates a strange calm suspension which might even feel uncomfortable; but compared to The Chasm’s mastery of technique, it still does feel like an essential emotional counterpoint or rhythmic pulse bestowing element is missing, and when the cruel vocals suddenly rip the air, it might even be perceived as a disturbance to the solemn atmosphere. Nevertheless, it is probable that they are going for exactly this synthesis of the intellectual and the primal; the emotional and the physical. So fortress-like, rational, calm and measured that it is hard to connect its spirituality with its death metal origins (even the previous Into Oblivion release), it is certainly an important statement while the cumbersome nature and certain academicism in construction (perhaps “filler” in metal language, the problem of the previous album as well) makes it a bit of an unlikely candidate for casual listening. Anyone interested in the future of Death Metal cannot afford to miss it, though.

Bloodfiend – Revolting Death

Heirs to the bludgeoning power of Escabios and other ancient compatriots, this recent Argentinian sect wastes no time with progressive anthems, intros nor filler in this concise EP of Autopsy influenced memoirs of early 90’s scathing death metal savagery. If the band has capacity for a challenging composition or a range of emotion, it’s all but hidden in this conflict of vulgar and intense demo taped riffs that could originate on any scummy cassette dug up from your older brother’s cardboard box vaults. Even most crustcore bands could hardly resist the temptation to fill the gaps out with something more liberal, but I am glad Bloodfiend do not resort to any loose pauses in their old school attack. The band is not yet quite there in the top ranks of death metal resurgence, but possess more than their share of contagious energy that will make for a good live experience and raise hopes for a more dynamic album.

Exylum – Blood for the Ancients

Brutal death metal cliches abound but also tasteful dashes of improvisational riff integration as California youth Exylum strike from the bottomless depths with a manifest of fragmented ideas like old Cannibal Corpse, Finnish death metal and newer black metal in a blender. Weird effected voices cackle, pinch harmonics abound, chugging is all but industrial metal, drumming provides a solid backbone and the ululation of the lead guitar harmonic reaches a hysterical plane of existence when the band lets go of identity expectations and go ballistic as in the end of “Worshiping the Flesh Eating Flies”. The worst thing on this demo is the tendency to fill space with something simple and stupid like the endless low tuned one note rhythmic hammering towards the end of the title track. When the band is in a more chaotic mode, as in the older recording “Ritual Crucifixion”, the confusion serves to imbue the composition with more blood and action.

Logistic Slaughter – Biophage

As persistence is the key to cosmic victory, it’s gratifying to see that this recent Californian cluster is not giving up in their quest to build a maiming death metal experience which was approached with streamlined Bolt Thrower and Cannibal Corpse tendencies in their last year’s EP. First threatening edges noted by the listener here are their improved musicianship with plenty of rhythmically aware palm-muting and tremolo NY style rhythm guitar riffs interlocking like the paths of ferocious large insects on flight while in the new drummer Kendric DiStefano they have a redeemer from the abhorrent pit of drum machine grind, even though his style tends to approach the robotic at times. The moments where this EP shines is when the brutal backbone operates at the behest of melody conjured by the leads of Mike Flory and Daniel Austi, such as the gripping mid-section of “Exit Wounds” and the Nile-ish mad arab string conjuration in “Litany of Blood”. I’m still reluctant to call this a total winner because there’s a lot of random chugging around as in generic bands from Six Feet Under to Hypocrisy, but there are also subtle technical flourishes such as the lightly arpeggiated bridge in “War Machine” that still keeps me liking this band and following its movements.

Written by Devamitra


 

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Compilation: Destruction of the Heavenly Realms Volume VI

Deathgasm records, like most old school labels before it, puts out a low-cost compilation of the bands on the label or distributed by the label. Their sixth volume of the series contains some of the newer and more exciting metal in the old school style.

Various Artists – Destruction of the Heavenly Realms: Volume VI

1. Diabolic – Evil in Disguise: This is charging death metal that most resembles a cross between Mortem and Vader; the song has two main riffs with budget riff variations, a blistering solo, and doesn’t vary its high intensity drive.

2. Infinitum Obscure – Messenger of Chaos, I: Combining Dissection/Sacramentum style melodic metal with instrumentally adept American power metal like Helstar, Infinitum Obscure come up with a winding, pleasant tune that still manages quite a few martial rhythms.

3. Azarath – Invocation: Blending ripping fast-forward war metal of the Angelcorpse variety with bluesy solos and high speed fills like technical modern death metal bands, Azarath keeps the approach of an older speed/death metal band like Destruction but with updated technique.

4. Nominon – Undead Beast: Despite all the death metal trimmings, this track is basically later Sodom — complete with ultra-catchy chorus and noodly solos — updated with a bit of the slick pop trimmings the Swedes do so well, which makes it easy to listen to but hard to want to hear again.

5. Avenger – The Birth of Muse: Unsung because of low drama, Avenger created the template that all Slavic droning black metal uses, and like a better version of Drudkh or Nokturnal Mortum this song cruises through abrupt riffs and high-contrast, loping beats with fluttering melodic riffs to match. Good but not exciting.

6. Kult Ofenzivy – Jaky jsem nalezl Duvod?: High speed simple melodic riffs under a croaking black metal vocal like Immortal, with songwriting like a simplified Gorgoroth or Emperor, this band makes pleasant noise that varies little between start and finish.

7. The New Plague – Welcome to the End: Fast melodic black/death with riffs that pick a basic chord progression and then work around it with longer phrases to escape the inevitability of such an obvious approach; as a result, this seems to be evading whatever truth it wanted to convey, although its competent songwriting includes humor.

8. Semargl – Cult of the Crucified: People compare this band to Emperor, but it makes more sense to say they’re a lot like Kreator with keyboards and black metal riffs, but a bouncier, less furtive version. Many of these riffs have been a staple of melodic death metal bands for fifteen years and haven’t gotten better.

9. Quinta Essentia – Formative Evasion: This odd melodic band chose to incorporate many elements of power metal, including a chanted/cleanly sung passage that’s intriguing yet too pop to keep going for long; it reminds me of Pyogenesis merged with Blind Guardian.

10. Abominant – Evil Inside: Abominant is the ultimate anonymous band. Their CDs pop up everywhere but no one can remember what they sound like. A start — Fallen Christ with every other riff being a melodic fill stretched to carry two rhythms at once, with the frenetic drumming of Krisiun and bombast of later Vader.

11. Cystic Dysentery – Parastic Demise: Blasting frenetic deathgrind in the Unique Leader style, this track shows good judgment in its pacing and a powerful balance between melodic riffs and purely percussive ones, but like most of this style is often too overwhelming in lightspeed repetition of similar ideas for regular listening.

12. Manticore – Praising the Whore…On the Altar of Darkness: Generic death/black metal played at high speed of drums and strumming but relatively mid-paced speed of chord changes and transitions, this track is sticks to a basic verse/chorus style with a few chaotic deviations, reminiscent of Krieg.

13. Nominon – Night of Damnation: The retro-Swedish death metal bands are expert at taking a standard pop song and dressing it up with death metal techniques so that you think you’ve found another Carnage, but on repeated listens, you realize it’s the same generic heavy metal that’s been around since 1974.

14. Nex – Exit: This wanderlust instrumental conveys a sense of melancholic adventure through careful shifting between different forms of a handful of melodic riffs, each riff shape becoming a repeated figure on a chord progression, slowly building a mood. Whispered death vocals guide it.

You can get this compilation at Deathgasm Records for $5.

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