(In this post our guest Kunal Choksi (Transcending Obscurity) puts the spotlight on three up-and-coming death metal bands from Russia.)
Without delving into the purely “brutal” aspect of things, let’s throw some light on the Death Metal scene in Russia. Sure there have been bands in the past, some good ones too, like Merlin and Barbarity as well as the middling ones, but the newer ones are game-changers. No longer do you have to contend with giving Russian Death Metal bands “old school” credit, some nostalgic or primitive value. Admittedly, that forms a part of the scene’s sound and that’s fine, as long as it’s not remaining primitive in terms of quality. Three Russian bands lead the scene in my humble opinion and all of them have achieved reasonable success with at least one release under their belts.
ODEM (Daemon Worship Productions)
Odem leads the pack with its unique blackened influences and a blend of aggressive and semi-technical Death Metal, with elements of modern brutality as well. Their sound is innovative in ways that American bands are often loath to do.
Sometimes my listening decisions are completely ruled by impulse. I have carefully conceived plans in mind, and then they vanish in an instant, for reasons I can only dimly fathom after the fact. Yesterday afternoon, for example, I finally had a short break from my paying job. I had many forthcoming albums I could have dived into, but instead I listened to something that came out in October 2013. I later decided that at a subconscious level I must have felt a yearning to be pounded flat.
I had heard about this debut EP by Liverpool’s Crypt Lurker from many respected sources, including our curmudgeonly contributor SurgicalBrute, who put it on his Best of 2013 list. He characterized it as “a rolling monolith of raw blackened doom”, and so it is.
The music is simple in its construction, yet it’s ingeniously effective and tremendously compelling. The tools of Crypt Lurker’s trade are mammoth, vibrating riffs, methodical hammering drums, and scalding shrieked vocals that radiate malevolent intent. The band concoct grim, morbid melodies and then wield those implements to beat them relentlessly into your memory.
(In this post Andy Synn reviews the special EP recorded by Blut Aus Nord to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Debemur Morti label.)
At least in the majority of the metal media, Black Metal rarely gets its due in terms of its progressive side and forward-thinking ambition. Whereas “Progressive Death Metal” comes in multiple forms and guises, and the term “Progressive Metal” has been bastardised to seemingly refer solely to bands who deal in basic polyrhythms and melodramatic caterwauling, the term “Progressive Black Metal” still doesn’t seem to carry the same weight or cultural currency.
Some of that is due to the perception of the genre – by many, but nowhere near by all – as being firmly rooted in its own past and firmly captivated by its own legend. There’s some truth to that, as there are (and always will be) bands still carrying the ebon flame of those early years and keeping the original spirit of the genre alive. Yet although they have their place (something I’m not denying), to judge the entire genre by those standards would be a major mistake.
Because, to my mind at least, few sub-genres of metal can claim the scope of style and sound that Black Metal does these days. Elements of its influence have infiltrated numerous sub-genres, in often surprising ways, while, at the same time, its most artistic adherents have mixed and melded influences from outside its strict confines into their own strange, alchemical works, forging new and unusual weapons of war with the black flame of their own darkest emotions.
And chief amongst these are Blut Aus Nord.
Possession’s 2013 demo, His Best Deceit, stirred up a buzz among underground aficionados of black/death bludgeoning, but this Belgian band’s forthcoming 7″ EP, Anneliese, should stoke the buzz to deafening levels. My only regret is that it’s only two songs long. Today, we’re giving you the chance to hear one of them in its entirety.
Possession achieve the kind of sound and aura that many newer bands strive for but few achieve as well. It’s the sound of primordial death metal, rising from the ooze and radiating an otherworldly malignancy. It’s rough and raw, but there’s a lot more to its appeal than feral ferocity: Possession write some delicious riffs that are as infectious as they are morbid.
The gut-punching drum beats and reverberating chords that form the intro to the title track tell you that something wicked this way comes, but you may still not be prepared for the driving rock rhythms, slashing guitars, and feral howls that follow it. It’s an immediate headband trigger, and if you don’t get a charge out of the grinding bass solo in the song’s back half, there’s no hope for you. The horror-filled atmosphere of the song’s down-paced finish makes a killer of a song all the more lethal.
I’ve been following the progress of the Elemental Nightmares project since before it became public, writing about it for the first time in July 2013. It began as an effort to raise money for a subscription series of 13 splits on 7″ vinyl (with digital download options) featuring one exclusive song each by 26 up-and-coming bands from around the world. As the project evolved, the format has changed:
Last Friday, Elemental Nightmares announced that instead of releasing 13 splits with 2 songs per side, they will release 7 splits on 10″ vinyl, with each split containing four songs instead of two. And, because of the new format, there will be 28 bands instead of 26. In addition, as previously announced, Elemental Nightmares is offering the splits for sale on an individual basis, as well as subscriptions to the series as a whole, and the digital-only option is still available.
But the best news is the announcement that the project will happen. To see the names of the original 26 bands and for more info about purchase options, go here. The two new bands will be announced soon.
And finally, Friday also brought the premiere (by Invisible Oranges) of four songs that will appear on the fourth installment of the series, and it’s a damned strong way to start off: The bands are Porta Nigra (Germany), Membaris (Germany), Ashencult (Philadelphia), and Vuyvr (Switzerland).
Here are some thoughts about two new splits I’d like to recommend, with streaming music for each. They make for quite a contrast.
CORTEZ / BORACHO
My last mention of DC’s Borracho came in connection with a video, which combined a stunning piece of music from the band’s 2011 debut Splitting Sky with a stunning piece of film; since then, Borracho have released several short works and, in 2013, a new album (Oculus). Cortez are from Boston, and this split was my first exposure to their music. The new split will be a 7″ vinyl from AM Records scheduled for shipping around April 1, and a pre-order of the vinyl will bring you an immediate download of the music on Bandcamp.
Each band contributed one song to the split. Borracho’s ”Know My Name” is a real skull-breaker. The riff is king, but a king so soaked in radioactivity that the Geiger counter is going off the scale. It’s ultra-swampy and ultra-groovy, a stoner metal monster with a chorus meant for sing-alongs (except few people will be able to hit Steve Fisher’s gritty highs). Awesome track.
(Leperkahn is back for the second day in a row, this time reviewing the debut album by We All Die (Laughing).)
I meant to review this debut release from Belgium’s We All Die (Laughing) a lot earlier (when it came out back in January, in fact), but the mind is a feeble thing, and only now, with the kind reminder of fellow reader Vonlughlio, do I remember that I meant to delve into this single-song EP (at least that’s how I think it’s being branded). As I’ve said many times in the past, damn me for forgetting to do this earlier, ‘cause I’ll be damned if anything not named The Satanist has this beat so far, and not much has a chance of surmounting it, though we have ten months left in the year.
This release is less of a song and more of a theatric production delivered by electric guitar and vocal menace, a metal opera of sorts. Though it starts with some My Dying Bride-esque doom, it comes to incorporate Machine Head’s more epic moments, Opeth-ian death/doom, a slowed-down taste of Marduk, Behemoth-style majesty, evocative Scott Kelly-sound-a-like vocals, and depressive suicidal black metal shrieks. It features not only a ridiculous variety of vocal timbres, but also such exotic instruments as a clarinet and a flute (pretty sure that’s the first time I’ve heard a clarinet in metal, other than those tech-death covers that one guy does on YouTube). I almost don’t want to say how it ends; that would feel like giving away the end of a great book, movie, or TV show.
I’ve been meaning to write about this EP by Seattle’s Ocelot Omelet for months, and finally kicked myself in the ass hard enough to get it done (I blame my delay on fear of suffering a hamstring injury). It’s different in some ways from most of the music we cover at NCS, but despite my tunnel-visioned, metal-only approach to what I usually consume, I’ve enjoyed it so much that not writing about it would be… immoral.
The EP is entitled Present In the Dark and it consists of three songs, one of which simply has a question mark for its title. I know some people find genre labels useful, but when I try to think of them in this case, a question mark is what comes to mind first, because trying to affix labels to this music isn’t easy. But to make a stab at it, I’d say it’s like a mash-up (and a seamless one) of throwback psychedelia, sludgy stoner doom, and progressive rock, swimming in a dark narcotic haze.
“Out of the Frying Pan and Into Another Frying Pan” is the catchiest and most “accessible” of the three songs — at least after the squeal and drone of feedback and the squalling, shrieking sounds of the guitar in the song’s intro. After that, the music really starts to roll, with fat sludgy riffs and drum and bass lines that you can feel in your spine.
Germany’s Unholy Prophecies has just released a 7″ split that for me is the stuff of daydreams, even though it sounds like a waking nightmare. The split joins together two of the best and most hellish propagators of old-school death metal who are currently active, and they have both outdone themselves. The bands are Putrevore and Putrefact, and their split is entitled Funebre Plague Into Darkness.
Putrevore is a joint project of Sweden’s Rogga Johansson (Ribspreader, Paganizer, Bone Gnawer, Demiurg, etc.) and Spain’s Dave Rotten (Avulsed, Christ Denied). I discovered Putrevore through their second album, 2012′s Macabre Kingdom. If you were looking for pure, unadulterated, unforgiving, horrific death metal in 2012, you couldn’t go wrong with that record. You still can’t. It’s an unstoppable battle tank that’s both catastrophic in its atmospherics and also strangely addictive, so much so that I included one of its tracks on our list of the year’s “Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs”.
Putrevore’s track on the new split is “A Cold Grasp In the Night”, and it’s utterly obliterating. The riffs come fast and furious, like an over-heated pile-driver fueled by an accelerant that puts gasoline to shame. The drumming is superb, and superbly merciless. And Dave Rotten’s vocals sound like they’re welling up from a deep sewer that hasn’t been flushed clean in decades. And before the song ends, it dives into an off-speed crush-fest that’s just as compelling as the full-bore adrenaline surge that precedes it. A thoroughly energizing song that will zap you right in the brainstem. Check it out:
(In this post our friend from The Dominican Republic, Vonlughlio, provides a guest review of the recently released debut EP by Australia’s Gaped.)
First of all, I would like to thank Islander for the opportunity to write for NCS about a band that I discovered last year, while doing my year-end list. That band is a death metal act named Gaped from Newcastle, Australia, signed to Lacerated Enemy Records. Gaped is the brainchild of Ryan Huthnance, who is the vocalist and plays all the instruments, with lyrics written by Shane Watts (Nekrology and ex-Osmium Grid).
As I mentioned, I discovered this band while doing my list. Up to that moment, I only had two EP’s that I had really loved throughout 2013. While compiling the list I decided to check out the label’s FB and saw that they had posted the single “Realm of Impurity” from Gaped’s upcoming EP The Murderous Inception and decided to listen (plus, the cover art by Mottla Brutal Art is just killer). So for the next couple of days, I found myself listening to the song over and over. It’s really groove-oriented, with killer riffs, and the vocals were just insane.
Once the EP was released, I went to the label’s Bandcamp (where I had purchased some of Lacerated Enemy’s other releases) and right there discovered that Gaped had recorded a cover of a Cannibal Corpse song (“Stripped, Raped and Strangled”). I mention this because “Realm of Impurity” had reminded me of CC and some other old school death metal acts. But anyway, I listened to the whole EP and bought it right away.