Mar 242011

The word “mishmash” popped into my head when I was thinking about a title for this post. I thought I knew what it meant, but to be sure, I checked the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. It defined “mishmash” as “hodgepodge, jumble”. That was really fucking helpful. I hate it when a dictionary defines one word by using other words that are just as opaque.

The same source explained that the word could have derived from the combination of two Middle English words (mysse and masche) or perhaps from the “reduplication” of the Yiddish word mishn, meaning “to mix”. That made me wonder what the difference is between “duplication” and “reduplication”. REduplication sounds REdundant, but what do I know.

Anyway, I gave up on Merriam-Webster and tried another dictionary, which proved more helpful. It defined “mishmash” as: “A messy or confused mixture of different things.” Which explained why the word popped into my head, since my head is itself a messy and confused mixture of things. That definition did confirm that I’d come up with the right post title, because the music I’m serving up today is definitely a messy and confused collection. It could also be a hodgepodge and a jumble, but I’ve lost patience looking up word definitions at the moment, so I don’t know for sure.

Today I won’t make you guess about the music. The songs on offer are from Torture Division (Sweden), Hellen (Arizona) (pictured above), and Vile (California). I recommend them. They are a mishmash of innervating metal. They will also turn the organ you think with into a mishmash. You may even be reduplicated. (songs after the jump . . .)


Torture Division is a Swedish “super-group” of sorts, composed of pedigreed musicians who are all involved in other projects: guitarist Lord K. Philipson (The Project Hate, ex-God Among Insects, Leukemia); bassist/vocalist Jörgen Sandström (The Project Hate, Vicious Art, ex-Entombed, Grave); and drummer Tobias “Tobben” Gustafsson (The Project Hare, Vomitory).

Their mission in life is to create music and give it away, though they are also happy to have your donations if you feel up to it. They have a new demo on the way, which they will give away for free download on their web site in a few weeks. That will be added to the six previous demos they have created since 2008, plus assorted singles, all of which you can also download for free on their web site (here).

What caught my attention was the band’s recent announcement that they had created a cover of the Mastodon song “Iron Tusk” from the most excellent Leviathan album. I also got a good laugh from Torture Division’s announcement of the song:

“Wanna hear what MASTODON really should sound like? We thought so, and that’s why we have decided to record a cover of their tune ‘Iron Tusk’. Why this particular song? None of us listens to MASTODON, you know.

Well, to make a long story short; this cover was meant to end up on a compilation CD (spanning over albums from the 1990s to 2011, and we all know MASTODON‘s a quality act that people obviously dig, recording a tune by them would give us major exposure to further dominate the world… ahem…), that eventually never saw the light of day — meaning we now give it to you because we are absolutely amazing.

“This is how we would have made this song, had we written it in the first place. But we didn’t, we just thought it would be nice to MASTODON to make a proper tune out of it. Kidding, kidding… MASTODON‘s cool. They are no TORTURE DIVISION, but hey — can’t win them all.”

The amazing Dan Swanö (ex-Edge of Sanity, Bloodbath, Nightingale) did the production work on the band’s version of “Iron Tusk”, which is pretty much a guarantee of quality. The song is also a blast to hear — as in, it will hit your fragile bodies like a blast-front spreading at the speed of sound from the point of detonation. Damn, this one is very sweet. Check it out:

Torture Division: Iron Tusk


Metal bands whose lead singers are also the drummers are rarities. Even more rare is a metal band whose vocalist/drummer is a woman. Hellen is one of those rarities. This Arizona-based trio consists of Mindy DuPonte on drums and vocals, Ryan Abel on guitar, and Andrew Heath on bass. They’ve just released their full-length debut. Instead of affixing it with a rancid title, such as Gutted With A Garden Spade and Left to Putrify in the Sun, they brilliantly called it Sorry for Screaming.

Though the album title may reflect a certain politesse in attitude, the music is anything but polite. In the spirit of mishmash, I included this band in today’s line-up because the music is more than a little outside what we typically cover at NCS: It includes clean singing. It also straddles the line between hard rock and metal. Still, I be diggin’ it for two reasons: One, it’s loaded with infectious hooks and punk attitude, and it made me want to run into things. Two, Mindy’s vocals are impressive; in full-on shriek-mode, she turns herself inside-out with a fury, but man she can also hit the high, clear notes.

Put aside what prejudices you may have about metal that’s close to the line of hard rock, or female vocalists, and give this a shot — for a change of pace, if nothing else:

Hellen: The Downfall

Sorry for Screaming is available on iTunes and Amazon, and the CD can be purchased through the band’s web site. More info about Hellen is available on Facebook and MySpace.


Now, let’s really mash up this post by swinging way over in the other direction.

Californian’s Vile have completed work on their fourth full-length album, Metamorphosis, and plan to release it this coming fall. It’s been a long time coming; the band’s last album came out in 2005. According to Vile, the CD is “a concept album which contains a wide variety of styles, tempos and lyrical topics with an interlocking philosophical and lyrical concept.” I’m not sure what the concept will be, but I’ve seen the lyrics to a song from the album that’s just been put up for streaming, and it seems to center on the fallen angel (you know who that is).

Speaking of that song, it’s called “Prophetic Betrayal”. It will make you bang your fucking head to the beat of some gen-u-ine, brutal and brutalizing American death metal, in the vein of bands like Deicide and Autopsy. Good shit. Based on this, the new CD will be worth looking for.

Vile: Prophetic Betrayal

To follow what’s happening in the Vile camp, here are links to their pages on Facebook and MySpace, and here are the song’s lyrics.


So, do you feel like a hodgepodge now? As always, we welcome your comments about the music, as long as you don’t say anything nasty about us, because our feelings are easily hurt.

  21 Responses to “A MISHMASH”

  1. Heh…”The Project Hare”?


    Torture Division are good fun, although a bit generic at times. Will check out the other ones shortly..

    • Fuck. I obviously didn’t discipline our copy editor with enough severity the last time he failed to catch a typo. Ima have to kick his (my) fuckin ass down the stairs the next time I see him (look in the mirror).

  2. I’m really digging the Hellen song. Always been a fan of Vile so this release will be one of the top on my list this year.

    I don’t mind mastodon, I thought crack the skye was pretty damn good, but that version of Iron Tusk…money. Their summation cracked me up too. But it’s so true!

    Have you ever heard of, I the Omniscient? They have a short five track EP out called “Lost in Nebula”. If you haven’t heard it you should check it out.

    • Haven’t heard I, the Omniscient yet, but I will check em out. I’ve been waiting a long time for an omniscient metal band. 🙂

    • There’s funny stuff on every page of the Torture Division. For example, this from their CONTACT page: “If you wanna know more about strangling, flaying, scalping, peine forte et dure, mancuerda, hamstringing, keelhauling, garroting, castration, kneecapping, limb removal or just some casual beating, don’t hesitate to contact us. We might not be able to give you any good answers though.”

  3. Torture Division also has a good cover of W.A.S.P.’s The Torture Never Stops.

  4. Vile’s is another album I’ll have to pick up. May seems to be one of the bigger months for me, the standout release is Wormrot’s Dirge though. I still have to get the new(est) releases from Deicide, Protest the Hero, Athiest, Deathspell Omega, Coffins (the complilation), Melechesh, Belphegor, Obscura, Amon Amarth, Pestilence, and I’m probably forgetting several others… all those releases are a good reason to get a source of income; interview today!

  5. I liked all three of these but loved none of them. Virus sort of sounded like Son of Aurelius to me, which is AWESOME!

  6. Most of Torture Division’s appeal is Lord K’s sense of humor and large ego. But it’s still Swedish death metal and the last time I checked, I am still a sucker for it. That being said, Iron Tusk is not a good representation of their music. The song was good, but they have much better stuff.

    Hellen has just doesn’t do it for me. Great vocalist but the rest of the song was just uninspiring.

    I want to hear more off of Vile’s new album before I make a decsion, because it sounds like they have taken that Berkley tech death sound and tried to incorporate it into their own. It sounds a lot different then their earlier music and while not necessarily a bad thing, I hope that they didn’t sacrifice their old sound based on the new trend in California death metal.

  7. Torture Division’s new EP, Through the Eyes of a Dead, is now up for download at their site and it’s fuckin’ killer!

  8. Thanx for the plug on Torture Division and the feedback from you lot. We appreciate it.

    • Man, thanks for writing! And thank you and the rest of the band for creating such amazing music, for having such a great sense of humor, and for making the music (and your humor) so readily available to metalheads the world over.

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