NCS reader SurgicalBrute has turned me on to many excellent bands, and I’ve come to trust his tips. Recently he sent me a new batch of recommendations, and so I decided to just pick three of them for this edition of MISCELLANY. I may do the other three another time.
The way MISCELLANY usually works: We keep a growing list of bands whose music we haven’t heard but who look interesting. The list includes all the bands who contact NCS asking for a review (as it happens, one of SurgicalBrute’s recommendations is also a band who contacted us). Unfortunately, I’ll never be able to get through that list, but when I can, I grab a few names off of it at random, listen to a song or two, write up my impressions, and then stream the same music for you.
This time, of course, I’m using SB’s list instead of the NCS list, and the bands I picked are: Bones (US-Chicago), Embers (US-Oakland), and Undead Creep (Italy). To begin:
Here’s what SurgicalBrute had to say about this first band: “Crusty death metal, and one of my favorite releases this year. They get a lot of comparison to Chicago’s Usurper.” The Usurper comparisons are inevitable: The band is composed of three ex-Usurper members. They released their self-titled debut (on Planet Metal) in July, recording the album live in the studio with production help from Sanford Parker (Nachtmystium). SurgicalBrute sent me a YouTube link to a track called “Bloodlust”, and that’s the song I listened to first.
But I didn’t stop there. I cheated a bit on the MISCELLANY rules (what else is new?) because after hearing “Bloodlust”, I got the whole album and then listened to “Bitch”, the next song after “Bloodlust”.
What I got out of that experience (in addition to sore-neck syndrome) was a bloody meat-packing plant full of malevolent riffs, staggering rhythms, and carnivorous roars. A flood of Dismember memories washed over me as Bone proceeded to take a blood-crusted meat cleaver to all my fleshy parts.
This band has got the sound down with authenticity — slavering death metal with punchy beats and diseased melodies, both raw and tight. I liked this a whole fuckin lot. Check out the two songs I heard before forcing myself to move on to the next pick for this post:[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/02-Bloodlust-Explicit.mp3|titles=Bone – Bloodlust] [audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/03-Bitch-Explicit.mp3|titles=Bones – Bitch]
Along with the last band featured today, Bones have insinuated themselves onto my list of the year’s best old-school death metal releases. The Bones Facebook page is here. The album is available as a download on Amazon mp3 (which is where I snagged it), among other places.
The next band I picked is an Oakland, California collective called Embers. They contacted us in June, and I added them to our list of bands to check out, though I hadn’t gotten around to doing it until I heard from SB. Coincidentally, another one of our faithful readers, ElvisShotJFK, e-mailed me the same day, also recommending Embers.
SB had this to say about the band: “Crusty blackened doom. They don’t really sound like anyone else so comparisons are hard, but it’s good stuff. Also, I’ve totally got dibs on singer/bass player Kelly Nelson.”
Embers released their third album, Shadows, in March 2011. SB recommended I listen to a song called “Eucharist”, and so I did. It’s a long one, topping 10 minutes in duration.
The first segment is mid-paced and stately, with a trem-picked guitar lead establishing the dark, appealing melody and keyboards shrouding the music like night mist. The vocals are a tandem of deep, bearlike roars and the piercing cries of a blackened raptor. Almost halfway through, the doom deepens as the pace falls and the guitars ring out a mournful, echoing lament, with the vocal tandem crying out in unison. It’s a bittersweet confection, and one I liked a lot.
So, of course, I didn’t stop there. I got the album and listened to two more tracks, “Forsaken” and “Shadows”, and now I’m totally sold on Shadows and on this band. The music is composed with skill and delivered with aplomb. The melancholy melodies are sweeping, delivered by guitars that shimmer and strike and keyboards that are thankfully subtle rather than bombastic. Thanks to the aggressive riffing and the scarifying vocals, the music, while emotionally powerful, is saved from prettiness, edged when it needs to be with razors. Here are two tracks, “Eucharist” and “Shadows”:[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Embers-Shadows-02-eucharist.mp3|titles=Embers – Eucharist] [audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Embers-Shadows-04-shadows.mp3|titles=Embers – Shadows]
The band’s Facebook page is here, their MySpace is here, and you can download Shadows, along with Embers’ first two albums, from Bandcamp at this location. It’s offered there with a “name your price” option.
P.S. I shared “Eucharist” with Phro, and he provided this off-the-cuff description: “It’s like falling into a pit of black with obsidian walls of a shadowy dark hue of darkened darkness with a side of blue black 124.” I wish I’d written that.
Finally, we come to Undead Creep from Palermo, Sicily. SurgicalBrute’s pithy intro to this band reads as follows: “Really good early Entombed worship from Italy.” So, you can understand why I went for this one, can’t you?
Undead Creep released their debut album called The Ever-Burning Torch via Dark Descent Records (also home to killer bands such as Mitochondrion and Entrails) this past summer. The album also includes, as a bonus, the band’s 5-song 2009 demo.
SB sent me a link to a song called “Surrounded By Tombs”. Shades of Entombed, Dismember, Grave, and Carcass! Undead Creep sound like they jumped into a time machine and emerged in Stockholm’s Sunlight Studios with all guns blazing. Naturally, I cheated again and listened to half the songs on this album.
While Undead Creep are plainly paying homage to the Swedish forefathers of gore-drenched death and Asphyx-style doom, the music is more than mere cloning. The riffs are deliciously precise and dynamic, the guitar solos jump out of the sound like a viral surge of infection, the songs are distinctive, and the raging vocals are just awfully damned cool — they sound like a maddened beast roaring from within an echo chamber. I also found the completely unexpected, near-baroque acoustic interlude in track 6 (“On Blackened Mountains”) to be an inspired touch.
For those wondering whether it’s possible for old-school Swedish death metal to still strike a fresh chord, I give you Undead Creep:[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/surrounded-by-tombs.mp3|titles=Undead Creep-Surrounded By Tombs] [audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/frozen-asphyxiation.mp3|titles=Undead Creep-Frozen Asphyxiation]
For more info about Undead Creep, you can find them on Facebook here or on MySpace via this link. The album is available for purchase as a CD here, and it’s scheduled to become available at Amazon mp 3 on October 24.
Needless to say, this MISCELLANY session was chock full of win. Many thanks to Surgical Brute and ElvisShotJFK for these tips. I’m sold on Embers, and as I noted earlier, Bones and Undead Creep have dragged their undead corpses onto my list of the year’s best old-school death metal releases that I’ve heard so far — a list that includes Disma, Puteraeon, Entrails, Funerus, Mordbrand, Acephalix, Decaying, Demonical, Destroying Divinity, Brutally Deceased, and Carcinogen.