Here’s what I’ve been watching and listening to this morning.
Seventh Swamphony, the next album from Finland’s Kalmah, is set for release by Spinefarm on June 14 in Finland and Europe, June 17 in the UK, and June 18 in the U.S. About a month ago we spread the word about the album’s first single, “Windlake Tale” (here), and today the band released an official video for the album’s title track. The video seems to be a cautionary tale about the perils of burying waste in Finnish swamps, with interspersed film of the swamplords in their element (musically and geographically).
The song is a racing romp of invigorating, Finnish-style melodic death metal, or perhaps I should say “Kalmah style”, because it does sound like the Kalmah of old.
The editing on the video makes the music sound even faster than it is. You’ll see what I mean . . .
TheMadIsraeli gave me a tip about this three-man Romanian band, for which I give thanks. They released their debut album, Exhort To Obliterate, in February of this year via Hatework Records and they recently debuted a music video for one of the new songs, “Atrocious Deeds”.
Now as I’ve said before, thrash isn’t one of my current favorite genres of metal, but when it’s done right, I still get a charge out of it — and Decease do it right. “Atrocious Deeds” is just flat-out rifftastic, a high-voltage, groove-packed onslaught that’s a sure-fire headbang trigger. The hoarse, harsh vocals, which include a guest contribution at the podium by Andy Ghost of the Romanian band Altar, are also right up my alley — more death metal in style than traditional thrash vox.
Two more songs from Exhort To Obliterate are streaming on their Bandcamp page, which you can find through the link below. And following those links, check out the “Atrocious Deeds” video.
What Slayer is today is now an even farther cry from what Slayer used to be. Dave Lombardo was booted from the band back in February in a dispute over money (details here), and yesterday the world lost Jeff Hanneman. What is left is a name attached to a cash machine, an aging remnant of what was once one of metal’s truly groundbreaking bands. I have no doubt that under the stewardship of Kerry King, that name will continue to be used to make a “ka-chinging” sound for years to come, but as for making music that’s still relevant and still great? That’s not likely to happen.
But what Slayer was . . . that was something very special. Apart from making music that was like little else that had been heard before, the band’s influence has been felt in thousands of other groups for 30 years — and counting. You can hear their influence, for example, in that Decease song up above.
And when it all started, Jeff Hanneman was there. He wrote many of the band’s most famous songs, including “Angel of Death,” “South of Heaven,” “Raining Blood”, and “War Ensemble”, and he performed on every one of the band’s albums. His hiatus from Slayer began in early 2011 after he contracted a flesh-eating disease called necrotizing fasciitis that almost required the amputation of his arm and led to several operations and skin grafts to replace dead and decaying flesh.
He had to go through extensive physical therapy to regain the use of his arm, but made enough progress that he made a surprise cameo appearance on two encore songs that Slayer played at the Big Four festival in Indio, California, on April 23, 2011. As things turned out, that was his last time onstage with Slayer. As we remember Jeff Hanneman, here’s the video of one of those encore songs — which he wrote. It needs no introduction.