SEEN AND HEARD: WARBRINGER, BLASPHEMER, GRAVE PLAGUE, DISCHORDIA, AMTHYST, OLD SCRATCH, AREA, SUPREMATIVE
This will be one of those Mondays when I’m afraid we’ll be doing our best to drown you in music, beginning with this large collection of new discoveries (which includes one item from Austin Weber along with my own picks).
I thought about titling this post “Galloping Madness!” Everything in here flies, but in particular there’s a heavy thrash influence in a lot of the music at the start and the finish, with some brain scramblers sandwiched in the middle. But as you’ll discover, the thrash influence manifests itself in very different ways.
The first item is a video for “Silhouettes”, from the new album Woe to the Vanquished by California’s Warbringer. This is their fifth full-length, and it’s slated for a March 31 release through Napalm Records.
“Silhouettes” premiered at DECIBEL last week, where vocalist John Kevill gave this explanation about the song:
“The idea was to have the song written from a future where civilization has failed, the Earth is in ruins and the few remaining survivors live a horrible existence. The untold millions of shadows from this future, burnt into stone, look back at us in the present time and judge us for bringing about the apocalypse that, though we saw it coming, we did nothing to avoid.”
The well-made video, directed by Orie McGinness (Enlighten Creative Studio), is stylish but also effectively invokes the terrors of a nuclear strike. The music strikes almost as hard, with the kind of blazing riff swarms, explosive drum flurries, and furious vocal proclamations that send a blast front of power straight through the brain and leave it a quivering mound of ash. Unless of course your head just comes right off when the song hits the breakdown and the squalling, spiraling solo that caps it off.
Yeah, two words: Holy. Shit.
There are a large number of Blasphemers, living and dead, in the annals of metal. This Blasphemer is a British death metal band that recorded three demos in the early and mid-’90s and then disappeared until re-forming in 2014. In 2015 they released a two-song Demo of Darkness, and then in the first week of this year they discharged a self-titled album, which includes the 2015 demo tracks as a bonus.
I learned of the album through a tip from KevinP, not being familiar with the band’s work in the early days. He didn’t tell me much about it, but what I discovered is that it’s a Grade-A headbreaker, with a deeply sinister atmosphere and a sure-handed feel for just about every ingredient that gives death metal the name death.
The band move deftly between gruesome, heartless, utterly pestilential slower sections and rampaging thrash gallops like the title track, capable of mowing down crowds like fields of wheat before the thresher, with some truly incinerating solo work. As you’ll discover by the time you hit “Sutcliffe”, they’re also damned expert at pulling the trigger on pile-driving grooves capable of sending your neck to an orthopedist.
And wait ’til you hear the creepy, wraithlike melody in “March of the War Priests”. Yes, these songs have melodic cores that make them stick in your head, too.
Morbid death metal dynamism is the name of this game, and Blasphemer play it like pros. Clear a half hour in your schedule and let this beast take you for a thrill ride.
Grave Plague is a new death metal band from Cleveland whose members have dedicated themselves to exorcizing “the demons of old school death metal into twisting, chaotic, and haunting formation”. Their two-song demo The Infected Crypts was digitally released on January 12 by Redefining Darkness Records and Give Praise Records and it was featured the next day at DECIBEL. Give Praise and Redefining Darkness are also releasing a vinyl edition, and Caco-Demon has brought it out on tape.
You’ll notice in about a nanosecond that the guitar tone on these two songs is goddamned massive. You’ll notice a few seconds later that the rhythm section hits with disc-rupturing force. There’s a feral, utterly destructive quality to the brazen, brutish nature of this attack, amplified by the deranged wildness of the vocals and the feverish frenzy of the soloing.
When Grave Plague are jamming the accelerator all the way down, they move like a runaway steamroller leaving nothing but wreckage and rubble behind them. And when they ease back on the throttle, it’s a stupefying crushfest. In both modes, the effect is electrifying. Yes, this is a blood offering on the altar of old school death metal, but there’s not a damned thing tired or decrepit about this music. This little demo is a stunner.
Austin Weber wrote the following introduction to our next item in this collection:
In 2016 Oklahoma City-based progressive death metallers Dischordia put out an impressive album called Thanatopsis that both Andy Synn and myself here at NCS enjoyed quite a bit. The band culled and re-shaping elements and ideas from various stripes of death metal, mathcore, groove, and more into a fascinating new form of progressive death metal that’s unique and fresh sounding. In the spirit of bringing them to your attention yet again, we’re sharing their newly released music video for their song “Bone Hive”.
The song itself moves through a multitude of different ideas across its seven-minute run time, starting off on a groove-centric note, before a swarm of slick leads rains down overtop. The headbanging grooves then conjoin with deathly riffing and sway back and forth for an extended jaunt — which is nicely broken up by an instrumental melodic passage before things get massively heavy again with the previous sparse melodic ideas woven back into the song’s grooves as it fades out. This is a song to bang your head to first and foremost, though anyone who has explored the record knows there are multiple faster-tempo songs on it, too.
The music video’s often trippy visual accompaniments to “Bone Hive” add a nice touch to the experience, especially if you haven’t heard the song before. It’s a visual feast type of video, not a performance-footage clip, though brief snippets of the band playing live and still photos of them from their CD release show are woven in from time to time.
If by some chance you missed out on Thanatopsis, be sure to give it a spin at their Bandcamp page listed below. For those who live in the US, the band will embark on The Wastelands Tour in March; if they’re playing near you, I suggest you catch them!
A couple of days ago we received an invitation from a band called Amthyst based in Bandung, Indonesia, to check out a couple of death metal demo tracks. I confess that I had some preconceptions about what I would hear (i.e., brutal death metal) — and it turned out that I was completely wrong.
The tracks that are now streaming, “Unihalvaus” and “Pavor Nocturnus”, are two of four that are planned for a demo to be released later this year. Both songs are complete head-spinners, with kaleidoscopic, often dissonant riffing and weird soloing that spin off in unexpected directions, and a hard-slugging but equally acrobatic rhythm section that’s eye-popping.
Actually, everyone involved in these performances is technically eye-popping, and the deranged, rapid-fire ferocity of the vocalist is more than a match for the instrumental insanity. But the key ingredient is the band’s ability to harness a lot of complex, berserker instrumental pyrotechnics within song structures that have catchy melodies and punchy grooves that keep the songs from flying completely off the rails and skidding into a ravine. And don’t miss the fluid, soulful solo in the second track.
Remarkably impressive progressive/technical death metal with enough brutality that you won’t forget this is death metal.
After Dischordia and Amthyst we’re now moving back into thrash territory for the balance of this collection, but as I said at the outset, the thrash influence manifests itself in these next three bands in very different ways.
Old Scratch are a trio from Charlotte, North Carolina, who wrote us recently about their debut album, Feral, which was released last November. I was hooked immediately by the album’s first song, “Womanizer”. It’s also a great example of the two fundamental things that Old Scratch do very well — they can rock you like an earthquake, with powerfully infectious riffs and potent, gut-punching rhythms, with a bit of funk and a lot of swagger in the mix.
And they can thrash your damned reproductive organs off.
This deserves a more fulsome review than I have time to give it, but in a nutshell, Feral is a shitload of raw, raucous fun. The songs are well-written, with huge hooks that will crack your cranium with their barbs, the instrumental performances are sharp as steak knives, and the vocals are quite varied — from gritty, filth-encrusted barks to classic clean heavy metal vocals (that aren’t too clean). Ass-burning solos in here, too.
Area are a death metal band from Cracow, Poland, who also wrote us recently. Their debut EP Obsolete Flesh – Part I was released in April of last year. The dudes look pretty young in the photo on their Bandcamp page, but man, they hit like seasoned mercenaries in this EP.
There’s a definite thrash component in this music, and it’s evil as fuck and bursting at the seams with explosive energy. Riding this EP is like being strapped into the Mad Max Interceptor with the supercharger wide open, eating up the pavement in the wasteland. Flames shoot from the exhaust, along with billows of oily toxic smoke. It vibrates your guts, it punishes your skeletal structure with ridiculously infectious grooves, but mainly it punches all the adrenaline triggers known to your body.
The soloing is also Grade-A nastiness, the guitar tone is savagely ugly, the drumming is off-the-hook, and the vocals are utterly barbaric.
This was lust at first listen for me, and now I’m discovering that it’s also addictive as a very addictive thing.
For the last piece of music in this collection I’ve got a track by a black metal band named Supremative from the Canary Islands of Spain. It’s one of two Supremative songs that will appear on Blood Chalices From the Impure, a split release with the Greek band Aiμα that’s due for digital and vinyl release by Blood Harvest on March 31. This particular track is “Triumphant Vengeance of the Antichrist“.
As nasty as that Area EP was, I’m still not sure you’re going to be prepared for how completely filth-encrusted and grotesque this song is. Even I, who have a strong taste for the contents of reeking musical sewers, was rocked back on my heels. But what I learned is what I want to convey to you: Stay with this until the end.
As foul and corrosive as the bass and guitar tone is, as vomit-spewing as the vocal hate is, the song is a galvanizing piece of destructiveness. It’s bleeding-edge fast and the drumming is berserk, and it has the capacity to link up with the pulse of the blood in your veins and propel it at rocket speed. Until near the end, when the sewer main breaks and it’s just a big, bubbling, volcanic mass of molten effluent.
Great site guys. Infected Plague awesome death doom keeping it old school. Is it possible to upload music for free I have a track by my own band I’d like to put up?
I didnt know of the plethora of Blasphemers there were. So i was really excited thinking it was the Italian one who released Ritual Theophagy last year, in which ive been jamming a ton lately. This Blasphemer is still pretty cool though