DEATH PSYCHEDELIC: JOHN FRUM, ARKHAMIN KIRJASTO, HEAVYDEATH, DRUID LORD, ABSTRACTER, TRIBULATION
A couple of nights ago NCS contributor Grant Skelton asked if I knew of any “psychedelic death metal”. He said he’d been hunting for that and was finding the search to be a difficult one. One song in particular leaped to my mind immediately, but I decided to do some further thinking and word-searching through previous posts at NCS. And by coincidence, I also came across an announcement about a new band that seemed relevant.
What I’ve compiled below is the playlist of songs I sent Grant later that night. I’m probably stretching the boundaries of the term “psychedelic death metal”, though it’s not exactly a recognized genre label. But I had fun putting this together and thought I’d share it. But I’d also like to ask you to chime in with ideas of your own in the Comment section.
So I thought I’d start with that announcement about a new band (pictured above), the name of which is John Frum. The announcement caught my eye both because of who’s in the band and because of the source of the band’s name, which is quite interesting. Here’s the explanation:
“This is February 15, John Frum Day. On this day, cult followers from all over the island of Tanna in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu come to the village of Lamakara at Sulfa Bay to march, raise their flags and celebrate their esoteric way of life. This is also the day that the patron saints of altered states known as John Frum reveal to the world the first glimpse into their chronicle of auditory disturbances.
“…John Frum borrows its name from a relatively isolated group of natives in the South Pacific islands, known as a Cargo Cult, who first used the alias John Frum as a means to reject European ways, escape oppressive missionaries, and return to their old traditions. The narrative changed, during the war in the 1940s, to reflect their encounters with thousands of American soldiers who spectacularly descended on that region by sea and air with crates of wartime materials dropped from the sky, known as ‘Cargo.’ These events drastically changed the beliefs and lifestyle of the islanders as they took the soldiers and their offerings to be god-like, as they descended from the heavens.
“Alt-religious narratives induced by these encounters were incongruent with islanders’ long-held beliefs, yet the natives could not deny the call of the cargo. Attempting to reconcile their existing beliefs with the new understanding of the outside world led to some strange interpretations which evolved into a bizarre narrative about a dark-skinned soldier-deity who resides inside a nearby volcano, and who many believe will one day return, showering them in riches and technology.”
The press release I saw also provided a link to an in-depth account of John Frum Day in The Smithsonian Magazine — HERE.
Interesting, no? Also interesting is the band’s line-up. Check this out:
Matt Hollenberg (John Zorn, Cleric)/guitar
Eli Litwin (Intensus/Deveykus/Knife The Glitter)/drums
Derek Rydquist (Ex-The Faceless)/vocals
Liam Wilson (The Dillinger Escape Plan, Starkweather)/bass
And finally, I was intrigued by this description of their debut album, A Stirring in the Noos, which will be released by Relapse Records in May: “Nearly 6 years in the making, John Frum’s unorthodox debut maneuvers through 40 minutes of darkly psychedelic and meticulously crafted death metal, the backdrop of a bad trip.”
And with that I’ll leave you with this intriguing teaser of music from the album:
And now I’ll turn to the songs I collected in response to Grant Skelton’s request for ideas, beginning with the song that popped into my head immediately (and is one of my favorite metal tracks of the last five years). If you’ve got more suggestions for “psychedelic death metal”, please leave them in the Comments.
ARKHAMIN KIRJASTO (Finland)
Album: Torches Ablaze
Album: Dark Phoenix Rising
DRUID LORD (Florida)
Album: Druid Lord split with Wooden Stake
Album: Wound Empire
Album: Children of the Night
Gigan is psychedelic death metal. All of their records have at least a few songs with massively trippy parts!
Randy Piro who used to play in Gigan (and in Hate Eternal at one point!)….also has his own psychedelic death metal band if you recall. They are called Orbweaver. https://orbweaver-official.bandcamp.com/album/strange-transmissions-from-the-neuralnomicon
Good calls on both!
Stargazer and Morbus Chron are pretty psychedelic and deathy
Morbus Chron is so good. I wish there were more just like that.
There are a couple of Morbus Chron influenced bands that have popped up recently actually. Off the top of my head: Temisto, Speglas, Cadaveric Fumes, and Khanus, all from last year I believe. Not all 100%, but similar enough territories I’d say.
OT, I feel like both Howls of Ebb and Diskord (norway) both qualify. Diskord obviously have that backbone of Atheist and psychedelic prog rock, while Howls are just.. out there. Maybe Kthoniiks Cerviiks too? More a black/death mix, but overall they sound like a nightmarish, bad trip Voivod.
Listening to Khanus now, since you mentioned them along with Temisto and Cadaveric Fumes, and am very much liking what I’m hearing. Perhaps more occult than psychedelic, but genuinely weird.
Love all these bands. Great choices.
Thanks for the informative response!
I absolutely love Cadaveric Fumes. One of my faves. The last EP is a good submission into this genre, for certain.
I’ll have to check the rest like Khanus and Speglas. Feel like I heard of the former.
I do love Kthnoniik and Howls and I can see why they fit to some degree, but Im thinking more of that classic sounding, analog vibe that Morbus and Cadaveric give off.
Feel like ‘Emptiness – Nothing but the Whole’ deserves a mention, more along the lines of just just absurd and innovative rather than the classic analog vibe mentioned, but still brilliant – As are all the bands above.
How about Australia’s contributions to psychedelic death, both headed by Adam Agius: Alchemist and The Levitation Hex?
Yes! Fuck. Should have remembered to say Alchemist. That stuff truly is psychedelic death metal! The Levitation Hex is sick too.
Kinda sorta? https://altarofbetelgeuze.bandcamp.com/album/among-the-ruins-stoner-death-metal
John Frum sounds awesome.
The only band that comes to mind off the top of my head is Intronaut; they have their softer tracks, but do have their heavier moments. E.g. “Elegy” for a taste: https://youtu.be/S1LmYsCzAgw
besides the ones already mentioned, I would like to add Convocation. It is not out yet, but the the demo teaser sounds great already
and I must add that the band is a collaboration of Desolate Shrine and Dark Buddha Rising, and that must be enough to make you interested.
In addition, Execration with their last album sound like a a combination of Tribulation and gorguts, so that’s also a thing.
also Venture by Stench sounds slightly similar to tribulation :
we also got Plasmodium – Entheognosis recently, which is a bit genre defying, but you can maybe loosely call it psychedelic black/ death metal?
I’m surprised no one mentioned Skeleton of God – Primordial DominionL the first example of psychedelic death/ grind that I can think of:
Howls of Ebb and Orbweaver are both amazing.
Best psychedelic Death Metal band: Skeleton of God