(DGR has stepped into the round-up void left by our editor this past week and has produced a three-part collection of recent songs and videos. Parts 2 and 3 will be presented on Sunday and Monday.)
The first couple weeks of the new year often feel like a machine slowly lurching back to life as people wake up from their respective holiday binges and try their damndest to shake the rust off, kick the tires, and get things back to into gear.
Both the news and the writing fronts often have that same year-opening feeling of machines lurching back into life after a couple weeks of dormancy — in the case of NCS it’s because we buried ourselves in the yearly Listmania event in which numerous lists of albums toppled over each another like the zombie anthills from the World War Z (in name only) film.
Three weeks into January, and judging by the handful of massive Seen and Heard and Overflowing Streams posts we’ve had to put up, you could say that we’ve solved the getting things into gear issue as our beloved musical genre has already offloaded numerous news bits upon us. I, your ever-faithful servant, have been doing my best to go along with my ragged fish net and catch everything that might’ve slipped by us — which in the case of this post dates back to last week and then some.
We’ll be covering a variety of ground here, but wow, even thinking that all that was happening here was a polite service to catch us up to stuff that looked interesting, this post still managed to explode at the seams. So I invite all of you to strap in and glance over some stuff that may have shot by us all in the recent days.
Dagon – Back To The Sea
The date of January 26th, 2018 is closing in fast, when the high tides of the ocean will overtake the land and drown us all in the glory that is Lansing, Michigan’s nautically obsessed melodeath metallers Dagon, returning from a seven-year hiatus after their 2011 EP Vindication and with a new disc entitled Back To The Sea.
A little over a week ago, Dagon finally gave us a taste of the succesfully crowdfunded album in the form of its title track, “Back To The Sea”, and man, Dagon still have it after all this time. A quick and galloping affair, it’s filled with melodic guitar leads, hammering drum assaults and a multi-pronged vocal attack that features cat-like shrieks alongside some mid-range gutteral barks. One quick spin quickly becomes fifty or sixty more and the hype meter just keeps increasing from there.
“Back To The Sea” is fast and light on its feet, treading the fine line between gigantic swaths of headbang-worthy gallop and catchy guitar segments meant to make you sway back and forth. It has been a long hiatus for this massively underrated band, and hopefully Back To The Sea finally sees the group gaining some traction amongst folks out there. This won’t be the first time I use this phrase, even in this post as a matter of fact, but goddamn is it good to have these guys back.
Dyscarnate – Nothing Seems Right
The problem with trying to choose which song from Dyscarnate’s excellent 2017 album With All Their Might to make a music video for is that, barring the already existing Iron Strengthens Iron, depending on which day of the week it is you might get a completely different answer to that question.
Do you go for the massive “Traitors In The Palace” and in the process upgrade its lyric video? Do you go for the near-literal backbreaking groove heaviness of “Backbreaker”? Do you embrace the -core element of their sound and that massive chugging breakdown that closes out the already vicious and biting “All The Devils Are Here”? Basically, With All Their Might is one of those releases where every song stands massively in its own right and you can’t choose wrong for which one to push.
It is still interesting, however, that the group chose to give the animated treatment to the longest song on the album — seven and a half minute closer “Nothing Seems Right”. Worked on by Dark Tranquillity’s Niklas Sundin and premiered over at Decibel’s site, “Nothing Seems Right” is an animated work befitting the slow, gigantic groove of the song. Drawn with multiple, psychadelic visuals that constantly interrupt the video protagonist’s philosophical journey through the cosmos, the whole affair seems like an interesting take on “Nothing Seems Right”, a far more colorful take than one might expect from an album that is basically a loud and brash forty-minute beatdown that seems to have a perfect lock on making people headbang. If you enjoy that, you absolutely need to check out the rest of With All Their Might; it really is a fantastic album.
Ulcerate – Abrogation (Live)
The funny thing about posting this live video of monolithic death metallers Ulcerate and the song “Abrogation” from their disc Shrines Of Paralysis is that it may be one of the few times when you can clearly do two things with the band — see what they look like and hear the song.
Ulcerate often come across on record as sounding like they’ve recorded in a chasm, adding to the overall apocalyptic devastation aesthetic of which they’ve long since proven their mastery, and while Shrines Of Paralysis actually did lighten that up a bit, the album was still suffocatingly intense. Most of the group’s photos follow that aesthetic as well, color drained out and often shrouding the band in darkness. And so actually seeing the New Zealand three-piece destroy their way through the opening song of their latest album proves to be a novel experience.
“Abogration”, like much of Shrines Of Paralysis, is an auditory assault that takes no time to get moving. Many Ulcerate tracks run very long, so “Abrogation” coming in at a compact near-six minutes just makes things all the more intense. That comes across live, as the band throw themselves forward with every movement of the song, the microphone becoming the perfect bully pulpit to yell past, and not actually speak into, projecting fury and venom over the crowd in front of them.
The video also does an excellent job highlighting the frightening blast skills of drummer Jamie Saint Merat, whose inhuman ability to seem like he is not moving while still hitting every drumhead at once is captured multiple times in the video.
Shrines Of Paralysis was a monster of a late 2016 (!) release and did very well at this here site, so it’s always good to take an oppurtunity to summon forth the spectre of Ulcerate and unleash it upon readers again.
Alterbeast – The Maggots Ascension
February 23rd will see Sacramento’s hyperspeed tech-death metallers Alterbeast returning to the fray once again with their new album Feast, and scant days ago Metal Injection premiered another new song from the group’s upcoming disc.
The song, entitled “The Maggots Ascension”, serves as a sequel to the song “Throne Of Maggots” from the group’s previous album Immortal. Like much of Alterbeast’s music, it is lightning fast and packs a ton of music into its slightly over three-and-a-half-minute runtime, showcasing both recording drummer Alex Bent (with a variety of tech-death group credits to his name, including Arkaik and Brain Drill, and currently drumming for Trivium) in full blast-mode and vocalist Michael Alvarez trying to jam more words into each lyric than the song could have time for, leading to a rapid-fire delivery interspersed with group shouts just to make “Maggots Ascension” exceedingly manic.
Judging by “Maggots Ascension” and the previously released Apex Night Eclipse, Feast is proving to be a different beast (BOOM!) from Immortal in the sense that Alterbeast are stretching a bit and throwing a variety of things out there. With a new album coming soon and a recently announced tour that sees them covering a healthy chunk of the US alongside Grindmother, Inferi, and Aethere (with fellow Sacramento death metal crew The Kennedy Veil tagging in for select dates), February is going to be quite the busy month for the band.
Of Feather And Bone – Lust For Torment
Its nice to know that if there were any metric of measurement for heaviness in this post, Denver, Colorado’s Of Feather And Bone would have us covered in tipping that scale into the darkest realms of death metal. It’s crazy to think that we’re already talking about March releases, yet March 23rd, 2018 will see the release of Of Feather And Bone’s second disc, the seven-track nightmare Bestial Hyms Of Perversion via Profound Lore Records, a little over two and a half years after the group’s 2015 album Embrace The Wretched Flesh.
Last week the band unleashed an absolutely suffocating crusher of a song in “Lust For Torment”, a track fully enveloped in murk and grime, ambulatory yet melting as it shambles its way towards the listener, disgustingly blast-heavy and so purposefully low that the song probably registers on some Richter scales as a movement of land mass.
Of Feather And Bone go for the complete sewage-dwelling death metal experience on “Lust For Torment” as soon as the opening assault rips past the listener and the music settles into a slow, leviathan-esque grove for a bit, before returning to the relentless blast-furnace because things were just going too easy for too long. “Lust For Torment” is a monstrous beast of a track, perfect for someone who might be looking for something to “ugly” up the day just a little bit.