Don’t worry, I’m not going to make a habit of jamming four songs together in these installments of the list (tomorrow, there will only be two more). But I was convinced that putting these four tracks together was exactly the right thing to do. Apart from being infectious (duh), they’re all lethal forms of death metal savagery, with spectacular soloing, excitingly malignant vocals, head-cracking rhythms, and killer riffs discharged through a certain kind of chainsawing guitar tone that many of us lap up with glee.
Not coincidentally, I wrote about all of them when they first appeared, and even premiered three of them, so this gives me plenty of chances to quote myself, which is always a real pleasure.
Nick Keller created the album art for the new second full-length by the Austin-based death metal band Morgengrau — and he did his usual spectacular job. Only part of his creation is shown above. More is visible here:
The 2018 album adorned by that immediately memorable artwork was Blood Oracle, released last June by Unspeakable Axe Records. The first track I heard, “Wolves of Thirteen“, really stuck with me. The whole album is great, but that track became a regular fix.
It’s thoroughly hellish, and a hell of an adrenaline trigger too, with highly infectious riffs that pound, batter, and swarm; shrieking whammy-guitar soloing; a potent rhythm section at work; and a vibrantly vicious vocal attack by frontwoman/guitarist E Morgengrau. It lights up my head like a Roman candle every time I hear it.
After 2017 came and went without a release by this superb Greek death metal band, they reappeared last year with a new EP named Unleash the Storm, and man did it ever.
The EP included two brand new songs (“Operation Ranch Hand” and “Unleash The Storm”) and three cover songs from Bathory (“The Rite of Darkness”), Venom (“Warhead”), and Manilla Road (“Open the Gates”), and we got to premiere one of those new original songs, which is the one I’ve picked for this list.
“Operation Ranch Hand” is not a country-western song. “Operation Ranch Hand” was itself the name of a U.S. military operation in Vietnam lasting approximately nine years in which the U.S. Air Force sprayed an estimated 20 million U.S. gallons of defoliants and herbicides over rural areas of South Vietnam, the majority of those gallons contaminated with chemicals that were known human carcinogens.
As for the music itself, it starts like the sound of a lumbering behemoth and then becomes a rampaging juggernaut of old school destruction. Propelled by razor-sharp, skull-hammering drumwork with interesting variations (including bursts of rapid, reverberating, somersaulting rumbles), the song includes both drilling riffs that writhe and wriggle in a feeding frenzy (like a school of piranha) and others that deliver highly headbangable jabs. Kostas Analytis delivers the lyrics in a high, raw, howling voice that recalls the great Martin van Drunen, and the song also includes a brilliant, scalding solo that shrieks, swoops, dives, and wails like a ghost.
This German old-school death metal band, who have taken their prime influences from the likes of Gorefest, Entombed, Bolt Thrower, Asphyx, and Bloodbath, discharged a very impressive slab of audio slaughtering in last year’s Morbid Ways To Die, which was released by Redefining Darkness Records. We premiered the title track through a lyric video, and that’s what you’ll find below. Here’s what I wrote by way of introduction. Pay special attention to the last paragraph:
“There’s so damned much to like about this song. We can start with the vocals, which are monstrously ravenous, belched forth from a throat that sounds clotted with blood and gristle, and yet do a fine job enunciating the gruesome, well-crafted lyrics (and you gotta love how he pitches his voice for added emphasis in certain lyrics so that it sounds like a panther in the throes of ecstasy).
“In addition, the deep, grinding riffs have a massive, mauling tone, and are even more titanic when the band shift into bursts of rhythmic jackhammering. On top of that, the skull-plundering drum-and-bass work is terrifically compulsive, as in, they compel head movement.
“But at least as vital, this obliterating tank attack is an actual song, with structure and dynamic movement — and actual melodies in the chorus that send the music soaring to heights of morbid glory. And to add a further electric charge to the song, there’s a hell of a fine guitar solo in it as well.
“Did I mention that it’s really infectious, too? It’s really infectious. We have awards at the end of the year for such things around here, and this is already on the list.”
This has been a globe-hopping installment of the list, and we’ll end it by landing in Peru, which is home to Fervent Hate. Satanath Records, who released the album (Tales Of Hate, Lust And Chaos) alleged that it would please fans of Entombed, Illdisposed, Grave, Dismember, At The Gates, and Gorefest, and yes it will.
The song we premiered from this new album was “Evil Twins“, and by enthusiastically putting it on this list, I happily have a chance again to use my own words by way of introduction:
“The success of this particular song can be measured in different ways. It is massively and menacingly powerful; it succeeds in creating an atmosphere that’s brooding, sinister, and even infernally majestic; and at its core there are alluring melodies that prove to have lasting value.
“The production of the sound generates titanic force, but also blade-sharp clarity when it counts. Fans of the old Swedish death metal will salivate over the enormous, toxic vibrations of the guitar tone, the inherently morbid bass sound, and the explosive force of the drumwork — and the huge, roaring voice vividly channels flame and fury.
“At first, and again later, the pace of the music is a lurching stomp, but the pace also changes as the drummer begins to batter and bludgeon, and the riffing begins to whir and seethe. As gruesome and dismal as the music is, there’s a riff in the song that sounds like a devilish fanfare, and the track also rises to a hell of an incendiary crescendo at the end, thanks to an extended guitar solo that swirls, boils, and soars”.