Sep 152022

(This is Todd Manning‘s review of the fourth LP by San Francisco-based death/crust metal act Acephalix, which is set for release by 20 Buck Spin on September 30th.)

Five years is too long to wait for a new Acephalix record but that’s how long it’s been. And what a five years it’s been. Their new record, Theothanatology due out on September 30th via 20 Buck Spin, explores the idea of the death of god, an understandable train of thought where the daily news is nothing more than an autopsy of our dying civilization. The album oozes with all the pent-up anger, frustration, and anxiety of our modern world and channels it into the group’s trademark brand of atavistic, mongrel death metal. Continue reading »

Jul 202022


Everyone reading this, if they live long enough and care about living even longer, will one day do what I’m doing early today — undergoing a medical procedure that involves a doctor shining light in the snaky tunnel where the light don’t shine, and the snip, snip, snip of tiny scissors. It won’t be so bad — I’ll be in The Land of Nod when that happens. It’s yesterday that was bad, an ugly process intended to turn my intestines into a barren wasteland. But at least I had a fitting soundtrack to the ordeal:

Actually, truth is I was in the midst of yesterday’s ordeal when I wrote most of this. But don’t worry, that didn’t affect my musical judgment, which is as brilliant or as damaged as ever, depending on your perspective. I was just forced to take running breaks to the bathroom in between blocks of tracks I was interested in exploring for this roundup. The ones I picked, unlike my current mood, are definitely NOT shitty. Continue reading »

Jan 132018


No sooner than I started this series and quasi-promised that there would be a new installment every day than I missed the second fucking day. Let it serve as a reminder that this NCS gig isn’t a job for any of us here, just a passion that occasionally gets de-railed by other obligations and distractions.

Anyway, welcome to the second installment of our list of Most Infectious Songs from 2017, the length of which is now unknown, but which I hope will be fun for you to experience, even if neither I nor you quite knows where it’s going.


Portrait of A Headless Man” was the first song I heard from the 2017 album from SepticFlesh. Since I’ve made a point of not showing my own head in social media photos, the title had a certain immediate appeal. But the appeal of the song went well beyond its title. Continue reading »

Sep 072017


I latched on to the music of Acephalix back in 2010 after discovering their Interminable Night demo and have been greedily following their output ever since, though I began fretting over the years of silence that followed 2012’s masterful Deathless Master. But then they reappeared on stage in the summer of 2015, and I eagerly made the trip to Portland the following February to see them perform at Famine Fest.

I had some inkling of what I was in for before Acephalix played, but I’m not sure anything could have prepared me for the reality of it. It was like being caught up in the midst of a tumultuous force of nature. I transformed from a merely drooling fan to a rabid fanatic, with the rabies strengthening to poisonous dominance in my organs after witnessing their explosive stage show twice more since then.

And so I confess I’ve been panting hard over the prospect of their new album, Decreation, which will soon be released by 20 Buck Spin. And while it’s conceivable that I’ve thrown my own objectivity into serious question already, I must say… it’s the best of Acephalix yet… and that puts it very high on the list of the best death metal albums you’ll find this year. Continue reading »

Jul 202017


As forecast in yesterday’s SEEN AND HEARD post, I’ve accumulated enough new things of interest since the end of last week to justify posting a round-up today and tomorrow as well as yesterday. Because of the delays occasioned by goofing off last weekend, some of the items I’ve gathered together aren’t as “hot off the presses” as I’d prefer, but they still may be new discoveries for some of you, especially as I dig a bit deeper into the underground for Friday’s post.


Dyscarnate was the subject of a SYNN REPORT back in 2016 in which my colleague Andy reviewed their discography as it then existed, culminating in 2012’s And So It Came To Pass. But nothing has come to pass from these death metal titans since that stunning record, until word began to spread last spring that the band were in the studio recording a new full-length (and that news landed them on a list of Andy’s most anticipated releases for this year). Now, more details have surfaced about this new Dyscarnate effort. Continue reading »

Feb 202016

Iskra-Famine Fest-2


I drove from Seattle to Portland, Oregon, yesterday with my friend Joseph Schafer (Invisible Oranges) for the purpose of attending the 2016 edition of Famine Fest. The festival began last night and resumes again tonight. I’m going to quickly mention two bands I saw last night that made big impressions, and then toss some new music your way.


The chance to see this band from Victoria, British Columbia, was one of the main draws of Famine Fest for me. I really liked their 2015 album Ruins, and I had missed out on other chances to see them in the past. Continue reading »

Sep 222012

The members of the Bay Area’s Acephalix, whose crushing 2012 album Deathless Master I reviewed here, have their claws in a lot of grisly pies. In addition to unleashing sonic destruction in Acephalix, vocalist Dan Butler, guitarist Kyle House, and bassist Luca Indrio are also members of Vastum, another killer band we featured recently and who are now in the recording/mixing phase of their next album at Earhammer Studios in Oakland.

AND guitarist House, bassist Indrio, and Acephalix drummer Dave Benson are also the three members of a band named Lawless, with Indrio and House also sharing the vocal duties. Earlier this month the trio released their first demo under the Lawless banner. Titled Nite of the Wolf, it includes three songs and is available for download at Bandcamp (HERE) for $3, or on tape for $5.90 (limited to 200 copies) from Blood Divine.

The obvious question is how does Lawless’ music compare to that of Acephalix, given that both bands share the same guitarist, bass player and drummer, and given that both Deathless Master and Nite of the Wolf were recorded by the late Jeff Leppard Davis at SF’s Lennon Studios? Well, if you know anything about Acephalix, you would be shocked if I told you that it turns out these guys decided to form an outlet for their interest in acoustic folk music. So, I’m not telling you that. Continue reading »

Apr 062012

Deathless Master, the titanic new album by San Francisco’s Acephalix, is the best blast of old-school death metal that 2012 has yet delivered, and it’s difficult to conceive of anything else topping it by year end.

The formula for the album’s success is relatively simple to state, but if translating the formula into reality were easy, the album wouldn’t be such a noteworthy addition to the year’s phalanx of new metal:

  • write songs that grab the listener by the back of the neck and slam heads into hard surfaces without any possibility of resistance
  • tune the guitars and the bass so low that they’re communing with the core of the earth
  • max out the distortion to the point where guts churn with cancerous tumors and listeners can smell the suffocating fumes of that giant chainsaw sound so vividly that their nose hairs burn
  • step up the gain and raise the tuning to produce guitar solos that ignite like phosphorous bombs in a black night
  • shift all the sound with a reverb effect so that it echoes like the inside of a tomb
  • configure the drum patterns into a mix of d-beats, blast-beats, and straight rock rhythms that carry you back to the genesis of Swe-death circa 1991 (and throw in some cowbell for good measure)
  • add vocals . . . add vocals like . . .well, fuck, damned few people can sing like Dan . . .

Continue reading »

Jun 072011

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just want to be crushed flat by the metal I listen to, like an ant beneath a boot. But — as the last flow of viscous liquid leaves my mangled body — I do like to have a smile on my face. The new album from San Francisco’s Acephalix, Interminable Night, does this nicely — smashes you flat in a pool of your own goo, but leaves you with a ghoulish grin as the rictus sets in.

Catastrophic death metal really doesn’t need any bells and whistles to achieve its primal effect. Down-tune the guitars and set them spinning and belching out toxic clouds of oily smoke; load up the drums with full belts of high-caliber ammo and pull all the way back on the trigger to spray the landscape with full-auto, d-beat destruction; chain a bear to the ground and then taunt him until he’s in full-throated, pissed-off, roaring mode; then set the whole thing on fire so you get the right level of energy from the performers, and you’re good to go. That’s the winning formula of Acephalix.

But Acephalix doesn’t stop there. They’ve added bells and whistles, too, and that makes them stand out just as much as the brute authenticity of their Dismember-worshipping, old-school attack: brief but well-placed gouts of reverb-effected guitar solos, mortar-blast pounding from the drums that explode amidst the rock rhythms and d-beats, and crawling bits of death-doom to remind you that “hope” is a foreign word in the Acephalix lexicon.  (more after the jump . . .) Continue reading »