From the beginning instant chaos is thrust onto my ears. Ferocious explosions of distortion emanate outward into the track like galloping forces of thunder. This is not just about death and mayhem, but these guys bring the pain, and they are not fucking around. Sheer madness reigns over the vocals, he has passion, power, and command, that radiates like a nuclear blast.
I had to be very careful, I know with music like this there is a chance of getting lost within it especially if your pissed about something. It just digs down deep into your soul, exposing you to a raw and rancid humanity of the darkest most macabre flavors possible. Whether from it’s over reaching shreds of menacing terror, or the dynamic yet soulful grooves provided by these splendid drums. What I have before me is a bombastic, yet crazy good time that goes off the rails, but knows exactly where the hell it’s going, and how the hell to get there in all good time. They are consistent and mighty in their approach, second to none.
It’s really something special the way they manage to squeeze these scorching leads in between their signature, thick guitar riffs. Some of the slower parts that grind nearly to a hault will have you screaming to the sky with your devil’s horns raised proudly in an acceptable fashion. A constant, heavy barrage that never lets up. It’s honestly the heaviest, most extreme metal I have ever heard, but at the same time there are all of these elements to make it unique, from the melodies, to the expansive drums, and dammit Paul Gorefiend’s vocals, that seem to be ready to bake kittens in their sleep without regret. There is a supremely profound evil resonating on this album and I approve of it without a doubt. The themes of their tracks alone, are a wonderous treat to behold. This music is a true escape from an already shitty world that surrounds us.
When I listen to this band, I think powerful, gritty, something that can not be stopped. The album deviates back and forth between bone crushing and soul smothering, creating an essence of slithering combustion that takes everything from you leaving nothing behind. There’s a maniacial excite that’s rude and in your face every second of this record. Extreme and past the limit of what any human can actually fucking understand, as a musician, I must say this band put forth an impossible yet impressive record. They pushed the envelope in every direction thinkable to bring something to the table that is sure to stand the test of time, and make many ear drums bleed in a process of both pleasure and pain. Great album throughout however, my favorite track is 11, entitled They Can Smell Our Blood. It spoke some nasty shit to me that no other person should ever know. It just made me want to laugh like a mad man, with utter metal joy.
In Europe and America we often take for granted certain liberties we have. Artistic and political freedom are unappreciated amenities in the free world. Metal bands in Europe and America have the creative license to be as openly satanic, racist, revolting, and offensive as they please, and still they whine about Christians and posers like a bunch of fucking pussy bitches. They seem to have overlooked that artistic freedom isn’t a luxury in some parts of the world. In fact, in some parts of the world, just being a longhaired, metal head freak can get you executed. And you took offense when that old lady crossed the street when she saw you coming.
But despite the hostile governmental and religious oppression, metal bands are springing out of the Muslim world in insanely large numbers. Now, I’m not talking about countries like Indonesia, Turkey, or Bangladesh; all countries that are relatively progressive and not subject to extreme religious persecution. Metal is actually thriving in those countries, and a lot of it is pretty rad. But for the purposes of this article, I’m more interested the metal being churned out of countries in which Sharia Law has been enacted. The countries that police thoughts, and fear women’s bodies. The countries where having the wrong opinion can get you stoned. The countries where the people seem to be endlessly at war with one another over the bullshit written in some archaic text. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. Metal, with its brashness, depravity, intentional offensiveness, and “sinful” nature is most certainly banned in countries.
Thankfully, for metal heads the world over, these antiquated laws didn’t stop some brave souls from clandestinely bellowing the sounds of hellfire from their garages and basements. While American and European metal band’s biggest concerns are whether or not there will be a decent turn out at their shows, bands in The Middle East worry about their shows being shut down and being convicted as infidels. The spirit of metal is ablaze within them though and these brave warriors play the music they love despite the danger that awaits them. This article hopes to pay homage to those bands.
Janaza was one of the first extreme metal bands said to have come out of the of the oppressed Middle East. Fronted by a female, Janaza aggravated all Islamic taboos, with their brand of satanic black metal. The band kept their identities and location private for fear of persecution. Janaza was said to be a part of the Arabic Anti-Islamic Legion and ardently dissented against Sharia Law and the dogma within the Quran, even going so far as to title their album Burning Quran Ceremony.
The band was said to have split because two of the members were fearful for their safety and later, the woman who fronted Janaza went on to form Seeds of Iblis. Seeds of Iblis was musically similar to Janaza, with its raw, blackened intensity. Unfortunately, while the music is good as well as the band’s ideals, the whole thing was exposed as a fraud. All the pictures of the band have proven to be fakes and even the band’s claimed Iraqi origins have come into question. But this publicity stunt did, however bring attention to the actual metal coming out of the Middle East.
Many bands coming out of the Middle East are less blatantly Anti-Islamic, instead opting to focus on Middle Eastern religions and myths. Cyaxares, for example, is a one man death/folk project out of Iraq. The band’s sound is more interesting and intelligent than the simple, raw sound of Janaza. Mir Shamal Hama-faraj, the mastermind behind Whores of Babylon, creates an interesting atmosphere by combining Arabian folk music, with elements of tech death, and melodic death metal.
Syrian black metal band, Theoria has a more traditional atmospheric black sound with elements of depressive metal woven throughout. The band’s sole release, 2013’s Mantra has notably satanic cover art, which is risky for a band coming out of oppressed Syria. The lyrical themes on Mantra, however, aren’t so openly satanic but instead more intelligent and esoteric. I actually really enjoy this band’s music. Ahmed and Besher started the project in 2012 and is said to be still active despite not having released anything since 2013. The band is signed to French label, Antiq Records.
Similarly, Aras is one man Iranian black metal band with depressive elements. Lord Aras, the visionary behind Aras keeps busy, and has released six full length albums since 2004 along with a slew of EPs and demos. The majority of Aras’ music is instrumental, although Lord Aras does occasionally inject raspy, blackened wails into the background of the music. This is good stuff for the more patient black metal listener. Lovers of Wedard or Trist might find themselves enjoying Aras. The band’s more recent material, 2014’s Pest, is entirely instrumental, but I’d highly recommend Aras’ demo entitled Arase Khoonin. Once again, the band plays it fairly safe lyrically, mostly focusing on Iranian folklore.
The band that’s perhaps taking the biggest artistic risks however, is Saudi Arabian black/folk metal band, Al Namrood. The band has outright anti-religious lyrical themes and has even spoken out against the Quran and the Islamic State in interviews. Al Namrood’s music videos cinematically display the exploitative nature of the Islamic State and the overtly decadent nature of the Eastern monarchs. The band has gone on to explain that religion is not really a concern of their’s. Still, Al Namrood is taking a great risk in creating their interesting blend of black metal and Arabian folk.
This article is truly a testament to power of metal. Metal has transcended either end of the Earth and people are risking their lives simply to create it. It is truly a remarkable thing. Let’s hope that there’s Norway like revolution in the Middle East and metal comes out reigning supreme. Until then though, we can enjoy the evil sounds of the east billowing from our speakers. All hail Middle Eastern metal!
For the past three days since the ever growing “holiday” of Record Store Day happened, my news feed on various social media outlets has been flooded by an ever present article from Axl (pictured above in his metal glory). The general gist of the story is that NAILS’ Todd Jones doesn’t like Record Store Day; and in all honest neither should you. I’m going to breakdown exactly what’s wrong with the article and Record Store day in general.
The gist of the problem is one many bands face gearing up in the face of the ever devouring machine known as “The Big Studios”. In the months leading up to Record Store Day at least for the last few years major labels have been flooding pressing plants with limited edition (and by that I mean only a million copies minted!) albums you probably already own or can buy cheaper at the shop already. This leaves independent or self-distributed artists out in the cold and money essentially locked in escrow forever.
Let me put it this way, I own a small label and we do occasionally press vinyl, normally in 100-200 batch run. Now even at 100 LPs that’s still costing me over 3k to press, do you think a major pressing plant is going to rush order my job over a copy of Atreyu’s greatest hits? Of course not. What’s 100 vs 1 million. So now I get to wait months and months while whatever drivel Jack White is pushing out in tye dye vinyl gets rushed straight through in time for the magic “Record Store Day”
Record Store Day by itself isn’t a bad concept. In fact, it was a great one. A day dedicated to going to your local brick house record store buying some LPs and getting something cool. The problem is that LPs now outsell CDs, and the major studios are all but eager to take advantage of the collector scum market to get some great big bucks out of the process. After all, what’s going to get new customers to a store quicker than a reissue picture of the Sex Pistols?
What’s even worse is the fact that not only can I go into just about any brick store I could find that album for under $3.50, but now it’s all fair, we have the picture disc! And it’s only $22.99! Take a look through the exclusives, they’re all probably albums you already own or albums you find in the vinyl section of the Goodwill. What’s even worse is that Axl, again as pictured above in all his metal glory with Samurai Cop at Lolicon or whatever paedophile convention that happens to be taken at doesn’t understand, of all the “exclusives” the only really metal thing listed in an Anthrax 7″, but knowing Axl he’s probably counting the Atreyu and Five Finger Death Punch albums as well.
But I’m not here to get off on a tangent or post memes like other blogs, I’m here simply to say this; NAILS has an album ready to go but can’t be pressed because everyone is pressing the greatest hits of the Clash or assembling a Nirvana Boxset of material you’ve already heard (only this time… it was recorded on a tape deck!) There’s nothing unique or special, there’s nothing that brings new people in. It’s shit for collectors and people thinking picture discs and limited super special glow in the dark editions are worth something, or well, hipsters. I’d also like to take the time time to point out that NAILS is traditionally a powerviolence/grind band so posting some idiotic black metal photo is ridiculous.
You know, a lot of people who know me know I love two things, metal and comics. But let’s take a page from “the industry that does it right”, of course I mean comics. Sure, it’s crass, it’s capitalistic, and it serves only to get more readers for a month or so, but damn it at least comic book day does it right. None of this omnibus $200 special limited edition bullshit. Hell, you get free 0 issues and #1, on any given comic book day you can walk out with not only a shit load of free books from indies and the big two, but a lot of discounted back issues. That’s an industry that managed to capitalize it’s audience, draw in new people, and do it in a way that doesn’t push any books aside with only one distro and 3 printers in the entire US.
I admit, I’m guilty of being collector scum, I needed the first copy of Faith No More’s Sol Invictus on cassette and vinyl, and I needed the original issues of James Robinson’s Starman run; but at least on Comic Book Day I don’t see people with shitty blogs making fun of artists (when they themselves probably couldn’t write a song much less an album) for legitimate complaints about an industry that’s built entirely around the idea that idiots buy idiot things. To put it another way, will someone walk in and say, “What’s this Flaming Lips jive? Might want to pony up a few hundred for a box set of glow in the dark vinyls to find out.” Is saying,”look we have all your old shit, only it’s on slightly higher grade vinyl and also, we’re going to make sure you don’t get new shit you have not heard just so you can re-buy Straight Out of Compton again”, a way to get people in vinyl or even into a music store? Of course not.
Everyone hates buying the same shit twice, even if it’s been remixed in dolby digital 5.1 surround. And in the end, if the goal is to bring new people into stores, or even bring people into stores in general give them something new, not something they can find there already. Give them incentive beyond “it’s a different color now”. And if your goal is to be a writer than don’t bitch about a band for having a legitimate grievance with a broken system; and definitely don’t poke fun at them. Until then true believers, I’ll simply say this; take a note from the industry that manages to get a new audience with new material even if it means pressing on cereal box presses (Yeah, Charlton Comics did that. Give the buyer something new, not the same old shit. I’ll enjoy DC Rebirth #0, Record Store Day can enjoy paying 30 bucks for the same Ragina Specktor album you already bought 5 years ago, or a copy of “The Shaggs” 7″ which, let’s be honest you only really want because at one point Frank Zappa said they were brilliant and it’ll impress your friends! End rant! Here’s NAILS!
It seems to be a thing this year for popular, extreme metal editorials to put on tours. Maybe it’s always been a thing but I’m only just noticing it. First MetalSucks now Decibel. The Decibel Tour offered a great variety of genres, a little something for almost everyone, but had a nocitably black metal bias. Death metal wasn’t represented at all, but the lineup was diverse enough to attract all sorts of metal heads, from the laissez-faire fans to the die hards. The turn out was pretty unbelievable.
The show was scheduled at the infamous Agora Theatre. Ever since Peabody’s closed a few years back The Agora has been the go to place for extreme metal in Cleveland. The club has that perfect balance between a kind of DIY, dark bar ambience and bathroom cleanliness to be versatile enough for all types of people. The reasonable ticket and beer prices and cool staff create the perfect atmosphere for a good time. Needless to say, I was happy about the choice of venue for this event.
I arrived a few minutes late and only caught the last half of Mythrias’ (the local opener) set. Mythrias has been tearing up the Cleveland/Akron scene with their particular brand of DIY melodeath since the release of their debut, Absolving the Treacherous, last year. The band is always professional onstage and definitely worth giving a listen. I couldn’t be more excited for my buddies in this band for getting the opportunity to open for such a huge event. They definitely deserve it.
Next up was Tribulation. This band gets a lot of hype and I couldn’t for the life of me tell you why. Sure, they take showmanship seriously, but I really wish they’d take their music more seriously. You can’t just dress up like a bunch of girls and make rock star poses and call yourself a band. You actually have to write good songs. Tribulation is ultimately more gimmick than anything else. Although I get what they are aiming for in their sound, they don’t have enough oomph to pull off that whole metalized Slade/New York Dolls atmosphere. They best thing about their set was the light show and their outfits. The music itself was lacking. A total snooze fest.
Next up was Skeletonwitch. A horde of flannel shirts surged to the stage. Skeletonwitch has seen great success over the years amongst metal’s fence sitter fans, making them accessible to a larger audience. I thought it was mere luck until I witnessed their set. Professionalism is an understatement for the band. The band played crowd pleasers like and Beneath Dead Leaves and I am of Death. Their sound was impeccable, almost identical to the quality of the album and their energy was high. Did it make me a fan? No but that’s just because there are other thrash bands that are more exciting than Skeletonwitch. But at least now I get it.
High on Fire was up next. They’re a band that many, more death metal oriented fans can’t really get into, but I have to say that Matt Pike is looking more like a middle-aged Lemmy every day and it’s fucking awesome. Riffage reigned supreme throughout the set and it’s really Matt Pike’s fault that my neck hurts. They played mostly their higher energy songs and the set was lively and sounded great. Though the majority of the bands took advantage of a high quality light show, High on Fire’s set was mostly dark which made for a really gritty atmosphere. It was cool. Snakes of the Divine and Luminiferous were particularly cool and memorable parts of the set but all in all Matt Pike put on a killer show as usual.
At last though, the moment everyone had been waiting for had arrived. Abbath was set to play. A true rock star, Abbath put on a killer show. It was like KISS if they were a black metal band. I couldn’t help but feel star struck. Abbath gave the fans what they wanted, playing five Immortal covers, including All Shall Fall, In My Kingdom Cold, and my favorite, Solarfall. It’s clear the man doesn’t take himself too seriously. He gave fans plenty of the crab walk and for that we were all grateful.
His showmanship was truly professional and the light show was arena worthy. Also, there was a pretty smashing pit during his set, which doesn’t always happen at black metal shows. I couldn’t help but get into it. Overall, the entire show was incredible and it’s something I’ll remember for years to come. That means something coming from a person who ends up at a show about once every week. If the Decibel Tour is coming to your hometown anytime soon, be sure to catch it. It’s well worth the money.
It’s official! The moment we’ve been waiting for is here! The lineup for Cleveland’s own festival, Hells Headbash is confirmed and it kicks fucking ass! Hells Headbangers is giving a little something to fans of all genres this year. Everything from old school death metal, to raw black metal, to thrash, and even doom metal is featured on the bill. One thing all the bands have in common though, they’re all true as fuck and will melt your goddamn face off! These are the bands on the bill. Don’t miss this!
Grand Belial’s Key
Revenge – band
Void Meditation Cult
Hobbs’ Angel of Death
POWER FROM HELL
Terror – CLE
Shed The Skin
The show starts at 2pm sharp on Friday September 2 at the Agora Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio and goes on through Sunday September 4. Terror will be opening on Friday, so get there on time. Set times for the rest of the bands are soon to be announced. Tickets are on sale now! Buy them at this site https://hellsheadbash.yapsody.com/event/index/28938/hells-headbash-part-3. Hails!
The latest album causing a rift within the underground elite is French sextet Vindland’s debut, Hanter Savet. This isn’t happening by accident either. Vindland’s unique blend of melodic black metal and triumphant Viking metal is a refreshing diversion from the typical, trve kvlt sound we normally find coming out of France. The sound of Hanter Savet is reminiscent of Windir but the guitar riffs have the catchiness and classic sound of Sargeist or Taake.
Vindland manages to create a triumphant and heroic sound without relying on the use of folk instruments the way so many bands do today. The simplicity of their formula is what makes this release so charming. Being a sextet enables the band to create a really full, almost orchestral kind of sound. The wall of dissonance Vindland is able to create is pretty remarkable.
The album opens predictably, with a formulaic black metal riff. A lot of the album sounds like tailor-made, melodic black metal, but Vindland differentiates themselves by cleaning up the guitar parts and injecting affecting, instrumental passages throughout the album that send listeners on an emotional joyride deviating from victorious to tortured.
The production is clean but maintains an underlying grittiness that is often lost among the more melodic bands. The album’s true strength is in its atmosphere. The Tolkien lyrical themes are a bit played out, but at least no one can accuse the band of being pretentious. This is pure, unadulterated viking/black metal; unafraid to be fucking nerdy or glorious.
Skeud Ar Gwez is a particularly interesting addition to this album. Its slow and haunting, DSBM intro progresses into a full on dissonance that perfectly coalesces with an almost power metal essence, only to end with the same melancholy that opened the track. The track practically tells a story. In true epic fashion, the album ends with a bonus track, which I find rather quaint. Although Vindland merely added to a saturated zeitgeist of melodic black metal, they did it with an expertise that earns them an instantaneous spot amongst the best in the genre. Hanter Savet is a must listen for 2016.
Jim Roe has certainly been a busy man as of late. From releasing the Mausoleum/ Haemophagus split last year, to joining iconic, thrash band Terror this year, the former Incantation drummer hasn’t had much time to breath. That didn’t stop this workaholic from cowering away in his basement to work on a solo a project, however. And for that, metal heads across the globe are grateful.
Jim Roe’s solo project, The Primitive, formed back in June of 2015. The idea was to create “pounding death metal”. That he did! Founded in Hell is as aggressive and bludgeoning as ever, and employs the best elements of classic death metal into its sound. This album is great for fans of Deicide (specifically when they were still called Amon), Immolation, and early Morbid Angel. Its stripped down feel is refreshing in an era when technical death metal seems to reign supreme. This is crushing death metal at its best and, dare I say it, most primitive. Purchase the album at HearNow.com or you’re a lame that doesn’t like good music. For now though, prepare to get your skull crushed by the sounds of The Primitive!