Tag Archives: Death Metal

Deicide Goes Back to Their Old School Roots With “Overtures of Blasphemy”

2018 seems to be the year of the comeback for many classic bands, Unanimated returned to the spotlight after a nine year hiatus, Judas Priest released a serious banger entitled “Firepower” and even more obscure older bands, like Trauma sprung from their states of hibernation to produce some seriously killer new albums. Deicide can easily add their latest release, “Overtures of Blasphemy,” to the list of killer comeback albums in 2018.

“Overtures of Blasphemy” is the band’s 12th full length release since their formation almost 30 years ago, and the first album they’ve released in over 5 years, and despite receiving some negative feedback from major media outlets such as Banger TV, I have to say that this album was basically worth the wait.

The CD opens with a catchy, grooving track aptly titled “One With Satan.” Singer Glenn Benton hasn’t softened his militantly anti-Christian stance one bit, despite writing music for almost 3 decades. More interestingly, however, this track is truly ear catching. It immediately drew me in with its slow build up in the beginning followed by a kind of calculated intensity and blistering yet melodic solos.

Much of the album continues on this trajectory. It seems that, over the years, the guys have honed their songwriting abilities and deliver every time. Yet, while previous releases were a bit techy for my tastes, “Overtures of Blasphemy” has an air of returning to the bands roots. The feel of this album is old school through and through – just with better production.

What really stood out for me was the guitar work. This makes sense given the introduction of new guitarist, Mark English, of Monstrosity fame. The solos and riff magic was ultimately what drew me in on tracks such as “Seal the Tomb Below,” “Excommunicated” and “Defying the Sacred.” Mark’s riff mastery and shredding made up for Benton’s somewhat lacking vocal on this effort. Benton is known for his vocal range, high to low, but his tone was pretty monotone on this album and really and left much to be desired.

Despite this minor complaint, I don’t have much negative feedback for this release. I think this album was better received than some of Deicide’s previous releases by most of the metal community, and I think that’s for good reason. It’s a banger through and through. “Overtures of Blasphemy” stands out because I doesn’t try too hard. It simply thrashes hard and induces head banging.

It’s rumored, in the underground scene, that this might be the band’s last effort. If that’s the case, it makes sense they would choose to go out with a bang and a nod to their roots. I think that’s what they did here. Overall, good stuff.

8/10

*originally published at All About the Rock

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Is Hypoxia the Death Metal Band to Watch in 2018?

Back on August 4, 2018, up and coming New York death metal band Hypoxia unleashed their latest effort upon unsuspecting jaded metal fans. The music video for Hypoxia’s latest track, entitled “Condemned to the Abyss” is the band’s first sneak peek into the newest album rumored to be released later this year on Ultimate Massacre Productions.

Hypoxia’s latest music video has been proliferating within the underground digital space since its release and creating a lot of buzz despite the band’s relatively obscure status. They’ve been featured in mainstream publications such as Metal Injection and the band was even invited to play on the largest metal festival in Latin America, Rock Al Parque last night. So what is it about Hypoxia that makes them stand out so much among the droves of DIY death metal bands churning out riffs each day? I checked out the band’s 2015 release, “Despondent Death,” to find out.

There is something really special about Hypoxia, indeed. While their sound isn’t highly experimental and their musicianship isn’t steeped in technicality, the band’s sound does bring listeners back to a simpler era in death metal while still remaining relevant in 2018 by injecting just the right amount of brutality and tech elements into their classic, old school death metal sound. The production on their 2015 release gives them an explosive quality that is capable of penetrating through even the most cynical of ear drums.

Hypoxia’s riffs may be formulaic to a certain degree, but they rely on tried true methods to create the kind of neck breaking riffs fans of Malevolent Creation or Immolation have grown to cherish. Their newest single is just as explosive as anything on the band’s prior release and their image is just as huge to match. Vocalist, Mike Hrubovcak is practically demon possessed as he emits blood curdling growls spawned from the deepest levels of hell while ominously wielding a flaming torch and female drummer Carolina Perez’s blasts have the power to eviscerate the souls of the weak with their pummeling intensity. Hypoxia emanates a level of sickness uncommon among the hordes of new bands — many of whom have succumb to mediocrity due to over-saturation within the death metal genre. With catchy riffs and extreme power to boot, these guys are just doing it better. This is definitely the band to watch this year.

 

 

 

 

Hate Eternal Streaming New Track!

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Florida denizens of death Hate Eternal are streaming a track from the upcoming LP “Upon Desolate Sands.” The new album is set to release on October 26 on Seasons of Mist. This will be the first album from them in over 3 years.

The new track, entitled “What Lies Beyond” has fans excited because it shows the band is practically immune to becoming stale despite having a career that has spanned over 20 years. They fuse tech elements with crushing intensity to create a sound that slowly builds into a maelstrom of blasts and shreds. The skeleton of the track is steeped in definitive death metal elements of which they add layers of complexity over to create a unique sound. This is classic Hate Eternal with a fresh appeal which leaves fans ever more curious and excited what’s to come in October.

Pre-order here: https://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/list/hate-eternal-upon-desolate-sands

Five New Bands You Should Be Listening To This Year

5. Grotesque Ceremonium

Turkey isn’t exactly the first place you think of when it comes to extreme metal, but Grotesque Ceremonium is putting Turkey on the map.  A one man project out of Ankara, Grotesque Ceremonium play satanic old school death metal with a blackened edge and a listenable groove.  Think Abhoror but more easily palatable.  The band released their first full length album entitled Demonic Inquisition with the up and coming label Satanath Records last year and the album kicks ass beginning to end.  This is a band you need to familiarize yourself with immediately.

 

4.Limbsplitter

Anyone in the Cleveland area knows Limbsplitter isn’t exactly a new band. They’ve been touring and playing fests since 2013.  2017 is when they really started to take off though, releasing their first full length album, Chloroform Cocktail.  Aside from having the most brutal album cover in history and hilarious song titles (Drenched in Menstruation anyone) Limbsplitter brings in hard with their musicianship. This is brutal death metal with a grindy feel and even some thrash and technical elements.  They’ve been praised in Metal Injection and featured on a number of fests.  Sick shit here.

 

3. Contaminated

Slow doomy death metal anyone?  Seriously, Australia’s Contaminated blew me away with their debut album, Final Man.  I can’t stop listening. This is some of the heaviest shit I’ve ever heard.  Contaminated coalesces the suffocating thickness of doom metal with the intensity of old school death metal to create a dense and truly massive sound.  What really resonated with me was how convincingly 90’s their debut sounded.  Final Man may as well have come out alongside classics like Autopsy’s Severed Survival.  Truly old school and original; Contaminated’s sound is simply crushing.

2. Degotten

For the life of me I can’t figure out why there hasn’t more buzz in the underground metal community over Degotten’s debut Hexentrost.  This is indisputably masterful blackened thrash with a power metal edge. With a sound that’s both colossal and dark, Chili’s Degotten are proverbial thrash metal warriors heading off to battle, six string axe in hand.  This album is thrash metal perfection, complete with cool riffs and shredding solos, but what sets Degotten apart from others in the black/thrash genre is the nod to classic heavy metal and their melodic undertones.  Original as can be, Hexentrost is a must have for 2017.

 

1. Cemetery Winds

I find it fascinating that such a perfect debut has managed to remain shrouded in obscurity, virtually uncovered by popular extreme metal music media. Cemetery Winds is a Finnish one man black/death project (at least I believe they are a one man project because J. Lukka is the band’s only listed active member).  Their style is melodic on an enthralling level while remaining unequivocally Scandanavian death metal.  The band’s debut, Unholy Ascentions, was released in February of this year.  What sets Cemetery Winds’ sound apart is that instead of drawing on black metal’s rawer elements, as has been the most recent trend in BM of the 2010’s, they follow the old horde and draw on the more melodic elements of the genre.  They achieve this while maintaining their originality and not falling victim to At the Gates worship. Unholy Ascensions is every bit as intense as any gritty Australian death metal band with the ambience of the most memorable Swedish black metal. This is truly incredible stuff.

666 The Best Death, Black, and Thrash Albums So Far This Year

Tons of metal zines have posted articles highlighting the best albums of 2017 so far. They all did this back in June, which I suppose makes sense.  Unfortunately, none of these lists have met the expectations of Underworld Zine.  Once again favoring a band’s popularity over substance, the mainstream metal magazines have failed to highlight some of the greatest metal of the year.  I’m writing this article in response to that trend.  Underworld Zine has always been dedicated to covering truly underground bands.  These are Underworld Zine’s top six black, death, and thrash albums so far for 2017.

Death Metal

6. Warpath- The Ambience of War

Brutal death metal never sounded so good.  Hailing from murky Irish wilderness, Warpath are a band you probably haven’t heard of or listened to but you should familiarize yourself with them immediately and prepare to have your faced melted.  Unlike the menagerie of brutal death metal bands that have listeners struggling to keep their eyes open halfway through the album, Warpath manages to keep their latest EP, The Ambience of War, interesting from beginning to end.  Pummeling blasts, emotive and technical solos, and absolutely sickening vocals meet to create an onslaught of brutality.  The production value is top notch.  While you can clearly hear all the instruments, the grimy quality of old school death metal isn’t lost in the clarity.  This is sickening brutality at its best.

5. Desultory- Through Aching Aons

No death metal listicle would be complete without the inclusion of a proper, melodic Swedish band. Swedish death metal pioneers, Desultory, take the number five spot with their truly ferocious comeback album entitled Through Aching Aons.  The LP has that classic Swedish feel that pays homage to At the Gates, respectably. But, dare I say it, Desultory has gotten heavier with age.  They always had a bit of a melodic groove to their sound, and that isn’t lost on Through Aching Aeons, but this album is pummeling all the way through.  Their combination of brutality and catchiness is what sets their sound apart from others in the Swedish horde.

4. Contaminated- Final Man

Australia’s Contaminated is possibly the heaviest band to make the list.  In the vein of early Autopsy or Convulse, Contaminated has perfected a kind of doom and gloom death metal aggression on Final Man with guitar tones that sound like they were dragged through muck and vocals akin to gargling blood.  Being a relatively new band, Contaminated’s 90s feel is utterly convincing.  Proper use of downtuning and crushing, doomy passages make Final Man truly memorable in 2017.  This is some seriously heavy shit.

3. Necrot- Blood Offerings

In an age of five string basses and blistering technicality, sometimes simplicity can be refreshing.  This is certainly the case with Necrot’s latest release, Blood Offerings.  There’s been a lot of buzz about the band’s latest album and rightfully so. Necrot have forgone the tech death trend, instead opting to create death metal in the vein of Dismember, early Goreguts, or even Death.  This is driving brutality through and through, with catchy riffs, gritty production, and an overall sickening ambience.  The kind of stuff made for circle pits and the wall of death.

2. Undergang- Misantropologi

It seems old school death metal is making a massive comeback.  Undergang’s fourth full length release exemplifies this trend perfectly.  Not that it’s really a trend.  Misatropoligi would scare the pants off an Avenge Sevenfold fan.  This shit is grimy to the core.  D. Torturdød’s are some of the sickest low grunts I’ve ever heard and A. Dødshjælp’s blasts will figuratively rip your face off. Simplistic riffs are masterfully arranged on Misantropoli to create a captivating experience for listeners.  Misantopologi is hard not to fall in love with.

1. Immolation- Atonement

The number one spot on the list is going to the old school masters of death and destruction, Immolation. Atonement doesn’t ease listeners into its glory, instead punching them in the face from the very first crushing riff.  It’s always a relief when a band from the 90s can still destroy and Immolation does just that.  This album holds no punches.  With a victorious and powerful feel, enunciated lyrics, unrelenting brutality, perfectly timed solos and sqeals of the guitar, and melodic technicality, Atonement does not disappoint. But then, when has Immolation ever truly disappointed us?  With Atonement, Immolation shows us how American death metal should be done, and we’re thankful for that.

Black Metal

6. Sinmara/Misþyrming- Ivory Stone/Hof Split

If I had to pick one scene in black metal today that’s touching on the originality of the early Norwegian scene, it would the current scene in Iceland.  The black metal movement in Iceland is bursting with creativity and bringing a new, chaotic approach to black metal that hasn’t been seen in years.  Sinmara and Misþyrming are leading the pack in Icelandic black metal and this year the two powerhouses teamed up to release a split.  The album delivers a blackness and chaos of a black hole and conveys a message of sheer insanity. Sinmara are the real innovators on this EP as their track is vast improvement in quality to the tracks on Aphotic Womb.  But Misþyrming brings it hard as usual with their addition to the split, Hof.  This is cool.  This is kvlt.

5. White Death- White Death

This band just creeped up out of nowhere.  I’m glad they did because their self titled release is comparable to Satanic Warmaster or early Behexen.  The Finnish foursome has seemingly mastered the aesthetic of early, orthodox black metal and brought it to audiences in a fresh and exciting way.  Gloomy passages pair with dissonant riffs, and screeching vocals effortlessly.  Even the occasional fist pounding rock and roll beat or acoustic lick can be found on the band’s self titled debut.  This album is a must have for anyone who loves straight forward black metal done well.

4. Irae- Crimes Against Humanity

Irae is another orthodox black metal project, deriving significant influence from the early, Norwegian sound, but also paying an obligatory nod to the black thrash pioneers.  Irae is a one man project out of Portugal, spawned from the ominous mind of a man known only as Vulturius.  This is good stuff. Fist pumping hard rock licks meet with blackened dissonance, and thrashy interludes to form a truly killer, and old school sounding LP.  Vulturius doesn’t overdo the ambience on this, making for a heavy black metal experience spawned directly from the pits of Hell.  This will scare the hell out of your neighbors.  Really fantastic.

3. Noktunal Mortum- Істина (Verity)

The first black/folk metal band to make the list, Nokturnal Mortum are quite deserving of their position here. Simply the way the first full length track, entitled Мольфа kicks in, with that beautiful string arrangement that builds up into sheer aggression, is enough the moisten your underwear.  This album is a beautiful mix of ambient folk passages, triumphant battle cries, and sheer ferocity wrapped into an hour and fourteen minutes.  The Verity experience is orchestral and you almost lose yourself in the beauty of it.  Is this Nokturnal Mortum’s best release?  Nah.  But it still blows away many other bands under the same moniker.  I can’t stop listening.  Keep at it guys.  Slava Ukraine!

2. Goatmoon- Stella Polaris

Findland’s Goatmoon seems to improve every year.  Stella Polaris is a far cry from Death Before Dishonor in creativity and overall beauty.  The intro is a beautiful acoustic piece that’s consuming and immediately demands full attention from the listener.  Every song  is more beautiful than the next, as BlackGoat Desacrator focuses on building atmosphere with gorgeous, melodic riffs. Stella Polaris is probably his most melodic release so far, matched only by Varjot, but with a fuller sound and better production.  The second to the last track, entitled Overlord, is the one that really stuck out for me.  The final track, entitled P.A.I.L. was interesting, to say the least.  Almost an attempt on a black metal ballad, the track works surprisingly well.  Overall, a win for Goatmoon.  Hail!  Victory!

1. Wode- Servants of the Countercosmos

This band is probably the most surprising on the list.  A new band out of the United Kingdom, Wode is knocking the socks of black metal fans with two stellar releases.  Wode’s sophomore release, Servants of the Countercosmos has a sound that’s almost legendary.  To risk sounding presumptuous, can you say the next Dissection?  Not that this is another Dissection rip off, far from it actually.  It’s just that their sound is so highly memorable that it harkens back an era of musical perfection only matched by Dissection.  Every song is better than the next, as Wode pummels into your soul with an unrelenting ferocity not seen since the 90’s.  The melodic nature of the sound and clean production is reminiscent of the early Swedish black metal sound.  All this greatness spewing from a band made up of musicians virtually unknown to the black metal scene.  What a fantastic record.

Thrash/Speed Metal

6. Lich King- Omnomniclasm 

Lich King makes the number six spot on this list for their newest release entitled Omnomniclasm.  The sheer improvement of the band over the years has people starting to really take notice.  Omnomniclasm is standard thrash metal done at its best.  Focusing on speed, aggression, and ferocity, the new album holds true to original thrash metal vision.  Halfway through, Lich King even hails its speed metal predecessors with a slow and triumphant display of power in the song Civilization.  Think in the vein of Priest.  What Lich King has always focused on, however, is having the coolest riffs and playing faster than anyone else.  Omnimnoclasm delivers sheer speed like few others in the new wave of thrash and perfects the sound with good production and riffs that will crush your skull.  Lich King is basically Vio-Lence reborn and for that we’re all thankful.

5. Power Trip- Nightmare Logic

This album has been getting a lot of hype from metal elitists this year and I can see why.  This is crossover at its best. While I don’t hear a huge amount of hardcore influences on Nightmare Logic, the ones that are there are tasteful.  Ultimately, this is aggression and speed perfectly executed through buzz saw guitar tones, face ripping riffs, rad tempo changes all spawned from the first crunchy riff.  Nightmare Logic is a fist pumping masterpiece complete with anthemic choruses and some of the coolest riffs I’ve heard all year.  Power Trip is good shit.

4. Witchnight- Unholy Speed Metal

Witchnight is a brand new blackened speed metal band out of Argentina but their sound, name, and overall image may as well be out of 1987.  These Argentinian shredders go straight for the jugular with their unique brand of black speed in the vein of Tormentor or demo era Destroyer 666.  The fifteen minute EP entitled Unholy Speed Metal is marked by its utter intensity, lightening fast riffage, and cool DIY production.  This is the kind of album I can imagine procuring in cassete form from a truer than thou older friend who partied with Jeff Hanneman back in the day.  The entire EP drips of blasphemy and rage.  Unholy Speed metal is Witchnight’s first EP, first anything ever.  I really hope this band succeeds.  I need more.

 

3.Bloodlust- At the Devil’s Left Hand

Three words: Australian blackened thrash.  Bloodlust is a relatively new band that has old pro chops.  At the Devil’s Left Hand is the band’s second full length release but the structure and execution of the album is so perfect you’d think Bloodlust had been at it for decades.  I could chalk this up to expertly executed D666 worship but honestly, Bloodlust bring their own unique flavor to the table. The most notable positive on this album is probably the tempo changes, which are so succinctly placed that you’re transported in a sort of thrash metal void upon listening.  Just be careful when you’re listening to AT the Devil’s Left Hand.  You might just break your neck whipping around to their paralyzing riffs.

 

2. Blood Feast- The Future State of Wicked
The blood thirst is real this year. Blood Feast are old school motherfuckers from Jersey who haven’t slowed down a lick.  The band split back in 1991 and reformed in 2007 coming back with a vengeance.  The Future State of Wicked is the band’s first full length release since reforming and it slays harder than a good majority of the youngin thrashers attempts at reviving the old school. Everything from the chilling artwork to the riffs that cut through you like chainsaw to Chris Natalini’s penetrating screams is as heavy as thrash gets.  It’s as though they reformed just to show the new horde how it’s done.  This albums just kills, plain and simple.

1. Hellripper- Coagulating Darkness

Forming only three years ago, the UK’s Hellripper has already redefined the meaning of speed with break neck riffs and blistering solos.  This is an impressive feat for a one man project.  The band’s first full length release, Coagulating Darkness is more than simply unadulterated speed though, the execution is masterfully coherent and the tracks are catchy and memorable.  This album just sounds evil.  Guitar worship reigns supreme, as it should, on Coagulating Darkness as the solos are masterfully placed and the riffs are as cool as Destruction’s.  Despite being from the UK, Hellripper’s music has an unmistakable Teutonic ambiance about that you can’t help but fall in love with.  Really great stuff.

 

Disclaimer: Before anyone gets their panties in a bunch because I missed something, remember this is opinion.  That said, if there’s anything you think I missed, please post it in the comments.  I listen to a lot of metal but I can’t listen to everything. Also note, Underworld is not interested in anything PC, so if you have a problem with one of the bands on the list keep it to yourself and off my site.  That’s all I’ve got.  Stay trve!  Hails!

Six Weird Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Extreme Metal

I’ll never forget what it was like to discover extreme metal for the first time.  Thumbing through the glossy pages of Metal Maniacs and Kerrange magazine and seeing the images of larger than life, bullet belt and spike clad beasts that consumed me, gave me a completely skewed view of underground metal. As I grew older and immersed myself more deeply into the underground world, I became more acutely aware of the misconceptions I had about extreme metal.  I realize that many die hards are most likely already privy to much of this information, but it’s important to note that there are several inequities surrounding extreme metal that prevent the culture from achieving the sort of recognition it deserves.  Also, there’s just some genuinely funny, little known, realities about extreme metal that are simply worth sharing.  For one thing….

1. There’s No Such Thing as Groupies

Any sixteen year old, hormone filled, teenage boy looking to score brownie points with the girls in his life by becoming a musician, shouldn’t touch death metal with 75 and half-foot pole.   Extreme metal has never been very girl friendly.  The aggression and nefariousness of the sound, combined with the fact that for some reason, the ugliest of our species seem to create the most hateful music act as a girl repellent.

Can’t see why girls aren’t falling all over themsleves trying to get to metal musicians

Even well-known bands, like Metallica and Anthrax, can’t realistically harken back to the glory days of girls, girls, girls.  Of course, there are women into metal.  Many, in fact.  But women into metal are generally less superficial than women into other genres.  Metal itself requires more from the listener than casual pop music because of its complexity and depth.  It is also less readily accessible than other forms of music because of limited radio play and publicity, meaning that people seek it out because it adds meaning to their lives.  So the people who are attracted to it tend to be less superficial than say, the people who were attracted to glam bands with regular appearances on MTV.

Usually, women into metal are there for the music and not for the opportunity to meet a celebrity.  They also tend to be more cerebral, meaning that a for attraction to occur, there needs to be more than just a one-dimensional connection between two counterparts.  It takes more than good looks and money to impress a metal chick.  You need a brain. If you’re looking for money, you’re looking in the wrong place anyway because……

 

2. No One Is Really Making Big Bucks

Because of the things I mentioned earlier, lack of publicity and radio play, it’s difficult for a band playing extreme metal to generate any sort of substantial income.  Even the bands that have reached legendary status are living somewhat modest lifestyles.  For example, Fenriz of Darkthrone fame, one of the originators of the second wave of black metal, has held a steady day job at the post office for over a decade.

There are other factors that come into play as well.  Extreme metal maintains a certain anti- commercial aesthetic and runs on an underground ethic that prevents bands from making money the way many pop artists do, ie perfume and clothing lines.  And it’s becoming increasingly difficult for bands to make money selling records today because of popularity of internet downloading and free streaming.  Even back in the tape trading days, however, bands outside the mainstream weren’t generating most of their income from record sales, instead relying on constant touring for income, which often led to burn out and disillusionment for the bands.  It hasn’t changed much since those days.  Basically, unless you’re Slayer, you’re not making that much money.

Took ’em three decades but they’re making the big bucks now

When I was younger, I had no concept of how bad it really was.  A lot of good bands are literally paying out-of-pocket to get to out-of-town gigs, for which they won’t see dime for playing.  Next time you go to a fest, remember a good majority of the bands playing aren’t getting paid at all to be there.  They work day jobs and, because of an extreme work ethic, and a die-hard dedication to the music, they show up and rip the faces off crowds of moshing fans.  Even when these bands get signed, it takes quite a bit of time before the income they generate goes to anything other than gear and travel.  I’ve always found this fact about extreme metal upsetting because, for one…..

3. It’s Extremely Difficult to Play

Remember what I said about extreme work ethic?  Well, extreme metal musicians, death and thrash metal in particular, need it because metal is among the most difficult of all genres to play.  In fact, the only musical genres that even parallel the complexity of extreme metal are classical and jazz.

Metal emphasizes soloing, shredding, and blasts, all musical styles that require a great deal of practice to perfect.  The rise in popularity of tech death has only served to raise the bar for metal as well.  Younger extreme metal audiences are looking for more and more musical prowess and technicality in music every year.

And the guttural vocals that everyone outside metal seems to complain about, well those are extremely difficult to execute as well.  It’s not just screaming like many people seem to think.  If you want to hear screaming, listen to screamo.  Death metal vocals encompass a wide variety of vocal techniques, like tongue placement, and breathing exercises to produce those low, demonic growls.  The masses seem to only care about the fact that you can’t understand the lyrics, however.  I always found that funny because….

4. A Lot of Bands Don’t Even Have Lyrics

Yep, you read that right.  I found this out in an interview with Sodomized vocalist, Eric Newton, after to asking him a question about the lyrical content on the band’s latest release.  He admitted he didn’t really see the point in writing lyrics since people couldn’t understand him anyway..  This is more than just an isolated case, however.  In the mini documentary “Florida: Thrash ‘Til Death”, John Tardy of Obituary admits to not singing lyrics while onstage.

John Tardy of Obituary

Many times what happens, with death metal in particular, is someone from the band will write lyrics, and the vocalist won’t learn them right away if at all.  Because of the nature of the death metal vocal, no one really notices.  Death metal lyrics don’t claim to be meaningful even when they are written.  The point is to invoke feelings of fear and disgust from their audiences.  That goal can be achieved through grotesque artwork, repulsive song titles, crunchy riffs, and low-end guttural vocals that sound like the singer is gargling the blood of his victims. Lyrics are of less importance than these other factors in relaying a band’s overall message.

Of course, there are extreme metal bands that put a lot of effort into their lyrical content.  Behemoth comes to mind as Adam Darski (Nergal) often uses music as a medium to spread his occult message.  Even Napalm Death utilizes their influence to espouse their political ideals.  But the main point I’m making here is that song lyrics are not of great importance to extreme metal.  Death metal vocals serve more as an instrument themselves rather than a purveyor of information.  They are there for the atmosphere.  So in short, it doesn’t matter that much what the band is saying all that really matters is how the music makes you feel.  I suppose it’s a good thing death metal lyrics are mostly filler because…..

5. Bands Are a Revolving Door and Many Musicians Play in Several Bands

It’s pretty much always been that way.  Most people know that Dave Mustaine was replaced by Kirk Hammet in Metallica but did you know that Kirk Hammet played for Exodus before he joined with Metallica?  It’s simply the nature of the scene.  Metal fans share a camaraderie and passion that often sparks a yearning in the fans to create it themselves.  Go to any underground metal gig around the world and I’m willing to bet at least forty percent of the audience can play at least one instrument. With so many musicians in the scene it’s easy to see how bands can become a revolving door.

Also, extreme metal exists as an entity outside the musicians, meaning that fans aren’t simply idolizing a great guitar player or vocalist, they are in love with the aggression and energy of the sound.  It’s uncommon for fans to turn their back on a band for switching guitar players or vocalists as long as the new member has chops.

Because of the tight-knit nature of underground metal communities, many musicians will also play for several bands at a time.  Particularly drummers and bassists who are a commodity because of their relative scarcity.  Passion for the music often leads band members to start side projects as well, that sometimes blow up.  Anthrax’s Scott Ian, for example went on to form S.O.D. whilst simultaneously playing in Anthrax because of his love for hard-core.  S.O.D. is respected to this day for their involvement in creating the crossover genre in thrash.

S.O.D. circa 1999

The D.I.Y. nature of underground metal combined with the technicality of the music both attracts and creates musicians hungrier than ever to put their mark on the scene.  Shared passion for a musical style not celebrated by mainstream audiences creates a natural bond between fans of the music so it’s only natural that a lot of integration between bands would occur.  Because of the underground aesthetic of extreme metal, a new member is often already well-known within fan circles, so the number of bands playing with, sometimes as few as, a single original member remaining is not all that surprising, nor is the fact that fans haven’t turned on these bands.  Morbid Angel’s decision to replace David Vincent with Steve Tucker went over much better than Iron Maiden’s decision to replace Bruce Dickenson with Blaze Bailey, for example.  Blaze Bailey is basically a cum stain on the history of metal whereas death metal die hards celebrate Formulas Fatal to the Flesh as a brutal and original work of art.

Steve Tucker

It’s because this music is, and always will be underground, that a shared ethic exists among its fans; and that’s dedication to the extreme, which is why Metallica’s decision to turn their backs on thrash in favor of mainstream rock was far more detrimental to their image among die-hard thrash fans than their decision to replace Cliff Burton after his passing.  This proverbial middle finger extreme metal gives to the mainstream is one of the reasons why the bands who play it will never experience the glitz and glamour mainstream bands receive, which is why, for one thing….

6. There Isn’t a Backstage Per Say

Extreme metal bands generally play in dark, graffiti riddled clubs.  The clubs are small and there are no dressing rooms or any of that shit.  Not that the bands really need it.  Death metal is come as you are, fuck primping. An all access pass will typically grants a person access through all entrances of the club without being searched which makes it really easy to sneak in beer and what not, (a really cool perk especially since free beer for the bands is mostly a thing of the past) but there’s no secret area backstage where a party is happening.  Bigger bands party hard on tour buses and in hotels and every once in a while there’s a basement in the club where the bands can bring in beer and other substances but that’s not extremely common either.

No one drank more beer than Tankard

What’s cool about this is that the bands are generally down to earth and get up close with the fans.  It’s fairly common to see the members of the headlining bands in the audience banging their heads to the opening bands.  You can shake their hands and tell them how much you admire their work and even share a beer or two with them. This casual attitude in extreme metal is part of what makes it so near and dear to the fans who love it.  You feel like you’re a part of it rather than just a spectator.  No one in the underground is treated like a rock star so no one acts like it.  And that is way cooler than fucking VIP nonsense anyway.

These realities about extreme metal are what make the genre unique in comparison to other musical styles.  The fact is, the underground has been the same since its conception in the early eighties and that’s part of what makes it so magical.  Extreme metal was, is, and always will be a fire kept burning by some of the most dedicated fans in the world which is why is has remained pure.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Vader- The Empire

Europeans just do it better.  What can I say?  Legendary, Polish, death/thrashers, Vader simply outdid themselves with this release.  As a formative band in the death metal genre, Vader has manged to maintain their energy and aggression after thirty years and remain a dominant force in the death/thrash genre, with riffs that cut to the bone, leads that blister, and drums that pummel. The Empire is the band’s thirteenth full length release and I give them a lot of credit, as it’s notably difficult for many bands to maintain the kind of hungry energy Vader does on this release after so long in the game.  Perhaps their black leather ensembles have melded to their skin and they’ve become some kind of death metal super villains set on destroying the world with blast and leads.  Who knows but whatever they’re doing is working for them.

Many of the tracks on The Empire focus on the band’s thrashier elements.  The opening track, “Angels of Steel”, is as bludgeoning as ever in its ferocity, causing listeners to immediately take notice.  Vader is not intended to be background music.  By the time the third song rolls around, you’re ready for an anthemic kind of thrash hit, like “Prayer to the God of War”.  I wasn’t too impressed by the decision to immediately follow the fist pumping thrasher, “Prayer to the God of War” with another slower, thrashier tune, “Iron Reign”.  I was admittedly craving something a little more crushing.  Thankfully, Vader delivered with the following track, “No Gravity”.

The two songs that really stuck out to me on this album were “Genocidius” and “Parrabellum”, which is arguably the heaviest thrash song released all year.  Ending the album with the slow, chugging, thrash track, “Send Me Back To Hell”, was a bit weak in my opinion, but I have very few complaints about this album overall.  The Empire is old school to the core and I give Vader props for sticking to their guns after over thirty years at it.  This is a good one.

8/10