Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Then we have Nihilistic Rust... who I really don't know anything about. Good person(unsure of gender) with great taste in shitty underground hipster metal like me, so that's all I really need to know. Already wrote an excellent Asphyx review, so check it out.
Also, if you are in a band and would like your demo material reviewed, or represent a record label and would like any of our writers to review your upcoming releases, please contact me through the Curse's new e-mail in the upper corner. A Facebook page is also forthcoming, so that should be a total disaster...
I'm really super positive, and I want all you cool underground musicians to like me. So chances are I will give you a good review. The blog has been really positive lately... lots of high scores. I can't help it though, for cynicism and nostalgia have not fried my brain and prevented me from liking anything just yet. Soon I imagine. But not today.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Can you believe the quality of the very deep underground scene? The sheer number of awesome demo's and tapes available is staggering. It's almost overwhelming really... maybe this is the feeling all these old-curmudgeon Metalfags have about the early 90's scenes...
Hailing from Los Angeles, Doctorshopper are just more proof that those decrying our modern scene as under-achieving are just cranky old men and thirteen year old's. A dug-fueled rage-er of Eyehategod, His Hero Is Gone and Darkthrone gone too far, Degenerate Utopia packs all the right parts into tight and heavy gutter hymns for the disenfranchised: "Cognitive Fog" blisters with Sludge-y Crust Punk bravado, while "Live Low And Prosper" drops the temperature of the room to "frostbitten" with it's raw moans before a little D-Beat kicks in near the end. Extended sections of feedback is an obvious crutch for transitional composition, but it's hard to find too much fault with the overall songwriting. Degenerate Utopia also hits all the marks lyrically, avoiding played out grimmness in favor of strong social commentary on such tracks as "Affordable Health Act" and "Recreational Emancipation," both of which reflect the hopelessness that many in this generation experience on a daily basis.
I find it difficult to progress beyond this point. Degenerate Utopia doesn't lend itself to paragraphs of explanation: it's brutally honest simplicity and skull-caving guitar tone do much of the talking for the albums twenty nine minute running time. This is not a bad thing, but it makes detailed compositional breakdowns difficult. With so much rage blasting at you from all directions, coming up with a phrase beyond "Hehehehe... evil" seems all but impossible. In the end, it all breaks down to this: Degenerate Utopia is a filthy slab of Blackened Sludge that will appeal to anyone who appreciates Extreme Music, and you should go ahead and get it.
Simplicity is pure fucking bliss.
Friday, February 24, 2012
Musically, it is pretty easy to place Muknal; firmly entrenched in the massive Occult Black/Death movement taking over the underground. But one listen to this EP also shows just how much separation Muknal has from the greater pack; it's all here. All of it. Unlike many contemporary releases spawned from this vile pit at the heart of the underground, Muknal hits all the major stylistic high-points, then exceeds them in the following composition. Not since Dead Congregation's Grave of the Archangels have I heard a single album just nail every single thing that makes a genre truly great: the perfect combination of atmosphere, aggression and compositional complexity.
Seems like a lot of praise for a three song EP no? I mean come on: it's not like this sound hasn't be done to death. Impetuous Ritual released the same damn album in 2009 for fuck's sake. Dense, static choked Occult Black/Death is as played out a genre as any in music today. You can't turn around without awkwardly rubbing up against the ass of an Incantation and Portal clone. True enough. Muknal are not treading new ground here. And this is something I can be critical of... when done is an obviously generic and lifeless way.
Muknal is anything but generic or lifeless. It's practically static with sheer electricity. Everything about is so perfectly calibrated: the tortured guttural vocals, the dense guitar tone, the meaty and massive production. The whole thing is done with such masterful attention to detail and genuine attempts at originality. The heavy use of electronic sounds and noise, the perfectly drawn out atmospheric compositions, the true sense of dread and hopelessness... all of it is just brilliantly realized and maximized.
Muknal may not re-invent the Atmospheric Holocaust, but it certainly commit atrocities and forces intense introspection like no other end time's dirge that I have heard. And what's even more impressive is that despite this level of density, there is also something so inviting about the album. This album doesn't leave you feeling breathless and exhausted like so many inhumanly thick and bleak albums. It's a crushing piece of perfect genre crafting that you can listen to again and again. What more can we possibly expect?
Thursday, February 23, 2012
From the bleak, wind blasted forests of Illinois, comes a grim funeral procession; a dirge for the wicked and wild spirits. Witch In Her Tomb’s self titled debut invokes the frost-bitten, Hessian roots of Black Metal’s history with skillful imprecision and gloriously underproduced intensity. Sure, if you have listened to pretty much anything from Darkthrone, Mayhem or Burzum, then Witch In Her Tomb holds no secrets within it’s musty crypts. It speaks to Witch In Her Tomb then that despite the nostalgia, the demo more than stands on it’s own merits, thanks to it’s modernized and Punk-injected edge.
I am not sure you could have a more powerful, static riddled bass sound than the ridiculous low end present on Witch In Her Tomb. Like the death rattle of Cthulu, the bass rumbles with a wet, jagged slice and overpowers much of the instrumentation. That’s not a complaint; “III” would be nothing without the thundering hammer strikes of bass chords. The only thing that can stand up to this Scepter of Suffering in terms of volume are the vocals; monotone perhaps, but dripping with hate and powered by the immolation of the soul no doubt. The guitars and drums have their place in this mad symphony, and play their roles accordingly, though they rarely star in this performance.
The real star here is the songwriting, which blends the classic Norwegian sounds with a sense of progression and modernization. Crust Punk and the early Norwegian Black Metal sound have always been a hop-skip-and-jump from each other, and Witch In Her Tomb further blurs that line, both musically and lyrically. While far more mired in the grim, Witch In Her Tomb reminds me of a more primitive, Mayhem-worshiping Young And In The Way album; tortured, bleak and very, very angry. This anger comes through in the lyrics, as songs deal far more with wrath and rage than Ragnorak or Rites of Summoning.
I would be remiss not to praise this demo not only for the quality, but also it’s distribution. Witch In Her Tomb are showing us the future of Extreme Music distribution, one that includes both profit and accessibility. Witch In Her Tomb is available on tape for a very fair price, so that collectors and hard copy enthusiasts can add to their massive hoard of limited edition content, but also available free of charge as an mp3 download. I shouldn’t have to explain just how wise this move is, and we can all hope that other bands use this model in the future.
And what a glorious and grim future indeed, for Witch In Her Tomb have the kind of sound to make waves in the current scene. Punk-edged Black Metal is big now, but unlike some of their contemporaries, Witch In Her Tomb have a stronger command of the actual Black Metal elements, not merely a layman’s understanding after a few hours of Darkthrone binging. It’s hard not to get excited about this band and their potential, and it has been hard for me to put down this demo. It’s cold, icy fingers are firmly gripped around my throat, and this aural asphyxiation is all I could ask for.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Rich with texture and dissonance, Denouement fits in beautifully with the current trend in Technical Death Metal: using complexity to create dense, Occult atmospheres. Elements of Black and Doom Metal add layers to the listening experience, but Abyssal also toy with some of the more brutal elements of Death Metal throughout Denouement. A consistent guttural growl, sudden bursts of blast beats and palm-muted riffs bring elements to Denouement that other bands in this burgeoning sub-genre lack(often on purpose). Just as we saw Flourishing do on The Sum of All Fossils with Post-Hardcore and Gigan on Quasi-Hallucinogenic Sonic Landscapes with Noise and Grindcore, Abyssal bring these Brutal Death Metal elements to the forefront to give Denouement a bit of distinction from the growing number of Ulcerate clones, though one should not expect too many breakdowns or pinch harmonics throughout Denouement(though the breakdown near the beginning of "Detritivore" is hard too miss).
There isn't a whole lot of fault with Denouement, but it never quite breaks through to the next level. The intensity and songwriting can be uneven, with less appealing sections of songs dragged out far too long. In fact, many of the tracks on Denouement could use some self-editing, particularly the final track "Swansong of a Dying Race," which could have used some of it's massive eleven minute run cut away. Bloated songs filled with too many unessecary concepts are the pratfalls of many a new group, and while Abyssal artfully dodge many other mistakes, they trip up in this regard.
Denouement is a brilliant start regardless of these minor mistakes. Abyssal have their own sound, a sound which I can honestly say I have never heard before, other than perhaps early Ulcerate before those New Zelander's dove head first into a sea of formless dissonance. All this band needs is time to develop their sound and their songwriting, and I have no doubt that Abyssal will be one of the bigger acts in progressive Death Metal in the near future.
Abyssal are also among the more progressive bands in their distribution, as Denouement doesn't have any label support. The band are giving the album away through Bandcamp. If you are not familiar with Bandcamp, then this is the perfect opportunity to get acquainted with arguably the most important website in independent music today.
Download Denouement Free And Legally From The Band, Via Bandcamp
Friday, February 17, 2012
Plague Widow is at it's heart a very modern sounding, ultra fast Deathgrind album with a strong Brutal Death Metal influence. From the moment the blistering drums and deep guttural growls of "Womb" kick in, the Circle of Dead Children and Deeds of Flesh influence becomes apparent. But as Plague Widow progresses, we see an attention to detail and atmosphere grow and become more enveloping. These disparate elements begin to twist and contort, forming a vortex of desolation few acts can match. "Void" blisters with elements of Adversarial and Portal, before ending on a breakdown Suffocation wish they could have written, while "Operating the Segmental Apparatus" is mixes in a heavy dose of atmospheric Black Metal between spouts of Deathgrind flame. Smart use of samples and atmospheric noise, like the intro to "Assimilated Subconscious," just adds to the bleak tension and monolithic blackness.
In just over fifteen minutes, Plague Widow delivers more death and Satan than most bands entire discography. One would be hard-pressed to find a more uncompromisingly dark and blasphemous slab of Grindcore and Death Metal than this masterful and dense piece of musical Sadism. Plague Widow have stumbled upon a sound that is as important as it is deadly: one that takes the decayed, evil spirit of the past and infuses it into the powerful, muscular frame of the present. This new creation, this new affront to God and Nature itself, could become unstoppable. For now, this small but bloody atrocity is a more than terrifying harbinger of things to come.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Slow, ponderous Thrash beats lead this exhausted march through Death Metal's gloomy history. Horrendous drummer Jamie Knox deserves a medal for putting up with this affront to his ability as a musician. Or perhaps he lacks ability? Hard to say, but the soul crushing boredom he must have endured is worthy of legend. How many Thrash beats can you fit into a single album, and more importantly how do you convince a drummer to play almost nothing but them for an entire album? The Chills is ingloriously mid-paced for much of it's running time, and never reaches that sweet spot of tempo and aggression that makes for the best Death Metal. It just kind of plods from one riff to the next, held together with the bare minimum of connective tissue like so many horribly shredded arms caught in so many grinding gears. It doesn't help that most of the vocal delivery is firmly in the John Tardy school of mentally disabled yelping and grunting. Occasionally the band make use of a perfectly competent guttural growl that sounds powerful and deep, but never long enough.
This of course leaves the guitar and bass work, and in total fairness to The Chills, it is obvious from the beginning that this album was built as a guitar driven one. And at times the guitar work on The Chills is pretty impressive, particularly the solo work. At times channeling the early work of Chuck Schuldiner, the creepy, soaring guitar solos and leads on tracks like "The Somber(Desolate Winds)" and "Fatal Dreams" evoke the proper kind of nostalgia: namely, reflecting on that which was worth reflecting on. I have no problem admitting that for me, Death Metal did not exist until New York and Finland started making it. The early First Wave Death Metal bands from Florida and SwedDeath bands have never played a style of Death Metal that I prescribe to: too Thrash-y, too slow and too devoid of atmosphere. The Chills is firmly planted in this school of Death Metal... for the first half anyway.
The Chills takes a surprising turn when "The Ritual" kicks in. The Entombed and Obituary influence gives way to the crushing rhythms of Asphyx and Rippikoulu. All the postured darkness becomes actual evil, and the lessened presence of Thrash becomes a God-send. Doom infused and full of Hell, "The Ritual" is a massive highlight, and kicks off a much stronger second half of The Chills. It's as if the band realized the first half of the album was little more than toothless genre worship, and unleashed all of their inner hatred into a second half designed to blot out the first tracks as though they never actually existed. Too bad they did.
The Chills is not without charm, particularly with the albums strong second half picking up much of the slack, but it still feels tired and uninspired. A notch above pointless genre rehash like Morbus Chron and Misasmal, but well below the likes of Morbid Flesh or Execration, Horrendous have managed to keep themselves from drowning in a sea of imitators with The Chills. But the sea is rising, and those who cannot swim shall be swallowed up in the deluge. The Chills would not be my choice of flotation device.
Saturday, February 4, 2012
So few Brutal Death Metal bands seem to have them nowadays, it come as a shock. Implicit Obedience has honest-to-God riffs, and is not just a mish-mash of breakdowns, sweeps and pinch harmonics. It has all of those elements no doubt, but tempers the sheer insanity of it all with powerful, brutal guitar riffs that just make all the other insanity that much more satisfying. Compared to sheer stupidity of some of acts in the genre, Desecravity are like a bunch of Asian Motzart's, though I imagine Motzart could never muster a more inhuman guttural growl than Yujiro Suzuki. Mr. Suzuki has some of the most impressive pipes you will find in Death Metal today, and his performance is one of many highlights found through-out Implicit Obedience.
Thoroughly modern sounding, nothing about Implicit Obedience is likely to change die-hard haters opinions on this genre. But for those of us who can appreciate a good breakdown and some serious guitar acrobatics, Implict Obedience delivers on all accounts. The aforementioned guitar acrobatics are met with equally impressive(and modern sounding) bass work and the furious blasting drums(fully triggered) that one comes to expect from the genre. Again, it just comes down to the riffs: those are what set Implicit Obedience apart from contemporary Brutal Death Metal albums. Halfway through "Enthralled in Decimation," the track unleashes one of many head-banging, blistering riffs that do a fantastic job of keeping the "stupid-but-awesome" brutality in check. At times, these riff heavy sections bring to mind Incantation, Immolation and even Bolt Thrower, although they rarely last too long before the weedely-weedely kicks back in like a furious cyclone of virtuosity.
And as a fan of quality Brutal Death Metal, I would not have it any other way. Implicit Obedience is great because it finds that fine line between utter, incomprehensible brutality and competent Death Metal songwriting that so few in the genre ever seem to obtain. But when that sweet spot is hit right between the eyes like it is here, it becomes something pretty fucking awesome. What sweet brutality Desecravity have unleashed on us. Just sit back and be reduced to base atomic particles.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Due to technology, this EP (released on cassette – hence the name – through Music Ruins Lives) has been sitting in my inbox unnoticed for several months. For that, I apologize. From the name of the band, one might guess that they played post-something, and you’d be sort of right – the influence which jumps out instantly to me is Jesu, in the shimmering semi-industrial shoegazey sense. Jesu are always better on EPs due to their albums becoming boring over their full duration, and I suppose this is the same.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
What makes Sulfur Seraph so great is how dense with ideas it is without ever feeling over-wrought or directionless. At just under forty minutes, this album packs more murder and madness per minute than just about any album I have heard. Moving effortlessly from Black Thrash to Bestial Black Metal and Occult Death Metal, Charon wield their ideas like finely crafted blades. Each track flows into the other, creating a thick atmosphere that is surprisingly varied. Charon display the ability to drown you in death ala Incantation, before exploding into a Thrash blitzkrieg that would make Sarcofago proud. Even the vocal attack is varied, coming at your from all directions with vicious shrieks, cavernous gutturals, madden chants, tortured screams and demonic whispers.
Sulfur Seraph provides so much, yet asks so little from the listener, another rarity in today's underground Metal scene were reverb and static rule supreme. The production is appropriately raw, but also even and competent: this was not recorded at the bottom of the ocean. And there is something oddly accessible about this album, despite it's density. At times, Charon bring to mind early Belphegor(although Charon are much Thrashier and more occult) in how they present such brutal and blistering ideas in ways that don't come off as forced or purposely unappealing. Song-writing just doesn't get much better than this.
The year has just barely begun, but already a surefire contender for album of the year has emerged. Sulfur Seraph(The Archon Principle) is one of those rare albums that hits all the marks for greatness. Bestial, brutal, dark, atmospheric, creative, inventive and accessible. The complete package if there ever was one.