black metal

Anatomia

Anatomia, Dissected Humanity

Vibrant Japanese death metal band– playing doom metal.

Opener “Carnal Mutilation”= straight ahead death metal until about 2 minutes in, when it becomes the abovementioned blend of extreme styles: also, over the riff, there is what I’m pretty sure is a wild boar grunting (don’t ask how I know that)– if that is actually the singer: kudos to you, Sir– kudos!

“Tortured Bleeding End” [as in "Conclusion," or as in "Ass?"] has a great doom riff as its central piece, as does “Drowned in Sewage.”

They’re all interchangeable, but they’re all fun. You can tell these guys dig playing detuned doomy metal– gnome sayin?

witchery, guest-starring Satan

Micro: Witchery, Witchkrieg

I had never heard of Witchery until Decibel’s recent thrash metal hall of fame issue (their Restless & Dead was #42); I instead bought their newest, Witchkrieg, as that album was not available on MP3 that I could find.

They were, allegedly, superb blackened thrash.

And oh my– they so totally are. They overall add nothing to the pantheon of thrash metal thusfar, but they do it so goddamn well.

Clichés aside, I can’t stop listening to this one. It’s just really well-written, utterly heavy fast, ruthless thrash (with blackened elements). Clever lyrics, interesting arrangements…. “Witchkrieg” is the monster here, but they’re all great. I was going to put this in the top 5 of this year before I realized it came out last year. [sad trombone sound]

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acid witch, stoned cover

Acid Witch, Stoned

Well, they’re waaaaay detuned… a fifth down, to the Most Satanic of Keys, B standard– and in addition…?

They’re ugly, and they’re as close to blackened stoner metal as we can get without a Total Protonic Reversal…!

Satan with a spliff…!

Kursed one with Kief…!

“Live Forever” is a great riff over a Hammond B-3 organ, and the riff in “Witchfynder Finder” is even better. The whole thing is worth getting, but these two are sterling.

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skeletonwitch

Skeletonwitch, Forever Abomination

This is one of the blurbs that came with the advance of Skeletonwitch’s Forever Abomination:

Skeletonwitch has been called every name in the fucking book: death metal, black metal, thrash metal, speed metal, heavy metal, epic viking blackened thrash ‘n’ roll, and so on. It seems the only description everyone can agree on is metal.

Something you might need to know here:

The blurbs that come with advance copies of albums are RIDICULOUSLY hyperbolic– “this band will take your virginity, change your gender and make you smart enough to build a trans-dimensional teleporter to visit God himself– and then bitch-slap him in the face! (Also you’ll lose weight and gain lean muscle.)”

They’re almost an art form of intentional, nay, Voltaire-esque, excursions into world-bending parody. They’re so far over the top that their children never even knew there was a top to be over.

Have I made my point?

This in mind, the above Skeletonwitch quote is actually completely spot on: “epic viking blackened thrash ‘n’ roll” is a great description of the SW sound– as is “metal.”

“This Horrifying Force (The Desire to Kill)” the album opener, starts with (old-school thrash style) the acoustic intro, segues into a very cool bay-area thrash breakdown riff at about 2:00, then fires off Maiden/Priest style dual-leads…. “Reduced to the Failure of Prayer” (great title) starts with particularly effective roaring from vocalist Chance Garnett (who I normally find a bit underwhelming) over Testament-like riffs and solos….

…and in all the songs you can not only hear the bass, but it’s usually playing a part separate from the leads– which illustrates the level of songwriting (or at least riff writing) here…

Track 3, “Of Ash and Torment” has a great melody at 1:00, and overall the best hooks on the album– comparable to “Within My Blood” and “Crushed Beyond Dust,” to me the highlights of their first two albums. This track also illustrates the second, and arguably best, illustration of SW’s songwriting skill–

These songs are short.

Not Grind/ punk short, but rarely over 3 minutes. They get in, they rock out, they get out. The songs are usually over before you realize it– and makes me wish SW would hold a workshop for doom/sludge bands (my true love) about how to write short songs. Yeah, sometimes length is the point, but more often than not a good doom song could be made great by being half as long, amirite?

All the tracks, particularly “Shredding Sacred Flesh” and “Cleaver of Souls” are unapologetically metal (i.e., awesomely ridiculous/ ridiculously awesome), and as the songs unfurl all the melodies sound something Maiden’s “Flash of the Blade” (not a bad thing at all) and the guitars have that Gibson-straight-into-Marshall sound from Kill ‘em All.

In fact, that’s the best description of Skeletonwitch as heard on Forever Abomination: 1982 Metallica covering Iron Maiden with Cronos singing.

Not original at all, but excepting that– perfect.

Fear, front cover

Blackened Hardcore vs. Hardcored Black Metal: Is there a difference? What YOU need to know! [Featuring Dead in the Dirt's "Fear," Early Graves' "Goner" and Craft's "Void."]

Did the headline work?

Did you read it and immediately think, without logically evaluating anything, “Holy Christ! Why the goddamn hell do I not know the crucial differences in these sub- sub- sub- sub-genres of metal?!?!”*

Suh-weet. I’m awesome, brosef.  [I assumed you said "yes," or "Of course, Master."]

Just the fact that hardcore and black metal can both be present in a band means 2011 isn’t all bad. Not like 1987, when the mere idea of punk and metal together meant a fight. Now with some bands you may as well not bother trying to give a genre.

That’s very cool to me. That’s “peace in the galaxy”/ tolerant-of-all enough to be on a Star Trek episode.

Anyhoo– two hardcore punk acts with obvious black and sludge metal influences, today we have Dead in the Dirt and Early Graves, specifically their respective releases Fear and Goner, as well as Craft’s Void, which to me is more black metal with hardcore features.

First, Fear. Chuggy, breakdown-ish sludgy, blastybeaty hardcore (with a very agile drummer– he usually plays the blast beat or the d-beat, but can turn on a dime when the music needs that, more like a tech-death style drummer). Rediculously intense, it never relents, not for one goddamn second. It’s like the most angry/ferocious features of hardcore, black metal and grindcore joined forces to become, Voltron-style, a super-aggro being possessing all of the strengths of its constituents but none of their weaknesses!

Guess that’s really more like Blade, but… still.

Fear, song-wise, is definitely of the LOLA (like one, like all) category– the entire work is essentially one long, detuned raging blackened hardcore-fest.  “Disease” encapsulated their sound best, I think, and even for these songs is brief (1:51).

Next, Goner– the most obviously metal of the three here, still very very hardcore (d-beat, three-chord tunes), and very nearly as psychotically angry as Dead in the Dirt’s work. “Rot” is my favorite, followed closely by “Wraiths,” which opens with a lovely sludged-off riff. Unfortunately, Early Graves love to fill space with feedback, which gets old.

But enough about these acts for a minute– let’s talk about you. You look different. Have you done something with your hair? Lost weight? Been working out? Had some sort of major elective surgery? Joined a cult? Pregnant? You are glowing. Whoo, I tellya, if I were 20 years younger (older?) I’d be all over that.

Aaaaaaand we’re back. Regarding Craft’s Void, track three, “Come Resonance of Doom” is a lurching, sludgy blackened hardcore breakdown of a song, like Harley Flannigan was in Darkthone or, more accurately, like Mortuus singing for Discharge.

Tell me that doesn’t sound wicked cool, yeah?

Track 4, “The Ground Surrenders” is straight out of the Disfear playbook– until about halfway through, where there’s black metal aplenty– vocals, blast beats, and a choral section. It’s a very cool blend of the two styles.

Void is growing on me the more I listen to it. It’s probably the most enduring of the three, becuase it never manages to be predictable or boring. The former two aren’t boring either, I don’t mean that– it’s just that you’ll always know what to expect with them.

*Not sure why I’m making you sound like Hunter Thompson.
City of Steel, cover

Micro: City of Steel, Untimely Demise

Canada’s Untimely Demise, are, essentially, Skeletonwitch– if they were more interested in bay-area thrash metal, ca. 1987, than in Iron Maiden.

If 3 Inches of Blood are this year’s traditional metal act, then Untimely Demise are their thrash counterparts.

Dig:

Marduk Iron Dawn

Marduk, Iron Dawn EP

Begin the ritual: get some time to yourself, put on a good stereo or good headphones, and put the volume up slightly louder than you would normally.

Then wait–

It starts, and continues, with a bass-heavy air raid siren– when the blast beats start, a London blitzkrieg later, you (seriously) might mistake them for machine gun fire.

So much bass on this; very cool and a nice improvement to the (already good) sounds of previous LP Wormwood.

Martuus’ vocals, unlike Watain’s (rageful, exultant) or Nefarium’s (just rageful), sound like he’s rasping out his unfiltered, genuine hatred– because he’s being strangled to death.

He’s dying, and he’s got no reason to lie to you.

And Mortuus HATES you.

I love the plain cover, barely an image, but a powerful nearly-monotone one, with an Old English font title and the band’s name as legible as can be– old confidence for a black metal band. And for some reason, adding the “by” in by Marduk makes for seemingly subtle modesty, which makes them seem supremely confident, and is the crowning moment of awesome for the cover.

Track one, “Warschau II– Headhunter Halfmoon,” with it’s bombastic five-tone riff, Track two, “Wacht Am Rhein Drumbeats of Death,” culminates in what may be wolf howls, and–

Three, “Prochorovka – Blood and Sunflowers,” is the “ballad”– Marduk playing sludge/doom– and it is fucking awesome. A combination of Marduk, Earth and Winter. I’ve read about this track being considered “filler,” and while it is different from most other Marduk stuff, if it was in fact intended as filler, they should do that more often. I really dug this song.

Iron Dawn is three songs, and it’s the perfect length: enough to blow you away, not enough to desensitize you.

Speaking of which, fun Iron Dawn story:

I had been listening to an LP and reading. For some reason on my stereo the LPs have to be turned up more loudly than do CDs, so the volume was way up. A storm front was passing through, and it knocked out the power for about a nanosecond– just enough to turn off the stereo and back on.

Now, if the stereo does in fact cut off, for whatever reason, it autoplays whatever CD is in it. At whatever volume it was on.

The record had finished a while ago, and I didn’t even notice that the stereo had reset….

…until, at jet engine fucking volume, “Warschau II– Headhunter Halfmoon” started playing (it intros, remember, with air raid sirens) and scared the HOLY LIVING JESUS SHIT out of me.

Ear-splitting air-raid sirens, just after a power outage, during a storm…?

I’m pretty proud I didn’t piss myself.*

The point IS– Iron Dawn, three songs or not, is a mighty record.

Especially in the wrong hands.

*I actually did piss myself.**

**I’m kidding.***
***No, I’m not.****
****Or am I?
Ogen, Black Metal Unbound, Cover

Ogen, Black Metal Unbound

Nice production (i.e., bass), very cool chord changes (in track, or “traccia” one, and two), blast beats used sparingly, but well when so used….

Track two, “Black Tusk Retaliation,” [Italian Black Metal etymology...? Anyone...?] seemingly taps directly into the Archetypal Fear of Man, when Mankind was mostly caves and cookfires….

Evocative soundscapes/ almost soundtracks for a wilderness, each track drops into rhythmic, almost “breakdown”-type parts to invoke the savage prehistorical dances of men around a fire at night, ecstatic with their however-temporary transcendence in appeal to God….

“Crest of the Forgotten” has cool 6/8 time choral section;

“As a leaden Sun shineth upon,” shows you what you’ve been suspecting about the music so far: it’s not the blast beats, or the open-chord over choral vocals, or the occasional gallops at 300 bpm (all the black metal staples, basically) that sets this album apart: it’s the chord voicings, plus the odd, dissonant chord progressions that stick with you: initially they can be very disconcerting to the ear (and so the brain)– the chords crash up against each other, sounding odd and eerie; however, after getting used to the alien beauty of the chords, “normal” chord progressions like you hear in every pop song, sound so bland so as to barely register as sound, let alone music: it’s almost like Ogen is so heavy that even their chord progressions, not the Black Metal parts, but the so-called “relaxing” ambient/drone parts (without lyrics, usually) are desensitizing in and of themselves.

A heavier Alcest?

Songs nicely economical; short….

Not Winter music, like the cover would suggest, but late Autumn music: music pregnant with the sadness of the coming loss, the things to die, the fear that they may not return, the fear that you’ve angered the sun, that the dark may not go away, that your best days are behind you… a very primitive fear, embodied in these chord changes.

Dragged_Into_Sunlight_-_Hatred_For_Mankind_artwork

Dragged Into Sunlight, Hatred For Mankind

Dragged Into Sunlight are King Diamond become more black metal, with D-beat groove, baby

sludgy detuned black metal, with basement (dungeon?)-esque production to boot

lots of overdubbed excerpts from sinister-sounding soundbytes/ movies, not unlike White/Rob Zombie, or bits of Exodus’ Pleasures of the Flesh….

trebly-yet-low tunings, blast beats that segue well into lurching riffs, vocals so buried they’re like a meth addict screaming from next door

requires some degree of desensitization to appreciate (like black metal)

“Boiled Angel,” “Buried With Leeches,” (at 1:43 becomes noticeably louder; highlights cheap –tr00?– production), and at 4:44 drops into a lurching two-chord riff with tribal drumming slowly emerging from underneath… then sounds like a thrash band’s breakdown (but all while sounding like the same band, not a hodge-podge of styles), nicely blended

Final track “Totem of Skulls,” is ambient, studded with audio tracks of… excerpted psychotic manifesto talking points….

Severely-abused-child-with-psychotic-disorder’s-drawing cover art aside, worth checking out.

SepticFlesh, cover

Ulysses-era James Joyce and his impromtu impressions of SepticFlesh’ The Great Mass

Sillie Billes: mob of young cubs yelling their guts out.

[Regarding "The Vampire of Nazareth"] Forthwith, choir boy opines messages of hopeful despair, the rumbling and noisome trucks in the background, then [at 0:45] the mammoth maw opines such gospel of death as to faint the older ladies in the pews… the music as thundering wagon-wheels in its repetitiveness in its repetitiveness in its repetitiveness

Note the strings ambling in the background…. angels hem and haw, awestruck aweSTRUCK at the devil’s choir that enters [at 3:00]– “We offer the sun…?” [Regarding "A Great Mass of Death"] thunder in a physical form, an arrogant demonic seduction– those horned ones know you want them and attempt not to try… [at 1:45] a human voice, then another, a lass, then those of the demonic again, and loud and louder and loudest

[On "Pyramid God":] celestial harps fallen beyond light, the drunken raspish Satan sings a regret of sorts– it’s theatre, but done, and done, and done so the truthedness emerges as victorious in its battle of forces of language and lies–

[At 3:45:] now we’re quiet, but bouncing, and only that to get to the next slaughter– the wagon-wheel percussion* again– it ends, and the after-reverberation reminds him of the awfulness of good**

[Regarding "Five Pointed Star":] Belial belching, dyspeptic.

["Oceans of Grey":]

–Up the boars!

–Three cheers for Spiros!

–We’ll hang Christos on a sourapple tree.

Old Sotiris started growling again at Bloom that was skeezing around the door.

["The Undead Keep Dreaming":] the quiet choir, the pounding outside the church front door– the chorus sounds worried, it does

[On "Rising":] mourns something alien, and well beyond us kyrie eleison, Christie eleison***

["Apocalypse":] again the dyspeptic choir, its symphonic praise  ["Mad Architect":] builds and builds its impending critical songs… and pounds, madly in time, a German conquest… ["Therianthropy":] mad reviews of memory, those needed things gone– your cello demarcs its region of choice….

This is, in no means at all, Mozart’s Great Mass… or– only after he’s fallen fallen fallen way down beyond our views and those of the Frock….

And, as the Guinness departs the glass, he writes

no

further

-JJ

*This seems to mean “blast beats.”
**Paradise Lost reference.
***Catholic/Episcopal Mass reference.