Death metal

Cryptopsy, None So Vile, cover

Cryptopsy, None So Vile

Why is None So Vile, a 16-year-old release from Québécois death metal outfit Cryptopsy, indispensible?

I will elucidate this in that most classic and festive of forms, the Christmas death metal recipe:


1) Horrific and completely unintelligible harshed snarled bellowing from one Lord Worm, an insane(r) version of Lord Byron (who later left the band to become an English teacher*);

2) Literate (i.e., clever and non-intelligence-insulting) lyrics, from same Worm’s Lord (see Decibel’s hall of fame entry piece for None So Vile, which includes the gem that the lyrics are “The most artful use of the death growl ever put on record”);

3) Drums as athletic and goddamn impossible to even air-play play as Zbigniew Robert Promiński’s hits from Behemoth’s Evangelion (fuckin’ A, Flo Mounier);

4) Pristine, high-gain guitar tone that’s still detuned (all the way to B, a fifth below standard tuning), but with a tone and agility that sounds nearly thrashy in the intricacy of the riffs;

5) AND– liberally put fucking slap bass in it! Slap bass that serves the music and not just the bassist! And doesn’t sound like Infectious Grooves!


Leave out in sun to rot. Periodically huff putrescent fumes.

Serving Recommendation:

None So Vile, and death metal in general, “works” or doesn’t for the same reasons black metal does: when successfully composed, the music becomes the sonic embodiment of fury– pure rage, that, for whatever reason, has risen up and now manifests itself physically, like some invisible God of Vengeance.

Death metal isn’t about Riffs (though there are a few really good ones here; see below); doom, stoner and sludge metal do those best. Pure, adamantine death metal is about fluid, furious drums backing guitars tuned so low they detonate Richter scales, and which still manage to pale in comparison to the presumably-Satanically-Behemoth’ed, only-through-the-lungs-of-hell vocal sounds emerging glacially slowly, grudgingly, from the underworld that is the distorted voice box of the band’s vocalist.

This is that death metal.

Best tracks:

“Graves of the Fathers,” which at 1:15 drops this sweet pinch harmonic-based riff with a great drum lick under it, and at 2:15 drops into a fantabulous open B riff and at 3:30 cums some brilliant blast beats;

“Dead and Dripping,” pure blurred Picasso-using-blood-as-medium chaos, with a beautiful sweep-picked solo at 1:50, which heralds the actual slowing of the tune into a stupid-good riff at 2:06, and another pure hell scream at 2:41;

“Benedictine Convulsions,” which at 3:35 spooges one fantastic lurching drunken riff;

“Phobophile,” which starts with a piano interude that sounds like something sweet from an 1980s boy band single– and which then keeps swaying in and out of tune, as if the Baphomet were clutching vilely and violently at Jordan Knight and company– it wavers, somehow sadistically and psychedelically, in and out of key… until it then hits, predictably enough, at 0:50 with drums and bass and a deathened shriek– but what you can’t predict is how goose-bump generating this is: the hairs on my fucking neck stood out at this point. (Of course, the stereo was loud as shit, so make your own neuropsychologically-informed conclusions about this.) At 2:44 we get yet another slug riff in B over breath-takingly agile drum licks and a death growl that has started to sound more like the pulse of the Earth hurtling through space at 1041.7 miles per hour– you know, that daily astronomical miracle you’ve already gotten used to; and, finally,

“Orgiastic Disembowelment,” which, at around 2:15, actually has the chutzpah to swing (in death metal? GTFO!) while it deploys a quick rusty metal Riff (note the capital R) that most sludge bands would write an entire suite around.

This fucker just. Does. Not. Let. Up.

It’s 32 minutes of sniper-focused, classically-trained, subtle-yet-unconstrained rage that makes Reign in Blood (an obvious ancestor) look positively geriatric.

This is the soundtrack to the end times/apocalypse/ Armageddon/ Ragnarōk– and simultaneously also why said eschatology will be #greatestpartyEVAR.

None So Vile has just given me, via rather large if outdated speakers, one wonderful afternoon. It is quite literally massaging my old bitter heart as I absorb its high-Db proclamations.

I am fucking digging this shit. This kicked my ass. And I’m older and tougher than I look.

I recommend you investigate these seemingly-hyperbolic claims yourself.

Now… that’s it… go ahead and run– Run home and cry to mama!

10/10 link
*Lord Worm, not Byron. So many Lords… it gets confusing, donnit?
blood for the master, cover

A Goatwhore primer

I don't think they realize that drinking Christ's blood is really, really Christian.

What with Blood for the Master coming out on Valentine’s Day 2012 (because that makes sense), here’s your primer– i.e., what you need to know, about New Orleans’ blackened death metal act Goatwhore.

Up-to-this-point highlights:

“Alchemy of the Black Sun Cult,” from 2006′s A Haunting Curse, “Apocalyptic Havoc” (video here*), “Carving Out the Eyes of God,” and “Provoking the Ritual of Death,” from 2009′s Carving Out the Eyes of God.

No bullshit/ short version: they’re all modernized Celtic Frost tunes.

Is that not enough?

What is it you demand? Complete originality?

I can’t help you, nor can Goatwhore– but otherwise we can rock the shit out of you.

So, from said upcoming Blood for the Master, here’s “When Steel and Bone Meet,” and “Collapse in Eternal Worth” to tide you over until Valentine’s Day.

*Otherwise known as “Who needs a God, when you have Satan…!?”
Impetuous Ritual, Relentless Execution of Ceremonial Excrescence

Impetuous Ritual, Relentless Execution of Ceremonial Excrescence

Y’ever watch True Blood or read the Sookie Stackhouse novels?

You say you’re a heterosexual male… so no?

Let me re-phrase.

Have a girlfriend/wife?

Y’ever passively listen while True Blood plays in the same room as the couch you’re sitting on, while waiting for Anna Paquin to get naked again?

That’s what I thought, you coy motherfucker.

In said world, “V” (vampire blood) is used as the ultimate psychedelic/ opiate/ steroid/ stimulant drug.

Impetuous Ritual and their full length, Relentless Execution of Ceremonial Excrescence, is like V–

but only if it came from Cthulu!

That’s right– Impetuous Ritual creates the suggestion of mainlining the very life fluid of the most ancient of the Old Ones.

More evidence of said controversial thesis:

One, it’s like they’re seriously trying (facetiously?) to out-complex-name Carcass and the 1000 death metal bands and their obsession with medical textbook terminology that followed in their wake (e.g., just dig that album title);

Two, if Portal weren’t fucking weird enough for you;

Three, if you love Sunn O))) and their obsession with sound and its effects on the human body for their own sake (rather than as music);

Four, if you love that photo above (no shoes or shirt, big-ass 7-string string guitar, grizzly fuck-off beard, bloody face, wrist spikes);

Then THIS is the death/black metal/noise band for you.

Impetuous Ritual, Australian, formed from two members of Portal, released Relentless Execution of Ceremonial Excrescence (on Profound Lore)  in late 2009; since then apparently it has been worming its way to me, presumably via the Pacific then Atlantic Oceans.

That’s a creepy thought– thought it somehow also makes me feel loved. Or at least attended to.

It’s low-fi, noisy, blast-beat-ridden, shriek-filled, violent, menacing, incoherent fury that very nearly, if not altogether, transcends the normal functions of music as we know it.


“Convoluting Into Despondent Anachronism” blasts out of the gate and later drops into a sweet noise/doom riff at about 3:00; “Coalescence of Entropy” features some stupid-hard drums, both blast-beats and wildly high-metre 4/4 (I’m guessing around 350 bpm– and the music-training programs I usually use to practice only go to 340); “Ceremonial Disembowelment,” at about 0:50, lurches down into a great tremolo-picked doom riff before it takes off again periodically into blast beats; “Destitution” (instrumental, and my fave so far) is nearly all doom, with a stupidly-detuned riff in what sounds like fourths (not the fifth of the power chord we all know and usually love); “Ritual of the Crypt” has a fucking cool vibrato’ed doom riff at about 0:50 (new favorite!), and the album closes out with the slow, dirgy “Dirge.”

If you’re in a mood that’s open this type of sound (only scarcely a type of music– though this isn’t an insult)– this is some cool shit.

Though in all honesty, if you consistently have this on, and love it– you might seriously consider antipsychotics and/or antidepressants. No functioning human being should be in this mood all the time. link

Top 20 Heavy Albums of 2011

Honorable Mention:

Indian, Guiltless

Top 20:

20: Skeletonwitch, Forever Abomination

Genre-less pure metal: 1982 Metallica, covering Iron Maiden, with Cronos singing.



19: Hour of 13, The Ritualist

Totally generic but awesome satanic Sabbath riff-worship.



18: Septicflesh, The Great Mass

Greek satanic death metal opera.



17: Dark Castle, Surrender to All Life Beyond Form

The most pot-informed Guru you’ll ever meet.



16: Archenemy, Khaos Legions

The death metal QueensrŸche of 2011.



15: Exhumed, All Guts No Glory

Best non-posing death metal album of the year: pure metal fury.



14: Criminal, Akelarre

Sepultura on Crossfit: death/thrash athletes.



13:  Landmine Marathon, Gallows

Straight-ahead no-nonsense death/grind.



12: In Solitude, The World The Flesh The Devil

The Ghost for this year; 1980s European heavy metal.



11: Rwake, Rest

Crazy screaming southern street preachers, preaching doom.





Anhedonist, The Drear

“The Insatiable Hole,” track one, has one great title.

I actually only listened to this because of the unusual band name: Anhedonist, or someone who can’t feel happiness (“Happiness I cannot feel and love to me is so unreal,” after all).

It seemed to bode rather well for them. Perhaps ironically.

This is doom as slow as doom can get, pretty much, and still move forward. The tracks often start like radically-detuned death metal, then get funereal (as does the above track at about 1:30); there’s a real low-fi, live sound here: the drums (the snare in particular) pop over the weight of the sludgy riffs (some of which are, strangely and perhaps ironically, quite happy-sounding).

I didn’t think you could play a sludge riff and sound happy.

Anhedonist are sludge as played by more upbeat stoner bands like Fu Manchu. The Drear is three tracks (12, 10 and 13 minutes apiece). It’s slow as hell but surprisingly uplifting and psychedelic.

It’s only officially available (thus far) on cassette, and as of this writing there’s no youtube clips of them.

Get some underground shit: download


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?


Fuck the Facts, Die Miserable

This’ll be in my top 3 records of 2011. I really dig it– much more than I expected to, actually.

I was initially put off by the band’s name– profanity in a name usually means someone’s trying too hard and can’t deliver on the implicit promise of awesomeness, like Hellyeah or The Fucking Wrath.

Die Miserable is a surprisingly, despite its nomenclature, life-affirming album of progressive/ “experimental” grindcore. Ottowa’s Fuck the Facts have released a Hades of a record….

Track one, “Drift”– a rumbling, shaking jalopy of a sound… Bernard Herrmann’s Psycho score recast as grindcore…

This is Fun House Mirror metal–

Unwieldy, lumbering progressive-or-just-precious sludgesque grindcore… impish/pixie-ish yet also dangerous and threatening (unlike, say, Wormrot or Cephalic Carnage)….

It’s freeing, this music, full of potential, like anything can happen– a sax solo wouldn’t seem incongruous.

For extreme music, it’s memorable, very nearly catchy in spots– these are (mostly) distinct, discrete songs, not just a wall of noise (which is fine sometimes, too, just sayin’)….

“Lifeless” comes off like a thrashy Ministry– it lurches forward nimbly like an Audi 18-wheeler that can also stop on a dime, “Census Blank” has an industrial-strength stoner intro, then gets Isis-ish and at 5:00 drops into a great jangly riff. And it never sounds like they’re trying to “Kitchen Sink” the whole thing, just throwing shit in everywhere– it sounds like the same car that’s just switching gears.

“Alone” is maudlin and melodic, gets grindy then proggy then proggy and Candlemassy at the same time, while “A Cowards Existence” grinds in non-Euclidian keys and at 2:15 delivers a beautiful morneful melody….

Closer “95″ is fast as fuck , as much Extreme Noise Terror as grind. At 2:00 a haunting instrumental melody emerges to comp behind the solo.

In Die Miserable there’s a furious drive on display  to connect to and manifest sheer creativity that pretty much makes comparisons useless. What’s left to say? It’s furious, it goes where it wants when it wants–

It’s Picasso as a serial killer– the musical.

Yeah, that’s the ticket.


Gallows, cover

Landmine Marathon, Gallows

Oh, my children, devotees, congregation– how I do so love the death/grind.

This most rarified of music genres, is, to me, death metal distilled to a purer and more powerful form, much the same way potatoes yield vodka and poppy seeds yield heroin.

Generally death metal is inflated and cartoonish, but you get something great if you purge it of its disingenuous parts– eliminate most solos and breakdowns, and instead of grunting vocals cookie-monster-style to try and simulate something powerful or evil, shriek into the mike– actually be something powerful and/or evil.

Of course, this last part is tricky, and requires the soul of a high priest, or shaman, and not that of an entertainer or performer. Fortunately the members of Landmine seem to be the former two.

Slow death metal way down– you get haarp. Speed it way, way up, detune it even further, and you get what is popularly known as death/grind. A sub-type of music I genuinely enjoy.

Imagine my delight, then, at the arrival of Landmine Marathon’s newest, Gallows.

This is solid, dependable, professionally-executed music.

Sounds boring, right? Like a backhanded compliment? It’s not– read on.

You’d want a John Deere if you had to plow your fields, right? Not a Maserati. The Italian sports car is glossy and slick and really fast, but any farmer will take the Deere first– because there are things you need to do, things that have to happen in order for you to live– and you know the tractor will do everything you ask it to.

Is it glamorous? No. But it’s crucial.

Gallows will grind your face off, voice your hysterical rage and confusion and connect you to the dark like no other. When you need grind, with the possible exception of Brutal Truth, nothing will work better, will scour your soul better, than Landmine.

Gallows isn’t particularly an evolution over their previous releases, but I’m nearly certain they’re not going for evolution– more refinement. Hell, Faulkner wrote the same book every time– it just got better and realer and clearer over time.

“Three Snake Leaves,” “Cutting Flesh and Bone,” “Liver and Lungs” and “Beaten and Left Blind” and “Morbidity,” with its Arabian-Slayer-esque riff, are my personal favs.

Get some….


Because It’s Hallowe’en: How to Psychologically Engineer Death/grind

Having recently, for whatever reason (paging Doctor Freud) been listening to a shitton of death/grind, and being the in the psychological sciences and all, I naturally came to wondering about the possibility of shaping the behavior of (“engineering”) a musician who loves to play death/grind?

Not unlike John B. Watson (the behavioral psychologist, not the “thin as a lathe, brown as a nut” one) and Professor Higgins, I was thinking about designing, though shaping of behavior, a death/grind musician– my pigeon, my little Albert… my Doolittle of deathgrind.

Step 1:

Begin with your subject pool, technically accomplished musicians: they know their scales, key signatures, modes, and can generally read music, at least to an extent;

Step 2:

Make them love progressive rock and metal, but long for something even harder to play (especially for drummers);

Step 3:

Now quickly, before they quite naturally become a tech-death band, tell them they can only play punk/hardcore covers or some derivation thereof;

Step 4:

(This is the pivotal part)– introduce great trauma into their lives. And I don’t mean being annoyed or bored or even genuinely angry (like punk/hardcore)– I mean extended, reinforced, seemingly-at-random abuse of some kind, be it verbal, psychological, physical or sexual (and don’t’ let them talk about or process it with anyone else, ever)– that leads to things like:

demonstrating very disordered thought processes that will tend to manifest under stress;
being overly intense in emotional displays (these lapses in regulating feelings generally being highly inappropriate and maladaptive);
having low frustration tolerance;
and being prone to lose control.

Once you’ve installed these wildly pathological stimuli, serve and enjoy deathgrind!*

Happy Hallowe’en!

*Note: approximately 1 in 5 of these subjects will exhibit severely maladaptive behaviors, namely serial crimes, most likely serial sexual homicide. Results may vary. Not applicable in NH, MA, ME or NY.
Tom Waits

Tom Waits’ Alice and Blood Money: pop music’s death metal


There’s very simple orchestration in “Alice,” and that’s part of the attraction; Waits’ narrative, over bass and what is either a soprano sax or an alto in its upper range, sounds like something off Sting’s most dour album, “Soul Cages.”

Waits’ just speaking, not in key (or out) over his music (rather than singing a melody) is pop music death metal–

I.e., where the voice provides imagery and texture, but not melody; the emotional content also presents as genuine, whereas most death/black metal vocals seem to be trying too hard to be scary/evil. It seems like the experiences that death metal try to counterfeit are actually present in Waits’ voice.

Blood Money

Notable lyric, from “Everything you can think of is true” : we were trapped in a flood and red with your blood– another strange one-up to death metal. It’s a disturbing lyric, specifically because it’s underplayed: it’s hard to make out, and it’s not repeated– it’s so casually sociopathic it’s all the more disturbing.

“Everything goes to hell,” in particular, has Charles Bukowski-ish lyrics spoke/sung in key; it’s the best audio representation of Buk, who ironically doesn’t bear up well to hearing– his lyrical content can be utterly bleak, yet his speaking voice is soft to the point of being effeminate. The disconnect is off-putting.

Waits is what Buk sounds like if he actually sounded like his poetry; if his speaking voice matched his narrative voice.

They’re both pretty great overall, but cherrypickers:

Alice: “Alice,” and “Watch Her Disappear.”

Blood Money: “The Part You Throw Away,” and “Calliope.”