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.
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.
“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!