Decibel

B-level Late-80s Thrash, Including (Deep Breath): Razor, Xentrix, Hallow’s Eve, Blood Feast, Laäz Rockit, Voivod, Destruction, Panic, & D.R.I.

I got the cassette of Razor’s Violent Restitution in a trade for something around 1989:

The cassette and its J-card smelled like the mildew and incense of Dave’s house, where I got it.  (Originally released late 1988.) Decibel magazine’s Top Thrash of all time ranked it as #31.

Enjoy some lyrics:

“Here I come… now you’re dead… got your woman… in my bed… now I laugh… while you cry… it’s been fun… now you die!”

“Out of the Game” opens with a great thrash riff, and continues the barbaric-if-awesome theme so far established….

Britain’s Xentrix (“Eccentrics”) and their 1990 release For Whose Advantage? comes out of the gate like a B version of …And Justice For All; title track is pretty great; 20 years later, I still remember the whole version of “Questions,” lyrics and all, as well as the the title track….

Atlanta’s Hallow’s Eve and their third (1988) release, Monument, rocked me well-beyond-all-pertinent/modest -boundaries. The first side I still remember note-for-note, including “Speed Freak,” “Sheer Heart Attack” (a Queen cover),”Rotgut,” and “Monument (to nothing).” The riffs and lyrics were B- at best, but they were as great as B- can be (which is surprisingly awesome). I clearly remember how the Enigma/Metal Blade J-card smelled; even typing those song titles makes me nostalgic for high school and jamming with drummers who only knew one (and this mediocre) beat pattern.

“Drink the Blood of Every Corpse,” (nostalgia portal here) was writ large on the backs of a few black t-shirts from my high school days– this, an epigram of the awesomeness of the “east coast version of Slayer,” Blood Feast, and their 1987 thrash-nearly-death album Kill for Pleasure.

It’s terribly-produced, furious, they-are-obviously-doing-this-for-love hyper-early-highly-primitive death/ thrash metal. Please enjoy their ecstatic rage in this Youtube link….

Lääz Rockit were one of the original (though lesser-known) San Francisco bay-area thrash metal bands; their sound was one of the more distinct of the metal bands of any time, heralded by their ultra-ultra-high-gain guitar tone (sounding similar, if more raw, to prime-era Exodus)– to me, Annihilation Principle (which I bought on cassette the same day I bought Fates’ Warning’s No Exit, minutes before being late to my guitar practice) is their pinnacle, containing “Fire in the Hole,” a cover of the Dead Kennedys’ “Holiday in Cambodia,” and “Chasin’ Charlie”– and there’s also a great, undeniably-metal-tastic cover.

We can talk about Quebec’s Voivod all day in terms of their overall metallic-influence, but I’m only dealing with their late-80s output, specifically what I liked:

“Forgotten in Space” and “Ravenous Medicine” from 1987’s Killing Technology (which I got on a green cassette, unlabeled, dubbed from a kid named Kevin in my freshman high school biology class), and “Tribal Convictions” from 1988’s Dimension Hatröss, via one particularly-awesome episode of Headbanger’s Ball (which also debuted Testament’s “Trial by Fire” video).

Destruction, being one of the three “Teutonic Greats” of late-80s thrash metal (beside Sodom and Kreator), released three records definitely worth revisiting: the Mad Butcher ep (1987), complete with awesome title track and Plasmatics coverRelease From Agony (1988) with its awesome cover, as well as its sonic highlights “Release From Agony,” and “Dissatisfied Existence“… finally, there’s 1990’s Cracked Brain— enjoy, in particular, the title track and the strange-yet-fun cover of “My Sharona,” a cover from The Knack, of all people.

Next to last, via Seattle, and produced by te H-team , Gary Holt and Rick Hunolt of Exodus, we’ve the thrash band Panic and their debut Epidemic, particularly their single, “Blackfeather Shake,” and its great-hooks-via-video….

And finally, we finish with the fathers of Crossover (i.e., punk via metal, i.e, thrash metal), D.R.I., and their singles “Suit and Tie Guy” from 1988’s Four of a Kind, and “Beneath the Wheel,” from 1989’s Thrash Zone.

Here then, is the sum total of what I love. Enjoy the video images:

 

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:

Ingredients:

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!

Directions:

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

amazon.com link
*Lord Worm, not Byron. So many Lords… it gets confusing, donnit?

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…!?”

Decline of the West is back!: Heavy Metal’s Ghost and their irrational number: or, a diabolical infinite regress where capitalism and Satanism are literally indistinguishable

[Editor: Yes! Dex is back!]

So I just blew my own mind, thinking about Sweden’s neo-traditional heavy metal band Ghost.

It was as fun as it sounds.

Reading some recent article on SawtoothWave.com, some hyperlink led me to their review of Ghost’s Opus Eponymous.

For those of you who don’t know (and I definitely didn’t)– there’s this band, Ghost. They’re Swedish. They released this LP, Opus Eponymous, late in 2010 (here’s the Allmusic.com review of it, if yer innerested) and apparently quickly became wicked popular.

Allegedly, no one knows who’s in Ghost.  Allegedly, they are Satanists out to enslave/destroy the world. They perform in weird costumes (the leader up there, called “The Nameless Ghoul”), is dressed to the nines in Pope Gear© (mitre and everything).

Bottom line on the critical-consensus of Ghost:

They’re essentially Blue Öyster Cult with subtly-Satanic/diabolical lyrics that are also pretty literate: for example, there’s a tune on there, one “Satan Prayer,” which has a parallel structure and lyrical content to one Nicene Creed, from the Catholic/Episcopalian mass.

Sinisterly-literate.

Now, I love BÖC. And since their latest oeuvres are, shall we say, less than stellar, the chance to listen to a sound-alike was too much to resist.

In a recent interview with Decibel magazine (who loved their album), the leader, said nameless ghoul (NG), claimed (as he has in many an interview) that Ghost’s explicit plan was dominate and control the world in the name of Satan.

So far, so metal, right?

What was interesting was NG’s possibly-chilling candor regarding their game plan/war strategy in dominating said Welt:

he said that there were actually counting on people assuming their gimmick (anonymous Satanic cult) was a marketing strategy.

Now, let that sink in a minute.

As I was washing dishes today, stoned as hell, I realized something:

As Hemingway might say– speaking in clean, honest prose, this is the claim of NG:

“We are a Satanic cult bent on world domination; we will achieve this by using your capitalist savvy/cynicism to allay your fears about our true motives– i.e., you will relax your vigilance (allowing us to convert you to our cause) because you will assume, quite incorrectly, that we are only a clever marketing ploy.”

This claim enters his proposition into a strange philosophical conundrum where it is literally impossible to logically determine their true motive (based on this information alone; you could abduct the nameless ghoul and torture him until he tells you the truth, but that’s neither here not there for purposes of this discussion).

So let’s think about it like this, in conversation form:

“Hey, have you heard that band Ghost? They claim they’re Satantic so people will listen and buy their album. It’s a brilliant marketing strategy.”

“But what if they’re really Satanic? Their best chance to get you to drop your guard would be to get you to think they’re just savvy capitalists.”

“Right… but if they’re actually trying to move units, capitalistically-speaking, making you think they’re a Satanic cult who are savvy capitalists is genius.”

“Unless they’re really Satanists, in which case making you think they’re only savvy capitalists is genius.”

…and so on, and so on.

Ghost, and their implicit argument as detailed above, have made two premises, logically-speaking, where each premise both suggests and negates the other.

Forever.

Ad infinitum.

Un-re-solve-able.

It’s the Epimenides paradox, fer Chrissake. It’s an infinite regress. Christ, Kurt Gödel used a version of this to scientifically prove (this is what they tell me) that computers can never achieve sentience!

It’s an irrational number, one that, mathematically-speaking, repeats forever and never resolves.

Not unlike 6.66.

Whether you’re talking about the Capitalists or the Satanists– it’s in either version’s best interest to pretend to be the other.

And, neurologically-speaking, since the brain can never logically-conclude a definite motive here, it will keep going back to said problem to resolve it. In other words, it will keep listening.

And this is not excepting that the songs are all extremely memorable purely musically and prone to becoming earworms on their own, even if you couldn’t even understand the lyrics.

Well done, Mr. Nameless Ghoul.

In this virtually-soulless, capitalistically-whored out culture, I say, if you can’t find morality– accept skill.

I don’t normally pimp out records (sorry, Henry!), but I dare you to see if you can resist conversion.

[Original article here.]

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]

amazon

Micro: Pig Destroyer, Phantom Limb

Having previously discussed Pig Destroyer’s guitarist, Scott Hull, I thought I’d delve into their latest LP, Phantom Limb, what with its cover’s love of boobs, skulls, and the suggestion of vaginal folliculation, aka “bush”….

As it’s Decibel‘s album of the year for 2007 and their number 9 album of the decade… it’s made something of an impression on the extreme music world, I daresay.

It’s a great fucking death/grind album. And it’s not even their best (I prefer Prowler in the Yard and Terrifyer).

Ultra high-gain guitar tone (somewhat unusual for grind, or for that matter pretty much anything outside thrash), super-short, punkish running times, yet with complex arrangements therein… and somehow managing to be worth re-visiting. Pure, articulate fury.

My faves are “Heathen Temple” and “4th Degree Burns,” but they’re all good.

Amazon.com link