Friday, February 27, 2015

Ten Albums you should get instead of At War With Reality

At this point, it's pretty obvious that the new At The Gates album is a bust. Put in the difficult position of following up one of the most influential albums of all time, the band released a paint by numbers yawnfest that could have come from any of the melodic death metal bands that followed in the wake of Slaughter of the Soul. That being the case, maybe fans should consider spending their money on one of these overshadowed albums instead...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Scooping the bottom of the barrel: Optimalinjia Fest

"Scraping the bottom of the barrel" is a questionable metaphor. "Scooping" is more apt; you don't have to reach too deep or look too long to find mediocre grind, metal or hardcore bands. They throw their lack of talent and ambition at you cheerfully, shamelessly. Most bands who form, record, and play shows probably shouldn't have bothered.

Bandcamp Picks: Devouring Star, Heaving Earth, The Order of Apollyon, Teeth

I have been told that dark and wonderful things are happening in Finland, and "Suomi supernova" Devouring Star backs that up. The intellect of Ulcerate meets the otherworldy black metal of Deathspell Omega on Through Lung and Heart. Something to tide you over until Mitochondrion make their long awaited return. [$7]

Simply naming a band after a Morbid Angel song is no guarantee that they'll have the grandmasters' musical acumen; thankfully Czech band Heaving Earth have the chops to live up to their name. MA is an obvious reference point on Denouncing the Holy Throne, but there are also nods to Behemoth at their most brutal/technical, as well as some of the recent work by Gorguts/Ulcerate. A good representation of what death metal should be, and maybe a hint that even greater things are to come.  [€7]

Featuring two members of the under-rated Temple of Baal, The Order of Apollyon play a similarly demonic slice of blackened death metal. The Sword and the Dagger is chock full of hooks and killer riffs; and if the pace seems a tad restrained at times, it's more than made up for by the band's impeccable performance. [€7.99]

Gorguts and Ulcerate are probably lurking in the record collections of California's intriguing Teeth. The slow menace of sludge and death metal's high musical IQ collide on Unremittance - shuffling rhythms morphing into blastbeats and back again as if it ain't no thing. It's nice to hear a band trying to bring something new to the sludge table. The album is available as a "name your price" download.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bandcamp Picks: Unkured, Satyrasis, Sepiroth, Of Modern Architecture

DoC faves Unkured released their first full-length near the end of last year and it totally slipped past me. [A head's up would have been nice...] The pioneering spirit of Chuck Schuldiner looms large over Mutated Earth, which sounds like the album that should have come between Death's Human and Individual Thought Patterns (with some Unquestionable Presence thrown in for good measure). It definitely lives up to the band's promise to "perfectly balance" thrash, death, black, and progressive metal. Ones to watch, for sure. The album is available as a "Name Your Price" download.

I'm assuming Death and Atheist probably bore a similar influence upon Michigan's Satyrasis, whose progressive death/thrash takes the listener to some interesting places. ...Of the Dead is filled with twists and turns, some of them baffling (like the old school hardcore detour on "Consequences"). As a whole, though, this is an impressive album from some obviously talented dudes. The album is available as a "Name Your Price" download; the band is also crowdsourcing a campaign to fund the vinyl edition, which could be yours for a $20 donation.

Dutchmen Sepiroth may label themselves "old school", but their chops are head and shoulders above most revival bands. Uninvolved has some nice technical flourishes that drive home the point that the best death metal bands do more than just play fast. Prepare for brutality with nuance, as well as some historical/political subtext: As the band tells it, "This concept album thematically deals with the war in the former Yugoslavia that took place in the 1990's." I'm a sucker for death metal bands with more on their minds than gore and Satan. [€7 EUR]

I'm also a sucker for Canadian tech/death bands. Vancouver's Of Modern Architecture will probably send most death metal fans running for the hills by conjuring the spectre of Myspace metal, particularly Between The Buried And Me. But Wilderness is a fantastic piece of modern progressive metal that never gets boring or overly technical, and abetted by a sparkling production. The album is available as a "Name Your Price" download.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The World Keeps Turning

Hot off the release of a slamming new album, Napalm Death's Barney Greenway has been in the news twice in the last few weeks, due to a couple of open letters written to new Indonesian president (and ostensible ND fan) Joko Widodo. Barney petitioned on behalf of civil rights groups to free a British woman and two Australian citizens sentenced to execution for drug smuggling. It's good to know that the world's foremost grindcore band is still out there trying to change the world for the better and not just cop free Red Bull.