Back with another album cover deemed unsuitable for public consumption, it’s nice to see death metal legends Cannibal Corpse still shocking the squeamish and easily offended. Having to replace controversial artwork with something a little more palatable had almost become a tradition at one time but the new record Violence Unimagined(Metal Blade) is the first time the band has actually been deemed worthy of censorship since 2012.
The peculiarity of Technical Death Metal is the capability of exploring itself, yet creativity begins to fade when there’s a vast repertoire of bands of this kind, which have made history on the underground’s music scene. Certain musical groups stick to follow a simple and uncomplicated path, keeping a comparable sound with many other bands that continue to perform in this genre. Let us consider the huge waves of Technical Death Metal in the eighties and in the nineties and how it reinvented itself to the present day. Bands such as Suffocation and Gorguts trace Technical Death Metal’s status as a whole, releasing records and records without losing its own legendary position, carrying bloody and filthy anthems for dozens of years. Continue reading →
There was a time where Metal had an ageism problem; the perception prevalent that once heavier bands passed certain milestone birthdays or anniversaries, or wracked a certain number of albums, or miles on the road, they became jaded, watered-down parodies of themselves. The late nineties, and, to be fair, a good chunk of the first decade of this millennium, were not kind to our grizzled veterans, some of whom fed into the prophecy, with stock output outweighing those who could still hold their own.
Over thirty years ago, England’s own Carcass came to the scene and shared their glorification of grind and gore. The unhinged and manic sound they conjured found an audience and quickly gained popularity, along with their contemporaries Napalm Death and Godflesh. The surge of the extreme had its time in the sun, but after their 10 year hiatus, Carcass came back in a slightly different mood. In 2013, the group took their well-known viciousness and molded it in with more melody on their sixth full-length, Surgical Steel (Nuclear Blast). They married Grindcore and Melodic Death Metal on that record which got a lot of attention and reminded everyone why these guys are such an original act. After seven years, the band is back again with their EP, Despicable (Nuclear Blast). In just four songs, Carcass takes their significant union of sounds and exemplifies them with new levels of pandemonium. Continue reading →
Incantation is one of those bands that every metalhead knows about. Hailing from the East Coast, these guys have been around for over thirty years and have always made their presence known in the scene. From consistent album releases to endless touring, Incantation is an act that has dedicated everything to their craft. These veteran players continue to carry the banner for old school American Death Metal on their eleventh full-length, Sect of Vile Divinities (Relapse Records). Released last month, their grim and gruesome sounds gurgle to the top of the scuzzy cesspool of heaviness that they have created.Continue reading →
After a sequence of splits, EP’s and singles, the second full-length release from Mancunian death metal mob Foetal Juice finally exposes the band’s darkest secret – that underneath all the songs about bodily fluids, blue waffles, and human waste, lurks a group of serious musicians. Continue reading →
Canadian death metallers Laika are a rather underground act, but their sophomore album, Somnia (Filth Regime), is something that deserves to at least be brought to the attention of the genre’s fans. The songs sometime fall into the trap of sounding too generic, the album has some great moments.
‘Restless Mind’ is a beautiful opening featuring a piano and then blasts right into the next song, appropriately titled ‘Escalation of Terror’. Some of the songs feature great guitar parts by Ian Garraway and Alex Kling as heard in ‘Caligae A Galea’. Too often the songs sound the same but ‘Dream of Nothing’ is a refreshing break about halfway through the album. Just like ‘Restless Mind’, it is an instrumental. ‘The Immortal’ provides the band an opportunity to change the sound of the album but it unfortunately comes too late.
What the album has going for it is that the songs are full of power, energy, and metal assault; they are sure to get any pit going. Sadly, Somnia fails in that there is not enough diversity in its sound. Laika are still stuck in their comfort zone but one still hopes that they are able to overcome their fear of stepping out and come back stronger next time.
One of extreme metal’s most promising and hyped prospects, Reading Pennsylvania’s Black Crown Initiate, have finally unleashed their debut LP, The Wreckage of Stars (eOne). The hype here is real and well deserved following last year’s crushing self-released Song of the Crippled Bull EP, joining eOne’s mutant shark-tank of a metal roster and a guest spot on The Metal Alliance Tour.
So how does The Wreckage of Stars stack up to the debut EP?
It takes the chops and promise on display on the EP and gives it the CinemaScope treatment. Much like The Faceless’Planetary Duality in 2008 the tracks build on their predecessors. The compositions are given a deeper low-end sound and are allowed to breathe and shift through various dynamics. Songs can go from sounding like its raining hammers on concrete to Devin Townsend or Opeth-like progressive melodies. My own slight knock with this approach is that on a song like the otherwise superb ‘Withering Waves’ they resort to the clean-sung chorus a few too many times. It sounds less dynamic and more formulaic.
Part of the fun for a death metal enthusiast like myself is with numbers like ‘To the Eye That Leads You’ and ‘The Malignant’ where it’s all about the groove and suffocating double bass drumming.
In conclusion, Black Crown Initiate serve as a reminder to death metal’s constant evolution and unwillingness to die. Everyday online I read the crying and moaning that death metal hasn’t been the same since the “good ole days” in Tampa Florida. And while Tampa in 1991 was an almost unreal musical environment, there’s still plenty of good today. We are fortunate enough to have young bands like Fallujah, Rivers of Nihil, Abiotic, Job For a Cowboy and now Black Crown Initiate who grew up listening to the Florida master class and are putting their own spin on the most extreme of genres. The future looks bright.
From humble beginning as Nihilist to the mega band of today, Entombed have forged a place in the metal elite to an extent that most bands can barely dream of. Little did we know when conducting this interview, that Entombed founding member, vocalist Lars (LG) Petrov was about to announce stepping out of the band and reforming in a new guise, Entombed A.D. Their latest album Back to the Front will be released under Entombed A.D, leaving original members Alex Hellid and Ulf Cederlund the old name and old material. Chatting with Ghost Cult magazine, Petrov talks about 23 years of death metal and everything Entombed had come to be known for over the years: hate, killing, Satan, and more hate.
It’s been 23 years since the release of left hand path, where do you find the inspiration from to keep writing after all this time?
Life. That’s what we were born to do. Every song is a step forwards so for me that’s what keeps us going. After 23 years still seems fresh. A newborn kid every day, every morning.
How do you keep your sound new with each album?
We don’t think that much about it, you do riffs and you put them together, your excited and you get goose bumps. That’s when you know it’s right; it sounds good. We just make it and record it. You can always do a song and then be picky and rearrange, you can do that for years without completing it so we just say ‘sounds fine, lets make it.’
Entombed is one of those bands that every death metal fan has heard of. How do you feel about your success over the years?
Yeah, it’s great. When we play shows there’s a lot of people turning up and they see that we have a good time on stage. We don’t see it as a routine. Every show and every album we do is because we love it. If it becomes routine it gets boring, but it hasn’t happened yet so that’s a good sign. We just do what we do, particularly now that it’s been 6 years between albums. I don’t know what we’ve been doing, we should have done one more album in between but we kept changing paths.
Despite being Swedish, you sing in English. Have you ever thought about doing an album in your native tongue?
No. I think that would sound ridiculous. Swedish doesn’t go well with death metal vocals. I’m going red just thinking about it actually.
You’ve just finished your 10th studio album, Back to the Front, how do you feel it turned out?
I think it turned out fucking great actually. When we started doing the songs that was about 5 or 6 months before we entered the studio. We were not distracted; we were just working fast and efficient. I like the songs and the sound of the album. The producer, Roberto Laghi, he didn’t want to change our sound drastically; he knew what we were after. He took the time to mix it his way but combine with the old school sound. I think it’s the perfect album for where we are right now.
Back to the front has obvious military connotations. Could you tell the readers what kind of lyrical ideas are running through this album?
Basically it’s the usual song ideas; killing with a little bit of Satan. There’s a great feeling of hate, positive hate, and there’s the total war theme. It’s up to the reader really, we can mean something with a lyric but it can mean something different to someone else. It’s a very open-ended interpretation. It’s hard to say what the lyrics mean for the songs because there are so many other opinions, so we leave it up to the listener.
There’s been a 6-year gap since your last album. Why such a long gap?
Yeah as I said this album is long overdue. We should have done at least one in between, but we’re actually getting older and time goes faster. Some members of the band have had kids so that’s why we’ve waited so many years, but we’ve been touring. Eventually we sat down and made a plan and just said ‘lets do this.’
The artwork for the album is very interesting. Tell us a little about it.
We found this great guy from Poland, Bielak, he’s done some previous artwork for Watain and Ghost so we asked him to do the album and he was really excited. We just gave him free rein basically. He came up with a drawing and we were like ‘OK, we’ll take it’. It looks good and that’s the cool thing about art, we don’t think about it that much, if it gets the result and we like it, we take it.
Death were a band so good and pioneering that the Death Metal genre may as well have been named after them. Their place in extreme metal’s hall of fame had already been cemented long before front-man and guitarist Chuck Schuldiner‘s death in 2001, but reminders of the man’s greatness are always welcome. The Death back catalogue is undergoing the reissue treatment, with the sophomore 1988 album Leprosy (Relapse) the latest to be re-released in two and three disc editions.
The first disc consists of the original album, remastered. As a bona fide classic there’s not much to say about it that hasn’t been said before. It is old school Death Metal, mixing thrash with musical brutality and Schuldiner‘s evil bark, taken to a new level of extremity not heard before. A swirling mass of rapid riffs and time changes, it set an impeccably high standard for others to try and follow. Whether it’s ‘Pull The Plug’ or the menacing ‘Choke On It,’ this is the sound of a genre being defined. The band may have moved onto to more adventurous grounds, but Leprosy remains an essential part of Death Metal history. The new remastered sound has an extra crispness but keeps the atmosphere of the original release, inviting you to play it even louder.
Disc Two is a collection of demo tapes from a couple of rehearsal sessions. Obsessive completists will no doubt be chomping at the bit to listen to these, but there is little here of interest for the average listener. The sound is raw and muddy and few will particularly relish hearing rough versions of ‘Left To Die’ multiple times in a row. It provides a nice insight into the band’s recording process, but for most this won’t be essential listening.
Disc Three, however, proves more interesting, featuring live recordings from two shows: Backstreets in Rochester, New York and The Dirt Club in Bloomfield, New Jersey. Little more than glorified bootlegs, the sound is rough around the edges, but it captures the energy of a band on the rise. The changing volume levels and voices occasional talking over the music add to the bootleg quality, and as a little bonus has a few tracks from their debut Scream Bloody Gore sprinkled in the set lists. Better than the rehearsal disc, this still needs to be labeled under ‘one for the hardcore fans.’
Even after 26 years and countless imitators,Leprosy still sounds vibrant and essential, putting the majority of today’s Death Metal acts to shame. But, as with all reissues of classic albums, the question is always “Is it worth buying it?” And the answer is usually the same: if you haven’t already got a copy, get it. If you’re a Schuldiner worshipper, you’ll get it no matter what the reviews say. And if you’re a casual fan who already has the original, probably not.