Recorded towards the end of 2020, Paint The Sky With Blood (Napalm Records) was meant to signal the beginning of a new era in the career of Bodom After Midnight frontman Alexi Laiho. His first release since leaving the groundbreaking Finnish melodic death metal act Children of Bodom the previous year should have been the beginning of an exciting new journey. Instead, his tragic death in late December means it ultimately becomes an epitaph.
Death Metal is in rude health. It is a status that has been brewing and broiling over the last ten years, with pushes and spurts in pocketed sub-sub genres, until now the whole scene, and its multitude of variants and mutations and off-shoots, feels like it is not just doing alright, but burgeoning with a lush virility unseen since it’s fomentation some thirty years ago.
Not content with being hailed as one of the leaders of a New Wave of Death Metal bruisers (NWODMb anyone?) taking inspiration from the founding fathers of three decades past along with Blood Incantation and Tomb Mold – a pack that looks likely to be joined by impressive newcomers Frozen Soul and their glacial Bolt Throwerisms – Arizonian quintet Gatecreeper have taken it upon themselves to mix things up and show some gnarly dexterity in style and idea, and try and shake things up a little in response to the current COVID landscape and restrictions.
Kataklysm has proudly been waving the banners of Melodic Death and Death Metal for nearly thirty years. Originally hailing from Canada, this now multinational act has consistently delivered strikingly aggressive music for decades and it has solidified their spot at the Heavy Metal table. It’s only been two years since they released their last record, Meditations (Nuclear Blast). Yet this new full-length, Unconquered (Nuclear Blast) demonstrates how this quartet has a wealth of heaviness still to share.
Napalm Death choosing to drop Throes of Joy in the Jaws of Defeatism (Century Media) is the definition of perfect timing. For those not keeping score at home, the current leader of the free world is an ass-clown who smears his face daily with greasy self-tanner and fancies white supremacists and McDonald’s food. Oh, and there’s a bit of a global pandemic that has paused the world and crippled economies.
What’s the best strategy when it comes time to record a follow-up to a critically acclaimed album like 2017’s Blood Offerings? Well, for Necrot it seems as simple as following the course. Yes, that approach on paper does come across a little reductionist and it may imply that Mortal (Tankcrimes) is merely a rehash. But while Necrot may not be reimagining the genre on Mortal they are serving up some of the most satisfying Death Metal today.
The Acacia Strain is back with a new album, Slow Decay (Rise Records), are as pissed as ever despite their last LP being released (checks notes) just last Winter? If memory serves, It Comes in Waves dropped rather surprisingly at the end of December. Okay then, on to Slow Decay. Hold up, most of these songs have already been released in the form of singles throughout the year.
Anoxide takes to the stage and the room starts to fill. Occasional blastbeats growls, and riffs a-plenty, this local Death metal act make a good impression on the people around me as much as myself, with the headbanging the best indication that, despite the early start, they are certainly worth their spot on the bill. The room is busier than expected by the end of their set and their tight set is worthy of the applause they get.Continue reading
It may not always seem the most sophisticated or progressive of genres, but horrible old Death Metal has been undergoing something of a late renaissance of late. With bands like Portal, Ulcerate and Gorguts (finally no longer alone in a field they’ve ploughed since the mid 90’s) bending the genre into new shapes while old heroes like Autopsy remind us of the strengths of playing it straight. Growling over a blast-beat hasn’t been this exciting in years.
Teitanblood’s latest contribution to this is more subtle and developed than it may initially seem, and opens up over the course of several listens into an album of surprising depth. Mashing old-school Death Metal with touches of Crust, Grind and Black Metal they create a noxious mess that lurches from Blasphemy-style chaos to blackened sludge, referencing classic Carcass and the occasional d-beat on the way.
The most glaring issue with Death (Norma Evangelium Diaboli) – initially a big one – is the sheer length. Weighing in at over 60 minutes, with songs averaging around 10minutes, this seems far too overblown for such an unambitious, chaotic sound. Persevere, though, and it starts to become clear that Teitanblood have got more going on than they initially seem to. Firstly, their sense of dynamics; songs catapult explosively through genuinely well-crafted structures, riffs and beats shifting effortlessly into shapes that prevent them from getting mired in the repetition that one might expect. Secondly, there is their use of ambient noises and samples in the background of many songs, comparable to that of AEvangelist, but deployed with a much lighter hand. Many listeners may not even hear them at first, but they add a depth and atmosphere to Teitanblood’s dense, organic music that genuinely helps the album justify its running time.
Not instantly the easiest of listens, then, and will likely be dismissed by many as too long or too chaotic, but an album of surprising depth which fans of the noisier end of Death Metal should find rewards repeated listens.
8.0 / 10.0
Vader have always upheld a mantra of consistency through their career. Though not as storied as countrymen Behemoth or Decapitated (having closely aligned themselves with the latter act even sharing the odd member), Piotr Wiwczarek has still turned out tried and tested death metal which is neither blackened nor augmented with overt technicality.
‘Triumph Of Death’ has an immediate chorus but something about the bands contentment in playing to the old school death metal fan rather than producing anything particularly challenging makes parts of this album feel somewhat safe. A crisp production allows for each instrument to be present in the mix with Piotr’s characteristic gritty bark helping give the songs more character, but this is an album of peaks and troughs. ‘Tibi Et Igni’ retains the feel of early nineties Slayer or Sepultura with the addition of symphonic textures to add variation. ‘Hexenkessel’ is an improvement; menacing riffs anchored by a sturdy backbeat of blasts and a blur of fast tremolo in the scything verse.
Certainly the more cinematic aspects of Tibi Et Igni (Nuclear Blast) raise the bar. Employing new aspects like spoken word sections and the odd classical intro, adds new depth to a couple of tracks, but aside from that It is the stick to your guns approach Vader have long favoured. ‘Light Reaper’ is clearly Vader by numbers and while none of the line-up sans Wiwczarek himself joined the group before 2009 you get a sense of “business as usual” throughout much of this release. ‘Armada on Fire’ is the benchmark of the album, churning guitars and a middle section which should drive moshpits into frenzied chaos, yet it only highlights how several of the tracks here are merely solid as opposed to outstanding.
Piotr has kept the song-writing tight and concise while adhering rigidly to the blueprint Vader was built upon and the heads down approach to old school thrash injected death metal has marked Vader out as a reliable workhorse of the genre famed for their consistency, but likewise it has been this attitude which has seen some of their peers leapfrog them in the notoriety stakes.