REVIEW: Maryland Deathfest 2019

Maryland Deathfest held their annual festival in the venerable city of Baltimore a few weeks back. The four-day is one of the best-run independent underground metal festivals in the world. As usual Ghost Cult was on hand for the festivities, with Hillarie Jason bringing you her spectacular eye on bands through photos.  Continue reading

Quebec Deathfest – Live At Various Venues

The first ever Quebec Deathfest took place last month, from the folks that brought you Maryland Deathfest, Netherlands Deathfest, and more. Taking place across several venues in the metal capital of Canada, Quebec, the fest had many of the highlights of other festivals (multiple stages, vendors, lots of beer) that make this a worthy inclusion of your annual concert calendar. Bands on the bill included death metal greats like Autopsy, Demolition Hammer, Exhorder, Uada, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Malignancy, Unleashed, Skinless, Skeletal Remains, Outre-Tombe, Bell Witch, Dehumanized, Tomb Mold, and many more. Check out these EXCLUSIVE photos by Hillarie Jason Photography and we’ll see you next year! Saluer et tuer! Continue reading

Final Bands Announced For Quebec Deathfest 2018

Quebec Deathfest has announced their final bands to complete their lineup. Grave, Pestilence, Necros Christos, Bell Witch, Massgrave, Pessimist, Goolagoon, Profane Order and more. Weekend passes are available at the link below. Continue reading

Pestilence Debut New Song – “Non Physical Existent”

Reactivated tech-death pioneers Pestilence recently confirmed that their new album, Hadeon, will be released on March 9th via Hammerheart. Along with that confirmation came the ‘Multi Dimensional’ single, and today another new track has made its way online. Continue reading

Pestilence Releases New Single – Hypnotic Terror

Reactivated tech-death pioneers Pestilence have relases another new single, ‘Hypnotic Terror’. This track is an exclusive to Decibel Magazine for their flexi-disc series, and not from their forthcoming new Pestilence album, Hadeon, due out this March via Hammerheart Records. Continue reading

The Lurking Fear – Out Of The Voiceless Grave

From the cover art of their Winged Death (Century Media) 7” EP released back in May, to its 1970s style typeface and the name of the band itself, you don’t have to be a genius to work out that Swedish act The Lurking Fear are about all things old school Death Metal, and Lovecraftian themed horror. Continue reading

Howls of Ebb – Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows

Howls of Ebb - Cursus Impasse The Pendlomic Vows cover ghostcultmag

Howls of Ebb’s latest album Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows (I, Voidhanger/Nuclear War Now) is monster of an album. Starting off with track ‘The 6th Octopul’th Grin’ which shows a menacing display of low-end power and ferocity: gurgling death growls and blackened guitar. There’s a real textural vibe to it, reminiscent of Portal, with a mix of blackened death metal and discordant jazz.

The confident predatory swagger of the drumming provides a framework for sheer sonic madness. The atmosphere is permeated with unique riffs appearing relentlessly as snarling vocals swirl around. This gives the song a chaotic soundscape which bristles with dark energy and an undulating yet majestic thumping beat.

The bridge on ‘Cabals of Molder’ is out of this world, a shuffling beat, but with a real organic feel to the production. A soundscape rich with decay punctuated by the wail of screaming guitars; demonic vocals whispering hypnotically throughout like an ill wind and the bass line slithers around the piece rattling with menace. The soundscapes seem to alternate between telling a story and summoning some Lovecraftian nightmare. It really feels like a living entity, pulsating, slithering, crawling and Howls of Ebb have to be congratulated on bringing it to life.

The album takes a slower, more doom laden turn at ‘Maat Mons’ Fume’, jangley soundscapes with a raw underlying power reminiscent of Ahab give the sense of being toyed with by an unknown predator. Howls of Ebb’s world is a dark and scary place and this album is the musical equivalent of psychological horror, and instills the listener with a sense of panic.

The next few tracks take a more traditional approach unlike their other releases, after a few listens this can be a little disappointing given the brilliance so far. It’s still good however and throughout there’s a nice rhythm and pace; varied drumming and some really nice percussion and particularly on track 4 more than a passing nod to Pestilence’s spheres album.

Subliminal Lock_ A Precursor to V’ is the most obvious Black Metal infused track with hissy malevolent guitar work and vocals almost providing the rhythm at times whilst the drums go on a free-form whirlwind around the song. But the middle of it is somewhat tame compared to the wild inventiveness of the rest of the album.

Last track ‘The Apocryphalic Wick’ starts of slowly with a feeling of rebirth, reminding me a lot of the atmospheric doom of Botanist before kicking in halfway through with some frenetic drum work, and a flat-out Slayer inspired guitar solo taking the album out on a bit of a high before terminating the journey with an abrupt stop.

8.5/10

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Albert Mudrian – Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal & Grindcore (Reissue)

choosing-death-revised-and-expanded

Released twelve years ago, Albert Mudrian’s anthology of Death Metal has stood the test of time; an engaging read taking you on a loose zig-zag through the birth and, um, death of Death Metal. Unveiled through the eyes of its’ progenitors, there is method to the tale that begins in England, moves to Tampa, takes in Entombed and Scandinavia and reserves a special mention for the oft overlooked Dutch input of Gorefest and Pestilence.

Undertaking a task as complicated as trying to find the true source of the Nile (Karl Sanders – badoom tish!), Mudrian begins his tale by trying to uncover the birth of what became known as Death Metal, settling on Napalm Death and their 1985 era hybrid (Siege meets Discharge meets Celtic Frost) of hardcore punk, thrash and a desire to be harder, faster, sicker than everyone else. The book then focuses on the influence of their Scum release (Earache) on other vital artists, like Morbid Angel (via Pete Sandoval, then in Terrorizer) and the incestuous, small nature of the scene where, due to tape trading and pen palling, most of Death Metal’s predominant protagonists all knew and inspired each other.

As the tales unfurl, you find yourself swept up and wanting to revisiting all the classic albums that are mentioned – Possessed ‘s Seven Churches (Combat), Pestilence Consvming Impvlse (Roadrunner), Massacre From Beyond (the story of Massacre’s signing to Earache being another fun aside revealed in the book) and Master Master (Displeased) forming part of my own soundtrack while reading.

The re-issue picks things up as the roots of recovery were just sprouting through the top soil at the tail end of the 90’s, highlighting the rise of a new DM general in Nile. After touching on the diversification of Death Metal of this millennium, including the mind-sucking brilliance of Portal and their focus on eldritch, dark atmospheres, Mudrian covers the popularity of technical Death Metal (a section that introduced me to Necrophagist and Obscura as you can’t help but be enthused to check all the recommends as you go) over the last decade. The tome now concludes by covering the return to the scene of the apex predators with Carcass, At The Gates, Death (DTA) and others reforming to reap the benefits of their respective legacies and the rewards of the now lucrative and high profile festival market, and to satisfy an urge that, in the case of Bill Steer, they didn’t even know they had. If you read the original, the added content is an agreeable appendix.

Peppered with short anecdotes, but above all an informative and enjoyable potted history of Death Metal, all imparted with the enthusiastic love that a doting parent has for a child, Choosing Death is an affectionate, if whistlestop, walk through of the story of Death Metal to date. In the authors’ own words, he is “Just  a fan. Just like you.” He just happens to be a damn good writer who has written The Improbable History of Death Metal & Grindcore. And updated it.

Buy the book here:

 

8.5/10 

STEVE TOVEY

Horrified – Descent Into Putridity

Horrified - Descent Into Putridity album cover

Death Metal is a scene that welcomes reverence to the masters and is happy in its conservatism, providing certain aesthetics are adhered to. So, set your HM2 pedals to stun as Newcastle’s (England) Horrified pay tribute with grand devotion at the altar of Entombed  as they channel the Sunlight Studios spirit to the max on their crunky Death Metal debut Descent Into Putridity (Momento Mori).

‘Tomb Of Rebirth’ lurches into aural consciousness with a crawling opening riff not entirely dissimilar to ‘Dismembered’ by, um, Dismember, from the legendary Like An Everflowing Stream (Nuclear Blast), before the pace is picked up, and Horrified churn down the Left Hand Path (Earache). The lo-fi production gives a sense of timelessness, like this album could have been a product of the Scandinavian Death Metal explosion of the early 90’s. This is also to their detriment at times, as the power and scything rage of closer ‘Repugnant Degeneration’ is hamstrung by a biscuit tin snare and disappearing toms, while the double kicks sound like a 1970’s typewriter.

But the production is only a small element, and adds to the homage Horrified undertake. Dan Alderson’s sandpapered-throat pitches around the Martin van Drunen mark, and helps draw ‘Narcolepsy’ into the Consuming Impulse (Roadrunner) ballpark, before the song swerves off via Leprosy – era Death (Relapse) and ‘Fall From Grace’ (Blessed Are The Sick, Earache) style Morbid Angel tectonics, raging to a close.

Diversity is not necessarily the name of the game here, but neither have we ventured into the land of the pony with one trick, as a slew of gratifying vari-paced old school riffs tick various boxes, with Horrified parading and espousing an obvious love of classic, dirty Death Metal to their benefit.  As the band name may suggest there are also plenty of Repulsion references in some of the grindier and grimier passages, such as the blast that opens of ‘Veil Of Souls’.

You do have to be careful with Death Metal as it’s very easy to end up with a collection filled with thousands of bands not saying anything new or exciting, but all churning out decent enough music that references, but doesn’t better, the greats. That said, a quick dip and a descent into putridity is a good a way to spend half an hour as any.

 

7.0/10

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STEVE TOVEY