Posts Tagged ‘Death metal’

My first gig of 2020 was one that, originally, I was just going for the support act. I fucking love Behemoth, and to be honest hadn’t really been into Slipknot for a long time. But I guess the 15 year old hiding in me somewhere said ‘you need to go to that, it’ll be fucking cool’. Well the little bastard was right. Another trip up the road to the Big Smoke, Glasvegas, my former home, is always welcome as well. A couple of beers on board, I swaggered on down to the Hydro ready to join the throngs of ‘goths’ ready for some headbanging.

But first, the original reason for my purchase; Behemoth were fucking outstanding. Nergal and crew showed why they deserve to be on stages this size all the time with a gloriously brutal and grandiose performance. Nergal stalks the stage, with every guitar riff dripping with Satanic menace. Couple that with throat shredding versions of ‘Daimonos’ and the superlative ‘Conquer All’ and they laid a very tough challenge at the feet of our headliners to follow them. They even got fire, which I was surprised at since normally support acts have gotta tone it down a bit. Not bible tearing though so…

But follow them, Slipknot surely did. As much as I’m sure many of my generation will hate to admit, you wouldn’t be into death metal and the like if it wasn’t for Slipknot turning up when you were 13 years old and fucking destroying your perceptions of heavy music. ‘Iowa’ did that for me, and I only realised how important that was when I witnessed 14,000 people going absolutely insane for this band. The Hydro has never been louder, as the band smashed through powerful versions of all their classics. ‘Duality’, Before I Forget’, ‘Eyeless’, ‘Wait and Bleed’; this was a veritable greatest hits by a band whose accessibility does not prevent them from being intense and heavy as fuck.

This was a gig that was utter joy to behold. Slipknot at full power are a tight, fire breathing machine of chaos. Explosions, flamethrowers, flaming baseball bats; everything you could want. And as a sold out Hydro screamed every word, you couldn’t help but be intoxicated by it. Closing with ‘Surfacing’, we all went home exhausted, sore throats and necks, but knowing we’d seen something special. I’ve seen both Sabbath and Slayer retire at the Hydro, but neither were as visceral or as energetic as this.

Paganizer-Bandcamp.jpg

If there was a band that, in 2019, defines Swedish death metal better than Paganizer, I’d love to hear about them. The hardest working dude in death metal, Rogga Johansson, is back with more riffs and more savagery with ‘The Tower of the Morbid’, released late last year through Transcending Obscurity.

Cloaked in some awesome Dan Seagrave artwork, this is a record that goes for the jugular straight away with the galloping ‘Flesh Tornado’ and barely lets up from there. The guitar work is thick; chunky riffing with that trademark Swedeath buzz, ripping solos and chugging brutality. Can you avoid banging your head to the thunderous stomp of ‘Cannibal Remains’? No, that is impossible. But this is no one dimensional hack and slash death metal record. The melancholic ‘Redemptionless’ is a melodic tour de force, the gloomy ‘They Came to Die’ is gloriously Amon Amarth-like in its sword swinging power and the title track throbs with an ancient darkness.

A stunning microcosm of just why Swedish death metal is so highly regarded as a style, ‘The Tower of the Morbid’ is as close as you’ll come to a modern classic of the genre. The guitarwork is top notch, the songwriting is creative and yet very streamlined, and the overall atmosphere is laden with death. Rogga does it again, and Paganizer are a joy to behold in full flight.

https://www.facebook.com/paganizersweden/

https://paganizer.bandcamp.com/

https://transcendingobscurity.bandcamp.com/

A new two man project of death from Richmond, Virginia, Priests of Prometheus released their debut EP on New Year’s Day 2020 so it seems like a good record to start the year with. ‘Lodestar’ is out through their Bandcamp.

Opening with the visceral ‘Omnigore’, it is clear that main songwriter Justin Wolz has really managed to put together a great collection of songs here. A dose of grandeur dissolves into an acidic Swedeath riff, but that sense of majestic space returns and the crunchy guitar tone really breathes well here. A genuinely different take on modern/old school death, punctuated with glorious soloing. The battering, Cannibal Corpse-esque assault of ‘Darkened’ is superb, as is the chugging Suffocation-like thunder that powers the indomitable ‘Lacuna of Forgetfulness’.

Closing with the sweeping, brutal and technical tour de force of ‘Enlightened’, ‘Lodestar’ pulses with potential for what a full length could do. Priests of Prometheus have made a stunning start to 2020, and this will remain in rotation throughout the year. Great stuff!

https://priestsofprometheus.bandcamp.com/releases

https://www.facebook.com/PriestsofPrometheus/

Bethledeign - Iconography of Suffering

The debut of American death metallers Bethledeign, ‘Iconography of Suffering’ takes much from the likes of Deicide and The Black Dahlia Murder. Despite it being material written almost a decade ago, the mind behind Construct of Lethe (Tony Petrocelly) has reanimated his former work and the band wish to add themselves to the pantheon of death metal greats from the US. Can this be the opening salvo in a new career direction, or ‘just another death metal album’? It is out now through Edgewood Arsenal Records.

The potency of opener ‘Domain’ is plain for all to see, as waves of dense, blasting death metal spills forth; a magma torrent of rage and hate. The guitar tone is thick and the riffing is meaty and technical. The barrage of blastbeats keeps a relentless pace, while the vocals are fierce and savage. ‘Invoking the Apostasy’ has a touch of Belphegor’s blackened fury, and you get the sense of a melting pot of modern, well, 2010 modern death metal influences throughout. The chugging mayhem of ‘Besieged by Night’ and the waspish fury of ‘Eight Pointed Star’ are two particular highlights, but you could almost pick any track here to have a great example of what death metal in 2019 is all about.

‘Iconography of Suffering’ is a tremendous slab of crushing violence; a meal laced with strychnine and forcefed to you. Nothing about it sounds like it is almost a decade old, that is how cutting edge it would have been back then. Bethledeign have started back with a vengeance, and I look forward to anything else they have coming out. Death fucking metal indeed.

https://www.soundclick.com/artist/default.cfm?bandID=117643

I reviewed the tremendous ‘Unutterable Horrors’ from New England’s Scaphism last year here, and they have just released a new two track cassette with their new vocalist Eden Rayz. It promises more of the same old school savagery in the vein of Massacre or Death

Opener ‘From the Bloody Banks of the Phlegethon’ immediately howls with a classic Morbid Angel style riff. The first noticeable difference is the production is murkier, giving that true early 90s feel. Eden Rayz vocally is a little rougher, little rawer than previous and that fits in nicely with the filthier production. Like the river of boiling blood it references, the track burns with energy and torment. ‘Infinite Coil of Auto-Enucleation’ has a bit more of that Immolation style that I liked about their last record; complex and dense riffing serpentines its way around growls and screams like a predatory snake, waiting for the kill.

Often a vocalist change can be a tough time for a band to work through. But Scaphism have hit the ground running and Rayz fits right into their nasty old school vibe. I look forward to what is to come from them, and hope I don’t have to wait too long.

https://scaphism.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Scaphism/

Eigenstate Zero is a Swedish death metal studio project from Christian Ludvigsson, and his debut full length ‘Sensory Deprivation’ is a mammoth seventy five minutes of shapeshifting death metal that betrays many, varied influences. It is out now through the band’s Bandcamp.

Despite the length of the record, the opening track ‘Fringe’ doesn’t hang around or build a slow burning intro. Brutality is immediate, constant and propelled with some delicious double kicks. You wouldn’t necessarily go as far as describing Eigenstate Zero as progressive death metal, but the technicality on display is very impressive in places. There’s also a myriad of influences playing roles throughout, from the In Flames-esque melodies of ‘1984.2’ to the chugging, sprawling Gojira-isms of ‘The Nihilist’, and the traditional Swedeath attack of ‘Communion’. In fact, Eigenstate Zero’s ability to weave together a number of varied styles into an album that feels like a cohesive whole is highly impressive. The longer tracks are also epic and well constructed, and these are where you get closest to progressive death metal, like the jazzy interludes of ‘Strangelets’.

‘Sensory Deprivation’ is a record that, while occasionally feels a little like an endurance challenge, mostly hits the spot for great songwriting, brutality and will keep you engrossed for a while. The songs have a lot of individuality and the album as a whole feels very cohesive despite a number of stylistic changes. Maybe reel in a couple of the more meandering parts and the next record will be perfect!

https://www.facebook.com/eigenstatezero/

https://eigenstatezero.com/album/sensory-deception

Gatecreeper - Deserted

Originally published at the Sleeping Shaman: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/album-ep-reviews/review-gatecreeper-deserted/

Tucson, Arizona’s Gatecreeper are the latest band to find their way onto the mighty Relapse Records, and the three year wait from their debut ‘Sonoran Depravation’ is going to be worth it. ‘Deserted’ is out on the 4th of October, and is a tribute to the classic Florida and Swedish death metal scenes.

The riffs that open the title track, and open the record, immediately conjures up a feeling of nostalgia for the 90s. The guitar tone is a thing of ancient beauty, the simple chunky riffing, the guttural roar; it is all a certain kind of magic. Kurt Ballou’s production renders everything in a wonderful crispness, despite the guitars insistence on sound like a saw tearing through flesh. There is a certain majesty to the doomy riffing of ‘From the Ashes’, and you’ll find this regularly on ‘Deserted’, that the band do not just tear ahead at all times. Gatecreeper draw heavily from the Obituary school of Floridian death metal, and the ‘Slowly We Rot’-esque thunder of ‘Ruthless’ is a perfect example.

Why no one has really nailed a ‘Entombed playing Obituary songs’ like this before blows my mind. It seems so obvious in retrospect. I suppose because it isn’t just as simple as that. There are so many little elements playing their part here, from the sludgey trudge of the behemoth ‘Sweltering Madness’ with its maddening guitar solos to the early Paradise Lost-esque majesty of closer ‘Absence of Light’. The true greatness of ‘Deserted’s is to be found in the songwriting, where such an overwrought genre feels fresh and exciting again.

In a world where old school death metal bands are ten a penny, and the injection of lumbering doom into it is even more common, Gatecreeper have a sound that pays homage to an iconic past but yet creative enough to never feel boring or trite. ‘Deserted’ is as modern and cutting edge a take on this particular genre as you’ll find and it is a decadent experience.

https://www.facebook.com/gatecreeper/

https://gatecreeper.bandcamp.com/

http://relapse.com/gatecreeper-deserted/