Tag Archives: Death Metal

Suffocation – Effigy of the Forgotten

Effigy of the Forgotten” is such an interesting album to review, maybe since it contains zero elements of the melodic department, instead having this pure, insane focus on rhythm. The guitars chainsaw through every song with a buzzing, conquering speed that almost never stops, while in between, cymbal chokes hammer down on you like large-caliber bullets. While most metal, even in the DM subgenre, usually has a bit of “space” in the mix to resonate within, Suffocation leaves none, holding you cruelly in their claustrophobic chokehold, your mind attacked by their labyrinth-like collection of riffs; and the calculated repetitive nature of this insisting battering on some songs like the title track, quickly grows close to being an overkill; the constant violence rendering its structure partly unimportant, serving just to contain and organize.

The only relief comes from those slower grooves that gave much inspiration for today’s modern BDM\Slam; and there are also a few catchier numbers like “Jesus Wept” and “Reincremation“, with their ultra-memorable main riffs. Many times, the band sounds so immersed in their own created chaos that the listener becomes unsure – where is his place in all this estranging music? But there are also middle-of-the-road options where the guys stick together the catchy and the chaotic very well – like “Seeds of the Suffering” and “Infecting the crypts“. Those are the real classic tracks here, me thinks. Give one of’em a listen and you will either immediately love it – or regret it – depending on your taste in music. As I said, “Effigy…” is not a forgiving listen..

Representing the convoluted nature of this album, the artwork does a good job. The place or world captured in this painting is really terrible, and was probably meant to reflect modern humanity’s demise and self-destruction with a glimpse into a possible, quite ugly future. The lyrics touch on that too if I remember correctly, though lately, I can less and less relate to this bleak perspective on humanity. It’s great as a creative expression of release – from conventions and from lies. Yes, extreme metal is maybe the greatest place and opportunity to unleash the angst and pent-up energy that life instills in you. But I wouldn’t wanna get lost in this dark chaos, and within the genre of DM prefer the less cold and more human perspective on life bands like ATG or (early) In Flames offer.

When speaking solely about rhythm though, of that “brutality” every metal site today likes to measure DM records with, then this here is the birth of it ! And with it Suffocation achieve a classic state, playing an important role in metal history, and inspiring some of my favorite bands to later come up with their own killer records. To sum it up, beyond enjoying the amazing drumming and guitar dexterity of “Effigy..”, this harsh and terrifying delivery of sound is hard to *love* in the deeper sense, but can and should be respected and hailed as the artistic monolith it is. A monolith of Death Metal !

8/10

Exhumed – Necrocracy

Released just this month, “Necrocracy” could just be Exhumed‘s most polished release to date, the band sounding uber-focused with a production so heavy it makes your “best of 2013” list of albums suddenly pale in comparison. but this DM effort is not just about blunt force, it is also a crowd pleaser, offering a combination of oldschool & a bit of melodeath modernity, while at its core retaining a very punk\hardcore approach.

This makes for a very cool formula that alternates between – and sticks together – classic and more extreme rhythmic guitar\drum patterns. Now add to those the awesome,raw vocal duo of Matt Harvey and Bud Burke, and you got yourself one killer opener titled “Coins Upon the Eyes“.

If you check out the track above you’ll understand my mention of melodeath, ’cause this song, intentionally or not, channels The Black Dahlia Murder like crazy! But while the guys in TBDM seem to nowadays repeat themselves into oblivion, Exhumed keep things diverse, as evident on this track. Their music is heavy, but has a fun factor to it; It’s like with each song, the guys sat down and brainstormed: “is this a fun listen? How can we make this track explode?”. Then they answered it within the track’s context. It’s all about keeping things dynamic, avoiding redundancy and repetition.

I can’t say whether any track here is bad, but some like “Coins Upon The eyes” and 4th track “Dysmorphic” really shine. “Dysmorphic” is less about speed – it’s more anthemic, bringing to mind the Bloodbath classic “Eaten“. However, I actually think this track is better than “Eaten” since it’s more dynamic structure-wise and in terms of the vocals, which have such strength about them! I just can’t stress this enough – one of the best harsh vocals I’ve heard in metal.

On “Dysmorphic“, as on some of the other tracks, we also get to see Exhumed add more melody to their riff-attack. This play on melody and structure reminds me of last year’s “Phantom Antichrist” by Kreator. While the two bands are obviously different – they both utilized melodeth-esque elements to give their tracklists a boost here and there, and the effect is impressive.

I won’t go over each and every song but among the stronger bunch are “The Shape Of Deaths To Come“, the solo-filled title track “Necrocracy“, “Carrion Call” and the bonus track “Chewed Up, Spit Out“, with the latter featuring these most realistic pig squeals – I mean – is that a real pig? it cracks me up every time I get to this piece – and that’s what this release’s all about – really brutal, but also fun, heavy material that will have you headbanging right away. I will say I kinda wish the lyrics were better – since at this point I find the whole gore thing to be more than tired – but 90% of “Necrocracy” is just plain awesome; With so much content and so much effort put into the album, you just can’t give it anything less than a stellar 9/10 !

The rest of the tracks can be found at http://exhumed.bandcamp.com/album/necrocracy

Gorguts – From Wisdom To Hate

Following the previous review of a Canadian hardcore classic, today we take a look at a more extreme output from the Canadian scene. Disbanded in 2005, 2013 shows the return of one of Canada’s best metal groups to date – the ever-technical Gorguts. With their upcoming album “Colored Sands” about to be released on august 30, I figured this would be a good time to review the band’s previous effort from 2001- “From Wisdom To Hate“.

To those who don’t know Gorguts at all, one could say their music, at least on this album, is reminding of Death and Nile; but only to some extent, as these guys have clearly come up with a strong songwriting formula of their own. everything on this recording, from the shifting in pacing\time signatures to the instrumental techniques is created different and obscure, making “From Wisdom To Hate” a distinct, memorable listen.

Not made just for the sake of being intricate, on this album the band takes their previous highly discordant complexities(“Obscura“) and mold them into more easier to understand sound & structure. First track “Inverted” is actually a very good example of this, the guys playing a safe card of sorts. It’s a classic oldschool anti-christian piece filled with blastbeats that is attacks clearly and directly.

Following this track however is where the real insane, more heavily syncopated stuff begins. Second song “Behave Through Mythos” changes rhythm, slowing down and speeding up in repeating cycles, perhaps to exemplify the lyrics’ subject: man’s highs and lows in his delusion with the deities he’s invented. The surreal motions this song goes through make “Inverted” look like a simple opener, and end with a demonstration of Gorguts’ more plodding, scattered and ambient type riffage, which you hear more of as the album progresses.

At third, the title track shows a full transition from the straightfoward “Inverted” to an all-out proggy, twisting and turning enigmatic style, its melodic movements slowly encircling you into hypnosis, the faster riffs now taking secondary importance. This one and next track “The Quest for Equilibrium” are also lyrically excellent, taking on the mindset of a king that knows only ultimate merciless power & rule achieved through pain and terror; very “death metal” stuff.

With its serpentine nature and atmosphere of ancient ages long gone, the wicked melody on the title track below represents, for me, the vibe of this entire album; hard hitting but brimming with subtle undertones, the notes constantly being revealed and concealed within each other, giving you an ominous feeling that devious things lie hidden beneath the surface.

On “The Quest for Equilibrium” the music suddenly drops all speed entirely, giving in to this total plodding echoing doom, slowly dragging you down into in a dismal labyrinth. “From Wisdom To Hate” is just like that – very varied and unexpected. It seems the further you go in the tracklist, the more the band’s different structural\musical themes merge together into one entity, the synthesis deepening until the very end, with the final tracks showing a very morbid Gorguts, that is atmospherically heavy to the point of being mentally burdening. Surely far from what you’d call an easy listen, “From wisdom to Hate” is more of a grower, a release to appreciate through numerous replays that features some of the most unique guitar playing and drums in metal, and one beast of a vocalist. 8.5\10

Darkall Slaves – Abysses of Seclusion

Bree Bree Bree! Wait what was that? I meant to say, “hey there ya’ll, metal folks!” How you doin’ ? ‘Say, don’t we all need a break from heavy music from time to time? yeah well, today’s post is actually about the opposite feeling. That wicked urge for the most vicious and violent assault on the ears, complete with battering blastbeats, inhuman guttural vocals and hellish, convulsing, churning guitars that speed and chug with awesome power and a sinister atmosphere. Darkall Slaves‘ “Abysess of Seclusion” is a short dose of Death Metal fit for just that need, offering non-comprising brutality of the US kind.

Abysses..” consists of three tracks only, the guys first just starting their engines with a horror-esque type of intro – then lunching into a delicious riff onslaught(“Mindless Damnation“), stopping only for some palm-muted breaks with screaming pinch harmonics – though darkall slaves are more about speed than slams. This track is so chaotic that without lyrics in front of me, I really can’t tell if anything here resembles a verse or a chorus. It’s just an excellent burst of energy burning it’s way through you, which is pretty much how an extreme metal listening experience should feel like. This crazy shit is well executed.

Third track here is the title track “Abysess of Seclusion“, offering us again quality riffs with a lot of variation. Like with most killer DM, the drummer is creating half the rampage, his beatdown of changing patterns followed by the guitars – and the vocals, by being indecipherable, play an instrumental role as well. It’s some very solid, high adrenaline DM; I only wish these guys would’ve recorded a longer effort!

Released just last month, you can check out this CD below:

Deeds of Flesh – Portals to Canaan

Titled “Portals To Canaan“, today’s slab of Technical DM is by the band Deeds of Flesh, a name death metal fans should recognize already. The album has a dark sci-fi concept to it with some very imaginative lyrical content that can be summed up as a masochistic end-of-the-world fantasy about an alien race attacking earth. However,  in my eyes, the demonic vengeance of the aliens is only there to symbolize the idea of anger toward’s humanity’s sins and pride, the alternative reality allowing the execution of violent justice; Like I said, there’s a very sadistic\masochistic vibe going on here.

Matching the intricacy of the lyrics, the riffs on this album are almost antagonizing in their complexity. No, in fact they *ARE* antagonizing, and alienating. If you enjoy technical metal music, you probably know how it feels to “follow” a repeating, complicated riff to its conclusion – very satisfying; but here, well, the pulverizing guitars just don’t repeat, at least not in the rational way you except them to. The different odd-time signatures and guitar parts come and go with a psychotic reasoning that totally evades me, and in such an amount that its all too much to take in; and the result? “Portals To Canaan” is such a shapeshifter that it rarely ever gives you one continuous groove to hold on to! Such a tough listen.

Luckily some tracks here do work, such as the Gorguts cover “Orphans of Sickness“. That track is just rad, and has the exact type of killer song-writing Deeds of Flesh lack on here; Coherent, concrete, in your face but freakin’ catchy – and hell why shouldn’t it be? You know, the other day I was checking out guitar tabs of some classic Death tracks: “The Philosopher”, “Crystal Mountain”, and “Pull The Plug”. And hell yeah, Chuck shredded on those songs, and his ideas were brilliant, but you know what? All those had an ultra solid, very sensible structure to them. Because sure it’s metal, it’s violent, but it’s music, damn it. Artistic freedom is important, but bands should write albums for their fans to enjoy, not stuff that will mostly just puzzle them; Just try headbanging to this album – you will often actually fail to !

Still, on the bright side, as I was going to say, “Portals to Canaan” has its fair share of redeeming qualities. Songs like “Rise of the Virvum Juggernaut“, “Entranced in Decades of  psychedelic Sleep” and the title track have a lot of cool and epic moments to them, with syncopated breaks and stops that give the listener a breather in between the assaulting notes, thus making things more enjoyable. So..this is not what you’d call a bad release, but for the most part, it’s also not a very memorable one – so much content on it, but hardly anything you can later remember and share with others. Good for a listen or two, but other than that, “Portals to Canaan” has overall left me underwhelmed. 6.5/10