The year was 2004. In Flames had released Soundtrack to Your Escape, arguably putting the final nail in the coffin of melodic death metal. A genre that had eaten itself and become synonymous with the peaking US metalcore, and the genre was now almost a parody of itself. However, there was a hero to emerge. After one EP, The Porter, 2 years earlier, Germany’s Disillusion were about to reinvigorate an entire scene with their full length debut, the aptly named Back to Times of Splendor
Alphabetical Interview Archives
By the time you read this article, California’s Absymal Dawn will be embarked on one of the year’s (if not longer) best death metal tours. They will be opening for three certifiable legends in Cryptopsy, Cannibal Corpse and Obituary. But Abysmal Down is no normal opener, a wide eyed rookie death metal act. These guys have been around since 2003. Have released 4 albums, 3 of which on metal behemoth label Relapse. So these guys DESERVE to share the stage with such seminal acts.
Horror and metal have always been gore filled bedmates and inherently related. The misanthropy the (sometimes unfortunate) misogyny, the shock value, the violence, the extremity and the allure for society’s outcasts. The relationship was perfected in 1986s Trick or Treat (not the 2007 shit fest) with Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons bringing metal to the big screen.
The US and mainly fertile Floridian death metal explosion of the early 90s is stuff of legend; Death, Cynic, Atheist, Obituary, Deicide, Nocturnus, Malevolent Creation, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse and the Morrisound ‘sound produced some of the best death ever, that to this day is considered seminal and whose influnce is still going well over 25 years later. Well in 1993 a band called Brutality released Screams of Anguish on label monsters Nuclear Blast, and while it arguably juuuuuust missed the genre’s peak its more classical based style insured that it rubbed shoulders with some of the classics of the day.
2015. Another, goddamn, year over already. And how’d it end? With a major downer with Lemmy going somewhere else. Who do we have left? Ozzy? Rob? Alice? Anyone else? Damn. It wasn’t all that bad of a year though, even if the world seemed to become even crazier than 2014 — if Fox News is to be believed. Plenty of good music got released and what we’ve got here is a top list of metal related stuff that Teeth of the Divine’s staff handpicked themselves. Unlike most of our corporate overlords, we don’t outsource our opinions, enslave some poor bastards and build safety nets around them just in case they decide to call it quits. Actually, that’s not true. We’re not a hive mind, we enslave people to write for us but we sure as hell aren’t spending any of our huge advertising revenue to keep them alive. Ha! Anyway, browse around and find some worthy stuff you might have missed!
In this ‘journalism’ gig you run across hundred of people and bands. I’ve done countless interviews, got countless emails and Facebook messages and so forth, but you rarely make a connection. Something more than just the grinding wheels of music and reviewing/interviewing. However, sometimes you do make a deeper connection and dare I say, friendship. I like to think I made one such connection with Nathan Gearhart, the vocalist for the re-activated Arizona Death metal band, Vehemence.
It is without a doubt in my mind that Pakistan’s crust/grind champions Multinational Corporations are the best new grind band of the last decade. I’d stake my reputation, house and hell my balls on it! Taking their name from a blistering cut off of Napalm Death’s Scum classic, the duo of Hassan (vocals/words) and Sheraz (all instruments) do it in the same old school fashion as the legends from which they culled their namesake.
Contra ain’t nothing to fool around with, you hear me? This is the very definition of a POWER trio. There’s no soft stuff or any singer getting in the way, just three men bashing their way through riff after riff of runaway heavy groove with a rhythm section tighter than a noose primed for a good sunrise hangin’. These fellas aren’t strangers to the heavy. Chris honed his guitar chops in the much missed Sofa King Killer, Aaron’s pummeling battery was an integral part of Fistula and several other infamous Ohio sludgers and Adam’s background is a bit of a mystery to me (though I’ll find out!)
Wisconsin’s Jungle Rot have been toiling in the US death metal scene for over 20 years now. But the last few years, since the band signed to Victory Records in 2011, has seen a second coming of the long running act. The three albums for the label (2011’s Kill on Command, 2013’s Terror Regime and this year’s Order Shall Prevail), sees the band at the very top of their game, aging like a fine wine.
Back in 1998 Nile, a death metal band from South Carolina, released Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka on Relapse Records. One could argue, and i would be one of them that the release reinvigorated American metal (as well as Relapse), a death metal scene that was saturated in Nu metal, Pavement Records, JL America and Crash Music bands that were simply soulless speedy death metal clones. However, Catacombs, changed the game.
Midmourner is sick… Like canker sores with a side of toe-fungus and blown bile ducts sick. Their thick, surly sludge dementia is as pure as the artform gets; miring itself in wails of corrosive feedback, clinically flatlined riffage, morphine drip blues grooves, inhuman vocal spawn, a rhythm section that smells of extinction and enough anger to put the band members’ in an institution for life. With lunatics that have served time in seminal Alabama destruction squads Molehill and Residue, Midmourner have dropped a six song doozy with their debut EP, Adorned in Fear and Error. It’s been great catching up with vocalist Shane George lately, since our last conversation via email many, many moons ago. Crack a beer, raid the medicine cabinet and let’s have a little Q & A intoxication!
It’s getting harder to be heavy AND original these days. In the world of riffing it seems a template was created and thusly many are following along instead of attempting to pioneer something different. I think I can say with certain sanctity that Palace in Thunderland are doing something different and succeeding. These guys have been around for a long time (over a decade) and are a home to members of esteemed bands Black Pyramid, Blue Aside and Space Mushroom Fuzz. They took a five year break, returning from the void with an exciting vision collecting together the best of 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s heavy rock. There’s no aping, lifting, copycatting, etc. The foursome simply calls upon their idols for inspiration, taking the asteroid handed down by the elders and crashing it into Earth. I sit down at the edge of the universe for an interview meet n’ greet with these entheogenic lifeforms.
While Sweden is the birthplace and home of buzzing, midrange death metal, other countries have dipped into the sound and come up with impressive takes on the sound. The Czech Republic (Brutally Deceased), Poland (Ulcer, Hereza), Greece (Wreckage), France (Skelethal) and even the US (Fatalist, Unwilling Flesh). Well Finland has their own impressive addition in Mörbid Vomit, an eclectic collective of current and former dudes from Black Sun Aeon, Devilhorn, Kivimetsan Druidi and The Zombi.
Gruesome released one of the best death metal albums of this year in ‘Savage Lands’. Not only that, but the album is an excellent love letter to the older Death -albums, old school death metal and most of all, to Chuck Schuldiner. We chatted briefly with one of the main motors of Gruesome, drummer Gus Rios, about how the band came to be and how ‘Savage Lands’ turned out how it did. So sit down, pour yourself some Chianti, eat a corpse and let death consume you.
I owe Shroud of Despondency’s Rory Heikkila an apology. Not only was I extremely tardy in my reviews of the band’s albums—Pine and Tied to an Dying Animal—this interview was supposed to occur months ago. Quite frankly the band slipped through the cracks of my massive backlog of metal to review, emails to answer and interview requests. I guess my situation sort of mirrors the band’s trials and tribulations as they have slipped through the cracks of even metal’s most independent labels during the band’s 15 years of existence (and 18 or so releases)…
For a decade now, Slovenia’s Dekadent have toiled in the underground with little fanfare or recognition, only exalted by those few in the know about this superb band. Maybe it’s the band’s geographical location. Or the band’s chosen style of un-traditional black metal that focuses on cinematic atmospheric and uplifting harmonies. But for whatever reason the band never seemed to get the recognition it deserved with their three prior albums, notably 2011s sumptuous Venera : Trial & Tribulation, my first exposure to the band.
A few years ago North Carolina’s Daylight Dies were the darling of the US death doom scene, picking up the mantle of the likes of Morgion and invoking the Finnish greats like Rapture and such. But 4 only albums in 10 years saw the band sort of fall from the genre’s pinnacle. But you know a band has left a positive legacy when a band starts to mimic you and your sound to a tee. And that’s what fellow North Carolinians Atten Ash have done.
2012 marked the debut album from Germany’s Revel in Flesh. Deathevokation sported an album cover that was an homage to Dismember’s Like an Ever Flowing Stream. The album is punishing from beginning to end with that classic brutal Swedish sound, which is something Revel in Flesh …hmm. revel’s in. 2013 saw the release of Manifested Darkness, an even darker and more brutal album than its predecessor. The end of 2014 Revel in Flesh punished worldwide audiences with their greatest album thus far-Death Kult Legions. Showing more maturity, atmosphere, melody, darkness as well as retaining their brutal edge, Revel in Flesh are on fire. Death Kult Legions was one of the best albums of 2014 and truly one of the best produced. If you enjoy all the classic death metal albums from 1988-1993, then there is no doubt Revel in Flesh needs to be in your collection.
Few bands have elicited as much vitriol from fans as Liturgy and frontman and creator, Hunter Hunt-Hendrix. From the now infamous transcendental black metal interview to black metal manifestos, the guy has been ripped to shred on internet message boards as well as memed to death. And that’s before the guy’s music is even in the picture. 2009’s Renihilation and 2011’s Aesthetica angered black metal pundits as they arguably shaped the current trend of so-called ‘hipster black metal’ that has swatted the hornet’s nest of black metal.
If you were to collect a bunch of well versed fans of death metal into a cage fight and force them come up with a solution to the following question: Which label is embracing us with some of the best death metal today? What could the answer be? Since it’s only a theoretical situation rather than a study funded by the UN, our best guess for numero uno, after duking it out ourselves, would be DARK DESCENT RECORDS. We shot a few questions at the primus motor Matt Calvert to find out what’s up.
Back in the late ’90s through the mid ’00s, The End Records were one of the more innovative and progressive metal labels around. They were releasing ground breaking metal albums from acts like Arcturus, Age of Silence, Scholomance, Green Carnation and Agalloch… the list goes on. In 2004 the label released a 3-song teaser EP from one of its own, Tomer Pink (who worked for The End Records) and his project Subterranean Masquerade. It also featured Jake Depolittle, Paul Kuhr of label mates Novembers Doom, Tino Losicco of label mates Epoch of Unlight and Jason William Walton of Agalloch, also label mates.
Since 2005 Ireland’s Primordial have become the indisputable kings of Irish metal. And not only that, you could argue that Primordial have become one of the biggest bands in metal, with past albums consistently littering year end lists whether its 2005’s watershed album, The Gathering Wilderness, 2007’s To The Nameless Dead or 2011’s Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand, the bands seems able to do no wrong in the eyes of the metal masses and media.
Call me a homer but I’m always a little excited when a local, or Missouri band does well. But pickings have been slim of late. I mean Scholomance, Anacrusis, Angel Corpse, Lye By Mistake; long gone. And promising young bands like Vampire Moooose, Harkonin or Recrudescence never made it further than local favorite. But canada’s Blast Head Records have managed to unearth, not one but two fine death/black metal acts from St Louis in Symphonic death metal act Eternium and blackened death mongers Tyranny Enthroned.
Omnivore is an Italian death/thrash band that released their self titled debut earlier this year on the up and coming killer Unspeakable Axe Records. It’s a short album, clocking in at 31 minutes with an instrumental intro and a blazing cover of ‘Arise’, from Sepultura. The 6 original tunes are classic death/thrash, from the 80’s scene. Think old school Sepultura/Dark Angel/Kreator. Vicious and very catchy. I really like this debut quite a lot. However due to some circumstances, that their vocalist/guitarist Pol, will talk about in this interview, the band is currently on hold
In 1991 I picked up the Nausea debut album Crime Against Humanity on cd and cassette, from Wild Rags Records. The music is best described as punk crusty grindcore and while it may not be the tightest played album to this day is one of my top 5 grind albums of all time. The catchiness is ridiculous and it’s one of the best in my opinion. 2014 has been a great year for Nausea in terms of releases. Their Willowtip records debut and second official record, Condemned to the System is my favorite grind album this year and on of the strongest releases this yr. It punishes from beginning to end. Lethal, brutal, grinding and groovy, this album destroys. Also last years World Struggle demo comp has been reissued this year on F.O.A.D. Records. All their demo material and bonus material and eps and splits all remastered with a killer booklet. You need this now.