Thursday, December 15, 2011

Year-end round up...

Nothing unusual about 2011's metal release collective. We've had pleasant surprises, big disappointments, strange follow-ups and mediocre shit. Here, I'll share some thoughts on some of the more talked-about underground releases of 2011. Enjoy.

And like a foul fine wine, Antediluvian have aged finely. The duo-now-quartet have released one of the most potent death metal releases of the year in Through the Cervix of Hawaah. Chasmic and murky death metal that seems to have been summoned from somewhere around the Mesoarchean era; where the presence of intelligent life hadn't existed yet and only the violence of natural existence prevails. The elusive ebb and flow of the riffing is subtle but carries this spirit of pure chaos and ensuing entropy. The band's name is Antediluvian for shit's sake, and they have finally sonically captured the nature of their moniker to the fullest here. If I may use 'blast from the past' to describe this, may I. The ancient-feeling surreality here oozes everywhere.

Yes, more Canadians! This time Nuclearhammer and Begrime Exemious have joined up to release a split. BE, celebrating their original vocalist's release from prison, have unearthed the version of their '07 demo w/ him. It sounds bad-ass. Sounds a little more dirty yet sleek this time around. I never really thought Nuclearhammer were that great, but I've actually began to enjoy Obliteration Ritual a bit more. Their material here is crudely savage and oppressive, like expected. But this seems to go for less atmosphere a la OR, and just go into this really nasty primitive direction. They also throw in some covers. Fun. Overall, solid stuff from both bands, and worth picking up.

While we're talking Canadians, I couldn't leave out Adversarial's little EP from this year. It compiles the "Thralls" demo with an unreleased track from that session, as well as a new original one and an Archgoat and Incantation cover. Since the debut has legendarily shitty drum production, I prefer this. It's one third 'bestial-like Canadian shit' with another 2/3 of stormy black metal dressed up in a more death metal musical vernacular. C.S. creates riffs that are gloomy yet hard-hitting, and just quirky enough to sustain interest and create a sense of tension in the riff-craft. The Archgoat cover is pretty cool and probably better than the original. The Incantation one is okay I guess, though I never really put it on.

Heresiarch are kiwis representing New Zealand's bludgeoning black/death scene. This group is made up of some of the Diocletian/Witchrist guys, as well as a couple exclusive to this project. I'm not totally sold on this - I think Dio and Witch do it quite a bit better. This is sort of like New Zealand's answer to Revenge to me. It sounds incredibly deadly but doesn't have as much staying power as the other brother bands in this scene. I hate to say mediocre when they occasionally begin to sound like Witchrist's evil twin, but most of the time I'm just left sort of blank. Hopefully they go the Antediluvian route and just get better with each release. Cameron blasts away like a sonofabitch

So it seems Goreaphobia are working hard to make up for lost time after resurrecting the project. I didn't hear too much of Mortal Repulsion, but I thought it was okay, if not fairly decent. This doesn't really do much for me though. I guess they got one of the Nightbringer guitarists to write/join them for this album, and it shows. It's less thick and choppy then the demos, but has a sort of tremolo-fueled blackness to the album. It's done capably, but not very memorably. I literally can't remember much from it despite remembering what it sounded like. I've been playing it now too, but it's still totally lost on me. Cool vocals, but the riffs all sort of gel together and not give off the sort of dynamic vibe I'd prefer.

Another nasty, nasty release from the lovely label that is Dark Descent. This is Corpsessed's debut EP. A Wormphlegm guitarist is involved, but there's not much of that sound in here. It's basically just really brutal Finnish death metal than sounds less early-90's and more modern brutal death metal. There's still that unique Finnish sound here, but it almost takes cues from early Swedeath like Gorement. The riffs grind together like tectonic plates at a convergent boundary. Tritone and melancholic leads slither in like some kind of asp infestation, infecting everything in sight. Too well-produced to channel a true cryptic feeling, but it carries the same type of style nonetheless.

I was pretty eager to hear how this one would turn out, and I'm not disappointed. It definitely drags near the end. but the first six tracks really fucking deliver. Mitochondrion have blown up their sound like ten tons of Tannerite devastating flourishing alien life in some dark cosmic portal into both the future and space alike. The asphyxiating aura of the guitar tone and the distant leads create this sprawling depth to the whole thing; accentuated by the twisted, hopelessly contorted flow of it all. Equally atmospheric as it is intense. The surreal seed of brutal death metal taken and weaved in plasma, then disembodied and rearranged like some fearsome unearthly creation.

New Necros Christos should be great, but it's just not. Is it because most of it feels too long? Maybe. It's not that these guys can't pack a lot of quality into nine + minutes, but for all they do, it just doesn't pack the wow factor for me. Which is pretty fucking amazing, seeing as compositionally, they seem to really do things right. This is somewhat complex gloomy and dark death metal, with a bit of a sophisticated and grandiose flair to the songwriting. Though the sophistication isn't without subtlety, and the emphasis on real atmosphere is refreshing. It's should win me over, but I mystified by why it doesn't. I think a dirtier and more distant sound would have brought more out. It's too clean and too full of interludes basically.

This is a bit of a weird one. Execration's second is a Norwegian fusion of mystical sounding death metal with an almost French-sounding hint of black metal. It's different, and it works, but it's merely okay and not great. I swear someone involved with Ved Buens Ende is in this band, become this almost reminds me of certain Written in Waters moments with just a little tiny bit more beef to them. Those parts are sort of neat, but not really too necessary. It's more like the band likes to bloat their songs into making them seem more sophisticated than they really are, and there's a good bit of that here. They also seem to be amazingly talented at starting a song really well but letting it die around the halfway mark. Ehh......

Hades Archer is Chilean fucking fury. I think if you bred a child of Sarcofago and [the Polish] Persecutor, and raised it in a Satanic guerrilla camp in the South American rainforest, you'd get a carbon copy of this. Putrid, spirited black/thrash that is like the spirit of Sarcofago just going Charlie and getting stronger in the jungle. The gruff declarative vocals resound commandingly next to the steely, wiry buzz of the guitars. It would be a more memorable release if it slowed down sporadically, but yet that would also run a lot of the appeal. Recommended for people who love slick riffs and can't get enough Sarcofago and Vulcano in their lives.
This one rips with attitude, and not in the cheesy typical way.

Another one of Chile's bigger names, Perversor have showed up to exert a primal fury so frenetic and rage-fueled, they could only release a short taste of it in this EP to contain the density of it. These guys keep it very simple and devote every second to paying homage to Blasphemy, Sarcofago and Impiety all at once, by unchaining a tremolo-soaked maelstrom of lightning fast riffs. They're almost random in construction, but driven by such a solid feeling of conviction that they really begin to take a life of their own. The type of thing to just bask in for its unflinching aggression, but almost loses importance when analyzed and dissected. Just simple rage - as an instinct, not a philosophy.

You just have to adore that vibrant cover art. It could be anything, and it's so damn vivid. What kind of album does this marvelous cover grace? Well, it's classic Swedeath revival of some kind, slicked up via modern production but still having a just-Sunlight-sounding-enough guitar tone to make it gritty. Weirdly, it's better background music than music for attention. It kicks so much ass when you're playing it alongside a video game or doing yard work, but when you sit down to pay more attention, it loses something. I could never quite pinpoint why this is, but it's a kinda neat slab of slimy, squirming Swedeath. If you wish Tribulation had a less thrashy and more playful bother band, here you go: Morbus Chron

A hulking sludge monster from some gaseous swamp in a subterranean post-apocalyptic world. It was boasted that there would be only analog production here, and thank fuck for that. It's a nice example of it being done well. I think there's a bit of filler on this, but the band still carries itself well enough to be listenable. The doomy crawls are given bulky life, and some of the leads that sprout from the slow parts lightly remind me of the catchy gloom of Ascended on their demo and EP. It leaves my attention frayed throughout, but when it hits good, it does it admirably well. Disma's debut is worth checking out.

I've really liked Blasphemophagher ever since I saw them shred apart the local DIY show space with Diocletian last year. It's a fucking garage-like jam/show space that hold about 60 people max. Blasph came on, shouted quickly in a gruff Italian accent between each song and proceeded to crush all in the room with their wicked riffery. Blasph have released possibly their most spirited and satisfying album yet in this.
It's bestial black/death, but with more slickness and even punk in it that works really well. Shrapnel winds of grinding whirlwind riffs storm around with an upbeat yet destructive vibe to the madness. This album's vibe is like a celebratory rendition of violence and madness.

I guess the songs are pretty good, but there's something really annoying about the cloudy sound of this release. Prosanctus Inferi went for this more distant, disembodied tone, but it makes the band lose a lot of why I like them. PI always had this incredible, destructive intensity to their music that was amplified tenfold by the grainy clarity of it. However, this seems to bid more for a sort of sepulchral, cryptic sound quality that I think takes power out of the songs. It's nonetheless interesting to hear Jake begin to add some leads to the riff madness. I always like this band because of how well they worked off of just pure riffs, but the leads he pulls off here are eerie and well-conducted.

And the return of Negative Plane. I was anxious as all fuck for this one, and I still scratch my head over it. I'm eternally smitten with their phenomenal debut, yet this is a bit of a more challenging beast. NP vouched for a more gothic direction here, to both the album's benefit and detriment. The atmosphere is perfect; haunting and grand. But the songwriting has seemed to bog down as a result of the exorbitant reverb. NV's uncannily evocative guitar work shines darkly, but only gradually reveals its quality. At first, I was disappointed. But then something about this began to possess me. And nearly a year after its release, it really shines in a way that prevails over a lot of other bands. Special.


  1. All this Canadian love.


  2. Nice, looks like I have some cool Canadian shit to check out. I saw Mitochondrion this summer as I'm from their hometown and they played that whole new album live. It was quite the experience, pitch back room with just some green lights below each member. Fucking ruled.

  3. Thank you very much for the kind words about the Begrime Exemious/Nuclearhammer split!

    Would you at all be interested in writing a review for Begrime's upcoming full length? If you are, please email begrime AT gmail DOT com, and we can discuss that. Thanks again for including us!

  4. Gladly Derek! Am I correct when I assume you're Orphy himself? Love your band, and can't wait for Visions of the Scourge. The tracks I heard from the Begrime bandcamp page were absolutely ripping. I'll get in touch with you about reviewing it; I'd love to.

  5. You have assumed correctly! Cheers dude, looking forward to hearing from you!

  6. Since this is Derek from BE, do you want to look into getting a kickass show in this shitty city that maybe has you guys, Weapon, Antdelluvian, etc on one bill? Maybe somewhere good? Like a dive bar close to Kingsway? Sweet. Let me know.