The sophomore album from this legendary Dutch death metal outfit is often spoken of alongside the true greats of the genre but I've never been onboard with "Last One On Earth" being heaped with that sort of praise. It's simply not sophisticated or extreme enough for that in my opinion. Don't get me wrong. I certainly enjoy it but I've never thought it was anything particularly special or worth returning to all that regularly. Essentially we've got a pretty basic old-school death metal back-bone combined with some slower doom material, a few up-tempo punk beats & a raspy & slightly psychotic sounding front man in Martin van Drunen. It's all pretty effective with no weak tracks included as such but I never find myself considering classic status.
Asphyx were always best served by their slower material & that's definitely the case here with several sections being truely crushing. I think Martin's vocals work better over the slow stuff as they add to the anguished atmosphere. Their more up-tempo moments tend to cross over with the punky drumming though & I don't find it to be anywhere near as effective. At the end of the day "Last One On Earth" is a meat-&-potatoes death metal record that probably should have been lost to the annuls of time as far as I can see however it tends to evoke greater reactions from the underground scene than I'm able to muster.
For fans of Autopsy, Cianide & Grand Supreme Blood Court.
I really enjoyed revisiting this one. While I'm well onboard with some of the thoughts above in that I've more often than not found that the modern brand of super-technical death metal values style over substance & rarely gets the balance right with regard to memorability, Necrophagist definitely tip toe along that line but have enough of a pedigree in the early 90's greats of the genre (see Death) to know how to utilize their ridiculously overthetop skill sets in a consistently engaging way. The vocals of guitarist Muhammed Suicmez are dark & brutal in an Immolation sort of way & this works to juxtapose some of the more melodic guitar work which may normally have seen my score dipping a bit. There's little doubt that the sweeping fiddly-diddly neoclassical solo work is overdone a bit & can veer towards practice exercise territory at times but it's the incredibly precise drumming of human-metronome Hannes Grossmann that ensures my attention never wanders as you'll rarely hear a time-keeper that's more in control of his craft.
The consistency of this record is probably it's strongest quality as there's nothing here that dips below a very solid standard but Necrophagist manage to take things to another level altogether with the back-to-back highlight tracks that kick off the B side (i.e. the title track & "Only Ash Remains"). Anyone that knows me well won't be surprised that these are probably the two most consistently brutal offerings on the tracklisting but I also enjoy the moments where the band hint at more progressive horizons & I feel that this is a direction that they could have explored further.
To put it simply though, any tech death diehard worth his salt will be absolutely all over this album. It's beautifully executed & the production job is crystal clear so you can hear every nuance of the very complex arrangements. In saying that, it falls a little short of classic status as I can't help but crave a little more of that sinister graveyard atmosphere in my death metal while the stop-start nature of ultra-technical metal ends up being a bit too jerky to command the deeply physical reaction that I inevitably receive from the greats.
For fans of Obscura, Spawn Of Possession & The Faceless.
Florida tech death/thrash legends Atheist's 1990 debut album "Piece Of Time" made a significant impact on me & was high on my rotation list at the time but as soon as their follow-up "Unquestionable Presence" was released I kinda forgot about it as the band's sophomore effort was a clear step up from the debut & an undeniable classic. It's been interesting to rediscover the point that Atheist were at in their creative & artistic journey with "Piece Of Time" this week as it's generally regarded as somewhat of a classic too.
The opening title track is an absolute belter & sounds exactly like the material from "Unquestionable Presence" which is a sure-fire indication that it was the most recently composed track included on the album. The other material sees them varying the amount of traditional thrash metal & more progressive elements & I'm willing to bet that I could piece together the exact order that the tracks were written because you can easily hear the band developing their sound over the course of the nine songs. For that reason, I've never found "Piece Of Time" to be quite the finished product however it undeniably represents a huge step up in ambition for the extreme metal movement. No one had attempted anything like this before & the more atmospheric & progressive parts of the album were a particular revelation that would be expanded upon significantly on later releases. Death, Cynic & Pestilence can all be found to be trying very similar things in the years that followed too & I don't think that's a coincidence.
The level of musicianship on display here is absolutely outstanding, particularly the shredding lead guitar work & Roger Patterson's super-interesting bass lines which take an up-front position in the mix. Kelly Shaefer's vocal delivery has never really struck me as being particularly "death metal" though & sounds more like a raspier thrash front man like Sadus' front man Darren Travis than it does Chuck Schuldiner. I probably would have preferred a little more extremity there to be honest but then again... that may have changed the feel of the album completely so it may be for the best.
Overall, "Piece Of Time" is a ground-breaking & highly influential debut that offers consistent quality & strong hints at the potential that was to be fulfilled in the coming years.
For fans of 90's Death, early Cynic & the techier Pestilence albums.
Great album Daniel. I'm not exactly a grindcore aficianado, but Horrified is my second-favourite example of the genre after Terrorizer's World Downfall. I didn't realise it was a collection of demos. As you say, you can't tell that it wasn't all recorded at the same time and shows that if nothing else, Repulsion were consistent.
Well then, this thing is a beast, isn't it? You'd think I'd have the same reaction as Saxy and Sonny considering my disposition towards the more brutal, suffocating, and fiery styles of Death Metal, but this one caught me off guard. Although some of the more ruthless sections didn't exactly keep my attention past the first listen, I personally think this is a very complete album in what it tries to do. There's a ton of depth and massiveness to the production that absolutely sound messy and chaotic, but I found that to be a positive at the end of the day in the context of Succumb. The lack of clarity really helps the standout riffs to pop out of the mayhem in cool ways. It's sort of a shame that the vocals are completely lost behind everything else, serving as another slightly different layer than actual vocals. The drumming is in the perfect spot for me too, being powerful enough to be felt but not being absolutely piercing like so many other albums like this.
Compositionally Altarage nails it because while the 21-minute closer is admittedly a bit of a snooze-fest after the first listen, Succumb sets up for it extremely well with tracks like "Foregone", "Lavath", and "Vour Concession" containing hints of the coming Drone Metal excursion. Those slight hints do a ton to have the eventual transition feels like it fits in with the rest of the album. Even though I'm capable of giving a ton of praise to this one, I can't say that I'm in a rush to go back and listen to it though. It's one of the more captivating brutal walls of chaos I've listened to, but I don't think I'd be able to get any extra enjoyment out of it past the 3 or 4 listens I've given it. So although this started out as a 4/5 for me, I feel like I can't keep basing my rating off of my first experience with it alone.
Epiphanic Truth - Dark Triad: Bitter Psalms To A Sordid Species (2021)
I've been sinking my teeth into this one for the past week and really enjoying myself, it's the kind of Progressive Death Metal that really keeps me interested no matter how drawn out the tracks can be. I think the songwriting on the 22-minute closer could have been stronger which is what is keeping me from absolutely raving about this one. It gets a bit too repetitive around the 15-minute mark and doesn't fully reward the listener for sticking with it the full way through, but there's still a ton of great moments, especially in the first track, that keep me coming back.
So 2021 has gotten to the point where I'm checking out things very outside of my wheelhouse, and this one was one of the standouts that definitely wasn't for me but at the same time I could feel like there was something there. I'm going to have to spend some more time with this one as it's extremely dense and long, with the album consisting of two 24-minute tracks.
I'd be really interested to see how Daniel and Vinny feel about this one, since it's pretty dense and somewhat similar to this month's feature album minus all of the Drone Metal leanings, replaced with more atmospheric passages. It's a 3/5 for me after one listen but I can see it gaining some stock if I give it another shot.
I am familiar with the band but haven’t heard this. Added to my list.