Following my immediate purchase on CD of VoidCeremony's debut album in 2020 after just a couple of streams online, I was keeping an eye out for the follow up for what felt like an eternity. With its bass-heavy presence the debut took the prog element of prog-death and put it on a plinth all of its own before surrounding it with some great OSDM vibes to ground proceedings nicely. Some three years later and Threads of Unknowing picks up essentially where Entropic Reflections Continuum: Dimensional Unravel left off. Damon Good's bass still commands a lot of attention (and rightly so) and that OSDM vibe is still present also, thankfully.
The main immediate difference to note this time is that production job that makes the drums sound like the are incredibly brittle. Despite the obvious hard work of Charles Koryn, his efforts are stifled somewhat by knob-twiddler, Gabriele Gramaglia. The leads shine well enough though. Soaring and uplifting, they do a quality job of expanded the soundscape of Threads... without giving us any pretentious traits to get annoyed over, These, cleaner, more progressive elements are the strongest part of the album for me and I agree that VoidCermony do work better as a progressive outfit as opposed to a technical/prog-death band. I do not have a problem with the vocals actually. I can see where the aversion comes from but I find them perfectly acceptable.
Whilst I am not as instantly blown away by their sophomore album, I still find Threads of Unknowing to be a solid record and one that does grow with each listen. Yes, it is bottom-heavy, with the second half of the record easily outstripping the first half, but this is still a mighty fine album, delivered by some very professional sounding individuals. Drums aside, I have no real issue here.
I’d suggest that most Metal Academics are probably fairly aware of the fact that subgenres like slam death metal & deathcore are unfairly treated on most other metal websites. In fact, this was one of the major reasons for Ben & I even starting to discuss the possibility of a Metal Academy site in the first place. In saying that though, there are some pockets of the subgenres I mentioned that are more maligned than others & it's hardly surprising that South Africa’s XavlegbmaofffassssitimiwoamndutroabcwapwaeiippohfffX (short for Acidic Vaginal Liquid Explosion Generated by Mass Amounts of Filthy Fecal Fisting and Sadistic Septic Syphilic Sodomy Inside the Infected Maggot Infested Womb of a Molested Nun Dying Under the Roof of a Burning Church While a Priest Watches and Ejaculates In Immense Perverse Pleasure Over His First Fresh Fetus) fit into that bracket now, is it? I mean, you could be forgiven for making the immediate assumption that they’re a novelty band because the reality is that they clearly are, not only because of their ridiculous moniker & completely absurd logo but also because they also seem to want to showcase & highlight all of the commonly criticized traits from both genres. While that may be true though, sometimes I just find that I like what I like & how cool I may appear is not something that I've ever been too concerned with.
2016’s “Gore” E.P. was the Durban duo’s first release with Kris Xenopoulos (Vulvodynia) handling all of the instrumentation & Duncan Bentley (Vulvodynia/Wormhole) taking on all vocal duties. The sound you can expect to hear sits somewhere between slam death metal & deathcore with a slightly stronger emphasis on the former even though the breakdowns often tend to angle a touch more towards the other direction. Kris’ performance behind the drum kit is worth mentioning as he possesses some impressive chops for someone that’s presumably more of a guitarist based on his prior experience. The blast-beat sections are amongst the strongest components to the band’s sound & are accentuated by a bright & crystal-clear mix that brings the kick drums right to the front. It’s a really well produced little E.P. actually which admittedly isn’t all that uncommon for groups that tackle these sort of niche subgenres these days.
Duncan’s vocal performance offers a bit of variety. He’ll no doubt annoy those who can’t stand a pig-squealed “BBBBRRREEEEEE” or two because he seems to be consciously trying to highlight the absurdity of that technique here. He also displays some level of hardcore pedigree at times through some more aggressive beatdown-style deathcore rants. Another element that might piss of the purists out there is XavlegbmaofffassssitimiwoamndutroabcwapwaeiippohfffX’s tendency to indulge in a bit of humour, both lyrically & instrumentally. You won’t understand the lyrics but I’m led to believe that they’re particularly silly (see the weakest inclusion "Dicks Out For Harambe" for example) while the random u-turns into disparate musical genres like djent, groove metal or even jazz require an open-mind but are well-executed nonetheless.
Look, I’m not gonna suggest that any non-believers try “Gore” on for their very first slam or deathcore experience but it’s not half bad when taken on musical value alone. I love me some brutal death metal & there’s certainly some brutality about this stuff. I’m also a bit of a sucker for decent production jobs in my extreme metal & it ticks that box too. I can’t see myself giving this twelve-minute release too many revisits in the future but fans of artists like Acrania, Ingested or the previously-mentioned Vulvodynia will no doubt find some appeal in this unfairly maligned piece of over-the-top extreme music.
I really like Undeath's modern take on an old favourite, that being the cavernous OSDM style of the late 80s and early 90s as practiced by the likes of Autopsy and Incantation. Their debut, Lesions of a Different Kind, takes the filthiness and looseness of sound typical of the OSDM style and ever-so-slightly clean and tighten it up. The production isn't as cavernous-sounding and gritty as the originals and the playing is tighter, with a small degree of technicality added that the likes of Autopsy never seemed interested in. That said, though, they still retain plenty of the fundamentals of the style and this is no super-crisp technical death metal exercise by any means, but rather a modern upgrade, OSDM v2.0 if you like.
Alexander Jones' vocals (no, not the Infowars idiot) are the typically low-pitched growls of Reifert and co. that have that "gurgling demon" quality that is my favourite incarnation of extreme metal vocalisation as he intones the gore- and horror-filled lyrics of tracks like "Suitably Hacked to Gore" and "Chained to a Reeking Rotted Body", with Black Dahlia Murder vocalist, the late Trevor Strnad, lending a counterpoint to Jones' growling with his harsher shrieks during the title track. The riffs pour out like molten lead and have some nice hooks guaranteed to set heads nodding with enough tempo variations to keep the listener interested. The lead work is concise and efficient with Sanguisugabogg drummer Cody Davidson supplying a more expansive solo on the opener, "Suitably Hacked to Gore". Bass and drums combine well to drive the riffs, with drummer Matt Browning doing some cool stuff without becoming too showy.
Look, Undeath are not going to satisfy those who crave innovation and constant envelope-pushing from their extreme metal, their's is very much a retreading of old tropes that have been with us for three decades or more now, but if you can't ever get your fill of this particular style of OSDM (like me) then they will supply you with a fresh, modernised version of that which you crave. Thanks for the recommendation, Vinny.
I paid a mint for an original CD copy of Morbid's seminal December Moon demo a few years back, but it is also available here on this comp of Morbid's demos and a couple of live sets. Whether you enjoy this is dependent, I suppose, on how you feel about listening to demo and bootleg quality material. Personally I don't have a problem with it, but I understand if people do. Unfortunately Morbid, who featured legendary Mayhem frontman Dead before he joined the black metal legends, never released any official studio stuff, so this is pretty much the sum total of the band's output. The sound on the four opening tracks, which comprise the December Moon demo, is pretty good and give an indication of what great potential the Swedes had, especially considering this was recorded in 1987. The sound quality of the rest of the tracks is not so great, but if you are conversant with 80s demos and bootlegs you will have heard far worse! The remaining six tracks on CD1 are rehearsal recordings of December Moon's four plus a short instrumental, Citythrasher, and the track Deathexecution which was the opener on an earlier cassette only demo, Rehearsal 07/08/1987. All these tracks are great examples of the melting pot that was underground metal of the mid-to-late 1980's with thrash metal mutating into the bastard twins death and black metal and bands being unafraid to explore new realms of extremity.
The live material is taken from two shows, the first from a show at Stockholm's Birkagarden recorded in late October '87 (this show is available as the 2000 album Live in Stockholm) and the second was recorded earlier in the year, in April, at the Ultrahuset also in Stockholm. The sound isn't great and the crowd noise is obtrusive, but these two shows give an insight into the early Scandinavian extreme metal scene and it is always great to hear a Dead live show (if you know what I mean)!
So, as a record of an important underground band that was influential in the very early years before the explosion of Scandinavian extreme metal, this is interesting stuff and, despite any qualms about the quality, these six or seven songs are fucking awesome. To be honest, I kind of love this dodgy-sounding crap to hell so I'm like a pig in shit with this sort of thing.
Brutality - "These Walls Shall Be Your Grave" (from "Screams of Anguish", 1993) Gorguts - "Condemned to Obscurity" (from "The Erosion of Sanity", 1993) Morbid - "My Dark Subconscious ("December Moon" Demo 1986)" (from "Year of the Goat", 2011) Necrophobic - "Unholy Prophecies", from "The Nocturnal Silence", 1993) Nile - "Wrought" (from "In the Beginning", 1999)
The "atmospheric sludge metal" discussion has been had many times here at the Academy with the unanimous position of The Fallen members being that it's much better suited to post-metal than sludge metal. I'm also thinking about removing that subgenre too & simply having the releases tagged as post-metal but we can discuss that elsewhere but let's keep this thread about deathgrind.
Yeah, there are some bands I don't even consider sludge at all. Namely Rosetta.
But as far as deathgrind goes, then my vote's easy: go for it. Lots of deathgrind feels like death metal to me anyway.
So, my first time checking out the Horde playlist as a bona fide member of the clan. Top discoveries for me this month were Horrendous and the unpronouncable Sanguisugabogg with their charmingly-titled Testicular Rot. Others that caught my ear were 200 Stab Wounds, Splatterhouse and Torture Rack.
Immolation, Bloodbath, Tzompantli, Atheist and Teitanblood are familiar already and were represented by great tracks.
I didn't really care for Fleshvessel, Geryon, The HIRS Collective, Waking The Cadaver and Aborted - but I still have much to learn!
So now that I have (finally) completed the Death Metal the 1st Decade clan challenge, I think I will put this thread to bed now. I have thoroughly enjoyed this time travel back to the late 80s / early 90s via the early releases of death metal and have found some absolute corkers to keep me going for many a year. As a bit of a death metal skeptic going in, it just goes to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks! I have discovered plenty of new favourites and believe I now have a much better understanding of a genre I had merely scratched the surface of before. This is not the end of my death metal exploration, not by a long shot, but I don't need this thread to log it any more and so will bring it to a close now. Thanks for indulging me and for joining me for the ride...
For all the influence and respect that Suffocation (rightfully) receive across the extreme metal community, their game plan is not particularly a difficult one to follow. With the talent in the band it seems almost effortless for them to take the depths of brutality and the fast flowing torrents of technicality and combine them into this vicious and yet measured assault that I have come to enjoy over the years. Whether it is the frenzied attack of the debut album some fifteen years before this or the tangible and tactile structures of Pierced From Within or Effigy of the Forgotten, the band have medals of honour littered throughout their discography. Yet, at the same time they have "the rest of their discography". The likes of Despise the Sun, Blood Oath and indeed this month's feature release never get anywhere near the same levels of rotation as the aforementioned releases do. Within minutes of listening to the self-titled it is clear that this most certainly is not Pierced from Within, but then again I would not want it to be in all honesty. Despite not living up to that standard, Suffocation is by no means a bad or even mediocre death metal album.
The album feels restrained in its delivery yes, but by no means is this at the expense of entertainment and most certainly is not Suffocation going soft. Instead, the record feels like it is simply exploring all the good parts of the bands sound in glorious detail. By varying the pace across the record, the band create a celebration of themselves. They leave themselves completely exposed in some regards but the quality of the song writing is so high that there is little to no threat here for them. Tracks like Bind Torture Kill explore the full gamut of their range and you can hear the old school roots of their existence shining through very clearly. As we have come to expect, Hobbs' guitar laying is nothing short of exemplary and original guitarist Guy Marchais supports well also. Mullen, of course, can do no wrong as we already know and puts in a consistent and entertaining performance throughout with his clear yet still inherently extreme vocals providing their grim and scathing attack as always.
I feel like there are times when the drums of Mike Smith get a bit of a poor representation in the mix (opening track Oblivion springs to mind as being a noticeable point of this issue for me) but there is still enough weight to them to make them an integral part of the overall experience. With so much quality on show, I guess mixing the record to let all parts shine is a challenge I personally would not want to take on so Joe Cincotta has my sympathy on this. But there is nothing here to take away from this self-homage that Suffocation create on a record that needs a lot more attention from me than it has had to date. Bangers like Entrails of You are evidence that there is more than just shock value to the content of Suffocation, their brand of extremity has thought and feel behind it.
While giving The Birmingham grind gods' sophomore record a detailed revisit yesterday, I thought I'd also cover the 7" single that's included as a bonus with the Spotify version of the album these days. It was originally a part of the "Scum"/"From Enslavement To Obliteration" compilation CD I owned back in the day (well, four of the five tracks were anyway) & it sounds very similar to the "From Enslavement To Obliteration" album so I never even realized it wasn't a part of the actual record until much later on. The production job is pretty much identical so I assume that it was all recorded in the one session.
"The Curse" is a short five minute affair comprising of the three-minute title track (i.e. the entire A side), two ridiculously short 4-6 second blasts similar to the band's famous 4-second anthem "You Suffer" & a couple of more traditional sub-one minute grindcore offerings. The title track is a low-tempo, Godfleshy industrial metal piece that's not too dissimilar to the opening track from the "From Enslavement To Obliteration" album "Evolved As One". It may not be as effective but it's still a very solid piece of work in its own right & I find it to be the most rewarding track on the single. The other main point of interest for me personally is the 45-second "Morbid Deceiver" which is a superior reworking of "Deceiver" from the "Scum" album.
I actually really like this single. It may only be short but the more substantial inclusions are solid enough to see me reaching for a higher rating than I've afforded to either of Napalm Death's first two full-lengths.
To clarify our position on that, technical death metal isn’t a Metal Academy genre. It’s a subgenre of death metal in the same way that dissonant death metal is. It’s our belief that dissonant death metal doesn’t necessarily have to be technical & vice versa so have made them seperate tags in their own right. It’s also worth noting that we’re not led by RYM when making decisions on our genre-tagging structure. We prefer to run our own race.
I figured all of that out. Why else would you have the halls? That's why I also made the Ulcerate comparison, as it's the only album in my ten that doesn't have both the dissonant and tech tags. I won't immediately know all the tiny differences and similarities to RYM, so it would help if we had a genre tree.
I don't recall hearing a bad release by Bloodbath to date and Unblessing the Purity keeps this consistency going nicely. It is a nice break from the more traditional Swedish sound you would associate with the band and shows the bands versatility well. If there was ever any doubt in anyone's mind around the ability of the reknowned artist that comprised the band at this time then this EP would immediately dispel them. I note the references to Polish death metal which is not one of my preferred styles of death metal with me having very little time for Vader in all honesty. However, there is a real bite to the riffing on this release that is so superbly tied into the percussion and vocal delivery that I find it exceeds those relevant comparisons pretty quickly.
This is Åkerfeldt at his very best for me. No clean singing and throaty as that wolf in the main part of the great album artwork probably would be. The guitar work, as well as being rhythmically superb, also generates fantastic atmosphere on tracks such as album opener Blasting the Virginborn. Those urgent and stabbing riff sections really driving the tension of the track. With its huge sound and tight performances, Unblessing the Purity is probably as perfect a 15 minute blast of raging death metal that you could ask for.
This is most definitely centred right on my death metal g-spot! The instant it's gloriously downtuned, cavernous riffage infested my earbuds, I was hooked. OK, it's Autopsy worship does absolutely nothing original, but is so well executed and is just so much to my taste that I don't intend to criticise it for not diverting from the template set down by Chris Reifert and company more than three decades ago now. Although the album as a whole is somewhat generic, in that they don't try to do anything unexpected, the band have a genuine grasp of what this corner of the death metal world requires.
The riffs are massive with some real killers amongst them, although they don't push the needle much beyond medium-paced with very little blasting even on the pacier sections, the beginning of Perpetually Altered probably marking the album's peak velocity. The subsonic vocals even rival Reifert's growls for sounding like the ravings of some infernal, abyssal demon and are a big part of the draw of Feel for me. The downtuned riffage and generally cavernous atmosphere make it feel more doomy than it actually is, as they don't stray into purely death doom territory as much as you think, slowing the pace to a crawl only for a short time during most tracks. Each of the tracks are artfully constructed and the variety in pacing throughout is worked very well. An extra layer of atmosphere is supplied on the most doom-laden track, Nonlocality, with the inclusion of thin but atmospheric keyboards that reminded me of the keys used by Thergothon on their classic Stream From the Heavens with the thinness of the keys' sound being in marked contrast to the meaty heft of the guitar sound. The production is very effective with a cloying thickness to the atmosphere, whilst still possessing sufficient clarity to do each of the instruments justice and never descending into an indiscernable morass.
This is most definitely the kind of release I can revisit time after time as I live for this kind of cavernous sound, absorbing it like plants absorb sunlight. Consequently a vinyl copy is winging it's way from Amazon to Sonny's crypt-on-the-hill as we speak!
Saxy's review reminded me to check this one out at the beginning of the week and it's right up my alley with the added melodicism you alluded to, Sonny. I came to many of the same conclusions in that it's very well crafted and it'll definitely receive high marks and a few relistens from me this year as the atmosphere is something I really enjoy, but it lacks a bit of "excitement" throughout the runtime, even though Death Doom doesn't follow normal excitement parameters for it to be effective. Solid, but lacks a bit of that unquantifiable magic.
Yeah, I can't blame you for struggling with those gorenoise & cybergrind tracks (or the subgenres in general really) Sonny. I don't include those subgenres every month as they're just so niche. I only toss in the occasional tracks here & there to ensure a consistent coverage of all The Horde subgenres. I'm not sure that I can believe that there are people out there who claim one of those as their favourite subgenres but I recently had a bunch of people on Twitter getting very passionate & heated (read: condescending & aggressive) when I criticized a cybergrind release so you never know. I think I might be the only Metal Academic that can tolerate slam death metal. I can easily understand why people might not find it appealing though so let's just call it a guilty pleasure.
Blood Duster are nothing short of an Australian metal institution. It's against the law not to like them over here. Their sense of humor is stereotypically Australian so it wouldn't surprise me if some outsiders simply don't get it.
Blasted the playlist whilst out on an extended morning dog walk and enjoyed it immensely... well at least three quarters of it. I must admit that, much like last month as it seemed to end with more brutal death metal, it kind of lost me a bit. The Drumcorps track intrigued me as it almost sounded like a kind of cyber-sludge - I don't think I could listen to a whole album of it, but as a single track on a playlist it stood out as an interesting anachronism. I will also have to check Misery Index out - a band whose name I have seen around for what seems like ever, but never listened to before.
I'm thinking I've got a bit of an easy gig with the Fallen playlist as 15 or 16 tracks usually covers the two hours but Daniel (and Vinny on the Pit playlist) have to come up with twice that number of tracks to fill two hours - well done lads for your admirable perseverance.
A nasty little burst of abrasive and aggressive grindcore that will give your ear'oles a good pummelling with most of it's ten tracks. It isn't exactly relentless, however as the two longest tracks are delivered at a more considered pace, but it is generally speaking an exercise in nothing less than aural violence. There is blasting aplenty and drummer Taylor Young is given a pretty intense workout, but luckily he seems more than up to the task. The guitar tone is brilliant, aided I believe by Kurt Ballou of Converge who was producer on "Abandon All Life", and maintains a terrific clarity despite it's thick crunchy sound.
The two slower tracks, that is " Wide Open Wound" and closer "Suum Cuique" are, unsurprisingly I suppose, the ones that appeal to me most, as they deliver more on the atmosphere front with looming, menacing riffs rather than just trying to blow your balls off! I guess grindcore records have to be taken as an overall package and the adrenaline-fuelling effect of the majority of the genre's output is the main thing as most of the songs display only minor differences in a lot of cases, and that is the case with some of the faster material here, but those slower tracks do give the listener a foothold into the tracklisting and "Suum Cuique" is actually a very effective, slower and brooding end to the record.
Where it loses marks for me, in what has become a bit of a theme with this month's features, is the vocal department. I prefer grindcore with a vocalist whose vocals are a bit more OSDM sounding like Barney Greenway or Terrorizer's Oscar Garcia and although Todd Jones doesn't actually hit "shouty toddler" level, he still sounds a bit metalcore-ish for my taste. The vocals aren't bad enough to be a deal breaker, though, and on the whole I did enjoy this a lot, it's variation in pacing and generally excellent instrumentation being huge plusses.
I've always struggled with Carcass' debut album to be honest. Between the appalling production, woeful lead guitar tone & ridiculously over-the-top vocal performances, it all simply sounds a little silly to my ears. Of course, there was nothing quite like it at the time & it's gone on to influence a multitude of bands that became infatuated with the novelty but I have to admit that I find it hard to take seriously. I know it's not meant to be but I LIKE to take my extreme metal seriously if you know what I mean. Perhaps the fact that I was introduced to the band through the far superior "Symphonies of Sickness" sophomore effort has made it a bit harder to appreciate "Reek of Putrefaction"? I dunno but at least I've managed to increase my rating just a touch since my last revisit, mainly off the back of the shorter & more brutal material as I'm not a huge fan of the groovier grind stuff. I'm afraid I don't see that rating ever moving higher than it is now though.