As much as I’ve championed brutal death metal here at THKD lately, I’d be remiss not to review the latest album from Cannibal Corpse, the proverbial granddaddies of ‘em all. I mean, I think we can all agree that this entire subset of death metal wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the boys from Tampa, who’ve now been at it for an unbelievable twenty-six years. A Skeletal Domain is the thirteenth album in their lengthy, storied career and even after only being out for a few weeks it has already garnered opinions ranging from “it’s the best thing they’ve done since 2006’s Kill” to “it sounds like Cannibal Corpse.”
As Caligari Records continues to pick up steam, it’s becoming more and more difficult to keep up with the avalanche of quality cassettes. Fifteen releases deep and not a single dud in the bunch is a hell of a track record, and you can pretty much rest assured at this point that anything Caligari puts its name to is going to be excellent. Case in point: the label’s three latest releases are all very different from one another, but all well worth your time. So without further ado, let us investigate the latest from Caligari’s cabinet…
Brutal death metal bands often get accused of promoting misogyny and violence. I was thinking about this the other day while listening to Abusing Dismembered Beauties, the third and most recent album from Italian slammers Vulvectomy. Here I am, enjoying an album adorned with cover art that features a variety of gruesomely murdered/mutilated women and song titles such as “Deformed Tits Collection” and “Orgasmic Sensation Through Fecal Ingestion.” I guess at this point my fondness for slam and brutal death metal is no secret, but surely many fellow metalheads would call it in extremely poor taste, ignorant, hateful, misogynistic or some combination thereof.
“Mature” probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind when one thinks of brutal death metal, hell it probably isn’t the five-hundredth word one thinks of. But I’ll be damned if Parables of Umbral Transcendence, the debut full-length from NY/FL-based project Swine Overlord isn’t a shockingly mature slab of BDM. The band has largely shed the slam leanings and cartoonish visual imagery of their earlier recordings in favor of a more pure brutal death metal sound accompanied by science fiction-influenced artwork, and as a result have released one of the genre’s best albums of 2014.
My second show in Sacramento was in some ways a throwback to my younger years in Des Moines; I used to walk down to Hairy Mary’s by myself to see shows because my sorry ass didn’t have a car and to make matters worse I didn’t know anyone else who gave a shit about the underground. Not being much of a grindcore fan, my wife decided to sit out Sunday’s matinee at the Midtown Barfly, and as a result I found myself flying solo once again, which is always a delightfully awkward experience given that I’m not exactly the most outgoing person out there. Also, many of those shows I hoofed it to back in the day were heavy on grindcore bands such as Black Market Fetus, Strong Intention, Catheter, Entrails Massacre and Phobia, to name but a few, so I was excited to experience a show in a similar vein in my new city. A complete and utter lack of social skills doesn’t matter much when you’re being pummeled at a million miles an hour by some of the most vicious and unrelenting music out there.
I’ve been following Santa Cruz’s Fiends at Feast ever since they self-released the excellent Shadows of Extinction EP back in 2011. In that time, they’ve signed to up-and-coming metal label Horror Pain Gore Death Productions and released an impressive debut full-length in the form of Towards the Baphomet’s Throne, an album that saw the band building upon their already considerable strengths, sharpening their songwriting and upping the musicianship factor. Continuing to capitalize on the momentum they’ve built for themselves over the past three years, the Fiends are back with what might be their most compelling set of songs yet on Purgatory Rites, a split with Madison, Wisconsin’s previously unknown (to me) Tragic Death.
If there is one thing metal critics hate, it’s consistency. Satan forbid a band should find a sound that works for them (not to mention their fans) and stick with it, dooming their albums to forever be referred to in print as “more of the same” “a rehash” “nothing you haven’t heard before” etc, etc. Luckily, I’m not a critic, and I love it when bands I enjoy give me exactly what I want. Such is the case with Austrian black/death heavyweights Belphegor, who’ve returned from an uncharacteristic three year silence with Conjuring the Dead. To say that it’s everything you’d expect from a Belphegor record would probably be the understatement of the decade, but predictability isn’t much of a factor when what you’re predicted to do is kick ass.