Destruction / Krisiun / Exmortus @ Wooly’s, Des Moines, IA 04/09/14

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When it comes to metal shows in Des Moines, it’s either feast or famine.  The month of April is proving to be quite the feast, boasting tour stops from genre luminaries such as Broken Hope, The Lurking Corpses and Embryonic Devourment.  But the show I’ve probably been looking forward to the most was a three-headed beast; a headlining set from legendary German thrashers Destruction, supported by Brazilian brutal death metal trio Krisiun and SoCal up-and-comers Exmortus.

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Vampire – s/t (Century Media, 2014)

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With a name like Vampire, you might expect this mysterious Swedish quartet to be some kind of sappy, quasi-gothic nonsense, but fortunately for you, dear headbanger, nothing could be further from the truth, as evidenced by the gritty, greasy metal of their self-titled Century Media debut. Indeed, the infernal racket found here recalls the likes of Venom, Bathory and perhaps Darkthrone’s more recent work, but the vamps instill the tunes with enough of their own punky, garage-rocking fervor to distinguish themselves from the retro-metal hordes.  Imagine Cronos, Tom G. Warrior and Fenriz jamming in said garage and you’re getting pretty damn close to the hellbound underground sound of Vampire.

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DISMEMBERMENT GIVEAWAY!!!

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It’s been a far too long since THKD has done a giveaway, so I’m excited to announce that we’ve partnered with up-and-coming black/death/thrash metal band Dismemberment, Horror Pain Gore Death Productions and Dewar PR to give one lucky reader the mad hookups!

Dismemberment is giving away a t-shirt and CD of their killer new album Embrace the Dark to a THKD reader who will be chosen at random.  All you have to do to enter is go to the THKD Facebook page and find our post about the contest, “like” and “share” the post and you will be entered for a chance to win!  You can also go to the THKD Twitter page and find our tweet about the contest. “Favorite” and “re-tweet” our contest tweet there and you will also be entered!  The contest will run from 3/31/14 to 4/7/14, at which time a winner will be chosen at random.  You can check out the album at the link below!

http://dismemberment.bandcamp.com/album/embrace-the-dark

Good luck and thanks for entering!

The Metallica Letters: THKD vs. Last Rites – Load

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In 1996, Metallica unleashed Load, an album which saw the band drifting even further away from the complex thrash metal they’d made their name on in favor of stripped-down, southern-tinged hard rock.  They also toyed with their image, chopping off their once flowing locks and ditching black jeans and t-shirts for eyeliner and designer duds.  Before it was even released, the band made seismic waves with the Samuel Bayer-directed, Hieronymus Bosch-inspired music video for first single “Until it Sleeps,” which seemed to exist in another universe both musically and visually from anything they’d done previously.

I distinctly remember me and my buddy Jon going out to our local Best Buy to buy the album the day it came it out; we excitedly popped the CD into his car stereo and… we thought it was awesome.  You see, growing up smack dab in the Midwest with no access to a metal underground of any kind gave us a unique perspective; in spite of being familiar with Metallica’s back catalog we didn’t feel betrayed, rather we welcomed the band doing something different and not putting out The Black Album Part II.  Maybe we were naive, but I’d like to think we were open-minded.  At sixteen years old I wasn’t listening to albums with the critical ear I have now, and we had no concept of elitism or preconceived notions of what metal had to sound like in order to be “true.” The fact that we were raised on classic rock and loved alternative rock almost as much as we loved metal made it pretty easy to appreciate what Metallica were attempting, even if in retrospect their attempt was heavily flawed.

As recently as last year, I was still proclaiming my love for Load, stating that if any other band had released it, it would be hailed as a great hard rock album.  As it turns out, a more thorough critical analysis reveals that only about half the album is as strong as I’ve previously proclaimed it to be, the other half is a combination of filler and failed experiments that make a strong case for Load and its sister album ReLoad being whittled down to a single combined disk (that could be a whole other piece unto itself… hmm…).

In the second part of our Metallica Letters series of collaborative posts, Last Rites‘ Jordan Campbell and myself tackle the bloated, quintuple platinum-selling beast that somehow propelled Lars and Co. even further into the stadium rock stratosphere in spite of its inherent weirdness.  Check out our thoughts on Side A below and then head over to Last Rites for Side B.

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The Metallica Letters: THKD vs. Last Rites – The Black Album

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When I offhandedly remarked via social media that I wanted to see more people writing about Metallica’s “crappy albums,” I had no idea that it would lead to the biggest crossover since Marvel vs. DC. But when Jordan Campbell of the mighty Last Rites called me out, challenging me to an inter-site throwdown on Lars and Co.’s dark ages, I had no choice but to put my money where my mouth is for a track-by-track death match.  Head on over to Last Rites to read Jordan’s intro and us wreaking havoc on Side A of Metallica (aka The Black Album), and then come on back over to THKD for the Side B carnage below.

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Your world will hate this: THKD’s Top 15 Metal Albums of 2013

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Normally, this is the part where I get all reflective regarding the year in metal.  I had a scathing year-end rant all ready to go, an ice cold glass of haterade to throw in the faces of the all the people and things that annoyed, dismayed and pissed me off in 2013… and then I read what I’d written and realized that I sounded like a complete dick.  What’s the point in dwelling on the negative when there was so much good this year?  I had one hell of a hard time whittling down my list to just fifteen albums, and there’s still a lot out there that I’ve either yet to hear or yet to fully digest.  It’s pretty darn easy to ignore the mountain of crap when there’s an equally tall mountain of greatness staring you in the face, and yet sometimes I forget that… I guess that’s what my anti-depressants are for.
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Thou Art Lord – The Regal Pulse of Lucifer (Nuclear War Now! Productions, 2013)

Thou-Art-Lord-The-Regal-Pulse-of-LuciferIt’s been two years short of a decade since the metal underground last heard from Thou Art Lord, and in the era of social media, where new music is snapped up with lightning quickness by the heavy metal hive mind only to be discarded and forgotten just as fast, that much time away can seem like an eon.  However, 2013 has proven to be a banner year for veteran bands returning from the abyss of time with excellent new releases (e.g. Gorguts, Carcass, Sorcery, Summoning, etc), and with The Regal Pulse of Lucifer, the Hellenic quintet has come raging back with a fury that proves their time spent in the netherworld was not in vain.
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Snapped Necks and Psycho Holidays: A Heavily Abridged People’s History of Groove Metal (1990 – 1999)

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Pantera: undisputed groove kingpins

Among the heavy metal subgenres most likely to turn the average underground ‘head into a piping hot cup of haterade, groove metal (sometimes referred to as post-thrash, closely related to alternative metal and industrial metal) surely sits at or near the top of the list. Blamed for contributing to the death of thrash, the spawning of nu metal and for bringing scores of jock-strap-polishing meatheads into the scene (among other things), groove metal is quite possibly the most battered and beaten of the genre’s red-headed stepchildren. However, its most heinous crime in the eyes of most NWN! message board-dweller types is that it is a product of the nineties, that decade where everything went to shit for a legion of ’80s-worshipping metal miscreants, many of whom continue to dab at bitter tears with the unwashed corners of their patch vests while clutching at their Nihilist demo cassettes to this very day.

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Halfway to Hell: The year in metal so far.

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2013 has already been a hell of a year for metal. Unlike last year, which saw an overwhelming avalanche of stellar releases, 2013 so far has been more akin to 2011, which was all about quality over quantity. Granted, we’re only halfway through, but at this point I’m still finding it very easy to separate the wheat from the chaff, which certainly wasn’t the case at this time last year. I’m not particularly interested in make lists at this point, but I am interested in taking a look back at what’s transpired so far; it’s always good to recap in order to keep things fresh in your mind and fight the urge to fall back on listening to old shit.

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The Art of the Comeback

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In the world of heavy metal circa 2013, making a comeback is harder than ever before. There are so many bands popping up out of the woodwork and so many albums being released on a weekly basis, that fans are faced with a constant avalanche of new product, which in turn means it’s difficult for any band to stand out from the pack, whether new kids on the block or crafty veterans. Furthermore, with the internet now being such an important part of spreading metal to the masses, things move so fast that even going a year without releasing new material feels like an eternity. But it is still possible for a band to rise up from the ashes of inactivity and recapture their rightful place amidst the metal pantheon, as the following trio of bands has proven.
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