Maryland Deathfest 2013 begins tomorrow. I haven’t been to a music festival of any kind since Lollapalooza… 1996. Ok, that’s not entirely true, I did go to local hair band fest a few years back, but I got in for free and was only there for an hour to see Ace Frehley play and grab a tenderloin, so I don’t think that one really counts. Anyway, every year when MDF rolls around, there’s a part of me that wishes like hell that I was going. Take this year’s installment for instance; I’d kill to see the likes of Integrity, Manilla Road, Revenge, Aosoth and Bolt Thrower, what metalhead in their right mind wouldn’t?
I’ll be thirty-four this year; just short of halfway to forty. But I’ve never felt like I was getting older as a metalhead until recently. It occurred to me a few weeks ago when I was attempting to listen to a new album by a band that shall remain nameless and is being released by a well respected label; for the first time, I felt like the crotchety old fart who didn’t understand what the hell the young whippersnappers were doing. I simply could not wrap my head around what the appeal of this album was supposed to be or what the intent was. I shut it off after one track on my first attempt, after three tracks on my second attempt. And that’s when it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks.
What can I say that hasn’t already been said about the goddamn mighty Darkthrone? It’s been three years since I last interviewed drummer/co-vocalistFenriz, so naturally I jumped at the chance for a second round of interrogation upon the release of Darkthrone’s sixteenth(!) album, the ridiculously awesome The Underground Resistance. I mean shit, it isn’t every day you get the chance to interview your favorite fucking band.
Finnish sextet Omnium Gatherum is a band that’s been on my radar for many years, but with 2011′s New World Shadows, they went from being a pleasant blip on my screen to a “holy shit it’s coming right for us!” These guys have moved so far ahead of the melodic death metal curve that they’re pretty much in a class by themselves, moving the subgenre ever forward and becoming its undisputed flagship band in the process. In 2013 they’ve set the bar for melo-death once again with Beyond, a downright beautiful juxtaposition of Maiden-esque melody, beastly vocals and a knack for creating music that’s progressive without ever falling victim to sounding overblown of pretentious. I got in contact with OG guitarist Markus Vanhala, to discuss the new album and the band’s plans for world domination in 2013.
Hells Headbangers is one of those labels that cranks out the hits faster than I can write about them. And while I’m usually opposed to these types of roundup style reviews, my recent Oodles of Brutals series (HERE and HERE) has taught me that it can actually be pretty fun to write them and other people seem to dig it, which is always a nice perk. Not only that, but let’s be honest, not every metal album, no matter how great it is, warrants a full-on 400 to 700 word review. So without further ado, I present my thoughts on a ton of recent releases from the goddamn mighty HHR. If you’re not familiar with this ridiculously awesome and quality consistent label, consider this a way to get your feet wet. If you’re a longtime fan, you’ve probably snapped all of these up already, so just consider this “bonus material.” Onward and downward…
Last year, Six Feet Under proved that their was still life left in their patented brand of sludgy, simplistic death metal with Undead, easily their best album since 1999′s classic Maximum Violence. With a re-tooled lineup centered around founding vocalist Chris Barnes and longtime guitarist Steve Swanson, SFU shook off the stagnancy that had set in over the course of their last several releases and proved that they were still a force to be reckoned with. I’m happy to report that this was no fluke, as the band’s tenth full length (not counting the Graveyard Classics covers collections) Unborn is even better than Undead, cementing Six Feet Under’s status as a death metal stalwart reborn.
Hard to believe it’s been a decade since Wormed took us into the maw of the death metal black hole with Planisphaerium; in that time, numerous bands have attempted to rip off the quintet’s science fiction-influenced brutality, but none have been able to measure up to the intergalactic maelstrom these Spaniards were capable of unleashing so effortlessly with their stunning debut. At last, Wormed’s long-awaited sophomore album Exodromos is about to drop via that exalted bastion of mind-altering extreme metal known as Willowtip Records, and to say it was worth the wait would probably be the understatement of the year.
Well friends, it’s time once again to wallow in the gore-soaked cesspool of brutal/tech/slam death metal. A few THKD readers seemed to really dig part one of this series, so I thought I’d crank out a follow-up ASAP, since I’ve been enjoying the hell out of getting my gutturals on with all these crazy-ass bands. Fortunately, it appears that there’s no shortage of this stuff to trawl through, so as Ric Flair says: “Whether ya like it or not, learn to love it…”
This post was supposed to be about a different In Flames album. I recently dusted off the band’s 2000 masterpiece Clayman for the express purpose of a top 100 write-up; it is after all the perfect melodic death metal album. But then something happened; I also grabbed Reroute to Remain off the ol’ CD shelf just for hell of it, and subsequently remembered just how much I enjoyed this lovably flawed piece of metal history that began In Flames’ fall from underground grace and gained them legions of mainstream fans.
No band in existence conjures the musical equivalent of Lovecraftian dread quite like Australia’s Portal. It’s one thing to simply study Lovecraft and then regurgitate the Cthulhu Mythos stories in lyrics and artwork accompanied by pedestrian extreme metal songs, but Portal take things far beyond the conventions of worshiping at the altar the great author; the blood of Yog-Sothoth flows through the veins of these men, allowing them to create an alchemical miasma of eldritch horror through music. Never has death metal sounded so alien, so extra-dimensional.