I’ll always consider myself a student of heavy metal rather than an expert, but sometimes I’m still boggled by the bands that manage to fly below my radar. Case in point; I was entirely unfamiliar with Norwegian blackened thrash outfit Nocturnal Breed until the fine folks at Fresno Media put them right under my nose. Surprising considering my fondness for this type of thing, but better late than never, because their latest album Napalm Nights totally rips.
Longtime readers of THKD know that I’m typically not big on live recordings. But, I am big on Sol y Nieve; the upstart Idaho-based label has already released two of this year’s finest slabs of black metal in the form of Nemorensis’ The Lady in the Lake and Hellebore’s Anouof Thwo, so if they deem a live release to be worthy of the same treatment, then I’ll sure as hell give it a listen. I’m glad I did, because Sun Splitter’s Live on WFMU is a sonic nightmare of ultra-corrosive industrial metal that’s more than managed to win me over in spite of my admitted prejudice towards live material.
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.
When traditional/proto-doom is done right, there are few things finer, and few if any bands are doing it better than Demon Head. The Copenhagen-dwelling quintet recently had a demo tape released by the venerable Caligari Records, and it’s a slow-burning scorcher that quite frankly blows recent big-name practitioners of the style such as Kadavar and Orchid out of the water. It really is that damn good.
Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to finally check a few bands off my old school death metal bucket list. The likes of Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel and Grave (I sadly missed Deicide and Suffocation when they were here :( ) have violated the asshole of the Midwest with their unholy presence, and it’s always gratifying to finally experience these bands in the live setting after having coveted their studio albums for all this time. On a cold, rainy Thursday night in Des Moines, I was happy to add Chicago’s original overlords of brutal death metal Broken Hope to that list, and goddamn if they didn’t deliver the goods and then some.
When I reviewed Fuoco Fatuo’s suffocatingly heavy EP compilation late last year, I stated that we’d likely have an absolute beast on our hands whenever the band got around to releasing a full length. I hate to say I told you so, but it turns out this is one of those extremely rare occasions where I was right; the Italian trio have at last unleashed The Viper Slithers in the Ashes of what Remains, and you can rest assured that this crawling king snake of an album is every bit the monster you’d expect it to be.
What’s in a name? I’ll tell you what’s in a name, or rather, what’s not in a name in the case of California doom mongers Weightlessness. After listening extensively to the band’s Of Lachrymose Grief, I’ve decided that their chosen moniker couldn’t possibly be any more of a misnomer. You see, “weightlessness” indicates an absence of weight, but this debut EP wields enough down-tuned heft to sink their entire home state into the sea and then some.
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.
When most of us think of the Misfits, we’re thinking of the legendary Glenn Danzig-fronted lineup that walked among us from 1977 to 1983. The band that single-handedly invented horror punk, and went on to influence a slew of heavy metal bands from Metallica to Marduk. But what about the other Misfits? In 1995, Misfits bassist Jerry Only and his brother Doyle re-activated the group sans Danzig after a protracted legal battle with the singer ended with Only retaining the ability to record and tour using the name, while he and Danzig split the merchandising rights. The brothers recruited drummer Dr. Chud and vocalist Michale Graves and set out to re-establish themselves as an active band over a decade after the Misfits’ heyday.
Back in 2012, South Africa’s Wildernessking came seemingly out of nowhere with The Writing of Gods in the Sand, an album that combined the progressive black metal maelstrom of Enslaved with the sweeping, epic attack of Primordial to create music that was as uplifting and cathartic as it was dark and heavy. After releasing a follow-up EP that same year, the band went quiet; a surprising move given the notoriety they’d quickly gained on the strength of those two excellent releases. Fast-forward to 2014 and the Cape Town-based quartet have broken their silence with The Devil Within, an EP that showcases the band at their most scathing; I got in touch with bassist/vocalist Keenan Oakes to discuss this new release and find out what the future has in store for the mighty Wildernessking…