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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Demon Head – Demo 2014 (Caligari Records, 2014)

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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.

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Broken Hope @ Vaudeville Mews, 04/03/2014

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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.

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Fuoco Fatuo – The Viper Slithers in the Ashes of what Remains (Caligari Records, 2014)

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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.

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Weightlessness – Of Lachrymose Grief (Graceless Recordings, 2014)

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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.

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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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Interview: WILDERNESSKING

Wildernessking-2014-Anke-LootsBack 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…

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Behemoth – The Satanist (Metal Blade, 2014)

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I hadn’t intended to review The Satanist; Behemoth has long been a favorite band of mine and I had planned to enjoy their first new recording in five years purely as a fan. Sometimes it’s good to just kick back and blast an album at top volume without having to analyze its every nook and cranny, and I was looking forward to doing just that.  But the thing is, while I certainly didn’t expect Behemoth to disappoint, I also didn’t expect them to take such a stunning turn, releasing one of their best albums to date a full twenty-three years deep into their career.

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Oodles of Brutals III: Tech Death and Other Delights

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It’s been quite a while since I did one of these (over a year, to be slightly more precise), but frankly there hasn’t been a whole lot of new stuff on the brutality front that’s really tripped my trigger of late.  In fact, it’s only been within the past month or so that enough gory goodies have piled up to make it worth doing. The initial two installments of Oodles of Brutals were all about slam and brutal death metal, but this time around we’ll mostly be focusing on tech death.  I’m pretty darn picky about this stuff, as there is an extremely fine line between mind-bending technicality and “Hey, look what we can do!” fret-wankery, so it’s a bit of a surprise that so much of this stuff has been able to grab me, but it’s a neck-snappingly pleasant one.  Let’s dive in…

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Age of Bootcamp: Metal Blogging 101

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Yes, I realize that it’s beyond pretentious of me to be writing this, but I see so many metal blogs popping up out of the woodwork and so many of them getting it wrong in one way or another that I decided it was time to dust off the old soapbox.  Who am I to say what’s right and what’s wrong?  Well, I’ve been doing THKD for almost five years now (and before that Sonic Frontiers(dot)net for two years); I get a pretty fair amount of page views per month for a blog that doesn’t recycle press releases, and people I consider fairly prominent in our little community have both publicly praised my work and trashed the living shit out of it.  I’ve also been asked to write for a few other blogs (Invisible Oranges, Metal Bandcamp, Cryogenic Husk and a few I’ve respectfully turned down) and recently embarked on a series of collaborative posts with Last Rites.  Surely I must be doing something right?

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