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.
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.
Whenever I want to look beyond the promo pile for new music, I inevitably head for Bandcamp. The site is a veritable world of wonders, a treasure trove of music from across the genre spectrum just waiting to be discovered, and best of all a ton of it is free. The problem is, I discover so much good stuff every time I go on a trawl, it’s nearly impossible for me to write about all of it, or at least, not in a full-on 400 to 600 word review format. So, I decided to start up a semi-regular feature highlighting my favorite Bandcamp discoveries, some new, some old, some great, some absurd, some evil as hell. Without further ado, let’s uh, plunge into the first edition of Bandcamp Band Crap.
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…
It’s a testament to the amount of great metal released last year that I’m still playing catch-up three months deep into the new year. One of the “ones that got away” in 2013 is Hercyn, a quartet hailing from Jersey City, New Jersey who are off to a most impressive start with Magda, their self-released debut demo. Consisting of a single track that clocks in just shy of twenty-four minutes, Magda is proof positive that even at this early stage in the game, Hercyn are already aspiring to be much more than your run-of-the-mill black metal outfit.
Try as I might to seek out and cover as much worthy US black metal as humanly possible at THKD (and Backlit), it’s inevitable that some bands slip though the cracks. I’m just one man and as such it’s physically impossible for me to listen to everything that gets released over the course of a year. Fortunately, a few bands have the stones to be proactive and put their music in front of my face rather than wait around for me to stumble upon them. One such band is Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus, who put out two stellar releases last year in the form of Synkkä Tuuli and Väinämöinen.