Ask not what metal can do for you

I wanted to get back in the habit of writing here with a long post that includes some ranting and some promo of some bands I think are very deserving of more attention. I hope you’ll indulge me in both:

I won’t mention their names here, but I decided to listen to a metal podcast this weekend. Within the first five minutes of the most recent episode, the hosts were complaining about the “tampon-fuck-boys” marching across the nation in protest of President Trump. I listened to this podcast right after reading Doug Moore’s amazing monthy metal write up on Stereogum, where he talks about where metal fits into the seemingly hopeless impending doom that has come over many people in the last months. It was quite an emotional read for me and gave me a lot of focus and relief.

I don’t understand why two people, like these podcasters, who have been steeped in anti-conformity and trained since their teen years (by the very music they’ve dedicated a podcast to) to disobey authority, rebel against societal norms, and detest corrupt government, would ever be telling people to STOP PROTESTING. Why are there any metalheads who respond to a nationwide protest against a rising authoritarian with the same tired, macho, “grow-up, SJWs”. Don’t they understand that all that 80s thrash and crossover has trained us for this exact moment?! All those hilarious album covers, they mean something! All those cliches we grew up about the government brainwashing you or nuclear wars or conspiracy theories, THIS IS THAT! How could someone abandon what they’ve been taught their whole life?

I mean, what if, for example, a bunch of hypothetical people under some over-arching set of tenets, like a religion, let’s say, indoctrinated their kids since infancy with some basic human things like, I don’t know, let me just think of something off the top of my head: love thy neighbor, always help others, turn the other cheek, don’t be selfish, don’t kill people, etc. Let’s even go as far as to say that the main figure on that religion had an origin story about love, acceptance, and some sort of refugee-type situation. And then, a whole nation of THAT RELIGIOUS GROUP, all lived in the same country for 200 years, for many generations, and insisted that the country was founded on said tenets: a nation of foreigners, immigrants, etc. Then in a national crisis where some person, clearly NOT in that religious tribe, someone notoriously inauthentic, a perfect caricature of greed, inequality, and stupidity, ordered all the refugees out of the country. It would be completely outlandish for that group of people to suddenly be silent on the matter, right? RIGHT?! IT WOULD BE TOTALLY INSANE TO IGNORE THE SET OF TENETS YOUR ENTIRE PEOPLE-GROUP HAS IDENTIFIED WITH FOR GENERATIONS SIMPLY FOR THE SAKE OF A SINGLE MAN’S UNCONVICING CHARISMA? RIGHT???!??!?!?!??!?!?!?!? THAT WOULD JUST BE CRAZY JUST LIKE METALHEADS TELLING PROTESTERS TO SHUT UP HUH YEAH WOW

Anyway: Tomb Mold is good.

I love this album because of how disgusting it sounds. It’s effectiveness is 50% great guitar work and the most brutal vocals you’ve heard this year and 50% production. I love the way the guitar sounds so jangley and clear while still dark and bassy. Death metal can be so paint-by-the-numbers these days, so a little deviation from the norm really goes a long way. Tomb Mold has carved out its own vile, revolting, and unique sound on this album. I can’t get enough.

I feel like the hype for this album came and went pretty quickly. I really like it so I’m going to plug it here again. But, again, nobody reads, so who cares? Dumal crafts some worthy black metal that yearns and longs with beautiful melodies and sombre nihilism. There’s also some haunting ambient-esque tracks intros and outros. Definitely worth your time.

 

I was going to write a full review about this album but I think I just mention it here. Curse of Denial plays super amazing old school death metal that, like Dumal, perfectly combines melody and brutality. There’s some great soloing on this record and some very unique vocal choices including your typical screams and growls with some spoken word as well. I suggest you check this album and anything else on Redefining Darkness Records as they have really been putting on the quality death metal lately.

 

 

 

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Carbon Colossal – The Disassembly of Earth

Boy, I really spoke too soon when I said I don’t listen to too much death metal.

Carbon Colossal is a California based extreme metal project. The reason I leave the genre as vague as “extreme metal” is because you really get a little bit of everything with this band. There’s certainly a technical death metal aspect to them. This short EP has plenty of machine gun riffing that will make your head spin but they’re not so much the typical Necrophagist or Suffocation clone. They’re more in the line of Gorguts or even Deathspell Omega. The band describes themselves as a “project of passion and honesty” and I think that is an accurate description. Beyond the death metal, there’s also a good amount of black metal and doom metal moments, which I think is what adds the emotion to this EP.

The opening track, “Ignition”, kicks things off with a foreboding blackened-doom chug fest that transitions into what could easily be a 1349 track but then concludes with a sludgy, grimy coda. “Ascension” achieves what I like to call the “locust effect” where there’s just so many layers of dense, distorted, and dissonant guitars that you brain just hears one swarm of sounds not unlike approaching insects. There’s an interesting moment on this track where the fury stops and there’s a very short clean guitar interlude. It’s almost as if this horrifying monster takes a breath to gather itself before you continuing the nightmare. You think you’re off the hook for a minute, but nope.

The last track “Culmination” has a slow, doomy build before rapidly shifting tones into a the most furious moment on the EP. The chaos finally focuses into a great death metal riff at around the 4 min mark and the song starts spiraling into an emotional finale. The vocalist shows off his most impressive screams at this moment as the music pounds forward. Finally, the clean guitars come back to trick you into tranquility but, of course, the monster awakens and we get one last tornado-ass, blast-beat section.

This album is a promising debut and I can’t wait to see what a full length will be like.

PS: The album cover is sick too.

https://www.facebook.com/CarbonColossal/

Hate Unbound – Plague

We live in a wonderful era of metal where any variation one could want is out there somewhere. Ambient Progressive Blackgaze? Jazz Slam Deathcore? Speed Doom? We got it. With all the fancy variants, it can be easy to desire something straight forward.

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Hate Unbound is a death/thrash band from Detroit. They deliver some tight, fist pounding modern thrash metal. I was fortunate enough to get to hear their new album, Plague, in its entirety before it drops in February so I’m here to tell you to pick it up. The band lists Lamb of God and Death as some of their main influences. The Lamb of God influence is easy to hear right away as vocalist Art Giammara could easily replace Randy Blythe tomorrow. Guitarists, Daryl Mitchell and William Cundiff, drive the band forward with their outstanding riffing and shredding especially on tracks like “Suffering” which sounds like Chuck Schuldiner co-wrote a song with Gojira. The rhythm section keeps things modern sounding with a tight kit and plenty of shifts in groove and emphasis that keep your head bobbing the whole album.

 

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The recent thrash revival has given us lots of great bands but many of them borrow mostly from the 80s sound. Hate Unbound is different. They sounds like the natural progression of thrash in the late 90s and 00s. Think Legion of The Damned, Dew Scented, and Hatesphere. This is a style that doesn’t get glorified too much these days. They aren’t afraid of downtuning, using tight, clean production, and adding some groove and melody to their thrash. What we end up with is an album that really encompasses a lot of the basic virtues of metal:  driving, aggressive playing, grooves, great riffs, and, of course, screaming.

Their new album, “Plague”, drops February 17 via Inverse Records. You can preview the first track, “Baptised in Lies” it on their bandcamp:

 

 

https://www.facebook.com/HateUnbound

 

 

 

Shaarimoth – Temple of the Adversarial Fire

My first love in metal was thrash metal. After about a year of obsession I found my deepest love for many years: power metal. Hence, the name of this blog. In recent years, after being at music school, attempting to record my own music, and opening up my tastes significantly I have come to understand extreme metal much more and now it is my preferred genre of music. Since this shift in my taste, I usually stick to black metal and doom metal, as those usually give me the biggest emotional response. I tend to shy away from things labeled as death metal, as I feel the genre suffers from the exact same things power metal suffers from these days: overdone, flat, lifeless production, and painfully derivative music. It creates a market where many albums released in these genres are trying desperately to approach the ideal Death Metal © or Power Metal ™ sound. Don’t get me wrong. I love plenty of bands and albums from both these genres. Hopefully, you’ll understand my tastes better as this blog unfolds. After all, I am reviewing a death metal band today. Or maybe I’m just ranting. Anyway, SHAARIMOTH!

 

On the metal archives, Shaarimoth’s lyrical themes are listed as “Sumerian Chaos-Gnosticism” which might lead some of you boutique extreme metal listeners to write off this band as a commonplace Halloween-ass black/death metal group. They aren’t. They are what many death metal bands wish they could be. First of all, the production here is actually quite old school sounding leading many to make a Morbid Angel comparison, which I think is apt. Although, they are no worship band. Second, there is a brilliant mixture of great riffs, something that is very easy to find in most Death Metal © bands, with great atmosphere and great melody, something that is harder to find. This is an album where you won’t actually want to skip the intro track.

 

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Shaarimoth never stays on one idea for too long. If they impress you with a groovy riff, they will immediately shift gears into a crazed, breakneck fast section. The songs themselves do the same sort of alternating between styles, never leaving you bored from track to track. In fact, the entire record can be thought of a cross-section of death metal and black metal styles. Certainly, there is Morbid Angel influence here as mentioned before, but there’s also hints of Behemoth, Tribulation, and Marduk. This music unfolds leading you to its soaring peaks through carefully thought-out atmosphere devices and non-repetitive song structures. As a bonus, Shaarimoth isn’t afraid to use melodic hooks to lock you into a song. The melodies sound natural and not forced. My favorite track, “Fires of Molok”, demonstrates this perfectly.

 

The vocalist, Rune Andreassen, listed here as “R”, goes between low-pitched death growls and blackened shrieks that sound like demons of another dimension as well as punk-like screaming and Gregorian chant-like choirs that remind us that he is, in fact, human. His vocal performance paints a picture of mankind fighting the evil inside Him, and the evil seems to be winning. I especially love the last track, “Point of Egress”, that has some straight up clean singing on it. The guitar work utilizes the whole neck and every string. The solos are well thought-out and evoke just as wide a range of emotion as the vocals, sometimes laying down a steady, chuggy riff, a sombre mid-ranged lead, a shredding solo that isn’t just boring wankery, and everything in-between. Like I said before, these guys never do the same thing twice. The rhythm work is just as interesting as the lead work. My favorite track to show off the guitar and bass work by Frode Ramsland, listed as “F”, is “Ascension of The Blind Dragon”.

 

This album is amazing and will keep you coming back again and again. Check it out on Bandcamp or No Clean Singing:

No Clean Singing Stream

Favorite tracks:

Fires of Molok, Harba di Ashm’dai, Ascension of The Blind Dragon, Point of Egress