What connects these two releases is, more than anything, their desire for elegance in simplicity. Even though they sound far from similar, both the brutal slamming death metal album and the hardcore punk EP reviewed here try to downplay any form of real technical showmanship or complex songwriting in favor of crushing, straightforward heaviness and groove. After all, who needs a scalpel when you’ve got a chainsaw?
Category Archive Reviews
In discussing Downfall Rising, it is impossible to avoid framing Wombbath’s resurfacing within two themes within the annals of death metal history. It is first obvious to focus upon Downfall Rising’s status as a comeback record; one would hope that the impetus for ceasing a two decade hiatus was a docket of invigorating material. Death metal has had a couple of resoundingly successful comebacks in recent years, seeing as both Gorguts and Carcass dominated metal discourse in 2013 with two of the strongest releases – Colored Sands and Surgical Steel, respectively – from both that year and within their own discographies. However, the second piece in this historical examination is the platform from which these comebacks sprung. Not every original death metal band has released as many undeniable masterpieces as Gorguts or Carcass; Obscura and Heartwork are the types of albums whose impact is a singular occurrence in a genre’s life cycle. The grand majority of original death metal bands either fizzled out in the days of tape trading or released a moderately respected classic before releasing a lackluster follow-up – if even that – and then breaking up. Genre purveyors label these mild classics as deep cuts rather than essential listening; God Macabre’s The Winterlong… and Carnage’s Dark Recollections, but they are no Left Hand Path or Altars of Madness. While there are instances of these types of bands initiating a comeback, their reception has thus been fairly lukewarm. Convulse’s World Without God did little to stir excitement in 2013’s Evil Prevails, and when Massacre released the underwhelming Back From the Beyond last year, some in the death metal community revisited their debut From Beyond and questioned whether or not it has truly held up as a genre classic. All of this considered, the present question is as follows: twenty two years after Wombbath’s moderate classic Internal Caustic Torments, within which of the aforementioned categories – if any – does Downfall Rising place the band within?
One doesn’t need to search extensively within the metal world to find examples of successful family cooperation. The Duplantier brothers from Gorjira and the Weaver brothers from Wolves In the Throne Room are just two examples that come to mind. Another case of brotherly cooperation is the lads in Krisiun, a Brazilian trio of highly seasoned death metal fanatics with twenty five years of experience under their belts. Krisiun’s storied career has seen the three brothers from the south of Brazil produce album after album of relentlessly pummeling death metal ever since their 1995 debut Black Force Domain up to this year’s full-length number ten Forged In Fury. Their take on death metal doesn’t veer off the traditional old school setup with deep guttural vocals, crushing riffs, soaring lead guitars and blast beats galore.
It’s always worth paying attention to controversial artists, regardless of how much one subjectively enjoys what they bring to the table. A band willing to take risks and do previously unheard-of things with their instruments always have been, and always will be, the ones to steer their respective genres wherever they end up going. It’s been this way throughout history, from the bright, technicolor prog-rock explosion of the 70’s, spearheaded by the larger-than-life members of King Crimson, to the crushing rhythmic blasts that Meshuggah and their offspring create.
It’s not just that way in more progressive and heady genres, either. From the birth of deathcore progenitors Despised Icon onwards, bands like Job For A Cowboy, Veil of Maya, and The Contortionist have, at one point or another, donned the title of the most important artist to watch within the genre. Right now, however, one band looms tall above the rest, an elephant in the room that threatens to destroy everything under its titanic feet. Though their discography currently consists of less than 15 songs, since their inception and first release in 2013, they have completely terraformed the landscape of deathcore. This band is, of course, none other than the infamous Black Tongue.
Genres are fickle beasts. We crave proper tools for identification and organization, and more often than not, things fall neatly into place. However, when a piece of media aligns itself too comfortably with a single set of established confines, it’s taken as generic and derivative. We’re all guilty of it. What’s worse is that this encourages a culture in our community in which we put too much faith in categorization as a means of fandom. We as music fans often find ourselves making entire genres a part of who we are as individuals. A single genre of music — with its own set of rules, sounds, fashion, and aesthetic — can inform our entire being.
This isn’t meant to be some grand think-piece on genre and culture, nor am I decrying the importance of classification; it’s absolutely necessary and culture will always be influenced by art (and vice-versa, of course). That’s just how things are. So what do we do when a band doesn’t neatly fall into one box? Best case scenario is cognitive dissonance and settling for what could be an inappropriate tag, or perhaps worse, the clumsy and speculative creation of new words in the hopes that something sticks.
It’s been a pretty strange journey for fans of Stray From The Path. Their transformation from mathcore upstarts into political rap metal miscreants has been one steeped in extensive touring, solid releases and countless claims that they stole Tom Morello. Not his guitar tone or his set up, but the man himself. Now five albums deep into their relationship with Sumerian Records, Stray From The Path have potentially reached that point where their sound is completely their own. That statement could and probably will make some laugh but there’s nothing funny at all about the material that makes up Subliminal Criminals.
Old fashioned metalcore was a thing of beauty. Really, it was just so abrasive and unpredictable that it seems more than shameful to lump it into a last.fm tag alongside <can’t justify typing modern metalcore band names>. While most early metalcore bands have adapted, disbanded or fallen into obscurity (barring the obvious; you’re a Heavy Blog reader so you know who I mean), there are some folks out there who crave the crushing nature of all that is grizzly, detuned and chaotic. Bleak, all the way from Syracuse in New York, capture the feelings and atmosphere of their title so fittingly that the word should be used solely to describe this band’s music from here on out. When Cult Of Luna is too sparse or if Botch is a bit too grating, We Deserve Our Failures is the record that doesn’t straddle the line between the two, more like it jumps on the fence and berates it verbally. It gives it a good fucking kicking too, just for good measure.
Recently, you may have noticed the name Dark Sermon popping up more and more in various metal publications, and on various metal websites, and, to a degree, with good reason. The first single, “In Each Hand A Talisman Of Sacred Stone,” showed a band who had grown immensely, adding Dark Fortress-esque melodic guitar leads, and even toying with small ambient passages to help give the music a more haunting, moody feel amidst the blast beat driven attacks. Naturally, this helped to generate a bit of hype among metal fans and critics who saw the band’s recent changes as a huge step forward, and with good reason, as they were no longer relying heavily on old school death/black metal cliches to help drive their music. Unfortunately, The Oracle only halfway lives up to the hype fully generated around it, as it shows a band who has progressed a great deal, but also has a long way to go before fully recognizing their true potential.
It’s always exciting when a new Nile album is upon us. The Egyptian-themed technical death metal masters always come up with a novel sound for each album, even though they’re always orientally-influenced, there’s always a different, unique flair to the album. Sometimes they go more experimental, sometimes they go more death metal. Their eighth album, What Should Not Be Unearthed, sees them going for a more straightforward death metal approach after their more technical and progressive musings on At The Gate Of Sethu. Given that it’s a Nile album, we know it’s likely to be good, but exactly how good? And what does it sound like? Let’s find out.
There are two ways to describe what the black metal scene has been undergoing for the past few hours: you can either see it as a revival of a sound once calcified or as an assault on what makes the genre great. It is an advantage of those who stand outside of the scene to be able to view these events with a calm detachment and perhaps a clearer head; some parts of it are indeed contrite and pointless, attacks for the sake of attacks, but some parts offer rare musical gems. Myrkur is one such project. We won’t spill more ink to recall the turning of events around her emergence unto the scene, but suffice it to say that her first, full release has poured substance into the theoretical idea that she is indeed earnest about her passion for black metal. It presents us with classic moments performed in a fresh way, all supported by the vocal performance of a talented singer.