Hey! Listen to Vitriol!

Vitriol are a death metal band from Portland, Oregon. Their debut EP, Pain Will Define Their Death, drops November 10th. Here’s hoping that next year they drop a full-length record. And perhaps another the year after that. Same the following year. So on and so forth. Mark your calendars, tune your EQ to “Deadly”, and prepare yourself for abject disappointment, because this EP only has three songs and that isn’t nearly enough music from this monumentally talented band. We need more of this, dammit, and we need it NOW!

Spectral Voice – Eroded Corridors of Unbeing

Sometimes I listen to albums and mini-movies play in my head. Narratives that to me encapsulate the sound, the feeling, of the music I am listening to. Spectral Voice has been doing this to me for years, with demo after demo of evocative, strangling death-doom that conjures images and stories that transcend the boundaries of my typically limited imagination. Their debut full-length album, Eroded Corridors of Unbeing, is no exception. In fact, it is the apex of everything the band have thus far released. It is cavernous, ethereal, terrifying, expertly performed, compositionally sound, and an utter masterpiece of death-doom glory. This is music that soundtracks nightmares of spiteful aliens, burning space stations, decaying planets, and the coming of the end of all things. It is music constructed for the dark. Prepare yourself accordingly.

The Metal Explosion: 1985 – 1987

If the story of 1980 to 1984 was how NWOBHM (and more specifically, Iron Maiden) awoke metal from its dormancy to tear the boundaries of popular music, then 1985 – 1987 is about the coronation of thrash metal atop the metal throne, and the subsequent underground rumblings of a closely linked cousin, a blood brother faster, more brutal, and more astonishing — death metal.

Necrovorous – Plains of Decay

Old school death metal is in a state of resurgence unprecedented in the subgenre. Father Befouled, Necrowretch, Dead Congregation, Undergang, Portal, and a seemingly bottomless list of other bands have released record after pounding, flesh-tearing record heralding back to Incantation’s doom-laden, suffocating death metal, or Immolation’s fire-breathing aggression. The early 90s is a period of inspiration for many a young death metal band, and especially so for Necrovorous, whose new album Plains of Decay desecrates the shrines of old to create a death metal sound that is both incredibly aggressive and filthy on an unsettling level. If you hate this sound, go find another review of a record you may enjoy. If death metal that venerates its forebears is up your alley, prepare yourself. This record is quite good.

Voices of the Void: Chuck Schuldiner

Last week’s vocalist was Quorthon, the father of black metal vocals. Appropriately, this week we are focusing on the father of death metal, Chuck Schuldiner. While Chuck’s most valuable contributions to the death metal genre were probably his compositions and abilities on the guitar, his vocals are still quite something. Chuck is different than Quorthon in that he didn’t single-handedly invent the death metal vocal style. Other vocalists like Jeff Becerra, Mille Petrozza, and Tom G. Warrior had huge parts in creating this sound too. However, Chuck had a few key elements to his vocal delivery that were especially remarkable. Let’s start at the very beginning.

Ehnahre – The Marrow

Literature has been one of the foremost sources of inspiration for metal lyricism and composition alike, regardless of subgenre. The list of examples is significant—Ernest Hemingway and Cobalt, Georges Bataille and Deathspell Omega, H. P. Lovecraft and seemingly everyone, and so on. Drawing inspiration from a novel is a challenging but relatively structured undertaking; a plot can be interpreted into numerous sonic and lyrical directions but will always follow the same trajectory of its narrative. Poetry contrasts this process by its very nature, as its natural code of symbolic meaning and suggestive prose necessitates musical decoding drawn from a strictly thematic place. Even poems with a decipherable narrative are often told in a verbose, indirect manner that challenges metal lyricists and composers to write with a liberated hand, looking beyond the words on the page to a deeper understanding of the poem’s true meaning and mood. Agalloch’s interpretation of W. B. Yeats is a stellar example of this process being executed beautifully, as is the latest offering from Ehnahre, a Boston-based avant-garde metal collective who count Kay Dot alumni among their ranks. Their incredible four-part song cycle on The Marrow captures the essence of Theodore Roethke’s eponymous poem* through consuming landscapes of avant-garde death-doom that are as ridden with despair as the poet’s initial musing on whether or not life is worthwhile.

Incantation – Profane Nexus

Metal has an abiding relationship with physical and geographical spaces. From the rolling cascades of the Pacific Northwest to the dense, foreboding forests of Norther Europe, metal has long championed music that not only exists in a specific physical place but is often consumed by it. Think the ice cold tremolo knives of Norwegian black metal, or perhaps the gentler wanderings of folk metal from across the globe, or the oppressively heavy and moderately paced trudging of Bayou sludge. To these ears, these are sounds that are intended to transport and project us into a physical space that often adds further distinction to the thematic and lyrical themes of the music. The same could be said of the music of Incantation, but opposed to feeling like the American East Coast from whence the band originates, the death metal legends have composed music for decades that feels as if it is slowly emerging from a deep, hellish cave. It is reverberating, dripping filth bathed in oppressive guitar work, echoing and cavernous vocals, and a seething, roaring rhythm section that feels like an earthquake. It is a sound shrouded in slow, creeping, all-consuming darkness that feels viscerally physical, and Incantation have molded and transformed this beastly noise into something close to perfection.

Akercocke – Renaissance In Extremis

While Akercocke aren’t necessarily what one would call a legendary band, they’re definitely a cult favorite, and very well-revered by those who know of them. As such, their disappearance was a big blow to fans of progressive death metal. Back in the day, Opeth and Akercocke were one of the…