106 – Colors Me Surprised

End of the year, so there’s not a lot of news! Shokran covering Linkin Park, Arkona teasing a new album, a new Portal track, Gene Simmons getting banned from Fox News. Decibel’s weird top 40 of the year. Then we discuss why I didn’t enjoy the new Xanthochroid releases and what merit they may have regardless. We introduce a new segment: “Game Changer”, then we discuss Between the Buried and Me’s Colors and how it, well, changed the game. Finally Eden plugs his love letter to Iron Maiden’s Powerslave. Cool people time, including the Korean Netflix show Stranger, then five movies Eden saw at a sci-fi festival, and the superhero simulator Megaton Rainfall. Enjoy!

Hexis – XII

“Paint it black,” they said. So they did. Thrash, death, post-rock, hardcore, industrial, and whatever other styles of music have all been given a nefarious char. Purists hate it (yeah, they’re still at it). I love it. Crossover opportunities like these challenge us to try new things and build bridges…

Altarage – Endinghent

Portal, Mitochondrion, Antediluvian, Grave Miasma, Adversarial, The Ominous Circle, and Impetuous Ritual. The mere mention of these bands automatically conjures thoughts of a particular sound, a sonic aesthetic, within the death metal community. Jagged riffs, overwhelmingly heavy and murky production values, vocals that leap slowly and maniacally from the deepest pits of hell itself. Though this strain of death metal isn’t without its detractors and controversial elements, these above bands and a host of others have constructed successful careers upon the foundation laid by Finnish gods Demilich, and in my mind death metal is all the better for it. Spain’s Altarage also belongs in this group, cementing their reputation among the most punishing of death dealers with their monumental debut release Nihl. It was as relentless, pounding, and utterly suffocating as anything yet released in the band’s chosen subgenre, and ended up being one of my favorite releases of last year. With Endinghent, the band’s much-anticipated sophomore record, Altarage continue to expand upon the sound that brought them such positive attention, but with a twist: Endinghent is without question an evolutionary leap for the band in both song-craft and sound that serves as a sonic departure from their previous work. Whether these changes are good or bad depends on your view of what makes Altarage special, and in my book the band have begun a gallant voyage into a more refined and sharp sound that not only serves to highlight their songwriting ability, but also flesh out elements of their sound that were somewhat drowned out in their last album. It’s a bold move that pays dividends with repeated listening.

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.

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.

Death’s Door – July 2017

Welcome to our latest edition of Death’s Door. Wipe your feet on the mat, etc. There’s a lot to discuss this month, though frankly, I had my doubts at certain points about whether or not there would be. You see, July tends to be a musical doldrums for yours truly, with lots of leftover releases that didn’t make it into the prime Spring and early Summer release calendar clogging streaming services with mundane/barely serviceable drivel. Obviously, this makes for some not-so-great listening experiences. Thankfully, July pulled through regardless, delivering unto us another fantastic batch of death metal releases that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest of 2017. So much so, in fact, that we are foregoing our new tracks section to focus exclusively on the great records released this month. So prepare yourself for some good stuff and thank your lucky stars, because hell hath no fury like a month without good death metal.

Decibel’s Toxic Nostalgia – Exploring the Magazine’s Narrow View of Modern Death Metal

The following article is a collaboration between editors Jonathan Adams and Scott Murphy.  Before we dive in, let’s make one thing clear—we and Decibel (“America’s only monthly extreme music magazine”) agree that 2017 has been an exceptional year for death metal. Jonathan has highlighted countless fantastic death metal albums this…