Welcome to Starter Kit, a new feature on Heavy Blog. The point of this feature is to expose you, dear reader, to a genre that you may not know much about, or may be interested in getting into but don’t know where to start. In it, one of us will be explaining a genre in brief, going into what it sounds like, common lyrical themes, and, most importantly, a few essential releases in the genre. The point is to get more people acquainted with various facets, sub-subgenres, and types of metal, offering an easy-to-digest listening experience and streamlined introductory guide.
This our second entry (here is the first), and today I’m here with friend of the blog Ian Wilmot, of the bands Carthage and Ingesting Humanity, to discuss one of our personal favorite subgenres of death metal, brutal slamming death metal, or, as it’s colloquially known, “slam”. Slam is a relatively simple subgenre, especially in comparison with other death metal sub-types, focusing on creating fantastic riffs instead of fiery technicality or mind-bending time signature changes. Combining crushingly heavy midtempo chug riffs, which are the genre’s eponymous slams, fast tremolo sections, and pulverizing blast beats, the instrumentation of slam is some of the heaviest you can find in metal.
The vocals are another one of the genre’s standouts: consisting almost entirely of gutterals and pig squeals, slam vocalists have an absolutely cavernous sound to them. They blend with the music to form a cocktail of heaviness that can draw in anyone capable of handling that level of sheer destruction. The musical equivalent of a video game like like Dead Rising or Left 4 Dead, slam is equal parts pure, unbridled aggression and brutally visceral riffing.
Slam is a continued exploration of just how simplistic something can get and remain interesting. Focusing their energy on chug-laden grooves and utilitarian blast beats instead of fretboard wizardry, slam bands write music that gets its power from its simplicity. It’s a refreshing change of pace from most modern death metal, and so it can be a great genre for most to get into if they need a change of pace. And, to help you get into it, we have here, curated by Ian, three releases that should provide a great jumping-off point to get into the genre.
Quite possibly the most well known slam release, this album is one of the best starting points for being introduced to the genre as a whole. Unlike many slam releases, it features a very tight modern mix, and somewhat resembles a deathcore or tech death album in terms of production more so than the typical slam album would. It features absolutely crushing riffs and slams through, and a standout vocal performance by Matti Way. As is typical of the genre the lyrics are completely incomprehensible, but in this genre it’s not necessarily a matter of what is said, but how it’s delivered, and this album makes a point of having absolutely disgusting vocals throughout.
This album encompasses everything slam fans love about slam: ridiculous vocals, trashcan snare tone, countless blast beats, over the top song titles and lyrics, and extremely slow groovy slams. From start to finish the album pummels you with chugging riffs and slams; compared to the other 2 releases on this list, it’s noticeably more simplistic when it comes to the guitar work and song structures overall. Its very bare bones extremely heavy music in the best way possible. The end result is one of the most absurdly heavy albums you will ever listen to.
This young Portuguese band is the newest of the bunch with their first single, Genetic Mutations, only dating back to 2014. Despite their extremely young age, this band has definitely mastered modern slam, and may honestly outperform many of the older bands in the genre. One of the biggest things to note about this release is the vocal performance; it ranges from the standard slam gutturals and pig squeals to some more standard death metal highs scattered here and there. Analepsy certainly has a bit of a leg up on many bands in the genre for this alone, but don’t let that make you think the rest of the band is lacking in any way. The guitar work is tight and the slams punishing, and there are quite a few sections of more technical riffing that are a bit more flashy as well. The riffing on the EP overall is very reminiscent of deathgrind bands such as Aborted or Benighted, which gives it a very fresh and original sound and helps it stand out even more in the genre.