Welcome once again to Death’s Door! I was just about to put on a po- OH FOR LUCIFER’S SAKE WIPE YOUR FEET ON THE GOD DAMNED MAT!!! I JUST MOPPED, YOU SAVAGES!!! Okay, okay… deeeeeep breaths. Now, where was I… Yes! I was about to put a pot of blood on the boil. Can’t talk about death metal without a nice steaming cup of the blood of the non-believers, and you’ve arrived just in time for our next swan dive into the death metal abyss. Pull up a supremely uncomfortable chair of bones and buckle up, we have a lot to cover.
2017 is shaping up to be a banner year in the recent history of death metal. Quality releases abound, and we thank our infernal overlords for their bountiful provision. April, however, was a very strange month for our beloved deathly noise. Though strange may not be the best word to use here. Let’s try, maybe, weird? Yeah, weird seems right. This month we got a lot of robots. Also ingurgitation (look it up), some extreme (fucking) death, and Vampires, too. Lots to digest. But regardless of the whack-a-doodle nature of this month’s death metal output, April has been one of the best months for the subgenre in recent memory. Two album of the year contenders surfaced to wage a war of the weird against our ears, and it was a sight to behold. Good, old fashioned traditional death metal saw its fair share of releases as well, so never fear if you find yourself outside of fandom of the brutal noodle. Regardless of your persuasion, death metal is in fine health in the year of our dark lord 2017, and that is worthy of celebration.
Because of the sheer volume of quality releases this month, I will be mentioning some music that has already received coverage by the blog. Typically, this piece will cover death metal that has yet to receive a review, but every so often noteworthy releases will require me to bend this rule in order to ensure that you get the best coverage of the subgenre that I can provide. Also, this is Hell. I do what I want.
Death Dive: Initiate!
Best of the Bunch:
Ingurgitating Oblivion – Vision Wallows in Symphonies of Light
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Describing this album is going to be a challenge. This is some of the weirdest, most exhilarating death metal I have ever heard. To be honest, I was unfamiliar with Ingurgitating Oblivion until the release of this album. Having now gone back and listened to their previous work, I can firmly say that I am a walking garbage can for not knowing about this band until now and you shouldn’t read a single word I write. That said, here are some words I’m going to write that you should read anyway.
Vision Wallows in Symphonies of Light is a thoroughly ambitious, consistently perplexing, and deeply rewarding journey through whatever portal of space these people come from (they say “Germany”, but I have my doubts). Consisting of four tracks and nearly an hour of music, you can tell from the opening notes of the record that it’s going to be a wild one. “Amid the offal, abide with me” is one of the better opening tracks to a death metal album I have heard in years. It is angular, atonal, oddly melodic and just so freakin’ strange. But one of the beauties of this record is that none of this weirdness becomes a gimmick or sacrifices the music’s heft. On the contrary, Vision consistently sounds massive and heavy as hell. This is partly due to the bananas upon bananas-level drum work of Lille Gruber. Holy lord. The rhythm section on this record is just not right. Some of the sequences here are as intricate and astonishingly unique as I have heard in metal. Yes, it’s that good.
The other tracks on the album are no slouches either. 22-minute behemoth “A Mote Constitutes What To Me Is Not All, And Eternally All, Is Nothing” isn’t only a ridiculous mouthful to say, it’s also flat-out incredible. Dissecting the intricacies of this piece of music could be an article in itself. The album’s subsequent tracks are no less engaging, and send the album off in a raging torrent of fire and… piano. This is the type of record that strengthens and emboldens entire genres of music. It’s nuts, and one of the best of the year. Stop what you’re doing and give this thing a thorough listen stat.
Artificial Brain – Infrared Horizon
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Yep. Two segments in and I’ve already broken my “not previously covered by the blog” rule. Noyan has already summarized this album far better than I can, so be sure to read his review here. That said, There’s no way I wasn’t going to put in my completely unnecessary two cents. So, let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: Artificial Brain’s Infrared Horizon is one of the best metal albums released so far this year. Full stop. I’m not just talking death metal. I’m talking the whole genre. This is weird, technical death metal at its craziest and most proficient, and it deserves every inch of the praise it is getting.
The performances on this album are some of the best of each member’s career. Will Smith’s vocal performance incorporates welcome tonal variation, vacillating between deep throated brutal death metal growls and higher register screaming that adds some welcome flavor to his always crushing vocal performance. However, Smith’s engaging vocal delivery is only one component of what makes this album so excellent. The music itself, from the blistering drumming to the propulsive, weird guitar work is absolutely mesmerizing. A concept album about robot ascendancy could go about as badly as you can imagine, but the music here paints a picture of a scorched, post-apocalyptic wasteland with such skill and conviction that it is incredibly difficult not to get lost in the world Artificial Brain have created. You don’t need to know or like the concept to thoroughly enjoy the music, however, as this is premium technical death metal in practically every way. A fundamentally fantastic album that you should give your time and full attention.
Extremity – Extremely Fucking Dead
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Opposed to the progressive weirdness of Ingurgitating Oblivion’s latest, Extremity bring to us back to the good old school of nasty traditional death metal. Their new album Extremely Fucking Dead is extremely fucking deadly. It also sounds exactly like you think it will. Meaning, it’s going to melt your face completely off. Formed by members of Vastum, Agalloch, Repulsion, and Necrosic, Extremity bring to the table a throwback to the way things were. When death metal didn’t act like it was, you know, MUSIC. This album is the audio equivalent of being punched in the face multiple times by a very large individual who neither knows nor likes you. It isn’t stuffed with much technical wizardry, it mostly just wants to kill you. It’s an exciting jolt of manic energy from some metal vets who know exactly what they want to do and execute with verve and savagery.
The production on this record is a nice throwback to death metal records of the early 90s, and fits the music impeccably well. After a brief intro, “Crepuscular Crescendo” kicks off the album with a vengeance, showering the listener in a riff fest that heralds back to the glory days of Deicide and Obituary. The album is relentless throughout, dropping some simple yet megaton heavy solo work on “Bestial Destiny”, some great and guttural vocals on “Chalice of Pus”, and capping it all off with some punk-infused madness in the album’s title track. Yeah, it may not be new. But hell if it isn’t crazy fun to listen to.
Worth a Listen:
Phrenelith – Desolate Endscape
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Leave it to Denmark, man. I don’t even know what that means, but it seems appropriate. Mostly because Copenhagen-based death merchants Phrenelith have produced something special with their debut album, Desolate Endscape. After releasing three demos, a split, and an EP in the span of two years, this record is the culmination of a lot of promising material finally becoming a cohesive and devastating whole.
Desolate Endscape displays more traditional death metal sounds, but adds some extra heft through a deep and edgy production job that gives these songs a really nasty edge. The meaty soundscapes of “Eradicated” and the album’s title track are some fuzzy, crunchy goodness. This is the mature sound and vision of a band with much more luggage in tow than a few small releases, and it’s definitely worth checking out for fans of the heavier, more monolithic side of death metal.
Vampire – With Primeval Force
Whoa man, is this record fun. Seriously. I picked up my hellhound’s crap with this thing blaring and smiled the whole time. For those unfamiliar, Sweden’s Vampire combine old school death metal with a healthy dose of 80s thrash. They’re fast, aggressive, melodic and emphasize guitar harmonies as a principal component of their sound. If you like your death metal groovy and thoroughly easy to bang your head to, congratulations! You’ve found your new favorite band.
With only one other full length to their name, Vampire don’t have a particularly dense back catalog to draw comparison to. Nevertheless, With Primeval Force is a notable step up from their self-titled debut album (which isn’t a bad album at all) in almost every way. The guitars sound rich and vibrant, with production that throws out a fuzzy, high register sound that fits right into the San Francisco thrash scene of old. The riffs here come flying at breakneck speed and in numbers to rival a Mongolian army. “He Who Speaks” shows off the mix of sounds this album pedals really well, featuring a nice combination of thrash and death riffing over some propulsive drumming. Subsequent track “Metamorfosis” shows off the band’s speedy guitar work while throwing in some great, brief solos. Honestly, you could pick any track on this record to throw on and enjoy it. I look forward to hearing more from this band in the near future.
Alright, yos. Your turn. What death metal did you enjoy in April? What albums did I fail to mention, making me the absolute worst? Fill the comments with your hate and bile. Until next month!