Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Some album reviews and general misanthropy

Note: I love powerviolence/crust/grindcore/d-beat. I also love black metal. I HATE deathcore. Death metal rules.

I was talking to a friend of mine last night about how, in his opinion, it's unfair to hate on a band simply because they belong to a particular musical genre; he feels that one should give each individual group a chance and evaluate them based on their own merits (or lack thereof). I definitely see where he's coming from, but come on - I'm convinced there are some genres/subgenres/styles out there that deserve nothing but scorn. Case in point: nu-metal, female-fronted symphonic/gothic metal, and everyone's favorite whipping boy, deathcore.

I gave deathcore a chance back before its heroes' logos were splashed across every high school kid's emaciated chest and its particular brand of sonic insult was blasting through every pit ninja's Ipod. I still dig Devourment, and have always been more than okay with Dying Fetus & Suffo's breakdowns, but that's about as far as I can go. I don't understand the appeal. Breakdowns can be cool, but not when you base an entire fucking song around them. If you like death metal PARTS, why don't you just write death metal SONGS instead of cherry-picking the bits you like best and mashing them up into something so unnervingly generic I worry about our youth's cognitive skills? There's a lot more that can be said on the subject (and probably will) but I'll spare you any more of my vitriol for now.

Keeping that in mind, check out a couple new reviews I did for Hails & Horns.

ENEMY SOIL [[sidebar]]
“Casualties of Progress”

Powergrinding into oblivion

Richmond, VA’s drum-machine noiseterrorists Enemy Soil disbanded in 1999, and it’s a damn shame they did. The world could use another balls-out straight-up grindcore outfit around to show the influx of newjack irony-grinders out there how shit’s supposed to be done. Luckily, Relapse have continued with their spate of quality reissues by putting out Enemy Soil’s “Casualties of Progress” EP, complete with unreleased songs and a Napalm Death cover. Remastered by Scott Hull (whose project Agoraphobic Nosebleed once counted Enemy Soil mainman Robert Johnson amongst its members), the nine tracks on this album careen by at warp speed. In true fastcore fashion, the damn thing’s over in sixteen minutes. For those who aren’t familiar with Enemy Soil, shame on you – you call yourself a grindfreak? For those who are, you should know what you’re getting into here: viciously primitive, mercilessly fast, crusty, powerviolent grindcore with sociopolitical lyrics, backed by the drum machine from hell. An essential piece of extreme metal history from a band of innovators who freed the drum machine from the techno ghetto, and an absolute must-have for everyone who wishes Dropdead were still together. IN GRIND WE CRUST, motherfuckers! (Kim Kelly) (Relapse/www.relapse.com)

BLOODBATH [[sidebar]]
“Unblessing the Purity”

Everything Mikeal Akerfeldt touches turns to gold. Gory, blasphemous, Jesus-hatin’ gold.

Bloodbath, everyone’s favorite Swedish death metal standard-bearers, are back with a four-song EP and a decimating live DVD (discussed elsewhere in the issue). I for one would rather that they stop futzing around and just put out another goddamn full-length already, but when even an EP knocks the wind out of 90% of the other death metal releases that came out this year, I’m almost afraid of what will happen when the Bloodbath gang get their shit together and unleash hell yet again. As per usual, this supergroup’s had a few lineup changes between this and the monstrous “Nightmares Made Flesh.” This time, Dan Swano jumped ship and was duly replaced by Per Eriksson, Mighty Mikeal’s back on vokills, and Peter Tatgren is but a distant memory. Musically, Unblessing the Purity” reeks of Entombed, Dismember, & pre-hippie Amorphis, just beefed up a bit with a greater emphasis on technicality, atmosphere, and more varied tempos. Akerfelt sounds positively demonic on “Blasting the Virginborn,” while “Weak Aside” is utterly owned by the sickest guitar solo this side of Stockholm. My only gripe is that this EP is slightly lacking in the catchiness department – the riffs stick in your head well enough, but this one’s sadly bereft of “Eaten Pt. II” (though I’ll keep on hoping!). You’ve got our attention, boys – now make with the full-length.


Abomination and desolation.

This band is fucking stupid. Deathcore-by-numbers from the kind of dudes who almost certainly describe what they play as “brutal technical death metal,” which means they really dug that Necrophagist guy’s record and think sweeps are awesome. Also, breakdowns. Lots and lots of breakdowns. This sort of shit makes me feel so old; when I was this band’s fans’ age, I was getting into Morbid Angel and Bathory, not Waking The Cadaver and Abigail Williams. I don’t understand the appeal of deathcore, but gosh darn does it sell. Catalepsy’s Stillborn debut opens with a weird industrialized-machinery-in-an-old-abandoned-factory-populated-by-Orcs intro that leads into a roar of “I will destroy,” then the inevitable breakdown. Then they do it again a bunch of times, except without the intro (except for the acoustic interlude on track six). That’s it. That’s the album. They don’t even have the requisite cred-giving, tortured-looking thrash/death metal longhair lurking in the background of their promo pics to metal ‘em up. Sorry to break it to you, kids, but you’re not destroying shit – just perpetuating it. (Kim Kelly) (Stillborn Records / www.stillbornrecords.com)

“Satan’s Soldiers Syndicate”

I’m a sucker for this kind of thing. Mid-to-fast-as-fuck-paced, fuzzy, Satan-fellating, Venom-worshipping, thrashy black metal is my shit, and Desaster fit that bill with relish. These guys are something of a hidden gem; they formed the same year I was born (1988, if you must know) and are about as old school as it gets, but oddly enough, it seems like no one’s ever heard of ‘em. Hopefully their latest opus will put ‘em back on the black metal map and rally the old guard who remember the demo days. This is essentially a straight-forward black/thrash assault, well-executed and honest. Standout track “Tyrannizer” made me fall in love with this kind of music all over again– a strong mid-paced melody marches grimly forward, tempered with the kind of vocals sure to make Tom G. Warrior long for his mascara-and-leather days and a menacing groove that will NOT be ignored. Fuck. This record rules. Thrash ‘til death! (Kim Kelly) (Metal Blade/www.metalblade.com)

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