Vancouver-based technical death metal crew Archspire have been active since 2009, but gained attention after their previous album, 2014’s The Lucid Collective, mainly due to the incredible speed and technical skill of the musicians on that record. It was fast, violent, and hectic, and predictably divided opinion over the issue of whether the music was simply so technical and polished that it lacked any soul. On their third full-length album Relentless Mutation Archspire seem to have engaged in some critical self-reflection, enabling them to create one of the most stunning albums in the entire genre to date.
Abhorrent Decimation are a technical death metal band from London. After releasing their demo Infected Celestial Utopia in 2013, they unleashed their debut album Miasmic Mutation in 2015 to critical acclaim. Railing against religion, the band’s unreservedly brutal, surgically precise flavour of technical death metal is equal parts abrasive and catchy. The catchy riffs reel you in before the crushing grooves eviscerate and oppress. They’ve recently signed a three-album contract with Prosthetic Records, been announced to play at Bloodstock Festival, and confirmed that they have wrapped up recording on their upcoming second full-length album. In the interview that follows we discuss all these things and more. Continue reading “Interview: Abhorrent Decimation on death metal, religion, and their upcoming second album”
The brutal death metal unleashed on Polish band Uerberos‘ debut album Tormented by Faith is as merciless as it is calculated. The technical frenzy of this piece of death metal is performed with perfect precision, aimed at the utter annihilation of all that stands in their way. Stylistically there is some overlap with their Polish brethren in Vader, but the sheer blistering aggression of their craft also reminds me of Hour of Penance, Desecravity, and Aborted at times. Guttural bellows rail against organised religion and the hypocrisy of so-called Christians: Not a new topic for death metal perhaps, but one that is particularly powerful and important for a band from the deeply Catholic nation of Poland. Their debut album Tormented By Faith is an astonishingly technical accomplishment, visceral and unforgiving, violent and grim. Continue reading “Review: Uerberos – “Tormented by Faith””
Some bands take a few releases to mature, hone their technical skills, and refine their sound to a point where they sound confident in their music and carve out a niche for themselves. Other bands, like Setentia, nail it on their first attempt. Their debut full-length album (and, in fact, their very first release of any kind) ‘Darkness Transcend’ was released independently earlier this year, and reissued on the reputable Finnish label Blood Music on November 11. Though the band have been compared with Ulcerate, this does not do justice to the breadth of Setentia’s sound, which incorporates elements of progressive metal and black metal to a far greater extent. Beyond that, they have an uncanny knack for suffocating atmosphere, highly technical, brutal death metal, as well as writing songs with enough variety and unexpected surprises to stave off monotony.
Tasmanian metal band Départe’s expansive sound draws on the most powerful elements of black metal, death metal, and even post-metal. While comparisons with bands like Ulcerate and Zhrine are inevitable because of the band’s penchant for dissonant, unsettling guitarwork, Départe carves out their own sound on their debut album ‘Failure, Subside’.
Stylistically the focus is much more on the atmosphere and flow of the songs than on heaviness or riffs, and the band frequently operate at a bulky, sludgy pace.At the core of their sound is unrelentingly heavy, technical death metal – in this sense, comparisons to Ulcerate are justified. Long sections of atmospheric doom offer some respite from the heaviness of their assault, but frequently simply seem to render the atmosphere even more suffocating.
The opening section ‘Grief Echoes (Golden Scars)’ is one of my favourite on any song this year, the incredibly heavy percussion and eerie melodic guitars working creating a deeply unsettling, brutal sound. And the use of clean vocals throughout the album are a real highlight. They don’t feel like an afterthought, they feel like a really strong tool to provide some release from the utter gloom of much of the music. Used towards the end of the ‘Ashes in Bloom’ they’re a really beautiful touch. The lyrics certainly invoke imagery of despair and grief, suffering and loss, but they also evoke a sense of hope and optimism. It’s in some ways a real treat to read lyrics in such a bleak, poetic style from a musician that has clearly put some real thought into them. It’s a very human, emotionally powerful album, and one very worth experiencing for yourself.
After enjoying the album so much, I reached out to guitarist, vocalist, lyricist, and songwriter Sam Dishington to talk about Départe’s music as well as the experience of being a metal band from Tasmania. Read on for the interview!
Ulcerate‘s brand of technical death metal is compelling precisely because it challenges so many of the established tropes that have emerged in the genre over the last decade. This New Zealand group are certainly incredibly gifted musicians, and the technicality and complexity of their music more than proves this. But more than this, Ulcerate understand the importance of the raw feeling of an album, and of atmosphere and songwriting. The heaviness has to serve some kind of end: Sheer technicality, speed or brutality can never compensate if an album lacks in these departments. Shrines of Paralysis is a majestic, haunting record encapsulating vitriolic misanthropy redeemed through violent, decadent beauty.
Legendary avant-garde death metal band Gorguts are back with another masterpiece. Pleiades’ Dust takes the foundational music elements that worked so well on Gorguts’ previous album (2013’s Colored Sands) and moulds them into a very different form. Inspired by Deathspell Omega’s EP ‘Veritas Diaboli Manet in Aeternum: Chaining the Katechon’, Pleiades’ Dust takes the form of a single 33 minute song that traces the rise and fall of the House of Wisdom, an ancient library that once stood in Baghdad before it was sacked by the Mongols.
I do love a bit of Egyptian-themed death metal. This is Scarab’s second-full length album following 2010’s ’Blinding the Masses’, their sound is what you might get if Italy’s Hour of Penance had the same Egyptian/middle-eastern influences as technical death metal heavyweights Nile, or perhaps a slightly slower, more nuanced Demigod-era Behemoth. While this is not the most original death metal album of 2015, and this Egyptian band clearly wear their influences (both musical and cultural) Scarab have a lot to offer here for fans of death metal.
The Architect of Extinction is utterly destructive. This fourth full-length album from the Mancunian brutal death metal crew Ingested manages to strike that fine balance between punishing heaviness, ferocious technicality, and still staying fresh and interesting. Albums in this genre often suffer from monotony, but this album is pretty much all killer, no filler, setting the standard for brutal death metal for the rest of this year.
To be quite clear, Ingested do not aim to pull at your heartstrings, they aim to put you six feet under with an all-out assault on your senses. That assault has five prongs: The first, and perhaps the single most devastating, is vocalist Jay Evans. On The Architect of Extinction, I would argue Evans makes a strong case for being the single best vocalist in the brutal death metal scene right now. The reason for that is not only the fact that he has great variety, effortlessly pulling off seriously impressive gutturals, as well as some terrifying screams; but that the lyrics are very comprehensible. Evans spearheads this assault, but the rest of the band are of course no less valuable.
Very few metal albums have been hyped as much as Fallujah’s second full length album ‘The Flesh Prevails’ has. Though their first album put them on the map as one of better deathcore bands, blending technical death metal and progressive metal elements together, it was their Nomadic EP in 2013 that really made this a band to watch out for: ambient, heavy, and progressive all at once, the EP significantly raised people’s expectations for his band, though its short tracklist left us wanting more. So the question is: Does The Flesh Prevails live up to that hype?
In one word: yes. It absolutely does. On The Flesh Prevails, Fallujah take that deeply atmospheric and progressive death metal sound they began to really explore on Nomadic and really make it their own. There’s an even greater sense of atmosphere, but where Nomadic was dark and murky, The Flesh Prevails is ethereal and even upbeat. Of course, this is ultimately death metal so when I say upbeat take it in that context! There’s a great sense of contrast created between the ambiance and atmosphere created by the guitars and other instruments and the vocals; low, guttural, death metal roars keep The Flesh Prevails from floating away completely and keep it grounded.