I never liked death metal.
The unrelenting blasting, the cookie monster growling, the shredding, the grotesque-to-the-point-of-caricature lyrics and artwork have long all added up to a big fat meh for this music fan.
I’ve tried to love Heartwork, Arise and Blessed are the Sick. I don’t care what you or anyone else says, they are dull as dogshit.
Perhaps Mental Funeral was the icebreaker death metal and I needed to start getting along. It showed me death metal is not just about tedious dick-swinging contests in brutality or technicality but about dynamics and atmosphere.
Well, thank you Autopsy for preparing my ears to let three stunning death metal albums into my life.
Acephalix – Interminable Night
I got rather excited recently by the EP that forms half this album. While Acephalix’ Southern Lord debut of crusty-streaked death metal doesn’t offer any brand new material, it does make more widely available their hard-to-find two previous cassette-only releases and is well worth sampling.
Maybe I’m biased as never having heard the classic Sunlight Studios albums (bar Entombed) before researching the band, I’m far from weary of buzzsaw guitar tones mashed together with d-beating crust-punk attitude.
There is a real pounding muscularity to Acephalix – read it’s fucking heavy – yet they retain the speed and agility of their punk roots. It’s also catchy as hell.
Check out Christhole below. It feels like a rangy, vicious creature flinging itself from rock to rock, hunting down prey and screaming its searing hunger at the night sky.
From this album I made my way back to Dismember Like An Everflowing Stream. There’s a kinship between the two records in their headlong forward momentum and fusion of hardcore and death metal that has nothing -core about it.
I’ve long thought that metal works best when it’s got some punk in it and gets more boring the more it gazes at its own navel.
Acephalix though. Their next album could be something amazing…
Vastum – Carnal Law
I love the fact that Vastum and Acephalix share three members including vocalist Dan yet feel substantially different.
It’s like the two bands approach death metal from opposing poles: Acephalix from crust and Vastum from doom.
While Acephalix edge it for me, thanks to my weakness for punk tempos and d-beats, Vastum have a weight to their sound that is very engaging.
There is a sludgy warmth to their chunky riffs that gives them a thick, swampy feel.
While Vastum could be singing about kittens – either stroking or eating them – for all I can make out amidst the strangled screams, apparently Carnal Law is a very serious exploration of sexual psychology.
Certainly makes a change from the usual occult garbage/gore shtick.
What is more interesting to me is that one of the vocalists is female and yet sounds every inch the livid bear of her male counterpart. In fact I challenge you to discern which is which.
Unbelievably given the quality, Carnal Law was recorded as a six-song demo, only later to be released as is by 20 Buck Spin.
I can’t wait to hear their full studio debut.
Check out Primal Seduction:
Bones – S/T
Bones are a self-styled deathpunk band featuring three members of Usurper (I simply repeat this verbatim from Google, I have no clue whether this is a good thing or not).
Whatever. I really like this record.
Bones bring a real bar-room, ramshackle rock n’ roll ethic to death metal.
Der-DER-der-DER-da-Da chuggachuggachuggachuggachuggachuggachugga may not exactly be original but, goddammit, it works, especially when combined with Motörhead-love, daft solos and glass-gargling vocals.
Bones may not change your life but they will give you a kick up the arse in the morning and put a smile on your face at the same time.
Now the challenge is to to find more death metal in the vein of these three bands and build on my new-found appreciation for a genre so long reviled. Any suggestions are certainly welcome.
Apologies to my readers for my long absence. New baby, yadda yadda, ear infection, yadda yadda, no laptop, yadda yadda. I’m hoping to make up for lost time and I hope at least some of you haven’t given up on me!