Something’s rotten (and festering) in Italy

I can’t certainly be identified as someone who blindly followed and supported bands from my country over the years, and I might say it with pride. On the contrary I have been often accused of hating Italian bands by default which might be not entirely incorrect. I do believe Italian bands on the average sucked amazingly during the nineties with just a short lived moment across the millennium when we had some interesting things going on. 90% of what I heard however in about 30 years is pure garbage, mostly composed of bands obsessed with technical Death-like riffing, usually self described as Thrash/Death but actually being just sloppy second rate, unimaginative thrash metal with stellar overproduction and a lot of ego. The last 10 years or so, however, basically the decade after I closed my old shop and drifted away from everything related to music, things got REALLY interesting. Possibly lead by a couple of dedicated individuals a whole layer of rot started to fester over the plastic post-Meshuggah shit mountain that the Italian “scene” had become. Is it just a new trend? Yes, probably. For some of these these might prove that to be true. Do I care? Hell no. Let this shit come over since it really looks like a new Renaissance to me. No, not exactly a Renaissance, that would imply a glorious past, which my country NEVER had except for VERY few bands. No this is really the real shit we were supposed to play in the early 90’s, we’re just 20 years late.

I will certainly forget about a lot of bands, some on purpose. I won’t list “Brutal Death” or Black Metal or Grind/Death, but just the sickest, darker more traditional sounding Death Metal shit I have been enjoying and discovering lately.

Funest

Funest

Funest is a relatively new band which recently had their 2014 Memento Mori album on vinyl repressed on Morbid Generation (boy what a horrible name is that for a label, right short of Brutal Bands). Their sound is massively Swedish, kinda old Grave with a crisper production and reminds me VERY much of the first Bloodbath EP in more than one aspect. Great vocals, great riffs, great sounds. Their album is just a must have.

Into Darkness

Into Darkness

Into Darkness is not just the title of one of the greatest Death Doom recordings ever, but also a relatively new Death Metal band from Como with a rather sparse discography. Their sound is definitely less Swedish and has strong references to Asphyx and has that kind of half-desperate, half-agonizing, half-hateful (yep that makes 150%) vocal style which is typical of Asphyx/Pestilence and Morgoth. I like their more minimalistic approach to Death Metal, just grab take some good riffs and start munching, no fillers. Like said before their releases are few and sparse, but I think everything is easily available.

Gravesite

Gravesite

Gravesite’s an highly interesting and also rather new band from my city and neighbors that inherited a great part of its sound and members from the troubled yet decently successful Undead Creep. Gravesite also rests in the moldy chamber of older-sounding Death Metal with a mix of sonorities closer to the American southern coasts ranging from earlier Death to Massacre with some faint reminiscences of crust in between. They released a full length on Xtreem last year but I feel like recommending their previous demo tape as well, where the double vocals were ever more distinct and the sound a bit darker. Good stuff.

Assumption

Assumption

They might be catalogued as Death/Doom but I would just say Assumption is really just straight backed Death Metal at its best and probably in my top 5 list bands from Italy today. They’re not more Death/Doom than Incantation, so to speak. Apparition’s only EP is just four tracks (still runs longer than Reign in Blood) but it’s just flawless. Minimalist structures, no filler riffs, Mortician-like zombie vocals, and that tiny pinch of harmonies that is just like that white pepper in the batter for fried chicken, or the stem of vanilla in whipped cream. This is for lovers of the Finnish darker side of Death Metal. Top quality here too.

Profanal

Profanal

Remember when the most Swedish-sounding band around was Fleshcrawl which was not even a Swedish band? Profanal discovered the same fountain of youth rot that defies borders with the dedication of a Syrian immigrant. They manage to sound just like a band from Nicola Costantini’s fetish books and, while in the past the similarities with early Dismember sometimes just overlapped a bit too much, their upcoming “Supreme Fire” really sounds like all weak spots have been addressed. Contaminations from all the cult classics are here, including some early Necrophobic, but the mix is just evenly balanced. It is really one of the best albums I have heard in 2016 even though lampredotto is still nowhere to be seen, mister.

Morbus Grave

Morbus Grave

Formed this very year Morbus Grave is probably the youngest band of this report, but features members of Sepulcral, Funest and Into Darkness. Still another nail haling from the land of fog and panetùn ready for the vacant coffin of OSDM. To be completely honest the band still sounds a bit unripe to me, I like them in general but they just don’t have anything that clicks incompletely yet. No killer riff, dark but not too much and so on, you get it. Possibly the most interesting element in the demo are Erman’s vocals, eerie and malignant and with a barely perceivable accent just like Angelripper on “In The Sign Of Evil”.

As far as I know the band only released one demo so far and moreover that one is also limited to only 200 copies on our inexorable and inoxidizable Unholy Domain recordings so it might not be so easy to obtain in the future BUT we shall take into account that they have a track on Youtube for listening and the fact that people just don’t buy anything anymore (me included sadly but I have already done my homeworks in the past so fuck off that’s another story) so 200 might as well be the right number.

Voids Of Vomit

Voids of Vomit

The band might not have an impressive array of releases despite being over a decade old now, yet they might be considered one of the cornerstones in the new renaissance of our beloved Metal of Death in this shitty peninsula. Necrovore and Sadistic Intent aptly demonstrated in the past how releasing one full-length a year doesn’t necessarily means quality – just saying. Truth be told, all Voids releases have a slightly different feel, from the messy 2006 debut to the latest 2016 promo on Unholy Domain, even though there are at least two common recurring elements: a massive, ultra-down tuned sound (which might be the reason Asphyx come up so often in their reviews) and the eerie feel of the lyrics, which are generally made of short one liners and deal about things dark and creepy hidden beyond our veil of conscience. Things might have changed a bit on the last tape however as I think* the theme shifted a bit on the topics of ancestry and blood valor. Nevertheless the sound is till there: massive vocals, massive riffs and that general feel of decrepitude.

*haven’t read them, just judging by the titles.

14056_logo

Hateful

Hateful might be the only band in this list together with Valgrind that has roots back in the nineties. They are also the less “plain old school tribute” of them all as well so it barely fits this list. We all love the sound of the early 90’s when the genre was fresh but Hateful just don’t grab full hands and build their sound upon influences, preferring to go entirely personal, a choice which definitely doesn’t follow the market, preferring to create a corner of its own. We can certainly grab a couple of technical Death Metal bands from Florida and make some comparisons now but I think the elements that make Hateful what it is cannot be easily identified. The songs are pure Death Metal, crisp and technical without sounding scholastic, chock full of tempo changes and variations without being another brick in the Unique Leader pyramid. If I had to choose three words to describe the band those would be drive, honesty and inspiration. Their second full length was released in 2013.

Valgrind

Valgrind

Earlier this year Valgrind released their second full length album, and boy it’s a devastating piece of Morbid Angel-influenced traditional Death Metal with paired guitars that contort and twist like snakes. Not so many bands use this many solos and riffs in their songs without sounding one of those Willowtip shitty bands with sideburns. Valgrind plays neat, quintessential Death Metal with some serious guitarwork, Another hit from Lord of the Flies that seems unstoppable. Go for it believe me.
Morbo

Morbo

Hailing from Rome Morbo is a tribute to the old school, putrid sound of Autopsy performed by musicians already active on other bands like notably Corpsefucking Art. They recently released a split Ep with Bunker 66 (which I haven’t heard) and yes, they’re actually quite good. They have all the good elements of the more punkish, rawer part of Autopsy including the classic tremolos, phlegmy vocals, mid tempo accelerations and so on. Being a huge fan of the band myself I can’t but recommend to hear this. The vocalist does a particularly good job in my opinion.

Hellish God

Hellish God

Another extremely recent band formed this year that offers a brand of Death Metal that you just don’t hear so often: kinda Deicide meets South American brutality. Think of bands like Throneaeon and Centurian and mix the sound with Ophiolatry and Fornication. The satanic aspect is exploited in full including the double vocals that recreate the feeling of being present at an exorcism. Needless to say, once more Lord Of The Flies is the way to go. To be honest I am not 100% into it all of the time, but we have a solid ground to work on. We wll see.Presumed Dead

Presumed Dead

I’ll make a bold statement here but I believe this is potentially the most interesting band in Italy right now. Presumed Dead from Treviso might be young, might be somehow untight, hell they might even lose control sometimes, but they have IT, which is something I seldom say anymore. They don’t have IT all the time, but when they do, they hit the G spot hard. I heard once them saying they sounded a bit like Grotesque and well. It’s true, they do. Add Kaamos, Pentagram, Revenant and something else in that vein in the mix and you might get an idea of their guitarcentric approach to Death Metal. I really feel like we haven’t seen anything yet, which is confirmed by the fact they have released just two split EPs so far, a total of 8 songs in 3 years.

Necro

Necro

I can’t forget to mention Necro even though I admit I bought their full length from 2012 (their last release) and I wasn’t particularly blown away. Maybe the expectations were too high according to the promotion that mentioned Impetigo, Repulsion, Autopsy and so on. Certainly the band from Como plays some decrepit sounding mid tempo Death Metal, but just lacks entirely of the sickness and nauseating feel of the band mentioned before. I think the band was trying to do what Cadaveric Incubator from Finland is doing brilliantly, but just ends up sounding a bit dull and boring in the long run.

SepolcroSepolcro 

Verona based Sepolcro is an interesting band. In their innocent simplicity they might be the most genuinely 90’s sounding of the whole lot I listed so far. I particularly dig the vocal style, which has that feeling of coming from beyond the grave which is often absent these days, in particular when paired with that marked Italian accent. They play some very simple, mid tempo Death Metal that just feels like some demo tape I could have found my mailbox when Death Metal was fresh and vibrant. Nothing incredibly innovative again but definitely 100% authentic which is a big thumb up coming from the Crypt of Pus and Gore that is Nuclear Abominations. Great sound too on their split with Presumed Dead.

Cimitero

Cimitero

Another band from Como Cimitero is maybe a name that doesn’t come up as often but they’re not terrible at all. They sound sometimes a bit uneven, like a patchwork of different styles but often you actually hear something good in the mix. Full albums are free to hear on streaming (last one from 2012).

Haemophagus

Haemophagus

Another cornerstone of the NRoITDM (New Renaissance of Italian Death Metal) is obviously Haemophagus, a voracious, hyperactive and hyper-productive band with a long list of releases that include two full-length albums and a big compilation released earlier this year on Despise The Sun. After 12 years of intense activity Haemophagus are so well ingrained that their sound is solidly defined and doesn’t just sound like a mix of other band material blended together, it’s just Haemophagus with all its twists. I personally dislike the 70’s guitar leaks that sometimes head into the songs, but generally speaking every release they ever made is good. Even the lyrics are great stuff, all of them based on gore topics in pure Autopsy style. These guys are pros and you can’t really go wrong with them.

Necrospective: CANNIBAL CORPSE

It’s been a while since the last time I wrote something on this “blogzine” or however you want to call it. As I supposed even from the beginning the videoreviews just didn’t click, so I am going to revert back to good, honest, old school written reviews, like usual. I haven’t been completely idle all this time actually since I have been writing some stuff for a new issue of the paper version of NA (out some day) but I felt like kicking a bit of dust here with another necrospective. As you might remember from the last one, necrospectives generally are about bigger, less underground bands, I can’t see the need to make extensive biographies on obscure bands even if I might consider that as well one day. Every music writer holds the hidden desire to write about classic albums so here it is a long story about one of the most uncompromising bands of the genre. I wish I could find the interview i did with Corpsegrinder i did on the band’s van in 1996 but I can’t find that old mini tape, if it shows up one day though, it would be a lot of fun to rip it on mp3, even just for my atrocious English (now that I think about it I brough the tape to English class ahah).

It’s quite obvious but worth remembering that these reviews are not objective nor written with the competent ear of a professional. Since I don’t believe in “musical journalism” at all I will try to describe the impression I got from these records the day I bought them and how they just influenced my own life when and if they did. Take all these reviews with a pinch of salt.

I think I’ll just bypass the demo, singles, EPs and live albums since we have plenty of full length studio albums to dissect.

Eaten Back To Life – Metal Blade 1990 (7,5/10)

EBL

I listened to Chris’ old band Leviathan some time before this album was released on a Metal Forces compilation although I never connected the two Chris Barnes were one and the same until a few years later, uh. “Eaten Back To Life” is a good album, a little thrashier and a bit brighter than the two following monsters that followed it, but good nonetheless. The lyrics were already spot on: high on gore elements involving car crashes, psychos eating cadavers and of course the band’s main theme – zombies. You might have noticed it but every Cannibal Corpse album has at least one song about zombies, starting from this one. For the time this album was quite a shock as few bands actually brought the theme of extreme splatter to these levels. Overally speaking I liked the album a lot, spun it endless times, even though the vocal patterns sometimes just sounded a bit too plain, something however the band completely fixed with their next album, THE real masterpiece.

Butchered At Birth – Metal Blade Records 1991 (10/10)

R-3026019-1312300117.jpeg

Starting from the greatest cover ever, and one of the best covers in the Death Metal world in general, with that thick, almost three-dimensional feel, this album is all in all the best stuff this band ever released in my opinion, listening to Butchered at Birth is like being inside that cover, some forgotten gore covered dungeon cell with zombie doctors butchering pregnant victims. This album has no space for breathing, it’s so grimy the air itself feels thick when it spins. This is one of the albums I’d save should I decide to cut all my record collection to just a shelf. Complete masterpiece. Only problem I had with Butchered at Birth was that it didn’t include lyrics so I had to mail a friend who got a Xerox from France to finally be able to read it. Third generation copies ahah. I think the original one came from their fan club, I had one of those letters years ago and I recall the frame was amazing, I even used that for a couple of concert flyers. Not a lot to add, this is a perfect album, flawless from (severed( head to toes.

I just realized I already did a review of this album long ago, here is the link.
http://win.nuclearabominations.com/reviews_detail.asp?id=488

Tomb Of The Mutilated – Metal Blade Records 1992 (9,5/10)

R-7532710-1443438525-4667.jpegObjectively, from my perspective, THIS is the best album Cannibal Corpse ever recorded. With Tomb these guys just progressed from the path paved on the previous album and took the whole package to an entirely new level of extreme. Even more graphic than before, somehow darker, everything on this album is perfect, not just artwork and music, but the lyrics (this time with some sexual elements) too are so sick they manage to touch some nerves. I honestly felt the album was not as claustrophobic as the previous one, but what it lacks in thickness, it gained in gory, creepy feel. Even if I should rate it higher that Butchered, I consider it a hairline lower in my own personal agenda. Barnes vocals are as dark and deep as ever, but I think in Butchered they just had that extra punch. Some songs are memorable and well, I just can’t find any real weak spot to mention here, it’s a huge classic.

The Bleeding – Metal Blade Records 1994 (5,5/10)

R-758918-1220371464.jpeg R-7260478-1437413288-8319.jpeg

I don’t know if it was the lack or Rusay that left the band before this album, but I was totally disappointed by The Bleeding. I remember I got the vinyl from a record store in Bologna and I was skeptical from the start because the cover was just a big gash instead of that Locke galore I was expecting, I hoped for something over the top and all I got was a small detail from the artwork that could be seen on the back of the sleeve. I spun it a couple of times before realizing this album was giving me absolutely nothing. Barnes vocals this time were way too clear, almost sounding like a bark, and the riffing was not as tight as before, it sounded as if the band was trying to go on the wrong direction although not in a disgraceful way as a lot of their contemporaries. Listening to The Bleeding recently I realized I don’t dislike it as much as I did when I bought it, however it’s just way inferior to the two masterpieces that predated it. I still don’t like much Barnes vocals here, but I think he was starting to work on an idea that would soon turn ito that shit band called Six Feet Under. Luckily enough, the shittiest parts of this album drifted to SFU leaving space for a more than decent follow up, “Vile”.

Vile – Metal Blade Records 1996 (7,0)

R-386365-1412423353-6326.jpegI was completely surprised to hear Barnes was leaving Cannibal, so much so that I still envision Barnes when I think of the bend even if he left over 20 years ago. But I was even more puzzled by hearing they engaged Monstrosity’s singer, whose vocal style was not just different but right the opposite of the static grunting of Barnes that was characteristic of that early incarnation of CC. Corpsegrinder’s a singer that articulates and modulates his vocals a lot, how could they fit him to sing old CC material? Luckily the band first came to Italy just a few weeks after this album hit the stores, so I could see it by myself (and this is also where I managed to have that interview with George I mentioned before) and what could I say? The guy was a great replacement, even though the style changed dramatically to fit his vocal style from early on. I later heard three songs recorded for “Vile” with Barnes on voals and honestly I heard few things so uninspired, weak and shitty as those. Maybe just Six Feet Under suck that bad, but I can dare to say these songs were even worse. Was he already planning to leave the band before being kicked out? We’ll never know for sure. “Vile” in se is a good album for me, it might have some songs like “Bloodlands” that feel like they’ve been written a bit too hastily but there are some others like “Puncture Wound Massacre” which are real killers. All in all not the pinnacle of the band, but good stuff nonetheless.

Gallery Of Suicide – Metal Blade Records 1998 (7,5)

R-510732-1127665124.jpegWell, this album offically greets version 2.0 of the band. While “Vile” sounded like they were still reasoning how to incorporate Fisher’s vocals to their sound,”Gallery” shows the band’s new ugly face to the world. Pat O’ Brien also chimed in to replace Rob Barrett and the cover art is the first real sign that Locke was changing his style radically even though the work is excellent save for an horrible glow effect on title and that new logo we already saw on “Vile” (Barnes owned the right on the old logo, meh). This albums also mark my departure from the band, not because it’s a bad album, but because at the time I was completely into obscure underground acts and generally was considering these albums “safe to get later”, if you know what I mean. Gallery of Suicide is a good massacre in my book, thicker and darker than Vile, and a decisive evolving of that album’s sound carefully tailored on the Corpsegrinder’s inimitable throat-ripping. Like said before, the evolution in songwriting shows us a different Cannibal Corpse here, with a wider range of solutions and ideas that sometime border on experimental. I have read bad things about the album’s production, possibly because there’s no Burns behind the band from now on, but I personally can’t find anything wrong here, “muddy” to me is Ok if we talk about Detah Metal. You want to hear a “too muddy”, underproduced album? Check out “Breeding the Spawn”, or “Death Metal” by Dismember, certainly not this one.

Bloodthirst – Metal Blade Records 1999 (8)
R-3892237-1348320658-2960.jpeg

Layout and graphics aside, this album delivers badly the new Cannibal as fit as ever. I am definitely not a sound technician nor I care much at all, but it’s impressive how everything in this album just stands out neatly, including Webster’s monster bass-work and Corpsegrinder’s words of hate. It also goes a bit beyond that, as the orchestral work also extends to the song writing as well. This might be a mature peak for a band that is known mostly for its uncompromising discipline and dedication to brutal music. It should be remarked that the end of the 90’s was also the time a lot of the second wave of Brutal Death Metal bands started to flower expecially in the States, a genre so loved and despised by many even today. I personally feel both emotions today, preferring the more uncontrolled, chaotic, possibly dirty and ugly sound of punk into my Death Metal, but I also liked a lot of the “cut the shit” attitude of bands during that time lapse that went straight for the deepest, sickest riffs and guttural vocals. It’s a long story that doesn’t change much my opinion on this album, as you can’t really classify it in the Brutal Death galore of that time for reasons both musical and historical. Preachers of the “old school” sound might probably ridicule it, but you know, haters gonna hate.

Gore Obsessed – Metal Blade Records 2002 (7,5)

R-484793-1122801058.jpgAh, this new studio album welcomed the Cannibals in the 21st century. If there’s one thing I like about Gore Obsessed is the feel you get that this album is just a big statement of intent, a giant, middle finger blasted high in the open sky. It gives the impression that they wanted to make it clear they just don’t give a fuck about people complaining about the gory topics they keep singing about and therefore released this album that basically says “we’re gore obsessed, OK, fuck you!”. Which is, well, a statement I can’t help but appreciate. There is not really much to say about this album, aside from the production which is now handled by Neil Kernon. It follows ups where Bloodthirst ended, which is not a problem at all to me. The lyrics are still sick stuff, yet still not as deranged as the Barnes ones, an era which is just gone forever and probably for the best.

The Wretched Spawn – Metal Blade Records 2004 (7,5)

wretchedIt takes a lot of effort not to watch Cannibal Corpse’s hideous new logo with random Photoshop effects layered on top stretched as wide as the whole cover with the same shit applied to the title, giving the whole cover the feel of a total print bootleg shirt bought in the parking lot in front of a venue. I personally am not a fan of Locke’s new style that here shows more accurately as well, with that weird method of mixing unnaturally livid colors, yet the artwork is as graphic as ever (I think they also got some problems with it when it was released but can’t remember properly), so much so it was once again censored in some editions. Musically you it once agains follows up where Gore Obsessed ended, maybe with some more accurate metrics by Fisher, but it’s still solid to the face Death Metal the like the Cannibals got us used to, which is not a bad thing in my book. Blastbeats and intricate riffing? Check. Inhuman vocals with impossible patterns? Check. Gore lyrics and theme? Check.

Kill – Metal Blade Records 2006 (7)

R-1014848-1397840380-2522.jpegWith Barrett (of which I am admittedly no fan – but he basically wrote only one song here) back on rhytm guitars replacing founder Jack Owen our heroes hit the 10th studio album with the minimal-looking Kill. Minimal in looks but not in composition, even though overally this album feels just a bit more uninspired compared to the previous two, Corpsegrinder is the real monster here, with vocals that feel just like out of some cenobite ruled hell of suffering. Production, mixing and engineering are on the shoulders of Erik Rutan this time, resulting in his typically flawless yet a bit plastic sound. The work however is technically superb as all the instruments fall into place clear cut from the rest, which considering the complexity of the songs makes sense.

Evisceration Plague – Metal Blade Records 2009 (7,5)

R-2635632-1294336323.jpegThe cover art on Evisceration Plague is plain terrible, I hoped it was the usual detail of a bigger censored cover but the illustrations on the inner sleeve are even worse, I have to believe Locke scetched this shit during lunchtime thinking about a card game or a teenage book because I really can’t believe it’s the same hand that drew Butchered At Birth. This guy still knows how to do great works, this one is just an evident fail. Yet surprises come in all shapes. This album is in my opinion the best one they have done in the new Millennium right after the following “Torture”. They gained back some of the darkness and harshness of the beginning (just hear the first few seconds of the title track) with some added variety on the songs and a Corpsegrinding vocalist that managed to find interesting patterns on really, really impossible riffs. People consider it a follow up of Kill, I personally like it way better.

Torture – Metal Blade Records 2012 (8,5)

R-3497495-1332760027.jpegWhoah, despite a string of roughly similar albums, the cannibals ultimately delivers their best album since Tomb of the Mutilated here, with a collection of songs that are as varied as heavy and brutal as they’ve never been since Barnes left the band. I basically like all the songs, including the “zombie song” that always appear in each album and this time runs right after the opening track. Heavier sound, fewer tricks, a choice of just a few killer riffs make this album one of the three Cannibal albums I’d keep if I was forced to sell my collection. Great stuff from start to finish, lots of ideas and definitely no fillers. On the contrary, the album might feel a bit more straightforward and simpler, but the magic worked here was to keep just the best stuff to create a few solid songs that each stand on its own, unlinke some of the earlier albums in which each songs sounded a bit like a variation of the same, if you know what I mean. That’s it, top notch experimentation within brutality.

A Skeletal Domain – Metal Blade Records 2014 (7,5)

R-6094283-1410928966-7136.jpegA Skeletal Domain is a good album, it follows up where Torture left, by maintaining the distinctive “new” songwriting style all the while adopting some of the old solutions as well. It’s a mix of Torture and the previous five albums, in a sense. While Torture was a new breed of CC with a lot of the feel of the earlier days but veichled into some interesing concepts, this album somewhat crosses the path with the post Bloothirst era of the band by picking heavily from the compositions and not just the feel. It’s still an album to have like all the Cannibal ones, in my opinion.

OK this is the last one, from just 2 years ago. Whew, Never would I have thought reviewing the whole discography would take a full week, these guys really went through ages in the Death Metal timeline right through the sedimentation rings of sickness and brutality.

The Finnish Death Metal Maniacs fest and general holiday rant DAY 1

FDMMF-logo-white

Welcome back small mummies and monsters. As you could see from the logo above I just recently returned home after this fantastic festival which took place in Finland last week. This is also the first english post in a long time, as for over an year I wrote reviews and some general rants in Italian language on this parallel blog called “Abominazioni“. The experiment was certainly cool considering I certainly master my native language much better than English, but visiting the FDMM made my mind clear like it never was in the last 15 years. I might use that blog again sometimes but here is the place where the Nuclear Abominations lore belongs, and so here I will stay in the near future. In all honesty this might just be the only post you’ll read for a while and there is a reason for that which I will unveil a couple of lines below, at the end of this long rant.

So here it is, the detailed report of this amazing weekend. It will NOT be just a review of the concert, actually I am uncertain how could one review a concert at all. Recordings, sure, but live performances? Bah. Did a couple in the past probably, but really they’re not my cup of bile. Beware this is going to be a rant, a personal rant, and probably will have a couple of deviations from the main body of thought, you have been warned.

Here are the pre-reviews of the various bands playing at the fest, for those who understand some Italian or want to try luck with Google Translate.

Departure

The flight to Tampere was leaving at 6.40 AM and – while wishing cancer to whoever in Ryanair decided to plan a flight so early – I had to take into account being at the airport two hours earlier, that totals 4.40 AM. Considering there is no train that goes straight to the town of the airport and that I would need to take a bus as well, plus some extra time for eventual problems and delays which ALWAYS turn up, I might as well go there the night before and just don’t sleep at all. Since I am a lazy fuck and prefer to take at least 3 or 4 hours of sleep before a flight I had the brilliant idea to book a room with Airbnb, considering last time I was lucky and the place was enchanting and the breakfast sumptuous. Things didn’t turn out completely clear from the beginning. Despite four different requests the girl in Airbnb just didn’t want to tell me the exact address of the place. When I arrived and parked in the street close to the place a guy came in to pick me up and take me to the apartment and it looked like it was him who actually managed the room, but somehow didn’t want to appear anywhere, nor he wanted to tell Airbnb the correct address. The flat was in a dirty, shady quarter and located in a monstrous old building that probably hosted like one hundred families at minimum wage. Looked like I figured the Bronx in the 80’s. When I got in, the girl which was probably lending her name for the Airbnb account was sitting on a couch and showed me the “breakfast”. Some cookies, coffe. That’s it. Considering I don’t drink coffee, the morning after would have been quite meager. The apartment itself reeked of cigarette smoke, probably old one clinging to the walls since nobody was smoking when I arrived.

BBQ & Grill

Since it was still early, I went to a nice pub in the whereabouts (the owner suggested me a kebab, no thanks I prefer home made gourmet food) and had a real good hamburger. That was a place I saved on my Tripadvisor list because it was definitely good on the food level, even if at 13 euros for hamburger and beer it might be considered pricey.

I got back to the room just to assist the arrival of a family from southern Italy which was frying some fucking garlic at 11 PM. The smell added to the one of acrid stale smoke crept into my bedroom and I had to try to sleep with the pungent smell of garlic stuck in the nostrils. Two hours later someone started to scream in the building, shouting in some oriental language I could not recognize. It didn’t last long, however, just enough to break my sleep. I went to shit in the bathrom just to realize that the lightbulb was burned out and the toilet paper ended. The owner of the room suggested not to call a taxi in the morning and that the airport was very close, like 10 minutes. It took 40, with sweat drenching my sweatshirt and the awareness that I was late on my schedule. Ah, for those 36 euros, I managed to have breakfast at last: 2 glasses of fridge cold water as there was no juice nor yoghurt nor anything else to eat.

As soon as I arrived at the airport, tragedy struck. While kneeling to weigh in my bags on a scale, my pants ripped in half. From groin to ankle, one single huge rip. Trying not to panic, I ran to the toilet and took out a change which luckily I put in my luggage at the last minute. I have no clue what would have happened if I did not have that spare pair of pants. Azatoth was with me that day.

Clock ticking and scared to be late, I started to queue at the check in when I realized I did not need to stay there as I only had hand bags. I ran to the gate and made it at last, meeting some friends waiting there at the gate. From that point on luckily things went pretty much smoothly, but the start was really a concatenation of shitty, shitty situations.

Starving for the missing breakfast I had the clever idea to eat something on the plane: 8 euros for a gummy croissant, a tiny shot of orange juice (which was a soft drink and not a juice btw) and a bottle of water costing six euros per liter – I drank very good wines for that price. The worse thing in the picture however was that my shirt was WET as in completely SOAKED in sweat. Luckily I just bought a buff and protected by neck but the air conditioning was hammering on my upper back and I just crossed finger I was not stuck the day after.

Tea in Tampere

Tea in Tampere

We arrived safely in Finland and paid six bucks for a ride to Tampere. Since we had some spare time I stopped by an enchanting little tea room and has some warm tea with Karjalan Piirakkaa. Took some pictures around like a Japanese tourist on LSD, then I took the bus which I paid in advance online months before at the honest price of 3.50 euros. When I was on the bus something really weird started to happen. Might be the sleep deprivation, or the rough, untamed aspect of the fields and hills but I started to enter in a unexplainable close contact with the land. The sheeps, the hay bales neatly wrapped in white plastic, the water ponds and lakes. Might be I was in a complex, chaotic mindset for months but I finally relaxed after so much time. For the first time in literally years I was really enjoying the moment. I tried to nail myself awake with energy drinks, but at the same time I was in a complete state of peace and relaxation. Not only I have been wishing to visit Finland all my life, not just for the bands of course, but I was there in one of the most undefined, unstable periods of my lifetime. And I could watch all those bands I only read about in fanzines when I was a kid. Things were going to be real cool.

Finnish Farm

I thanked myself once more for having only handbags with me as the sleeping place was very close to the station and the walk was a cake. I departed with the other guys telling them I was going to have some sleep, a shower and change my fucking clothes at last. The host was a half Slovenian, very young guy who had been travelling since he was a kid. He was a very cool person, but quite unaware on many levels. He completely forgot to say he had no hairdryer except when I was already stepping out of the shower with my hair drenched. With a towel wrapped around my sadly thinning but long hair I took a brief nap on what I recognized too late was the sleeping place: a couch in the middle of the living room. The couch was comfortable but there was no wardrobe nor a place to hang clothes so I had to spread them on the floor. The weird thing is that the living room was actually a place where the guy lived and worked in the afternoon so you had better “slept fast” (like Arnold Schwarzenegger says) or you’re going to be awaken by the host doing his routine. The overall stay was cool at a very cheap price after all, yet some situations were borderline awkward. The guy asked me if I finished the bottle of water on the first day – which I did since I always sleep with a bottle beside the bed – but the weird thing is that the bottle was almost empty, just like a glass or so. Considering there was no breakfast at all in the morning I assumed I could at least drink a glass per day. Whatever. I later did some shopping at the supermarket and bought some bottles which I left there. Meh.

Finland has this weird concept of happy hour: il lasts all night not just an hour before supper. You could drink at a local Mexican pub for 3 euros per beer which is cheap even for Italian standards. I met the other guys there and we had a couple of beers coupled with some shots of liquor, while admiring some local blonde haired fauna walking back and forth all around our table. Still shivering, jeezus. After a day of travel, it was a nice start.

Beer

Day 1

A brutal sore throat welcomed me the next morning thanks to no doubt that fucking missing hairdryer. I planned to buy one the same day but then I realized there was a sauna a few hundred meters from the building where I slept, so with just 5 euros I could walk in, take a Finnish sauna and have a shower using the built in hairdryer as well. Wasn’t it for one of the biggest, most painful, bloody blister I have ever had in my life, walking through Pori would have been a great experience. I did it anyway, but throbbing pain under the foot is not the best of pals to hang with for a whole festival with no buses close. My throat was so swollen I could barely swallow so I went to the nearest aptekki (pharmacy store) asking (after an educate queue with a number to be served) for cortisone spray but they told me I had to ask permission to the doctor which was available to visit me for just 60 fucking euros. No thank you, it will go away with just some mints I bet. Luckily, it did. Armed with a new smartphone and the amazing mobile Internet technology I located a nearby Alko store to make some shopping of Finnish booze. Basically these are State owned places which are licensed to sell the “heavier” stuff, otherwise you only get to drink dishwasher reflux type beer in the supermarkets. The shopping was good as it produced two bottle of an ancient beer called sahti, a bottle of a weird liquor made of tar called Terva and a very sweet Lapp berry wine called tyrni wine or something (i believe tyrni is a berry). The most interesting part was shopping for alcoholic beverages with an old Finn drunkard with one of the deepest vocies I have heard, could have been a replacement in Type O Negative, even if I have the impression alcohol was somewhat responsible for the bass boost. The guy had a teardrop tattoo on his face and lots of jailhouse tats all around including hands and neck. He was so happy of shopping for booze with somebody else that when I left the shop he shook my hand. Ah, Finns.

20150910_12520620150912_144147

Warm Up Event

The venue was an incredibly clean place for Italian standards where puke, punks, beer and cigarette and joint reek are the norm. The entrance was checked with a table that read a QR code on the ticket. As a last moment addition, there was also a place outside where you could buy decent beer from a producer called Mufloni (which is btw also an Italian word).

20150910_195956.jpg 20150910_191544.jpg

Not sure if there actually was the flea market where old bands could sell their old  merch. I went to the tent several times and all I could see was some tapes (which I bought), a couple of Cds (which I don’t buy anymore) and some vinyl (which I didn’t trust placing in my bags) as well as merchandise from the bands which unfortunately would not have fit me ever since 2002. Luckily both the great organizer and Matt from Dark Descent has circus-tent sized shirts and I scored two really cool FDDM and Dark Descent shirts to bring home. Thanks again both of you!

Despite having seen them earlier last year Ascended played the real shit. The venue was also perfect – low ceiling, no smoke, crisp powerful sound, as soon as I got inside I was hooked. I didn’t remember this band being this good. English-influenced harmonics on a backbone of Finnish brutality – top notch. Decaying I skipped after a song, too routine pummeling Death Metal in my opinion, without the proper obscurity that should be typical of every Finnish band. Can’t remember much about Stench of Decay either, they are one of those bands that sound unripe without sounding primitive, which is a no-no. Probably not that bad, but not the shade of what was about to come. Krypts showcased one of the most powerful, most intense sounds I can remember- they were the perfect incarnation of that dark, grave touched heaviness I wanted to hear. The combination of psychedelic lights and utterly powerful chords and gloomy, crushing doom created a sensation of out of time and space I only recently experienced when seeing Anatomia. It was an amazing show and probably one of the top five bands I have seen at the festival. The recordings could not explain how powerful this band is live, I am officially a fan.

20150910_205608.jpg 20150910_205129.jpg

 20150910_224953.jpg

 20150910_235405.jpg 20150910_230046.jpg

 

ABHORROT (Aut): “Sacrificial Incarnation Of Perpetual Death” Cd-r advance and “Volcanic Eruptions” 7″ Ep

Old Ep

Old Ep

Cd-r advance for the MLp

Cd-r advance for the MLp

I usually don’t like to combine reviews but here is a first taste of how the new Nuclear Abomination is going to work:  way less structure, more feel, less detail.  Besides, I was about to switch the blog-zine to Italian until yesterday but analyzing the stats it seems the broad majority of the readers that have not abandoned the webzine (like I did, ah eh)  are from other countries, so English has to be..

Anyway back to Abhorrot: great guys with  lot of patience since I got this advance over a a year ago. Besides having among the best great dripping and festering logos these guys have reserched and absorbed the aesthetics of minimal Death Metal with great care. I had a glimpse of the cover art for the MLp on their website and it sure looks great. The 7″ too has the bare minimum. As usual, less is more and hacking away at superfluous stuff can’t but be an improvement. It’s just a pity the artwork on the 7″ is so dark, I could barely understand what is represented and the logo almost disappears in the shades (there is also a very big problem in the cover art as well – the resolution is fucked up and the artwork is grossly depixelated).

Sticking to the concept of minimalism, their music can’t really be described otherwise but minimalist, and that’s still another plus in my book. The sound is so dissonant and weirdly tuned that it sounds like a constant buzz, like a Death Metal version of Gonkulator or something. Once you resign this drone-like carpet of sound, the vocals also suddently spring out and are quite raspy and coarse. I don’t know if this is a pre-mix, but the sound is so abrasive that even Order From Chaos would sound polished. The songs on the MLp differ quite a bit from those of the 7″ (or the previously reviewed Cd-r demo by the way), the sound being even more noisy and indistinct, but at the same time a bit more intricate. I personally prefere the ones on the 7″, which have a darker, fuller sound, still adehering to the precepts of mono-riffing. In any case you must have in mind that this stuff is RAW, fuck, very VERY raw, it’s not your average last minute old-school band. I had this kind of sensations when I first heard Voivod, or Revenge. They also make a good and spare use of samples. All in all good Death/Noise shit.

8+ for the Ep and 8 for the Mini.

Get in touch with Terrorghoul Productions for the 7″ (limited to 500) or Yersinia Pestis for the MLp. I am getting a copy too.

LACERATER (Ita): “Nessun Urlo Nell’Ombra” demo Cd 2007 s/p

lacerater-nessunurlo

I forgot the intense pain of reviewing a Death Metal Cd whose lyrics are sung in Italian since maybe… Resurrecturis? Ouch! In any case, this promo comes with a decent pro packaging and full color slimcase. I won’t indulge right now on the cover art which, while interesting in concept (maggots are always cool), is arranged quite awkwardly (something just seems out of place), so I jump straight to the inner side where lyrics are printed (think font on a dark background, my eyes thank you). I have to stress it: am really uncomfortable with the Italian language but I confess that could be  because I never heard a band using the language convincingly, after all if we consider the assonance it can’t be much worse than Spanish or Portuguese right? And we all like South American bands that sing in these idioms right? Whatever.

Yet I also had another, veiled, prejudice on Lacerater since the band is from my city of birth, and despite having been close to that scene since the very beginning I can’t honestly claim that a city like Bologna ever shined in the musical landscape. Sure there are highlights in the story of extreme Metal from that city (Crematorium and Euthanasia were quite good as well as some grindcore side projects) but mostly the scene has always been quite flat especially considering the important universities there attract young blood from all over the country. One would expect such melting pot to produce quality stuff by the score, after all.

Well I have to admit I was wrong, TWICE. Not only the songwriting on this demo is rather solid (shoving my prejudices up my arse) but the choice of singing in my language didn’t damage the quality of the product whatsoever. I am still not sure it not to sing in English was a proper choice, but being extreme Metal a form of art I accept it as a thoroughly consolidated and well thought choice. Lacerater surely has some good blasts on these tracks, and the double vocal (growling/screaming) duty is quite intense, but straight out brutality is not the main topic here, it seems this band is mainly interested in writing songs that do have both head and tail and a whole lot of stuff in between with plenty of space for some improvements on the technical parts for the future as well. I have heard bands on Cudgel or Morbid which were way worse that this so I assume it is a matter of time before Lacerater finds a contract. I am reading right now the band is on hold, which is a pity since this stuff is rather good. They are basically ondulating between uptempo riffing and blasting, never giving a real breathing space. I won’t call it Death/Grind, but it is certainly good solid Death Metal with  lashes of grinding fury thrown in. Good stuff, worth hearing.