Category Archives: Old School Death Metal

ASCENDED (Fin): “The Art Of Necromancy” demo Cd-r 2008 s/p

Ascended - The Art Of Necromancy

There was a time, in the first part of the nineties, when I was totally obsessed with Finnish Death + Black Metal. Of course Sweden had THE scene, but bands like Purtenance, Archgoat, Demilich, Xysma or Depravity (and I can go on forever) had that special, unearthly feel that just took the most extreme genres and made each one of them even colder and darker. Finland just meant “sickness” in its most undiluted form, blacker Black Metal and darker Death Metal. Time went on and basically every one of these bands either disbanded or turned into some shitty rockn’roll a la Lubricant. Time to forget about Finland for a while… but like the Swedish scene has been resurrected, so seem the Finnish one has its good share of new talent to exhume, and this Ascended is really among the best ones I heard in a long, long time. Like for other old demos on the blogzine, Ascended actually recorded more stuff after this demo, but having been mostly an inactive couch potato for more than 5 years it was a great surprise for me to hear we have still great death/doom being concocted among the cold swamps of Fennoscandia. This excellent demo Cd-r was handnumbered to 100 copies but mine has no number so I guess is part of a second batch. The packaging is bare as it should be with classical lineart on the cover and very simple inlay (lyrics, general infos and so on).

The thing I love more about this demo is the sound of the drums. They reverberates like a gong, filling the whole soundwave with a distant, omnipresent, evocative vibe. Every beat seems to raise the atmosphere to the next level of dismal oblivion. The band is VERY different, but I can find some common feel with, early Eucharist or Necros Christos on the slower, more abstract, detached  moments.  Ascended is however not an entirely Death Metal band and there are no melodies of sort in their sound. I think they can arguably be defined as Death Metal with some good Doom/Death influences, but I don’t think they can be rated as a strictly Death/Doom band either. They are grinding slow at times, and almost obsessive in dragging riffs forever in an hypnotic way, but I will not use any other term but good, solid Death Metal. The vocals are deep and monumental, just like the music. This demo is a cathedral of sound, with an obscure halo hovering over it.

Thanks Finland for still being present.

NAUSEANT (Swe): “ILN” demo Cd-r 2009 s/p

Nauseant ILN

Now this is finally something really interesting. There’s this dissonant, progressive-schizoid aspect in Stockholm’s Nauseant that is really something we don’t hear every day. We’re not talking about some shredding guitar display or some crossover incursion into Jazz or some other irrelevant genre, but about really atonal Death Metal in the vein of Demilich, Carbonized or the more recent Diskord. I really do like when a band has the courage to attempt a trip into these indistinct lands of intricate melodies, always turning and weaving and morphing into another identity. And I like it even more when the sound remains strongly rooted in dismal Death Metal – for being indistinct and avant-garde doesn’t necessarily mean sewing together a million different genres. Nauseant is ever-changing, ever reshaping, but still maintain identity in its sound and feel, with hyper-guttural vocals as a static basement over which the song is shaped. I cannot tell much about the lyrics since they’re not included here (but hey, it was cool to read my copy is one of 30 hand-numbered Cd-rs!). The packaging is bare and essential, just a warped abstract column of flesh with a logo close to it, the kind of bare necessary I appreciate in a demo tape Cd-r. I cannot recommend this one enough, I would like to hear more bands like this.

ABHORROT (Aut): “Death In Blasphemy” demo Cd-r 2008 s/p

Abhorrot - Death In BlasphemyI just wanted to skip on the countless useless promos and dug up the ones I enjoyed the most. Abhorrot is a band that just did it right (according to my own vision of this stuff that is) on this demo. Basically EVERYTHING is right here, and I will start with the amazing sounding name (I bet they were Finnish ah ah!), killer logo, great sketched artwork. I am one of the ones that got this on CDr which is cool, even though this is definitely tape stuff (I read some of these demos came out on tape too), I admit I would really like every single Death Metal demo came out this way, no frills shitty art, dripping logo and rough paper, nothing else. There is no real booklet but the other side of the cover keeps it old school: typewriter fonts, impossibly dark picture, and a scattering of song titles like “DIE IN PAIN”. Now I’d like to give a Nobel prize to any band that comes out with a title like this, I am serious. And then you have “Eternal Decay” and “Death in Blasphemy” which are equally ultimate Death Metal titles as well. And let’s not forget the Nihlist cover.

Being recorded in some place called “The Cellar” you cannot really expect Morrisound, can you? Here it is: pure cellar sound, and I believe they’re talking about a REAL cellar, not some studio with a cool name. The sound is as fuzzy and degenerated as you can imagine, and the rehearsal sound is just a perfect fit for the incredibly basic riffing we have here, it’s like some extremely early Death Metal recording from 1990 with guttural growls and a slightly drone metallic sound. Of course I do not  think a band should end his path here since a little bit of structure is mandatory even in Death Metal but what I liked is that I was n0t able to hear anything so refreshingly primal for many years. The band subsequently released some more stuff so the sound here is probably not even fairly indicative of their latest efforts but it is a nice demo to hear in a time where 13-years old freaks are able to blast 10000 bps hyper-technical riffs. Nice addition for a complete DM collection: guttural vocals, primitive riffing, sloppy (in a cool way) drumming and so on, just as it was.

PROFANAL (Ita): “Black Chaos” full-length Cd 2012 Iron Tyrant

Profanal Black ChaosHere it is, we finally delivered. One stays out of the local scene (please don’t start bitching about the use of the word “scene” if you can find another, less sabotaged term to describe a collection of bands playing extreme music within the boundaries of the same country, it’s your problem, not mine) for a decade and when you’re back you suddenly realize your country has produced more great releases in a year than the decade before you started drifting abroad. So this is it: my country is now able to release stuff like this monumental piece of Metal of Death that could as well being recorded in some cheap studios in 1990, with that acrid, crushing sound that was typical of that time (and broadly exploited in books like “Swedish Death Metal” and “Encyclopedia of Svensk Dodsmetall”), by  skinny teenagers dressed in checkered plaid shirts.

Let’s start from the very beginning, though. The packaging is quite nice: we have a tentacled Lovecraftian monster of Seagravean symmetry on cover, and we know that tentacles are very high in the scale of Death Metal subjects. It’s maybe a little bit cartoonish, but I certainly praise the choice of a black and white layout. Hell, you could not go wrong with lineart black and white. Well you can, actually, but this is not the case. Two big surprises await me as I open the booklet. It is 8 pages long (wow, no shitty folding leaflets this time?), and has LYRICS inside. Lyrics, for fuck’s sake, sounds like ages since I read any good ones. The writing may not be the best I have ever read, and sometimes the grammar is not entirely correct or elegant, but here we have DEATH METAL lyrics about suffering, death, grief, zombies, demons – themes that should always be in a Death Metal album. Fuck yes. Thank you, thank you very much.

Soundwise, there is very little to say here, but that is far, far from being a complaint. I might go digging some obscure reference for names of Swedish rehearsal bands of the early nineties, but I suppose Dismember are the greatest and most blatant influence here. I’d dare to go into little more detail and say their sound is a mix of ALL the Dismembers of all eras and not just the early ones (oh and excluding that tragic album I won’t name with the space marine on cover, of course). The uncompromising brutality of Grave is certainly another fitting element of description, as is Carnage‘s hyper-loose riffing and decrepit sound. If I was to play in a band today, I would play this shit, I have no doubts about this. Profanal (which does not stand for Professor Anal if you ask, that might be their pornogrind side project) love real Death Metal and play Death Metal. Swedish Death precisely. They play it with no frills and not a single iota out of place. Metallic, distorted chords with anguishing screams and a bucket of rotten blood smeared all over.

Color me impressed, this is one of the best Death Metal bands we have in this country right now.

ABSURD (Swe): “Discography ’91-’92” compilation Cd 2012 Black Vomit

absurd-discographyAhhhh! When Nuclear Abominations first became a webzine in 1999, one of the most boring things to do was scanning covers. It was outrageously boring shit, yet it was cool at the same time since it was difficult to see underground record covers, especially when we talk about very old releases. Am I complaining like an old sailor here? Hell no! All I had to do this time was just Google-ing the name of this compilation and, like magic, here is the cover. Man, these are really great times for lazy fucks like me. I wouldn’t even have to open the Cd, I could just listen to this on YouTube. Couldn’t I?

Considering I am not some high profile psychologist nor a hermit swelling in its own thoughts, I am not going to ponder the reason why I still do buy records sometimes. I haven’t really thought much about it but like I always did for music-related stuff, I just go with the feelings I have at the moment. That’s why I never learned to play an instrument I guess. Whatever the case I was intrigued to hear this retrospective. Obviously, I had listened to the  main recording that make up this collection before, namely the 1991 demo tape later repressed on 7″ on Seraphic Decay (mine is on trippy pink paper cover, combined to the abstract design it was quite a nice psychotropic experience), but I never had the chance to hear Absurd live before. Obviously we’re not talking about the German NSM band (I omit the B on purpose here), but one of the small underground Swedish bands that played in Sweden in the earlier days of this form of music. They were from a small town just north of Stockholm (Täby, same town as Treblinka)  for what I see, and well, you cannot really go too wrong with a 1991 band recording a demo at the Sunlight Studios at the time can you?

Before going on the the release itself, I’ll gladly spend a good word or two on the label: Black Vomit (from Greece) is the same label that released that Necro Schizma compilation we saw some 10 years now (IIRC it was From Beyond that released it) on wax, and – thank you Satan my lord – it has been released on super standard black vinyl with an super standard, bare packaging – enough with huge boxed sets spilling patches and pins from every corner. While I am a Necro Schizma fan and I did get the record as soon as I saw it, I have n0t bought their Genocidio vinyl yet but I plan to do it sometime in the not too far future. I have that old Ep of them and a more recent Cd from the early nineties (“Hoctaedrom”, how did it end on the local pop music store is a mystery) and I liked that stuff pretty much: good brutal sound without too much gloss.  Together with this Cd I also got the Necroccultus / Sub Niggurath split, which is also killer. Good work man. Support this label.

Now on this proper Aburd release. One big “thank you” for not using the bakery shop logo they got on the Seraphic Decay Ep, I am pretty happy with this one. Thank you also for keeping it lineart black and white, please somebody tell every label doing reissues today that this is the ONLY way to go. I learned from the interview repressed in the booklet taken from the Return of Swedish Dodsmetall that the band used to change logo continuously (more or less like Nun Slaughter?) so the one we saw on cover is probably just one of them According to the ex-Espulsion guy Christopher Wowden, the band (but I can read “him” between the lines) was not fond of classic Death Metal logos so my guess is the logo chosen and the cover we see here is probably not what the band would have used at the time. Have a read at the interview if you don’t have Nicola’s book because it’s quite interesting.  In conclusion, Absurd wanted to be progressive but the Cd came out way more similar to a old school Death Metal release than 80% of the retrospective I see these days. All in all, I am happy with this choice.

So what do these Absurd sound like? Well I am talking about the 3-trax demo here, because the live show, while interesting (there’s also a Pungent Stench cover), doesn’t exactly convey all the down-tuned, spectral sound of the band. I could dare to say sometimes the band has that slightly Crematory-ish semi-melodic vibe in the background, but all in all it’s Swedish Death metal. Highly structured, with a lot of tempo changes and blast beats, but Swedish Death to the core, hell yes. The vocals are not just the hyper-deep kind, and even have some metallic effect on the third track “See Through Me”. This last song definitely needs some extra attention because it has a lot of structure. I really like when bands attempted to experiment a bit while keeping it brutal (think Demilich or Crematory). It goes all through the spectrum of mid tempos and blasts but the choice of riffs and malevolent tremolos is something that could only come from 1990 Sweden. I have plugged off from the world for a few years but I am curious to see if any more recent band can capture this feel.

Good shit, get the Cd even for the three studio tracks if you don’t have the Seraphic Decay Ep. One single complain I could say is there is really little info except for a pretty regular collage and the aforementioned interview. I guess I would have liked a repress of the demo thank-list or some other extra information on the recordings, but after all you can excerpt the necessary info from the interview, so no big deal.

ANIMA DAMNATA (Pol): “Promo 2007” demo Cd-r 2007 s/p

Holy fuck, this Cd hit me as a great surprise. I had this name Anima Damnata floating in my head several times during the last few years but I never really cared to check the band out. I am not a huge fan of Poland when it comes to Black Metal: they all have either those lyrics about trolls or about the glorious new wave of thrash metal. And the sound is usually so thin, and the vocals like hysterical mothers-in-law. Nah, not for me. Me stupid once more, I shall inject me with AIDS one of these days for my usual narrow mindedness.

Anima Damnata is a superb band indeed, a band that plays a fine brand of heavily distorted, dark and brutal kind of Satanic Death/Black Metal. Their sound is a balanced mix of 1990’s Floridian Death Metal and bestial Black Metal a la Belphegor, a mix which is definitely worth checking out. There is a really solid song writing here, with a use of double bass and guitar solos which is really unheard of today – just to shoot a few names which are completely out of place but might get an idea I would say Horror of Horrors, Betrayer, Disincarnate, Centurian, Ingurgitating Oblivion, Manifest (as said take these comparisons with a pinch of salt). They have the fine elements of old school Death Metal but also the good feral arrogance of more recent bestial War/Black Metal, this stuff really not just relentlessly brutal, it is catchy in a way I was not really used to anymore, these guys PLAY their instruments instead of challenging for the most complex and skillful performance. It is probably one of the best bands I have heard this decade.

One thing I am really not good at criticizing (since I am no musician I guess) is the recording of an album. Well, even in my ignorance I liked the recording of this promo – it is absolutely clear but doesn’t stink of laundry detergent like modern “Abyss Studios” shit, it has that analogic, warm sound of albums like Deicide‘s debut. I am definitely in love with this shit, I will absolutely catch up with all their past releases. KILLER.

This band can0t be from Poland. Tell me they’re from some fucking Brazilian ghetto!

I know I shouldn’t but here is an Mp4 for your listening. I’ll delete it in a few weeks or upon request of the band: anima-damnata-4

INFAMOUS GLORY (Bra): “Order of Doom” demo Cd-r 2007 s/p

Infamous GloryAs a standard rule, Brazilians just like most South Americans, do it better. At least when we talk about Metal, and extreme forms of Metal in general. Some of my favorite bands ever come from Brazil and – god be damned – I am always excited when I hear about a band from this country I don’t know, because they have a dedication to the cause which is completely different from that of most of us Europeans. In general, but now always, a Brazilian Death Metal band has a sense of belonging, a sense of brotherhood and mutual support which is unrivaled everywhere else on Earth.

My friend Douglas from 2+2=5 records handed me this fantastic demo (wrongly self asserted to be a “promo”) a few months ago. Top notch logo with skulls, black and white cover, raging song titles, big “old school death metal” statement on the cover – everything seemed to go for the better. I gave it a listen right as soon as I was home but… I wasn’t over escited about these 4 tracks, even after three listens. I preferred to wait a few weeks before giving it another try.

My conclusion is that Infamous Glory is definitely more a Metal band than a Death Metal band. Even if they describe themselves as “Old School Death Metal”, and I absolutely confirm it, they’re not exactly “old school” as we mean it today. Their roots come slightly before the 90’s, as most of the structures and riffs remind me of late ’80’s classic Metal than the raw, dark Death Metal of the golden age. Forget about old Imperious Malevolence, Ancestral Malediction or Mental Horror, as this band does not runs for the fastest and heaviest position. They play a mix of genres that goes from Death Metal a la Diabolic, Deceased, Infamy, Pessimist to more generic Black Metal, with an abundant influence of Thrash and some virtuous soloing. There is surely a good share of brutality, as the drummer knows how to blast, and the vocals are powerful, but in general I cannot find a line in the song writing. Some chugs seem pretty pointless and for some reason the fury doesn’t manage to pierce the amp if you know what I mean. Good, flawless Death Metal is what they play, but I feel it’s lacking some punch. Good stuff, but needs some more straightforward songwriting and to get rid rid of some embellishments. Add some Nunslaughter and we might get some really killer thing.