IMPRECATION (USA): “Sigil Of Baphomet” Ep 7″ 1993 Drowned

Imprecation sigil Of Baphomet

Let’s open the weekly “flashback” review with one of my favorite Eps. I have heard often the name of Imprecation of late and every time I hear it this 7″ immediately comes to mind. Well there are several things that make this one of my favorite records, first and foremost the concept, Black Metal. When I speak of Black Metal i don’t speak about granny vocals and buzzing guitars, I speak of Black Metal as a conceptual thing, much like what the call today “the first wave” when being a Black Metal had nothing to do with the sound. Imprecation had its roots profoundly dug into the occult, with added elements of Lovecraftian horror in the best early Morbid Angel way, plus an added touch of gore, which is just something I am obsessed with and always live in an extreme metal band.

“Sigil Of Baphomet” is a Drowned Records release, and we basically all know how Drowned was possibly one of the best labels around before 1993 in terms of both sound and aesthetics. How all this was progressively lost with Repulse and totally canceled in Xtreem is still a matter of speculation, but for sure Drowned is in my top 10 personal best labels of all time, from the earlier compilation tapes (might be reviewing them one day) up to records like Purtenance, Demigod or Rottrevore. Everything in this label reeked of decrepit Death Metal and old books, and even the artwork was always in line with the concept that some labels try to recapture today (hey, I am not blaming anybody here, I am one of those eheh!).

In particular this 7″ had this deep red and black print which was an exact expression of the sound, claustrophobic and eerie at the same time. It came with an insert too, with lyrics, band pics and the so incredibly useful thank list that was our main source of information on the new bands to check out.

I personally find this Ep also has the best tracks that this band ever recorded, way darker and heavier and suffocating than the demo they recorded right before, and the newer tracks they recorded in 1994 found in the later classic Repulse compilation “Theurgia Goetia Summa”. The sound here is absolutely nothing short of frightening, a real trip to an hell of dismembered limbs and rivers of gore regurgitated by an horde of cloven-hooved demons. Try to follow the unrelenting slow crunch of the songs reading the lyrics and you find yourself entangled in a dimension of blood red horror. Incantation Eps or “Onward To Golgotha” days are definitely the first albums you can relate this record to, but there is something that keeps it on a different track. I find Imprecation a little bit more brutal, and straight in your face in their approach compared to early Incantation (which, honestly, remain unparalleled in style). i personally like this garage, muffled sound because it really brings me to a dungeon where corpses are hung to hooks ready for being sacrificed to some dark entity. Not a lot more to say, this is an all time classic in my favorite format that is 7″ vinyl, so I know this would be one of the ones I will keep if I had to choose among the best in my collection.

The Ep dissected

SEEKING OBSCURE (USA): “Seeking Obscure” full-length Cd 2007 Metalbolic

Seeking ObscurePlease give me some minutes to recover from the extreme pain of watching this thing, because this is possibly the worse album I have seen in SEVERAL years. As for the music, hey I will not start spoling the fun here. Let’s just stick on the horrendous layout for a few seconds. First and foremost, the logo is only mediocre but succeeds in looking even worse with an effect of INNER shading, a shade that goes from GREEN to ORANGE. Did I forget to premise that this album is supposed to be a Death Metal album? After the summer ice cream poster color scheme, my eyes move on to the cover where an appalling work of computer tricks awkwardly glue together, in order: a pair of forearms with the logo (thus repeated twice) tattooed on, two tiny pixie feti, an upside down cadaver with crotch hair on the head and a sunset over a red sea plus random stitches, eyes and corpses. Now this is really something that could compete to the first pressing of Broken Hope’s “Swamped in Gore” (the almighty cover with the chessboard).

The greatest part of this layout however lies not on cover, nor on the multi-colored and multi-font inner spread with its amazing arrangement of graphic files with different hues of black and randomly placed corpses, but… the tray! I can’t describe this thing clearly enough, you have to see this thing: I haven’t mentioned it before, but this is a ONE MAN BAND. Just to make it clear that our Napoleon Dynamite rocker-edition is playing everything he took care to have pictures of himself playing all the instruments, subsequently arranging the photos close to the logos of the companies like he is getting an endorsement from Yamaha or Ibanez! Please note he has gloves when playing drums and a cap while playing guitar. Oh, what an clever trickster he is, what a sly deceiver!

Seeking Obscure inner tray

Please have a look at the fonts and the color of the spines! PURE DEATH METAL!

Having reached this point, NOT skipping Einstein quotes and statements of intent on how this one man band from Wyoming is going to contribute to the glorious history of Death Metal, I am now braced to hear it.

It starts out with George Carlin making clever statements on how ridiculous religion is. Not my idea on how to start a Death Metal album but let’s go on! Rob/Dynamite actually smashes all by playing his own kind of death metal in the same genuine vein of the Italian Metal college bands I heard when I was a teenager, with mid-atrocious tarantella tempos going on forever and flat vocals that just follow the same pace of the aimless (but technical!) chugging over and over. Not happy with this slab of sloppiness however, Rob/Dynamite is daring enough to make it even worse with some spine-chilling accelerations, merry epic metal melodies, keyboard sweeps, phone call samples and much more. I am impressed since all that should NOT be in a good Death Metal album is neatly arranged here for convenience save, apparently, for the drum machine,  (Rob takes pride in playing a real set!). The funny stuff is that this album even has a BARCODE and a punch-hole, just in case I was lucky enough to get some retard buy this thing for 1 euro you know. Man I haven’t finished to hear it once and I am already freaking out. Is there no end to the pain? He continuously manage to place arpeggios, epic guitar shreds with lyrics that could compete with Metallica’s incredibly aggressive radio track “Escape” and to top it off – a fucking KISS cover! This is a real masterpiece of not-awesomeness, goes straight between my demo tapes of Mototronko and Die!

Buy or die, highly recommended!!!

PULVERIZING LETHAL FORCE (USA): “Crushing Fury of Bastardization” full-length Cd 2008 Power It Up

PLF Crushing FuryPulverizing Lethal Force aka Pretty Little Flower(s) is yet another metallic grind core band from USA. I already plentifully stressed out that I prefer a crustier kind of grind, yet I cannot deny the catchiness of the songs nor the unquestionable ability of this band to concoct enjoyable music. There is so much metal in both sound and structure in this Cd, that sometimes they even remind me of very early Sinister, but there is also a constant use of blastbeats and groove which is typical of the “punkier” part of the spectrum – I could say this band is 60% and 60% if you know what I mean.

The booklet is plain yet rather well done with 8 pages and some lyrics printed inside, of the classic yet never old “socioapocalyptic” kind, all about fury and crushing rage, everything packed in a sober, rational style.

I am not hugely fond of live shows (except for blatantly good ones, like Last Days of Humanity‘s amazing Cd of some years ago) so the final tracks can be easily skipped, but the tracks 1 to 17 are intense and tight enough to make up for a good album all the same, and they even squeezed covers by Doom, Unseen Terror and Denak inside this record. This might be one of the best releases I have heard from Power It Up so far, strictly speaking about this specific kind of furious metallic grind. There is a lot of groove and energy displayed all through, without all the dissonant bridge bollocks we often hear today. PLF is a band that is able to play its cards without recurring to any bells and whistles or endless intros as they can produce good riffs, arrange them with taste and record them with a extra generous pinch of ferocity. Well done, not bad at all.

SUBTERRANEAN FECAL ROOT (USA): “Anthems Of The Antisocial Underground” full-length Cd 2008 Grindhead

sfr-aotauAfter all my rants about grindcore being nowadays too perfect and too controlled, one might think that I could be thrilled by a band like this American noise-shitcore Subterranean Fecal Root, with its freakish nonsense and a sound that could remind Impetigo‘s “Revenge of the Scabby Man” + Pile of Eggs on acid stretched into full length album + a bucketload of retardedness right? Fuck no. This is not just a demented album (which, in some particular occurrences could even be fun), but just nonsensical, non-revolutionary, non-hazardous mashup, lacking the fresh random brutality of noisecore acts like, say, Minch or Captain Three Legs. I am usually entertained by shitcore, as far as it’s played with heart, or at least gives me the feeling that something, some boundary, some parameter has been broken. I have the feeling that this album was just a carefully planned project destined to put you a win win situation: if it gets praised “cool”, if it gets thrashed “fuck off we hate everyone that is the greatest compliment for us”.

Of course the band sucks, the absolute worse being these annoying childlike vocals, and they take great pride in stating that their music is made to suck, and I’ll be completely honest, these guy are so completely retarded and untalented that in the end I started to appreciate this album. Not that I will ever give it a second spin, but these dickheads could be funny. So what you have here is a shit-noisecore recording with a bunch of samples and some paradoxical ideas. I am certain I have thrashed this record so much someone will attempt to get it so in the end these assholes have won their prize ah ah. What a twisted game  is this, isn’t it?

As usual my 2 cents on the packaging – very standard stuff. A rushed thank-list with a bunch of the same boring humorous lines, a huge tracklist with no lyrics, and a logo with embossing and other terrible Photoshop tricks. Here you have it.

GUTTED WITH BROKEN GLASS (USA-Ca): “Beaten to a Bloody Pulp” Ep Cd 2008 Grindhead

Oh my, “original pirate grind”. My senses are already on alert. Let’s start with a superficial exploration. This packaging looks better than anything I have seen so far from Grindhead, even though there is just a meager flyer in place of the booklet. Too bad for the bad Photoshop trick on the logo, but the cover art is nice. Obscure and pretty much gory. The lyric sheet is non-existent but the song titles are already quite bad – “pillage plunder grindcore”. What the fuck. The pirate concept is new in Death Metal afaik (Running Wild is NOT Death Metal ehe) – that is fine – but the really curious thing is this band considers itself grindcore. Cool. This is not grind by any standards.

Digging in the bio, I discovered this band is a kind of side project of Rotting Stiffs, a hopelessly generic brutal death metal band with routine chug riffs and mid slam tempos – from Cali. Ugh. Also, I don’t think it’s listed as a mini but I proudly refuse to call a 14 minute Cd a full length, I hope you’ll forgive me.

That said, I have been spinning this cd twice so far, and I admit this is not too bad. Yesterday I read a review on Teufel’s Tomb about how completely mistaken the band comparisons are in the majority of today’s zines and bios. I hope that guy forgives me if I hold his theory. This band has nothing to do with Dying Fetus, Anal Cunt (What?), Cannibal Corpse (??) or Assuck (Ehhh??????) – as stated on their bio. They have no power chord slams, no crusty grind grooves, or anything else in common with these bands. They basically play honest, down to earth Brutal Death with a decently suffocating, super low, dirty as hell sound. Not stellar, but better than Rotting Stiffs or a lot of the mid tempo slam garbage I hear today. Actually this band is quite intense, even the drum machine doesn’t sound too artificial, kinda Atavism meets Malignancy meets Putrid Pile, for lack of better comparisons. They’re not very advanced but simplicity is power sometimes. Not a must have, but worth some coin if you want a quarter of an hour of fun. Gory and bass-saturated. Nice.

MALICIOUS HATE (USA-Mi): “Promo 2007” demo Cd-r 2007 s/p

Malicious Hate is a relatively old band from Michigan (we’re talking about the eighties here). They released a rather interesting album back in 1996 – whose real spotlight was a cover so memorable I cannot resist to repost it below – please notice the subtle use of greens, fuchsias and violets is nothing short of shocking!

The good part in this promo Cd however, is not the cover, but the content! As the Cd-r I got from the band is… blank. I checked it on several players and burning softwares and it confirmed my fears, it is completely virgin. Either this is a really extreme (even though not new at all) form of industrial noise anarchy, or something just fucked up during the preparation of the promotional package. This 2007 promo is not listed anywhere else on the Internet so I wonder exactly what was supposed to be contained here. Maybe advance tracks from a forthcoming album? I guess I’ll never know!

ANGELCORPSE (USA-Fl): “Of Lucifer and Lightning” Lp Cd 2007 Osmose

Angelcorpse has come out from of the tomb of ice they fell encased in some years ago. I got this album with some advance in respect to the official release date from Osmose, but I decided to hold it until now because this is not an album I wanted to take lightly. I found much difference from “The Inexorable” and I was not sure I liked everything about it. Before giving an immature comment I wanted to give it a few more listens. The problem is that, even if I am a freak for shit productions, the recording here is a bit flat and murky and really didn’t seem to give the band justice. So I went on and on and listened to it over and over. With some extra thought, I have nothing much to add more than “another fucking masterpiece of Death Metal”. I have come to a point I await for the new Angelcorpse with more trepidation that the new Morbid Angel.

It is worth saying that mostly everyone I talked about this band with in 1997-2000 was throwing shit onto it. All I heard over and over is “they’re just Morbid Angel clones”. Same words came from people in the “metal industry”. Seems like someone finally gives them the rightful respect becouse this IS one of the top Death Metal bands of all times. And I am not exaggerating it, all of Angelcorpse albums can stand with “Legion”, “Altars of Madness”, “Metal Funeral” and other classics.

This one is not far from it. I still haven’t digested the production which seems definitely fuzzy, but the riffing here is still supreme. Malevolence here is the leitmotif of Helmkamp vocals. They hiss with serpentine evilness words written with his usual class and proficiency. The lyrics are as usual so elegantly written they could be sold as a stand alone book. The drumming is flawless, the solos vibrate with imperial pride, and the guitarwork – well – is still the best you can get in the extreme metal industry. Every one of these riffs are masterpieces on their own. I am not afraid to tell Gene Palubicki is, together with Danny Coralles, Piotr Wiowrzarek, John Christ and John McEntee, the best guitarist in Metal I know today (in my own top 5 at least).

Everything in this album is proud, arrogant and imperious. Even the Petagno cover is brilliant, vaguely reminiscent of early Slayer works. Slick packaging and flawless music. One of the top albums of 2007. Period.