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

IMPOSER (Ita): “Divine Intolerance” Ep Cd 2010 Butchered Records

imposer divine intolerance

Imposer is another excellent band from my land. I haven’t got the chance to hear their full length released a couple of years ago (same NY based Butchered Records apparently) but I suppose the two songs on this MCd are pretty close to that sound. The only recording I had the chance to hear was their first demo-Cdr and that was at the time I still ram a shop, which translates to about 10 years ago. From what I remembered, they had a Krisiun-like sound and I liked it pretty much, but my memory is getting fuzzy on that time. I had the chance to see them live as well, at least twice, and they delivered solid brutal Death Metal the late ’90s way. So here it is: two new tracks plus two covers, or at least I presume it’s two as one is a famous Deicide cover and the other one is by “Heaten/Lifecode” which I think is a local band.

Everything is deliciously packaged: I absolutely adore the cover art as I have a weak spot for icons, symbols and woodcut-like medieval prints. You don’t get lyrics but the overall quality of the layout is quite good. I would have preferred a slightly different, less modern font on the booklet, but it’s not really that relevant.

 

The two tracks we have here are as straightforward as Death Metal can be. I think they might call it War Metal today, but since that was a term they used for “Panzer Divison”-era Marduk I am uncertain on using it. To be clearer: during the end of the 90’s when the whole sound was selling out like a whore all in a sudden we had bands like Diabolic, Centurian, Angelcorpse, Throneaeon, Infernal Torment, Exmortem etc. and Satan incinerate me if Imposer does not fit that school of relentless Death Metal without frills. It was a scene that exploded out of a violent rejection for the ever mellowing sound that was the rule at the time, and I am pretty sure it was a clear statement of intent. Imposer‘s sound is some sort of cross between Krisiun, Diabolic and earlier Deicide without the wimpy solos, but also skipping the excessively retro-worship of these days. I am pretty grateful we have bands like this going on today. The two tracks that make up the first half of the album are as solid as a boulder, but I have to admit I am not extremely excited about the slight turn they gave to “Sacrificial Suicide” and if there’s a weak spot here it’s definitely the Heaten/Lifecode track, which contains possibly the worse, sloppiest, most moronic riff I have heard in months – what the hell is that mid tempo “happy go lucky” dance? In my book this is no big deal as it’s not a track of theirs yet I am puzzled how they came up with covering this shit.

To wrap things up you can’t really find anything more coherent and proudly War/Death than this in my country. Two songs might be a bit too little to spend money on, but if you want a sample of what this band is capable of, here it is. Fuck god.

INSANE ASSHOLES (Ita): “Grindzilla” Lp Cd 2007 Subordinate

Preface: This is a review I begun to write in 2007, so do not bother to write it’s an old album, I know it’s an old album, and yes I am a human shit for not having reviewed it when the band actually needed it, but hey, I was just at war with myself at the time eh eh. Stay tuned because you’ll see a lot of old shit in the near future. It might as well be some bands have disbanded in the meantime. In any case I have two crates full of old promos to review so just shut up and enjoy what I have to say now that nobody needs it, ah!

I’ll start right away by telling what I do not like about this release, and it’s, plainly, the not-so tongue-in-cheek-humor. I barely could bear Spazztic Blurr or AOD, go figure what I can think of a band with humorous lyrics 30 years later. There are no lyrics printed here, but the titles just need no great analysis. Thinking about it one can view the humorous approach a bit like that of cheezy genre movies like Blood Freak (the monster turkey movie) or classic Troma stuff but I’ll be honest, I am not a big fan of that kind of horror, preferring less happy gore demented stuff.

Setting rants aside, I’ll move on to what I actually like of this album, and for a start the layout is quite good. Sure, “run of the mill” vanilla Subordinate “neogrind” style, but you can’t say the packaging isn’t professionally done, with sharp lines and an all original artwork, so thumbs up for the presentation here. But please, lyrics next time.

I don’t understand why they decided not to feature this band on the Metal Archives as not only the crisp sound but the songs themselves seem pretty “metal” to me. Well, a lot metal actually. The backbone is definitely fucked up grindcore of course, and it has some frequent blastbeats as well, but everything just sound as metallic as it can get (hell there is even that Pantera guy who was shot on stage mentioned in the thanklist twice, can you dare to say they’re crusties?). Remove the freaked out vocals from the mix and just listen to the guitarwork and tell me what you think.

From start to end this album is relentless, pretty tight, and has a lot of consistence. With that I mean that there are no boring intermezzos and trippy shit (well, actually there is a humorous song called “Carbonara Groove”, and a modern black metal bridge towards the end, but we can forgive them) but just straight to the core songs which have one or two riffs apiece and this is an approach I generally appreciate. I think if you cut off all pauses between the songs and you can pass this whole album as a single track eh eh. Slow down it a bit and you get a pretty decent Death Metal album as well , I need to try that.

So to wrap up my opinion is a bit mixed, I like the no frills approach and the fucked up vocals (Bastard Saints could have been a strong influence here as the randomly scattered vocal style is quite characteristic on that band and the singer also appears as guest here) but I always preferred a more sick, rougher sound. I have a concept of grindcore which is quite far from this, something darker, borderline frightening, certainly not this metallic. This album is an honest display of fast Grind/Metal with a schizoid vocal dept and a sleazy horror movie backbone. Could be worse after all.

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.

INTERMENT (swe): “Conjuration of the Sepulchral” split Cd with FUNEBRARUM (USA-Nj) 2007 Conqueror of Thorns

Funebrarum IntermentFuck, the Swedish guitar sound a la Entombed/Carnage always makes me cum like Peter North on acid. Interment is a band that really sound like it was taken straight from 1990. It is great to hear that they did not lose the touch despite the passage of time, a lot (almost all) of the bands that were formed the same year as Interment completely lost “it” by the mid nineties. Maybe they just fell into hybernation and they still think we’re in the year 1990 ah ah! Guess what a surprise when they receive letters without flyers and find out that Entombed plays commercial shit and Matti Karki has turned fat again.

The sound, the rhytm, the general writing and even the lyrics are all taken straight from the golden age of Death Metal, and I do not mean Interment sounds like a relatively recent band with a vintage sound (take Deathevokation of Pentacle) – it is a band really sound exactly like a band from that period. I even found some traces of early Napalm Death sonorities, Autopsy and other trhash/grind acts from the 80’s in the mix, and these are influences that modern band trying to play vintage just don’t have, period. The vocals are not terribly deep (also in typical Swedish way), and for once you will be able to discern the phrasing without reading the booklet. But the killer part in this release is the guitarwork which is HUGE, with all those vaguely harmonic riffs a la late Nihilist or Dismember, grossly fat sound and all the headbanging rage of lost centuries (now tell me “Breeding Spawn” is not a Carnage song).

Madame et Monsieurs, another release not to be missed.  Killer Death Metal lyrics as well, totally flawless. 

INCANTATION (USA-Ny): “Primordial Domination” Cd 2007 Listenable

Incantation - Primordial DecimationI think we all would agree if I dare to say that John McEntee has listened to a LOT of Autopsy before writing “Primordial Domination”, which is fine by me since it was the best band ever in the Death Metal universe. I still write New York is the base for this band although they have moved to Cleveland several years ago – and then NJ or Johnstown or Grove City, I lost track there are three different addresses here. The asset is the same that gave us the previous masterpieces of old School Metal of Death: John at the guitar and Kyle on drums plus random bassist (this time the big guy called Joe Lombard which also writes the majority of lyrics) – and their adopted fifth member the producer Bill Korecky. This is not the first Incantation album with John on vocals but it’s the first one I manage to listen and dissect carefully. I haven’t really listened much to “Decimate Christendom” or the horribly looking “Blasphemy”. I can surely say the vocals are absolutely okay, not as deep as Pillard’s or Rhamer’s but more in the vein of Corchado, still more than okay in the studios even if not impossibly dark (but they are very weak on stage). Everything however really falls in the background in importance when this guy works his magic on the guitar. He’s the best motherfucking guitar player around when it comes to spewing Death Metal anthems. I have the obsessive malignant vibes of “Mortal Throne of Nazarene” and “Diabolical Summoning” still chilling my skin every time I think about those albums, even if it’s probably over one year I haven’t listened to them. I have to say however that while theoretically perfect, and chock full of killer riffs and spells of unholiness, not to mention Autopsy worshiping moments, this album is not as majestic and eerie as it could be. It’s a bit like when “Infernal Storm” came out, an album which I cannot say I dislike, but I cannot say I love either. It’s just so difficult to challenge those two albums I mentioned before that things sometimes just don’t manage to reach the same level of intensity. I love this album anyway, but I cannot define it a masterpiece. All the good Incantation elements are present here, and not only in the line up: unholy growls and pure Death Metal riffs with that minimal dose of evil doom, you cannot really make a mistake when it comes to Incantation. Yet I will still rotate the first three albums in my Cd player. Listenable is doing a good thing with packaging – the artwork is by the excellent Jacek Wisniewski (I still prefer Miran Kim, tho) and there is a cool DVD extra in the case with a show from France. It’s appalling to hear how terrible John’s vocals sound live, they really lack any punch… too bad becouse the picture is killer.

INCINERITOR (Ita): “Morbid Iconoclasm” MCd 2007 Skullbuster

Incineritor - Morbid

It is really great to hear that the passion for old school Death Metal (sigh, I really wish I could write only Death Metal but people would misunderstand my words if I exclude the words “old school”, wouldn’t they?) is intact nowadays more than ever. One of the few good things of the Internet generations, is getting in touch with other people form all around the world which were listening to the same albums you did 15+ years ago. But even as cool is to hear fresh new faces in the underground scene discarding the bollocks of today’s technical wanking in favor of morbidity and obscurity. For a few years I thought it was just a matter of nostalgia when one sticks to old sonorities, but when you see people that were barely born at the time the classic Death Metal records were released playing the real shit, well you realize there actually IS something different in the “old ways”. And it looks as if this band knows it.

This Incineritor (?) debut Ep reeks of dust and cobwebs – the riffs have a demo-level minimalism but the concept beneath this band’s existence is rather clear. The drummer’s primitive bashing coalesce with Matt’s guttural vocals into a mix of old Hellhammer, Master and Cianide. Some attempts at playing slower, denser parts however do not seem to be particularly effective, as they just sound just a bit unripe and a tidbit too strident for my tastes (the guitar work is a bit rigid). This is an Ep for lovers of unrefined Death Metal with really no polishing at all. I also liked the vocals which have no forms of harmony at all. On the downside the four tracks tend to sound a bit similar, and there is a Unleashed-like gallop in track “Ritual Carnage” which worryingly sounds like tarantella, but other than that this is very good shit.

The lyrics (hey at last!) deal with demonic hordes and Armageddon, in pure Immolation “Here in After” style (but without biblical referrals). They’re nicely (ah!) old fashioned as well.