Subduer (Ger): “Death Monolith” EP

2018 Dunkelheit Produktionen

Dunkelheit from Germany is probably one of my favorite labels around today. In 11 or so years of activity they keep up a great job at releasing great bands like Tetragrammacide, Blood, Goat Semen, Abatuar etc. for about one hundred releases, all of which caring, just like I do, more for music that pushes boundaries of noise and sickness than mere “genres” alone. They also maintain this tradition of sober, symbolic (or apparently so) layouts, which over time have managed to contribute to the label’s branding identity. Subduer are an interesting new project from Germany that mix elements of power electronics with the chaotic J-Readesque disharmony of extreme Death/Black, some sort of Terror Organ meets Conqueror kind of dry brew.  4 tracks could be not enough to completely savor and dissect the potential of this band but there is enough hisses, samples, drone hammering and manic screams to fulfill a trip to the gym late in the evening. Good stuff as usual, worth checking out.

SICKENING HORROR (Gre): “The Dead End Experiment” full-length Cd 2009 Soulflesh Collector

SICKENING HORROR The Dead End Experiment

I feel on discomforting ground as I can’t exactly describe the music Sickening Horror is playing on this sophomore album. It might be I haven’t been listening to much stuff lately and my writing is getting progressively rusty with time but I can’t find any acceptable resemblance to make comparisons. Even if it’s another galaxy entirely, we can imagine a cross between late Carbonized or Oxiplegatz (only to give an idea of how freaky the songwriting is) with touches of Immolation (hey there’s even Dolan doing backing vocals here on one track!) or Disincarnate here and there. Overall, it’s quite unusual for a band to reach this level of asymmetry without sounding like a patchwork of riffs (see my previous review on Deny The Urge). I won’t disregard this band as just another technical death metal project since playing skill is certainly not the end here, but a mean to create a weird sound landscape. A jagged landscape of trippy angular and dissonant Death Metal for sure, yet I can’t say all this is extremely brutal nor aggressive which is the reason I can’t really rate it astonishingly  high. Let’s face it once and for all: Death Metal is not about samba. I certainly do appreciate that these guys are able to create something unique, and I really like the fairly muddled obscure production that makes me go back to the earlier days of Disharmonic Orchestra but I prefer something a little bit more straightforward today. My best suggestion however would be to listen to the whole album before giving opinions because there’s something highly operatic working on here which can be enjoyed only in its entirety. It doesn’t happen often that I am not bothered by warped melodies and swirling solos, but here we’re on really capable hands. These guys play the only way I can actually appreciate extreme variation. This is very good work even if I am not entirely in my element. Of all the records I have reviewed recently, this might be one of the few I actually encourage you to buy.

Good things can be said about the packaging as well. The booklet is a 16 page monster with rather good lyrics worth a read (quite conceptual), and while I skipped a bit on the cover art in the beginning, I now find it fitting the concept as the whole thing has this hypnotic stile like an Origin booklet made well (and blow up my house, but I find this band more interesting that Origin as well).

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!!!

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.

SPEARHEAD (Eng): “Decrowning the Irenarch” Lp Cd 2007 Invictus

SpearheadBefore I start the whining, let me state that this Cd looks real terrific. The design here is tremendous, woefully elegant and definitely classy. The cover art is not only intricately beautiful, but it also reflects a very strong concept that permeates the whole release. War. Struggle as the means of man to overcome mediocrity and avoid corruption and degrade. Historical references appear as pictures of iconic representations in a sleek sepia packaging that is perfect even in the choice of fonts. This is really beautiful to look at. I was even remotely intrigued by the lyrics and foreword on their take on the irenarchs of the past and present.

I always find it a bit difficult to find parallels between boys that play musical instruments on stage and maybe participate in a few weekend full contact sessions with paint guns and real soldiers that see their friends torn to pieces by shrapnels, that visit places where real people die including your strict relatives. But the philosophical message here is strong and that’s not the weak spot on this album: it’s the music that really fails here. This album is one of the best examples of hideously generic thrash/death metal I have heard this year. Sure ly some riffs are nice, and they even attempt a killer echoing “ugh ugh” during the first fast opening riff in the best Celtic Frost tradition, and the solos are actually thought out and cool – but the scattering of good chords and soporific mid tempos is quite hard to understand and to find any coherence in. It’s like that movie “Memento” where all the scenes are cut and pasted backwards. You hear the same mediocre galloping riff 8 times, and then a completely different one drops in, coming from some third grade band from Melbourne. It’s as if someone cut the film in the cassette master and hastily taped it together randomly. This again doesn’t mean they inherently suck, they’re just totally unbearable because thrashing energy never bursts out, always squeezed in a vaguely Australian styled neo “denim plus million patches” Thrash Metal composition that really tastes like Kosher meat without seasoning. The vocals are terribly banal but for once I won’t twist the knife in the wound. This band is definitely not for me, even if the premises were good it lacks completely of catchiness. If only they could take an inch of old Vader or Sadus they could as well be something. As it is I could barely keep my lids open after 10 minutes of mono-frequency vocals and semi identical riffs. Not as bad as the previous one but still light years from being interesting.

SERAPHIM SLAUGHTER (USA-Nj): “Scum Terror” Lp Cd 2007 AIDS Needle

Seraphim SlaughterI had to think about it several times, and I finally came to the conclusion that I don’t like this debut album by Seraphim Slaughter. Sure, it is rough and crusty. Sure it has equal shares of Abscess-like Punk and Black Metal. But it’s just the black metal part that doesn’t manage to convince me at all. It’s an hybrid nested somewhere between The Germs and any Norwegian Black Metal band from the 90’s (pick one, anyone – they’re too hard to identify ah ah!).

If there was more South American vulgarity maybe… maybe… but like this it’s a bit weak other than filthy. The general idea is nice: a band from the grime of New Jersey experimenting lessons in alchemy with vials of the most ugly kinds of music. The cover art is also superb, totally “old school ’80’s thrash metal demo” style, mixing suicide, dead babies, a girl stabbed to death and AIDS encrusted syringes – it looks so vintage it’s a real pity I cannot make myself enjoy it. But really it’s not a matter of filth, it’s the guitarwork that it’s definitely too easy in a bad way, much like a college band if you know what I mean, I must have listened to all the riffs contained here when I was still a teenager. Just like happened with Watain, the dress is not at the same level as the content. Some thrash, some punk, some easy listening black metal… there is really HUGE space for improvement. As it is, I won’t personally buy it for 20 cents.

SPEARHEAD (Eng): “Deathless Steel Command” Lp Cd 2006 Invictus

SpearheadI want to set things straight from the beginning: my opinion on this record is sandwiched somewhere between “terrible” and “mediocre”. One of the weirdest thing on this album is that the majority of these guitar riffs seem just pointless. Some are just variation of a single one in different speeds. Only the solos are maybe not that bad. The production too, is not raw, (one thing I would highly appreciate) but just completely unbalanced – bass lines disappear and vocals get completely splattered in this forceless “mid-range only” guitar sound. The worse thing of all is the vocals, completely devoid of strength and pressure, just like a flaccid, pierced tire. I honestly don’t understand why someone could possibly consider this album “classic”, “violent”, “a perfect blend of thrash and black metal”, or riminiscent of Bolt Thrower (I have read all of these comments). There is even a terrible Norwegian theme on the song “The Glorious Dead” which just made my head shook all the time. I was expecting something powerful in the vein of Allfather or Axis of Advance, or even some more classic Australian-like stuff like Destroyer 666, but instead I got my hands of nothing but “War Metal” hype. It’s this “we’re all brothers of denim and million colored patches” scene which I just find hard to understand. These songs are plainly unmemorable, and just make you think “why should I listen to this while I have a million obscure Thrash Metal records from the eighties just out there to be listened and finally get all the powerful Metal sound tat bands like this want to recreate? No really, I pass this on. Too bad becouse there are some blasts and some good parts, but all these mid tempos and gay vocals just kill all the good that could be said. The work behind the lyrics is interesting – though: one big concept on war that blends with a superb cover and brilliant b/w layout work, one of the best I have seen in grayscale actually. What i don’t understand is how can evoke images of war desolation and bombardments by imitating Gargamel’s vocals. Maybe the war they’re talking about is between smurfs tribes?

Deathless Steel Command