The harder they fall (WTF albums by great bands)

I am not the greatest expert on things Death Metal in the world as my interest in music waxed and waned over the years but I was certainly very much into it in 1990 when this music was at its creative apex. Shortly after that however, but massively just from 1993-1994 onward, basically all of the greatest bands decided to move on and sound different: sometimes with disastrous results nobody could redeem, other times with results I found myself devastatingly terrible but somehow met general acceptance, yet other times they just changed style to play something substantially different but basically almost as good as the older material. Some of these fall in the “only the first album was good” stereotype so many mongos take fun at which is however tragically true, get over it, sometimes creativity is one-shot.

Here are a mix of albums that I consider stylistic turns, plain no-nos or just more or less acceptable breaks.

Dismember – Massive Killing Capacity

A completely shitty album with overload of Maidenesque melodies and riffs. I don’t like Maiden so you can imagine how much I could appreciate this one. I tried to get over it over and over but I just could not force myself into liking it. A plain 4 here to an album which luckily was the worst spot in their career. Their following album and EPs despite the production I am not entirely satisfied with, are excellent albums so let’s consider this one just a mid career fumble.

Deicide – Once upon the Cross

I already talked about this one, after “Legion” I could see the armies of Hell invading the Earth dimension, and instead we got this tarantella meets Death Metal bag of shit. Static, banal, powerless. 3/10.

Grave – Hating Life

Huge “What the Fuck” when this album was released. I don’t think I have ever found anybody into it and rightly so. “Soulless” was an album I took some time to appreciate and even that one I can’t really compare to “Into the Grave”. Yes, the first album was best, PERIOD. But hey, “Hating Life” is soooo bad ahahah. 2/10.

Morgoth – Feel Sorry for the Fanatics

Sometimes if it looks like shit and sounds like shit, it’s just shit. This album is one of the greatest failures in the genre. Grewe’s vocals are among the best in Death Metal, just have a listen at “The Eternal Fall” to get a sample of what demonic suffering sounds like and yet here they sound like some hippie is singing a grunge radio hit. Everything is bad here, from riffs to artwork. 1/10 is a generous vote.

Afflicted – Dawn of Glory

I read some Power Metal webzine recently re-evaluated this album which was a fist in my guts when I listened to it for the first time. From the sick Afflicted Convulsions demo to this album stands a whole galaxy. I can concede the fact that is not even a Death Metal album anymore. Clean vocals, pompous riffing and all the stuff that made epic power metal a genre on its own is here. Not my cup of tea at all. 4/10.

Disharmonic Orchestra – Pleasuredome

DH is a wild beast to tame and identify. They have one of the greatest grindcore albums of all times in their discography and yet even that one was a strange mix of dissonance and post-pop melodies. While their second album was weird, Pleasuredome completely leaves the punk/grind elements behind and shows up an unadulterated Rock version of the band.  I will be a bit blasphemous here but I don’t dislike Pleasuredome, as I don’t dislike any of the albums they released post 2002, starting with “Ahead”. Just consider this is not a Death or Grind album at all.

Xysma – Deluxe

Some kind of parasite infested a lot of the earlier Finnish bands turning their sound into something different with loads of classic 70’s RnR in it. Xysma’s First and Magical was the transition album but still had some elements I could save from the garbage grinder. Deluxe with the best of my intentions has none.

Gorefest – Erase

At first I thought it was a joke. Gorefest sick, grimy sound changed a bit on “False” but that one is still a solid album in my world. “Erase” somehow has a distinct barking going on that someone told me is the singer that changed style. If I want to hear vocals like these my neighborhood has a lot of dogs of different sizes I can ask for a sample, thank you.

Entombed – Woverine Blues

If this one isn’t the greatest musical disappointment of my life it certainly stands in the top 3 podium. I sold it a couple of HOURS after buying it. My friends liked it and I still wonder what they could save in this shitty album. Again, try to convince me the first album was not the best. Every aspect of this album sucks, but the vocals are definitely the absolute worst. It’s like LG is recording his wailing after kicking the corner of a wardrobe with a naked foot. The band never recovered, apparently.

Pestilence – Spheres

So bad, so bad. Death Metal trying to be something it’s not and it’s not supposed to be. I am not a fan of the latest Death but at least those guys definitely knew how to play under the screening of a broader audience. “Spheres” is just pretentious and plainly sounds like shit. I tried to “get it” over and over util I recognized there was nothing to get. Thankfully the band disbanded soon thereafter. I haven’t heard anything of their reunion stuff with proper attention but form what I remember it sounds better than this.

Massacre – Promise

This album just doesn’t work. The problem is structural. Bad riffs put together by the will to make something that sounds modern. Utter failure, not much to add, have a listen to a song on YouTube to save yourself the pain of spending money on the Cd.

Cannibal Corpse – The Bleeding

Thanks Satan Barnes left the band because his vocal style on this album was already borderline. In general this is not a bad album but it has several flaws. First, it comes after “Tomb of the Mutilated” which is the band’s masterpiece. Second, Barnes vocals here are trying to sound clear and that’s a first step in what became Six Feet Under which might be one of the worst Death Metal band that ever existed. I own this album and I’ll keep it but I consider it a black sheep in the cannibals discography. If you want to read more I wrote an article on all the albums not too long ago.

Benediction – The Dreams You Dread

Never been a fan of the band but “Transcend the Rubicon” was a good one as well as all the previous ones. Following a rather insipid Ep this album just crushed all hopes I had. This is Gorefest barking taken to another level. Bau bau bau sings Ingram here for a whole hour. Avoid.

Bathory – Octagon

Bathory is a religion and nobody is supposed to criticize anything Quorthon recorded but come on Octagon is just plain horrible. I can understand completists but keep this album on the shelf. There is some reminiscence of industrial metal chugging here which still baffles me. The guy was a genius and certainly did whatever he wanted but this one was a false step.

Sepultura – Chaos AD

I know I am banal when I say I like the first incarnation of Sepultura, the evil south American reverb monster Sepultura, but I also liked their turn into US Thrash Metal and their swansong that is “Arise” which is a mix of everything they did before. Chaos AD however symbolizes a moment of my life when everybody suddenly begun to listen to Metal, people that basically were into radio music all in a sudden were into Pantera, grunge music and this shitty album. The album is catchy and simple enough that anybody can get into it, as the larger masses of brainless teens did. It’s however not just a matter of turning commercial, it’s the whole album that just doesn’t click. It lacks rage and speed and replaced all that with MTV family friendly alternative appeal. This is one of the albums that gave us NU Metal and Deathcore, remember.

Obituary – World Demise

Not a terrible album, but certainly uninspired. Gone are the skulls and cobwebs and lyrics about blood and Death to be replaced with factories and polluted waters. Meh. I am not sure if it was me that was beginning to get bored but this album sounds terribly watered down. Haven’t heard their reunion stuff yet, except for the ludicrous cartoon. Again it’s not a bad album, you can even buy it but in the 2nd hand bin, but when undecided put “Cause of Death” instead on the player.

Celtic Frost – Cold Lake

There is no point in writing much here. Everybody has heard this one and all mentally sane persons I know still wonder what the fuck happened.

Brutal Truth – Need to Control

Need to Control is a good album I still spin sometimes. I even bought the deluxe version with multiple small vinyl records and the Pink Floyd cover. And yet I had to list it here because it sounds nowhere close to “Extreme Conditions”, which is one of the greatest albums of all times. All of their subsequent releases are in line with “Need to Control” so “Extreme Conditions” remains a single black jewel in their discography, much like “Legion” for Deicide. To be honest, it was impossible to do something as brutal and heavy as their debut so this album is probably the best we could hope for anyway.

Morbid Angel – Domination and Illud Divinum Insanus

Illud Divinum Insanus is probably the worst Death Metal album of 2011 so much so one can barely call it Death Metal even among the countless mediocre recordings we’re surrounded by lately. I won’t even spend words talking about it. But if Illud didn’t exist I would say the weakest link in Morbid Angel discography was “Domination”, I have listened to that album for years trying to get any of the magic of their previous 3 (4?) works and still can’t find any. It’s cold and plain and worse of all there is too much of David Vincent bullshit in the lyrics. Some songs like “Eyes to See” have vocals so bad I could barely recognize the band. I was glad when Vincent was kicked out to be replaced by Tucker as the following album was a good one. Me, I have sold Domination long ago and don’t miss it, it’s the only Morbid Angel album I don’t own (except for the latest but that is not even MA).

Carcass – Heartwork

I am losing friends here but I never completely got into the “new” Carcass even if I recognize a common line in every album except for “Swansong”. It has probably a lot to do more with age records matters than real music criticism but my youth was heavily branded by Carcass and their splatter-gore sound and imagery. I was quite cold when I listened to “Necroticism” but the first solo on “Heartwork” had the sound of betrayal. I am not throwing the Cd out of the window if someone wants to listen to it but Carcass to me is and forever will be shitty sound, gore lyrics and hideous collages made of pathological close ups.

Amorphis – Elegy

Their second album was mellow and bombastic like few others but still Death Metal in some heavily adulterated way. From this point onward I wonder how much pussy and money they have made with their shitty music.

Hypocrisy – Abducted

I think the band was good even if not exceptional, up and to the “Inferior Devoties” Ep. “Fourth Dimension” sounded like Tagtren’s attempt at getting some fat gothic chicks but I think the end result was not too bad. Everything he recorded thereafter is. How mediocre can a Death Metal band sound? Get anything from Elegy onward and you’ll get an answer.

Death – Individual Thought Patterns

I can see the reflection of a huge wooden cross burning just out there in my yard as I write this because people just go nuts when one talks about Death. And yet I have to say I was never impressed by the “new” Death sound that the band developed after “Human”. “Human” is in my opinion the perfect balance of taste, skill, music writing all the while keeping the sound ultra tight and heavy, it’s the ultimate swansong of a band which should have stopped there. The following three albums are just too thin, too scholastic, too perfect and basically just plain. You love them? Fine, but I’ll just stick to the first four (and honestly speaking I am not entirely sold to “Spiritual Healing” either).


There are certainly other bands like Samael, Rotting Chirst, Therion, Terrorizer whose early albums I worshipped that also turned slowly to shit but these are just a couple of ideas to start a new flame ahahah.

Have a happy new year.

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.

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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)

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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)

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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)
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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.

Death Metal Singing Class

There’s something I never quite understood, or better yet, something that has been pissing me off for some time in the past until my nihilistic point of view justly settled in and told me not to care. I am talking about people vigorously debating about so called “Death Metal ” vocals techniques. Endless argling-bargling on whether to exhale or inhale when making growls or how to keep your throat when screaming. All of this is, in my humble opinion (and as a short-time singer myself 20-something years ago already) utter bullshit. There is no proper singing technique in Death Metal, at least not in Death Metal as it was in the beginning, at least not any technique specific for Death Metal. I guess general singing techniques on how to use your diaphragm and stuff like that possibly works on DM as well, but Death Metal, per se, is not something you should easily describe or catalogue in a class.

Death Metal vocals only need to be scary, period. You just do it using whatever you have according to the shape of your body and lungs.

Just grab any old DM albums from early ’90 or so: Malevolent Creation, Death, Autopsy, Vader, Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, Dismember, Morgoth, Disharmonic Orchestra, Carcass, all of these had their own specific, readily identifiable characteristic way of singing. None of these bands had probably any real guidelines besides maybe oldies like Massacre, Repulsion or Deathstrike (for some), but what I want to stress out is that you cannot just pick up a mic and decide if you want to scream or growl. Dismember had neither kind of vocals and yet I dare someone tell you they’re not properly Death Metal. Moreover, part of what makes this music so unique is that it’s* spontaneous, holistic if you wish.

You just put things together and see if they work.

This obsession of classifying and cataloguing everything came with the swelling and inflation of the genre in that huge, universal pout-pourri of the “underground for everyone” that the ’90 brought us.

*should be.

Netherland Death Fest 2016 Astral Review – Day 1

Day one in the Lands of Nether. Since the show starts at 4 PM (and that’s Teethgrinder on the secondary stage, guess my excitement) I decide to oversleep a bit before plunging to the gym, have a shower and a solid healthy breakfast ready for the show to start.

At 11.00 AM I am ready to go and already enjoying some great landscapes and monuments of Northern Europe before immersing myself in the trippy Museum of Modern Art De Pont .

Blue

Look at that shit Dolly, Mondrian meets Newman, but round!

As a quick lunch I get a piece of their Broodje Jantje cake and get a bottle of Schrobbeler to chug during the concert, one should never be caught unprepared, you know. Once at the liquor shop, I just slip some Hullie Gullie as well in the bag.

Hullie Gullie

Se prima eravamo in tre a ballare l’Alligalli…

While i sip some of the chocolate flavored liquor on a bench among the fine company of pigeons, I have a look at the bill. The whole Festival is going to be split between two venues, the scarily named Poppodium 013 and the even scarier Patronaat (which sounds a bit like a place where they help you compile your taxes).

Anyway: Day one, or “the Grind Day”, is about to start, let’s split the shows between stages. Unluckily my astral form doesn’t allow me to bring a camera so I am not able to take pictures. Sorry. However moving at the speed of thought has a couple of advantages, one of which is I am able to see all the bands playing even if they are playing at the same time, talk about efficiency!

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The 013 Poppodium (aka the Teneronium)

Stage 2

Teethgrinder (4)

Teethgrinder

You can run but you cannot hide. They’re destined to be there forever: they are the filler bands. They all sound a little bit like a pretending to be grindcore version of Neurosis, with zero-energy screams, neat and well-educated sound, lots of dissonance and so on. As useful as a plaster on a pegleg. Luckily this stuff generally doesn’t live for long, unlike the brigthly colored tattoos these guys are generally covered with, I hope their emploeyrs at McDonald’s won’t mind 10 years from now. Just 10 years ago they would have had sideburns, funny fringe haircuts and a contract on Willowtip/Relapse (or both).

Visceral Disgorge (5)Visceral Disgorge

While I found Kraanium enjoyable (yes I went forward in time and reviewed that first – this shape allows me to do a lot of things), I found this band as boring as it can get. Too much slam, endless tempos, flat vocal line and so on. BDM might a complex beast to tame so even if you do all your homeworks properly the results aren’t assured. This stuff is too long, not enough compressed, not enough varied, at least for me.

Kraanium (7)

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I didn’t know this band at all, that basically says much about my knowledge of Brutal Death Metal dopst 2005, when they told me a Kraanium was playing I thought they meant that shitty speed metal band on Necropolis. I have a complex relationship of love and hate with BDM, some days I find it incredibly boring and unispired, some oother days I can spin it for hours. It is a great genre to play full volume on a very loud set, and I generally do enjoy it at a fastival in particular after a show. Karrnium are fast, complex and as heavy as it can get, and you know what, today for me they were a yes. Not so  many bands from Norway play this shit as far as I know, that I know of.

 Disentomb (7)

DisentombDidn’t know this band either, I thought they played classic “traditional” Death Metal until I saw the logo, which looks exactly like a million others (I suspect it’s that Asian guy who draws all brutal-slam bands, sort of a yellow Christophe Szpajdel of Brutal Death). Disentomb play some sort of ultra-tigh version of American Death Metal that grabs from Guttural Secrete and Disgorge as well as hyper-chaotic messies like Enmity. Not my favorite style in itself but these guys pummel the stage hard, swaying from the usual boring breakdowns choosing a more violent, crushing path. flawless shit.

Magrudergrind (3)

Magrudergrind

As a rule of thumb, if a band released albums on both Willowtip AND Relapse, I am almost certainly going to hate it, and well, my predictions were quite accurate. This shit is even worse than Teethgrinder. Modern stuff that pretends to sound like grindcore or powerviolence, mediocre songwriting and tracks that sound like they’ve been assembled using riffs discarded from *name-one-of-the-gazillion-dissonant-grindcore-bands-from-US* around. This is a band that manage to be equally mediocre in both blasting and slow chugging, the whole crowned with among the shitties vocals ever heard. And they managed to release like 6 albums. Meh.

Cripple Bastards (6)
Cripple Bastards

I don’t really like the grindcore/HC/Hatecore (can’t remember the correct definition now) this band plays, but no one can deny a couple of things when talking about CB – they’re absolutely original in mixing elements of horror and social topics. All the songs are well written, every liyrics worth reading. They’re a paramount of integrity, completely laid back and deeply passionate about their works. I wish I could dig them more than I do, actually. Anyway I saw them like 20 times, and all of their shows were fine.

Wolfbrigade (7)

Wolfbrigade

I might not have a perfect pitch, but every single song from Wolfpack/Wolfbrigade sounds exactly the same to me, ahah. You could record a whole album with the same song on loop 10 times and I won’t notice. But know what: I like it. The swing and groove of good crusty grind is strong in these guys. This is good music to listen to when you’re getting drunk, they just reveberate on the same chords as a good hangover.

Stage 1

Blockheads (6)

BlockheadsBlockhead is the title of an old Brutal Truth song, no idea if the band took the name from that. In any case it’s a band that know how to kick ass then speeding up. They play good grindcore, not as dirty and ugly as I would like it, but decent enough I guess. I don’t really like it when they slow down but in general the show was ok. Not much to say, rather routine stuff.

Vitamin-X (ahaha)

Vitamin-X

Sorry, I was laughing at their name. This band plays some decent Hard Core, outstandingly out of place here. But hey, in a venue where there’s people that are more interested in removing anti-antifa stickers than watching bands play who am I to judge? There’s people paying for having their nuts squeezed after all.

Dropdead (8)

DropdeadI prefer the namesake Siege album but Dropdead isn’t bad either. Their vocals honestly suck the hugest dicks but the songs are great examples of great skull-crushing grindcore, the simple straight in your face shite to be played full volume. I generally have little patience for the typical brainwashed fan who goes crazy for this stuff but the music itself is more than good to me, I also have their old album and play it sometimes.

Doom (8)
Doom

Even if they’re probably part of the fag barricade that boycotted Disma at the show, I still like Doom as I always did. I grew up with this shit and bought “Police Bastard” right out of the factory, so what else can I say, they might not have the same pissed off fury of their young beginnings but I still like the gruff, ugly vocals and primitive Dischargesque sound of this band.

Agoraphobic Nosebleed (3)

Agoraphobic NosebleedRanking among the top bands I don’t live a fuck about since Relapse started to replace Mortician, Incantation or Goreaphobia with this new brand of shitty protogrind, I could sum up this microreview with just one sentence: Agoraphobic Nosebleed SUCKS.

Infest (7)

InfestI like to consider this band as a kick ass Hard Core one and not a mediocre Grind Core one. In any case Infest created their own style, and you can just tell an Infest song from any other from that million xeroxed cover 7″s with some war photo on you can find on crust stands. They’re like holy cows many have been trying to imitate but like it often turns out, the original one is still the best.

Patronaat

Keitzer (6)

KeitzerYou can say what you want about this band, but they’re definitely fast. A bit messy but nonetheless suprisingly good. They tend to lose it when they slow down but they definitely know how to blast properly.

Primitive Man (2)

Totally shitty raw stoner/drone stuff, you know I wasn’t lookin at the stage but I am ready to bet 10 euros that someone had a shirt from one of these bands, roll 1d4:

  1. Eyethategod
  2. Sunn O)))
  3. Man is The Bastard
  4. Neurosis
Inhume (9)

InhumeI was saddened by the demise of one of the best band ever from The Netherlands some eyars ago as Inhume were in my opinion fucking punishers and among my favorite spins. Their Death/Grind was CRUSHING like nobody else. Truth is maybe they never disbanded for real, I just lost track of them after their latest album on Osmose a couple of years ago. Seeing them on the bill was great in any case I really can’t think of many bands as brutal as Inhume, they just have IT.

Undergang (8)

UndergangSaw them once with Anatomia a couple of years ago, this band has all the elements I like in Death Metal, Dark, sewage, filthy, sick and swampy sound, lyrics and artwork. Totally devoted to the “old school” way. So what could be wrong? Undergand are the paladins of rot and they just deserve all proper respect.

Afterparty

That closes the first day of shows. Lots of patches and military jackets around here make me unconfortable. I prefer to go to the hotel. Luckily I saved Bobbi Eden‘s phone number.

Hello Bobbi, how are you doing tonight?

Netherland Death Fest 2016 Astral Review

Netherland Death fest

The 2016 edition of the NDF might probably have the greatest bill of all time. Autopsy, Blasphemy, Angelcorpse, Morpheus Descends, Magrudergrind (ah ah no, just kidding on this last one) and so on. Stuff to make you sleep like shit at night, especially when you’re not going to attend it. Yeah, a bunch my fave bands ever are (is?) playing in Europe and I am not going for some miserable aspect of my life I don’t want to publicly share here.

Hating myself since my birth however allowed me to channel my energy into the realm of possibilities and make pretending. Since I could no accept it, I will pretend to be there and have fun and share beers with friends while listening to “In The Grip of Winter” live. With the right dose of booze, I can project my astral form and attend the show even if I am not, how cool is that? Wiggle your fingers, Magician Mick!

Trip to Tillburg

I decided to wake up earlier this time and have a long workout in my basement with cardio and some clean and jerks and PR deadlifts before getting a good shower and an healthy breakfast. Positive and full of energy like I am always in the morning* I control once last time the checklist of items to pack in my hand bag. weighing it once more to be certain the airport is not going to create any problems. ID check, money check, credit card check, phone and adapters check, Disma shirts check,

I feed my cat and make sure my neighbor has all the correct instructions to keep her litter clean, her water fresh and her food bowl full to the brim. My brand new*, problem-less* car drives me uneventfully to the airport where I park in the extended-time lot. I take a healhty snack with some carrots and celery* while waiting for the plane to land. At the airport I meet with all the 72 friends that Facebook assured me will be attending to the great event. happy to see you all here, pals*!

Since I am still in good shape when the plane arrives in Tilburg and I have some time left before the sunset I visit the beautiful church os St. Josef not too far from the venue. Built in 1899, the church looks still cool. It still has you know, the towers, the grey stones, everything looks right.

JosefThe Auberge Du Bonheur is as enchanting as I expected. I leave my bag in the hotel room and plan a quick drink with friends. On the way out, probably attracted  by my DISMA shirt these two girls try to hook me up and get me laid. I tell them I have no time for that shit and I am there just for the music. Making the sign of the horns with my right hand while sticking my tougue out like a true metal warrior.

Prerelase party

Kandinsky

Quick ice cream at the Intermezzo and I head to the Kandinsky pub (yes, like the Russian painter, lots of originals hanging at the walls actually!). My feet are sore and the beer is so refreshing at that time of the evening, but what a surprise! I could share a few of these with my friends and the guys in Autopsy that justs dropped by for a last sip before rest. We take some pictures together but I tell them I have to leave because I want to be perfectly in shape for the morn after.  We take one last shot and we have a look at the bands playing tomorrow: lots of grindcore… grindcore… ah yes also Undergang and Vitamin X.

Wait: Vitamin X? Jeez.

Anyway I say hello to Eric, Chris and Danny and I go to sleep.

Stay tuned for the festival proper!