Gutted was one of the first record labels that released a bunch of 7″s of the first wave of Death Metal from its headquarters in Illinois back in the early 1990’s. In Italy, probably due to Contempo and Nosferatu, we saw most of these in stock in basically every catalog that circulated in those years, and don’t get me started on how many Internal Bleeding flyers we got in every envelope when tapetrading. A couple of catalog numbers were reused used when the label changed its name to Metal Merchants, although I never understood what happened to GR006 (if you know, please write me at email@example.com). I originally intended to take a photo of the records but my 7″s are not currently in the best condition in terms of sorting and cataloging. Maybe I’ll catch up later. Maybe.
The first 7″ that was released on Gutted let’s face it, was not that great. An unripe band that in its earlier form was trying to find out its identity and decided to do so with a couple of demos and this 7″ of Death Metal all chunks and bites, as they used to do in the early 90s where giving two chugs that today we would call “slam” was tantamount to being hard and heavy. Not so, this proto-slam borrowed from Hard Core Punk works 1% of the times, the rest being boring shit that in some years would lead to aberrations like Machine Head and co.
To say that I was surprised when I saw that Symphony of Grief was still around in 2022 would not be true, the band was excellent and I remember well at the time this 7″ came out that they were determined to continue, pursuing a contract with a label, on their musical path (they wrote me too even if I didn’t have a label at the time). I’m going from memory but it seems to me that Frank from Voices from the Darkside managed this band along with Immolation in the early ’90s, which should be enough to recognize that they were a band with the right numbers. But to find out that they have made ELEVEN albums, well that just left me dumbfounded. I haven’t felt like listening to the latest stuff because I have long since dropped that early curiosity for the more mellifluous Death Metal-related genres (imagine the enthusiasm I have for the post-O’Malley crap) although I think I’ll provide out of curiosity in the next few days.
Leaving behind Laceration/Symphony of Grief in Illinois, with Eternal Torment our own Gutted Records resumes a path begun with Laceration (badly) in the city where Suffocation, Pyrexia, Internal Bleeding really perfected that kind of Death Metal all elbow and spade strokes: New York. It’s not like it takes much to figure out where this band is coming from, because every stone-scraping instant calls out to NYDM, with that dirty “Human Waste”-type pitch. I grew bored of the evolution of this genre somewhere during the turn of the millennium, but I still like to listen to these bands sometimes. For the lovers of this more angular and squared breed of Death Metal, this is a band to rediscover.
I’m not going to lie I’m not a fan of Acheron, they have the kind of ideas and stylistic solutions that for some reason a great many people like but to me seem bafflingly banal, not to mention a singing style that goes nowhere. For being 1992 in Florida, though, this 7″ has a point. I think their best efforts came out much later in their career though and their latest album on Listenable was one of the best works they have done. Still, we are talking about that moment in history when Black Metal was changing its skin becoming a genre in its own right proproposed in those years, from a purely scholastic point of view these are recordings that should at least be known. These guys hated Christianity with quite some passion.
This 7″ was released on Metal Merchant but having still a code number starting with “GR” I thought I would include it here. In the beginning Funeral Nation was a Venom/Sodom-inspired band that somehow transitioned into the Professor K machine along with Rigor Mortis, a strange version of a particularly raw Thrash Metal that over the years has unfortunately lost some of that more primitive and barbaric vein typical of that genre, just like Sodom, to say. Yet here the band was at the top of its game, and the 7″ is particularly beautiful to have, ivory-white and with nursery-level illustrations. Probably one of my favorite recordings by Funeral Nation.
I talked about NYDM earlier when I mentioned Eternal Torment and here we are, talking about the masters of a genre that may not be my favorite but that until the arrival of Deeds of Flesh, which changed the game cards forever, stood in stark contrast to the bands going queer and the whole melodic goth strand that was slowly eating all extreme genres from within, from Black Metal to even the whole HC/Punk world with their internalist “emo” variants (no, not “that” emo, but distantly related in spirit). So here is a handful of songs that you could basically hear in different releases on different labels, chugging shit with their bossy NY accent. And their flyers were killer, I wish I could find some in my boxes one day to scan.
Another Metal Merchant release, filthy raw and cheesy like all the very early Meat Shits. Here we hear them in their less noisy version with shitty riffs and great vocals bringing it all together. Worth noting is the cover art by Rob Smits who had already done the 7″ Broken Hope, Excavation, etc. We were all collecting all Meat Shits releases back then, don’t be fooled by anyone who tells otherwise. They went a bit over the top with sensitive 2000-something sensibilities AH AH AH AH. But yeah, I think these vocals are so SICK for the genre. Great stuff as usual for all earlier Meat Shits releases.