2017 in Review: Top Ten Albums, Part 1

I thought about opening this post with some kind of anecdote about my experience of 2017 and what it contained; buying a dog, uni, work, music, whatever. But fuck it. Attempting to come to terms with a year of extreme metal listening is a far more important and denser topic, which needs the full attention of this post (my year was fine, though, thanks for asking).

 

Fuck, 2017 has been a buckled year for metal. I’ve suggested before that people who bitch about a ‘bad year’ for metal are just too fucking stupid and lazy, but 2017 has been a fucking flat out 12 months of storming metal quality. If last year didn’t staunch up your toy fucking existence, I can only assume you were crushed under the weight of so many fucking sick riffs. RIP you fucking pussies.

 

These are first five of my ten favourite albums that I picked up this year. They aren’t in any order. There’s so much shit I didn’t hear, and so much shit I didn’t buy. Had I got them in time, Faceless Entity’s In Via ad Nusquam, Saqra’s Cult’s Forgotten Rites, Whoredom Rife’s Dommedagskvad, the self-titled Carved Cross LP, Tetragrammacide’s Primal Incinerators of Moral Matrix, Nexul’s Paradigm of Chaos, Perverted Ceremony’s Sabbat of Bahazaël, Acephalix’s Decreation, Aosoth’s V: The Inside Scriptures, among probably many other albums, could have made this list. So, this is hardly exhaustive, and should be taken for what it is; an account only of my year in metal. It is, though, way better than the fucking mess of a list Decibel put out. Paradise Lost? Converge? Fucking Myrkur? FUCKING PYRRHON? If we can hope for anything in 2018, it is that the craven mainstream metal media all fucking die in a fire so we don’t have to again pretend their top 40 lists are anything other than exercises in satisfying the record labels that pay for advertising in their pages. Fuck off. Underground forever, cunts.

 

In no order:

Necrot – Blood Offerings (Tankcrimes/Sentient Ruin)

IMG_4212

Interviewed here

Listen here

In the midst of so many bands now trying to nail an old school death metal sound, Necrot’s Blood Offerings offers not only a dedication to the best of death metal’s past, but pushes the genre further, on account both of the blunt force of the performances here, and the creativity of the song writing. Chad, who drums for fucking many other bands, including Mortuous, provides some absolutely pummelling kitwork, while Sonny’s storming down-picking heavy guitar playing ensures these riffs hit fucking hard. Luca’s huge voice, and offensively thick bass tone, rounds out a fucking bulldozing album.

 

The best thing about this album, though, is how rich it is. On the surface, Blood Offerings is a ripping, thrashy, and fucking catchy death metal album. Every song has memorable riffs that stick with you, like the fucking gnarly descending hammer-ons in ‘The Blade’, or the caustic, atonal, Immolation-like tremming in ‘Empty Hands’. These are raging death metal anthems. Beyond this veneer, though, is an intensely crafted and, indeed, progressive album. For what Necrot have done is stretched classic old school death metal riffing over some insanely confusing time signatures; try work out the count in ‘Shadows and Light’ without beating your face against a wall. Underneath the hook-heavy riffs lies a dedication to elaborate time structures that is almost Atheist-like. Unlike Atheist, though, Necrot have taken these obscure parameters as the basis on which to craft some absolutely classic death metal; this is not angular and technical, but crushing and addictive. Blood Offerings repays and expands on the promise showed in Necrot’s demos. This is a punishing and captivating album; raging and, as surprising as it might seem at first, sophisticated.

 

Black Cilice – Banished from Time (Iron Bonehead Productions)

IMG_4210

Live review here

Listen here

I listened to a fair bit of ‘90s/early ‘00s emo during my teens. Not the woeful slightly sad pop-punk that was surging at the time, like My Chemical Romance, but the slightly better earlier raw shit that had developed as an off-shoot of hardcore, like Saetia, Pg. 99, City of Caterpillar, Orchid, and Circle Takes the Square. I don’t listen to much of this shit now – maybe some Pg. 99 and Orchid occasionally – but what principally attracted me to it was the combination of glorious, sparkling melodies with deranged rawness; the immediate contrast of glistening beauty and abrasive chaos.

 

This same balancing of caustic aggression with soaring majesty defines Black Cilice’s flawless Banished from Time. The legitimately painful howled vocals, coupled with the intensely low-fi production, are the perfect juxtaposition to the stunning, shimmering, trebly guitar work. More melodic than previous Black Cilice albums, especially Summoning the Night, Banished from Time is a hymn to the beauty of death; of a deranged mind longing to leave the flesh; of the transcendent vitality of the grave.

 

Beyond its emotional intimacy, Banished from Time is a dynamic, if consistently deranged, album. Take the movement from chaotic blasting, to soaring melody, and down to funereal dirge on ‘On the Verge of Madness’. Or the simple ascending melody accompanied with blast beat that opens ‘Possessed by Night Spirits’, which breaks out into a distinctly punk half time stomp, itself followed by a driving post-punk riff in 4/4, before returning to the blasting. Indeed, this blending of traditional black metal riffing and blast beats with post-punk-style riffs and drum beats also characterises following track ‘Channelling Forgotten Energies’. Damaged vocals unite these efforts, showing not only the dexterity of Black Cilice’s song-writing, but its cohesiveness. Banished from Time is a creative, vulnerable, and affecting album; totally fucked up and perfect black metal.

 

Ignis Gehenna – Baleful Scarlet Star (Séance Records/Saluqtu Archives)

IMG_4213

Interview here

Listen here

It is perhaps reductive to start a discussion of Ignis Gehenna with reference to sole member Nihilifer’s former work in Erebus Enthroned. But, I have to be honest: I bought this album purely on the basis that Erebus Enthroned were one of the best Australian black metal bands, and my failure to deal with their break-up necessitated the immediate purchase of this album. Buying Baleful Scarlet Star could not have been a better decision, though little could prepare me, not even years of intensive listening to Erebus Enthroned, for what this album offered. Though this is black metal played in a distinctly different vein to Erebus Enthroned, it is equally forceful, heretical, and captivating.

 

Where Erebus Enthroned succeeded was in capturing the best of melodic ‘90s black metal, nailing a style that sat somewhere between Mayhem and Dissection, and playing it with an aggression and passion that even some of the earlier black metal bands could never have reached. It was traditional black metal done at its best. Ignis Gehenna takes a far different route. Baleful Scarlet Star is a rich and diverse album, a distinctly modern piece of black metal. There is extensive ground covered between the blistering tremming of the title-track and ‘Melas Oneiroi’, the technical and epic melodic lead-work on ‘Edict of Blood’ that for all his crowdfunding, Jari Mäenpää could never hope to emulate, the almost-prog walking bass-lines on ‘Serpent Oracle’, the dense riffage to open ‘Litany unto Thanateros’, or the instrumental closer ‘Anamnesis’.

 

This is a huge album, brimming with riffs from scorching to haunting, united by Nihilifer’s absolutely fucking crazed vocals. The lyrics, firmly rooted in Nihilifer’s ritual Satanism, are also impeccable; detailed and devoted. Spawned of Nihilifer’s ritual practices in the Tasmanian wilderness, they reveal an intense and vital magickal inspiration, drawn from a mind steeped in reflection and learning in these magickal arts, and curated with a care possessed by few artists. Australia has the best black metal scene in the world, and as Erebus Enthroned helped make this so before, so Ignis Gehenna does now.

 

Phrenelith – Desolate Endscape (Extremely Rotten Productions/Me Saco Un Ojo Records/Dark Descent Records/Headsplit Records)

IMG_4211

Listen here

I know the real Immolation and Incantation released pretty fucking good albums last year, but Desolate Endscape is the best Incantation or Immolation album of 2017. Phrenelith’s debut album is fucking stacked with the atonal, churning tremming that made Dawn of Possession such a devastating album. Check the fucking opening riff on ‘Deluge of Ashes’. Shit will rip your dick straight off or, if you have no dick, cause you to grow one then rip that straight off. Following this barbaric assault of Immolation-style riffing, the track slows down to an Incantation-style crawl, replete with thundering double-kicks. This Incantation feel is perhaps the more prioritised throughout the album, as can be seen in the dirge-like tremming and sinister leads on tracks like ‘Eradicated’ and ‘Crawling Shadows, Slithering Tongues’, though the latter track features a burst of atonal fury almost three-minutes in. David Torturdød’s bowel-crushing guttural vocals anchor the record in fucking brutality.

 

One of the reasons that playing this sort of ‘spot the influence’ with Desolate Endscape is so satisfying, and almost makes the experience of the album better, is because Desolate Endscape is, at its core, a homage to everything that made old school death metal so fucking important. This is a carefully crafted and passionate attempt to capture the spirit of the early ‘90s death metal movement, produced with obsessive detail and driven by an unhealthy desire for only the most sickening of riffs. Whether Desolate Endscape is derivative or not is irrelevant. Sure, it perhaps innovates less on the OSDM template compared to Necrot’s Blood Offerings, but the riffs on this are just as good, the song-writing just as sharp. Indeed, how many death metal bands could pull of an instrumental track in the middle of an album, as Phrenelith do here with the title-track? With its acoustic break sandwiched between swampy death-doom riffs, ‘Desolate Endscape’ is one of the richest tracks on the album. We may have heard much in this style before, but few bands today are playing this sort of death metal with such a degree of passion and detail as Phrenelith. Despite its sources in the early ‘90s, this is fucking vital death metal for today.

 

Impetuous Ritual – Blight Upon Martyred Sentience (Profound Lore Records/Parasitic Records/Darkness Attack Records)

IMG_4214

Review here

Listen here

The internet is awash with basement-dwelling fucking toy cunts claiming to create the most nihilistic and hateful metal known to humanity. Suss this fucking toy: Howling Ruins. I don’t know what my favourite part of this Facebook page is. The post asking who would be interested in shirts with no replies? The fact that ‘Howling Ruins’ is just a mashup of two of the most common words in black metal that sounds like it was spewed out by some kind of black metal name generator? The ‘happy birthday Hitler’ post? The promise that his new song ‘Perverse Blasphemy Against Muhammad’ will feature lyrics ‘not for the faint of heart’? Or the fact that the music is so derivative that a small child with basic knowledge of guitar who had heard maybe 40 seconds of Darkthrone could write better songs, and is so incompetent and boring as to be totally unlistenable? I actually follow this raging cuck on Instagram, where his posts consist of a mess of paintings that look like what would’ve happened if Tim Burton had received a lobotomy before creating The Nightmare Before Christmas, some memes about ‘college liberals’, that show that not only has he never been to university, but is far, far too dumb to get accepted into one, and whinging about bands that insult Christianity not being ‘dangerous’ enough to insult Islam. Sure, cunt, the edgiest thing you can do in Republican Massachusetts in America under Trump is definitely to strum your shitbox guitar out of time while burping some incoherent populist babble about Islam to your seven idiot listeners. Punch yourself into a coma.

 

These cunts are so desperate to appear dangerous, and so certain that by loudly shouting their dumb, boring views they’ll prove themselves so. They are not, and will never be, and if you need confirmation of how far from the mark these wimps are, all you need to do is endure one spin – fuck, one minute – of Impetuous Ritual’s Blight Upon Martyred Sentience. Eschewing interviews, intelligible lyrics, comprehensible album art, or even names for band members, Impetuous Ritual’s third album is a triumph of horror, of profound death worship, and swarming evil. Heavier and even darker than earlier albums, Blight Upon Martyred Sentience revels in a suffocating atmosphere, conjured through turgid passages of death-doom, cacophonous walls of dissonant tremming and shattering blast beats, and wailing guitar leads. In utilising such churning, atonal riffing, Blight also shows itself to be a distinctly Australian death metal record, anchored in the rabid and convulsing style of bands like Sadistik Exekution and Corpse Molestation.

 

Though in many ways far removed from Necrot’s Blood Offerings or Phrenelith’s Desolate Endscape, this album, too, revels in a dedication to the foulest and most punishing of OSDM riffs. Where Phrenelith double-down on this influence, and Necrot overlay it upon bizarre time signatures, Impetuous Ritual expand upon its darkest elements, marrying them to almost black metal tremming, on tracks like ‘Inordinate Disdain’ and, at the album’s most terrifying, to nausea-inducing passages of atonal and arrhythmic chaos. The ambience on ‘Void Cohesion’, layered howling on ‘Denigrative Prophecies’, sparse drum-free dissonant riffing on ‘Sullen’, hamper any attempt at penetrating the walls of cloying darkness conjured by this record. Blight takes the darkest, most repugnant elements of death metal, and builds upon them, conjuring the blackest swirling chaos. Here are the maws of extinction, of cosmic terror, and boundless suffering. This is metal at its most dangerous, at its darkest, and most nihilistic. There is no pretence here, no fucking internet flexing and posturing, but only the most vital, most committed dedication to pure derangement and horror.

Advertisements

Interview: Undergang

I spent ten days in Denmark in early 2015, spending a week in Copenhagen and a couple of nights in the second largest town, Aarhus. My girlfriend had lived in Aarhus for six months in 2014, and she was visiting me in Europe while I was completing an MPhil in England. My main memories are of how tranquil and beautiful the country was, from the nineteenth century architecture of Copenhagen, to the incredible greenery of the trip to Aarhus, and the town itself. I also remember that there were a fucking lot of Church of Scientology temples; more than I’d ever seen anywhere else. The Danish people I’d met were friendly, generous, and engaging, so it was an odd realisation that some relatively significant portion of the Danish population is in fact completely fucking mentally cooked.

 

There is perhaps nothing so special about the popularity of Scientology in Denmark, but I think it gives some nuance to the standard view of Denmark as a utopia. Even with its significant social welfare policies, its affluence, and physical beauty, there are still cunts to hate in Denmark. We need look no further than the small but feverish Danish metal scene for further evidence of this negative aspect to Danish life. For it is only through direct encounter with the scum of existence that death metal as gory, revolting, and misanthropically rabid as that produced by Undergang could be possible. Indeed, David Torturdød’s putrid endeavours have not been limited only to Undergang, for he has contributed his festering riffs and vocals to a slew of bands, including Wormridden, Hyperdontia, and Phrenelith. This cunt is properly fucking busy: Undergang, Hyperdontia, and Phrenelith all released music this year, he has toured the US with Undergang, and he runs the chronically sick Extremely Rotten Productions, which has pumped out some of 2017’s filthiest tapes. You cunts should know how filthy these tapes are: I got 40 tapes to distro from ERP recently and they were mostly gone within an hour. Somehow, he found time between these repulsions to answer my questions and allow us to leer into the body-bag of his work.

 

Extremely Rotten Productions website

Undergang Bandcamp

Undergang Facebook

Dark Descent Records website

Me Saco Un Ojo Records website

 undergang good

<$6.66: Hails from Australia, mate. You guys have now finished the Necrot tour, so I assume you’re back in the Danish summer. I was there in 2015 and the summer didn’t seem particularly fucking summery. Could you start by introducing yourself?

Undergang: Hi there, thanks for writing the interview and inviting us into your zine, my name is David and I play guitar and sing in Undergang. I apologise for taking forever on sitting down to reply; life keeps getting busy and presenting new things to deal with, but better late than never, I hope! By now it’s winter here and at the time when I’m replying to this interview I’m on my way to Porto in Portugal to play a show with Undergang and Phrenelith tonight. I bet your summer visit to Denmark wasn’t exactly all that stereotypically summery at all: we tend to only have a few days at the time where it’s warm and then a lot of rain again here, haha. Even the time I was in Australia in October back in 2015 it was almost warmer than Danish summer.

 

<$6.66: Next year will mark ten years of Undergang, which is a significant accomplishment in itself. You’ve put out 13 records in that time, though that includes demos and promo material. Even excluding them, you’ve released four full-lengths, three splits, and an EP, which is a lot of material. Could you give us a quick overview of the band’s history? Many bands struggle to be so productive; how have you managed to produce so much fucking crushing material in so little time?

Undergang: Well, as you state yourself we’ve played for a good ten years by now, 2018 will be our tenth year of existence, so I think having released what we have in those 10 years seems fairly normal with writing and recording what we have done. We actually usually spend about one year from when things are recorded til they’re finally released, so we’re slow creeps as well! We usually just play a couple of nights a week and then when I have ideas for new songs we work on new songs together at rehearsals, sometimes a lot comes in a short amount of time and other times there goes months without creative outputs at all. But really, Undergang is such a bit part of our lives that hardly any day passes by without some sort of band activity, so it’s pretty normal for us to have a lot going on and coming up all the time. I like doing smaller releases on cassette every once in a while, too, so we always have a bit of something new out there to show we’re still alive. I’m glad to hear that you think our music and releases have held up decent quality.

 

<$6.66: Two-thirds of the current Undergang line-up are Danish, and live in Copenhagen, as far as I know. You’re also a member of the Danish death metal band Phrenelith, and you were (???) in the Danish death metal band Mold, and also play in Hyperdontia and Wormridden, whose members are spread across countries. I’ve seen you mention in a 2013 interview that nobody gives a shit about Undergang in Denmark. What’s the scene like there these days? I had assumed there was a decent scene, given the strength of bands, but it turns out it’s just the same cunts in each band!

Undergang: Haha, yeah it’s pretty much just consisting of a few people caring about underground death metal and then a bunch of people showing up at shows every once in a while. The scene is good with current bands like Deiquisitor, Taphos and then both Phrenelith and Undergang keeping busy too (if I dare to be cocky enough mentioning both my own bands) but there’s really not a lot of other things going on that catch my fancy. The shows we play locally in Copenhagen usually attract 30-100 people and one never knows how good an attendance and interest there is until the evening of the show, no matter how well you promote it. But then again, there are also likely more tours and shows in general coming to town now than ever, so I think we’re getting a bit spoiled and people have to prioritize what they spend their money on. Sadly, for us, it’s usually not really the underground death metal scene. The wimpy, forest “black” metal, or whatever it is, seems quite popular here right now and attracts most people’s attention. We used to do (and are working on a resurrection currently) an underground death metal festival here in Copenhagen called Kill-Town Death Fest for 5 years, which I guess also did put Copenhagen on the map as a good place for death metal, but it was really more of a celebration and gathering of international death metal more than a presentation of the national scene, which can be spotted in how few Danish bands actually even played there throughout the years.

Oh well, still, I can’t and shouldn’t complain too much. Things could be a lot worse and is in other places, and at least we can just take our death metal elsewhere when people don’t care too much around here!

 

<$6.66: You’re also behind the Danish cassette-only label Extremely Rotten Productions. The label has put out a lot of Undergang’s material on cassette, as well as material by bands that share members with Undergang – Hyperdontia, Phrenelith, Cauterized – and other bands that you’ve shared tours or shows with, like Necrot and Fetid.  Can you talk a bit about the label and its relationship to Undergang? The label has released all Undergang’s promo material; did it start out to just release Undergang? How do you find running a small death metal label in Europe these days? What’s the support like?

Undergang: I started Extremely Rotten Productions back in 2011 and the first release was a promo tape for the second Undergang album that got released the year after. We were going on tour to USA for the first time in May/June that year and we wanted to have something new with us to sell at shows, so I made the promo tapes and decided that it could be fun to start up a bit of a label to push it instead of it just being through the band only. I used to run a distro service from 2006-09 which I called Torturdød, which I used for my moniker in Undergang early on also, so that way I could also pick up on that again and have a bit of a distro stock and then do trades with the “T.D.O.S.” tape releases also. I did more than 800 copies of that promo up till the album was released in February 2012, so looking back I guess it did alright and helped gather a bit of attention to the upcoming second album at the time. Since then I did a slow job of trying to get the distro to work and put out a few more releases, I licensed an album from Danish Corpse Vomit and did that on cassette as I always loved the album, but hated the artwork and thought it’d be cool to have it proper and official on tape and then started releasing my own projects and friends’ bands I liked and wanted to support. Things went up and down and there’s been several hiatuses over the years but now ERP is back stronger than ever and Sam, our bassist in Undergang, helped me get a webstore up and running so now things are getting out for sale easier without me having to write email after email just to find out that someone somewhere decides not to buy that 1 cassette anyway.

Locally there’s not too much interest either, most of our orders come from the US, actually, and the rest of the world has more interest in our releases than the Danish deadheads seem to do. I do offer people to drop by and buy off me in private in my home or meet up around town, too, and sales are going well. ERP is finally on the edge of being able to support itself 100% after me throwing on money for printing, pressing, and postage for years. I’ll likely always stick to releasing music from my own projects and friends mainly, but I’m open to other things and have people write to me offering cool things from time to time. Maybe one day it’ll fit properly to expand a bit further, but for now I enjoy doing it the way I do, supporting the local scene and my friends.

 

<$6.66: Sam from Cauterized joined Undergang last year on bass, and has performed on all the material released this year – the Anatomia split and the Misantropologi LP. Sam lives in Seattle and you guys also just got back from a US tour. How do you see the European and American scenes comparing? Shit, how was the tour, too?

Undergang: Our original bassist, Kasper, said he wanted to leave the band as he couldn’t commit fully to the band any longer with our busy schedule, back in January 2016. We did a European tour and played two festival shows with him still after that as we had already committed to play those and that was it with him. We were planning on doing a month long US tour in the summer of 2016 with Spectral Voice and we didn’t know who to join the band at the time at all. So Anders and I kept writing music that would end up being Misantropologi and playing just to the two of us til Matt from our label Dark Descent Records asked if we could join the Dark Descent/Invictus Productions showcase festival in Dublin, Ireland, in the crossing weekend of April and May that year and as Sam was coming over to visit me for a few weeks around that time (we’ve known him since his days in Bone Sickness from our first US tour in 2011) we asked him if he’d care to help out playing bass for us at that show. Things went good and it was fun playing together so we invited him to play bass on the US tour that coming summer, too, which he agreed to. He did have obligations with Funebrarum for the first week of that tour, so Eli from Spectral Voice learned our set on bass and helped out for the first line of shows before Sam could join us in Philadelphia. The chemistry was good with the three of us so we invited him to play bass on the album recording session in Earhammer Studio after the tour, too, where I was originally supposed to play the bass. So that was the first recording he did with Undergang. The split with Anatomia was actually recorded back in February 2011 with our “old” line-up, as a test recording in the studio where we recorded Til Døden Os Skiller, it just ended up taking YEARS before finally being released, haha. Well, Sam has been with us ever since that as our steady bassist and backing vocalist. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon, and flies over for European shows and we’ll come over for US shows.

My experience currently is that the underground death metal scene in the US is stronger than it is in Europe; the shows have bigger and better attendance and the overall support seems better over there currently, at least for the style of music we do. The US tour we did with Necrot was the hardest tour I’ve ever been on but also the best one. Both bands had just dropped new albums that attracted a good deal of attention, it was Necrot’s first full US tour, and our 6th time playing in America, so the shows were getting bigger than before and a lot more wild and fun. At the same time, I was personally ill a lot of the time and there were a lot of poor sleeping conditions and loooong drives, so it took its toll on me with playing every night for a month. Still, I wouldn’t have done it differently if I were to do it over. Once again we finished the tour in Oakland, California, and entered Earhammer Studio for the third time and worked on a live album that was captured in Portland, Oregon, on that summer’s tour and will be released in 2018 as a celebration of our 10th year anniversary.

 

<$6.66: Turning back to labels, you guys are working with US fucking powerhouse Dark Descent Records, who released Misantropologi and its predecessor Døden læger alle sår. How’d you guys end up working with Dark Descent? Has it helped being on a label that is responsible for releasing so much of the best and most innovative death metal at the moment?

Undergang: We’ve been in touch with Matt ever since our first release with Dark Descent as a co-release with Me Saco Un Ojo Records in 2011 in the form of a flexi 7” released for the US tour that same year. He came out to our show in Denver on that tour and said that he was interested in working with us so we said we’d pick up on the talk when our contract of 2 albums ran out with Xtreem Music, and talk about conditions when we were at that state. In the meantime, Dark Descent Records grew and started releasing a lot of the more interesting death metal going on at the moment, so we knew him personally from several get-togethers both in the US and in Copenhagen when he attended Kill-Town Death Fest for a few years, so it seemed like the logical choice to work with him and that is a decision we’re still happy with. We have complete artistic freedom and he supports us well both with promotion and finances. Us touring a lot in the US and being on a US label has definitely brought us in on the American market and Dark Descent Records has good distribution worldwide now it seems, so I think that we’ve both helped each other out a bit along the way. I do wish he focused a bit more on his “smaller” bands on the roster than the current golden cows Blood Incantation and Spectral Voice. Granted, they are great bands and nice guys, but I do feel and hear from several other bands that they feel a bit in the shadow of things which we can relate to, but it is often what happens when one or a few bands make it a bit bigger than others and they take up more work for promotion, etc..

We’re just doing our own thing and we’re happy to work with Matt and Dark Descent Records though, don’t get me wrong. I’d still like for Undergang and the others bands I’m involved in to be a part of the DDR family and make that whole thing grow together. I think it’s cool.

 

<$6.66: While Dark Descent handled the CD of Misantropologi, UK label Me Saco Un Ojo records released the vinyl version, and Extremely Rotten put out the cassette. Do you guys feel there’s an ideal format for listening to Undergang or, indeed, an ideal setting?

Undergang: Our albums ALWAYS sound the heaviest on vinyl there’s no question there. I just believe that our music should be available on all formats that there’s an interest in so we aim to release all of our music on LP, CD, MC, and digitally for those using that, which is a growing number still, too. The ideal setting for listening to Undergang is always LOUD!

 

<$6.66: I was going to ask about the relationship between Undergang and other Danish death metal bands like Phrenelith, but that was before I realised the inbreeding at work between these bands. That said, I am interested in the fact that these bands have come around at a similar time. Is there something driving this death metal push in Denmark? Moreover, what influence does Denmark have on Undergang’s sound; how does the band relate to its geographic surroundings? I’m interested in this particularly because Undergang’s lyrics are all in Danish – does this give the band a particular voice or style of expression? – and because, on a crude view at least, most people would describe Denmark as a kind of utopian welfare society, but your lyrics on Misantropologi deal very directly with a profound hatred of mankind.

Undergang: There has always been people around burning for death metal here in Denmark. We had a lively scene back in the early 90’s, too, that not a lot of people are familiar with. I’d recommend checking out bands like Exhaust, Fallen Angel, Detest, Nations of Death, Nugatory, Dominus, and Infernal Death to name a few of my favourites. In more recent years I think the Kill-Town Death Fest had a bit to do with things also as it helped put underground death metal a bit more in focus in town, leading to a few local bands at the time and to follow like Mold and Sulphurous and later Phrenelith and Taphos. Other more recent ones I really like are Deiquisitor, Cerekloth, and Pustulation, but only Deiquisitor is still active, but they are also my favourite current death metal band back here. I just put out a promo tape for their upcoming second album through Extremely Rotten Productions, too.

I don’t think our lyrics being in Danish really affects the band too much, I’m sure it either gathers some people’s interest or completely pushes people away, but that’s about it. My way of delivering my vocals are not really in a way where you can hear if I’m singing in Danish or English anyway. I just want it to sound as low and disgusting as I can.

Living in Denmark rules. Life here is very good and there’s a lot of security and support for our citizens both socially and financially, really. I’m lucky to be able to travel all over the world and experience a lot of countries and bits of different ways of living, but in the end I’m always happy to return to Copenhagen and Denmark. I enjoy life and what it has to offer of ups and downs. We have one shot at life so I want to try get the most and best out of it. That a lot of our lyrics deals with torturing and murdering people just deals with what we all have inside, feeling that most people are scum anyway. And death metal is supposed to be about death and dark gruesome things, isn’t it? Sure is to this creeper.

 

<$6.66: I want to stick with the lyrics for another question. From what I understand, the lyrics of the first three albums, Indhentet af døden, Til døden os skiller, and Døden læger alle sår, all revolve and death and dying, often in particularly brutal ways. Misantropologi, as the title would suggest, and as your comments in another interview suggestlyrically addresses your hatred of humanity. Can you talk a little bit about the lyrics on the first three albums, and how they relate to Misantropologi? If Misantropologi a continuation of earlier lyrical themes, or does it build on them, or is this a new path for Undergang? As a non-Danish speaker, I can work out almost nothing of the lyrics except for a word or two here or there; nothing significant enough to work with.

Undergang: Well, depending on how you read things and how I’ve sounded before I guess all of our albums deal with a lot of the same, as death metal to me and in the way I manage to create and present it is in a violent, gritty, torturous, nauseating way lyrically so all of our songs usually deal with whatever that might embrace and whatever cruel ideas that come to my mind from being inspired by horror movies, comics, and life in general. Mankind is a selfish ugly breed and Misantropologi deals a bit more with that than the past albums, but it’s really all just disgusting and gruesome tales with a bit of tongue-in-cheek depravity to it, that only the Danes will be able to pick up on. I thought in the past about maybe adding translations to the lyrics in the booklets of our albums but parted with the idea as too much would go lost from how things are written and intended in Danish. We choose to just let the music speak for itself instead and leave our visual imagery to do the description of the lyrical themes, too.

 

<$6.66: The first three Undergang albums constitute a trilogy, with Misantropologi Undergang’s first non-trilogy full-length. The first three albums all use the word ‘døden’ or ‘death’ in the title, but could you explain in more detail how they constitute a trilogy? Are they conceptually linked, for example? And if there is a close relationship between them, what does it mean for Undergang to now be working on non-trilogy material; does this open up new opportunities or new conceptual pathways for the band?

Undergang: We chose the trilogy of things for the first three albums solely with the album titles including “Døden” in all of them. Honestly not too much more was put into it other than they represent the first 3 chapters of our recorded existence and the expansion of album lengths with about 10 minutes on each new release. With Misantropologi we’ve found a bit more of “our” sound and things came more naturally to us with song writing and the general composition of things. We wanted to be able to try new things and some of the songs were just created in the rehearsal room experimenting, where the earlier albums were more structures and songs I’d come up with at home and Anders and I would then arrange things from a more-or-less finished product together at rehearsals. From now on it’s more of the “newer” way and we currently have new songs for upcoming splits where Sam also contributed to the song-writing and we have a few new songs Anders and I have written over the last 6 months, and new ones in the process where our new second guitarist has input and riffs to add, too. As long as we make it sound like Undergang, I’m open to suggestions and additions from our newer members, too.

 

<$6.66: Let me ask one more question about relationship between Misantropologi and its predecessors. For me, Misantropologi is a really interesting step for Undergang, because it seems to constitute both a refinement and an expansion of the band’s sound. There’s a kind of doubling down on the groovier and heavier parts exhibited on earlier albums. Undergang has always been dark and sludgy, but Misantropologi sounds even more fucking doom-laden, and there’s less tremming over blast beats, for example (‘Sygelige Nydelse (Del II) Tafefili’ is the most obvious exception here). But the band also seems to use these fucking sick ominous melodies, like on ‘En Bedemands Bekendelser’ and ‘Tvangsfodret Pigtråd’, which makes the sound even darker. The first of those songs also uses some clean guitar and a piano intro, too. The music is just as dark and heavy as before, but there seems to be some really interesting changes. You also added a fucking sick Disgrace cover to close the album. How do you see Undergang’s song-writing changing? My understanding is that you spend a fair bit of time planning releases, in terms of how many songs you want, whether they’ll be faster or slower songs, so I assume these changes were very considered. If so, what prompted them?

Undergang: I’ve always been a fan of clean and acoustic guitar parts in death metal and piano bits, too, to give certain parts a horror-like feel at times. We’re talking about trying to incorporate synth on some new songs, too, but that has yet to be incorporated on newer songs and to be planned and written into songs exactly for that. We’re trying to do different things while not losing the heaviness and crudity of what our sort of death metal brand has become by now. All song composition since we started has always just been a natural progression of what we like and what we want to hear in death metal ourselves and not least play. As for album lengths, we never really set off for a certain limit when composing for the first three albums it just ended up the way it did with what kind of songs we wanted included in that presentation of where we were at the time. I often tend to think of albums, pretty much for any band, as a stamp in time of where the band is at that moment of their creative processes, writing, and skills as musicians. With Misantropologi we wanted to show a bit more of a faster and shorter side of us, like the two first songs we presented on the Søm til din ligkiste 7” back in 2013, but at the same time still offer some “classic” Undergang songs, and last but not least, add a bit of new elements. As for the Disgrace cover to end the album we wanted to end things in a different way than we’ve done from the last three albums. To us it’s important to have the ending of an album be something special so you want to listen to it again immediately or at least want to play it again soon.

We’re already working on album number 6 but it has yet to be determined what ways for it to differ next time around, but it will not be done til 2019 at the earliest.

 

<$6.66: Regarding Undergang’s aesthetics, you’ve always used particularly gross and gory artwork. You guys are fucking mad fans of horror movies, too. Can you talk a little about the relationship you see between horror movies and other particularly brutal forms of art and Undergang’s music? I’m interested in this particularly as David has done a lot of the band’s art and is always the main song-writer. For me, Undergang’s sound seems similar to both splatter-heavy horror movies, but also captures a kind of existential and misanthropic dread that is also a staple of the horror genre.

Undergang: We’ve all been fasn of all sorts of horror, be it movies, soundscapes, comics, or literature, and all of that has its own way of showing in writing and composing our music from each of our individual channels. We sometimes use samples taken from movies, I could get an idea for a melody or riff from the soundtrack from a movie, or we just want to present a certain atmosphere in certain songs based on a horrific mood. It can show many different faces, but most of all we just write death metal for the sake of creating music as gross, heavy, and memorable as we can. Visually I like portraying the nastiness I feel embodies the individual release and by doing it myself we keep control over our music on a visual level, also, which is important to me and us. Plus it’s cheaper than having to hire one of the many talented artists out there who could do a much better job at things than I ever will be able to, but having a member of the band do artwork for the band itself has always been something I’ve been a big fan of myself, like Chris Reifert, Jeff Walker, or Stevo, for example, used to do.

 

<$6.66: This is the last question about Undergang’s sound. A lot of people writing about music – and I’ve been responsible for this – are obsessed with describing the current death metal resurgence as a return to old school death metal of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. While I think there’s something in the claim, it seems reductive to just talk about how new bands just sound like Autopsy or Rottrevore, as if they aren’t bringing anything new to the table. With this in mind, though you guys sound like you have a pretty strong influence from bands like Autopsy, who are some more recent bands who have had an influence on Undergang’s sound?

Undergang: I think a lot of the bands we’ve toured with have brought alternative or new ideas to the table of how to write music or deal with things being a band, and to me it’s all a part of the learning experience, and I enjoy the feeling how touring bands can teach each other things while being out together. Unconsciously or not, and I’m not really sure of exact places to point out, but I feel like we’ve gotten ideas for new structures from the bands we’ve played with over the years of our “touring career”.

I do feel like several bands emerging the last 15 years or so have established their own sounds, too, and to me it’s fun to hear from new bands these years how they describe themselves influenced by bands from our generation of death metal. It’s nice to see that people around us have that influence on newer people, too, and that death metal is still a genre that can keep on giving new influences and albums that should be able to stand the test of time.

 

<$6.66: Misantropologi only dropped this year but I’ve heard you’ve already got plans for two more full-lengths. What is on the cards for the rest of 2017 and 2018? And is there a chance we will see you in Australia at any point?

Undergang: We’ve tried to tour and promote Misantropologi as much as we could, though we sadly had to see a European tour in October fall apart due to slack from a booking agency, but we’ll continue to play the songs and promote it til we have an album of new songs out, which will likely take a bit of time. 2018 will see the release of a live album from us and we’re currently working on the sixth full length to follow after that. We also have a new 7” coming out with 2 songs recorded at the same session as Misantropologi in Earhammer studio, a split 7” with Dead from Germany, and a 4-way split in the works with Deiquisitor, Phrenelith, Taphos, and us. All of those songs are recorded, mixed and mastered. And then some other loose plans and ideas that’ll take place whenever it’s suitable.

Just last weekend we were interviewed and played live on Danish television as a part of a morning TV show, so hopefully that can get some new people to discover us back home. It was an unexpected invitation but a cool experience and as we were the first death metal band to ever play live on Danish television I am a bit proud of that, too.

As I’ve been answering this interview I’m on a plane to Porto in Portugal to play a show tonight with Phrenelith and Undergang and then after this we’ll take a break over the holidays and pick up with new ideas and compose new songs after the year change. We have a lot to show you still, so don’t go anywhere. We’re always open to show offers and we hope to be able to return to Australia again at some point!

 

<$6.66: The final words are yours.

Undergang: Thanks again for the interview and for the patience. I hope my answers are fulfilling to you and entertaining for you, the reader, to get through. Support your local death metal scene and zines.

 

In putrescence,

David Mikkelsen / Undergang

December 2017

Kommodus – Will To Dominate All Life

IMG_4022

Kommodus – Will To Dominate All Life (Lupine Lineage Records)

Format: cassette

Purchase: from the band

Price: acquired via trade

Listen here

 

Australian black metal has been in total fucking ascendancy over the last ten years such that, as I write this, I can confidently say that Australia has the best black metal bands of any country right now. Of course, quality Australian black metal is not limited to just the last ten years. Spear of Longinus, Deströyer 666, Gospel of the Horns, Abyssic Hate, and Corpse Molestation, among others, showed Australia to have its own unique and significant black metal scene in the ‘90s. In the last ten years, though, a fucking horde of new bands have arisen to show just how deep Australian black metal runs. Forbidden Citadel of Spirits, Nocturnal Graves, Erebus Enthroned, Carved Cross, Consummation, and Drowning the Light (DTL began in 2003 but most of Azgorh’s output dates from 2007 onward) have all emerged in this time span and released records not only as good as the black metal produced in the Northern hemisphere, but often considerably better (many, though regrettably not all, of these bands appeared on my Australian black metal top 10 for the Nights of Death Metal in the Skull Cave radio show). Recently, Ignis Gehenna, Snorri, Broken Spirit, and an array of more underground bands, like Entsetzlich and Drohtnung, have continued to push forward Australian black metal.

 

Without attempting to establish some playbook that sets out what makes Australian black metal so good, let me say the following. In my eyes, Australian black metal is at its best when the bands in question exceed or even eschew the sounds of the Northern hemisphere, and it is weakest when the bands do little but follow their Northern counterparts. For me, at least, this distinction explains why I couldn’t give a shit about Pestilential Shadows or Nazxul, both of whom seem at best an attenuated derivation of a European black metal tradition, but am completely obsessed with Consummation, a band that has found a way to work within the traditions of black metal while carving out a niche of their own, creating a sound with no clear Northern comparisons. Even the most ‘traditional’ of the Australian black metal bands that I like – Erebus Enthroned – exceeds the European traditions on which their sound was based, for their blistering assault seethed with an energy unmatched among European bands in the same style (excepting, perhaps, Ascension).

 

Let me attempt to push this slightly further. At its best, Australian black metal evinces a distinctiveness that could only be a product of its geographic context. The best of Australian ‘90s black metal was defined by its rejection of the increasingly melodramatic sounds of European black metal. In bands like Deströyer 666, K. K. Warslut and his comrades raised a fucking gigantic middle finger to the pomposity of European black metal to create something punk-driven and primal; a rejection of a decadent old world by a fucking barbaric new one (it is perhaps ironic, here, to consider Warslut’s confused homages to European heritage). In bands like Drowning the Light, Broken Spirit, or Forbidden Citadel of Spirits, the unsettling and deranged black metal could only be conjured by minds driven mad by Australia’s isolation, and in the case of the two latter bands, the particular isolation of fucking Perth and Tasmania. When I interviewed him, Nihilifer spoke of the distinctive influence on Ignis Gehenna’s sound of undertaking ritual magick in the Tasmanian wilderness. Australian bands suffer when they attempt to forget this unique heritage or, to be less melodramatic, produce records I can’t be bothered listening to.

 

It is in this context that Kommodus has released their first demo, Will To Dominate All Life. Kommodus is the solo project of the otherwise unknown Lepidus Plague, who plays all instruments excepting drums and trumpet, both handled by session musicians. The demo was released on the band’s own imprint, Lupine Lineage Records. The band is an apparent exercise in catharsis centred on an engagement with the artist’s ‘ancestry and bloodline’, which is presumably Italian, given the focus on the Roman Empire, and the depiction in the band’s logo of Romulus and Remus feeding from the wolf that raised them. The tape includes a short screed about how our societies are ‘becoming homogenised, globalised parodies of their former selves’ and the band’s opposition to this. Not considered, apparently, is the relation of these ‘parodies’ to some guy living in Australia writing an album about his ‘bloodline’ and the Roman empire, while dressing up in corpse paint and a cap and cape and taking photos in a graveyard. Parodic, perhaps, but certainly not homogenous.

 

Will To Dominate All Life consists of seven tracks, including an intro and outro, and a cover of Burzum’s ‘War’. The tape comes in at a little over 26 minutes. This is no rushed demo casually put together, but a serious and considered effort, akin to some of the other demos I’ve looked at on this blog, like Fetid’s crushing Sentient Pile of Amorphous Rot (reviewed here), and Perverted Ceremony’s repulsive Demo I (reviewed here). The music shares little in common with these bands, though, aside from being fucking filthy. Kommodus plays a form of black metal that takes its influence most notably from early USBM like Judas Iscariot, and even at times the French madness of the Les Légions Noires bands, particularly Mütiilation. The original material on Will To Dominate All Life is at once gloriously melodic and uncomfortably raw.

 

‘Wolves of Rome’, ‘The Dreaming God’, ‘Schlact im Teutoburger Wald’, and ‘Spiritual Sickness and the Suffering Soul’ all feature vibrant, swirling, and trebly melodies, as Lepidus Plague utilises octave chords and single note tremming to create some epic, haunting soundscapes, a sound equal to the lyrical focus on the darker elements of the Roman empire. Emphasising the corrupted, dark quality of the music, the recording is fucking raw as hell. Drums pound in the distance, suppressed in the mix compared to the guitars. The bass is largely inaudible, while Lepidus Plague’s incredibly distorted howls occupy the most space in the mix, overpowering all else. The musicianship is passable – note, for example, the regular fret buzz on intro ‘Chant of thy Ancestors Lupine’ – but none of this is to the detriment of this record. Sketchy musicianship is par for the course in this style of black metal, and raising the vocals in the mix has only served to emphasise how fucking deranged they are. Indeed, were this better produced, the raw, cathartic hatred presented here would be reduced. The filthy presentation is the perfect complement to the melodic riffing, creating something mournful and fucking damaged.

 

‘Wolves of Rome’, ‘The Dreaming God’, and ‘Schlact im Teutoburger Wald’ also all feature stomping mid-tempo sections, with the drums shifting from blast beats to pummelling toms, with the trebly guitars moving into a lower register, as Lepidus Plague dredges up caustic power-chord driven grooves reminiscent of early Darkthrone. When used effectively, these crunching tempo changes only heighten the abrasive force of these songs, and indeed prevent the demo from becoming too melodic; a change of pace but not of feel. Lepidus Plague’s painful vocals are sustained across these sections, too, which helps to unite the two sides to the band’s sound.

 

This demo, though, is not perfect, and it is in these mid-tempo sections that the most notable problems arise. Though effective in closing ‘Wolves of Rome’ and ‘The Dreaming God’, when we reach the pounding mid-tempo towards the end of ‘Schlact im Teutoburger Wald’, these sections start to feel like a crutch, almost like a breakdown in hardcore; a way out of a difficult place in the creation of a song. Indeed, the mid-tempo section in ‘Schlact im Teutoburger Wald’ just sounds like a stomping hardcore riff, rather than a chunk of heaving black metal. This lack of focus also defines ‘Spiritual Sickness and the Suffering Soul’, which features another trebly melody, but this time the melody is almost too cute, and feels like something from an early ‘00s screamo band, like City of Caterpillar.

 

My point here isn’t to suggest that some kind of synthesis between hardcore and black metal is impossible. Certainly, some fuckwits hold this to be true, but a listen to Ildjarn’s flawless Forest Poetry should end any dispute on the matter. Some of the best Australian bands, like Carved Cross, have also shown this to be true, incorporating punk elements into their sound. Carved Cross themselves are about the release a split 7” with Malphas, the best current band playing a fusion of black metal, hardcore, and folk music (I reviewed Malphas side-project Fuath Vough’s baffling and terrifying Monolith to the Brollachan Priest here), an element Kommodus utilise in intro and outro tracks. The point is that these incorporations don’t fit with other parts of the demo. ‘Spiritual Sickness and the Suffering Soul’, and what is essentially a hardcore beatdown on ‘Schlact im Teutoburger Wald’, barely sound like the band that produced ‘Wolves of Rome’ and ‘The Dreaming God’. Sure, the deranged vocals that unite mid-tempo and blasting sections remain, but the riffs are so distinct that these vocals can’t hold the demo together.

 

These criticisms should not be considered damning, though, for they ultimately prove this demo to be just that; a demo. Will To Dominate All Life is the sound of a band finding its place and feeling its way into the world. It is unsurprising that inconsistencies appear (and it is surprising, in fact, that they don’t on Fetid’s Sentient Pile of Amorphous Rot or Perverted Ceremony’s Demo I, evincing the absurd quality of those demos). At its best, on the eerie folk-influenced intro ‘Chant of thy Ancestors Lupine’ and outro ‘In the Banquet Hall of the Mighty Wulfinaz King’, and on tracks-proper ‘Wolves of Rome’ and ‘The Dreaming God’, this is a fucking deranged, mysterious, and powerful release. Even with its imperfections, Will To Dominate All Life remains an important contribution to Australian black metal in 2017. With greater focus, though, Kommodus could go further, entrenching itself within the aforementioned collection of Australian black metal bands that have pushed the Australian scene to such putrid heights.

Interview: Coffin Lust

I’ve made no secret on this blog about my support for the work of Jarro Raphael, the main man behind both Nocturnal Graves and Coffin Lust. I’ve reviewed Coffin Lust’s sickening Beyond the Dark demo, Nocturnal Graves’s recent Lead Us to the Endless Fire/Sharpen the Knives cassette, and included the first track of that cassette on my Australian black metal top 10 for the Nights of Death Metal in the Skull Cave radio show and podcast. Jarro has committed decades to Australian extreme music, and across these bands has curated some of the most distinctive and fucking ripping Australian black and death metal. Though Nocturnal Graves have gotten more attention, likely in part due to their longer existence, Coffin Lust are deserving of at least equal respect; a Sabbathian tribute to all that was most malevolent in early ‘90s death metal. Both bands will likely have albums out next year – the new Nocturnal Graves, out through Season of Mist, was just mastered – and all signs point to these being two of the most sinister and memorable albums in Australian extreme metal history. Get behind this or honestly fuck off and die.

 coffin lust picc

<$6.66: Hails, mate, could you start by introducing yourself, and what you do in Coffin Lust?

Coffin Lust: Hey, my name is Jarro and I play drums, guitar, bass and handle all of the decomposition for Coffin Lust.

<$6.66: Coffin Lust has been a band since 2010. Your first release, the Beyond the Dark demo, came out in 2012, and it was another four years before we saw Manifestation of Inner Darkness in 2016. Both members are in other bands currently, and have a long history of involvement in the Australian metal scene. Can you give us a brief history of Coffin Lust, and how the project came about?

Coffin Lust: Coffin Lust is now just myself, but it was formed in 2010 when I was living close to where PW was living at the time. I had written some ideas and I asked PW if he was keen to get involved, which he was. We spent a few nights writing those songs and the result was the demo you mentioned.

<$6.66: Sticking with those origins, what did you guys initially set out to do with Coffin Lust? You’ve both dabbled in death metal previously – you’re obviously in Impious Baptism, too – but have spent more time playing music more easily described as black metal. Coffin Lust, to me, is clearly a death metal band, with a lot of classic influences. Was that what the project set out to do?

Coffin Lust: The idea simply came out of my desire to play some straight forward, old school Death Metal rooted in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s feeling. There wasn’t much of a plan beyond recording some tracks and seeing how it went…

<$6.66: Coffin Lust, for both of you, sits within a wider opus of musical output. How do you see it fitting alongside your other work? Is there ever a sense of overlap between projects (for what it’s worth, I don’t hear an overlap between this and Nocturnal Graves, or Azazel’s Harem, or whatever), or do they all have a defined place within a broader structure?

Coffin Lust: I can’t speak about Azazel’s Harem as I never wrote anything nor was I a member of that band. I only did session drums for one gig (<$6.66 note: PW, who I assumed was still in Coffin Lust at the time of sending Jarro these questions, was in Azazel’s Harem). However, since I have written the majority of music in Coffin Lust, as well as the majority of Nocturnal Graves material to date, I know pretty well what sort of riffs are going to fit in either band. That’s why there is very little “overlap” as you put it between the bands. I think both bands have a distinctly different sound and the approach to song writing is also vastly different.

<$6.66: The demo came out through Sarlacc Productions, in Ireland, and Manifestation of Inner Darkness is out through Hells Headbangers. You’ve both been in bands that have put out records through Hells Headbangers in the past – Denouncement Pyre’s Black Sun Unbound, and Nocturnal Graves’s …From the Bloodline of Cain were both put out by the label – and Nocturnal Graves is now on fucking Season of Mist. You also run Under the Sign Records, which you’ve released some of your own stuff on. How did you end up working with Sarlacc and HH? Had you considered self-releasing the demo, at least, through Under the Sign?

Coffin Lust: The day I uploaded Coffin Lust tracks to YouTube, Fart from Sarlaac Productions got in touch and asked if he could release the demo. I think he must have found the links on the NWN foru I sent the demo also to Hells Headbangers and they asked if I was interested in signing with them for an album. I didn’t release it myself because Under the Sign wasn’t existing back then, and I had zero interest in sending out orders as I was really busy with other stuff at the time.

<$6.66: Coffin Lust have been a part of the Australian death metal scene for half a decade, but you’ve been involved in Australian metal for two decades. What do you think of the Australian scene, and how does it compare to that in some of the other countries you’ve been to with Nocturnal Graves and other bands?

Coffin Lust: I think the Australian scene is average. There are few bands here currently that I really get a kick out of. Local metal gigs are usually average and most newcomers to the scene have a completely different attitude to how it was when I first started attending shows. The hunger for wildness is gone and that’s a bit of a shame. But whatever, I don’t go to many shows anymore so I’m not missing out on anything I haven’t seen before.

<$6.66: Turning to Coffin Lust’s music, I’m interested in the fact that both records have the word ‘dark’ or a variation of it in the title. This seems appropriate, as Coffin Lust’s music is unrelentingly evil. The riffs are fucking catchy, but both records are overladen with this fucking grim atmosphere. How important is generating that sort of atmosphere for you? Are you conscious about ensuring your songs have that feel, or is it just how you write riffs at this point?

Coffin Lust: It’s really important I would say… I have never attempted to write music that has a “happy” sound, even though I do listen to a lot of stuff one would say sounds “happy” (jazz, for example). So I would not say it’s a conscious effort as such, what comes out is what comes out, which may say more about me as a person overall.

<$6.66: In saying that this is dark death metal, Coffin Lust isn’t the only band playing this sort of music. We’re in the middle of something of a death metal resurgence, and in particular, a resurgence of that evil sound perfected by some of the early West Coast US bands like Incantation and Immolation, and European bands like Demilich and Grave. In Australia, bands like Sewercide and Ignivomous have also been creating some evil and brutal sounds recently, as are overseas bands like Necrot and Undergang. It seems there was a long period when death metal was dominated by bands just trying to be as brutal as possible, but we’re seeing a return to that sinister atmosphere. What do you make of this resurgence, and Coffin Lust’s place in it?

Coffin Lust: I never gave it any thought, and I never write music with the “scene” in mind. I just write what I write with very little to no consideration to how it’ll be received or where it will sit alongside other bands. I think it’s a mistake to write music while thinking about those sorts of things.

<$6.66: Listening to both Coffin Lust records back-to-back, you can tell it’s the same band, as that fucking malevolent atmosphere is there, but there’s a noticeable change in the riff writing. Beyond the Dark was a sludgy record that revelled in groovy mid-tempo riffing, and even had some full-on doom sections. It reminded me a lot of bands like Grave and Nihilist. There’s some similarly slow bits on Manifestation of Inner Darkness, and some groovier sections, particularly on ‘Chaos Absolute’, but a lot of the record is faster. There’s a lot more blast-beats, and a lot more tremming. It sounds closer to something like Demigod or Incantation, but even then, I can’t quite capture it. Some of the riffs have the kind of blistering grimness of black metal, but this doesn’t seem to have brought any compromise in heaviness; it’s at least as heavy as the demo and the tempo increase makes it even more intense. What drove those changes in song writing? Does Coffin Lust have any specific influences, and if not specific, what death and black metal do you listen to?

Coffin Lust: The only difference in consideration when writing the demo and the album was 4 tracks vs 8 tracks, with the latter lending itself to more expression and my desire for the album to have a certain flow. 8 tracks of death metal which all sound very similar to one another is boring to me, so I wanted the tracks to have their own identity and to delve a bit deeper than what I wrote on the demo. I listen to lots of music but I never think of specific bands when I’m writing. At most, I might lift some bridge idea from somewhere else, but that’s rarely from another metal band (usually some jazz fusion or progressive rock band). As for what black and death metal I do listen to, lots of stuff. But let’s say Morbid Angel – Abominations of Desolation, Treblinka demos and 7”, Morbid – December Moon, Immolation – Dawn of Possession, Mayhem – Dei Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Root – Zjeveni and Hell Symphony, Master’s Hammer demo, 1st 7”, and Ritual, Samael – Worship Him, etc., all hold a special place for me (among many others of course).

<$6.66: It’s a minor part of Manifestation, but first track, ‘Execration of Mortality’ opens with noise, and ‘Damnation’s Bringer’ opens with a sample and closes with a section of noise. You have a dark ambient/power electronics project, RuiNation. Do you see a role in Coffin Lust for the sort of music you create in RuiNation?

Coffin Lust: No, I wouldn’t say so (at this stage at least). But for intro/outro purposes, then yes. I think dark ambient/noise/horror soundtrack type stuff works well for building the atmosphere but for Coffin Lust, old school Death Metal is the intention and so far I’m happy using drums, guitar, bass, vocals and the occasional keyboard line to make that happen. But I won’t limit myself by saying there will never be any use for ambient/noise/PE aspects within a Coffin Lust song. If needed, I’ll use it.

<$6.66: The lyrics on both records are thoroughly blasphemous, with a strong focus on the glorification of Lucifer and death. There’s even some lyrics referencing H. P. Lovecraft’s work on Manifestation. More specifically, a lot of these lyrics deal with killing gods, and there’s also this focus on this kind of Luciferian liberation of the self. Can you explain that a bit more, and maybe give us some sense on the religious views, or anti-religious views, underlying Coffin Lust?  

Coffin Lust: I try to live my life in a philosophical way. I read a lot and I observe a lot about society and how we as people can choose to navigate our way through its many passageways, through its trials and tribulations and so on… therefore some of those subjects do pop up in the lyrics of Coffin Lust. However, as these Luciferian aspects are a driving force behind the Nocturnal Graves lyrical themes, the new Coffin Lust material will be a departure from this, and it’s something I’m conscious of avoiding here. I’ve been gathering ideas and themes to base lyrics for the new album around and while I don’t wish to elaborate much here I can say that they will be different from the first album.

<$6.66: As a related question, what are your lyrical influences, and how do you see the relationship between these twisted lyrics and the songs you guys write? More broadly, do you think it’s important for death metal to have this grounding in evil themes?

Coffin Lust: I think death metal should be about dark, obscure, horrific themes. I’m not interested in hippy-tinged PC lyrics at all.

<$6.66: Coffin Lust is thus far a studio only band. What are the chances of the band playing live?

Coffin Lust: I wouldn’t rule it out completely but at this stage I have no plans. Things are too busy with Nocturnal Graves to facilitate getting a line-up, rehearsing, and planning all that it takes to start gigging.

<$6.66: Finally, what’s next for Coffin Lust? It was four years between the first and second records, can we expect a shorter turn-around time for the third record, if there is one in the works?

Coffin Lust: Yes, because the next album will be out in 2018. I’m going to start recording in December of this year and will finish up in January of next… I’d estimate mid-late 2018 for it’s release.

<$6.66: Any final words?

Coffin Lust: Thanks a lot for the interview and look out for a new album next year.

Interview: Consummation

Deathspell Omega have been my favourite band, pretty much without contest, since I first started listening to them in 2009. I remember reading a glowing review of Kenose back in 2006 or so, in fucking Decibel of all places, but it took me a couple of years to finally sample the waters myself, when I picked up a copy of Fas – Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeturnum (a CD sadly lost when my friend’s car was stolen while he was borrowing the CD). I’m glad I waited a couple of years after first reading about Deathspell to listen to the band, as I was fucking idiot in 2006, but even with this wait, nothing could prepare me for the experience of Fas. I have never been floored by an album in the same way; nothing can express the intertwined feelings of jubilation and horror that wiped me away over the course of the album. These feelings have only grown as I’ve continued to listen to both Fas and the rest of Deathspell’s canon, as I gradually uncovered the nuances and intricacies of their records. Deathspell are also the only band for whom I hold an intense obsession with record-collecting. I own both box sets, independent LPs of all records done since the departure of Shaxul and entry of Mikko Aspa, and End all Life Productions reissues of all the Shaxul-era material on CD. I’ve got a bunch of shirts and a fucking sick Inquisitors of Satan poster with a dead baby on it, too.

 

It was in the process of looking for some of these items that I first came across Consummation. Back in 2012 and 2013, I would just trawl eBay and other sites searching for anything related to Deathspell. By whatever luck, it was through this process that I encountered a copy of Consummation’s self-titled cassette (reviewed here), released in 2012 by Abysmal Sounds, as it was advertised for fans of Deathspell Omega. I picked up a copy immediately, along with Blaze of Perdition’s fucking blistering The Hierophant (rest in Chaos, 23), for $6 each. From the day it turned up in my mailbox I listened to Consummation’s demo almost daily. The cassette is now completely fucked, emitting only static and segments of riffs. I listen to most of my music on cassette, and it is still the only cassette I’ve ever completely destroyed, and its destruction was totally worthwhile.

 

When starting this blog, I wanted to celebrate the fact that for tiny sums of money – $6.66 or less – you could buy a record that could change your life. That is, that for the price of a fucking beer or a couple cups of coffee, you could buy a CD, or a tape, or a 7” that could change the way you experience the world, change fucking everything. Consummation’s demo was one such record, as was Erebus Enthroned’s Night’s Black Angel (reviewed here), which was also released by Abysmal Sounds. These records mean everything to me, and it still blows my fucking tiny brain that I paid a few dollars for them. It was through reflecting on records like these that I decided to start this blog, to venerate these totems of underground maniacism and the labels that support them.

IMG_3867

Though Consummation played live in the wake of the self-titled demo, they eventually went silent, and I assumed we would never see them again. I couldn’t fucking believe it, then, when Invictus Productions announced they would release a new Consummation EP this year. Parasitic Records handled the cassette, and I got my copy a couple of weeks ago. Ritual Severance is nothing short of a flawless record. It is a piece of black metal that shows complete dedication to the tradition alongside a fevered passion to innovate within these parameters. Certainly, bands like Deathspell Omega are a notable comparison, but Ritual Severance exceeds such description, for through the lengthy two tracks, it shows a devoted and demented will to create something that, though still black metal, is utterly its own creature. To offer simplistic comparisons is just to reduce the chaotic labyrinthine ferocity embodied in these tracks. Ritual Severance stands alone, a record that not only should be approached on its own terms, but one that demands to be; my favourite (if equal favourite) release of 2017, by my favourite Australian black metal band.

 consummation

<$6.66: Hails! Could you start by introducing yourself?

Consummation: As it stands, Consummation is:

Craig Young – Guitars and Vocals

Joel Rademaker – Guitars and Bass

David Haley – Drums

 

<$6.66: Consummation’s self-titled demo has been one of my favourite releases since I picked it up in 2013. I remember coming across it by accident – I think I was looking for old Deathspell Omega vinyl on eBay – and I played my copy of the cassette to death. There was no information around about you guys back then. The basic history I can piece together is that you played live sporadically from 2013 to 2015, but went silent after that. You reappeared in January this year with the announcement that you’d be releasing your first new material in 5 years, the Ritual Severance EP, under the banner of Invictus Productions. Ritual Severance was released in March this year. Can you give us a richer sense of that history of the band? Were you writing through 2012-17, or was the project on hiatus at any point?

Consummation: I began writing material for Consummation back in 2009 and have never stopped, although admittedly it has been a rather sporadic process. Not long before the recording of the demo in 2012 I recruited the undeniable talent of JR. Rather than painting over the top of what was already there, he was capable of listening deeper and finding the ‘slough of despond’ so to speak. We recruited a few talented musicians and played a few shows but after all the trials and tribulations that came along with that we decided to scale back the line-up and focus on recording. After a brief conversation in 2015, Dave joined the two of us and soon enough Ritual Severance was recorded. The rest of the current year will be spent completing our debut full length.

 

<$6.66: Ritual Severance dropped through Invictus (Parasitic Records handled the cassette), but the demo came out through tiny Australian tape-exclusive stalwarts Abysmal Sounds. Invictus is a relatively big label. How did you guys end up first working with Abysmal Sounds, and then with Invictus after that? Does it help having a label supporting you that’s based in Europe?

Consummation: There isn’t a great deal to tell really. The owner of Abysmal Sounds was a friend of mine. He liked the demo material and agreed to release it. A year or two after that I got an email from Darragh of Invictus Productions enquiring about the status of the band. After a brief back and forth we agreed to work together on the next release. With the reach and influence the internet can provide someone I’d say the geography of a label is less important than their reputation. Invictus have a long history of quality so it was a no brainer for me. Especially seeing as we are an unknown band.

 

<$6.66: Consummation, for me at least, sits on the border between black and death metal, and offers a particularly impenetrable brand of this blend. This has been something of a tradition in Australian extreme music: Portal and Impetuous Ritual went a long way to establishing this sound, and newer bands like Pandemic Holocaust are continuing it. Consummation are more black metal than those bands, but the comparison seems apt. It’s boring to harp on about which bands share members, but it seems relevant to note that you guys apparently share members with Impetuous Ritual. How do you see Consummation’s place within the Australian extreme metal scene? More than that, to what extent is Consummation a product of a particular Brisbane scene and sound?

Consummation: There are no Impetuous Ritual members in the band. I was involved in Impetuous Ritual for a few years, but I left some time ago to focus on Consummation. It’s probably my own bias talking but I don’t really see Consummation as a result of being a part of a scene in Brisbane. There are a small handful of great bands here but outside of that there isn’t much going on that interests me musically.

 

<$6.66: This question is related. Throughout the ’90s, black and death metal largely existed as distinct scenes. There were obviously bands that eschewed this distinction: Blasphemy and the bands that followed in their footsteps, like Conqueror and Black Witchery (or Irreverent, then Witchery, then Black Witchery). We’ve really seen this intersection coming to the fore in recent years, though. Nyogthaeblisz and Tetragrammacide are both on Iron Bonehead Productions now, Portal and Impetuous Ritual are both on Profound Lore. As well as Ritual Severance, Invictus Productions released Qrixkuor’s fucking mental Three Devils Dance this year. Blasphemy and their offspring and the Iron Bonehead bands are more ‘primitive’ than the Brisbane bands and Qrixkuor, but all these bands are producing some form of demented black/death metal. What do you make of this wider international movement, or do you even see such a movement existing, and how do you see your relationship to it? For what it’s worth, Consummation has always stuck out for me, because so few bands use mid-tempo sections so effectively, or even as often, to create such tension.

Consummation: The way I see it, for a genre to stay relevant, bands need to evolve the sound without abandoning the foundation given to them by their predecessors. It’s simply evolution. Three Devils Dance is a perfect example of this. There’s a reason everyone shit their pants when that came out and that’s because, in my mind, Qrixkuor successfully created something new without betraying the past. I would argue that if you are a new band and you aren’t trying to achieve this than you are doing an injustice to the genre. It’s my hope to achieve this very thing with Consummation.

 

<$6.66: One thing I loved about the demo was how fucking insanely chaotic it was, particularly on opening track ‘Heautontimoroumenos’, with its twitching shifts in tempo. The production is sufficiently murky on the demo that the guitars, bass, drums, and vocals almost blend into one another at times, which, given how dissonant the riffs are, and the use of massive fucking tom-rolls, induces this pulsating, almost nauseating feeling. Ritual Severance retains a lot of that heaving dissonance. The production offers more clarity, though, and the song-writing is more diverse, and more dynamic. I don’t want to say it’s more controlled, as it’s still a violent and abrasive experience, but there are passages, for example, of classic black metal riffs in the midst of the cacophony. What drove these changes in Consummation’s sound, and were they intentional?  How was writing for the demo and EP different?

Consummation: I wouldn’t say there was anything driving the change in sound other than experience. The tracks on the demo were the first I completed for this project so they have a more primitive feel. Ritual Severance is more nuanced because by this stage I had more experience with song writing. Each time we put something out it will (hopefully) be distinctly different to the other releases. It defeats the purpose of a creative endeavour to continually repeat yourself. In my mind at least.

 

<$6.66: I guess this is a related question. What were you guys listening to around the time of the demo? What do you listen to now, and see as the particular influences on Consummation’s sound?

Consummation: When I’m writing new material I generally don’t listen to anything at all. I like to keep outside influence to a minimum. Naturally things that have influenced me over the years are always going to be present when writing songs but there is never a deliberate attempt to adopt characteristics of other bands/artists. I could sit here all day rattling off things that have influenced me over the years but a few key names would be Burzum, Metallica, Mercyful Fate, Deathspell Omega, Dead Can Dance, Weakling, and Dissection.

 

<$6.66: One of the other changes we see in Ritual Severance is the use of electronic samples. In ‘The Weightless Grip of Fire’, a brooding synth-line emerges slowly out of the song’s final riff before descending into a sample of rain. ‘Blighted Ovum’ closes with sparse and uncomfortable ambience. What led to this inclusion, and is this something you want to explore more?

Consummation: We will definitely be exploring this more on the full length. I feel like we only began to scratch the surface with these new elements in Ritual Severance.

 

<$6.66: Given that both tracks close with electronic sections, is there a broader structure that defines Ritual Severance?

Consummation: Yes. Like the demo, Ritual Severance is a two-part concept. ‘The Weightless Grip of Fire’ looks into man’s innate desire to achieve ascension through violence, destined to repeat as it has throughout history. This is the Ritual Severance.  ‘Blighted Ovum’ is a metaphor for one of the infinite possibilities that could come as a result of this. The lyrics were printed in both the CD and tape releases, I encourage people to read them and apply their own imaginations.

IMG_3869

<$6.66: I’ve been holding out for my copy of the Ritual Severance cassette, but from what I understand, it doesn’t include lyrics (<$6.66 note: the cassette fucking does, so I’m an idiot), and there are no lyrics included in the demo. The song titles are largely ambiguous. ‘Rend the Ain Soph’ holds some blasphemous overtones, and Heauton Timorumenos is a Roman play based around a series of familial deceptions regarding marriage, but that’s the most I can make out. Can you shed some light on what the lyrics deal with? How do you see the relationship between the lyrics and the songs?

Consummation: Heautontimoroumenos was taken from Charles Baudelaire’s poem ‘L’Héautontimorouménos’ with the sub title ‘The Self Loather’. It deals with human limitation and the resentment that comes along with that. ‘Rend the Ain Soph’ is about the desire of that resentment. To end all creation. There was a plan for a vinyl release which would have included the lyrics for these songs but that’s still in the pipeline. Cynotis Productions did a limited CD pressing that included the lyrics.

 

<$6.66: Beyond that, does Consummation have any particular, I guess, ideological underpinning? Is the band an attempt to confront a particular subject or aspect of existence, or to generate a particular emotional response?

Consummation: Transcending the base level of our nature. Cross-culturally and throughout time humankind has grappled with this idea but the modern man (especially in the west as far as I can tell) seems to have abandoned this altogether. I draw a lot of inspiration from mythological concepts.

 

<$6.66: Perhaps similarly to the song titles, Consummation’s artwork is minimalist and ambiguous. The demo was in this fucking gross red and features a sort of winged-snake sigil, and the artwork for Ritual Severance centres on a bloody hand holding a blade. Can you explain the significance of these images, and the role that artwork plays for Consummation? How does it sit alongside the lyrics and sounds?

Consummation: There are two images in the booklet for Ritual Severance and they both relate directly to the lyrics. Their significance should become very obvious after reading the lyrics.

IMG_3868

<$6.66: As I understand it, you guys are currently preparing a full-length, and will be returning to play live later this year. To wrap up can you talk about the plans for the band? Of the Brisbane bands, Impetuous Ritual and Portal are both notorious for how fucking terrifying their live presence is. What can we expect from Consummation’s return as a live band?

Consummation: Over the coming months we will be focusing solely on completing the album. When we eventually return to the stage it is our hope to deliver a performance with a level of honesty that does the music justice.

 

<$6.66: Last words?

Consummation: -Craig Young

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ensepulcher – No Sanctity in Death

FullSizeRender (12)

Ensepulcher – No Sanctity in Death (Transylvanian Tapes, Blood Harvest)

Format: cassete

Purchase: Transylvanian Tapes (now sold out, but it has been reissued by Blood Harvest)

Price: $6.66US

Listen here

 

Look at that fucking cassette cover. A rough black and white drawing of a graveyard featuring the exhumed bodies of the dead or partially dead. Above the graveyard hangs the moon, and what appear to be tendrils descending from the sky.

Look at that creepy as fuck cobwebbed logo.

Suss the fucking track names: ‘Intro/No Sanctity in Death’, ‘Perishing in Morbidity’, ‘Death and Decay’, ‘Funeral Cessation’.

Check the fuckin picture of the band on the inside of the cassette. Yeah, it’s two guys in black in a fucking graveyard.

FullSizeRender (13)

You cunts already no what No Sanctity in Death sounds like. This demo is straight the point old school fucking death metal played by a couple of guys with total fucking commitment. There’s a reason Ensepulcher’s aesthetics are so fucking on point: these cunts are total devotees of old school death metal, and have done their fucking homework to make No Sanctity in Death an absolutely storming piece of ‘90s death metal revival. I follow the guitarist on Instagram and he once posted one of those ‘the floor is…’ memes, in which ‘the floor’ is something you love, and his just read ‘the floor is OSDM’, and featured a picture of a man lying face first on the ground. The fucker was not lying.

 

Most of the bands I listen that form part of the current OSDM revival are firmly rooted in the US old school. Bands like Fetid and Undergang clearly take influence from Autopsy, Blood Incantation from Morbid Angel and Immolation, with the latter band also influencing Necrot’s sickening OSDM sound, while Morbid Angel provide a starting point for Rude. This is excessively narrow – Necrot are clearly big Bolt Thrower fans, and Rude froth for Pestilence, for example – but few of these bands look to Sweden as an influence. The main exceptions I can think of here are Witch Vomit, who clearly follow in the footsteps of Dismember and early Entombed, Coffin Lust, who at least on their Beyond the Dark demo display total devotion to Grave and Nihilist, and the crushing Church of Disgust, also notable Grave fans.

 

I could speculate at reasons for the relative unpopularity of the Swedish style among the current horde of ripping bands taking influence from old school death metal. Swedish death metal was somewhat tainted by association when metalcore bands started ripping off the best riffs and attaching them to breakdowns. The bands responsible for founding the subgenre also largely auto-cannibalised, as they either got worse (At the Gates) or moved out of the style (Entombed), giving the sense that the subgenre had perhaps run its course. An analogue in auto-cannibalism might be Norwegian black metal, a style that had definitely run its fucking course by the mid noughties, as foundational bands had either moved on from black metal (Darkthrone) or were producing total fucking trash (the corrupted incarnation of Gorgoroth, God Seed). The Norwegian scene has only seen a revival recently under the banner of Terratur Possessions through the pursuit of new pathways into sonic madness, pioneered by the Nidrosian scene.

 

Ensepulcher, though, take their cues from early Swedish death metal, and do so with a vitality that shows that, whatever the status of Swedish death metal more broadly, it has an afterlife on No Sanctity in Death (and, indeed, in bands like Church of Disgust, Witch Vomit, and Coffin Lust). Indeed, we might take the partially animated corpses of the demo’s cover for Swedish death metal itself; here disinterred, partly decayed, and put to new murderous uses. Or fuck the metaphor: this is early Swedish death metal taken back to its absolute fucking basics. Four tracks in seven minutes of some of the most raw and punk influenced OSDM you’re likely to hear. This shit is primitive, ugly, and fucking rabid.

 

Ensepulcher is currently made up of three members, but No Sanctity in Death featured only two of them: guitarist and vocalist Adam Camara, who also handled bass on the demo; and drummer Johnny Valles. They’ve since added a bassist to the lineup. Adam and Johnny both play together in grindcore psychos Fiend, which they make up the only members of, are both in OSDM d-beat warriors Battleshök, and used to play together in symphonic black metal band Veil of Nithael, when they were like 17 or something, I’m guessing. Johnny also plays in death-trash maniacs Goreshack, notable for their lyrical focus on surfing, brutal goregrind creeps Proctologist, and imminently cashed-up recent Sony-subsidiary Century Media Records signing Skeletal Remains. I fucking love Skeletal Remains and think they’re one of the best bands playing old school death metal in the style of sick fucking bands like Solstice. It is funny, though, to see the corporate cunts at Century Media finally making a play for the old school death metal revival market this many years into the revival; a desperate fucking attempt at relevance from the label that releases Iced Earth and Lacuna Coil albums (among, you know, an entire catalogue of complete shit). No Sanctity in Death was released by old school death metal diehards Transylvanian Tapes, and has just been reissued by the mighty Blood Harvest.

 

Johnny and Adam’s shared bands, Fiend and Battleshök, should give you a decent starting point for what you’ll find on No Sanctity in Death. Both those bands fuck exclusively with primitive brutality delivered with crushing brevity. In terms of actual sound, Ensepulcher is closer to Battleshök, given the dedication to d-beats, a staple of Swedish death metal, found across these seven minutes. More broadly, the starting point for Ensepulcher is shit like early Grave, Unleashed, and Nihilist. ‘Perishing in Morbidity’ features some sick tremming over blast beats interspersed with d-beats, a staple of Unleashed’s fucking classic Where No Life Dwells and Grave’s ever-essential Into the Grave. It’s the punk imbued rawness of the latter band that really comes through on No Sanctity in Death, though. The stomping mid-tempo of closer ‘Funeral Cessation’, sludgy ‘Death and Decay’, and squealing atonal leadwork on ‘Intro/No Sanctity in Death’ is particularly reminiscent of Nihilist’s Only Shreds Remain demo, or even Merciless’s fucking sick Behind the Black Door demo. The similarities go beyond just the song-writing itself, extending to how fucking raw and brutal these three demos are.

 

I’ve previously claimed that Coffin Lust’s Beyond the Dark showed a clear Nihilist influence, particularly from the Drowned demo. Where Coffin Lust take this influence to conjure a haunting and evil atmosphere, Ensepulcher use it to revel in primitive filth; less invested with occult energy than simply obsessed with the putridity of an open grave. No Sanctity in Death is thus closer to Fetid’s totally fucking wrong Sentient Pile of Amorphous Rot demo, also released this year (reviewed here). Both records conjure images of rot, disgust, and decaying and possibly semi-conscious flesh and, indeed, take delight in such imagery. A comparison could also be made to another demo I’ve reviewed: Perverted Ceremony’s Demo I (reviewed here). Though Ensepulcher don’t obsess over Satanic orgies or follow in the footsteps of Demoncy, Von, and Beherit, as Perverted Ceremony do, No Sanctity in Death is equally fucking primitive, equally an example of death metal stripped back to its absolute basics, all flair eschewed for an unwavering focus on creating the most rotten extremity possible.

 

The production on No Sanctity in Death is also quite similar to Demo I, too. Perverted Ceremony’s first record featured an overwhelming bass tone, so thick as to almost swallow the guitar entirely, which was rarely audible save for brief shrieking chromatic leads. No Sanctity in Death is not far from this sound, with the gigantic low-end dominating the guitar in the mix, save for leads and occasional trem-lines. The guitar tone itself is bass-heavy, so it often simply blends in with the bass. The effect is to emphasise how fucking raw and heavy this demo is. As primitive as the song writing is, it is matched by the stripped back and crushing as fuck tone; no subtleties preserved before the need to sound as heavy as fucking possible. Though it might’ve added more to the record to have a more distinct and audible guitar tone, the brutish and fully audible low end is easy compensation. In other words, if I had to pick between being able to hear the guitar on No Sanctity in Death more distinctly, or having my head caved in by heaving riffage, I would take the latter. The drumming is high in the mix, which is great, because Johnny is fucking on point and fucking hammers his kit.

 

Whether a less popular source of influence in the current OSDM revival or not, Swedish death metal has a fucking raging afterlife in Ensepulcher. Just like their contemporaries in Coffin Lust, who keep Swedish death metal vital through using it as a source for their totally malevolent atmosphere, or Witch Vomit, for whom Swedish death metal provides a source for some fucking mental riffing, or Church of Disgust, who use this influence to create some absolutely crushing death metal, Ensepulcher have also managed to breathe new life into the sound, in their case by stripping it back to its most primitive roots. No Sanctity in Death is a devoted piece of seething, festering OSDM played with captivating energy, and with an attitude that constitutes one massive raised middle finger to all that bullshit corporate computer driven tech-death that has arisen since the early ‘90s, which for all its technical advances on the knuckle-dragging primitivity displayed here, has fucking nothing on this demo. Fuck Decrepit Birth, and play this loud til your fucking skull collapses.

 

 

 

 

 

Putrid Ascension Tape Distro

FullSizeRender (10)

As some of you have likely noticed, this blog is now home also to a distro page of tapes I’m selling. I fell into doing this by accident after realising that you pay the same amount of money for shipping one tape from the US as you do for five. I figured I may as well just grab the five and sell four to friends or other people and keep the fifth for myself. Doing a small-scale distro offered, in other words, an opportunity to provide some more support for bands and labels that I fucking love. I still sell mostly to friends, but as I advertise all my tapes on the blog’s Instagram (@under666blog), I’ve ended up selling tapes to a whole bunch of fucking maniacs around Australia; yet another confirmation since doing this blog of the fucking dedication of cunts around this country to disgusting and evil underground extreme music.

 

I started writing this post a few weeks ago when I had a lot of tapes still in stock, but I’ve got a fair bit less now, so I’ve decided to spend some time here writing about the remaining tapes. This blog is the official Australian distributor of Headsplit Records releases, so Headsplit releases feature heavily in my stock, and I’ve also got a bunch of shit from the mighty Dark Descent Records and ever-elite Invictus Productions. I recognise writing about what tapes I’m selling has the stench of self-promotion about it; of turning the blog into a request for money from readers. Let me attempt to defend myself on three grounds. First, yeah, it’d be sick if you guys reading this grabbed some tapes, and it’d be stupid to shy away from that. I pay up front for all the tapes I sell and the price I sell these tapes at is just the cost of buying them wholesale plus the cost of shipping them to Australia; I’m not making any money on this shit. So, whenever people purchase tapes it enables me to recoup some of the costs, and means there’s a little more money in the blog’s Paypal account to grab more tapes to distribute.

 

Second, this blog started as an attempt to reflect on my own listening and purchasing habits, detailing what I was into and why. All the tapes I sell through the distro are tapes that I’ve purchased myself. So writing about these tapes and why they’re so fucking sick is consistent with the broader purpose of this blog. Third, I mostly distro tapes in Australia. Most people who read this blog aren’t from Australia; most of the (few) readers are European. So, for most readers, that this is a post about tapes I sell is irrelevant, for they’re outside the scope of distribution. It’s just a post about some demented fucking metal that I have complete support for. If you’re from Australia and want some of these tapes, sick, get in touch (either via the contact form on the blog; email me at under666blog[at]gmail.com; or get at me on Instagram). If you’re in the southern hemisphere and it’s cheaper getting tapes from me than from sellers in the northern hemisphere, hit me up, too. If you’re not from down here, though, check this shit out anyway, and maybe pick some of it up from the label itself or another distro. Support underground fucking metal.

 

Witch Vomit – Poisoned Blood cassette (Headsplit Records) – $8AU

Listen here

Five years into a career dedicated to total fucking death metal brutality, Witch Vomit have hit their stride here. I like the earlier releases, particularly A Scream from the Tomb Below, but Poisoned Blood is on another fucking level. The uniting theme of Witch Vomit’s career is a dedication to storming fucking old school death metal that unites a distinctly melodic sensibility with a raw as fuck guitar tone and some raging intensity. For me, the big difference between Poisoned Blood and A Scream from the Tomb Below is that the song writing here is fucking amazing; these songs are dynamic, rich and intricately thought out. Though A Scream featured some totally mental riffs, Poisoned Blood feels a more cohesive offering.

 

Witch Vomit are firmly within the current old school death metal revival, with a sound that shows clear influences from European bands like Nihilist or early Entombed. If you’re into old school death metal, this is easily one of the best releases of 2017 that exemplifies the revival of the style. Beyond that, though, Poisoned Blood is just a fucking ripping record. Some of the riffs here, particularly on ‘Doomed in the Realm of the Dead’, are just straight up no fucking around insanity. Tony is a fucking genius guitarist and his weird use of bends in the middle of riffs adds an almost disorienting feel to the brutality on offer. I’m colour blind, but I think my copy of the tape is on red or pink, too, and it looks offensive as fuck.

 

Diocletian – Gesundrian cassette (Dark Descent Records) – $8AU

Listen here

I’ve been a Diocletian fan for about ten years, so it’s a real fucking honour to get to flip some tapes for these New Zealand war-worshippers. Most of you have probably heard or at least heard of Diocletian, but here’s the basic run down: Diocletian formed in 2004, broke up in 2015, then returned with a slightly different line-up last year. In the past 13 years, the band has featured members of basically all the best New Zealand bands to have existed; Ulcerate, Vassafor, Sinistrous Diabolus, Heresiarch; Witchrist; Solar Mass. With that kind of personnel, you know Diocletian aren’t here to fuck spiders.

 

Gesundrian was released in 2014, and remains Diocletian’s most recent release. The album is characterised by some of the most punishing fucking war metal riffing imaginable. It’s all brilliantly put together – the album ebbs and flows, from ripping shorter tracks to heaving 5-6 minute pieces – but the main thing I always come away with from listening to Gesundrian is how fucking crushing the riffs are. The drumming is also flat out fucking pummelling; even when the riffs slow to a grinding dirge, the kit-work remains fucking maniacal. Roaring vocals top this off to make Gesundrian an absolutely intimidating beast. This album also features the best production of Diocletian’s career; an important attribute given that it enables the full heft of the riffs to be felt. This is black/death metal done to perfection, every component weaponised for your fucking destruction.

 

Qrixkuor – Three Devils Dance cassette (Invictus Productions) – $8.50AU

Listen here

Qrixkuor formed in 2011, but Three Devils Dance is their first proper release, an almost-forty minute EP of totally harrowing death metal. Alongside Three Devils Dance, Qrixkuor have also dropped a demo, a rehearsal recording, and this year released a compilation of earlier material. Three Devils Dance, though, hardly sounds like a band in its recording infancy. The maturity on display here is perhaps in part due to the assistance of the mighty VK of Vassafor having recorded this, but to treat the quality on display here as a function only of recording prowess would be to downplay the atmosphere of utter impenetrable darkness summoned by Qrixkuor through their riffs here.

 

The most obvious comparison for Three Devils Dance is the distinctly cacophonous death metal of Brisbane’s most fucking deranged bands Impetuous Ritual and Portal. Vassafor are also not a shabby comparison, given that Qrixkuor and Vassafor conjure similarly dense atmospheres through the intricate layering of instruments, and share a predilection for long songs. Three Devils Dance is an exhausting listen, for the band offer little in the way of standard reference points for the listener, choosing rather to crush you under the weight of their churning trem-picking, with riffs spent mostly down the fret-board to create a heaving dirge-like feel, with occasional breaks for blistering trebly trem-lines. The EP’s artwork, morbid and esoteric, captures the hermetic and crushing music here. Buy to die.

 

Torture Rack – Barbaric Persecution cassette (Headsplit Records) – $8AU

Listen here

I don’t even know why I have to write a fucking description for this one. The thanks lists includes ‘weapons’ and ‘female nudity’. Also, Tony and Jason from fucking Witch Vomit are in this band, too. The fuck else do you want? If you want a description the basic point is that this is brutal and primitive death metal that is catchy as fuck. Barbaric Persecution has fucking riffs; more riffs that many bands will write in their entire careers, and all of them are total fucking belters. You will get fucking whiplash banging your head to this record. This is putrid, tough as fuck death metal at its fucking best.

 

Sonically, Autopsy is a clear influence, given the disgustingly heavy grooves on offer here. There’s a lot of fast material on here, too, reminiscent particularly of some of the riffs on Mental Funeral. For me, at least, the other reference point is early Suffocation, for Barbaric Persecution isn’t brutal in some stupid slam/deathcore/contemporary tech-death sense, but in a proper old school brutal fashion. This is brutal like Effigy of the Forgotten or None so Vile, if more raw and stripped down, almost to the point of becoming a death-grind record on tracks like ‘Coffin Breath’. Straight up, this is just fuckin ripping, and one of the death metal albums I listen to most.

 

Father Befouled – Desolate Gods cassette (Dark Descent Records) – $8AU

Listen here

Do you fucking cunts love Incantation? Really? Not as much as Father Befouled, you pussies. Incantation are probably my all time favourite death metal band, and Father Befouled channel this influence with total fucking conviction. This is totally crushing doomy death metal characterised by cavernous low trem-picking and blast beats that slow down only to drag your fucking corpse through murky death-doom riffs. It’s no surprise that Father Befouled absolutely fucking nail the doomy riffs on here; both guitarist/vocals Justin Stubbs and drummer Wayne Sarantopoulos are in death/doom legends Encoffination. Father Befouled shares similarities to Encoffination, in terms of the sheer heaviness of Desolate Gods, but have far more up-tempo sections of blistering, devastating pace. Crucially, whether fast or slow, this is all fucking heavy.

 

Incantation are hardly the most original band to take as an influence, but any question of unoriginality is irrelevant here (or always). For like pretty much any Dead Congregation record, what Father Befouled have done here is created a rich and rewarding album of impeccable death metal. Who cares what bands this sounds like? The important thing is that this is a great album of impeccably executed doomy fucking death metal stacked with some of the heaviest and darkest riffs you’re likely to ever hear. When you listen to this, you don’t have a chance to wonder about the degree of similarity between Desolate Gods and Onwards to Golgotha, because you’re too busy getting absolutely fucking obliterated under the weight of riffs. It doesn’t hurt that the artwork is genuinely fucking terrifying, too.

*

I’ve got new stock coming in over the next few weeks, including restocks from Dark Descent Records, restocks and new stuff from Headsplit Records, and a bunch of stuff from the fucking feral Parasitic Records. I’ll do another write up when all of it comes. Stay fucking death.