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Death Metal Albums of 2011

Posted: December 30, 2011 in Articles

Mitochondrion > Parasignosis

Mitochondrion play a strange type of death metal. If you’ve listened to bands like Demilich and Portal, you know it well that it’s tough to describe the music these kind of bands play. Bizarre? Alien? Strange? Mitochondrion’s style combines those extra-terrestrial elements and crafts the oddity. It even leans till black metallic melodies, superficially, and with subtle ambience, the whole sound shaped is so eerie yet beautiful. “Parasignosis” offers more amount of experimentation than in their debut album “Archaeaeon” maintaining the unorthodox complexity in music and song-structures. This is an epitome of what experimentation and technicality merge to procreate. This is other-worldly! This is atmospheric death metal at its pinnacle!

Check out: “Plague Evockation”

Disma > Towards the Megalith

Disma is the brainchild of former Incantation throat Bill Venner and comprises of members from massive underground legions as Funebrarum and Goreaphobia as well. This record however sets the music differently than these bands, in a way it is more doom/sludge ridden and tries out some diverse riffing techniques altogether. The rhythm is thick and heavy, and the tempo is mostly kept in a glacial speed, while the atmosphere is truly lethal. And beside the predictable similarity in style with those of the aforementioned bands, there are clues of Immolation and Autopsy as well. On the whole, “Towards the Megalith” is presented in a primitive and unadulterated way, and this could probably be the heaviest in death metal this year.

Check out: “Lost in the Burial Fog”

Cannabis Corpse > Beneath Grow Lights Thou Shalt Rise

I have always loved this band for their cunning play on Cannibal Corpse song-titles and this time, they’ve turned their weedy improvisation over Deicide and Morbid Angel, and well, that’s great. Especially the catchy-as-fuck guitar work is truly genius here, which is the highlight throughout the whole album, the riffing being real crunchy and enjoyable. The band has obviously discovered their own signature sound by now, leaving behind the Cannibal Corpse traces in the beginning years. The sick humour and tongue-in-cheek words behind such serious music is definitely a plus point. Overall, a sick, twisted death metal fun, the best Cannabis Corpse work till date if you ask me.

Check out: “Lunatic of Pot’s Creation”

Ulcerate > The Destroyer of All

This is one peculiar album! And it won’t be wrong to declare by now that “The Destroyer of All” is one of the most original in death metal in recent years. And while Ulcerate‘s last release “Everything is Fire” had all those sparks of experimentation, this one takes it a step further. With bazarre guitar work and atmosphere, the overall sound is made subtly unique, inheriting the mix of Gorguts, Mitochondrion and Portal. This is what it would sound if Deathspell Omega had gone death metal. Relying on the stylistic backbone presented in their previous album, Ulcerate have worked out well to make their sound even more absurd and abstract!

Check out: “Burning Skies”

Antediluvian > Through the Cervix of Hawwah…

Another album that picks up the traditional death metal influences and produces something refined and non-generic. Antediluvian sound dirty, heavy and wicked, and full of ideas. Bringing in the dirtiness of Portal and Mitochondrion in the sound, the band, similarly as Incantation, utilizes the unrelenting atmosphere as a vicious weapon. The song-structures are quite complex and progressive, which vary from slow but monstrous doom/sludge segments to fast paced chug-drives, and while not much technicality is showcased, simplicity is what has proceeded the brutality.

Check out: “Luminous Harvest”

Vader > Welcome to the Morbid Reich

Vader has been one of the most consistent bands in death metal – nearly three decades in the run and this is the ninth full-length in their name, and which is still competent to be their best work. Although their style has relatively been unchanged since a long time now, they’ve been ceaselessly offering their music in top-notch quality and that’s commendable. “Welcome to the Morbid Reich” is intense, fast, full of climax and a collection and presentation of splendid and persevered songwriting. While their previous work “Necropolis” was still a solid release for me, this album comes out as yet another testament for the greatness that Vader is. Seeing them live in October was a dream come true!

Check out: “Come and See My Sacrifice”

Sonne Adam > Transformation

The duo, Sonne Adam hail from Israel and these guys play murky doom-laden death metal conjuring up a strong, disgusting and ritualistic atmospheric backbone, sometimes recalling the sludgy Morbid Angel meets Incantation. The songwriter of the band, Davidov (who plays everything except singing) has reportedly stated that MA’s “God of Emptiness” is a huge influence on his writing, and you could predict what has come your way. This isn’t a new formula at all, but “Transformation” has been crafted and executed solidly. Full of brilliant riffs, the songs are constructed with real finesse and drama, and I just love the guitar tone.

Check out: “We Who Worship the Black”

Autopsy > Macabre Eternal

After a rather good comeback EP last year, Autopsy have followed it up with an impressive full-length this time. After all these years, beside some renewed elements in their sound, it still maintains its affiliance to the classic “Severed Survival” or “Mental Funeral” era sound, only recorded with modern tools and technologies now. For that matter, the production is excellent here, and musically it’s a solid deal of death, doom, sludge, grind and melody mixed up in a morbid fashion. They’ve even been able to add versatility in these slower manifestatations, and one could even notice the elongation of their songs, like the eleven minutes epic “Sadistic Gratification”.

Check out: “Dirty Gore Whore”

Blaspherian > Infernal Warriors of Death

After several demos, splits and EP, “Infernal Warriors of Death” comes out as the first full-length by Blaspherian. These guys play old-school death metal much in style of atmospheric Incantation, but refined with noticeable original elements. The sound is adorned by the dirty distortions, ultra-low gutturals, dreary ambiance and easy but chaotic riffing presented in complex song-structures that transform from full-paced chugs to slow, evil, doom segments, portraying evil and death in the most morbid way, musically. And while they’ve been able to ‘stay true’ to their roots, they have still worked out to create something new out of it. Great album on the whole.

Check out: “Infernal Warriors of Death”

Azarath > Blasphemers’ Maledictions

Another blower from Poland, Azarath have demonstrated their fast, evil and raw as fuck death metal similar in style with the fellow countrymen Behemoth, Vader or Hate. Among past releases of theirs, I’m only familiar with “Diabolic Impious Evil”, which was a monster in itself, and this is another stronger one. The album is driven with unbridled hatred and fury throughout, and brutality caressed with the primitive, barbarian approach. For those who didn’t know, the drumming is done by Inferno (of Behemoth fame) who’s the only remaining original member of the group. All in all, albums like this and Vader’s new are what make it up after Decapitated‘s weak return, to put forward what Polish death metal really stands for… and these are the fastest two in my list as well.

Check out: “Supreme Reign of Tiamat”

NOTABLE MENTIONS

Morbus Chron – “Sleepers in the Rift”: Swedish death metal refined with elements coming from early Autopsy and “Leprosy”-era Death. A sheer balance of speed, brutality, melody and technicality. Awesome pick for the OSDM fans.

Exhumed – “All Guts, No Glory”: Sick, putrid deathgrind with spark of old-school death metal.

Immolation – “Providence” (EP): Nothing new on the table with this EP, but Immolation’s use of unique sounds to enhance the depth of their music is commendable in itself. Heavy, complex and executed excellently, these guys never fail to impress.

Nader Sadek – “In the Flesh”: The supergroup consists of Blasphemer, Flo Mounier, Steve Tucker and Marcin Nowak “Novy” in the line-up. Interesting enough, eh? And they’ve done it in style. This is what the new Morbid Angel should have sounded like.

Goreaphobia – “Apocalyptic Necromancy”: Thrashy, primitive death metal with a new-school vibe also present – fast, sinister and demonic, and with careful songwriting, offering lots of moments.

Obscura – “Omnivium”: Technical death metal that isn’t exhausting! Chock-full of hypnotic riffs, marvelous arpeggios and neo-classical lead solos in here. Forget about Necrofagist not releasing anything new, for this destroyer has come out. Best in technical death metal this year? I assume so!

Necros Christos – “Doom of the Occult”: Doom-laden occult death metal, conjuring a rich ritualistic atmosphere and riding a simplistic approach, enhancing the depth and heaviness of music. Certainly, here is more than death metal, and half of the tracks are exotic instrumentals, ambients and interludes, acquiring influence from Mesopotamian/Persian/Indian grounds. Some riffs are quite bleak which make a slight hitch.

Abysmal Dawn – “Leveling the Plane of Existence”: Fast, furious and technical, with decent songwriting depicting Hate Eternal or the likes.

Macabre – “Grim Scary Tales”: I adore Macabre for their wicked attempt at humour and amusement, and fun-filled play – thrashy death metal with lots of out-of-the-box, exceptional elements put in. I wouldn’t consider this their best work, but it’s good for an open ear… like any of their previous.

Benighted – “Asylum Cave”: Modern deathgrind with intelligent and varied riffing.

Black Metal ist Krieg (or Black Metal is War) was something that a German band Nargaroth had put an album title of. When noticed the early 90s’ Norwegian movement, black metal indeed was more or less a war, an association that tried to make an impact, defying all organized beliefs and evoking the history and the primitive. While most (or all) of those acts, I feel, were pathetic and should have never occurred, they never succeeded anyway, never became able to make that ‘impact’ they were in seek of, other than being able to publicizing the Norwegian metal scene to an extent. Even Varg Vikernes explained he purposely called police about the murder of Euranymous in order to caste some light to popularize the Norwegian scene back then, ultimately putting him behind bars for years (haha, ridiculous).

Music could be a revolt, a repulse or a revolution. And when the sources of expression are blocked by the most difficult societies possible, some minds trying to convey their resentment see music as the only outlet. So here begins the story of Janaza…

Janaza is a black metal band from Baghdad, Iraq, influenced from acts like Nargaroth, Carpathian Forest, Nattefrost, Graveland, etc. When a circle of Norwegian youths were trying to discard the conventional beliefs and religions and trying to employ their individualism, let’s put it in this way – IRAQ DOES NOT HAVE THAT INDIVIDUALISM. So let’s not compare the two societies anyway. In a place where heavy metal is often cited as satanic music, and if known that someone’s performing such music, the obvious consequence could be death sentence.

And to make it more interesting, Janaza is a project intended towards slaying the trace of everything Islam. And to make it further more interesting, it is a solo project of a 26 year old lady named Anahita. In a country where females are regarded as second citizens, in a society where it is often disallowed for women to get out of house without male companion, it is nothing less than a bold courage to step for something like this.

I discovered this band through a random wander in Encyclopaedia Metallum and I could also read two interviews with the lady (I could have given the links but they’re both dead for now), and it was nothing short of shocking/amazing. The lady had her family killed in an explosion in 2005, which she says to be a turning point in her life.

Just a while ago, I was having a thought of how lame the whole corpsepaint thing in black metal has become. Even the pseudonym names sounded lame. But again, I had a feeling that those couldn’t be any more helpful than in Janaza’s case to hide the actual identity of the person behind the music. Here’s some of the only excerpts of her from the interview I had copy-pasted a while ago:

MC: “What would the punishment for you be if you were caught blaspheming by law?”

Anahita: “Hahaha, I think about that all the time, and this makes me hate Islam more and more. Sure, they will kill me and spread my corpse pictures all over the media to show the brainwashed people that Islam is strong. I will be killed with a smile If I got caught, because I know many people will enjoy the blasphemy of Janaza over the next few years and during the living of the lies of Islam.”

MC: “Islam is often violent and oppressive in Arab countries, but western Muslims are mostly peaceful by comparison. Do you think that Islam can be a peaceful force? Do you think that Islam is any more/less dangerous then other religions?”

Anahita: “To me, Islam is very dangerous because it wants always to dominate the world. The western Muslims are so weak in the western countries. That is why they want to convince the world that they are good. That’s why they act peaceful… But believe me, if Islam dominated the world someday, it would make the greatest of slaughters.”

By the way her 2010 demo “Burning Quran Ceremony” was on free download. Check out her work yourself here.

And here is an Metal-Archives review for the demo.

And above I’ve talked about her corpsepaint thing and all, see her beauty yourself and get some more information about Janaza here.

Written by SAMYAM SHRESTHA

For the better or the worse, heavy metal has always been stretching its margins, now to the extent no one could have imagined about a few decades ago. Some styles have broken into the mainstream and are ‘selling’ well, while some have remained obscure as always; some have come and gone over the years, while some are in the process of resurgence. It’s obvious by now that most of the metal genres have outgrown to the degree that decent music is difficult to be located. Everything has its gems, yes, and so a pile of substandard stuff that do not worth our time. This is 2011!

So I was beginning to wonder about the recent sounds, scenes, movements and ‘trends’ in heavy metal, and just got by a thread with similar subject in some internet discussion forum. So here is a little of what I gained and what I subjectively feel about this whole metal development in the span of last ten years.

The best thing going nowadays could be the thrash revival movement – trying to invoke the misdirected 80s’ darling. It’s cool that thrash is getting a second chance, and when most of the modern bands suffer from being not original enough, clearly few of the newbies are putting on better albums lately than the old-guards are. It certainly needs some extras to beat the odds, and some thrash bands have captured this extra by becoming more brutal than the rest, while others are just relying on experimentation, triggering newer sounds. And then are some bands incorporating groove metal elements instead, labeling themselves thrashers. It’s still hard to find some decent freshness amid the retro-thrash bands, many of which, as mentioned, may be unfortunately unoriginal. Having said these, check out the Americans Vektor, my favorite among the modern revival hordes.

Regarding black metal, the genre has comparatively become dreadfully boring over the decade. While one may question about where it is heading with the consideration of apotheosizing amount of Cradle of Filth devotees, speaking generally, it’s cool enough that black metal has now started to become much more progressive, varied and diverse. Many of the newer bands are trying to bring complexity in music and thus it tends to offer much more than the old orthodox ideology tending to be Satan’s bitches most of the times. Production too has improved, but again, I couldn’t disagree an inch on what this guy has to say;

“Yes, some bands (Darkthrone, Emperor, etc.) actually were treading some new grounds and were relevant while these other bands all “borrowed” their ideas from the first wave. Black Metal today reminds me of how comical death metal became in the mid 90s. If you have been listening to black metal for longer than like five months you would see the development (and subsequent artistic stagnation) of black metal. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard it before, and done better the first time.”

Death metal – whether the Suffoclones or the progressive jazzy crossovers, breakdown extravaganzas or what not – like always, it’s in path of broadening its horizons. Bands trying to sound increasingly brutal and technical than others have always sounded to be ridiculous for me. Technical death metal has risen which is being overtly complex and instrumentally defiant among all other genres, and I feel the severe lack of atmosphere in these bands in verge of obtaining mechanical and technical pleasure. Slam death metal has come into existence, parenting from the breakdowns of Suffocation and groove of Dying Fetus. Deathcore has born, with death metal being mingled with metalcore, the resulting offspring without retaining the genes of either, unfortunately. Good bands are there, but totally lost in a pile of modern semi-technical garbage. I guess tracking down good ones is even more tedious in death metal than in other genres. What’s more interesting is the wave of newer death metal bands who are bringing the essence of old-school vibe who are doing their own thing. Bands like Morbus Chron, Krypts, Blaspherian, Disma, The Wakedead Gathering, Shroud of the Heretic, etc. come to mind, some really great stuff!

Groove metal is getting much love and I hope it will continue to shine, when most people recognize Lamb of God as the decade’s Metallica, considering the commercial success. Nu metal has come and gone over these years, whereas metalcore, has been the most successful style of the past decade, and is still going strong among its fellowship, with several bands as Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet For My Valentine breaking into the mainstream. Never been my cup of tea though, and it continues to appeal more to its legion.

A load of ‘band-worshiping’ acts are spawning lately as well. Take those followings of Incantation, Suffocation and Burzum as examples. While cloning may instantly be a fail in most cases, few of the projects are indeed bringing something fresh in their music, and that could be a welcoming facet so to speak. The crossover trends aren’t any less popular either.

Hence, metal on a whole has spread its branches in a much diversified manner, which has made heavy metal one of the most assorted of all genres. Metal development on whole tends to be a natural flow, but most of the faithfuls still drift in confusion… confusion of its future. But what’s there to worry about anyway? Good bands will always be there, no matter how few and how obscure/underground and no matter in which direction the ‘trend’ moves onto.

The Sickening Art