Posts Tagged ‘Technical Death Metal’

After Oblivion is a technical death/thrash metal group hailing from Bosnia-Herzegovina and having released an EP and a compilation with No Blest from Brazil already, this is their third offering but the first one that has reached me, so I’m rather unaware of their past sound/approach done back in ’07 and the time gap admist could possibly grant some alteration in direction, but anyway. While this EP is a bit too short display of the band’s craftmanship, it still helps to figure out their musical proficiencies in a quick and clear note.

“Vultures” is what was described to me as a promo release of three of the selected songs by the band. I’ve noticed that their music is often closely related to with Death and I don’t deny this much. In fact, the music is stylistically derived much through influences lying in later-day-Death (specifically “Symbolic”) while some Martyr and Pestilence could also be observed in places. My taste is actually not much on the ground of technical death metal, but well, I always took it as, it’s always welcoming when bands imply technicalities to foster their songwriting and not merely for mindless wankery.

I don’t know if it was intentional, but incorporation of middle-eastern melodies could also be noticed, prevalent mostly in the riffs, much similarly done as the Egyptian Scarab. The bass is clearly audible, thanks to the clean production (which I would have liked it thick, but well…). And the vocals are like Schuldiner again and there come in more of those melodic lead solos that remind of classic Death years.

Although labelled death/thrash or technical thrash, this is more death metal and less thrash to me. And although the songwriting is pretty enjoyable, there is nothing new presented musically in surface of tech-death, and the experimentation in originality tends to be lacking at times while following the influences, but the inclination towards middle-eastern flavour could be what saves the album from sounding like plenty of others doing this style. All in all, a good, commendable record “Vultures” is, which is recommended to fans of Death and death metal in general. After Oblivion is a band worth watching out for in days to come, and I hope they find some good record label soon.

7.5/10

Origin, mostly has been the band that orients on technicalities and speed over other compositional facets, the strategy which has worked out well to establish themselves as one of the few technical death metal maestros that doesn’t suck while demonstrating one’s individual instrumentation proficiencies. But alongside, while conforming towards the technical dimensions, what bothered me a bit was the lack of musical variation that was almost non-significant between their previous records they did after the more straightforward self-titled. Their last release, “Antithesis” was a real remarkable one, perhaps one of the best death metal releases of the last decade, that it got me doubting if the band could ever cross that bar of magnificence again.

Well, it was before a couple of months that Origin had released the single, “Expulsion of Fury” in their Facebook page, the track that was about to be included in this album. That was when Morbid Angel had just released their substandard ninth studio album. I listened to “Expulsion…” and the first three seconds, I thought owned the entire “Illud Divinum Insanus”. The insane sweep arrives, makes way to the classic Origin riffing with dual vocals assault and Longstreth’s mad blasts. It wasn’t outside what everyone could expect out of the band and it was quite convincing enough to make me look forward to the album release.

Origin always seem to wow me through their limits-stretching technical precisions. And this time, they have done it with additional spices added on the regular. They never bothered to bring catchiness and memorable feeling in their songwriting, but this time, it’s here to be felt. The guitar work is balanced well with the amount of arpeggios, the trademark Origin technical riffing and frequent grind-inclined groovy offerings. Melodic instances have increased this time, sometimes advancing as a progressive form of the genre, much akin to Ulcerate from New Zealand, the band this album made me remember at times. Well, there are constituents that suggest the band is returning back to their demo or S/T era sound. Lots of primitive death metal chugs are presented which are there to remain in your head for a long time. All these elements have displayed the band’s broader horizons and thus reflecting a wider side to songwriting. I gladly hope they would continue experimenting with this sound in future releases as well.

The guitars don’t mind slowing down at times and then reviving the fury again, while the blasts and fills continuously design the flow. Really fast bass pedaling by John Longstreth, no wonder why he’s counted as one of the fastest death metal drummers on earth. More sensible and varied drumming than any of Origin’s previous records.

I was wondering how the vocals on this album would be, because James Lee was a monster, one of my favorites in death metal world, and his departure had obviously put me in question. But Paul Ryan and Mike Flores have done tremendous job behind the mic – the standard Origin growls with screams, which come dual, and that won’t make you feel the absence of James Lee at all, though I miss the big man. As furious as what the music demands them to be and they’ve even got variations, consisting deep Devourment-like gurgles at times. The bass guitar could have been mixed a bit louder than that. But the production is quite great, if not perfect.

Tracks like “Saliga” and “Consequence of Solution” run around seven minutes but still manage to maintain the consistency up in their flow and don’t make you feel that they are forced to have got themselves elongated. On the other hand, “Purgatory”, which is just a little longer than a minute is also capable of throwing the charm of its presence. And there are moments when they try to fuse middle-eastern melodies to the ongoing brutality, like in “Saliga”, 02:42 or “Consequence of Solution”, 04:22 and which I feel could have been neglected. I couldn’t help but get Nile feel at what these parts followed, if not at those moments (e.g. “Saliga”, 03:12 onwards or at its opener riff or in “Fornever”). “The Descent”, although a rare acoustic track by Origin, had made me feel that it would have been better if they had never attempted this anyway. A bit of a relief out of the continuous brutality but also, at the same time, pointless.

Thus, while this is one splendid album, there remain a bit of vacuum of judgmental void, at few of the points that I refrain to consider either good or bad. The overall sound is the typical Origin, mixed with Ulcerate, Pestilence and even Nile and Brain Drill. Hence this is just per what is to be expected from these technical beasts. The album presented newer sounds that are to be counted on from the band, and I hope that they release Entity‘s successor soon.

8.5/10

[Originally interviewed for KtmROCKS E-Mag Issue 09]

LILLE GRUBER is considered to be one of the most unique sounding and versatile drummers in the death metal world. He is the only remaining founding member of the German brutal death metal monsters Defeated Sanity and has also played for numerous death metal bands like Cenotaph (Turkey), Belphegor, Twitch of the Death Nerve, Mucopus, Sinners Bleed, etc. Here is the interview with him:

Greetings from Nepal, Lille! How have you been doing lately?

Hey there, I am doing fine! We are preparing for the Euro tour with Gorgasm in August/September right now and things couldn’t go better!

Going back to your starting days, who inspired you to start playing the drums? At what age did you start playing?

The person that inspired me the most to play drums or music in general was my dad, who also was a musician. I grew up in a community of musicians. All my dad’s friends were musicians and I heard and saw them play everyday. So I guess that influences you as a child.

Your style of drumming draws a lot from some other elements of the drumming world and makes your sound and style unique than any drummer I have personally heard in brutal death metal. Can you elaborate on how you created your playing style?

Well, I really take music in general seriously. My aim is to make serious music, not pop music. So if you wanna make the best music you can, you will look up to the best, the top of the music world. And that includes mostly jazz, classical, folklore but also pop, rock, soul, blues, of course metal and even hip-hop, electronic stuff, etc. A good musician gets inspired by all musical art form. For how I created my style, my way of playing evolves from my preferences and what comes out is a mix of all that I prefer. I guess you create your own style in a way where you listen a lot to other drummers/musicians and then first try to imitate, then find your own way how to involve this stuff.

How do you tune such a unique set of drums?

I really just learned to really tune my drums haha, before I just worked on the drums until they kinda sounded cool for me. For me personally a very important thing is to have the snare nice and high. A too low snare drum seems too “fat” for me, a high one is nice and dynamic, also has that punch.

What kind of snare drum do you use to get that tight sound?

I use a Ludwig Black Beauty snare drum – to me, the mother of all snares. Although, I can’t even say that. I just never used much other stuff besides that cause I never felt the need.

Would you care to elaborate a bit on your current kit?

My current kit consists of 1 bass drum with double pedal (never could afford a second one plus it has no room in my rehearsal space haha), 2 hang toms, 1 stand tom, 2 crashes, ride, china, hihats and the crashes have splash cymbals and a bell on top. I like playing around with splashes now; it’s the first time in my life I had the money to afford some small cool stuff like that. It’s a Pearl Master series kit btw.

Tell us the way you approach after every album? There is quite a shift in drumming between all of your albums, each got better than the previous.

Well thank you, glad to hear that! Well I never give up and never stop doubting myself so I guess that is the reason for always improving. The general style of every album changed too – different song structure, different riffs. So that is the reason for a different drumming style as well. Also, every album had different drum sounds. None of them really satisfied me yet. I hope I can get closer to my vision next time.

How much do you think that the change in band’s lineup affects the style of music that it plays? What has been the case with Defeated Sanity?

Hmmm depends what situation you have. I think the most important is if the core band knows what they wanna do, if new members come into the whole thing they can be either “executors” or creative minds that vastly change the material. For us, when Chris came into the band his style of playing inspired more fast grinding then we had before. I remember I had to really keep up with him in the beginning. He writes less “contemplated” stuff than going for raw fast insanity, which is a nice contrast to what I was doing.

Sadly enough, quite a lot of bands use programmed or at least triggered drums on their albums. What’s your thought on programmed drumming? Were you ever tempted to use programmed drumming?

I was never tempted to do that stuff. We need organic, human sounding drums. Well programmed drumming works for a few bands, I am thinking about Heinous Killings and Mortician here. But for a live drummer to sound like a machine (=trigger¬ing the whole kit) makes no sense to me. Also lots of guitarists do it cause they can’t find a drummer but wanna release shit…. so it’s kind of “worst case scenario” thing.

What bands are you listening to right now? And what sort of music do you normally enjoy listening to?

Right now I have been on a big old school trip haha. Listening to lots of old Malevolent Creation, Monstrosity… the more thrashy stuff you know? Always listen to jazz and classical stuff on the side, but my main menu is still metal. Right now listening to Watchtower “Control and Resistance”. Immense album!

Could you name some drummers who have influenced you a lot?

So many great drummer out there, so this time I will mention a whole lot of them haha: Tony Williams, Jack De Johnette, Billy Cobham, Wolfgang Teske, Alex Marquez, Stephen Shelton, Rick Colaluca, Lee Harrisson, Chad Walls, Jon Engman, Brad Fincher, Gene Holgan, Sean Rein¬ert… the list is endless.

So what’s up with your current bands, Defeated Sanity and Cenotaph? You were in verge of touring?

Well, with Cenotaph I don’t do stuff anymore. I haven’t heard from Batu in a longer time now. I think they are working with a young line up in Turkey now and it seems to go really well with their drummer. With DS, as I said, we are right now preparing for the Euro tour starting in August. Also working on 5 new songs and writing much more material than that. I think the next album will be recorded next summer. I am confident about it.

You have been the only remaining original member of Defeated Sanity now. How does it feel to drive the band as the only founder member remaining?

Well, first and foremost it’s sad to have lost the founding member Wolfgang Teske last year to cancer, RIP!!! He was there with me from the beginning, and then decided he couldn’t do it anymore in 2008 because his fingers didn’t work that well anymore. But with Jacob and Chris, the core of the band seems like my first real band, so it still feels like this is the first line up (minus Wolfgang). It’s a great feeling to know, the 4th album is coming up and things just keep getting better for us. Also is a hard task to top each album you released before though. Songwriting-wise, we can’t top the last one, but we will try to make the production better.

Can you please tell us about each member and a brief background of Defeated Sanity?

Yes, gladly! Jacob I got to know when we were building a new line up after I came to Berlin from Bavaria. I saw him with his old band CEREBRIC TURMOIL, who made a crazy mix of math core and death metal and when I saw him play I knew he was the guy I wanna work with, he was a young fucker too, 17 years old. Chris we met a bit before when we were searching for a bass player, some bassist came to audition and brought Chris with him. In the end we decided to work with Chris but not the bass player. The latest member for DS is Konni on vocals. He was in Despondency before and we have known him since the Demo days. He is a very good frontman and singer, so we are a very strong team!

Who’s writing the songs? What are the main themes/subjects of the music?

Well I would say I am the musical director in this band. I hear lots of riffs from my band members and compose even more than that myself… and most time in my life I spend with contemplating about putting them together in a good order. This happens on the way to work in trains, at the instrument, or just walking around, or while giving lessons. Lyrical themes are all inspired by the evil in this world. Both the evil that we witness ourselves, but mainly the repugnant things we hear everyday in the news or whatever. We are just very fascinated with cruelty, violence, dark thoughts.

Are there any goals you want to reach drumming-wise?

Yeah, for sure. I try to get faster and more accurate with my double bass. But on the other side I wanna get more fluent with improvisation and jazzy stuff. If u ask me, two contradicting things… but practicing completely different things must be good for you, as you will get a broad horizon musically. I might wanna start jazzy stuff when I get old, haha. That would rule!

Anything you do besides drumming (I mean some other jobs)?

No, I only give music lessons right now (guitar and drums), it’s my job.

Lastly, any advice, tips, would you give to younger drummers here in Nepal?

Play everything SLOW first, if you wanna be able to play it fast. Also incorporate dynamics in your playing. Listen to the drummers and the bands I mentioned! And listen to them good, and then play your own stuff and try to emulate it at home while playing your style in the shows!

Thanks a bunch Lille for your kind reply ! Keep it brutal, and keep it sick.

DEFEATED SANITY:
http://www.facebook.com/DefeatedSanity

Well, to start off this review, let me say that here is a lot of Nile worship going on, and it got me wondering for an instance – what the fuck are those middle-eastern folk tunes doing in the album, which is lyrically devoted to Tibetan/Buddhism concepts? I was rather wishing for some exotic Buddhist mantras and chants. May it be through their unawareness? Probably not, gazing at the song titles they’ve crafted, showcasing some immense knowledge of theirs on the Buddhism thing on whole. So, I conclude those tunes might have been there because of their very tendency towards sounding more like Nile. Perhaps.

So…

The album tends to follow Nile in most facets of songwriting, followed by a light of Behemoth worship as well. Think of these two bands being mingled, and the whole definition of Shturm’s music is done ninety percent. But hold on – the compositions are awesome and the songwriting is done brilliantly, but which could still be derived as homage to the aforementioned two bands, and this could be one of the best clone releases out there (and trying to clone Nile in itself sounds thrilling). There is a real fierce velocity accompanying the instruments, and they never really tend to slow down. This could be a good thing, but again, the same speed and viciousness could be monotonous at times, as there are little to no change in riffing till quite a long extent in most of the songs. I mean, take any track from here, for no noble cause, from the beginning to the end, the extremity may probably lie the same, and it’s hard to focus at the variations sealed within. But again, you could be greeted with these cool folk melodies with some rare instruments on, and that would be the moments to reinstate. These ambient and acoustic passages that lay inside the brutal fast paced annihilation have given the musicians a chance to throw few original twists to the overall work, and it’s done with intelligence.

The production is thick. Think of Behemoth’s blackened death era albums for the production facet, and which seems to go cool with the compositions here as well. The vocals aren’t as low as Karl Sanders or George Kollias’, but they somewhat sound like the mishmash of those from Nergal and David Vincent.

Hence, although this one is more of some worshipping act, this still could be called a commendable effort, considering the splendid songwriting. As said above, fast paced semi-technical brutal death metal caressing Nile and Behemoth touches would do sum it up.

8/10

Well, comebacks usually upset when there’s a whole lot of time enough for musicians to catch up different tastes and questioning the musical direction of their past. Even big names like Terrorizer and Cynic fell in this category, and we’ve got no smaller name than those here. Atheist, awaken to do some newer stuff after more than a decade with two new members and everybody had obvious doubts on this one. Could they be same after seventeen fucking long years – the time long enough you could replace your former band-mate with your newborn son?

Well, my affiliation with Atheist goes back to “Unquestionable Presence”, which was the first album of theirs I genuinely loved. Although “Piece of Time” had reached me first, it couldn’t click me well. It was UP that described the typical Atheist sound to me and I could regenerate the love for Piece… as well. The third album “Elements” couldn’t do much with me though. When you listen to enough good music from your favorite band, the expectations are obvious to rise and the other generic ones too seem to be lacking the punch, and same was the case. “Elements” was alright, but wasn’t as significant as the former two ‘masterpieces’.

Alright. The thing is – you just cannot judge an Atheist album on just few listens. When I had put my ears on this one for the first time, I was confused, disappointed but expectant, all at the same time. A little more listens and it was still growing on me.

Musically, the band appears to have leaned less towards the thrashy edge this time. It’s more technical death metal here, still retaining the typical Atheist fragrance. It’s cool that it still sounds like Atheist even after seventeen long years, and that’s an achievement in itself, considering the awful doubts that everyone (at least most of us) had when we first learned about the band recording their newer stuff. To speak, “Jupiter” sounds like a progressive technical death metal band (let’s say Gorod) giving tribute to Atheist.

So besides everything else, let me point out few of my discomforts here:

Firstly, one of the hugest objections is the bass being not free, which isn’t off the trail of guitars as it was before. Bass is there, yes it’s audible, but is just to follow the guitars. It’s a blasphemy in Atheist’s case if you ask me.

Secondly, there is zero to little chill-out jazzy portions, which could be found in their previous albums (which I really adore/d). Surely, Atheist were the first band to fuse extreme metal with jazz, and the decision to omit them might be cool, but it’s just me; not that it is hindering the songs’ eminence through it.

Thirdly, the lead guitars – whenever I listen to “Unquestionable Presence” and the solos are put on, I go [bow them]. But now, they’re not so remarkable at all. They’re decent, nowhere close to their past stuffs. I could also sense some riffs/solos filled here and there just to invoke their early-years’-sound, which I think are already lame.

Fourthly, the production is a bit oozy besides all, and the best sound output tends to be the drums. This instrument could be the finest and most satisfying in here, possessing some awesome variations and all… typically Atheist.

Fifthly, the vocals. Well, the band wasn’t pleasing me ‘vocally’ at all through any of their preceding records anyway, but let’s put it this way – Kelly’s shrieks here, I think, are the best to offer after their debut (I know many will disagree). So I’m not pushed away a bit by his throat performance here.

All in all, Atheist now sound more like many of other bands trying to follow their path of being a death(/thrash) band like Negativa, Gory Blister, Quo Vadis, etc. This is no way close to their first two records, but this doesn’t imply in anyway that it’s a weak album. “Jupiter” is still ‘decent’ in my book, but I would recommend to begin with “Unquestionable Presence” or “Piece of Time” if you already dig thrash metal.

7.5/10

Fleshgod Apocalypse. By the time I was chuckling at this name, I had already been intrigued by the talks going on the internet about the Italian band gathering together the brutality of death metal and the artistic splendor of classical symphonies (as I am also an admirer of western classical music), but little had I imagined that it would be something entirely different from sounding like another Lykathea Aflame (which I haven’t been able to dig into easily in months).

Okay here’s what happened: “Oracles” was the first album of theirs that reached me. The first 30 seconds or so had slightly treated me a wtf! – a pile of guitars had provided me the metalcore/groove metal sensation, and I was starting thinking of some Beneath the Massacre technical DM already, and the altered state gave me some grindcorish impression (fuck me for this one – I was really thinking of Misery Index when the second riff was introduced).

And suddenly, what I was offered was something totally different I could envisage from the band’s freaky name and the gay 30 seconds – the skull-crushing death metal, technical in a mean that it was straight-forward in the speed of X-43. Delectable riffing, splendid skin slamming and all sorts of bizarre yet spicy twists thrown in (the solos, the classical singings, the beat flipping and all those wild stuffs, you know), every vile ingredient to make a splendid DM album, still embracing utmost originality, and a whole lot of epic feel lurking around to mark them THE Roman Behemoth, to speak, haha.

The most interesting aspect >>> the amalgamation of keyboards. This, on the whole hadn’t made it any cheesy, but it was just there to form a separate part in itself, and I couldn’t applause less on how well these parts were fit in amid the viciousness of death metal, while the nay-sayers of keys in brutal DM could also be convinced there, as keyboards were only plaguing once in a while.

The album was on the list of my best finds of the year, and just after sometime, I learned their second album had released already – an EP this time, called “Mafia” and the album art…

…got an instant wow from my side. Upon listening, I could sense that the intensity has just increased in this record. I totally tended to focus on the strength of the drums, which have now magnified its might, the guitars that have offered being rather as a derivative of Hate Eternal style, and the overall music which is twice as headbangable as it was in “Oracles”. But alongside, the song structures employing more of the verse–chorus–verse formula and a little bit sloppy arrangements were the things to dissatisfy.

Three originals, a cover and a title-track classical piece was the album. Slightly not as up to the debut, but surely has some highs to it, so as to be liked or owned.

So…

Fleshgod Apocalypse is one of the most recommended bands by me. They are one of the recent brutal/technical death metal powerhouses to watch out for. And as for the technicality aspect, the music authentically goes in the league of Hate Eternal, Nile or company that may make you think for a while that Necrofaggot are real pussies if you’re counting a real technical extreme music with senses. Just mind the fucking velocity!!!

Here is a more detailed info of the band.

You may catch Fleshgod Apocalypse in their Myspace or Facebook as well.

– Samyam Shrestha