Written by Kyle Messick
Here’s what I’ve been jamming this week; descriptions below! Stay tuned next week for 90s deep cuts!
Intestinal Hex – The Exalted Chambers of Abhorrence (2021). In general, I’m a big fan of Daniel Bonofiglio and his many projects. This is a solo endeavor, and one that builds a thick, dark atmosphere. There’s brilliant songwriting and playing throughout, with my only minor gripe being that the programmed drums break up the organic sound a little bit. Check this out if you like your death metal dark and heavy.
Transmetal – El Infierno de Dante / Dante’s Inferno (1993). Transmetal are one of the most celebrated and long-running death-thrash acts from Mexico. At this point, they were pretty settled into their groove-based meat-and-potatoes death metal sound with shouted, thrashy guttural vocals. I suspect they were trying to break into the wider death metal market with this release, because it was produced by Scott Burns at Morrisound Studios and also because the album was recorded and released in two separate languages: Spanish and English. Both versions are competent, but I’d definitely recommend the Spanish version over the English version for one major reason: the vocal patterns are better, more complex, and more engaging. Spanish in general can require more syllables, for instance, compare the names of the two albums, and so the lyrics in Spanish make for much more complicated vocal patterns which are much more engaging and add contrast to the simple grooves in the music.
Cenotaph – Precognition to Eradicate (2021). Last year long running Turkish brutal death metallers Cenotaph dropped their seventh full length album. Vocalist Batu Çetin also did some amazing work in Molested Divinity, and drummer Florent Duployer keeps up with his incredible performances in Anachronism and Kakothanasy. Cenotaph (not be to be confused with great OSDM band out of Mexico) have continued to evolve with each release since forming in 1993. On their newest album, they’ve reached Defeated Sanity levels of mixing technical and brutal death metal. You can expect plenty of pinch harmonics, slams, and even the occasional predator vocals. It’s really a masterful, ferocious album but one that will likely be inaccessible to people not into this type of music.
Unearthly Rites – Unearthly Rites (2021). Just being told that a band comes from Finland might already give you some preconceived notions about what the band sounds like, and in this instance, those assumptions would be correct. A thick guitar tone is matched with low, completely indecipherable vocals and occasional screams. There’s a bit of doom and experimentation on here too, with the lead guitars really going all in on the bends, pinches, and slides. One of the cool things about this EP is it was recorded on analog equipment, so it has a warmer, more live old school sound to it. Ugly, ignorant stuff.
Deracination – Times of Atrocity (1992) / Sacrificial Death (1993) / Holy Rite – Mosh for the Master (1989). I always tote how much I love Australian death metal and here is yet another quality example of why that is. They did seem to have a bit of an identity crisis though, since the lyrics were sometimes gory and other times focused on spreading a Christian message. Their 1993 demo is my favorite stuff, just because it’s the most death metal with its more guttural vocal approach. Their only full length has some vocal effects I can’t get into. The Holy Rite stuff is really different too, with a much thrashier vocal and music, but for me, it’s all about that Sacrificial Death demo.
Kever – Eon of Cycling Death (2013) / Primordial Offerings (2018). This Israeli band put out a couple of quality, dark old school death metal albums before disbanding. The music has an old school feel, but reverb on the vocals give it a more cavernous feel. They showed a ton of potential on these two releases, so it’s unfortunate that a full length may never happen.
Bloody Gore – Stench of Your Perversions (2001). This Indonesian band formed in 1996 and put out a couple of releases before fully devoting themselves to their love of Suffocation by changing their name to Funeral Inception. This release is a great and varied brutal death metal endeavor with gurgled vocals, plenty of stop/start sections, and a great, unpolished mix that lets their intensity shine through while letting the mix continue to breathe. It’s great brutal death that gets better and better the more time you spend with it.
Cremation – Black Death Cult (1993-1995). Not to be confused with the more well known band Cremation from the Netherlands, this band from Canada put out four demos in the 90s before calling it quits. This is brutal, blasting death metal but with a really lofi production comparable to many black metal demos in production quality. The dual vocal approach between low gutturals and pained howls make it sound especially frantic and feral. Their songwriting, playing, and production improved on each subsequent demo, but it still all has a watching a band in a basement feel.
Dusk – Withdraw (2018). Dusk are a doom-laden death metal band that formed in 1993 and reformed a few years back. This new EP is their comeback release, which are three solid groovy death metal tracks. Opening tracks Luminous Wounds and Endeavored Sanity (tears) never slow down enough to feel like doom, so instead they feel like crushing, old school death metal groovers. It’s good stuff, but I can’t help but feel that this would hit a lot harder if the production wasn’t so clean. Death metal played this slow can sound absolutely crushing with the right guitar tone and a less polished drum sound. The epic closing track is a lot doomier, but it also feels sterilized by the clean production.
Bedsore – Bedsore (2018). The first demo by Italian progressive death metallers Bedsore is an ambitious two song effort that stacks increasing layers of atmosphere into a mix of sludgy and groovy death metal. It jumps around a lot in terms of technicality, composition, and genre, but the raw nature of the recording makes it always maintain a certain level of lofi ugliness that I enjoy. The vocals here are higher pitched than what is normally heard in death metal, sounding more like a pained howl, but I think it works well here. Both of the songs were also rerecorded for their debut LP.
Decimation – Entering the Celestial Ruins (2007) / Anthems of an Empyreal Dominion (2010) / Reign of Ungodly Creation (2014). Here’s another Turkish band that plays technical brutal death metal. Each of their three full lengths gets a little more polished, so their debut is the most raw of the bunch, with plenty of gravity blasts throughout. None of them are so polished that they sound sterile, and their most recent album has an amazing snare tone. Their two most recent albums can be grabbed from Comatose Music.