Written by Kyle Messick

Here’s what I’ve been jamming over the last week. Much love to Headsplit, Caligari, and Necroharmonic Records!

Sequestrum – The Epitome of Putridity (2022). This is a wild and original new demo out of Denmark. The vocals alternate between straight Demilich worship and goregrind vocals, but the grindy music is all over the place while always sounding like some lofi death metal. There’s a Jimi Hendrix-sounding solo on here, some sludge riffs scattered throughout, and some other wild stuff. It all makes for a really refreshing listen.

Sadistic Drive – Perpetual Torture (2022). The sophomore album by Sadistic Drive has a lot going for it, like prominent bass and plenty of old school influences, but I get frustrated with a lot of the riffs. Whereas most bands write a 4-measure riff, most of Sadistic Drive’s riffs are two measures that are repeated. When lots of these half-riffs are sandwiched next to each other, it just gets pretty stale for me after a while. A couple of different notes in each fourth measure could’ve really taken their sound so much further. They have the occasional four-measure riff on here, but there are far too few. Many listeners won’t be bothered by this, but for me that formula of two measures repeated four times with every riff gets stale fast.

Floridian Hippies – Fuel Injected (2022). Normally I would avoid a band with a name like “Floridian Hippies,” but surprisingly this is a decent deathgrind jam. And even more surprising, this comes from a band out of Finland, so the moniker can be a real headscratcher. The vocal approach here includes a mid-to-higher pitched wet croak and a more traditional death metal guttural. It’s a pretty raw and filthy recording, so many will attribute that to them be Finnish, but it’s also a fun, mostly mid-paced bit of death metal.

Nasty Face – This is the Face Wish How (2021). After a ton of splits, Nasty Face from Switzerland have dropped their debut LP. The expected elements are there: screamed vocals and guttural pornogrind gutturals with effects on them, but there’s also something you don’t always find in this style of music: actual riffs. There are multiple fantastic riffs throughout the release, including plenty of great grooves. They also have a knack for showing off some songwriting ability, which is also something you don’t often find with grind songs under two minutes.

Sacrophobia – Dark Requiems (1991-1993). This is a compilation of material from demos and a split from Spain’s Sacrophobia. It’s chunky death metal with some great solos. The mix varies a lot depending on the recording, with the later ones on the comp being a lot more lofi than the front-loaded ones. It’s enjoyable stuff, but it doesn’t do enough to overshadow other bands of the era. Many will recognize Sacrophobia guitarist Juancar from his many years of playing in Avulsed.

Tragos – Radix Mendosus (2022). Tragos is an excellent new death metal band out of France featuring multiple members of the BDM band Erektion. Tragos is a more old-school death metal affair, with prominent bass, memorable riffs, and solid vocals. The epic, almost neoclassical riffs work really well with their mythology theme, and when paired with some heavy grooves, it all makes for a memorable album that’s epic in scope, but also plenty brutal when it needs to be.  

Culpable Homicide – Dead Inside (2000). This is a deep cut death metal demo out of Belgium. It has a great old school sound and some great leads. It’s mid-paced death metal with some great vocals and melodic playing, but it doesn’t go the melodeath route. It feels surprisingly thoughtful and epic for a band with a moniker like “Culpable Homicide.” The band all seem pretty wholesome too, since the liner notes thank all of their parents. The main downside for me is that this 22-year-old CDr has an increasing number of audio errors, which is a shame, because it’s hard to find it streaming online anywhere and it’s a really cool demo.

Silent Death – Stone Cold (1995). This is a lesser-known death metal project out of Switzerland that featured Brett Hoffmann from Malevolent Creation on vocals. It’s a powerful EP that utilizes start-stop moments, grooves, and faster parts really well. It’s a release with a real sense of forward momentum, which makes it feel incredibly high energy. It’s a real gem.

Baalsebub – The Sickness of the Holy Inquisition (2016). Baalsebub are a brutal death metal band from Estonia with lyrical themes that surround medieval times and religion. It’s relentlessly crushing brutal death with plenty of ping snare and earth-shattering breakdowns.

Disma – Earthendium (2022). This is a tough one. Disma are a legendary death doom band that have put out one of the greatest death metal albums ever, but vocalist Craig Pillard is NS trash. Disma made the right move in booting him when his side projects and affiliations came to light, but unfortunately they brought him back for their new EP after the heat died down. Disma is a band constantly emulated, and this new EP is fantastic, even if it more easily blends in with many of the copycat bands that currently exist. Regardless of where one falls in separating the art from the artist, musically this is some top shelf death metal, so it’s a shame that the people behind it aren’t of similar quality.

Scumslaught – Knives and Amphetamines (2022). Scumslaught are an awesome blackened thrash metal band from France with a little bit of death and punk thrown in too. Taking inspiration from bands like Slaughter and Discharge, Scumslaught play a frantic, high-energy form of thrash metal that is as infectious and engaging as it is punishing. It’s sick stuff, as one might expect from members of Deströyer 666, Skelethal, and Cadaveric Fumes.

Dodskvad – Kompendium: Kronike 1 & 2 (2020-2022). Dodskvad are a cool death metal project out of Norway that combines mythological themes with epic death metal that sounds like it has some influence from Norwegian black and folk metal. The band’s name, which translates approximately to “death poem”, suitably describes the journey of their musical palette. Fantastic guitar playing takes center stage in this lofi but extraordinary project.

Spasticus/Boia – Spasticating Execution (2022). Following last year’s incredible EP, Spasticus from Italy have returned with a new split with fellow Italian death metallers Boia. The Spasticus side continues to be filthy old-school death that demonstrates that their EP wasn’t a fluke. It’s killer stuff with plenty of thrash influence and some wild, varied vocals. The Boia side cranks up the blackened thrash influences, and although the Spasticus side is a hard act to follow, it is serviceable in its own right. This is certainly one of the best splits to drop so far this year.

Serpens Aeon – Dawn of Kouatl (2003). Serpens Aeon is a great blackened death metal band that formed in Seattle in 1997. They have fascinating lyrical topics, including Aztec mythology. Their lineup of musicians is incredible, which includes one former member of Drawn and Quartered and two former members of The Chasm, which should tell you about the quality of this material. It features incredible solos and leads, powerful riffs, and just feels like a wonderful, thoughtful album from music veterans. If you don’t mind a generous heaping of tremolo black metal in your death, then there’s a lot to enjoy with this, their only full length.

Chthonic Deity – Reassembled in Pain + 2 (2019-2020). Chthonic Deity are a death metal band with an old school but somewhat cavernous sound out of Colorado. The vocals have heavy reverb, but the riffs are plenty crunchy and sit comfortably at the forefront of the mix. The lineup on this release is also incredible, featuring current and former members of Incantation, Blood Incantation, Funebrarum, and plenty more. It’s representative of one of the most popular forms of modern death metal, but it sits among the best of them.