Archive for November, 2012

B and G Podcast – Post Damnation

Posted in Badass and Grimness Podcast, Black Metal, Death Metal, Doom, Gig, Grindcore, Psychedelic, Sludge, Stoner, Thrash with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2012 by Badass and Grim

In this Post Damnation episode we discuss last months Damnation Festival in Leeds.

Featuring: Electric Wizard, Winterfylleth, Wodens Throne, Witch Sorrow, Vried and more.

Apologies for the audio quality at points.

Cheers

Murderdeth

Unleashed – Odalheim

Posted in Death Metal, Viking Metal with tags , , , , , on November 22, 2012 by Badass and Grim

What to expect from the 11th studio album from Sweden’s veteran Norsemen? Well thankfully Unleashed are a band who subscribe to the Lemmy school of “if it aint broke don’t fix it” and once again throw down a Christian slaying, blood spattered mace of an album which may well be their best release to date.

Everything about this album show’s Unleashed at their best, the mix is great, their is plenty of variation in tempo to allow creativity in the drumming, the bass isn’t stolid and boring but has pretty interesting variation in what is often a constraining genre for the instrument. The riffs slay and the solos! Every song has a solo and every solo is the fucking tits. Musically it’s really, really strong, everything you’d expect from these seasoned masters. So far so good.

As a cursory glance at any of my previous reviews will demonstrate, I’m always interested in digging down into the concepts behind artists’ songs and albums, for me it’s something which often sets metal apart from other genres. Rather than the lyrics being some candy floss garbage designed to snag into the listeners brain like a rusty hook (if this were literally true it would go a long way to explain the intellectual level of most music chart fans), the best metal tracks have some sort of philosophic, historical or conceptual message; which is ironic when you consider that most people find this vocal style impossible to understand. Odalheim is a brilliant synthesis of actual Scandinavian history in the general, overlaid with Unleashed’s specific mythological narrative.

That said, allow me to wax lyrical about Odalheim as I see it.

The album is a re-imagining of Ragnarok (beginning with “Fimbulwinter”) with the struggle not between the gods and the giants, but between Pagans and Christians, and is the tale of the norsemens’ struggle to build Odalheim. “Odal” is the medieval Scandinavian word for the heritable lands of kindred freeborn tribesmen, so in this usage it’d be fair to describe Odalheim as “The home of the freeborn”. Things seem to be going fine until the third track “White Christ”. During the conversion of Scandinavia to Christianity there was an overlap period during which a duel worship of White Christ and Red Thor took place, Christ taking the place of traditional fertility/farming based gods, and Thor being the god of war and combat because he’s got a fucking hammer and spends most of his time using it to smash in the faces of his enemies. It turns out that the followers of White Christ may not have been so receptive to the idea of Unleashed’s plans to create a pagan kingdom, and in a reversal of the Viking rape and pillage stereotype we see the Christians butcher our erstwhile heroes’ followers (Track 4: The Hour of Defeat).

Not to be deterred the Norsemen begin “Gathering the Battalions” (the Unleashed version of Gwar’s Bohabs) for the reclamation of Odalheim, which involves a cross between a series of Viking raids and a death metal world tour. As the travel to “Vinland” (the Viking name for North America meaning Wine Land), Central and South America “The Rise of the Maya Warriors”, The British Isles / Ireland “By Celtic and British Shores” and finally back to mainland Europe “The Soil of Our Fathers / Germania”. Finally with their ranks swelled from this worldwide recruitment drive they fall upon the unsuspecting Christian’s of Scandinavia and take it back in the name of Odalheim, visiting a bloody vengeance at “The Great Battle of Odalheim”.

So like I said, thought has gone into this album, and its the kind of detail that you’re not going to find in a One Direction single. This album is the musical and narrative equivalent of a flaming church on the horizon, there is nothing not to like about that image or this album.

‘THE ARMIES OF CHRIST FLEE, NO MERCY BEHIND ENEMY LINES! SO CLOSE TO VICTORY, THE GREAT BATTLE OF OUR TIME’

Deej

Dragged Into Sunlight – Widowmaker

Posted in Black Metal, Death Metal, Doom, Experimental with tags , on November 19, 2012 by Badass and Grim

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Dragged Into Sunlight first came to my attention when they were described to me as ‘a mix between Anaal Nathrakh and Eyehategod’. This ludicrously disparate comparison had me scratching my world-weary head and before I knew it, I had a copy of ‘Hatred for Mankind’ in my sweaty, calloused hands. It was entirely justified: they combine the attempts of Louisiana’s finest to kill their own audiences with feedback and raw power, and ‘Nathrakh’s undiluted, misanthropic rage swirling in a seething cauldron of overblown hate. As a listening experience, ‘Hatred for Mankind’ is somewhere between Black Metal and autoerotic asphyxiation: both are uncomfortable, cathartic and end with your decomposing body being found by concerned family members in a pool of your own semen, figurative or otherwise. The band are sponsored & supplied by the Huddersfield’s legendary Matamp, presumably in an appeasement bid to stop them burning Yorkshire, and with this unholy partnership have taken the MAXIMUM VOLUME YIELDS MAXIMUM RESULTS ethos to its devastating logical conclusion with the invisible suffix ‘and fuck the listener.’ Consequently, ‘Hatred for Mankind’ sounds like it was mixed by a 5 year old. This is an interesting take on the True Norwegian lo-fi approach: instead of trying to make it difficult to listen to by being cold & tinny, ‘Hatred..’ is warm and overdriven in all aspects, stopping just short of white noise. Saturated with serial killer quotes, it’s a punishing experience that will leave you desperate to murder prostitutes.

Their live rituals follow this pattern: the crowd is doused liberally with smoke and white noise for a good 15 minutes or so until nausea and ear-drum ruptures occur. While the crowd vomits out their inner-ears, the band sneak onstage and unceremoniously produce a tornado of screaming noise. A chugging, wailing battering wall of noise buries you alive punctuated only by strobe lights designed to add an extra boot to the assault on your senses. And it doesn’t stop. It’s as distressing as watching a hooker being knifed at a school nativity play. The final ‘fuck you’ is the fact that the band face away from the crowd for their entire set: everyone could have fucked off to the hospital for all the difference it makes to them.

This standoffishness has fuelled the hype around the band no end: They wear balaclavas for promo shoots and don’t divulge their names at any point (again, contrast this with TNBM’s corpsepaint & demonic personas. Or don’t, just fuck off and stop leaving dog faeces smeared on my front door.) They aren’t on social media or Twitter so you can’t follow them to see what they had for breakfast or how good their last dump was. A bit of furtiveness goes a long way though: just by not saying much, they have become zen masters of anti-promotion in the buildup to the release of ‘Widowmaker.’ If Dragged were used car salesmen, far from using sexy mental pictures of you in their car, spinning tall tales of great life would be with the Widowmakermobile at your favourite dogging spots, they’d just drive past you in it every day on your tedious trudge to work, playing your favourite songs at stupid volumes out the window. They’d also splash you a few times if it was raining, because this isn’t fucking Disneyland.

Widowmaker then. The album is roughly split into 3 seamless hate-slabs, sensibly titled I, II & III. A study in managing your expectations, if you’re prepared to have your face smashed in with riff-fists as it begins, sit back down and put the lump-hammer back on the shelf. ‘I’ is a gloomy mood piece that would be the perfect background music next time you happen to play chess with Death or bury your dog. Sombre, clean (ish, by Dragged standards) strummed guitar chords build inexorably to… nothing. It builds you up to expect a furious climax then subsides back to black silence and void. Naysayers will proclaim that all this demonstrates is that they found the volume knobs on their Matamps, but it’s haunting: more Isis than Ildjarn. There’s even piano and violin on I, surely a swift kick to the testicles of anyone who had written them off as noise-merchants rather than bona fide musicians. It’s thoughtful, deliberate, premeditated and unsettling in the best way possible. It demands patience and solitude.

A sample regarding murder as a fundamental aspect of the human condition paves the way for a track transition, and II begins with what could easily be the riff of the year. Not in a Black Sabbath riff worship kind of way, but in a devastating satisfying sense, harking back to those overwhelming heaviest of the heavy moments on ‘Hatred for Mankind’. It’s glorious. They could have ridden it out for another twenty minutes no sweat and listeners would have devoured it feverishly then bagged up the remaining lumps with the limbs in their freezers. But no. Messing with the listener’s expectations again, it slides into feedback accompanied by a fresh Charlie Manson quote discussing his favourite coloured dogs or somesuch and an almost happy riff kicks in at around 3 mins. II is the metal track on this album – It’s Dragged, but it’s slower and grinds deliberately along at a solid pace. The violins return briefly to add some tone to the blackened granite monolith, adding greater depth to the grim audio equivalent of scalding a hooker with an iron. A little clean guitar here and there adds more flavour, and there’s even a wah pedal at around 11 mins. Doesn’t sound like much to all you Dream Theater fans out there, but let’s keep it in context: this album is a little like finding out that Otis Toole is actually an accomplished Shakespearian actor.

Finally, III takes the pace right down, slowing further and further into sweet screamy feedback that then devolves still further into a moody, plodding bass riff that recalls every cellar burial. A firestorm of hate kicks back in as everything else comes in built on the foundations of this bass murder basement. There’s more clean sections, then more unrepentant pummelling, building, peaking and cutting repeatedly to mess with you. Then it’s over, swirling to a close amongst fading feedback.

I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a departure from their earlier stuff but it’s still obviously Dragged; they’ve simply refined their methods and begun elaborating upon their pattern in exactly the same way as their oft sampled murder heroes. It should be a hell of an experience live, should they decide to perform it. Widowmaker is a grim listen, and it’s an experience you don’t come back from the same. It’s a different ocean. It’s a different world.

Rumple

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Dark Fortress – Gig Review

Posted in Black Metal, Gig with tags , on November 18, 2012 by Badass and Grim

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The night was perfect, dark, dank and gloomy – the perfect setting for a black metal gig. Due to lady commitments i arrived to the gig late unfortunately missing out the opening act of Bloodguard. Their MyFace describes them as “Darkly melodic, deceptively progressive, heavier than the gates of hell… ” and given as i heard none of them i can only agreed whole heartedly that that’s exactly what they sounded like.

Firstly let me just put something about the venue, it is what you’d call unique. Imagine your dads local, pub carpet and all, now put a brick shed on the back and let extreme metal pump out from there. The dichotomy between the generic pub setting with Come Dine With Me on the bar TV with blast beats and corpse paint genuinely tickled me. Anyway’s pint now in hand the first band began, Ethereal from Liverpool. Billed as blackened death metal i struggled to exactly get what kind of sound they were going for, glimmers of Anaal Nathrakh & Satyricon punctuated their 30 minute set but overall i was left wanting. There was no bottom end at all, the bass twanging like broken spaghetti throughout and whilst vocalist Diesektor’s rasping growls had flickers of a more Northern Tomas Lindberg it just didn’t gel for me.

After a quick giggle at an Orange Goblin photo circa 1992 and grabbing another pint i stepped into the Necroshed for the next band, Saturnian, hailing from all parts of the UK apparently. Extreme symphonic metal was promised and they didn’t fail to deliver. Imagine Dimmu, circa Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia era, mashed up with Primordial whilst verging on Fleshgod Apocalypse in the more extreme phases, all delightfully delivered by a very bald Wilson on vocals. Personally i found some passages a bit dull, some of the lead work was a bit too power metal for me but the crowd were enjoying another quality UK symphonic metal band.

The time id been waiting for was fastly approaching, the black metal demons, Dark Fortress. Bizarrely due to the tiny size of the venue id watched Dark Fortress do their make up through the open dressing room door, like some filthy black metal voyeur, and then watch them lug their equipment onto the stage, spare guitars laying in the corridor to the toilets. Not only was the venue comfortable the stage was definitely going to be for the 6 Germans.

After the shortest of intros, the opening riff of Osiris blasted out, all worries regarding sound quality shattered, and thankfully so. There’s no denying the venue was odd, the crowd small (given there were 4 bands playing plus hangers on there could have only been 10+ paying customers) but Dark Fortress were tight. Promptly following on from the crushing Osiris was Hirudineans, slower and more sombre in its nature but the crowd still windmilled like dervishes throughout. The thing that struck me the most was vocalist, Morean, measured almost dirge like vocals that drag you under like a riptide and drown you in his icy utterings. Their hour set flew by with Catawomb & Ylem providing some grade A slabs of black metal for the willing crowd to get stuck into, all culminating in with Baphomet, everyones arm now raised, horns thrown to the crammed stage.

I hadn’t seen Dark Fortress before but they’ve left a lasting impression and given the intimate nature of the venue i got a fantastic show at a bargain price. Even the walk home was grim, yet more gloom leading to an empty cold bed but i didnt care fur Dark Fortress ist krieg!

Necrowulf

Pig Destroyer – Book Burner

Posted in Death Metal, Grindcore with tags , , , , , , , , on November 17, 2012 by Badass and Grim

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I bought this album hoping it would be terrible. That at least would have mitigated the crushing disappointment of me missing their headline set at Damnation this year: however, based on the strength of their previous output, hoping Pig Destroyer would put out a bad album was a bit like Murderdeth & Grimness giving me this review to do hoping I would write an intelligent piece without words like “pissflaps” and “shit-tornado”.

To begin with then, this is a pissflapping shit-tornado of an album. Imagine, if you will, Scott Hull wakes up in the morning, stretching from a fitful bout of grind-sleep. He puts on his metal dressing gown and stumbles downstairs to the concrete mixer in the Pig Destroyer kitchen. Here he carefully selects his favourite guitar riffs, chuggy rythm bits and intricate bridges and chucks them in. Adam Jarvis has helpfully left some blastbeats and finely chopped kickdrumming out on the side for him, so he chucks them in as well and switches the mixer on. J.R. Hayes is down in the kitchen already nursing a fine grind coffee because he’s been up all night writing lyrics about insidious social ills, so he wanders over and howls into the mixture for the duration of the process. Having added gravel to it and satisfied with the result, Scott Hull divides the mixture into metrically precise units using an ice-cube tray, protractor and a Heston Blumenthal cookbook, garnishing individual slices with samples of people complaining bitterly from Blake Harrison’s sample garden. Then they wrote this album.

Anyway, I digressed because I was hungry and I like watching people in their homes. ‘Book Burner’ doesn’t mess around, you get 19 songs in 30 minutes: in the finest grind tradition, you’re onto track three before you’ve gone from putting the CD on to sitting down in your favourite armchair with a pint of bovril and copy of Teen Hits magazine. Grindcore this is, but early Napalm Death this ain’t. Even though this is partly a DIY effort engineered, produced and mastered by Mr. Hull himself, noisy chaos is entirely absent. This album is a crystal glass filled with the sun-bleached bones of small animals. It’s clean but not needlessly polished, like a car wash in Yorkshire. What you get is chuggy bits, minutely precise drumming at terrifying speed and gigantic riffs that occur every so often when it all comes together, like a scene of incandescent beauty in the eye of a tornado, existing perfectly for a brief moment in time before the storm annihilates it. Important to note is that there is no bass on this album: the only guitar parts you hear are Scott Hull and his trusty 7 string. This perhaps accounts for the sharp, angular nature of the album seeing as there’s no soft, bottomless low end to soothe you into believing that everything will be ok. On the other side of that though, the closest thing you get to any needless guitar embellishment are a few sweep-picked arpeggios that sound like Mr. Hull falling asleep on his guitar in ‘King of Clubs.’

This is a solid album from the Pig Destroyer chaps – it’s much more deliberate, clean and carefully considered than some of their previous work, as if they turned up to the knife-fight with sterilised scalpels and a few ninjitsu lessons rather than a fuckoff machete. Standout tracks: thrashy ‘Machiavellian’, aspirational ‘Iron Drunk’ and moody album closer ‘Permanent Funeral.’ There’s also a brightly coloured video on youtube for the single ‘The Diplomat’ which I strongly advise that you check out during your next horrifying acid experience. In fact, next time you have 30 minutes that you need to fill with aggressive, frenzied flailing on the back of blastbeats & angry riffs, this is undoubtably your album of choice.

Rumple

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God Seed – I Begin

Posted in Black Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2012 by Badass and Grim

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By now most of you with a prior knowledge of this band with also be familiar with the story of its formation; the result of the acrimonious split of Gorgoroth, the follow court battle between Gaahl, King (Ov Hell) and Infernus, and Gaahl’s subsequent retirement from metal. The notorious frontman has not been idle in the intervening years, being a prominent contributor to the pagan folk project Wardruna, as well as trying his hand at acting. However, it seems that the allure of getting back into studio with King was too strong, and so the long awaited God Seed debut has finally surfaced.

I was probably not alone in having expected Ad Majorem Sathanas Glorium Part II, well that’s not what we got, and as it turns out that is to my absolute delight. “I Begin” is a fair description of this album, a genuinely fresh creative beginning for Gaahl and King. Those expecting face smashing brutality may be disappointed, but Infernus’ Gorgoroth are continuing that vein comfortably, and what we have here is a totally new style. In a way we’re in the same situation as when Max left Sepultura, although there was initial trepidation about the split of one of our favourite bands the result is two awesome (if stylistically diverse) successors.

There is a real fusion of 70s rock in here which does nothing to detract from the black metal style. Yes there are keyboards, but they don’t suffer the common lack of credibility that many Symphonic “Black Metal” acts are prone to. The wall of synthetic sound does not overpower the music but rather adds atmosphere and depth, and successfully achieves the difficult balance for BM of innovating without leaving the genre, only the really dogmatic True Kriegsters will turn their nose up at this strong body of work. Gaahl’s contribution to this record once again remind us why he is one of the leading vocalists in the genre with tracks such as Alt Liv switching between spoken word and his distinctive howl.

To conclude, I can only restate my approving surprise at this new stylistic direction, adding another great act to Europe’s black metal constellation, one unafraid to experiment with the perceived boundaries and the musical judgement to do so successfully.

Deej

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Dethklok: Dethalbum III

Posted in Death Metal with tags , , , , , , on November 15, 2012 by Badass and Grim

 

While Dethklok are not necessarily a “real” band I feel that they fit in to the catalogue for ‘deth’metal quite nicely and would happily sit on a concert bill with any other act of the genre. So deal with it!

Following on from Dethalbum Volumes 1 and 2, Dethalbum III is yet another piece of comical wizardry from Brendon Small. Containing music from the second, third and forth seasons of the Adult Swim show Metalocalypse and with an opening track entitled ‘I Ejaculate Fire’ it is an album not to be taken seriously.

Having said this, the instrumentation and musicianship are flawless with the virtual lineup of Skwisgaar Skwigelf and Toki Wartooth on guitars, William Murderface on bass, Pickles the drummer, ding dong doodley doodley, and Nathan Explosion on vocals all making the band a force to be reckoned with.

Compared with their firs two albums I feel that Dethklok are beginning to scrape at the remains of the barrel material wise. For me, both volumes 2 and 3 have never quite packed the same intensity as the first albums, ‘Go into the Water’, ‘Awaken’ and ‘Hatredcopter’.

Its a good album. No doubt i will listen to it again and if you’ve already got the other two it’d be a shame not to complete the set. If you like comical death metal then this is a good call.

Murderdeth.