Monday, March 30, 2009

Worst "Deathcore" Band Names

If you aren't familiar with the term "deathcore," you haven't been reading This is the catch-all phrase for every post-emo "haircut" band who have graduated from "melodic" At the Gates- cloning to a "brutal" combination of the most boring qualities of death metal (cannibal corpse) with the breakdowns and attitude of metalcore (itself a nauseating byproduct of hardcore). Anyways, it is 99% likely that anyone who has recommended "this really great new band... i've been into death metal a lot lately" has been recommending some variation on either emo-grind (Daughters) or hipster tech-metal (Orthrelm) OR finally, deathcore (The Red Chord, reviewed on pitchfork, but obviously see below this entire post for more names).

Anyways, to me this music is obviously "music to annoy your parents" and to get shitty tattoos to, but I am thankful for this genre for its wonderful band names. Only the best selection below

A King's Worthy Mustache
All the Heathers Are Dying
And Their Eyes Were Bloodshot
Annotations of an Autopsy
As This Body, I Exist
Burying Ann Hewitt
Giddy Up Gangsta
Hang the Wench
Her Demise, My Rise
I Don't Want to Die in Texas
I Wrestled a Bear Once
Job for a Cowboy
Kids Will Be Skeletons
My Virgin Eyes
No Penguins in Alaska (logo has to be seen to be believed!)
School Girl Knife Fight
Sever the Head of Potemkin
She is a Liar
Surcease Angels
The Boy Will Drown
The Hacksaw Circumcision (Well done, guys)
The New Tony Bennett
The Texas Chainsaw Mascara
They Found Her in Pieces
To Envy the Horrid

Let me just say, NONE of this attitude existed when I was 18. There was "ironic metal," to be sure, but there was no "ironic death metal," and while I'm glad to see that metal is no longer just the domain of longhairs, I can't say that I understand kids today.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Favorite Death Metal song of the moment

Immolation "Nailed to Gold" off their second album

Especially the chorus riff, but especially the guitar solo.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Upcoming Posts

Gorguts- Considered Dead
Pestilence- Testimony of the Ancients
Incantation- Onward to Golgotha
Necrophagist- Epitaph
Origin- Antithesis

stay tuned in!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Suffocation- Despise the Sun

As good as Suffocation is, their entire sound is so close to being just a trick of production, that it's hard to think of their discography as other than a string of predictably great, monolithic works, with every deviation an "unwise" one. Unpredictable on the micro level, Suffocation is highly predictable on the macro level. Stick to what you know!

Even today Suffocation, playing basically in the same style as when they first started, seem impossibly futuristic and brutal--almost "high-tech" or bionic in their approach to blasting super-heavy death metal. Despise the Sun is their 1998 CD EP, after which the band went on hiatus until 2004's Souls To Deny, which picked up in exactly the same place. 

Ok, so the entire point of this blog is to distinguish between similar-sounding releases, and to find what is essential about Suffocation *aside from* their distinctive sound. Meaning, anyone can tell you what this band is all about after 45 seconds... and so that reaction is hardly worth writing. 

The great virtue of this band is the organicity of their countless part-changes. Whereas many bands pride themselves on the dizzying start-stop technicality of their riff salad songwriting, Suffocation go one better: they make the complicated arrangements seem natural rather than affected.

Despise the Sun presents a very stripped-down version of Suffocation: two songs under three minutes, no song longer than four minutes (whereas many of the songs on Pierced From Within are over five minutes, and *none* shorter than four). The songs are therefore easier to follow, and they have cut down on guitar solos. What a lot of people probably don't know about death metal is how boring and part-filled it can be. By "part" I mean "one part after another"--the feeling of, "when will this end?" Despise the Sun has absolutely zero of this--it's completely engaging for the whole 16 minutes. The band never tries to bring any "attitude" or "concept" to the proceedings, which is a great relief in 2009, when every band has to be into Egyptian or Babylonian or Gaelic mythologies... yawn. Suffocation just want to rock here, and by keeping it lean and unpretentious, they produce what in sports broadcasting is called 'a clinic'--they make it look easy, and everyone else looks like chumps. 

What makes death metal shitty is inevitably the following things:
  • ambient tracks
  • emo lyrics
  • imagery moved to the forefront
  • mixing of sub-genres ("blackened death," "deathrash," "deathcore," "deathgrind")
  • Cannibal Corpse syndrome: lyrical shock value a crutch
  • using the same musical devices too often
  • slow
Suffocation avoid every trap here, and it's a brief and enjoyable triumph. Start elsewhere with this band, but...y'know... cherish this one.

Score: 4/5 stars (****)
Best songs: Bloodchurn, Catatonia


Monday, March 9, 2009

Necrophagist- Onset of Putrefaction

I'm glad that I am first hearing this album when I am 25 years old. This is the most outrageously "technical" death metal I've heard, and of course it is almost laughable in the number of changes, squeals, odd rhythms, and sheer quantity of PARTS in a given song--it is quite a stretch to include this in the same genre as Scream Bloody Gore, Horrified, Reek of Putrefaction, etc. Almost all of the early death metal classics are very simple, whereas this *very* late iteration is a one-person blender, with no possibility for toe-tapping, and likely to be derided as "masturbatory" by everyone who is not an aspiring youtube guitar hero himself. 

But let me pose the question otherwise: let's not come down on the "technicality" issue just yet; rather, is this record enjoyable to listen to? does it grow on you? It's best not to approach music with genre-blinders on ("Oh, it's too 'technical' for me.") 

First off, this is ridiculous fun--if Cannibal Corpse was too repetitive for any but the most attention-starved 14 year old, this is all the enjoyable shock and kitsch of Cannibal Corpse, dressed up as real music--and what music! Every riff is embellished, every stop/start part operates in stereo, nothing is played the same twice. It's impossible to follow, of course, but unlike Cannibal Corpse it is never boring. 

Secondly, by taking death metal to this "extreme," somehow the music has lost all the raw aggression, heaviness, intensity, et al, of extreme metal--vocals and tempos aside, this could almost be new age ambient sounds... in a manner of speaking. For die-hard old school fans, this will be a major drawback, but it is what it is. This music's not hard. After a few listens, there is nothing "sick" or "crazy" about it.

Thirdly, it's completely addictive. I've listened to this record 4 times today already--whether one can burn out on it or not, we'll see, but it's full of neat parts and a lot of it is really standout. 

Any discourse about "needless wankery," "music for robots," "no soul," "not catchy," "too technical," "actually not that hard to play"--really fall by the wayside when you approach this album the right way. It's fun and quite addictive. Strangely this band has found a kind of popularity by playing this absurd style, and who's to say that I am not missing some authentic core, but if a band is "pandering" by writing three million cool little parts, that is the particular kind of condescension that doesn't bother me.

Score: 4/5 stars (****)
Best songs: "Mutilate the Stillborn," "Fermented Offal Discharge"