Sunday, December 16, 2018

Depths of Depravity - Into the Decay (2002)

   Almost a decade had to pass eventless, without any high quality underground material in the very small Hungarian metal scene that didn't produce anything interesting meanwhile but cheezy heavy- and teen metal.
   Fortunately Depths of Depravity broke that homely tradition by "Into the Decay" that counted as something extraordinary regionally too. Influenced by the modern sound of technical brutal death metal (mainly by Suffocation) they proved that it's possible to keep up with the main scene even in almost metal-less areas. The reason how a debut can be so stunning in a so complex style probably also lies in the musical past of the band members, because they played together since the mid '90s under a different name. This album was also one of the the most brutal ones of the local scene by it's heavy sound, exaggerated and compromise-less themes and sudden changes. Not to mention the insane and animalistic vocal style that was also something new to hear around. The album is well composed even though it sounds very chaotic and it's definitely not easy to go into. The bass lines are very intense and well heard so they took also an important and enjoyable role in the composition of chaos. If the listener hopes to find any catchy melodies that could be whistled on chilling weekend afternoons after a well filling lunch, it gets clear very soon that these hopes will have to shooed away fast. It's took for a long time still until the local scene went through remarkable changes, but the appearence of Depths of Depravity counted as a very promising omen.

Centinex - Diabolical Desolation (2002)

   As one of the earliest Swedish death metal bands, Centinex strenghtened the local scene since the early '90s. By always showing up with high quality records, they never disappointed the fans of the Northern style of death.
   Even though the quality of their music didn't change during the decades, their style did, probably because of the line-up changes. From the late '90s the thrash influences had more focus in their music than on their older very heavy albums like on "Malleus Maleficarum". On the side of the speed-up, the heaviness of the sound and the different, cawing-like vocal style supported the even more old school feeling. On "Diabolical Desolation" they went a bit further by involving more '80s references. Even some very nostalgic heavy metal melodies could be found. This step was also a good example of the old school tendencies of the Swedish underground scene. While the rest of the world tried to find a new, modern sound and path, they turned back to the very basic roots of metal. Even though the late style of Centinex still counts as old school death metal, they preferred to dance to mosh around the borders of metal genres, that made their music colorful and more enjoyable. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Otep - Sevas Tra (2002)

   Otep appeared as something special from the mass of nu metal bands. Their debut EP "Jihad" sounded very promising and introduced wider musical diversity during it's 15 mins than most other bands on a full-lenght record.
   But sadly in full-lenght version they didn't seem much different either. For this the extented passive suffering parts are mainly responsible, because compared to "Jihad" these took away a lot from the intensity of the album. The slow downs were needed to illustrate the inner torment of personal issues. But unlike at other bands in this style, these problems having a bit more serious ground, like childhood abuse and memories of being raped. But there is a something in common too with the heavier groups: they also had a very sick and nerve-racking song at the end of the album. The main concept of the band and their lyrical/performance style strongly reminded to Crisis, but Otep was a weaker and more generic production of course. And Miss Shamaya couldn't even reach Karyn's voice of range. She made her performance colorful by rapping, screaming, clear singing occasionally, and "growling". It's nice how nu metal and metalcore/deathcore frontmans covering their microphone with their hands to make it easier to growl, but unfortunately it's lame, and that's not what growling is about. Except these smaller "aesthetical issues", the band's full-lenght debut still belongs to the more genuine nu metal albums.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Funebrarum - Beneath the Columns of Abandoned Gods (2001)

   Until the early '00s the newer styles of death metal almost completely wiped out the existence of the old school sound from the memory of the main audience. But occasionally some bands showed up to refresh the memory of those who were not so satisfied with the progressive, brutal, technical or melodic directions.
   Funebrarum was one of the few bands who played excellent cryptic stenched death metal in the early '00s. Their debut was an all-round high quality record, similar music was extremely rare to find in those times. Even though the putrid sound had absolute role in their music, it was also a little bit more than old school death metal. Their slower and middle speed themes presumed some doom inflences too. And by checking the line-up, it's not surprising, since two of their members played in Evoken too meanwhile. If it's about influences, their music reminding of Autopsy and the Swedish style of death metal. The simple but catchy themes of Carnage, old Entombed and Grave waving back from the forgotten past, commonly interrupted by intense and noisy hammering parts. The lyrics also returned to the classic topics of death and torment just like in the "good old times". "Beneath the Columns of Abandoned Gods" wasn't only some nostalgia album, but an authentic proof that death still walks among us.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Church of Misery - Master of Brutality (2001)

   Serial killers became the part of Western pop culture, so their various appearence in entertainment industry isn't surprising. This was exactly the reason why Church of Misery found them as an inspirational influence.
   Each of their songs are dedicated to a notorious serial killer. The way how they combined this topic with a chilling but heavy stoner/doom musical backgound might sound weird first, but this combo just worked out fine. Like most other Japanese bands, they probably also spent a lot of time to analyze the genre and it's influences to create something that sounds like anything but Japanese music. And they did it with the same musical fruitfulness like usually. Church of Misery sounds like a pro American stoner band straight from Palm Desert Killifornia. They reinterpretated the style of '70s hard rock in early '90s style, and their themes including plenty of nostalgic references on the side of Black Sabbath, that is the most commonly returning one. "Master of Brutality" could be an excellent example to introduce the style and it's origin. But their lyrical topics made them genuine first of all, because to put such violent idols into the main focus wasn't usual in this style. This concept is also related to the scale of pleasure and pain (in this case death too), the difference is that in stoner rock it used to appear in everydays form. The popularity of these modern aspects of boogie men started to increase fast that time, so they just invlolved them into an uprising audience friendly style.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Ascaris - Storm of Dilemmas (2001)

   Ascaris have returned after a longer break with "Storm of Dilemmas", that became the swansong of the band and the summery of their musical work the same time.
   During their one decade long active period they had only two full-lenght albums and one EP, but each record showed a different state of their musical progression. "Storm of Dilemmas" included the melodic ambitions of "Grapes of Wrath", but also turned back to the old school sound of death metal that could be heard on their debut "Uncured Sickness". This album didn't have so catchy melodies like the EP and also wasn't so raw like the debut. It was somewhere between with it's more mature sounding themes played by already well experienced musicians. They never kept in secret that Death was an inspirational band for them by their occasionally returning references, but the influence of Death's late period is more evident in the themes of this album. And if it wouldn't be enough evidence, they also covered a song from "Symbolic". "Storm of Dilemmas" took place on the borderline of styles such as the EP back than, but in this case the band came up with more diverse themes. The album was intense and fast just like how old school death metal should be, but also introduced the modern sound of the genre. Nostalgic and progressive the same time and consumable for wider audience too. Another masterpiece by Ascaris!

Black Dawn - Blood for Satan (2001)

   With time plenty of newer black metal bands showed the ambition to try to exceed the classics of the genre in brutality and heaviness. Black Dawn was everything but a new band, cause they existed already since the early '90s, but the time for their full-lenght debut arrived a bit later.
   This raw, compromise-less path was already introduced in the North by Marduk, so a sample already existed for those who desired something wilder. Black Dawn also realized that the easiest way to level up the effectiveness of blackened themes is to decrease the atmospheric sound. And like taking a sample from the way how death metal bands tried to exceed each other in brutality a decade earlier, they tried to be more exaggerated all-round. In sound, speed and lyrics too by turning so evil as it's possible and so desperately satanic, that it should impress even the Dark Lord itself. This and the animalistic backing vocals somehow more reminding to Deicide, than to Norwegian black metal, and the common horror movie references are also like some Western-like influence and unusual to hear in ordinary black metal. Even though "Blood for Satan" musically fits perfectly to the rules of how this genre should sound like, it's something different, but couldn't disappoint the fans of raw blackened noise.