Wednesday, February 28, 2018

November Grief - To Live... In This World of Chaos (1995)

   After first listening November Grief may sound like a death metal band with such brutal ambitions, that the question may show up, why were they gone so soon? After gaining some plus information, things would seem more complex, but the question stands still.
    Similar to Mythic, November Grief was a female death metal band, but compared to Mythic they were musically more progressed, and intense, raw brutality was their concept. It wouldn't be easy to find out that female vocals could be heard. "To Live... In This World of Chaos" was only a demo, but it's clear that their music was updated both in style and sound. Even though lyrics about equality, weed legalization, or world crisis problems doesn't fit to the musical concept that much, the main impression is enough stunning. But after Christian death metal, why not? If this is the best way how to emphasize their message, and without reading the lyrics, nobody would expect that. We could also say that November Grief was ahead of it's time since nowadays plenty of bands appeared who may sound rough, but they are not into horror/gore, based topics, or anything negative at all. The difference is that while this actual direction had some specific subcultural-fashion prelude, November Grief had not such influence that time, only came with their genuine imaginations.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Naphobia - Of Hell (1995)

   Naphobia doesn't count as a late arrived band, and they were at the best location with the best timing too. They probably experienced in first hand in Florida as it's notorious death metal scene was unleashed and had it's golden age. Still their debut came out late and they split-up shortly after.
   Their one and only full-lenght album was like a melting pot, a little bit of everything that could be included by their first hand experiences. During listening many names may show up as possible influences, like Morbid Angel, Deicide, early Obituary, or Acheron. But this crazy raw mass couldn't succeed only by the classics of death metal. With time even some early thrash/death attitude could be sensed, referring to bands who tried to increase their level of extremity by the speed, like Sadus did. By the actual sound it effects heavier of course and reminds to Ripping Corpse. "Of Hell" sounds like a late came report that summarized how the Floridan scene was like. Seperating it's specific components to reunite them for an individual perspective. Too early for a nostalgia album, but too late for sparking wider attention... Still an old school classic.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Ceremonium - Into the Autumn Shade (1995)

   While old school death metal was fading away, only a few old bands kept playing their original style and even less new bands tried to start anything similar. Ceremonium's debut was an excellent example of ordinary death/doom, free from any popular ambitions.
   "Into the Autumn Shade" was a melancholic and desperately dark album, but didn't try to operate much with gloomy aesthetics. The way of approach is still raw sometimes, such as the main composition, still it's enjoyable and their goal is clear. The returning strong atmoshpere sets on a down pulling impression, but the slow and very heavy themes and the brutally deep growling having the main role. Compared to the early classics of death/doom, this atmosphere and some occasional changes are modern features. Something similar could be heard already by Disembowelment on maximum intensiveness. So even if the album kept the old roots, it was also opened to newer influences in some ways. This temperate step made "Into the Autumn Shade" different from the earlier classics of the genre, but still fits into the line of the heaviest ones.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Death - Symbolic (1995)

     I hate that this album gets called overrated by a portion of the metal community. But hey, opinions are like assholes. Symbolic was the first album by Death I ever listened to and will, hands down, always be my favorite Death album. It's one of those death metal albums you listen to over, and over again, and each time you're reminded of all the different elements found in this album that make it an absolute progressive/death metal classic.
     The album is notably as progressive as previous albums but delivered with more intensity, more speed, and I guess you could say, a few hints of more non-metal influence? Groove, perhaps? We'll call it melody. Upbeat tempos and heavy riff arrangements keep this album from being anything but boring. This album is full of memorable moments, from intellectual lyrical structure to riff transition.

     To the left and to the right
     From behind - they're out of sight 
     Plunging into a new found
     Age of advanced observeillance 
     A world wide, foolproof cage 

     Privacy and intimacy as we know it
     Will be a memory 
     Among many to be passed down
     To those who never knew

     Living in the pupil of 1000 eyes

     This album is enough to keep my attention the entire length, and that's what I deemed the deciding factor whenever I was asked what my favorite Death album was. It's difficult to pin down exactly which Death album should be deemed the most influential, the most creative, the most unequivocally death metal album of our times, but what is certain is that Symbolic is up among the top of the ranks. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Solstice - Pray (1995)

   After their stunning debut Solstice returned with another masterpiece. "Pray" is probably one of the most effective and intense thrashing records of the '90s.
   The first album had an excellent old school sound, but compared to that "Pray" went even forward. The sound became very dirty and strong, but still enough clear to enjoy even the bass lines. This is where the importance of the sound was revealed again, and that increased the level of aggressiveness so much, that "Pray" seems to be closer to death metal than being only on the borderline of thrash and death. The lyrics about societal problems and inner struggles turning the main impression wilder than the horror or gore based topics that are more common to find in musical extremity. It's like a more authentic way to unleash the anger that came from the everydays frustration that turns the individual dumb and forcing to drift with the tide. By it's remarkable headbanger compatibility, "Pray" could offer an alternative way of temporary relief, to break out from the forced playroles. An outstanding classic!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Crimson Thorn - Unearthed (1995)

   If there would be a contest like "the most brutal Christian metal band", Crimston Thorn would immidiately win that by "Unearthed".
   Christian death metal isn't a common thing to find, but fortunately (or unfortunately?) some bands found their way of self-expression in this exaggerated paradox. Of course Chrimson Thorn don't had it's influences from gospel music, but from the less Christian main scene instead. Early Suffocation and Obituary could be mentioned after their very harsh sound, vocal style, intense hammerings and common mid speed themes. Musically "Unearthed" isn't so complex, but not so groovy either, stays on the middle way. It's a great mix that shows the brutal taste of both sides and could be enjoyable without turning to sound too monotone. The lyrics are compromise-less and similar exaggerated as the music, so the aggressive aspect of the religious concept should be expected. Heavier in all-round than their comrade band Mortification was, but their name is maybe less known. That's partly because cause it's hard to imagine that religious people would listen to Christian death metal, and the concept may be divisive for the ordinaty death metal audience. However, it's an interesting classic!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Phantasm - The Abominable (1995)

   "The Abominable" by Phantasm is a forgotten and barely known gem of old school death metal. Includes their demo and a single. Even though the band was probably at the wrong place at the wrong time, this compilation could be mentioned on the side of the biggest names of the genre.
   Their music had such a sick impression that cannot be compared to anything else. It's partly based ot the melodies they operated with, and partly on the common and unexpected changes during the album. It's not simply based on showing contrast or seeking for effectiveness, their music was well composed and diverse. Of course in '95 it was fit to the main ambitions of the extreme scene, but Phantasm was different and cannot be called a progressive or technical band. Doom influences and fast hammering are same usual, but mid speed is the most common that allows the appearence of the sick melodic themes. The quality and the imperfection of the sound tells already that it was used to be a demo only, but still it's very enjoyable. "The Abominable" is a very underrated and genuine death metal classic.

Novembers Doom - Amid Its Hallowed Mirth (1995)

   By following the path of Paradise Lost-influenced death/doom metal, Novembers Doom gave a new dark shade to the style with it's debut "Amid Its Hallowed Mirth".
   Later the band turned into a melodic, gothic influenced direction with common clear singing and gave more role for the atmoshperic sound, but the first album was their heaviest one. Not progression or diverse themes were in their focus, they've step back to the ordinary roots of doom. So except that the concept wasn't different from other bands in this style, it was based on melancholy, heavy sound, emotional background and strong atmosphere. The features of their late style were there on the first album too, but the occasional opera styled female singing and the atmosphere on "Amid Its Hallowed Mirth" could serve only as some contrast to the very heavy, distorted sound and deep growling. Novembers Doom was one of those bands who determined the sound of late '90s and early '00s main metal scene on the side of bands like Paradise Lost, SentencedTiamat, Katatonia, My Dying Bride, Moonspell, or Therion, only their name was less known for some reason.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Demonic Christ - Punishment for Ignorance (1995)

   Demonic Christ was one of the rare American bands of the '90s who tried to experiment with black metal, led by Dana Duffey who was known from the short living female death metal project Mythic.
   Even if Miss Duffey's vibes were correct about the uprising of a new extreme genre, this style-changing ambition wasn't so successful for the audience. Black metal had to wait a lot to ooze in with wider welcome into the American scene. Even after the exhaustion of death metal the audience wasn't so receptive in this way. That could be sensed on "Punishment for Ignorance" too, cause even though the band proved that they play well in ordinary Norse black metal style too, the album ended up as raw black/death with plenty of incipient themes and often immature sounding lyrics. Maybe the more direct and therefore stronger death metal influences are responsible for that, but probably the band members didn't catch the main feeling so much yet as they wanted to. It was good for an experiment and an authentic update for the local scene, but also showed that the time didn't come for this style yet. They've stuck somewehere between Norse black metal and Deicide, Morbid Angel influenced blasphemies without unified sound.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Filter - Short Bus (1995)

   Both the founding members of Filter (Richard Patrick and Brian Liesegang) have worked with Trent Reznor, but since in Nine Inch Nails they didn't have any creative role, they have started to work together in their own band.
  Filter was musically influenced by the 2 most determining mainstream musical directions of the early '90s: industrial rock and grunge. For the first probably their past in Nine Inch Nails could be also found responsible. 16 Volt's second album was made by the same recipe, so it wasn't a so genuine thing that time. The interesting thing in their music (that also makes it different from other similar bands) is that even though it was a high quality production, it lacks passion and deep/serious approach. They may sound heavy sometimes, Mr. Patrick enjoys to shout too, but nothing else. There's no real emotional, intense, rebelling or aggressive breakthrough, they prefer to stay behind a line that they've never crossed. Somehow the disturbance that should be expected from a basically disturbed style is missing. It's partly because of grunge, cause it always preferred to keep stagnating in some powereless state all the time, and probably English rock bands (like Oasis or Blur) also had some influence on their music, since they are famous about playing so intense that almost makes them falling asleep even on the stage. That style and tone had a quite large audience, so it's not surprising that the band's debut was a great success. And they've showed a different aspect of the actually modern musical tendencies, that haven't been so widespread yet in the US that time.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Grief - Come to Grief (1994)

   As doom metal was one of the essential components of sludge metal, it might be not surprising if sludge bands like to merge with that genre. And they do that very often.
   Grief as one of the most important classical bands in this style did that in an impressive way the first time. The combination of the harsh rehearsal-like noise and the slow, heavy themes created an even unfriendlier and more demoralizing impression even in sludge, which had these as main features. The genre was still young then, but it was probably clear already that it couldn't offer many opportunities if it's about diversity. Grief just opened the way for the possible depths after Eyehategod and Buzzov•en. Hate on the maximum level, endless disgust, but pain and hopelessness also could be sensed while listening. Disappointment is the main source of this desperate rage, and that turns it passive, more self-destructive and agonizing. It's not the rampaging rage but the suffering kind that will consume itself with time, because there is no way out. "Come to Grief" introduced another possible drastical endgame for the unstable state of mind.