Thursday, November 30, 2017

Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral (1994)

   "The Downward Spiral" by Nine Inch Nails was probably one of the most influental albums of the '90s. A reasonable masterpiece that determined the late direction of many related genres.
   The most exciting feauture of the early NIN albums is that they are far different from each other, but still there is something common in them that's leaving no doubts about that all of them came from the same source. That's what happened on "The Downward Spiral", the same diversity appeared in one album. All songs could be sorted to a different style, having a different impression, but still one by one they are the essential parts of a great whole, and introducing a method how a disturbed personality goes deeper into consuming itself. This self-torment goes through on personal desires, disappointments, anger, greed, depression, pain, and of course self-destruction. The way how simple rhytmic noises, repetitive industry sounds and primitive melodies building on each other and creating an exciting main view, is definitely a genuine feature of the album. It shows that even the tiniest components could have important role in the main musical view if everything is well composed. What else could be the most genious aspect of musical minimalism, if not to show how to tell more by less? Exactly that made "The Downward Spiral" an everlasting classic: complexity by simplicity.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Fear of God - Toxic Voodoo (1994)

   After the endless amount of extreme metal it could have been refreshing to hear some music with a bit older references, and different concept. Some metal bands which didn't try to join to the brutality contest.
   The main scene was changing in general, but Fear of God still had it's own way. While technical and progressive features started to spread, predicting the upcoming end of the extreme wave, they turned back to their basics, into thrash metal. While "Within the Veil" was quite diverse in influences, "Toxic Voodoo" may seem one-sided compared to the previous album. The gothic, doom touch was almost gone, and intensiveness took the main role. Only the disturbed vocal style of Dawn Crosby kept the two different aspects on the same ground by it's gloomy, atmospheric impression. That was like a reference to D├ętente, but this album was much wilder musically, while by the vocals a sharp contrast was created. It's not easier to catch the feeling like on "Within the Veil" was, but the heavy riffings and excellent themes are very helpful. Unfortunately the bad omens which were just flowing from miss Crosby's performance, soon became reality, and by her death, "Toxic Voodoo" was the swansong of the band.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Mayhem - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1994)

When you manage to dig into the history of Black Metal further than all of the pop culture references and riddles of band members stabbing and eating each other, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas holds a solid spot as one of the most influential Black Metal albums of all time. The entire album serves as a demonstration to the raw power behind the Norwegian Black Metal scene as a musical entity. The grim circumstances surrounding the album certainly draw those who are curious about the bands history into a closer look at the album- when it comes to Mayhem, if you haven't at least seen the album cover to Dawn of the Black Hearts, you've at least heard  De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. It's classic monocromatic cover is almost as haunting as the details surrounding the completion of the album. And while some will argue that only the versions that Per "Dead" Ohlin recorded are worthy enough of the name, the studio album is both a well mixture of raw atmospheric and symphonic speed that is raw from the pits of hell all in the same recording.
     While Mayhem's previous vocalist had been Swedish, Csihar was from Hungary. His style was somewhat atypical for Nordic black metal then, and provoked a mixed reception from fans, some giving him the nickname Attila 'Fingernails' Csihar. This tortured vocal style continued to influence a plethora of black metal bands, such as Dissection, Immortal, Carpathian Forest, and Behemoth.

Cannibal Corpse - The Bleeding (1994)

As the 4th studio album for death metal band Cannibal Corpse, The Bleeding holds value in metal history not only for it's musical context and lyrical stigma, but for it's progression for the band and it's members. The Bleeding would be the last album with founding member Chris Barnes, and the first for guitarist Rob Barrett. While Barnes was no doubt an extraordinary force behind what made Cannibal Corpse the controversial death metal band that they are, Barnes left the group in 1995 because of "personal differences". Fans of Cannibal Corpse were torn once learning of the singers decision to leave, and arguably, the early records with Barnes on vocals are often considered by long time fans the best albums when it comes to lyrical content and musical diversity throughout the songs. 
     The Bleeding is easily Cannibal Corpse's most successful album to date, and it's often the choice album for death metal collectors, even if they aren't the biggest CC fans. Most people notice the different musical angle the band took with The Bleeding, being called more of a "groove" feeling throughout the album and more technical speed in guitar and drum beats, as opposed to blast beats on previous albums. Vocally, Barnes took a slightly more decipherable approach than previously before. Refreshing riffs, such as those in "Stripped, Raped, and Strangled"are a refreshing break from the extreme brutality of the previous albums, and the true talent of bassist Alex Webster is highlighted in this top notch, mid-90's death metal must have. 

Amorphis - Tales from the Thousand Lakes (1994)

My first introduction to Amorphis was the farthest possible example of music from this album. Today they're more of an average Finnish heavy metal band; with catchy riffs, clean vocals that sometimes find death growls intermingled, and albums released that sound.. catchy and similar to the one released before it. (Kind of like owning 20 of the same album. But I'm not gonna lie, I own at least 10 of them). They've come a long way since Tales from the Thousand Lakes. However, a friend once told me that he hadn't met a metalhead who hasn't heard of this album. Enter me!
     Tales is a concept album, not the last one they'll do, based on the Finnish novel Kalevala. This album holds a complex sub-genre argument throughout it's entirety. While it's predominantly death metal, it also holds an influence of doom, melodic, and heavy or alternative themes and even folk metal. This being an earlier album than what they're known for now, this album incorporates clean vocals throughout dominant death metal vocals. Don't let the sound of synthesizers worry you, the use is far from any Bon Jovi type of sound, and is a consistent sound the band carries to this day, albeit more refined and slightly more tolerable to listen to. If it's not the entire album you can find yourself able to listen through, at least give Black Winter Day the few moments it deserves in comparison to how far the band has grown to today. A remarkable album that is "so 90's". I'm now reminded that I need to buy this band shirt.

Cryptopsy - Blasphemy Made Flesh (1994)

After their demo gained them some attention in the Canadian death metal underground, Cryptopsy released their first album Blasphemy Made Flesh in 1994. Well recorded and an instant reminder of classic early 90's death metal, Cryptopsy provides a mix of death metal and gritty groove to keep listeners interested. All the while keeping the fuzz and grind of classic 90's death metal. Artistically sloppy and raw, Lord Worm keeps the album vocally overbearing and deep, consistent throughout the album. His vocals can be described as more of an instrument, when you can't pick up the distinct words (which is like 98% of the time).  Some could argue that this album holds a sort of jazzy feel with high snare use and slappy base lines. For fans of early Cryptopsy, it's a hard toss up between Blasphemy Made Flesh and None So Vile when it comes to picking favorites, but BMF holds strong with some of Cryptopsy's best written material. Straight forward 90's death metal punch you in the fucking face sound. For an interesting and heavy dip into Death or borderlind Tech Death, this album is a go to.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Skin Chamber - Trial (1993)

   Skin Chamber was a short-lived industrial metal side project of the experimental group Controlled Bleeding. Even though they tried to reach this genre in their own reinterpetative way, it's definitely fit into the dark style of industrial that was developed by Godflesh.
   While the first album, "Wound" was closer to the inhuman noise experiments of Controlled Bleeding, "Trial" was a further step into the more musical direction. Still, both albums were called that time as a sort of 'electronic armageddon'. Both were completely guitar centric albums, but the role of riffs was higher on "Trial", not based only on the effects of distorted guitar sound. These are probably the heaviest and most demoralizing industrial metal records ever, and their level of exaggerated features could be compared only to the extreme genres of metal. Even the vocal style could fit into death metal, and while in most similar projects it's artificially distorted, here real suffocating screamings could be heard. The main impression is very unfriendly, cold, destructive and filled with hatred. "Trial" doesn't remained only as a remarkable classic, but also showed the end of the road in the darkest depths of electronic music.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Disembowelment - Transcendence into the Peripheral (1993)

   If there is a list about the best extreme metal productions of all time, Disembowelment's one and only full-lenght album should be in the top 10.
   Not because "Transcendence into the Peripheral" showed anything revolutionary new or created a new genre, it just couldn't be compared to anything else that time. The band went through the ordinary possibilities of death/doom, and they were looking for another alternative way in the same time. The main impression is closer to the classic way of approach, how Winter operated with extented song lenght, funeral doom speed, and noisy sound, but the melancholic melodies, and experimenting ambitions, which are referring to Paradise Lost, are not missing either. In this case even the simple melodies are heavily demoralizing, and having only ampliative role in the main atmosphere, which is so dark, cold and sick as it's possible. Even though the death/doom features are the most determinative, the album sounds like black metal sometimes, and occasionally it's like grindcore. In general it could be very heavy and intense the same time, or just one of those, and changing unexpectedly, like how an unstable, depressive mind functions and struggles with it's self-developed issues. From one exaggerated point to another. It's not simple to cath the main feeling, cause it's not an easy record at all. Albums which are so effective, well-composed and diverse the same time and able to connect order with disharmony, paradox with consistence, are rare to find. An everlasting classic of musickness!

Misery - A Necessary Evil (1993)

   Of course the old school style of death metal was also represented in Australia in high quality, not only it's experimenting forms. Probably Misery was the most reasonable name in this ordinary direction.
   Their debut, "A Necessary Evil" was stunning for a beginning, and included everything why this style could be preferred. Musically they tried to build on more features the same time, it's like a performance of seeking the borders of extremity. The usual intense hammering could heard, such as the slower, or mid speed to express the heaviness of their themes. But raw, chaotic, almost technical tryings also appearing, and they also wanted to reach a definitely sick level too. In lyrics the same diversity could be found, the band covered all common topics, most are like exact references. The album sounds like a little bit of everything, a melting pot of the genre, that shows the important characteristics, so it could be an excellent educaton material for the actual newbies of the local extreme scene.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Cruciform - Atavism (1993)

   Cruciform was one of the more genuine bands of the early '90s metal scene, and their one and only album, "Atavism", not only belongs to the first reasonable extreme albums of Australia, but also counts as a death/doom pioneer record.
   Even though they are officially sorted to death metal bands, their music had more diverese features and included interesting ideas. By these they stepped through the borders of the genre into a that time unusual direction. In general slow speed is dominant, the intense parts and mid speed are occasional. This and the extented song lenght are typically death/doom characteristics. A returning melodic atmoshpere turning the main view more melancholic, and most of the themes are ideal as doom metal references. The lyrical concept is the same death and horror oriented like at any other bands in this style, but by this musical background, and because of the melancholic atmosphere, "Atavism" is not an aggressive album, more like a gloomy, depressive one. And of course it's an important classic of the Australian metal scene.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Hellchild - Where the Conflict Reaches (1993)

   Even though old school death metal is rare to find in the very small Japanese metal scene, they also couldn't completely avoid the underground wave of the late '80s/early '90s.
    Hellchild is one of the few bands, who survived longer than only 1-2 album releases, and they also count as veterans. "Where the Conflict Reaches" was a strongly thrash influenced death metal album that refers back to the late '80s when they started their rageful hammering carreer as one of the first metal band in Japan and on the whole Asian continent on the side of Sabbat. And a thing in which they were certainly the first: their music didn't sound like Japanese metal, lacked most of the local features (common high yowling, weird musical solutions). The album sounds like any other '90s old school death metal album, intense, heavy, sick. The intensiveness came from the common speed and theme switches, and for the sick impression mostly the vocal style was responsible. The main view reminds to Torchure, and the way how they built up the song structures and their musical concept is similar like in the case of old German death metal bands.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Suffercation - Cryptic Existence (1993)

   The Far East is famous about countless things, but metal music is definitely not one of them, especially not death metal. However, it seems like that region also couldn't completely avoid the infestation of the early '90s extreme wave, and a few bands even joined to it, such as Suffercation did in Malaysia.
   The difficulities of recording could be sensed in the poor quality of their albums, like at most not so metal-centric areas, but their second album, "Cryptic Existence" sounds better than how "Day of Darkness" sounded. The Sokol radio impression remained though, but fortunately the distorted sound is mostly not a disadvantage in this genre. Simple themes, intense speed, very deep growling vocal style, and common, fast solos are the main features of the album. The way how they operated with the speed changes, the solo parts and an occasional second vocal, tells about an experienced band and increasing the intensiveness of the album. It's an ideal basic death metal band to introduce the genre in a region far from the main scene.
 

Death Vomit - Death Vomit (1993)

   Death Vomit was a short living project at the birth of the Russian death metal scene (as the album cover also illustrates).
   Their one and only, and self-titled album was strongly thrash influenced, and included various references to the most reasonable names of the main death metal scene, such as Death, Brutality or Cannibal Corpse. Even though their style, name and visuals may suspect some very gore and splatter centered concept, in lyrics "Death Vomit" is more into illustrating the method of deceasing and it's most morbid and absurd methods, in a horroristic way of course. Various themes and common speed changes making the album musically diverse and enjoyable, while suffocating-whispering vocals giving a wretched impression and murmurring about the alternative and less preferable ways of passing away. Compared to the other albums in that region which were inspired in first line by the '90s death metal wave, "Death Vomit" was amongst the most original ones, and became a pioneer classic.

Mortem - Amputator (1993)

   If Graveside could be described as the Russian Deicide, Mortem definitely could be marked as the Russian Cannibal Corpse. This short debut was one of the earliest death metal albums of the slowly rising Russian extreme metal scene.
   And similar to Cannibal Corpse, probably they were also forced to explain themselves, that they are not part time serial killers and they do not support violence and sexual abuse. So the similarity of their music was not only about the very familiar themes and style, or cookie moster-like deep growling, but being all-round exaggerated. Cheerful lyrics based on gore, mutilation, necrophilia and of course cannibalism entertaining the listener, who may suffer from withdrawal symptoms of musickness. To play just like the same as their inspiring band wasn't the only reasonable result of their insane musical rampage, but to reach that level of sickness in music, which isn't easy to achive. Not only the enduring high speed was needed for that, it's only for the basic, inhuman impression. The weird melodies and catchy themes having the inviting role to this chamber of rotting flesh.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Graveside - Sinful Accession (1993)

   The early '90s death metal wave arrived to Eastern Europe with delay and it wasn't represented with the same push like in West, because of financial and technical difficulities. Still some bands were produced great quality and even if their rise up was short living, they left behind some exciting albums.
   Graveside was mainly inspired by Deicide both in music and lyrics. Even their name sounded similar. The intensity and aggressiveness of their music maybe even exceeded the limitless rampage of their idols, because of the more diverse themes. As Deicide based the strenght of their music on repetitive blast beat charges, Graveside operated with a bit more diversity and that created a contrast that showed the main view more overwhelming and less monotone. But in general the themes are almost the same, and with deeper growling vocals, "Sinful Accession" could be introduced even as secret or unknown Deicide album. Yet, it's an enjoyable classic of the Russian extreme metal scene.

Extreme Deformity - Internal (1993)

   As Tormentor was the main reference in black metal for the very small Hungarian underground scene, Extreme Deformity was something similar in death metal.
   The big wave of the early '90s extreme metal wasn't so influental there, partly because of the smaller audience, and partly because of the difficulities of an album release. Extreme Deformity was one of the few who could manage it and could produce reasonable quality by their music. "Internal" was quite raw in themes and sounded rude the same time. Even though the band's name was a reference to Pungent Stench, their music was more similar to the similarly rude and primitive early Polish death metal. Some experimenting ambitions could be sensed, like they tried to operate with more complex themes and lyrical topics, or like occasionally involving clear singing, but the main rawness repressed their effectiveness. Fortunately the insane features are dominating, so an old school rampage should be expected. This album was probably not their ultimate self-expression, but more like a way of path-finding. Similar to Monastery, they tried to return almost a decade later after a name change by joining to the that time actual nu-metal wave, but without any reasonable success.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Armagedon - Invisible Circle (1993)

   As one of the oldest Polish death metal bands, and as a main influental band on the side of Vader in the development of the local scene, the hour of Armagedon finally came.
   They had to wait for a while for their full-lenght debut, even though the band exists from the late '80s already with common breaks. The same problem they had to face with like all similar bands in the whole area: to find a studio to record their music on the preferred quality. The level of aggressiveness was impressive on "Invisible Circle", Deicide could be mentioned first in line as a possible reference, but the music and the sound are suspecting the strong influence of Swedish death metal too. They tried to turn the intense, raw brutality on the maximum. It's like an overwhelming rush that vipes everything on it's way and could be compared only to the wildest albums of the early '90s death metal era. A less known but quite remarkable and enjoyable classic!

Schismatic - Circle of Evolution (1993)

   Unfortunately some old school albums were hand-down only on tape for posterity, such as "Circle of Evolution" by Schismatic. That tendency affects tipically Eastern European bands, which seemed like to exist only in the shadow of the much better known Western scene.
    Schismatic certainly didn't belong in the local elite scene either with their harsh and raw death metal music, that was one of the heaviest ones compared to the other Polish extreme metal records of those times. Compromise-less spirit, dirty sound, heavy themes and very deep growling style are the main features of the "Circle of Evolution". The rawness of the album didn't come only from the poor quality or from the fresh and not completely fixed ambitions of a young band, it's more like an experimental album which may also seeked the possible borders, how further they can get. Uncommon theme compositions and ideas are already predicting the big change that the band lately brought on. but that should be detailed later. However, the album became one of the forgotten classics of the genre and points through already on ordinary death metal by it's new path-seeker ambitions.