Saturday, June 30, 2018

Control Denied - The Fragile Art of Existence (1999)

   After the last Death album Chuck Schuldiner finally had the chance to focus on his side project named Control Denied, that gave him an opportunity to keep merging into progressive metal between more melodic musical frames.
   Musically "The Fragile Art of Existence" sounds like the next step after Death's "Symbolic". Plenty of themes are sounding like to refer back to that album, while there are no signs of the needlessly overcomplicated frippery themes of "The Sound of Perseverance". The typical Mr. Schuldiner-styled themes and song compositions are waving back druring listening. The easily recognizable bass lines of Steve DiGiorgo also had important role to form the main charecteristics of the album, and of course to give another Death reference, in this case to "Individual Thought Patterns". The vocal style of Tim Aymer is able to make jelous any power or heavy metal singer, and definitely fits better to progressive ambitions than growling. The lyrical background is fortunately more serious than power/heavy metal lyrics used to be, and follows the almost philosophical approach of societal problems, that was the main feature of the late Death albums too. So even though Control Denied used to show something different than Mr. Schuldiner's main project, it became the part of the Death life work.

Spirit Caravan - Jug Fulla Sun (1999)

   Spirit Caravan just continued where The Obsessed, a strongly Black Sabbath influenced doom band stopped.
   First the difference may be barely noticable in general, even though Spirit Caravan involved stoner rock influences too, so they sounded heavier. And by this heavier sound they were not just like a Black Sabbath influenced band, but it seemed like they got free from their ties and showed what Black Sabbath overdose may mean. The members probably listened to them from day to night so that completely infested their minds. The stoner influence was not only useful to turn their sound heavier but also gave a gentle psychedelic touch to their music and the desert rock feeling that became indispensable since the '90s for a band that chose to play in '70s style. "Jug Fulla Sun" is like a short encyclopedia of how to plant a specific styled of old school (Black Sabbath influenced) music into the '90s and keep it updated. Even though their concept was quite unifacial, they've tried all possible ways to entertain the listener between these borders, and the album is definitely enjoyable.

Acid King - Busse Woods (1999)

   Acid King progressed a lot since their self-titled debut EP. They sparked attention as a female fronted stoner/doom band, that may sound extraordinary even nowadays, but not long after stoner rock was born it was quite genuine.
   Their early bold and raw sound turned to excellence on the third album. On "Busse Woods" they had the usual 'heavy as hell' sound, assisted by a very effective psychedelic atmosphere. The themes are the same enjoyable and slowly rolling than before, and the difference may seem minimal compared to their previous works, but the main feeling is way catchier than before was. The bass takes the leading role often too, and a wider perspective of themes could be heard. Miss Lori has a powerful voice that became one of the iconic features of the style. The desolated and down-pulling feeling reminds to the early Hole albums mainly because of the hopeless vocal style and the self-destructive background concept, but "Busse Woods" isn't chaotic at all. It leads the listener slowly and certainly to it's inevitable doom. A well composed and unified masterpiece by one of the earliest unique stoner rock bands!

Hazael - The Kiss and Other Movements (1998)

   Hazael appeared as a Scandinavian mythology inspired death metal band of the Polish underground scene in the early '90s. After one album and a split-up they returned with something different.
   While most older death metal bands turned progressive or into a popular direction, others tried gothic doom metal. Hazael chose the second path, but somehow things just didn't work out like at the big names in this style. Even though the concept is related to gothic ambitions, "The Kiss and Other Movements" was a heavier album, and reminded more of stoner/doom than ordinary gothic doom. The melancholic touch is very strong, but it's definitely not the emotional breakdown of dark feminine male love machines. The album sounds too badass for that, groovier than classic doom used to be, but lacks the psychedelic features to count as stoner rock. The vocals may sound weird and amateur sometimes, but fits to the music and together they created a raw main view. The old school touch is strong, so it's like a kind of extraordinary doom metal, a genuine experiment for the late interpretation of the style. The album is very enjoyable and instead of the gothic lovesickness or the stoned levitation includes a different feeling that may sound familiar from somewhere, but still  maybe it wasn't even made in this form yet.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Runemagick - The Supreme Force of Eternity (1998)

   Göteborg is well known about it's melodic death metal scene, but fortunately not only melodic death bands appeared there. Even though Runemagick counts as an oldie formation, and has a quite long and exciting discography, they are definitely one of the less known Swedish death metal bands. 
   For almost a decade they released demos only, but it was worth to wait, because "The Supreme Force of Eternity" became a very genuine album. It's definitely uncommon as Swedish death metal, different sound than usual, far more louder, more intense, more melodic, and includes a feeling that couldn't be compared to any other bands of the local scene. There are no signs of ordinary pagan or modern paganist references in the lyrics, but somehow their music may fit better as a soundtrack to an early medieval viking massacre. It's enough rude, aggressive and primitive, but still there are the melodies that are creating a catchy balance. And in the case of Ragnarök please go forward to song "The Supreme Force". In general it's a diverse and enjoyable album, a rare late came death metal masterpiece.

Soulburn - Feeding on Angels (1998)

   After Asphyx was split-up, guitarist Eric Daniels and drummer Bob Bagchus decided to continue to play in a new project. They borrowed Wannes Gubbels from Pentacle and founded Soulburn.
   Asphyx somehow wasn't the same since Martin van Drunen was quit from the band. Something was missing, and the following albums just didn't had the same catchy feeling like "The Rack" and "Last One on Earth" had. With Soulburn that missing feeling returned, and the band just sounded like some incarnation of old Asphyx. The simple, but characteristic and easily recognizable guitar themes, the heavy sound, the overwhelming netherworld-like impression and the despretate suffocating vocal style were reunited again. This is a combination of doom influenced death metal that no one is able to play in such a high quality like they did. "Feeding on Angels" was an excellent album without any weak points. The interesting thing that a few years later they continued as Asphyx with the same line-up, so the sense of this little intermezzo may seem questionable. But definitely not useless, cause Soulburn brought back something essential into the underground scene, and for the old fans.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Pentacle - ...Rides the Moonstorm (1998)

   Not all death metal bands were influenced by the late progression and modernized sound of the style. Pentacle was another late arrived old band, and they preferred to stay at the old school sound of death.
   Their intense, strongly thrash influenced music refers to one decade earlier, when death metal was born, so "...Rides the Moonsorm" is like an excellent nostalgic album. Since thrash metal almost completely disappeared from the main scene (except a few old bands), it sounds refreshing too. And all made straight by authentic old school musicians. The themes often referring to Celtic Frost, but the influence of Asphyx is also mentionable mainly because of the vocal style. Frontman Wannes Gubbels' growling style was very similar to Martin van Drunen's suffocating voice. That didn't avoid the attention of Asphyx either, so lately Mr. Gubbels found himself in that band too for a while. From aggressive hammering they sometimes switching to slower middle speed, which occasions are the most common source of the Celtic Frost influenced themes, and increasing the effectiveness of their music. A stunning nostalgic album for the old school fans!

Mangled - Ancient Times (1998)

   There were plenty of death metal bands which formed in the early '90s, but couldn't manage their debut with ideal timing to join to the large wave of underground music in time. One of these late arriving bands was Mangled.
    Even though "Ancient Times" is definitely an old school death metal album, it's late timing could be sensed by it's more diverse musical features. The influence of Sinister is evident, but the band also liked to experiment with other styles (like doom metal for instance, but the open-eared listener may find more mainstream influences too) and to involve melodies. The brutal old school start ends up with some already modern death metal impression. In general "Ancient Times" souns like the mix of Sinister and Apophis, their musical concept was similar to what early German death metal bands did. They tried to put sumeting new and refreshing-like into the ordinary old school sound. The lyrics are far more interesting too, introducing horror and gore in life, mostly in relation with religious and historical references. That reminds to the late lyrical concept of Death, and they also formed a positive message between the lines.
   Mangled was like one of the last convulsions of the once remarkable Dutch undergound metal scene.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Last Days of Humanity - The Sound of Rancid Juices Sloshing Around Your Coffin (1998)

   All extreme genres tried to push their boundaries, to go further always, but there is an end of the line in all cases. If there is a possible ending border for grindcore, Last Days of Humanity certainly found it.
   While the pioneers of gore- and porngrind appeared on the late '80s and early '90s, the other exaggerated point, the completely noise-based animalistic insanity arrived a bit later. So nothing really left for the followers of the grindcore renaissance about a decade later, than to mix these basics. Still, probably it would be impossible to surpass what Last Days of Humanity did and still doing. This insane noise that went so far from musicality as it's possible, but still tried to keep the basic features of grindcore. The animalistic vocals are probably artificially distorted and they are mainly responsible for the extremely brutal effect of their music. The concept stayed on the line of goregrind, and they performed it's most exaggerated aspect. Later the band went even further of course and became even noisier. Their debut was only like a warm-up, so the lovers of extreme gore couldn't be disappointed.

Iron Monkey - Our Problem (1998)

   Iron Monkey was the most influental sludge metal band on the side of Eyehategod and Buzzov•en. They had an important role in determing the characteristics of the genre.
   Their music could be a perfect example to introduce the mix of desperate anger, disgust and bitterness. After the heavy sludge masterpiece self-titled debut album they returned with another one, and by "Our Problem" they successfully exceeded themselves. The doom influences decreased, but their songs didn't lose from their heaviness. They became more intese and more complex too even in the case of extented song lenght. The very noisy sound remained as an important feature, but "Our Problem" is also quite groovy and riff-centric compared to the first album. It's like a heavy, chaotic rampage, probably the angriest, and one of the most enjoyable sludge metal albums. The iconic insane, inarticulated screaming vocal style of Johnny Morrow had an important role in forming this impression. Real musickness from the impoverished metal scene of the late '90s!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Mortem - The Devil Speaks in Tongues (1998)

   It's always a good reference if a band is from South America. Their style gave some plus, something deviant to the exaggerated metal genres.
   Mortem is one of the oldest South American extreme bands, but it took a long time until their first full-lenght album came out. Unlike most similar old school bands from that region, Mortem sounded like being only into death metal, they didn't mix other styles that much like others did. The thrash influences are evident, as a basic component of old school death in general, but they didn't balance on the borders of extreme genres. Their first album, "Demon Tales" was an intense debut with aggressive hammering and some insane impression, assisted strictly by occult and satanic lyrical background, and by "The Devil Speaks in Tongues" they have returned with the same awesome themes, but with better sound quality. Their second coming sounded heavier and more intense, and counted already as a nostalgic record that reminds of the old times of the geniune and remarkable South Ameican underground scene.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Sixty Watt Shaman - Ultra Electric (1998)

   Sixty Watt Shaman debuted with a quite stunning and intense debut influenced by the earliest wave of stoner rock.
   Their music became more chilling lately and reached similar intensiveness only for a few songs, but "Ultra Electric" sounded far more frustrated compared to their late works. As most stoner bands used to have plenty of '70s references, it's not surprising, that Sixty Watt Shaman was also catched by the renaissanse of old school influences, but they also liked to involve southern rock to turn their music a bit more groovy. Heavy sound and a wilder impression was in main focus, the psychedelic influences are almost completely missing from "Ultra Electric", so it was probably one of the grooviest stoner rock albums of the '90s. And their best album too. While many bands seem like to turn tired during a record, Sixty Watt Shaman did the oppoiste this time and the listener may wonder where are their boders, how far they will go. That's the freshness of a debuting band who wanted to show what they are made from, and tested themselves the same time. Party compatibility on maximum!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Levelled - Disintegration of Humanity (1998)

   If anyone missed old school death metal in the late '90s, it was still possible to find, but usually by too late formed bands and at uncommon locations. Levelled was one of them, and their one and only album maybe served as a nostalgia material for the most persistent death metal fans.
   As the genre went through a few changes and took different trends meanwhile, the old school styled bands didn't avoid some new influences either. "Disintegration of Humanity" was a raw experimenting album of a beginner band, and a sick and aggressive old school record the same time. Their ambitions could be compared to Phantasm, by playing something primitive and intense, but occasionally adding some melodies, atmosphere, and referring back even to the '80s by catchy guitar themes. Almost technical, but still keep returning to the simple basics. The poor sound quality also reminding to the rehearsal room-demo feeling of Phantasm. The complex and different musical influences of the band members could often result a similarly raw main view, but the experimenting ambitions had an important role too. A barely known, but interesting album!

Evoken - Embrace the Emptiness (1998)

   Funeral doom had a quite inspirational effect for those who were looking for new kind of impulses in musical extremeness. Evoken referred to Thergothon as their main inspiration, the very first pioneer of the style, and soon they became the most popular funeral doom band.
   Compared to the the earliest bands in this style, Evoken focused on excellent sound quality since the beginning, to reach maximum effectiveness to the strong atmosphere they are operating with. While in Thergothon distorted noises and keyboards with '80s touch were resposible fot the atmosphere, the clear sound gave wider possibilites. Evoken liked to involve lots of melodies too, so their death/doom influences are referring to the audience friendlier style of the subgenre. The returning melodies are not letting their music to slip into the depths of endless monotonize features, so even though the song leghts are decently extented, they don't become boring. Evoken always trying all possibilities how to keep their long mourning ballads intense enough. Since the melodies and the atmosphere having main role, the deep growling vocals are responsible for the heaviness.

Friday, June 8, 2018

System of a Down - System of a Down 1998)

   Nu metal was not even accepted as a metal subgenre by the fans of the old school styles because of it's mixing tendencies with different music genres which had nothing to do with metal. This style had some very useful effort though, to gain and lead back a huge audience into metal music.
   System of a Down was one of the best selling and most successful nu metal bands by their genuine style that was easy to distinguish from the tons of other newbies. Their message was more intersting and serious too, but also weird the same time. Political, societal topics appeared commonly on the side of drug abuse related and nonsense lyrics. Common and sudden speed and theme changes were resposnible for the intensiveness of their music, and the very large vocal range of Serj Tankian only increased it's effectiveness. It's hard to shoo off the thought after every listening that Acid Bath may had a strong influence on their musical concept. "Toxicity" brought the real success for them, but the raw basics of their concept are more showy on the debut album. The band just didn't fit into the line of the ordinary nu metal bands, and that was exactly the thing that made a band successful that time in this already dead genre.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Corrupted - Paso Inferior (1997)

   If sludge metal isn't enough demoralizing, why not mix it with doom? Most bands in this style doing the same partly for the heavier effect, and partly because this offers them wider perspectives. In the case of Corrupted, the first could have been the main reason.
    Their music counts very exaggerated even in sludge/doom, and they are probably one of the most demoralizing and audience-unfriendly bands ever. "Paso Inferior", their full-lenght debut included only one album lenght song. To extent a track like that points through on the ordinary concept of the style. It's not the noisy sound that is assisting to the simple, raw themes to increase their effectiveness... it's only about the noise. The lyrics are Spanish, that may sound weird from a Japanese band, but for a so slow music like this, no long lyrics are needed, and anyway it's only about one song. In truth Corrupted is like the musical version of dadaism, to deny every rules that may be important in music business. There were similar ambitions in plenty of genres, but none of them were so authentic like this band. Unpopular style and concept, uncommon language selection, noise in focus instead of themes (or melodies, but yeah, even to name melodies may sound folly), exaggerated demoralizing in extented lenght, no promo pics of the band, no importance of image or visual designs. So to think again what rebellious ambitions could mean in music, may sound reasonable. Like most Japanese bands, they are also known about their productiveness, so the lovers of extreme demoralization can chose from plenty of Corrupted materials to set up their gloomy days.