Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Death Metal Tuesday - The Dead Shall Inherit (1991)


Cannibal Corpse isn't the only death metal band out of Buffalo, New York. Baphomet played some catchy death metal before changing their name to Banished in 1992, and releasing one album. The Dead Shall Inherit is their only album as Baphomet, and it's an infectious, if rather basic, death metal offering. 

The immediate comparison would be Eaten Back to Life - era Cannibal Corpse. The song structures are simple, and the riffs are instantly accessible. Baphomet is perhaps a bit more precise in their attack than Cannibal was on their debut. The production is a bit thin, the guitars have very little bite, and the kick drum is too loud. The vocals are nice and guttural, bringing to mind early Suffocation

The Dead Shall Inherit is a rather obscure release, but it's not because it's bad, it's probably a product of over-saturation in 1991. This was an album that sounded very much like everything else, so it didn't get the attention it probably deserved. The Suffering, Vile Reminiscence, and Boiled in Blood are all well written, hook-driven, and memorable tracks. Valley of the Dead is the album favorite for me - it has an awesome mid-tempo groove and a really cool beginning. 

Baphomet is one of those bands that many will miss, simply because they only had one release, and it got buried with lesser acts that helped saturate the market and eventually kill the original death metal scene. Over twenty years later, The Dead Shall Inherit probably deserves a little love from genre fans. It gets a 3 out of 5. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Death Metal Tuesday - Repulsive Conception (1995)


Let's head back to the states for Chicago's Broken Hope and their 3rd full length, Repulsive Conception. Broken Hope play east-coast style death metal: down-tuned guitars, guttural vocals, and intricate song structure. Starting with an almost gore-grind sound on their debut, they sound almost refined on their 1995 album.

Joe Ptacek is an awesome growler - very deep and ghoulish sounding, such a classic voice. Musically they are reminiscent of Butchered at Birth - era Cannibal Corpse. Low, chromatic, with plenty of blastbeats. The production is deep and meaty without being muddy. There is enough rawness so as not to feel over-produced, but you can still hear everything that is going on, even during the blasts.

Chewed to Stubs, Pit Bull Grin, and Engorged with Impiety are all excellent old school death metal tracks. There are a couple of throwaway instrumentals, and some filler but for the most part, the album is solid. Broken Hope were an uncompromising act - always staying true to their death metal roots and never diluting their sound. The band's previous album, The Bowels of Repugnance probably has the stronger songs on it, but I find myself turning to Repulsive Conception more often, and I think it's because of the vocal performance, it's just awesome. Oh, and the Twisted Sister cover? Brilliant. This gets a 3.5 out of 5.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Death Metal Tuesday - Nespithe (1993)


As a contrast to last week's review, we'll look at another Finnish band, the incredibly weird Demilich. Their one and only legitimate release is the overly progressive Nespithe, a collection of atonal, rhythmically complex death metal tunes guaranteed to clear rooms of people. If you want people to go home at the end of a party, just blast Nespithe for about 10 minutes and it should do the trick.

That's not to say Demilich are bad, they just have a very narrow audience. Broken rhythms and chromatic riffs are the norm. There are also very few chords on the guitars, almost exclusively single note riffs. Also, I have a theory that they don't play the same note twice in succession. I haven't proven this, but it certainly sounds like I'm right.

I've avoided discussing the vocals until now. If there were a contest for the vocalist who sounds the most like he's belching, Antti Boman would be the clear winner. There's no better explanation, he sounds like "burp, burp, burp." This makes it difficult for many a death metal fan to get into Demilich, but with an open mind, it's actually kind of cool - albeit rather limiting.

Demilich are a death metal band without comparison. It may even be a rather liberal move to put them in the genre, because their musical approach is so technical and progressive. It's not your standard death metal by any means, but they were definitely part of the movement. Nespithe can be fun, but in all honesty, I have a hard time making it through the whole album. I gotta give it a 2 out of 5. Burp. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Death Metal Tuesday - Shadows of the Past


By 1995, Finland's Sentenced were playing cheesy goth-metal atrocities - tapping into a new commercially lucrative subgenre of metal. Their first two albums were of a different sort - their second album was a progressive death metal anomaly and their debut, Shadows of the Past (released in the states with 3 bonus demo tracks), is pure Nordic death metal. 

Sentenced may instantly sound inline with their Swedish counterparts, but repeated listens will reveal a more nuanced and melodious approach - incorporating elements of what would soon be called the Gothenburg sound in Sweden, the precursor to modern melodic death metal, ala In Flames and Children of Bodom. Miike Tenkula's vocals are the strongest Swedish connection, but musically they bare some similarities to early Death and England's Paradise Lost. Based on their musical trajectory through the years, Sentenced we're clearly a band trying to find their sound during this time period, but the end product does not come off as aimless or confused. This is possibly one of the best Nordic death metal albums from this time period. It is both brutal and beautiful, melodious and aggressive. It is the perfect blend of several key influences. The guitar breakdown in the middle of In Memoriam (a bonus track) sums it up perfectly - morbid, sorrowful, and soulful. 

Although Sentenced were undoubtedly unaware of the strength of their debut, or the impact it would have years later, it is fitting that they changed course after its release. They could never have topped it. Shadows of the Past bleeds sweet death nostalgia for me, and it is one of my favorites. I'm giving it 5 out of 5