Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Death Metal Tuesday - Children of the Scorn

One of Finland's earliest DM exports was Funebre, who produced just this 1991 full length before vanishing into obscurity. The early Finnish stuff is pretty damn cool as it carries obvious influences from the developing Swedish scene, along with east coast American DM. 

Funebre are fairly derivative, but at the same time, they're rather ambitious. Their songs are dynamic with tons of changes and plenty of good riffs to go around. Their drummer is constantly mixing things up and keeping the songs interesting. The key deviation from the more standard Swedish offerings, is their technical prowess and progressive songwriting. Listen to the broken tempos at the onset of "Congenital Defeat," or the triplet mashing in "Shiver." The openning moments of "Waiting for Arrival" are pretty kickass too, when the guitars drop out and the drums remain alone. They jam a lot more riffs into a song than many of the other bands at the time - there is a bunch to discover in this album in other words. It demands repeated listens. 

Children of the Scorn is one of those hidden gems from DM's history that could easily go overlooked. The vocals are a tad generic and the production is a bit thin, but they satisfy every old school craving I can think of. The only caution would be the technicality probably makes this album a little but less instantly accessible than a lot of other 91 releases, but that can be a good thing too. 4 out of 5. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Death Metal Tuesday - Pinnacle of Bedlam

Death Metal Tuesday:
Among the myriad of technically over-the-top DM bands available to us nowadays, it's quite reassuring that the inventors of the sub-subgenre are still dishing it effectively out. And not just effective mind you, but with a certain flair lacking among their younger peers. I speak of, in my mind, the most important New York DM band of the genre's history (yes, over Cannibal), Suffocation.

The original core of Mullin, Marchais, and Hobbs has remained, despite 2-3 year-long breaks here and there, consistently churning out the silly-named "brutal" death metal for 20+ years. Having talked about a recent Cannibal Corpse release a few weeks back, I can say with confidence that New York neighbors Suffocation's 2013 album is several times more inspired and engaging than Cannibal's output over the past ten years - and it doesn't sacrifice any brutality or genre-faithfulness. The key difference, is Suffocation has not forgotten how to write a memorable hook. It also doesn't hurt that Mullin is a much stronger vocalist than Fisher. 

This isn't a Suffocation vs. Cannibal Corpse article however, so let's discuss Pinnacle of Bedlam. The stop-and-start tempos of old-school Suffocation are still the norm, as are the atonal riffs. There is, however, an abundance of melody and fairly structured parts as well - somewhat more so than in the past. Check out that middle breakdown in the title track or the (gasp) clean intro of "Sullen Days." Hobbs and Marchais still know how to structure a proper DM tune, obscuring structure and melody below the surface to be discovered after repeated listens. The broken rhythms of "My Demise" can slip by you if you play this album in the background, without fully attending to it. They manage to make music that holds together subtly, while sounding like a complicated mess to the uninitiated. 

The formula that Suffocation solidified on "Pierced from Within" remains consistent in their music, but so many other bands took their sound to soulless technical extremes, that it is nice to hear the fathers of the genre can still blend technicality with brutality and competent song writing. I'm also just stoked that these guys still rock this hard after almost 25 years. It gives me faith in the future of the genre. 4.5 out of 5