Early last year, I discovered Psalm 88, an offshoot of Berkeley, CA-based cassette label Acephale Winter Productions. While all of the sub-label’s initial batch of wares were impressive in their own right, the one that impressed me the most was Behold Darkness’ I, a gripping nineteen minutes of frozen-soul black metal that was easily the most complete sounding of the four releases reviewed. Indeed, it was a recording I found myself continuing to revisit on the regular, which is really saying something when one considers how often I burn out on the music I choose to review due to the sheer number of repeat listens involved.
I damn near passed on checking out Serial Butcher. On the surface, everything about the band’s second album Brute Force Lobotomy, from the title to the cover art, screams run-of-the-mill brutal death metal. But if there’s one thing that listening to metal for all these years has taught me, it’s that the old cliche about not judging a book by its cover is usually true, and such is the case with Serial Butcher. Indeed, the Belgians play brutal death metal, but their sound is anything but ordinary.
Holy shit you guys, I haven’t done one of these brutal/tech/slam death metal roundup features since 2014! Wasn’t this supposed to be a semi-regular feature?! I guess 2014 was also the year that I realized I’m far too disorganized/scatterbrained to pull off regular features, so they’re more like whenever-I-feel-like-it features and apparently I haven’t felt like it in almost two years.
Hailing from the same fertile scene that produced the likes of Entombed and Dismember, the terrific twosome known as Comecon have somehow been relegated to being little more than a footnote in the history of Swedish death metal in spite of being one of the most oddball bands to be belched forth from the unholy bowels of Stockholm. No less than Daniel Ekeroth wrote the band off as “boring” in his ten ton tome Swedish Death Metal, but in surveying their discography I can’t help but wonder if he and I listened to the same band.
Kriegszittern are a German duo committed to vomiting up short, sharp shocks of punky, war-obsessed death metal. Their debut demo was recently committed to tape by the ever-reliable and increasingly prolific Caligari Records, and it’s certainly a must-listen for fans of the genre at its ugliest and most primitive.
Like any good metalhead, I try to keep track of all the shows happening in my neck of the woods, even though I can only make it to a fraction of them. This is how Belgium’s Goat Torment popped up on my metal radar. Turns out the band will be tormenting Sacramento as part of a handful of West Coast dates in conjunction with their appearance at California Deathfest in Oakland (no, I will not be in attendance), which is right around the corner.
Every few years, Candlelight Records releases a really cool black metal album and then does jack shit to promote it. Back in 2013, it was Throne of Katarsis’ The Three Transcendental Keys. This year it’s Chaos Magick, the second full length from Finland’s Saturnian Mist.
2015 has been a damn fine year for death metal so far, and it appears that Profound Lore is looking to up the ante with their most recent salvo of releases. Indeed, the label has in its hot little hands a pair of debut full-lengths from two up-and-coming bands who’s respective takes on death metal couldn’t be more different if they tried, yet both strive for excellence in their own way.
Regular IG readers and especially those that know me outside of music blog land are well aware of my affection for John Carpenter, and a sizable chunk of that affection is based on his soundtrack work. Films such as Halloween and Escape from New York simply wouldn’t be as effective without Carpenter’s sinister, tension-filled electronic soundscapes as accompaniment.
Sacramento gets a ton of great shows, but we’ve been more than a bit lacking in the black metal department of late. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed the shit out of seeing the likes of Melt Banana, Ufomammut and -(16)-, but I’ve also been absolutely dying for the visceral experience that only a straight-up black metal show can bring. So, I was extremely grateful to Wretched Earth Productions for treating us to this killer lineup of Cali-bred BM at Starlite Lounge, which is quickly turning into my go-to spot for kick-ass metal shows.