Napalm Flesh: My Metalhead Manifesto

Posted September 16, 2010 in
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There was no metal blog (or whatever this internet platform is called) last week because I fell ill and felt like I was wearing a blanket of lead and had been run over by a dumptruck, but the metal pumping through my veins has prevailed. This week’s effort features a short round up of some shows happening from today through Saturday and a slew of blog exclusive CD reviews, as well as a metal-anger-fueled rant from myself, because being sick pisses me off.

Tonight come on down and see some fanatical and awesome talent from Suspended, a female death/thrash trio from Albuquerque, New Mexico, along with their fellow Albuquerquians Manias, the raucously, ripping good up death metal band. Also playing are local funeral doom annihilators Gravecode Nebula and long standing SLC psychobilly crew The Pagan Dead. This all goes down at Bar Deluxe, 666 South State St. 21+. Music is underway at 9 p.m. all for a mere $8 bucks. Witnessing this assortment of metal comes highly recommended from me! Thanks to the Utah Death Metal crew who brought the bands, our mere neighbors from the south, to get their metal on in SLC.

Saturday in Bountiful, Seventking, Reveeler and Still-Born will play at The Fifth, 980 North, 500 South. This is also a good opportunity to pick up the free Utah Heavy Guitar Rock Vol 1 compilation as well. The Fifth is 21+ and the cover is less than the price of some cocktails at $4.

Also on Saturday is Heidi’s Heavy Metal Bash at Club Vegas—who Heidi is and why she has a heavy metal bash, I’m not quite sure. Regardless, it includes local talent from Means Nothing, Truce, Incidious and Autostigmatic. $5 gets you in and as always Club Vegas is 21+.

As always, get out there and support the local talent and thank the powers that be that put everything together.

There’s a madman in my head—he’s a vindictive little shit that likes to wreak havoc when it’s least needed in my life. He causes me to do stupid things generally involving self-destruction. He doesn’t want me dead—he’s just a sadist that wants me to suffer. He can at times dig in so far that it leaves my state of being in a state of shambles, where all I want to do is sit in a silent, dark room and try to pick out the pieces of the voices of reason in my head. If there’s anything that infuriates the madman and beats him into bloody submission it’s the sound of anything metal, ferocious or melodic.

I listen to a lot of metal. I am what one would call a metalhead, and it seems like there’s quite a few of us that suffer personal demons. That unabashedly angry, violent, beautiful, grandiose, calming, sedating, fun form of music that metal is makes for a great tool of self healing and silencing the voices, thoughts or whatever they may be that torture our psyche or just allow us an outlet for our rage. As with every scene clique, being a metalhead can involve many things, but in the end it’s just one thing: the love of this genre of music that purveys those distorted guitar rhythms, potent chords of whatever emotion they decide to unleash. Vocal sounds that can be as soft as silk or as painful as an ice pick to the ear. There are beats that can swirl in chaotic fury, derive happiness or slowly subdue.

The music is an escape that we can control. If we’re angry there are tunes that’ll let us unleash untold amounts of anger, violence or frustration. There are self-contemplative songs that let us focus and clear our heads. There are some highly depressive doses of metal out there that let us wallow in our misery and feel not so alone in our despair. Now I’m starting to sound like an emo fuck, but no metal brethren, we aren’t emo and miserable all the time—we like to let loose and just plain have fun. Some of us drink substances that either mellow the conscious or excite it, or inhale burnt organics to serve a needed boost or to take a trip and succumb to a higher or lower state of mind. Aside from following metal, these other activities are enjoyed by other scenes and cliques, so don’t assume we’re all drunk stoners with bad taste in music.

We tread together in our scenes and styles. Rarely have I ever met a fan of all that is metal and felt like they were being complacent and just trying to fit in—we try to stand out. We purposely wear slightly obscure band t-shirts to concerts almost as a badge of honor or sign to show others who we are. We never cared about what the mainstream opinion said about things, we induce and immerse ourselves in sounds that many people would cringe at and claim as noise or ungodly. When I go to a metal show, I don’t feel out of place at all—I feel right at home, but I don’t look for others approval or have a huge need to feel included or part of the “in-crowd” or kiss-ass to someone who’s supposedly top dog in the scene. We treat the bands we pay to see not as idols but as brothers in arms in a battle of survival of the fittest and best. We don’t worship who these bands are or how they dress, what they buy, and to extents to what they personally think, or who they’re dating—we worship the art that they create. The medium is metal, but the palette is vast.

Atrocity feat. Yasmin
After the Storm
Napalm Records
Street: 09.14
Atrocity feat. Yasmin = Leaves Eyes + Tristania (mellower) + Orphaned Land
I definitely applaud Atrocity for not only going well outside their comfort zone with After the Storm, but also for going well outside the typical metallic cookie cutter and restraints that the genre can entail. The album has a strong ethnic and Middle Eastern feel and gives a strong attempt at being something bold and different. Yasmin Krull is the sister of Atrocity vocalist/keyboardist Alexander Krull, who went out on a limb to give his sister a high musical platform. In effect she doesn’t fail the album, but the album’s music fails her voice. This album is a far cry from anything Atrocity has really done extreme or gothic metal wise. What could have been an epic undertaking winds up with a few memorable songs and some pretty forgettable songs. The instrumentation’s strongest focal point is it’s swirling drumming but the acoustic and electric guitars tend to tread water more than offer new things that After the Storm badly needs. “Black Mountain,” and “The Otherworld,” standout amongst the albums other tracks, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the album is a failure, it just doesn’t stick as much as I’d like it too. Its strong points are it’s acoustic and folk sensibilities and ability to calm and provide a relaxing listening experience, but the lack of memorable songs leaves you questioning more than relishing when all is said and done. –Bryer Wharton

The Autumn Offering
Victory Records
Street: 08.31
The Autumn Offering = As I Lay Dying + Dirge Within + Whitechapel
Fans of extreme modern metal take heed: The Autumn Offering could be your new favorite band. This album is simple, straightforward and, yes, heavy. Do those things mean that their new album is great? Not at all. The Autumn Offering started out as a highly melodic band lots of clean singing almost to the point of where I’d call their music screamo. With their fifth full-length the band has bulked up their metal with a bunch more of a straight death metal style as well as some deathcore breakdowns. It feels as if The Autumn Offering are just attempting to play off of what is popular because these days it’s now even cooler to sound more brutal. The growled and scowled vocals are bottom tier dreadful, as are the lame clean ones. They tried hard to make a definitive sound and take a stand with this album, but the production got a bit too ahead of itself and created a really atrocious programmed and triggered drum sound. The albums songwriting has moments of clarity and finesse in some of it’s guitar melodies, but not enough to stave off it’s bland song writing that just runs in circles and goes nowhere. If you want something clean heavy and maybe sounds good on it’s first listen, this record is all yours, if you want something that actually does fit the “brutal” category, forgo this release from Victory Records and buy the new album from label mates Pathology—now that’s what “brutal” sounds like. –Bryer Wharton

Beneath The Massacre
Marée Noire
Street: 09.14
Beneath The Massacre = Oceano + Suicide Silence + The Last Felony + Necrophagist (wannabes)
Quebec, Canada’s like them or absolutely hate them Beneath the Massacre are back with a short EP, Marée Noire, to tide fans over until the next full-length. Random thought occurrence: bands should record more EPs—not Beneath the Massacre, but the good bands that have multiple years spanning between albums. This EP is short—five songs in a little less than 13 minutes—but it’s far from sweet. I’ve heard the band’s name whispered but never listened to a full-length and this assemblage of heavy start-and-stop guitar riffing, crazy fast drumming, breakdowns peppered in and overly run-of-the-mill vocals does not make me want to listen to them any further. I don’t deny this band has talent, but it’s wasted on bland attempts to sound inventive that just end up as boring and redundant. The technical portion of the guitar work is all well and good but if you hold it up to the scene leaders in brutal tech death it sounds highly pathetic. There’s no way I could remotely do what any member of Beneath The Massacre does, but if I had the talent I’d take the time to focus on creating something good. Marée Noire feels incredibly hasty and sloppy. –Bryer Wharton

Circle of Dead Children
Psalms of the Grand Destroyer
Street: 08.08
Circle of Dead Children = Gorerotted + Slaughter Brute + Putrid Pile
Same morbid name and with just as morbid themes, Circle of Dead Children are back with a short-yet-potent wallop packing, brain-scrambling new record after five years of releasing nothing. Oddly it doesn’t really feel like it’s been that long—their 2005 EP Zero Comfort Margin is still fresh as an apple pie cooling on the window seal in my brain. No CoDC aren’t advocating dead children by any means. Although first response amends one to think they’re out to purely offend, the name actually came from a daydream of a member who had a vision of a flag from every country and a dead child from said country that died for a futile reason all in a circle. Psalms of the Grand Destroyer fits greatly with the bands discography, but this time around the production is up scaled and the sound is monumentally bigger and brutally efficient, not overproduced in any sense. The grinding is raw and comes out of doomed type dirges when you may not be expecting it. There are some new sounds brimming out of certain songs by way of creepy doomed atmospheres, namely “Germinate the Reaper Seed,” “Avatar of Innocence,” and “Obsidian Flakes.” Fans of past records or a newbie just looking to score some brutality dope, this does not disappoint—it only owns. –Bryer Wharton

Babez for Breakfast
The End/Sony
Street: 09.14
Lordi = Kiss + Alice Cooper + Motley Crue + Rob Zombie
Oh Lordi, there’s great comfort in consistency and familiarity, and Babez for Breakfast fits perfectly with your extensive back catalogue of hard rocking monster themed heavy metal songs. Yeah there’s the stupid asses that for some odd reason are intent on comparing you with GWAR, just because you wear bad ass monster costumes, but your music is completely different, so if you’re reading this and have heard the argument that Lordi are just a GWAR knock-off, dismiss the stage pageantry of the band and actually listen to their music—you might just find yourself spontaneously singing along. So what if it’s silly or a bit cheese ball, it’s all in good fun. You know the band doesn’t look at themselves in massively serious manner, just youtube any of their music videos. Babez for Breakfast continues straight where Deadache left off, but also returns a bit to the pure rocking arena metal anthem qualities that The Arockalypse held. And for good measure Lordi throw in some different themes just to perk your senses like “Discoevil,” and “I am Bigger Than You,” really Lordi is one of those bands you’ll either love or hate, so just give em a try—it won’t hurt. –Bryer Wharton

Mar de Grises
Stream Inwards
Season of Mist
Street: 09.14
One of the better releases of this fall, which is most certainly perfect for listening to while staring at the night sky and pale moon comes from Santiago, Chile based Mar de Grises. Mar de Grises offer an incorporation of death metal and melodies into their gloomy yet hopeful light bearing songs. There is a strong metaphysical astronomic feel to the songs with some highly transfixing and full on moody drawn out keyboard/piano interludes incorporated into Stream Inwards songwriting. I’m incredibly hard pressed to call Stream Inwards a full-on doom album because it’s song craft is amazingly beautiful, the riffing is slow to mid-paced for the majority of the albums tracks but it has a weightless feeling in its songs with the gloomy screamed vocals, some of them some containing long and especially sustained screams are the portion of Mar de Grises that pull the weight down for the songs. Crescendos’ build and crash with melodic moments that feel as light as something Debussy may have created and then either a series of dissonant galloping riffs, or some of the most truly beautiful tremolo picking I’ve ever heard and harrowing bone chilling screams scar that light feeling and keep you asunder. Stream Inwards draws you in from it’s very beginning and leaves a hallowing yet calming impression long after the songs have faded. –Bryer Wharton

System Divide
The Conscious Sedation
Metal Blade
Street: 09.14
System Divide = Scar Symmetry + Lacuna Coil + Mnemic + Aborted
Wow, this is quite the departure in sound for a good portion of System Divide’s members other bands notably the death growled vocals are coming from Aborted vocalist Sven de Caluwe while System Divide’s debut album The Conscious Sedation has some elements of the death metal sound it’s far from the realm of Aborted. Other members have played a part in Distorted, Orphaned Land, Abigail Williams and Malignancy, all very different bands. That said this records potential in the modern metal world is massive, blending elements of straight death metal, melodic death metal, gothic metal and metalcore it carries its own style proudly and boldly. System Divide is almost an imagination of somebody that wanted Lacuna Coil to kick some more and massive ass. I’m a bit less than infatuated with the albums ProTools reeking production, but that’s what everybody is doing these days isn’t it? In the end The Conscious Sedation is a strong album that is sure to get some big props, it’s more relevant than anything Lacuna Coil has done in the last eight years, more accessible to a wide array of metal fans than Aborted. It’s a giant swirling riff machine with stellar vocal talents,  memorable songwriting and potently heavy, all in all a successful formula to excel in the modern metal world. –Bryer Wharton

Reviews that didn’t make the print edition for Sept.

City of Fire
City of Fire
Street: 08.24
City of Fire = Alice in Chains + A Perfect Circle + Fear Factory + Black Sabbath

City of Fire began from a chance reunion of the Vancouver band Caustic Thought, which included bassist Byron Stroud (Fear Factory, Strapping Young Lad, Zimmers Hole), drummer Bob Wagner (Econoline Crush), and guitarist Ian White. The reunion sparked the creations of songs and recruitment of Fear Factory vocalist Burton C. Bell and another guitarist, Terry Murray, and the band became City of Fire, named with Vancouver in mind. The result of the reunion and broadening of members has lent itself to this self-titled full-length that easily blurs metal and rock genre boundaries and is a truly worthy musical experience. At times, the songs are simply melodic, densely heavy or whisperingly ethereal. Rarely do you come across albums of any genre that are more driven by its bass guitar than its guitarist, but City of Fire captures a side of Stroud I’ve never heard before, as well as putting Burton C. Bell in a higher state of creativity with his vocal styles. City of Fire do an astounding job at crafting an album that doesn’t sound like so many other records you’ve heard. Anyone that likes honest, good music can find something to enjoy with this record. After repeated listens, it still manages to blow me away every time. –Bryer Wharton

Metal Blade

Street: 08.03

Fleshwrought = Animosity + Job for a Cowboy + Meshuggah

This record actually quite surprised me, because I don’t care much for either of its collaborators’ bands—guitarist/drummer/bassist Navene Kopperweis of the defunct San Francisco grindcore crew Animosity and vocalist Jonny Davy of Job for a Cowboy. Fortunately, all Davy lends to the project is his death-grunting, which is nothing really new or fantastic, but it fits with the crunchy tunes that Kopperweis has crafted. Fans of proggy math/tech death metal with some deathcore going on will definitely dig this record—its production is near perfect and the instrumentation is tightly played. It does remind me of the majority of the stuff that Sumerian Records has been churning out, but more challenging of a listen and less tech for the sake of being tech. For as produced as the album sounds, it has a nifty way of delivering some songs with improvised feelings in the lead guitar realm—the jazz-inspired type. Dementia/Dyslexia is stop-and-go rhythms galore and lots of tech guitar work with plenty of electronic experimentation and spacey meandering that adds extra elements, making the record just a tad more unique than the usual suspects. –Bryer Wharton 

Heaven's Venom

Nuclear Blast

Street: 08.24

Kataklysm = Amon Amarth + Impious + Ex Deo + Hypocrisy
Yep, this is Kataklysm alright. The Montreal-based, self-dubbed “Northern Hyperblast,” groove-based death metal act has definitely gotten comfortable doing what they’re doing. If you like what the band’s been doing since, oh say, the year 2000, you won’t skip a beat with Heaven’s Venom. Actually, you might be more enamored with this than the band’s last couple releases, Prevail and In the Arms of Devastation. There are plenty of deathcore acts that owe Kataklysm some dues because they’ve ripped the band off again and again. I take solace and a lot of satisfaction in the fact that the band has made a success of utilizing crushingly heavy, death metal-style breakdowns, not the silly hardcore ones. Sometimes I want something that is cleanly heavy and not overly intricate—not saying Heaven’s Venom is simple at all; it just resounds in your head easily and is definitely something worth going back to (the two aforementioned albums weren’t). Where those albums seemed to tread a bunch of water with really similar-sounding tracks, Heaven’s Venom disperses a nice amount of melodies and much faster speeds, harkening back to the days of Epic and Shadows and Dust. –Bryer Wharton

Disgusting Blasphemies Against God

Hells Headbangers
Street: 08.31
Profanatica = Sarcofago + Blasphemy + Black Witchery
New Profanatica, three years in the making—is it worth the wait and praise? Shit, yes, DBAG is over the-top blasphemic and pissed-as-shit, not only in its raw black metal glories, but in its huge, bottom-end bass guitar and drum assault that pierces ears like a sewing machine relentlessly running over them. There are purposely many moments of the album’s songs that make a point to crap all over what could be considered a melody. Not to mention the album has songs titled “Smashing Religious Fucking Statues,” “Fuck the Blood of the Lamb,” and “ Pious Piece of Shit,” to name a few. It’s purposely raw and intense, and while lyrically, it may seem a bit silly, the man behind Profanatica at the moment, Paul Ledney, doesn’t sound like he’s trying too hard to deliver his utmost hatred and anger right smack in your face. Said anger is one of the main points of Profanatica—to offend not only the mainstream, but offer listeners the chance to say fuck it all and just blast it the hell out. Profanatica are already underground heroes and DBAG is one massive, brutal overdose of raw negativity in audio madness: Own it. –Bryer Wharton

Trigger the Bloodshed

Street: 08.24

Trigger the Bloodshed = Decrepity + Vader + Job for a Cowboy + Nile

For the sake of this album, it’s a good thing I’ve actually listened to and reviewed every record the UK’s Trigger the Bloodshed have put out since their 2008 debut, Purgation, and its follow-up, The Great Depression, because the growth of the band is strongly heard. The first two albums were decent brutal death with deathcore instances, but nothing ever fully memorable. Degenerate ditches any notion of the deathcore and comes out all guns blazing brutal death, basically doing the turnabout that Job for a Cowboy did, and if you like what that band did, you’re going to like this a lot better. Degenerate digs its heels in from the get-go; this is easily the band’s best album yet. The songwriting is much more diversified than on previous efforts, which just felt like blasting for the sake of blasting, with no direction. Degenerate has direction and some technicality intermingled. My main gripe is the death growling stays a bit redundant and reluctant to push more power than it truly could. If you like your death metal produced and polished, Degenerate is a safe bet. –Bryer Wharton



Street: 08.31

Tristania = Theatre of Tragedy + Sirenia + Trail of Tears 

Norway’s Tristania may not have come up with the idea of the beauty-and-the-beast style (operatic beautiful female vocals and gruff, growled male vocals) of gothic metal, but they sure perfected and made it popular. Rubicon is the band’s first album in three years, and the last two, Ashes and Illumination, kind of skidded by below my radar. I listened to them, but they were fairly forgettable in comparison to the greatness of their debut and 1999’s Beyond the Veil. Rubicon is a fair culmination of all of the band’s explored styles; it’s definitely more focused in the standard guitar/bass/drum structures than utilizing lots of keyboards. There’s quite a bit more diversity displayed on Rubicon as compared to prior offerings—the songs feel fresh and awesomely new to explore, and they stick in your head well after the album is done. The band and vocalists feel very much in tune with each other, all playing off one another’s strengths, crafting layered melodies as well as some darkened and heavy portions. It’s all very intoxicating and attention-engrossing. I had passed Tristania off years ago as a has-been act, but this album has renewed the spark of enjoyment I initially had for the band. –Bryer Wharton