It’s time for another round-up of what’s been going on in the world of death metal so far in 2015 – Rob McAuslan returns to guide you through the grunting, squealing, roaring, shouting beast that is heavy metal’s br00tal side.
1) Reheated Entrails
Remixed and remastered albums seem to be all the rage of late (with varying results), but it’s a brave band that goes one step further and re-records their early work. Dimmu Borgir arguably got away with remaking Stormblast; Exodus definitely didn’t with their disastrous rework of Bonded By Blood. Exhumed are the latest to take a swing at it with a re-recording of Gore Metal which turns out to be…well, largely superfluous. There wasn’t a whole lot wrong with the album as it stood, and the main difference is in the guitars, which gain some weight and cut through the mix better at the expense of a little atmosphere. If you already own a copy of Gore Metal, this isn’t really worth it unless you’re a terrible completist. If you don’t have it, sure, buy this version instead of the original and ensure Exhumed make enough money for a proper follow-up to the splendid Necrocracy.
2) Just saying something is “hardcore” doesn’t stop it from also being Death Metal
Remember when hardcore all sounded like At The Gates for a bit? Yeah, that was fun. Seems the wifebeater’d hordes are constantly running at least ten years behind the main thrust of the metal world, as there’s a new trend in baggy-shorts town… Call it hardcore as much as you like, Xibalba fans, but you’re listening to death metal. Tierra Y Libertad is packed with churning Morbid Angel riffs, Slayer-esque dive-bombing solos and stampy Obituary grooves, and all the crotch-grabbing, wiggly arms and finger-pointing in the world won’t change that. It’s actually a very good death metal album as long as you don’t mind a little posturing with your savagery, and the lead vocals have a Kirk Windstein feel to them which gets a huge thumbs up from me too. Definitely stick around for the closing track which drags itself through nearly thirteen minutes of doomed-out misery and piles on the Crowbar influence – it’s a winner.
3) An Amott does something interesting!
Speaking of melodic death metal, an Amott did something interesting! Not Michael, of course. Little brother Christopher has reformed Armageddon, and the resulting album is a bit of a cracker. Captivity & Devourment came out on Listenable back in January and features precisely no members of any previous lineup aside from Amott himself. No biggie that, as it was always largely a solo side-project anyway. Anyway, this is pretty great – there’s a huge dollop of American-style power metal in the writing, which lifts what could be an otherwise fairly ordinary sound with some very welcome bombast. Fans of both Pharaoh and early Soilwork will get just the right amount of bollock tingles from this, and of course it’s rammed with tasteful guitar wizardry. Even the odd dash of clean vocals fits well, so you know it’s good.
4) Shit Is Still Shit
Don’t bother with the new one from The Crown. Yuck. No details other than “What the hell is this Paradise Lost cover doing on here?”, as it don’t deserve any more than me warning you about it. Dreadful.
5) Keep Of Kalessin Keep On (and On) Kalessinin’
Keep Of Kalessin have a new one out. It’s called Epistemology, and it’s alright. Just alright. It sounds lovely, with loads of money spent on making sure everything sits just-so in the clear and punchy mix. They’ve taken on some new influences too – have a listen of ‘Dark Divinity’ and tell me KoK haven’t been devouring Nothing-era Meshuggah – but good lord these songs are SO LONG. Tedious, unnecessary repetition saps loads of the interest out of this album for me, which is a real shame as there are some properly ace bits on it.
6) And finally…
Obligatory tech-death recommendation of the month comes in late via Willowtip Records – Sarpanitum’s Blessed Be My Brothers came out this week and it’s a total trip. Super-heavy, shredding, grind-laced progressive tastiness, with atmospheric melodic flourishes and proper br00tal vocals chucked in for good measure. Roughly a fiver in digital form from the label’s Bandcamp, and believe me, it’s a fiver well spent.