Storm of the Light’s Bane

Straddling Gothenburg death and Norwegian black metal, basically at the margins of what we might term as consonance and coarseness, resides Dissection. Crossing genre and aesthetic boundaries, Storm of the Light’s Bane prods the listener into conflicting paths. Responses could vary, from a nodding reverence of those exquisite guitar passages, to a chilling silence, or a morbid mosh-pit. Channeling those Scandinavian contemporaries, Dissection simply shapes their own brand of occult romanticism, often more despondent and atmospheric.

Extending the boundaries of aggression and poetry, these compositions are constantly shifting their contours, adequately complementing the drifts in lyrical prose. “I drown in the colour of your eye, for a black heart will only find beauty in darkness“– simultaneously conveys the elegance of an autumn night and dual guitar harmonies. With vocal textures reflecting the gloom in lyrics, Nödtveidt adds a layer of darkness unlike any other. Channeling divergent strands, and yet in perfect harmony, Storm of the Light’s Bane is one of those meticulous crafts. The rare ones illustrating extreme metal in all its glory and quirks. Described in Nödtveidt’s own lyrics — “Forged in blood by tragedy” — album leaves a definite imprint.

Dissection_live_in_2005.jpg: Shadowgatederivative work: Elizabeth Bathory, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Ground Collapses

Sludge and death metal, both evolved from hardcore/punk and electric blues, but a sludge-death cross-over is so much more than their shared roots. Fifty years of metal evolution, hundreds of sub-genres and here Disbelief simply continues that very captivating trend of mutations. In this case – strands of hardcore, New Orleans sludge and death metal crafts an unusual atmospheric blend. The Ground Collapses is quintessential extreme metal – in other words it encodes those long running lineage of influences, but still manages to sound novel.

It’s that familiar doom like aesthetics, that essential low, but uniquely fueled by deathly compositions rooted somewhere in late 80s Florida or Sweden. A hardcore wall-of-sound, often severed by meandering leads, and layered with cross-over vocals, creating an atmosphere so dank, deathly and gloomy. In metal, cross-genre sound is not uncommon, but this elegant cross-over aesthetic is. This subtle blend of aggression and grief makes for an essential listen, ironically one of those pockets of bliss in a rather morbid year.

Silent Waters

Folk and some epic poetry can make for more than a few exquisite moments. And even with all that doom undertones, melody seems omnipresent. That’s not it – Finnish mythology, picturesque choruses, and deathly bass-lines – all layered in harmony. In other words, it’s rich, unmistakable, and Amorphis.

Music often complements that romanticism in lyrics — “Louhi spoke in riddled tones of three things to achieve, find and catch the devil’s moose and bring it there to me” – elegantly transitions to segments more appropriate for melodic-death. But, this is just one of those many instances of stunning coherence, on how their compositions accommodate hues, vibrant and diverse.

Elegant and melancholic, album does justice to the literature it adapts. “Pulled under the raging waters, my child, sank in the drowning currents, my son” — Amorphis unmistakably recreates Lemminkäinen’s tale. But now with compositions as sorrowful and gallant as his mythology, and with a “River of Death” Artwork as that fitting cover. Needless to say, exquisite and epic Silent Waters.

Stefan Bollmann, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons

Scourge of the Enthroned

With subtle dynamics, and a uniquely synchronized riff-drum assault, Krisiun forges ahead. Signatures here are inimitable. Not only is it old school as it ever gets, that intricate shredding and precision temporal switches simply elevates the band, altitudes above the numbing turbulence of run-of-the-mill death metal releases.

When a steady synchronized hammer of riffs and double bass runs into that hardly decipherable characteristic growls – “Slay yourself for the glorious day. When the bell tolls for the sins you have made” – it just provides that vocal finesse to this old school technical train. But, as expected, “Devouring Faith“ finally scorches its path into an electric blues like shredding, searing and relentless.

S. Bollmann [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Pleiades’ Dust

There are bands which reinforce your conception of a symphony, and then there are the ones which broaden them. Gorguts is willfully rooted in that second category. Luc Lemay’s compositions are intimidating, and at the same time curiously captivating too. It might take a while to comprehend this level of discordance. But, quite like Meshuggah, or early Slayer, Gorguts is forging new neural pathways. In other words, they are creating a totally new classification for what we call an elegant symphony. Subtly, but effectively influencing how we perceive music itself.

If Obscura is too intimidating, then Pleiades’ Dust might be that ideal prescription, something that helps us mere mortals comprehend this transformative force.

 

 

Rubén G. Herrera [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Psychologists and Death Metal

Ran into this Scientific American article on Death Metal.

“Those positive emotions, as reported by death metal fans in an online survey that Thompson and his team conducted, include feelings of empowerment, joy, peace and transcendence. So far, almost all of the anger and tension Thompson has documented in his death metal studies has been expressed by non-fans after listening to samples of the music.”

Probably, psychologists should be studying the non-fans, on why they are unable to decipher that grand symphony.

From a related Progarchy post.

The most complex of patterns is comfortably buried beneath a wall of rich chaotic sound. So, in spite of being substantive, intellectually and physically demanding, the uninitiated simply may not have the ear. We can appreciate the textures and the grand symphony only with some ability to abstract away that pulverizing sound. Actually mandates higher levels of cognition – sort of the mark of an ageing and civilized genre.

 

By Äppelmos [CC BY 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

Subtle is Exquisite

Was reading this write-up on death metal – ironic that the genre itself might be in death bed, but it leaves us with over 30 years of music. We can actually spend a lifetime exploring that aesthetic defying trajectory. From Hellhammer’s punk coarseness to Decrepit Birth and Necrophagist like sophistication — seems like death and its variants were always an acquired taste. Just imagine, Morbid Angel and Obituary still play in basement venues and divey bars. Couple of years ago I saw Entombed with just 30 other metal heads at this venue in San Francisco. And these are like The Beatles of death metal!

It’s inaccessible not just because of the harshness. The main barrier is the subtle aesthetics and musicianship, other than over-the-top aggression there are no exaggerated elements. Absolutely no extended passages – structural progressions are in fact measured, convulsive and precise. In other words, very little about death is instantly discernible. The most complex of patterns is comfortably buried beneath a wall of rich chaotic sound. So, in spite of being substantive, intellectually and physically demanding, the uninitiated simply may not have the ear. We can appreciate the textures and the grand symphony only with some ability to abstract away that pulverizing sound. Actually mandates higher levels of cognition – sort of the mark of an ageing and civilized genre.

Image Attribution —–

© pitpony photography /

Anticult

Decapitated stands out within the pantheon of death metal Gods. They are simply one of those gatekeepers of this sub-genre — the one bridging the old with the new. The cross-over blend of old school death metal meets the newer 200 time-signatures-per-min technical brawl.

Recovering from a tumultuous past and successfully restructuring the sound is not trivial. Anticult is easily among the best illustrations of those stunning groovy prog elements within death.

Dimebag Darrell like riffing, downtuned uniquely melodic leads, and vocals bordering between screams to growls. Decapitated successfully integrates groove metal into their pristine Polish death terrain. Seamless switches between musical traits are numerous, and they span divergent eras — from Entombed like leads to Gojira like towering riffs. With everything layered on top of precision blast beats, these compositions are as sharp as a guillotine. Getting Decapitated has not been this blissful in a long time. The band has evolved from Vitek era tech death, but they are still absolutely about adapting old school structures to stunningly creative musical contexts.

By © Markus Felix (talk to me) [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

The Conductor’s Departure

Heavy and incessantly shifting contours — ‘The Conductor’s Departure’ is simply riveting. That constant progression here can leave anyone speechless. Like any technical death sound, these textures are tangled and layered. But when combined with that relentless melodic progression, it only becomes more captivating. This level of sophistication in braiding tech death with complex drawn-out song structures is rare.

Anata is meticulous, but their compositions still project an offhand feel, as if the record was composed on-the-go. In other words, they tread a demanding terrain of understated refinement, tortuously rugged, yet dazzling display of spontaneity. Adds refreshing aspects to an otherwise grinding framework of measured technical progression. This blend of old school with modern technical death is melodic and yet dissonant — a cross-over act of the most demanding kind.

Image Attribution : https://anata-earache.bandcamp.com/