Welcome to a new Indie Wednesday. Do you like death metal? We hope you do, because all of these releases pay homage to the genre in one way or another, although mixing with folk, black and more!
Check them out and given them a chance!
Mortuary – Nothingless than Nothingness
Label: Goregeous Productions
The latest album from long-running French death metal band Mortuary (and I feel the need to specify ‘French’, because it seems like every country has at least one death metal band by that name) keeps things hard and trim. With over half of its songs chopping away under four minutes, Nothingless than Nothingness strikes a nice balance between modern and ’80s influences. Current-day slickness and drum-speed standards mesh with old-school riffs and earnest shredding, with bellows that come out with enough anger to make up for only every fifth word or so being decipherable.
There’s also a pleasing amount of variety crammed into the songs, though the tempo range and rhythm sets get the least breadth. Guitar-work shifts from needle-point quickness to extended wailing without going against the grain of the song, so to speak; and while the vocalist’s top speed doesn’t hit the same level, he accomplishes similarly manic switches. While it comes off as slightly too streamlined at times, the band’s skill with pulling their various parts together to deliver a focused impact does result in some of the most striking moments of the album. The rare slow sections (mostly in the longest-running but shortest-titled track, “K”) stand out more because of this, which had me wishing they’d found room for a few more before the album was half-done, just to give their intensity more balance.
On the downside, some of the song titles are near-goofy in their attempts to be non-standard (“Pleasuffering”, “U-Man Slept, K-os Crawled”, and “Yesterdead” make up a stretch of the album one after another), and the drummer’s technical skills feel a little too constricted by the need to deliver blast-beats almost all of the time. Generally speaking, however, it’s a pretty strong showing by Mortuary, with no tracks that I’d point to as being total (or even half) failures. They just want to thrash and pound, and they get it done with a fair amount of style shown in the process. Some more of the wild guitar ripping that floats up occasionally would definitely have been welcome but, again, the album’s clearest strengths lie in how the musicians work together.
Fifth To Infinity – Omnipotent Transdimensional Soulfire
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Label: Avantgarde Music
Sweden’s Fifth To Infinity almost disappeared without leaving a mark. Formed in 1997, the band’s debut was set to be released in 2000, but due to different circumstances, it didn’t happen, and the band split in 2001. After reforming in 2007, Fifth To Infinity are finally seeing their hard work come to fruition in the form of Omnipotent Transdimensional Soulfire.
Fifth To Infinity’s form of blackened death is heavy on atmosphere, and focuses on the black metal side of the sub-genre. There aren’t many blast-beats to speak of, with most tracks sticking to a lurching, medium tempo, emphasizing the heaviness of the riffs. “Master Unbound” starts off with a particularly crunchy riff, which is accompanied by layered background guitar-work that gives the track a dark, haunting vibe. The vocals lie somewhere between black metal howls and death growls, similar to those of Shagrath from Dimmu Borgir, and match the harshness of the music extremely well. “Death Shall Wake Us All” has the fastest pace of the entire batch, but still doesn’t quite go into speed-demon territory, though the higher-pitched guitar bits are of the tremolo-picked black metal variety.
The production uses a lot of reverb to great effect, giving Omnipotent Transdimensional Soulfire a very cold, old-school black metal feel, though with a lot more low-end and clarity. These tracks feel more like incantations than songs, and mesmerise as much as they rock. Fifth To Infinity may have taken longer than they wanted to in order to release a full length album, but is well worth the wait, as Omnipotent Transdimensional Soulfire is aboslutely top-notch blackened death metal.
Old Forest – Dagian
Location: London, England
Label: Avantgarde Music
Formed in the UK back in 1998, Old Forest produced one demo and one full-length before calling it quits in 2001. After a 7 year break, the band returned and became more productive than ever, leading up to Dagian, released digitally in December 2015, and now available on CD.
Dagian is a record with extremely big ambitions in terms of the sonic territory being covered; consisting of four songs, it clocks in at roughly 48 minutes. For those looking for quick blasts of metal fury, this record will probably try your patience, as Old Forest choose to weave tales of fantasy and paganism/heathenism. These things take a lot of time to talk about, people! A lot of sounds are covered in each track, so those with longer attention spans will have their patience rewarded. Elements of folk, power, death, progressive and, of course, black metal, are all mixed in throughout the length of each song, with each transition also changing the mood of each track, as can be heard on opening track “Morwen.”
“Tweoneleoht” has an extreme metal-meets-Pink Floyd vibe to it, thanks in particular to the keyboards, and medium pace at the beginning of the track. Dagian is often an extremely melodic record, and this track is a great example. The vocals go back and forth between a hoarse, black metal growl, and rich baritone-esque clean vocals, which can be heard at the beginning of “Non.” At times Old Forest remind me of the similarly pagan-themed band Drudkh, with a melodic-yet-raw-sounding record that incorporates other instruments into the mix. In combining the different sounds, though, Old Forest don’t always nail the transitions, as can be heard on the galloping riff toward the end of “Morwen,” which feels a bit tacked on. On that note, the vocals and keys at the beginning of “Non” come off as a bit 80’s goth rock-esque, which might be a bit off-putting for fans of extreme metal.
For the most part, Old Forest have crafted a pretty compelling piece of music in Dagian, but some of the experiments fall a little flat, and the track lengths might turn a few people off. Still, if you can keep an open mind, and have the patience, Dagian can prove to be a thoroughly rewarding listening experience.
War Curse – Final Days
Label: Static Tension Recordings
Certain folks out there deride newer thrash bands and say that thrash has been stale for a long time. When I hear that, I often cite those bands that are actually taking the genre in exciting directions (see: Vektor) or bands that, while not revolutionizing the formula, are making high quality, exciting, riff-oriented metal that is exciting without a need to re-invent the wheel. War Curse definitely falls in to that second category.
While there is nothing in Final Days that hasn’t been heard before in some form or another, what is here is compelling, engrossing, well-constructed thrash that reminds me, more than anything, of Evile. In fact, while that British unit is a great band with some great material, I can’t say that I’ve ever been as engrossed in one of their records as I am in Final Days. The reason behind that, I think, comes down to the rawness of the recording. Some of the best thrash in history has really benefitted from the influence of punk and hardcore, especially when it comes to production. Great thrash is generally not something that does well when it has been polished to perfection in the studio, and the no-bullshit approach that War Curse have to this recording is clearly straight out of their professed love of punk.
Lyrically they cover familiar ground, demonstrating another of their strengths in vocalist Tarek Puska’s delivery. He has a melodic sense that makes certain line very catchy and almost headbangable. It’s almost as if his voice is a third guitar in the band. Speaking of guitars, Justin Roth and Joshua Murphy have classy, punchy riffs for days, and while their solos were good, it is seriously the rhythm work that makes the album shine.
I’m very excited to see what this band will do next. Apparently, a new release will come sometime this year. Get in on the ground floor and check this shit out!