We have a lot for you this week, so make sure to sink your teeth on some of these undiscovered metal treasures!
Abhorrent Deformity – Entity Of Malevolence
Location: North Carolina, USA
Label: Comatose Music
North Carolina’s Abhorrent Deformity are relative newcomers to the metal world, but with their new LP, Entity Of Malevolence, they have quickly established themselves as serious contenders in the slam death metal arena. For those unfamiliar with the term “slam death,” just take your standard brutal death metal, slow it down to a more groove-oriented pace, and add breakdowns that move back and forth between frets (as opposed to the single note breakdowns found in deathcore). Fans of this particular subset of death metal will find a lot to like on Entity Of Malevolence.
Abhorrent Deformity play in an extremely low guitar tuning, with super groovy riffs full of enough pinched harmonics to give any Zakk Wylde fan wet dreams. Vocally, there’s a decent range of styles, from guttural inhaled vocals, super deep death growls, and even some more mid-ranged screams, all of which are often layered on top of each other in the mix. The tracks “Buried Beneath Human Remains” and “Stench Of The Decomposed” even have a few flashes of higher pitched shrieks that could almost pass for black metal vocals. Abhorrent Deformity’s drummer plays a lot of blast-beats, but manages to avoid sounding monotonous, changing the pace up enough to compliment the grooves laid down by the guitars.
Although there’s very little melody to speak of in this LP, that should be no problem for fans of brutal death metal anyway, though it could be a bit tedious for the uninitiated. The production is excellent, with plenty of each individual member (and even each individual piece of the drum kit) in the mix, while avoiding sounding too busy or muddy. Abhorrent Deformity have crafted a solid death metal record that will appeal to fans of Devourment and Disgorge. If you’re not a fan of the whole slam death thing, this release likely won’t change your mind, but if you like your death metal groovy with plenty of slam-style breakdowns, this will make a great addition to your collection.
Sardonis – III
Label: Consouling Sounds
The two-piece has been a popular band configuration in the stoner and sludge metal scenes for a number of years. Some of the most exciting and influential bands in this niche include Om, Jucifer, Black Cobra, and The Body, with sounds that range from hypnotic Middle-Eastern influenced doom, to terrifying blasts of noise and violence. Belgium’s Sardonis look to throw their hats into the ring with their cleverly titled 3rd LP, III.
Sardonis take stoner metal into complete riff-worship territory that is often reminiscent of Black Cobra and High On Fire, with occasional forays into doom in the vein of Sleep and Electric Wizard. Don’t look for any odes to the Dark Lord or the virtues of the almighty marijuana plant, however, since Sardonis are devoid of any vocals. The focus is instead placed on the power of the riff, and III contains some of the best in the genre; the opening riff on track 3, “Roaming The Valley,” could easily be on a Cough record, while “Battering Ram” has a more upbeat, thrash vibe. Sardonis manage to hold your attention despite the lack of vocals, never sticking to a riff long enough to get monotonous.
One concern that always proves itself to be unfounded in the two-piece set-up is that there won’t be enough low end, and Sardonis again prove that two is plenty for a stoner/sludge outfit. III is mixed extremely well, with a rich guitar tone that occupies enough sonic space that bass guitar is rendered unnecessary. The drums are ever-so-slightly lower in the mix than the guitar, which again brings the focus back to the riffs.
The only real complaint here is that, even though the production is excellent, and the interplay between guitar and drum is seamless, Sardonis don’t do much to differentiate themselves from their influences. While I find myself bobbing my head along to the riff, as I do it I’m usually thinking of the other bands that each riff sounds like. This isn’t to say that Sardonis are copying any other bands, it’s really more a commentary on the genre as a whole. Still, III has quite a lot going for it, and will definitely please most fans of the genre.
Pathologic Noise – Gore Aberration
Location: Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Label: Greyhaze Records
Running under half an hour in duration, this new album from the Brazilian death metal scene draws some clear flavor/style from goregrind’s efforts to repulse and batter audiences. From the cover art to track titles such as “Sexual Murder”, “Never Ending Blood ‘n’ Hate”, and “War Lust (Queen of Carnal Pleasures)”, the band revels in visceral imagery, and their performances here do a good job of meeting the brutal expectations those trappings suggest.
Top honors probably go to the drummer, who lays down some thick storms of beats without it getting too stale. He does dip into rattle-beat fills sometimes, giving a musical nod to the gore influences, but a good portion of the music stays in the realm of regular modern death blasts. The guitarist carves away while the vocals grunt and gurgle, and the bassist gets to enjoy a prominent place in the mixing for his weighty contributions, but the percussion really does steal the show. The musicians all bust along at high speed, naturally, but they’re sharp enough to leave room for kicking things up higher, harder, and faster when they need it.
They also keep the songs lean, with nothing breaking the four-minute mark, which helps them avoid burning through the riffs too soon and resorting to filler. Still, the band does find room for some twisty bridges and melodic tangents, though they’re always wrapped back into the main runs with quickness; plus, there are loads of 4-to-10-second rips looking to burrow right into the back of your brain. The songs and album as a whole just get in, do their punishing job (with a little room for indulgence in expansion), and exit with enough alacrity to keep the beats ringing in your ear. It’s a good strategy to get people coming back after the first listen, and I guess we’ll know by the end of the year whether it worked well enough to catch the attention of more than just grind-focused attention spans.
Stone Cold Dead – Lava Flow
Label: Volcanic Music
Though this debut from Stone Cold Dead is built as a concept album, split into three parts to match the three words of the band’s name, the press for it makes more of the instrumentation (in particular, how unusual it is to include a bowed contrabass) than the ideas behind the music. Despite this skewed presentation, SCD make a respectable play to realize the concept by bringing in a different drummer for each three-song section. George Kollias (Nile) takes Underworld, Yannis Stavropoulos the Terrestrial World, and Dimitrios Dorian (Zemial) Upper World. Impressively enough, the result is three fairly distinct but well-linked blocks, instead of the confused mish-mash you might expect.
George Bokos, best known for his work with Rotting Christ and Nightfall, serves as founding member/guitarist/vocalist, while Charis Pazaroulas (credited as a former member of the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra) handles electric bass, contrabass, and lyrics. Though the presence of the contrabass does add an uncommon element, and the drummers provide harder beatings than are usually thought of when considering groove metal, the knotty rhythms that are thrown together and stormed off with might be the biggest point of distinction. While hard riff edges and Bokos‘ growling yells persist through the album, the stuff I found most engaging were the parts which melded death metal into groove structuring, hitting some tangled-note territory reminiscent of Indukti or In The Woods… as they were on Omnio.
SCD are obviously playing their asses off, and that fervency earns them more than a few points on its own. But the way the songs are tied together elevates that, trying to keep a flow intact despite the change-ups and mostly succeeding in that effort. Saving the position of longest song for the final track, “And The Tree Becomes A Sphere”, SCD do a nice job of wrapping things up with suitable gusto, closing the album on a booming echo. Some complaints can be made about the vocals, which don’t get nearly as much room to experiment as the rest of the instruments, but of course that’s up to the listener’s tastes. For a first effort, even with experienced musicians like these, it’s pretty damn good.