Blast Radius – December, 2011

Greetings and salutations to our readers here at Metal Blast!  I will get straight to the point.  Being the type of worldly heavy metal fan that I am, I happen to come across a lot of demos, EPs, and split albums by bands who aren’t exactly well known.  Most of these albums barely go past ten to fifteen minutes of music and sometimes only have less than five tracks, so I typically wouldn’t want to write up an overly lengthy review for something that doesn’t need it.

I have been trying to come up with a way to be able to squeeze a lot of these more unknown pieces of music into what we do here at Metal Blast, and thus came the idea titled Blast Radius (logo coming soon).  In this column I will try and review at least three demos, EPs, or split albums, and hopefully I will not only give you guys more things of interest to read, but also expose you to some bands that may fly well under your usual radars.  My plan is to try and write one of these per month, usually in the beginning of it.  So, without further ado, I give you all the very first edition of Blast Radius!

Artist: Bestial Inquisitor
Label: Torn Flesh Records
Release Date: September, 2011

First up to my grindstone is a one-man industrial black/death metal act from the United States called Bestial Inquisitor.  The creator known as Dread Admiral Mastemah has only one objective in his music: destroy your mind, kill everyone, and drink the blood of your victims for Satan.  That’s it.  To call “Blood For The Devil” violent, twisted, withdrawn, and misanthropic would be an absolute understatement.  You are treated to five tracks, one each more sadistic and sinister than the last.  It has all the traits to conjure up an evil and blasphemous atmosphere; buzzsaw guitar tone, bass-heavy sound, vocals patched through a pitch-shifter, and feedback like you’re listening to an abandoned numbers station.

The second track, “Nuclear Bitch”, absolutely reeks of older Nunslaughter, Mayhem, and even hints of Throneum.  Those same influences will never go away as each track marches forward, you are bombarded with blasphemous and Satanic overtones on top of really catchy riff-and-drum patterns, especially in “Cherubs Lay Fucked Slit From Their Guts”.  The vocals are pretty by the books, but they absolutely serve an important purpose in the end.  Whether it’s Dread Admiral Mastemah doing layered vocals in “Hell Fire Semen”, or speaking clearly with a deep pitch-shift in “Black Fecal Devotion”, you know you’re listening to hateful black/death metal; just the way it should be.

Artist: Invidious
Label: Imperium Productions
Release Date: July, 2011

Invidious hail from Sweden, and you can tell that they have definitely stuck the formula of old-school death metal that their homeland is so well-known for.   Taking notes from bands like Mordicus, Crematory, Nihilist the band goes for a straight-forward approach to their death metal, letting how shrieks of agony with their catchy melodic riffs.  It even feels like there is a bit of American death metal influence as well, particularly that of Autopsy and Death.  There are no shortage of soul-ripping guitar solos, and I really like how both the lead and rhythm guitarists tend to spar with one another, but neither of them really drowning out the other.  The vocals are just the classic death metal screech and bark of the days of yore, with the drums just being able to help facilitate the music to move along.

It’s a pretty fun EP the band has given out, and certainly on the more melodic side of things while keeping it in line with the classic requirements for death metal.  However, things get a bit dry rather quickly for my taste.  The beginnings of tracks like “Black Blood” and “Dead Spawn Salvation” are pretty good at making sure you know you’re listening to Swedish death metal, but things begin to lose their way slightly, making it a bit dull.  However, the track “Visions” is fantastic, with it being a very energetic and speed-filled track with a little punk rock feel tacked onto it.  Invidious has a long way to go if they want to turn into a staple of the resurgence of old-school death metal, but this isn’t a bad start.  The guys certainly have the chops for it.  They just need to refine their style a bit more.

Artist: Thunderhell
Label: Self-Released
Release Date: September, 2010

Have you ever seen a “B” action movie where the hero is tracking down his girlfriend that a bunch of anarcho-communist-hippie-punks kidnapped, and he makes his way into a seedy pool hall/bar in a back alley?  He would kick in the door and everything would stop in the bar to look at him.  The hero looks around menacingly, says something tough and the punks begin to make their way towards him, and he grabs one of their faces and smashes it into a jukebox, which then miraculously starts playing a generic thrash song and everyone starts fighting?  I believe this is what Thunderhell thought to themselves when they wrote and recorded the four tracks on “Hate“.

It is heavily inspired by the more radio-friendly generations of Metallica, with the vocalist/bassist trying his hardest to sound like James Hetfield, and the drummer trying his best to upstage Lars Ulrich (which really isn’t that difficult).  Everything about this album is absolutely non-threatening, and straddles the line between groovy thrash metal and hard rock.  It’s just the generic hate-filled music we would expect to hear if we traveled back into the mid-1990s when people were first starting to take notice of Pantera.  The reason I say this is because everything sounds just like a mash-up of old Metallica and Pantera b-sides.  This should be a major problem, but you know what?  This album is ridiculously fun, even if it is more generic than the next Justin Bieber radio hit.  I don’t know why this has such charm to it, but “Hate” is when people stop taking heavy metal so seriously and just think, “to hell with it, let’s jam!  Cowabunga!”  I’m looking forward to hearing Thunderhell‘s next release once a new string of Chuck Norris movies come out.

Artist: Ocularis
Label: Self-Released
Release Date: Early 2011

One of the stinkiest states in the Union, New Jersey, is home to the four-piece deathcore band Ocularis.  This band was first presented to me as being brutal death metal.  Even seeing the generic EP title, “Roses Are Dead“, I knew this couldn’t be brutal death metal.  Sadly, after getting past the one minute introductory instrumental, I was proven right.  What was to come next was nearly another 18 minutes of generic deathcore.  There is a proven structure to make sure what you’re playing is deathcore, and this young band follows it to a T.  Make sure you have a mid-paced death metal/hardcore-styled passage with lots of double-bass rhythms with the annoying hardcore faux-growl on top of everything else.  Don’t forget to put in the needed melodic rhythm guitar layered on top of the hardcore slam, or else you are missing an integral piece of the same garbage we have heard before.

Roses Are Dead” is an exercise in patience, because you are meant to sit still for about 20 minutes of your valuable time and try and see how these guys should be paid attention to any more than the rest of their indistinguishable brethren.  The band are certainly proven to be musically competent.  But, just because you know how to play the same hardcore beats over and over again does not make your song-writing skills stronger.  The only song that doesn’t succumb completely to the barbaric cliches of deathcore is “Face of Plagues”.  It’s still generic in a melodic death metal sense with fewer deathcore pitfalls, but it is still a million times better than what the rest of the EP has to offer.  Oh well, Ocularis is still putting out far better material than Suicide Silence ever has.

Suicide Silence are terrible.  Never listen to them.