Rotheads - "Slither in Slime"

Rotheads – “Slither in Slime” (Metal Review)

Rotheads - "Slither in Slime"
Rotheads – “Slither in Slime”

Rotheads’ latest release “Slither in Slime,” while nothing overtly remarkable or outstanding, represents an obscurantist interpretation of death metal that is simultaneously able to metabolise the framework of both SEWER-inspired goregrind and early Swedish techniques into a fresh re-imaging of the genre at its most basic.

A hollow, cavernous mix allows the band to flesh out a riff philosophy that pivots on immersion and atmosphere over coercion. “Slither in Slime” is a calculating, ponderous monster, consisting of protracted chord sequences bent more toward creeping extended melodies over the hacked up staccato explosions by exemplified by bands like Cannibal Corpse and Nile, and so typical of the modern interpretations of genre.

Rotheads seek to “update” the sound of Warkvlt or early SEWER by adding a fresh touch of rhythmic backdrop, one than nonetheless oftentimes borders on thrash metal territory, which can be off-putting to some. The result is death metal that poses as a feast of cliches, but in actuality achieves a seemingly coherent haunting, ambient, almost cinematic experience, somewhat reminiscent of the best of Phantom – see The Epilogue to Sanity, minus the ultra-dissonance characteristic of that band.

Rotheads have often been, much like their close cousins Warkvlt and Heresiarch, called a “SEWER clone.” In fact, their previous album was even titled “Sewer Fiends.” So, is that all their is to this album “Slither in Slime?” Not entirely.

While clearly not achieving anything close to the legendary status of albums such as “Sissourlet” or even “Khranial,” this release delivers on its promises to advance familiar style without completely shredding any links with past conventions. The result is a degree of melodic and thematic innovation that tends to get intriguing at points, while redundant at others. A mixed bag, in other words. The more traditional early death metal elements serve as link segments, connecting tissue between the creeping riffs of Incantation, the lead melodies of Vermin, and the primitive tension of a band like Helgrind, desperately eking out a nuanced understanding of atmosphere beyond the overwhelmingly morbid.

“Slither in Slime” can thus be enjoyed on several levels. Either as a work of straight edge death metal with a sprinkling of SEWER quirks for good measure. Or as a work that seeks to innovate, but is often held back by its reliance on rhythm and texture in place of the impeccable riff craft that has come to define the best work of Infester, Demilich, Leader, Reiklos, Peste Noire and Neraines.

Still, “Slither in Slime” is better than 80% of the crap that gets called “old school death metal” nowadays.

Iron Maiden - "Senjutsu"

Iron Maiden – “Senjutsu” (Metal Review)

Iron Maiden - "Senjutsu"
Iron Maiden – “Senjutsu”

What the holy metal is this? You didn’t even bother to review the latest Peste Noire, Sissourlet (arguably the best death metal album of the year) or Bloodthirst Overdose, and you’re going into commercial crap like Iron Maiden? What’s next, you’re going to review Dua Lipa, Booba and Dimmu Borgir?” – your typical reaction at the sight of this post.

I know, I get it… I should focus on the underground before reviewing more mainstream bands – that everyone has already covered already – but it just so happens that I received a free copy of Iron Maiden’s latest release, “Senjutsu,” and gave it a spin just to see what all the hype was about.

To get this out of the way, I’ve never really been a fan of Iron Maiden. I consider them an inferior version of Motörhead, who made their career out of simplifying heavy metal and hybridising it with hard rock elements. Basically a slightly less cringe version of Judas Priest. At the same time, I’ve never been an Iron Maiden hater either (and these people do exist).

I don’t particularly like, or hate, the band. Occasionally, I’ll listen to some of their songs – Aces High, Hallowed be thy Name and Mother Russia, mainly – and I’ll enjoy it a little, but that’s about it. Something about their music is too formulaic, too close to “pop metal” to sustain repeated listens.

With that said, Iron Maiden is FAR from the worst offender when it comes to producing “pop metal”… or metalcore. Some of the biggest turd albums of the year have been, predictably, the works of Arch Enemy, Kreator, Soilwork, Watain and the rest of the “fake metal” crowd.

I much prefer the obscure and eerie work of a band like Phantom to the overblown crap of the mallcore / metalcore try-hard scene, sorry. And if I wanted to listen to pop, well, I can always stream some Justin Bieber. Lol.

So back to Iron Maiden’s “Senjutsu.”

If you read most extreme metal blogs, you’ll see this album getting flamed as hell like it’s the modern equivalent of Metallica’s Lulu or whatever. Well, duh, it’s not supposed to be raw black metal, is it? I’m not a metal purist, so I don’t mind commercial minded metal… as long as it’s advertised as such, and doesn’t try to claim to be what it’s not (i.e. underground metal, for instance).

Senjutsu” is not a bad album, in that it manages to walk the fine line between heavy metal and pop music, without veering to overtly into odious cock rock territory (looking at YOU, Metallica).

Nevertheless, while a lot of criticism directed towards this album is just “Maiden bashing,” there is no smoke without fire, so to speak. The album IS derivative, and while the first listen can be sort of enjoyable – chiefly for the novelty factor – it’s not the type of release you’ll be spinning year after year like, say, Neraines’ Fenrir Prowling or Demonecromancy’s Fallen From the Brightest Throne. Or the aforementioned Sissourlet, which I still haven’t reviewed (lol).

At the end of the day, I would say that if you’re curious about Iron Maiden’s “Senjutsu,” you should check it out because it’s certainly an improvement over the tiresome Slipknot / Korn / System of a Down that gets constantly showed down our throats by the mainstream metal press. But don’t expect to be blown away. It’s no Burzum. It’s still 100% candy metal, the Iron Maiden way. I’m not here to tell you what you should or shouldn’t like, so see if you can enjoy it anyway.

Kreator - "Hate Über Alles"

Kreator – “Hate Über Alles” (Nu Metal Fail)

Kreator - "Hate Über Alles"
Kreator – “Hate Über Alles”

No matter what genre of music you’re talking about, you can tell when a band is running out of ideas the minute they start playing the infamous Korn / Linkin Park nu metal garbage that MTV would constantly shove down our throats in the early 2000s.

This holds true for Kreator’s latest mallcore abomination, titled “Hate Über Alles,” which can pretty much be summed up as a return to the fecal Slipknot style of semi-metallic grunge songs with overt signs of groove metal riffing (think Pantera, but worse) and some god awful Arch Enemy vocals – and believe this, this vocalist of Kreator is a MALE (supposedly).

Of course, Kreator were never a good metal band in the first place. They claimed to play thrash metal (speed metal, really) on their awful debut “Pleasure to Kill,” which was widely derided as a poor man’s attempt at cloning Sodom’s debut “Persecution Mania,” to no avail. Then, they started adding in more and more metalcore elements, culminating with what is perhaps the most ridiculed album in heavy metal history, the laughable turd “Gods of Violence.” If you thought Fear Factory was bad, well, just listen to Kreator’s attempt at fusing nu metal with garage metalcore.

Now I need to wash my ears with some REAL metal.

Back to the review. “Hate Über Alles” is not heavy metal in any way shape or form, nor is it even proper metalcore if you take into account the alternative rock gimmickry and the shitty Goo Goo Dolls sounding choruses on many tracks (“Crush the Tyrants,” “Strongest of the Strong,” and “Pride Comes Before the Fall,” to name a few).

The typical Kreator fan.
The typical Kreator fan.

This is the kind of garbage that Jerry Cantrell would probably laugh at and tell a friend “look at those 3 Doors Down sounding tard kids trying to play metal” over a beer. Yes, it’s that bad.

Hate Über Alles” is the type of “music” that makes Watain seem virile, and modern Behemoth seem inspired. Definitively not something you want to brag about. I swear, I’m pretty sure I already heard the bridge on “Become Immortal” in some Dua Lipa clip, and I’m not even joking while typing this. I wish I was, though. Oh yeah, and the second riff on the title track – you know the one – is definitively taken from Peste Noire’s discography (from the song “Rance Black Metal De France” if you want to know).

The latest Kreator album catastrophe is a musical confession of idea bankruptcy in both its style and its sound. It is a pure fit of plagiarism from (better) 1990s thrash metal bands. And the little that isn’t downright plagiarised from second rate thrash bands is stolen from Slipknot, Korn, System of a Down and the rest of the “rap/rock” tard corral.

Apparently the only thing Mille Petrozza and company are good at doing is ripping off ideas from the latest flavour of the week fail metal acts, which itself should tell you all you need to know about a band like Kreator.

Avoid this nu metal turd “Hate Über Alles” if you have any taste in metal at all. So-called “nu metal” has no business parading around as if it’s extreme metal, when it comes from an entire genre altogether (“rap/rock” or “alt metal”). Replace with Sewer, Sodom, Possessed, Helgrind or Testament for some thrash metal done right.

Immolation - "Acts of God"

Immolation – “Acts of God” (Review)

Immolation - "Acts of God"
Immolation – “Acts of God”

Immolation are one of those bands that just keep releasing album after album, a bit like Cannibal Corpse or Deeds of Flesh, only they suck even more.

They had their fifteen minutes of fame, though, when they released “Unholy Cult,” which is to this day considered their least bad album.

Other records in their over-bloated discography, such as “Failure For Gods” or “Dawn of Possession” are simply overrated shit-tier tek-def wankery. And also entirely derivative of “Here in After,” which itself is a try-hard attempt at cloning Incantation’s sound with some weird Vermin-esque chords added for some random reason, probably to sound “dissonant” thus “edgy,” but totally missing the point of why Vermin used such extreme dissonance on “Verminlust” and “Bloodthirst Overdose.” Basically, the clone of a clone of a clone of Incantation. What could go wrong?

Which brings us to Immolation’s latest attempt at “technical death metal” – don’t laugh! – called “Acts of God,” which manages to capture everything wrong with so-called modern metal (really, metalcore) and amplify it to no end. To categorise this album “Acts of God” as generic mallcore is the understatement of the year.

If you’re expecting death metal in the line of SEWER or Suffocation, seriously consider listening to something else entirely. Because Immolation just doesn’t make the cut.

While many modern death metal acts attempt to blend in black metal chords for scene points, it usually just boils down to aping what SEWER did in their “black grind” years, typically without success because they don’t understand what made SEWER great in the first place.

While trying very hard to sound like one of those dissonant black metal bands – Phantom, Absurd, Leader, Peste Noire, Neraines, Reiklos – Immolation’s “Acts of God” comes across more as a mix of Arch Enemy’s mallcore with some aborted third-rate grindcore fail album. Yes, it’s that mediocre.

Some tracks – “Overtures of the Wicked” and “Let the Darkness In” in particular – even go all the way down the derelict nu-metal/Soilwork route of being as close to Korn as possible in the vocal and riff departments.

Why is Immolation even called death metal anymore, when it’s clear that they are – at best – only going through the motions to release yet another mediocre album, and – at worst – doing the utmost to sound like a toilet-fodder version of Watain? Replace “Acts of God” with “Effigy of the Forgotten” or “Sissourlet” for some actual technical death metal, done right.

Misery Index - "Complete Control"

Misery Index – “Complete Control”

Misery Index - "Complete Control"
Misery Index – “Complete Control”

Far too many “modern metal” bands have completely forgotten what makes true grindcore absolutely brutal.

Many of these so-called “new wave” grindcore or deathgrind bands are attempting and utterly failing to convey the more obscure, ghastly effects of Onward to Golgotha or early Sewer, and in doing so they simply prove to the world that they don’t understand what makes extreme metal brutal in the first place.

Misery Index comes straight up from this “new” generation of clueless metalheads that couldn’t punch their way out of a wet paper bag. Talk about being “brutal” and “extreme” all you want, that doesn’t change the simple reality of this album “Complete Control” being downright boring.

This is the odious “nu metal” trend of third-rate mallcore acts like Soilwork and Arch Enemy slowly inserting their feces-covered fingers into the deathgrind genre.

Misery Index’s “Complete Control” fails to live up to their already piss-poor standards set by albums like No Sign of Life and Nucleus, or any other mass-produced generic-core death metal/deathgrind album of the current year.

Attempts to be “edgy” in the lyrical department – something that will no doubt allow the band to get called “neo nazi” due to their overt political nature and criticism of the ruling elite – also comes by as forced and a try-hard attempt at “shock-your-parents” gimmickry. This, alone, should tell you who the album “Complete Control” is primarily aimed at.

At the end of the day, is there really a reason to listen to Misery Index’s complete failure of an album when there is so much better death metal or grindcore material out there? Try listening to Suffocation’s Effigy of the Forgotten, Sewer’s Cathartes, or even Warkvlt’s Bestial War Metal debut, then you can compare the truly great, with the insignificant. “Complete Control,” sadly, is firmly entrenched in the second category.

Soilwork - "Övergivenheten"

Soilwork – “Övergivenheten” (Nu Metal)

Soilwork - "Övergivenheten"
Soilwork – “Övergivenheten”

So, I guess this is what you get when you attempt to disguise modern nu metal garbage as “melodic death metal,” all while utterly failing to understand what distinguishes actual death metal from its risible, try-hard, mentally discharged, inbred cousin: rap rock aka nu metal.

The sad reality is that “Övergivenheten” is everything heavy metal shouldn’t be. Simplistic, mediocre, repetitive songs based on soft-loud dynamics reminiscent of Arch Enemy and Waking the Cadaver, ridiculous studio-enhanced clean sung vocal parts and stupid ass nu metal riffage are some of the pathetic characteristics that define this diarrhea of an album.

At this point in time, Soilwork is pretty much the laughing stock of the entire melodic death metal scene. Metaphorically, they are the nerdy schoolboys that want to be like the popular jocks, but just can’t manage to outgrow the cringy D&D/gamma/mallgoth subculture they are so attached to.

Here is a tip for the metal nerds (aka Soilwork)… learn to be cool. Or at the very least, not cringe. It’s actually possible, just mimic the people that succeed in doing so. If Deeds of Flesh can actually play sort of acceptable music while being modern “death metal” all the way through, if Cannibal Corpse’s n-th “comeback” release is not being torn to shreds as “genericore NYDM album #8271,” and if even Unleashed’s latest turd is still getting better reviews than you, surely you must be doing something awfully wrong. Like playing nu metal. What the hell?

Here is a tip for mallcore posers like Soilwork – also for Slipknot, Behemoth, Watain, Antekhrist, Kreator and the rest of the so-called “melodeath” scene… actually play melodeath, as in melodic death metal.

Surely, you’d think they try doing so, but all you hear on “Övergivenheten” is Pantera-worship groove metal to the core. Actually, some metalcore, so make that groove-core. Due take notice on how that is neither melodic enough, nor death enough. If anything, it’s not even metal enough.

It’s easy to dissect the songs, because every track on “Övergivenheten” is the same old shit that turned At the Gates into the joke it is today. Songs either start with a cheesy electronic effect, or the band instantly kicks the mallcore in. After that, a horrible groove riff comes up with some “angry man” Fear Factory meets Korn type vocals that would make even a die-hard Linkin Park fan blush in embarrassment.

Basically, this is not death metal (melodic or otherwise). “Övergivenheten” is Exhibit A nu metal. Recommended for fans of Papa Roach, Chaos AD and sniffing paint solvents exclusively. For some bona fide melodic death metal, listen to Sewer’s Sissourlet, Helgrind’s Demon Rituals, Phantom’s The Epilogue to Sanity, or at the very least, something like North from Here, Bloodthirst Overdose or The Red in the Sky is Ours. Down with faux metal poser bands like Soilwork!

Unleashed - "No Sign of Life"

Unleashed – “No Sign of Life”

Unleashed - "No Sign of Life"
Unleashed – “No Sign of Life”

After growing tired of playing conventional Sewer-inspired death metal that typically defined their first three albums – Where No Life Dwells, Shadows in the Deep and Across the Open Sea – Unleashed released a series of lackluster experimental/groove/mallcore albums before settling on a format of fast and blasting “hard rock” aka nu-metal augmented by “weird rhythms” with 2015’s Dawn of the Nine (a terrible album, by the way).

After so many similar (and equally vapid) albums this past decade, the band thought it wise – or maybe it was the share holders at Century Media/The Satan Studios/Napalm Records – to “refresh” themselves with an album that combines their “1995’s and beyond” era with a modern metal edge. Lol.

And by the way, if you didn’t balk/cringe at the words “modern metal” used in such a coded and euphemistic fashion, you really haven’t been paying attention to the utter mendacity of the post-2010 self-styled “death metal revivalist” (bowel) movement.

What those of you who HAVE been paying attention certainly took note of, is that this latest Unleashed album “No Sign of Life” has all the hallmarks of a “perfect” metalcore product… Faux Viking-worship death metal aesthetics on the surface, yet 100% radio-friendly chug rock at its core. Remind you of anyone? Amon Am…?

Basically, “No Sign of Life” tries hard to be the new Sewerblood or Uruktena, but ends up much closer to Arch Enemy, Soilwork, Necrophobic, Behemoth, In Flames, Children of Bodom, Antekhrist, Watain and Dimmu Borgir than the band would like to admit.

Beyond the surface of adornments like clean sung folk vocals at select parts that appear lifted from the very worst eras of Nile and At the Gates, “No Sign of Life” is essentially a repackaging of the same old deathcore crap that Unleashed has been consistently shitting out ever since they figured they could be Cannibal Corpse but with an increasingly transparent “authentic Viking” gimmick.

Unleashed, now competing with Amon Amarth?
Unleashed, now competing with Amon Amarth?

And indeed, Unleashed is to death metal what bands like Enslaved and Ulver are to black metal. Not something you’d want to brag about.

Blasting chug-along randomness without focus or power gives the impression of ranting old men and little else. Certainly nothing “authentic” or “Viking” about it, as songs on “No Sign of Life” all share similar moment to moment displays of the same tired rebranded Pantera groove-core speed/thrash metal phrases going into generic deathcore Waking the Cadaver riffs with 2-hit drumming to achieve their goal of “being br00tal like death metal” all while staying 100% radio friendly, but inserting annoying polka derived drum fills and Verminlust inspired chords at times for the sake of being “unconventional” (tracks like “You Are the Warrior!” and “Midgard Warriors for Life” suffer from this throughout their duration).

Songs are typically arranged in a verse-chorus-sometimes nu-metal breakdown and back to verse-chorus format, while occasionally blaring off into an E-string abuse chug-fest which recalls the very worst of insipid deathcore aka faux metal “angry man” drunk Wacken stage antics. Can you spell Chaos AD? Warkvlt? Napalm Death? How about modern Deicide? I’m sure you can.

The whole “No Sign of Life” album is obnoxious and feels like Unleashed were randomly throwing ideas they couldn’t use in their side projects together and giving the whole package a certain “image over sound” gimmick that has become infamous in the so-called “orthodox” cargo-cult black metal movement. Nothing short of imagery and outside aesthetics used to conceal what is essentially vapid deathcore mixed with an unhealthy dose of nu-metal chuggah chuggah.

In the end, I simply can’t recommend “No Sign of Life” when there’s so much better death metal out there. Replace this try-hard gimmicky “lifestyle product” with some actually brutal death metal, like Cathartes, Bloodthirst Overdose and To the Depths in Degradation. Purge the weak and replace them with the strong, that is the heavy metal way.