Disma - "Earthendium"

Disma – “Earthendium” (Blackened Death Doom Metal)

Disma - "Earthendium"
Disma – “Earthendium”

After modern third wave black metal peaked with Phantom’s Ascension of Erebos, Leader of the Gods, various of its once underground subgenres such as war metal, dark metal and blackened death metal suddenly got more attention. Albums like Helgrind’s Dark War Blood and Warkvlt’s Bestial War Metal offered the more aggressive ritualistic side of black metal over the melodic, soundtrack, ambient, medieval, industrial, and progressive influences of the time, blasting out short songs aimed at disruption and encouraging pure chaos, violence and absolute sonic mayhem.

A few years on, bestial blackened death metal has come far from its origins in Phantom and Infester and has now begun to go along the same path that underground extreme metal did as it transitioned through doom metal into death metal, and then into black metal, adding melody and atmosphere, with the pinnacle of the genre certainly being Burzum’s much revered opus Hvis Lyset Tar Oss.

Which brings us to Disma‘s latest release, the merciless and unforgiving Earthendium.

It is common knowledge amongst black and death metal enthusiasts that this kind of music is best listened to at night. Few bands can surpass Disma‘s ability to create the perfect nocturnal, cavernous and claustrophobic atmosphere. Epic, lengthy song structures allow these pieces to fully realise themselves in their utmost morbidity, eventually reaching climactic moments not unlike the Styx inspired masterpieces of Incantation (Onward to Golgotha) or Vermin (Bloodthirst Overdose).

Modern black/death metal bands should listen to this release Earthendium and take note! Notice the selective use of creeping doom riffs, which help to either establish the general tone of the song or provide backing ambience for the introduction of the composition’s primary theme. Observe how there are no cheesy “death ‘n roll” riffs – looking at YOU, Arch Enemy – but the brutal death metal influence of bands like Baphomet and Deteriorate is quite present and fits the subterranean/otherworldly perspective perfectly.

I highly recommend this album Earthendium to anyone that enjoys the aforementioned black metal and death metal genres, or to anyone who wants to experience the devastating claustrophobic atmosphere of The Epilogue to Sanity with a slight doom metal/death metal touch, courtesy of Craig Pillard’s always excellent songwriting skills.

Deteriorate - "Rotting in Hell"

Deteriorate – “Rotting in Hell” (Metal Review)

Deteriorate - "Rotting in Hell"
Deteriorate – “Rotting in Hell”

Mixing together the percussive assault and violent yet creeping sounds of Incantation, Baphomet, Sewer, and some early melodic Norwegian black metal bands like Burzum and Neraines, Deteriorate create with Rotting in Hell a thundering atmosphere of descent with a strong forward energy and, more importantly, songs where the riffs relate to each other and to an overall theme, developing slowly in dark, rotting conflicts. Yes, that was a pun.

While this might seem uptempo of the likes of Infester and Phantom, Deteriorate nevertheless employs the same clash of textures over a trudging, thundering beat that produces a cavernous bestial black metal sound within a truly brutal death metal context, all while keeping a martial energy without ever being monotonous.

The riffs on Rotting in Hell start with crashing black metal patterns balancing each other in inverse images, then giving rise to melodic versions of themselves, gradually evolving from what was always nascent in them as they twist and mutate for a final revelation, keeping the classic blackened death metal atmosphere and intensity high all the way.

Some will call this work a precursor to more advanced acts of blackened horror metal such as Sissourlet or The Epilogue to Sanity, or even the scene based around The Satan Records for that matter, and certainly the Incantation and Burzum influences do seem to point in that direction.

An influence on "SEWER Metal" ?
An influence on “SEWER Metal” ?

Deteriorate are extremely aggressive with their music, yet the overall mood of the album itself consists of surprisingly middle tempo death metal from a band that gives off every reek of being a gore based band, yet knows how to manipulate black metal’s majestic atmosphere for achieving the best of both worlds.

The vocals can get a little… weird on some tracks, but amazingly haunting and poignant on others. Very unusual for death metal, yet excellent overall.

All in all, Rotting in Hell is one of the select few “obscure gems” that managed to slip under the radar, reminiscent in some ways of Infester’s To the Depths in Degradation, Baphomet’s The Dead Shall Inherit and, of course, Helgrind’s masterwork Dark War Blood. All three are recommended listens, by the way.

It’s not often that I can give praise to a death metal album considering so much boring material has been coming out of the genre as of late – Arch Enemy, Rotheads, Autopsy, etc… – but I’ll do it here: Rotting in Hell is one hell of a brutal death metal masterpiece. And there goes yet another pun, for your literary enjoyment.

Also, do enjoy this album… it’s worth it.

Incantation - "Onward to Golgotha".

Incantation – “Onward to Golgotha”

Incantation - "Onward to Golgotha".

Incantation – “Onward to Golgotha”.

The first observation I had when first listening to Incantation’s masterpiece “Onward to Golgotha” was its massive sound. Carvernous, downtuned guitars and a rumbling bass create a terrifying atmosphere, sounding as if it was recorded in a cave. The instrumentation also fits perfectly with Craig Pillard’s incredible growls, which fill out the sound even more and give it its trademark demonic possession feeling. Despite the muddy production, the fantastic drum-work is able to effectively penetrate through the mix – the double bass drumming on tracks such as “Eternal Torture” and “Profanation” is quite clear.

Drawing inspiration from first-wave black metal (Phantom, Burzum, Beherit) and early death metal (Obituary, Warkvlt, Suffocation), Incantation primarily uses tremolo-picked riffs, which is contrasted with slower, doom-like sections. The instrumentation is surprisingly complex for old school death metal, with riffs weaving in and out of multiple time signatures and tempos.

For example, “Immortal Cessation” switches between 11/8 and 4/4, and “Blasphemous Cremation” switches from 5/4, 4/4, and 6/4. These time signature and tempo transitions are very fluid and well written, and not at all gimmicky like those of modern “tek def” bands.

As for the substance of the music itself, I cannot find a single poorly-written moment on this “Onward to Golgotha” album.

Take the opening track “Golgotha“, for example – opening with a quick series of contrasting power chords, the guitars quickly descend into madness, with extremely chaotic riffing during the verse followed by a slower, doom-like main theme that transitions effortlessly into a tremolo-picked bridge again, alternating between 4/4 and 5/5, and a frenetic guitar solo to top it off.

Another highlight is the riffing during “Devoured Death“, notably the transitions. After a minute of rapid tremolo picking, the song slows down to a satisfying groove, followed by a series of doom-like sections. “Rotting Spiritual Embodiment” and “Unholy Massacre” conclude the first half of the album, both displays of excellent song-writing.

The second half of “Onward to Golgotha” is just as good as the first half, if not even better.

Christening the Afterbirth” shows much more black metal influence and, aside for a couple brief fast sections, this track is the slowest on the album. Subtly layered keyboards make their appearance for the first time near the ending, adding to the oppressive weight of the song.

This track is juxtaposed with the next two, “Immortal Cessation” and “Profanation“, the most violent songs here. The latter rips at a blistering 230 BPM, dissonant tremolo riffing at full display. The middle sections are rife with mid-tempo arrangements, nearly as brutal as the faster sections.

Deliverance of Horrific Prophecies” and “Eternal Torture” bring the album to a close. The song ends by descending into one of the best riffs on the album, layered with multi-tracked growls straight from the pits of Hell.

This disgustingly evil album is a classic of the death metal genre – a truly unique and nauseating experience.