Words by Andrew Lampela
You ever review a Tool record and suddenly realize the world is a much smaller place these days? I mean, it’s still huge and takes a day or two and some paychecks to do anything, but I can literally pull a little rectangle out of my pocket and call Zach Snyder a hack piece of shit to his virtual face and he might even see it. It’s got to be a strange feeling to put anything out there in the world right now. Work your ass off, blood sweat and tears on something for a chunk of your life, and within an hour of it being released, there are a dozen think pieces spending thousands of words on why you are a complete dildo for even trying. The internet has completely obliterated the line between objective criticism and some douche-lord mad about there being women in Star Wars.
Do I feel bad about calling Maynard a vape-cloud? Eh, maybe a little. He seems like a good dude that put out a highly anticipated album that was mostly boring as fuck. It’s more that it is remarkably easy to forget that people might actually read this stuff. Flippant opinions have become a sort of commerce as far as criticism goes. You don’t actually have to be right about things, you just have to be louder and slightly more biting than the other guy any more. On the flip side, you don’t want to be too biting, as you may find a rabid fanbase absolutely shit-storming any social media presence you may have. What a weird place you must be at in life when your world comes crashing down because a million plus profiles rain down on you for saying the new Taylor Swift album in just kind of meh.
And what about that world? Goddamn, I never in a million years would’ve thought a Voivod album would become reality, but here we are. The Psychic Vacuum is real. I used to wait on Metal Maniacs to come out once a month so I could absolutely devour every word while dividing up my meager tape allowance over the reviews section. Nowadays, I can find any record in the world a month before it comes out with the added bonus of some complete dingus shitting all over it. It’s too much, I tell you. Too much. I would love for us all to just get over ourselves and realize it takes all kinds to make the world what it is.
That is, until I could only make it two and a half songs in to the new Slipknot. Who listens to that fucking shit? Goddamn, that was stupid. I really tried. Yuck. I honestly ask, what makes us all like what we like? I like a bunch of stupid shit. Take Devourment’s Obscene Majesty (Relapse). I can’t say I’ve ever paid much attention to these guys, but the new Tomb Mold is so fucking good that I find myself in some pretty bizarre waters these days. I couldn’t tell you a single lyric on this album, everything is so gutturally low and barfed out that I will probably never bother to learn any of them, but boy oh boy, there are some slamming grooves in between the gnarly buzzsaw death metal blasts on this thing. Certainly isn’t going to win a Grammy, but it’s been a lot of fun getting pummeled by this for the last few weeks.
Death metal has never really been one of those genres you can just pass along to friends. Gross production, buzzsaw guitars, wretched vocals… yeah, hard to sway people into your camp. If you are into it, though, 20 Buck Spin is having a fucking year of it. As if putting out one of the top albums of the year with Tomb Mold wasn’t enough, they’ve bombed my days with some of the grossest records of 2019. First up is Cerebral Rot’s Odious Descent Into Decay, worth it for the opening title track alone. Seven glorious minutes of every old school Florida death metal bit you could hope for. It scratches my Obituary itch, and I always have an Obituary itch. Absolutely, beautifully disgusting. The label also dive-bombed us with Witch Vomit’s Buried Deep In A Bottomless Grave, twenty seven minutes of smothering awesomeness. A little thicker and a bit more modern, it still gives me the tingles. Going back a tiny bit, Fetid’s Steeping Corpereal Mess came out a few months ago, but goddamn, if I’m going all in on this death metal thing, I’m bringing this one with me. If the blown out bass of “Cranial Liquescent” doesn’t instantly do it for you, I don’t know how to help you. Three fantastic albums of gross as shit death metal right there.
As if that wasn’t enough, there’s Nightfell’s A Sanity Deranged (20 Buck Spin). Nightfell is Tim Call from a shit-ton of bands and Todd from Tragedy (amongst other bands) doing, I guess, black metal stuff? It’s certainly in that realm, but it’s impossible to wash the crust off, so it isn’t as pretentiously up its own ass like most black metal. I mean, it’s Todd from Tragedy and there are some wicked pick slides. This one has been growing on me with every listen.
Pale Grey Lore dropped one of my favorite records of the last few years with their self titled debut. I throw that thing on all the time. Eschatology (Small Stone), the follow up, is a much thicker affair, dialing back the free-wheeling Nuggets inspired garage-y elements in favor of a much heavier, riffier direction. I’m not bitching. This Columbus, Ohio band is on a roll, double dipping into the psych and doom pool very effectively. I really love how these guys favor melodies over straight bludgeoning, even though they do that really well too. One of my faves this year.
Speaking of faves, I’m so super fucking glad that bands are liberally dosing their death metal with the Entombed/Scandinavian style these days. Gatecreeper return with Deserted (Relapse), a very serious affair full of heavy, brutal riffs. This thing is ruthless in its pursuit of atmospheric riffage, and is handily one of the most anticipated records this year. Lives up to every bit of it. On the other side of the same coin, Creeping Death drop their debut full length and easily one of my favorite records this year. Wretched Illusion (eOne) is the bangin’ party version of this sound. Death, thrash, a bit of hardcore, this thing is a fucking rager and I love it. “World Decay” is the shit and I listen to it every day. Riffs for fucking days.
Speaking of riffs, holy shit there’s a new Dysrhythmia album! These dudes have never put out a bad album, and I’m always pushing my expectations to the side as they are always blasting them to pieces. Still, eight songs in thirty two minutes is weird even for them. Eschewing the longer, proggier style of past releases Terminal Threshold (Translation Loss) is still dizzyingly wild, albeit in a more compact form. I can’t remember the last time these guys got this riffy! It’s awesome. It still takes some higher math to make sense of some of the parts, but this album is gloriously to the point for Dysrhythmia. One of the best bands out there, always at the top of their game.
This month was pretty spectacular, as far as albums that will probably land on the ol’ year end list. I was totally unaware that I needed a Candlemass-size hole in my listening filled, but Crypt Sermon’s The Ruins Of Fading Light (Dark Descent) has made me very aware. I wasn’t so sure about this one at first, between the hype and the fantasy-leaning lyrics, but goddamn, it is absolutely one of my favorite things right now. It reminds me of all the old Metal Blade bands I listened to as a teenager, only really good. It’s way too easy to go overboard with this kind of shit and wallow in cheesy, but every instrument nails it here, and Brooks Wilson is one hell of a vocalist. Epic as fuck, but never overpowering. I am super here for Crypt Sermon. One of the best of the year.
There were a handful of other things I had my ears on, but time is hard to come by these days. Everyone is raving on the new Exhorder, but it sounded way too modern to me and I just didn’t get it. I would love to tell you the new Opeth is great, but a handful of listens in and… I haven’t decided. Howling Giant just dropped an album, The Space Between Worlds (Blues Funeral), and it’s an awesome slice of psych/stoner rock, I just got buried and keep forgetting to dive back in. Cult Of Luna and No One Knows What The Dead Think both hit my playlists, but I think I’ll reserve judgement until I can really dive into those.
What an avalanche of great metal in the last month. I’m sure there is a ton I missed, too. It’s getting pretty ridiculous, trying to keep up on things. Not a bad problem to have. Y’know, until someone calls me a dildo because the new Slipknot is garbage.