It took me a fair few listens of this album to get even the slightest understanding of anything that was going on, but now it probably rates as one of the best albums I’ve ever heard. Inaccessible is a gross understatement. Portal play impenetrable, brutal, fucking crazy music that commonly gets referred to as death metal but sounds absolutely nothing like most death metal I’ve ever heard. Waaaay down-tuned guitars spew just unrecognisable streams of noisy murk that is actually impossibly technical (once you start to realise what is actually going on, after about listen six), drums hammer and blast like armies of mammoths using jackhammers and wrecking balls to fight each another, and the vocals sound like the battle cries of some fucking alien beast that lives deep underwater. This whole album sounds like it came from the ocean floor, or a world made entirely of concrete, or two massive spaceships colliding. Clearly I can come up with no shortage of hyperbole when it comes to this album and it all gets nowhere near conveying the indescribably heavy reality of this colossus.
2013 has been a rather ridiculous year for Irish records, with a slew of releases coming out over the last 12 months that all deserve some place on this list but alas, it’s restricted to the number six. Honourable mentions must go out to debuts, full-length albums that lived up to expectations such as Zhora’s compelling prog-sludge behemoth Almaz; Atheos and Okus delivered the goods respectively, meanwhile releases from Abbotoir and Nomadic Rituals showed us that Ireland’s doom pastures are the healthiest they’ve been in some time. Then there are new arrivals like the angular BM of Krawwl, who released their demo tape and the heaving grunge-inflection riffage of Lurch.
The picture being painted is a positive one, in other words, but the following six releases stood out from the pack for various reasons.
Number Six Malthusian – MMXIII Demo
Malthusian just about squeeze their way into this list, having only released their demo tape at the end of November. The hullabaloo online over this demo has been undeniable. From a distance it may seem perplexing for a debut but when you factor in the band members’ respective other bands – Wreck of the Hesperus, Altar of Plagues, Mourning Beloveth, On Pain of Death – it becomes a little more clear. For the uninitiated, Malthusian is death metal with an allegiance to sounds of yore but still with a markedly modern feel, where the crushing DM of the likes of Dead Congregation has been doused with the occasional flavours of death doom and the cold atmosphere of black metal; and it’s all been executed seamlessly.
2013 has been an odd year for death metal. Big names have had their lives officially resuscitated (for better or worse), others have continued to explore lightly-tread realms of the genre and then finally, a few of my favorites, have re-explored what made the genre so special in it’s infancy and adolescence.
You’ll see me leaning to the latter for this list, as one of the few good recent fads I’ve seen in extreme music has been the adoration of Incantation, one of my favorite death metal bands. Big names like Gorguts, Carcass and Autopsy have also thrown in their hats, to much critical praise, but failed to move me; death metal should never sound so sterile.
So, without further adieu, I present to you the Top 6 Death Metal Albums of 2013.
Remember when I complained about old bands giving it a go again? Well Convulse shut me up as Evil Prevails has a bit of everything that should appease the most seasoned metalhead. Album opener “We Kill our Kind” is my favorite of the short LP, as it’s mid-tempo groove is the perfect setting for Rami Jämsä’s vulgar grunts (something that’s a real selling point of the LP). The difference from track to track can be a bit jarring (the acoustic outro of “Unholy War” or oddball refrain of “Days of Dark”) but some nice surprises keep me coming back, like the choir in “Evil Prevails” or the beautiful harmonized guitars that round out the end of “God is Delusion.” So don’t write these Finns off, as their live show at MDF this past year and this album point to them hanging around for a bit, and thankfully so.
The Unworldly Summoning CD by CHURCH OF DISGUST comes out on Jan. 1st via Memento Mori. If this record was released on Dec.30, it would have been on our end of the year list for sure! This band plays the stench-filled kind of Death Metal that I really dig. CHURCH OF DISGUST also have a way of allowing other genres to creep into the mix of their creations that keeps their sound interesting. I don’t know why, but I get a punk/doom vibe from this band that makes me like them even more. I could inject myself with their cryptic riffs all day long and stay high on decaying death. CHURCH OF DISGUST should be recognized around the world as one of the most putrid death metal bands out right now. CVLT Nation is stoked to be streaming “Rotting Above Ground” by CHURCH OF DISGUST below!
CVLT Nation interviews Sindre from Obliteration
Hi guys. First of all, thanks for finding the time to do this interview, it is very much appreciated! So, would you like to introduce the band?
The band consists of Kristian Valbo on drums, Arild M Torp on guitars, Didrik Telle on bass and me(Sindre Solem) on vocals and live guitars. Christoffer Bråthen from Condor/Mions Hill/Flight is joining us on bass at some selected shows also.. We play some sort of cold death metal, ish.
It has been almost four years since your previous album Nekropsalms. What have you been doing up until the release of the Goat Skull Crown EP and your latest full-length Black Death Horizon?
We all have been involved in other bands and projects, Kristian is the new Aura Noir drummer, so he has been touring a lot with them, Arild and I have done a lot with Nekromantheon, released our “Rise, Vulcan Spectre” and played a lot live, and Didrik has been a part of Altaar. But we did never “shut down” Obliteration, we wrote music, played some live shows and rehearsed for those 4 years, but inspiration and the energy weren’t always on top.. Everything goes in circles, thats why its taken so long, but it has been for the best. The fire burns stronger than ever now.
Now, here are two bands that do not need much introduction. Coffins and Noothgrush collaborating! When it comes to the underground doom scene, it does not really get better than this. If you need proof of that, just go ahead and check out some of the back catalogue of these two bands: Coffins, with epic releases such as The Other Side of Blasphemy, Mortuary In Darkness, Buried Death and, their most recent The Fleshland, are giving all they’ve got in the two songs they are contributing to this release. As for Noothgrush, who have released a series of demos and splits, their one and only full-length to date is one of the best doom metal records of the 90s – I am speaking about Erode The Person obviously. And now, with Dino Sommese, previously of Asunder and Dystopia, in their line-up, they are rejuvenated.
The three songs that Noothgrush bring are filled with destruction and filth. “Humandemic” kicks things off with a slow tempo taking over completely and old school riffs hammering down slowly. The insane vocals are introduced, trying to tear your ears through and through, while the drunken groove of the band invites you to join in this unearthly feast. The sludge storm rages on with a re-recording of “Jundland Waves”. The doom riffs are always present, while strange effects are swooping in making the track sound even weirder as Noothgrush gradually increase the tension. Once again, the groove is key to the band, and in this instance they are using it to cause an almost nauseating effect.
Death metal has been pushing the limits of music for a little over 30 years; bands such as Carcass, Morbid Angel, Bolt Thrower, Incantation, Obituary and many many more have left their marks in OSDM history. First time I fell in love with death metal is when I heard Obituary’s “Cause of Death” – it contained all of metal that I loved, everything from the riffs down to production. Later I moved on to Incantation’s “Onward to Golgotha,” in my opinion the greatest death metal record ever written, but of course that’s a matter of opinion. I often dream about the perfect death metal show, but like a lot of you out there, I was born too late and missed out on all the epic shows that went down back in the day…here’s the next round of flyers…enjoy!
So a little time back, we stumbled upon Hallucinogen, the first track ever thrown to the masses by Irish black metal bastards MATHUSIAN and as you could probably tell, we were quite blown the fuck away by the senseless overload of wrath and face-ripping evil the song delivered. I mean, if you go back and listen to it here, you will realize what we’re talking about. This band simply came into this world to scare you shitless and throw you into a dungeon of fear, covered in your own feces and urine while you tremble in fear, with your head in your hands, losing all control of your brain activity and plunging into complete madness and paranoia. This music literally feels like Hell is stalking you, like demons are coming after you. And sure enough, after unleashing that song, the band announced its obvious “container” and is now preparing to deliver their first complete work, MMXIII, a debut EP comprised of 3 blasts of annihilating and terrifying uber-structured black/death metal which drops on Novembver 22nd through Invictus Productions.
Death metal outfit Obliteration comes from Kolboth, the hometown of Norwegian black metal legends Darkthrone… seriously does the water over there have some magical properties?
After two full-lengths, Perpetual Decay (2007) and Nekropsalms (2009), a couple of EPs and the sick split with Diskord, Lobotomized and Execration, wisely entitled Oslo We Rot, Obliteration took some time off. Thankfully with their latest release, Black Death Horizon, they show that they have not lost any of their edge. On the contrary, they sound even angrier, more manic and even more devoted to what they are doing.