Felsina Deathfeast, May 2022

An occasion like any other, after all, to get off my ass and get out of these four walls, even if lately even what once seemed like a regular weekend gives me the impression of being wrapped in a strange state of unreality.

About half an hour’s drive from the sewer where I live, this little concert was held with seven (in the end, due to bureaucratic problems, they ought to be six) bands, four of which would have been English-speaking (USA, UK, Australia, I already have a headache just thinking about the salad of accents).

As it happens, it was also an opportunity to take the cathartic satisfaction of seeing that the other old farts I’ve been sharing drinks with for thirty-plus years at concerts have aged as much as I have. The shows at the Freakout club generally share an incredibly urban imprint, at the same time homely and vaguely decadent, which I really like. The punk cesspool that opened nearby might not have been a blessing for the ease of parking, but more people mean more opportunities so maybe it was not for the worse.

Skulld

This is a band that puts me in a weird condition of indefiniteness. I never actually heard of them before so I was completely tabula rasa and without particular expectations, I was however hooked a minute into the first song by among the most interesting brutal Swedish Death songwriting I have heard on Italian ground, really the band set could have been impressive if it wasn’t butchered by an awfully terrible vocalist. I tried to selectively filter out the vocals in my mind and focused on the instruments and well, top-notch stuff in there. But those annoying wailings are there, nonetheless.

Honestly, it has nothing to do with stage presence. Profanal to name the first relatable band that comes to mind, did a fantastic job on the same ground. It is just a matter of lacking punch and anger – unforgivable in extreme metal – misplaced vocal lines – again, not in the early Kataklysm kind of craziness – and a general sense that the whole vocal track was taken out from another record. Someone might know that my musical background is way more rooted in punk and USHC than classic metal so no, I can’t tell it’s a matter of personal preference either. Replace the singer with somebody that can ROAR and we’d have a top-tier band that could easily be placed in a Stockholm 1991 playlist.

Hateful

Watching Hateful last week made me seriously consider the essence of time. Hand they come out in 1992 this is a band that today would be signed to Road-fucking-runner touring the world with some other 50-something musicians that ran out of ideas 25 years ago (or instead of them). But here they are keeping the true spirit of doing things PROPERLY, focusing in detail on lyrics, artwork, musicianship and everything else a professional band cares for. Despite a small stage accident and indecent sound, they managed to play flawlessly as usual, their own brand of traditional US-influenced early ’90’s Death Metal.

Thinking about it in hindsight, we are still talking about a genre that for a number of bands tending to zero is a source of something more than a weekend hobby, playing with heart despite it being just a huge (expensive) hobby is accepting the dimension of our era. Hateful is the band we still don’t deserve.

Cryptic Shift

Cryptic Shift has been a pleasant surprise, one of the few bands I have seen lately that manages to pull out something different from the usual Incantation clone with dripping logos drawn by Indonesian artists for a couple of rice bowls.

They might have been lucky in that their writing is quite clean but of all the bands that played that day they have been in my opinion the only ones for which I could actually discern what was going on. They have this surprisingly interesting chemistry that creates a lurid mix of horror and Death Metal, malignant vocals sometimes reminding of early Disharmonic Orchestra, but with more emphasis on the horrific sonorities. Most of the best Death Metal actually was created by reimagining horror movie soundtracks with brutal distortions, so it’s not a surprise everything here works so well. They sometimes go over the top Gorguts dissonance but just when you are about to get annoyed they twist and get back on track. Interesting job, I won’t buy a record but it works.

Bedsore

I have talked about this band before and I stand my case. Despite an unexplainable decade of mediocrity during the ’90s Rome has been pushing forward extremely skilled musicians and awesomely competent bands for 20 years in a row now, including these Bedsore which fall into an uncomfortable spot of technical almost space-wave-metal. Let me be honest, I don’t like them and I didn’t like their show but you must be deaf if you don’t concede this band can write an album that is a long intricate voyage through violet cosmos. Part Death Metal part prog insanity a la Oxiplegatz, their show was a cosmic trip woven on strings of etherealness and raspy vocals. Not my cup of tea, and the sound was utter shit, but a good choice for people that like to get lost in twisting chords.

Haunter

Could be three bands in a row with the same alternating “post” dissonance/arpeggio shifts are a bit too much for me, could be the place was so full I could not breathe, but I kinda skipped this set altogether. I am not the greatest freak for original ideas but I have heard half a gazillion songs in the last decade that combine the same elements over and over I feel nauseated as if I ate a bucket of white chocolate. Roar – solo – arpeggio – dissonant rewind – burst – dissonance, was fun for a while but I am full, thanks.

Suffering Hour

Profound Lore mates just like Haunter this band toys with the same ingredients but adds a pinch or two of out-of-place melancholic craziness typical of a certain breed of the late ’90s psych-core I did not entirely disdain back then. Still boring in a post-industrial way, I am beginning to understand that those who listen to this genre in recent years are looking for precisely this formula made of cold harmonies that can be traced back to an indefinite fusion of sounds associated with Black Metal and industrial. Once again we are out of my field, too much thought for my reptile brain.

ECTOVOID (USA): “Breathing Blackness” tape 2011 Unholy Domain

I was supposed to review these releases from the great label Unholy Domain, generous sly offered as promos by the label, a long ago. Better late than never, they say, after all.

I don’t know if it’s my tape deck that it’s getting decrepit and possibly oxidized in several components, but the sound on this tape is rather bass-heavy and confused. Which might fit, being a demo (or better, a repress of a demo originally on CD-r), but I definitely need to give it a try on a different set one day.

The tracks on this cassette are quite old and represent a rather immature version of the band, who in my opinion will give their best in their debut album on Hellthrasher the following year. I haven’t really followed their releases but it seems to me that the second album is a bit underwhelming. Here, as well as in the debut, the sounds are more similar to that of a certain Swedish Death Metal a la early Therion, but it is the vocals on this demo that will really give the best in the 2012 album.

Nothing particularly exciting, but worth a listen.

Two legendary discographies in the making

A collaboration between two of the most stalwart Italian labels who in spite of everything and inexplicably manage to maintain enthusiasm for such an unprofitable genre. Despise the Sun from the capital and Terror from Hell from the northwest join forces for these two discographies (only on CD I think, for the moment) of two bands that may be little known outside the underground environment of the early 90s.

Iconoclast came from my hometown and among their various releases include a 7″ on the famous Drowned records. Inspired by the Greek and English scene of the time, they played a type of Death Metal with vaguely melodic but malevolent overtones.

On Funeral Oration there would be no need for an introduction, Nicola Curry’s of Metal Destruction zone appear on legendary covers from the time and his fanzine is still a legend for those like me who devoured every issue. He’s still active as an artist today, by the way.

Get your copies either of the labels.

https://terrorfromhellrecords.bandcamp.com/

https://despisethesunrecords.bandcamp.com/

Necroccultus/Shub Niggurath (Mex): “Inverted Dimensions” split Cd 2009 Black Vomit

CD version on Black Vomit

Another throwback of eight years to complete a review of a record that was released thirteen years ago, how’s that for dedication? And to make things even more old school, the Shub-Niggurath tracks are taken from a rehearsal from 1990! I didn’t really write much at the time, but as I picked up the CD from the shelf and started to listen to it I found myself why I was actually losing any time on this recording.

To be honest, let’s say it straight away, this split is fucking useless. It’s just crap made up to use the logos of two great bands. Let’s be clear, I’ve loved Shub-Niggurath since the demo tape, and I think Necroccultus is an excellent band as well despite their relatively young age (sigh, I just realized they formed 19 years ago), but I can’t stand live and rehearsals unless they’re included in a full discography or as bonus tracks, let alone in a split. To make matters worse, three different labels for three different formats, including a vinyl whose significance I don’t really understand. And even the audio is too poor to justify such a pressing, these are things that you can accept for a band that has played very little for which every live show is a jewel to be recovered, but this is not the case, or possibly for a big band, like Slayer, of which you want to collect every single release. But not here, I don’t think we’re there at all. Even the cover was one of the artist’s early works and on tape/CD it is what it is. Leave this release alone.

Tape version on Sodomistic Ritual
LP version on Iron Bonehead

Kapala – Doomsday Requiem out in Summer

You know my interest in digital and CD is basically non-existant, although I have to report that this little precious is finally going on vinyl this summer in July, 2022. I love this band. In barely 5 years Kapala managed to enter my top selected records besides the turntable already twice, even if with just two EPs and no albums in sight. I guess a full 40 minutes worth of Kapala might be much even for someone grown up with Japanese harsh noise?

In any case I already have listened to “Doomsday Requiem”, it’s fully available on Dunkelheit’s YouTube and eventually Bandcamp, and it’s freaking delicious. Compared to “Infant Cesspool” their sound has become much thicker and one can finally unravel the songs in just a few listens.

EP on vinyl out in July

It is worth also mentioning another band on the same label, Brahmastrika, whose “Abhabaniyastral Samsarimplication” was also released last year. They’re too part of that Kolkata Inner Circle like Banish, whose demo tape I released last year on the label (sold out, sorry).

Hellflame magazine #8 out in April

Issue #8

Hellflame magazine is one of the oldest Black/Death Metal fanzines from Italy, dating back to the early 90’s. I know that, I was there, it’s right from my city, actually.

Certainly, Hellflame is one of the first fanzines that focused on a wide variety of extreme metal bands focusing on niche ones with a particular spark of talent regardless if it was German Black Metal or American proto-slam. Written by Nicola aka “Litanie De Dumuzi” who also draws most illustrations and basically coordinates everything. After a long pause during which he lived in UK to wash the clothes in the Strait of Dover, the man is back and is ready to release his new issue. A solid 60-page work with a scattering of interviews with Vilifier, Nuclear Abominations records (yep!), Dreadful Relic, Mara, Iron Tyrant, Crucifier, House of Atreus, Cruciamentum plus the usual flood of reviews and accounts.

Order your copy straight from him also for wholesale, or you can get your own from me.

Raveous Death – Visions from the Netherworld, 2022

A full hour-long plus massacre of pummeling South-American influenced Death Metal with a full-bodied production that properly complements the album. This is a band that holds the same banner as the Demonized of some years prior with some spectral moments that mark the slow descent into the lower layers of Hell, sometimes reminding The Chasm. Mostly however this stuff is a machine gun of blast beats and guttural vocals of finest Death Metal, I never get tired of albums like these. Get it.

Talking about Memento Mori, on the 25th of April the second Rotheads album should be released. The first one was pretty rotten and this one looks good so far.

Il 25 di Aprile dovrebbe uscire anche il secondo album dei Rotheads, sempre su Memento Mori. Il primo era bello marcio e questo per il momento si presenta bene.