words by Jason Ellis
Hey y’all. Jason from WMSE’s Team Metal, here. I have a job that allows my mind to wander a bunch throughout the day, with very little effect on the quality of the work I do. What does that have to do with anything? Well, in this case, it allows me to think intensely about metal and metal related things…which I do, a lot…very much a lot. And I remembered that Erin, the rad lady who runs WMSE’s Sonic Diet saying she was looking for the DJs to supply content. And for me, a wandering mind + the intense desire to explain/talk about/force metal to/on people = a great opportunity to write. I am going to attempt to do this in a quick blurb/stream of conscious sort of style. I, myself, can rarely get into long reviews about records. And if you are reading this, you have the Internet, so you most likely can seek the things I am talking about if you like (but be warned, in person, I get really long winded and very boring about these same things).
The best band walking the planet right now is Primordial from Ireland. Often mislabeled as “folk metal” and wrongly categorized with those bands that are basically Ren Faire/pirate/annoying sort of bands with ‘yo ho ho’ parts in their songs, Primordial does sound very Irish and ethnic. But it’s more a bleak black and white picture of the current tension and culture of Ireland and the hardships that the country went through to get to where they are today, versus the almost fanciful, fun, and drunk ways other categorized “folk/pagan” metal bands project themselves. If you have not heard Primordial, I honestly cannot think of another band to accurately compare them to. Hammerheart-era Bathory would be the closest, but that’s still pretty off. With all that being said, in late April, Primordial released their most recent LP, Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand. Their last album, To the Nameless Dead, is seriously a total classic. And when a band releases a record so awesome, follow ups are rough because of the worry of falling short. But it seems Primordial isn’t a band that has to worry about that. Redemption… isn’t quite as good as To the…, but it’s also a completely different record. Its rougher and uglier, slightly more organic, and a record that stands on its own. It’s still moving and powerful, a textbook example of how melodramatic/serious metal bands can handle themselves and not come off as fools. If you are reading this and like metal, and are (sadly) unfamiliar with their work, search this band out.
Deceased has of late seem to have garnered more respect for their craft. And rightfully so, their recently released Surreal Overdose is as awesome a slab of throwback metal as there is out right now. Anyone who has spent time with King Fowley, the drummer/vocalist/main maniac for Deceased, will realize that there is nothing but sincerity going into their records. King loves metal, horror and talking more than anyone on the planet most likely, and all that shows on Surreal Overdose. Touches of classic metal and old style death metal, along with tips of the cap to deathrock and the Plasmatics at times, makes SxOx one of the best records I have heard this year. Get in or push off…
Repugnant has gained a bit of notoriety lately due to that fact that main man Mary Goore maybe, or maybe not, puts on different silly make up than he does in Repugnant and a mitre and sings to a back up tape songs about being a gimmick Satanist. Or he doesn’t, due to the aforementioned mitre wearer being a “mystery” man. But due to this, more attention has been paid to the 2006 release Epitome of Darkness. Recorded originally in 2002, EoD is a pretty awesome slab of Edge of Sanity like death metal with slight touches of horror punk instead of fake prog, and lyrical themes about 70s horror movies, instead of nerdy fantasy and mirrors (try to tell me Dan Swano doesn’t have songs inspired by looking at himself). If you like old-sounding Swedish death with raspy vocals, this is your alley…
Continuing with old death metal, Autopsy’s new record doesn’t suck. Which is a complete relief. Macabre Eternal is a solid slab of Autopsy death metal. There are a few odd moments and missteps, and Autopsy having a near twelve minute song (“Sadistic Gratification”) seems to be out of sorts. There are some kind of clunky doom parts and female vocals on here. But it is still Autopsy, and they have earned leverage that allows them to get away with things many other bands cannot (Satyricon is also afforded this luxury). And this means they will tour and play live, and when they played at MDF in ’10, it was near life-changing. To hear In the Grip of Winter live again is reason enough alone to merit the existence of Macabre Eternal…
…(going back to the repugnant part of this rambling) speaking of nerdy fantasy, lately I have found myself becoming re-familiar with Blind Guardian, namely their 1995 release, Imaginations from the Other Side. Its filled with OTT pomp and gratuitous soundtrack/Ren Faire, castle-sounding silliness, that, when done by Blind Guardian, is total genius. If you hear “Bright Eyes” off Imaginationsn and are not instantly sold on Blind Guardian, I feel for you. It’s amazing stuff, but I just noticed vocalist Hansi Kursh decided to get a haircut. Real lame.
Finally, I close this all off with Evil Blood. Formed in Croatia in 1982, their The Best of Djinn / Evil Blood -83′-86′ compilation is well worth seeking out. Proto-evil sounding thrash with somewhat untypical vocals, this should hit every chord if you like older thrash or anything evil sounding. “Sinful Nun” and “Carrie White Burn in Hell” should win anyone over. Anyone. Vintage Sodom/Destruction fans, this should be looked for.
And with that, I think I can be done for the time being. I have a ton more to blather on about. If you want to discuss any of this further, either in agreement or disagreement, you can get a hold of me through the TM email, email@example.com. If you made it this far, thanks for reading all this — cheers, and Stay Hungry all your life.
Tune into WMSE’s Team Metal every Wednesday from 9 p.m. – 12 a.m. 91.7 FM or WMSE.org.