Exhumed To Consume – Rise Of The Reissues

Welcome to Exhumed to Consume, the first of what may or may not be a recurring feature in which Last Rites staffers evaluate albums, classic or otherwise, that have recently been dug up, dusted off and reissued for your consumption. The Inaugural edition features recordings from Demilich, False Prophet, Odium, Mystifier and Septic Flesh.

Dig in.

 • • • • •

DEMILICH – 20TH ADVERSARY OF EMPTINESS

Label: Svart Records
Release Date: January 17, 2014

To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of its debut and sole full-length album, the inscrutable death metal masterpiece, Nesptihe, Finland’s Demilich have issued, through Svart records, the closet-cleaning compilation 20th Adversary of Emptiness. This two-disc or three-LP set compiles everything the band has recorded, including a re-mastered Nespithe, the group’s four demos (also re-mastered) and three previously unreleased songs recorded in 2006. But wait, there’s more: The package also includes a foreword by S.R. Prozak, an interview with Demilich frontman Atti Boman, band photos (including work from Last Rites’ own Juho Mikkonen), cover art from all the demos and lyrics for all songs.

Of course, almost all of the material in this set has been available for free download from Demilich’s website for a number of years, so the principal selling points for this release are the re-mastering and the three unreleased tracks. Are they worth it? Perhaps. The re-mastering is very well done: everything is a little louder and more vibrant, without altering the essential character of the original recording. As for the three new tracks, two “Of Vanishing and “Of Emptiness” are previously unrecorded tracks from the pre-Nespithe era, and they possess the same twisted magnificence as the other Demilich songs from that time, with an even more punishing sound. “Faces Right Below the Skin of the Earth” is the group’s first new composition since Nespithe and likely its last. It proves that thirteen years removed from its last recording, Demilich still had the magic.

If you do not yet own Nespithe, purchasing 20th Adversary of Emptiness is definitely the way to go. If you already have most of this material, your decision is more difficult, but short of recording more new songs, it is difficult to imagine what Demilich could have done to make this package more attractive.

 [JEREMY MORSE]

 • • • • •

FALSE PROPHET – THE SECOND DEATH

Label: Heaven and Hell
Release Date: December 24, 2013

Ah… the under-under-underground band. During their original run, False Prophet neither garnered enough attention to get label support nor maintained the cult following necessary to result in the back-by-somewhat-popular-demand reunion. But given enough time, even the most obscure, self-released albums find new life. Thus, packaged here is the band’s entire recorded output, including lone full length The Second Death, a demo, some (throwaway) live tracks, and two songs recorded under the name Infernal Hierarchy.

The racket within is death/thrash in the ’88-’92 sense of the term, combining the sounds of earlier Coroner and Beneath the Remains-era Sepultura with bits of the Scream Bloody Gore brand of viciousness. While nothing here can quite compete with these masters – if it could, it would be the uncovered gem to end all uncovered gems – but False Prophet were by no means slouches. With shifts from blinding speed to gallops and more brooding, dramatic passages, the vast majority of this collection delivers, and nicely so. Lengthier songs on The Second Death proper reveal that False Prophet had a touch of a prog mind going on as well, even if not every attempt to be “epic” was completely successful.

Quite honestly, there is probably nothing here beyond casual enjoyment for the types of deathy thrashers that already view their collection as being at critical mass, but for the fan that likes some reverb in their growl, this ought to do. In fact, to a guy (this guy) being introduced to this more than 20 years after its original release, the lack of notoriety for False Prophet is a mite surprising. After all, they do their thing better than a good number of third rate bands that still get tacked onto the latest midlife crisis tour hitting a bar near you.

[ZACH DUVALL]

 • • • • •

ODIUM – THE SAD REALM OF THE STARS

Label: Blood Music
Release Date: December 16, 2013

 

Symphonic black metal catches more than its fair share of shit, I’d say. Admittedly, it’s one of the hardest niche genres to pull off convincingly; by which I mean, to pull off without sounding like an ass-clown mugged Andrew Lloyd Weber and fifteen carnivals and noodled an ass-ton’s worth of ass-frilly ass-schmaltz on twelve million keyboards and then hired an ass-vampire to screech some assy ass-poetry. Given its mottled and maligned history, then, it seems all the more important to highlight those genuine triumphs amidst the cheap neon and oversized cubic zirconia. The Finnish label Blood Music thus performed an essential service to symphonic black metal revisionists when it released a remastered version of the long out-of-print 1998 album from Norway’s Odium, The Sad Realm of the Stars.

As with much of the finest symphonic black metal, The Sad Realm of the Stars is very much drawn from the playbook of Emperor’s In the Nightside Eclipse, although Odium’s songwriting centered around slightly more straightforward, compact fits and bursts. The drums are mostly hyper-speed blasts and spare double bass rolls, which allows room for the keyboards to both float atop the maelstrom and waltz into the foreground as needed. Even with the re-mastering job, this album still sounds very much of its time and place, and thus perhaps a bit dated. By my reckoning, though, this is as it should be. Eliding the historical context that created this particular micro-scene through studio trickery would do a disservice to the music, to the recollection of fans who were there back then, and to the understanding of new listeners being turned onto these sounds for the first time.

The Sad Realm of the Stars is a minor masterstroke of riff-forward, tastefully embellished symphonic black metal, and it deserves its place along similar mid-/late-’90s touchstones as Limbonic Art’s Moon in the Scorpio and Obtained Enslavement’s Witchcraft. It’s also a simply wonderful album, and reveals an alternate genealogy for symphonic black metal, a branching away from the gradually more accessible fork that Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth took around the same time, and one that hewed more closely to the more underground-friendly, Dissection-descended melodic black metal forgings of Dawn, Vinterland, Aeternus, Unanimated, et al. So, buy it for history, or buy it for banging your head, but for goodness’s sake, get out there and dive into the yawning cosmos.

[DANHAMMER OBSTKRIEG]

 • • • • •

MYSTIFIER – WICCA

Label: Grayhaze
Release Date: February 18, 2014

The importance of Brazil’s early thrash scene to the development of black metal’s second wave is reasonably well-documented, and thus the armchair historians among us will have a sense not just of the bigger names like Sepultura and Sarcofago, but also of some of the lesser lights of the Cogumelo Records roster, such as Sextrash, Holocausto, and Psychic Possessor. But as the early ‘90s swung into gear, the lion’s share of the attention was centered generally around Europe – Norway, in particular. One consequence of this Nordic-centrism is that plenty of minor gems from farther-flung locales haven’t quite received the attention they might otherwise deserve.

Wicca, the 1992 debut album from Brazil’s own Mystifier, fits that category rather tidily, and although it has seen several rereleases over the years, they have been spotty and difficult to track down at best. Greyhaze Records is now attempting to rectify this, with a deluxe CD/DVD reissue of this beguiling album of compositionally impatient but thoroughly accomplished black metal. One of the joys of revisiting a non-canon album like Wicca – particularly one from an early stage of black metal’s second wave – is feeling that same thrill of possibility. Wicca adheres to no predefined orthodoxy; its sprawl and peculiarity is possible precisely because the genre had not yet been so strictly codified, and its borders so impotently policed. There are shades of other early black metal devotionalists like Samael and Rotting Christ, but Mystifier also knows how to throw down into a mean trudge that echoes the gloom of early Therion, or even the glacial mopery of the Peaceville Three at their earliest and most barbarous.

Ultimately, however, Wicca is worthy of your time not simply because it can help fill your “semi-obscure black metal bingo” card, or because it presents an opportunity for yours truly to wax stupidly on historicism and the joys of its subversion; Wicca is worth your time because it’s a good album, and because the people who made it took care in its crafting, as well as they were able. Such simplicity of purpose yields a tangible purity that still rings out through the decades, down from the tape decks of the Old Ones to your ears, and maybe later still.

[DANHAMMER OBSTKRIEG]

 • • • • •

SEPTICFLESH – A FALLEN TEMPLE

Label: Season of Mist
Release Date: January 17, 2014

Originally released in 1998, This little slice of Velveeta is getting the bonus track/money back treatment from the fine folks over at Season of Mist. It is also hands-down the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever listened to in my entire life…and I say that as a regular attendee of the ‘local’ Renaissance Faire. (Regular enough that I can now spell “renaissance” correctly the first time, every time. Regular enough that I can spot good leatherwork. We’re talking A-1 nerd shit here, people.) And A Fallen Temple is making me feel like the goddamn king of the prom with this goth-glam-DM-opera-melo-meander fiasco.

If this is your first venture into the stylings of Septicflesh, as it was mine, be ready to cringe a good number of times. The strange combinations of sounds do very little cohesive meshing. Was Septicflesh trying to please every type of metal fan at the same time? That’s the initial sensation, and repeated listening has done little to dull that. And then get ready to crawl under your bed and wait to die when “Underworld Act 1” kicks in. This is walking-in-on-your-parents-fucking mortifying.

I’m wondering, at this very moment, if 1998 me would have enjoyed this. I had pretty suspect taste back in the day (If my math is correct, I would have turned sixteen in ’98, and every sixteen-year-old is an idiot). I distinctly remember asking my buddy to turn Obscura the fuck off and put Slipknot’s debut album on whilst we played Magic: the Gathering in his dingy basement. Then again, I also made fun of him for liking Cradle of Filth, so who knows. You know what? This album is putting me through a bit of an existential crisis, so go ahead and buy it.

[CHRIS REDAR]

Posted by Last Rites

GENERALLY IMPRESSED WITH RIFFS

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