It started with an innocent e-mail. The subject line, “Say Goodbye to the Rest of Your Foreskin.” And lo, a relationship was formed upon which many crates of avocados would be exchanged in the spirit of good nature and love. Death metal, particularly the type that tears foreskin flesh from genitals, is not often the basis of friendship. It’s not, as Cap would say, snuggly. Rather, death metal that mutilates the most precious of body parts is putrid, fetid, foul, rancid, rotting, malodorous, decaying, corrupted, reeking, spoiled, rank and many other synonyms. It is often described as a rotting corpse, festooned with maggots and smelling of the oily rotting scent of death. Perhaps the record label procuring such deathly melodies would have a name like, for example, Maggot Stomp. And thus it was that Maggot Stomp was born as a record label, and a hard-working, handsome man came to run it.
In all seriousness, the music industry is collapsing like the world’s largest stack of pancakes after the very last one is dropped at the tippy-top by a helicopter. Anyone that goes into this whole thing thinking they are going to get more than some street cred and maybe one or two dates is probably legally insane. That’s why labels like Maggot Stomp are so thrilling. A label run by a person of dubious judgement, but a good heart. A label that just wants to deliver the absolute best revolting, noxious death metal to the masses via any affordable means necessary. I mean, check out the Maggot Stomp shop over at Big Cartel and you’ll see $5 pins and $10 t-shirts. Prices that recall the good old days when life had hope and you hadn’t lost all your hair in all the right places and started growing hair in all the wrong places.
It’s not just about being cheap or affordable, of course. The quality of death metal being pumped out by Maggot Stomp is absofruitly top notch. It’s the type of death metal that wraps you in riffs and beats you upside the head with a lumpy club. Kicking it old school, Bedrock style. But don’t just take my (our) word for it. Let’s let the music speak for itself!
Gutless – Mass Extinction
I’ll be honest here: I was completely sold within the first two minutes of hearing Mass Extinction. The way the divebomb comes flying out of the slow riff section of “Brutalized Into Submission” makes the stomach drop like a roller coaster car flying off the tracks and into a crowd of people enjoying a nice outing at Six Six Six Flags on Memorial Day. Of course, this impact wouldn’t carry the weight of the song on its own, so luckily Gutless bring the riffs to hold it all together, unlike the aforementioned amusement ride. In fact, they are masterfully welded together in a way that flows, instead of haphazardly stitching them together the way the paramedics are currently attempting with the dismembered body parts of the victims of the roller coaster incident. Across the park, the steady rhythm of drums plod beneath the infectious sounds of the thick, gruesome guitar tone on “Evil Incarnate” as one of the attendees comes to the realization that all of the people in the Dippin’ Dots line need to meet his knife. The first stabs are curious as the drums pick up to a 1-2 beat. Our psychopath realizes his taste for violence is greater than that of the frozen treats and begins berserking to the blast beats that send the song into a wild frenzy.
Mass Extinction never loses its brutality, and it’s quickly obvious how ironic a name like Gutless is. The band is simply vomiting its guts out into the wave pool of Six Six Six Flags. And speaking of which, the water feels warmer than it should. Way warmer. In fact, it’s boiling hot. The flesh of the previously gleeful swimmers begins to melt off their bones during “Boiled Alive,” a particularly groove-heavy track that really lets the already tight rhythm section lock in. The use of a breakdown feels organic, decomposing the song into rich, fertile human soil. All of the elements of the demo come together on “Carnivorous Flesh”—a bit like the ferris wheel at the center of the theme park. Riff and rhythm combine for a particularly battering assault, knocking the center bolt loose and sending the ferris wheel careening through the park with another divebomb solo. The destruction that follows leaves few, if any, survivors, making Mass Extinction a particularly effective and impressive addition to the Maggot Stomp catalogue. [Ryan Tysinger]
Encoffinized – Chambers of Deprivation
Well, if there really is a deprivation chamber out there, please make sure it does not deprive me of Encoffinized. Between their 2017 demo and this 2019 LP of pain, Encoffinized changed one amazing thing, and that thing is their take on rhythm. Max Baxter (Maxter?) still sits behind the drum kit, but he attacks that duty in a very fresh way: with syncopation. The mostly snareless-snare approach spits out dancy beats across this twenty-two minute tour of devastation. Sure, at times this album flies—absolutely “smokes,” as the kids say. It might even whip an ass or two. But what it primarily does is regurgitate a heaping serving of modern American death metal. Looking to the European theater (I see you, Denmark!), Father Mullet has let the vocals descend like a warm set of cancer-riddled testes. Those vocals puke, vomit and botchelize all over the album’s dizzying guitar riffs, collapsing in on themselves with more density than a cosmic anus. But it isn’t just the Scandinavian school that’s well represented in the output—the Finns get plenty of shoutouts and props through cragged and uneven guitar riffs paired with vocal croak (croakals?). Regardless, if you don’t own and know this album, your friends are going to make fun of you at all the death metal shows and festivals. Why would you want that? Protect against it by getting into some close quarters (a coffin, eh?) with Encoffinized. [Manny-O-War]
Mortal Wound – Forms Of Unreasoning Fear
Fans of Tomb Mold looking to explore the budding catalogue of Maggot Stomp should absolutely start with Mortal Wound. The riffs vary over an ever-changing tempo, from the labored wheezing of a bloated slug the size of a two-story house to the darting strike of a dozen tentacles whipping out from the lacerations in the earth around said house. While the vocals largely stay in the moist, gargling rumble that evokes a pus-infested filth in your thoughts, they do occasionally vary, such as on “Burning Sulphur.” The cries scream out in defiance of the oncoming sluggernaut, only to be crushed by the unstoppable force of rot.
The majority of the demo is content to stay deep in the groove, but moments of absolute chaotic aftermath pop up around the beast that set this abominable gastropod ablaze. The soloing and tremolo riffing sections on “Riddled With Parasites” induce a panic and urgency in the same section of the mind as the fear of an uncontrolled inferno. “Iron Age Virility” reaches new depths of dissonant fear, seemingly falling apart as the world collapses around the repugnant mollusk before it morphs into a more structured form of evil. A perfect fit to the Maggot Stomp roster, in terms of quality and filth. In fact, the maggot that is doing the stomping, as opposed to the other way around. [Ryan Tysinger]
Rotted – Pestilent Tombs
If you’re totally awesome, you know there’s a thing called RIFFS, and holy fuck does Rotted have them by the dozen. Tracks like “…and Now I Rot” start out chaotic with quickly picked notes leading to double bass. It’s a buildup. A crescendo. Vocals join the frenzied pace which ebbs before compacting itself to an efficient, straight-forward death metal sound you might recognize from the annals of death metal history. Then the minute-twenty mark hits and Rotted slams you in the chest with a thick, pestilent riff supported by pragmatic drumming and guttural vocals. [Manny-O-War]
Church Of Disgust – Veneration of Filth
You might be confused by the beautiful “Lestat back from the swamp”-styled piano that opens this little LP, but it’s not all victorian gender-bending and velvet drapes going on here. It’s more along the lines of burning down estates and centuries-old theaters, and residing in unfurnished New Orleans apartments. With simply massive guitars and reverb-laden drums, Veneration of Filth scratches itches in places where the sun don’t shine. Although originally released back in 2016 (who can remember that far back?), this LP is a testament to just how long death metal has been kicking out a rebirth of the early 90s American dm sound. Owing much of their sound to Autopsy, Church Of Disgust proudly carries the torch of death metal into the uncertain future. [Manny-O-War]
Unurnment – Spiritual Penury
Unurnment play a style of brutal death metal that sounds like the brand of brutal death metal that existed before brutal death metal became saturated by Cloud System Administrator nerds wearing Thy Art Is Murder shirts. So, yeah, perhaps not exactly Advanced Placement Brutal Death Metal, but more like Shop Class Brutal Death Metal. And if you think that somehow sounds less impressive, remember that shop class is where a lot of people get their first opportunity to hit a jizzoint, which is more than you can say about most lame AP Calculus classes.
There’s only one dude in Unurnment—Federico Avila, guitarist for crossover darlings Primal Rite—and he does a very admirable job of adhering to the sort of cargo-shorted late 90s / early 00s brutal booming you’d expect to hear from “D” bands such as Devourment, Disgorge and Defeated Sanity. With Spiritual Penury, the riff is king, the drumming is prudent(ly programmed?), and the vocals are toileted without ever feeling fully flushed into the sewers. Basically, the perfect blend of moderately tech death metal that sounds best when belched from primitive boom box speakers. [Captain]
Abraded – Descendants of the Swamp
Can a swamp reproduce? Does it have the biological tools to make babies? The world may never know. Perhaps the chilliest of the releases contained herein, Descendants of the Swamp mixes in elements of grind into their gore-leaning old school death metal. A tightly tuned snare attempts to lead the way, at times sounding hesitantly ripped along by the more dominating vocals. While the tracks are primarily short (around two minutes each), there are plenty of riff pockets providing cardiac rehabilitation by way of their fiery pace. And when the riffs fade, there are blistering, double-tracked solos laced with fuzz. Not for the faint of heart, Abraded are here to slice off pieces of your face with the nearest rusty blade. [Manny-O-War]
Grave Ascension – Sin Never Dies
Oh, hello. I didn’t see you there. I was just boiling this water to steep a delicious herbal tea. It’s so unfortunate that you have an axe through your skull. It looks like a very serious injury. Although you will likely die as a result of cranial complications, you should rest assured that the perpetrator of said violence will forever live on in infamy. That perpetrator is likely Grave Ascension and their perverted, brutal take on old school death metal. Grave Ascension produces basement brutality with demo-level production. This EP is furious, insane and completely soaked in the sewage of old school metal. [Manny-O-War]
Malignant – Purity Through Putrefaction
This album isn’t old school. It’s as old as dinosaurs. It’s death metal made by The Big Bang. It’s the metal that was playing when the very first amoeba climbed out of the ocean and declared that shit was about to get real. It’s the metal that was playing when God told Adam and Eve to stop being fucking hippies and get out of the garden. It is the rumbling double bass that heralded the approach of the meteor that killed off the dinosaurs. It’s the nimbly finger-picked bass lines that buzzed in the atmosphere as a UFO crashed down in Roswell, forever altering the direction of America’s shadow government. It’s the chaotic, angular guitar riffs that played during the great tank battles of WWII. And finally, it’s the putrid vocals that barked orders as earth finally succumbed to the decay and ruin rendered upon it by its unworthy inhabitants. Timeless and destructive fucking death metal. [Manny-O-War]
Frozen Soul – Encased In Ice
I’m a bit skeptical of the backstory of these guys. They claim to dwell in caves in Texas, but I’ve yet to find a single inhabitable cave in the entire state. Lies aside, this little EP (available on cassette) is a true bowel-ripper. Highlighted by their ability to juxtapose styles within a single composition, Frozen Soul’s brand of death metal bobs and weaves any narrow label or tight category. Touches of the old school marry seamlessly to more modern Danish leanings, while their pacing and rhythm changes remain balanced—surprising and altogether bangworthy. Perhaps most descriptive of their sound would be the band’s impeccable cover of Mortician’s “Witches’ Coven.” (from 1996’s Hacked up for Barbecue). If Frozen Soul continues to produce this level of metal product, there’s no reason they can’t join band’s like Tomb Mold and Scorched as darlings of the underground. [Manny-O-War]