Hello and good evening and welcome to our wood-paneled den. Ryan and I were just about to sit down and listen to some music on cassette tape. Ryan made crepes! There’s just something about the way he layers the jam and cheese. I don’t know. Maybe that’s why I love him so much. It’s probably a combination of that and the lovely cassettes he picks out and also how well he treats me around the house. Last week he surprised me with a new vacuum. Can you believe it? It’s like he really listens to me. It just feels great to finally be in a relationship where I’m actually heard, you know? Not to mention how handsome the little guy is! Sorry, I’m just gushing here.
Anyways, we have some just stunning choices for you this month. You can read about them below. I’m going to head upstairs, light some candles and let Calgon take me away.
Devoid of Thought – Cosmic Apoptosis
Manny-O-War: From the start, it’s annoying that this is a second demo. Devoid Of Thought seem easily capable of producing an EP or even an LP or MLP or whatever at this point. Maybe it’s a financial thing, and we can’t shame bands for not having the wherewithal to shell out what it costs to produce a record these days. They’ve had some lineup changes that probably set them back a bit, too. Plus, the dudes are in other stellar projects (Foco Fatuo and Rejected, for example), so they might be a bit busy. That said, it’s high time these Italians make something en completo. The public demands it.
Swirling and spinning with angular, jagged guitar lines, Devoid Of Thought make their most compositionally complete work to date. With something of a progressive take, Cosmic Apoptosis sprinkles cosmic spices all over its death metal soup. Like a fancy little topper. The guitars are expressive, adding psychedelic leads across the closing of “Stargrave” that act as conversation albeit speaking an alien language. A sharp contrast to the bludgeoning “Tomb Marauders Horde.” That track, the shortest on the EP at under five minutes, is a straight-forward, drum-slapping affair replete with whining, shredding guitar solos. All in all, this is anything but a casual affair, so you might not want to lead with Devoid Of Thought if you’re going to a white-shoe dinner party. But feel free to break out this album right before the 18th course and bang away on the fine china and antique dining table.
Ryan: I love old school death metal as much as the next Manny, but we need to talk about the influx of absolutely killer releases worshipping the old ways over the last few years. It’s too much quality in an all-too narrow scope. Luckily, bands like Devoid Of Thought tend to deviate from the time-tested formulas of death metal and experiment outside the realms of safety. The tones here scream early 90s, pre-Morrisound death metal with the added benefit of being cast through the outermost regions of cosmic terrors. Carefully wielding interwoven guitar melodies on “Necronaut” that refuse to give the listener a steady ground on which to stand as they spiral through space, twisting this way and that by the conflicting gravitational pulls that emanate from the sheer heaviness of the band’s brand of death metal. “Tomb Marauders Horde” plays with a touch of ambience on its introduction before screaming its way into full force. The triplets on the main riff jab their hooks deep, splintering and gripping with the shimmering bit of dissonant high end as the listener is again jolted through sinister nebulae within the quasar of horror Devoid Of Thought have created on Cosmic Apoptosis. The doom-laden “Stargrave” shows a dexterity in the songwriting for the band, alternating between slow, tortured passages and chaotic speed, all held together by solid riffcrafting. If anything, the band have shown themselves more than capable of unleashing a proper full length, and Manny and I are both ready to be cast into the full range of intergalactic nightmares they surely have on offer.
Pestilent Death – Chapters of Depravity
Manny-O-War: Oh, what do we have here? An entire LP, that’s what we have here. That’s right. You thought we only covered demos and EPs, and now you look like a fucking dildo with egg all over your face because of it. The best part will be when Pestilent Death show up to your house all ready to eat that meal you promised to make for them and you can’t get your oven to turn on. Man, these guys are gonna mess you up. Pestilent Death seem to have harnessed the entirety of Los Angeles’ pollution issues and stuffed it directly into their musical waste product. With vocals so low and gruesome your butt-cheeks will rattle like a fervent golf clap, Pestilent Death mean to bring the filth and putrescence directly into your living room. The drumming stands out as an album highlight with a perfectly-tuned kit leading the attack. Even (mostly) slower tunes like “Upheaval of the Undead” maintain an exciting air of furious incursion, thanks to precise tuning and perfect execution. Guitars cut through the landscape like a Brockway B666 running full motor through an ankle-deep puddle of muck, delivering riffs to riff-starved troops down to their last round of ammunition. Tracks like “Anthropophagy” certainly show a more refined take on gore, at least in its rhythmic, nearly fun opening that plays cleverly off the brutality featured elsewhere on the record. This is for those of you that like your death metal old-school, ferocious and absolutely pants-splittingly badass. If “Pulsating Entrails” doesn’t get you up off the couch and headbanging with one leg on the coffee table, then I don’t know what will. And if your mom doesn’t like you putting your feet on the furniture, then TOO BAD FOR HER.
Ryan: Well, I already look like a dildo with egg all over my face, and I’m going to have to eat a big ol’ helping of crow thanks to Pestilent Death—they have delivered a heaping helping of straightforward, sweltering old school death metal coated in grime that thickens the blood to the consistency of crude oil… Or Manny’s deliciously thick chocolate pudding recipe. It’s just as suffocating as well, as the festering riffs are backed with a relentless rhythm section that carries Chapters Of Depravity along its toxic quest to infest every bit of empty audio space with its presence. The opening track, “Chamber Of Wretched Souls,” sets the stage for what can be expected on the album. The slower sections are well-paced, keeping things interesting as tension is built up. The drums of apocalyptic doom pulse beneath the noxious atmosphere, varying the tempo between chambers of doom and ironclad mid-tempo grooves before all out hell is unleashed. Pestilent Death are careful not to get too formulaic, playing with different tempos and riffing styles across the verse / bridge / chorus structure. “Pulsating Entrails” bursts from the stomach cavity at full throttle and maintains its speed all the way up to the breakdown section in the bridge. “Upheaval Of The Undead,” after a section of a carefully curated zombie sample, starts slow and weighed down, lumbering its way across the sonic landscape before a cry of terror sets the murky beast into full rage mode—destroying and devouring everything in its path as it wrecks havoc upon the land, which is only disappointing in that the surprise picnic I had planned for Manny this afternoon is pretty much ruined. Luckily, the Ed Gein-inspired “Exhumation Of Festering Corpses” inspired me to replant our outing to the cemetery, where perhaps we can engage in some postmortem arts and crafts. Bonding time is important, after all. Sure, with so much quality death metal coming out lately, it can be easy to become jaded, but Pestilent Death do an excellent job of showing just why we love this style of death metal so much in the first place.
Sepolcro – Amorphous Mass
Manny-O-War: For some reason, this Italian death unit hasn’t gotten their shit together enough to release a proper LP in eight years of existence. That would be the kind of information that makes Strong Bad mad, save for the fact that they’ve put out a steady stream of demos, comps and finally a proper EP. Amorphous Mass is a cavernous display of filthy death metal in the vein of the dISEMBOWELMENT Death & Doom School of Aural Injury. Speedy passages quickly decay into doomy drawls pockmarked with icy guitars and distant squeals. Vocals are diverse, layered and wetter than a humid evening in Rome. The death parts feature modern takes on death metal as well as choppy, churning, chugging homages to the old school. If “Eruption from the Depths” doesn’t find you knee-slapping yourself silly and banging your head, then you might want to see if you can actually fog a mirror, you worthless twat. Sepolcro might require some more polish in the studio and potentially some heftier production, but their composition is spot on and the icy rawness of this EP is a welcome blanket on a chilly night on the precipice of Mont Blanc.
Ryan: Perhaps death metal is truly best when it becomes adaptable—an Amorphous Mass, if you will (and you will), that breaks free of the constraints of traditional song structure and just allows the riffs to flow organically. Sepolcro’s aptly-titled EP does just that while delivering some of the absolutely filthiest, punishing low end to be found in death metal this year. Seriously, Sepolcro are going to be responsible for blowing some speakers. The bass may be breaking the peaks, but it still sits comfortably in the mix, adding a feeling of warm stickiness, like the road-rashed skin of some otherworldly life form after it’s been allowed to fester and ooze for a bit. The guitar is a finely-honed razor, slicing through the still-warm organic mass and delivering masterful cuts of death and death / doom riffs. What’s found beneath the moist chunks of flesh are some absolutely beastly vocals that sound like deep tones pushed through tonsils being shredded by diesel-powered cheese grater. The change in “Unnamed Dimension” from unrelenting blast to a mid-tempo groove, complete with a little tickle of ride cymbal play courtesy of the percussive department, makes for a violently orgasmic rush, while the slower sections of the eponymous “Amorphous Mass” feature a torrent of kick drums that hit like a 5x combo move to the solar plexus. Sepolcro have produced an EP that could have only unearthed from the foulest sewage imaginable, so be sure to check out the sewer system next time you’re visiting Italy, because there’s no way this stuff is coming from the surface.
Undeath – Demo ‘19
Manny-O-War: Although Undeath sits in the fourth and final slot here, it’s important to go with the old saying, “Save the best for last.” As an obsessive fan of death metal and all things putrid, this is probably the most exciting release I’ve heard in 2019. Coming from the rotten, polluted swamps of Rochester, NY and harnessing that which grows in the rancid mud surrounding the Vacuum Oil site, Undeath unleash the hammer of death using infectious rhythms and round, fat riffs. Their riffs often begin simply—a jagged line hopping back and forth as it collapses inward. But the tension builds as their riffs hop upward like Metroid Man firing on all cylinders. Undeath even bring atmosphere to the game using whining guitar lines and open, reverb-laden six-string screams to annunciate and punctuate their multi-faceted delivery. Smack dab in the middle of the demo lies “Perverted Self Reflection,” which provides a perfect look at Undeath’s simple and effective compositional style. The track opens with a thin riff, single notes supported by a simple palm mute. This riff will come back in the biggest of ways, slammed with open chords and an accompanying tank battalion on drums. It’s magnificent how much power this trio is able to generate using so few instruments. If you want to be my friend (or my lover) then you’ve gotta get with Undeath, for they are truly the power-bottom of death metal.
Ryan: I’ve sort of unintentionally been examining where these bands fall on the death metal spectrum throughout this feature. And while all these releases are of above-average quality, the most truly original and inspired has to go to Undeath. Some bands just have a tendency to take a genre by the balls and make it their own, and that’s precisely what Undeath does with Demo ’19. The leads on “Unadorned Coffin” scrape like desperate fingernails against the casket lid, delivered in a manner that borders on a tech-death approach, but without just sounding like a mess of skronky wankery. There is a logical progression to the jolts in the riffs as they maneuver their angular path over riffs that vary from caveman chugging to absolute shredding. All of this, of course, is occurring in a veil of deliciously raw production that one would hope to find in a fresh demonstration of putridity. Grooves abound, particularly on “Perverted Self Reflections” (not the kind one is ought to have on those Sunday afternoon baths that go on just a little too long, but the kind one has while digesting a meal of raw human reproductive organs whilst cleaning up the products of one’s own masturbatory practices with freshly harvested, organic tissue). This isn’t to say Demo ’19 is in any way a low brow effort, but it does retain the elements of unadulterated brutality while delivering it in a creative and thoughtful manner. The closing track, “Archfiend Coercion Methods,” does a good job of wrapping the band’s style up in a sendoff, making sure the listener will remember the band’s knack for inspired death riffs and unique approach to song construction, leaving any fan of DEATH METAL wanting more from this extremely promising new project.