“Album Of The Day” is a Last Rites Facebook feature we started whose purpose is quite straight-forward: highlight one album per day and say a few words about it. Understanding that not everyone chooses to participate in the booking of faces, we thought it might be nice to toss in a feature that gathers the albums in a single piece on a weekly basis.
Here are the seven albums we picked for the week of April 28th — May 3rd.
Sunday, April 28th
Execration – Return to the Void (2017)
Execration has been on a death march of progress throughout their entire career. Odes of the Occult provided a more straightforward, old school take on death metal, albeit leaning towards the more brutal side and laced with a touch of the cosmic influence that is more prevalent here. Their following LP, Morbid Dimensions, was a necessary step back as Execration began tweaking their sound and experimenting more with the spaced-out, brighter sound of today. It was on that album where Execration began pounding complexity, more melodic lead lines and tonally-elevated vocals to the mix. Their vocal progression has completely matched the alterations in their music, making each album a cohesive experience. Their sound has remained compositionally tenacious as a whole. Thus, it makes sense that the vocals rose from the murky depth of guttural volcanoes to the heights of the Dark Horse Nebula.
Also, where before Execration would utilize a mostly-clean guitar line only as an Intermezzo or outro of sorts, on Return to the Void they are seamlessly blended some cleanliness straight into the compositions, sometimes layering two alternately distorted guitars and even using those cleaner aspects as main themes. The guitar tone is a bit clearer primarily due to the use of more treble than bass in the mix. This results in an overall brighter sound for the band. “Hammers of Vulcan” is a tremendous example of their “new” sound. The chordal tonality of the guitars is closer to the jingle on a fine pair of western rowel spurs than it is an incoherent cauldron of poison found in the more murky death metal. As a result, the chords, trills and discordant lines simply sing under the vocals, which also utilize a more clear delivery. [Manny-O-War]
Monday, April 29th
Forbidden – Forbidden Evil (1988)
In 1988, the Bay Area thrash movement was in full swing—Metallica, Exodus, Death Angel, and Testament had already released albums that would go on to become classics in the genre. But there was still plenty of life in that scene, as Forbidden unleashed a future classic of their own, Forbidden Evil (their original moniker.) Russ Anderson’s slowly escalating wail on “Chalice of Blood” reached Halfordian proportions and promptly separated them from their local brethren with his unique (to thrash) vocal style. Then of course there’s the music. Forbidden Evil is loaded with riffs—complex, technical riffs that have proven virtually inimitable, whether it’s “March Into Fire” or “Feel No Pain”. In particular, “Through Eyes of Glass” deserves a spot on anybody’s top 10 thrash songs of all time. As intricate as it is, it’s amazing that all the notes stuck to whatever recording medium they were set to. [Dave Pirtle]
Tuesday, April 30th
Witchfinder General – Death Penalty (1982)
While most of its NWOBHM brethren took influence from the higher-speed metal of Judas Priest and Motörhead, Witchfinder General opted to follow in the footsteps of Black Sabbath. Guitarist Phil Cope does a masterful job of re-creating Tony Iommi’s massive tone and proves to be a keen riff-meister in his own right. Although the Sabbath influence is undeniable, Witchfinder General’s music has a sleazy swagger to it, which makes Death Penalty (despite what its ominous title would suggest) more of a heavy-rocking good time, as opposed to the usual oppressive doom outing. Emblematic of the band’s style is “Invisible Hate,” which exalts the virtues of sex, drugs, rock and beer. [Jeremy Morse]
Wednesday, May 1st
Pyrrhon – The Mother Of Virtues (2014)
Pyrrhon’s oft-suffocating, teetering-towards-self-destruction din works because they are one confident, brash group of dudes. Guitarist Dylan DiLella deftly crosses brutality with riffs that can only be described as “zippery” and “alarm-esque.” Drummer Alex Cohen’s natural prog tendencies feed off of the chances to explode with some relentless blasting. Bassist Erik Malave moves in and out of the main motifs while showing no hesitance in going as bonkers as his bandmates. (Plus, that thick bass tone may be the greatest benefit of a fine Ryan Jones production and Colin Marston mastering.) Moore uses a variety of effects to enhance his many voices—a full range of maniacal growling, screaming, yelling, ranting, and preaching—while delivering an album’s worth of nuanced, intelligent lyrics. During “Implant Fever,” he spews forth with “I can feel the dials in my forebrain turn / Someone’s in there, tampering with the controls,” as if dropping a meta-comment about what this music might do to you.
Point is, for all four guys, monotony is not an option, and this leads to an impressive and multifaceted implementation of dynamics. They employ the standard quiet/loud form to great effect, as the shifts in “White Flag” and atmospheric second half of “Invisible Injury” (which includes a great, almost rocking solo by DiLella) are some of the album’s most immediate and memorable passages. But they also focus greatly on the balance between chaos and order, introducing, rejecting, and warping ideas to remain unpredictable, while utilizing the spaces between the order and chaos as a kind of inverted progressive rock tool. It’s a sneakily complex form of songwriting that many a listener might miss because they are too busy trying to keep track of the individual elements. [Zach Duvall]
Thursday, May 2nd
Ufomammut – Eve (2010)
This five-part composition is supposedly an homage to the Bible’s first woman, “and the rebellion to her creator for bringing knowledge to mankind.” The song’s five movements are constructed to allow the mood and tones to cycle through stages of droning repetition to escalation to crescendo. Now, I know that that is neither unique nor necessarily interesting, but what IS unusual and works so well here is how effectively Ufomammut are able to amplify the effects of the heaviest sections just by the material’s contrast through trajectory. The band takes their sweet time getting there, mind you. They’re prone to lull you with extended psychedelic ambient and sometimes nearly tribal “intros,” that at first listen may come off as overblown. But just when you suspect that Ufomammut may simply be too stoned to care, they push the needle in and shift into jarring heft, building not only to release, but often breaking past that into a cathartic mania. The first two tracks follow the same patterns, except the second time around they up the intensity in the aggressive portion of the song. But when they move into the third and fourth tracks, which are heavy from the start, they maintain the same riff theme but shift into such unabashedly crushing, mountains marching riffs, that it feels like they were holding back a sixth gear secret weapon you didn’t know about. It’s hard to adequately describe, but it’s a musical sleight of hand where the whole exceeds the sum of its parts simply because of how they’re unveiled.
It’s only after sitting through the whole album back to front a handful of times that it really sinks in how well Ufomammut have constructed this beast. At that point any impatience or reservations you might have had will melt away, leaving only admiration at the least, and more likely a genuine awe. What felt like lulls in intensity come to be understood as integral to the whole. Ufomammut have managed a 45-minute album consisting of a single song, and very few vocals (and mostly in the form of indistinct echoing roars), and yet is still able to captivate and continue to reveal its charms with multiple listens. This is likely to be a true grower over the years. It’s an album that’s easy to underestimate, but criminal to miss if you’re any kind of fan of doom. [Matthew Cooper]
Friday, May 3rd
Gigan – Undulating Waves of Rainbiotic Iridescence (2017)
Gigan is slowly but surely losing touch with this planet. With each sub-sequential release, Eric Hersemann and co (featuring longtime drummer Nate Cotton and new vocalist Jerry Kavouriaris) separate from the rigors and routines of standard death metal and venture out into more progressive, psychedelic territory.
Luckily in this case, Undulating Waves of Rainbiotic Iridescence stays tethered to reality enough for a solid, engaging experience. First things first: the performances are super-loose and relaxed. The concern here doesn’t seem to be sounding tight but rather sounding together. Cotton’s approach to percussion, while certainly skilled, is almost the antecedent of technical. It’s almost as if he realizes his purpose isn’t to shine above the pack, but rather to provide Hersemann with the foundation he needs to explore without losing his way back home. Kavouriaris does a fine job in the vocal department, but that facet as a whole exists to subtitle the abstract concepts of the music. [Chris Redar]
Saturday, May 4th
Vastum – Hole Below (2015)
You might think that there’s already an above-ample supply of bands paying proper homage to the noble age of less-thrashy death metal that crept to the surface in the late 80s, but the truth of the matter is that a sizable dose of those mimics don’t do the deed in a manner that’s engaging enough to warrant deep listens that push through the years. And really, that’s just one of a number of issues with the current state of the slower, less-technical end of death metal that happens to include one particularly glaring pitfall of late: Too much emphasis on atmosphere and not enough on punching a brick hammer through your face. I’ve got nothing against cavernous, cabalistic background noise for blood-letting and incense inhalation, but hitting play on a tune like “Severed Survival” from arguably the greatest death metal album of all time serves as a stark reminder of what so many of us still crave: Bone-pummeling savagery reinforced with superior song-crafting. That, my friends, is what makes a band like Vastum gut the competition.
Of course, Vastum’s addiction to walloping ain’t exactly a news flash to those already familiar with their past work, particularly 2013’s lumbering Patricidal Lust, but Hole Below manages the heaviness with a much broader stroke. Each song flashes greater complexity, giving the record more depth and more hook than anything the band has produced previously. Sporadic muted measures augmented with monotone chanting give a pleasantly creepy / ritualistic vibe to songs such as “Intrusion” and the title track, and “Amniosis” flashes a damn-near playful edge as it grinds to the marrow with a groove reminiscent of early Carcass pulled through molasses. Additionally, the loose, chaotic soloing that accented the previous effort gets a wider berth here, adding an invitingly melodic element that culminates to “Override of the Overture” levels with the fantastic closing number, “Empty Breast.” [Captain]
See you next week.