We are currently, for lack of a better term, in the midst of a global crisis. Across this beautiful blue sphere spinning lackadaisically around the sun people are coming down with a respiratory illness known as COVID-19. While the vast majority of us residing upon earth will survive this pandemic it is, nonetheless, horrifying. With quarantine orders popping up like prairie dogs we hope that you all have found someone, something or perhaps somewhere to feel safe and comfortable to ride this out as the wheels of bureaucracy slowly churn into motion perhaps too late to avoid widespread illness and panic. For our part we at Last Rites are practicing social distancing by chatting with each other through the interweb and offering support via telephone calls and text messages. Though we are all in different places our hearts beat as a unified unit of positivity, love and friendship.
Of course, this being a Death Metal Dossier, you’re eagerly waiting for news about me and Ryan. Sadly, Ryan and I have been stuck in different states without the means to get ourselves together in our special cabin. I often lay here alone in my solitude (that’s right, Billie Holiday) thinking about Ryan wondering if he’s thinking about me. I try to remember that song the rat sang about living underneath that same bright star. I’m pretty sure that was an Ingram/Ronstadt jam. Really used to love that song. I wonder if Ryan loves that song? He probably does, right? I mean, who doesn’t love that song? Anyways, Ryan is safe. I have checked in with him a few times. He’s gone deep into the Appalachian mountains using the skills he learned as a Special Ops marine. I believe he’s living off the land and “leaving no trace” as it were.
And in a special edition of special editions we got the big bad giraffe, Zachary Duvallenheimerschmidt to ball one over on y’all and join us. He really liked an album and Ryan said he would be physically ill if that album didn’t receive coverage. So what did we do? Like Voltron or Wu-Tang we combined our forced and dominated that virus. Coronavirus Rules Everything Around Me C.R.E.A.M get the sanitizer, cough cough n-95 mask y’alllllllll.
As for this edition of Death Metal Dossier y’all know that we never sleep. Whether on the run from Johnny Law or quarantined in a thick briar patch hiding out from the Pentecostals we endeavor to bring you the best that underground metal has to offer. So peep this.
Afterbirth – Four Dimensional Flesh (Unique Leader, March 13, 2020): Afterbirth’s second full length is a brutal death metal album… kinda. It’s also a progressive death metal album… kinda. It is both and neither of these things, finding a sophisti-splattery crossroads between the classier side of the coin (Atheist, later Gorguts, etc.) and some sort of bottom-feeding skronk-puke (the latter quality aided immensely by the wondrous sewer vocals of Will Smith). This is brainiac toilet metal, you might say. Four Dimensional Flesh will be all technical bounce-thrashy or melodic at one moment before giving into caveman urges, never quite letting the listener know if it’s going to teach quantum mechanics or tip over your port-a-potty.
The playing is dizzying, especially the blinding bass that dances with beauty and grace as much as it snarkilly bwangs, twangs, and twongs. Much of the music is positively bright, either emphasizing the progressive threads or taking on some atmosphere, but the album is always more than eager to devolve into another set of gross, squelching thuds. All four dudes in Afterbirth take part in this bru-prog dichotomy, even if Smith’s deepest-of-all-death-growl vocals are likely to be the most responsible for any unidentifiable fluids. The total package ought to appeal to fans of Demilich, Wormed, or even Smith’s main band Artificial Brain, but Afterbirth definitely ends up being its own astutely disgusting, or disgustingly astute thing.
For a select group of extremely depraved academics, this ought to be a perfectly sick time. Four Dimensional Flesh comes from an alternate universe in which all of history’s top minds made their greatest discoveries while totally in the throes of violent diarrhea. Have your brain cake and barf it too. [ZACH DUVALL]
Perdition Temple – Sacraments of Desecration (Hell’s Headbangers, March 27, 2020): blah blah blah scream scream scream anger anger anger kill kill kill. That’s a pretty damn good impression of the vocals on this Perdition Temple album. Thrashingly fast rhythms underscore the severity of the vicious vocals delivered with vehement venom. Double bass rolls punctuate riffs and lend themselves to maximum headbang through the forty(ish) minutes of this LP. And it’s an LP that means business. And I’m not talking about some social market economy like Germany or some corporatocracy capitalist economy like America. I’m talking about an economy like 17th century canada where blood, guts and beaver pelts dominated the market place. You’ve got two beaver pelts? Well I’ve got a real human heart and 16 testicles taken from warriors to trade so I can make a stupid hat with a tail. Boom. That’s your fucking economy.
Anchoring their onslaught are lead guitar lines that scream, whistle and dazzle as they soar, fly and beat their winged talons across your face, head and ass. Each track builds to a climax released only by thrashtastic guitar soloing and screeching squeals of ax-wielding submission. The solos burrow up from the depth beginning way over there near the low strings at the head of the guitar and climb like Mega Man hopping up through a neon-backed playscape of fiery death and fat little robots.
And did I mention that this album chugs and choo’s harder than a coal-powered steam engine about to be robbed by a posse circa 1897? Thundering forward with all pistons blazing, bank security officers firing repeater rifles out the windows at those dragoons that dare insult their honor by reaching for their employer’s trunks of gold. Perdition Temple is not here for your souls and they certainly aren’t here to make friends (although we here at Death Metal Dossier believe that they would certainly enjoy cooking you a lemon meringue pie). What they are here for is to shred axes of death all over your life hammering through your speakers and frightening your parents and neighbors. Gird your hamsters, friends, for these men mean business. [MANNY-O-WAR]
Self Loathing – Seasonal Depression (Life After Death, March 20, 2020): Spring may be sprunging, but the Seasonal Depression lingers thanks to the second EP from Akron, Ohio’s Self Loathing. Originally released at the tail end of 2019, Seasonal Depression is finally getting a proper release thanks to the new Life After Death label. The band’s eponymous debut struck a balance between death metal and hardcore. No, it’s not deathcore – let’s keep in mind here that many of the early Swedish death bands almost skipped thrash entirely in their pedigree, marrying the energy of hardcore with the brutal weight of Autopsy – but death metal that highlights more of its deeper punk roots. With the follow-up, Self Loathing still have touches of that hardcore approach, but no more so than most of the Maggot Stomp roster does at present. The band seem to be leaning hard into the Asphyx style here, particularly in the vocal department. The variable tempos coupled with the hoarse, agonizing vocals that just seem to strain with intensity are absolutely a nod to Van Drunen, and the doomy sections smattered about walk that “is it death or death/doom” line, particularly on “Drenched In Blood,” the strongest of the two tracks. Filthy, groovy, and packed with explosive moments, the latter track absolutely sells the EP for the up-and-coming act and offering a promising direction for the band to pursue. In a climate that’s obsessing over “old school death metal,” it’s refreshing to hear a nod to Asphyx, a band that’s often cited but rarely given their due in the way Self Loathing are offering. [RYAN TYSINGER]
Fleshrot – Demo 2020 (Desert Wasteland Productions, March 21, 2020): Fleshrot (no, not that Fleshrot, and not the other one either, we’re talking the newcomers from Lubbock, Texas here) certainly aren’t looking to reinvent the wheel here. This is just pure, exploitation-horror packed death metal in its most literal interpretation on their debut demo. The synths on the intro track, “Procession,” set the stage for some B-grade John Carpenter ripoff film: setting expectations high for a fun and gory romp through low budget horror via some bludgeoning riffs.
“Twisted Visions Prevail” delivers; nothing more, nothing less. This is crude, fairly straight forward death metal with enough twists and turns to keep the simplicity of the riff interesting. The sound is dialed in on target: rough around the edges but fairly clear and decipherable with a bit of extra mud rubbed into the vocals for taste. The following tracks follows much of the same pattern, relying mostly on groove and feel to drive home the impact. Nothing flashy really going on throughout the release, but if you’re fiending for some more of the old school death metal that’s been making the rounds as of late and can’t get enough, Fleshrot is going to help scratch that undying itch. [RYAN TYSINGER]
Bones – Gate Of Night (Blood Harvest, April 24, 2020): Bones (no, not the crusty death metal Bones from Chicago, the other death metal Bones from Belgium) have been taking their time crafting their onslaught of death, releasing but two demos and an EP since their formation in 2010. A decade later and Bones deliver their second extended play, Gate Of Night. It’s hard to say that two songs are worth the wait, but damn if the twelve minutes here doesn’t ignite some hype for a possible full-length.
The first track, “Utterance Beyond Death,” demonstrates the broad pallet Bones are working with. The oppressive first riff gives way to a barrage of breakneck, thrashy death metal. The band shifts gears throughout between the speed and the driving, meaty mid-tempo death that opens up room for the leads to really shine through. The use of the phrygian scales could warrant a nod to Death here, yet stylistically it’s more in line with Autopsy or Vader – sheer, scorched and screeching, the guitar cuts through the murk of heaviness like a manic slasher. The progression and changes come to a logical and satisfying conclusion, bringing everything together in the final phrase that just straight up delivers the goods. The back half is the eponymous “Gate Of Night.” Starting with a chunk of old school death metal goodness, the main riff is played on throughout the song with variations in tempo and rhythmic structure. The slower, doomy sections really allow it to sink it’s teeth in before it gradually boils over the surface, again with the excellent lead guitar solo. The only downside to Gate Of Night is how short it is, and I’m left wondering how long the wait will be before we are graced with more of the Belgian quartet’s offerings on the altar of death. [RYAN TYSINGER]