DEATH METAL DOSSIER: BACK FOR THE ATTACK EDITION
“We tried swinging, but realized we were all we need.” An apt title and something Ryan texted me late one night from his Lisa Frank phone.
The last few episodes of Death Metal Dossier opened the doors and allowed some people in. Ryan and I need to open up about something: they were not the right ones. And as we all know you’re only supposed to let the right one in. We don’t need other people to be excited. We don’t need something new and shiny. All we need is each other, and, of course, some sick ass death metal. Ryan making crepes on the wood stove we bought from that dead farmer and me lying on the couch reading W.H. Auden poetry aloud while the not-so-dulcet tones of Severed Survival drift in from the living room. That is the life we set up for ourselves and that is the life we are dedicated to. We only have so many years left and we want to spend them together. And while we open the door to you dear reader and allow you to see into our relationship we don’t need to be opening our bedroom door to anyone else.
So what have we learned from this experiment? We’ve learned what’s important and if you can’t garnish what that knowledge is from the prior paragraph then I don’t think you’ll be long for this world, emotionally speaking.
In this edition of Death Metal Dossier the attack brings you four tremendous little releases by four tremendous little outfits. Ryan and I spent long hours listening to them while watching the bluebirds nest and eat from our collection of dogwood trees. We watched the hummingbirds gather at our nectar feeder whilst Kuvotus romanced us. And most importantly we found ourselves in our own reflection. So please enjoy these four relationship-altering albums.
Madrost – Charring the Rotting Earth: So, if the earth is already rotting, why would you want to go ahead and char that fucker up? I guess maybe if the rotting smell is getting to you, then you could try to burn it off. Perhaps use the remaining ash as fertilizer and rebuild the rounded sphere from there? Yeah, that seems like a plan. And when you’re on a label called NO LIFE TIL METAL, you can pretty much do whatever the fuck you want with impunity. Slash and burn, man. Slash and burn.
Madrost are one of those bands where you listen to their album and wonder what in the absolute fuck they were on when they made it. The band is influenced by just about every genre of death metal under the sun. Dissonance leads the charge with plenty of thrash rhythms and vocals to keep the pacing frenetic. While Charring the Rotting Earth is above all else fast, the more fascinating aspects are what reside beneath that anal-suppository-like dose of speed.
Unsurprisingly, the main influence across their wide-ranging EP it’s the holiest of holy bands in Death. Are they progressive? You could say “almost,” if you felt like it. The band certainly pushes some boundaries and pops a bit of symphonic class to its delivery. The keyboards are a particularly nice touch when balanced with the more straightforward harsh vocals. There are also plenty of technical flourishes displayed by jealousy-inducing guitar work. Again, that jagged technicality is nicely counter-balanced with melodic piano and melodic solos.
For those looking to perk up their year and dip their toes into something new, Madrost is perfect for a Sunday drive with the family. For those of you well-versed in the more trigger-happy realms of death metal, this little guy will slot in nicely for your Wednesday morning coffee rituals. For the rest of you not neatly fitting into those categories, just go ahead and give this album a fucking spin. You’ll enjoy it. [MANNY-O-LITO]
Kuvotus – Kuvotus: As Manny revealed in the intro, I do, in fact, have a Lisa Frank phone. However, I can assure you the music I have on there is far from Lisa Frank tunes—Stratovarious’ Infinite being the furthest thing from the dolphins and rainbows adorning my mobile device. What I do have on there is a hell of a lot of death metal demos. One of the ones that has been particularly fun of late as I color my fuzzy posters of dolphins is the debut demo from Finland’s Kuvotus. Falling somewhere between the raw primitive side of death metal and the relentless blasting chaos of grindcore, Kuvotus (Finnish for “nausea”) is expectedly short, clocking in at just around seven minutes.
The band are sure to use this time wisely, however, packing it with plenty of riffs between the crushing chaos. A few surprises rear their head, such as brief hammer-on quasi-solo on “Digestive System Overdrive” or the somewhat shocking lack of melody on what is clearly a heart-wrenching tale of heartbreak on a song so lovingly titled “Bloodsoaked Shit Bukkake.” The varied vocals—delivered in rapid fire fashion, of course—on the effervescent “Lawnmower Accident” swap from growls to hoarse shouts to screams of terror before returning to the grooving riff that first bled out of the samples at the start of the track.
Kuvotus is a demo made for playing the lawnmower scene from Dead Alive in the background as one contemplates just how exactly it might feel to be shoved into a wood chipper. Fast, abrasive, and full of promise, Kuvotus are striking a balance between breakout riffs and locking grooves amongst a sea of gore and chaos. What more could you want from a hybrid of death and grind? [RYAN TYSINGER]
Please Note: The demo below is NAME YOUR PRICE on Bandcamp, so you have no excuse NOT to listen to it.
Ruin – Plague Transmissions, Vol. 2: Funny story: The original plan for this edition of Death Metal Dossier had yours truly slated to cover Ruin’s recent Infested Death EP before it was inexplicably removed from their Bandcamp page. I figured something was afoot with the death cult hailing from Phelan, California, and bided my time. Sure enough, Blood Harvest picked up a slew of their recent releases for the band’s third compilation, titled Plague Transmissions: Vol. 2.
What’s interesting about Ruin is they released their very first demo in 1991 before promptly disappearing from death metal until 2015, making them truly an “old school” death metal act. Yet, since the release of the Spread Plague Hell demo, the band have been making up for lost time, releasing no less than nine splits, two excellent full-lengths, and three EPs. Plague Transmissions: Vol. 2 comprises the work of all three EPs and their contributions to the Ruin / Anthropic split from 2018. With how many short-form releases Ruin have been putting out, a compilation is a fantastic way to experiment and discover the band if you aren’t familiar.
So, what does Ruin bring to the table? Imagine the sheer grittiness of Undergang coupled with the evil atmosphere of US black metal legends Demoncy, highlighted by truly ignorant caveman riffs. Sure, a lot of bands are throwing that term around willy-nilly these days, but Ruin are the real deal. Simple, ignorant and uncompromisingly heavy, Ruin should be at the top of the list of any fan of stripped-down evil, knuckle-dragging death metal. And yes, a lot of bands claim the caveman status, but one listen of tracks like “Manifestation” or “Trapped In Relentless Terror”—both with slow, droning strums that give way to that all-familiar syncopated death metal rhythm that has both the drums and guitars bludgeoning in tandem—will make it clear that these fellows are the real fucking deal. What sets Ruin apart from the other bands that do this these days is that they just make it grosser. The vocals sound like they’re coughing up a well-mixed cocktail of pus, phlegm, and blood; bubbling, gurgling word vomit of evil and yelps of anguish, particularly on the aptly titled “I Love Blood.” The serial killer and horror film samples make a nod to Impetigo, but the somewhat cartoonish sense of fun that Impetigo bring to the table is wiped entirely away, making Ruin really feel like the thing that goes bump in the night under Stevo’s bed as he’s wrapped snugly under his Cannibal Apocalypse comforter. [RYAN TYSINGER]
Hedles – Evil Empire at War: Here we have a “new to you” situation. Hedles hail from the western part of Ukraine and were active in the early 90s, just after their country freed itself from the Soviet regime. The band only ever recorded a handful of demos (two) and disappeared into the ether from there.
Evil Empire at War is an EP with an official title, but it’s clearly a demo. The recording is raw, with the vocals and snare drum revealing immature production and a cavernous room. Further, the mixing board, hyperactive with fade-ins and such, show a group that seem to have gotten the equipment and immediately set to making music without much thought for reading the manual. This is, of course, a positive, because manuals are for losers who play by the rules, and when there is an evil empire at war, you don’t have time to turn pages and learn which little knob goes where. You gotta get shit done!
What’s remarkable is to hear how ahead of their time the band was. They seamlessly blended pieces of 80s progressive thrash and LA’s punk scene into their brand of death metal that wouldn’t truly explode in America until two years after their first demo. As a bit of an addendum, and a late addition to this episode of Death Metal Dossier, Hedles certainly deserve the recognition previously lost before the internet could immortalize them on Geocities or Angelfire. Thankfully, Bandcamp is here to let you listen to this popping bass and thrashy soloing fueled by anger, the promise of freedom and the desire to be more. [MANNY-O-LITO]