Written by: Blackie Skulless
When something goes by the name Bear Mace and has “bears” as one of their lyrical themes, you have to assume it’s gonna be pretty silly. But that wasn’t quite the case, and the band in question's upcoming second album Charred Field Of Slaughter actually stays rather focused and hones in on general bloodshed. They’re a death metal act that hails from Chicago, Illinois, but sound like they could spawn from the charred field of Tampa, Florida.
Though things are a bit cleaner than what most of the OSDM pioneers laid down, the meaner buzz adds a chaotic shake. Horrid vocal work taking the gutturals to filthy limits with a slight echo is properly placed atop, caking on small hints of comprehensibility. The only complaint there is the fact that they can feel too “belch”-like at times. That aside though, this reeks of obvious influence from early Death, particularly the Spiritual Healing album. The progression in “Xenomorphic Conquest,” as well as the chorus, sound exactly like the title track from the famous Death record. The high-frequency wails only add more to it.
Sometimes, this particular scribe finds it useful to glance backward and spend some quality time with an album defined by good memories, high spirits, and the sweet taste of familiarity. In that spirit, we post a lot of brief retrospective reviews over on our Instagram, but said pieces seldom make their way here to graze in greener pastures. Here are eight brief write-ups of death metal albums that we have revisited over the past few months--a veritable death metal menagerie. Enjoy! - Ed.
GOJIRA - From Mars to Sirius (2007)
There are few albums that remain so influential in my indoctrination into the chrvch of riff-centric music. Mastodon's essential Remission, perhaps, tops the heap, but Gojira's multiple efforts cycle through rotation on a remarkably consistent basis. From Mars to Sirius is a monstrosity of an album, demonstrating the heaviest of riffs within the confines of a striped-bare (yet progressive) mentality. Here, Gojira's trademark conceptual and thematic underpinnings are on full display--not preachy, but immediate. And never have whale sounds sounded so utterly massive. In short? If you've missed this album in favor of their more popular releases...you should probably get on that.
HOODED MENACE - Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed (2018)
Although this was released early on, no other album impressed me in 2018 with such a finely-tuned ability to straddle the line between death’s crushing riffage and funeral doom’s dismal gloom. Harrowing and heavy, the layers of grotesque yet melodically lofty leads form a near-tangible environment for these Hooded Menaces to dwell. Despite these leanings,“cavernous" remains an apt description for the atmosphere. I mean, just look at that album cover. Precision and restraint in the percussive department-- and a killer vocal tone--further delineate Ossuarium Silhouettes Unhallowed as a masterful album, easily their best (and most ominous) to date.
Given the multitude of new releases that, on a daily basis, traipse through the eel-infested waters of the Sleeping Village’s moat, only to hurtle themselves headlong into the unfathomable depths of the promo pit, my views on listening for enjoyment have changed significantly over the past few years. I used to meticulously hunt down albums that would, through mass repetition, become lifelong favorites. That was the ultimate goal: find music that neared perfection, in my narrow and subjective gaze. However, I am now quite content to spend time in the enjoyment of music that I know will satiate me for a few days before it is time, once more, to move on. If I happen to return to it later on? Great. If not? That’s fine too--sometimes music can be good without providing significant staying power.
I dunno about you fine folks, but most days, I just need a cup of coffee. Not, mind you, the world's finest cup of coffee; just a good ol' utilitarian cup of coffee. So long as it isn't burnt and it gives me the crank I need, I am happy to welcome it into my daily routine--and, in many cases, use it as an unfortunate crutch to ease me through the brainfoggy doldrums. I'll go out on a limb here and assume I'm not the only one. This unnecessarily extensive intro exists to establish the fact that, much like coffee, sometimes a patently normal death metal album is all it takes to keep me happy in my day-to-day. And that, dear readers, is what we have before us today, beguiling ye all with its gorgeous artwork and its death metal stoicism. Plague's Portraits of Mind is an aggressively solid piece of work, with all the right parts in all the right places.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!