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.
Written by: Lord Hsrah
Beyond the Red Mirror follows after a long 5-year wait since German power metal titans Blind Guardian's last studio release, which was 2010's At the Edge of Time. The record received warm and positive reception from both fans and the media alike. Beyond the Red Mirror, however, is a completely different gravy compared to At the Edge... or some of their releases of the 21st century such as A Twist In The Myth, which saw the band move increasingly to a more progressive direction.
Released by Nuclear Blast, Beyond the Red Mirror is a concept album that loosely follows the events of their 1995 masterpiece Imaginations From the Other Side. And like it's prequel, this is a very riff driven album that was the Krefeld-formed band's style for the 80's and the first part of their 90's records. The orchestral elements climb higher up the pecking order of the song composition percentage, taking the band to a more classical side. This is also the first album to feature new bassist, Barend Courbois, following the departure of long time session bass player, Oliver Holzwarth, who left the German outfit after filling in for bass duties, both live and in the studio for 13 years.
Written by: Lord Hsrah
Swedish metal outfit Katatonia's first full-length release, Dance of December Souls, is a monumental record that helped shape the then-evolving doom metal scene, particularly as the influence of death metal started creeping into Europe and consequently into their music as well. Dance of December Souls is a wild ride of sorts through various emotions, all on the negative side of the human nature. And though this monolith of an album provided the blueprint of music for a myriad of other such doom and death fusing bands, this craft was still left wanting on certain fronts. In contrast though, on a few other fronts, it explored domains that would go on to become the band's path to further evolution down the long road of their career.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!