Thursday, February 22, 2018

Solstice - Pray (1995)

   After their stunning debut Solstice returned with another masterpiece. "Pray" is probably one of the most effective and intense thrashing records of the '90s.
   The first album had an excellent old school sound, but compared to that "Pray" went even forward. The sound became very dirty and strong, but still enough clear to enjoy even the bass lines. This is where the importance of the sound was revealed again, and that increased the level of aggressiveness so much, that "Pray" seems to be closer to death metal than being only on the borderline of thrash and death. The lyrics about societal problems and inner struggles turning the main impression wilder than the horror or gore based topics that are more common to find in musical extremity. It's like a more authentic way to unleash the anger that came from the everydays frustration that turns the individual dumb and forcing to drift with the tide. By it's remarkable headbanger compatibility, "Pray" could offer an alternative way of temporary relief, to break out from the forced playroles. An outstanding classic!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Crimson Thorn - Unearthed (1995)

   If there would be a contest like "the most brutal Christian metal band", Crimston Thorn would immidiately win that by "Unearthed".
   Christian death metal isn't a common thing to find, but fortunately (or unfortunately?) some bands found their way of self-expression in this exaggerated paradox. Of course Chrimson Thorn don't had it's influences from gospel music, but from the less Christian main scene instead. Early Suffocation and Obituary could be mentioned after their very harsh sound, vocal style, intense hammerings and common mid speed themes. Musically "Unearthed" isn't so complex, but not so groovy either, stays on the middle way. It's a great mix that shows the brutal taste of both sides and could be enjoyable without turning to sound too monotone. The lyrics are compromise-less and similar exaggerated as the music, so the aggressive aspect of the religious concept should be expected. Heavier in all-round than their comrade band Mortification was, but their name is maybe less known. That's partly because cause it's hard to imagine that religious people would listen to Christian death metal, and the concept may be divisive for the ordinaty death metal audience. However, it's an interesting classic!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Phantasm - The Abominable (1995)

   "The Abominable" by Phantasm is a forgotten and barely known gem of old school death metal. Includes their demo and a single. Even though the band was probably at the wrong place at the wrong time, this compilation could be mentioned on the side of the biggest names of the genre.
   Their music had such a sick impression that cannot be compared to anything else. It's partly based ot the melodies they operated with, and partly on the common and unexpected changes during the album. It's not simply based on showing contrast or seeking for effectiveness, their music was well composed and diverse. Of course in '95 it was fit to the main ambitions of the extreme scene, but Phantasm was different and cannot be called a progressive or technical band. Doom influences and fast hammering are same usual, but mid speed is the most common that allows the appearence of the sick melodic themes. The quality and the imperfection of the sound tells already that it was used to be a demo only, but still it's very enjoyable. "The Abominable" is a very underrated and genuine death metal classic.

Novembers Doom - Amid Its Hallowed Mirth (1995)

   By following the path of Paradise Lost-influenced death/doom metal, Novembers Doom gave a new dark shade to the style with it's debut "Amid Its Hallowed Mirth".
   Later the band turned into a melodic, gothic influenced direction with common clear singing and gave more role for the atmoshperic sound, but the first album was their heaviest one. Not progression or diverse themes were in their focus, they've step back to the ordinary roots of doom. So except that the concept wasn't different from other bands in this style, it was based on melancholy, heavy sound, emotional background and strong atmosphere. The features of their late style were there on the first album too, but the occasional opera styled female singing and the atmosphere on "Amid Its Hallowed Mirth" could serve only as some contrast to the very heavy, distorted sound and deep growling. Novembers Doom was one of those bands who determined the sound of late '90s and early '00s main metal scene on the side of bands like Paradise Lost, SentencedTiamat, Katatonia, My Dying Bride, Moonspell, or Therion, only their name was less known for some reason.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Demonic Christ - Punishment for Ignorance (1995)

   Demonic Christ was one of the rare American bands in the '90s which tried to experiment with black metal, led by Dana Duffey who was known from the short living female death metal project Mythic.
   Even if Miss Duffey's vibes were correct about the uprising of a new extreme genre, this style-changing ambition wasn't so successful for the audience. Black metal had to wait a lot to ooze in with wider welcome into the American scene. Even after the exhaustion of death metal the audience wasn't so receptive in this way. That could be sensed on "Punishment for Ignorance" too, cause even though the band proved that they play well in ordinary Norse black metal style too, the album ended up in raw black/death with plenty of incipient themes and often immature sounding lyrics. Maybe the more direct and therefore stronger death metal influences are responsible for that, but probably the band members didn't catch the main feeling so much yet as they wanted to. It was good for an experiment and an authentic update for the local scene, but also showed that the time didn't came for this style yet. They've stuck somewehere between Norse black metal and Deicide, Morbid Angel influenced blasphemies without unified sound.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Grief - Come to Grief (1994)

   As doom metal was one of the essential components of sludge metal, it might be not surprising if sludge bands like to merge with that genre. And they do that very often.
   Grief as one of the most important classical bands in this style did that in an impressive way the first time. The combination of the harsh rehearsal-like noise and the slow, heavy themes created an even unfriendlier and more demoralizing impression even in sludge, which had these as main features. The genre was still young then, but it was probably clear already that it couldn't offer many opportunities if it's about diversity. Grief just opened the way for the possible depths after Eyehategod and Buzzov•en. Hate on the maximum level, endless disgust, but pain and hopelessness also could be sensed while listening. Disappointment is the main source of this desperate rage, and that turns it passive, more self-destructive and agonizing. It's not the rampaging rage but the suffering kind that will consume itself with time, because there is no way out. "Come to Grief" introduced another possible drastical endgame for the unstable state of mind.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Marilyn Manson - Portrait of an American Family (1994)

    As the world seemed to speed up and turned more violent since the '80s, the common ways of entertaining became more exaggerated too. The mainstream metal scene also felt the need of some update and scandalous backup. The debut of Marilyn Manson meant a new kind of shock rock therapy for the metal audience.
   Their concept was very complex, based on social criticism by flashing onto the paradoxes that are coexisting together in the American society. Religious obsesson and perversions, conservative values and abortion, sex symbols and serial killers, drug abuse, pornography and entertainment industry, Christian cults and satanism just to mention some pairings that are continously referring back to the triangle of fear, sex and violence. And the whole thing had sarcastic, ironic performance that wasn't completely clear for everyone, so for people who had lack of common sense, or felt insulted by discovering themselves in the lyrics, Marilyn Manson was the new boogie man. For the band the concept seemed to be always more important than the music, so diversity and musical maximalism was never their strongest point. "Portait of an American Family" was a twisted mix of the that time conquering grunge and industrial metal waves. The support of Trent Reznor formed a lot on their musical progress. However the band was able to get the attetion they were looking for. And Mr. Manson could have call himself lucky too, because his huge audience seemed to be well updated in societal problems and competent enough to understand the complex concept he created, not only fascinated by his visual appearence and performance.
Yeah, that was sarcasm too...