Mixtarum Metallum VI. - Scavenging the Underground

by Craig Hayes and Dean Brown

6 August 2013

This edition of Mixtarum Metallum picks up where we left off with V: 10 Great Metal Albums from Early 2013, looking at some of the best releases to arrive during the late-spring to mid-summer months.

Scavenging the Underground from Late Spring to Mid-Summer 2013.

It has been a heated couple of months with contentious debates over Black Sabbath’s 13 and Megadeth’s Super Collider dominating and spamming the high holy hell out of news feeds, forums and every other form of social media that attracts metal’s computer keyboard contingent. Deafheaven’s Sunbather has also received unprecedented levels of online chatter, and expressive and polarizing opinions continue to rage about whether Sunbather is overvalued beyond belief or, in fact, a work of genius, as so many deem it. We here at Mixtarum Metallum found ourselves caught in the eye of the tornado when it came to each of the above mentioned albums, but in an effort to find equilibrium again, we have disappeared deep into the darkest recesses of underground metal. This edition of Mixtarum Metallum takes you from where we left off with V: 10 Great Metal Albums from Early 2013 by scavenging on some of the best releases to arrive during the late-spring to mid-summer months that may have been missed by many.

Hold Me… But Not So Tight (Good to Die)

First off: If you haven’t a sense of humour you will probably wince at a band name like Gaytheist, and move along with your boring life. Those who find the name clever and pretty damn hilarious however, may have a tolerance for a silly song title like “Poocano”. And those who get that far may even press play on this playful trio’s second album Hold Me… But Not So Tight, only to be greeted by some of the best pop-sludge this side of Torche’s sugar-encrusted discography.

While Torche is known for adding plenty of vocal sweetness on top of treacle-thick riffs, Gaytheist, on the other hand, has a singer, Jason Rivera, who is quirky and borderline unhinged. Rivera, who also plays guitar, has a fetish for rubbing awkward melodies against his own riff walls and his voice may be the last blockade for those attempting to give Gaytheist a chance. Be advised: The more you spend time with his vocal eccentricities the more you warm to him and, consequently, the more you will expose your eardrums to the wild battering that drummer Nick Parks gives to his drum-kit. Dropping double bass rhythms at rapid speed; moving in and out of the rolling riffs; almost reaching the point of over-playing, yet never crossing that perilous line—this guy is a beast. Pull all this together and you have a rather bizarre package with two pink creatures embracing on the cover and a band that could care less about your principles and the restrictions that stem from them. ~ Dean Brown

Necheshirion EP (Profound Lore)

Canadian black metal duo Gevurah (A.L. guitars/bass and X.T. vocals/drums) released its Anno MMXI demo in 2011 to many hails from the underground . The band next appeared on the excellent, and well worth seeking out, two-cassette SVN OKKLT compilation of pitch-black maliciousness curated by the website of the same name, and Gevurah’s latest work, Necheshirion (Hebrew for ‘snake-like’), is the band’s debut EP for label Profound Lore.

Necheshirion is five songs and 33 minutes of vitriolic black metal, presenting “...the rebirth of the enlightened Self rising from its ashes by fire”. There’s no doubting the Dark Lord lit that pyre; Necheshirion embraces the iniquitous roots of black metal in the same way that bands such as Funeral Mist or Antaeus do, i.e. with a sacrificial blade held ready. Tracks off Necheshirion, such as “Mother of Light”, “Flesh Bounds Desecrated” and “Throne of Lucifer”, are hollowed out, ceremonial slaughter-pits of bitter riffing and X.T.‘s ceaselessly acidic bark. Death metal turns up on Necheshirion too, with the EP’s bass and drums staked out in a deformed fashion akin to fellow Canadian deviants Mitochondrion and Antediluvian. Of course, the ceaseless death worship found on the EP cannot come without life, and for Gevurah, it would seem that is a life enveloped in uncompromising and gloriously provocative blasphemy. Hail again, and again. ~ Craig Hayes

Magister Templi
Lucifer Leviathan Logos (Cruz Del Sur Music)

The alliterated title bestowed upon Magister Templi’s mighty debut is an infernal inference of where this Norwegian band’s loyalty lies: Lucifer Leviathan Logos. Beyond this occult title exists a realm where Manilla Road, Trouble, Pagan Altar, Angel Witch, Candlemass and Sabbath form an unholy coven of damnation and influence. Presiding as “Master of Ceremonies” is vocalist Abraxas d’Ruckus, whose highly dramatic and semi-operatic vocals (a meeting of Messiah Marcolin and Alan Averill) boom over shredding NWOBHM riffs and the band’s imposing ‘80s-styled doom.

From the opening sermon of “Master of the Temple” to the last gasps of “VITRIOL”, d’Ruckus’s decrees of eternal hellfire rise high as a striking feature of Lucifer Leviathan Logos. However, what stands out beyond his vocal bombast is that Magister Templi’s worship of metal’s inimitable forefathers avoids sounding insipidly ‘retro’ and the shadowy, occult leanings gift the often melodramatic metal a heavy air of authenticity. This authenticity is also coupled with a keen knowledge of how to script fluid tempo changes—rampaging gallops to the Pentagram-esque dirge of “Lucifer” and the cascading doom thrills of “Leviathan”—without sounding disjointed. Such deft songwriting has resulted in a fascinating record, and its name, Lucifer Leviathan Logos, deserves to be chanted like a mantra until the year’s end and beyond. When it comes to Magister Templi, the old maxim that the Devil has the best songs can be bolstered by another time-tested adage: Scandinavia is a monolith for heavy metal. ~ DB

Tempest (20 Buck Spin)

When funeral doom band Lycus released its three-song demo MMXI in 2011, the four-piece’s first recordings found a lot of favor with fans of mammoth and mournful soundscapes. Tempest is the band’s debut LP for label 20 Buck Spin, and again you only get three songs, but there’s no need to be concerned about being shortchanged here. The three devastating dirges provide 40 minutes of soul-crushing doom, and honestly, any more might well lead to irreversible damage.

Lycus’s crawling, über-down-tuned sound calls to mind Asunder or Mournful Congregation, and as with the wonderfully demoralizing fare those legendary bands dispense, Tempest‘s success comes down to tone, both of the musical and psychological variety. Emotionally, “Coma Burn”, “Engraving” and the woebegone 20-minute pilgrimage “Tempest” are gravity-strength comedowns—spilling over with colossally heavy and dispiriting riffing, and throat-slit growls from the abyss. Instrumentally, Tempest is drenched in sludge, streaked with death metal, and features crestfallen droning passages too. Violin adds a melodic gothic canopy. Greg Wilkinson is behind the production desk, and his work with Samothrace is a fine reference point for Tempest‘s Herculean tonal weight. However, what is most impressive about Tempest is that although its three monumental hymns are replete with all the requisite trawling poundage, the range of movement they exhibit taps imaginatively into both nuanced brutality and reflective tranquility. This may be Lycus’s first full-length, but the band sounds fully formed and ready to battle and/or plunge into life’s torments. A truly stunning debut. ~ CH

Power Trip
Manifest Decimation (Southern Lord)

With an intensity similar to that of Reign in Blood-era Slayer, and a level of intimidation only associated with bands of the American hardcore scene that fought their way through the late ‘80s, the Texan unit, Power Trip, has a mouth for war. Armed with an arsenal of hardcore-shelled thrash riffs that chug, fire and devastate, the band’s Southern Lord debut, Manifest Decimation, is a violent proclamation for crossover thrash in the year 2013.

Danger has been severely missing from the thrash metal bands that came with the revival as too much focus has been given to the lighter, goofier side of the genre. Make no mistake, with the slash ‘n’ burn of the title track, the barbaric hooks of “Crossbreaker” and the rambunctious “Drown” leaving destruction in their wake, there is no booze-fuelled frivolity surrounding Power Trip. Vocalist Riley Gale brings John Tardy levels of death metal maul with his impassioned words torn bloody from his larynx and guitarist Blake Ibanez‘s dive-bombing solos wail out of the murky, reverb-addled mix during “Heretic’s Fork” and “Murderer’s Row”. Not often will you be confronted by an album that you palpably feel the music cleave its way right out of your speakers, but Manifest Decimation does just that, and it’s a glorious noise. Following the release this year of Agrimonia’s Rites of Separation and Abandon All Life by Nails, Manifest Decimation is another blazing gem held in the blistered hands of Southern Lord. ~ DB

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