» Blog Archive Death Metal Still Killing It Well Into 2018 -
Evan Conway Hard Music, News, Reviews

It literally doesn’t stop. Death metal as far as the eye can see in 2018, and it just doesn’t get any better. I’ve rambled enough this year, but you get the idea that this is a great year for the definitive, extreme metal genre. To the point, here’s a few more of this year’s releases coming your way.

The Odious Construct – Shrine of the Obscene: If there’s one thing tech death fans be sure of is that The Artisan Era understands their wants and needs. The Odious Construct get this, too. A perfect combo? Perhaps. The band’s second EP, Shrine of the Obscene, is a tightly knit, structurally tight display of a keen understanding of tech death. In between furiously paced alternate-picking riffs and sections of perfectly harmonized insanity, you’ve got a band with vision that, much like labelmates Aethereus, is only going to grown as their career carries on.

Equal parts The Black Dahlia Murder and Fallujah, with just a dose of early-Abigail Williams and Cradle of Filth-esque synth effects for added flavor, Shrine of the Obscene is a listen that gets better on repeated visits as you pick up on more going on. Granted, it’s a very compressed production until the songs open up, (The guitar solo on “Descension” is killer and the atmosphere that comes with it is incredible) but tech death fans will have much to love in the albeit brief 20 minutes. Both equal parts a complaint and a compliment, The Odious Construct wrap it up just as it gets truly exciting. For an EP, though, it’s just enough to hook anyone. Maybe not enough to sway anyone who has a dislike for tech death or this production style, but it’s a good EP altogether.

Vanhelgd – Deimos Sanktuarium: Pure. Evil. There’s an argument to be made that Sweden writes the best metal, and you’d find it challenging to say otherwise. But oh man, ooooh man, I was hooked on Vanhelgd from the opening moments of “A Plea for Divine Necromancy.” Firmly rooted in death metal but spicing it up with ever-so apparent influences of black metal and doom metal… This is unholy. There’s as lot of great death metal this year, but this is one of the most evil releases I’ve heard. Titanic riffs, dissonant lead passages, and guttural vocals that echo back to 80’s death metal are all you really need, but Vanhelgd just do it so well that it’s refreshing to hear death metal so uncompromising.

Deimos Sanktuarium is somehow Vangheld’s fifth album in ten years, which begs the question how this band isn’t bigger than they are. What is a great album finds some struggle in how it closes itself out, as the last three songs are all sitting around the seven and a half minute mark, yet the band does their duty and makes the last three as heavy-hitting as the ones that came before it. It’s not as back-loaded as some albums have been in the past, but the wear from this aural onslaught can be felt by the end of “Har Finns Ingen Nad.” I dunno, maybe I’m just weak. But this album slaps. Tell your friends if they aren’t beta.

Heads For the Dead – Serpent’s Curse: This is another case of “I don’t know where I found this album but I ended up listening to it.” Being a part of a two-person metal project with programmed drums, I totally sympathize for Heads For the Dead in being ambitious as they are. Traditional death metal with wicked vocals and some doom sensibilities is all you need aside from good songwriting, and Serpent’s Curse has a good amount of that. Nice pacing throughout, a variety in songs in both sound and length… Too good to be true.

What’s gonna make-or-break this album is the drums. They’re obviously programmed, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of, yet the hi-hat is the least convincing sounding aspect of the artificial kit they’re using. It takes a bit to get used to, but ultimately the sample’s don’t ruin the experience of the song. If anything, it does add a unique rawness to the album, and in a situation where one probably doesn’t have a drummer at their disposal, it’s an alright trade-off. Good album, definitely doesn’t suck, interested in where this project goes from here.

Outer Heaven – Realms of Eternal Decay: For all the bells and whistles there are in death metal and all the blendings and mixings of genres, a traditional approach never ceases to please. Outer Heaven have always had a different tone to their brand of death metal, with 2015’s Diabolus Vobiscum having an almost stoner-doom guitar tone played a funeral dirge. With the bits of doom thrown in there, the band are now putting themselves among the top-tier of the genre. Realms of Eternal Decay, while not as doom influenced as past material, now takes a few notes from the likes of Autopsy. There’s more bite to their songs and the riffs are hard, but Outer Heaven truly captures what is making current death metal so great.

At 33 minutes, Realms hits that sweet spot of not too much but just enough to make that great impression. One can argue it’s safer than, say, Diabolus, but that doesn’t change that there isn’t any filler here or any attempt to make this album a longer experience than it needs to be. It’s about tight riffs that bite, rip, tear, and repeat that are just inherently ugly and vile. The cover says it all: if there were zombies fighting on treacherous terrain, this would undoubtedly be the soundtrack playing.

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