BMR: Thanksgiving Edition, aka 'Murican black metal extravaganza (MANTICORE, LEVIATHAN, BLOOD STAINED DUSK, ABYSMAL LORD, SUMMON)
Happy Holiday's, y'all. Let me just start by apologizing for the recent scarcity of BMR material in MetalBite. Stupid work and life stuff and whatnot. Hopefully, I won't be away like that again.
Anyway, as the very-American Turkey Day was looming on the horizon this year, I realized it might be kind of rad to do a Report exclusively focusing on black metal from this side of the pond. So...in between eating and hanging with grown-up children and watching our shows and visiting Angels in the darkness, I was having my own lil' USBM party. And it went something like this...
On Thanksgiving Day itself, while in the midst of my "I can't wait for the kids to get here" period, we began with the third (and as of now, still most recent?) full-length album from Cleveland's MANTICORE, titled Behold the Ascension of the Execrated (2012). It shows them continuing the good work of their previous releases, with songs like 'Abhorrent Baptism' and 'Filth Upon Filth' leaving little doubt as to where this trio's spiritual center is. The music is every bit as nasty and blasphemous as the song titles would suggest. Raw, chaotic, and possessed of a low-end-undertone rumble that reminds me a lot of the original, from-the-1990s recordings by fellow Cleveland natives Embalmer.
NOTE: I have it on good authority that MANTICORE will be releasing their long-overdue fourth album in 2021. Praise be to Satan.
And then, we journeyed to the darkest wilderness of the Pacific Northwest.
Released barely a year after their milestonic debut, Tentacles of Whorror (2004) showed LEVIATHAN paradoxically using just a smidgen of more traditional elements (more of a "full band" sound with production that showcases it, some actual, traditional, even catchy riffs amidst the chaos) to solidify and increase their fearlessly unique power.
What's especially cool about this album is the way in which it starts as raw black metal and gradually makes its way towards the ambient driftscapes of despair the band is so well known for. The album opens with the chaos of 'What Fresh Hell' ...but by the time it is around the halfway point...and 'Vexed and Vomit Hexed' is causing you to soar and get misty-eyed and marvel at the zen of bleakness...you realize what an amazing, muti-faceted journey you are on.
NOTE: When speaking of one of our favorite artists, tranceambient pioneer Steve Roach, my brother (Phee Stringer) describes one of his greatest strengths as being his patience. As in, letting his atmosphere take its time to establish itself. My recent listen to both Tentacles and the debut have reaffirmed my belief that this also applies to LEVIATHAN. To the narrow-minded listener, it might seem silly to compare the two. But if you listen to Tentacles from start to finish, and the eerie, almost soothing sounds of 'The History of Rape' (again with the juxtaposition of title and sound) fade away into the blackness...I think you'll experience what I'm getting at.
After my not-favorite-part-of-any-weekend-but-especially-weekends-like-this-where-I-have-her-for-two-nights came and went with the dropping off of my daughter, I decided to throw in a CD that I would like to think I would have revisited anyway at some point, but it seemed like that was the right time, due to some random mentionings of the band on FaceBook earlier in the week. I was also VERY happy to learn that the boys are still doing their thang.
The band is BLOOD STAINED DUSK, and the album is the epic Dirge of Death's Silence (2001). One thing that HAD escaped my notice till this latest revisiting was the fact that this Satanic foursome hails from Huntsville, Alabama. Not only is that a black metal first (for me), but I also cannot think of another extreme metal band from that state (off the top of my head, anyway. I'm sure there are gazillions).
You would never guess that this group came from anywhere that was not grim and frostbitten. From the icy, blasting-out-of-the-gate fury of 'Moon Behind the Storm', Dirge of Death's Silence sounds like it was shat out by an unpredictable, warped bastard hate child of Dark Funeral and Cradle of Filth. The mysterious chords and horror-film-soundtrack feels are there, but it sounds like whatever demons the band summoned up to aid in the recording have gone slightly out of control and are now threatening to shake, rattle and roll the instruments (and studio walls) into oblivion before laying the entire building to waste. Extra props to the band for their spare, very well-placed use of keyboard minimalism.
NOTE: This is yet another excellent example of the unholy partnership between Killjoy's (R.I.P.) Baphomet label with the short-lived-but-very-prolific-and-well-distributed Necropolis Records.
SIDENOTE: I really can't believe I didn't think to do the USBM theme situation during this past Independence Day weekend. Or maybe I did and don't remember and am too lazy to check.
Anyway, after BSD, we decided to stay in the Deep South for a bit. It's funny; as soon as the dread-inducing darkness of the opening of the 2019 album from ABYSMAL LORD, titled Exaltation of the Infernal Cabal, made its presence known, the first thing I thought of was the film Angel Heart. I'm sure the fact that this filth-mongering trio is from New Orleans probably had something to do with it. :-)
But yes, the eerieness of the intro ('The Exalted Killing') quickly turns into a murderous frenzy when 'Monolith of Vengeance' kicks in, and thus begins your descent. Musically, ABYSMAL LORD belongs to that race of beings spawned by the likes of Beherit and Blasphemy, but with their own twists on the chaos.
The best way to describe the power of this record is that the rhythm section (provided by Guillotine of Papal Crowns on bass and Barbaric Slayer of the Angelic Choirs on drums) feels like the swirling maelstrom of pure heresy and hate rising from the depths and dragging you down to eternal damnation...and the screeching sounds of the Black Lord of Fire and Eternal Damnation's guitar solos are the futile wailings of victims being pulled to a world below...whose pain will never end and whose prayers will never be heard.
And yes, part of the reason I called attention to those musical elements was so I could have the pleasure of typing out the band members' names.
As the weekend neared its conclusion, I figured I'd journey back to the land of my youth, for a Michigan band that is sadly no longer with us. One that is about 5 times better than a lot of folks gave them credit for. I am speaking of Lansing's SUMMON, and their amazing first "official" full-length, which is the perfectly-titled Baptized by Fire (1999).
SUMMON was in existence from 1991 till 2007ish, I believe. I got to see them once live, which was headlining the first night of the fest produced by Sandra Newton at the I Rock in Detroit in October of 2002. Although this was their first proper release, the production, skill and ferocity of their execution of this unholy blend of black metal with traces of death indicates a lifetime dedication to the craft. Listening to each song is like getting hit with a tidal wave of pure evil. But not just any tidal wave. More like one of those super tidal waves where like three separate tsunamis slow down and pile up all together into one wall of indescribably vast destruction. Like, you'll think each song has reached its peak intensity, and then it gets faster, with more layers, more bass and more screaming. It's absolutely divine.
So give a listen. Seek out their work, and immerse yourself in one of Michigan's best (a band who soared to rather significant heights before they called it quits).
And with that, the Thanksgiving holiday weekend began to draw to a close. Little did I know that a snowvomitingwinterstorm was already almost upon us...