Archive for Anata

Review: Heretic Warfare

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , on December 7, 2020 by Magadh

Heretic Warfare Hell on Earth

Listening to Hell on Earth, the aptly titled new disc by the Münster death metal band Heretic Warfare, is an extremely jarring experience. It’s not just a matter of the music itself (blistering straight ahead death metal delivered at about 1000 mph). You’ve really got to wonder how one comes to listen to this. I find myself asking, “How did we all get to this place?” It’s not just that normal people wouldn’t enjoy this. They simply wouldn’t understand it.

Modern death metal was for the best part of two decades engaged in a kind of arms race to see who could kick the speedometer up to the most extreme levels. Starting with bands like Napalm Death, Repulsion, and others in the scenes whose mutual influence spawned both the extreme death metal and grindcore subgenres, the idea of speed for speed’s sake became ingrained in the culture. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the relevant history can easily recite the stations of the (upside down) cross.

At a certain point one starts to experience diminishing returns, and not just in terms of speed. I have a hard time imagining something noticeably more soul-crushing than Ulcerate. I have a pretty high tolerance for this sort of thing, but even I have a hard time getting all the way through Shrines of Paralysis. Which is not to say that it isn’t great, just that it’s so far beyond the bounds of normal music that it takes a lot to parse.

Heretic Warfare do not get to the edge of that particular abyss. Their approach is very much along the lines of bands like (just to pick a name) Oath of Cruelty. They jump out of the grave and onto your chest, kicking the air out of your lungs and refusing to let you inhale. This is unapologetic war metal, marching through rivers of blood with piles of corpses reaching to the sky.

The really crazy thing about this disc is that it gets more intense as it goes along. “Warfare on the Heretic Scum,” the opener, sounds like someone took Dead to this World and gave them a crystal meth enema. And it just gets crazier from there. It’s like they recorded the first one and we like, “Yeah, that was cool, but it’s not fast enough and definitely needs more blast beats.”

You have to respect a band that is willing to pack so much shit into their songs. They switch back and forth from power chords to notes. Then they’ll just stop and do something completely off kilter for a few bars. They’re a little like Anata in the sense that they seem to want to pack half again as much material into each song as perhaps needs to be there. But the cumulative effect is like sticking your face up against a belt sander, and it’s hard to argue with that as an artistic theory.

There is a point at which extremity passes over into unlistenability. Heretic Warfare have, I think, very much hit the sweet spot. This is blistering, unrelenting death metal, but it’s the kind of thing that you (or at least I) want to listen to rather than feeling like I have to get through it in order to maintain my extreme music credibility (although I guess that’s long gone anyway).

Review: Odious Mortem

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , on February 12, 2020 by Magadh

Odious Mortem Synthesia

On Synthesia, their third record and their first for quite a long time, Odious Mortem have really cracked the fucking code. Normally my tolerance for the “technical” variant of death metal is kind of limited. All too often these bands get so wrapped up in their ability to generate riffs in odd configurations and time signatures that they end up chasing themselves up their own collective asshole. It’s a rare band where I find myself thing, “Damn, I really want to hear that song again. But on my third run through this disk, I’m still discovering it’s positives qualities, and still interested in hearing more.

Ok, there are a lot of blast beats, which is pretty much de rigeur for this type of thing, but there aren’t a lot of places where I find myself trying to tap whether they’re still in 7/8 or have moved on to 11 or some other completely random time signature. There are places where these guys sound a lot like Anata, especially in the era of the latter’s Under a Stone with No Inscription. But Anata’s problem, if you want to call it that (and many devotees of this kind of metal probably view this as a virtue) is that they were so fast and changed so often that one often felt suffocated.

There is, of course, something to be said for this. But metal thrives on a certain amount of groove and what you really want is for these bands, when they occasionally stumble onto a really dominant riff among the forest of licks that they’re firing at you, to give it to you enough time to generate some head bob.

Ok, so Odious Mortem don’t give you a huge amount of that, but they do give you enough to keep you interested. The songs are kind of short, at least by technical death metal standards, but that adds to their power. It’s easy to string together riff after riff, especially at hyper speed. It’s harder to arrange songs in a way that makes sense and seems coherent rather than just mystifying. Odious Mortem’s songs make a certain kind of sense, and that lifts their material to a whole other level of quality.

There is an interesting element of old school death metal in these cuts. Not a huge amount, but enough to frame the more technical passages in such a way as to let you comprehend their extremity. This album is distinguished by its musicality, which is just not something one finds oneself writing about technical death metal bands all that often. It’s not just that these dudes are good at their instruments. They’re good at writing songs, which is not the same thing.

Synthesia is a stone-cold slab of blistering death metal. Their playing is absolutely razor-sharp, which is, of course, the coin of the realm here. It’s not just that it’s extreme and impressive, although it is both of those things. It’s simply awesome death metal and something that should definitely be your jam.