Cryptworm caught my attention right from the beginning. I can’t recall anymore, some five years later, how I first came across their original eponymous demo (though I suspect it was by following the label that released that demo on tape, Goatprayer Records) but I can certainly remember the impact that it made. Filthy and threatening in a way that’s become more commonplace in the years since but that has become no less powerful for it, even on day one Cryptworm evoked all of the horror and putrid sewer atmosphere that has become, in a way, very popular. However, where most bands fail at providing anything other than base aesthetic and atmosphere, Cryptworm excel at bringing the fucking riffs.
Autopsy are a household name with sick horror freaks worldwide, and are widely regarded as one of the most influential bands in all of death metal history (as I noted in an article celebrating the 30th anniversary of their sophomore album Mental Funeral). As a genre that was initially spawned largely by weirdo teenagers, most bands playing death metal in the ‘80s have long since either stopped entirely or lost the fire that made them good. Autopsy are a special exception, and death metal fans everywhere wait with anticipation for new recordings.
Ravenous Death’s strong potential has been evident since their 2017 debut short-length Ominous Deathcult, but I don’t feel that it was truly realized until now. That debut was a solid slab of straightforward, catchy death metal that didn’t vary much from a standard old and evil death metal template. It was equal parts Floridian and Swedish murderous riffage and all fire and energy without a ton other than their love of murder to separate them from the pack; the most present takeaway was that it was good—but they already had a rare spark showing that they could be great.
The 7” single has a long history in the heavy metal world, and its importance as a format continues in the underground to this day. One of the best ways to lose money is to get into old NWOBHM singles, and many of the most expensive obscurities out there are highly limited 7”s that have far more fans than there are copies. Though the practice made its way to extreme metal (and particularly death metal, with many classic 7”s coming out across a variety of scenes and record labels in the early ‘90s) the format has endured as a special way for a classic heavy metal band to both make a statement and, when the band is special enough, as a showcase of force on a debut.
Metal with a reduced tempo is the single oldest sonic niche in this great genre, going all the way back to Black Sabbath’s mighty 1970 debut. Regardless of the specifics behind the way that bands play doom metal, age and experience seem to be a unifying theme in how well modern bands understand these ancient sounds. It’s no mistake that some 15 years after starting, Cauchemar find themselves with their third and greatest album on the way.
Phrenelith floored the world with 2017’s Desolate Endscape, which was at once atmospheric and hideously ferocious. It was an instant favorite in the larger death metal community and the band’s status as perhaps the finest newcomer in the scene was solidified across a series of demos, EPs, and notable live shows. Anticipation for a follow up was higher than ever by the time that their long-promised but long-delayed sophomore Chimaera came out last year in December.
After nearly a year waiting, The Highway Corsair Zine Issue #4 is finally out now! This time the zine comes with an exclusive live in the studio 7″ from Obliteration (Nor) recorded for a Norwegian radio show, and has interviews with bands like Cianide, Nocturnus AD, Slough Feg, Nasty Savage, Eternal Champion, and many more!
The Highway Corsair is pro-printed in full color and at full size. Available at the Nameless Grave Records store and limited strictly to 300 copies.
There is an odd propensity within the death metal world to ignore bands that come from south of the United States border. This is particularly egregious when considering the sheer depth of the scene from Mexico, which had many of the best and most creative bands in death metal. While it’s understandable why financial, lingual, and political barriers as well as a general lack of international label interest kept classic bands from Mexico from extensive touring in the United States or abroad, it makes less sense why the internet and legions of savvy, near-encyclopedic modern fans have not twigged on just how killer Mexican death metal was between the genre’s dawn and the end of the ’90s.