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.
It’s always a great day when gods of death team up, and for Japanese death metallers Anatomia and Danish beasts Undergang, this isn’t their first time. Not satisfied with the devastating results of 2017’s 10” crusher collaboration (released in both Danish and Japanese, which is a really cool gimmick!), they’re back some five years later with a second split to crush us again. Who does that? I can’t even think of anyone else—but it fucking works, as you’d expect from two masterful bands at the top of their game.
Something that’s largely missing from the modern heavy metal scene is bands that do a good job of mixing the silly, spooky fun that King Diamond had with the actual musical and writing chops that his bands always brought to the table alongside it. Most bands seem to have one or the other, but never both; they come across as nearly-satirical in their tasteless, riffless “fun” music, or have an earnest and serious quality to their big goddamn riffs if they pull off their general stylings.
Genuine improvement with metal bands these days doesn’t feel as common as it should be. A debut demo or EP often signals how the album will be–a decent demo means a decent album, and a great demo means a great album. More uncommon still are bands that are more interested in pursuing their own path than trying to fit cleanly in with the rest of the modern scene, and new heavy metal especially seems obsessed with copying successful contemporary or 1980s bands instead of embracing the pioneering spirit that almost all of the best classic bands embodied.
As much as many musicians play relatively safe to the standards of their genre, either when playing in an established style or even when pushing boundaries, there have always been those that are not content to be anything less than properly mad. In the 1980s heavy metal scene, those musicians played in bands like Deep Switch, Lords of the Crimson Alliance, or Brocas Helm. Today, those musicians play in bands like Gentry Lord, Demon Bitch, Molten Chains… and Wanton Attack.
Even with a late entry (a spooky Halloween release!), Abysse mortifère was an easy lock for my 2021 year-end list. Ferociously opposed to any sort of modernity in their ancient assault, Outre-Tombe take things to the next level with what is surely their best record yet: catchier songwriting, bigger riffs, and dirtier production combine to form a record that stands apart from almost all contemporary peers.