DEAF FOREVER is a monthly column devoted to doom, black, dirge, power and every type of metal you can possibly imagine.
Saying “99% percent of [x] is worthless” is one of the worst fake-deep proclamations. It’s not revelatory that a lot of anything is bad and what little of it is good is worth living for; using such a high number does not make your opinion edgy. That being said, the field of brutal death metal, a simplified take on Suffocation’s NYHC-influenced DM, is particularly barren of talent. Germany’s Defeated Sanity are exemplars of the style, applying a precision makes their music feel natural and mechanically savage. Their newest isn’t a record per se, but a dual EP taking on two different death metal styles. Disposal of the Dead is them exploring their signature sound, more-guttural-than-thou vocals and neck-breaking breakdowns and all. It’s less produced than Passages into Deformity, making the slams hit harder while maintaining their commitment to pristine form. Dharmata is an exploration into the progressive, heavily jazz-fusion influenced death metal pioneered by later Death, Cynic, and Atheist. There’s even a different vocalist on that side, with Max Phelps (who’s also done live vocals for Cynic) doing his best Chuck Schuldiner impression. This may seem like a drastic shift, but only if you’re not familiar with the band’s history. Drummer Lille Gruber founded the band with his father, guitarist Wolfgang Teske, who was also a jazz drummer. Teske passed away in 2010 but his influence lives on in how Dharmata informs Disposal: by better understanding how technicality and brutality intersect, they make beatdown music that’s actually interesting.
Fistula — Longing for Infection (PATAC)
You fiending for that straight up grimy sludge, the kind that makes you feel as though there’s a pungent film on your skin you can’t wipe off, and you tear at your skin trying to rid it, and you can see your bones? Ohio’s Fistula are the dirtiest of the dirty, replacing Eyehategod’s permanent swamp-ass with Midwestern desolation. Longing for Infection is yet another. The production is a little cleaner, which might seem like it would undermine their tales of when you take all the wrong drugs all at once, but it only adds to the immediacy. That’s crucial, since more than most sludge bands, they uphold sludge’s punk heritage. “Loyal to the Foil” has a killer groove that reminds you that the blues is as much a part of sludge as singing about needles. “Morgue Attendant” plays off necrophilia media sensations, the straight faces of news reports clashing with Dan Harrington’s screams and Corey Bing’s nihilistic swing. Infection is also noteworthy because bassist Bahb Branca also plays guitar, evident in the renewed energy so present here. And best believe even if you’re straight edge until Death turns your XXX neck tat into dust, you’ll feel their misery.
One of the best shows I’ve seen this summer was Dragged Into Sunlight and Primitive Man at Paper Tiger in San Antonio. They both made a small room in a South Texas summer feel even hotter and more claustrophobic, and they somehow managed to outdraw Big Business in the venue’s larger room. Joining them for a few shows in the South were Chapel Hill’s MAKE, who were impressive in their own right, a very American fusion of black metal and noise rock. Pilgrimage of Loathing is their third record, and its opening “The Somnambulist” is one of the most searing USBM tracks since Wolves in the Throne Room lost their way. That is the only metal where they’re full black metal, though, and the album’s diversity is where it really wins. “Birthed Into a Grave They Made For You” is total Am Rep via Deathlike Silence, from its bare, spindly intro, to its KEN Mode foundation of pummeling repetition, to the ending freakouts that recall both Big Black at their most abrasive and Emperor at their most majestic. It’s not often you’d call black metal anthemic, but “Dirt” is just that, trading in incomprehensible screams for something equal to Bell Witch taking on gang vocals. If none of that’s sold you, there’s a beautiful ambient-metal instrumental called “Two Hawks Fucking.” Who says black metal isn’t sensual?
A band called ColdWorld (not to be confused with the hardcore group Cold World) releasing an album named Autumn this month — someone lacks a sense of seasonal appropriateness, no? Timing be damned, this is some of the most gorgeous black metal you’ll hear all year. Its lushness will obviously draw comparisons to many post-black metal bands, but there’s an oppressing feeling that comes with the relentless beauty, almost as if the synths are choking you out with just how layered they are. Autumn has the frostiness of climate soulmates Paysage D’Hiver, capturing a blizzard with higher fidelity. There’s shades of goth rock here too, especially when sole proprietor Georg Börner lets loose on the clean vocals. Even when those moments make Autumn swim in sap, it’s never any less enchanting. One-dimensional? Maybe, but the consistency is what makes this an essential listen. Give it a few months, when your battle jacket won’t warm your empty core, and this will become a staple.
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