is a Swedish death metal band; they've been around since 1989, and they've released seven albums prior to this one. Their 1996 debut was called Raped In Their Own Blood
, and album number six, from 2007, was called Terrorize Brutalize Sodomize
. There's been a lot of discussion in the hip-hop community lately about the group Odd Future and their tendency to employ rape imagery in their songs, and I'm wondering if those critics doing all that hand-wringing are even aware of the prevalence of such imagery in metal (in addition to its title track, Terrorize Brutalize Sodomize
also contains a song called "Defiled and Inferior"). It really is enough to make me question whether it's somehow different when it's teenaged black kids rather than Swedes—or white Floridians, let us not forget about Cannibal Corpse
and songs like "Fucked with a Knife" and "Stripped, Raped and Strangled"—in their 30s or 40s.
I'm getting away from my point, though. My point is that Opus Mortis VIII, which comes out today, is a very good thrash/death album. It doesn't have that classic "Swedish death metal" sound you hear on albums by Grave, Dismember, Entombed, Unleashed, etc., etc. The guitars are crisp and machine-like, much more reminiscent of Slayer circa 1988-90. Indeed, there are some seriously Slayer-esque moments on this disc, particularly on "Torturous Ingenious" and "They Will Burn" and especially "Shrouded in Darkness," which is a straight-up Seasons in the Abyss ripoff.
Guitarists Urban Gustafsson and Peter Östlund write riffs that fly past like bullets, rather than sinking in like meathooks, and the solos sting, but they're clean and fluid, lacking the dissonance and atonality that make Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King stand out. They get lots of spotlight time on "Forever Damned," and they make the most of it, firing off the kind of solos that made classic '80s thrash albums so thrilling. Drummer Tobias Gustafsson has some of the punky looseness one hears in D-beat, but he's more than capable of complex fills and rapid shifts into and out of blast beats. Bassist/vocalist Erik Rundqvist has your basic guttural growl, and his bass is a rumble in the mix, and nothing more.
This is a fast, concise album—10 songs in 36 minutes—with no pretentious intros or anything else to get in the way of the hair-spinning, fist-pumping metal. If you walked into a club and Vomitory were playing, you would have to ask someone who they were, but you'd probably enjoy their set. Given that, you may wonder why this record is the one I picked out of the week's releases for spotlight treatment, and the answer is...something about it just hits my spot. All the talk about the "Big 4" concert in California this past weekend—which I didn't attend—has put me in a mood to hear metal that retains the values of the thrash era, but I don't particularly want to listen to Metallica, Megadeth or Slayer (and let's be honest, nobody really wants to listen to Anthrax, and hasn't since about 1992). So a relatively little-known band putting out quality old-school product is to be celebrated. Give Vomitory a chance. You won't be sorry.
Other albums out this week:
• Agoraphobic Nosebleed/Despise You, And On and On... (Relapse): A split CD that features the first new material from hardcore/powerviolence group Despise You in a decade or maybe more. Worth it for that alone, especially since the Agoraphobic Nosebleed tracks are kinda lackluster and disposable, something which really bums me out, because I used to love those guys. They'll never top Frozen Corpse Stuffed With Dope, though.
• Krallice, Diotima (Profound Lore): Everybody loves Krallice right now. There's a reason for that. Their brand of black metal is like minimalist 20th Century classical music (think Steve Reich or Philip Glass) with blast beats. Their songs are long as hell—some go past the 15-minute mark, but not because they're padded out with slow boring melodic passages or wanky solos. They just keep up the intense blasting long past the point many other musicians would have passed out where they stood. They've got a fantastic rhythm section on their side, too, though. This is seriously awesome stuff. Check it out.
• NightShade, Lost in Motion (Bullet Tooth): Metalcore with ultra-modern, digital production. The bass drum sounds like a typewriter, the vocals are overwrought, the guitars downtuned and crunchy...you know what this sounds like. No synth melodies or Autotune, though; these guys are chest-thumping purists.
• Primordial, Redemption at the Puritan's Hand (Metal Blade): A lot of people love Primordial, too. I've never put in the time to decide whether they're right or wrong. Pagan/folk metal doesn't do much for me most of the time. Vocalist A.A. Nemtheanga has a pretty impressive voice, though, I'll give them that for sure. He sounds insane, in a good way.
• Wolf, Legions of Bastards (Century Media): Wolf are a Swedish band that play traditionalist heavy metal in the spirit of early Iron Maiden, Mercyful Fate, etc. Their guitars gallop, their vocals soar, they are awesome. This is their first album for Century Media, and it's not being made available in physical format in the US (WTF?), but the digital version is out today. I highly recommend getting it, and catching up with their back catalog if you haven't.