October Roundup: Death Metal, Pump Organs & Untold Brutality
Enteraakethraaaeate for Convulse, Babes in the Abyss, The Carnival, and Insidious Disease. And Encengththraaraakehrakh.
ENCENATHRAKH – THRAAKETHRAAEATE THRAITHRAAKE *
October 2nd | P2 Loggia/Dense Records
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4/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Convulse – Deathstar
October 30th | Transcending Obscurity
A legendary Finnish death metal band, whose legend is largely based on their debut World Without God, something of a trend among the scene’s early arrivals, Convulse did put out another album. They released the considerably more psychedelic Reflections before calling it quits, and though that album is often forgotten or passed over, it’s one of the few death ‘n’ roll-ish albums I truly enjoy. After their inevitable comeback in 2012, Convulse has refused to stay in place or to cater to nostalgia apart from mostly performing their debut live. While the Inner Evil‘s title track seems to have made itself a semi-permanent place in the band’s live set, I found the split, EP and album-long old school cycle to be mostly forgettable and the band’s most boring era. 2016’s Cycle of Revenge focused on power trio groove and introduced some, uh, wild west elements. Considered by many to be their worst hour, at least it evoked a reaction, but can the same be said of Deathstar?
Many songs still follow the path set on the previous record, most clearly the title track. Others take it a step further, “Make Humanica Great Again” features a clean mid-section straight out of a prog rock band’s handbook and “Light My Day” continues reaching the gap between this rocking sound and their groove output while in between the prog-flavour that permeates much of the record, “Chernobyl” throws down like it’s the early aughts. The opening trio carry the most of this prog rocking sound, and heavily features keys, despite there being no credited keyboardist. The most egregious infraction comes in the form of “We Sold Our Soul for Rock ‘n Roll”, which sounds exactly like a late-era Deep Purple, only with Jämsä’s deep but dry grunts for vocals. Yes, most egregious, did I not mention Deathstar is a bad and not good album? I should’ve, but for my defense, I thought it was obvious. There are some finer moments that you’d want to work better than they do, so you could entertain the thought of maybe liking them, but it’s a hot mess that sounds like Amorphis‘ Tales from the Thousand Lakes if they had no idea what they wanted or were doing, had the groove button stuck down and a Deep Purple cover thrown in, instead of The Doors.
Flushed/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Babes in the Abyss / The Carnival
June 18th | Krypta Records/Metro Retrograde
How would metal related music moving between the lines of psychedelia and avant-garde that has abandoned guitars and embraced the pump organ sound to you? Marvelous, for it is this that Babes in the Abyss, now joined by vocalist Sami Hynninen (Opium Warlords, Reverend Bizarre), offer. There is a certain kinship between their half and Arcturus‘ La Masquerade Infernale though Babes in the Abyss takes a route further away from metal music, and the very theatrical vocals do not make the comparison any less accurate. Disturbing and disturbed music that isn’t easy to describe though it doesn’t appear to avoid categorization intentionally. There is a magnetic quality to the music, drawing back, again and again even though I do not know how much I purely enjoy it, I cannot hide that I admire it.
The Carnival is a fairly more casual band in its mix of black metal and thrashy hardcore. Theirs is music that I’ve loved for quite some time, but they haven’t put out anything in several years, which might be the reason they’ve undergone a stylistic shift. Their new guise resembles the insistent, monotonous approach to heavy metal and punk that can often be heard on modern Darkthrone records, though the repetition is even more constant and the Celtic Frost -esque riffs even more blunt. “Halun Julmat Kasvot” has only one riff, which it grinds for 7 1/2 minutes, but though it feels not a second shorter than it is, there’s magic in the old fingers and the monotony never turns against the band, hypnotizing while Vesa Moilanen’s ripping vocals, reminiscent of the legendary Läjä Äijälä’s, who has drawn most of the band’s artwork, and the clangour and lugging drill away at the mind.
“Tulenpalvoja” builds around a more tribal buzz and whir while “Sairas Maa / Punaisia Kiviä” is based on a livelier, grooving riff and though neither quite captures the magic of the opener, both still enthrall. It’s a split with two very different musical approaches and moods that nevertheless come together very well and seem to compliment each other in some twisted way.
3,5/5 Flaming toilets ov Hell
Insidious Disease – After Death
October 30th | Nuclear Blast
Founded sometime in 2004 by Silenoz and his then touring mate in Dimmu Borgir, Tony Laureano, Insidious Disease was envisioned as a side-project allowing the duo’s love of old school death metal to flourish. It took form slowly, adding Shane Embury, who did not yet have enough projects, on bass, Old Man’s Child‘s Jardar on second guitar and Morgoth‘s Marc Grewe, the sole reason I’ve had continued interest in this project, on vocals. It took more than half a decade for Shadowcast to materialize and it’s taken more than 10 for its follow-up, After Death to find its way into the world.
Not much has changed since, still self-proclaimed to be about “finding a good groove [they] feel comfortable with” instead of pushing anyone’s limits as a songwriter or a musician. The chunky riffs, a hint of thrash here, a doomy tempo there and sinister leads betray the group’s influences, but there’s too much experience between them for Insidious Disease to sound no more than the sum of its parts. You won’t find hardcore influences here, no caveman death or pit metal, just the same riff-heavy, straightforward death metal and a bunch of hooky choruses that you did on Shadowcast. The only wind of change is the addition of Susperia‘s Cyrus, a former Dimmu alumni as well, on second guitar.
Though After Death is easy to listen to, and can be fun, it can also get a little dull because of how plain it is, and because it lacks anything truly memorable. Grewe’s tearing but discernible mid-range growl is still the best the band has to offer. It’s also nice to hear Laureano, who hasn’t been making many appearances lately, is still a more lively player than all too many big league human metronomes, and despite its old school roots, After Death is firmly rooted in 2020, for better or for worse. In the end, it’s little more than a fine, plain death metal record with a great vocalist. Though workmanlike death metal can hit the spot quite nicely every once in a while, and if you’ve enjoyed Memoriam, I don’t see why you wouldn’t enjoy Insidious Disease, though their sound may be different, in essence they are alike.
3/5 Flaming toilets ov Hell
*Colin Marston, ladies and gentlemen