Soundtrack To Your Annihilation: An Introduction
This world is filled with terrors. You might be terrified of an Ebola outbreak on U.S. soil. You could be anxious that terrorists will strike your favorite Hot Topic hangout at the mall. You might be obsessed with GMOs, and decry “Monsanto as the great American devil“, all day long on your favorite social media sites. You may be plagued by unseen existential horrors, burdened with working one hundred hours every twelve days, or nervous about an impending job layoff. Due to my inability to write a regular weekly series, meet deadlines, keep a schedule, or write about topics that are current, meaningful, or relevant, I got an idea for this ambitious series, much in the same way L. Ron Hubbard developed his ideas for Scientology. The concept is simple. What happens to your average metal fan as they follow an aural path into the heart of darkness and a “rabbit hole of what-the-fvckery”?
The Toilet Ov Hell is excited to bring you the first part of this series, Soundtrack To Your Annihilation. I am going on a journey; I hope some of you will come with me. We are going to take a look at and have a listen to records in a wide range of metal’s subgenres and some on the outer fringe of it. These records will get more brutal, darker, weirder, and more difficult to listen to as the series moves on. You may know and love some of these records. You may not have heard them at all. We are going to learn a little more about subgenres we know, and cover some that haven’t been covered in great lengths at the Toilet Ov Hell. We will laugh together, we will cry together. We will join hands and hearts and reach into the inner recesses of our own humanity. While some writers have used their skill and positions at the Toilet Ov Hell to cover heartwarming, fist pumping, righteous anthems, this series intends to head in the opposite direction, towards a stunning and shocking conclusion.
The first album for this series is none other than Cryptopsy’s 1996 album, None So Vile. I get it, I get it. This is not exactly an “easy” starting point, unless you were raised by your parents on a strict diet of power electronics and fear. It’s as good a place to start as any. Why? None So Vile has been called a “landmark” album by Decibel Magazine, who inducted it into the Decibel Hall of Fame a couple of years back. Islander at No Clean Singing has said of it, “listening to None So Vile is an experience that’s almost too intense”. I had that experience my first time through it. Released in 1996, None So Vile came out long before Colin Marston became his own subgenre of music, and before all your neighbors in the suburban gated community started their own tech death bands. This record is almost twenty years old! Watch for it to hit the metal blogosphere all over again in 2016. Well, what about the album?
None So Vile is a technical death metal album, but it is not frilly. Cryptopsy find a near perfect balance between stunning technicality and pummeling savagery on this record. Rather than awkwardly playing air weedlies in your cubicle, this is death metal you can snap your neck to. The album is mixed tremendously for an album in that genre and from that era. Buzzing guitars complement frequent blasts and double bass drumming. Over the top guitar solos are used tastefully; they don’t overstay their welcome and appear no more often than needed. Check out the end of “Slit Your Guts” for a prime example. An absolute standout on this album is Lord Worm’s vocal performance. This is one of the great vocal performances in metal. Travis Ryan would later be placed near the top of his class; the class already included Lord Worm. Worm sounds completely maniacal. Worm is educated and well read, apparently these lyrics are quite insightful and darkly funny. As I have written before, I rarely read lyrics to any of the metal albums I listen to. “Phobophile” opens with a soft, brief piano interlude, you are given fifty seconds to catch your breath before the next onslaught. There are few moments of respite in None So Vile’s thirty two minute run time, like those solos, this album does not overstay its welcome. Nor will this write up. You can tell these guys have a sense of humor too, the album closes with a sample of Bruce Campbell from Army of Darkness.
This is loud, fast, and chaotic music played with nigh mechanical precision. In the spectrum of aural violence, place it in a category with other top tier tech death bands, bands that play tightly controlled grind, and some of the more digestible slam out there. (Digestible slam, serious?)
Do you consider None So Vile to be a classic? Why does Canada have so much good death metal? (See also: France. Don’t even get me started on France. I could and may someday do a whole series on French metal and noise). Are you excited to see what’s next on Soundtrack To Your Annihilation? Have you been infected with the Ebola virus already? Does STYA sound like an abbreviation for a corrupt government agency?
If you haven’t heard None So Vile, give it a listen as soon as you can. If you have heard it, feel free to sound off in the comments with your unwavering agreements.
Huge thanks to Christian Molenaar for the major assist in the conception, planning, and execution of this series.