Mephitic Grave – Into the Atrium of Inhuman Morbidity [Hungary, Death] (2021)

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Carbonized | 5-7-21

Originally formed as Mothrot, Mephitic Grave is a Hungarian death metal band – a scene I admit to having next to no experience with. This is their first release, landing on the California label Carbonized Records. Here we’ve got something that sounds like a lost Finnish or Dutch death/doom LP from 1992. “Intro the Atrium…” is full of chunky, half-wonky riffing and extremely deep vocals half-buried under the mix. There’s also that slight punky influence that characterized so much of early death metal, which is especially prevalent on some of those groovy mid-tempo breakdowns as on “The Vault of Strangling Fear”. This is death/doom in the sense of incorporating doom metal influences in death metal riffing, with those slow and hard pick-ups into 1.5-times hitters. It’s the kind of roughness I get down, and one of those strong releases that reminds me of my time first exploring early nineties death metal and learning about all these magnificent versions of extremeness. That’s a bit poetic, but hey, it’s what I’m feeling.

Batholith – Alpine Tomb [US, Death / Doom] (2021)

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Self Released | 4-23-21

A batholith is an igneous rock formation that extends deep into the earth, like Half Dome at Yosemite. Neat! What’s not neat is dying on a mountain. This is precisely the concept behind “Alpine Tomb” from Batholith, the Connecticut duo’s debut LP after last year’s EP. This 40-ish minute album describes the slow, harrowing process of experiencing hypothermia, starvation, high-altitude sickness, and psychological terror that would occur with having an immobilizing accident on an alpine peak. This is paired with dissolving death/doom with a hollow vocal aesthetic that might appeal to fans of Cianide’s “The Dying Truth” or Infester’s “To the Depths, in Degradation”. The album ends with appropriately mournful clean leads that demonstrate the ign(eous)ominious ending to the body being slowly encased in ice as the deep freeze sets in. Enjoy your summer!

Brainspoon – Monstrous Chains [Finland, Death] (2021)

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Self Released | 2-12-2021

Ah, this one almost passed me by. If Ye Olde Metal Archives are to go by, then Brainspoon has been around for almost a full decade with two EPs and two demos to their name. “Monstrous Chains” is the second emo – three tracks demo of monstrous Finndeath with slight crossover elements. Dirty and sloppy, but in the way I’m into. And with a name like Brainspoon, you know well what to expect: hoarse vocals, Autopsy-esque production, and punky rhythms that are firmly grounded in death riffing. This is a great example of a demo with more ideas in 12 minutes than what others do in 40; the nigh-3 minute “Graveside” swaps between Sempiternal Deathreign-style death/doom elements (read: not just quarter-speed riffs!), fast as hell switch-ups, and even a couple quick solos for good measure. There’s a slight hollow production to the sound that gives an extra paunch not usually heard in this type of death metal; I like it, beat the bloated corpse. The title and closing track matches cycling solos alongside chugging-engine rhythms. So come on! Do it!

Ritual Laceration – Putrid Womb [US, Black / Death / Noise] (2021)

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Life After Death | 5-18-21

Ritual Laceration’s “I” demo was one of my favorites of 2019, so hearing that this “dual bass bestial black metal” group had another one out was an insta-sell for someone who likes to blend his death metal with noise and whey protein. And wow, this is noisy. The first demo was a strong delivery of two bass guitars where each track steadily increased to maximum controlled cacophony (not unlike the Italians in Thecodontion). “Putrid Womb” adds shards of glass to the mix with a distinct overdrive that contrasts with the previous demo’s relative cleanliness. Not that this band was ever “clean” – maybe in the sense of how a wound can be clean in the hands of a responsible scalpel-holder. In that case, the metaphor here is the rats on the cover: an infesting mix of the harshest drive where redlining is a feature, not a bug. “Putrid Womb” also features some excellent Diocletian-sounding manic solos that are barely demonstrative of normal musical ability and instead have that wonderful “ready to explode” aesthetic. And indeed it does explode – the indistinct vocals samples come in and out of the mix at the most (in)opportune time, sliding in and out of varying levels of discord. If you’re into chaos (and I have a feeling you are if you read Tape Wyrm), then grab “Putrid Womb”.

Mortuary Spawn – Spawned From the Mortuary [UK, Death] (2021)

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Chamber of Emesis | 4-23-21

UK death metal has always had a strong history and its current scene is continuing a legacy that has already been written in blood. When I first heard the name Mortuary Spawn and saw the cover art for their debut EP, I had a feeling it would be craved by a certain fan of heavy metal. This fan might be undead and with ravenous claws which make their way out of cracked coffin. If all of this sounds silly and ridiculous, wait until you are sent down a rollercoaster of riffs with the tension gripping the back of your neck. For 15 minutes, you are at the whims of revenants who mean to entertain you with bloody magic tricks which ends in one person cackling and the other sickened. Mortuary Spawn worships at the altar of old school death metal with a tribute to its looming atmospheres which rolls over cemeteries like fog. This is a sound which will be familiar for some and pleasing to many as it focuses on the parts which makes death metal so successful. If the black and white cover that looks like old Dungeons and Dragons modules is any indication, Spawned From the Mortuary is going to be a party for some but those are going to be the ones chasing others down blood splattered halls.

Human – Delicacies of Extinction [US, Death / Hardcore Punk] (2021)

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Silence Is Death | 3-5-21

“Death metal made by hardcore kids” is a bit of a pejorative nowadays, but it’s also a pretty good descriptor for a select group of bands. It’s worth mentioning that “deathcore” may technically be an accurate tag, although whether it’s responsible to call it so might be more questionable. Human is a three-piece from the sunny (yet suffocating?) land of Orlando, Florida. The demo features a great smattering of punk-infused death metal, with potential appeal for those who have enjoyed recent releases from Fuming Mouth, Anthropophagous, and perhaps even Black Breath. Note that I am excepting Swedish death-n-roll hybrids; there’s a distinct Floridian riffing here that lurks beneath the punky aesthetic. Like if Obituary decided they were really into DC hardcore. Speaking of which, hardcore punk’s socially-minded lyrical themes are a huge part, lest the sardonically-named “Brown Scare” and “White Jesus” give it away. Protest songs for the death metallers, and that intersection remains in genre melding and proceeds going to black activist organizations. “Days of Rage” and “M.Y.O.E.” have short bursts of rapid-fire chaotic solos that recall early 80s thrash metal in their fall-apart charm. This demo ends on a hard mid-tempo groove and extended drums breakdown through the title track, finishing a powerful 20 minutes of bass-heavy death metal/hardcore. Oh, it was mastered by James Plotkin? Makes sense – the chunky depth of sound is impressive!

Sepulchral Cult – Immurement, Spirits and Graveyard Chants [Poland, Death] (2021)

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Putrid Cult | 2-8-21

Yes. This is where I want to be today. I do not car how many times the riff rotten death metal with illegible logo and monochrome cover is done, I will probably listen to it. This is not to take away from the weight of Sepulchral Cult’s debut rather to put up front I will listen to this album and others like it until the end of eternity. Immurement, Spirits and Graveyard Chants is the debut from this Polish outfit which follows a 2020 demo which is surprising I missed given I was doing nothing else last year aside from listening to death metal demos. My surprise and pleasure at Immurement, Spirits and Graveyard Chants’ and its plunge into the crypt which is filled with ghouls that bear you ill will. Prepare thyself to be torn asunder.

Morgued – Demo [US, Death] (2020)

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Self Released | 11-2-20

This demo is really only a little over 7 minutes though I feel it is just long enough to make its point. Morgued is dedicated to the splatter sounds of old death metal and while that isn’t new territory for a lot of bands, this Boston based two piece comes with the trajectory of a right cross and what the band lacks in length, they make up for in ferocity. This debut demo is dedicated to the scrawled sketches of violent sci fi which aside from being adorned with clips from Starship Troopers, oozes a reverence to gritty futurism that is most likely filled with aliens.

Gorephilia – In the Eye of Nothing [Finland, Death] (2020)

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Me Saco un Ojo Records | 10-2-20

It is difficult not to get excited about this sort of thing. Death metal has been through its trails and tribulations for years with subtle niches and styles for any discerning listener. In fact, if one would like to hear a spectrum of death from the very bloody to the more abstract, they need not look far. Gorephilia, despite its name sake, resides in the middle of this spectrum with traditional death metal that is here for the sole purpose of playing riffs into the void. In the Eye of Nothing is the bands third release and despite some minor recognition at on end of year lists by internet users, the band has yet to break into the the larger public sphere. Perhaps this record, which is full of looming horror will do the trick. I am certain it has for me.

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Diabhal – M M X X [US, Death] (2020)

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Self Released | 8-1-20

All hail the bulldozer. When discussing death metal from the last few years, there is a certain strain of hip rough edge death metal that relies mostly on riffs and gross looking album covers. This is wonderful death metal but has become apart of an aesthetic that bands can easily subscribe. Diabhal eschews this tradition with a more vintage style of death metal which crushes its listener with a steamroller. Instead of an album cover with two colors and a JCard layout, M M X X appears as if it came from 1995 from a semi mainstream label. Being from NYC, I had a preconception this band was going to be older and possibly with one or two shaved heads. Much to my surprise, the group appears to be young and spry and just into covering songs by Baphomet. Let’s hang out and get crushed by heavy machinery together.