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SPECIAL FEATURE: Spanish Death Metal Roundup

Extreme music today is a global phenomenon. Barring a few remote corners of the world, metal and punk styles have been taken up by bands around the world and in doing so they impart it with a certain style or aesthetic that is native to their land. Having gone through years of globalization, extreme music today can be tracked down to a particular geographic location based on it’s characteristics.

So we decided to focus our spotlights on some of the lesser known scenes from around the world, starting with Spain. People tend to associate Spain with bands like Dark Moor, Mägo de Oz and Avalanch, all of which lean towards the power / progressive end of the metal spectrum. However, Spain happens to be the home for some of the grimiest and most gnarly underground death metal bands active today. So we present to you a list of Spanish death metal bands that you shouldn’t miss out on. ~ Shrivatsan R

Avulsed (Xtreem Music)

Avulsed

Avulsed have been around for longer than what most people give them credit for. While other bands from the same time period are hailed as legends, Avulsed probably don’t get the same respect unanimously but that’s perhaps because they weren’t from Sweden or US. With that said, they’re arguably Spain’s biggest and best known death metal export, and that says a lot. What I love about Avulsed is how they’ve constantly updated their sound to remain relevant and they’ve done that without betraying their roots. As a result, their death metal has that classic vibe but their heaviness and brutality quotient is right up there with the newer bands. And Dave Rotten’s vocals remain legendary even after all these years. ~ Kunal Choksi (Editor-in-Chief)

Bokluk (Memento Mori)

bokluk

Formed recently in 2011, Bokluk is easily one of the most savage bands making music today. Comprising of members who’ve cut their teeth in various black, death and grindcore projects, Bokluk manages to bring together the songwriting skills of these musicians to create an unrelenting death metal assault. While the band make use of old school death metal tropes to materialize the above mentioned savagery, they also incorporate elements from grindcore for an added layer of brutality. The band released their debut album ‘Taphonomy’ which was 37 minutes of undiluted, grating old school death metal, that left even the hardened death metal fan out of breath. The band followed this up with an EP in 2015, titled ‘Intra-Vital Derangement’ (released in the tape format through Underground Resistance) and this saw the band expand their template to incorporate grindcore elements with much more prominence, so much so that this release came with a cover of the Napalm Death classic Suffer the Children. Bokluk is a band that takes no prisoners and their style of alternating fast, rapid buzzsaw riffs with slow, curshing passages is sure to leave fans of this style wanting more from this four piece. ~ Shrivatsan R

Come Back from the Dead (Blackseed Productions)

Come back from the dead

Come Back from the Dead is a relatively new addition in the Spanish death metal scene, despite the fact that they initially formed in 2008. The band split up a year after formation, only to reform again in 2012. Since their reformation, these guys have released a demo and a full length titled ‘The Coffin Earth’s Entrails’ in 2014. This is a band whose members have active roles in many of the other Spanish death metal and grindcore bands like Nashgul, Bokluk and (the now extinct) Machetazo. This makes Come Back from the Dead a supergroup of sorts and the sound lives up to it. Playing a primitive form of death metal that alternates between thrashy and eerily doomy, these guys manage to scratch every itch a death metal fan may have. Perhaps as a byproduct of having members from grind heavy bands in the mix, these guy tend to have a touch of d-beat punk in their gallops and overall song structures, which gives their debut record a good adrenaline boost. Another defining feature of the Come back from the Dead sound is the band’s use of borderline Gothenburg melodies and frantic solo work amidst the death metal riffage (the album itself opens with one such melody). With the debut album still holding up after two years of release, it is exciting to see what the band comes up with next. I for one, will be keeping my eyes and ears peeled for new material from this band. ~ Shrivatsan R

Oniricous (Equinox Discos)

Spanish bands have a certain grimy charm to their music and Oniricous are yet another example of the same. Although of a more thrashier nature, their music oozes filth and splatter, reminiscent of the Razorback Records bands a decade or two back. It’s partly comparable to Haemophagus too but Oniricous are more rooted in the old school sound. For fans of vibrant death/thrash music, the band’s latest release ‘La Carverna De Fuego’ is a fine recommendation. ~ Kunal Choksi (Editor-in-Chief)

Reincarnation (Xtreem Music)

Reincarnation

You probably missed out on Reincarnation’s comeback album ‘The Beginning of the End’, as it came out in December 2015 – that period where every blog is too obsessed with best of the year features to catch new releases. Formed way back in 1993, these guys released their debut full length in 1997 before disappearing for a while. After a 2006 demo we now have another album and it’s filled with old-school riffs and vocals that blur the lines between old-school death metal and brutal death metal. Rather than simply slamming away for its entirety like most modern brutal death metal, Reincarnation switches things up a lot and delivers grooves, slams, and even some surprise melodic leads that help to make the songs stand out from each other. The vocals mix the two styles as well, with lower growls alternating with a healthy dose of pig squeals and guttural ranges. Hopefully this is a reunion that lasts, as these guys have a bit more to offer than some of the other brutal death metal leaning bands out there. ~ Chris Dahlberg

Reticulate (Independent)

Reticulate

One of the best parts of putting these highlights together is combing through Metal Archives by country looking for new and unsigned bands that haven’t yet come across my radar. This time I found Reticulate, who are based out of Barcelona and released their debut demo ‘The Undead’ back in April. Despite only having been around for about two years, these guys already make a strong impression with lumbering grooves and faster blasting that grabs elements of the American and European death metal sounds and mashes them together into an intense combination. Bands like Asphyx and Cannibal Corpse definitely comes to mind (and the group cites both as influences), but the riffs are strong and don’t just live off nostalgic worship of these acts. The vocals of Jesús Pereira, particularly on the title track, have that extremely distorted, inhuman sound to them that’s so appealing in death metal and that has kept me coming back. Reticulate is already at work on their debut full length, and they’re going to be a band worth keeping track of in the years to come. ~ Chris Dahlberg

Scent of Death (Pathologically Explicit Recordings)

Scent of Death

When I first purchased a CD of Scent of Death’s second full length ‘Of Martyr’s Agony and Hate’ I had no idea what I was getting in to. Back then, the fact that it was religion bashing death metal interested me. However, this Spanish act is much more than that. The band’s style of imbibing brutal death metal with technical precision, is eclectic, unpredictable and uncompromisingly vicious. The band’s debut ‘Woven in the Book of Hate’ came out all the way back in 2005 and Scent of Death back then was much more straightforward in their approach. The riffs and the spastic shifts seemed to be inspired by the likes of Morbid Angel and Immolation, with a strong American death metal flavour that is pervasive throughout whole album. The band followed this up with the aforementioned ‘Of Martyr’s Agony and Hate’ in 2012 and to say that the band stepped up their game on this release would be an understatement. Scent of Death quadrupled the technical aspects of the debut to create a whirlwind of sharp riffs with an underlying current of sinister melody. The technical riffing never goes over the top and always maintains a sense of cohesion throughout the album. The diversity in the record and the way the band constantly shake things up, has made this album a mainstay in my regular rotation. ~ Shrivatsan R

Teitanblood (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)

Teitanblood

Though they incorporate a bit more black metal influences than some of the more traditional death metal elsewhere on this list, Teitanblood delivers some of the ugliest and most unrelenting material you’ll come across. 2014’s ‘Death’ saw them extend these ideas out further, delivering an album that was 70 minutes in length and gave listeners very little chance to breathe, pushing them ever closer to death’s door and the hellfire that awaits beyond. It’s an appropriate title, given the bleak, down-tuned riffs and chaotic nature of the guitar, bass, and drums that work in tandem to bludgeon you into submission. Even when the band slows things down the riffing is so thick that it feels like swimming through tar that still feels completely overwhelming. Add in the hellish vocals that tower over this already massive layer of sound, and you have an album that’s capable of complete destruction. ~ Chris Dahlberg

Virulency (New Standard Elite)

Virulency

Virulency are at the forefront of the current brutal death metal wave. Jaw-dropping artwork by Daemorph aside, their debut full length ‘The Anthropodermic Manuscript of Retribution’ is replete with sickness in all imaginable ways. It’s a bloody nightmare come to life and with better emphasis on the heavier parts, it could become a truly formidable beast. A LOT is happening on the album and you’d have to remain attentive to get all the complex bits. The highlight for me would be the guitars and there are a ton of great riffs buried underneath the sickness that could be likened to a cross between Cenotaph (Turkey) and Brodequin. The execution is akin to early Disgorge but the band have their own flair and that’s what makes this work. If you’re into brutal death metal, this band is highly recommended. ~ Kunal Choksi

Wormed (Season of Mist)

So you know that overused trope that in space no one can hear you scream? Wormed make the convincing argument that that’s bullshit. You can and will hear them scream all the way from fucking Arrakis. This is the soundtrack to the rapist monster Reapers from Firefly. Flesh eaten, bones blended, and corpse defiled. With arguably the most brutal vocals and fastest technical drumming and guitar riffs of the entire year, this is a band that you simply cannot miss. It’s an Event Horizon blood orgy of brutality. ~ FlightOfIcarus

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