Memento Mori had a pretty packed year in 2017, releasing a considerable amount of quality death metal from all around the world. The label isn’t slowing down at all this year, as they’re putting out three albums today that are sure to catch your attention if you’re a fan of anything death metal related. One of these is the sophomore effort from Greece’s Ectoplasma, ‘Cavern of Foul Unbeings’ which comes two years after the group’s full length debut and ‘Skeletal Lifeforms EP’. Fans of murky, horror influenced death metal will want to take note as this album has some killer writing, and today we’re premiering the entire release so you can hear for yourself.
Japan’s heaven in her arms has been together for close to twelve years now, but depending on where you live you may not have come across them before. While they’ve had regular distribution in their home country and Europe, North American listeners have been limited to imports. That’s changed with this year’s full length ‘White Halo’, which following releases by Daymare Recordings, Moment of Collapse Records, and Dog Knights Productions has been given official U.S. distribution courtesy of Translation Loss Records. Whether you’ve been a fan since early on or are discovering heaven in her arms for the first time, the group’s take on older screamo, post hardcore, and metal impresses throughout.
Memento Mori’s already had a standout year with killer releases from Ruin, Soulrot, and Ekpyrosis (to name a few), but they’ve still got some more quality death metal to unleash upon listeners as we approach the end of 2017. This includes the debut full length from Greece’s Pile of Excrements, ‘Escatology’. For the type of filthy, sleazy death metal that these guys play I couldn’t think of a better band name, and while you might come in expecting third-rate death metal or low budget goregrind there’s a considerable amount of substance and hooks underneath the grime. ‘Escatology’ is the type of death metal that doesn’t take itself too seriously (as evidenced by song titles like Cult of the Unibrow and Buttfucked by Giant Cockroach) but brings plenty of killer riffs and a ton of energy to the table. With the release date of October 23rd a little under a week away, today we’re pleased to bring you a full stream of the record.
While not as well-known abroad, the 90s Spanish death metal scene had quite a few noteworthy bands that contributed their own take on the genre. Through the efforts of Xtreem Music a lot of these groups have had their earlier material re-issued and offered up new albums, sometimes a decade or two after they were last heard from. This is the case with death/thrash band Canker, who originally re-issued their 1994 debut ‘Physical’ in a compilation that included their earlier demo material. Now they’re set to release their third full length album ‘Earthquake’ on September 18th, their first all-new material since 1997’s ‘Exquisites Tenderness’. What you may not know is that this actually isn’t a brand new record from the current incarnation of Canker, but rather a previously finished and unreleased album that’s been lying dormant since 2005. But you wouldn’t know it upon first listen, and it gives listeners a window of where the band was at this point in time and where they’re likely to be headed in the future.
Tommi Grönqvist has been responsible for quite a bit of quality Finnish death metal over the years, as he spent over a decade with Slugathor before forming Desecresy with vocalist Jarno Nurmi. Desecresy has put out albums at a steady pace, and even though this has amounted to four full-lengths over the span of five years each one has explored different elements of the death metal genre. This year’s ‘The Mortal Horizon’ represents the biggest change for the band, as Jarno Nurmi left the band and now Grönqvist has stepped up to do vocals in addition to continuing to write all of the instrumentation.
Lithuanian black metal band Au-Dessus released their debut full length ‘End of Chapter’ back in May via Les Acteurs de l’ombre Productions, and it’s the type of album that is capable of leaving a lasting impression. While Lithuania doesn’t have quite as expansive of a metal scene as some other European countries, these guys could definitely put their country on the map for quite a few listeners. Rather than simply sticking with the tried and true black metal sound, Au-Dessus pushes outwards and pulls in elements of post hardcore and sludge into their dense arrangements. Sometimes the way that they layer their instrumentation is reminiscent of French acts like Celeste, as the haunting melodies and density of the music feels like it’s going to completely overwhelm you. But there are others that have build-ups similar to post metal like Mouth of the Architect, where dark melodies continue to increase in volume until they’ve reached absolutely crushing proportions. The balance between black metal’s grit and the dark emotional aspect of these other genres works perfectly, giving Au-Dessus a cinematic feel that will bring plenty of vivid imagery to mind.
Although Au-Dessus has been around since 2014, ‘End of Chapter’ might be many listener’s first exposure to this promising newcomer. To find out a bit more about what went into the album we had the chance to ask drummer Šarūnas some questions. ‘End of Chapter’ is available now on Les Acteurs de l’ombre Productions.
Poland continues to be a hotbed for some of the strongest death and black metal out there, and with labels like Pagan and Arachnophobia releasing material on a regular basis it can be hard to keep up. One release that caught my attention right towards the end of 2016 was the debut EP from UR, the six-song ‘Hail Death’. Coming in at a little under twenty minutes, UR keeps their songs on the shorter side but accomplishes a lot with each one. Rather than simply laying down fierce, unrelenting black metal like some of their country mates, this band delivers equal amounts of harsh black metal and somber melodic passages that have a doom and gothic tinge to them. It’s a strong first showing that hints at even greater things still to come, and is another example of a Polish act that already feels like they’re pushing outside of the usual genre boundaries from the very beginning.
Deceased are a staff favourite over at Transcending Obscurity. They’ve released some excellent albums over the years and have developed an unmistakable sound and identity as a death/thrash metal band. Our label division even put out an official reissue of their 1997 album ‘Fearless Undead Machines’ over HERE. With a new album slated to come out in the foreseeable future titled ‘Ghostly White’, guest interviewer Tyler Brooks talks to King Fowley about that and the band’s illustrious past.
Transcending Obscurity (Tyler Brooks): You were the first band to ever sign with Relapse records, a label that would become a powerhouse at the peak of early 90’s death metal. What were those early days like?
Deceased (King Fowley): Working with them early on was fun. We were all gung ho and ready to rock. As the label got bigger and successful they sadly lost their way and it got harder to deal with them on a business level. But those early days we will always cheer and thank Relapse for giving us a shot!
TO: You made a flyer that you promised you were going to “out-thrash Slayer” at one point in the early days. Do you feel like you achieved this?
Deceased: Yes! We are still playing 100% deceased music while Slayer to me is playing hot topic metal for a paycheck and a past glory gratification! No thanks!
TO: Many fans consider your third album, ‘Fearless Undead Machines’ to be the album that solidified the Deceased style for years to come. What is it about this album, or the circumstances surrounding its recording, that you feel make it so powerful?
Deceased: I just think it was a heavy metal record in a time when heavy metal was a bad word. We didn’t care; we just lined it up and knocked it down! The songs are very strong on it. I think a lot of metal people related to the horror tinged theme of it. It’s my third favorite Deceased record behind ‘Supernatural Addiction’ and ‘Surreal Overdose’.
TO: Everyone has a favorite Deceased album, and I believe yours is ‘Supernatural Addiction’; ‘The Weird Travel On’ happens to be mine. Do you think that says anything about yourself or the people that choose other albums?
Deceased: It’s always neat to hear why someone has favorite record, details of it etc. To each their own I always say. We all have different names for a reason~!
TO: Modern day death/thrash seems to be used as an excuse for death metal bands to play traditional death metal riffs at hyper fast speeds, but Deceased has always held the thrash side of the moniker in high regard. What is the secret to blending so may influences into a coherent product, while still retaining quality songwriting?
Deceased: Passion for the styles and influences tenfold. You gotta believe! People sadly a lot of times toss shit together to hope its unique when it comes off kitchen sink or half assed. Neither is a good thing. Deceased really does where our metal heart on our sleeve. I arrange everything and I love hooks in songs and memorable music in general. Mindless song writing is a horrible thing. Wasted music as I call it, what a shame
TO: Speaking of influences, you’ve made it pretty evident where your influences lie. It’s clear from the plethora of covers of everything from Cro-Mags and Bad Brains, to Running Wild and Voivod. Why do you feel so compelled to show reverence to so many classics when others may relegate one or two song to their influencers?
Deceased: It’s just a part of it. We take Deceased very seriously in our albums. To let up and have some fun amongst the song writing usually means a cover song tribute to a band or moment in time to us. We have lots of influences so we show it as often as we can!
TO: In 1988, tragedy struck when Rob Sterzel, then the bassist, lost his life in an accident. Many bands are incapable of continuing on from something like that. What helped you to get through dark times in your formative early years?
Deceased: It’s all we knew! Music was our lives and we had to trudge on. Rob would have demanded it. Rob’s death was awful and it floored us. But we took from negativity and made positivity out of a dire situation.
TO: Your style of melodic death/thrash pre-dates even those bands from the Swedish Sunlight Studios period. At a time when melody was probably a dirty word, what drove you towards it?
Deceased: A love for it. I know it’s a big part of my music heart. A good melody is so inspirational to me. We always had hints even at our dirtiest sounds. But it took time to grow as musicians both song writing and playing wise. When it fell into place I was thrilled!
TO: Deceased has consistently released excellent music almost yearly since 1986, whether it be through singles, EP’s, demos, or compilations. How do you keep so relevant years later without burning out?
Deceased: Again you gotta believe. You gotta want it. People that really listen or follow a band can almost always know when a band is mailing it in. We don’t rush into new records or toss out 8 new songs a year just to call it our new record. We got into writing music because it is dear to our hearts. And all these years later it still is!
TO: You’ve said in an interview that you love performing live shows. How does playing live differ from writing in the studio?
Deceased: The studio is a very serious thing at times. You have to keep your mind right. On stage you get to perform your tuned in front of a crowd there (well a good bunch of them) to hear your music. You give it your all and it’s one big thrill ride. I love to entertain and getting on a stage and going for it really makes me happy!
TO: You’ve had numerous lineup changes over the years, mostly stemming from members living all over the country. Les and Mike seem to be such constants throughout most of your timeline. What kind of relationship is necessary between the three of you?
Deceased: Understanding is the key. We are all older now and things like family, work etc come into the mix as you get older. Everyone still rocks when it’s time to do so. Mike didn’t want to play live anymore late 2000’s and we worked it out so he could continue as a studio guy while turning over his live presence to someone else. Les married a gal and moved to Texas. He is still part of the studio band and plays out live with us as often as he can. Being around since 1985 life tosses stuff at ya it’s how ya deal with it that keeps it moving forward.
TO: For ‘Rotten to the Core’, Dave “Scarface” Castillo took over behind the drum kit for live performances. Was this something you had been seeking to do for a while, or was Dave just the perfect fit?
Deceased: After playing on stage as front man in October 31 it just felt right to be upfront. I always found it constricting live to sit behind a drum set on a stool and front a show. Dave is a dear friend and fit right in.
TO: Iron Maiden, or Judas Priest?
Deceased: IRON MAIDEN WITH EASE! Judas priest should have walked away mid-80s for all the following of musical trends to stay current they did. Iron Maiden just keeps on doing their own thing!
TO: Do you have anything to tell the fans about upcoming performance, or the highly anticipated seventh full-length album, ‘Ghostly White’?
Deceased: It’s almost complete song writing wise then the will record. A lot of time and effort has gone into this one. I’m really digging the tunes. It’s very heavy metal this go round with a lot of emphasis on melody, reminds me in spots of ‘Supernatural Addiction’. We are all very pleased!
Transcending Obscurity (Tyler Brooks): Thanks King!
Deceased (King Fowley): Thank you! Stay wildddddddddddddddddd!
Polish death metal band Kingdom released their third full length ‘Sepulchral Psalms from the Abyss of Torment’ last October via Godz ov War Productions and it was one of those albums that caught my attention from the first song. Like many of you, Kingdom had flown under my radar previously despite the fact that they had been cranking out destructive and dark death metal since 2003. Coming in at a quick thirty four and a half minutes, this is one of those albums that is blistering from start to finish and leaves behind scorched earth in its wake.