Album: Deserted Fear, My Empire
Label: F.D.A. Rekotz
Release: October 1, 2012
Genre: Death Metal
Horns: 9.5/10

Lately I’ve just been skipping right over most death metal records.  The genre is just way too stale right now and there’s only so many times I can say something is “brutal” before it stops having meaning.  But the debut album from Deserted Fear breaks that stagnation like Jose Canseco broke bats over his knee.

At this stage of the game, I’m not really looking for anything new from Death Metal, just something that isn’t just pure speed and blurred riffs simply for the fuck of it. And maybe it’s because I like having some catchy chords and melody in my metal that I find My Empire so killer.  They are a trio from Germany that has been around since 2007 and while the black and white drawing on the cover usually tells me that there’s going to be crust element to the record, there is in fact, not one.  However, singer Mahne has some really killer vocals right up front in the mix. He’s got a fierce growl while at the same time, comprehensible vocals which is so rare in the genre these days.

Musically,  Fabian Hildebradt plays brings the speedy grind to the riffs while Mahne adds in the rhythm that makes the record shine. They play a mix of Scandinavian metal and old school Floridian death to make a record that should be appealing to all death metal fans alike.  A track like “The Black Incantation” shows off what this band is about, completely. It’s heavy as hell, tightly produced and has an opening riff that’s totally infectious. No matter how much melody they bring into each track the band never loses any of it’s power and ferocity, making it one of the best death metal I’ve listened to in 2012 and a candidate for my end of year top 10 for sure.

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Album: Between the Buried and Me, The Parallax II: Future Sequence
Label: Metal Blade
Release: October 9, 2012
Genre: Technical/Progressive Metal
Horns: 8/10

Listen, when I reviewed the Parallax I EP last year, I had a lot of the same feelings I do listening to the second part. I had always avoided the group because of how pretentious they came across but the three songs on the EP were actually quite good and I only got a slight bit of that pretentious vibe. However, I do admit that while it was a concept record, I didn’t get the message. I still don’t.

The Parallax II: Future Sequence is a massively long record through 12 tracks and 72 minutes that branch off into jagged riffs, crazy time changes, jazz, sitar passages, piano ballads, pop, rock, post-somethingorother, spoken word narratives and a thousand other places that must be a son-of-a-bitch to recreate live – and that they are going to do as they have vowed to play this in its entirety on tour.

Here’s the concept (paraphrased from the release since I’m not nearly smart enough to figure this out on my own):

Separated by millions of light years, Prospect I and Prospect 2 exist in ignorance of the other yet are intrinsically connected by a shared soul, which ultimately brings them together. “Both men exist in isolation, one because he runs away from the life that is his and the other when he leaves his dying planet in the hope of creating new life elsewhere, through the planting of souls,” explains vocalist Tommy Rogers. “As the story progresses you realize they are actually the same person, and at the end of the journey they’re responsible for destroying all life as they know it, reinforcing the idea that humanity is a destructive species, and that there’s some kind of innate flaw about us that causes us to destroy everything we touch.”

Rogers also goes on to state that he relates to this in his own life which is fascinating since I can’t even relate to it on paper. I have absolutely no clue how to get that from listening to the record either and that becomes the biggest flaw. A concept record that you can’t figure out the concept to without being told what it is, seems like a bit of a failure to me.  Or maybe I’m just too low brow for these guys.  Can you feel that pretentious vibe creeping back into my brain…?

However, the most interesting thing about the record is that I’ve listened to it 13 times since it showed up for me to review. The first few times were to try to get a grasp on what the hell I was listening to.  The last 9 or 10 were actually because it’s so fascinating that I can’t seem to not listen.  And that’s even despite the fact that it feels like you’ve spent an entire day listening to it by the time its over just once. Based on everything I know about my taste in music, I should absolutely hate this free flowing clusterfuck of styles with metalcore tendencies, but I don’t.  In fact, forgetting the concept part of it for a minute, musically it’s one of the most challenging records I’ve listened to in ages.  And I like a bit of a challenge at times.

Whether I like the group or not or whether I ever go back to this album again isn’t really a big deal to me. But what I have found through this duo of records is that I can at least respect the group for having what feels like absolutely no boundaries with their music at all, creating essentially whatever the fuck they feel like, whenever they want to. And while this is certainly not going to appeal to everyone, it’s technically flawless, so prog-metal fans should also at least be able to appreciate what the album brings to the table.

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Album: Daemonicus, Deadwork
Label: Abyss
Release: October 12, 2012
Genre: Death Metal
Horns: 8/10

Death metal. From Sweden. Yep, you guessed it. It’s the typical Swedish chainsaw sound that defines death metal from that land. I’m sure there are some Swedish death metal bands out there that don’t sound like Entombed and all others that came after them but there are so many that do, that anything really different seems to get lost in the shuffle.

Deadwork is the second full length record from this five-piece band and as usual for the genre, breaks no new ground. But what Swedish death metal does actually have going for it is that the talented bands blend brutality with groove and melody seamlessly to create an album that’s both a headbanger and something you can sing along to at the same time. Daemonicus seems to be one of those bands.

Their sophomore release is chocked full of amazing riffs and memorable grooves. “Embracing Her Remains” is a dark song on the surface but includes a groove that totally invigorates you, while “We Feast On Your Flesh” pounds you over the skull with pure speed. I also learned about Ubo Sathla on this disc (which I assume is a nod to the Clark Ashton Smith deity [though he spells it Ubbo] which is a headless, organless mass that oozes slime as it moves around (“The Hymn Of Ubo Sathla”).

Over the course of 43 minutes and ten tracks, the sound is 100% what you’d expect but this record is so damn catchy that it’s really tough to put down. I need a fucking pit, right now. Right. Now.

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Albums currently on the potential ten best of 2012 list:
Baroness, Yellow & Green
Christian Mistress, Possession
Denial of God, Death and the Beyond
Deserted Fear, My Empire
Goatwhore, Blood for the Master
Human Toilet, Human Toilet
Jorn, Bring Heavy Rock To the Land
Kadavar, Kadavar
Mongrels Cross, The Sins of Aquarius
OSI, Fire Make Thunder
Satanic Bloodspraying, At the Mercy of Satan
Terrorizer, Hordes of Chaos
Ufomammut, Oro: Opus Alter
Ufomammut, Oro: Opus Primum
Winterfylleth, The Threnody of Triumph
Woods of Ypres, Woods 5: Grey Skies & Electric Light

About the Author

Dave Steed

Dave Steed is all about music; 80's and metal to be exact. His iPod will shuffle from Culture Club to Slayer and he won't blink an eye. He's never heard Astral Weeks but thinks "Dazzey Duks" by Duice is the bomb. It's an odd little corner of the world he lives in.

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