Monday, March 28, 2016

Black Metal Banchan - Part 4 - Philippines Addition (Deiphago + Pinoy Snacks + Feng Shui)!!

For this round of the Black Metal Banchan, we're going to take a brief detour to Southeast Asia, wherein floats a collection of islands renowned for their relaxing beaches, beautiful women, and, of course, extremely violent political scene.   Yep, you guessed it!!  The Philippines!

First, we're going to explore the delightful music of a fun Filipino black metal band by the name of Deiphago.   If I'm not mistaken, Deiphago are one of those super brutal "bestial black/death war metal" bands similar to Black Witchery, Blasphemy, etc.   You can usually tell it's one of these bands NOT by the excessive amount of bullets-and-spikes adornments, but rather by the fact that they almost always rock the style of corpsepaint WITHOUT the white.   You don't see Beherit, Blasphemy, or Proclamation running around on stage with any of that white clown paint nonsense on.   Nope, only the black paint (except for Caller of the Storms from Blasphemy, who doesn't wear any at all because because either he's too cool for it and just wears sunglasses, is already black anyway, or maybe all of the above).   Even Archgoat and Black Witchery go without it sometimes!

Just a typical Tuesday night for the ol' Deiphago gang!!
It looks like Deiphago formed in the late 1980s and went under several generic "evil" names before finally settling on Deiphago (or "god-eater", if I'm not mistaken) in 1991.   Anyway, these dudes put out a few (including one accidentally amusing) cassette demos before calling it quits in 1998, and for most bands the story would have just ended there.   However, the band was far from over.   Apparently, Sidapa and Voltaire 666 (the brains behind the operation) relocated to Costa Rica for whatever reason in 2004 and started up the band again!   They decided to not fuck around with cassette demos this time, and immediately started releasing professional material (splits and an LP) before being picked up by Hells Headbangers and thus ascending to trvly kvlt status.  


  Probably wouldn't be my first choice if I had to
pick a creature from the 1st edition Monster Manual to inform the listener
that this music is pure sonic annihilation.  Just look
at that puny fucking knife.  I feel like you'd only get like 100 XP for
slaying one of these things.
Deiphago are frantic, brutal, sloppy, and absolutely do not fuck around with their obliterating wall of Satan-obsessed, blasphemic noise.   However, while Satanik Eon (2006) is pretty crazy, I think their Hells Headbangers debut, Filipino Antichrist (2009), ups the ante in terms of sheer insanity, in no small thanks to Devastator's (from Nicaragua, and of extremely questionable political beliefs) insane, machine gun-like drum torture.   The band just never fucking lets up!  Endless blasts, frantic guitar solos (like something Trey Azagthoth would come up with on PCP), and Voltaire 666's lunatic shouting make this is seriously some of the most intense shit I've ever heard in my life, especially since I'm pretty sure these guys are serious about what they're into.  I don't really know how to review this stuff so far because it's just so ludicrous.   Even the Sarcófago cover, while faithfully executed, is definitely superior (especially since it features real, sloppy-ass warpspeed drums as opposed to the programmed crapola on the original).   Seriously, call me a wimp, but by the end of this album I feel like my brain has been completely fucking fried.   Definitely not recommended listening to these albums back to back if you value your sanity.

The lyrics to the title track pretty much sums it all up:

"From islands of the Southeast
I was born with warrior's blood
A descendant of Detinos
I bring vengeance, chaos and death
Bagobos guide my path
As I go into war
Filipino Antichrist, 2009 vinyl re-release album art.
Now this is more like it!!  Still kind of a shitty knife (sword?) though :(
I am a Filipino Antichrist
To Satan I gave my life
Worship Him with fire and blood
I trample down the heavens
Worship Him with swords and guns
I am warrior in Satan's name
From a a place where the sun dawns
And pours blood of my forefathers
I walk the earth with might and pride
Ready to conquer full of hate
The law of the strong within me
I smite all of Christianity

I am Filipino!
I am Antichrist!"


  

Not content to chill for too long, the band re-recorded and re-arranged their 1993 demo, giving it finally a proper release as an EP early in 2011 before releasing a split (comprised of Discharge and The Exploited covers) with Nuclearhammer later that year.  After this, the band decided to unleash another blitzkrieg of brutality with Satan Alpha Omega (2012).   This time around I must admit the cover art is way better, as they got the immensely-talented Benjamin A. Vierling to do some really whacked-out, Satanic/occult medieval grimoire type stuff.   This time around, these dudes are for real, right?  Is this Deiphago's magnum opus?

Huge improvement over the last album cover.  This
is actually really cool!      
At this point, while from a songwriting perspective there really hasn't been much of an evolution, it's clear that this album does at least have slightly better production standards.  Also, they picked up a new drummer too!  Devastator's out, and is replaced by a mysterious Costa Rican dude by the name of Savnok.   I have no idea where he got this name from (unless it's his real name ha), but a quick Google search brought me to this page.  At this point, I don't know about you guys, but I'm starting to get a really strong nerd vibe from these guys.   Just watch the fairly awkward interview below... it seems like behind the extremely evil and violent music and imagery, they probably play their fair share of Magic: the Gathering.



Anyway, like I said before, this is album is basically just a newer, improved version of Filipino Antichrist.   Same old story- artillery drums, chaotic warped guitars (to the point where it seems like improv at times), barely audible distorted bass, frantic shouts and screams...obviously, being a band for over 20 years at this point has only made the band more extreme.   If you want, you can actually listen to the entire album for free here.

Which leaves us with the band's latest album, Into the Eye of Satan (2015).   This time around, the dudes have enlisted super-producer/string virtuoso Colin Marston (of Behold the Arctopus, Dysrhythmia, Gorguts, Krallice, and probably a bunch of other stuff) to try and tame the chaos into something that is at-least somewhat half-way listenable.   However, that's not to say that this is more "melodic" or any less crazy than their previous albums, as the typical Deiphago insanity we have grown to love is still there, except it's just a bit easier to tell what's going on due to a much improved mix (I still have no idea what the fuck the bassist is doing though).  While it's true that some of the songs have some slower parts occasionally, we've still got the bizarre solos, the sloppy, blasting drums, the demon-possessed vokillz, etc.   However, the songwriting seems to be a bit more varied, experimental, and, well...psychedelic!  Seriously, it almost has this sort of strange, otherworldly vibe to it...it kind of reminds me of that title of that one Ween song, "Mushroom Festival in Hell".   Maybe Colin Marston got these dudes to finally chill out (at least for a little while) and smoke some weed.   I can see it now- "No, seriously, it will totally help your songwriting!"   If you were on some heavy duty hallucinogens in Hell, this would probably be an appropriate musical expression of that experience.   Bestial black/death war metal gone psychedelic?
Cover art for Into the Eye of Satan.   Pretty cool,
but I can't help but wonder if they intentionally
wanted the "eye of Satan" to resemble a butthole.
I feel like this is what Satan's asshole looks like
after eating a giant bowl of ghost pepper chili.  

Anyway, I guess it's important to mention that Deiphago have come under some controversy recently because allegedly the guitarist, Sidapa, assaulted a woman at one of their shows sometime last year.   I have absolutely no idea want went down exactly, nor do I want to get into that for this post, so while I think it's worth pointing out that this band may be at the very least kind of sketchy, for now I'm just going to focusing on the music.   After all, this post is about FILIPINO METAL, SNACKS, AND HORROR MOVIES, so I don't want to get bogged down with speculation about other shit.

Phew!  Well, after all that, I'll bet you're just dying to find out more about Deiphago!  Don't worry buddy, I've got you covered.   Check out the links below:
Follow Deiphago on Facebook so you can "like" things they have to say:  https://www.facebook.com/666division
Enjoy browsing Deiphago's wacky websitehttp://deiphago.webs.com/
Check out Deiphago's page on Hells Headbangers' website:  http://deiphago.hellsheadbangers.com/



SNACKS
Aw shit!!  Now it's time for the part of the banchan that's everyone's favorite!!  It's snack time!!  For this installment, Gumiho and I were joined by two mysterious entities, the ones known only as Über Officer and Gwishin, who dared to travel with us on our mayhemic journey to the land that unleashed Deiphago upon the world.    However, while the scenery was excruciatingly beautiful and the beaches torturously relaxing, we did find some time to see what was going on with the Filipino Snack Scene (FSS).   Check it out:

Ni Mang Juan (chik'n skin)


I have no idea what's going on in this commercial.

GUMIHO: (spits it out and makes a face).
ÜBER OFFICER:  What's the name of this again?
WULF:  Chik'n-skin.
ÜBER OFFICER:  Yeah, I definitely tasted a lot of SKIN, but not so much chicken.
WULF:  Ooo, scathing.  But chicken skin is good!
ÜBER OFFICER: Yeah, it doesn't taste anything like chicken, just skin.
WULF:  Like human skin?
Ni Mang Juan's Chik'n Skin...too extreme?
ÜBER OFFICER:  Just skin.
WULF:  I like chicken skin! Gwishin, what do you think?
GWISHIN: I just spit it out.
WULF:  Same reaction as Gumiho?
GWISHIN:  It's just salty...
WULF:  Hold on, I'm going to try a little bit more (grabs a handful).
ÜBER OFFICER:  The texture's not bad.
GWISHIN:  It doesn't really have any...texture.
WULF:  I actually think this is really good.  I really like it.
GUMIHO:  Really?
WULF:  Yeah, it tastes like-
UBER OFFICER: Skin.
WULF:  Yeah.  It tastes like roast chicken skin, but...(continues eating)
GUMIHO:  Oh my god, you're going to (finish the whole thing)...!
GWISHIN:  You're going to have diarrhea.
WULF:  I think this is really good.  I don't know how healthy it is, but I would actually eat it all the time.   OK, now, rate it out of 10!  Uber Officer?
ÜBER OFFICER:  So on a scale of 1 to 10...maybe, like, a 2?
GWISHIN:   I'm not going to eat it, so I'll give it a 0.
GUMIHO:  Um...0.
WULF:  I think this is good as fuck.   I'm going to give it an 8.5!

AVERAGE RATING:  2.625

Funky French Fry Snax (sweet cheddar)



WULF:  It tells us that it contains "real potato".
GUMIHO:  It's OK... better than (the Ni Mang Juan Chik'n Skin).
WULF:  What does it taste like?
GUMIHO:  Potato and cheese.
ÜBER OFFICER:  I don't know, I'm not getting any "funky" flavor, but it tastes much better than the Chik'n Skin.  It's got the crunchy texture, but it's "airy", so I like the "airy" taste...
WULF:  Kind of like Postick.
ÜBER OFFICER:  Yeah.  Post-dick?  I've never had any post-dick.
WULF:  Oh my God... real mature.
GUMIHO:  But Postick is better, I think.
GWISHIN:  I like the sweet cheddar flavor, but it's too salty.
ÜBER OFFICER:  No, that's the ocean water.  :p
WULF:  OK, I actually don't like it very much.
GWISHIN:  He's (just) going against us!
WULF:  No!  I'm really not trying to!  I'm not trying to be a hipster.  I (just) don't like that powdery taste.
ÜBER OFFICER:  The powder tastes like that mac and cheese mix.
WULF:  Yeah, that's true (everyone else agrees).  But I like (mac and cheese powder) when it's mixed with milk or whatever, I don't like it by itself.
ÜBER OFFICER:  That's why I like it.  It reminds me of mac and cheese.
WULF:  Oh, so you like that?  So it's a big hit!  What do you rate it?
ÜBER OFFICER:   Maybe like a...9?  8.5 or a 9.
GWISHIN:  Wow, that's great!  I'll give (it)... 3.  I don't really (like it), I'm not going to buy it.  It's much better than Chik'n Skin though.
GUMIHO:  5.  Not that good.
WULF:  Yeah, I'm going to give it a 4.
GUMIHO:  I don't like the powder.
WULF:  I don't like that either.  So a 3 or 4 for me.
GUMIHO:  I like powder, but this powder is-
WULF: It's like Postick, but but if you added like uh...some kind of like, sugar, to the macaroni mix-
GWISHIN:  Yeah, it's way sweeter.

AVERAGE RATING:  4.75

Mini Chocolate Pretzels



WULF: OK, so it's got (questionably) racist Native American stereotypes on the cover (of the bag).  Let's try it!  ....So it's pretzels dipped in chocolate, kind of like,,,Flipz?  (Uber Officer), you know Flipz?  Anybody?  (silence) ...You know, the pretzels covered in chocolate??  Flipz!  Back home?!
ÜBER OFFICER:  At home I call them "chocolate-covered pretzels".  (laughs all around)
ÜBER OFFICER:  (finishing the snack) It's like Pocky or Pepero, but the chocolate's better.
GWISHIN:  It has a better flavor.

GUMIHO:  It's good.  Um...what can I say?  (It tastes like) Nutella and a snack...
WULF:  So (it just tastes like) chocolate?  Nutella?
GUMIHO:  Hmm...just chocolate.  Right.
ÜBER OFFICER:  I'm kind of mixing the cheese powder with the chocolate-
GWISHIN:  Sounds disgusting.
WULF:  Whoa!  OK, could be a secret combination (Uber Officer) has discovered.
GUMIHO:  I'll give it...8.
GWISHIN:  This is like...sweet plus salty.
WULF:  I really like that combo.
GWISHIN:  I love that combo.
WULF:  But it's gotta be done in the right way, though.  Like, the other snack wasn't that good, but-
GWISHIN:  But this is good!
WULF:  I really like that style too.
ÜBER OFFICER:  But (this) is more of a dessert.  You have to be in the mood for (this snack), right?
WULF:  ...Yeah, I think this is really tasty, but I think the only problem is that it does not have a strong aftertaste.  It kind of hits you with the one-two punch and then there's not that much that really lingers after.  It just kind of makes you want to eat more.  Which is not really a big deal, but when you're out (of the snack) you're kind of sad.  ...but yeah, this is a solid snack!  I'm going to give it an 8.  Highly recommended.
ÜBER OFFICER:  I'll give it an 8 also.
GWISHIN:  8.
GUMIHO:  8.

AVERAGE RATING:  8

Whattatops



WULF:  Is there only one in there?
GUMIHO:  Yes...
WULF:  I think you're supposed to bite into it, because there's chocolate in the middle.  Let me try.
GWISHIN:  Is it good?
ÜBER OFFICER:  It's not bad.
WULF:  This is kind of like choco pie.
GUMIHO:  Mmm.  Ah!  Choco pie!
ÜBER OFFICER:  Choco pie's better.
GUMIHO:  Ah yeah, right.  But (they) taste (similar).
WULF:  I think we're (all) missing a crucial component, which is that middle part...you're not supposed to eat it like (how we're eating it now, which is divided up between 4 people).
GUMIHO:  (It's) pretty good.
WULF:  The middle part's the weakest part, actually.
It looks pretty good, but yeah...it was kind of shitty :(
ÜBER OFFICER:  Yeah, I didn't like the texture.  It's kind of (inaudible).
WULF:  Yeah, it started off strong but... (it's) kind of a disappointment.   ...This is kind of a basic...what's it called?   Little Debbie's?
ÜBER OFFICER:  Yeah, it's like a Little Debbie's.   But Little Debbie's tastes a little better.
WULF:  It's kind of like a Little Debbie's cheap dessert snack kind of thing...(a) chocolate muffin with sprinkles on top...with a weird chocolate middle spongy...
GWISHIN:  It's like salty and sweet mixed (with) salsa, but...it's not good.  Wow!  It's horrible!
ÜBER OFFICER:  I didn't like it.  If you want a dessert, it doesn't really satisfy you.  I give it about...a 3...3-plus.
WULF:  3.5?
ÜBER OFFICER:  3.5 I guess.
GWISHIN:  1.   Horrible.
GUMIHO:  Mmm...8!
WULF:  Whoa, Gumiho's the hipster!
GUMIHO:  Yeah, I like it!
WULF:  I am going to give it a 4...it started off strong, but that middle part I didn't really like that much.  So, yeah...too bad.  Sorry!

AVERAGE RATING:  4.125

Pee Wee (spicy chili)



GWISHIN:  Oh, spicy!
ÜBER OFFICER:  Are these pork rinds?  Oh, I like the spice!
WULF:  OK, hold on!  (starts eating)  Thoughts?  (Über Officer), go!
ÜBER OFFICER:  I like the spice, (but) the texture is not as good as the (Funky French Fry Snax), so... it's a mixture of "it tastes good" with-
WULF:  Does the stink come from vinegar, you think?
GWISHIN:  Yeah.
ÜBER OFFICER:  Yeah.  The taste isn't horrible, but I wouldn't eat it (normally).  The experience is not pleasant.  
GWISHIN:  I don't think this is a snack.  It's more like banchan.  You have to eat it with rice.
WULF:  Yeah...you think it would go well with rice?
GWISHIN:  It's...too strong (of a) flavor.
WULF:  Yeah...yeah.  OK.  Gumiho, what do you think?
GUMIHO:  I like this one.   I wish it was less salty, though.  
WULF:  Too salty?
GWISHIN:  You could eat it with rice.
WULF:  I think this is the best snack so far.
Bonus points for the cool Super Mario rip-off mascot.  I guess
that's supposed to be Pee Wee maybe?
GUMIHO:  Me too.
WULF:  It's absolutely delicious.  
ÜBER OFFICER:  The flavor is good, yeah.
WULF:  I like the really strong taste.  It's fairly spicy, it's got a kick.  
GUMIHO:  It's not that spicy.
WULF:  Well it's not THAT spicy, but it's spicy enough.
GUMIHO:  Not for me.
WULF:  OK, Gumiho is trying to be metal.  (in a grim black metal voice) IT'S NOT SPICY ENOUGH FOR ME.  It's got kind of a vinegary, spicy, little bit salty taste.  It's like shrimp cracker kind of thing.   According to the package-
GWISHIN:  It's shrimp?
WULF:  According to the package it's...cassava starch, whatever the hell that is... coconut oil, sugar, iodized salt, MSG-
GUMIHO:  MSG!!
WULF:  Cassava starch...hold on.   Ah, wheat flour, it's just wheat (I think this is wrong).
ÜBER OFFICER:  (probably getting really bored at this point)...Are we still recording?
WULF:  Yeah.  I think this is a killer snack.  I think it's awesome.  Gwishin, what do you give it?
GWISHIN:  5.  
ÜBER OFFICER:  I'd give it about a...what was the (inaudible)? 
GUMIHO:  Potato?
ÜBER OFFICER:  I'd give it about an 8.5.
WULF:  Wow, you really liked it!
ÜBER OFFICER:  The flavor is good.  But, you know...
GWISHIN:  Too strong.
ÜBER OFFICER:  No...just...the smell?  You know, you have to make a choice.  You're either going to eat that snack, or you're going to be able to talk to that girl at the party.
WULF:  (laughs) Haha yeah, those are tough life choices we face on a daily basis, as humans.
ÜBER OFFICER:  You've got to make a decision.  You're going to eat this stinky snack, or you're going to talk to the girl.
WULF:  I'd take the snack.  (Gumiho)?
GUMIHO:  8.5.
WULF:  8.5?  You really liked it!  I'm going to give a 9.  I think it's killer.  Anyway, in the meantime, I'm going to finish (this) one, then I'm going to finish the rest of the chicken crackling.
GUMIHO:  That's gross.


AVERAGE RATING:  7.75

Breadstix (cheese)





WULF: OK, so we're at the airport now and Gumiho and I are eating Breadstix Cheese by Nissin (however, I was mistaken, as this snack is actually made by Monde Nissin, a Filipino-based company not affiliated with the Nissin Foods corporation from Japan, but it still says Nissin on the package so I guess that's why I was confused).  It says at the bottom, "new look, same yummy taste!"  So, anyway, we're eating them.  (Gumiho), what do you think?
GUMIHO:  Um...it tastes really good, and I think it's for kids.  (It has a) rich cheese taste. which I really like.  
WULF:  (Uber Officer), what do you think?
ÜBER OFFICER:  I like the crunchy texture, like a breadstick, and the mild, cheesy flavor.  
WULF:  Yeah, you know, that's good.  That's very interesting that you said "breadstick", because I was kind of looking for a word...
ÜBER OFFICER:  It's called "breadstix" though. (laughs)
WULF:  Shit.  You got me.  OK, well anyway, I like that it tastes like a breadstick, but it's not overpowered by the cheese.  It's not too strong.  It's not like a Cheez-It.  At first you bite into it, and it's kind of a "bread-y" taste, almost kind of like a wafer-kind of a taste, or like an animal cracker, kind of chalky taste, but inside is a very subtle cheese taste that's really nice.  Not too strong, not too salty.  It's a delicious snack.  
GWISHIN:  I like it.  It's very soft, like, buttery...it says "cheese" on the cover, but I can't really taste cheese.  
WULF:  Well, I think the cheese taste is there but you can't taste it at first.  It's a subtle cheese aftertaste.  
Kind of a boring presentation, but really tasty!!
GWISHIN:  I can taste more butter than cheese. 
WULF:  Yeah, I think you're right.  Maybe more butter than cheese.  
GWISHIN:  But they should change the name from "breadstix" to "butter".  
WULF:  To just "butter"?  Not even "breadstix"?
GWISHIN:  No, "Breadstix Butter"!
WULF:  "Breadstix Butter".
GWISHIN:  Not "Breadstix Cheese".
WULF:  Yeah, that would maybe be better.  Or would it be "butter"?  (blahhhh)  OK, any final thoughts, (Gumiho)?  What do you give it out of 10?
GUMIHO:  Mmm...they have some iron here.
GWISHIN:  Iron! (laughs)
WULF:  That's good to know.  In case you're iron-deficient, look for Breadstix Cheese.
GUMIHO:  It contains some protein here.
WULF:  You don't have to read the ingredients list!  Out of 10, what do you give it?
GWISHIN:  I really liked it.
GUMIHO:  9?
WULF:  Wow!
GUMIHO:  9.5!
WULF:  Hoooooly shit!
GWISHIN:  A 9.
ÜBER OFFICER:  I thought it was pretty good.  Maybe like a 9, yeah.
WULF:  OK, a 9 is like "knock your socks off!"  "Pretty good" is like a 7.
ÜBER OFFICER:  Yeah, it's a pretty good 9.
WULF:  Well, I'm just going to say...Uber Officer is only being like that because he's sick.
GWISHIN:  No, this is the best Filipino snack ever.
ÜBER OFFICER:  It is good, yeah.
WULF:  Is it better than Chik'n Skin?
GWISHIN:  I hated that.
UBER OFFICER:  Oh, yeah!
WULF:  Is it better than-
ÜBER OFFICER:  It's better than all the ones we've tried so far.
WULF:  Is it better than Pee Wee's Chili?!
UBER OFFICER:  Yeah.
WULF:  OK, well anyway, I'm going to give this snack an 8.5, I think it's very good.  I think a slight improvement would be breadsticks, cheese, and jalapeno.  I think that would be really good.
GUMIHO:  Nooooo.
WULF:  Well, you guys are idiots.  Or it would be "Breadstix Spicy Nachos", I think that would be really good, too.  It needs a little bit of a kick, I think, to it.
ÜBER OFFICER:  It's pretty addicting.
WULF:  (Gumiho and Gwishin think this is a bad idea)  Well, it would be nice to have the option.  Maybe we should write them and tell them that they should make a "Breadstix Spicy Nacho Cheese" option.   Anything else?
GUMIHO:  Try it in the Philippines!

AVERAGE RATING: 9

MOVIE: FENG SHUI



While this isn't an amazing movie, it's kind of interesting from a cultural perspective.   I have no idea if this is actually an accurate representation of the average Filipino when it comes to superstitions, but I've noticed that throughout this movie there is a lot of talk about luck, demons, Christian and "Eastern" mysticism, cursed objects, etc., but with very little in the way of skepticism or anyone questioning the supernatural events that transpire throughout the film.   I'm also not sure if this was intentional on the part of the filmmakers themselves, and even though I may have happened to be in the Philippines recently, I'm definitely not an expert on the Pinoy cultural attitudes about this type of stuff.

No, this is not a lost Alejandro Jodorowsky
masterpiece.   
Anyway, the story is about an affluent family that lives in the suburbs and the mom (Kris Aquino, by far the best of the main actors in this film) ends up getting ahold of a bagua mirror.   While she initially experiences a bunch of good luck, a bad shit starts happening to her and the people around her.   In addition, weird supernatural wackiness starts happening like ghosts/zombies popping up out of nowhere, people start dying in ways that relate to their Chinese zodiac sign, you get the picture.   There's also a bunch of family drama about infidelity, the awkward position of having to choose between your mistress and your family, etc...basically, the kind of crapola you have to deal with on a daily basis if you're living in Manila.

Anyway, the highlight of the movie for me I'd say is actually at near the end of the movie, which involves a woman getting blasted with a shotgun.  Now, I know that sounds horrible for me to say, and the scene I'm assuming is supposed to be shocking and violent, but...the problem is that when the woman is shot, she literally flies back like 20 feet in the air, which caused me to burst out laughing and re-watch about 27 times.  It only made it worse when it happened again, but this time to a man, and he flies absurdly in the air as well which unfortunately reduces the "harrowing" atmosphere it seems like they're going for in this scene.

According to this source (the final
authority on anything having to do
with ancient Chinese astrology, if you
ask me), if I was a character in this movie
the image above would be the last thing
I would ever see (born in '86)!!
I'd also like to mention that parts of soundtrack for whatever reason kind of remind me of a cross between "The Return" (off of Ancient Rites' Dim Carcosa (2001), one of the first metal albums I ever ordered and metal bands I got into!) and the OST to The Room (2003).   Some parts wouldn't even make bad dungeon synth if they were reworked a bit!

So in closing...would I recommend this movie?  Not really, although it isn't a bad film!  It's got a few "scary" moments and some unusual twists and story developments, but it's not exactly essential viewing.   All in all, I'd say if you got together some friends to watch this film along with some Pinoy snacks (see above) and a bunch of Red Horse (San Miguel is for posers), I'd say you're in a fun time!   I hear there's a sequel too, but I can't vouch for its quality.   I would have watched it and reviewed it for this entry, but at this point I feel like this is long enough and I was just ready to get it over with.

Till next time!!

Do you want MORE Black Metal Banchan??  Check out our previous entries in the series below:
- Part 1
- Part 2
- Part 3

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Malicious Intent Podcast

If you can't listen to us on the radio or miss our live stream because of wacky time zones, then we have great news. Malicious Intent will now be a podcast! We will update it each week with the previous week's show. The show from 02/21 is now up and ready for your listening pleasure!

Listen here

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Of Woven Dirt and Luster: CJ's Top Metal Albums of 2015


Every year, I make a fairly concerted effort to compile my list of favorite releases in a way that makes the listening experience dynamic. Overall, many of the releases that make my lists are those that command both melody and quirkiness, grimy dissonance and luster. I enjoy so many different genres that my selections even surprise me, at times. Normally I do have some non-metal releases mixed in, which you can see on my RYM profile. Here, however, I will only focus on the metalest of all the metal!

This is my final list with placements that were decided by originality and overall musical contribution to their respective genres. I quickly cut bands and artists out who I felt were not attempting to introduce new nuances to their sound in an effective or interesting way, so this list wasn't just a typical array of albums I appreciated, but a culminating experience that caused me to revisit records multiple times over. I hope you find it interesting!



Honorable Mentions


Advent Sorrow - As All Light Leaves Her
Vehemence - Forward Without Motion

Leprous - The Congregation
Ghost Bath - Moonlover
Coffincraft - In Eerie Slumber
Cult Leader - Lightless Walk
Horrendous - Anareta
Abhorrent Decimation - Miasmic Mutation
Vola - Inmazes
Panopticon - Autumn Eternal
Wrvth - Wrvth

Top 10


10. Swallow the Sun - Songs From the North I, II, & III

If I could have broken this release up per album, I would have, because Despair (part III) is pretty much a 5/5 for me. It's absolutely soul-crushing and some of the best material this band has put out to date. Gloom and Beauty are also very strong, but they're very separate in my mind and are consequently the reason why this barely makes my top ten. I was really worried that these guys wouldn't be able to break into new interpretations of their music after their 2012 record, but they proved me wrong with their ambition and vast creative genius on this collection of materials. I will never complain about waiting three years for an StS record ever again.


9. Kardashev - Peripety

Kardashev return with a contemplative, melodic and brutal piece of progressive deathcore. I really love these guys because of their insistence on keeping the genre of deathcore more intelligent than many of their cohorts have tried to do. With heavy influence from bands like Fallujah and Aegaeon (who are also part this more intelligent interpretation of the genre), it's hard to argue with the formula, here. It's only successful, however, because they are able to reimagine it without faltering or forcing the music into uncomfortable boundaries. If you're a fan of deathcore and you don't like this, it's probably because you like things more straight forward and that's okay, but this band has a chance to open the door for a genre which is incredibly reliant on generic guitar tones, compositions and monotonal vocals. I hope more bands and listeners start offering this band the respect they deserve.


8. Chapel of Disease - The Mysterious Ways of Repetitive Art

What's important about this release is its manifestation of death doom as a trophy of musical wanderlust. You're going to be scarce in finding something that blends more genres, yet maintains a palpable devotion to its respective sound. This could be the first in a necessary development for death doom metal surfacing beyond 2010. It takes what's really successful in the newer, cavernous death metal movement and embraces other important influences that harken back to why a band like Candlemass was so innovative. The key here is that Chapel of Disease have found a sound entirely their own and have crafted an incredibly complete work, here.


7. Underling - Bloodworship

I'm really blown away by the amalgamation of genres, here. Punk, black metal, sludge, shoegaze - you name it. At first, I wasn't sure that I liked this as much what they did with their EP, 'Breathe Deeply', but of course this list is about rewarding bands who choose to innovate their sound and Underling came out swinging in that respect. The more I listened to this, the more I gained an appreciation for what it must be like to break away from a sound and to continue developing it all at the same time. We still hear aspects of Underling on this debut release that were very apparent and successful on their EP, but we also hear so many new things on this record that are initially difficult to digest. Given a chance, I think these guys will take this style of nuanced and hackneyed black metal into new territories that bands like Deafheaven refuse to explore.


6. Tribulation - The Children of the Night

Did Blue Oyster Cult decide to write a new record? Of course, Tribulation bring their very unique sound to the table, here. That's what makes it so good for me - it's somewhat nostalgic yet altogether a very original piece of work. Judge Dredd and I actually wrestled with this one for a while because at times it's hard to tell whether or not this band is prepared to follow the path of Ghost in the way that they are simply attempting to emulate music that's been around for decades. In the end, there's a quality to Tribulation's take on that whole affair that makes it undeniable - completely its own untamed beast. The fact that this album is decidedly more gothic than black, more progressive than gritty, is strange and fascinating because it still conveys those sensibilities overwhelmingly. Indeed, those Strange Gateways Beckon.


5. Mesarthim - Isolate

Ethereal, cosmic, atmospheric and beautifully composed throughout. Space-themed black metal is far from new and it's become part of the new array of themes that are being beaten to death in metal music, but it's certainly a testament towards to the times we live in. It's even somewhat admirable that we have now begun to reconcile this vast body we have, as living beings, been thrust into through one of the most abrasive and vehement forms of music available. Somehow, in that contrast, a project like Mesarthim ultimately commands the beauty and haunting, cold darkness of space without abandoning that vehemence. At times dark wave, at times the blackest of black metal and, oddly, at times cheesy 80s synth-fest. Somehow this is a near perfect formula for me, and while 'Isolate' fell off a little bit for me at the end of the year, I was ultimately enthralled by this odd black metal concoction.


4. Archivist - Archivist

Just slightly overlong, but commanding and beautiful nonetheless. A few people on RYM started praising this record amidst the undeserved fervor (just my opinion!) surrounding Deafheaven's 'New Bermuda' and I had to check it out. With little resistance, this band found their way into my top five and never really left. As the year continued on, I kept listening and was thrust into an oblivious sort of stupor each time. I can't even work when this album is on anymore because all I want to do is focus on every aspect of it, which is a good problem to have. This is heavily sludge influence black metal and all the post-whatever tendencies you could ask for, but they've got a special approach to that style that makes me forget about many other bands who are doing the same. It's unfortunate that such an interesting combination of genres has been beaten so far into the ground by now, but that doesn't mean that the bands who are doing it right don't deserve credit. They deserve a lot of credit. This stuff is absolutely arresting and full of brilliant musicianship at every turn. Turn the volume up, bring the lights down low and make yourself at home. This debut release is as strong as they come.


3. Ad Nauseam - Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est

This was my first perfect score of the year for good reason. Ad Nauseam remind us that Gorguts are really good at what they do, but are not the only prevailing masters of dissonance and disarray. Of course, a group like this probably doesn't exist without their predecessors in Gorguts or Deathspell Omega, but when a band takes a sound so alien and erratic and ups the ante for just how absurd it can become you kind of have to stop and appreciate it. If this album were only fulfilling that quality, it would still rank highly, but here's why it's a perfect album for me: there is a spontaneous and unpredictable quality to this album that is somehow held together entirely by...cohesion. Yes, that's right. This album's real success is born from a formula that is, indeed, difficult to discern, yet somehow so commanding and unnerving. Listen to a song like La Maison Diev. You can hear every calculated moment in a sheer perfection of chaos. If not for musicians like this, metal would get boring really quickly, and even with their clear influences I can confidently say I've never heard anything quite like this before.


2. Mgła - Exercises in Futility 

I don't think I have to justify this selection very much, because I know many of you agree with me on just how great this release is. There's a level of hypnotism on this record that I feel commands its overall comprehension. Most of the soundscapes have a familiar appeal, but their meandering qualities draw the listener in just before the journey's end. At that precise moment, the next movement begins in an eruption of surprisingly repetitive, yet entrancing resolution. This album does it multiple times, in fact. You're listening, listening, listening...and all at once you are utterly thrust into haunting, suspended, even catchy riffs and vocal patterns. Many times I found myself wondering how the release could feel so complete and masterful - a sound unto itself and a precedent for all black metal acts yet to come.


1. Akhlys - The Dreaming I

Sinister beyond description, calculated with directives that make you squirm. This is caustic and unnerving black metal where darkness and morbid sensibilities reign supreme. Akhlys delivers my best album and musical experience of the year. Nothing compared to this in its abject delivery of disgusting and unsettling musical exploration. The pure energy of the record is enough to command insanity, but there is such a surprising and ultimately incomparable sense of melody on this release that is somehow born both of dissonance and luster. Without hesitation, The Dreaming I will make you question every other evaluation of music you've made this year. Only an album of this nature can make you question whether or not you loathe or adore it, and in my case, it was surely the latter.

Thanks very much for giving this a read! Don't forget that Judge Dredd and myself will be hosting the show on KJHK from 9 pm - midnight every Sunday.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Black Metal Banchan - Part 3: Tr00 Korean Black Metal & Snacks (Kalpa + Random Korean Snack Classics + Bedevilled)

The Black Metal Banchan continues!   If you're new to the series or this blog and want to catch up on the older posts for the BMB:
You can read part 1 here.
You can read part 2 here.


Now THAT is a fucking sword!!!

It's impossible to talk about tr00 Korean black metal without getting into Kalpa.   Although this kind of thing is pretty difficult to actually prove, I'm almost positive that anyone who knows anything about Korean metal would say that the mysterious homegrown black metal horde Kalpa was the first to have sown mayhemic darkness upon The Hermit Kingdom.   Sure, there were other bands around the same time doing a similar thing, such as Sad Legend, Oathean, (see our previous posts about them in this series) and Moonshine, but both of those bands were kind of doing a more keyboard-y melodic black metal thing.   Kalpa formed in the same year as Moonshine and Oathean (1996), a year before Sad Legend, and while they didn't put out a proper album until almost a decade later, it seems like Kalpa was Korea's first attempt to get KVLT.

Kalpa, before Black Candle kicked
everyone else out of the band :(
How so?   Well for one, just look at their pics!   They're rockin' corpsepaint, spiked armbands, swords, long hair, forest promo shoots, etc.  It's too bad that the main dude, Black Candle, eventually kicked everyone else out of the band and became a one-man project because it looks like he wasn't too productive with that lineup change.   Still, you never know!   At least they released some material while they were together, which is more than can be said for a lot of bands!

Anyway, they unfortunately only released one full-length record, The Path of Eternal Years (2002), and honestly... it's not that amazing.   That's not to say that it's bad, as there's plenty of great black metal riffage and grim atmosphere!   Also, while the first half or so of the album is pretty typical of the genre, the second half is actually really cool!   It's one long song, about 16 minutes long, and is the title track as well.   Building with an atmospheric acoustic guitar and haunting keyboard melody, things start off slowly when the drums and electric guitars kick in, but before you know it, shit gets evil fast and you're in the middle of a flurry of blasbeats, tremolo-picked gusts of wind, and icy atmospheric keyboards.  About halfway through the track shit slows down and we're treated to an eerie synthesized flute (I think) melody that really ramps up the atmosphere and reminds me a lot of the other Korean black metal bands I've been covering on here so far (Sad Legend and Oathean) in terms of that "Oriental/Asian" feeling that is such a defining characteristic of their sound.   There's even a gong at the end!!  Definitely the best song on the album!   Recommended as an excellent musical companion for a long walk through a frozen Korean forest at night in the dead of winter!

Mount Gariwang (가리왕산) and its surroundings would have been an excellent place to experience Kalpa's music, but unfortunately South Korea decided to destroy a bunch of acreage in order to make room for the 2018 Winter Olympics :(
More like GHOSTjoseon, amirite???
However, I feel there are a couple of things that really hurt the band.   For one, I don't know if we're supposed to believe that Black Candle is actually playing the drums or not, but it's pretty fucking obvious that they're programmed.   Unless they're done EXTREMELY well or it fits the aesthetic of the band, I usually can't stand programmed drums, especially when we're talking black metal from almost 15 years ago.   It almost always just makes the band sound even more cheesy and cheap than they already are :/  Also, I feel like it takes away from the emotion and organic feel of a real drummer, and instead replaces it with something mechanical and lifeless (a common complaint about programmed drums in general).   I understand that it might be difficult to find a drummer that's willing to join a black metal band in South Korea, but c'mon.   The shit on this record isn't that hard to play.   Get out of the basement and find a session drummer, as I'm pretty sure any competent drummer worth a shit would be able to play this stuff (especially with studio editing)!    

Black Candle, coming soon to a teen summer camp...near you!
I'm not going to pretend like I know what kind of an impact, if any, Kalpa had on the black metal scene here or if Black Candle is even still involved in the scene at all (I doubt it), and whatever happened to him seems to be kind of a mystery.   However, his legacy remains as the first in what could hopefully be a long line of trve kvlt Korean black metal hordes.
SNACKS

OK, so now that we've talked about what is widely considered to be Korea's first black metal band, it's time to get into some O.G. Korean snacks, some of which have been around for decades!

Saewookkang (새우깡)

In terms of what we could consider Korea's "modern snack" scene, it doesn't get much more old-school than this.   They've been around since the early 1970s!   It's a wheat-based snack that you'll see all the time as free finger food to munch on as you drink your beer or soju, although I've also used to feed to seagulls when I'm on a boat or near a harbor :D

I always thought these were just OK and kind of boring, so maybe I've been in Korea too long because I'm kind of digging the fuck out of these right now!   It's slightly puffy, but also still maintains that crunch which is so crucial.   As fir the taste, it has a subtle, lightly salted shrimp flavor.   On the back of the bag they also recommend eating these with ketchup, which I found to be really tasty as well!  I guess there's some controversy with with these particular snack as well, because they are EERILY similar to Kappa Ebisen (かっぱえびせん), a JAPANESE snack that made hit the shelves about seven years before Saewookkang in 1964.   Uh-oh!   We'll have to have a face-off at some point to see who is the true King of the Shrimp-Flavored Snacks That Resemble French Fries Scene (or KSFSTRFFS as its referred to on the street).   8 / 10

Saewookkang's spicy version
But wait!  You really think I'd talk about the regular version without mentioning that there's a SPICY version as well?!   This is a fucking metal blog!!   I don't know about you guys, but I pride myself on being able to not only handle my alcohol, but also my spicy food as well.    That's why I decided to get crazy and try the version with a little extra heat to see how it compares, and, of course, which one is better.    Honestly, I'm going to have to go with the spicy version.   It's not like it's super spicy or anything, but it does pack enough of a mild kick to be acceptable (unless you're dead set on something more intense).   8 / 10

Below is a cute commercial for the snack.   You may be thinking, "Wulf, what are you doing dude?   This shit is the least metal thing of all time."   Maybe you're right, but if you play/listen to this commercial 100 times in a row you will achieve a specific kind of madness unattainable through even the most ludicrously torturous black metal that has been created thus far.



BONUS 1991 COMMERCIAL (same song too!):



Postick (포스틱)

Making its grocery/convenience store debut in the late 1980s, Postick is basically a French fry snack for people who don't have the time or patience to hit up a fast food joint for the real thing.    It kind of tastes like a cross between a French fry, Funyuns, and the Saewookkang snack (see above), and is actually quite tasty!   Addicting too.   At first I thought they were just OK because they don't taste exactly like French fries, but actually the more I eat the more I like them.   Maybe it's because I'm also looking at the cute potato cartoon dude on the front of the bag and imagining him baking the snacks just for me.   That expression on his face really gets me too, like he's hoping so much that you like what he's made.   Yeah, yeah, I know, that's the whole point of having a cutesy cartoon character as the mascot for your snack in the first place, but I think they really did a great job because it worked on me!   I guess he's also kind of metal too since he's a cannibal (being a potato himself and then baking and eating potato snacks).



To get more specific about how this snack looks and tastes, they are quite puffy (something I usually don't like) but they maintain a significant crunch as well, which I think makes up for it.   You also get a shitload of these in one bag, I was pretty surprised!   It's definitely more than enough for one person to handle on their own.  Also, the back of the bag recommends eating these with ketchup, just like the Saewookkang snacks.   I didn't think this would work out too well because it just seemed like an extremely lazy/shitty substitute of eating real French fries with ketchup, but oddly enough I found this to be false!   Especially the aftertaste, which really does make it seem like you just ate some fries and ketchup.   Great work Mr. Potato Chef Dude!!   8.5 / 10 (with ketchup)



Kanchyo (칸쵸)

This stuff is tasty as fuck.   It's very simple, consisting of a biscuit shell with chocolate spread or something in the middle.   Not too complicated or weird, just a solid, sweet snack, and very addicting.   It's also really cute and has cartoon characters and designs printed on each piece.   Gumiho says that it used to be two cute biscuit people (a boy and a girl) that were on the front of the box, but I'm pretty sure the design right now is actually meant to be either identical or at least resemble its original 80s "retro" design to coincide with Reply 1988 (응답하라 1988), a super-popular Korean drama right now that's set in the 1980s (I've noticed that a bunch of other snacks are doing this as well).   Solid snack if you're kind of hungry, want something sweet, but don't want to go overboard.   8.5 / 10

Below is what is probably Kanchyo's first commercial.   The Disney characters that briefly make an appearance seems pretty random, and I wonder if Lotte (the makers of Kanchyo) ever actually bothered to pay Disney to use them:



A more modern Kanchyo commercial below, and, like most things in Korea now, is excruciatingly cute.   I don't mean to make light of the subject at all, but I've always found it so bizarre (and, of course, sad) that both Korea and Japan are the undisputed kings of putting out a never-ending stream of ludicrously cute stuff, but maintain some of the highest rates of suicide (and therefore, I'm assuming, depression), especially Korea.   But that's a subject for another day!



Also, similar to Saewookkang, it's a strong possibility that Kanchyo is a clone of Hello Panda, an extremely similar Japanese snack that was created in the late 1970s.   Sorry Korea, I don't mean to steal your thunder!   However, you gotta give credit where it's due!

Ojingeo Ddangkong (오징어 땅콩)


Weird-ass name (translates to "squid peanuts"), but fucking delicious!    Salty, crunchy, squid-flavored shell with a sweet peanut inside.   Killer 1-2 punch!   I think it's supposed to resemble takoyaki, the popular Japanese street food snack.   Like the others on this list, this is pretty addicting.   Also, it's interesting too because when you eat it as a whole and the squid-shell taste combines with the peanut, it creates a new, unique flavor, which is pretty cool.   Highly recommended with beer (except Korean beer...but that's a topic for another post).
8.5 / 10

Ddangkong Gangjeong (땅콩강정)

Similar to the peanut squid balls (ha) above, we have this stuff, which roughly translates to "peanut snack" in English, except gangjeong (강정) in this case is kind of like a traditional snack cake...just click on the link, Wikipedia will do a better job of explaining it.   Anyway, also like the peanut squid balls, these are surprisingly pretty fucking delicious!   Instead of a squid flavored biscuit-y shell this time, we get crispy rice balls!   It's quite crunchy too, as well as being fairly sweet with what I'm assuming is a mild presence of honey.   Can't go wrong with this snack.   8.5 / 10



Caramel Corn Maple (카라멜콘 메이플)

Saved the best for last.   I thought these were going to suck, as I'm not crazy about caramel, maple syrup-flavored shit, "puffy" snacks, or sweet stuff in general.   Also, the front of the bag has a cartoon corn-on-the-cob mascot who's wearing what I'm assuming is a Canadian Mountie hat and a jug of maple of syrup, and apparently they use real Canadian maple syrup too, according to the info on the back of the bag.   So yeah, this shit is obviously going to be way too sweet and gross, right??   Hoooooly shit was I wrong!   This is one of the best snacks I've ever had!   It's pretty intense (although it doesn't go overboard with the syrup like I was expecting it to), so I don't know if I'm going to eat it all the time, but if you're in the mood for a snack that's similar to pancakes with maple syrup, then this is your best bet!   It tastes just like a crunchy pancake!   I couldn't believe it!   Killer stuff.   9 / 10  

Obviously, this isn't an exhaustive list.  And yeah, I know, it's boring that I gave all the snacks an 8.5, but I'm being completely fucking honest!   These snacks obviously kick the shit out of the Korean Doritos and Cheetos (see previous entries in the series).   There are tons of other tr00 Korean "modern" snacks (as opposed to traditional Korean snacks, which do exist, and we'll get to later!) that we could have covered, but we'll just have to save for another time.   Are you hungry yet?   Wherever you are in the world, I hope you manage to find the time to sit down, rip open a bag of your favorite snacks, put on your favorite killer black metal tunes, and just have a fucking time!!


At the Movies with Wulf!!

In addition to Korean black metal and Korean snacks, I'm going to start covering Korean cinema as well, particularly horror and action as well!  







BEDEVILLED (김복남 살인사건의 전말)

As you can tell by the poster, Bedevilled
is the feel-good comedy of the summer
that you've been waiting for!!
Korean films tend to be pretty intense, and I've noticed that the thriller/horror movies here seem to often feature themes of rape, physical/sexual abuse, pedophilia, domestic violence, sadism, suicide, extremely abnormal psychology, and other supremely depressing topics.   I don't feel like this is the place to really explore WHY this seems to be so prevalent in Korean films, or if it is even is a thing and not just a result of the small sample of the films that I've seen, but more often than not, at least in my experience, you're probably not going to be in a happy mood by the time the credits roll.   

Why am I talking about this?   Because Bedevilled (김복남 살인사건의 전말, or, literally "The Whole Story of the Kim Bok-nam Murder Case") (2010) has got ALL of this stuff!   This movie is pretty fucked up and not for the faint of heart, although I wouldn't say it's quite on the same level of absurdity as like Human Centipede or Audition, as its a bit more grounded in reality and conceivable that it could have been based on a true story.   At first I found the movie to be kind of nihilistic and just a tale of revenge and brutal violence, but now I realize that it's really about standing up to oppression and injustice, as well as the importance of defending those who are unable to defend themselves.  There's also some social commentary in this as well in terms of the young violently rebelling (due to decades of abuse) against Korea's traditional, patriarchal, rigidly hierarchical society, which definitely adds a much-needed, deeper, more meaningful dimension to the film.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that this is a MUST-SEE, but it's still quite good.   Also, the performances of all the actors are great, especially from Seo Young-hee (as Kim Bok-nam).   I don't want to spoil anything, but she does an amazing job transforming from sweet and happy-go-lucky to completely batshit insane.  The trailer (below) unfortunately doesn't do the movie justice, as there's a lot more going on in the movie than just some woman going crazy and killing everyone.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The State of Metal 2015: Judge Dredd's Dreaded Top 10

I will preface this by saying this is probably the most curmudgeony end-of-the-year write up that I have ever done. Fitting that it's also the end of the first year of my 3rd decade on this hell called Earth and I'm quickly approaching 20 years of listening to Metal. So, just the natural course of things I suppose.

The older I get, the more I find myself attracted to the realer, rawer side of heavy music. More and more, I tend to avoid a lot of Metal music that is not firmly rooted in the "Real" (i.e. no fantastical elements). With some exceptions, I also tend to avoid anything that's overproduced, and I'm glad there are bands out there who don't believe that EVERYTHING should be quantized. I feel like that just takes away any emotion and power from music that SHOULD foster emotion and power within the listener. In fact, there seems to be quite a blowback from bands of all subgenres rejecting the still-current trend of over-digitizing music. But, of course, this rejection of quantization and over-digitization doesn't guarantee great results.

A lot of the bands that seem to reject quantizing and over-digitizing are too often bands that are merely repeating what has been done before, and thus are trying to maintain the sound quality of some past era. Whether Black Metal, Death Metal, Doom Metal...I keep hearing more and more retreading every year. And the fact that we have had various "retro" waves (Thrash, Death, Proto/Occult and now Doom) is all the more telling that Metal is in serious need of a creative boost.

Concerning my Metal tastes, what I've found most appealing in the last few years is excellent songwriting with either emotional or mental depth (or both), excellent musicianship that avoids overly complex noodling, various qualities that make a specific band distinct or unique, and for Satan's sake, bands that sound MODERN. Obviously, all of these characteristics are pretty subjective, but such is the nature of music taste. *

Of current trends in Metal music, I am most impressed with the skronky Black Metal (aka the house that Deathspell Omega built), Post-Black Metal, and skronky Death Metal (aka the house that Gorguts built). However, I feel like these three styles are approaching over-saturation status rather quickly. I am also enjoying a lot of these bands that I hear combining Hardcore, Crust, and Black Metal in a variety of interesting ways, though many of them come off as being too derivative. Finally, I heard a fair amount of really good Grind/Powerviolence this year. While I love Grind/Powerviolence, they are two subgenres that don't produce a lot of memorable songs and albums. Bands like Unrest, Die Choking, Cloud Rat, and of course, the godfathers of Grind themselves, Napalm Death, have proven this notion wrong this year.

To me, bands that really pushed the envelope this year include Gnaw Their Tongues, Deafheaven, Liturgy, Igorrr, Cloak of Altering, Orakle, Aevangelist, Pyramids, Howls of Ebb, and Dendritic Arbor amongst others. The thing is, I don't even like some of these bands that much, but I fully acknowledge their unique sound and their pushing of boundaries. Despite how controversial Liturgy has been over the last 5 or 6 years, I don't think anyone can willingly admit that their newest album sounds like anyone else in the Metal world right now.

* Now, before you call me a hypocrite, I will explain why a couple of my choices could be designated as having "retro" qualities. For example, Tribulation was definitely going with a "retro" vibe with "Children of the Night". But the thing is, their songcraft is just so undeniably good and their unique mix of Occult/Psychedelic Rock and Death/Black Metal really sounds like no other band out there today (although I'm sure that will change shortly considering their recent success).

An Invisible Oranges writer basically summed up a lot my feelings quite nicely in his 2015 write up.

Without further adieu, here is Judge Dredd's Dreaded Top 10 of 2015:



10. "Qliphoth" Cloud Rat
Hands down the most emotionally gut-wrenching Grindcore album of the year. The band alternates between really crusty, punk-driven Grind songs and slow, churning and at times, shimmering, sludge songs. I get the impression from the lyrics that the vocalist, Madison Marshall, has gone through some pretty heavy emotional shit the last couple of years. A lot of songs focus on the despair of a downtrodden everyday life. A lot of the songs are named after animals ("Raccoon", "Bloated Goat"), which makes me wonder if they're used as metaphors for the lyrics. The French Romantic poet Charles Baudelaire did this, so I wonder if he's a lyrical influence. Baudelaire often took objects (most infamously "Spleen") and would write poems centered around the object. Anyway, it was close, but this probably my favorite Grind album of the year.





9. "Antikatastaseis"Abyssal
"Antikatastaseis" is one evil-sounding album. Albeit, there are some parts that have an almost triumphant sound to them, this album is overall psychologically dark. The record was produced/mixed to make it sound cavernous and murky, so most of the separate elements (guitars especially) have a fairly equal presence. Thus, it's difficult to distinguish each element from one another. This creates a sort of looming, chunky mass of malevolence, similar to that of Portal.




8. "The Armed" The Armed
These guys are kind of off the radar to a lot of Metal fans. They mix hardcore, noise rock, and metal, but a little less on the metal side. They obviously owe a huge debt to The Dillinger Escape Plan, but with this release, I feel like they are moving in a direction that is more their own. Their sound is much more focused in that there are a lot less instrumental gymnastics. Their songs are concise and violent.



7. "Children of the Night" Tribulation
"The Formulas of Death" was one of my favorite albums of 2013. In "Children of the Night", Tribulation take a much more psychedelic/classic/occult rock approach to their already potent mix of Death and Black Metal. I still hear a lot of Dissection influence, which is obviously not a bad thing. Not much more to add that hasn't already been said about this album. Looking forward to hearing more from these guys, and I really hope they don't turn into Ghost (bleh!).



6. "Anareta" Horrendous
It seems like a few bands are starting to "retrofit" the '90-'95 Death sound (as well as other Progressive Death Metal bands of that time, such as Atheist) onto their own sound, but this record stands out for a few reasons. First, there is an unbelievable amount of emotional depth to this album, and that comes out in a lot of different ways, but especially the expressive guitars. The guitarists have almost a mournful, elegant way of expressing melody at points. There almost a lyrical element to some of the guitar melodies. Second, solidly written, memorable songs. Definitely one of the best guitar performances of the year.



5. "New Bermuda" Deafheaven
I'm not really able to add much that hasn't already been said about this band and album. They kind of perfected the "blackgaze" sound (I hate that word) on 'Sunbather' and we've already seen some copycats in the last couple of years (*cough* Ghostbath *cough*). So, I think it was a great move for them to expand their sound in some ways (see the "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None The Richer" part in "Brought to the Water") and to make it a bit more aggressive. They took a chance and it obviously produced great results.



4. "Exercises in Futility" Mgla
I sort of suspected that these guys would be doing awesome things in the future when I elected to put their last full length, 2012's "Hearts Towards None", on my honorable mentions from that year. There were a lot of really good Black Metal albums that came out this year: Akhlys, Azavatar, Blaze of Perdition, Leviathan, Deafheaven, Pale Chalice, Bosse-de-Nage, etc., but Mgla stands above the pack for me. Nothing they do, at least on paper, is particularly unique but their sound is immediately recognizable. It's hard to pinpoint what's so damn good about this album, but there is certainly something hypnotic about the music.

 

3. "Lightless Walk" Cult Leader
Easily the meanest, angriest sounding album on my list. Former members of noisy metalcore legends, Gaza, come back more misanthropic than ever before.



2. "Nihil Quam Vacuitas Ordinatum Est" Ad Nauseam
Holy FUCK!!! Where the FUCK did this album come from?! And how come did I see absolutely NO PRESS about this? It's really noisy in the style of Gorguts, and I mean...like, straight up ripping off of Gorguts, but it's just soooooo good. Best Death Metal album of the year BY FAR.



1. "One Day All This Will End" Svalbard
This album came out of nowhere for me a few weeks ago. I cannot FUCKING BELIEVE that this has not been covered more. I've seen it quite a bit in the UK Metal press, but not in the US Metal press for whatever reason. Mixing a variety of subgenres can have disastrous results, as it sometimes comes out like having jigsaw puzzle pieces mixed from different sets, but not having all of the pieces you need to create one uniform image. However, Svalbard's sound is an organic mix of Black Metal, Crust, Hardcore, Screamo, and Post Metal that is uniquely their own (I've often seen the term "Stadium Crust" thrown around...wtf does that even mean?!). The album is an emotional, dynamic journey through various aspects of our modern and digital lives.



Honorable Mentions
"In Times" Enslaved
For some reason I never really got around to listening this album more than a couple of times. As always, though, really good stuff from Enslaved!

"The Dreaming I" Akhlys
This album was so close to being on my Top 10. I love how layered this album is. The layered guitars especially create an almost orchestral element to the music.

"Grindcore" Unrest
The title says it all. A phenomenal Grind album, kind of in the vein of older bands like Terrorizer...but BETTER. Musically tight with dynamic songwriting and songs you can actually distinguish from one another. Better than the newest Napalm Death, IMHO. This album also came very close to being in my Top 10.

"Hubris in Excelsis" Scythian
Some great Death/Black/Folk/War Metal from the UK. Their first album in six years and well worth the wait.

"All Fours" Bosse-de-Nage
Another great Post-Black Metal release from these guys. 

"Lore" Elder
Easily the best "stoner" album of the year. Long jams that don't get boring.

"Sentient Village//Obsolescent Garden" and "Romantic Love" Dendritic Arbor
The almost psychedelic way that this band uses the murky production value combined with their noisy electric guitar collisions (that's what it sounds like) makes "Romantic Love" the most nausea-inducing Metal albums of the year - and one of the best. They kind of encompass a strange intersection of Noise, Powerviolence, and Black Metal. The new single from "Sentient Village//Obsolescent Garden" is a bit more produced and sharp. Truly bizarre and whacked out, and terrifyingly unique.

"Death, Endless Nothing and the Black Knife of Nihilism" Adversarial
Great, evil Death Metal from the Great White North!

"Maktbehov" God Mother
I have a soft spot for Powerviolence/Grind/Punk kind of stuff, but the band has to do it RIGHT (I especially like when bands of that sound use the buzzsaw guitar tone made popular by Entombed). God Mother gets it right in almost every way. 

"Eclats" Orakle
One of my early favorites of 2015. Weirdo-progressive Black Metal from France. It gets a little too much in places, but really interesting stuff overall. Some parts are comparable to Arcturus while others are more comparable to Opeth or Deathspell Omega.

"Bleeder" Mutoid Man
Stephen Brodsky has been one of my favorite musicians for many years, and I kind of suspected this was where a band of his would end up once I saw Cave In covering "Dazed and Confused" by Led Zeppelin many years ago. Nonetheless, some great stoner shredding.

"Absolution" Khemmis
I wrote this album off pretty early. Retro Classic Doom, ya know *yaaaaawn*. But when I actually listened to it I realized how great the songs were. Awesome stuff.


Non-Metal
It's 2015, Metalheads are allowed to listen to different styles of music.

Rock
"Further Out" Cloakroom
"Celestial Frequency Shifter" Anakin
"Ultraluminal" City of Ships
"The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us" Beach Slang
"The Circle Binds" Glower
"The Heart is a Monster" Failure
"Painted Shut" Hop Along
"Sun Coming Down" Ought
"Viet Cong" Viet Cong

Folk/Folkish
"Sallows" ANAMAI
"On Your Own Love Again" Jessica Pratt
"Primrose Green" Ryley Walker

Electronic
"Caracal" Disclosure 
"In Color" Jamie XX
"Obsidian" Benjamin Damage
"1983" Kolsch
"Body Pill" Anthony Naples
"Fading Love" George FitzGerald
"Company" Slime

Emo/Pop Punk/Punk
"No Closer to Heaven" Wonder Years
"Summer Bones" Hit the Lights
"The Story So Far" The Story So Far

Other
"Abyss" Chelsea Wolfe
"Cranekiss" Tamaryn
"Best Blues" Small Black
"Hallucinogen" Kelela