Across a scant 30 minutes you're treated to epic displays of chromatic riffing and vague melodic inversions as well as a few massive head nodders and some spastic grindcore moments. There's no self-important focus on ritualized occultations and arcane knowledge of demonology nor any challenging sort of philosophical pretexts to absorb-just pure good old-fashioned death metal done in the most immediate and effective way. On some level this is the sort of attitude that author Michael Moynihan referenced as being the birth of black metal-this is exactly the sort of "track suit wearing" extreme metal that drove many a European underground kid to their mirrors applying corpse paint as quickly as they learned a couple of guitar chords in the hopes of taking a more extreme musical stance. But it isn't always about political statements or civil disavowal or rebellion. Those things are important, but what's more important, what's always been more important and should always be more important, is making awesome music. Bands lose sight of that all the time. Lasse Pyykko hasn't, and he just wants you to get drunk, get high, and bang your fucking head. Raise the goddamn horns.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
CLAWS "ABSORBED IN THE NETHERVOID" (Razorback Records)
Fantastic blast of Finnish death metal that makes me feel like it's 1994 all over again and i'm in my room headbanging to an old Napalm Death tape. I'm glad that there are other musicians out there who remember how much ass death metal could kick when done right. This is all tremendously old school stuff, sounding so of the time that it may as well be some lost Entombed tape from around the recording of "Left Hand Path." Everything is correct and everything fucking rocks, from the huge, thick ultra-downtuned guitars to the bludgeoning, thudding one-two drums to the scale-driven melodic soloing. Even the vocals are classic, pure guttural eruptions recalling vintage Chris Barnes and Glen Benton. Sole member Lasse Pyykko obviously had the same teenage experience as me, when getting high and zoning out to death metal in the basement was the best possible time you could have, when destructive music was the ultimate form of cathartic self-therapy. There are hints of doom metal here as well and more than a cheeky nod to the silliness of metal in general, what with the fixation on alliterative titles ("Cacophonous Carrion," "Macabre Manifestations," "Casket Contagion") and horror-vibe schlock (just check the cover art and the title track) but there's a reverence for the forebears that goes beyond simple emulation. Death metal was important to a lot of people and it's sad to see the genre relegated to such stagnancy at this point. Much of the blame lies with the music itself; as i've mentioned before there was little room left for the style to expand into, but there was certainly no need for it to get shitty, which it did. I guess it's hard for a band like Deicide to walk away from their living but fuck if everything after "Once Upon the Cross" didn't take death metal down a few pegs in everyone's eyes. Thank god projects like Claws are out there to keep the fires burning.