Q&A: Down, NOLA’s reigning metal super-group, goes four for IV

Down: Down IV Part 1: The Purple EPDown: Down IV: Part 1, The Purple EP (WMG, 9/18/12)

“Witchtripper”

Down: “Witchtripper”

Last year, long-running metal super-group Down released the first of a sprawling four-part EP series. Aptly titled IV, the releases — the rest of which come in 2013 or later — are meant to comprise a massive new album, and the first takes the band’s Black Sabbath influences to a rawer and darker place.

Singer, songwriting contributor, and former Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo — who teams with members of Corrosion of Conformity, Eyehategod, and Crowbar in Down — joined us to talk about soaring vocals, his home studio, and that unapologetic Sabbath influence.

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Interview: Nile guitarist Karl Sanders on “a gazillion riffs,” vocal timbres, and endless learning

Nile: At the Gate of SethuNile: At the Gates of Sethu (Nuclear Blast, 7/3/12)

“The Inevitable Degradation of Flesh”

Nile: “The Inevitable Degradation of Flesh”

Nile guitarist and occasional vocalist Karl Sanders has been living death metal for as long as the genre has existed. From a brief but storied stint living with Morbid Angel to Nile’s breakthrough in 2000 with Black Seeds of Vengeance, Sanders has been there. It is then all the more remarkable that his songwriting and lead playing have been ratcheted up another notch for Nile’s newest full-length, At the Gate of Sethu.

Listeners have reasonable expectations of what they’re getting when they pick up a Nile album: guttural voices chanting lyrics based upon ancient Egyptian texts, a torrent of Middle Eastern modal riffing, inhuman drumming with copious cymbal accents, and interludes of melody played on traditional Egyptian instruments. Sethu will not disappoint anyone expecting these things.

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Review: Nachtmystium’s Silencing Machine

Nachtmystium: Silencing MachineNachtmystium: Silencing Machine (Century Media, 7/31/12)

“Borrowed Hope and Broken Dreams”

Nachtmystium: “Borrowed Hope and Broken Dreams”

Silencing Machine, Nachtmystium’s sixth full-length album, re-embraces the traditional Norwegian black-metal sound of its early efforts. The band’s first recordings were Darkthrone covers at heart, but by the time of Instinct: Decay in 2006, it had traded minimalism for riff salads and more textured songs. The Black Meddle series, consisting of Assassins (2008) and Addicts (2010), was purposefully experimental, drawing comparisons to Pink Floyd and Ministry.

Now Nachtmystium takes the lessons learned from experimentation and applies them to the conventional black-metal language of moveable minor chords and tremolo picking.

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Review: Ihsahn’s Eremita

Ihsahn: EremitaIhsahn: Eremita (Candlelight, 6/19/12)

“The Paranoid”

Ihsahn: “The Paranoid”

Though the hazy noise of 1992’s Wrath of the Tyrant may seem a far cry from the sleekly produced Eremita, the songwriting of former Emperor guitarist and vocalist Ihsahn always has been based upon a very specific melodic voice. There is a clear thread from the tremolo-picked intro to “I Am the Black Wizards” (from 1993’s Emperor) to the arpeggiated “Introspection” (from Eremita), even if one composition tends much more towards Celtic Frost and the other much more towards Gentle Giant. Eremita, or “The Hermit,” is Ihsahn’s fourth solo album, and it continues a hybrid of progressive rock and black metal that was heard on Emperor’s later albums such as IX Equilibrium and Prometheus.

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Review: Nile’s At the Gate of Sethu

Nile: At the Gate of SethuNile: At the Gate of Sethu (Nuclear Blast, 7/3/12)

Nile: “The Inevitable Degradation of Flesh”

Nile_The_Inevitable_Degradation_of_Flesh

Nile guitarist and occasional vocalist Karl Sanders has been living death metal for as long as the genre has existed. From a brief but storied stint living with Morbid Angel to Nile’s breakthrough in 2000 with Black Seeds of Vengeance, Sanders has been there. It is then all the more remarkable that his songwriting and lead playing have been ratcheted up another notch for Nile’s newest full-length, At the Gate of Sethu.

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The Metal Examiner: Harm’s Way’s Isolation

Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.

Harm's Way: IsolationHarm’s Way: Isolation (Closed Casket Activities, 7/5/11)

Harm’s Way: “New Beginnings”

[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/06-New-Beginnings.mp3|titles=Harm’s Way – New Beginnings]

Though ostensibly affiliated with the hardcore scene, Harm’s Way has moved into the primitive, mid-paced territory of death-metal bands like Bolt Thrower and Asphyx. Originally formed in 2005 as a power-violence band in the vein of Crossed Out and Infest, Harm’s Way has become slower and more metallic with each of its releases. Isolation, its second full-length recording, is a definitive statement for the band, cementing its vision of the possibilities in heavy music.

Hardcore and metal have fed off of each other for decades. In the early and mid-1980s, Metallica, Celtic Frost, and other pioneering bands cited not only the new wave of British heavy metal as an influence, but also hardcore bands like Discharge. Since then, there has been a two-way street between the metal and hardcore communities, with New York-based hardcore bands like the Cro-Mags and Madball clearly borrowing ideas on heaviness from death-metal bands, and a band like Obituary claiming Merauder as an influence.

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The Metal Examiner: Miasmal’s Miasmal

Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.

Miasmal - MiasmalMiasmal: Miasmal (Dark Descent, 4/15/2011)

Miasmal: “Toxic Breed”

[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/06-Toxic-Breed.mp3|titles=Miasmal – Toxic Breed]

Based in the metal-rich city of Gothenburg, Miasmal offers a punk-ish perspective on the classic Swedish death-metal sound. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, Swedish bands like Dismember, Unleashed, and Entombed borrowed heavily from Scandinavian hardcore bands such as Anti-Cimex and Bastards, as well as mainland European thrash bands like Sodom and Celtic Frost. As such, the distinctions between metal and punk in Scandinavia are blurrier than they are in some other regions. Miasmal’s music falls on the hardcore-ish end of the death-metal spectrum, which comes as no surprise given that guitarist and vocalist Pontus also plays in Martyrdöd, a crusty hardcore band.

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The Metal Examiner: Septicflesh’s The Great Mass

Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.

Septicflesh: The Great MassSepticflesh: The Great Mass (Season of Mist, 4/18/11)

Septicflesh: “The Vampire from Nazareth”

[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Septicflesh-The-Vampire-from-Nazareth.mp3|titles=Septicflesh: “The Vampire from Nazareth”]

Metal bands have long employed classical composition techniques. Celtic Frost introduced To Mega Therion in 1985 with a Strauss-ian melody played by a French horn. Morbid Angel cited Mozart as the greatest composer of all time on its sophomore album. Ritchie Blackmore laced his leads for proto-metal band Deep Purple with classical arpeggios.

Continuing in this tradition, Septicflesh‘s guitarist Christos Antoniou recently completed studies in classical composition. As such, the band’s seventh full-length, The Great Mass, is rich in orchestration, handled by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

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The Metal Examiner: Blaspherian’s Infernal Warriors of Death

Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.

Blaspherian - Infernal Warriors of DeathBlaspherian: Infernal Warriors of Death (Deathgasm Records, 3/8/11)

Blaspherian: “Infernal Warriors of Death”

[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/05.-Infernal-Warriors-Of-Death.mp3|titles=Blaspherian – Infernal Warriors of Death]

The cover art of Infernal Warriors of Death bears a striking resemblance to Dawn of Possession, so it’s no surprise that Blaspherian‘s debut full-length shares quite a bit with early Immolation. Although formed in 2004, Blaspherian is far from prolific, having only released a demo, an EP, and a few splits previous to this recording. Its 2007 EP was a respectable old-school death-metal release, but it was not enough of a unique statement to set it apart from the classic bands of the early ’90s and late ’80s.

However, with Infernal Warriors of Death, Blaspherian has claimed its spot in Texas’ long history of extreme metal. This is crowded territory, as the state has offered up one of the genre’s initial classics in Necrovore‘s Divus de Mortuus demo, underrated technical thrash bands in Rigor Mortis and Dead Horse, and two of the most compelling United States black-metal bands in Absu and Averse Sefira.

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The Metal Examiner: New Lows’ Harvest of the Carcass

Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.

New Lows: Harvest of the Carcass

New Lows: Harvest of the Carcass (Deathwish Inc., 1/18/11)

New Lows: “Anguish”

[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/8.-Anguish.mp3|titles=New Lows – Anguish]

In the early 2000s, members of New Lows were cutting their teeth in Think I Care, playing in Sheer Terror’s tradition of Celtic Frost-worshiping hardcore punk. After the demise of Think I Care, New Lows appeared with an ugly, punishing demo and a similarly aggressive seven-inch record.

The band recorded an LP with CC from Mind Eraser that was initially shelved due to inner turmoil and a near breakup. However, New Lows resumed activities as a band, and Harvest of the Carcass, its proper debut, now sees the light of day, taking the Boston metalcore tradition into a raw and primitive place.

New Lows plays in a style that recalls the crushingly heavy and simplistic late-1980s punk/death-metal hybrid of bands like Asphyx and Bolt Thrower. Bands affiliated with the hardcore scene, like Ringworm and Merauder, have been blending these sounds since the early 1990s. Recently, several hardcore bands have risen to prominence with sounds that are much more death metal than they are Bad Brains. This new crop of bands includes New Lows as well as Nails, Harms Way, and Mammoth Grinder.

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The Metal Examiner: Ghost’s Opus Eponymous

Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.

Ghost - Opus EponymousGhost: Opus Eponymous (Metal Blade, 1/18/11)

Ghost: “Con Clavi Con Dio”
[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Ghost_Con_Clavi_Con_Dio.mp3|titles=Ghost: “Con Clavi Con Dio”]

Sweden’s Ghost is a purposefully mysterious sextet propagating an overtly Satanic message. With a tongue-in-cheek press release making bold claims about subverting the minds of adolescents who have a “void in their life,” it’s tempting to dismiss Opus Eponymous as ironic kitsch. However, the songs themselves are wildly catchy and full of melodic twists in the school of King Diamond‘s 1980s compositions.

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The Metal Examiner: Inquisition’s Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm

Every Friday, The Metal Examiner delves metal’s endless depths to present the genre’s most important and exciting albums.

Inquisition: Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical MacrocosmInquisition: Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm (Hell’s Headbangers, 1/11/2011)

Inquisition: “Crepuscular Battle Hymn”

[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/08-Crepuscular-Battle-Hymn.mp3|titles=Inquisition – Crepuscular Battle Hymn]

Initially formed as a thrash band in the ’80s in Colombia, Inquisition developed a buzz-saw, black-metal sound by the mid-’90s while simultaneously relocating to Washington. Its trademark became lightning-speed, grinding power chords and an atmosphere of ritualistic Satanism.

Since Into the Infernal Regions of the Ancient Cult in 1998, Inquisition has stuck to its sound with a Motörhead-like tenacity. Its newest effort, Ominous Doctrines of the Perpetual Mystical Macrocosm, is its strongest output since Magnificent Glorification of Lucifer in 2004.

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