Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Record Reviews #1: Metal Roundup

Negative Plane
is a much discussed band in the deep bowels of the current US underground metal scene. Formed in Florida in 2001 before relocating to New York City, core members vocalist/guitarist Nameless Void and drummer Bestial Devotion defiantly straddle the musical line between old-school proto-death metal bluster and post-modern idiomatic montage. While their 2006 full-length debut "Et In Saecula Saeculorum" cruised along at a rapid clip - glancing "Morbid Tales"-era Celtic Frost and the more masculine, rockist tendencies of '90s Black Metal (early Mayhem and Emperor)their sophomore offering "Stained Glass Revelations" is a relatively turgid proposition in respect to overall tempo and mood. It seems the band has traded some of their frantic embryonic attack for a grander sense of drama and gravity. The music here is drenched in a complex web of reverb and sanctimonious organ and piano interludes feature into the hour-long set of songs. Despite Negative Plane's pseudo-Wagnerian pretentions, there are definitely a lot of positive aspects to what they are trying to communicate. The vocals are distinctively roaring and often coated in echo or delay, conjuring an ominous and recognizable overall persona. The guitar work is particularly ambitious and nearing baroque in its melodic function. Excepting a few cheesy, quizzical "surf"/tremolo-bar flourishes (particularly in the introduction to "Angels Veiled Of Bone"), the timbre of the axework is richly midrangey, intense and tonal. There are some nice details such as the hazy electronic swarm which saturates the middle section of "The One And The Many". The overall production is warm and organic, sidestepping the digital, Pro-Tooled-to-fuck overworking which many modern extreme metal albums suffer from. Ultimately Negative Plane play good-old HEAVY METAL with a very dark, occult edge. It appears they are very concerned with coherent compositional standards and legibility, eschewing the need to play constantly at blistering speeds or feigning uber-extremity. In these regards, "Stained Glass Revelations" is a breath of fresh air. The more I hear it, the more I can accept it at face value - this is a memorable, well-constructed album worth general attention. The band will make a rare appearance opening a bill in New York at The Studio at Webster Hall on December 2nd with Inquisition and the seminal Italian Black Metal band Mortuary Drape. I am looking foward to seeing what all of these groups do live, in the flesh.


One of the finest and most consistently kick-ass extreme metal labels in the United States is Nuclear War Now! Productions. Based in the California Bay Area, and masterminded by Yosuke Konishi, NWN is committed to issuing high quality releases featuring some of the most scabrous units in the contemporary worldwide underground as well as unearthing hidden or forgotten gems documenting the rawest, most primal side of DIY metal from the '80s onward.

Canadian War Metal archetypes BLASPHEMY
The bands which typify the core values of the NWN aesthetic are legendary in this scene: Blasphemy, Black Witchery, Order From Chaos, Morbosidad, Mystifier, Revenge, Von, Sarcofago and Conqueror. These groups are/were all single-minded in their brutality, iconoclasm, rawness and blasphemic outlooks. They directly influenced legions of other units also appearing on the label, such as Proclamation, Embrace of Thorns, Blasphemophager, Bestial Raids and Perversor. In addition to these bullet-belted, gas-mask adorned "Bestial" metallions, other, more idiosyncratic entities appear on the imprint, from neo-'90s deathsters Dead Congregation, the more traditional corpse-painted black metal of Inquisition and Russia's Pseudogod (whose totally slaying 2006 demo "Illusion of Salvation" was reissued as a one-sided 12" last year on Satanic Skinhead Propaganda), Midnight's comedic Motorhead-tribute thrash to the gothy Von-alter-ego Sixx.


Some incredible reissues have appeared on Nuclear War Now! Productions (often clad in deluxe packaging) including a split with Profanatica-related projects Contravisti and Totem; killer war metal by the vastly overlooked Austrialian hordes Abominator and Martire; and historically important editions of recordings by Master's Hammer, Root, Autopsy, Morbid and Nifelheim. One of my all-time favorite metal recordings, the "Demon With Wings" ep by Aussie maniacs Sadistik Exekution was finally released on vinyl as a split 7" with Nifelheim, so for that alone I am eternally grateful!

Some Nuclear War Now! products can be previewed in their entireties at a new Bandcamp page. I particularly recommend the recently issued new album by Bestial Raids and the stunningly bizarre demos by Cremation (featuring madman drummer J. Read)

1 comment:

bruitiste said...

Awesome! Keep 'em coming.