Mercyful Fate, Kreator, and Midnight took the stage in Cincinnati down by the river at the Andrew J. Brady Music Center last Friday night, and the place might never be the same.
One of my earliest European metal fascinations was Mercyful Fate. I jumped on with the Melissa (1983) album. At the time, you could still get the even earlier self-titled EP, so I did that – wish I still had it. Those two records and the almost-equally engaging Don’t Break The Oath (1984) kept me company in my formative years. Vocalist King Diamond left the band and it split up right afterward. A decade later, Mercyful Fate was at it again. During the nineties, several more albums came, and the sound was a little different. I always thought that King Diamond’s solo albums were more like the original Mercyful Fate than the nineties albums. In any case, there hasn’t been anything from Mercyful Fate since before the new millennium.
For these reasons and many more, I was thrilled to go to Psycho Las Vegas this year and see Mercyful Fate together again. Michael Denner is not with the band now, but Hank Shermann is, and, of course, King Diamond. It is Mercyful Fate.
The night started with the masked trio, Midnight. In the studio, Midnight is the one-man band Jamie Althenar Walters. Live they play a speedy brand of black metal that fits right in with Kreator and Mercyful Fate. I have really liked the last two records from Midnight, so it was great to see him and them live.
The middle slot was held by the German thrash band Kreator. The legend of the band stretches back forty years. Here we have another example of a band I have listened to for decades but somehow never saw live. I have been on their trail for some time and finally caught up with them. Their performance smoked, and I was especially glad to hear the title track from their new album Hate Über Alles.
As I mentioned, I saw Mercyful Fate a couple months ago in Las Vegas and, of course, it was basically the same set and show in Cincinnati. In other words, it was mind-blowingly incredible. If I could, I would be at every stop on the tour because I am a long-time fan, but also because the performance is just so good.
King Diamond, Hank Shermann, Mike Mead, Bjarne T. Holm, and, filling in on bass for the tour, Becky Baldwin, laid down the law for an hour and a half. They played my absolute favorites “A Corpse Without A Soul,” Curse of the Pharaohs,” and “Black Funeral,” and a half a dozen other songs from the early albums that were instantly recognizable. They also performed a new piece, “The Jackal of Salzburg,” reinforcing the word on the street that another album is in the works.
There is still time to catch the tour. There are not very many dates on this leg, but there are (at this writing) still six more chances to see the show. Check out the tour poster below for details and grab your tickets if any remain. There is no knowing whether there will ever be another Mercyful Fate tour so don’t put this one off because once you see it, it will live with you for the rest of your time.
The debut album from blackened thrash band Morbikon is savagely unsettling: Ov Mournful Twilight.
Morbikon is a solo project of Municipal Waste bass player Phil “Land Phil” Hall. While Municipal Waste is a tongue-in-cheek thrash band, this solo project is darker in tone. “Morbikon to me is an opportunity to explore new atmospheres and new realms of extreme metal,” Hall says. “I wanted to fill it with memorable hooks and punishing moments. I am very happy with the result of these songs and hope everyone notices the amount of detail that has been added to every corner of the music. I also have to give Dave Witte a lot of credit for laying down amazing drum tracks that added so much to these songs.”
There are eight meaty tracks on Ov Mournful Twilight. The aptly titled “Consumed By Entropy” starts with noisy clangs and threatening growls. The song moves through patches of heavy catchy grooves next door to sour calamities of musical collision. A platter of digestible hooks is a great way to deliver the more challenging constructions and so the song works well. “Universal Funeral” puts the smooth at the front and the off-balancing warbles are a patch down the road, mixing things up. There is a significant doomish segment that fits the theme and a fine lead break that marks this song for high praise.
“Cursed To March On Shattered Limbs” has the feel of a dark lullaby that turns into blatantly savage shrieking black metal. Lovely. Likewise, “Deaththirst” is brutal in the rhythm section and really shakes you up. In the middle section, the song becomes very dramatic and psychologically threatening. The second half of the record offers the title track and, of them all, this is my favorite song on the album. The musical build in the composition is pure dark theater.
Heading into the last act we hear “In Ritual Isolation,” a cavernous intimation, and “Contagion Borne Of Phantom Vessel,” a dreadful spell cast in the oppressive gloom that makes me reconsider my top spot song rankings. The anchor is “Infinite Pathways to the Earthen Grave.” I expected this song to be especially dreary, but it is not – in fact it begins with high energy and it runs at a penetrating pace. The guitar work is impeccable; the solemn outro is haunting. It is the perfect wrap to this dark delight of an album. Recommended.
Ov Mournful Twilight is out on Friday, October 28th through Tankcrimes Records. You can pick it up through Bandcamp or at the label link below.
Defleshed have reformed and have created a new full-length album of blistering metal, Grind Over Matter.
Back when I first listened to Defleshed, I thought of them as a thrash band. Listening back on those albums from the 1990s, I can hear grindcore and death metal prominently as well. Whatever labels we might hang on them, the metal band from Sweden that is Defleshed was a major presence on the international scene in those days, but then in what seemed like the blink of an eye, they disappeared in 2005. Last year, the original core lineup got back together to record a couple of new tracks with the idea of including them on a vinyl boxset of their old material. The sessions went so well that what resulted was eleven new killer tracks that are collectively now known as Grind Over Matter. The band is Gustaf Jorde (vocals, bass), Lars Löfven (guitar), and Matte Modin (drums).
The album starts on “Bent Out Of Shape,” and with the opening notes we are immediately reacquainted with Defleshed. The heavy chop and pounding percussion is a feast for your ears and a strain on your throbbing jugular. Jorde’s vocals are as powerful as ever and the pace continues to be bewildering. The title track cranks next, and it feels like a sort of call to arms. It is “One Grave to Fit Them All” that seals the deal for me – I love this song with its hook and de-balancing act. The title of the album really sinks in by the third song, too, and I start to wonder how much longer can they keep this up. The answer is eight more songs.
The tracks are hard and fast, and on the brief side, running two or three minutes each, which is more than enough to get the job done. Every song has the ability to flatten you. I really like “Dear Devil” for its absolute ferocity and “Blastbeast” – I bet you can figure out why from the title. The closer, “Last Nail in the Coffin,” is a hard and sustained crack to the neck, a flurry of furious metal. If you are a fan of Defleshed then you are going really like the new album. This record is also the ideal gateway drug for new fans. Recommended.
Grind Over Matter hits the streets on Friday, October 28th through Metal Blade Records in a variety of formats. Choose your poison at the links below.
Arizona deathgrind band Languish see the future in the now on their third album, Feeding The Flames Of Annihilation.
Tucson, Arizona’s Languish having been plowing the musical fields of destruction since 2014. After an early demo, they opened the gates of the end times on Extinction (2015). Pausing for a split with Oryx, they then handed the waiting the world Unworthy three years later. Their music is a blackened death metal brand of grindcore that is a short blade to your kidney and another to your throat. The music is fast, load, and hard, and it keeps on coming. The band is Sean Mears (vocals), Zack Hansen (drums), Ryan Bram (bass), and Matthew Mutterperl (guitar).
There are eleven exterminating tracks on the new album. “Manifesto” is the first egg cracked, and it is an all-out high-speed assault on your self. It is a defining pummeling, a kind of outline for the rest of the set with its growling and grinding. The song starts fast and stays that way. “Last Legs” has a more oppressive ideology at the beginning but just as much heavy throughout. Then “Ripped Remains,” in a way, is the objective combination of the two. The rhythm and percussion coalesce to form the heart of the songs, establishing the baseline devastation while the vocals and careening features color in the darkness.
You can hear doom lines now and then, like at the front of “Parasite.” You always know the speed is not far away. Slower moments create drama and depth and are a significant part of the whole. The eeriness of “Failed State” is a fine setup for “Feeding The Flames,” a song which could be the banner anthem for the album. This is a great set, and I am hoping to see tour dates for Languish pop up soon because I can’t wait witness them on stage. Recommended.
Feeding The Flames Of Annihilation is out now through Prosthetic Records. Listen to it at all the usual places and examine the physical possibilities at the links below.
The inaugural Tennessee Metal Devastation Festival took place at Beech Lake in Lexington, Tennessee last weekend, featuring Summoner’s Circle and Casket Robbery.
It is always good news when a new heavy metal festival is started. Metal Devastation Radio branched out to created Tennessee Metal Devastation Music Fest, a one-day heavy metal festival held at Beech Lake in Lexington, Tennessee. It was such an immediate success that founders Zach and Raven announced toward the end of the night that they were planning to do it again next year.
The venue was the beautiful and cozy Beech Lake. The sun shined all day and the weather couldn’t have been better, even with the Fall chill that descended in the evening when the full moon rose.
Thirteen bands were scheduled to play at the event, and the start time was early. I misjudged how long a drive it was for me so I missed the first couple of acts. I got there in time to see the Louisville foursome Devil By My Judge. The response from the plentiful crowd made me think that these metal fans had been fired up by the earlier acts and were ready for more.
The Crypt and Skully from Metal-M-Mania hosted the festival and introduced the acts. They made a huge difference because you got to hear a few words about bands you might never have seen before just ahead of their set. I wish every festival did this.
I had heard Summoner’s Circle before and I was fast becoming a fan of Casket Robbery but I had never seen them perform. The other bands were new to me. All the performances were solid, and the ones that stuck with me the most other than the two I knew of were Gravehuffer, The Red Mountain, Spillage, and Deocculted. It never ceases to amaze me how many great bands there are out there in the wild. Discovering bands you didn’t know about is one the best things about going to festivals.
By the time Casket Robbery took the stage, the temperature had dipped to what felt like the forties. It didn’t seem to bother the fans who crowded down by the front of the stage, and Casket Robbery tore the place up. This show was the first stop on their tour with Summoner’s Circle – what a great way to kick off a tour. To make absolutely certain the portents were good, Summoner’s Circle offered a (symbolic) blood sacrifice during the first song of their set and the evening spiraled on from there.
I had an excellent time at the festival. Everything went so smoothly it is hard to believe this was the first year. I’m sure there were plenty of behind-the-scenes challenges and an enormous amount of work that fans were not even aware, but the experience itself was fantastic – great food, vendors, and superb metal music the entire time.
We will be posting photo galleries for the nine bands we caught live and links will be added to this article as they go up. Meanwhile, check out the links below to the bands’ pages and the festival page. And get ready for next year, because Tennessee Metal Devastation is coming back.
Incantation releases a massive album of rarities to celebrate more than thirty years of menacing metal, Tricennial Of Blasphemy.
Incantation came together in 1989, formed by John McEntee and Paul Ledney. McEntee has stayed with the band throughout its entire history, seeing a dozen full-length albums come to fruition, along with a rugged smattering of splits and EPs. Along the way, some of the tracks have become rather obscure and hard for fans to find. Tricennial Of Blasphemy solves that problem. It is a three-record / two-CD set that houses thirty-one songs, including a couple that have never been published before.
The unreleased first. “Pest Savagery” is grinding, punishing death metal. Unhallowed growls and charging rhythms reign. “Ordained by Night’s Will” has a good cook and a nice groove. It breaks out periodically into a blitz, and there are downshifted tempo moments, too. There is a lot infused in these four minutes. Either song would have fared well on an Incantation album, so it is a shame they never made it on one – until now.
After these two openers, there is a long list of songs from disparate places, like long gone compilations and the Decibel Magazine flexi-released song “Degeneration,” that would take some time to run down and, without this new album, could easily have been lost in the shuffle. Instead of me just repeating it all here, check out the link below to the Incantation website and there is a complete list there. There are many songs I have never heard, like “Emaciated Holy Figure” from the Corporate Death compilation, for example, and on and on. It is a genuine treasure trove for fans.
The set ends with a few live cuts recorded in Switzerland, France, and Cleveland a decade or so ago. I hadn’t heard these, either, but I have seen Incantation live several times and hearing these recordings takes me back to those experiences. Sometimes rarities records fall short and have a lot of fluff in them. Not this one. This one is the real deal. Recommended.
Tricennial Of Blasphemy is streaming now, with physicals and merch out on Friday, October 7th through Relapse records.