death metal

Following years of tumult and unrest, with multiple rotating cast members, Arsis has settled into a groove for the release of the upcoming record "Unwelcome." For the first time, band leader James Malone feels like he has a lineup he can count on and an album that he can really use to launch the band into the fray. We sat down with James to talk about his band, his music, and the conventions of genre labels.

It was less than a year ago that Six Feet Under revealed a revamped lineup to the world, unleashing “Undead” onto a death metal world that wasn't expecting Chris Barnes to make relevant music ever again. The band had been through some stagnant years, and the “Graveyard Classics” series of cover albums had destroyed much of their credibility with serious listeners, so the fact that “Undead” was able to resurrect the band's image was an act still a few steps short of a miracle.

If someone someday constructed a Mount Rushmore of Swedish death metal, there's a very good chance that Peter Tägtgren would be a candidate for inclusion. Revolutionary in his early days and a mainstay in the worldwide genre now, Tägtgren is just about ready to drop "End of Disclosure" on the world, the newest album from his primary band Hypocrisy. That's only the beginning of the musical year for Tägtgren, however, as he's also about to hit the road for a tour and somehow found time to work on the new Children of Bodom record. We were honored that the man himself found a few minutes to spare to talk with us about all of these things and more.

Over the last few years, as the remaining remnants of melodic death metal withered on the vine, the genre as a whole began to suffer. It wasn't that the turn of the millennium strain of melodic death metal was a cultural touchstone that needed to be saved, but what replaced it didn't account for the very reason it ever existed. Melodic death metal was the bridge between those people who listen to music simply to be pounded by the loudest mash of noise possible, and those who can appreciate heavier sounds but still need to have a conventional song to wrap them in.

Death metal bands are at a disadvantage before I hear a single note of their music. Just by the nature of what they play, it's extremely difficult for any of them to stand out from the pack. Unlike every other genre, where voices and tones vary wildly, death metal is confined to a set of standards that make everyone sound more or less the same. While that's great for fans who are immersed in the music, and can pick out those small differences and magnify them, it leaves people like me weary from listening to album after album, band after band, that all blend together.

It's always difficult to review the latest album from a legendary band, especially when they don't fall into your realm of expertise. Death metal has never been my thing, and even in my brief escapades into the genre, Suffocation never crossed my path. Of course, I know of Suffocation, I just can't speak with any authority as to their status or stature. It's with that in mind that I find myself hesitant talking about this new album, because I'm not sure how much their reputation in death metal circles has influenced me.

Melodic death metal is one of those things that, if you listen to a purist, will tell you cannot exist. Death metal, they say, is incompatible with the melodic elements other facets of the metal universe take for granted. The music should be uncompromising, focused on nothing but steamrolling the listener with riff after riff of unrelenting brutality. The bands that dared step outside that box and try to make their assaults into what conventional thinkers might consider songs were heretics, and the music they made was cute, but not really death metal.

One of the sad facts about music is that there is simply too much of it. There's too much for us, as fans, to be able to hear even a fraction of what's out there (trust me, I hear more than my fair share, and even that is a mere pittance compared to what is released) in our quest to find the next album that will speak to us on untold levels. The same is true for musicians, for whom there is too much music to compete against for their work to stand much of a chance of reaching the people to whom that music would speak on those levels.

Earlier this week I talked about Rogga Johansson's Megascavenger, and here we are a few dyas later discussing yet another of his projects. This time out, Humanity Delete graces us with their debut album, though any such comments are laughable considering the amount of material Rogga has released both in his career, and this year alone.