Thursday Three: Latter-Day Unleashed Sure we love the classics, but what have you done for me lately?

Unleashed has had a remarkable career. Exploding out of the gates with “Where No Life Dwells” (1991) (reviewed here and recently reissued on vinyl (again)) and “Shadows in the Deep” (1992), the Swedish killers settled into more sustainable mid-tempo groove for “Across the Open Sea” (1993), “Victory” (1995) and “Warrior” (1997). They took a bit of a break after “Warrior”, but came back in 2002 with the half fun, half dreadful “Hell’s Unleashed” which kicked off a string of releases that got better as they went: “Sworn Allegiance” (2004), “Midvinterblot” (2006) and “Hammer Battalion” (2008).

The next album — “As Yggdrasil Trembles” (2010) — switched things up a bit, taking on a slightly black metal feel which carried through on their next two albums, which includes “Odalheim” (2012) and “Dawn of the Nine” (2015).

Anyone familiar with those three albums can attest to the fact that Unleashed are far from done yet. If you’re not familiar, here’s some proof:

  1. “Master of the Ancient Art” from “As Yggdrasil Trembles” (2010)
  2. “Fimbulwinter” from “Odalheim” (2012)
  3. “Welcome Son of Thor” from “Dawn of the Nine” (2015)

Master Of The Ancient Art

Death, “Leprosy” (1988)

death-leprosy_1

Art by the phenomenal Edward Repka.

Some years ago (1998) in Atlanta, upstairs at the venerable Masquerade, I saw Death on what would prove to be their last show. If I’d known this would be the last time I’d see Chuck Schuldiner live, I would have paid more attention to the show instead of hunting down the slimy dickhead who’d punched me in the kidneys during Hammerfall’s opening set. Continue reading

Cannibal Corpse, “Eaten Back to Life” (1990)

I’m at work far too early this morning because some fart-knocking network engineer (less of an engineer than a hapless offspring of Booji Boy, created in a tube from genetic material scrapped off the wall outside Booji’s crib) made me get up at this unholy hour just to stab a console cable into a firewall server. I’ve spent 15 years in this industry aggressively resisting any learning opportunity but I came dangerously close to “figuring some shit out” this morning. Couple that with a cup of coffee that tastes slightly worse than boiling the liners out of last seasons cleats and I’m in a foul fucking mood.

I could listen to Katy Perry singing “Bicycle Built For Two” to complete the Trifecta of Enduring Misery but I’m not quite ready to suck down a red Solo cup of hemlock so instead I dialed up some Cannibal Corpse: specifically the first album, Eaten Back to Life.

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Entombed, “Left Hand Path” (1989)

Entombed - Left Hand Path

Artwork by the mighty Dan Seagrave!

Nostalgia is a wet dog. I still love her, she’s my dog and all that, but she smells like the bottom of a zombie port-a-potty and insists on drying out by rolling on the couch of Corinthian leather. One of the cool things about listening to these old albums is getting that weird feeling that comes from taking a deep, long hit of pure nostalgia. Mmmm, so good! Yes, yes… remember? I was in college studying Medieval English Literature when Entombed’s debut came out! I was skinny! I wore glasses! Everyone else was listening to Jane’s Addiction!

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Unleashed “Where No Life Dwells” (1991)

1991; let the sink in for a moment. Fuck that was a long time ago. Like, pre-cell phone era, when people had “mobile phones” with batteries that could fry bacon or produce a cancerous brain tumor that whispered evil shit in the subconscious. It was so long ago, I was a wee grub of a collegiate human, feasting on the excrement of those higher up the academic food chain. The world was consumed with fear and fire as a war started in ancient Mesopotamia which is, beyond all logic and reason, still going on today. The bloated corpse of the Soviet Union continued to explode and spatter the region with a bunch of piss-ant countries. Everyone’s favorite cannibal Jeff Dahmer got caught with his dick in someone’s skull, “going postal” became a thing, people thought Pearl Jam was cool, and Starbucks opened in California. Lots of deliciously stupid shit happened that year!

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Pestilence, “Testimony of the Ancients” (1991)

pestilence_testimony of the ancients

I feel like the Andy Rooney of death metal at this point and if I start complaining about how today’s kids don’t respect their death metal elders, shoot me full of lethal cocktail and roll the corpse into the river.  Wait… is that too soon?  No disrespect meant to one of the great curmudgeons the world has ever known.

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Immolation / Jungle Rot / Gigan — Live, October 10, 2011

First, a bit of disclosure. There was a black metal band on first. I only caught maybe one song and frankly cannot recall their name to save my life. This isn’t nearly enough of a sample for me to discuss them fairly so I’m going to decline comment. Sorry guys, I was running late and needed to get dinner.

Gigan followed this and it was the second time I’d seen them in a month as they also opened for Grave. I was going to do a writeup for that show too but I ended up getting drunk which did not help my already faulty recall. First of all when you have a really technical band like Gigan you need very good sound to be able to appreciate them and for a few songs it sounded like the club forgot to turn the guitar on. I’m not all that big on this sort of thing but trying to handle that sort of music with terrible sound and you have no chance. I’ve listened to their records a bit and this isn’t my brand of Scotch. They just seem like yet another band who can write a ton of riffs and not write an actual song.

Jungle Rot followed them up and I was impressed in the wrong way. I was never really a fan and I haven’t even heard anything they’ve done in over a decade. That said I knew every note they were going to play before they even played it. They managed to make AC/DC sound unpredictable, they were that generic. They had good energy on stage and seemed like good enough guys but that was some of the least interesting music I’ve ever heard. If the set had been shorter it might have been fine but it felt like they went on forever.

Finally Immolation took the stage and all of the earlier stuff I couldn’t have cared less about went away. They were to put it mildly, CRUSHING. The sound was pretty good and they clearly wanted to devastate the hometown fans in a good way. The crowd, which was shamefully small, wasn’t ultra-violent but they were definitely into it in a big way. I can’t remember song titles worth a damn so don’t ask me for a set list in the comment section but they did play a little something off the whole discography. I do wish they would have broken out “Higher Coward” to start but I have no complaints about anything from Immolation. I just hope next time they bring along better support.

I totally recommend catching this, but it’s probably a good idea to show up kind of late.

Desultory, “Counting to Infinity” (2010)

Desultory, "Counting Our Scars"

Desultory, “Counting Our Scars”

Given that virtually every metal band from the early ’90s whose members are yet living has decided to reunite, it’s no surprise that death metal cum rollers (but let’s not talk about that) Desultory have also thrown their hat into the ring. Their newest record bears the disconcertingly angsty title Counting Our Scars, but lays all fears of modernization to rest with a raw, popping snare, vintage vocals that fans of Tompa will adore, and a charmingly amateurish logo of old. And though the arrangements may be a bit more straightforward and the refrains a little snappier than in the old days, three out of the four original members ensure that the hooks are as tightly packed as ever. In short, this is what The Haunted ought to have sounded like, back when someone, anyone, still had faith in them. Headbangers unite.

But wait — isn’t Sickening Vaults about unearthing the cold corpses of old instead of pandering to the new? Yes. The reason Desultory’s new record earns any mention in these chambers is simple: their back catalogue, Into Eternity in particular. Long before the name was co-opted by a preening cabal of Canadians, Into Eternity called to mind ravenous, thrashing, Swedish death metal that presaged the above named and, most notably, death-thrash titans The Crown by several years. Indeed, listening to Desultory’s ‘Tears’, one could be forgiven for thinking it was from the Deathrace King sessions – a record that wouldn’t be released for almost 10 years more. And although Counting Our Scars has a distinctly Slaughter of the Soul vibe, it was Desultory playing tight thrashing death metal while At the Gates were still convulsing horrifically on The Red in the Sky is Ours Indeed, Desultory were always their own masters, sometimes even to their detriment, and their name must endure in its own right. This new record may not burnish their name any brighter than it already was, but at the least should shine a greater light upon their legacy.

Desultory

Morgoth’s back, baby! Germany's gruesome fivesome reunites

I’d read that they were playing Europe and doing the entire Cursed album but this is the first visual evidence I’ve seen. If nothing else, they look great.

Morgoth at Wacken Open Air 2011

Morgoth at Wacken Open Air 2011. Photo by Patty Todedo.

Here’s a little teaser they did this Spring to announce the reunion:

And here’s the video for the classic Isolated from “Cursed”:

Check out the tour dates on the official Morgoth site: www.morgoth-band.org

Follow the band on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MorgothOfficial