A recent business trip to Los Angeles gave me the chance to visit the excellent Bionic Records, where I chatted with the friendly staff and picked up some new stuff like the Contaminated debut and some splits from the Black Twilight bands. But, of course, I also hauled a few used albums and enjoyed staring at their covers for the rest of the trip because I didn’t have a goddamn CD player.
Skeletal Earth – Eulogy for a Dying Fetus (Pavement Music, 1993)
Skeletal Earth are very much a product of their time; vaguely political lyrics underscore the antiestablishment nature of the late 80s / early 90s American metal scene, echoing sentiments that were admittedly communicated more effectively by some of their more succinct contemporaries. Deciding to stuff nineteen tracks into a 46-minute album, Skeletal Earth deliver short songs that hover around the two and a half minute mark, with each being a blast of thrashing death metal that sounds like Revenant or Abomination suddenly developed short attention spans. There’s no lack of energy and the tongue-in-cheekiness is evident with tracks like ‘I Wanna Puke in Your Mouth’ and a hilarious but surprisingly well-executed cover of The Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me.’ The original 1991 release on Foundation 2000 may have had better artwork, but I find the levitating orbital fetus on the reissue I picked up here better reflects the album. “Eulogy for a Dying Fetus” probably lasts a bit longer than it really needed to, but it’s definitely an overlooked album that deserves at least a little more love than it gets.
Misery’s Omen – Misery’s Omen (Bindrune Recordings, 2003)
Man, I love compilations of old material like this. All those obscure recordings a band makes piled into a single convenient release. Misery’s Omen’s self-titled compilation includes all their non-album tracks to date, namely their 2000 promo cassette and the “To Worship Stone Gods” EP. The promo tracks are quality black metal that’s performed with passion and sincerity, but as great as they are, Misery’s Omen take it up a notch on the final two EP tracks. Twitchy bass work underlines the dynamic flow that takes you on a careening ride accompanied by Agoranth’s unhinged vocal performance. This is absolutely worth your time, especially for those who already love their excellent 2008 debut (and, to date, only) album “Hope Dies.”
Necrosanct – Equal in Death (Kraze Records, 1990)
British death metal band Necrosanct’s debut, “Equal in Death,” is a brash exercise in noisy rage and is filled with and enthusiastic impetuousness that doesn’t always flow quite as well as it would like to think it does. At times coming across as haphazard and unfinished, “Equal in Death” almost feels like each member had a different idea about what was going on. Tracks like “Sacrificial Lust” are awkwardly choppy, and the six-and-half-minute ‘Equananimous Deterioration’ was ambitious, but ultimately becomes stagnant rather than the intended climactic ending. Still, there are some good numbers on here, like ‘Arachneurosis’ and ‘In Death’ that open up and give us a glimpse of where the band would be headed in their subsequent releases. The vocals are lost a bit in the already low mix, so you’re going to have to crank this sucker. Although it has some charm in its unpolished clamour, “Equal in Death” isn’t immensely memorable and Necrosanct’s 1992 sophomore “Incarnate” is where they really pulled their shit together and delivered a right barnburner.
Dyster – Fallen, Suicided & Forgotten (De Tenebrarum Principio, 2007)
Totally bought on a whim because I had an extra fiver in my pocket, this is a CD reissue of the cassette released the year prior by Drakkar Records. Not gonna lie, “Fallen, Suicided & Forgotten” is a bit of a rough go. It really is your stereotypical bedroom black metal sound, a one-man band using a drum machine and rigid digital production that somehow manages to vary from track to track. On the surface, you might find some stylistic similarities with Mütiilation’s mid-era albums like “Majestas Leprosus,” but Dyster certainly don’t have the same knack for creating the same type of utter filth that Mütiilation did. I guess it’s only fair to point out again that this is a demo and Dyster have released several albums since this that I’m unfamiliar with, but “Fallen, Suicided & Forgotten” isn’t exactly a beacon of promise.
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