Welcome to Through a Speaker Rumbly, a multimedia column whose focus is on underground cassette tapes. This month’s episode is titled . . .
Bands who make something new from the tried and trve.
Because the belief that with the old format ought to come the old sound is a widely-heeded suggestion, but not a rule. When culling for four tapes to exemplify best what it means to be novel and simultaneously respectful of one’s metal ancestry, I looked for and selected bands that could not have existed at any point in time except now. Meaning that these bands are both indebted to their influences and doing something largely unheard of in the underground--something that, who knows?, may also be influential to future metal bands.
Brånd - Demo 2015
Stomping Austrian black metal from a gothicratic dimension
Imagine a tightly-laced, black leather combat boot stamping on Peter Steel's face--forever. Now you’re in the right state of mind to accept Brånd’s Demo 2015. Word is this demo bled over from some alternate universe where post-The Return-era Quorthon fell in love with a dubbed tape of Joy Division's Peel Sessions compilation put out in '86. (What's crazy about that other dimension is that Urfaust is exactly the same band as they are in this dimension. Most other bands are drastically different; but Urfaust sounds exactly the same!) But even in an existence where D16 sounds like Mayhem and Mayhem sounds like Volbeat, Brånd’s take on raw black metal is both eldritch and instinctive. The sound is a result of a natural but extraordinary evolution. The closest comparison in the realm of our dimension’s black metal would be Atilla's yawny vocals on "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas." You’ll find yourself asking why hasn’t another band ever combined stomping, lo-fi black metal with blitzed and beleaguered moaning? Your guess is as good as mine, but I’m glad it’s finally happened.
Given the s&h costs (it is from another dimension) and the limited pressing (50 copies, yet another demo whose creator “had no idea there would be so much interest”), Brånd's demo is, from the start, an exceedingly rare kvlt artifact. Dragging this up from the underground so someone besides all the greedy collectorrats can have at least a sniff.
Update: It’s completely sold out, but Tour de Garde will be reissuing Demo 2015 on tape in the near future. Also, Brånd is allegedly a solo project of the bassist/singer of Kringa. Likely still from another dimension.
Geodaehan - Demo I, MMXV
One young Norwegian man’s handcrafted hermetic funeral doom
What Niko, Mikko and Jori of Thergothon did to metal is still being unraveled today, not to mention still resounding through the sustained barred chords and bullfrog-in-a-deep-well vokills of their few, but faithful wannabe emulators. But Runar Andersen, the man behind 거대한, or Geodaehan (meaning “giant” in Korean), isn’t after sounding like Thergothon. Instead he seems to be after the same thing Thergothon themselves were probably once after: the expression of an inner-darkness that feels as vast as the cosmos and as deeply rooted as the mountains. Indeed, Demo I, MMXV is a desperate, challenging soliloquy in three parts (“Pillar,” “Pluto,” and “Nullus Abrupta”), delivered in a croaky, funereal voice, and supported by soughing, Angelo Badalamenti-esque synth, guitar chugs like the sonorous baying of some long extinct megafauna, and a scoliosis-inflected rhythm section that burrows deep beneath the droning commotion and saps your will to live.
The first run of these tapes was limited to 23 copies. Again, the humility schtick: Runar “RNR” Andersen (of Gay Parade, Kveldsmoerke & who knows what else) was not expecting that the 23 copies would sell out immediately. But fear not, another run is coming. Here’s hoping the DIY presentation remains--the demo’s insert is just a regular, old 8.5”x11” with a bunch of half-baked esoteric scribblings like Runar did it all during class, and printed off some Laserjet whose ink cartridge been low. Keep your ear to the dirt for the eventual second run because, as of right now, the above sample is all you’ve got to sate your debilitating itch for Geodaehan--assuming you weren’t one of those initial 23. Or should I say 21, as I know where at least two copies ended up.
Initiated - Seed of Evil
Sweltering and doomy heavy metal from Helsinki drinking buddies
Another band whose second pressing you’ll be settling for. Oddly enough, though, Yours Unruly is right there with you. It’s not an infrequent occurrence: I get real psyched on a demo, start proselytizing its virtues, only to have it then sell out before I can even enter my Paypal password. Some day I’ll learn to purchase then praise. After hearing Seed of Evil, I contacted Harri, who, besides drumming for the most righteous Ride For Revenge, likes to take a melodic Eric Wagnerian approach on his Danzignostic bellowings. And who can deny his awesome Finnglish lyrics? E.g. "Her black flame burns through and I'm ready to walk by her side, and make the world to know her name." Also, I’m happy to report that Harri is down-to-earth, and was totally psyched when I asked him if I could write about his band's demo in my obscure, little column--except he forgot to tell me to shut up and buy the tape. Because while it’s perfectly fine to jam something on your computer speakers or earbuds, it doesn’t actually mean anything until you’ve got it in your house taking up space, right?
You know as well as I do that rockin’, bluesy doom done right is just about the most enjoyable thing in the world. It’s like giving your soul a buzz, you know? These five Helsinkers know that, too, and with Seed of Evil they shotgun some dank, loud shit right down your throat chakra. They doom all over the world, crooning and chugging similarly to their compatriots Magister Templi, except Initiated’s is a leathery and smokier doom. So make room on your Saturday evening back-porch-chilling playlist for these Finns' beery, beefy, bare-chested, doomy heavy metal. Seed of Evil is roughly thirty minutes of solos curling like snake tattoos on a thunder thigh, drums popping and cracking like body shots, and vocals sure to please all the chicks and hunks in their Witchfinder General halter-tops. Seriously, only play this if you're okay waking up the following afternoon banged the fuck over.
Teratogenesis - Deformed Sexuality
Turpitude and Van Halen-worship from the Hanford Site wastes
Teratogenesis are a two piece from Richland, WA, which is dangerously close to the Hanford Site--you know, “the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States,” according to Wikipedia. The band’s proximity to such great amounts of radioactive waste is something you might bear in mind while you're jamming their three song, eight minute demo. If nothing else, it helps explain how it’s so sick. Then again, correlation does not imply causation. So who’s to say that guitarist/drummer Gut wouldn’t have been able to write such twisted leads if he was from somewhere less nuclear, like Milwaukee? Who’s to say that the vocalist, Toten Slave--with whom I’ve been corresponding regularly since hearing the first track from Deformed Sexuality back in May--who’s to say he wouldn’t still be writing songs like “The Pillars of Flesh are Mounting” even if he lived somewhere "normal" like Chattanooga?
Whatever the cause for Teratogenesis’s perversion, it is now yours to wallow in without the risk of actual contamination. Sure, your brain will be infected by dive-bombing leads, your senses will be muddled trying to make sense of songs that seem to decay and fall apart rather than end, but there’s no real risk. At least, I don't think there is. Unless Teratogenesis should decide to market a die hard version of Deformed Sexuality that comes with a logo patch, a plutonium stick and a copy of the tape officially consecrated in a boiling vat of liquefied atomic materials. Those may or may not be just around the corner, but I have been assured that more material is definitely coming from Teratogenesis. According to Toten Slave, Gut believes he can create some sort of Van Halen/Death Metal hybrid. Whatever that may entail, I'm piqued.
To order your own copy of Deformed Sexuality, hail Toten Slave at: teratogenesisdm[at]gmail[dot]com
Three out of four of these tapes are already on their second, and likely, final run, so time is of the putrescence here, folks. If you wish to get your own copy of one or all of these tapes you'd better get on it. Now go forth and consume, ye collectors of atavistic aural bric-a-brac. Remember: Play them loud, play them over and over again, and don't even think about rewinding.