Darkness and evil can be both menacing and fun, depending on what you’re absorbing. I guess it also can be both at the same time. Whatever. It’s not like I’m some high priest of something speaking with any intimate knowledge on these things. Anyhow, where was I?
Oh right, evil, darkness, the devil, those things. They’re as much a part of heavy metal lore as guitars, bass, drums, amps, beer, what have you, and those elements aren’t going away anytime soon. It’s good and healthy to explore the darker sides of things, whether it’s done to better inform you on what’s out there or to get a better connection with the lurking shadows that would terrify most people. Metal’s always been a great vehicle for those things, and while there are those people out there who want to warn you to stay away, for you will spend eternity in damnation if you even smile at any of those records, I think we all know that’s bullshit. It’s art. Everyone settle down.
One label that’s been kicking out the filthy and evil for several years now is Hells Headbangers, and if you have weak flesh or psyche, just looking at their logo might frighten you away. But they’ve been putting out some damn good metal even since their inception, including records from bands such as The Royal Arch Blaspheme, Inquisition, Black Witchery, Children of Technology, Deiphago and tons more. HHR already is off to a cataclysmic start in 2013 with heavily anticipated full-length records from Denouncement Pyre and Vomitor (both from Australia!) that continue along the path the label has been blazing all along and that also add two destructive–and quite varied from each other–albums into your ears.
Denouncement Pyre, based in Melbourne, have been terrifying audiences for a decade now, though their first full-length “World Cremation” didn’t land until 2010. They have a fairly straightforward approach to modern black metal and easily could play alongside Watain or Marduk and probably be able to upstage either one. Their new record “Almighty Arcanum” ups the ante from their debut album, and it sounds really good. Yeah, people like their underground, primitive black metal to be raw and chaffed, but when you come up with something that sounds this impressive, there’s no shame in making the album sound as good as you can get it. On that front, they succeed masterfully.
The band’s inspirations appear to be deep and mysterious (the alchemic album title should clue you in), and their nine-track new record is mighty and overpowering in the best possible way. Guitarist/vocalist D, bassist R, and drummer L (these guys also inhabit other bands such as Hunter’s Moon, Order of Orias, and Nocturnal Graves) are channeled and on fire on this record, and they clue you in early to that fact on the dripping, eerie “Intro: Breath of Tehom” and the furious and dizzying “Extension of the Void,” where the metallic wizardry hits an early high point and drives you headlong into an abyss. The title cut opens like a pained wail in the night, as its speedy tempo and punk finish surge and destroy. “He Who Conquers All” is trancey and suffocating, with its terrifying melodies and cult-like chants, peaking when the band howls, “Release! Release your fucking spirit!”
“The Deceiver” continues along the same line as the rest of the album, remaining violent, furious, but also unmistakably melodic. It’s a punchy, angry number, and D unleashes some of his most direct growls on the album here. “Drakon: All Is One” is a smeary, dreary instrumental that sounds dreamt up in a dungeon, and that spills into “Circle of Serpents,” a short, to-the-point blast of black punishment that’s over before you realize what got you. “Darkness Manifest” is a swirling, intoxicating number that’s as imaginative and thorny as anything on here. The blasts bust open your lips, and the monstrous growls achieve authoritative status. Closer “The Redeemer” goes back to trippy and nightmarish, but it also provides a stunning bit of savagery to close the record.
This band is not for the weak of mind, body, and/or spirit, but if you’re willing to peek into their chilling souls for 45 minutes, you’ll find a well-played, crushing black metal document that’ll stick with you and make you wonder how soon it’ll be before these guys get wider recognition. Time has come, everyone.
Now, Vomitor on the other hand are a little cheekier. That doesn’t mean for a second that you shouldn’t take them seriously, because to pass them off would be to err majorly. But they have a little more fun with things, they seriously scuff up what they do, and they just open up and thrash you silly. Their records sound like the Brisbane-based band guzzled a ton of beers, plugged in, and fucking went for it, and they have no real concern for polish. Their third album “The Escalation” is a damn fun time.
The unit of vocalist/guitarist Death Dealer, bassist Anton Vomit, drummer Hellkunt, and new guitarist Horror Illogium (of the mighty, mysterious Portal) waste no time in getting things going, ripping into “Pits of Nightmares/Pitch Black,” a two-piece song that starts with a long instrumental run including churning feedback and guitars ringing out their dissatisfaction before they rip into a punk-fueled, lo-fi slab of pain. It’s thrashy, punchy, and just right for an evening of debauchery. “Prayer to Hell” is an ideal heathen anthem, with speed, gurgly vocals, and a blazing tempo that’s designed for swinging your head around and sustaining life-long neck damage. “Salem Witches Grave” is loud and disruptive, abrasive, and full of guitars spitting noise and interference.
“Hellburst to Fight” sounds exactly like its title indicates. It’s a violent, speedy, charred bit of metallic goodness that is blissfully brush burned sonically. The title cut has the same face, one that is a bruised, bleeding, and looking like you stumbled in the door after a night of alley fights and bad decisions. “Metal or Die” is not a tough one to decipher or wrap your head around, and it’ll batter you while you’re too out of your mind to know what’s going on. Closer “Horrors of Black Death” sounds like it was recorded and mastered in hell, with the tapes burning and melting on their way to the surface. The guitars are melodic yet sinister, and the vocals sound like they were, well, vomited out. It’s a nice finish to a delightfully ugly record.
These records are likely to appeal to different sections of the extreme metal audience, though certainly there’s plenty of room in the middle for people to meet. These bands are ugly, immoral, infernal, and nasty, and I’m pretty sure fans of these groups, and of the label, wouldn’t have it any other way.
For more on Denouncement Pyre, go here: https://www.facebook.com/DENOUNCEMENTPYRE
For more on Vomitor, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vomitor/170920829616359
To buy the albums, go here: http://shop-hellsheadbangers.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.hellsheadbangers.com/