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Unearthing The Metal Underground: The Brutal Metal Scene

If there was ever a genre of metal that seems to get the least amount of exposure, it would possibly be the brutal death metal scene. There are literally dozens of bands putting out material every week, and occasionally a few rise above the heap to become well-known with most metal listeners.

Brutal death metal, which has as it's subgenres slam, grind, and porno, can partially trace it's inception back to Earache grindcore compilations and mostly to the late 80's/early 90's when such extreme bands as Blood Duster, Lividity, and Broken Hope put out grisly material that raised the bar in terms of gore, lyrics, and horror-themed album cover art. The following years saw Dying Fetus become one of the top bands of the next wave, with caustic maim-inducing music that influenced countless bands in today's brutal scene. When done well, the music can be hilarious and high energy. When done badly, it is still pretty funny too.

There are groups at the slam end of it like Virginia's Short Bus Pile Up, which started out as a MySpace joke against screamo bands and ended up getting serious and becoming quite successful in the underground due to funny lyrics and unconventionally twisted song titles. There are also the porno grind bands like the Netherlands' Cliteater, whose music is about warped sensual excursions and some titles parodying Metallica ("Clit 'em All"). Argentina's Prion also just put out a very capable and heavy split release with one of it's fellow scene bands, Split Torso Trauma. Brutal metal is ubiquitous, as you can see.

While a number of the artists rely on cheap artwork, bargain basement production, and subject matter that has been done to death, there are many bands that have honed their skills and go the extra mile with good sound and slamming material, like Chicago's Peshmerga or San Diego's Pathology.

Most of the brutal death metal bands share similar traits. The music is extreme, loaded with hammering riffs, bass and snare drums, and lyrics that are barely decipherable delivered by a vocalist who is guttural as hell. Many of the band logos are impossible to read, sort of like they're splattered or scrawled. The band names are either all medical terminology, horror-inspired or graphic adjectives, and the songs follow that theme too. Among critics and journalists in the major portals, the scene gets only a precursory nod and an occasional review, and you'll seldom hear slam death songs on satellite radio. Why? Because it's not taken too seriously. Even the most extreme black metal gets a bit more exposure than this genre, possibly because black metal tends to have that "erudite" factor about it. Some of the older metal listeners view the horror themes of brutal slam death as sophomoric, and with critics it's the same. The best analogy I can make is a cinematic one. Plenty of violent horror movies do very well in terms of viewers, but you seldom see any of them win any awards or get a thumbs up. But yet, people are watching them in droves, and even the most sophisticated metal listener needs a dose of nasty here and there.

And the brutal death scene has plenty of fans. The uploaded videos from songs sometimes get thousands of hits, and there are record labels like United Guttural or Sevared Records, the latter which puts out a huge catalogue of only extreme death metal. They re-issue old releases from bands that never got good distribution for their older material and sell out quickly on many of those pressings, so someone is buying it. Some of the bands are pretty low budget, but some are quite good. Brutal death metal is the most extreme and polarizing faction of metal out there, the one sector that has stayed virtually underground. That is part of it's appeal, in that many of the listeners of it do not want it to gain mainstream exposure - as it would then lose alot of it's luster and "metal cred." Today we will take a look at three different brutal slamming death bands from very different locations around the world, so you can check out a sampling of the scene. Keep in mind that the pool of bands in the whole scene is huge and this only scratches the surface.

Big End Bolt

One of the more technical and surprising new entrants into the scene is Moscow's Big End Bolt. The band issued it's new album, "Mechanical Race Creation," earlier this year on Coyote Records. What's impressive is that it's the band's debut material (if you don't count the two song demo "Moral Decay" from 2008). Normally you don't see this level of refinement straight away, but usually a few albums down the road. Their rhythm section is tight and lightning fast, displaying technical chops and quirky interludes. Add to that the grisly, deranged and sometimes funny vocals of frontman Igor Fil and the result is some of the catchiest technical slam metal around that's fueled with high energy. Big End Bolt writes mechanically-themed songs about torture and gore, such as the new song "Dismembered by Train Wheels." They recorded their recent album in Kiev and have even put a new official video on YouTube, which is featured below.

Decaying Purity

Turkey actually has a good history with brutal death metal, being the home of Ankara's technical grind veterans Cenotaph. One of the newer bands to make waves in the scene is Istanbul's Decaying Purity. Formed in 2005, they released a rehearsal promo the following year which got them noticed. The band's first full-length, "Phases of Dimensional Torture," was put out in 2007 and really took off a few months later when it was re-released with three bonus songs and new cover art by horror virtuoso Jon Zig. 2011 saw Decaying Purity put out it's second one, "The Existence of Infinite Agony," which has that lightning fast sound that has garnered them plenty of fans.

Amputated

This Bristol, U.K., band is from the realm of brutal death/porno metal. All the same dose of blast beats and breakdowns, but on a mission to be either completely loved or despised. They started out as a nasty bitch slap of grind to wake up a stagnant scene with their debut, "Up to Our Nuts in Guts" in 2002. A year after releasing the next one, "Gargling with Infected Semen," they toured with ENT, Desecration and Cold Lazarus. Their next slab of tunes, "Wading through Rancid Offal," came out in 2009. Currently the band are busy writing material for the next release, to be titled "Sawn in Half by Machine Gun Fire." The band says it's direction will change slightly, but not to worry.

The brutal death metal scene is overflowing with bands these days. Some just want to shock and entertain you, while others go further and appeal to the more technical crowd. Check out some of these bands and you just might find a new cathartic favorite you were unaware of. Join us next week when we unearth more metal bands in another scene or genre.

sonictherapy's avatar

Vicky Willis has been a freelance journalist and former college radio disc jockey for almost twenty years. She has been contributing to Metalunderground.com since 2010.

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