Compilation Dissertation: Fuck the Underground Volume 1

New feature folks, and here it is.  Sometimes we get compilations around here, and we’re always at odds with how to exactly approach a review.  Do we simply go over it as any submission, picking out a few tidbits on which you may gnaw?  A few stale crumbs on which you may piss?  And then toss in an introduction and conclusion and call it the usual day?  No sir, not today, not here.  Not ever again.  Had this idea to instead go through any such compilation thoroughly, giving each track a short review with a simple intro, which you’re now reading.  This will be our first submissions for this new venture, and it’s a good one, quite frankly one of the best compilations we’ve received since we first began.  Fuck the Underground is strange, it’s apparently an underground site/zine, but from what we can find they haven’t updated anything in about three years but yet we received this 2010 comp about two weeks ago to review…  In their defense it was actually via a submission from another band.  Anyway, this seems to be a collection of tracks from different albums they’ve reviewed on there, and it’s a pretty killer selection.  There’s literally no information on this thing, even via the ordering section on the site above, but either way we’re going to run through this track-by-track and give you the gravy.  When there’s a sample for you to hear, we’ve included the direct player for your convenience.

1. Proskgod – “Droguito”

These guys are so underground even Metallum isn’t cool enough to have them.  Experimental death weirdness metal from Venezuela?  Solos with harmonics and parallel drumming?  Sure man, give it to me.  Proskgod provide a dense mix, a fine mix, a mix to bake a wedding cake with and have thirty-something kids.  Combining awesome Central American style into heavy progressive elements is their forte via this track, which tears.  Mostly.  Proskgod, when they’re focused on playing as they are, just awesome, but when they experiment for the sake of experimentation, it kind of sounds like thirty songs in one.  Still, for one track it’s impressive with tons of power, and dig those folkish rally cries that make you want to go full tribal or Mixtec.  From a 2010 demo.  Score: 4 / 5



2. Alchemyst – “Jesu”

Sometimes Germany sucks.  Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles ring a painful bell?  Anyway, these guys are so much cooler they don’t even sound German.  Playing what they refer to as ‘mythological metal,’ Alchemyst is old-school death metal with some occultist elements.  Raw, sounding like it was recording in the middle of a burial mound with candles fraying the input cables.  Lots of cool tempo cuts, echoing, agonized vocals, roars from the abyss, and some breakdowns that stand apart from the rest of the breakdowns that typically just break it down into nothing for most bands.  At times these guys pull out the symbolic ritual by the book, and it can be partially stale, but the rest of the time you have no clue what God(s) they’re worshiping and it will scare the shit out of you.  From their 2010 Blood and Ember demo.  Score: 4 / 5


3. Traktoroth – “Demokrat-Ska”

Eastern Europe has this thing with tractors.  Don’t believe?  Believe this, the Soviets had a musical in 1939 about driving tractors.  So yes, these Croatian blackened punk beasts like their tractors, so they named their band after it.    If someone successfully found a way to incorporate the feeling of rural life on the communes into barely-working machinery and punk that was charcoaled in a coke oven, it would be these guys.  It opens with raw, poorly recorded chording, but then the beast bass tractor engine kicks it and you find yourself cutting grass at blistering speed while chickens fly in your wake, their feathers and blood covering the fields.  Sounds like we need to hear more from these boys.  Hint, send us something.  This one’s from their 2009 Nervoza demo.  Score: 4.5 / 5


4. Ares Kingdom – “Incendiary”

San Francisco metal without the catchy, and annoying, theme song at the beginning.  No rice, no trolleys, the house is empty, there’s no washed-up comedian in the basement, and it’s all evil.  Actually they’re from Kansas City, but since the joke is funnier that way and based on a strange Bandcamp tag for the track below, we’ll keep it.  Pretty classic death/thrash here, without modern cliche, purely classic, and sufficient in this regard.  The drum toms have a nice, hollow sound to them that lends the perfect thump, the guitars shred your face off in a pleasant fashion, the vocals keep it normal, it’s largely by the book, but it’s a book you’ve read and don’t mind reading again and again.  From their 2010 full-length of the same title.  Score: 4 / 5


5. Absolute Madness – “Poser Disposer”

These guys are difficult to grasp in spite of the easiness of matching their sounds to a variety of genres, so Absolute Madness at least got the name right.  Crossover thrash does a good job of covering what we need, and they have the typical hallmarks of it.  Clear, shredding chords, older-style vocals that ever so slightly verge on scream but keep it to a yell, and lyrics that cover the gamut of tearing down people who hang out at the mall whilst wearing faux hawks upon their heads.  Their sound is in many ways mature, but their approach somewhat juvenile.  Still, for something this underground it should please most thrash fans.  It feels old and young at the same time, so it’s like the yin yang of thrash.  From a 2009 demo that’s so far the only thing they’ve ever released, on cassette of course.  Score: 3.5 / 5


6. Phantasm – “Keeper of the Dead”

Here’s some old, truly underground shit for you right here baby.  Phantasm is an ancient death metal band from Wisconsin who was once brave enough to don KISS and Star Trek shirts in their promo photo.  This is so underground they really only released a handful of tracks, cut some freako tapes, and called it quits, so this inclusion makes this compilation pretty killer, since there’s no way you’d hear this without owning the cassette demo it came from in 1990.  How many of you were even born then?  Probably not many, and now you can feel that much cooler and older.  In terms of sound it’s raw as hell, opening with a keyboard organ loaded with echo, chords that are overdriven, drums made out of cardboard, screeching wails that were recording in the sky with more echo, it’s old, but it’s this kind of sound that built death metal early on, make no mistake.  Score: 4 / 5


7. Architects of the Aftermath – “I Can Kill Gods”

Hands down, best song on this compilation.  Having listened to it probably thirty times already, trust me, I know it, trust me you will lift to this song, you will get swol.  Metallum bills them as thrash metal, but really that’s not so good, but then again neither is that piece of crap site.  Architects of the Aftermath cross a number of boundaries.  You can find thrash in there, sure, but also elements of harder-edge punk, and old-school hardcore.  The death is there, yep, but it’s a different kind of death.  And really, it’s pretty straightforward.  This says nothing about the rest of the album this came from in 2010, self-titled, by the way, but this song is simply one thing, perfection.  It catches all the right hooks, all the right moments, all the right shifts, all the right vocals, all the right lyrics, it does everything you need.  This is an easy perfect with no elaboration needed.  Score: 5 / 5




8. Burial Ritual – “Fantasy of Rape”

Urrrgh, then we hit a dip in the road.  Interestingly, for your knowledge, there have actually been some interesting studies on what this song is titled after, though our link isn’t the most academic source out there, but it’s free.  Burital Ritual strip down their metal in a number of ways.  The drums sound mechanical, the vocals have absolutely no variety in delivery, and they even throw in some porn samples of some chick to annoy you.  If we wanted Cemetery Rapist, well, we’d listen to Cemetery Rapist, and no one wants that.  The guitars do their job of strumming, but really it sounds like Eaten Back to Life without Cannibal Corpse.  It hurts to even mention that band around here, but really, there’s so little unique in this track that it deserves a flat analogy.  Average death metal is the best this can achieve.  From their 2009 full-length Tower of Silence.  Score: 3 / 5


9. (Psychoparalysis) – “Deligion, Part II”

Can someone please explain the parenthesis on this one?  Really, what does it even mean?  It makes it null in a search if you do it without them, and really it’s better if the audience doesn’t have to figure out what in the hell you’re on about with ASCII symbols.  Why not >Psycholparalysis<?  Then they could explain it’s like they’re giving you a big hug.  They’re also a fan of “symbolic” “word-play.”  Since they’re Finnish, perhaps they lack the true grasp of English to realize it actually sounds pretty dumb.  So this song is something about being atheist, but see they have a clever way of saying it, sort of, not really actually.  Coming from a 2010 demo with some of the worst cover art ever, these parenthesis-worshippers do it prog style with dreamy chords and roars over top of that.  Nice rhyme, eh?  Too bad it’s not so clever, just as most of this music is not so clever.  It’s all just not so clever.  It’s dlever.  Score: 2.5 / 5

Deligion part II from (Psychoparalysis) on Myspace.


10. Rusty Eye – “Somnambulist Possession”

This band, Rusty Eye, and this song title, are a mouthful.  Let’s try to keep it succinct.  Weird.  Like “what in the Hell is this doing on here with all of this other stuff for the love of Christ” weird.  It opens with this bass line that makes you think ELP has come to roost, but then come the dainty notes on the guitar, and soon, soon…….you get some drum marches and then it leads into this Goth punk roll with a chick singing.  Sadly she’s the only girl on this album, because she doesn’t have the greatest of delivery.  It’s closer to spoken-word and when she tries to go loud and hold a note it wavers from side to side like a drunk.  It’s probably because she drums at the same time, so we at least can bow to her a bit.  Oddly, there’s something “original Dark Shadows” about this release, particularly near the end.  The solo tears, and the rhythm and drum roll keeps it chugging along.  It’s just those vocals, if she’d get some lessons she could, honestly, probably destroy, but for what it is via this track it currently sounds too “background bar” that interrupts your electronic darts sessions and makes you swear off of girls.  And that ending electronic flea sound, just why…  From their 2009 full-length Possessor, which actually has really awesome artwork.  Score: 3 / 5


11. Blastanus – “Punk Bitch Part II”

These guys like blastbeasts and assholes, so they combined that into one being and made a band out of it.  Deathgrind or general grind sometimes doesn’t get much respect, and bands like Blastanus are behind this trend.  It tends to be enjoyed by this weird subdivision of metalheads that only seem to “get it” when they’re together, and separate they wear entirely different shirts and don’t talk about this part of their life.  Probably due to fear of ridicule.  These guys, like many grind bands, don’t give themselves enough credit.  It’s clear they can play, they’re just not sure how they should be doing it.  Space is wasted on blistering, mathematical guitar flow with no direction that degrades into wax paper drum stomps of boring sub-grind.  It’s really a shame, because it seems like they could catch the attention of metal fans who otherwise never listen to such music, but they waste it on playing grind.  Easily the second worst song on here, and at times so ridiculous it deserves to simply be skipped entirely.  From their 2010 full-length Odd, which figuratively captures what they sound like.  Score: 2 / 5


12. Endless Sorrow – “My Broken Soul”

When you see them billed as “dark doom metal” that’s kind of what you expect.  Instead, you are treated to drums that sound like cymbals have been switched for jingle bells on a sleigh and probably the worst vocals ever recorded.  Bookmark this page and link to this section just for that, should you require a future reference.  It starts with random, forced screams with mega echo that sound like cats on a fence.  If only we had enough boots to put an end to this, but then again it is the Endless kind of sorrow they’re trying to achieve.  Sadly the depressing guitar lines are quite good, or perhaps it’s just one’s mind trying to find something decent in this horrible, diseased funeral march to the entire genre that is doom.  After some cats screaming for a mate, you get one guy who had a stroke at some point yelling at his wife for his sloppy scrambled eggs, and then he tries to pull out the black metal death rattle, stress on tries.  He barely succeeds in making a sound, let alone a scream.  And did you have to record them so loud?  Seriously we might have survived listening to this if they were a little softer.  One of the worst songs ever written, and ironically from a 2010 demo called Hopeless.  Score: 1.5 / 5


13. Aethyria – “The Thrash of Music Went”

It’s amazing how bad the enders of this compilation are, but trust us, the rest above is worth it.  This is the usual with compilations, there’s typical something on it that brings a redness to your face, a slight sweat on the brow, and you move ahead.  Luckily, it’s really all at the end, so you can just go back to the beginning!  Aethyria needs to get his microphones checked.  Practically everything in this track is overdriven and static-covered.  The double kick, the vocals, the guitars, it’s a static wonderland that completely ruins the sound, which is infuriating since it’s actually a decent selection and coming all from one guy, with a beard.  We think so, anyway, it’s hard to tell because he’s a bit of a mystery and even included a picture of some girl’s booty and gap on his Myspace page.  Really, if you’re going bedroom black metal you need two things.  Here they are.  An image that makes it seem like you’re actually scary, and no references to anything but scariness.  Especially if you give your immortal death hails from Alabama.  He’s actually involved in an occultist project we hope to review soon called Zā Lä Thü that sent this compilation along with two of their releases.  This track is from a 2001 demo called Influx the Air.  Yeah, giggle, go ahead, let it out, otherwise it will come out at an inopportune moment.  Score: 3 / 5

The Thrash of Music Went from Æthyria on Myspace.


14. Æðra – “Mist on the Surface”

Thank God for these guys, yeah we’re thanking the Christian one, suck it fools, because here we are brought the power we needed after some of the above.  Unfortunately they spell their name with forgotten letters, so we’re going to reserve it for the line above and just say “that guy” from now on, or “this guy” where necessary since there is only one anyway.  For a one-man, self-released project, this guy really knows his stuff.  The recording quality on this track, taken from a 2010 demo entitled Limbs of the Sky, is awesome for something this obscure.  Atmospheric keyboards and natural sounds open into some epic chugging and then some absolutely heart-wrenching, powerful main lines.  That guy can roar, as well, and has great vocal carry throughout.  If this is only a demo, we’d love to hear what else that/this guy has in store, including a fairly recently full-length called The Evening Red.  Score: 4 / 5


15. Psi-Kotica – “Words”

And for our final piece some progressive thrash from out of Portugal.  Unfortunately it progresses in the direction opposite in which we would like to go, so you might want to choose to go back to the start.  The opening chord work has this sad, tranquil sound to it, but that’s quickly destroyed by some awesome xylophone sarcasm inserted for effect.  The main line is actually very effectual, but it can’t drag it above where the dingly janglies put the rest of it.  That’s right, slam dem metal sticks man, slam ’em, get it, smash that colorful children’s toy unlike you create metal for reals.  If it weren’t for dem xylophones we might be okay with it.  But we’re not, let’s face it, xylophone is never going to sound good anywhere, ever.  From a 2010 demo that speaks for itself, Lords of Lies.  Score: 2.5 / 5

Words from Psi-Kotica on Myspace.


Written by Stanley Stepanic