Tag diving is a lot like dumpster diving. But instead of finding gently used cans of cat food, I browse a tag on Bandcamp and find great music for you. Today’s tag: decay.
Like a good old fashioned Wikipedia vortex, it’s easy to dive into one tag on Bandcamp, find a stellar album, then dive into another interesting looking tag that the album has. Although this is only the fourth entry in this extremely untimely periodical, that’s basically how I’ve chosen each new tag. It’s been interesting to see what bands use as descriptors for their albums. As you might imagine, it would be nearly impossible to do a tag diving article for “black metal,” because I would have to quit my job and listen through 80,000 terrible albums about satan. Conveniently, these more interesting tags (like decay) end up leading to some quality black metal.
Speaking of quality black metal, our first entry is Schatten from Germany. A quick perusal of their Facebook page and ours shows that even with our relentless posting of the deep reaches of metal, we overlooked this one. They only have one release to their name, but Wahn is an album full of everything you would want in black metal: icy riffs, blast beats, a discernible yet organic quality of sound, and the appropriate balance of raw fury and slow, seething anger. The raw fury is what really hooked me in tracks like “Lycanthropic Blood,” “Wahn,” and “Begotten.” The drum sound is pure and honest, giving the relentless moments of blasting a visceral appeal beneath the creative guitar work. While I won’t say it’s an exact match, I can’t help but think of the grand vision of The Great Old Ones as I listen through this album. Schatten hasn’t been too active since the album’s release in 2014, but their Facebook page promises us new material soon. Keep up with these dudes.
Next, let’s check out some death metal. Excuse me, let’s check out some DEEEAAAAATHHH METAAAAAAL. The kind where you have to clench your fists in front of you, flex every muscle in your body, then do this while listening. Decay of Reality presents us with A Spit From The Grave, an album that often wallows in dirge-like doom when it’s not shredding through a solo or snapping necks with headbanging fury. For all the excellent guitar and drum work, the absolutely monstrous vocals have me hooked the most. Imagine a 9-foot-tall Mikael Åkerfeldt who has a son who just said he’s getting really into K-pop. The album is made up of four new tracks plus four tracks compiled from older demos. I personally enjoyed the slightly different sounds and styles among the 8 tracks, and can’t recommend this enough to death metal enthusiasts.
Now I have to admit I’m cheating a bit with this one. This specific album didn’t have the “decay” tag, but the band has five albums, two of which have the tag in question. But information/noise, which is the first release from Italy’s Sleeping Village, was “recorded in the dusty rooms of an abandoned juvenile correctional facility between November 2009 and April 2010.” If the description alone doesn’t reek of decay, then the swirling mess of the sole 17+ minute track certainly will. Depressive and repetitive melodic fragments hang like an oppressive cloud overhead while fuzzy, lo-fi guitars dance recklessly with convincingly programmed drums. The tortured banshee wails complete the bleak package to convey a dusty, broken-down sense of decay that should spur listeners on to explore the rest of the band’s convincing discography.
Studies show that 89% of people, at some point in their lives, say to themselves “You know what, there really isn’t enough blackened hardcore around.” While I may have made up that statistic (I definitely did), I’m very glad to have come across Corruption from Helslakt. I didn’t know I was missing that sound from my life, but the bitter, vitriolic fury on display from start to end was a breath of dead and decaying air (in a good way). I’m not going to claim that they sound anything like Dodecahedron musically, but I couldn’t help but notice that the two bands share a general sense of manic, angular rage. While the latter band writhes about in a dissonant form of black metal, Helsklat achieves a similar effect via desperately shrieked vocals, animalistic drumming, and riffing that seamlessly blends stomping hardcore with nihilistic melodicism. This album is a fistful of bitter contempt delivered straight to the gut.
And finally, I don’t think a tag like “decay” would be complete without some nasty, uncomfortable noise. Drowned Rat deliver on this expectation with Lifeform, an album of harsh and hateful cacophony that’s varied enough to demand interest. Edward, our resident power electronics guru, may be the only one that appreciates this one. Nevertheless, I wanted to include it as a true exercise in decay. Each of the seven tracks is reminiscent of something that used to be but now rots in neglect; the sound of a beloved old cassette tape found in a moldy attic played over a splotchy, corroded home movie from the long forgotten past. Listen to the album and let each track seep into the superficial pores of everyday, mundane sensation. Let it all decay.
Check out the decay tag on Bandcamp for yourself, and let me know what I missed.