At the beginning of 2021, Polish doom metal band Weird Tales released an EP of material based around classic blues numbers. Their heaviness was without question; their lack of compromise even more so. Unfortunately, the end results were not only as scary as hell, but actually insulting to the legacies of the Delta blues pioneers. Good or bad – or in this case, possibly awful – they definitely made an impression.
The simple and heavy approach of doom metal often lends itself to a “live in the studio” sound. When you consider how many doom and sludge bands have taken their cues from the first two Black Sabbath albums and Rodger Bain’s pioneering but minimalistic production style, it sort of makes sense that many working within these often insanely heavy subgenres would take a quick, no-frills approach to recording. That’s not always the case with Evangelist. The mysterious and Lovecraft obsessed Polish doom merchants took two years to record their debut album across various sessions, and although later releases came together in a more streamlined way, nothing was ever completed on the quick and the cheap.
When Napalm Death appeared on the metal scene, they sounded like very little that had come before. Sure, death metal had already begun to establish itself by the mid eighties, but the scene’s earliest acts – such as the most literally named Death – combined their brutal speed with fretboard assaulting lead breaks and other elements most closely associated with the thrash and speed metal of the day. Birmingham’s Napalm Death were different: they took that speed and aggression and distilled it to its absolutely purest – and often shortest – essence. With the speed of death metal, but the suckerpunch delivery of hardcore punk, they laid the foundations for what became grindcore. Their earliest works were so frantic and intense that even the original band only stayed together for one side of an album. That LP – 1987’s ‘Scum’ – remains a landmark for the extreme metal/punk subgenre; with its twenty eight tracks delivered in approximately thirty three minutes (a duration bulked out by the title track stretching beyond two minutes), the album was the aural equivalent of being smacked repeatedly with a brick.
Since those days, grindcore has remained a much-loved – albeit marginal – genre among fans of extreme metal. Few have surpassed ‘Scum’ for intensity; even Napalm Death themselves sounded like they were recycling by the time it came to recording a follow-up. On their debut EP, Poland’s Struggle Manifesto come close to re-igniting the sparks of excitement first delivered by ‘Scum’, the vinyl release’s five bursts of sound filling a lightning-fast 3:39, all wrapped up in a Catholic-baiting sleeve.
Death metal merchants Decapitated will unleash a new album at the end of the summer. The beginning of the year ensured a busy calendar for the Polish band when they supported Lamb of God on their European tour and the new album will only help maintain their current profile.