Kataklysm: The BEST Death Metal Gateway

Man, I’m really proud of this one.

As I wrote about for Metal Injection several years ago, “gateway bands” are incredibly crucial to the development of a Metal fan. And as you wade deeper into the genre, there is arguably no bigger hurdle than acquiring a taste for Death Metal, one of Metal’s most abrasive incarnations.

In this video I argue that for Death Metal, there is no one more up to the task of “gateway band” than the Canadian band Kataklysm, who have made a near-30 year career out of standing on the precipice of Melodic and Brutal Death Metal.

For any fans out there who are curious but trepidatious about Death Metal, I take this opportunity to explain how to use Kataklysm’s music to help you ease into the genre. There is also an accompanying Spotify playlist to further help you out.

I hope you guys find this video helpful! In retrospect, Death Metal was one of the most difficult transitions for me as a listener, but my patience up front has paid substantial dividends for well over a decade of my life, and if I can guide towards that same light, I will! Watch the full video below:

Essential Metal: Atheist – Unquestionable Presence

And here we are, our first 2020 installment of my Essential Metal series! This time around, I’m digging into Atheist’s 1991 classic Unquestionable Presence, a record that helped lay the groundwork for what would become Technical Death Metal. And despite being considered a key release in the Florida Death Metal explosion of the late ’80s and early ’90s, it actually had very little in common with its peers, as I argue in this video.

In case you’re playing catch-up, a full playlist of every album I’ve covered for the Essential Metal series is available here.

For my full thoughts on Unquestionable Presence, check out the video below. Thanks for watching!

 

The Most Underrated Cannibal Corpse Song!

So the other day I’m in my car raging to Cannibal Corpse’s murderous 1994 classic The Bleeding, as I often do.

And I’m ripping through songs like the maniacal “Pulverized”, and of course, the ultra-violent “Fucked With a Knife”, and thinking nothing of this LP that I’ve heard a hundred times before. And then, all of a sudden, track five stops me dead in my tracks.

“Oh my God,” I said to myself (100 percent out loud, mind you). “How did I never notice the genius of this song??”

That song is “Return to Flesh”, and despite being an oft-forgotten deep cut surrounded by iconic Cannibal Corpse moments, is one of the band’s finest hours.

For starters, it demonstrates one of the great ironies of the early ’90s Floridian Death Metal movement: for a genre that’s known for upping the ante on Metal’s aggression by playing faster, it’s the excessively SLOW musical passages where the style’s “brutality” truly blossoms. Listen to this track’s lumbering intro riff, sauntering onto the speakers like an axe murderer who can’t be bothered to flee the scene.

And note how, after this sluggish intro riff, thr song effortlessly turns on a dime, launching into a breakneck sixteenth note feel, and then quickly transitioning to a catchy mid-tempo groove that would make Pantera jealous.

“Return to Flesh” is also one of drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz’s most impressive performances, as he navigates the constant feel changes and stop-start rhythms with masterful precision. And I love the creative guitar harmonies, which sound appropriately disgusting and disease-riddled. It’s truly a Death Metal masterclass.

Classic records like The Bleeding are the gift that keeps on giving. I live for unexpectedly joyous moments of (re)discovery like this. “Return to Flesh” just might be the best song on this whole LP, and I can’t believe I let that fact go unnoticed for so long.