The second of my ramblings about my favorite records of 2008
After twenty-one years (seriously) of listening to metal in its many forms, I find myself turning to it on an increasingly less frequent basis. When I do want to listen to metal, more often than not I end up firing up a long-time favorite like “Seasons in the Abyss” or “Wolfheart” instead of something newer. The time when a new – or even new to me – metal album could stand a good chance of catching my attention seems to have passed, with a few exceptions. When something does break through, it’s usually on the strength of some new flavor or dimension that the old standbys lack. Most recently, “Here Come the Waterworks,” Big Business’ brilliant album from 2007, has had me totally entranced, sounding like nothing else in my collection. These new discoveries are not all that common, but they happen just regularly enough to keep me looking for more.
On very rare occasion, though, a metal album that offers no innovation will grab me by the curly hair and not let go. This year, Swedish d-beat ragers Disfear released an album that did just that. There’s a problem with that statement: d-beat is not technically metal, but a form of hardcore created by Discharge. The whole genre evolved from a simple galloping drum beat. If any form of music exists in direct opposition to the idea of innovation, this is it. As such, a d-beat band distinguishes itself by staying true to form but still creating a unique identity and a unique piece of art. The metal/hardcore distinction is unimportant; genre lines between metal and hardcore are so thoroughly blurred at this point that I’m comfortable calling this album what it feels like to me: a metal album.
“Live the Storm” (click the link to listen to this album at Lala.com) is by far Disfear’s best album, a thirty-five minute blast that sounds like nothing more than the pounding hooves of some newly risen Scythian horde charging forth on fire-breathing demon steeds. The drum beat that launched an entire genre tattoos its unrelenting rhythm into the brain while the bass churns along with it, a Minotaur’s roar that keeps the rhythm and melody tightly locked and gives the recording serious weight. Vocalist Tomas Lindberg delivers each line like a desperate, barbaric battle-howl, invoking gods of storm and fire as he calls his soldiers, the “dead but dreaming youth,” to arms. Over it all, the guitars blaze, but they’re not just revving engines. They bring melodic aspects that help keep the album from being monotonous, as this genre can so often be.
The thing about a good metal record (or hardcore – whatever), is that it makes you want to go off. A really good one makes you want everything around you to go off, too. This record starts with serious power. “Get it Off” breaks like a tidal wave over the listener, an anthem that says this record is Not. To. Be. Fucked. With. It starts the fire, and the following tracks stoke it ever higher. Sitting at work with track 3, “Deadweight,” blasting into my skull, I’m so amped at this point that I want to leap onto my desk and raise a pillar of speakers made of skulls and fire to fill the room with this sound, a tornado of paper and sparks whirling around me as the lights strobe and black lightning crackles and the cubicle-dwellers smash their computers and tear down the walls in a riotous orgy of hedonistic glee.
The best part is that it never once falters. Too often albums like this will have a couple of superb songs and a bunch of filler. This album is end-to-end raging perfection, a flawless expression of frustration boiled over. They should just break the d-beat mold after this one.