Friday, November 25, 2011


So once again I'm riding the coattails of someone else's work; this time it's Aegipan and his superb take on Disembowelment's album Transcendence into the Peripheral. Yes, the album rips, yes it's a genre touchstone, yes they're from Australia, etc etc etc wait, hold up, come again, Australia?

Yeah dude AUSTRALIA.

One thing I've always loved about metal is its connection to place. Whether it's this blog, a tet a tet with your bros down the pub, or tracing a genre's roots, the conversation ultimately turns to place eventually. Sure you've got your Swedens, your Finlands, your Norways, but there's a million other places usually left out for one reason or another. Like Australia.

AUSSIE METAL. You've heard of it, you always kinda knew it's a thing, but you never scratched the surface. Every now and again some new album will drop and you'll be banging it out your LeBaron pulling all kinds of girls with it and then you'll find out the band is from Australia. And you think to yourself, "Huh, Australia, well that's odd oh well LOL @ Australia."


While Australia has a bumper crop of metal powerhouses, it rarely comes up in conversation as a hotbed of metal inspiration/innovation. Overall trends you find in Aussie metal are good songwriting, bad cover art (see aforementioned dISEMBOWELMENT post), and a rather intense surrealist impulse attributable to the country's overabundance of psilocybe cubensis.


Whatever the cause, something's brewing on that giant island in the South Pacific and deep scrutiny is utterly mandatory to your comprehension of metal. I'll take you through some Aussie metal highlights; your homework is to get on metal-archives, filter by country, put on your gum boots, and slog through some of this shit for me. DoomUnicorn can only do so much.

Since I'm piggybacking on Aegipan's Aussie-doom motif, I am compelled to start at Mournful Congregation. Everyone can get behind this band. Mournful Congregation make some of the sickest, most wretched, agonizingly slow, and haunting funeral doom this side of the Murray-Darling basin. They recently released Book of Kings, the band's crowning achievement (which is saying something considering the quality of their body of work) and a release of such monumentally depressing and beautiful proportions that it somehow feels like doom's apogee. As we swing into end-of-year list season, I'm certain Book of Kings will occupy its fair share of 1 and 2 slots. I mean sure, there will be those detractors out there who LIKED THE EARLIER STUFF BRAH but these folks are false. The best elements of Cathedral, Evoken, dISEMBOWELMENT, and even Musk Ox rolled into one. You can't not find something to love on this record. All u haters kill yourself.

On deck is Destroyer 666, another band with which you're undoubtedly familiar, which crushes all posers with a blackened thrash melange calling to mind Von (only more evil), Beherit (only slightly less evil), and Bathory (about as evil). Crawling from the disbanded detritus of Bestial Warlust, Destroyer 666's finest moment was 1996's Cold Steel...for an Iron Age. You get the phrase "all killer, no filler" in a lot of metal reviews and no where is this truer than in Cold Steel...for an Iron Age. Each track oozes a palpable intensity buttressed by KK Warslut's vocals. (i only wrote that last sentence to have an excuse to type KK Warslut's name, KK Warslut). Truly, this is the sound of extreme metal, with flecks of black, death, and thrash all orbiting around metal's raison detre: songs about satan, war, death, and crucifix rape.

Destroyer 666 - Cold Steel...For an Iron Age

Still not a believer? Shall I go on?

The next logical stop is Urgrund which has connections to, let's see, among others, Destroyer 666, Tzun Tzu and Ignivomous. My head is beginning to hurt. I'm going down a These a Beast-ian 'Six Degrees of' rabbit hole. You can easily identify the Destroyer 666 in Urgrund's sound, perhaps with a bit more control and a flair for the epic. They're like an early, heathen-era Enslaved filtered through a thrashy Australian lens. Tempos rarely notch above 100 BPM or so and the vocals are discernible, revealing a lyrical depth uncharacteristic of the genre. Non-essential but important to understanding the Australian metal ouvre.

Urgrund - The Graven Sign

All right, buckle in. Drowning the Light up next. I had a difficult time picking just one record from their considerable discography but I settled on Of Celtic Blood and Satanic Pride because I think it's fairly emblematic of the overall DTL aesthetic (blown out, raped, vomited, dope sick BM filth). It's clear Azgorh, the band's sole member, was meant to have have been spawned in Norway and not New South Wales from his tense, paranoid, frosty delivery and the rampant Burzumisms. It often sounds like he'd play faster if he could, but he can't, so he doesn't. This is my favorite defining characteristic of DTL. He sounds like he's eternally practicing. The most common DTL complaint is he's a poor-man's Darkthrone/Striborg/what have you and, indeed, it's true somewhat; but, he's enveloped everything in a distinctly Australian sheen that saves it from copycattism. Whereas Burzum is all horns, trees, and mead, DTL is all spiders, sedimentary basins, and Ayahuasca. Does this clarify anything?

Drowning the Light - Of Celtic Blood and Satanic Pride

Bridging the gap between Black and Death is StarGazer (that's a big S little tar big G little azer). StarGazer is Absu minus Proscriptor. It'll do for when your Mom borrowed your Absu tapes but most other times it just leaves you pining for the real thing. They do the whole mindfuck-via-time-signature shifts thing which I personally outgrew after binging on Yes and Nile back in junior high. According to metal-archives, there is notable membership overlap between SarGazer, Portal, Mournful Congregation, and others. Again, non-essential IMO but there are those whose opinions I hold in high regard who would disagree, and they are important to the discussion.

StarGazer - The Scream That Tore the Sky

Now, of course, Portal.

(OK first, when I searched IllCon to make sure no one beat me to the punch on this already-classic, the only search result was this. It would behoove you to go back and read that in its entirely.)

OK, done? Great.

I can't really add anything insightful about this record you haven't read or intuited yourself so I'll just cut to the chase and say THEY'RE FROM AUSTRALIA and LOOK AT THESE DAFT ASSHOLES. no but srs do yourself a favor and cop this if you haven't already and prepare for the aural equivalent of an unanesthetized liver biopsy. But before you dig in, don't let the over-adjectivization (murky, cavernous, frightening, atmospheric, etc. etc.) that surrounds this album fool you: motherfuckers can PLAY. Peep game.

Portal - Outre

We wrap up with Impetuous Ritual, whose 2009 debut Relentless Execution of Ceremonial Excrescence completely flew under my radar. Who let me drop the ball on this one? Why the fvk is it so good you may wonder? Oh that's just cuz it's Portal's ENTIRE rhythm section doing the downtuned DM thang, so this release comes to you immediately authenticated before they even play a note. Ignis Fatuus and Omenous (sic) Fugue nail the disorienting, nauseating DM vibe with generous sludge n' doom intervals for the druggies like you to get off on. This is Portal with the Entombed levels turned up to 11--Portal-lite if you will--combining the oppressive, foggy atmospherics of Portal with slightly more accessible songs. SLIGHTLY.

Impetuous Ritual - Relentless Execution of Ceremonial Excrescence

So that's your Aussie metal snapshot. I'm sure I forgot your favorite band, and you know more than me, and you've got all these on vinyl, so tell me all about it in the comments sweetie.


Prof. Grewbeard said...

i stand with you on Portal, Impetuous Ritual and Mournful Congregation but StarGazer? i tried to like it.

Anonymous said...

Sadistik Exekution are Aussie as well, and they were weird and manic back when Portal just sounded like poorly recorded Morbid Angel.

Anonymous said...

hmm... Urgrund's link doesn't work bro.

alex said...

does anyone know any good Aussie metal sites/blogs to recomend?

Shoelundo said...

Blood Duster?

DoomUnicorn said...

Link fixed

purplerainingblood said...

Came to mention Sadistik Exekution. Glad they already got brought up.

these a beast said...

these aussies explain why THEIR brand of black metal is the TRVEST black metal BECAUSE it's from australia:

the jamz is sick too, actually.

Reginald said...

Damon Good from Mournful Congregation plays in StarGazer, too. Great bassist. Here are some other Australian bands worth checking out. I won't write any detail, because I've got too much to do. Apologies.

Nocturnal Graves
Hobbs' Angel of Death
Gospel of The Horns
Armoured Angel

Anonymous said...

Sad X totally ruled and Ignovomous definitely worth the mention...
Mortal Sin
Super Fun Happy Slide
and... if you wanna go there... Mortification

Aegipan said...

I'm really digging Urgrund... They have a little bit of everything. It has all the right elements! Thanks!