DeathMetal.be is a Belgian organisation that supports the Belgian (underground) Metal scene by means of concerts, reviews and more, including sampler CDs, titled “Face Your Underground”. To this date 12 editions have been made. The one I received a few months ago was no. 11. As the Belgian scene consists mainly of extreme Metal bands (Death, Black, Thrash – yes, we also have Progressive, Doom, Power, Heavy, Gothic, … See for example on Metal-Archives.com), it’s logical that the sampler contains for the lion’s share such bands.
There are several on this edition I have never heard of, a few I’ve seen live and others I know by name only. Even in the list on Metal-Archives there a big pile I’ve never heard of. Which might indicate there are still many gems in the Belgian underground. Sadly, not all come to the surface to present themselves to a wider audience. Even though the focus lies on Extreme Metal, it would be nice to occasionally see more melodic bands featured on the samplers.
In any case, it’s always interesting to hear new bands. So, let’s cut to the chase. The first band is PANCHRYSIA, whom I’ve seen and heard for the first time live at Frostrock in December 2009 (see here). Back then, their theatrical Black Metal was to my liking, at least for a few songs. I didn’t check up on them since then. Their song on FUY 11 is called “Of Rebel Angels” and ends at around 7 minutes and a half. It begins with chanting, like you could expect at a drunk party, after which the raw, vile Black Metal sets in. This is typical stuff. The raw vocals add to the demonical character of the song. It’s catchy, yet dark it remains throughout. The middle section is theatrical and doomy. A church choir puts everything to an end. All in all, an ok song.
Next is the Death Metal band BATTALION, whom I’ve also seen live at Midwinter Festival in February 2008. See here. They then shared the stage with ENDSTILLE, ASPHYX, GRAVE, AMON AMARTH and more. Like with PANCHRYSIA, I didn’t further check out this band afterwards. Their song “Entombed In Obscurity” begins in a direct manner, building to then really take off with heavily pounding Death Metal and growling vocals. The focus lies very much on the rhythm guitars. But then comes the change: the typical humppa-beat with melodic, catchy music. A very twist, I must say. The best part of the song, to be honest. Blasting is not always key, not always necessary, but here it’s done during the guitar solo. Why? First of all, it doesn’t make any sense and second, it sounds like crap. Luckily the drumming is more normal (and slower) during the second solo. The chorus is reminiscent of NOVEMBERS DOOM, which is good. BATTALION tried to mix brutality and melody, which by itself is a nice thought, but the result sounds too forced. The pieces don’t hold together that well, in my (humble) opinion.
Carrying on then with SIGNS OF DARKNESS and “Clouds Over Your Masada”. This is a band I’ve never heard of. An don’t you think this is quite an evil name? Nothing personal, but after a while such names start to sounds a bit ridiculous, no? The production of this song is very raw, the style of Metal Black and by the book, including the shrieky/hoarse vocals. And a guitar solo is included, wow. Is that tapping? A calm, atmospheric piece breaks the song in two, after the blasting recommences. Nothing exciting here, to be honest. TORMENT’s “Every Memory Of You” also begins directly with Black/Death Metal. This song contains lots of blasting and evil, demonic vocals. Not bad, but nothing super either. The music at some point is one big brutal, grinding piece. I like it. But what were they thinking when they added the electronic part in the middle? This is so misplaced. In short: the first half of the song is good, the second one is boring, as the vocalist seems to personify someone going insane. The organ adds to the drama that is created by this piece of theater. Certainly not for the weak of mind.
SLAUGHTERY is next with “Sherbyokhan”, whatever that may mean or be. What stands out here, and not in a positive sense, is the guitar slide. In the category “Annoying”, this is a new element. Other than that the song has a lot of growling and even room for solos at inconvenient times. Lots of blasturbation as well. The playing may be technical, but the song itself is boring, lacks feeling and depth. FUNGUS INC. and “Whiskey Dick”: Industrial-ish Metal ‘n’ Roll with growls. It rocks, yes, and in general is good. Simple and effective. One of the few songs worth checking out. WINTERBLIND’s “Cries Of The Mournful” offers pounding/blasting Death Metal with Blackened influences. The harsh vocals (shrieks?) bore very rapidly and sound like the guy is either suffocating or going to throw up. The music contains acoustic breaks and even modern Rock with a Jazzy touch. A strange decision. And then they go from clean back to Metal. Another ok song, though the vocals really don’t add anything positive.
After all this extreme Metal, the Progressive Metal from CORPUS does stand out, certainly in heaviness. I had the chance to review their debut album, “The Rise” (2008) in 2010, which you can read here. “Insidious” is a new song, very atmospheric and more melodic than what the preceding bands played. The music is again very good and they seem to have a new vocalist here, which is for the better, as this was my main critique about the album I reviewed. Somehow you could compare the song to works of the German band ORDEN OGAN. Definitely one of the better, if not the best, songs on this compilation.
BURNING FALLUS contributed with “Working Class Unite!”, an old school Heavy Metal/Hard Rock song, comparable in a way to MOTÖRHEAD, for example, but lighter. The singing is the weakest link here, due to the accent and timbre. The music is ok, though nothing special.
SICKENING ENTERTAINMENT seems almost a term for what television nowadays has to offer. Their song “Caked In Vomit, Blood And Alcohol” indeed starts with a guy puking. What the…? Old school Death Metal follows, sounds like back in the early 1990s. The underground feel cannot be denied here. The vocals are unclear, it’s like a pig squealing. Overall, bonus points for the old school feel and sound.
MASSGRAVE HILL has “Hammer Smashed Pedophile” on offer.The first thing I noticed were the drums. Did they use a drumcomputer or were the recordings extremely compressed? The guys play Death Metal, but it sounds very subdued. And it’s got blasting, yay! The growling is also very unclear, while the music is montonous. Any signs of variety are hard to find. Don’t waste your time looking or listening for them. In other words, a forgettable song.
LIGHTBULB INFERNO, quite an original name, threw their “Tabula Rasa” in the mix. It’s a Heavy Metal track with clean vocals that have a rough edge, sound almost screamy. There is room for melody and Progressive touches. In se, not bad, but the result is not that good. Either it’s because of the vocals or because the guitars are too loud in the mix?
EVILENKO is a name I’ve seen on the internet a few times the past weeks. Though as with most of the pack here, I’ve never heard anything by them. “Cry For Freedom”is a Death Metal song with a prominent bass. Sounds a bit like old DYING FETUS to my ears. Not bad, but nothing special either.
DECROSS’s “Cotard” is Death Metal with sharp riffing… and boring, low vocals. But the kick in the ass is not far off. And so catchy Death/Thrash is played, comparable to e.g. LEGION OF THE DAMNED. Not bad at all. The vocals annoy, to be honest.
Before-last song comes from HEXA MERA and is called “The Endless War”. What it offers? Death Metal with hoarse vocals and a Poppy chorus, at least musically (incl. drums). Another rather mediocre or even forgettable song, if I may say so.
Last there is SHATTERED SKULL and “Endless Complexities”. The song has a clean intro, followed by Death Metal. The whole has room for solo and overall sounds quite evil, can be compared to DECIDE and similar.
Conclusion: I already knew that the Belgian scene consists mostly of extreme metal of varying quality – hence not so many coming to the surface, unlike in other countries. But as I said before, it’s always nice to hear new stuff. But if this is a representation of what Belgium (or Flanders – no, not Ned 😉 ) has to offer… then it’s a fail! Very few were acceptable to good in my book (yes, a review somehow remains subjective to some extent), the rest just doesn’t cut it; not in production (yes, such things cost money – dare to spend a bit more, even if you like old school), not song-wise. Lots of stuff is just so boring so rapidly, even if you’re into extreme Metal. I like Death Metal from time to time (NILE, UNLEASHED, KRISIUN, DEATH, BENEDICTION, and so on), but none of the bands here would make it into my collection. If I may be a bit frank: this is one of the weaker/st “Face Your Underground” samplers.
- Panchrysia – Of Rebel Angels
- Battalion – Entombed In Obscurity
- Signs Of Darkness – Clouds Over Your Masada
- Torment – Every Memory Of You
- Slaughtery – Sherbyokhan
- Fungus Inc. – Whiskey Dick
- Winterblind – Cries Of The Mournful
- coRPus – Insidious
- Burning Fallus – Working Class Unite!
- Sickening Entertainment – Caked In Vomit, Blood And Alcohol
- Massgrave Hill – Hammer Smashed Pedophile
- Lightbulb Inferno – Tabula Rasa
- Evilenko – Cry For Freedom
- Decross – Cotard
- Hexa Mera – The Endless War
- Shattered Skull – Endless Complexities