If there is one thing I have learned from being a horror movie fanatic and a heavy metal warrior for Satan’s army, it’s that devil horns and horny teenagers getting killed by number go hand in hand. It’s amazing to me that there are horror movie fans who don’t love heavy metal, who don’t find the sweet sounds of death metal comforting. On the other hand I’m not sure that I’ve found a death metal fan who didn’t have a pile of VHS at home and knew the Voorhees kill list by heart. There’s no perfect correlation between metal head and horror geek; no scientific formula to determine who will find the metal, who will live for the horror and who will die by them both.
Since it’s Italian Horror Week and the vale between the world of metal and horror is ever so thing, it is my duty to feature a handful of traditional, goth, death and black metal acts from Italy. Take this time to listen, open your mind (and a bottle of Chianti), put the devil horns high enough that your neighbors can see ‘em and enjoy the skull crushing beats of fury. See how many new acts you can get into by the end of the article. I’ve picked out a few of the more popular ones, but I can assure you there are hundreds of metal acts from Italy. If you’re favorite isn’t on this list then make sure to comment below with a sound clip or YouTube video of your own.
After all, even the great Ronnie James Dio was Italian. Don’t be the last in line to check out this collection of cranium benders.
GORY BLISTER– Between blast beats and pitch bends, Gory Blister leaves beautiful open wounds of technical prowess. Axes blaze with brilliant arpeggios that leave your mind in a fit of deep schizophonic insanity. Themes range from socially conscious, disgusto-disease pieces to mental breakdown. This band that started writing in the early 90’s were still writing up until 2009. With a vocalists named Dome, you better wonder what lies inside your CD jewel case. The end of sanity or the end of the world. There most recent release is on Mascot Reocrds, Earth-Sick in 2012. ArtBleeds features “AntiClimax”.
INFERNAL POETRY– Their music is referred to as psycho death metal. They were originally called themselves Necronomicon and their music is the good kind of crazy you’ve been looking for. Infernal Poetry toured with the likes of Impiety and Rotting Christ and were recording and releasing material through 2009. It’s a solid, standard offering of metal with some technical melodies drizzled over a parade of pounding drums and grizzly bear vocals (not cookie monster… grizzly bear) with the occasional breakdown that leads you to a happy, symphonic metal place before dropping you squarely on your nards.
MIND SNARE – Full on cookie monster vocals reminiscent of Chris Barnes of Cannibal Corpse and Six Feet Under gives way to an endless barrage of bass drum hits and thrash metal runs. Considered a fairly influential band in Italian metal, they are still producing music all be it under a new line up. This is the first Italian death metal band to jump across the pond for an American label. Occasionally their music takes on more hardcore undertones crossing that ever controversial barrier where death metal becomes too punk to bite chunks out of its own arm. It’s really the differences between a zombie eating your face off and having a muscle bound guy in a wife beater punch your face off.
NODE - Node combines hardcore sensibilities with traditional thrash metal guitar and speed which acts like a wrecking ball to challenge the establishment and personal values. Grimy vocals balance a somewhat technical assault with ever changing melody and structure. These songs aren’t necessarily orchestral, but they do vary in timing and timbre. Started in the mid-90’s, Node’s most recent offering on Scarlet Records was released in 2010. Try to stay positive through some of these rather critical lyrics.
OPERA IX – As the name suggests, the music of Opera IX is operatic, telling stories and having vocals that are absolutely unique to their particular ensemble (at least when Cadaveria was at the mic). Though Opera IX would change line ups numerous times they are still going strong having recently put out Strix Maledictae in Aeternum in 2012. Their music videos are filled with dark, gothic imagery and their music might be best described as black metal sharing musical stylings with such bands as Dimmu Borgir (with a less guttural vocal) and Dark Funeral even Morbid Angel (against sans the guttural ball grabbing male vocals). They have been described as pagan symphonic metal. How many bands can get away with naming a song “Fronds of the Ancient Walnut”?
SADIST - Sadist varies from dark death metal to rather pretty instrumentals. These guys have some absolutely off the hook synth stuff going on in every song. It’s akin to your favorite Full Moon soundtrack of the 80’s They’ve split up, gotten back together, been on a efw labels including Nosferatu Records. They’ve done covers of “Take on Me” by A-ha and Wrathchild by Iron Maiden. This is something to here. It’s not your run of the mill death metal and features the drummer from Necrodeath.
Guys, this is probably going to end up on my next “must use in a horror soundtrack” article.
SEPOLCRUM – Sepolcrum’s demos from 1991 and 1993 feature tracks that seem to revisit the prog rock of the early 80’s in some of their melodies. That’s before each song turns into a dramatic, dark, sludgy, grunty, hollow mess of the underworld. Lots of synth and themes that would make a horror fan proud. Vamps, the undead… this is some dark, evil fucking doom metal. The intro track of Flowers Upon the Grave is something that fans of Fulci’s Zombi will play on endless repeat. Who doesn’t love monk based synth loops? These guys barely got off the ground in the late 80’s and end their rain of terror in 1994 with the 7” Gather My Blood Forever.
SLOWMOTION APOCALYPSE – Horror fans take notice: this band off Scarlet Records has put out an album called Mothra. I can assure you this can only mean you absolutely must listen to it if only to support kaiju in death metal. Sure, there’s Gojira, but I’ve always felt that Mothra gets swept to the side (as does poor old Rodan). The music is rich and creamy. Thick layers of bass with melodic breakdowns and grunting growling vocals. It’s not reinventing the wheels, but it’s definitely quality.
STIGMA – Hello Horror Fans! These guys are obvious genre nuts. If you have any question about that make sure to check out the song “Undertaker”, “Chop His Head Off” or “I Am Dracula”. The cover art doesn’t hurt either. With some fun music videos and a melodic style of brutal pulse pounding upper-mid tempo thrash, you can get your mosh on or you can throw in the Faces of Death, turn off the sound and drop in one of their CD’s. They’re touring with all the right people (Amon Amarth!). Their technicality and fury separate them from their contemporaries.
Also wanted to include the “The Undertaker” video which has been getting a big push. It’s nice to be able to promote an active, awesome band like Stigma
SUBHUMAN – Subhuman has an album called Profondo Rozzo… one might ask is this an Argento nod or simply a common phrase used in Italy especially among those dark leaning individuals? Let’s just pretend that it’s a dedication to our dear Dario. Now the music itself is as straightforward as they come. I’ve seen them compared to Metallica which is false. I have seen them compared to Testament which is clearly more accurate. They’re not overly technical. They’re just hard hitting, listen to your metal and beat up your friend kinda music. Nice album art and the title caught our eye too.
NECRODEATH – Drudgy, sludgy metal just how we love it. It’s scrape your bowl thick and when it finally breaks into a slight more uptempo durge you’ll be enjoying this retro sounding Italian piece of thunder. Yeah, they may be back but their hay day was back in the 80’s. It’s root metal. Respect your heavy metal history. The nod to Lovecraft in the song title we have chosen for you doesn’t hurt either. This shouldn’t be too difficult for you metal heads to find or to wrap your ears around.
THEATRES OF VAMPIRES – Pat Benatar meets the absolute goth out in, Italian metal. It’s not all that catchy. Their music is pop metal brutal with some very strong vocals varying from Skeletal Family and the Shroud to a touch of Cradle of Filth but without the bite you might be looking for in your metal. It’s atmospheric vampire stuff as if maybe someone read a few too many Anne Rice novels. Then again that’s not a bad thing. Their videos are mini movies that play on some of the very themes that our beloved Hammer studios enjoyed in the 60’s. This may not be your cup of tea, but I wanted to include them as the natural follow up to Sepolcrum and might be dark enough to turn your blue sky black. Beware the black nail policy. Beware the emo. Enjoy the organs and the attention to horror based imagery and soundscapes.
DEATH SS (Death of Steve Sylvester) – Ranging from uptempo 80’s hairy metal to the precursor to gloom and doom sludge metal that would adorn the early 90’s, Death SS focused on the occult, demonic lyrics and above all labeled themselves “horror music”. Through several line ups spanning three decades of music, each incarnation offers a different listening experience. Live performances bored on a very theatrical experience inclusive of make up and masks to accentuate their dark lyrics and vicious riffage. Horror fans are sure to enjoy their art work and lyrics. Whether you like roots metal or the newer incarnations of pop black metal you are sure to get your horns up for this class act.
Stay tuned at the end for more pics from Death SS.
CADAVERIA – Yes, you can have a sexy, black metal attired and made up front woman and be exceptionally metal. This is mid tempo metal for the goth in all of us. Expect a good solid head nod, devil horns and leather. Their music videos are dark, mini horror movies in and of themselves so it’s definitely something for you to check out, enjoy and decide whether you can handle metal that is neither fast nor slow. Stuff like this always has me feeling very Lacuna Coil regardless of who came first.
MOLOSH- Grindy, gristle of a metalcore band, Molosh yells through you when they sing. Exquisitely placed pauses lead into thunder rolls on the drums. This isn’t music, it’s a call to metal heads to take your anger to task and find the brain stem in the palm of your hand after you’ve punched through someone’s cranium. The particular selection we’ve chosen for you has a delightful clip in the beginning. How very Planet of the Apes.
For a rather cumbersome list of Italian metal bands please stop by HERE:
You might try liking the Italian Death Metal FaceBook page HERE
PS. As promised more pics of Death SS: