With the dawn of the THKD YouTube channel, I decided to do something a little different this year. I’ve split my year end top 20 metal albums list in two; half of them can be found below, the other half on YouTube. So, once you’re done reading this list, head on over to THKD TV and check out the rest of the list… if you don’t mind watching a semi-drunken nerd rant and rave about heavy metal for thirty minutes. But enough of my rambling; as I’ve been saying for almost a decade now, long-winded intros are bullshit. Let’s get on with it.
It’s hard to believe that Marduk have been at it for close to thirty years now, harder still to believe that the Swedish black metal stalwarts have maintained such a consistent level of quality over the years with regard to their recorded output. Case in point, Viktoria is the band’s fourteenth album and it picks up right where 2015’s excellent Frontschwein left off, pulverizing listeners with yet another blasphemous blitzkrieg of World War II-themed black metal.
There was a time when I actually enjoyed being part of the online metal community. I don’t have a lot of metalhead friends in “real life,” so it was fun to finally be able to discuss the music I love with like minded people. For a long time it was a total blast.
Swedish black metal band Marduk recently had the Oakland, CA date of their tour with Incantation cancelled due to certain groups that shall remain nameless lobbing threats at the venue and the Oakland Police Department being unable to guarantee the safety of concert goers.
I often get frustrated listening to and writing about modern extreme metal. Where is the passion? Where is the vitality? Where are the songs? If Shadows of Extinction, the debut EP from Santa Cruz, CA-based Fiends at Feast is anything to go on, all these things and more are alive and well deep within the darkest recesses of the metal underground.
Striking a luciferian bargain between black and death metal, Fiends at Feast sound like the hellish, gruesome aftermath of a street fight between Deicide and Marduk. The commanding, vicious vocals are a hateful diatribe against the feeble Nazarene, while the razor-wire guitars slash at his wrists and the rhythm section smashes his skull to smithereens. This is not the monotonous, over-produced faux-extreme metal that gets shoved down our throats on a daily basis. This is the real shit, the shit that makes you remember what you liked about black/death metal in the first place. It’s rough and hungry and reeks of a band putting their blood, sweat and even more blood into mastering their craft.
Ah yes, the craft. Above all, Fiends at Feast are craftsmen. They are a band with songs. Songs you can tell apart. Songs you can bang your head and raise your fist to. Songs that breathe unholy life back into the bloated, rotten corpse of extreme metal with time-honored tools; musicianship, catchiness and the goddamn almighty riff. Fiends at Feast believe in what they’re doing, it’s a palpable feeling that bleeds out of every second of Shadows of Extinction.
Fiends at Feast write great, dynamics songs, and they have the wherewithal to pepper those songs with minute details that set them even further apart from the hordes. The Spanish-sounding acoustic guitars in “Scars of My Soul”, the haunting upright bass near the end of “Revelations of Chaos”, the audible electric bass throughout the album, the brutal yet varied vocals; all of these subtle nuances add another exciting dimension to a sound rooted in tradition.
Any gripes to be found with the EP are relatively minor ones. The band would certainly benefit from a more forceful production scheme (think something along the lines of recent Marduk or Behemoth albums), and at only twenty-seven minutes, Shadows of Extinction leaves you craving more. Something tells me we haven’t seen everything this promising band is capable of, and there is no telling what devastation awaits when these guys release a full length (hopefully w/ some label backing). I’m guessing the bodycount will be massive.
Shadows of Extinction is a snapshot of a young group of musicians beginning to realize their potential, and the best debut I’ve heard so far in 2011. It’s refreshing to know that there are still bands like Fiends at Feast lurking out there in the underground, bucking the trends and upholding the sounds and values of real black/death metal, yet not afraid to make them their own. Ignore them at your own peril.