Book Review: MY LIFE WITH DETH

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my life with 'dethDavid Ellefson / Joel McIver
Howard Books
2013

I really shouldn’t need to point this out, but in the interest of this blog post’s subject matter, I am a big Megadeth fan. Ever since getting my face sand-blasted off after purchasing Rust In Peace at the tender age of 17 — my first proper taste of the band, and it was a doozy — they’ve been very consistent with continually doing so, even during their low periods, more so than the Venom that spawned Megadeth’s Carnage, Metallica, ever did.

I think I popped something reaching for that mixed metaphor. Yeah, I’ll be feeling that for a few days.

Anyway, of the two Daves associated with the band, I’ve already read the biography for main man Dave Mustaine, and reviewed it quite a few years ago on my previous blog (it’s been moved here on this one, in case you were morbidly curious). A few months ago, while perusing the ebook selection on my Google Plus account, I came across the autobiography of the other Dave in the group, bassist and co-founder David Ellefson. I was rather jazzed to read this one; finally, we get the viewpoint of someone who had been with Megadeth and all the wackiness involved since the very beginning, save for a stretch where he wasn’t part of the band for…reasons.

Right at the start, Dave Ellefson writes in My Life With Deth that this was a book he really didn’t want to write. As he points out early on, these kind of biographies are a dime a dozen, and all contain the same tragic story. You read one, you’ve read them all. It’s the same kind of pattern you get with the VH1 Behind The Music series, really. Fine, understood. But, this book itself is only 256 pages long; 188 if you discount the final pages being a discography, an index (?) and the obligatory thanks section. That’s not a lot of pages to go into detail on a career that spanned three decades not only founding and playing in one of the legendary Big Four of thrash metal bands, inspiring generations to pick up the bass, but also the in-between times where he was broke and had to get a 9-5 type job just to get by. Mind you, this was with Peavey, so he didn’t exactly go back to slinging fries at a burger joint after he was first booted out of Megadeth. But, I’m getting ahead of myself, here…

In My Life With Deth, Ellefson takes us through his upbringing in rural Minnesota, first getting interested in music, and working up to playing gigs in and around the surrounding Midwest area; moving to LA and befriending some guy named Dave Mustaine, forming Megadeth, getting into drugs and the struggle to break free from his addictions, his career with Megadeth to his leaving the band, his post-Megadeth ventures and careers, his resulting fued with Mustaine and eventual patching up of the relationship. Oh, he also touches on his Christian faith.

Oh, yeah. Dave Ellefson’s a professing Christian. As such, not only does he talk about this, but each chapter ends with a brief “what I’ve learned from all this” takeaway. It’s definitely not something yo see in your standard rock n’ roll biography, here.

Overall, My Life With ‘Deth is rather brief, and quite frankly seems to be missing a bit of meat. This may be Ellefson’s design, as he tells his tale less as an excuse to dish dirt and cause controversy, and as more of a “these were the mistakes I’ve made, let’s learn from this” kind of story. If you’re looking for something like Motley Crue’s biography The Dirt, you’re going to be sorely disappointed, I’m afraid. If you’re looking for a rather detailed, point-by-point analysis of one of the greatest metal bands to ever have existed…well, again, you may be less than satisfied with this. But, if you’re looking for some light reading and have some time to kill, My Life With ‘Deth is a good way to fill the time.

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Music Review: INVERSION – The Nature Of Depravity

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inversion - the nature of depravityINVERSION
The Nature Of Depravity
Independent
2001

So, there I was, at Cornerstone 2000, my first Cornerstone festival as a writing staff member of the Dead E-Zine, where I met the other staff members in person, as well as future staff member Sean “Cesspool” Hagans. It was a great time, there. Anyway, on the last day of the fest, the head editor-in-chief, D-Listr, handed me a pre-release copy CD of an album by a band named Inversion, titled The Nature Of Depravity. I listened to it on the long drive back to Nebraska, and my initial thoughts being it was pretty decent; a straight-up death metal album. I never got around to reviewing it for Dead, or for any of my various blogs, websites or the My Space page. Remember My Space? That page of mine is still floating around out there. But, I digress.

Going back to my initial thoughts on this back when I first listened to it on the drive back, I believe my exhaustion after four days of intense Midwest July heat, sleeping in my friend’s car and more physical exertion than I normally do in a year, I wasn’t exactly in the right frame of mind to really give it a good listen at that time. It’s been over fifteen years from that time, now, and have listened to it more since then, and I can upgrade my initial thoughts to reflect a bit more rounded assessment. Which is, The Nature Of Depravity is far better than I gave it originally.

What you get when you pop The Nature Of Depravity into your media player of choice is a blast of pure, unadulterated Death Metal, old-school and crunchy. Tracks like “Apocalyptic”, “Darkened By Hatred”, “Sex With Death”, “Defilement”, “Salt Solution Homicide”, “Tears From An Angel” and “The Butchering Of Relative Thinking” hits you with great, heavy and furious grinding riffs and hooks, with blastbeats and technical rhythms designed specifically to give you a severe bangover. And while it would be easy to just say, “This is Death Metal” and be done with it, there’s more to this than the sum of its parts. As I said, there’s some technicality involved with the metal here throughout; there’s some dark doomy flavor added to “Unsung Hero”, “Independence” has a good atmospheric bass solo opening before it kicks into the face-blasting METAL, then ends with an acoustic guitar; the song “Thieves” is the biggest shift in tone in the middle of the album, as it’s played completely on an acoustic guitar, with both regular singing and, interestingly, the growled death vocals; the last track, “Damnation Undone”, is a quick, less than a minute blast to end things on.

Overall, The Nature Of Depravity was something of a lucky give, as I don’t see a lot of reviews or posts about this online, and otherwise, I would have just passed it up initially. I’m glad I gave it more than a passing listen, as the metal on here is fantastic old school Death Metal that gets a play on my system more often than not. I recommend picking this up if you can manage to find it.

Music Review: MALCHUS – The Evil House

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malcus - the evil houseMALCHUS
The Evil House
Roxx Records
2016

Malcus is a Polish band that formed in 2004 and released a handful of Polish-language albums, until their 2015 full-length release — Dom Zly — was re-released in an English version through Roxx Records in 2016, under the title of The Evil House. This being the first time I’ve heard of the band, I picked up a download copy from Amazon to give it a listen, and holy livestock of your choice, we need to get more Malcus over here in the States. Like, right now.

In case you were wondering about the name, Malcus was the name of the servant of High Priest Caiaphas who got his ear lopped off by Peter when Jesus was being arrested. Pretty cool, there. Also, I love the cover art, as I’ve been rather interested in the plague mask style for a few years, now. It’s a chilling image of something that’s supposed to be bringing cleansing and healing. But, let’s get to the meat of this album, shall we? The METAL.

So, we begin with the track “The Enemy No. 1”, and right out of the gate, we’re treated to a fast and furious thrash riff that grabs you by the lips and yanks hard, fast and continually. This pretty much sets the pace for what to expect with the rest of the album: really tight thrash metal with heavy melodic death metal leanings with some serious technical prowess with the riffs and solos. Title track “The Evil House” features a freakin’ HEAVY riff, some progressive key changes and an atmospheric keyboard break; “77” has a good, galloping heavy thrash riff following a heavy mid-paced opening hook; “Eyes Open” has a very solemn opening, then progresses to a heavy mid-paced riff on to a faster paced heavy metal bit of goodness; “From Dust” just rips into a fast and furious thrash riff that manage to cram several riff changes into the 4.5 minute run time; “Mother” is a good, heavy mid-paced offering; “Tripidium” features yet another HEAVY furious riff, with some technical solo bits and rhythms; “But Deliver Us” is a bit more melodic, using some keys and violins to give it a doomy, gothic feel; “Creed” has a doomy riff opening, then settles into a good mid-paced riff w/ melodic touches; the album closer, “Winter” ends the album on an acoustic note, which seems more like an outro cap to an otherwise fantastic \,,/METAL\,,/ experience.

Overall…wow. The Evil House was amazing. As I said before, we need more of Malcus in our lives. They just released a new album in 2017, and I’m surely going to try to find their past releases somehow; in the meantime, let’s try and focus our energies on making them easier to get here in the States, maybe? Recommended.

Music Review: DEATH REQUISITE – Second Death

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death requisite - second deathDEATH REQUISITE
Second Death
Independent
2013

Fourth EP from Florida’s Death Requisite, and fifth release overall, Second Death continues on with the deliciously tight and dark blend of melodic death metal, with symphonic doom and blackened touches. Again, I came across this on the band’s Bandcamp page, and I’m pretty sure they only released this and the previous EP — Prophets Of Doom — as digital downloads only.

Second Death opens with “Portenous Preludium”, which is, as you may have guessed by the title, is an instrumental intro of sorts, featuring mainly synths, stringed instruments, and a bit of drumming. This then brings us to the first proper song, the title track “Second Death”, which features some grand symphonic style melodic death metal, complete with synths, blistering rhythms and riffs, and some noodling on an acoustic guitar at the end. “Eternal Immortal” then hits you with a fast and furious riff, complete with a blistering solo. The final full length song, “Refuge Of Lies”, begins with some interesting industrial instrumentation, which leads in to a blistering melodic Death Metal attack that will sandblast your face while making you smile while it happens. The final track, “Foreboding Horizon”, is an outro instrumental with rain and thunder sound effects, an acoustic guitar and stringed instruments, keyboards, then an electric guitar solo and bongos. It’s interesting, yes.

Overall, Second Death is another rather good EP of symphonic blackened Death Metal that goes beyond the usual same-old of the genre. Again, like with Prophets Of Doom, I’m including the link to the Bandcamp site. Seems fitting. Fans of Dimmu Borgir style metal should check this out.

Death Requisite – Second Death on Bandcamp

Music Review: DEATH REQUISITE – Prophets Of Doom

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death requisite - prophets of doomDEATH REQUISITE
Prophets Of Doom
Independent
2011

Hailing from Florida, the birthplace of American Death Metal, is the band Death Requisite. Forming in 1999, then splitting in 2005, then reformed in 2010, the band has released several EPs, a couple of full-lengths and a couple of singles so far.

I first took notice of them by way of the A Brutal Christmas compilation with their contribution “Child Messiah”, and then ran into them again on the second Screams Of Abaddon compilation, with their song “Crimson Savior”. But, trying to find anything beyond these comps proved daunting, as Bandcamp hadn’t been invented at the time. Bandcamp, incidentally, being the place where I stumbled upon a couple of EPs they released after reforming in 2010. Which brings us to the first of those two releases, Prophets Of Doom.

Released independently in 2011, Prophets Of Doom is the band’s fourth overall release, and the third EP in their discography. There are three songs here, clocking in at nearly 16 minutes total. Basically, 7-inch material. Anyway, the EP opens with the title track, “Prophets Of Doom”, which is a good indication of the kind of metal Death Requisite plays — kind of a hybrid of melodic death metal with atmospheric doom, symphonic and black metal elements. The song itself has a good riff and hook with a good solo and technical shift on the breakdown. “Martyr’s Revenge” is heavy and mid-paced, with some technical riffs, clean singing mixed with the death/black vocals and a slower mid-point. “Sorcerer” ends things with a furious Death Metal riff and a nice doomy atmosphere on a bed of blast-beats.

Overall, I found Prophets Of Doom to be a quick and enjoyable blast of tight, heavy Death Metal hybrid goodness. As far as I know, this, along with the follow-up EP Second Death, is only available in digital download on Bandcamp. So, I’m going to include a link to that site, as I recommend you check them out.

Death Requisite – Prophets Of Doom on Bandcamp

Music Review: DEAD IN CHRIST – Summer Of Murders

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dead in christ - summer of murdersDEAD IN CHRIST
Summer Of Murders
Independent
2008

Third and final release by Dead In Christ, and…okay, look. Let’s just get right ot the review and get this over with.

Released in 2008, Summer Of Murders, pretty much follows the same low-fi black metal and doom formula of the previous two releases. Like those previous releases, Summer Of Murders begins with an instrumental; unlike those two, however, it’s only 55 seconds long and features some clean guitar pickin’ and ambient backgrounds. For the most part, the songs maintain the band’s standard doom metal / black metal switch-up style, sometimes within the same song, like on the 10-minute long “Drowning In Shame”, “War Within”, “The Death Of Me”, and “Pray For Death”. There’s some interesting use of clean guitars and water ambient sounds on the instrumental “Through The Eyes Of The Rejected”, with “He Remains” being a black metal song utilizing a kind of hardcore shouting and black metal shriek tag team for the vocals. The album ends with “Victim Mentality”, a bizarre outro instrumental featuring background black metal and soundclips.

Overall, while there was a bit more musical texture on some of the tracks on Summer Of Murders, it still seemed a bit long in the tooth when all is said and done. I do think that, of the three Dead In Christ releases, Summer Of Murders is the best one, despite the production value.

Music Review: DERACINATION – Times Of Atrocity (2 CD Re-release)

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deracination times of atrocity 2 disc releaseDERACINATION
Times Of Atrocity(2 CD Re-release)
Dark Descent Records
2018

So, back in January of this year, I made mention in the review of the first Australian Metal Compilation that the seven-song demo that the one Deracination song was taken from needed to be given the re-release treatment, possibly along with their 1992 full-length, Times Of Atrocity. As a recap, I came across Times Of Atrocity back in 1995 at a used CD shop in Omaha, Nebraska. How that rare independently released album made it all the way to one of the last places you’d expect to find underground death metal from Australia, I’ve no idea. And while I never regretted snatching that rarity up, the one complaint I had was with the rather thin and low-volume mastering. For years, since several labels have been remastering and re-releasing properly demos and out of print releases, I’ve always hoped and prayed that both the full-length and the seven-song demo would be given that treatment.

Fortunately, soon after I posted the compilation review, a guy named Brad commented that, lo and behold, there has been a remaster and re-release of those two albums, and were available at Boone’s Overstock. Imagine my elation. Unfortunately, for some reason, there was a glitch that prevented me using my credit card to pick it up from that site. But, soon thereafter, copies of that 2-CD re-release became available at Christian Metal Distro, where I had nothing but great experiences ordering stuff from*. So, I did something I haven’t done in a very long time: I purchased a physical CD.

So, here we are. Finally. After eagerly popping this in the disc drive on my lappy, and giving both the discs a good spin or five, I can say I’m rather satisfied with how this turned out. The two-disc set comes with both the full-length Times Of Atrocity and the seven-song self-titled demo that came out in 1993 that was previously only available on cassette, along with demo versions of a couple of songs from the full-length. The mastering on Times Of Atrocity is markedly better than it was on the original release; it’s not what you would call pristine, but I don’t have to max out my volume level to feel the punch of the music. The quality on the self-titled demo is better sounding, again possibly because of the demo, but I never heard the demo itself beyond the one song on the aforementioned compilation. Point is, I now have the long out-of-print demo, and now my collection is complete.

But wait, that’s not all. Disc two contains the entirety of the Mosh For The Master demo release, back when the band went by the name Holy Rite and played thrash metal. Would you believe I actually have an MP3 rip of that cassette only demo? Yeah…this sounds far better. Which reminds me, I’m going to have to get around to reviewing that release soon, here.

Anyway, this 2-CD re-release seems like a major answer to prayer, had I not thought that this kind of thing would be a frivolous thing to pray for. Regardless, though, I am more than happy with the purchase, and for $13 for a double-disc release, I’m not complaining one bit. Well, this was limited to a small quantity, so if you’re planning on getting this, jump on it as soon as you possibly can. Recommended.

[* – again, I hasten to mention that I am in no way, shape or form on Christian Metal Distro’s payroll, nor am I endorsing them in any official capacity; just stating a fact, they’re a great place to get your metal fix without headaches…so far…]

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