Misery Index's Top 5 Genre-Bending Extreme Metal Songs

Choosing Death Fest goes down less than one month from today in Philly at Union Transfer. To celebrate, we're asking many of the artists performing to list some very specific "death metal top 5s." At least that's what we asked Misery Index guitarist/vocalist Mark Kloeppel. And here's what he did! 

In light of playing the Choosing Death Fest… a festival decidedly dedicated to the well-known death metal and grindcore days of yore (thanks to Mudrian's masterful re-released work), I have decided to go in the opposite direction with the following selections. Instead, check out my top five favorite fresh, slightly obscure, and genre-bending selections, loosely nestled in the extreme metal genre:  

1.    Barishi "In the Hour of the Wolf"

Barishi is very hard to pin down. They don't go far off in any particular genred direction.  Rather, they are going in their own dark and grungy direction. This track is off their last EP entitled Endless Howl, which contains some very aggressive, yet spacious, riffing overall. There are brief sojourns into math core/rock (whatever you want to call that stuff), post-hardcore, as well as some modern edge type stuff. Very cool!

2.    Momentum "Bury the Eyes Once Gold"

I fell in love with this band when I first heard "Murderscene" on their first 3-song EP in 2006.  They seem to only release one record every four to five years, and really only have two full length albums. Baritone clean vocals, gutturals, and tons of atmosphere permeate the entire record as is apparent on track one "Bury the Eyes Once Gold." Such reinforces the Momentum sound that was incredibly distinct on their prolific 3-song EP in 2006. Masterful work from the land of fire and ice.

3.    Gloom "Entity"

Maybe you've heard of these guys… maybe you haven't, but Gloom from DC is a force to be reckoned with. Moreover, what in the hell to you call them? Amidst the standard fare of extreme metal, these dudes will seamlessly go from heavy post-hardcore to black metal.  That's literally what happens in the first 30 seconds of this song. In case you've been living under a rock, you know those two things don't really go together. Yet there they are… and sounding damn right together, too. Anticipate a lot from this band!

4.    The Lion's Daughter  "Wolves"

Before The Lion's Daughter released the critically-acclaimed Existence is Horror in January of this year, with media sources (such as Decibel) likening it to a perfecting, or at least perfectly representing, a kind of Neurosis-type sound, they had teamed up with a folk music group known as Indian Blanket to release The Black Sea EP. This EP is a 100% songwriting collaboration, and, as the band tells me, was a huge undertaking. "Wolves" embodies the dark and distinctly folk and metallic seamless blend that occurs throughout the EP.  If you loved their latest record like I did, listen to this for their characteristic unique sound with something that goes even more unique.

5.    Sulphur Aeon "Diluvial Ascension"

Ok, some may argue that this is straight up death metal. However, there is an undeniable level of atmosphere, ala Portal, going on with this band. To me, these guys are like Portal, but with riffs and bit more clarity. As much as I like and get Portal's vibe and production, there honestly isn't enough clarity and riffage for my true tastes. That's where Sulphur Aeon pick up the ball.  Nasty dark atmosphere like you are drowning in an ocean of blackness, and enough riffage to drown headbanging. Moreover, the vocal diversity is also present. You see much more of that in Extreme Metal these days, ala the last two Cattle Decapitation records. As much as the 'true' metalhead in me wants to be opposed to this concept, I've loved it since Dan Swano did it on Crimson (Edge of Sanity).

Nails' Top 5 Pissed Off Death Metal Songs of All Time

Californian blasters Nails will decimate ears with their new full-length, You Will Never Be One of Us, later this spring. But prior to that, they'll be holding down the main support slot at Choosing Death Fest in Philly on April 16. But even before that, you can check out guitarist/vocalist Todd Jones' Top 5 Pissed Off Death Metal Songs of All Time below.  

Cannibal Corpse "Born in a Casket"

Every riff in this song makes me want run full speed into the 300lb muscle meat head who goes the wrong way in the pit. I saw Cannibal Corpse two nights ago and they played this jam and I had to hold myself back from charging the pit and potentially getting myself beat the fuck up.

Deicide "Lunatic of God's Creation"

Entry level DM? Say what you want about Deicide, but this jam is fucking HAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRDDD and violent. 

Master "Funeral Bitch"

Classic punk influence death metal every riff makes me want to slam my head. Ignorant song for ignorant actions.

Nile "Kafir"

If the sing along "there is no god..." doesn't light a fire under your ass you might just be dead.

Suffocation "Depths of Depravity"

Pummeling riff after pummeling riff after pummeling riff. Suffocation is almost TOO brutal... if you're a wimp!

Choosing Death Fest Metallers Horrendous Debut New Decibel Flexi Track "Sentenced"

In less than two months Horrendous will be taking the stage as part of Choosing Death Fest. If you’re unfamiliar with these up-and-coming deathmongers, now would be the perfect time to remedy that, as they’ve just recorded a new track exclusively for the Decibel Flexi Series.

The Chills, the debut album from Philly/VA death metallers, was Decibel's 23rd favorite album of 2012. The band's next LP, Ecdysis, was dB's third favorite release of 2014. The trio quickly followed it with Anareta a year later, which took home the Decibel Album of the Year honor in 2015.

According to this trend, the aforementioned flexi track will be the Decibel RELEASE OF THE DECADE.

That may be a slight exaggeration, but whatever. Anyway, listen to "Sentenced," the first taste of new Horrendous music since the stunning Anareta below. To get this exclusive, limited-quantity flexi for your soon-to-grow Horrendous collection, pick up a copy of the May issue from the Decibel store. And to see the death dealers in all their gory glory, pick up tickets to Choosing Death Fest here.

Pre-Order the Official Choosing Death Fest Shirt by Dan Seagrave!

Choosing Death Fest takes place Saturday, April 16 in Philadelphia, PA, but you can pre-order this ultra-limited edition (170 printed) official Choosing Death Fest shirt right now! Featuring the incredible Dan Seagrave (Morbid Angel, Entombed, Suffocation, etc.) Choosing Death book cover art in its full-color glory. Get one now

New Choosing Death Excerpt in Time for Choosing Death Fest!

Choosing Death Fest, featuring Dying Fetus, Nails, Misery Index, Deceased, Noisem, Horrendous, Derkéta and Taphos Nomos, is just around the corner. It goes down Saturday April 16 in Philadelphia at Union Transfer. Tickets are a measly $22. Choose Choosing Death Fest.

Obviously, the festival takes it name from Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal & Grindcore. So, what better way to get you pumped for CDF, than with this new Choosing Death book excerpt from the revised and expanded hardcover edition, where legendary death howler Martin van Drunen joins Pestilence in the late ‘80s? Enjoy, and then snap up a hard copy—there are only 1000 left in stock!

While Thanatos impressed their friends, two hours east in the old industrial town of Enschede, guitarist Patrick Mameli was equally smitten with one particular American band who also had yet to graduate beyond the demo stage.

“I was into tape-trading a lot,” he says. “We were into bands like Death and Mantas, which is pre-Death. I love Death. Death is like my fucking child. It helped me try to become more brutal and stuff like that—that’s what’s it’s all about. Fuck, man, those guys were so good. I understand what they were doing. I wanted to be the European answer to Death. Listening to them, it was like, ‘OK, that’s what you do? That’s what I wanna do right now.’”

That would have to wait several more months, however. Mameli was still jamming metal covers with any like-minded musician he could find in Enschede. That’s how he first crossed paths with another local metal fan, Martin van Drunen. A few years older, and raised on KISS, Motörhead and Venom, as well as Dutch headbanging heroes Picture, van Drunen was hanging out at a friend’s band’s practice space when he first encountered Mameli.

“One day they were looking for a guitar player, and Patrick showed up,” recalls van Drunen. “I think he was like 14 or 15 years old. He was riffing Kirk Hammett and Slayer riffs, and I was like, ‘Hey, I know those songs.’ The singer was drinking too much and he didn’t show up at the practice session. I was always going there just to hang out because I had nothing else to do, so they said, ‘You, grab the microphone and sing something.’ So, we did [Slayer’s] ‘Evil Has No Boundaries’ and [Metallica’s] ‘Metal Militia.’ I was impressed by Patrick, like, ‘Hey, this kid can play, and he plays the music that I like.’ Most of the guys in those bands were into mainstream metal and hard rock. That was the first time that I met Patrick. He soon quit there and I didn’t see him for years.”

In the middle of 1986, Mameli formed the trio Pestilence, and assumed vocal and guitar duties. In its earliest incarnation, the band bore a much closer resemblance to the more extreme thrash sounds emanating from neighboring Germany than anything Chuck Schuldiner was developing in central Florida. By the time Mameli recorded Pestilence’s first demo, Dysentery, released just a few months later, elements of Death’s debut LP Scream Bloody Gore infiltrated the band’s style, while the group grew more technically proficient than their German counterparts. However, they were by no means looking to the sterile sounds of American thrash for influence.

“I didn’t care about the stuff that Testament was playing at that time,” Mameli explains. “I just wanted to be the next Death. That’s what it’s all about. I didn’t care about Testament—I could play that shit when I was fucking 14 years old. I wanted to be playing stuff that was just so humongous and crazy. We just loved it. People needed this stuff.”

Mameli also soon realized that he needed a singer. As he prepared to record the band’s second demo, The Penance, he encountered van Drunen for the first time since their impromptu rehearsal space jam.

“I was walking on the square in Enschede and I bumped into him,” recalls van Drunen. “So, we started talking and he says, ‘We can’t find a singer.’ I don’t know where it came from, but I said, ‘OK, I’m a singer, and I’m looking for a band.’ But I never was in a band, you know? So, he said, ‘OK, then just come by.’”

Soon after, Pestilence were officially reconfigured as a quartet, showcasing van Drunen on vocals and bass (though Mameli recorded the bass on The Penance), and they began gigging with more frequency at home, as well as in neighboring Germany.

“As a demo band, we already had contacts in Germany, and we played there a lot,” confirms van Drunen. “We sold a shitload of demos at concerts. There were bands with record deals—a German band called Darkness—that we played with, and I think it was 500 people inside the room, and we just blew them away. And after that show, we sold over 100 demos. Back then, if you sold 1,000 or 2,000 copies of your demo worldwide—not to mention the amount of people who copied it—record labels start to get interested.”

Those then-elusive recording contracts were significant motivators for nearly every band in the underground. But by 1988, it was a two-horse race between Thanatos and Pestilence to be the Netherlands’ first extreme metal act to land a record deal. While that contributed to some friction between the two bands, an even deeper rift stemmed from something actually written by Thanatos’ frontman Stephan Gebédi.

“I still am now, but back then I was writing for Aardschok magazine,” he explains. “I was reviewing demo tapes, and I reviewed the first Pestilence demo tape for Aardschok, and then this little feud between me and Patrick emerged. I gave it a good review, but I didn’t say that it was brilliant! Then they were starting to talk shit about us. So, there was a big controversy in Holland at one point between Pestilence and Thanatos. In Aardschok, you had a readers’ page where people send in letters, and for months and months, there was a big onslaught going on between Pestilence and Thanatos fans until [the editors] pulled the plug on it, so it wasn’t like a fanzine for those two bands anymore.

“So, the western part of Holland was pro-Thanatos and the eastern part was pro- Pestilence,” Gebédi continues. “Until about 1988, both bands were pretty equal, in Holland at least.”

Pestilence were about to pull ahead of the competition, however, by recording a song called “Hatred Within” for the Teutonic Invasion Part Two compilation. Released by the Netherlands-based Roadrunner Records, the comp was basically an A&R vehicle for the label to harvest young talent. And considering Pestilence were located right in their backyard, offering the band a contact was an easy decision for the Dutch company.

“For us, it was something really special, as we were the first Dutch extreme metal band that got a major deal,” admits van Drunen. “There was a lot of… well, I don’t wanna use the word ‘envy,’ but there were bands that were jealous—like, ‘Fucking hell, why do they get it and we don’t?!’”

“We were the first band to get fucking signed,” Mameli says bluntly. “We were better than all those fucking bands from Holland. We were just the best.”

They had their chance to prove it with Malleus Maleficarum, their Roadrunner debut. Released in September 1988, the album was ultimately more thrash metal than death metal, but infinitely more extreme than, say, State of Euphoria or …And Justice for All—both of which were released within weeks of Pestilence’s debut. Though Malleus was well-received in Europe, both Mameli and van Drunen hoped to the take the band in a more death metal-leaning direction with their followup. This decision resulted in drummer Marco Foddis and German-born guitarist Randy Meinhard exiting the group.

“Randy wanted to do more melodic kind of thrash,” van Drunen reveals. “There was a verbal fight between Randy and Patrick, and of course Patrick said something to him like, ‘Fuck off, you stupid German.’ And Marco decided to go with Randy.”

Meinhard and Foddis formed a thrash band called Sacrosanct, while Mameli and van Drunen recruited guitarist Patrick Uterwijk and started auditioning local drummers. While Uterwijk’s style was the perfect match for Mameli’s playing, Pestilence’s drummer search hit a dead end. Foddis eventually returned in 1989 with much of the new album’s material already finished.

When it was released in December that year, Consuming Impulse completed Pestilence’s swift transition from thrash upstarts to death metal elite. Mameli’s Death influences resonated more clearly through the crush of Harris Johns’ production, but it was the change in van Drunen’s vocal approach that helped foster one of the most distinctive voices death metal has ever heard.

“From the first demo I sang on, I was just looking for what I could do,” says the vocalist. “On Malleus, I had this kind of ‘bllaaaauuugh’ thing, you know? But that was a terrible technique because I had a headache after every show. Also, at that time, Xecutioner had a demo out, and we heard it and thought, ‘Jesus Christ—this fucking singer!’ And every day, the boys rubbed my nose in it: ‘You need to sound like this John Tardy guy—this guy is good!’ So, when I started to sing for Consuming, they were not happy. They were like, ‘You gotta get rid of that fucking Malleus voice.’ So, then I started singing more from [the] belly, which is what I do now. And they all went, ‘Yes, that’s the voice! Keep that one!’ I said, ‘OK, if that’s what you guys want, I can do this.’ So, on Consuming, it was more or less a tryout. It may sound astonishing, but it is.”