For twenty seven years record label Cold Meat Industry was a seminal label for avantgarde genres such as noise, dark ambient and industrial music. Three years after its demise, tribute comes from six of the best bands in the underground death metal scene, each reinventing a track from one of the acts on the label, taking tracks that were dark to begin with and pushing them into some of the murkiest deaths imaginable.
Not content with releasing three fantastic death metal albums already in 2016, the first three tracks come from Australasian groups Sinistrious Diabolus, Spire and Temple Nightside. Sinistrous Diabolus’ ‘Disembowelment on downers’ approach to death-doom matches perfectly with Aghast’s gloomy dark-ambient, the ghostly chants and haunting synths replaced with a murky and depressive texture of distorted guitar and a mixture of rasps and death growls, the industrial drumbeat completing their caustic sound. The quirkiness of the crazed keyboard melody on In Slaughter Native’s Death, Just Only Death is absent, but the pounding industrial elements are replaced with distorted guitar riffs, pounding drums and the high pitched melody is recreated on guitar on the usually more technical Spire’s interpretation. The eerie sample and ghastly howls create a horrifically dark and caustic atmosphere on what’s the best contribution on the album. The combination of the sepulchral death-doom usually played by Temple Nightside and the neoclassical/ambient of Arcana is perhaps the interpretation that it’s hardest to envisage working on this release, but with the same drum beat and sampled vocals, the dense wall of guitar replacing synths as the main melodic focus works well, and with nearly two minutes extra track length they meld it into a brilliant piece of melodic death metal at the song’s peak.
While the Temple Nightside and Arcana hybrid seemed difficult to envisage, the dark ambient of Brighter Death now mixed with the density of Grave Upheaval (who’s untitled full length took caverncore to its logical conclusion) seems a match made in heaven (or perhaps the depths of hell?) With droning cavernous guitars that rumble slowly away like the bowels of the earth, occasionally shifting in pitch, not one second of the extra two minutes they add to the original track length is superfluous. Antediluvian are my least favourite of the groups on this release, and their choice to cover Raison De’tre’s neo-classical piece in a death-thrash style with falsetto screams is simply nothing short of bizarre. When they hit the break pedal one can catch glimpses of the original’s melody, but that’s about where the similarity ends. Lots of marks for creativity though, and the ballsy grit of their contribution sounds great regardless. Conversely, Vassafor are my favourite band on the release, but their contribution is my least favourite. MZ.412’s noisy ambient piece remains rather similar in tone throughout, and Vassafor’s slow and caustic noisy beginning works well, but their descent into the blasting chaos we love them for arrives late in the track and sadly cuts out far too soon. Another few minutes and it would have felt a lot more satisfying.
Grave Upheaval, Temple Nightside and Spire provide the best contributions on this release, but each one is still a worthy cover. An enigmatic collection of bands paying tribute to one of the most enigmatic labels out there, it’s a split release that should be heard whether you come from a death metal background or a dark ambient/industrial one.
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