An Exhaustive Study: Death Metal/Crust Punk [1988-Present] Part III – “Darkness on the Horizon”

AN EXHAUSTIVE STUDY is exactly that, an exploratory documentarian medium rather than an authoritative statement. This time around it is a vehicle tasked with collecting and discovering the history of bands/albums that would find a natural fusion between emergent crust punk (“stenchcore”) and nascent death metal movements. I’ll attempt a moderately chronological set of albums herein that are essentially… eh, ideally crust punk and death metal hybridized whilst trying to avoid too much direct crossover with grindcore, thrash and (eventual) black metal associations; These variations will inevitably be included in some capacity due to the joyous form-shattering nature of crossover experimentation in the 80’s and 90’s as well as the “there are no rules” mindset in terms of sub-genre of the last two decades. Most of the research (er, listening) for this series was done between 2014-2018 but it was not a thorough practice so, it remains a second revision of a primary list. Please feel free to recommend bands or albums for this venture while keeping in mind a full discography for each band is not the goal, unless multiple releases are particularly important. Feel free to debate entries, etc. this is not a declarative practice on my part. I don’t care about teaching you a damn thing, I want to learn together!


FREE-MARKET (CON)FUSION (2001-2010)

For Part III we will have to include and consider what are essentially equal misconceptions shared between two (now) very distantly related paradigms discovering each other through successive generations: Death metal from the crust punk perspective, crust punk from the death metal perspective. Each tends to simplify or employ the vaguest possible influences from the other, this is not always the case yet it will become apparent if you lean one way harder than the other. The worst offenders are typically metal fans who would suggest anything 80’s hardcore punk influenced as “crust punk” despite that realm being absolutely rich with nuance and crust being a distinctly evolved and inherently metallic ideal. This works both ways to some degree where the punk spectrum of musicianship begins to see elements of metalcore, hardcore, and crust in modern death metal and figures the difference really boils down to production choices, leading to riffless and imitative records which I’ll generally avoid unless they are of note or provide the rare instance of classic crust beyond a persistent d-beat. This finds our goals shifting slightly as the harmony of sub-genre elements becomes a chief concern within quickly rising and falling genre mash-up trends as they cycle in and out. During this particular decade the west coast United States (Seattle, Portland, Oakland) served as an epicenter for a considerable boon in crust punk influenced metal leading to the formation of brilliant death/doom, speed metal, atmospheric sludge, and death metal bands that utilize(d) crust either as core ethos or a basal state of motion. I won’t focus too intently on the public inability to discern between sludge metal and other sub-genres of heavy metal but it will present itself here and there.

Beyond sub-genre distinction we can begin to look at what socio-anthropological realities arise as the music industry changes most drastically beyond the late 90’s where an entire ecosystem of do-it-yourself practitioners moves their primary activity first to personal websites and then eventually to social media as MySpace and Facebook allow smaller punk and metal underground artists to thrive within direct, low-effort audience interaction. Free information exchange ultimately chopped the sales in half and demystified the “rock star” status of nearly everyone not in denial of this unveiling and, in my opinion, punk music would benefit the most from this despite losing their younger, tech-savvy demographic to the ease of piracy. This is where access to nostalgia began to create a market for retrospective compilations, reissues, etc. and this has perpetuated today, inspiring many artists to look back at late 80’s crust and early 90’s death metal and begin to create new fusion from old parts. I wouldn’t suggest that this wasn’t happening in small quantities throughout the 90’s, we saw a few tape-traders and zine wheelers putting the two together in the underground but the exact science of “crust punk meets death metal” wouldn’t find its audience until each became an easily accessible nostalgic item to muse over. Of course this is my own take and based off of friends who’d played in a few Seattle and Portland area bands in this style, I’d been in a street punk band in the early 2000’s and it was plain to see the “Assück shirt guys” now wearing Bolt Thrower and Obituary reprints from the early 90’s without getting spit at by punk rock twelve year-olds at shows. I won’t even get into Darkthrone‘s black n’ roll/metalpunk era too much, though this stuff did coincide with a lot of black metal/crust punk crossover it doesn’t fit our goals at present. Of course there are gaps in my knowledge so, don’t hesitate to suggest a band! I’ll add it on here and give some thoughts.


HELLSHOCK ‘Ghosts of the Past’ (Demo, 2001)

Living in the pacific northwest United States circa the early 2000’s catching punk and metal shows anywhere I could between Eugene and Seattle, Hellshock would inevitably be one of the first bands that’d conveyed the appeal of crust punk to me in a live setting. Their love of the classics as well as the Japanese crust lineage made for an extra gruff, thrashing demo to start with ‘Ghosts of the Past’ but I’d found this one unique for its exploration of melody. Bearing some kinship (bassist Derrick W.) with From Ashes Rise was certainly a big deal at the time and in hindsight there might’ve been a touch of Tragedy seeping in by osmosis here as well. Speculation though, as I wouldn’t discover this band until their debut in 2003. The 2000’s were essentially Hellshock‘s most active period to date so I’ll have a bit to say about at least one or two of their records. Is it viably death/crust in style? Entirely debatable, if we must consider this a crossing of death metal and crust punk the ratio is negligibly light on death metal. Still, the band are known for their death/thrash heaviness and their style will change over time.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

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NEURON ‘Gleichschritt’ (Epistrophy, 2002)

There are several versions of this Kiel, Germany-based “crustcore” band’s record, each with variations to the tracklist and album art. The original version seems to be a demo/promo CD-r that was eventually expanded into what I’ve seen called a full-length and a compilation in the same sentence. So, push this one out to 2004 if you must. What is crustcore? This’d been a short-lived yet convenient way to describe bands that were fundamentally d-beat/crust punk music that took a few liberties with structure based off of 90’s European hardcore influences. Would they just sound like Stampin’ Ground if the production were cleaner and less downtuned? Maybe, perhaps closer to Ratos de Porão when they were picking up groove metal influences but, taken as is ‘Gleichschritt’ is an inventive, muddy and pulverizing experience with drumming that does dip into some death metal ideas. There is an unhinged, misanthropic feeling to this album that helps to maintain an uneasy and contemptuous tone throughout which serves the crust mindset fairly well.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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VIU DRAKH ‘Death Riff Society’ (Moonstorm Records, 2002)

Another German band that seems to fit the ‘crustcore’ tag of the era at face value but this short-lived Halle-based project were looking almost squarely towards modern deathgrind and 90’s toughguy mosh metal influenced death metal affect on this debut, which certainly has more to offer the popular (at the time) death metal fan. ‘Death Riff Society’ isn’t pure harassment despite the brutal death/deathgrind influenced riffs but it is the one record from their discography that showcases a sharp apex of metal and punk fusion for the band before they split up that same year. Some members would go on to form the death metal band Korades, a similar sound but a project that wouldn’t last much longer than the previous. I’d recommend checking out Viu Drakh‘s earlier works if more of a ‘crust’ context is important to witness but this album is their major statement from my point of view.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

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EFFIGY ‘From Hell’ (Crust War, 2003)

Japanese thrashers Effigy probably warranted mention for their debut back in 1999 but this is my personal favorite release of theirs for its raw and menacing sound. Do not let your eyes deceive you “Grinding metal massacre” is their slogan and not the title of this 7″, which features two brutal-thrashing crust songs that take a bit of ‘Ride the Lightning’-esque rhythmic thunder and some honorable semblance of Axegrinder, too. The sinister mood, the screaming guitar tone, and all of the punk-thrashing attack of this short release make it exemplar for my own taste in this stuff. Is it death metal? I’d say even death/thrash would be a stretch but we’re still in the right lane considering how extreme some moments are.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

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HELLSHOCK ‘Only the Dead Know the End of War’ (Black Water, 2003)

If there is an album that’d set an admirable pace and outlook for a modern crust boon in the early 2000’s just as the thrash metal revivalists were reaching peak nuclear green status it had to be Hellshock. When this came out (on their own label in the states circa ’04, I believe) it’d been considered somewhat accessible for its cleaner production values and more severe metal tonality, edging into grind and death/thrash riff territory without losing the crust directive for a moment. I wouldn’t say this was the continuation of early Extreme Noise Terror that folks suggested it was at the time, perhaps for the sake of respecting the solid death metal records that band made around this time, but there is no denying this was one of several records pushing forward this agenda of extreme metal influenced crust punk at a vital point of metalpunk exposure and experimentation. Does it read as death metal beyond the brutal vocals? Yes, but sparingly with any sort of puritanical approach, they’d sounded more like Hellbastard or a classic thrash era crust band live.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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EVIL ‘XII-XX’ (Trująca Fala, 2004)

Up until this point in the 2000’s we’ve largely come across stenchcore bands that are “death metal heavy” due to guitar tone or harsher vocals but in the case of this Wrocław, Poland-based band we strike upon a death metal band with a distinct point of view rooted in a love of crust, grindcore, and ‘War Master’-era Bolt Thrower. Sure, that sounds like a fairly standard formula for success yet this is a legitimate death metal band with a heaviness all their own. Formed between members of crust punk band Infekcja (whom sprouted several death/crust projects) and the grindcore band Self Hate in 2000, these guys weave more than just a few d-beat moments here with some clear love for Nasum. This is the second official release from the band and I believe the core songwriters went on to form Icon of Evil, a sort of spiritual successor which sheds the elite death metal influences somewhat.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

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STORMCROW ‘Enslaved in Darkness’ (No Options Records, 2005)

Stormcrow‘s debut seems to have been a ‘lighting in a bottle’ side-project among folks who’d been involved in Bay Area crust during the 90’s as well as sludged mutant groups you’d recognize as Brainoil and Femacoffin. It might not be fair to call ’em a side-project but the revolving door for guitarists meant the band would lose steam beyond this first full-length. I’m not saying some of their splits aren’t legendary… Skaven, Sanctum, Massgrave, Coffins are all legendary pairings but for my own taste ‘Enslaved in Darkness’ is the big deal in their discography. This is one of those rare records that’ll never need a remaster as its sound has such depth, balanced but geared for the sustained power chords and bass guitar-clubbing style of the music. There is this school of thought in extreme music that when all elements reach for optimum balance we lose the character and ‘edge’ of recordings but much of Greg Wilkinson/Earhammer Studios work proves otherwise, including ‘Enslaved in Darkness’. Back in 2005 this record was certainly a huge deal though I believe I discovered Martyrdöd and early Tragedy nearby, obsessing over their early material and diluting some of Stormcrow‘s impact. Of course in hindsight these guys were just as influential and might even hold up better in some respects. The balance of death metal tonality and the guitarist’s keen sense for pulling in classic crust influences that aren’t too obviously derived ensures this one stands on its own two feet and still holds up.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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IMMURED ‘Fake New World’ (Fake Vomit, 2005)

After ten years of chasing a brutal and eventually grinding take on death metal that hadn’t really gone anywhere this Nuremberg, Germany-based band would undergo a fairly drastic restructuring where they’d toy with grind ideas before pushing into an entirely inspired take on 90’s hardcore punk. ‘Fake New World’ is a going to be a major kick for folks who’d grown up listening to youth crew, straight edge, 90’s crust, and a lot of the sort of ‘refined’ old school hardcore we’d gotten in the early-to-mid 90’s. So, it doesn’t make it here on this list for the sake of that, one could easily argue that the death metal elements are completely voided here, instead Immured deserve spot for being an anomalous shift from underground extreme metal to this pretty fuckin’ pristine hardcore punk record. I personally love this stuff, it has swing that isn’t cheese and combines European hardcore influences with the obvious United States songwriting in a brilliant way. When I started writing about punk music in the late 90’s this sort of release might’ve been panned as something we’d heard before but hey, by 2005 it was a thing hungered for as modern metallic hardcore had gone in some nasty directions by then. Again, ‘Fake New World’ fits a death metal gone crust/hardcore punk narrative better than a death metal/crust punk hybridization but from my point of view Immured deserve every mention possible.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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NUCLEAR DEATH TERROR ‘Nuclear Death Terror’ (Plague Bearer, 2006)

Spawned from chaos but aligned neatly as exemplar modern crust punk circa ’06, Nuclear Death Terror‘s self-titled record is basically just curation on my part at this point. I mean the vocals are raw and the album unleashes unholy Hell throughout but I’ve not placed this here for its death metal appeal so much as to suggest what the new standard was for crust beyond the millennium. Energy, attack, classic riffs, screaming guitar solos, vomited Japanese hardcore influenced vocal patterns, and I dunno if Belgium’s crust scene was any less impressive otherwise at this point with many great bands spiking up in the early 2000’s. This was the one irrefutably consistent, front-to-back killer record from these guys and it seemed like they overthought their debut (which was still good) on Southern Lord a bit. Somewhat off track for our goals here but important context for the distinction between modern crust standards of heaviness and perceived death metal influences.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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SUMMON THE CROWS ‘Scavengers Feast’ (Nakkeskudd Plater, 2006)

Hailing from Oslo, Norway and playing a “death metal heavy” and occasionally grinding form of crust/hardcore punk Summon the Crows are an immediate force as this debut full-length fires up, it hits hard without reaching beatdown levels of absurdity. As average as the artwork and cold as the production appears ‘Scavengers Feast’ develops its metallic hardcore attack in brilliant ways as the tracklist progresses, clearly taking from inventive hardcore guitarists and crafting a unique but classic approach that lends itself well to the brutal intensity of their sound. This should appeal to folks aiming for the level of detail Martyrdöd were going for at the time. I’m not sure why this band kinda disappeared after a while, they did a killer split with Deviated Instinct and played a ton of amazing shows before going dark around 2017. Members have gone on to form Timeworn, Akrasia, and a few other projects.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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EXTINCTION OF MANKIND ‘Northern Scum’ (Profane Existence, 2007)

Why wait ’til the third album to talk about Extinction of Mankind? I’d always seen this band as pretty classic stenchcore stuff up to this point, exemplar enough in style that implying a death metal influence seemed out of place. In the case of ‘Northern Scum’ you’ll find some early death metal nods in the drumming, plenty of big thrashing Hellbastard style riffs, and otherwise a band you’d recognize even if they weren’t on the flyer. The focus on riff progression which builds a sort of tribal anthemic backing for the ranting vocals taps into an issue that classic stenchcore hadn’t figured out in the late 80’s, at least in terms of matching double-bass drumming with the Amebix-sized collapsing epic. Without fail each record from these north west England based fellowes ripens as it plays, each piece is a deeper cut than the last and by the time “Seize the Day” hammers in I’m completely immersed in their gig. I don’t think the death metal influences are pronounced at all here but there are some choices in the rhythm section and some Napalm Death spastic motions that keep some heavier metallic edge thriving throughout. Also worth noting that we will see an increasing number of Profane Existence titles as they’d plug on as one of the last major oases for this style in the decades to come.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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MAMMOTH GRINDER ‘Rage and Ruin’ (Depleted Resource, 2008)

Several years before Kvelertak broke through with their swinging blackened hardcore punk headbanger of a debut the ‘next big thing’ in modern, hype-heavy hardcore punk/metal spiralized forms was whatever Austin, Texas crusted and deathly sludged hardcore band Mammoth Grinder were doing on their debut ‘Rage and Ruin’. Though the lyrics were mostly inside jokes and class warfare from college kids this record is primal and passionate work, brilliant connections are made here that’d influence not only the sludgecore realm but cue plenty of extreme metal artists into bits of neocrust, and other micro-scenery these guys would glom together for a distinct sound. ‘Underworlds’ is peak Mammoth Grinder for my taste but you’ll get the crust-minded freedom most often in their first two albums. Their death metal/hardcore crossover albums were prescient of a huge trend that has worn out since and are inarguably better than most bands they’d influenced. If you’re not really into the death/crust idea and you’re just reading for fun and you just happen to love sludge/doom metal make sure you check this one out as just about every song has a big doom riff at its apex.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

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EXTREME NOISE TERROR ‘Law of Retaliation’ (Deep Six, 2008)

Although original vocalist Phil Vane had been on ‘Damage 381’, which was essentially a Napalm Death styled late 90’s death metal record, folks seem to remember ‘Law of Retaliation’ as the return of their crustcore/grindcore style thanks to him rejoining as co-vocalist. I don’t say this to spite Vane (RIP) but rather to suggest ‘Being and Nothing’ (2001) as an oddly shit upon death metal record in their discography. I was definitely collecting CDs like a madman as the millennium arrived and still think “death metal” Extreme Noise Terror is way underrated. ‘Law of Retaliation’ does appear to return to their classic sound with twenty short deathgrind songs in a matter of ~40 minutes with plenty of their ‘Phonophobia’ era sound shining through. I’ve always sort of described this band in terms of Napalm Death and in that sense this was their ‘Enemy of the Music Business’ moment, that is to say it rules for how hard it goes and it remains one of their more inspired records to date. Call it a comeback if you must, beyond their endless line-up changes and re-recordings in their early years ENT have been always been shockingly extreme and the best sort of nuclear punk energy.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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SANCTUM ‘On The Horizon’ (20 Buck Spin, 2008)

Extinction of Mankind and Stormcrow had both been onto something thrashers could appreciate but it was probably Seattle, Washington’s Sanctum that’d truly caught the ears of the death metal crowd with their debut album and final release. Because these guys were active for just a handful of years and they seemed to have reached a major creative goalpost with this record Sanctum aren’t the first name you’ll hear dropped in a discussion about death metal/crust punk hybridization but on this particular record they persist with one of the best ‘modern’ balancing acts between the two sub-genres in terms of riffs; The major lubrication between two worlds is surely a bit of Bolt Thrower but songs like “And We Press On” are just as relevant to the verve of early Peaceville crust bands. Their vocalist is now in Slutvomit and the drummer is now in Primal Rite and Abysmalist. Kind of a flash in the pan release but still an important, ultra-loud one that holds up.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

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TOTAL TERROR ‘Total Terror’ (Vic Records, 2009)

The documentation of Dan Swanö’s history in terms of both side-projects/experiments and his body of work producing and recording music has given is a window into an artist who’d often produce great results on a whim but also a fellow who was willing to see an idea as a completed task worth moving on from. This project formed in 1993 between Edge of Sanity members during a very prolific period where very serious results such as ‘Purgatory Afterglow’ were offset by less serious bands like Infestdead forming afterwards, and I think Andreas Axelsson (Disfear, The Lurking Fear) had just left Marduk. Anyhow a demo was recorded in 1993 and an unreleased album was recorded in 1994. They shelved it and it wouldn’t be unearthed until much later. I mean, you can tell why they didn’t go much further with the idea because it is basically their take on crust at Terrorizer speeds, a lot of playful guitar work and lyrics that are sometimes even more ridiculous than that one band that sang about Garfield. Beyond the archival value of the compilation there is some crossover happening here that is death/crust separate from their grindcore ambitions and it must be said that Ben Larson (Opthalamia, Godsend, Pan.Thy.Monium) is a fantastic drummer who ends up being the commanding presence and main reason to listen here. Looking back at what else was going on in Swedish metalpunk circa 1994, they actually did a fine job toying around with extreme punk ideas.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

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NUX VOMICA ‘Asleep in the Ashes’ (Aborted Society, 2009)

Perhaps stemming from the broad-minded bigger picture of bands like Nausea and Neurosis the experimental lineage shared between sludge, crust punk, and extreme metal runs fairly deep though it is hard to see the endpoint in bands like Agrimonia and Dead to a Dying World without taking a detour to Baltimore/Portland act Nux Vomica who were essentially an art-punk troupe playing atmospheric metal. This second album, which features six songs in just over an hour run is probably their artistic peak statement as their record on Relapse was just alright compared to this one, unable to (briefly) break through in the same way bands like Ilsa would. Very little of this has any real value for the death metal listener beyond some melodic ideas yet bands like this did redefine what “crust influences” meant as they’d fully embraced the melodrama of both atmospheric sludge metal/post-metal and neocrust. This is such a far cry from the traditional crust punk elements I enjoy but I do think that this record offers a broad-stroked portrait of how folks were mutating the core of the sub-genre into something new and ambitious.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

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WINDS OF GENOCIDE ‘The Arrival of Apokalyptic Armageddon’ (Self-Released, 2010)

I suppose anyone who’d stuck with this list up to this point has been asking when the real payoff comes and bands actually figure out intentional and -actually good- crossover between death metal and crust punk in their most classic forms and yes, it all really comes together in 2010 and beyond that point much of the finest work comes in revision of what happens this year. The first band I’d push to the front of the line is North East England area quartet Winds of Genocide, a band who’d put out a 2009 demo tape entitled ‘Apokalyptic Death Crust’, a banner statement that made it clear they were fuckin’ doing it and hey, on purpose. That demo was great but this initially self-released first EP was the major reason folks would take note of what they were doing. Why didn’t you hear about this band until 2012? As we’ve seen with several other bands their split with Abigail gave some spotlight to their craft, which is brutish crust punk that accentuates the melodic values of the sub-genre with heavier, fairly crisp shots of death metal intensity. They are still playing grinding punk music but their register begins to slide more easily towards the d-beaten death realm as the EP progresses. The band notably features members of Uncoffined, Thronehammer, and Lucifer’s Chalice as well. We will check back in with these guys in 2015.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

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BASTARD PRIEST ‘Under the Hammer of Destruction’ (Blood Harvest, 2010)

Umeå/Stockholm-based death metal duo Bastard Priest essentially debuted with a partial re-recording and a mastered demo compilation as their first full-length and you wouldn’t really know the difference as their sound was raw-yet-massive throughout this exemplar Swedish death metal record, which captured the spirit of Nihilist and the oft-overrated Repugnant trading some of the thrash metal elements for crust/hardcore punk elements. The punkish aspect of the band was somewhat underplayed because they were soon lumped into a revival of Autopsy and Nihilist influenced death metal bands (Tribulation, Morbus Chron, Maim, etc.) in Sweden. Whereas many of their peers went on to evolve into something else entirely Bastard Priest followed up with their first ‘real’ full-length a year later and had split up by 2013. As much as I love ‘Ghouls of the Endless Night’ this album captures that wild, frenetic thrash ’em all spirit of ‘Left Hand Path’ the best. Most of these songs came from demo sessions in 2007 and 2008, and I’d say the second demo has the most punk influence if we parse out each set of songs. This release is not only straight up fantastic Swedish death metal but we get a glimpse of what most death metal fans would consider crust punk influence, even though the d-beat and certain riff changes are basically ingrained attributes for their regional death metal dialect at this point. They’d reform the project in 2019 and have recently released an EP.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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ILSA ‘Tutti il colori del buio’ (Contagion, 2010)

Giallo, tattoo art, death/doom, sludge metal and crust punk all splatter together on this defining full-length from Washington D.C. act Ilsa who enjoyed some considerable popularity after this record released. Of course their unique treatment of sludge metal from a death/doom metal perspective was more important but the hardcore punk and crust influences on their earlier releases were important as they’d break up the oppressive dirges with fast and fucked up 2-3 minute songs that’d rip through some modern extreme crust influences. As they switched up guitarists these elements would hemorrhage from their sound somewhat and the underground would more or less skitter away once they’d signed to a bigger label. I find Ilsa a bit underrated and perhaps because sludge metal just ain’t in fashion like it was prior to these last 3-4 years. Of course I don’t care about that. Making this huge production sound work, keeping the hardcore spirit of the music moving despite the death/doom and sludgecore edge was definitely a feat back in 2010.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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BULLET RIDDEN ‘Songs Written Before Jumping Out of an Eight Story Window’ (Underground Movement, 2010)

We’ve been all over northwest and northeast England for death/crust but this is the first South West England band touched upon as Bristol’s Bullet Ridden (aka Bulletridden) bring some slight death metal heaviness to their brand of very straight forward hardcore/crust punk style. I appreciate that simplicity merits a very classic hardcore punk approach to riffs which understands transitions quite well and uses them to create motion beyond pure spectacle. This’ll be much more important from a punk guitarist perspective rather than a metal point of view but the illusion of motion is quite successful here compared to a lot of thrash influenced death/crust records. Otherwise it is not a massive or substantial revelation beyond a solid grasp of classic street punk shovin’ riffs.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

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BLACK BREATH ‘Heavy Breathing’ (Southern Lord, 2010)

Seattle, Washington’s Black Breath debuted their idiosyncratic yet broadly appealing style of death/punk crossover with an unmissable EP in 2008 but that’d all sound formative by 2010 when their debut released on Southern Lord. Though the band probably never set their style within a certain set of parameters this is kind of the ideal “Entombed-core” approach in the sense that it has an evolved (read: clarified) HM-2 guitar tone, death/thrash influenced riffing, crust punk informed song structures and vocals which also work quite well when the band wheels into crossover/thrash metal territory. Basically these guys were doing this style of music, however you’d define it, better and with more integrity of forms long before a bad tidal wave of moshcore influenced death metal decided to ape riffs from ‘Wolverine Blues’. I’m an absolute die-hard fan of this band and would definitely recommend giving their whole discography some serious time. I can pull up a hundred bands with impressive style every day and still be bored, these guys served a real trip and tons of riffs with each record. They hit a wall beyond their third album and unfortunately the bassist passed away last year so, their legacy is secured amongst three pretty damned inspired records. Is it death/crust? I would argue it is and it’ll just take some time to hear it beyond the doom riffs, crossover thrashing spirit that also factor into their unique approach.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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CONTAGIUM ‘Archaic’ (The Total End Records, 2010)

Contagium hail from Halifax, Nova Scotia and were primarily active in the late 2000’s and early 2010’s having released a couple of do-it-yourself cult records to support small tours. These tended to have well-designed packaging and an interesting take on death/crust with some “blackened” death/doom ideas thrown in for the sake of atmosphere. Some of their choices appear somewhat naïve at first but it is clear they did quite well using limited resources, shaping a distinctly atmospheric sound that uses some of the textural elements of mid-80’s crust ambitions and applies it to ‘new old school’ takes on death/doom which, I suppose would appeal to fans of Nightfall to some degree. I won’t suggest this is a masterpiece but it does craft a smart fusion of crust movement and atmospheric death metal rhythms; The result is somewhat austere and satisfyingly earnest. If you go looking for a copy make sure you note it is Contagium and not Contagion, I’d gotten lost on the internet for a few minutes making that mistake.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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ACEPHALIX ‘Aporia’ (Prank, 2010)

Formed between musicians who were (or would be) best known for their work in Vastum and Depressor the first several years of Acephalix‘ development was completely stunning work, reaching this first high with ‘Aporia’ an unusual crossing of modern crust/hardcore ideas, Carcass-esque death metal, and ultimately their own brand of frenetic energy that was best capture here. From there they’d release another album and collapse before reforming in 2015 as a death metal side project. ‘Aporia’ is such a gem for its excitable guitar performances which bounce off the crust n’ rumble drum movements as surrealistic thrashing energy. I don’t think I’ve suggested we’ve touched upon a wholly original release just yet on this list, certainly several exemplar acts but I would say there is next to nothing like ‘Aporia’. There are few death/crust bands who’d ever found such a wild balance between thrashing avant-garde compositions and straight-faced metallic hardcore movement. I dunno, maybe it is the glow of hindsight but this one still strikes me as underrated.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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AHNA ‘Ahna’ (Broadway to Boundary, 2010)

Speaking of original, or experimental at least, with this first full-length from Vancouver, B.C.-based project Ahna we’ve got a drone-dooming, noisecore, art punk and experimental sludge mutant to consider and sure, it doesn’t necessarily conjure a moment of death metal just yet. This record is worth mention as a formative release for the band which seemed to intend chaos and conveyance of well, every bit of existential dread and defiance stenchcore should. It would take another ten years for their second album to surface and that is where we’ll catch up with the band next, this is included primarily for contextual listening.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

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BOMBS OF HADES ‘Chambers of Abominations’ (Blood Harvest, 2010)

Västerås-borne Swedish death metal/crust punk band Bombs of Hades were the impetus for the first drafts of the master list that’d become this feature back in 2014 when ‘Atomic Temples’ released, it is still one of my favorite records in that style. Of course in the interim the resumes of the artists involved continue to impress as Jonas Stålhammar, who is best known from Crippled Black Phoenix as well as underground classics by God Macabre and Utumno, has since joined At the Gates and the related The Lurking Fear side-project. Perhaps even more interesting is that some members were also in the kind of pop-punk/punk rock band Puffball as well. Anyhow, after about a decade of taking last place in terms of their side-projects ‘Chambers of Abominations’ would be the result beyond a couple of demos and a well-received EP. I don’t know what the deal is with this record but it is hard to find streaming online beyond Spotify, which I just can’t bring myself to use, though a CD shouldn’t be that hard to find. Their first record is actually pretty laid back Swedish death metal you’d expect from the era, some mid-paced Celtic Frost influences rhythms persist where hardcore punk breakdowns might’ve otherwise fit. None of these are complaints, but these guys hit their stride after this record. I’ve included it here because well, it is very good and it will be a nice stopping point as we move into a new decade and in the midst of a boon in this style that will just as quickly die out in the next decade.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

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https://open.spotify.com/album/6dTHHBkz0ktSKk2fC1NfMX?


So… Let me know if you think I should stop here and move on to another feature. Or let me know what I’ve missed, I’m sure there is a lot but please make sure we’re talking death/crust and not just crust. Contact me at: grizzlybutts@hotmail.com to help me make this a bit more fleshed out and comprehensive. Thanks for checking this out.


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