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Subterranean Mixtape – Side A: Stateside Rumblings

Back in the day, there were those muckrakers, right? Journalists that would dig up dark truths about people and organizations and bring them to the public’s awareness. Well that’s what I aim to do here. Except the dark truth is that these bands, and more like them, are out there killing it way harder than many better-known bands. So without further ado, allow me to introduce you to four US bands that spurn the sun to conjure their havok deep below the surface.

— Dutch Pearce

Haunting

This opening track comes from Atlantan casket-smashers Haunting. It’s from their four song demo, Sealed Shut, which came out May of this year. I’m confident that as soon as you hear that tom-pounding call-out that comes in after only like 16 seconds, you, too, will be transformed into a purveyor of this demo. Drummer David Prae (also of Living Decay) told me that Haunting has only played three shows so far — “two . . . were with Coffin Dust and Mangled” — so they get the opening spot for being the newest and still the most rotten. Sealed Shut remains available on cassette, but it’s not long for this world. Released by White Ship Records, a label run by Prae and Matt Kilpatrick of Cemetery Filth, Haunting’s demo portends an unfathomable horror to come. If you’re looking for that perfect warm Halloween jam of crustcore-tinged death metal, or just feeling like a circle pit around the Autopsy table, then get your claws on this tape while you still can.

Verräter

Verräter are the most obscure band out of the four featured. Besides their Facebook, they’ve got practically zero internet presence. So if you’re into paint-peeling USBM with brutish tendencies, bad news: unfortunately the ultra-limited first pressing (50 copies) of Verräter’s self-titled cassette has already sold out from the band, and five out of the six tracks can’t be heard anywhere else.

Kansas’ Verräter are anomalous and necessarily truculent, as black metal ought to be and yet so rarely is these days. Regarding their German moniker, which means “traitor,” guitarist/bassist D.F. explained that “the name was not taken from the Leviathan album,” but fits the lyrical content and pays homage to the three members’ “Germanic descent.” Verräter recently returned from tour, having played with Sargeist, Nightbringer, and Behexen, and plan to record two new songs for an upcoming split with Vickers. In the meantime, get your copy of the full length here; or wait for the CD/LP reissue through the mysterious new label Legion Canada.

Ritual Decay

The first pressing of Ritual Decay’s five song demo, The Conquering Darkness, sold out the same month it went up for sale. That’s especially foreboding considering that, according to vocalist Seth, the Memphis scene is “[a] complete ghost town concerning . . . metal.” But the band perseveres to spread their blackened death across the US, with upcoming shows in San Antonio, Wilkes-Barre, and New Orleans. Eternally a three piece, despite “deceivers that . . . tried to worm their way into [Ritual Decay’s] ranks,” they are a true paradigm of the fatal dedication necessary to crafting the obstinate warfare that we so love and admire in the deep underground. Just listen to those vocals: like Ares shouting commands from his dragon-skull chariot as he races ahead of his swarming minions. Thanks to some hierophantics from Caligari Records, you’ve been granted a second chance at self-ruination via Ritual Decay’s The Conquering Darkness demo.

Salvaticus

Storming through Virginian forests comes the last track from Salvaticus’s debut full length Hidden Manna. Deriving their standard from the Latin word for “savage,” Salvaticus are four dudes from Charlottesville with a common interest in creating black metal that is thoughtfully aggressive and objectively awesome. Every note, each drum beat, seems perfectly placed, and yet the record has a spontaneity, an unpredictability, that, given its origins, it simply shouldn’t have.

Hidden Manna is the result of that perfect alchemy which is often attempted, widely fetishized, and just irresistible when achieved authentically. Founding member/guitarist Brian Weaver related the full trvth to me via email: “Salvaticus began in the spring of 2010 as a studio project of myself and [drummer] Kevin Ardrey. Over the next year or so we wrote and recorded the instruments for Hidden Manna, [I] recorded the guitars and Kevin recorded the drums and bass. Everything for [Hidden Manna] was done DIY, with the instruments being recorded in Kevin’s basement in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the vocals being recorded by Alex Lee later on at [my] house in Afton. Carter Felder (guitar) and Alex (vocals, bass) joined us in late 2011 and we began playing shows in early 2012. Carter has also done all of our mixing and mastering.”

By now you’ve probably made it to the part in “Further,” around three minutes in, when the song all but drops out and there emerges that deceptively mid-paced second movement that eventually becomes a part so good and so damn thoughtful that you’ll be convinced you need to drop out of life and dedicate yourself to your own black metal band. But before you do that, show your total support via the Salvaticus bandcamp.

Remember: a metalhead who dies with money dies disgraced.

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