MILITARIS-TIC, Curse of Weapons  (2013, Bestial Burst)

The skull:
Most young male Finnish youth are required to perform compulsory military service, even though Finland is rarely embroiled in military scuffles. But they’re ready when and if necessary. However, since hand-to-hand combat is less crucial in this age of chemical warfare and unmanned aerial vehicles, the Finnish military forgot to buy helmets for their boys. Oops. As luck would have it, Finland had a surplus of American football helmets a few years ago. See, high schools across the country attempted to interest kids in American football a few years ago, but the program flopped, was eventually discontinued, and now there’s a surplus of gear kicking around every high school storage room in Finland. The military saw an opportunity to provide their young men with the helmets they need for combat, and thus:  the football helmet you see on the cover of Militaris-tic’s debut album. Apparently Curse of Weapons is a concept album about the lone casualty of war incurred in Finland this year, a dude who happened to be a buddy of the Militaris-tic guys. Blown to smithereens, only his head and helmet survived the ordeal. To commemorate him, the dudes in the band drew their logo on the football helmet, fashioned some syringes into mini-missile looking things, and laid their friend to rest on a camouflage blanket before burying it all. War is hell, and the football helmet didn’t help a goddamn bit.

The music:
This Finnish duo don’t take themselves too seriously, judging from the band photo (Raven meets Carnivore minus the fur) and that silly football-helmeted skull, but man, do they make a serious noise very much aligned with Discharge, Venom and Amebix. Actually, take those three bands, wrap them in a ball, put it in your mouth, get it all phlegm-covered and spit that chunk of noise in the face of someone you hate. It’s that gross and unsubtle. I hear a trace of early German thrash too, especially Destruction circa Sentence of Death, but the aesthetic is firmly England crust/punk/metal circa 1982. These 10 songs blast by quickly and although I’m not entirely convinced I have to own this (I’ve already got the Venom and Amebix records I need) it was an enjoyable listen. These guys have done time in numerous other Finnish bands you may have heard of, like Neutron Hammer, Ride For Revenge, Vitsaus, Incriminated and others, so their hearts are truly in this for life. Till death. I hope their next album features a skull in a hockey helmet, or even a baseball batting helmet.
—  Friar Wagner


DYING FETUS, War of Attrition (2007, Relapse)

The skull:
Is this the first skull in the Big Dumb Skulls Skullection to wear a wig? We’ll have to
have our guys in the truck check the stats on that. The wig is not what the eye goes to
first, though: it’s the missles, the Statue of Liberty crown, and the American flags. You
wonder if this is some kind of anti-American statement or a hyper-patriotic one? Guessing
by the band name and the type of music they play, I’m assuming it’s neither…just a band
tired of parading out the guts ‘n’ entrails imagery looking for something more
intellectual to convey. Nice try.

The music:
It’s hard to take Dying Fetus to task for being so generic in style and delivery. They’re an interesting mixture on this album of tech-death, steamroller simplicity, super-low vocal delivery, and chunky post-death grooves. They’re still generic in style and delivery, but they’ve been doing it consistently since 1993, so I step back and offer respect for their longevity. As for their popularity, well, Miller Lite and Justin Bieber are extremely popular, so popularity is no indicator of quality. But that’s where the comparison stops: Dying Fetus have integrity, and I recognize that. Listening to War of Attrition, it’s hard not to be impressed with how tightly played it is, how technically dazzling some moments are (“Fate of the Condemned”) and how cleanly produced it is without lacking impact. I also wonder how anyone can make room for this in their life when so many other, more interesting death metal albums had already come before this album in 2007. I guess some people can eat McDonald’s every single day and never tire of it.
— Friar Wagner