I'm not sure why, but for some reason metal fans (and especially metal musicians) fetishize technique like Mortiis slurping on a stinky toe. It's as though a band is only as good as the number of notes they play per second. This isn't a new phenomenon, but as the bar gets raised higher and higher, it leads to what we like to call "riff salad," or albums that might as well be a collection of blindingly fast, yet incredibly boring, riffs thrown into a Salad Shooter and spit out the other end, topped with a sprinkling of Willowtip logos. With that in mind, we decided to have a cookoff at our Mid-Atlantic Innovation Center to find out who has the best recipe for riff salad (or worst, as the case may be)! We will rate them on a scale of 1 to 10 Unique Leader logos, with 10 being the ultimate in riff salad.
Deeds of Flesh
Let's start with the inventors of this wretched genre. Once upon a time, Deeds were a great band. I loved the first EP and "Trading Pieces." The drummer for Odious Sanction gave me a cassette dub of it in 1997 and it not-so-gradually melted my 19 year old brain. Those records were super technical, yet also really catchy, with good songwriting. But then came "Inbreeding The Anthropophagi" or whatever the fuck it's called, I'm not looking it up. They traded their once-sick riffs for non-stop tremolo picking and double bass. I looked at the sky and said, to borrow a phrase, "Sir, have I wronged you in some way??" Whatever the case may have been, Deeds had officially jumped the shark and created the dull, lifeless genre known as riff salad. Subsequent albums just got worse and worse. You can just feel the energy leave the room when you put on "Path of the Weakening," and "Reduced to Ashes" reduced me to napping.
Verdict: 9/10 Unique Leader logos
When the self-titled Origin record came out back in 1999, it ripped my face completely off my skull. I still listen to it pretty regularly, largely for the unique drumming and strange song structures. It sort of sounds like if you took a death metal band and threw them down the stairs while they were playing- in a good way. I especially like "Vomit You Out." Sadly, though, all their other records are the most boring of boring shit that ever bored! It's just one long blast with the tweedly sweep picking or whatever over it, which is a real shame considering how groundbreaking and original their first record was. Although all copies of their newer records should be buried in a landfill like all those unsold copies of "ET" for Atari 2600, the self-titled one is so excellent that I am going to give them a relatively modest riff salad ranking. Also, it's Valentine's Day and I think I have a Valentine, so I'm feeling nice.
Verdict: 7/10 Unique Leader logos
I'm switching it up a bit here but venturing outside the world of death metal. But just because these guys don't have "tion" or "ment" in their name doesn't mean they aren't riff salad! Their songs are as Salad Shooter as it gets, only the kids like them because they are all about castles and white pride. Also, they were in Guitar Hero- but so what? Kim Wilde is in Singstar and you don't see the kids on her jock. In any case, I like a little fantasy metal here and there: sometimes after a rough day at work I'll draw a bubble bath, light some candles and relax while I bust Rhapsody on the Bose Wave CD player. But let's be honest, this shit sucks. This band is a dumb cartoon and they play too many fucking notes. The last part is the real problem, because I like plenty of bands that are dumb cartoons (Cynic, for example).
Verdict: 6/10 Unique Leader logos
Are you seeing a trend here?? Once great band loses focus, gets too far up their own asses and turns into riff salad? Decrepit Birth is perhaps the most tragic case of them all. "And Time Begins" is, without question, a game-changing classic that is without equal. I think I speak for everybody when I say that I felt like I got raped by a profoundly retarded baboon with AIDS when I heard that record (in a good way!). It still stands as the most over-the-top execution of the Suffocation formula, or more precisely the early Deeds of Flesh formula. But then they listened to Cynic and Atheist too much and turned into riff salad on their second album!!! Rather than try to use my own crude language to describe the feelings of betrayal that tore my heart into pieces, I will capture my anguish with the lyrics to "Stabbed In The Back" by Youth of Today:
We were brothers you and me loyal to our
hardcorebrutal death metal scene
our thought our aims our goals were true
then something happened to you you changed
stabbed in the back
I remember all the things that you said
shit you said
I guess it was just a bunch of lies
stabbed us all in the back
right in the back
don't you dare look me in the eyes
all we stood for, all our dreams you've forgotten what they mean
I tell you this my thoughts are real and I'll never change the way I feel
Verdict: 7/10 Unique Leader logos
Gene Hoglan's Balls loves this band. Maybe I would have too when I was 14 and just wanted to hear bands play as fast as they could with no regard for songwriting or dynamics. But I'm not 14 anymore so listening to the singer go "Grrrr grrrr!!" and the rest of the band go "Skronk skronk blast blast!!" just makes me want to run to the catchy grooves of Cock and Ball Torture or Dead. As these bands go, they're pretty good, but that's like saying it's better than a sharp stick in the eye, you know? Plus they're on Willowtip, which means they're not as ignorant as I'd like them to be. I'm pretty sure that dude grew up on hardcore so he's too smart to put out good death metal. If he was a real metaller he'd sign Gorevent and Disconformity. He's probably too busy jamming Abnegation and Green Rage for that, though.
Verdict: 8/10 Unique Leader logos
The first two Cryptopsy records are fucking classics of brutal, yet super catchy and all around awesome death metal. They sound just as good today as they did 15 years ago or whenever the fuck they came out. Then they got rid of Lord Worm and started to practice their instruments too much or something, and became an extremely boring, overly technical riff salad band that forgot how to write songs. If only that was the end of the story, though! Now they are a pseudo-deathcore band so shitty that even I, the man with absolutely no standards, can't tolerate listening to them for more than a single second before I claw at the nearest sharp object and jam it in my eardrums. They managed to make it into an even bigger shit sandwich by putting on retarded Lacuna Coil-style latex JNCOs with excessive buckles and straps. Dudes, you're in your fucking mid 30s!! You can't do that shit! So yeah, their new crap makes me yearn for their riff salad days!
Verdict: 7/10 Unique Leader logos
They may not have invented riff salad, but they definitely fucking perfected it!! Holy shit this band is boring!!! The most interesting thing this band ever recorded is the explosion at the beginning of "Conquering The Throne." Actually I really like that one instrumental song "The Faceless Ones," because it sounds like they took a few minutes to think about writing an actual song, rather than just firing up the Salad Shooter. I honestly have no idea how you could keep a band like this together for 12 fucking years. I can see how it would be kind of fun to spend a weekend with your friends goofing around and playing some crazy riff salad just to get it out of your system, but make a career out of it?! I'd rather be toiling away in the salt mines of Blue Grape with Guav and Buske, dreaming about how we'll make it big when we bring back Cabal 315!! Anyway, Hate Eternal wins our riff salad cookoff! Yay them! They get a gold star.
Verdict: 10/10 Unique Leader logos