Death-doom forerunners Derketa cast their dark, metallic sound on Chicago | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Death-doom forerunners Derketa cast their dark, metallic sound on Chicago

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Almost 40 years since extreme metal emerged out of the pits of hell (or at least its garages and basements), the gender of its practitioners remains overwhelmingly male. But even in its earliest days, women wanted in on the fun. In the late 80s, vocalist and guitarist Sharon Bascovsky asked her friend Terri Heggen to start a death-metal band—Heggen even learned drums to do it. Taking the name Derkéta from a goddess of death in the Conan the Barbarian mythos, the Pittsburgh duo began writing songs that merge raw, scathing death metal with guttural, churning doom—and by their own account, they were the first all-woman band in either genre. Derkéta released a demo titled An Unholy Ground in 1990; later that year they rerecorded two of its tracks and released them as the EP Premature Burial. Mary Bielich joined in on bass occasionally throughout 1991, but the band split later that year before ever solidifying a full lineup. Bascovsky held on to the band name, though, and Derkéta released a split seven-inch with Nunslaughter in 1999, then appeared on a compilation a couple years later. Over the years she’d also written songs the band had never recorded, and in 2006 she found something to do with that material: she re-formed Derkéta with Heggen on drums, Bielich on guitar, and Robin Mazen on bass, and the four-piece recorded their debut full-length, 2012’s In Death We Meet. (Heggen soon left due to other commitments, and former Cattle Decapitation drummer Michael Laughlin stepped in.) The cavernous, punishing songs pulse with the energy of a band that’s never skipped a beat—you’d never guess this was a reunion record. Bascovsky’s throaty death growl, which is so deep that she’s been accused of using effects pedals, is a particular highlight. If you love darkness, Derkéta will make your skin crawl in the most delightful of ways.   v

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