No Clean Singing write about lots of music genres, 99% of it metal, and about 99% of that extreme metal. They’ve been around since November 2009. A blog devoted to extreme metal and other stuff we care about.
It’s unlikely that you’re unfamiliar with Plaguewielder if you’ve been a frequent visitor at our putrid site, because we’ve paid a lot of attention to them over the course of a career that now includes two albums, including 2018’s excellent Surrender To the Void (reviewed here). They describe themselves as “a three-piece blackened sludge outfit from a decrepit mill town in Ohio”, an extreme metal power trio “embodying the misery of our times and the determination of Ohio’s forgotten working class”.
The band have a multitude of influences that come through in their viscerally powerful music, and they’ve now completed work on a new EP that both pays tribute to some of them and gives their fans a hard strike of vicious new material. Entitled Suffering From Self-Inflected Wounds, it includes covers of G.G. Allen‘s punk anthem “Bite It You Scum,” as well as working-class blues legend Leadbelly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”, plus three original songs. Today we’re presenting one of those original compositions, and it’s the new EP’s raging title track.
As a band whose name references a Darkthrone album, Plaguewielder inject this new song with full-throttle black metal ferocity, but there’s a lot of brawling punk energy (and rocking rhythms) in the track as well. It’s a storming two-minute torrent of livid swarming riffs, hammering drums, and vibrant bass lines, matched with scorching vocal fury. As the riffing rises and falls, the song has a bleak, neck-wrecking quality but also a head-hooking fieriness in its melody, and the result is an emotional impact that seems to mix feelings of rage and in-your-face defiance. And it’s a damned infectious song as well.
Plaguewielder’s current formation includes guitarist/vocalist Bryce Seditz, drummer Tim Roberts, and bassist Daniel Kuntz. One more song from this forthcoming EP, the cover of Leadbelly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”, surfaced a couple weeks ago, and if you missed it, we’ve included that stream below, along with the EP’s title track. As we observed soon after it appeared, it consists mainly of Bryce Seditz‘s acoustic guitar and voice, both twisted into gnarly shapes, but it’s still brutal. Part of its heaviness comes from the distortion in the sound, part of it from the grittiness, the ugliness, and the pain in Seditz‘s vocals. It hits hard, even without the usual instrumentation of metal.
Both tracks are now available as name-your-price digital downloads on Bandcamp. For more news about the release of the EP as it emerges, keep an eye on these locations:
The song you’re about to hear should probably be delivered with a supplemental oxygen supply — just a mask, a tube, and a small canister capable of feeding your lungs long enough to make it through this 2 1/2 minute hurricane of sound without gasping for air. To avoid utter evisceration, it might also be a good idea to borrow some Kevlar body armor.
“Tsantsas” is the name of this breathtaking assault, and it comes blazing at us from the sophomore album of the Italian death metal band Demiurgon. Entitled The Oblivious Lure, it will be released on July 12th by Everlasting Spew Records. It arrives four years after the band’s 2015 full-length debut, Above the Unworthy, whose music we praised repeatedly at this site in the lead-up to its release, and attempted to sum up in this flurry of words:
photo by Roberta Tucci
“It’s loaded with riffs that swarm like wasps and writhe like a viper nest, propelled by off-the-hook drumming and a grinding bass line, and voiced by a lycanthropic madman. The music is mercilessly brutal, eye-wateringly technical, and packed with grooves that hit like a heavyweight. On top of that, the songs include searing melodic guitar solos that come in like an extra jolt of adrenaline just when you think you’ve already gotten an overdose. Speaking of melodies, the songs are laced with musical motifs that are malevolent and stinking of plague.”
Little wonder that we’ve been eager to hear what these barbarians might do next, and it’s already clear that they have triumphantly avoided the dreaded sophomore slump. Perhaps that was to be expected, because most of Demiurgon‘s line-up were making music together even before forming Demiurgon, through their participation in the death metal band Hatred, whose first release was in 2005. The members of the band also have many other credits on their resumes, having also enriched the line-ups of such groups as Unbirth, Darkend, and Valgrind.
But let’s get back to “Tsantsas“, which is emblematic of Demiurgon‘s melding of enraged old-school brutality and jaw-dropping technicality. It is indeed breathtakingly fast and electrifyingly vicious, launched by a blood-lusting howl, a blizzard of light-speed drumming, and a guitar assault that sounds utterly berserk. The pace of the song is unrelenting, and so is the eye-popping nature of the instrumental and vocal melee, with the band discharging imperious vocal roars over a shifting kaleidoscopic pattern of skittering, shrieking, squealing, fret-leaping guitar work.
Although there is a chaotic feel to the music, it’s tightly executed, and there are through-lines of groove and pulsating melody that hold the song together. Still, it’s a hell of a savage thrill-ride, so fill your lungs before you get into it.
photo by Roberta Tucci
Everlasting Spew astutely recommends The Oblivious Lure for fans of Beheaded, Cattle Decapitation, Origin, and Monstrosity — though names like Immolation, Hate Eternal, and Krisiun are also good reference points. Lyrically, the songs explore themes of human decadence and the devastation of the world, framed by the different emotional angles of anger, anguish, and contempt.
The album was recorded, mixed, and mastered at Art Distillery Studio (Modena) by Demiurgon and Claudio “Corvo” Mulas. The cover art was created by the fantastic Chris Cold. The album is available for pre-order now, and you can check out streams of two other previously released tracks — “Kapalikas” and “Il Culto Cannibale” — just below our own premiere stream of “Tsantsas”.
On the Fourth of July the Virginia-based symphonic black/death metal duo Warthrone will return with their second album, Crown of the Apocalypse, which follows their 2014 Venomassacre debut full-length. On this new album, Warthrone members Erik Sayenga (ex-Dying Fetus, Witch-Hunt) and Kristel Sayenga (ex-Witch-Hunt, Dark Purity) are joined by an impressive group of guests, including vocalists Nader Sadek, Sarah Jezebel Deva (Cradle of Filth, Hecate Enthroned, Therion), and Kim Dylla (GWAR), and lead guitarist Jim Ross (Cystic Dysentary, Doomzilla).
The album’s opening track, “The Eyes of Kings”, has already been revealed, and today we present the album’s title track, which immediately follows it in the running order. Together they make a powerful one-two punch to launch this new 40-minute record.
“Crown Of The Apocalypse” is an explosive experience that manages to be both rampantly vicious and memorably atmospheric. Anchored by a savage attack of thundering bass and drums, the song delivers a storm of raking, swarming, and pulsing riffs, matched by a cadre of barbarous vocals that includes scalding shrieks, wolfish howls, and tyrannical roars (on this track Nader Sadek and Kim Dylla add their voices to Erik Sayenga‘s own performance).
The music here is frenzied, fiery, and fierce (though it includes a potent neck-wrecking stomp as well) — but gleaming melodic accents also emerge, ringing out in tones that sound majestic, brooding, and unearthly. There’s also a guitar solo that’s even more unearthly, a fleet-fingered spectacle that’s as bright and hot as an acetylene torch. Like its title, the song readily conjures images that are both apocalyptic and ominously grand.
Crown of the Apocalypse is recommended for fans of Old Man’s Child, early Dimmu Borgir, early Cradle of Filth, Marduk, and Setherial. For this record, in addition to the afore-mentioned guests, Erik Sayenga performed drums, guitars, and vocals, and Kristel Sayenga performed keyboards and bass. The album was tracked and recorded by Erik Sayenga at Ghoststorm Studios, mixed and produced by Chris Salamone at Salamone’s Recording Studio, and mastered by Joe Hight at Soundlab Mastering Studios. The cover art and Warthrone logo were created by Triple Seis Design.
Ghoststorm Records will initially release the album on CD (with a special price available for pre-orders), and a vinyl edition will also be forthcoming. Check the links below for more info — and enjoy both our premiere of the album title track and that album opener “The Eyes of Kings”.
(Our Russian friend Comrade Aleks has reappeared at our humble abode, this time with a new interview in which he picks the brain of Carlos D’Agua, vocalist of the part-Portuguese, part-Finnish band Collapse of Light.)
Collapse Of Light is an international atmospheric doom/death project started in 2010 by three ex-members of local doom/death act Before The Rain (Carlos D’Agua (vocals), Carlos Monteiro (guitars), Gonçalo Brito (guitars)) and vocalist Natalie Koskinen (Shape Of Despair and Depressed Mode, amongst others). They weren’t fast, and their debut full-length album Each Failing Step appeared only in 2018.
This impressive material needs some development, which I hope to find on their sophomore album… Being a fan of its soothing depressive vibe I’ve contacted Carlos D’Agua and learnt few things about the band.
Hi Carlos! How are you? What’s going on in the Collapse Of Light camp?
Hi Aleksey, we are all doing well, thanks for asking. Answering your question, Collapse Of Light is now focused on working in a new project. One year after our debut album and following last December’s gigs, it is more than time to prepare our second album.
It’s said that the band was formed in 2010, but your debut album Each Failing Step was released only one year ago in April 2018. How did you spend the first years as a band?
That’s right, it took some time to complete the line-up. It was difficult to find and work with people who identify themselves with Collapse Of Light’s musical vision and attitude. That being said, many came and many left before we were able to go to studio and finishing the recordings.
However, I would say that the main reason to postpone the Collapse Of Light project was my departure from Portugal to Norway where I’m actually living, which lead to a subsequent hibernation.
What was your vision of the debut album? What kind of influences or general ideas did you want to perform through it?
The thematic behind Each Failing Step’s music and lyrics reflects very personal and shattering life experiences. We tried to create a soundtrack for all of those who somehow share a similar existence and paths.
Do you feel that you have coped with that task well enough? In other words, are you satisfied with Each Failing Step?
The balance is quite positive. Collapse Of Light was able to manage and actually overcome considerable challenges and technical hurdles which had been arising to us when we started and kept popping up along the path, allowing us to be stronger and grow as a band.
The album ended up to be really well-received by both the public and the critics, which was something we weren’t really expecting… We didn’t have any demos, no one knew who Collapse Of Light was… It was a shot in the dark.
There are three members of the doom/death band Before The Rain in Collapse Of Light. How much of this band do you see in Each Failing Step?
It’s not a band or a company that defines who you are as a person, your work, and your music, but your inner-self, existence, vision, and beliefs, and how you apply them in everything you do, no matter what it is.
If you gather some people who share the same common ground, you are able to create and excel in anything. By some reason we all got reunited after Before The Rain. Although Before The Rain is part of our past, our musical experience and learning path, I would say Each Failing Step is a bit darker than One Day Less…
Collapse Of Light – Each Failing Step Trailer
Collapse of Light - Each Failing Step (Official Trailer | HD) - YouTube
Carlos, where did you record the album? And how was the recording session organized?
Each Failing Step was recorded at Quinta Dimensão Studios, in Portugal, with João Bacelar. I had the chance to meet and work with him before when recording One Day Less with Before The Rain and I really enjoyed it. That’s the reason why we decided to pick this cozy place.
There is a gap of 5 years between the two recording sessions. It’s crazy if we think how we had captured the drums, bass, and some guitars in the recording sessions back in 2012. In 2017, we have added guitars, strings, keys, and vocals, in what was a very intense process.
The mix was done in the beginning of 2018 with Dehá in Belgium.
You have a guest drummer and bass-player on the album, and they’re your countrymen. But Natalie lives in Finland, so how did you work with her? Did you communicate digitally or did she visit you in Setúbal?
As mentioned before, it was a long process before we were able to have Collapse Of Light’s complete line-up. It was a pleasure to have Gonçalo from Process of Guilt recording the drums, Jorge (who was my bandmate in Evisceration) recording the bass lines, and other guests recording strings and Remains of the Day orchestration.
Living in Bergen, Norway, allowed me and Natalie to work very closely together preparing and combining the voices before traveling to Portugal to record them. Being a band, we strongly believe that Collapse Of Light must always record and spend time together creating the space to grow as a group and share ideas to better improve our work.
Does the fact what she lives in another country limit Collapse Of Light’s live activity? How many gigs did you perform with the full line-up? And how often? What are your most bright and hard memories from touring with the band?
Actually, Collapse Of Light’s vocals are both outlanders. She is in Finland and I’m in Norway. As anything else in life, a challenging situation does not turn into a problem if there is a solution.
Being a band, we are all committed to perform with the full line-up, otherwise it does not make sense to have a group project.
Collapse Of Light was invited to perform in 4 gigs at the end of 2018 in Portugal. With a 4-track debut album, we all agree that there is not enough to start touring. However, and working at the moment on our new project, we believe that our 2nd release will allow us to be more active and take part in European touring. Being on tour gives us the opportunity to be with friends, and to know new bands, new people, new places, and best of all, to share our work and let others know us better. Hard memories …. I would say hangovers … ufffff
Speaking about the full line-up: A few months ago you recruited bassist Paulo Bretão, but you still don’t have a drummer. Who does perform the drums during gigs?
Currently, the drums are being held by Miguel Ledo, who also played for a while with Before The Rain, and was a founding member of Ethereal. He’s an experienced drummer and a long-time friend, so let’s see how it unfolds in the future.
Rain Without End isn’t a big label, but it’s known for the honest approach of its owner, and now you have even a vinyl version of Each Failing Step. Is it comfortable to work with Robert?
As of yet, Collapse Of Light is not a “big” band either, so it makes perfect sense. Thus far, working with Robert has been a very positive experience, and it’s easy to work with him. Naturmacht is getting bigger, and I believe that in a very near future it will become a big label, within the genre.
What are your plans considering the new album? Won’t you wait for eight more years before release of the sophomore recording?
Not at all. It won’t certainly be another 8 years. We have a whole new batch of songs to start recording, and we plan to get into the studio just after summer, although we’re still deciding the best studio option. If all goes well, we’re planning to release it by the end of the year.
Can you give some hints about how this new material differs from Each Failing Step?
Hmmm… that’s a difficult one. Each Failing Step was recorded in 2012 and we are all older, more mature, and more experienced as musicians now. The new songs sound amazing. For sure, all those who liked the Each Failing Step album will like what’s coming soon … very soon …
By the way, Carlos, your band Sculpture released the EP Like A Dead Flower in 1997. Was it your first encounter with doom metal?
You’re right. At that time, I had a Grind/Death band called Evisceration, and when the doom boom emerged, I was hooked on some of the bands, which was the trigger and the beginning of everything. Unfortunately, Sculpture only released that EP.
Okay, thanks for your time Carlos! I wish you all the best with finishing the next Collapse Of Light album. Did’ we miss anything concerning the band?
There is always something that’s left behind… Thanks for the support Aleksey.
To all of those who still have not had the chance to know Collapse Of Light and our debut album, feel free to get in touch with us and check our Bandcamp. Cheers!!
(This is Andy Synn‘s review of a new album by the Moscow-based metal band Morokh.)
I originally had this album lined up as part of a co-review with the latest album from the band who would, due to various factors, end up becoming the recipient of this month’s Synn Report (keep an eye out for that later this week).
But, due to changing circumstances, it’s Russian Blackened Hardcore crew Morokh who are getting top billing today, and will hopefully also garner themselves a few new fans (and sales) from being featured here.
The band’s second album, Клятва (“The Oath”) is a little bit Black Metal, a little bit Hardcore, and a little bit Post-whatever… and a lot of fun on top of all that, balancing both unpretentious, uncompromising aggression and ambitiously dynamic (not to mention cathartic) expression in equal measure.
The vocals pulse with power and passion, switching back and forth between a throat-scarring shriek and a brutish, belligerent bark, while the guitars throw around meaty riffs, mournful melodies, and scything tremolo runs – along with a hefty helping of gut-wrenching, neck-wrecking groove – like they’re going out of style.
The drums are similarly nimble and nuanced, equally capable of laying down a withering hail of blastbeats (“Ритуал”) as they are of locking in to a wickedly infectious, slow-motion stomp (“Пламя”), and even the bass gets its time to shine here and there (such as during visceral early-album highlight “Чёрная кровь”).
As good as the individual performances are though, it’s the sharp and smart songwriting which really makes this album such an absolute blast to listen to, with every track having something ever so slightly different, some slight twist to the formula, to recommend it to a potential listener.
Tracks like abrasive, mid-paced mauler “Пепел”, the gruesomely groovy “Тёмный час”, and the moody, malevolent title-track, for example, will most definitely appeal to fans of Wolvhammer, Tombs, and their ill-natured ilk, while the gnarly vocals and nasty guitars of “Химера” and “Гореть” recall the very best output of underrated Aussie riff-meisters Ruins.
When all is said and done, however, Клятва has both the chops and the confidence to stand entirely on its own, and the sheer energy and ferocity displayed across the album’s ten tumultuous tracks is absolutely second to none.
Some melodies are so blatantly hooky that they get stuck in your head immediately, even if you don’t think they deserve the attention and wish they would go away, like bits of fluff that annoyingly get stuck to your clothes. Others adhere to your memory more seductively but in a more lasting fashion, because there is greater emotional substance to them. That’s true of the song we’re about to premiere by the Mexican band Ragnell.
The song is “Divine Eradication“, and it’s one of nine tracks on Rebirth in Darkness, the second album by this band from Toluca and the first release since their full-length debut in 2014. Like that first album, the new one will be released by Satanath Records, joined this time in the release by More Hate Productions and The End Of Time Records.
At first, “Divine Eradication” attacks the senses with a skittering riff, a galloping drum beat, and hoarse roars. Then the drum blasts, the layered guitar swirls in a harmony that becomes both fiery and dismal, the bass batters, and the roar becomes a shrieking tirade.
The song cycles through its movements in a heated, head-long race until near the end, when the pace slows and makes room for a wailing guitar solo stricken with grief — and a final whirlwind of sound. And by the end, despite the general speed and intensity of their attack, Ragnell have succeeded in creating a dark and despairing atmosphere — and a through-line of melody with substance that lingers and re-surfaces even after you’ve turned to other things.
Rebirth In Darkness will be jointly released by Satanath (Russia), More Hate (Russia), and The End of Time (Ireland) on June 29th, on CD and digitally. Satanath recommends it for fans of such bands as Belphegor, Watain, Setherial, Gorgoroth, Behemoth, Dimmu Borgir, and Tsjuder.
The album includes two bonus tracks from the band’s Black Requiem EP; the artwork is by Mary Kankava. Pre-order info can be found through the links below, and we’re also including a stream of the previously released track “Deathrone“.
TRACK LIST; 01. Ablaze In The Altar (Of Sacrifice) 02. Bath In The Blood Of The Priest 03. Broken To Faith 04. Dethrone 05. Divine Eradication 06. Infernal Torment 07. Aeterna Victoria 08. Path Of Darkness [bonus track] 09. Holy Center Of Worship, “To Burn” [bonus track] Length – 38:25
Here’s the second Part of the SHADES OF BLACK column I started yesterday. I scurried like a hamster on a wheel to get this finished yesterday, but fell off into a pile of sawdust (or whatever people line their hamster cages with). I think it’s fair to say that the following selections are defined by musical eclecticism — but you be the judge of that.
I’m beginning this second installment with a new discovery (at least for me), a London-based group named Damim, led by vocalist/guitarist Nathanael Underwood (ex-Akercocke). Damim have a new album named A Fine Game of Nil (excellent title) set for release on June 28th by Apocalyptic Witchcraft Recordings and Czar of Crickets Productions, and what you’ll find below is a track from the album called “Beyond The Call Of Emptiness“.
Photo by Tina Korhonen
That song premiered through a creepy sci-fi video, and I confess that I didn’t concentrate on the music as well as I should have because I was so intent in trying to figure out what the hell was happening in the film. The second time through the song, I didn’t watch the video, and the music really hooked me much more intensely than the first time through — though it’s the kind of song that merits even more attention than two listens.
“Beyond The Call Of Emptiness” is bleak, dark, and heavy — and dissonant and disturbing — and battering and brawling — and berserk in its ravaging flurries. It has its brazen, neck-wrecking moments for sure, and other moments where the skittering, swirling, and bleating fretwork and maniacal vocals are frighteningly freakish. At still other times it has a futuristic atmosphere, or the destructive impact of rapid-fire pile-drivers.
In other words, it follows a mercurial course, but one that’s persistently thrilling, and not nearly as disjointed as my description might lead you to guess. I might be tempted to call it avant-garde black thrash, but I don’t think that really does it justice. You’re better off just listening, but make time for at least two trips through, because that video really does rivet the attention.
(Many thanks to Lance N. for turning me onto this track — and causing me to discover that I’ve had the whole album sitting in my in-box for 10 days, where it will definitely not lie undisturbed for much longer.)
Here’s another London-based band. I first encountered Tableau Mort last September (which seems like an eon ago) through their first single, “Impending Corruption“, which will be included on a debut album that’s now finally set for release on June 28th through Loud Rage Music. I was originally attracted to that single when I saw the music described as a combination of traditional black metal, doom, and Romanian orthodox church chants, and was further enticed by the line-up, which consists of vocalist Daniel Neagoe (Clouds, Eye of Solitude, Bereft of Light, Pantheist, Shape of Despair), drummer George Bratosin (ex-Indian Fall), bassist Marek Basista — and a trio of guitarists: George Topor, Radu Vulpe (ex-Necrovile, Decease, Pathogenic Virulence), and Cristian Giurgiu (ex-Sin).
That first single made a positive impact, which I described as follows:
“The beautiful, haunting, chanted vocals in the song are worth the listen all by themselves. They come first, followed by a simple yet spooky keyboard interlude which leads into an increasingly high-intensity black-metal experience that’s both beleaguered and emotionally devastating. Grand, dramatic melodies course through the music, conveying moods of ominous peril and soul-flensing tragedy, and the drum fusillades and vibrant bass-work very effectively get the blood rushing, too. Speaking of flensing, the shrieked vocals are downright shattering in their intensity, and the blending of them with deep, solemn, clean vocals reminiscent of those opening chants was an inspired choice.”
Now there’s a further track from the album out in the world — “Fall of Man“.
Like its predecessor, this new track is a multi-faceted affair (and the vocals are strikingly intense again). Very gloomy, oppressive, and intensely foreboding much of the time, it erupts in frenzies of blasting percussion and dismal, demented riff swarms — as well as displays of mammoth stomping brutishness. Dramatic choral voices drift overhead like disembodied spirits, and although the music is as hopeless and tormented as the song’s title suggests, it also manages to ascend to dramatic, sweeping plateaus. And it’s produced so powerfully, and is so titanically heavy, that some kind of protective headgear might be in order before you go into it.
The name of Tableau Mort‘s debut album is Stigma Book 1: Mark of Delusion, and features cover art by Alex Shadrin (Nether Temple Design). It’s available for pre-order now:
Funny how the world works. A Finnish Facebook friend invited me to like the FB page of Serpent Ov Old, about whom I knew nothing that I could recall. I explored that page and discovered that they had recently started streaming a new album on YouTube. So I began listening… and here we are.
Metal-Archives identifies this as a solo project of Philadelphian Stephen J. Corridean Jr., and lists a discography that includes two albums, five EPs, and a compilation. The new third album, Miskatonic Abysmal Path, appeared on YouTube on June 17th and appears to include the work of other members besides Corridean, including lead guitarist Lawrence Wallace.
I’ve only barely begun to explore the album — mainly because I’ve been stuck on the second track (following a scary introductory instrumental named “Inquisition”). The song that has halted me in my tracks is the title song. It’s such a wild romp! The rise, fall, and whirl of the rapidly pulsing riff seems like a mad dance, equaled in its madness by the scalding shrieks and the joyous (though demented) exuberance of the leads. The rhythm section is no less crazed, though the sound is that of bone-fracturing hammers, wielded in a fury by Vulcan or his helpers on the anvil of your skull.
It’s a brilliantly dervish-like and bewitching fling — until it isn’t. Should I tell you what happens at the 3:30 mark? I think I won’t.
In Part 1 of this week’s column I forecast that I would end each of the two Parts with musical divergences from the general wildness of everything else I selected. Here, I’m doing that through a new track by Hvile I Kaos, a southern California band I’ve written about twice before, but not for the last 18 months. In the band’s own words, “The music can best be described as occult chamber music tending strongly towards melodic black metal stylistically”.
I use the word “band”, but Hvile I Kaos is really the solo project of multi-instrumentalist Kakophonix, though he sometimes enlists guest vocalists. The principle instrument he uses is the cello, and if his name rings a recent bell, it might be because he was a participant in a Chrome Waves song we premiered not long ago.
The song you’ll find below is a single released in May, which is available on Bandcamp. It’s a cover of “Strange Gateways Beckon” by Tribulation, and here Kakophonix did everything in the performance. The original song is brilliant, and close to the forefront of my mind since I heard Tribulation perform it at that recent Iceland festival to which I devoted so many words. How does Hvile I Kaos approach it? Well, also brilliantly.
With the vocals sheered off, and much else besides, this version still joins seamlessly with the spirit of the original, but magnifies the sorcorous qualities in the melodies. The acoustic rhythms still link with the reptile part of the brain, but this performance makes you want to sway and dream, to become lost in the swirling devilry of the seductive melody in a way that’s deeper and almost more primal than the original (which is intended as very high praise).
Hvile I Kaos is putting the finishing touches on a new album named entitled Black Morning, Winter Green — which we’ll be watching for.
There’s no hope of catching up. The flood of new metal is unrelenting; the torrent certainly did not pause for me while I spent a week in Iceland and then much of the next week trying to get the rest of my life back in order while paying homage to the Iceland experience (and honoring a bunch of premiere commitments I had made before leaving the country). Although I can’t listen to everything that surfaced during those two weeks, much less what had accumulated in the weeks before those, I’m going to attempt a two-part post today, in an effort to cover more rather than less of what I managed to find over the last 48 hours.
Today’s blackened selections are a mix of advance tracks from forthcoming albums, a couple of complete short releases, and a few excerpts from recently released (or re-released) full-lengths. For both Parts, I decided to end them with performances that diverge from the general wildness of everything else.
ARS VENEFICIUM / ULVDALIR
On June 21st Immortal Frost Productions released In Death’s Cold Embrace, a new 7″ vinyl split by two bands whose previous music we’ve praised at NCS. The split is also deserving of praise — and your close attention.
The first of the two bands here is Ars Veneficium, a Belgian collective whose most recent release (before this split) was their 2016 debut album, The Reign of the Infernal King. It prompted these thoughts by our long-lost friend Gorger in one of his “Beneath the NCS Radar” features (here):
“Belgian Ars Veneficium are ready to conquer the world with bestial black metal consisting of a hellish drive, and a frenetic unvarnished inferno of foul contempt. Like black smoke from a tire fire, The Reign of the Infernal King fills the chamber with choking black nerve gas and rumbling fury that makes the room shake and its foundations to creak ominously at the seams. The prominent bass helps create this effect. Rather than cold black metal, they exhibit the extreme warmth from Dante’s infernal flames.”
Their song on this new split, “A Thousand Weeping Angels“, storms from the gates, and the storm rarely abates. The drummer blasts, hammers, and pounds in breathtaking fashion, while the prominent bass underscored by Gorger is just as furious, and the riffing is pure raging fire — with delirious swirling leads that spin the mind off into the skies. In keeping with everything else, the vocals are insane.
The second band on In Death’s Cold Embrace is the Russian formation Ulvdalir, who released their fourth album (…Of Death Eternal) through Iron Bonehead Productions this past January. When we premiered a track from the album, I rolled out such lavish adjectives as “magnificent”, “spectacular”, and “electrifying”, while confidently predicting even in the early days of this year that the record would be vividly remembered during year-end Listmania season.
I feel equally enthusiastic about the Ulvdalir song on this new split. “Litany of Death” marks a contrast with the Ars Veneficium conflagration, delivering a carnal, swaggering, compulsively neck-wrecking romp. But while the song may wrack your whole body into motion, the riffing nonetheless has a frequently cold, murderous quality, as do the hateful, blood-thirsty vocals. On the other hand, the guitar solo is a wild and wondrous creation, and the energy in the music is uncontainably explosive. And so the song manages to be both the kind of thing that would work up a steamy sweat in a packed club, it’s a nasty, lethal piece of work too. I fuckin’ love it.
As mentioned above, Immortal Frost is releasing the split in 7″ vinyl editions, and it’s also available as a digital download.
The Turkish triumvirate Undoer released their debut EP, Survival Is A Myth, last October. I discovered it only two days ago — after seeing that it will be released on CD by Sun & Moon Records on June 25th — and it’s so damned good that I resisted the usual pull of focusing on what’s hot off the presses or what looms on the horizon ahead.
The three tracks are all of substantial but not excessive length, and together they produce a massive 23-minute surge of adrenaline. The blood-rushing effect of the music is due in part to the fire-bright frenzy of the performances — the maniacal speed of the drum-blasting, the unchained fury of the riffs, the crazed blazing of the leads, the feverishness of the bass lines, and the scorching balefulness of the vocals.
But the electrifying effect of the music (which is produced with clarity as well as power) is also due to penetrating melodic hooks that come swirling through the furnace of guitar-work, and to the bleak and brooding feelings that Undoer manage to seamlessly interweave even in the midst of such berserk savagery; there is profound misery and despair to be found here, as well as madness. They also manage to reach anthemic heights of dramatic power, especially in the middle track, aptly named “A New Anthem”.
Here’s another record I failed to notice when it was first released by Ketzer Records — 10 years ago. In that span of time they split up following the death of their drummer, and posthumously released one more album following the one you’ll find below.
The one below, Tenebris Obortis, was re-released by Heidens Hart Records on June 20th (CD, cassette tape, digital), and the Bandcamp alert I received about the re-issue is how I came to discover it so long after it first appeared. I’ll comment only about the song “Schnee und Eis“, which is configured to play first when you activate the Bandcamp stream.
In a word, that song is simply glorious. It shines with brilliance from the first moments, thanks to a scintillating lead that leaps into the mind like a fire elemental (and is no less thrilling each time it returns). There’s also a sweeping and soaring quality to the song as a whole, even though it plays out like an epic tragedy, with an atmosphere that’s as grim and beleaguered as it is extravagant.
That atmosphere becomes emotionally wrenching when the raging fury of the music abates just past the half-way mark to make room for an instrumental digression that proves to be absolutely enthralling — before the band deliver a hurricane-strength finale.
I wish I had time to write more about the album as a whole, because it’s tremendously good (and dynamically varied). But perhaps “Schnee und Eis” will be enticement enough for you to check out everything else in this very well-written and beautifully performed album.
P.S. There have been many bands named Pest. This one was located in Germany (Lower Saxony) and released their first demo in 1998, followed by three albums and an EP preceding Tenebris Obortis.
This makes the fourth time I’ve written about the music of Raat, the solo project of Sushant Rawat (aka Nium) from New Delhi, India, who is also the man behind the experimental black/doom project Nightgrave, about whom I’ve also written frequently. Raat’s newest release, which emerged on June 20th, is a single from a forthcoming five-track album.
This new song, “Cave of Stars“, merits Raat‘s description of the album as a whole: “…an avant-garde endeavour which journeys the cosmic ocean in its quest for uniquely refulgent and entrancing melodies that breathe like clouds swaying with dark, ethereal movements over infinite depths of an incisive atmospheric aura around the omnipresent arcane fire.”
“Dreaminess” isn’t in the lexicon of many black metal adherents, and there are many moments of glimmering, dreamlike beauty in this cave of stars. In their mood, these moments seem to convey both heart-aching wistfulness and a sense of yearning. As the intensity of the music swells, the guitars enveloping the senses and the vocals pouring out feelings of soul-wrecking torture, the song becomes blinding in the brilliance of a mystical brightness. Like so much of what Nium does, the song unabashedly wears its emotions on its sleeve as the power ebbs and flows, and the lilting yet often haunting melodies linger…
Therefore you need to understand that when I reached out the band to take part in this column I did so not just as a highly respected, dare I say beloved, Metal writer… cough… but as an honest to god fan.
So you can imagine how pleased I was when the band’s vocalist Jeff Bryan agreed to provide this short but sweet insight into how the lyrical side of the band has come together over the years.
I got my start writing lyrics in a previous band, where I wrote everything for their vocalist. However when it came time to record the vocalist they/we had was unsuitable for the project and so I ended up becoming the vocalist for that band as well.
I became the vocalist of Gomorrah when Bowen [Matheson] phoned me after he had fired everybody else in the band and was wondering if I wanted to collaborate with him on a new direction, where he’d leave me to write the lyrics and I’d leave him to write the riffs, and we’ve found that this is the best creative process to keep our work flowing.
What I write about depends upon what I’m feeling interested in or inspired by at the time. Mostly, my lyrics revolve around dark fantasy, sci-fi, and whatever other media I’m currently reading, viewing, or writing.
First off I free-form write paragraphs and then I go in and choose sections which are cohesive (topic-wise). Then I’ll further break those down into syllabic groups that work well in the song.
From there I freestyle the delivery in the studio, which is why the majority of what you hear on the record is my first and only take – no layers, no punch-ins, no editing!
One lyric from another band outside my own which really resonates with me is the line “Iskhander built the gates with blocks of stone and iron” from “Iskhander D’hul Karnon” by Nile.
It’s the catchiest line in death metal ‐ ever.
These days I’m a lot less prepared entering recording, and it fosters a more natural, much more spontaneous and improvised performance. This leaves a lot of room for unique one‐off ideas (inflections, phrasing, etc), most of which we often keep in the final recording.
“Nine Kings of Sulphur” is a horror story that lays out the storyline of the entire narrative across The Haruspex. It is the only song that directly references Haruspicy (the practice of divining the future through the sifting of entrails), and the use of imagery correlating to the album cover.
He, the haruspex, dividing prophecy
Among the twisted nails that drip with death the innards forfeit sight
This was the last song I wrote lyrics for on The Haruspex, but it was my favourite song the moment I heard it. I was pretty demotivated/burnt out on writing lyrics at the time, but the way this song came out makes it probably my favourite on the record.
For the lyrics on “For Those of Eld” I took my main inspiration from reading The Dark Tower by Stephen King and implemented that subject matter into this song.
Worn on the face like a scar
for the White and those of Eld
This is my favourite line and, as opposed to the last record, I clearly became a lot more comfortable with direct plagiarism!
We are currently writing our follow-up to the self‐titled album, to be released on Willowtip Records.
Since it’s the summer solstice today, it seemed important to commemorate the event with a selection of new songs. And since festival-binging and assorted other commitments have prevented me from preparing a round-up for the last nine days, it seemed all the more imperative. The array of choices that have surfaced in recent weeks has been extravagant. From my efforts to make a dent in my listening-list last night, I chose these five, with hopefully more to come this weekend.
BLOOD RED THRONE
September seems very far away, but patience will undoubtedly be rewarded because that month will bring us a new album by Blood Red Throne. Their ninth full-length in a career that began in 1998, Fit To Kill will be discharged by Mighty Music on the lucky 13th of September, and includes cover artwork designed by Giannis Nakos.
Struggling with the challenges of patience have been eased somewhat by the appearance earlier this week of a new track named “Skyggemannen” (which premiered at DECIBEL), accompanied by a video clip of the band performing the song for the first time together, at the Grabbenacht festival in Germany.
With lyrics in Norwegian, “Skyggemannen” (which means The Man in the Shadow) is described as “a song about the conflict between a man’s personal duality and struggle in whom to be, why to be, and how to overcome a battle which is only seen in your own mirror.”
Founding guitarist Død has stated that “Fit To Kill is by far our most old-school release since 2003’s Affiliated With the Suffering“, and there is indeed a “back to the roots” quality about this absolutely vicious new track. Launched by a mix of savagely seething and maniacally pulsing riffs and the kind of drum artillery that will loosen your molars, the song soon segues into massive-headbang mode thanks to an assault of rhythmically jolting extravagance and gruesome gutturals. But the dynamism of the song persists throughout its full-throttle rampage, with more changes yet to come — all of them electrifying.
True death metal mastery! It is time again for us to bow low before the Blood Red Throne.
Blood Red Throne - Skyggemannen (Official Music Video) - YouTube
This next video may have been filmed in the relative solitude of a recording studio, but Matt Hyde‘s vocals are stunningly intense. He seems genuinely to be pouring out his soul, and it’s a shattering experience to see and hear it — especially when you know the very personal nature of the lyrics and the experiences that produced them.
If you’re not aware, Beastwar’s vocalist was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and endured six months of treatment in 2016. Through that ordeal, with death looming, he had a lot to think about, both the abyss to stare into and a then-ten-year-old daughter whom he might leave fatherless. Although he’s now in remission, it’s obvious from this video that those memories are still fresh.
I’ve always been a big fan of Hyde’s vocals. In this song, “Storms of Mars“, I thought of Rob the Baron and Alan Averill, as well as Hyde himself. The music that surrounds the vocals is also intense — and heavy as hell, on multiple levels — but it’s the vocals (and Hyde‘s face) that steal the spotlight.
The new Beastwars album, IV, will be released on June 28th. Two more songs are now available for listening on Bandcamp.
Toronto’s Tomb Mold have wasted no time. They’re already following up their stunning 2018 album Manor of Infinite Forms with another full-length. Entitled Planetary Clairvoyance, it’s coming out on July 19th via 20 Buck Spin — and man, does it sound fantastic. Just listen to the two songs up on Bandcamp now — “Infinite Resurrection” and “Accelerative Phenomenae“.
Both of these tracks deliver apocalyptic levels of storming destructiveness, but they’re enormously dynamic, and embedded with melodic and rhythmic hooks that also make them catchy monsters, not to mention the freakish and frenetic fretwork that pushes the voltage levels into the red zone. Both tracks also include transfixing solos as well as utterly doomed but majestic slower movements in the midst of all the rampant explosiveness, and the second one is a particularly gigantic headbanger too. These guys, in short order, have vaulted to death metal pinnacles that most bands can only dream of.
Thanks to a tip from long-time NCS supporter Booker, I learned that Darkend have a new album on the way. Booker wrote: “There’s one track up on Bandcamp, sounds in the same vein as The Canticle of Shadows, which brings me no end of joy.. I mean, feelings of blackness where my heart should be.”
That song, “With Everburning Sulphur Consumed“, is one of six on this Italian symphonic black metal band’s new album, Spiritual Resonance, which comes three years after that great album Booker referred to. It includes a guest appearance by Lindy-Fay Hella of Wardruna, and has been presented through the video you’ll find below. There’s a searing yet inconsolably bleak quality to the melodies in this enormously dramatic song, and the lead vocals are scorching in their savage intensity, while Linda-Fay Hella channels just as much intensity in a different way. There’s also a beautifully moody bass solo, backed by shining keyboards, in the midst of the track that only increases its allure.
Spiritual Resonance will be released on September 13th by Dark Essence Records (same date as that Blood Red Throne record, so we’ll again have to be patient)
To close this particular collection I’ve chosen a new song by Under the Pledge of Secrecy, a German band whose last album, 2014’s Black Hole Mass Evolution, included a song we premiered and also prompted these words by Andy Synn in his review:
“The songs themselves (with the title track being a particular favourite of mine) are largely delivered at warp-speed, jerking and writhing in electrifying spasms of shocking ferocity, yet still find time to drop into a nauseating groove here and there, while underneath it all the group sneak in some insidious hooks and subliminal melodic messages when and where you least expect it – all without ever seeming to deviate from their dissonant, deviant assault on the senses.
“Definitely check this one out if you’re in the mood for something utterly abrasive and confrontational, or if you simply want your neurons forcibly rearranged.”
The new song, “Glass Palace“, also comes packaged in a video, an unnerving one based on George Orwell’s 1984, which suits the unnerving music. The band, now a duo, have once again delivered something wild and wondrous, a startling combination of delirious technicality, full-throttle barbarism, and surprisingly memorable little melodic accents (as well as thoroughly unhinged vocals). The song left my head spinning and my lungs gasping for air….
“Glass Palace” seems to be extracted from a new album named Empire of Bastards. It’s still being mastered, so no release date has been set.