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.
I nearly finished this collection in time to post it yesterday before I had to turn to the job that pays me. The delay turned out to be fortuitous, because in the meantime I found something else I was excited to include. As usual, my aim in this selection is to showcase the variety of extreme metal, and to do some extravagant globe-trotting as well.
First up is a track named “Spears of Pestilence” from a new album by Portland’s Sempiternal Dusk, set for release by Dark Descent on September 27th. The album title is Cenotaph of Defectuous Creation, and it features cover art by D. Desecrator.
“Spears…” is a long song, nearly 11 minutes of pulverizing death/doom. Slow and lumbering at first, and radiating sounds of disease, decay, and misery, it shifts into a battering piece of cold-hearted savagery, shrouded in a churning miasma of unhealthy guitar vibrations. Gargantuan, sepulchral roars complete a sonic canvas that spawns sickening images of remorseless cruelty and apocalyptic devastation.
Yowling, writhing strings and skull-fracturing drumwork enhance the building mood of terror, but as fearsome as the music is, you’ll also have plenty of opportunities to bang your head like a crazy person, and there’s an utterly demented solo at the height of the frenzy — right before the finale, when guitars buzz in torment over a massive bass line and the vocals rise in a semblance of horrifying torture (or unhinged ecstasy, depending on your interpretation).
It’s an exhilarating track, but maybe not best heard right before trying to find sweet dreams in your slumbers.
Fill an iron cauldron with pain and misery, and put it on an open flame. Stoke the fire, and listen to it boil to overflowing. Let the flame die to embers, and listen to the cauldron simmer and seethe. Then build the fire again.
That’s part of what I imagined as I listened to the song “Stirn” off the new album by the German band Zeit, whose intense blend of black metal, sludge, and fresh blood has riveted my own attention (and that of many others) through all of their releases, which will now include their second album Drangsal (“distress”). The video accompanying the song doesn’t include a cauldron, but instead an abandoned building in Leipzig. The band explain:
“With frustration in their hearts, green lungs and Sternburg on their lips, ZEIT try to find their way through the great gray – The distress known as city: Inspiration, coercion, freedom and jail. In dark alleys full of delusions, doubtful souls roam, lost in addiction. No hood, no cult – no collective.”
It’s not a rose-colored view of life to be sure, and although the rippling melodies, gravel-chewing bass-lines, and jolting rhythms of “Stirn” get under the skin, the music is equally distressing (though also eerily seductive in the track’s mid-section). The vocals are nothing but riotous pain, intense enough to raise goosebumps.
Drangsal will contain six songs and will be available on CD and two different cassette editions. All are now available for pre-order.
The part-Canadian, part-Swedish doom cult Culted are returning, at last, after their 2014 album Oblique To All Paths (reviewed ion laudatory terms here). Their forthcoming release, Vespertina Synaxis – A Prayer for Union & Emptiness, is an EP that will issue via Culted’s new label Season of Mist on August 30. “The doom-laden mini-album,” we are told, “finds its inspiration in the isolation, alienation, and damnation that dominates the rime-encrusted lands Culted inhabit”.
“Dirt Black Chalice” is one of two very long songs on the three-track playlist, the other being the even longer “A Prayer For Emptiness”. The third track, “A Prayer For Union”, clocks in at “only” five minutes. But you’ll only get to her an excerpt of “Dirt Black Chalice” in the preview furnished by SoM. Like the Sempiternal Dusk track above, the song begins at a lumbering pace. Using fuzz-bombed chords, clobbering drumbeats, and booming bass notes as the foundation, Culted layer in a blood-freezing array of twisted arpeggios with a psychotic and psychedelic flavor, as well as maniacal throat-shredding shrieks. Culted also pick their moments to push the pace, as well as the song’s overarching sense of simmering mayhem.
Of course it’s frustrating to be cut short before the song is even half-way finished, but as a “teaser”, it does work. I feel teased, and interested in more.
Culted - Dirt Black Chalice (official track premiere) - YouTube
Now we come to the music I discovered after failing to complete this collection in time for posting yesterday. It’s a debut, two-song EP entitled Lunar Radiant Dawn by the Japanese death metal trio Mortal Incarnation, and it really is a remarkable discovery. I wish I could say that I found it on my own, but it was a post by Cole from Lago in a Facebook group that brought it to my attention.
Both tracks on the EP are fantastic. They feature ferocious, raging onslaughts that are downright electrifying, in part because the band frequently change the rhythms and the riffs, often in ways that get your head bobbing, while you’re perched on the edge of your seat waiting for each new twist and turn. In their atmosphere, they’re also frequently ghastly and putrid, diseased and doomed.
The eerie, wailing leads and sorcerous solos in the songs’ slower, dragging movements make a big impression, as do the technical fireworks in the full-throttle assaults and the roaring and howling vocals, which echo from some foul, dank crypt.
I really can’t say enough good things about this demo. It’s even more remarkable that this is the band’s first recording. As icing on the cake, it’s a name-your-price download at Bandcamp.
To close this collection I chose a song called “Shoveled Sickness” from the forthcoming debut album Into The Graveless Beyond by the Detroit chainsaw metal band Centenary, who draw their principal inspirations from the likes of Entombed, Dismember, Obituary, and Cianide, but throw other ingredients into the mix as well.
I’ve written in glowing terms twice before about the music of these die-hard metal veterans — if you haven’t heard their 2017 EP …Where No Lives Matter, you owe it to yourself to do that pronto — and this new song makes me even more eager for the album.
There’s a delicious bass rumble at the outset, soon joined by a toxic guitar squall and a mix of pummeling and galloping drum rhythms. There are of course massive chainsaw tones at work and delirious vocal savagery as well. When the band really kick the song into overdrive it becomes a wild juggernaut of destruction, like some demolition machine that’s lost its mind.
Into The Graveless Beyond was recorded and engineered by Don Durr, and it was mixed and mastered by none other than Jonny Pettersson.
With an album named Hacked To Death and blood-spattered, head-cleaving cover art, you would expect the music to be… slaughtering. And this debut full-length by the death/thrashing Detherous is indeed packed with full-throttle rampages and fueled by a riotous, take-no-prisoners spirit. But this fearsome foursome from Calgary, Alberta, Canada do a whole lot more with their music than slash and burn. They’re adept at creating sensations of mania and mayhem, but the music is also adventurous, and full of surprising twists and turns.
We’ve got a prime example of these qualities in the song we’re premiering today from Hacked To Death in advance of the album’s release on August 16th by Redefining Darkness Records. The name of the song is “Ridden“, and the band’s rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist Damon MacDonald describes its subject matter in these words:
“‘Ridden‘ is about the crippling affects of disease from unknown origin. The music builds with the lyrics, from very intense frantic verses that deal with the body starting to shut down to the slower choruses that are just realizations that there will not be a cure. The song is blistering yet has a lot of feeling.”
“Ridden” is unquestionably a scorcher, but as forecast above it’s also intricate, and it revels in making sharp, unexpected course changes.
The flamethrowing doesn’t happen immediately. The song’s opening is instead heavy and heaving, though it includes a wailing, flickering, fire-bright solo that will pop your eyes open — and then the song really takes off in a surge of full-throttle, piston-pumping percussive momentum, vicious whirring and darting riffs, and incinerating vocal tirades.
More changes lie ahead, with bursts of even more extravagant acceleration, as well as gear shifts that slow the pace dramatically. Along with the frequent time changes, the fretwork and the vocals also morph repeatedly as the band alter the mood of the music — but without ever lessening its intensity. And you’ll be happy to know that there’s another eye-popping solo before you reach the end.
Detherous is: Damon MacDonald– rhythm guitar/lead vocals Dylan Spicer– lead guitar/backing vocals Dimitri La Rose– drums/backing vocals Kamen Proudfoot– bass guitar
Redefining Darkness recommends Hacked To Death for fans of early Death, Obituary, Asphyx, Sacrifice, and Demolition Hammer. It was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Devin Schum (Concrete Funeral) at Black Page Studios, and features gruesome album art by Karl Dahmer (Dahmer Art).
You can place your orders for Hacked To Death now, and you can also check out two more tracks from the album at the Redefining Darkness pre-order page for the album.
Last year Victus made their recording debut with a well-received EP entitled Sacrifice, and have followed that with hard-charging live performances in support of such bands as Crowbar, Monolord, Conjurer, Raging Speedhorn, and Ingested — and will soon include their appearance at Bloodstock Open Air in the UK next month.
Meanwhile, this quartet from Southern England have also been working on a debut album that will showcase their addictive blend of doom, sludge, and Southern Blues. As a sign of what’s coming, today we’re presenting a stream of a new Victus single the day before its official release — a head-moving bone-bruiser named “Demon“.
“Demon” combines irresistible grooves, menacing melody worthy of the song’s name, and an intense vocal performance. The song packs a visceral, heavyweight punch, thanks to Vernon Grech‘s jolting, jaw-hammering bass lines and David Webber‘s gut-slugging drumwork, while guitarist Klayton Dean delivers dark, undulating riffs that move like a big python (and get stuck in the head damned fast). Samuel Barron-Bolt’s stand-out vocal performance is another significant factor in the song’s appeal, creating an emotional impact that’s raw, fierce, and fiery.
Near the end, Victus pick up the pace, the guitar jabbing and rapidly writhing, the rhythm section locking into an even more piston-pumping, head-moving progression, and the vocals becoming a vicious amalgam of murderous snarls and face-shredding shrieks. From the beginning, “Demon” will make you want to move, but that closing sequence is especially compulsive, and wild.
“Demon” was recorded by Nick Scott at Blue Line Studios in Bournemouth, and it was mixed and mastered by Dan Stamp. The single will be released tomorrow (July 19) on most major digital platforms, and is available for pre-order now:
(Our Norway-based contributor Karina Noctum scored a coup with this interview of Rune “Blasphemer” Eriksen at the recent Tons of Rock festival in Oslo, where Blasphemer performed with his band Vltimas, which also includes David Vincent and Flo Mounier (their debut album Something Wicked Marches In was released by Season of Mist this past March). Blasphemer has left his mark on the history of metal through the music of such bands as Mayhem and Aura Noir, and more recently with Vltima and Earth Electric. This interview touches on all these experiences, and what the future holds for him. All photos accompanying this interview were made by Andrea Chirulescu.)
How did the idea of forming Vltimas originate?
I’ve been playing so much extreme metal for so many years that it was always a mission of mine to form a band that I could call my little baby. Something that I created from the start, because with Mayhem, I didn’t start it; I joined Mayhem. The same with Aura Noir, I just joined them.
So it was something that was on my to-do list, you know. Starting something from scratch and building something up from the ground. So when I quit Mayhem I was thinking about it, but at the time I just thought I had to take a break from extreme metal, from Black Metal, so I did not pursue it. I did other styles within metal instead.
Vltimas is not the first time you and Flo worked together in a Death Metal project. You were involved in the awesome Nader Sadek project. How was it to work together back then?
Yes, starting around 2013 I started to compose extreme metal after having taken a break. I was hired to create and compose a couple of EPs for an egyptian artist. Flo was also hired, and that’s how I met him, because he was hired to play the drums. We had a great musical chemistry and became good friends.
So when I started to create new ideas for my own band back home, I knew I wanted to bring in Flo because he is a great musician, and a good friend of mine. So I asked him, and he was eager to be a part of it, so that’s how it started really.
Eventually, maybe a half a year or a year later, David Vincent came to mind. He is the voice of Death Metal and he has quite a character. I’ve known him over the years and obviously I needed someone to sing and play bass at the time, so David would be perfect, I was thinking. But obviously he doesn’t play the bass, he just sings, but it is perfect nonetheless.
We just happened to have this thing in between us, this kind of energy between the three of us. He was also eager because he had just quit Morbid Angel. He had been enjoying my style of music and I was enjoying his style of music, so it was mutual respect between everybody.
Would you ever work again on the Nader Sadek project? I think it is a pretty special project…
I was hired. I played on the In the Flesh EP that was actually released through Season of Mist, and also created with Flo the Malefic EP that was only released through magazines. There is also a third one we created, but I don’t know about that one. I don’t have any contact with him. We split ways. I don’t know what he is doing, if he is working with music, or what.
He is working with videos lately. He produced “Garden of Disdain” for Morbid Angel… What has influenced the Vltimas sound the most?
For me, not everything is black or white. Vltimas‘ sound has both Death and Black Metal influences. I’m quite fed up with lots of bands doing this dissonant stuff and a lot of noisy music; this is where I stand at this point. My strength has always been melodies, ironically enough. Hopefully good riffs. I think this time with the input from all the musicians that I brought together, and the energy we created together, this is the way it turned out.
But of course I started in the ’80s listening to Death Metal bands like Morbid Angel, Death, and Obituary. So it is a part of me as well. Black Metal came a little bit later, came in ’92 or something with the Norwegian wave, also Bathory and Rotting Christ. So I have a little bit of both in my blood and also Thrash Metal as well. I’ve been listening to so many different kinds of extreme metal, so this is like the melting pot of all of it, if you know what I mean.
Do you compose everything yourself first and then get some input from the other musicians, or how does it work?
It’s a mix of both. But it always starts with me writing the first riff for a song and quite possibly riff number two, they come together. Then I send the ideas to the guys and then they usually say fucking great and then I save it. When I have ten of those we meet up and start to play and toy with them and then I compose more together with Flo, just jamming out. Then I usually go back again and take all the things we have composed and try to find, more or less, a song and we meet up again. So it is a bit back and forth, but it always starts with me. I’m the one doing the strings; David is just singing and Flo is playing drums.
What’s the future for the band? Will you tour more? It doesn’t really need to be difficult to set up an international tour?
For me and David this is a full-time priority band. Of course we still have to pay our bills, and Flo still tours a lot with Cryptopsy, but in the long run this is our main project. We are just starting and this is our sixth show ever, and we have been playing together as a band for roughly two weeks, so what you heard now is the result of two weeks’ practicing. It’s a great start, a great fundament. The record is doing really well. It’s gaining a lot of great feedback.
I’m actually already working on the new record. I have already written like 10 or 12 rough ideas for the next record. So hopefully we are going to the studio in the first half of next year. So it’s full-on, there is no mercy. We don’t have time to waste. I’m tired of sitting on the fence and not doing anything, so this is full-on.
Is the music going to be in the same vein?
Probably a little bit moodier, probably darker. That’s my mindframe now, with the riffs is a little bit darker and oppressive. It’s way too early to say anything, but I think it’s a promising start. I think the first record was quite diverse, slow stuff and fast stuff. We have already opened up a box, and there’s many ways we can go from there. We can go faster or slower; we can do more groove. I don’t want to be too predictable, but at the same time it’s not going to be too different.
What is going to be the situation with Aura Noir? Are you going to keep on touring?
At this very moment there is not much going on. We have one show in Austria in August and that’s pretty much it. We have nothing scheduled. There is not going to be a new record, at least not for now. I have not much contact with the guys anyway. So now it’s pretty safe to say it’s pretty much on ice.
After Apollyon proclaimed that he didn’t want to tour that much, and so the focus was on Aggressor. It’s not easy to be the frontman in this kind of genre, playing bass. He has some disadvantages, but in spite of that he is a warrior, he really is. But there comes a time when you start to think that maybe it’s time to… I’m not going to say anything official, I’m just saying there is only one show left to do.
What about your other projects?
I have a Portuguese psychedelic rock band called Earth Electric. We released our debut record two years ago. It is a bit progressive and has female vocals. We are tuning down our guitars; it’s going to be really heavy. The material we have so far is pretty good, so I’m really excited about that. So for me it is going to be Earth Electric and Vltimas for the future.
Are there any challenges when you start a band at your level and when you play with other pretty renowned musicians in addition?
It’s never easy to start something from scratch, no matter your background. It’s true that most people know who we are, so it’s not like we are starting right from scratch. If we were totally unknown individuals starting a band then the road would be extremely long. So of course there are advantages with it.
David has a huge name, so with that comes more responsibility, but of course more exposure. We are floating on all these things right now and that’s also a part of why we have landed all these big festivals. Our warming show was in Copenhell. Usually people start in a bar.
Honestly, I’d have loved to start in a bar instead, because it’s a bit frightening to start on a super-big stage. But it’s also a symbolic thing because you start at a certain level, which is kinda cool. It’s scary in one way, but it’s nothing we haven’t done before. We are veterans in the game. So it’s just full-on, no mercy. There’s nothing to second guess, it’s just go on and fucking fight. No mercy.
Who had the idea of re-mastering Grand Declaration of War?
I think it was the label…
Why was it necessary to do that?
I mean why not? If people do not think it’s interesting enough, then they shouldn’t pick it up, or if they don’t care about it then don’t pick it up. It’s just as simple as that. We are not doing it for cash, and in the end it’s the audience who decides if they want to buy or not.
I think over the years we always tried to imagine how that record would sound with a more underground Black Metal sound, because when it came out nobody understood anything. Some said it was fucking polished and a sell-out. It was the most ridiculous thing they could have said, because it was the most non-commercial record we could have done. But people are people… So it just came out as a natural consequence. We wondered how it would it sound if we re-mixed and re-mastered it? So that’s what we did, and it’s limited edition.
I mean, it’s also a celebration of my years in Mayhem. I think the idea maybe spawned there. There was a boxed set called A Season in Blasphemy spanning the records that I did with the band, 3 records. The idea was to have the remastered version as a bonus.
I prefer the original the best because I’m so used to it. And because now, it has been so many years that you can’t really compete with it anymore. But it was fun to get a different take on it and hear how it could have sounded. But I’m glad it didn’t end up sounding like that one. I’m glad we pushed the boundaries and made something really weird. Because it is still here, you know, and as a matter of fact it is the biggest selling record on the label to this day. It did something. Even if people talked too much about it, they picked it up anyway.
I’m proud of the record. I’m glad I did exactly what I wanted. I’m not a sheep. I gave the finger and fuck that. I didn’t hew or take advice or listen to anybody, and I think that is the purest form of art, and that’s how the record came about.
Why did you choose Jaime Gomez from Orgone Studios to re-master Grand Declaration of War?
Because he has good ears and is a great engineer and producer. He is also a very good friend of mine and also happens to love that record. He has worked with Season of Mist a lot. He actually worked with the first Earth Electric record and he also did the Vltimas record, of course. He is super-talented, so the choice was easy.
What are the biggest differences between the original and the remastered version?
It’s a bit like night and day. It’s like a mirror image somehow. For me it was strange. You get used to a sound, and you have that sound for such a long time that it becomes the record. It’s still one of my favorite records of all I have composed. I had that fuck-you mentality, so there are lots of feelings in it as well. Suddenly it’s like you find a pathway into a dark hole and find a mirror image of it, but in a dirty way, if you know what I mean. It’s kind of a mindfuck, so if people want to do that then do it on acid. It freaks me out. It’s like an alternative reality .
A decade after the release of their debut album Diabolical Katharsis, the German black metal band Reign In Blood have revived and triumphantly returned with a new release. While personnel departures led the band’s founding vocalist/guitarist Demon Raise to discontinue operations following that initial full-length, he resurrected Reign In Blood in 2016 and the results are captured in a new album named Missa Pro Defunctis, on which he is joined by lead guitarist/bassist Malus Deus.
Iron Bonehead Productions will release this new full-length on August 16th. One advance track (“Dawn Of A Dying Soul“) was released for listening last month, and now we present the stream of a second one — “Domus Mortuorum“.
Iron Bonehead‘s publicist accurately captures much of what makes the album such a powerful experience, referring to its combination of stark contrasts — “both ultraviolence and melody, hammering primitivism and fleet-footed complexity, haunting atmospheres and dizzying delirium”. It seizes attention with an iron grip and vicious determination, like a vice on the throat, yet is not merely a near-primeval and physically jolting experience but also one that summons the feeling of sorcerors practicing arcane, blood-freezing rituals.
“Domus Mortuorum“, in particular, is night-dark and dramatic but also terrifying, atmospherically potent and melodically memorable but also inhumanly fierce. The song is also heavy as hell, right from the start, as all the instruments join together to deliver cold, catastrophic pounding. A fiery yet dismal buzzing lead comes in, as the first sign of more maniacal episodes to come. The drum rhythm becomes a lurching, rocking beat, with that buzzing lead continuing, backed by the toxic squall of the second guitar and fronted by a savage roaring voice.
The song continues to dig its hooks into the listener’s head through an extravagant tumbling drum progression, as the riffing and the vocals becomes more wild, more incendiary, more rampantly ferocious. The vocals are so intense that they seem to crack with a livid mix of agony and fury — though they shift into a ritualistic chant as those catastrophic pounding sensations return, and become a tortured wail when the drums begin to thunder. Before the song ends, guitar leads surface which make “Domus Mortuorum” even more frighteningly fervent and occult, creating visions of horrible, other-dimensional majesty.
Missa Pro Defunctis was recorded at Old Spirit Studio, with mixing and mastering accomplished by Patrick Engel at Temple of Disharmony. The evocative cover art was crafted by the distinctive hand of Alex Shadrin (Nether Temple Designs). As noted, Iron Bonehead will released it on August 16th, in LP and CD editions. For more info about the release, keep an eye on these locations:
Hellfire and damnation, it’s good to have Bones back! Here at our putrid site we devoted attention to both of their previous albums — the self-titled debut in 2011 and Sons of Sleaze in 2013 (“It’s a monster of an album”, we wrote, “but the kind of monster you’ll want to curl up with on those long, lonely nights when having something’s teeth in your neck is what you need”). That second album was also the source of a song (“13”) we named to our list of 2013’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs, which we described as follows: “It’s got that ugly, corrosive guitar tone — so thick, murky, and radioactive that you’ll feel like showering after hearing the song, even though you know all your skin will come off and wash down the drain. Great vocal disgorgement, too, and the riffs… just murderous”.
But wow, 2013 was a long time ago, so long ago that Bones might have fallen prey to “out of sight, out of mind” syndrome were it not for the fact that those first two albums didn’t wear out their welcome. But after those six long years these crusty death metal barbarians from Chicago have returned at last with a new album — and it’s fantastic (that’s not a shock, but it is a relief to know that they haven’t lost a step, and have instead taken some steps forward). The album’s name is Diseased, and it will be released on September 20 by Transcending Obscurity Records.
All of that is a long-winded way of explaining that we are damned happy to be presenting the premiere of a song from the new album, and it’s a great example of what makes the music of Bones stand out.
Transcending Obscurity underscores the new album’s “raw, visceral energy” and the music’s “innate sense of pulsating groove that is detrimental to your physical wellbeing”, in addition to emphasizing that this is some of the filthiest death/crust you can find. And this new song, “Stench of the Deceased” is indeed a filthy bastard, but it’s a lot more than that too.
The drumming on this track threatens to steal the whole show. It’s such an extravagant tumbling, rumbling, battering presence, which manages to be both maniacal and carefully calculated to get your pulse jumping fast and hard. The vocals, as we knew they would be, are unhinged and scorching, bringing to mind what the offspring of Martin van Drunen and a panther might sound like, if it were possessed by a demon. That thick, dirty string tone is also back in full force.
As for the song itself, it includes brazen chords that sometimes ring out like horn fanfares. As bruising as the track is, there’s an anthem-like quality to it. But make no mistake, it is indeed a mean bruiser, transforming into a destructive juggernaut of sound accented by flares of vicious tremolo’d riffing, demented moaning guitar flurries, and sharp shrieking arpeggios. On top of all that, it’s a catchy piece of nastiness too.
To remind you, Bones are:
Joe Warlord (Usurper) – Drums, percussion, vox Carcass Chris (ex-Usurper) – All guitars, vox Jon Necromancer (Doomsday, ex-Usurper) – Bass, vox
The great cover art was again created Matt “Putrid” Carr (Undergang, Hooded Menace), and credit for the layout and art direction goes to Francesco Gemelli (Master, Paganizer). Transcending Obscurity recommends the album for fans of Autopsy, Abscess, Repulsion, Fetid, Come Back From The Dead, Goregang, and Crawl.
Check out our premiere below, along with a stream of the previously released track “Carrion Crows“.
This is a rare mid-week edition of a column that usually appears on Sunday. This didn’t happen by design. I was trying to select some new songs for a SEEN AND HEARD post, and by chance it happened that three of them — these three — were shades of black metal. So I decided to collect them today, and try again tomorrow for a cross-genre round-up under the SEEN AND HEARD banner.
A Sanity Deranged is the third album by Portland’s Nightfell, a duo (Tim Call and Todd Burdette) whose music I’ve enjoyed from the beginning. It will be released on Friday the Thirteenth of September by 20 Buck Spin (who are having another great year of releases), and the first song in today’s selection is from that new album.
20 Buck Spin recommends A Sanity Deranged for fans of Bolt Thrower, Misþyrming, Mayhem, Amebix, Tragedy, Primordial, and Neurosis — which should tell you something about the multi-faceted nature of Nightfell’s music if you haven’t encountered it before, and as “The Swallowing Of Flies” slowly spins, it reveals many of those facets.
At the onset, a heavy, heaving bass accompanies a slow, methodical drum beat and a miserable wailing lead, accompanied by livid echoing roars. As the pace gradually accelerates, the riffing begins to vibrate viciously, and that dismal melody begins to morph into something wretchedly majestic. An immense bass line, which brings to mind barren mountain crags, drags the momentum back — before the melody gleams again with preternatural light and the drum ominously booms. The notes chime as the song shifts to a rocking back-beat but become vicious again; there are grim vocal duets; and the more this dire song goes on, the more it burrows under the skin.
P.S. Listening to Nightfell again reminds me that Tim Call and live Nightfell guitarist Vince B. are also members of Aldebaran (or they were the last I knew), and I’d like to make a wish (and blow out a candle) for a new Aldebaran album too (I can be greedy if I want).
NIGHTFELL - The Swallowing Of Flies (From 'A Sanity Deranged' LP, 2019) - YouTube
Unmensch is a new one-person band from Belgium, whose debut full-length Scorn will be released by Immortal Frost Productions on August 30. “Wolf” is the first track launched for streaming on Immortal Frost‘s Bandcamp page for the album, and it’s very impressive.
Coincidentally, the slow and gloomy way “Wolf” begins makes a natural segue from the Nightfell track, but it doesn’t take long for the drums to begin blasting, the vocals to rake the flesh with their raging shrieks, and that grim, oppressive melody to begin burning. The song heaves with symphonic power, accented by flickering organ-like keys, and then darts, dances, and swirls like demons in the throes of a frightening ecstasy.
There’s a devilish, otherworldly atmosphere to the vibrancy of the song, and a wild fieriness in the flickering guitar that pierces through the storming resurgence of the track. Even the brief interludes of piano and strings that segment and conclude the final tumult sound like sorcery.
My last pick today is new music, with video accompaniment, by the Danish progressive black metal band Orm (“serpent”), whose second album Ir (“verdigris”) will be released on August 30th through Indisciplinarian. The new album consists of two massive compositions, “Klippens Lyse Hal” (“The Bright Hall Of The Cliff”) and “Bær Solen Ud” (‘Carry Out The Sun”), which clock in at 23 and 24 minutes respectively. And so the music presented through the new video is just a five-minute excerpt from that first long track.
Unlike some live videos in which the studio recording is matched to live film footage, this video is a recent live session in the Copenhagen based studio Black Tornado, produced by the band itself and filmed by Bjørn Patterson and Anders Dahl, and the sound is taken directly from that performance.
In a word, this excerpt is electrifying. The sight of the racing frethands and the drummer’s eye-popping speed add to the thrill of the sounds, which are the equivalent of wildfire in the skies. The dual vocals are mid-ranged, cutting-edge snarls, and just as barbaric as the head-long rush of the music, which manages to be fierce, exultant, and bleak all at once. There’s a bit of light acoustic strumming and ambient shimmer at the end of this blood-rushing excerpt, which I assume comes from elsewhere in this long track — and it’s good to know that there will be changes and breathers along the way, because 23 minutes of what happens in the video would put you in need of an oxygen tank.
Thunder Bay, in the northwest of Ontario and across Lake Superior from the northern coast of Wisconsin, is home to the metal band VHS. So far as we know, Lake Superior is devoid of deviant sea monsters, killer whales, and ravenous giant sharks, but perhaps the band’s proximity to vast waters had something to do with their attraction to such submarine killers. Whatever the cause, VHS have fully embraced their attraction to ’80s films devoted to seaborne horror and their love of punk and death metal (among other musical interests, as you will soon discover) on their new album, We’re Gonna Need Some Bigger Riffs (get it?).
The new album is set for release on July 26th by Horror Pain Gore Death Productions (U.S.) and Rotten Roll Rex (Europe). The album features guest appearances on two of the songs. Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder lends his snarl to the previously premiered “Rooting For the Villain“, and the song we’re presenting today through a lyric video — “Death and Carnage Coming in Waves” — includes guest vocals by none other than Exhumed’s Matt Harvey.
“Death and Carnage Coming in Waves” is based on the Oscar-winning 1980 film Humanoids from the Deep.
Okay, it didn’t win any awards. Produced by Roger Corman, it featured sex-crazed mutations engaging in a rampage of inter-species rape and viscera-drenched murder, which might have had something to do with why it was overlooked by the Academy. But it provides a fitting narrative and visual accompaniment for this VHS song, which melds hook-laden, hard-rocking riffs, neck-snapping snare beats, and predictably gruesome gutturals. In a co-starring role, the song also includes a hell of an extended guitar solo, which is a bit woozy, a bit sleazy, and also soars like the centerpiece of a rock anthem.
VHS vocalist/guitarist Mike comments about the song:
“The last album was missing a song that really showcased the rock side of VHS. While I wouldn’t say this was written to fill that void specifically, it definitely was a song that came very naturally and quickly became one of our favorites on the album. I’ve always been a fan of a lot of music outside of death metal and it is a lot of fun to bring in those different elements and styles to our sound.”
On having Matt Harvey on the track, Mike also tells us this:
“When we started having guest vocalists on our songs, Matt was always someone that I knew I wanted on a track but I really didn’t have the courage or nerve to ask him! I think he liked an Instagram post the band made about the Hemdale/Exhumed split and one thing led to another. I sent him our first album and he liked it. So we stayed in touch. When it came time for this album I had two people I wanted on the album. Trevor from The Black Dahlia Murder and Matt. I asked him if he would be interested and surprisingly he said yes! It was a total kid in a candy store moment hearing the track for the first time with his vocals on it. I’m a huge Exhumed fan, have been for a really long time, and it’s still pretty surreal that Matt is on one of our songs!”
We’re Gonna Need Some Bigger Riffs is available for pre-order now, and it’s recommended for fans of Exhumed, Impetigo, Autopsy. and Macabre. Below you’ll find our premiere, along with the previously released videos for “Rooting For the Villain” and “From the Murky Depths” (which pays homage to Creature From the Black Lagoon).
Now, hit that play button and rock your reproductive organs off!
There are places in music, as there are places in the world around us, where we are surrounded by visions that are both glorious and cloaked in air almost too cold to breathe, where the ice shines magnificently like a blanket of crystal across endless, hostile expanses. In the night skies above, in the cascades of an aurora or in the brilliance of compass stars shining in the unimaginable vastness of the void, we might experience a similar feeling of magical wonder and daunting isolation, and there are places like that in music, too.
Canada’s Solace of the Void aren’t the only band who’ve sought to create such sensations in their music, but in the song we’re presenting today (and in their new self-titled album as a whole, which is set for a July 26 release by CDN Records)) they’ve really nailed it beautifully. They’ve located their sound beneath Polaris, creating a fusion of cold atmosphere, symphonic grandeur, blackened ferocity, and mystical folk-influenced melodies to create music that (in the accurate words of their advance press) is “northern, luminous, and majestic” — “rooted in the permafrost of creation”.
Solace of the Void (the album) is unusual in other ways as well. The core duo of Michael Grund (Hexenklad, Battlesoul, SIG:AR:TYR) and John Chalmers (Hexenklad, Pagan Ritual) created the project in 2015, but in recording this debut album they’ve enlisted the collaboration of almost 20 prominent Canadian musicians, whose names we’ll list below:
David Parks of Dark Forest (vocals) Timothy “Voldemars” Johnston of Hexenklad, Eclipse Eternal (vocals) Jeff Mott of Hollow, Hands of Despair (vocals) Joel Violette of Thrawsunblat, Woods of Ypres (vocals) Morgan Rider of Vesperia, Crimson Shadows, SIG:AR:TYR (vocals) Jon Doyle of Battlesoul (vocals) Andrew Chalmers of Hexenklad, Pagan Ritual, Panzerfaust (drums) Evan Johnston of Eclipse Eternal, Burn to Black (drums) Nicholas Ireland of Battlesoul, SIG:AR:TYR (drums) Dan Ayers of Sludgehammer (bass) Jon Ferreira of Panzerfaust (bass) Jon Kal of Hexenklad, Pagan Ritual, Fallen Legion (bass) Clare B. of Hexenklad, Eclipse Eternal (keys) Dean Arnold of Vital Remains, Primal Frost (solos) Nigel Kay of SIG:AR:TYR (solos) Ryan Hofing of Crimson Shadows, Remain (solos) Raphael Weinroth-Browne of Musk Ox, The Visit (cello)
To return to the song we’re premiering today — “The Fated Prophecy” — the collaborators have created music that’s at once vibrant and heart-swelling, spectacularly grand, and chilling in the wintry, mystical melancholy of its atmosphere. A beautiful ringing guitar harmony begins the song (one of the guitars sounding almost like a theramin), and that leads into heavy chords, pounding drums, and snarling vocals that rise into vicious shrieks. As the vocalist sends his voice heavenward, the drums begin to thunder and the melody gloriously soars.
The song also includes clean vocals, and they arrive at first with a sound that’s both reverent and proud — though the vocals soon returning to slashing shrieks as the song takes flight again over a pummeling double-bass. The music becomes panoramic, continuing to carry the evolving opening melody, enveloping the listener in a shroud of glowing ice (or star shine). A vocalist roars, and, as if the melody couldn’t get more glorious, a soloist creates a flickering, spiraling, fire-bright climax — soon followed by a lilting folk guitar melody and a duet of buoyant singing and harsh growls.
Solace of the Void was recorded at Shiver Sound Studios, and it was mixed and mastered by Greg Dawson at BWC Studios.
The new album by the Austrian alchemists The Negative Bias is so ambitious in its conception, so extravagant in its composition, and so tremendously powerful in its execution that it merits the often-overused term “visionary”. It becomes a form of breathtakingly dramatic musical theater that seems calculated to create shock and awe, to assault and bedazzle the senses, forcibly shattering commonplace perceptions in order to make the mind more receptive to new and unexpected visions.
The name of this monumental work is Narcissus Rising (A Metamorphosis In Three Acts). It follows the band’s debut album Lamentation of the Chaos Omega (2017) and a 2018 split with Golden Dawn. It will be released on July 26th by ATMF, and today we premiere a full stream, preceded by further thoughts about this stunning experience.
As the album’s subtitle suggests, it consists of three movements. The first of those is “Narcissus Rising“. The second and third acts — “Insomnic Sermons of Narcistic Afterbirth” and “At the Threshold Where Chaos Turns Into Salvation” — flow together and are presented as a single undivided track.
There are certain unifying themes within “Narcissus Rising“, but its constant ebbs and flows are unpredictable, as are its musical ingredients. It would be too reductive to sum up those ingredients as ferocious black metal, grand symphonic swells, and haunting ambient drift, but those are among the threads interwoven into the vast tapestry of sound that the song presents.
The band’s ability to shock the senses is soon revealed, when a sudden crashing deluge of dark chords, horrid howls, seering keyboards, and drumming that quickly veers from methodical to maniacal, blasts away the eerie hypnotic effects of the song’s opening. Waves of gleaming yet desolate melody and extravagant roaring and howling vocals (which sound like a cross between tyrannical and tortured expressions) cascade forward over a heavy bass line. The music boils with increasing tension and terror — yet solemn clean vocals unexpectedly rise up over that near-overpowering maelstrom of sound.
As this sonic pageant continues to unfold, the drum and bass rhythms slow, joined by an acidic riff that blurs from dismal to demented — an aural summoning of torment and pain — and then there’s another stunning eruption of hyper-fast drum-blasting and writhing guitars overlaid by both reverent choral vocals and incinerating screams and yells. Just as suddenly, near silence falls, and shimmering ambient sounds emerge, along with an array of warbling, pinging, and windy tones coupled with frightening whispers and groaning recitals.
This pattern of spell and shock continues, but takes different forms. There are times when the music becomes a soundscape of vulcanism, of earthquakes and after-shocks, of violence and chaos, accented by jaw-dropping drum-work, grand but ominous melodies, and solemn chants. And there are other moments when a combination of glimmering ambient music and chime-like ringing creates dramatic contrasts. Bleak, lead-heavy chords and seething strings play a role, as do mammoth riffs that seem capable of gouging furrows through granite, while the vocals continue to shift from one extreme to another, from soaring cries and monastic chants to horrid, bestial growls and roars that are furnace-like in their intensity.
When “Insomnic Sermons of Narcistic Afterbirth” begins, the band unleash an absolute storm of bullet-spitting drums coupled with a blazing gale of symphonic keyboards and ravaging guitars. It’s like bearing witness to the birth of a super-nova, glorious yet frightening — and the voices also channel a similar combination of sensations. There are also deep, heaving undercurrents in the music, like the subterranean movements of a leviathan, contrasting with the explosions of racing light in the skies above.
Periodically, the band segment the track with head-moving, galloping beats and choral voices, and they also present an interlude of crazed guitar harmony that evolves into an exotic, serpentine melody over a gut-punching bass line and vertebra-cracking snare work. The song further includes an array of fantastic guitar solos. As the music surges in grandeur, the first of those takes the stage, rapidly flickering like fire at first, and then morphing into a fluid, sorcerous incantation. A second one is a beautiful, glittering apparition over huge stomping chords.
After the first ambient subsidence in the song, almost 9 minutes in, there’s a third solo — one that wails with wrenching grief — but by that point the music as a whole has transformed. Borrowing from the crushing yet majestic sounds of doom, the music becomes catastrophically hopeless, the swelling keyboards transfigured into transmitters of pain and fracturing sanity, and the vocals reach heights of full-throated chaos.
The final Act of the album, “At the Threshold where Chaos turns into Salvation“, then transitions into 8 1/2 minutes of droning ambient drift and deep, echoing percussive tones. A shimmering melody swells in volume; distant voices can be detected; and the music becomes something like the soundtrack to a fear-stricken space voyage into a hostile alien system beyond human comprehension, a place both mystifying and full of dread. And then our void-faring craft seems to break through into a different dimension, where deep, distorted, spoken words are paired with ethereal angelic voices. We seem to be witnessing a transcendent mystical vision, one that becomes spellbinding.
The total running time of Narcissus Rising is 42 minutes, with each of the two tracks consuming roughly half of that length. It is far too elaborate and surprising to fully absorb in a single listen, much less to study, and far too gripping to leave behind after only one encounter.
ATMF will release it in a 6-panel digipack CD edition and in beautiful 12″ gatefold vinyl editions (150 copies on gold vinyl, and 150 on black vinyl). It will be available as a digital download as well. Pre-orders are here: