(TheMadIsraeli returns to NCS with a review of the new album by Textures.)
So what’s the result when a long-running, respected force in metal makes an album after the man who was thought to be their mastermind leaves?
Phenotype is Textures best record since Silhouettes without a doubt in my mind. If I have any complaint, it’s that the band didn’t use this rush of inspiration to write even more material, the album having only having nine tracks on it of varying lengths. Those nine songs however, are dynamic, diverse, and intense in a way the music definitely was not on their previous record Dualism, which, despite my enjoying it, was definitely stagnating a bit.
The third and final part of Triangle is bound to be the most divisive and most hotly debated segment of the album, showing a very different third face of the band which (almost) entirely eschews the metallic menace of Part I and instead finds the band taking the esoteric progressivity of Part II to its logical conclusion, delving deep into a metaphysical void of moody, ambient minimalism, one which is punctuated here and there by exotic instrumental passages and hypnotic drumming rhythms.
It’s the sort of album designed to either be loved or hated – there’s no middle ground here – and it’s also the sort of album that will potentially take more than a few listens to fully appreciate and come to terms with as well.
We’ve been closely following all the releases of Minnesota’s Amiensus ever since Andy Synn reviewed their debut album Restoration for us back in January 2013. Their latest album, Ascension, appeared last year (and we reviewed it here). The band wrote a song named “Reflections” that was originally intended for that album, and although they eventually decided not to include it there, they have now recorded it as a stand-alone single that’s being released today — and we have the premiere of “Reflections” for you right here.
The song digs its hooks in almost immediately with an opening riff that pulsates over thundering drums, and the band drive the hooks in even harder with a clean vocal chorus, balanced against the harsh abrasion in the verses. But perhaps the most gripping part of the song is still yet to come at the 3:00 mark, when the lyrical sequence “I am devoid of…” begins.
Last Saturday I explained that because of a serious brain injury to a close friend and colleague, I wouldn’t be able to write much for the site this week other than introductions of premieres I had agreed to host, and that has proven true. When not working at my fucking day job, I’ve been with her and her family in the ICU. That’s not likely to change in the coming days. My friend is showing signs of progress, and it seems likely that she will wake up soon, perhaps today or tomorrow. And then we will begin to find out how the injury has affected her mental and physical functioning. I’m optimistic, and terrified.
Though my routine this week hasn’t been anything close to normal, I have discovered a few excellent new songs and videos, thanks to recommendations from friends, and I thought I would collect them here. I’m grateful for the supportive comments I’ve received from readers, and for all the posts I’ve received from our regular writers and guests this week to keep this train rolling on down the line.
Visions of Exalted Lucifer is the name of the new album by the Dutch black metal band Cirith Gorgor, who began worshipping the Devil through their music back in the mid-’90s. This is the band’s sixth studio album and their first since 2011 (in the intervening years, the band’s line-up has changed). It was released by Hammerheart Records in February. Not long ago Hammerheart and the band released a lyric video for the song “A Vision of Exalted Lucifer”.
(After a long absence, Happy Metal Guy returns to NCS with an interview of Komet Chou, founding member and drummer of the Taiwanese metal band Crescent Lament, whose latest album Happy Metal Guy reviewed here.)
They are only two studio albums into their career, but Crescent Lament have already carved out a strong aural identity for themselves in their chosen sub-genre. The indie Taiwanese metal band started out playing traditional symphonic gothic metal (Behind the Lethal Deceit, 2011), before switching to oriental gothic metal on their most recent album, Elegy for the Blossoms (2015).
Making the stylistic switch was an excellent move on their part — their current sound not only suits the geisha concept of Elegy for the Blossoms to a tee, but is also an exemplar of East Asian, erhu-infused metal. This is not to suggest that the band’s non-aural features are not noteworthy, though. One need only peruse the lyric booklets of Elegy for the Blossoms to see that Crescent Lament take their poetry and history seriously. In this interview, founding member and drummer Komet Chou details the historical basis of the lyrics of Elegy for the Blossoms, and his translation of the lyrics from Taiwanese to English.
Everything on that nocturnal album cover up there is either spiky, smoldering, burning, or crackling with electricity. And it well suits the music on the new album by Demonic Obedience, Nocturnal Hymns To the Fallen, which is set for release on May 18 via Satanath Records and Sevared Records. Today we bring you the stream of a song from the album named “Forced Obscenity“.
Though originally created in 2013 as a two-man group based in Thessaloníki, Greece, Demonic Obedience now continues to move forward as the solo project of George Ntavelas, who moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2014. This new album follows the debut full-length Morbid Supremacy of Evil, which was released by the Mexican record label Azermedoth Records in 2014.
Spheron – A Clockwork Universe
I’m actually surprised that the new Spheron record, A Clockwork Universe, hasn’t been covered here yet since their last one got covered quite a bit at NCS. At any rate, Spheron’s latest is a fantastic record that deserves to be heard by more people! For those unfamiliar, Spheron play a particularly proggy and dense sort of tech-death with a stronger emphasis on complex rhythm riffing over flashy lead playing.
(We present the second part of a three-part review by Andy Synn of the new triple album by the Swiss phenomenon Schammasch. Part One is here; Part Three arrives tomorrow.)
As it was written, so let it be done… I said I was going to write this review in three parts, echoing the construction of its subject matter, and with the publication of Part I yesterday it seems I’m now committed to this three-part treatise on the esoteric wonders of Triangle.
Now, as much as I foresee a certain amount of wailing and wringing of hands about it, the triple-album format of this release really does give the band a chance to fully indulge their more atmospheric ambitions and progressive proclivities while still retaining a sense of continuity and over-arching identity across each separate segment.
Apropos of this, with Part II you can really feel the doomier, proggier side of the band coming through, although this neither downplays the doomy touches already making themselves known during Part I, nor the blackened bite that many of the songs on Part II still possess. It’s simply an acknowledgement that for Schammasch this is yet another step onwards down a path of their own choice and making.
(DGR reviews the new album by Boston’s Abnormality.)
For a long time Abnormality were one of my pocket bands to always recommend to everyone whenever people were having their death metal offs, sharing their most brutal bands, their quickest groups, the ones they felt more people needed to hear. Abnormality have always been a good hybrid of those three reasons, and hence always ended up with me asking if people had heard of them: They were quick, brutal, and I honestly felt that they got better with each release and that more people needed to hear them.
Abnormality are a five-piece whirling machine of brutal death metal hailing from Massachusetts. They’ve been around for some time now, with a demo that hit in 2007 and two other releases to their name — a fantastic EP known as The Collective Calm In Mortal Oblivion, and an equally awesome album in Contaminating The Hive Mind. When news came out that Metal Blade had picked up the band for their most recent release, Mechanisms Of Omniscience, there was a sense that someone had finally gotten the hint.
(Austin Weber continues to pitch in on round-up duty with the second part of a multi-part post recommending metal we haven’t previously covered. You can find Part 1 here.)
Arms – Blackout
You ready to get down with some nasty math-grind? Because Arms bring it throughout every jagged and howling minute of their sophomore full-length, Blackout.
I have Ken Reda from Bhavachakra (previously covered in a song premiere here at NCS!) to thank for tipping me off to this most excellent display of virulent rad viciousness! I think it’s additionally cool that the diverse and complex sonic whirlwind that Blackout delivers is the result of only one guy, Orlando, Florida-based musician/sound engineer Paul Hundeby.