Back in August I was halted in my tracks by the very cool cover art for a then-forthcoming split release by Portugal’s Monte Penumbra and Half Visible Presence from The Netherlands. Both bands include members of the most excellent Israthoum (W.uR in Monte Penumbra and Arvath going solo in Half Visible Presence). The cover art above is actually the artwork for the Half Visible Presence side of the split — you’ll see the complementary art for Monte Penumbra’s side after the jump.
HALF VISIBLE PRESENCE
“Downwards Deathmarch” is the name of the Half Visible Presence track, and it could hardly be better named. Announced by the sound of a funeral bell against the backdrop of a cold, desolate wind, the song is anchored by doleful, groaning, repeating riffs and slow drumbeats. It’s a deep pit of misery, corroded with distortion and its melody sodden with tears.
I’ve been swarmed by new short releases that I want to write about. I had a list of five that I’ve been listening to this week, from which I wanted to pick one for this Saturday post. And then the new Shroud of Despondency EP de-railed those plans. I only meant to give it a minute or two this morning, just to get a sense of what was going on, and, well, here we are.
For those unfamiliar with the project, it’s the brainchild of musician Rory Heikkila, originally from Upper Michigan and now a resident of Wisconsin. Prior to this new EP, the last studio release was a double-album from earlier this year entitled Tied To A Dying Animal, which featured a mix of metal and acoustic songs. This new EP does, too.
The EP also marks the beginning of the end of the project. It’s a way-station on the road to the band’s final album, the recording of which is nearing completion, before Heikkila turns his attention elsewhere (to folk music, it appears).
(We bring you KevinP’s interview of Ben Pakarinen, vocalist/guitarist for Finland’s Coprolith, whose second album Death March was released this past spring by Violent Journey Records.)
K: So you’ve recently returned from a tour in China. Is this your 3rd time playing there?
B: Yes, we are back from China. It was Coprolith’s second time touring there. Last fall we toured with my other band, Antagonist Zero.
K: Seems like you have a fairly big following to tour there twice. Does China give you more “love” than Europe?
B: Yeah the shows are awesome and the crowds are crazy indeed. And this time we also released our latest album, Death March, as a special edition with 3 bonus tracks. But we have also toured a lot in Europe, the Baltics, and Russia. I think when it’s a good show and good crowd, it doesn’t matter which country it is.
Happy Black Friday. We’re not selling anything and we have no discounts to offer. Instead, we want you to give us something.
We’ve reached a pivot-point in the year, with Thanksgiving now behind us here in the U.S. Now begins the countdown to the end of the year and the official commencement of the annual holiday season onslaught. In the world of metal, we’ll also start seeing more and more lists of the year’s best albums.
Back in 2009, when this site was just a few days old, I wrote a post about year-end lists and why people bother with them. The best reason still seems to be this: Reading someone else’s list of the albums they thought were best is a good way to discover music you missed and might like.
We don’t do an “official” NCS year-end “best albums” list. However, we publish the picks of each of our regular staff writers as well as a large group of guest writers (which we’ll start doing in December), and every year we also invite our readers to share their lists. If YOU have made your own list of the albums, EPs, or splits released in 2014 that you think are the best of what you’ve heard this year, we invite you to share it with us in the Comments section to this post.
Here in the U.S. the day after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, when people spend money they don’t have buying gifts for other people who don’t need them. It puts retailers in the black and consumers in the red. Ho Ho Ho and Hail Santa! How about some black metal instead?
As previously reported in these pages, Sweden’s Marduk will be releasing Frontschwein, their 13th studio album, via Century Media in January. Yesterday the band revealed the cover art and track listing and began streaming a new song named “Rope of Regret”.
To those of you who will be celebrating Thanksgiving today, Happy Thanksgiving and best wishes for a deep and restful tryptophan coma (though data show that dining on sea lion kidney would get you a bigger dose of tryptophan than turkey). For those who treat this as just another day, Happy Just Another Day.
We’re not planning a lot of posts today, just the premiere we launched a bit earlier and this round-up of new sightings and hearings from my interhole excursions over the last 24 hours. Here we go…
In mid-October we reported that Poland’s Hate will be releasing a new album named Crusade: Zero on January 15, 2015, via Napalm Records. I was excited about that news even before hearing a note of the music. Now that I have heard many notes, I’m even more eager for the album. You shall hear those same notes in this teaser reel, which excerpts parts of several new songs:
Those vicious Canadian purveyors of Total Death, Vault of Dried Bones, have been preparing once again to open their bomb bay doors and rain destruction from the skies, and their new weapon of choice is a Sri Lankan band appropriately named Genocide Shrines. This new release from the Vault Cult’s label will be the band’s first full-length album, and its title is Manipura Imperial Deathevokovil (Scriptures of Reversed Puraana Dharmurder).
As an introduction to what this album holds in store, we bring you today the premiere of the album’s third track, “Subterranean Katacomb, Termination Temple (Henotheistic Primal Demiurge)”. Those who may be familiar with the band’s 2012 Devanation Monumentemples EP or the Mahabharat Terror Attack split with Manifestor released last spring may still not be prepared for what it will do your peace of mind (it will leave it in pieces).
Iceland’s Svartidauði are perfecting the mechanics of tearing apart interdimensional membranes, exposing our ears to emanations from alien domains, while rocking very damned hard at the same time. Their latest offering, which will not be confused with the work of any other band, is a forthcoming two-song release from Daemon Worship Productions and Terratur Possessions entitled The Synthesis of Whore and Beast, and today we give you the chance to hear one of those two tracks: “Impotent Solar Phallus”.
Calling this music “black metal” feels unsatisfying. It’s too meager a description, and may in fact be misleading. “Impotent Solar Phallus” radiates reptilian menace, its exotic chords both disturbing and otherworldly, its booming/tumbling drumbeats conjuring images of a tribal ritual, as practiced by a tribe not found on this planet.
(We welcome Wil Cifer to NCS with this review of the debut album by Unfathomed of Abyss of San Antonio, Texas.)
Like everything else in Texas, Kevin Price thinks big, so he employed Kevin Talley of Dying Fetus / Daath fame to provide the drums. Price forsakes the organic approach taken by the flux of American Black metal bands to weave his own path. This path is filled with discordant geometry and angular atmosphere.
Opening with the 14-minute, piano-inflected “To Unequal the Balance of the Cosmos”, the album has an oddly uncertain beginning. While Kevin Talley is certainly not shabby as a drummer, he is not a black metal drummer and a drummer more versed in the genre would know where to throw in the appropriate blast beats to create the desired sound. Nevertheless, Talley does more than dial it in, adding a few creative accents of his own.
This year the Greek melodic black metal band Lord Impaler are celebrating their 16th year of life. In that long stretch of time they’ve released four demos (the first one in 1999), two split releases, a full-length album, and an EP. I’ve previously reviewed both the album (2011’s Admire the Cosmos Black) and the EP (2013’s Babylon Whore) — both of which are very impressive — but I’ve never heard any of the earlier demo recordings. Now all of us are about to get a taste of them in new form.
On December 7 Lord Impaler will release a special anniversary EP entitled The Serpent Seal – Το Αρχέγονο Σκότοσ Επιςτρέφει, which includes re-recorded versions of four songs from their first three demos, and today we’re premiering one of those tracks: “Final Gates”.