I don’t write installments of this long-running series with any kind of regularity, so I always begin by reminding people how it works. On a very random basis I pick bands whose music I’ve never heard before (usually bands whose names I’ve only discovered recently) and I listen to one or two songs, usually from their most recent releases. I write my immediate impressions of what I’ve heard, and then I stream the music so you can make up your own minds.
This experiment differs from just about everything else we post on this site because I don’t know whether I’ll like the music before writing about it. Granted, I tend to get enthusiastic about a very wide range of metal from a very wide range of bands, and in the case of the four bands that are the subject of this MISCELLANY excursion, three of them were recommended recently by friends whose opinions I respect — so that’s a bit of a cheat on my self-imposed rules for the series. Anyway, here we go…
I heard about this Chicago band through a recommendation from one of the nameless members of Venowl. I’ve now forgotten what topic we were discussing that prompted the recommendation, but I hung on to the name, as well as the link to the Sun Splitter Bandcamp page. Their most recent release is an album named Time Cathedral that came out in January of this year.
(In this post BadWolf reviews the live performances by Mayhem, Watain, and Revenge at El Corazon in Seattle on January 27, 2015, with photos by Madison Lieren.)
For a minute there I was so inundated with European black metal, its tropes, and its lyrical hullabaloo, that I forgot about the genre’s troubled, violent, church-burning past, and in a sense that’s where I wanted to be from the get-go, since unlike some people I actually found the genre’s flirtations with homicide and terrorism to be a turn-off before I actually listened to the music.
Leave it to Norway’s Mayhem, original purveyors of quote-unquote dangerous black metal to drag me back into my discomfort zone by headlining the Black Metal Warfare tour, a nationwide trek wherein the second generation provocateurs, alongside Watain and Revenge, inspired mosh pits, threw blood on the crowd, and peddled tee shirts lionizing “Panic, Terror, Arson, Metal, Chaos.”
“Oh yeah, that’s right,” I thought to myself, looking at the merch rack hobbled in the corner of Seattle’s El Corazon, “I fucking love blowing stuff up. Silly me, where *did* my balls go?” A prescient thought, as the night wound up being a testament to testicular fortitude.
It’s a true pleasure to bring you a full stream of Nocel by the Polish black metal band Furia. The album was released last fall on CD by Pagan Records, and on March 6 the label will be releasing the album on double-gatefold-vinyl. It deserves that kind of treatment — in a word, Nocel is fascinating.
Furia’s name means “fury” in English, but the music on Nocel is not so easily summed up. “Fury” is only one of many moods expressed in this impressively creative and highly variable work. Over its hour-long course, Furia vividly convey alternating moods of wild freedom, slashing anger, cold isolation, hunger, meditative tranquility, and even despair. It’s so full of contrasts and surprises that it will remind listeners of the avant-garde exuberance of bands like Deathspell Omega rather than the warlike savagery of a group like Marduk.
(Our Russian friend Comrade Aleks has been busy — for the second day in a row he brings us a new interview. Today, his conversation is with Nicolas Miquelon, lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist of the Québec band Norilsk.)
Norilsk is a Russian industrial city, the world’s northernmost city, with more than 100,000 inhabitants — and it’s one of most polluted cities in the world due to intense mining, a bleak land of ore and melted metal, of biting frost and acid rains. But Norilsk is also the name of a death/doom band from Québec, Canada, and their debut full-length record The Idea Of North will be released on the 10th of March through Hypnotic Dirge Records.
I found the band on their label’s new compilation Subarctic Nocturnes: Doomed to Be – Vol.1 (available here), and it was a worthy discovery. Are you ready for the cold, distorted, and burning breath of arctic wind? Nicolas Miquelon (all instruments but drums, and vocals) is here to spread the very idea of North.
Alright, it might be a stretch to call this song a “premiere”, because some of the lucky ones among you have already discovered this music for yourselves. The debut EP Yearwalker of Sweden’s Gloson was self-released digitally last year, but it’s getting a proper international release on vinyl this coming March 23 by Art of Propaganda and Catatonic State Records. Apart from satisfying the vinyl hungers of Gloson’s fans, this new release achieves another admirable objective: It spreads the word of Yearwalker to the previously uninitiated — which included me. And I’m damned glad I’ve now been introduced to this surprising new band.
“The Aftermath/Beginning” is the final song on this four-track, 32-minute release. Entrancing guitar notes transform into pile-driving riffs, dreamlike melody is overpowered by an avalanche of rumbling darkness, caustic howls scrape against vulnerable flesh. As the song continues to unfold, yet another entrancing guitar melody spirals over the crushing low-end rhythms, like northern lights shimmering over mountain crags. The sludgy power of the song will get your head moving while it casts a spell at the same time.
Tuomas Saukkonen (Wolfheart)
It’s the same old story. Metal is such an over-boiling cauldron of creativity that if you have to wait a few days to go exploring for new things, you find yourself up to your neck in hot water. Or at least that’s what happened to me yesterday.
Having failed to compile a round-up of new music since last Sunday, I felt overwhelmed when confronting how much I wanted to write about today. I had to make some hard choices about what to recommend, and even then I had to stifle my usual verbosity — time is a harsh mistress, and not in a good way. So, with a regrettable (to me) minimum of introductory comments, here’s a selection of what lit me up over the last 24 hours, presented in the order in which I saw and heard them. I’ll have a few more new items to share with you on Saturday.
Earlier this month Spinefarm Records re-released Winterborn, the fantastic album by Wolfheart that we praised to the skies (repeatedly) when it was first self-released by the band in 2013. The re-issue comes with two bonus tracks (“Isolation” and “Into the Wild”). Two days ago Wolfheart premiered a music video for the album’s first track, “The Hunt”, which shows scenes from the recording of the track. It’s a wonderful song (it was on our list of 2013’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs), and any excuse to hear it again is welcome.
Exactly one week ago we posted Andy Synn’s extravagant review of Kaiserschnitt, the extravagant new album by Germany’s Porta Nigra, which is being released today by Debemur Morti Productions. As of this moment, you can now download the album or purchase one of the beautiful physical copies — but perhaps most important, you now have a chance to listen to all of it before taking the plunge.
If you haven’t yet discovered the stream that just went live on Bandcamp, all you have to do is skip to the bottom of this post and there you will find it. And if you need any further encouragement to let it into your head, here are a few choice words from Andy’s review, with which I almost whole-heartedly agree:
(In this post our Russian contributor Comrade Aleks interviews Alex Schenkels, vocalist of the Dutch psychedelic doom/stoner band Yama.)
Yama have been playing their heavy and driving stoner for about five years, but their first full-length album Ananta was released only at the end of 2014. It was worth waiting for it — a bunch of strong, highly energetic, and catchy songs that evoke no less enthusiasm than the new works of more famous bands. Yet I don’t want to waste your time with a long foreword, ’cause Yama’s frontman Alex Schenkels is already here.
Hail Alex! You have released Yama’s grand debut about a month ago. How long did the band work for this release?
Hail Aleks! Yeah, Ananta has finally found its way to the public. It’s been quite a long process to be honest. We recorded Ananta approximately 1.5 years ago. Due to many factors the release got postponed several times.
I’ve been writing about Vancouver’s Archspire since December 2010, which is when I came across their All Shall Align EP. This morning I went back to that first post about the band and that EP, because even from the beginning, certain aspects of their sound really stood out — and one is particularly relevant in the context of the brand new video we’re about to show you:
“This is a truly eye-popping convulsion of tech-death, with schizophrenic rhythms, astounding technical riffing and drumwork, and tiny threads of reappearing melody that stitch the songs together into cohesive wholes. And I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a death-metal vocalist bark out the lyrics faster than Archspire’s, particularly on that second song; he’s like the vocal equivalent of those insane guitarists.”
I’ve seen Oli Rae Aleron’s vocal style referred to as “shotgun vocals”. “Death metal rap” would work, too. In this just-released video, he does a vocal playthrough of the Archspire song “Fathom Infinite Depth” from the band’s 2014 album The Lucid Collective. And it’s a lyric video. Which means you need to be prepared to read fast — I mean, really fast.
Not long ago we included a feature about the title track to a new album by Poland’s Kurhan in one of our occasional round-ups of impressive new songs. Now we have the pleasure of bringing you a full stream of the entire album, the title of which is Głód (“hunger”).
When I first heard the title track, it really grabbed me by the jugular. I compared it to taking a ride on a whirlwind, or something like being caught in a swarm of bats embarking on a night of feeding at full speed. But in addition to unleashing a plethora of technically impressive high-speed riffs and hard-hitting percussion, Kurhan made the song a rhythmically dynamic work and threaded appealing strands of dark melody into their blazing tapestry as well.
Now having heard the entire album, more metaphors come to mind. Listening to it is like being dropped into a war zone, with shrapnel flying fast and furious and bursts of adrenaline flooding the bloodstream from all the imminent peril.