(Here’s the latest installment of KevinP’s series in which he runs down his list of the best releases from the preceding month.)
The French are weird (but we knew that, so it’s not really weird). Dark Descent Records just came up a little short. Ever realize the island country of Cyprus had metal bands? Let’s eat some Vegemite and sauerkraut. And the Greeks have returned to the countdown. Now, let’s get on with it.
5. Corpo-Mente – Corpo-Mente
If you are a fan of Gautier Serre and the thoroughly warped Igorrr, you may have heard of this side project of his. Featuring the lush operatic vocals of Laure Le Prunenec (Öxxö Xööx, Rïcïnn), it’s much more, shall we say, “tame”. It’s a classical journey of baroque, trip-hop, and acoustique. It’s by no means a metal album, but that doesn’t stop it from being one hell of a piece of art.
Naas Alcameth, best known for his work in Nightbringer, has had a separate project since 2009 known as Akhlys, whose second album will be soon released by Debemur Morti Productions. The new Akhlys album is entitled The Dreaming I, and as the title suggests, it was inspired by its creator’s uncommon dreams and the role of such lucid para-somnia experiences in esoteric belief and practice. One track from the album has previously premiered (“Consummation”), and today we have the pleasure of bringing you the debut of another track, the one that opens the album: “Breath and Levitation“.
Dreaming is the thematic subject of the album as well as the source of its inspiration, but we’re not talking about mundane, commonplace dreams — and the music is anything but mundane or commonplace. Clues to what lies within may be found in the name of this project. To quote from a recent interview by Nass Alcameth:
[Akhlys] was said to be the personification of the “death mist”, the clouding over of the eyes upon death, and in turn personified death, misery, despair, and so on. She was also said to have been an original personification of primordial darkness/night that existed before chaos. What we can determine from these fragments is that she was associated to both death and profound darkness, the two of which indicate a crossroads, or an inlet from life into the darkness beyond life. This crossing of the veil has much synchronicity with the crossing that can be experienced via certain lucid dream states and there is much intimacy between these parallels, that of death and of dreams.
(Austin Weber reviews the debut album by Irreversible Mechanism from Belarus.)
The story of how Irreversible Mechanism were signed and the subsequent re-release of their briefly heard debut, Infinite Fields, is an interesting one. I was initially tipped off to the band by Essence Of Datum, an instrumental death metal act based in Belarus, who mentioned them to me in early November. Irreversible Mechanism are also based in Minsk, and are highly technical as well. The band then released Infinite Fields in December, and I only got to hear it in full twice before it was pulled from Bandcamp after only a single day. It turns out that after hearing only one track the night before the release, Finland’s Blood Music immediately wrote to propose the signing and an agreement was quickly reached, though not before the band had launched the album on Bandcamp — for one day. That should give you a hint as to how impressive a debut Infinite Fields is.
On a side note, the way this happened is something I’ve noticed other labels doing recently. It’s an interesting way for newer labels to find talented new bands and help make them more well known.
On my first two listens, I will admit to thinking that I had heard very similar riffs, leads, solos, and drum-beats from Cosmogenesis-era Obscura and The Faceless, with some definable though less prevalent Necrophagist influence as well. But my opinion of the album has changed and grown, and I’ve become quite fond of this record. Although the two main major musical influences I just cited are at the heart of Irreversible Mechanism’s gravitas, the band really do a lot to add more layers and different influences and they have created something that can definitely be considered its own unique take on technical death metal.
With a weekend of listening behind me, I’ve got a stack of new songs I want to recommend that rivals the height of a mighty redwood. Unfortunately, my brain is only the size of a mighty walnut, and I didn’t get enough of a head-start to pull them all together for a round-up today. So, here are three, and more will come tomorrow.
As regular readers know, I have a debilitating weakness for old-school Swedish death metal. If I don’t get my fix on a regular basis, I start to get the shakes and have even more trouble formulating complete sentences. Fortunately, one of the best of the current purveyors of obliterating Swe-death has a new album coming our way via Metal Blade, and this past weekend I caught up with the first single. The band is Entrails, the album is Obliteration (of course it is), and the song is “Beyond the Flesh”.
The roots of Entrails in this style of music go deep, the band having achieved their first incarnation in 1990. And despite moldering in the grave for a full decade, they’ve turned in one winner after another following their reanimation with 2010′s Tales From the Morgue. If “Beyond the Flesh” is a good indicator, the new album will be another one.
(Austin Weber introduces our premiere of another new song by Scalafrea.)
Recently here at NCS, we premiered a phenomenal track called “Perceptions Of Time”, by Colorado-based Death Metal band Scalafrea. The track comes from their upcoming EP, Opposites In Polarity. I covered the band’s background and dissected the elements of their sound in that first Scalafrea premiere, so instead of rehashing myself, those who want some more information on the band can go here.
Since I’ve always been a big fan of Scalafrea, and really think that their latest material is an impressive experience worthy of getting hyped about, we bring you another new song entitled “The Bastard One”. For those unfamiliar with the band, they play a very hodge-podge and spastic form of technical death metal with a progressive bend that’s also very well-written.
(In this post Comrade Aleks returns to take us off our usual beaten paths with an interview of J.N., the creator behind Picture Ann, Signalfeide, and Sagntid.)
I learned about the projects of this Danish artist because J.N. was a part of the atmospheric doomy band Sick Room 7, which was a good band and one I miss. But after (or during) Sick Room’s disbanding, J.N. continued to compose dark music, but of another kind: He put his hands onto atmospheric, guitar-based, and ambient songs with deep and murky feeling. What new does J.N. have for us today? Let me clarify it.
Hail J.! How are you? How does your creative life go?
Hails Aleks, all is well here. I have no complaints whatsoever regarding my creative life and it is somewhat constant and solid in a sense. I am always either creating, planning, or thinking about something in relation to music and lyrics. It never really stops… and I do not want it to stop either!
J., you have finished a new record in 2015. It is a Picture Ann full-length record, The Darkness Had Texture. How has this project evolved since its first album?
In a certain sense there are quite a few similarities between the very first PICTURE ANN album, the one named Blaspheme 2009, and the brand new one that you are referring to, the one entitled The Darkness Had Texture. The linear drum patterns, monotonous melodies, hypnotic moods, and trance-like atmospheres are thoroughly back in place on this new album of mine, and I could not be happier with how that turned out. The album that came out last year (A Bone Case for Papery Skin) was slightly more varied, dynamic, and weird, but now that some time has passed, I consider that particular album my least favorite of the three full-length assaults. However, I think my new record sounds pretty focused, and all five songs complement each other and underline certain thoughts and emotions perfectly well. I hope that the open-minded listeners out there will give it a spin or two on a dark and stormy night. I am very proud of The Darkness Had Texture, as you can probably tell.
Kavyk is the name of a new band from Hammond, Louisiana, whose four members come from the ranks of Legions of Hoar Frost, Celestial Mechanics, Withering Light, Suspended Obscurity, and In Medias Res. They’ve recorded a debut demo that will be released later this year, and today we introduce you to Kavyk’s music through our premiere of one of the demo’s songs: “Hymns and Hollow Words”.
Over the last couple of years, song and album premieres have become a weekly staple at our site. Though we only feature them when we truly enjoy the music, the significant majority of them have come our way from record labels (both large and small). In this case, the song arrived directly from the band — and a brand new band at that. But the song immediately grabbed me, like a cat on a somnolent mouse. And like the cat in that metaphor, it quickly shot an adrenaline charge right through me as its teeth clamped down on my neck. It’s quite an awakening experience.
(In this 56th edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy Synn reviews the discography of Finland’s Callisto, whose latest album was released in January.)
Recommended for fans of: The Ocean, Cult of Luna, Thrice
There’s definitely a small chance, but a chance all the same, that Finnish Post-Rock/Post-Metal experimentalists Callisto might be a bit of a hard sell to our regular audience here at NCS.
Described on their Facebook page as “Metal / Experimental / Rock”, and by their own admission as “Progressive Noise Rock”, although the band clearly learnt much of their craft at the (metaphorical) knee of Isis and Cult of Luna, they quickly took a much different path than their predecessors, borrowing more from the Post-Hardcore and Post-Rock fields as their discography expanded, incorporating many more jazzy-influenced and experimental/ambient touches along the way.
It seems to me that this verve for experimentation – often divisive, yet never anything less than intriguing – contributed to the band missing the boat slightly during the mid-2000s Post-Metal explosion. Where others were (rightly) praised and lauded for their atmospheric expansion of the metallic landscape, Callisto were, in places at least, castigated for not being “Metal enough” as their interests swiftly diverged from those of their contemporaries.
Which is a shame, because I can honestly say that if you’re a fan of any of the bands mentioned above – or even the more atmospheric approach favoured by Junius and recent Sólstafir – then the Finns definitely deserve your time. And, although it does take a bit of effort and commitment to get deep into some of their albums, I promise you that effort will be amply rewarded.
(Andy Synn presents his interview with some of the members of Germany’s Downfall of Gaia.)
Aeon Unveils the Throne of Decay, the thunderous third album from Germany’s Downfall of Gaia, was, in my estimation, one of the finest slabs of Metal (of any style) produced last year. In fact I selected it as one of my top 10 Critical choices of 2014, describing it as a “slow-motion apocalypse” (though massive, jagged chunks of it are anything but slow) which “shifts seamlessly between styles… to make [it] a fascinatingly multi-faceted and endlessly rewarding musical experience.”
And I stand by those words. In fact I’ve only discovered more layers and depth to the album as the months have passed by.
So, as a huge (and relatively new) fan of the band, I was lucky enough to be able to grab guitarist/vocalist Dominik Goncalves dos Reis for a quick chat about life, love, and the nature of existence.
So here’s how this post came about. I woke up this morning, caffeinated and nicotined myself, and started browsing Facebook to see if any world leaders were trying to get in touch. Within the first 20 seconds I spied a link to a new Coliseum video for a new Coliseum song. Of course, I had to see what that was about, because there’s on such thing as a bad Coliseum video. This new one gave me a surprise, but not an unpleasant one.
It turned out that Coliseum’s label (Deathwish Inc.) had queued up a playlist on YouTube without my realizing it, and so as soon as the Coliseum video finished, a song from a band named Bitter End started playing. And it hit the right chord in my addled brain. No sooner had it ended than a full-album stream launched, for a new release by Harm’s Way. The first couple of tracks beat me senseless, and so I just sat there, hunched over and black and blue, and let them finish what they’d started.
With blood running from my nose and ears, I thought I’d better stop before that Deathwish playlist served up something else because, y’know, I’d like to make it to lunchtime without rupturing my spleen. So I went back to Facebook and pretty quickly got a recommendation from KevinP about a metal band named Consummation. And since the first collection of music I’d heard wasn’t pure metal, I thought I’d give that a shot — and so here we are.