I’m about to enter the home stretch of the out-of-town project for my paying job that has been severely constricting my blog time. Four or five more days, and I’ll be done. Those remaining days are going to leave me with even less time to blog than I’ve had since the project started three weeks ago, so this morning I decided to carve out some time for one last round-up of new music before running the final gauntlet.
I discovered the Swiss band Zatokrev through their 2012 album The Bat, the Wheel and a Long Road to Nowhere, which turned out to be one of my favorite albums of that year. Their fourth album, Silk Spiders Underwater… is now finished and scheduled for released on April 13 by Candlelight Records. It is reported to be the first of a two-part conception and features artwork by Maks Loriot.
Once again, I’m behind in posting round-ups of new music and videos. I have a long list of new things that emerged this week, just not enough time to write about it… because once again my day job has sent me away from home. More about that in a later post today.
But although I can’t write about all the good new things I saw and heard this week right now, I’ll throw a few diverse tracks your way in this post and try to collect more tomorrow.
I’m going to start with the most unlikely of choices for a site like this one — it’s an exception to our inconsistent “rule”.
Eternal Champion are an epic heavy metal band from Austin, Texas, named after a character premise in Michael Moorcock’s fictional universe and featuring an ex-Iron Age vocalist (Jason Tarpey) and Power Trip’s lead guitarist Blake Ibanez.
Australia’s Rise of Avernus are following up their 2013 debut album L’appel du vide with a new EP entitled Dramatis Personæ. It’s a five-track, half-hour affair that includes a guest vocal appearance by Enslaved’s Grutle Kjellson (on the song “Acta Est Fabula”) — and today we bring you a stream of the EP’s penultimate song, “An Alarum of Fate“.
The booming drums and darting orchestral strings that start the song provide immediate elements of intrigue, and they are strong attractions to the music throughout. But they’re not the only attractions. Take the vocals, for example: They’re an appealing blend of flesh-scarring growls, skyward-soaring clean vocals, and ghostly whispers. And just as appealing is the music’s integration of heavy riffs, hammering beats, mesmerizing piano notes, warm bass tones, and dreamlike strings.
Happy goddamn Sunday to one and all. I’m working on a THAT’S METAL! post this morning. It’s going to take me about an hour and a half to finish it. So I thought I’d leave a musical interlude for you before I resume toiling away on that other piece (which I may post tomorrow if not today). As the tag says, what follows truly is random fucking music — these are the last seven songs I listened to last night and this morning, presented in alphabetical order by band name. They’re all new, they’re all good.
KevinP tagged me (and about 100 other people) on a Facebook link to two songs by this Ukrainian doom/death band. Both songs are drawn from the band’s forthcoming debut album, Wolf Will Swallow the Sun, which will be released by Naturmacht Productions on February 22 (and can be ordered here). The first track is “Post Mortem” and the second is “Edge”.
These are long songs, in the eight-to-nine minute range. They create an atmosphere that’s both ethereal and crushing, both mystical and tangibly powerful, hypnotic and harrowing. The forlorn, keyboard-enhanced melodies are sweeping and memorable, while the riffs are titanic. The harsh vocals are gargantuan and vividly impassioned; the clean vocals are sombre and sorrowful — and both are impeccably performed by a woman (Natalia Androsova). Truly compelling music…
I pride myself on having a breadth of knowledge that is very wide and very shallow. Sure, I could burrow deeply into particular subjects, and then be able to talk about 2 or 3 things in depth. You know people like that, don’t you? They bore the shit out of you, am I right? Broad and shallow, that’s the way to go (except when it comes to metal, about which I of course have near-encyclopedic knowledge).
For example, I know that statisticians have ways of reaching conclusions about large populations of items or people based on a small sampling of data. They have mathematical formulas for gauging the reliability of the conclusions based on their sample size. And that’s all I know about that. If I knew more, I’d probably bore the shit out of you.
I applied a sampling technique to the two compilations that are the subject of this post, because I didn’t have time to listen to all the songs. I’ve concluded that both comps are hot shit. I have no idea whether the conclusions I reached are valid. Fortunately, you can listen to all the songs before deciding whether to spend your hard-drive space on them — and that’s all you’ll have to spend, because they don’t cost money (unless you want to throw some cash at them out of the goodness of your coal-black hearts).
I would actually like to review an entire album. Or even an entire EP. And I harbor hopes of finishing the rollout of our Most Infectious Songs list for 2014. But on a daily basis I continue to find new songs that I feel compelled to say something about, and so here we have another round-up of such discoveries.
VOICE OF THE SOUL
I first came across Voice of the Soul four and a half years ago via a MISCELLANY excursion. The band’s vocalist/guitarist Kareem Chehayeb was then based in Kuwait, with other band members spread around other locations in the Middle East. When I reviewed their 2011 EP, Into Oblivion, I found that it represented a large leap forward, or more like a stretching of wings — by a rapidly maturing raptor with big claws that could do some damage, and an even more impressive ability to take flight on the wings of some very memorable melodies. Since then, Kareem Chehayeb and guitarist Monish Shringi relocated to Dubai in the UAE, and recorded the band’s debut album, Catacombs.
Guest writer Gorger reviewed the album for us last October and gave it high marks. But despite his praise and my own history with the band, I stupidly didn’t dive into it. Too many other distractions, I suppose. And then yesterday I watched and listened to the band’s new lyric video for a song from the album named “Defiled”, and holy shit.
(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Norway’s Enslaved – now with a full-album stream at the end.)
The phrase “The more things change, the more they stay the same” is almost beyond cliché at this point, yet I feel that it still retains some value… as long as you use it in the right place, and at the right time.
Case in point: It seems to apply to Enslaved more than to most bands I can think of, as few other artists seem to have perfected the almost zen-like balance between progress and preservation as the Norwegian natives.
If you see the band live these days you’re likely to hear material from across the length and breadth of their career, from Frost to Monumension to Axioma… all seamlessly integrated and interwoven together… and it’s truly amazing to be able to hear songs like “Allfǫðr Oðinn” and “Death In The Eyes of Dawn” next to one another in the same setlist, forcing you to realise that no matter how far they’ve come or how much they’ve progressed over the years, Enslaved are still very much the same band they always were at heart, and that there’s no era or element of their sound that doesn’t represent who they are.
Here’s yet another example of why music videos matter. Distance are a metal band from Madrid, Spain, whose debut album I was released by Mighty Music in November 2014. I overlooked the album when it was released, but the video we’re about to premiere has put it on my radar screen, and I hope it will put it on yours, too.
The video is for a song from the album named “Seeker of Truth”. It was made by one of the band’s guitarists, Alfredo Fernández, and by Miguel Mateos from Firefront Pictures. It combines a lot of interesting imagery, including computer animation as well as creatively framed shots of the band’s performance, and it suits the music.
I’ve commented before about the enormous flood of stream premieres, new album announcements, label signings, and other metal news that has been unleashed since the beginning of the year. But yesterday may have reached new heights of ridiculousness in terms of the number of noteworthy things I saw in a single day.
In fact, yesterday brought so damned much cool stuff that I’d either have to write a half-dozen posts or do what I’m doing here instead — just funneling streams, links, artwork, and news blurbs your way with a minimum of commentary. The bands are presented in alphabetical order — all 18 of them. In most cases, you can enlarge the cover art and photos by clicking on the images in this post.
This is a collection of recent music I heard over the last 24 hours that I want to recommend. As the post title suggests, the music is loosely connected by elements of black metal — and I do mean “loosely”, especially in the case of the first song.
I first learned of the Dutch two-man band Urfaust when our long-time supporter Utmu wrote about them in a guest post two years ago, a post I would commend to people who are new to Urfaust. Even today, I’ve still only dabbled in the band’s previous recordings, but enough to recognize that their approach to black metal is highly distinctive.
More than four years have passed since their last album, but Germany’s Ván Records is now poised to release a new 12″ vinyl EP from the band. Entitled Apparitions, it features painted artwork by ThornyThoughts Artwork.