(Austin Weber provides the following introduction to our premiere of a song by Germany’s Under the Pledge of Secrecy.)
I was made aware of Under The Pledge Of Secrecy quite recently, and at just the right time it seems, as this talented German band have a new album, Black Hole Mass Evolution, coming very soon. I heard their last album, The Convoluted Line, described to me as sounding like Between The Buried And Me stripped down to their early primal aggressive style, and while I hear that, I would say they are also equal parts early Dillinger Escape Plan and early The Red Chord. Their Facebook and Soundcloud describes them as experimental grind metal, and those three intertwined certainly encompass the feel and flow of their music.
This is high-octane musical rabies, a convoluted yet precise wrecking ball of grind and death metal — shot through with a strong melodic counterbalance. Their music has always eclectically drawn from a wide swathe of sounds, though this new album embraces a greater death metal focus — a trait inherent in the rampaging track “The One Eyed God Prophecy” that we are premiering today.
The first few seconds bring the triumphant evil of Behemoth to mind, until the song ignites into a white-hot fury of thunderous roars, a conveyor-belt approach of frenzied riff after frenzied riff, bustling bouncy bass lines that exhibit a keen presence in the mix, and lightning-fast drumming interlocking with the guitars in pure rhythmic bliss. A multitude of grind bursts ratchet the intensity ever higher, feeding the frenzy and fire of the song’s scorching death metal primacy. After the pummeling, the track fades out into a section that sounds like a horror film score, an effective slip back into the abyss.
From the Vastland began life as the one-man project of an Iranian multi-instrumentalist known as Sina, following the end of his involvement in the prolific Iranian black metal band Sorg Innkallelse. From the Vastland’s debut album, Darkness vs Light, The Perpetual Battle, was released in 2011. That was followed by Kamarikan in 2013 (which we reviewed here), and then by a striking live performance that same year at Oslo’s Inferno Festival (reviewed here), where Sina was joined onstage by a such luminaries as Thor Anders “Destruchtor” Myhren (Myrkskog, Zyklon, Morbid Angel) on second guitar, André “Tjalve” Kvebek (Pantheon I, Den Saakaldte, Horizon Ablaze) on bass, and Vegard “Vyl” Larsen (Keep Of Kalessin) on drums.
From the Vastland has now recorded a third album — entitled Temple of Daevas – and it’s scheduled for release by Non Serviam Records on October 6, 2014. For the new album Sina again composed all the songs, performed lead vocals, and laid down the guitar tracks. He was joined in the recording by Vyl on drums, Tjalve on bass, and by Terje Olsen (Chton, Khonsu) as a guest vocalist for backing vocals.
Earlier this month we had the pleasure of premiering (here) a stream of one of the new album tracks, “Wrath of Aeshma”, and today we bring you another one: “Kamak”.
On September 30, Sacrilege Records will release the fifth album by Austria’s Woodtemple, Forgotten Pride, and in advance of the release we’re giving you the chance to hear the album’s title track.
The song is both melancholy and inspiring, both meditative and surging. It includes folk elements, such as acoustic strumming and the sound of hand drums; a mix of Aramath’s cracked, harsh rasp and the soaring beauty of clean choral voices; a shining keyboard melody that moves in drifting waves throughout the song and jagged riffs that give the music roots in the earth to accompany the almost ethereal quality of the keyboard refrain.
The music is an atmospheric approach to pagan metal that preserves a sense of ancient conflicts and bloodied swords, with the dead and dying illuminated in the flickering glow of bonfires at night, yet inspires spiritual visions as well.
I had a strong intuition that I would like the song we’re about to premiere before I ever heard it. Because the band’s name is Piss Vortex. And if that weren’t enough temptation (which it definitely was), the song’s name is “Of Bodily Waste and Desire”. (I was tempted to use yellow font for this entire post instead of using it selectively, but I decided to just let the music piss all over you instead.)
Piss Vortex are a newish band from Copenhagen, Denmark, who have recorded a self-titled debut album — because with a band name like Piss Vortex, you really don’t need to spend time trying to think up a more eye-catching name for your album. The debut consists of 14 tracks lasting 23 minutes and includes such other memorable song titles as “Voice of the Worthless”, “Beaten Womb”, “Organic Shrapnel”, “Shit Life”, and “Filth”. But “Of Bodily Waste and Desire” remains my favorite title.
You may be getting the idea that Piss Vortex give no fucks, and in some ways they don’t — for example, they sure don’t seem too concerned about conforming to specific genre constraints. “Of Bodily Waste and Desire” is eerie, discordant, explosive, and hammering — and difficult to classify.
The artwork by Alejandro Leon for the new second album by SoCal’s Madrost is pleasing to the eye — colorful, alien, and gruesome. It’s an attractive kind of tease for the music, engendering curiosity in part because it doesn’t provide many clues about what the music will sound like. I mean, other than it’s not likely to be a Katy Perry clone.
Although guessing games are fun, we’re going to remove the guesswork by providing a glimpse Into the Aquatic Sector through our premiere of the new album’s sixth track, “Subterranean Nightmare”. And before you listen, you’d best buckle your seatbelt and strap on your crash helmet, because you’re in for a careening and destructive ride down the highway to hell.
Madrost fuel their engines with a full tank of high-octane thrash riffs and then jam the pedal to the floor. The drummer more than keeps pace, with a frenzied but controlled performance, and at the end of this barreling ride you’ll be treated to a very cool harmonized guitar solo (and the band are generous enough to let the bass share the spotlight, too). The song begins and ends with a hair-raising shriek, and in between, their howling frontman keeps the mayhem at full throttle with words you can actually understand.
In a nutshell, this is heavy-grooved, high-energy death/thrash that will get its hooks in you pretty damned quick.
When I used to think of current Finnish death metal (not the melodic kind), I tended to think of crushing death/doom, or perhaps a few famous death/grind deviants. Mine eyes have now been opened wider.
Obscure Burial are a relatively young band from Turku, Finland, whose first demo was released in 2012 by Ireland’s Invictus Productions. Invictus, which has dependably refined tastes in filthy extreme music, is about to follow up that first abomination with a second one. The new demo is named Epiphany, and it’s due for release on September 15.
Anyone who shies away from raw, flesh-rending, berserker blackened death metal with a heavy emphasis on speed can stop reading right here, because that’s what you’ll get in spades from Epiphany – and from the song we’re about to premiere: “Night Queen”.
On the other hand, if you get a flooding adrenaline rush from ripping riffs, weapons-grade drumwork, and vocals that sound like a demon pantheon, you’re about to get a satisfying fix for that addiction. In fact, you may not need another fix for days or weeks, because this is potent, uncut, and borderline toxic stuff.
Not very long ago I mused about the benefits and risks of albums that incorporate a wide variety of musical styles. When successful, such albums can surprise and stand out from the sea of records whose creators choose to focus on basically the same kind of sound (save for the occasional instrumental intro or interlude). When a band’s reach exceeds their grasp, however, the result can be a jumble that lacks cohesiveness and becomes jarring instead of fascinating.
As Light Dies from Spain are an example of a band whose diverse musical interests and ambitions have pushed them into the realms of the avant garde – which to be honest is a nebulous phrase that often gets thrown around when we can’t think of a better description, one that encompasses both creatively exuberant, genre-jumping successes and the kind of jarring jumbles referred to above. The latest album by As Light Dies (their third) signals right in its title that normal metal conventions will not apply to what lies within its nine tracks and 35 minutes: The Love Album – Volume I.
And if that’s not plain enough, consider that the list of musical influences they identify ranges from Wim Mertens to David Bowie to Phillip Glass to Dead Can Dance, Borknagar, Ved Buens Ende, Mordbid Angel, and Gorguts.
While you try to wrap your mind around that, let me say a few words about “Nemesis”, the song we’re about to premiere from TLA – Vol. I.
Today we bring you the premiere of a song by Nightbringer from their fourth album Ego Dominus Tuus (I am your Lord).
The song can be understood and appreciated on many levels. Standing alone, as you will hear, it’s tremendously powerful. Yet it’s also the final track (and the longest) on a 10-track album that’s more than 70 minutes in length, the culmination of an intense listening experience that’s not merely powerful but overpowering. It brings to a dramatic close a work whose spiritual intent would be manifest even if you knew nothing of the lyrics: It is prayer, it is worship, it is exaltation. It’s a declaration of belief, a proclamation of fealty, a passionate expression of yearning, and an offering to Lucifer on a pyre of flames.
Ego Dominus Tuus sounds like a majestic black metal opera. It’s grandiose and bombastic, with an orchestral quality created not only by the soul-stirring riffs but also by the effective use of keyboards, and there is a narrative quality in the movement of the songs that bespeaks a story being told (even though the lyrics don’t form a continuous narrative). The enormously expressive vocals sometimes sound like exchanges between different characters, each of them driven by fervent and usually fierce emotions — sometimes to the point of madness — as they are buffeted by the tumult of life-shaking occurrences. The music storms and subsides, as if turning points have been reached as the story moves toward its inevitable climax.
As you listen you can imagine the unfolding of transformative events, from the stately processional of an infernal coronation, to the agonies of torture, to the conflagration of war. At the end, you feel drained and breathless.
There’s nothing wrong with albums that provide a steady diet of essentially the same kind of music from start to finish, as long as the music suits your tastes and is well-written and well-executed. Yet when an album takes the listener on a journey through dramatically changing musical landscapes, it has the potential to stand out in a way that more monochromatic albums can’t. Such ventures are always risky — doing more than one thing well is a talent that’s in short supply, and even when the skills are available, the results can often display a jarring lack of cohesiveness. In short, great ambitions and complete success don’t always go hand in hand, when a band’s reach exceeds its grasp.
The Swedish duo Sons of Crom obviously set their sights high when they created their debut album Riddle of Steel. They crafted the music around a narrative concept, following the torturous path of a lone warrior through a journey that is both physical and psychological — exposing him to savagery and bloodbath in the physical world while leading him ultimately to reflections about the true nature of his greatest enemy — which may be himself. But the band didn’t limit this concept to the lyrical narrative of the songs — they also attempted to tell the story in the music. And to do that, they threw genre constraints to the wind.
You know you’re in for a head-trip when you see tags on the album’s Bandcamp page that include such names as Bathory, Arcturus, Enslaved, and Falkenbach, and when you see descriptions of the music that include such phrases as “epic heavy metal”, “thrashing brutality”, “classical moods”, “folky interludes”, and “soaring melodies”. But it turns out that none of this is overstated or inaccurate. You don’t have to take our word for it, because after the jump you can hear the album for yourself in all its epic, multi-textured extravagance.
In the spring of this year our man DGR heaped praise on the new album Exilium by Spain’s Noctem, describing it as “the best work the band have done so far” — “an album forged by experts at their craft who knew exactly how to kick out music of fury, fire, and war”.
Now, Noctem have signed with Prosthetic Records for the release of a special edition of Exilium in America, Canada, and Australia. The new edition of the album comes with two bonus tracks, and today we bring you the premiere of one of them — a song named “Divine Xib’ab’a”.
It’s a short slashing assault of ripping riffs, militaristic percussion, and utterly bestial growls — the kind of high-speed conflagration that burns through much of the album as a whole, and a good tease for the blazing intensity that Exilium holds in store if you’re not already familiar with it.