It’s safe to say that black metal is reaching more listeners than ever before. It’s also safe to say that what people understand by the term “black metal” is more varied than it has ever been — to the point that it’s no longer a terribly useful genre term. It has morphed into a signpost that marks the entrance to a sprawling city with many diverse communities (whose inhabitants don’t always want to have anything to do with their neighbors). So when I say that Hostis Universi Generis is one of the best, most intense, and most powerful black metal albums of the year, that requires some further explanation — perhaps especially for people who couldn’t get into this band’s debut album.
The animating philosophies behind A.M.S.G.’s music don’t appear to have changed significantly since 2013’s Anti-Cosmic Tyranny. The band still worship death. They still view the cosmos in its current incarnation as a failed experiment and yearn for its end, including all life within it; the new album’s title translates roughly to “the enemy of all”. And as their name (Ad Majorem Satanae Gloriam) signifies, they still offer their devotion to the greater glory of Satan.
But although the band’s inspirations and objectives may have remained fundamentally the same, the music has changed in important ways. Hostis Universi Generis is not simply a step ahead; it’s more like a giant leap forward. Even for those listeners who recoiled at Anti-Cosmic Tyranny, it’s time to put those memories aside and explore this new album with fresh ears.
Earlier this month we reviewed an impressive new split by two experienced French bands from the black metal underground — Nirnaeth and Azziard. The split, which includes one exclusive song from each band, will be released on August 12 on 7″ vinyl by Kaotoxin Records — the first 7″ ever released by the label. Now we’re following that review with the premiere of a video for Nirnaeth’s powerful track, along with an interview of the band’s guitarist Mutill.
Nirnaeth, who took their name from the word for “Tears” in the elvish language of Sindarin from the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, began their existence roughly 15 years ago. Prior to this split, they released two albums, Thrown Athwart the Darkness in 2006 and Splendour of the Abyss in 2009. Their contribution to the split is a track called “Nihil in Me”, and it was was recorded during the pre-production process for a forthcoming third album.
Last month we had the pleasure of premiering a song called “Cult of Shining Stars” from the first new album by Norway’s In the Woods… in 17 years. Entitled Pure, the return of this groundbreaking band will be released by Debemur Morti Productions in September. Today we present another new song — “Blue Oceans Rise (Like A War)” — and this time the music comes in the form of a video.
For those who may have missed our previous premiere, I’ll repeat just a small part of this band’s story. The original members of the group first played together in a death metal band called Green Carnation, but transitioned to In the Woods… after the departure of main composer and guitarist Tchort in order to take his place in Emperor. After the release of Strange In Stereo in 1999 (which followed 1997’s remarkable Omnio), Tchort returned to Green Carnation, and In the Woods… came to an end, with some of the members rejoining Green Carnation and others moving on to other personal projects.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the two bands who participated in the split release you’re about to hear — Bent Sea and To Dust — their collective rosters include current and former members of such groups as Napalm Death, Aborted, Soilwork, Abigail Williams, Black Dahlia Murder, Phobia, and Megadeth. And if that doesn’t seize your attention, then consider this: The two EPs that are combined in this album-length split under the title Ascend / Descend will explode your head — and who doesn’t crave a massive head explosion?
If you’re somehow still wavering, consider the assessment of Cattle Decapitation’s Travis Ryan:
“Bent Sea come out firing on all cylinders with their kick ass blend of modern grind and discordant musings with hints of later-era Gorguts, leaving To Dust to finish you off with a scathing hardcore attack of HM-2 influenced grind!”
Ascend / Descend will be released by Give Praise Records on July 22, and one solitary day before its release we’re bringing you a full stream of this dynamic grindcore detonation. Let’s take these two groups and their contributions to the split one at a time.
Like the grime clinging to those gnarled, grasping hands on the cover of the debut album Failure, Subside by Australia’s Départe, dark emotions hold all of us in their grip from time to time, and sometimes perpetually. In the band’s words, those “feelings of guilt, loss, anxiety, fear, and defeat… are intimate, almost claustrophobic, clinging to us like dirt – we hold them close, swallow them, hide them away like scars for fear of the shame that comes from the exposure of weakness”. Départe plumb the depths of those emotions on Failure, Subside, yet as you’re about to discover, they do not drown in them.
The album won’t be released until October 14 of this year, but to begin introducing you to it, we are working with Season of Mist to bring you the premiere of a song called “Vessel“. At the risk of giving away something surprising and significant about the song, we introduce it through this comment by vocalist/guitarist Sam Dishington:
You’re about to hear the new EP of a monstrous Japanese band named Urobilinemia, which will be released by Gore House Productions on July 22. It’s a bit outside our usual wheelhouse(s). In fact, as I began listening to it, I wondered whether it was too far outside. And then I lost my mind.
When most people say they lost their mind, they just mean they temporarily misplaced it, or it escaped briefly but will come home again soon, happily wagging its tail. In my case, I fear that Urobilinemia have pulverised, pureed, and poisoned the contents of my skull so ruthlessly that reassembly may be impossible. How do you reassemble something that has been reduced to a quivering mass of goo?
Greetings, sickos. I see that the stench of rotten, festering death has led you to our humble morgue. That fetid scent in your nostrils, which has drawn you here like an alluring perfume, emanates from the foul reanimated corpse of Carnal Tomb, and more precisely from a song named “Beneath the Coffins” that it’s our pleasure to unveil for you today. It comes from this German band’s debut album Rotten Remains, which will be spread before you like a maggot-infested banquet on July 25 by Spain’s Memento Mori label.
This full-length offering follow’s the band’s 2014 demo, Ascend, and last year’s Inevitable Decomposition EP. It includes nine tracks of monstrous death metal horror delivered with a ravenous spirit and skull-splitting power, remaining true to ancient traditions while reviving them with vibrant, unholy energy. And how about that delicious cover art?
How does Thy Catafalque follow up an album as remarkable as 2015’s Sgùrr, especially only one year later? That’s the first question that popped into my head when I learned the surprising news just yesterday that Season of Mist would be releasing a new Thy Catafalque album later this year; the name of the album is Meta, and it’s now set for release on September 16, 2016.
I don’t yet have a complete answer to the question I asked myself, but I do have a partial one because I’ve now heard the first advance track from Meta — and you can too. Today we bring you the premiere of “Mezolit“.
The existence of Meta really did come as a shock. There’s been very little in the way of hints about its existence, or at least none that reached my greedy ears. But when I wondered how Thy Catafalque’s brilliant alter ego Tamás Kátai would choose to follow the music on Sgùrr, it wasn’t because I thought he had reached a pinnacle on the album that he could not surpass, or necessarily a reflection of doubt that he could produce an album of great quality so soon after the release of the last one. It was more a question born of sheer curiosity about what direction he would choose to follow.
Beast of Light, the new album by Philadelphia’s Surgeon, is remarkable. It blazes with creative exuberance, in both its compositional approach and in the high-caliber performances of the band, delivering one intense (and intensely interesting) listening experience after another. The dynamic music also masterfully crosses genre boundaries, combining elements of black metal, death metal, and progressive metal in scintillating and powerful ways.
Two songs from the album have already debuted in advance of its August 30 release by Anthropic Records, and today we’re privileged to bring you a third — a song appropriately called “Burn“.
On July 29, the multi-national band Punished will release their debut EP, The Absent, and today we bring you the premiere of the EP’s title track.
Though the name Punished may be a new one to you, the band’s line-up includes former Ulcerate vocalist Ben Read as well as Serocs guitarist Antonio Freyre, plus guitarist/bassist Aldo Mora and drummer Ignacio Rizo. In addition, the EP includes guest vocals by Josh Smith (Serocs), Antti Boman (Demilich), Phil Tougas (Chthe’ilist/First Fragment), and our very own NCS comrade Austin Weber (whose vocal turn appears near the end of the song you’re about to hear).