I’m slow out of the blogging gate today, partly because I overindulged during the usual Friday night blow-out with my co-workers and partly because I had trouble deciding what to write about for this round-up. The problem, as usual, wasn’t too few ideas but too many.
Before moving on to the music I ultimately selected, I’ll mention a handful of news items:
First, you might remember that last August we premiered the full stream for a hell of a good debut album by Portland’s Bewitcher, accompanied by these words (among others): “Bewitcher seem to have discovered a hidden vault filled with pure riff gold. Every song on the album is packed with electrifying guitar work, blending thrash, speed metal, Motörhead-style rock, first-wave black metal, and even elements of the classic NWOBHM in a way that’s as infectious as a rampaging new plague virus without a cure.”
The news is that Graven Earth Records, a small cassette-based label out of Colorado, is releasing a limited-run (200 copies) cassette of Bewitcher’s debut on April 28th. Go here to check that out (the rest of their catalogue looks pretty cool as well).
A long time ago, and for many years, I used to regularly write a feature called EYE-CATCHERS in which I tested the hypothesis that cool album art tends to correlate with cool music. There’s no sense in that proposition, if you think about it, yet the experiments I conducted proved the proposition more often than they disproved it.
Like many other older features here, that one fell by the wayside, for reasons I can’t explain. And I’m not really reviving it on a regular basis today. But it came back to me when I listened to the following songs for the first time last night and this morning.
This first song isn’t really entirely in keeping with the original concept behind EYE-CATCHERS, which was to explore music by bands I knew nothing about based solely on the artwork. In the case of Disbelief‘s new song, I had a recommendation from fellow NCS scribbler Grant Skelton, and so I would have checked it out regardless — but as soon as I saw the artwork by Eliran Kantor, that sealed the deal.
The original piece is above, and even in the final cover with the band’s name and album title visible, it’s still largely un-obscured, which proves that someone had their wits about them:
Yeah, I know I did two of these round-ups yesterday, but I’m drowning in new music — but it’s the good kind of drowning, where you see the bright white light at the end of the tunnel and will never figure out in your moment of euphoria before the void takes you that it was just some dude with a flashlight trying to find your corpse in the pond you fell into while wasted.
Where was I? Oh yeah, I’m drowning in good new metal. However, I’m running out of time before I have to tend to my fucking day job, so I’m just going to pick quickly, one each from Columns A, B, C, and D from the genre menu, and cut back on the usual verbosity. Expect another round-up tomorrow.
Here’s a video that appeared today for “Fixated On Devastation”, a track from the new Dying Fetus album, Wrong One To Fuck With. It was filmed by Mitch Massie live at the Voltage Lounge in Philadelphia, PA, on March 17th.
As mentioned in the first installment of this mid-week round-up earlier today, I have enough items I want to spread around, and enough time to do it, that I’ve divided the collection into multiple segments. There might even be a Part 3, but we’ll see how the day goes.
Part 1 was a sequence of songs specifically organized as a playlist because of a certain flow and mood in the music, at least as discerned by my twisted head. This Part 2 has no unifying theme, other than my own interest in everything here. There are a couple of news items at the outset, and then some very good music.
JUST BEFORE DAWN
Just Before Dawn will be a familiar name to regular NCS visitors, but for any newcomers, it has been the studio project of Swedish musician Anders Biazzi and his drumming ally Brynjar Helgetun, with a changing array of vocalists and guitar soloists. It’s one of my favorite current purveyors of old school Swedish death metal. And now JBD will be moving out of the studio in order to destroy a few stages.
Last night as I was making my way through my ever-changing list of new music to check out, I had the good fortune of finding many of the songs you’re about to hear. They were scattered among a larger collection of things I listened to, some of which will come in Part 2 of this post, but it dawned on me that these in particular would make for good companions on an interesting (and sorrowful) musical trip, especially if combined with a few others I had heard recently. I’ve arranged them in a way I think makes some sense, with a flow in the changing sounds and moods that I found appealing.
One other thing about this playlist I found appealing is that it represents (mostly) a course change in the music on the site. In recent days we’ve been heavy into various shades of black and death metal. Most of these songs represent a departure from that — and a fairly dramatic one in the case of the first three tracks below. (Thanks to my friend Miloš for sending me the links through which I found two-thirds of these tracks.)
I should mention that most of the songs in this post are drawn from complete albums or EPs that have recently been released. I wish I had time to write about them more thoroughly, but I’m only going to comment about specific songs and let those guide your decisions about whether to explore the albums in greater depth. The first song comes from Firebird, the new album by the Ukrainian band Helengard, which was released on April 14th.
One good thing about Good Friday was that my workplace had a holiday and so I stayed home, and therefore spent some time Friday night working my ears through a list of new metal I made this week instead of getting hammered with my co-workers, which is what usually happens on Fridays after work. As an additional bonus, I felt clear-headed this morning and ready for more listening (though with my head, “clear” is a relative term).
In an effort to keep this Saturday playlist from becoming too bloated, I decided not to write about some things that I figured most of our visitors have probably already discovered. But just in case you missed them, you can use these links to find the full stream of Nightbringer‘s new album at CVLT Nation (which we reviewed here), the first single from Suffocation‘s new album, a new Oranssi Pazuzu EP (Kevät/Värimyrsky), and a new song from the next Impetuous Ritual album.
As explained in this review, I really, really liked Slægt‘s debut EP, Beautiful and Damned, and I chose one of its electrifying tracks for our list of 2015’s Most Infectious Songs. With an expanded line-up, Slægt have recorded their first album, I Smell Blood, which is slated for release on May 5 by Ván Records. Its name is Domus Mysterium.
This is a holy day for billions of people, a day of fasting and penitence. Here, it’s just another day of discovery. Well, perhaps not just another day, perhaps a day where feelings of resistance, and worship of a different kind, feel more demanding. Anyway, collected here are some new discoveries.
I’m confident that all dedicated fans of metal have favorite labels, whose tastes have proven to connect with our own. My personal list of favorite labels is a long one, due to the wide-ranging nature of my own tastes. But after all this time, I made a new discovery yesterday that struck a chord, a label and distro from Sao Paulo, Brazil, named Hammer of Damnation, whose roots go back more than 20 years under the original name Pure Evil Productions. I don’t know why it took so long for me to make this discovery.
As revealed by its Bandcamp page (here), this label has a very long list of releases associated with its name, but I can tell already that its owner’s tastes intersect strongly with some of my own — and I hope yours as well.
And so the following four songs are from bands whose music will be released by Hammer of Damnation in the near future, or were released quite recently. The sounds are not all the same by any means, but it’s all very, very good stuff.
This collection of new music is perhaps more eclectic and quirky than usual. Certainly, some of the tracks collected here are difficult to categorize, and in some cases almost impossible to describe. As a playlist, I found it appealing in part because it threw me off-balance. As usual, I also tried to include under-the-radar names, as well as (somewhat) better known ones, though I doubt any of these names have reached beyond the crevices of the underground.
This makes the third time I’ve emblazoned our site with that wonderful piece of artwork by Elijah Gwhedhú Tamu at the top of this post, but the first time I’ve been able to share any music from the album it adorns. I’ve been eager to find out what kind of music would be wrapped within this imagery, and now I know that it’s as interesting and as attention-grabbing as the visual art.
At the end of March we premiered a song called “Stillborn Knowledge” by the Ukrainian band White Ward from their debut album Futility Report, a song I called “the most unusual piece of music I’ve heard this year, and one of the most striking”. If I hadn’t written that about “Stillborn Knowledge”, I probably would have written it about the next song from the album that we’re presenting today, which is the title track. I’ll have to come up with new words.
Futility Report will be released by Debemur Morti Productions on May 12th. What I know now, but didn’t know at the time of that earlier premiere, is that the whole album — start to finish — is an eye-opener. One song after another, I’ve caught myself thinking, “How in the world did they think of doing this? And how did they manage to pull it off so damned well???”
Well, as you can see, I actually did find time to follow up yesterday’s round-up with a second one within 24 hours, even though I was loathe to make any predictions about that. As usual, there is metallic variety within this post, but it’s also fair to say that none of it is for the faint of heart.
Spiritual Bloodshed is the vile new second album by Triumvir Foul from Portland, Oregon, who have now condensed their form back to the band’s original two-person line-up (both members have also been participants in such other projects as Ash Borer and Urzeit). The album will be released by Invictus Productions on June 9. It embellishes a discography that previously consisted of the band’s 2014 demo, An Oath of Blood and Fire, and their self-titled debut album from 2015.