This is another one of those new-music round-ups that I would normally label “Seen and Heard”, but it happens that everything I’ve collected here is so heavy and dark that “Shades of Black” seemed more fitting, even though the music isn’t exclusively black metal. Perhaps needless to say, I’m really high on everything collected here.
UNHOLY ANARCHY RECORDS
Yesterday, Maryland-based Unholy Anarchy Records released a stunning digital compilation of songs via Bandcamp. It’s a free download, but I’m sure that throwing a few bucks their way would be very much appreciated — and this thing is so damned good that a contribution would also be well-deserved.
In early February we introduced you (here) to a new Greek “supergroup” named Katavasia, through KevinP’s interview with the band’s guitarist Astrous (Aenaon) and the world premiere of a song from the band’s debut album, Sacrilegious Testament. Today, Katavasia have unveiled another new song from the album, entitled “Virgin Blood”, and we’re sharing that one with you, too.
For those who missed that earlier post, the band’s line-up also includes vocalist Necroabyssious (Varathron), guitarist/bassist Achilleas C (Varathron/Aenaon), drummer Foivos (Agnes Vein), and keyboardist Haris (Hail Spirit Noir/Transcending Bizarre?). In addition, the album includes guest appearances by Sakis of Rotting Christ, and Sotiris Vayenas of Septicflesh – who provides a guitar solo on “Virgin Blood”.
Faith No More, in their early days, made a huge impact in the evolution of my musical tastes. The news that they were reuniting and recording a new album (Sol Invictus) made me about as giddy with excitement as an old fart like me can get. I’m still excited, especially after hearing the second song from that new album, which is entitled “Superhero”.
The new song premiered at Marvel.com, of all places — which I think is pretty cool in and of itself — along with an interview of Bill Gould. The band has also revealed the cover art for Sol Invictus, which features an image from Ossian Brown, a member of Coil and Cyclobe, who also published the book Haunted Air” in 2010.
As for the song, I’m really digging “Superhero”, perhaps most especially because of the dark, mesmerizing, piano-led melody that eventually takes it over. Listen below:
Tuomas Saukkonen (Wolfheart)
It’s the same old story. Metal is such an over-boiling cauldron of creativity that if you have to wait a few days to go exploring for new things, you find yourself up to your neck in hot water. Or at least that’s what happened to me yesterday.
Having failed to compile a round-up of new music since last Sunday, I felt overwhelmed when confronting how much I wanted to write about today. I had to make some hard choices about what to recommend, and even then I had to stifle my usual verbosity — time is a harsh mistress, and not in a good way. So, with a regrettable (to me) minimum of introductory comments, here’s a selection of what lit me up over the last 24 hours, presented in the order in which I saw and heard them. I’ll have a few more new items to share with you on Saturday.
Earlier this month Spinefarm Records re-released Winterborn, the fantastic album by Wolfheart that we praised to the skies (repeatedly) when it was first self-released by the band in 2013. The re-issue comes with two bonus tracks (“Isolation” and “Into the Wild”). Two days ago Wolfheart premiered a music video for the album’s first track, “The Hunt”, which shows scenes from the recording of the track. It’s a wonderful song (it was on our list of 2013′s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs), and any excuse to hear it again is welcome.
I’ve been writing about Vancouver’s Archspire since December 2010, which is when I came across their All Shall Align EP. This morning I went back to that first post about the band and that EP, because even from the beginning, certain aspects of their sound really stood out — and one is particularly relevant in the context of the brand new video we’re about to show you:
“This is a truly eye-popping convulsion of tech-death, with schizophrenic rhythms, astounding technical riffing and drumwork, and tiny threads of reappearing melody that stitch the songs together into cohesive wholes. And I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a death-metal vocalist bark out the lyrics faster than Archspire’s, particularly on that second song; he’s like the vocal equivalent of those insane guitarists.”
I’ve seen Oli Rae Aleron’s vocal style referred to as “shotgun vocals”. “Death metal rap” would work, too. In this just-released video, he does a vocal playthrough of the Archspire song “Fathom Infinite Depth” from the band’s 2014 album The Lucid Collective. And it’s a lyric video. Which means you need to be prepared to read fast — I mean, really fast.
As I announced a few days ago, we’ve launched a new series at NCS in which we’re inviting readers to submit pieces for publication with the goal of putting the spotlight on lesser known bands from the towns, cities, and regions you folks call home — whether in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world. For details about this project, go HERE.
Yesterday we posted the inaugural piece in this series by Grant Skelton (who had the idea for the series in the first place). Hot on the heels of that, I received a submission by Seattle resident Eric Bauer (who has his own blog — “High Defamation” — here). As it happens, Eric’s piece puts the spotlight on a Seattle band that’s one of my favorites — and they’re also a group of very cool people on a personal level.
But I thought, in keeping with Grant’s original idea, that a “Local Focus” piece on Seattle ought to include a few more bands, and so with Eric’s permission I’m adding three to this post following his own feature.
(In a continuation of his recently inaugurated NCS series, KevinP runs down his list of the best releases from the month that’s about to end.)
Last month I had what seemed to be a reasonable amount of music to wade through, 24 releases. This month, I was at 40, so naturally there were some tough cuts I had to make. Nice problem to have, no complaints really. Like last month (and every month), please feel free to share your comments, thoughts, and favorite releases in the Comments section below.
5. Devouring Star – Through Lung & Heart
Very little is known about this Finnish band, who came onto the scene in 2014 with a two-song demo, and they now release their full-length album through Daemon Worship Productions. While you will see them listed as a black metal band, it’s quite another story.
I’m way behind on plans to collect new discoveries for our usual round-ups, but I thought I would leave just this one new disorienting thing for your listening and viewing pleasure before calling it quits for this Wednesday.
The architect of the video you’ll find at the end of this post is Nick Vasallo, the lead vocalist and songwriter for the excellent technical death metal band Oblivion – who also happens to be assistant professor in the Music Department at Cal State Polytechnic University (Pomona) and a composer of contemporary classical music whose works have been performed internationally.
For this piece, which is entitled “Inches From Freedom”, Dr. Vasallo conducted an experiment, using the talents of five performers scattered around the globe. Here’s how he describes what you’re about to see and hear:
(As described in yesterday’s last post (here), we’re beginning a new series conceived by Grant Skelton in which we’ve invited guest writers (and maybe some of the regulars around here) to put the spotlight on bands from their own local and regional communities who don’t get the kind of media recognition they deserve. In this post, Grant kicks off the series with a local focus on bands from his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee – and a couple from elsewhere in Tennessee.)
When people think of my hometown of Memphis, they don’t think about metal. Memphis is definitely known for its musical history, most recently exemplified by “Uptown Funk,” thanks to Bruno Mars. If you asked someone to name a metal band from Memphis, then they might fire back with, “Uhhh…Saliva?” Or perhaps they would call attention to Skillet. I can’t knock Skillet, but they’re not the focus of this article. They sell records, and definitely don’t need my meandering and frivolous opinions to sell any more.
Metal prides itself on being “underground.” In that regard, metal is often like panning for gold. Every now and then, you find a real gem that nobody seems to have discovered except for you. That’s the purpose of websites like this one. Below are a few gems I recently found. The first four are local metal bands from Memphis, Tennessee. The final two are an exception to that rule, but are still from my state. I hope the readers enjoy this installment of a local metal showcase.
In mid-December of last year the Obama Administration announced an array of changes in U.S. governmental policies affecting relationships with Cuba (summarized here), including the re-establishment of diplomatic relations, easing of travel restrictions, and permitting certain kinds of import-export trade. Putting aside all the political hot air about the decision that has been vented in the U.S. since then, there’s no doubt it will be the start of dramatic changes inside Cuba itself.
Those changes were inevitable, it was just a question of when. Some observers are adamant that the effects will be negative, some are equally adamant they will be positive. They will probably be both good and bad.