With three weeks having passed since the last time I was able to compile a Shades of Black post, I’ve accumulated quite a large collection of songs, EPs, and albums that I’d like to recommend. I’ve ambitiously given this post a “Part 1” moniker, signifying the goal of following this with at least one more collection during the coming week. Of course, this ignores the lesson I’ve tried repeatedly to teach myself, i.e., that part-time metal bloggers should never disclose what they think they are going to do, given the high failure rate. Hope springs eternal, I guess.
I’m starting with music from two Icelandic black metal bands. There seem to be an endless supply of them, and they seem to be never less than good, and often are great. I’m also beginning to suspect that all the line-ups are drawn from the same group of about five people.
Endalok is a new Icelandic band whose debut demo Englaryk will be released on CD by Hellthrasher Productions and on cassette and vinyl by Signal Rex. The identity of the member(s) hasn’t been disclosed, but the quality of the first preview track suggests the presence of a person or people who have some experience, as well as impressive talent.
I’ve developed a habit through years of experience, much like Pavlov’s dog was trained to salivate at the sound of the bell: When I learn that Sweden’s Mordbrand have released new music, I drop what I’m doing and hungrily scamper over to the music player to listen. This happened yesterday when, without advance warning, a new Mordbrand EP popped up on Bandcamp. The name of it is In Nighted Waters.
This new EP is actually the Mordbrand half of a split LP with California’s Gravehill, which will be released in the U.S. by Doomentia and is now available in Sweden via Carnal Records. It includes four original songs and a cover of “Compost Christ” by Bluuurgh… (rearranged by Mordbrand and including guest vocals by Mike Abominator (Necronizer, ex-Gravehill).
(DGR prepared this review of the new album by the Swedish/U.S. band Ovaryrot.)
This disc sounds like a goddamned nightmare.
Every once in a while we’ll come across a release that makes the hair fly back from minute one and then leaves us glued to the wall for the entirety of its run. Not that it is usually a mark of quality, but sometimes from the first moment an album will start out sounding like someone taking a saw to sheet metal and somebody else hammering on a trash can behind it. Sometimes the music is so abrasive that you kind of can’t help but be entranced by it; judgments of quality usually come after the second or third listen, which is just about the time when you parse out exactly whatever the fuck that previous forty-some-odd minutes of whirlwind was.
Ovaryrot’s Suicide Ideation — which came out on August 14th — is one of those albums. Not that we would ever expect a band who go by the moniker of Ovaryrot to play nice; we’ve learned our lessons there before.
(Andy Synn reviews the debut EP of the UK band Dawn Ray’d, which is out now on Bandcamp.)
As our contributor Wil Cifer wrote recently, “Crust seems to be a hot buzzword when it comes to underground metal these days”, to the extent I’m even starting to see it edge out the near-ubiquitous over-use of the terms “blackened” and “Black Metal” in certain places (but don’t you worry, I have a whole other column percolating in my head about THAT particular topic).
It seems to be one of those terms designed to bestow instant underground-cred on a band, whether or not it’s actually reflected in any aspects of their music, and, as such, I’ve seen it crudely co-opted multiple times by bands and writers who don’t seem to know (or care) what it means, they just want the artificial credibility and cultural capital it bestows.
I’m saying all this as a preamble because I want to make it clear right away that – even though their unwavering anti-NSBM, anti-fascist stance and sharp, punk-edged sound certainly gives them more claim to the term than some others I’ve seen – gritty Black Metal three-piece Dawn Ray’d don’t seem to care one way or the other whether you call them “Crust” or not.
They’re just happy to let the music speak for itself.
(DGR reviews the debut EP by Scour.)
There is no doubt that the reason the Scour EP and its mid-July release landed on most metal fans’ radar due to the presence of one Phil Anselmo trying his hand at extreme metal. Phil has proven himself to be a polarizing figure this year via one very particular scandal, and it is still not clear whether he thought he was being funny making a racist joke or if he is a fucking gigantic moron.
He seemed penitent enough when the inevitable backlash occurred, pretty much making it clear that if he was proving to be an obstacle to any of the bands he was in, he was willing to leave. But it makes you wonder if these events had any sort of effect on the lead-up to the Scour EP’s mid-July release.
In a few hours I’ll be flying along I-5 south, down to Olympia for Migration Fest. Okay, who am I kidding. It’s I-5 southbound from Seattle during daylight, which means I’ll be crawling like a slug. Anyway, before beginning that slimy crawl I thought I would package together some lamentably brief reviews for four recent EPs that have brought me much pleasure in recent weeks. They all deserve more elaborate and articulate praise, but fortunately they will all speak well for themselves through the complete music streams now available on Bandcamp.
To begin this quartet of treats, we have a California band named Impure Consecration. They’ve been in the news recently because of a new 7″ EP named Succumb To Impurity Fire released (here) by Blood Harvest Records at the end of July. However, in January of this year they also released a previous EP entitled Consumed By the Venomous Curse, and that’s the one that first drew me to the band.
Time is limited and always fleeting, while new metal seems to rush at us in a boundless flood. Within that limitless tide, some of the most remarkable gems are short releases by obscure new projects, and this is one of them.
The name of this new death metal project is Voidspawn, a duo consisting of multi-instrumentalist M. and vocalist A. Their debut EP is named Pyrrhic and it was released on July 31. Pyrrhic includes three songs, and they are stunningly good.
On Friday I mentioned that I would be out in the woods over the weekend and unable to post a Shades of Black installment on Sunday. I said I would get it ready for Saturday instead. That obviously didn’t happen. Rather than wait until next Sunday, I’ve decided to do it now — and to double-down by making this a multi-part post. I’m not saying how many other parts there will be or when the rest of them will appear this week — because I’m desperately trying to remember the lesson that part-time, half-witted metal bloggers should never reveal plans that may fall apart immediately.
In this first part, I’m focusing on six individual songs and videos that have appeared recently. I’ll get to some EPs and full album releases in the next part. But first, a trailer for a highly anticipated new album…
This first item is kind of outside the bounds of what Shades of Black usually focuses on, but I got so excited about it that I didn’t want to delay spreading the word until our next Seen and Heard round-up. It’s a video trailer for the new eleventh album by the mighty Neurosis. It’s name is Fires Within Fires and it will be released on September 23 by Neurot Recordings.
There are only two songs on this new EP by the two-man Italian band Voids of Vomit. Only two songs… but they are so good that my only criticism of what V.o.V. have done is that they didn’t do enough. Why couldn’t they have made three songs? Or four? Or six?
I am speaking selfishly, of course. Suppressing my own selfishness, I should simply be grateful for these two tracks… and indeed I am. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have, because after another few paragraphs you will find our premiere of the two songs on Ritval Expiation.
Daedalvs are a four-man death metal band from Charlotte, North Carolina, whose debut EP Apotheosis is being released today via Bandcamp, and we’re helping spread the word by providing a full stream of the EP, and a few thoughts about the music.
What Daedalvs dish out is a mammoth, monstrous, skull-fracturing beatdown, a rumbling, crushing avalanche of booming jackhammering bass, clobbering atonal riffs, and thundering drums, overlaid with an effusion of harsh roars and wild, acid-spraying shrieks. But while the music’s brute-force physical impact is certainly one of its main calling cards, it’s not the only one.