Mgła ‘s new album Exercises In Futility crept up upon us, like some stealthy night creature. One day, not long ago, there was simply an announcement out of nowhere that it was finished and would be released, and a song appeared. And then this weekend it pounced for all to see (and hear).
The album was to be streamed publicly for the first time on the day of its release, but then some asshole leaked it, and the band then promptly decided on Saturday to upload all of it for streaming on YouTube. The cause may have been deplorable, but the action was like a gift to those of us who relished their first two albums and have been impatient to hear this one.
I encourage you to read the lyrics before listening to the album. Apart from the insights they provide into the music itself, they are as fascinating, as well-formed, and as harrowing in their poetry as what you will hear.
One reason I’m perpetually far behind in my planned reviews is a tendency to unexpectedly and impulsively get caught up and carried away by new music. That’s what happened this afternoon.
I was just about to start writing something I’ve been meaning to write for a long time when I noticed that a friend had sent me a link to a stream of a forthcoming EP entitled Pedicabo Mundi by a band from Providence, Rhode Island, named Sangus. I decided to delay my other project just long enough to listen to the EP’s first song. I mean, that first track was less than three minutes long — how could that hurt?
Man, that first song hit me like a lightning bolt, and with all my nerve endings twitching like mad, I damned well couldn’t turn away, now could I? And so I listened to the rest of the EP, and then listened again, and then began flailing away at this write-up.
These THAT’S METAL! posts have become so irregular that I’ve taken to counting the weeks that separate them in order to quantify the extent of my shame: The last one was five weeks ago. It isn’t that I’m disinterested, it’s that they really do take me a long time to put together, and I’m usually caught up in the throes of metal music during free time on the weekends and often have trouble pulling myself away from listening and writing about that. But here we are again at last, with a large collection of images and videos that I think are metal even though they’re not music.
I’ve written about the corpse flower before in this series, but it’s worth a return visit today. The scientific name of these enormous plants, which have grown to heights of more than 10 feet, is Amorphophallus titanum. I can’t imagine why that name was chosen, can you?
The corpse flower can take eight to 20 years to initially bloom, and they may not bloom again for another seven to 10 years, so it’s kind of a big deal when it happens — and this month it has happened (and is happening) twice in U.S. botanical gardens.
1984 wasn’t as bad a year as George Orwell imagined. The Canadian death/thrash band Slaughter was formed in that year. In 1987 they released their only studio album, Strappado. They released additional new music the next year and then disbanded. As far as I can tell from my researches, they recorded nothing new in the studio until briefly re-forming in 1995-1996 to record a cover of “Dethroned Emperor” for a Celtic Frost tribute album. The first songs in this backward-looking post come from Strappado.
The next song in this post was recorded by the Finnish band Slugathor. The song was recommended by our friend SurgicalBrute. Interestingly, I thought of Slaughter only because the autocorrect feature in my word processor insisted on converting “Slugathor” to “Slaughter”. Sometimes autocorrect is your friend.
Anyway, Slugathor were born in Finland about 15 years after Slaughter, and you can certainly tell the difference that 15 years makes. The song that SurgicalBrute recommended, which is one hell of a song, is “The Smoke” and it comes from the band’s third and final album, Echoes From Beneath (2009).
It’s been an interesting Saturday here in blogville, and by “interesting” I mean “fucked up”. I knew I wouldn’t have much time to write today because of other personal obligations, and what I did write got wiped out, not once but twice, due to loss of power caused by a very blustery day in the area where I live.
The wind blows, branches come down on power lines, and everything dies. Of course, I wasn’t doing a good job saving my work before my computer expired, twice. So this post is very late and it isn’t as fulsome as I intended, but it will have to do. (Thanks to “M” for the tips on these two bands.)
I’m quickly recommending some music from two contrasting black metal bands. Nebula Orionis is the first of these. They are a duo from Tolyatti, Russia — instrumentalist M42 and vocalist/lyricist Hated Being.
(In this post Grant Skelton reviews the new album by Germany’s Ahab.)
I am someone who is relatively new to the Ahab fold. NCS reader blend77 recommended the band to me last year when I was just beginning my descent into the subterranean mausoleum of doom metal lore. Ahab’s 2006 debut The Call Of The Wretched Sea remains their crowning achievement in the minds of many. Nevertheless, I began my exploration of their music with The Giant, the band’s third album released in 2012. From there, I worked my way backward to their 2009 offering The Divinity Of Oceans. I finished with The Call…, which I mentioned above.
Ahab loyalists are aware of the band’s devotion to nautical and marine literature. But if you’re new to Ahab, then you might like to know that their albums are each based on books relating to the ocean. As a writer, this fact immediately enticed me about the band’s music. You see, sometimes metal is like a Z-grade horror film. Sometimes you just want to lay back on your couch, turn on the television, and zone out. You’ve got your trusty go-to food-and-beverage combo while you’re enamored by Transdimensional Transgendered Zombies From Planet Squiddleboxtoastmeat or some other nugget of modern cinematic camp. Plenty of metal bands cater to that particular appetite and I’ve enjoyed my share.
But Ahab needs to be absorbed and mulled over. You certainly can listen to them passively as background noise. But to do so results in an insipid listening experience. That would cause you to miss out on all that Ahab have to offer, particularly on their new album The Boats Of The Glen Carrig. It is an album that must be plunged into headfirst without hesitation. You must follow them on their descent into aquatic oblivion, much like the fate of their namesake. The further down you go, the less you will see. The less you see, the more you will find.
Your humble editor is about to have to devote the rest of the day to his fucking day job, and therefore this will most likely be the last post of this Friday on our putrid site, other than a big review we’ve got coming. And, sad to say, there’s not a lot of new music in this little round-up (until the end) because my time is regrettably short — but there’s a lot of impressive artwork for forthcoming releases that I spotted over the last 24 hours.
This Swedish black/death band’s 2013 debut album Grave Ekstasis drew lots of praise from assorted year-end lists at our site (and elsewhere), and yet I managed to miss it entirely until much later. I won’t make the same mistake twice.
What I saw today (and what you’re looking at above) is the amazing cover art by David Herrerias for the band’s next album, Apollyon. The band revealed the artwork yesterday, and so I assume the recording has been completed, but I haven’t yet seen any info about a release date or method of distribution. I’ll be watching for that….
(KevinP rejoins us with another edition of his short-interview series, and this time he talks with Jacobo Córdova, the man behind one of our favorite bands — Majestic Downfall, whose stunning new album is out now and can be heard at the end of the interview.)
K: So this is the third year in a row with a full-length album worth of material. How have you been able to pull this off?
J: I guess the reason why the band is so active is that I really like writing music and I do it as a very disciplined thing. It is a one-man job where I can decide when to do things, however I want to, without anyone on my back. I do have to say, that this time it was a bit harder than previously, since I incorporated a lot of new sounds into the music without caring or giving importance to where they came from.
K: If you found it harder to write this time around BUT you didn’t worry about what you incorporated, wouldn’t that actually make it easier, being free of restrictions?
J: Yes and no.Yes in the creative department, where as long as it sounded good I would work with it and incorporate it into the songs. No in the aspect of making such different ideas flow together in a smooth and cohesive way. That is what made me struggle more. I hate pasting riffs together without any relation.
(Comrade Aleks returns to our pages with an interview of Olly Pearson, vocalist of the UK band Moss, plus music.)
Moss (Southampton, UK) started their way through the deepest doom sewers by practicing in the disciplines of sludge and drone in 2001. Their efforts brought certain success as the band secured a contract with Rise Above Records and somehow found the keys to the hearts of doomheads outside the UK and Europe.
One of the most significant steps for Moss was the recording of the Horrible Night album in 2013, which showed a new direction that the band had started to follow. It was still ruinous and tortured, darkest doom metal, but it was played in a more traditional way, with more clean vocals and a bit less distorted tunes.
Moss sounds unfriendly and sometimes harsh, but we’re spoiled enough to like it. So I’m happy to introduce you to Olly Pearson, the band’s vocalist.
Are you like me? Are you in the mood to have your head ripped off with a rusty hacksaw and then booted around the room like a filthy soccer ball while the stump of your neck spurts gore in sync with some tasty riffs? Yeah, I thought so. Well, I can fix you right up, because the song we’re about to premiere from Armament will do all of that, and then some.
Actually, if the part about the rusty hacksaw makes you a little queasy, the odds are you’ll bang your head hard enough to “Gas Chamber” that it will come right off on its own.
Armament are a thrash band from India, and this track we’re premiering comes from their debut EP, First Strike, which will be released next month. The term “thrash” covers a lot of territory, but in this instance we’re talking about the kind of vicious, super-charged mayhem that brings to my addled mind Arise-era Sepultura while also bowing to the pantheon of Teutonic thrash gods such as Sodom and Destruction.