According to The Font of All Human Knowledge:
Bedřich Smetana was a Czech composer who pioneered the development of a musical style which became closely identified with his country’s aspirations to independent statehood. He is thus widely regarded in his homeland as the father of Czech music. Internationally he is best known for his opera The Bartered Bride; for the symphonic cycle Má vlast (“My Homeland”), which portrays the history, legends and landscape of the composer’s native land; and for his First String Quartet, From My Life.
“My Fatherland” is described as a cycle of six symphonic poems. Interestingly, according to the article quoted above, it was composed after illness had rendered Smetana completely deaf in both ears. The second part of the cycle is entitled “Vltava” and it was finished in late 1874. As the article explains, it was named for, and inspired by, “the river that runs through Prague towards its junction with the Elbe [and] is Smetana’s best-known and most internationally popular orchestral composition”.
And why, you may ask, am I writing about Smetana and “Vltava“? Because the Czech black metal band Cult of Fire have recorded a two-song EP dedicated to the composer and will be releasing it on 7″ vinyl through Iron Bonehead Productions on the 140th anniversary of Smetana’s completion of “Vltava“: December 8, 2014. This is the band’s fourth studio release overall, and thus it’s entitled Čtvrtá Symfonie Ohně (The Fourth Symphony of Fire), with cover art created by David Glomba.
I’ve included in this post reviews of two new short releases that I strongly recommend to lovers of infernal music.
This five-person German black metal band whose members don’t publicize their identities released a 2009 demo (With Burning Tongues), an EP (Fire and Faith) in 2010, and then a full-length album (Consolamentum) later the same year. After the passage of nearly four years, they have now returned with a two-song release named Deathless Light that the World Terror Committee will release on Samhain (October 31).
Of the two songs on this release, both of which are long, the title track will appear on a forthcoming full-length album, while the second — “Garden of Stone” — was recorded exclusively to this release. Both songs are tremendously effective in creating atmospheres that are staggeringly heavy, grim, and often sorrowful — yet they are both charged with energy and passion, and the mainly clear production only magnifies their black power.
(Andy Synn reviews the new album by Sweden’s At the Gates.)
Seriously… how am I supposed to even begin to review this album?
After all, the war between the forces of Hype and Anti-Hype began in earnest pretty much the moment At War With Reality was announced, and the back and forth antagonism has since churned the waters into an almost impenetrable mass of muck-raking and mud-slinging, making any attempt at clarity and objectivity a difficult prospect at best.
Think about it. How many people have you seen/heard claiming, with full confidence, that this is going to be “the best album of the year”, with little more than hope or blind faith as their main source of evidence? Probably quite a few. In fact, probably about as many people as you’ve seen stating, with arrogant superiority, that At The Gates “are shit”, and that this album “…is going to suck”, without even hearing a single note of music.
I mean, let’s face it, a lot of people will have made up their minds about At War With Reality long before they heard anything from it. The fanatics are preconditioned to love it even if it’s awful, and the elitists are predisposed to hate it even if it’s phenomenal. So really there’s not much I can say to either of those groups.
But maybe, just maybe, I can reassure some of you out there who don’t fall into either camp, and who might have their own (fully understandable) doubts about the return of At The Gates after all this time.
(DGR reviews the new album by Anaal Nathrakh.)
It’s probably telling that, lately, Anaal Nathrakh’s discography has become the soundtrack to just about everything that I’ve done. It’s the drive to work soundtrack, and the drive home after the shitshow routine is completed eight hours later. When people portray heavy metal as music consisting of catharsis, Anaal Nathrakh immediately springs to mind as a band whose very reason for existence is to let anger out — both from the musicians in the band and from the fans around them — in one expulsion of energy. A gamma burst from a dying star of utter negativity.
Anaal Nathrakh have built their career out of being as abrasive as humanly possible. As a latecomer to the band, it has been fun to go back through their career and experience the inordinate amount of inhuman noise and utter abstract madness that this duo have unleashed since their formation.
In this post we bring you the premiere of the title track from the forthcoming debut album — All Sights Affixed, Ablaze — by a band from Ontario, Canada, named Idol of Fear. But first, a bit of background information.
The band took their name quote from a quote in Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 movie Det Sjunde Inseglet (The Seventh Seal): “We must make an idol of our fear and that idol we shall call God.” They recorded a three-song demo in 2013, and now plan to release their debut full-length on November 18, 2014.
The album includes 8 tracks, its total length is 44 minutes, it was mixed by Jeff Wardell, and it was mastered by Tore Stjerna at Necromorbus Studio. The cover art is by the viciously talented Mark Riddick.
Okay, enough background. What about the music?
I’d dashing off for my (fucking) day job, so I’ll make this brief: At the Gates have just debuted a video for the song “Death And The Labyrinth” off their forthcoming album At War With Reality. It was directed by Patric Ullaeus , and here’s what vocalist Tompa Lindberg has to say about it:
“We had a very special idea about the kind of approach we wanted for the first video from ‘At War With Reality’. What we needed was someone gifted enough to throw himself artistically into the project full on. The lyrics to the song are very multi-layered and surreal, so we wanted someone to create a fevered dreamworld that went with the melancholic frustration and dramatic desperation that we feel comes across in the song. This is exactly what Patric has created for us. It’s his vision of the music and lyrics, which compliments the track perfectly in my opinion. I couldn’t be happier!”
Without further ado, watch and listen to “Death and the Labyrinth”. Please leave any reactions you may have in the Comments.
Here are a few items that caught my eye over the last 24 hours, partly because of the artwork, but in some cases also because of the accompanying news.
I’m going to put Hate in front of Behemoth for a change.
Thanks to a tip from Andy Synn I saw the announcement from earlier today by Poland’s Hate that they will be releasing a new album named Crusade: Zero on January 15, 2015, via Napalm Records. As usual, the album was recorded and mixed at Hertz Studio with the Wieslawski Brothers.
I took a short break from my fucking day job to scan through the NCS e-mail, and what did I see but an alert that Goatwhore had just premiered an official video for the song “Nocturnal Conjuration of the Accursed”, from their most recent album, Constricting Rage of the Merciless.
So I watched it. And you should, too. Because it’s Goatwhore. And they fuckin’ rock.
(and the lighting and colors in the video are cool)
Here’s the video:
About 10 days ago we had the pleasure of premiering (here) a lyric video for “The Final Outcome”, the title track to a new EP by a Roman band named Black Therapy. Today we’re bringing you the official stream of the entire EP in advance of its official release tomorrow — preceded by this review.
There are four tracks on the EP, three of them original songs and one of them a cover. I already wrote about the title song that it was one of the most satisfying injections of Gothenburg-style melodic death metal I’d heard all year, and that turns out to be true of the second track as well, “Black Crow”.
Both songs are high-voltage gallops, with jolting verse riffs, sweeping choruses, and the kind of rapidly swirling lead guitar melodies that may cause you to form your hands into claws and lift them toward the heavens — while you bang your head like a crazy person.
We’re pretty damned hyped about the new album from Italy’s Hideous Divinity. We’ve already written about the first track from the album that debuted last month (“Sinister and Demented”), and we helped premiere the second track (“The Alonest of the Alone”) — and now we’ve got one more advance song from the album to bring your way. This new one is the title song.
When we interviewed Hideous Divinity guitarist Enrico Schettino about a week ago (here), he emphasized the importance of writing actual songs, even in the arena of brutal death metal: “We care about the song. We care about its structure and hooks and mood.” You don’t have to look any further for proof of that than “Cobra Verde”.
The song is undeniably bludgeoning — explosively so. For most of its length it moves at the speed of a blast front following a megaton detonation, with a sonic power that’s just as destructive, driven by the off-the-hook percussive militarism and high-speed riff flurries.