Well, for the second time today, I’m scurrying to write about a new song premiere (the first one was from Bölzer) without waiting to prepare a Seen and Heard round-up. This next one is from Sweden’s Ghost, and for now it’s exclusively streaming on the Octane music channel. It was preceded by an interview with one of the Nameless Ghouls, who said: “We’re very proud of it. We’re obviously thrilled to be able to play something new. This is a short, to-the-point little gem right at the jugular.”
And so it is.
Yesterday brought a lot of new song and video premieres, from both “big names” in our blessed world of metal and not-so-big names. Since I have so many new things I want to bring to your attention, I decided to split the round-up into two parts. I’m putting the “big names” in this post.
Poland’s Behemoth premiered a new music video yesterday, and this one is for the title track to their last full-length, The Satanist. The video was directed by Andrzej Dragan and it’s unquestionably well-made and engrossing. It also stars an actress whose wide-eyed and slightly skeletal face is perfect for the video’s very lost protagonist.
As for the interpretation of the video, we have the fairly straight-forward description of the director, who conceived of the video based on the music, and the more occult interpretation of its symbolism by Nergal. First, the words of Mr. Dragan:
In preparing these round-ups of new songs I usually try to include music from more obscure underground bands in addition to names most of us would recognize. But I didn’t have much time yesterday to wade through the interhole in search of new things, and by chance two of the new songs I heard come from some of the bigger names; the third one has been out for a month, but there’s a reason I’m including it now. And by chance, catchy melody is the common theme for these songs (which is a big reason these three bands are so well-known).
It’s been over two years since Finland’s Omnium Gatherum released their last album, Beyond. On August 9 they began a North America tour headlined by fellow Finnish melodeath stalwarts Insomnium — who are mounting the tour without growler/bassist Niilo Sevanen, replacing him for this tour with Mike Bear (Artisan, ex-Prototype) from the U.S. And to coincide with the tour, Omnium Gatherum and Insomnium are releasing a 7″ vinyl split, featuring artwork by Olli-Pekka Lappalainen.
Happy goddamned Sunday to one and all. I spent a lot of time yesterday making my way through new songs and short releases that I had noticed over the last week and found quite a lot to like — so many that I planned four posts about what I found. I’m not sure I’ll succeed in writing all four of them before the new week buries me in other things, but I’ll at least do the first two today — a two-part collection that includes seven new songs from forthcoming albums and one new single. I’ve arranged them in alphabetical order by band name, and the first four are collected here.
The second album by Sweden’s Alfahanne, Blod Eld Alfa, will be released by Dark Essence Records on September 11, and the label has now debuted a song from it named “Skallerormsgift”. It features guest vocals by Kvelertak’s front guy Erlend Hjelvik. (The album also includes guest appearances by Nattfursth (Sorhin), Spellgoth (Horna, Turmion Kätilöt), and Shining’s Niklas Kvarforth).
Part of the popular attraction of Sweden’s Ghost B.C. is their anonymity — and the masks, make-up, and costumes with which the members conceal their features. Fans and music writers have speculated about who the Nameless Ghouls and the band’s frontman really are, but no names have ever been officially revealed. Last September, the current frontman — Papa Emeritus II — appeared without make-up in a mini-documentary about the band. In the clip, he spoke Italian, and, having revealed his face, it became clear that he had also appeared in Ghost’s official video for “Year Zero”. But he didn’t sing, and there was still some lingering doubt about whether we were seeing the real deal. Any doubts have now been erased. Or have they?
During their recent Australian tour, Ghost stopped by the studio of Music Feeds and played three songs live: “Ritual”, “Year Zero”, and their cover of Roky Erickson’s “If You Have Ghosts” (from their 2013 covers EP). Videos of the three song performances surfaced on YouTube yesterday, and Papa Emeritus II appears without make-up — and yes, it’s the same dude who is interviewed in that mini-documentary.
I still don’t know who the guy is, and his position in the band appears to have a shelf life — one day, there will be a Papa Emeritus III. But the dude can sing, and for all Ghost fans, the following videos will be fun to hear and see. I’ve collected them after the jump, followed by that documentary clip. (via Blabbermouth).
But… it appears that even Papa’s face without the skull make-up is still… a mask. See for yourself. Clever Ghost trolling.
Welcome to Part 17 our list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. To see the selections that preceded the two I’m announcing today, click here.
I’ve called this the “Exception to the Rule” edition of this list, because both songs today involve clean singing. At least measured by how often I’ve heard them, they are also two of my favorite songs of the year. Some newcomers who aren’t aware that we make exceptions may be disappointed. But it would be hypocritical of me to ignore these songs.
One One One is a very different album from this band’s startling last release, Blackjazz — more stripped-down, more hook-focused, more “approachable”. As DGR put it in his review for us:
“Whereas the last disc was what four guys who are incredibly accomplished on their chosen instruments could do with absolutely no one stopping them or telling them to tone it down a bit, One One One sounds like what happens when the group chooses to exercise a bit of self-restraint — to see if they can still produce that same effect with a more minimalistic sound…. A lot of One One One brings to mind the old axiom that just because you have the ability to do something, doesn’t mean that you should. Everything feels strategically placed so that the band get the maximum impact for a more minimalist amount of showmanship, and it works. Really, really well.”
To the sound of the monstrance clock
Air is cleansed, assembled flock
Black candles burn all night tonight
As the parish sighs in smoke
Enters lady revealed of cloak
To the haunting sound of the monstrance clock
Come together, together as a one
Come together for Lucifer’s son
The music of “Monstrance Clock” sounds so sweet, but really, it isn’t. It isn’t my favorite track on Ghost’s latest album Infestissumam — that would have to be “Year Zero” — but it’s my second favorite, and so I’m quite happy to report that Ghost have released a new video for it. Directed by Rob Semmer, it sets the magnetic music to scenes of the band’s performances at the El Rey in Los Angeles and Webster Hall in New York City. Watch it next…
Two and a half years ago I wrote a post about “Banjo Metal” that continues to be visited and still leads to the occasional e-mail contact from people interested in the subject (Google “banjo metal” and see what comes up first). That post focused on metal bands who have used the banjo in some of their songs (plus an obligatory item on the magnificent Béla Fleck). Today brought us news of a different type of banjo metal — a banjo cover of a metal song.
Okay, some of you might quarrel with applying the term “metal” to Sweden’s Ghost. Hell, I’ve quarreled with myself about that. But hey, they do sing about Satan!
The cover is of Ghost’s best-known song, “Ritual”, and it’s performed on video by Erling Bronsberg, a skilled banjo player who e-mailed me about the cover last night. He’s based in Örebro, Sweden, and performs with a group called the Black River String Band. He uses “standard sawmill tuning” for this song, which probably means something to banjo players but to me simply sounds cool. His cover is cool, too. He puts a bluegrass spin on the melody without completely losing the song’s familiarity, and the picking is tasty. Check it out:
My NCS comrades and I were busy little beavers over the weekend (scabby, rabid ones, of course), making headway on new reviews. But I also heard a lot of new individual songs that grabbed me, so I’ll be dropping those morsels into round-up posts today in between a slew of album reviews — starting with this one.
When Ghost B.C. released their new album, Infestissumam, in Japan, they included a bonus track. It’s a cover of “Waiting For the Night” by Depeche Mode, from their 1990 album Violator. Late last week Ghost released the song to YouTube for those of us who like the band but can’t get our paws on the Japanese version of the album. The original song doesn’t mention Belial, Behemoth, Beelzebub, Asmodeus, Satanas, or Lucifer, but it does include some other Ghost-ly lyrics: “I’m waiting for the night to fall / I know that it will save us all / When everything’s dark…”
Even though there’s not any typically overt Satan worship in the words, Ghost do put their own spooky stamp (and some beefy low-end riffs) on the music. Cool song (and an exception to our Rule, of course). Check it next.
When I intend to listen to an album with the thought of reviewing it, I usually avoid reading other reviews. I want to form my own impressions based solely on the music and pick my own words to describe it; this may explain why my reviews leave so much to be desired. However, I read several reviews of Ghost’s new album Infestissumam before hearing it, because I wasn’t thinking about reviewing it for this site. After all, the music is barely metal, if it’s metal at all. Also, it has actual singing in it.
The reviews I read weren’t in mainstream publications or on mainstream sites, though Infestissimum has been reviewed in plenty of those places. I was reading reviews on metal blogs. I couldn’t help but notice that even most of the positive reviews had a defensive or apologetic tone, a kind of “they’re good for what they do, as long as you’re not expecting X, Y, or Z”. And the negative reviews panned the album for not having enough X, Y, or Z — whatever the reviewer was demanding but couldn’t find in the music, such as heaviness or gripping riffs.
Some of the negative reviews came from people who seemed to really like Ghost’s first album, Opus Eponymous. This later puzzled me after I listened to Infestissimum, because it’s not like the band made some kind of radical course change without putting on the turn signal. I don’t think it’s different enough from the first album to turn praise into a pan.
I began to have a sneaking suspicion that Ghost had become the victim of a combination of two things that don’t go over very well here in the underground: success and gimmickry.