(Grant Skelton returns to NCS with this review of the brilliant new album by Frowning.)
Today I have the pleasure of presenting one of my early favorites from 2017, a stream/review of the new album Extinct by Germany’s Frowning. You may know Val Atra Niteris, the “man behind the curtain” of Frowning, as a member of the DSBM band Heimleiden. Also in Val’s repertoire is the blackened doom project Ad Cinerem, whose vocalist Hekjal appears on Extinct.
Frowning’s origin dates back to 2011, in which the band released a series of singles. One of those songs, the evocative instrumental “Day In Black” would later resurface on Frowning’s first full-length album. Three years later, Frowning released said debut album, entitled Funeral Impressions, along with Of Graves, Of Worms, And Epitaphs, a split with Aphonic Threnody. Extinct is Frowning’s second full-length album.
With the exception of the exquisite cover of Chopin’s “Marché Funebré,” Extinct consists of four dismal dirges which gradually progress in length. “Nocturnal Void,” the first track, is just shy of 10 minutes, while the sullen epic “Buried Deep” is over twice that. But what distinguishes Extinct is musicianship and songcraft. Let me explain what I mean.
(Last fall we published a post by NCS contributor Grant Skelton about a then-forthcoming anthology of weird fiction, horror, and speculative fiction named The Book of Blasphemous Words, in which one of Grant’s own stories had been accepted for publication. The publication date of the book is now fast approaching, and we agreed to let Grant provide a reminder, along with some other benefits — including scatterings of metal music.)
Hello readers! I’ve been a contributor here at our beloved metal blog for a little over 2 years. In that time, I’ve done my best to bring you metal-related content that’s relevant, engaging, and thought-provoking. And since you’ve put up with my madness for that time, I’ve got a little treat for you. A way to say thanks for reading all the nonsense in my reviews and Seen & Heard contributions.
(Our Russian contributor Comrade Aleks brings us a new interview with the Canadian band Zaum, whose new album Eidolon was released last fall.)
I already introduced NCS readers to this psychedelic mantra doom from Canada when I Hate Records released Zaum’s debut album Oracles. After two years of tours and recordings (which was also marked by Zaum’s participation in the Himalaya to Mesopotamia split album) the duo of Kyle McDonald (bass, synths, vocals) and Chris Lewis (drums, percussion) return with another full-length work named Eidolon. The band’s main songwriter Kyle shed some light on the result of his musical meditations.
(NCS contributor Grant Skelton prepared four year-end lists that we’ve been posting this week, and this is the last of them. The first one focused on thrash, the second one on death metal, and the third on doom.)
The term “miscellaneous” carries with it certain negative connotations. We tend to think of “miscellany” as something that’s an afterthought, something with a chink in its greatness, if even a small one. But that isn’t the case here.
I created this post for 2 reasons. First, several of the bands in this list defy classification so much that I opted not to include them in a particular “best of” genre list. Second, I found that I didn’t have enough metal from a particular genre to warrant doing a “best of” list specifically for that genre.
It pleases me to say that 4 of the albums on this list are black metal albums. I’ve dabbled in black metal before. But as the year has drawn to a close, I’ve been making a point to listen to more. So if you’re a relative novice to black metal (like me), I believe you’ll find several bands in this list that will be worth your while. So let’s get started.
(NCS contributor Grant Skelton has prepared four year-end lists that we will be posting this week. The first one yesterday focused on thrash, and this one identifies his favorite death metal albums of 2016.)
(Grant Skelton reviews the debut album by the Dutch doom band Treurwilg. and brings us a premiere stream of all the songs.)
Earlier this year, I stumbled across Treurwilg on Bandcamp. In January, they released an album of tracks recorded live at the Little Devil bar in their hometown of Tilburg. The album art intrigued me, so I gave it a listen. Since then, I’ve been chomping at the proverbial bit for a proper studio album. So when Treurwilg unveiled the track “As His Final Light Is Fading” from Departure, their debut release, my expectations were exceeded. Readers may remember that I featured the track in a previous Seen & Heard. There, I described it thusly:
“The track is heavy and slow. Heavy like a stony albatross about your neck. And slow like the way you’d die from drowning. It’s also ambivalent, fluctuating between violence and melancholy. The last minute is absolute savagery that flays the flesh of the inner ear. And I mean all that in the best way possible.”
(Grant Skelton reviews the new album by the UK’s 40 Watt Sun.)
On October 14, 40 Watt Sun birthed an album that has proven difficult for me to review. Part of this is because the music on Wider Than The Sky is just about the complete opposite of what we cover here at No Clean Singing, though surely we’ve covered many bands that exclusively employ clean singing, as an exception to our “rule.”
But there are other reasons why reviewing Wider Than The Sky has been an atypical experience for me. In a recent interview with Sarah Kitteringham for Noisey (here), 40 Watt Sun’s Patrick Walker expressed his distaste with the band’s previous record label promoting them as “doom metal”.
(Grant Skelton steps in for round-up duty today with a trio of features.)
Is it just me, or does every funeral doom band just hang out in cemeteries in the autumn? Their promo photos would lead one to that conclusion. But that’s fine by me, as I enjoy autumn, cemeteries, and funeral doom. And why not partake of all 3 together?
Enter Treurwilg from Tillburg, Netherlands. The band’s name is Dutch for “weeping willow.” Just listen to their new song “As His Final Light Is Fading” and you’ll see just how well that name fits the music.