Happy New Year to one and all. I hope you survived whatever you did last night, intact and with only a modicum of blood loss and brain-cell death. I would tell you in detail what I did but I’m not sure you could stand the excitement. Even I was so drained after both putting down the robot uprising and preventing the savagery of the loris horde’s celebration from overflowing their compound, armed with nothing but a few blow darts, that I was asleep by 10:30, stone cold sober and vomit-free.
I’m beginning the new year at NCS the way I ended the old one (here), by assembling a giant batch of the new music I heard in recent days that I thought would be worth your time, plus one older release I came across only recently.
As a trained medical professional (ha!), I’ll warn you that if you did suffer more than a modicum of blood loss or neuronal cell death, you might want to wait another day before exploring what awaits you below. It won’t help your recovery, and it’s no sane person’s idea of a hangover cure. Damned good metal, though.
I’ll also mention that because this post takes the place of my usual Sunday Shades of Black feature, the music is mainly in a blackened vein, though not entirely.
Monday morning, Oakland waterfront
This wraps up our coverage of the second installment of CALIFORNIA DEATHFEST, which took place from October 14-16, 2016, in Oakland, California. As was true of my posts on Day One and Day Two, I haven’t written fulsome reviews of the performances I saw on the final day, though this time I have included a few more impressions than in the earlier installments — but I’ve once again included photos and videos I made using my iPhone.
Yes, this is a half-assed way to document a festival compared to what you will probably see from a few of the more well-healed metal publications out there who employed professional photographers and videographers. However, because “Half-Assed” is in fact my middle name, I’m being true to myself.
(Wil Cifer reviews the new album by Finland’s Hooded Menace.)
By my lights, 2015 hasn’t been a big year for doom. Doom releases have been sparse, and when I say doom I am not talking retro stoner crap, but something that crushes your spirit in a mournful manner. I am pleased to say that the Finnish Doom merchants of Hooded Menace continue to bring it.
They come from the more deathly school of doom but their riffs still weep blood, so the death metal influence doesn’t bother me here. Speaking of weep, most bands would bore you to tears with a twelve-minute opener, but these guys suspend time and keep you in the moment. They are not afraid of picking up the pace without losing their grasp of darkness by going into a stoner rock boogie. Even when indulging in weird breakdowns they maintain their momentum.
(Leperkahn steps forward to shoulder round-up duty — and there have been so many noteworthy new songs over the last few days that he’s stepping forward with a three-part post, to which Austin Weber and your humble editor will also be adding a fourth and maybe a fifth before we’re done today.)
I’ve been meaning to get an album review out at some point (don’t have anything written currently, though I will say that you should go and preorder Horrendous’s upcoming album Anareta immediately if you know what’s good for you), but in the meantime an ungodly amount of new tidbits turned up on the web in the last couple days.
Considering that Islander is slaving away in Anchorage for however long his reptilian overlords command him to, I figure I’d take another stab at covering a few of them – and by a few, I mean fifteen. For your sanity (and perhaps mine, though that might be a lost cause), I’ve divided it up into three posts. We’ll go alphabetically, since there’s way too much stuff for me to want to find any other type of pattern.
One of these days I’ll learn that part-time, half-witted metal bloggers shouldn’t make promises about what they’re going to do. Yesterday I wrote that I would post two round-up’s of new music in an effort to partially catch up on all the new songs that had emerged since the last one I compiled five days earlier, but that obviously didn’t happen.
However, thanks to Austin Weber, we do have two today, with this being the second one. One silver lining to the cloud of my tardiness is that since yesterday I discovered one more item worth recommending to you — and it’s the first one in this post.
For those who haven’t religiously followed my scribbling over the last few years, I will confess that I’m a slavish fan of Sweden’s Mordbrand. It’s not that they have any compromising photos of me, it’s because they’ve been so consistently good at what they do. Out of all the outstanding songs they’ve released, perhaps my favorite track is “That Which Crawls” from their 2014 album Imago — and today they released a video for that very song.
I’ve been distracted today, more than usual, by my fucking day job (the nerve of them expecting me to work for my pay!), but I didn’t want to let this Friday crawl to a close without one more post. I’ve seen and heard a handful of new things today that are worth spreading around, but time being short, I’ll limit this to two excellent items, and perhaps include the rest tomorrow.
The ultra-crushing, doom-dealing blood drinkers in Finland’s Hooded Menace appear to have been working on a follow-up to their gloriously heartless 2012 album Effigies of Evil. The new work will be released as a 12″ EP by Doomentia entitled Labyrinth of Carrion Breeze. The beautiful cover art (and by “beautiful” I mean loaded with fuckin skulls and ghouls) was unveiled on Halloween, and credit goes to Joshua Brettell (Ilsa’s drummer) and Adam Geyer for the creation (Brettell drew, Geyer did the gorgeous coloring). The front panel is above and the gatefold layout can be viewed after the jump (click for bigger views).
In addition to sharing the cover art, Hooded Menace has also made a part of a song called “Chasm of the Wraith” available for streaming. It’s low, slow . . . and actually beautiful, in a dreadful way.
(Artwork by Sandro of Undead Creep.)
Not long after I posted that new Gojira video earlier today, I found three more new videos that I thought were worth sharing with our readers. The bands are: Hooded Menace (Finland), Down (US-NOLA), and Red Eleven (Finland).
I’ve been writing a lot about this Finnish group’s new album, Effigies Of Evil, which is out now on Relapse. Of course, the one thing I haven’t yet written is a review, though I haven’t given up hope that I’ll find time to explain in more detail why I think this album is so titanic.
The latest from Hooded Menace is a music video premiered today by Metal Injection for “Crumbling Insanity”. The video was directed by Justin Oakley for Burial Offerings (Ulver). It intersperses footage of the band performing with images of such things as crucifixion, impalement, murder, and the collapse of churches. The song well-represents the talent of Hooded Menace for blending necrotic melodies, hard-charging death metal riffs, and the suffocating weight of funereal doom into a potent brew. Here’s the video:
I spent almost all last night writing an album review that isn’t even intended for publication on this site. More about that eventually. But the point for now is that I didn’t have time to finish other projects that were intended for appearance here this morning. Rest assured, they’ll be coming. But for now, I just want to quickly throw you two songs. Figuratively speaking, it’s like throwing you a couple of house-sized granite boulders. Catch!
The first is a lyric video for “Evoken Vulgarity”, which is a song from Effigies of Evil, which is a stupendous album from Finland’s Hooded Menace, which was officially released yesterday, which I’m still hell-bent on reviewing . . . some day. If you wanted to explain to someone how a song could be both horrifying and beautiful, this would be a good example to give them. Though beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.
And in my eye, not only is the song beautiful, but so is the album cover. Click on the image above to see an even bigger, more awesome picture of the art.
The second song is “Bails (Of Flesh)”. It’s by a two-man Seattle band named Bell Witch, and it’s from their debut album Longing, which Profound Lore will be releasing on November 13. “Bails (Of Flesh)” is over 20 minutes long. Yesterday, Profound Lore began streaming the first 11+ minutes of the song. I don’t know about you, but if I’m ready to hear a song that’s 11 minutes long, and it’s as great as this one is, I’d be ready for all 20 minutes of it. So although I’m grateful to hear half of it, I’m also pissed I don’t get to hear the rest. Okay, “pissed” might be a little strong. More like hungry for more . . .
because the song is both horrifying and beautiful. Wait a minute, I said that already. So I’ll say this: it’s both soul-sucking and soulful. Also, devastating. And the Bell Witch album cover (by Bryan Proteau) is also cool.
Ex Deo — the “other band” of Kataklysm frontman Mauriozio Iacono — has completed a new album entitled CALIGVLA, the thematic focus of which is Rome under the unhinged rule of Emperor Caligula.
You remember Caligula, don’t you? The emperor who demanded that he be worshipped as a living god, threatened to make his horse a consul (and actually did make him a priest), slaughtered innocent people for amusement, prostituted his sisters to other men (and allegedly engaged in incestuous relations with them), and indulged all manner of sexual perversity, turning his palace into a brothel? The first Roman emperor to be assassinated? The subject of an infamous 1979 movie starring Malcolm McDowell and financed by Penthouse? Yeah, that guy.
The album is scheduled for release by Napalm Records on August 31, and a couple days ago Napalm began streaming the first official video for the album, for a track called “I, Caligvla”. Two things jumped out at me about the song: First, it’s a real headbanger. Second, it includes a lot of bombastic orchestral music in conjunction with the thundering riffage — more so than I remember from Ex Deo’s last release.
As for the video, if you’re getting your hopes up about scenes of bestiality and fisting, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed. About as deviant as it gets are a few swats at a shapely female butt and some gladiatorial combat for the emperor’s amusement. Still, I thought it was worth sharing. And after that . . . I’ll come to two new songs from Finland’s Hooded Menace.
Among the current practitioners of death-laden doom metal, you’ll be hard-pressed to find two more catastrophic practitioners of the art than Finland’s Hooded Menace and Horse Latitudes. In January 2012, Doomentia Records released a 12″ vinyl split by the two bands, with each one contributing a song. Since January, Doomentia has gone through two limited pressings of 500 copies, and both are sold out, though it appears that copies may still be available through the bands’ online shops — Hooded Menace here and Horse Latitudes here.
Fortunately, you don’t have to scrounge around for one of the remaining copies of the vinyl edition to hear the music, because Doomentia has recently made the split available for streaming and digital download on Bandcamp.
As we previously reported, Hooded Menace also have a new album on the way via Relapse Records by the name of Effigies of Evil. It will be released on September 11 and can be pre-ordered in a variety of formats and bundles here. Today, Noisecreep premiered that album’s title track, which I strongly recommend you check out at this location.
But the main purpose of this post is to review and recommend the Hooded Menace / Horse Latitudes split. Though it consists of only two songs, it’s almost 19 minutes of music, because both songs are long-format offerings. Both songs are also lessons in how to make slow, extended, completely gut-crunching music without sending listeners into a coma.