I’m woefully far behind in compiling round-ups of new music. This week at our site has been loaded with premieres, and unlike some places that just say, “Here’s something. Listen to it”, I feel compelled to write about the music, even if few people care what I think other than (perhaps) the bands themselves.
Anyway, as welcome as they are, the premieres take time and tend to cut into other activities. But although I have a very long list of things I’d like to throw your way, I’m going to include only three items in this post. Two of them are teasers of new albums from bands I’ve been avidly following for a long time. The third is a new discovery and concerns the reissue of previously released albums. All three of the bands are based in Ukraine.
More than three years have passed since the release of Schwarzpfad, the last studio album by Ukraine’s Kroda, which remains one of my all-time favorite pagan/black metal albums. The year 2012 brought us a live album (Live Under Hexenhammer: Heil Ragnarok!) and in 2013 Kroda released a compilation (Varulven) that included several departures in style, including two cover songs. And now, finally, Kroda is preparing for the release of a new full-length under the title GinnungaGap-GinnungaGaldr-GinnungaKaos.
Happy fucking Monday. Here’s a quartet of recommended songs that I discovered over the last 24 hours, which I hope will prove a good way to help you start your new week.
As previously reported in these pages, Tasmania’s Psycroptic and Prosthetic Records have joined forces to bring about the release of the band’s new self-titled album worldwide next spring (EVP Recordings will be handling the release in Australia, New Zealand, and Japan). To begin paving the way for the album release, tomorrow (November 4) Prosthetic will release a digital single from the new album, a song named “Echoes To Come”. I’ve gotten to hear the song in advance, and I’m really liking it.
Hi. This is Day 12 of me being away from home and working like an indentured servant on my fucking day-and-night job. I know there’s been tremendous curiosity about what I am doing. I’m not at liberty to disclose where I am, but I thought I’d share a few details about the nature of the project.
As some of you have guessed, it does indeed involve super-science. My colleagues and I are testing methods for grafting additional penises onto parts of the male anatomy where penises are not usually found. There’s a gamers convention in town, so we’ve had no trouble finding willing test subjects.
We’ve had more trouble finding willing penis donors, so we’ve just been taking them without consent. Because there’s a gamers convention in town, we’ve had no trouble finding people who aren’t actually using their penises, so no harm done. That’s all I can tell you at the moment.
As you know, the demands of the project have almost entirely prevented me from listening to metal or writing about it for almost two weeks. However, the work schedule for today and tomorrow isn’t quite as awful as it has been, so I have a brief window of opportunity to come up for air and see what I’ve been missing. Here’s a small selection of items I found this morning.
Welcome to Part 16 of our list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs. In each installment, I’ve been posting at least two songs that made the cut. 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 four I’m announcing today, click here.
Yes, today I’m adding four songs to the list instead of two or three. These four songs have a few things in common (apart from the fact that I’m hooked on them), which is why I’m grouping them together here: All four are forms of black metal; all four are somewhat more challenging listens than the majority of the songs on the list; and all four deliver memorable melodies in songs of often searing power.
I wrote this in my review of this Ukrainian band’s 2012 album: “Wisdom of Centuries tests the limits of genre classification. It combines elements of black metal, progressive metal, ambient music, doom, and to a lesser degree folk metal, producing something that is bleak, beautiful, and often mystical. Distancing themselves from the black metal label, Khors characterize the music as ‘heathen dark metal’. Perhaps that’s as good a shorthand description as any . . . .”
Here’s a smattering of powerful music and eye-catching album art I heard and saw yesterday that helped make a wet, gray, cold Seattle day more tolerable — despite the fact that all of the music displays the results of blackening. But I still want my summer back.
VASSAFOR AND PAROXSIHZEM
I was snooping around the Dark Descent web site looking for news about a release I’ve been expecting. While I was there I spied the two album covers you see at the top of the post. I knew little about the bands, but I thought the album covers were very cool. If you click on them, you’ll see larger versions.
The one on the left is for an album entitled Elegy of the Archeonaut, which collects selected tracks by an Auckland, NZ band named Vassafor. The album will be released at the end of this month and includes music from Vassafor’s early releases as well as unreleased versions of songs and covers. Coincidentally, one of those covers is Vassafor’s version of Beherit’s “Beast of Damnation”, which was also covered by Beyond Mortal Dreams in their excellent EP that I reviewed earlier this week. The killer album cover was created by Aaron Aziel, who’s also from Auckland.
I learned that Vassafor released an album earlier this year named Obsidian Codex, and I found two tracks from it on Soundcloud, both of which can be downloaded for free HERE. More about those after the jump.
The art on the right is for a forthcoming, self-titled debut album by a Toronto blackened death metal band named Paroxsihzem. It’s also scheduled for release by Dark Descent at the end of the month.
I haven’t yet found who created the artwork. The artwork was created by the band’s vocalist, Krag. Intrigued by the artwork, I found a Paroxsihzem track called “Nausea” for streaming on Bandcamp.
Khors are a Ukrainian band on the verge of a breakthrough. Though their star seems to have been rising steadily over the course of four albums beginning with The Flame of Eternity’s Decline in 2005, their signing with Candlelight Records in May for release of the band’s fifth full-length album will likely lead to significantly greater exposure, especially because that fifth album is so damned good.
Wisdom of Centuries tests the limits of genre classification. It combines elements of black metal, progressive metal, ambient music, doom, and to a lesser degree folk metal, producing something that is bleak, beautiful, and often mystical. Distancing themselves from the black metal label, Khors characterize the music as “heathen dark metal”. Perhaps that’s as good a shorthand description as any, since “dark metal” is so often used to describe music that doesn’t neatly fit anywhere else.
To the extent one seeks guidance from lyrics in helping to understand the inspiration behind the music, the quest will be difficult because this is the first album in which all the band’s vocals are in their native tongue (though the song titles are translated). However, Khors have explained that Wisdom of Centuries “is dedicated to the 95th anniversary of Kholodny Yar Republic, to its founders and defenders.” My own feeble research indicates that this refers to a rural partisan uprising against the Bolsheviks and the Russian Red Army occupying the Ukraine, which ultimately failed — and then the Iron Curtain descended
Fittingly then, the emotionally resonant, atmospheric music on the album creates moods of longing, loss, and anguish. But calling it “depressive” would go much too far, because the songs are as melodically rich and vibrant as they are melancholy and wistful. Wisdom of Centuries has the feel of a journey through memory, an exploration of a tragic but heroic past that lives on in spirit.