I’ve returned from Olympia where I spent three days and four nights immersed in the wonders of Migration Fest. While I still need to write a recap of the festival’s final day to accompany two previously posted recaps, I’ve also started exploring developments in the world of metal that I missed while I was out and about in Olympia. Unsurprisingly, I missed a lot. I’ve selected a mere quintet of items to recommend in this round-up — four of them from old favorites of our site and one by a very striking newcomer.
To say that we’ve been eagerly anticipating the new album from Norway’s Khonsu would be an understatement. Earlier this year, our man Andy Synn named it as one of his five most anticipated albums of this year, largely on the strength of the band’s 2012 debut album Anomalia, which he called “without doubt one of the strongest and most creative debut albums in living metal memory”. And now, finally, we have more details about the album along with a video trailer for it.
(DGR volunteered for round-up duty to start our week, and brings us new music from seven bands plus new-album news from an eighth.)
We have been trying our damndest to keep up with the flow of music that has been spilling forth from the gaping maw of heavy metal recently, but it has become clear that this is a war that must be fought on multiple fronts. Thus, I find myself once again deploying to the Seen and Heard front lines with a veritable smorgasbord of new music, videos, and album announcements for you to all enjoy.
I had a lot of fun figuring out where to position each band this time, as I have a very symmetrical idea of how things in this Seen and Heard should be approached — resulting in tremendously heavy music spilling into some infectiously light stuff and then returning right back to the abyss from which it came. You may need to settle in for this one; there’s a lot of fantastic stuff packed within this round-up, and it just goes to show that 2016 is proving to be a hell of a year for metal.
I’ve had quite a fruitful morning of listening to new music, and among the fruits I tasted were the following three premieres and one teaser, which I’ve grouped together as examples of razor-edged black metal that will jolt you wide awake.
That album art at the top of this post is so damned cool. It grabbed my attention immediately and led me to explore what it signified. And what it signifies is the coming of a new album (the third one) by Norway’s Posthum. Entitled The Black Northern Ritual, it’s scheduled for both CD and vinyl release by Indie Recordings on October 13.
Having been seduced by the album cover, I discovered that Norway’s NRK P3 Pyro (the internet radio station of the state-owned Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation) has begun streaming an advance track from the album named “To the Pit”. It’s loaded with riffs and rhythms that both rip and rock, and at its core is a sombre melody that will get its hooks in you. Beautiful guitar solo in this song, too.
In the spring of this year our man DGR heaped praise on the new album Exilium by Spain’s Noctem, describing it as “the best work the band have done so far” — “an album forged by experts at their craft who knew exactly how to kick out music of fury, fire, and war”.
Now, Noctem have signed with Prosthetic Records for the release of a special edition of Exilium in America, Canada, and Australia. The new edition of the album comes with two bonus tracks, and today we bring you the premiere of one of them — a song named “Divine Xib’ab’a”.
It’s a short slashing assault of ripping riffs, militaristic percussion, and utterly bestial growls — the kind of high-speed conflagration that burns through much of the album as a whole, and a good tease for the blazing intensity that Exilium holds in store if you’re not already familiar with it.
photo credit: MUSIFOTO
(A couple months ago our man DGR gave a very positive review of Exilium, the new album by Spain’s Noctem, and today we bring you his e-mail interview of the band’s frontman, Beleth.)
Although most people reading this will already have some inkling of who you are, I figured I would get a quick introduction out of the way for people who may not do well with the rosters of most of the bands they listen to. So let’s get a quick identification as to who you are, what role you play within the band, and how long you’ve been part of Noctem?
Beleth: Ok, I’m Beleth, vocalist of Noctem, founding member along with Exo and obviously I’ve been working in the band from the beginning in 2001. Although 2007 is what we call the real beginning of Noctem.
It seems like some bands will unintentionally release trilogies in terms of sound in their discographies, where they usually play with the same ideas for about three albums and then the fourth is a sudden shift or some crazy new idea for them. However, Noctem seem to have shifted toward a much more menacing, faster, and sleeker sound compared to the more bludgeoning works of something like Divinity — all over the span of three albums. Do you see this trend continuing?
Beleth: I think Noctem these past 6 years have followed an extreme line, that has served to find a more personal sound. Our style has not changed, but it is now more extreme and more mature than our beginnings with Divinity.
You guys have also pulled heavily from mythology for inspiration in your works. Much of Exilium has references to it, and Oblivion played with mythology and history from Guatemala. How does Noctem find its ideas? Do you often find yourselves scouring the web for old texts to read and occasionally finding yourself going, “You know, there’s a concept for a disc here”?
Beleth: Actually yes, I spend hours and hours looking for the proper Thematic for each album, choosing topics and writing lyrics. It’s not easy, we never wanted to talk about well-worn topics such as anti-Christianism, Countess Bathory, etc, you know what I’m talking about. These are typical themes that many bands are always dealing with.
(In this post DGR reviews the new album by Spain’s Noctem.)
Spain’s Noctem are one of those bands that, in my mind, have improved with each album throughout their career. Every disc has been better than the last, and the band — often feeling especially scrappy due to a staunch refusal to give any ground on their aesthetics and lyrical themes — have always found ways to contort their music to fit the blisteringly fast, fire-hot riffing of their blackened death metal. Noctem have had a penchant for sounding like a huge band over the years and, through whatever means of sorcery, have always managed to incorporate high production values in their music and videos. As their career has progressed, their preference for the epic and grandiose has increased, moving them into murkier waters with regard to genre but always keeping things exciting.
Divinity was my starting point for the band. I found the disc to be a massive slab of death metal, almost like a granite rock falling upon the listener, going from zero to one hundred in the blink of an eye and then staying there for the whole album. Definitely good for a super-quick hit, but a full listen could sometimes get arduous and you really had to be in the mood for it. The followup, Oblivion, rectified a lot of that whilst also making the move from song to song more dynamic. It was on the strength of that disc that I found myself excited for the March release of Exilium.
Even though a bit of time has passed since the disc was released, the delay in writing about it is largely because we’ve really been savoring the album over at NCS. It is, once again, a marked improvement over the group’s previous albums that also sees quite a few smaller experiments paying huge dividends for the full listening experience.
As previously advised, I’m on the road again in the grasp of my fucking day job, but I did carve out some time to make the rounds in search of new things and, as usual, found quite a lot to like. Because time is short, I’ll divide what I found into two posts, this being the first.
HOUR OF PENANCE
Almost exactly two years have passed since Italy’s Hour of Penance delivered their last album, Sedition, which was excellent. Today the band announced details about the release of their next album: The name is Regicide, and it will be coming our way via the Prosthetic label on May 13 in North America (May 12 in the UK and EU, May 16 in Germany).
From a previous Facebook post by the band, I know that the album art was created by the same Gyula Havancsák (Hjules Illustration and Design), whose work for Arkona’s new album we featured here recently. He also created the covers for HoP’s Sedition and Paradogma.
Noctem are from Valencia, Spain. Their 2011 album Oblivion was a favorite of this site (Andy Synn reviewed it here and named it to one of his lists of 2011′s top albums). Noctem are now ramping up for the release of a new album entitled Exilium, which will be available in North America on March 3. Last week we featured an advance track from the album named “Eidolon”, which has been streaming on SoundCloud, and now the band have also provided a worm-ridden lyric video for the song.
I’ve been spinning this song a lot since first hearing it. To quote what I wrote about it last week, it explodes with percussive ferocity, bestial roars, and winding riffs. Equal parts thunderous death metal and ripping melodic black metal, the music has an air of monstrous grandeur counterbalanced by a dark, swirling guitar melody — and it includes a brief, surprising acoustic interlude. It’s a riveting listen, and the track is such a grabber that I’ve already added it as a candidate for our list of 2014’s “Most Infectious Songs”.
In the words of frontman/songwriter Beleth, “‘Eidolon’ talks about the ancient Sumerian demons Thamuz and Ereshkigal, which is the queen of the underworld; destruction of the earth and proclamation of a self-destructive and anti-Christian ideology”. Gaze upon the lyric video next and let the music infest your head.
Collected in this round-up are a few new videos and songs I came across over the last 24 hours that I thought were worth your time. This is the first of a two-part “Seen and Heard”. More recommended new things will appear later today.
I’m a big fan of Finland’s Stam1na, but despite the fact that I really do enjoy their music, I always finding myself writing about them because of their videos (previous posts collected here). And I write about their videos because they’re so damned funny. And here I am again, writing about yet another Stam1na video — but not for the usual reasons.
This one premiered yesterday (credit to TheMadIsraeli for tipping me to it) and it’s for a song named “Panzerfaust” from their new album SLK (due for release on Feb 7). Man, did I get a surprise. First, the song hits like a blowtorch opened all the way up — a jolting piece of jabbing, hammering, thrashing mayhem with a swirling finger-tapped guitar melody and a stomping martial finish. When choral voices and militaristic chants aren’t being heard, Antti Hyyrynen’s vehement voice is raking like sharpened claws.
Here are things I saw and heard today.
I saw a temperature gauge at high noon here in The Emerald City: 63°F. And the sun is shining. All of you poor fuckers who are broiling like burgers on a charcoal grill everywhere east of the Pacific Coast can hate me now, and along about January you can remind me that I made this obnoxious crack at your expense.
I saw that awesomely phantasmagoric piece of artwork up above. It’s by Ken Sarafin of Sarafin Concepts. It’s for a death metal project called Bunch, of which Sarafin seems to be a member — one of many. Here’s this description from the Bunch FB page: “Bunch is a band formed from 28 different members, each playing one note a song. Occasionally during recording, a member might repeat a note several times. If that happens, a break with cookies is required afterwards. Bunch likes cookies.”
There are a bunch of Bunch demo tracks at this location. I picked one to stream after the jump.