Majalis is one of those “after work” side-projects whose debut release leaves such a powerful impression that one can only hope, fervently, that it continues. It began years ago as a songwriting collaboration between two of In Mourning’s guitarists, Tobias Netzell (ex-October Tide) and Björn Pettersson. Eventually, they enlisted vocalist/bassist Daniel Jansson and drummer Jonas Martinsson and recorded Cathodic Black, an EP released earlier this month by Pulverised Records. And together, they’ve created something wonderful.
If you’re familiar with In Mourning, you know that Netzell and Pettersson are experienced in dropping the weight of oceans upon listeners while interweaving melodies that have a way of sticking fast in the memory. They do something similar in the three long songs that make up Cathodic Black, but have stepped outside the realm of dark melodic death metal to do it. This time they’ve moved into the territories of post rock, sludge, and doom.
The weight of the mid-paced music comes via massive, fuzzed-out, doom-drenched riffs and a drum-and-bass duo that can really bring the heavy lumber when they put their minds to it. But the music is also a study in contrasts, and the power and intensity of the passages when Majalis starts to crush is magnified by the softer measures that often precede them — the beautifully somber piano piece that begins the EP, the isolated guitar strumming and echoing percussive sounds within “Rusting Sun”, the contemplative guitar duet in the middle of “Tooth and Bone”, and other similar moments when the band dial back the intensity.
(In this post DGR reviews the new album by Sweden’s October Tide, which is out now via Pulverised Records and available on Bandcamp.)
October Tide can’t seem to catch a break, can they? Even after pulling off the miraculous feat of resurrecting the band and releasing a pretty good comeback disc, they still wind up losing two members in vocalist Tobias Netzell and bassist Pierre Stam. Granted, those two eventually went on to release In Mourning’s The Weight Of Oceans (which was my overall album of the year last year), so all was not lost, but it was a little bit worrying that we might never hear October Tide’s brand of funeral doom again. However, the band pulled off wrangling in two new musicians and now October Tide have returned again – never to be discouraged by their issues with lineup shifts – to release Tunnel Of No Light, a much darker, more melancholic take than its predecessor A Thin Shell.
The moodiness that this album conveys seeps its way into everything, including the artwork – which is probably one of the best representations of the listening experiences of both the group’s most recent discs. Whereas A Thin Shell seemed to find a frail beauty in its depression, Tunnel Of No Light is what happens when more hopeful things that may have been hinted at previously don’t work out. It is a disc so bludgeoning and overbearing in its sadness and gloom that by the end of the album the listener almost feels like the husk portrayed on its cover.
Thanks to tips from DGR, I learned about two attention-grabbing developments this morning — new details about the forthcoming albums by Sweden’s Hypocrisy and October Tide plus new songs from each of them. And then on my very own I found a new single from the next album by Norway’s Vreid. It is a good day to be alive.
Here’s how I progressed toward the new Hypocrisy song: First, I saw the cover art for the new album, End of Disclosure, which was created by Wes Benscoter (Slayer, Kreator, Nile, Vader, and more). I found it pleasing. Kind of a Zen demon. Also, many skulls. Second, I read, and was intrigued by, this quote by Hyporcisy’s main man Peter Tägtgren in the Nuclear Blast write-up on the album:
“This time I wanted to go back to basic, felt like we lost it for the last couple of albums , it’s straight to the point, it’s more Hypocrisy than ever, the fast, the heavy, the epic.. Enjoy!”
And then I listened to an edited version of the album’s title track, “End of Disclosure” — which you are about to hear, too, and which is available for free download.