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 . . . .”
Early this morning, October 29, 2012, the moon was full. In certain older civilizations in the Northern Hemisphere, this full moon in what we know as October was a celebrated event. In olde England, it marked the beginning of winter and was known in the Anglo-Saxon tongue as “winterfylleth” — winter full moon (and yes, now you know where that wonderful English black metal band got their name).
Native American tribes in what is now the northern and eastern United States called it the Full Hunter’s Moon. It was a time when the leaves were falling from the trees and the deer were fattened for the winter — a good, well-lit time to hunt and store up meat for the bleak months ahead.
It has also been known as the Blood Moon, which of course makes it metal. This year it may really be a blood moon in the eastern U.S. With the moon in its full phase, high tides on Earth will rise about 20 percent higher than normal, and NASA experts say this will significantly amplify the storm surge that Hurricane Sandy will bring to the eastern part of the country, exacerbating what are already expected to be life-threatening floods that this super-storm will inflict on our shores.
To our brothers and sisters in metal who live in the vast swath of territory likely to be impacted by Sandy, and who probably can’t read this because their power is already out, be careful and stay safe. Looks like today will be ugly.
So, not so much in celebration of the Blood Moon as in commemoration of it and in respect for the power of nature, I’ve rounded up new music and a video, from these bands: Occultation, Guttural Secrete, and Chrome Division. Of course, there’s some Winterfylleth at the end, too.
Put this album on your radar screen: The Giants of Auld by Cnoc An Tursa.
As announced today, this Scottish band from Falkirk are the latest signing by Candlelight Records. Their debut album was recorded at Foel Studios in Wales by noted producer Chris Fielding, who has also produced albums by Winterfylleth and Primordial, among many others.
After doing a bit of reading about the band and listening to all of their music I could find this morning, Winterfylleth and Primordial were the two bands I thought of even before learning about Chris Fielding’s participation in the Cnoc An Tursa recording. Both of those bands have drawn on the heritage of their respective nations (England and Ireland) in crafting music that draws on both black metal and folk traditions. Cnoc An Tursa seem to be following a similar path with respect to their native Scotland, though their music differs from those other two collectives.
Cnoc An Tursa have wrapped their music around old Scottish poetry. One song I found, for example, bears the title “Winter, A Dirge”, which also happens to be the name of a poem by Robert Burns. A second song is named “Bannockburn”, which is the title of yet another Burns poem, in addition to being the site of one of the decisive battles in the first war of Scottish independence from England in 1314. A third, “Hail Land of My Fathers”, is the name of a poem written in the 1800′s by John Stuart Blackie. And a fourth, “Ettrick Forest In November”, was the name of a poem by Sir Walter Scott.
From what I can hear in the YouTube clips I found, the songs do appear to take the poems’ verses for their lyrics.
Here are a randomly noticed assortment of art, news, new music, and a video I saw and heard yesterday that I thought were well worth sharing.
Vastum are a Bay Area band who began under the name Corpus as a side project of vocalist Dan Butler and guitarist Kyle House from the amazing Acephalix, whose titanic 2012 album Deathless Master I reviewed here. They were eventually joined by guitarist Leila Abdul-Rauf (Hammers of Misfortune, ex-Saros), bass-player Luca Indrio from Acephalix, and drummer Adam Perry. Their five-song debut, Carnal Law, which was originally released as a demo, made quite the splash in 2011, delivering a filthy, crusty, punk-influenced take on death metal.
Yesterday I happened to see the artwork at the top of this post. It’s one of the latest creations by the uber-talented Paolo Girardi, whose work I follow closely (and have featured at NCS many times before). When he posted it on his Facebook page, it came with this notation: “VASTUM – PATRICIDAL LUST (2012)”.
I’ve seen no other news that Vastum are planning on a new release this year, but that’s sure what Paolo Girardi’s artwork and explanatory note suggest. I really hope that’s what it means. If you’re unfamiliar with Vastum, Carnal Law can be streamed and purchased at Bandcamp (here), and you might want to give it a listen after the jump.
This is a collection of nuggets that I sifted from the ever-flowing stream of the internet yesterday. I’m going to start with some head-smashing new music and end with some head-warping music. With any luck, by the time we’re finished, you’ll have lost your head altogether.
I like this band’s name. Any band with “smasher” in their name is already past second base and headed for third. “Hivesmasher” also reminds me of the time when my brother and I thought it would be a good idea to smash a hive of wasps after we thought they were all dead, because we had burned their nest first. We were young and stupid, and very soon we were also in agony.
Hivesmasher, the band, is also about as pissed off and poisonous as that nest of undead wasps. They’re from Massachusetts and they have a debut album named Gutter Choir that’s due on October 23 on the Black Market Activities label. Yesterday I heard two tracks from the album. Lambgoat premiered one of them — “En Route To Meat Land” — which I think is what those wasps were singing when they delivered some hellfire retribution to my brother and me.
It reminds me of Pig Destroyer. It’s berserk, but really skillfully played. You should definitely go HERE to check it out.
(Our NCS comrade Andy Synn has recently been making me green with envy by attending summer metal festivals on the other side of the Atlantic, which for me might as well be on the other side of the solar system. However, gentleman and scholar that he is, he didn’t just go and have a ridiculously good time. He also sent back this review of his jaunt to the UK’s BLOODSTOCK festival on August 10-12, 2012. We’re dividing it into two parts, with Part 2 coming up tomorrow [now posted here].)
Ah, Bloodstock. Always an interesting festival, caught between its early power/trad-metal roots and its steady expansion into a more rounded, extreme/non-mainstream metal festival. This year’s line-up was pretty enticing, but circumstances and finances looked set to prevent my attendance. But fate and serendipity stepped in (thank you Sahil!) and on Friday 10th of August I found myself once more pulling into the festival’s parking lot, with a song in my heart and a shiny guest wristband on my arm.
Carefully timing my arrival to coincide with that of Moonsorrow, I wasn’t disappointed, the band utterly on fire, despite the occasionally washed out sound. It helps that the set-list comprised some of my favourite Moonsorrow tracks, I’ll admit that, but the performance itself was brilliant either way. The only downside is that, due to the length of their material, it always seems like too few songs
Sepultura put on a damn good show, their new drummer certainly doing his best to live up to Igor Cavalera’s enviable legacy, while the triptych of Derrick, Paulo, and Andreas showed again and again why they stuck with the name – they just do it all better. The new material sounded great live, while the quartet give the old stuff, including a brace of Beneath The Remains-era material, new life and vigour. Props as well for the welcome, but unexpected, guest slot from Tim “Ripper” Owens on “Territory”.
Dio Disciples were, in many ways, something of a curiosity for the festival. Essentially Dio’s band with a different singer (and a few guests), it’s hard to judge them on merit alone, as their appearance was due to far more than just an ability to play the songs well. This was a tribute to one of the genre’s legendary figures, and while it would be churlish to say it was simply a well-received cover set (the downright dedication to this band’s slot bordered on the fanatical), one can’t help but be moved by this show of respect, and by being reminded of the sheer quality of the material on display.
Here we have yet another random assortment of things I saw and heard today that I thought merited some attention. And the bands are: Winterfylleth (UK), Goat the Head (Norway), One Inch Giant (Sweden), and Mass Hypnosis (Croatia).
I saw that another new song from Winterfylleth’s next album, The Threnody of Triumph, has started streaming. As previously reported here, the album is due for release on September 25 via Candlelight. The new song is “The Svart Raven”, and it’s streaming at Stereogum. I won’t blather on about the song; I’m saving my blathering for a review. For now, I’ll say only that the song is excellent and that you should hear it without fail if you have any interest in black metal. Go here to do that.
GOAT THE HEAD
I saw the image at the top of this post appear on the Facebook page of our favorite contemporary primal cavemen death metallists, Goat the Head. This looks suspiciously like cover art for some new collection of contemporary primal caveman death metal. My suspicions were further aroused by this accompanying statement by the Goats: “Exposing evident symptoms of imminent deathrash”.
I must say that I find this highly encouraging. It has been FAR too long since we’ve received new original material from this band, who we have written about a multitude of times in the past (collected here). They are, after all, the band who introduced us to the dreaded Cube, the mere mention of which gives me the nervous shakes. Although the Goatsters haven’t released new material in a while, earlier this summer they did record a cover of “Burner” by Motörhead, which I somehow overlooked. It rocks. It’s right after the jump.
At the end of July I posted about the plans of Candlelight Records to release a new album by the UK’s Winterfylleth in September. The album’s title is The Threnody of Triumph. When I last wrote about this news, Zero Tolerance magazine reported that it would be including a feature on the band AND a track from the new album — “Void of Light” — on a bonus CD with the magazine. I expressed the hope that the song would surface on the web soon. And so it has.
This morning, Candlelight started streaming the song on Soundcloud. With blasting drums and vibrating guitars forward in the mix, the music rushes like a riptide. The dense wall of tremolo guitar carries a majestic melody of the kind for which Winterfylleth have become known, while the anguished vocals flay the senses with razor-edged shrieking. The song is primal in its power, and though the core melody is a simple one, it’s the kind that will stick in your head.
“Void of Light” makes me even more eager to hear the new album, and I was damned eager to begin with. Find Winterfyleth on Facebook here and listen to the song after the jump.
Here are a few items of interest I came across this morning that I thought were worth spreading around.
ITEM ONE: WINTERFYLLETH
Winterfylleth are a UK black-metal band whose name should be familiar to long-time NCS readers, since I’m high as a kite about this band, having fallen head-over-heels for their second album, The Mercian Sphere (2010). In May, I reported that Candlelight Records was re-issuing the band’s debut full-length, The Ghost of Heritage, after a remastering by Colin Marston. What I didn’t realize then but have discovered this morning is how close the band were to completing their third album.
Now I know that Candlelight is prepared to release a new Winterfylleth album — The Threnody of Triumph — in September. I also saw that the September issue of Zero Tolerance magazine will include a feature on the band AND a track from the new album — “Void of Light” — on a bonus CD. I’m hoping that song will surface on the web soon. I’m eager to hear the new album. You should be, too. Find Winterfyleth on Facebook here.
ITEM TWO: ILSA
I saw today the album art for the forthcoming album by D.C.-based crust/doom occultists Ilsa. It’s a real eye-catcher:
In September 2010 I went on a MISCELLANY expedition (posted here), and one of the bands I discovered was Winterfylleth, from Manchester in the UK. At the time, they were on the verge of releasing an album called The Mercian Sphere, and another web site had started streaming a track from the album — “A Valley Thick With Oaks”. Stunning song, and it led me to get the album and begin following the band.
Two days ago Candlelight Records re-issued Winterfylleth’s 2008 debut album, The Ghost of Heritage. The songs on the re-issue have been remastered by Colin Marston , the multi-instrumental member of Krallice, Dysrhythmia, and Gorguts. Candlelight also commissioned the new album artwork you see above.
When the band originally created The Ghost of Heritage, they recorded two songs that weren’t included on the album when Candlelight released it in 2008 — “The Ruin” and “The Honour Of Good Men On The Path To Eternal Glory”. Both of those songs as they were originally recorded in 2008 are now included as bonus tracks for the re-issue. The only reason I can imagine why these songs were left off the album originally is their length. The album was 49 minutes long without them, and those two songs would have added another 18+ minutes.
But that’s truly the only reason I can think of, because the songs are great. Admirers of The Mercian Sphere will recognize the titles of the two bonus tracks, because re-worked versions of both appeared on that album.