Just as yesterday’s Seen and Heard round-up was much shorter than usual, so too is this Sunday’s edition of Shades of Black. I got back to Seattle last night from that four-day wedding festivity in Vegas I’ve mentioned before, but between the two premieres I’ve posted since then and a backlog of personal stuff to deal with, I haven’t had time to write about everything I wanted to include in this post. I’m hoping to supplement it during the coming week before going off to Migration Fest on Thursday, when our site’s content will probably diminish again.
With so many songs and full releases on my list of Shades to choose from, I picked the following four items to recommend, without much rhyme or reason. The bands are less obscure than usual for these posts, until you get to the end.
I suspect I will always consider Alcest to be a shade of black even if Neige and Winterhalter decide to start playing bluegrass — though that hasn’t happened yet. The fifth Alcest album is named Kodama, which we’re told is the Japanese word for “tree spirit” and also refers to the process of sounds reverberating across mountains, valleys, and forests that’s often attributed to these spirits.
I haven’t had much blog time available since last Thursday because of job-related travel and activities, so I’ve fallen behind in posting about new songs and videos that I think you might enjoy. To catch up, I’m including a giant fuckload of them in this two-part post. And in a rare display of brevity, I’m letting the music speak for itself.
I’ve also salted this post with a smattering of older music that I discovered only recently. Part 1 of this large collection can be found here. Beginning with that post and continuing through this one, the music is presented in alphabetical order by band name.
New video: “Eye of the Storm”
Album: Exit Wounds
Label: Century Media
Band location: Sweden
Here are a trio of discoveries I made last night and early this morning that I believe will be worth your time.
The next album by Britain’s Winterfylleth, The Divination of Antiquity, will be coming our way via Candlelight on October 7 (October 6 in the UK). I’ve been very eager to hear the new music. The first single from the album, “Whisper of the Elements”, was released on August 5, and this morning a lyric video for the song got its premiere.
The music is beautiful, intensely melodic and atmospheric, more so than anything the band have done before, and the nature-cenric lyrics well suit the dramatic emotional power of the sounds. Listen next…
I haven’t managed to compile a round-up of noteworthy new things in a few days, so this one is largish, though still not large enough. I’ll try to keep my own verbiage to a minimum so you don’t lose interest and drift away like hyperactive children, or like me when I hear a firetruck going by. I’ll begin with a trio of news items and then move into the music.
MACHINE HEAD / CHILDREN OF BODOM / EPICA / BATTLECROSS
Yesterday came an announcement that Machine Head, Children of Bodom, Epica, and Battlecross will tour North America together beginning on October 4 in Denver and ending on November 1 in Hollywood. Tickets go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m. Eastern. Machine Head’s new album on Nuclear Blast should be out around the time of this tour. I can’t honestly say that I’m very lathered up about this tour, but if you are, please send photos of yourself. Here are the dates (continued after the jump):
10/04/2014 The Summit Music Hall – Denver, CO
10/05/2014 Aftershock – Merriam, KS
10/06/2014 House Of Blues – Dallas, TX
10/07/2014 House Of Blues – Houston, TX
10/09/2014 Hard Rock Live – Orlando, FL
10/10/2014 The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA
(Our roving reporter Andy Synn was fortunate enough to take in the 2013 edition of the Summer Breeze open air festival in Germany last month and has prepared a multi-part review accompanied by videos that he shot during the festival. Today we bring you Part 1 of his write-up.)
Apologies to anyone who might have been waiting for my SB review this year. The trip to Seattle took up 99% of my time since, so I didn’t really have much chance to write things up before now!
Let me tell you though, leaving your house at 1am and driving to Dinkelsbuhl (where the festival is located), arriving at around half 7 in the evening, is a LONG drive. I did the first stretch in one relatively unbroken 10 hour stint, but after that it was a case of frequent stops to rest every time I started feeling my eyes getting heavy. Urgh.
As it was, though, I made it to the festival in time to see Vader… well, some of Vader. Because one minor issue with having the opening night festivities situated in the 3rd stage tent is that you end up trying to pack an entire festival’s worth of people into a venue that, while large in itself, was definitely not designed for that purpose! Thus my Vader viewing experience became a curious mix of long-range appreciation and video-screen voyeurism.
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.