As fodder for this latest installment of MISCELLANY, I once again played the human pinball machine, randomly bouncing from one thing to the next, checking out new music and videos without knowing much about what I’d see or hear. With one exception, I’d never heard the music of the bands I checked out in this session.
As usual, this post is a log of what I heard and saw, without filtering. I spent so much time exploring that I’ve decided to split up the report into two parts. If you’re like me, you have the attention span of a hummingbird, so I won’t push my luck with a really long post. We’ll post the second part tomorrow. The subjects of today’s post are King of Asgard (Sweden), Fractal Gates (France), and Synapse Defect (U.S.).
KING OF ASGARD
I’ve lost track of where I first read about this three-piece Swedish band, but I’ve had their debut CD for a couple weeks. It was released by Metal Blade on August 16 and it’s called Fi’mbulvintr. And no, I have no fucking idea how to pronounce that.
From the band’s name, I deduced that it might be Viking metal — Asgard being the home of the Norse gods, and the king being Odin. The very cool album cover (by Ola Larsson) reinforced that guess. And I just sort of felt in the mood for Viking metal, so my first stop was to fire up this CD and pick a track. (more after the jump, including the chance to hear the music and watch the vids . . .)
For the hell of it, I picked the fourth track, which is called “The Last Journey”, just because of the name. The start surprised me — a clear female voice singing a folk melody — but then male voices joined in briefly, and the riffing started.
Very cool tremolo-picked melodies, rumbling bass, and growly vocals. And yes, it’s a form of Viking metal, but blackened and with a folk-music outro to accompany the intro. I really liked the song. Here’s what it sounds like:
I fully intended to move on to something else, but I couldn’t resist pausing to find out a bit more about this band. I found their official web page (here), and the first thing that greeted my eyes was an official video for the second song on the album, “Einhärjar”. Well, I had to watch it, so based on the rules of MISCELLANY, it goes in this post.
The song fucking thunders, the vocalist/guitarist (Karl Beckman) looks like he’d just as soon cleave your head with a battle-axe as look at you, and the video includes fleeting images of some bloodied person climbing or crawling. But see for yourselves:
King of Asgard’s debut was produced by King Diamond guitarist Andy LaRocque. It’s available for purchase as a digital download at Amazon MP3 and iTunes, and Amazon also sells it as a CD.
My next stop was a French band called Fractal Gates. My NCS collaborator IntoTheDarkness had urged me to listen to their 2009 album, Altered State of Consciousness. He said it was in the same vein as Incarnia (another band he tipped me to not so long ago that proved to be a great find) and Yorblind (yet another band he’d raved about not long before)
So, I listened to a song from Altered State of Consciousness called “Eclipse”, and holeeeee shit! If this doesn’t grab your attention right off the bat, I’ll be surprised. It’s melodic death metal — dark, sweeping, with a powerful guitar lead.
Here’s the song. I’m not going to say anything more right now, because I will definitely have more to say later — not just about Fractal Gates but also about that other band whose name I dropped above — Yorblind.
I resisted the immediate temptation to continue listening to Fractal Gates and moved on to my next stop, which was . . .
We got a recent MySpace friend request from an Atlanta band called Synapse Defect, and I kinda liked the name, because I think I have a synapse defect. So I went to their MySpace and listened to a song on the player called “White Light Conveyor Belt”, because I liked the name.
It’s a real mindfucker. It starts off with fast, distorted, grindcore riffing — but the tempo changes, and changes again, and changes again. Lots of technical leaping around, accompanied by a mix of guttural vocals and evil rasping. I found it gripping (in the way that your throat might be gripped by an insane person), and I wasn’t ready for it to end when it did.
So, I listened to another song, called “Friendly Lawn Darts”. More rapid pummeling with strange guitar noises, more time-signature schizophrenia, more evil-sounding vocals. Here’s that second song:
Unsurprisingly, the band lists among its “influences”: “Running with scissors, Tom and Jerry, probable alternate dimensions, the existence of nothing, free will vs. destiny, undulating frequencies formed from a void, hopes for an alien invasion . . .”
Synapse Defect released a new album called Basal Taxon on August 31, 2010. It’s available on iTunes. It includes those two songs I heard. The band has also made available, for free, mp3 downloads of four of that album’s songs at their official web page, which is here.
And finally, Synapse Defect has a video for that “White Light Conveyor Belt” song, which is below.
UPDATE: Just found out that Synapse Defect will be headlining a show at El Corazon in Seattle on October 13, and are joined on the bill by one of our favorite local bands, Blood and Thunder. The rest of Synapse Defect’s tour dates can be found at their MySpace page.
So, that’s the end of today’s MISCELLANY. As I said at the outset, I didn’t stop listening and watching after Synapse Defect, but describing the rest of the journey will have to wait until tomorrow. Enjoy the rest of your fucking day, won’t you?