In this post, I’m collecting a handful of new songs and videos that made a deep impression on me as I listened/watched over the last couple of days. I’m talking about the kind of impression that a stout piece of lumber would make on the back of your head if swung vigorously. What makes this collection of metal interesting to me, apart from the skull-scouring nature of the music, is the diversity of places from which the music originated.
The first band is called DEAtHtUNE (though from here on, I’m typing it as Deathtune to keep my fingers from cramping up on the keyboard). They’re from Iran. Just a wild guess, but I don’t think Iran is the most hospitable place for a death-metal band. But I’ll tell you what, these guys are really fucken good. The video for their song “No War” gives you the chance to see the band in addition to hearing them — and I think you’ll want to hear them over and over again.
The second band is from Australia. They call themselves The Schoenberg Automaton. Musically, they’re making some freaked-out shit that I think is very cool. Norway is home to the third band whose music we’re featuring in this post — Wrath Passion. They’ve just put up two new songs for free download that are killing me. Knowing they’re from Norway, you get one guess about the style of music they’re pumping out.
Last, we have a “band” from Japan and a song in a style of music called Zeuhl. If you know what Zeuhl is, you get a big cookie. If you’ve heard of Kōenji Hyakkei (a/k/a koenjihyakkei) you get two big cookies. If you make it all the way through the song I’ve got for you, you’ll need those cookies to use in place of your brain, which will have liquified and poured out your nose. (stay with us after the jump . . .)
First, before diving into the music, props to NCS writer Israel Flanders for turning me on to all the bands featured in this post except Wrath Passion. In addition to having good taste in metal, the dude finds bands I never would have discovered on my own.
Deathtune is a three-piece band formed in Tehran in 2009. So far, they’ve only made one song available for public consumption, and they did that by posting the video we’re about to show you just a few days ago. They’re working on additional material, and we’ll be quite interested to hear what comes next.
You don’t see many three-piece bands playing technical, progressive death metal without at least dual-tracking the guitars to enhance the intricacy of the music, but it appears (and sounds) as if Deathtune is recording the music in a way they would be capable of playing live. The production quality on “No War” is good, but it also sounds honest — not that I’ve got anything against production techniques that enhance the listening experience, but it’s still refreshing to hear what Deathtune have done.
And what they’ve done is extremely good, a meeting of old school and new school — grisly, cadaverous death-metal seamlessly spliced together with attention-grabbing prog explorations.
I’d be lying if I said their location hasn’t influenced my reception of the music. Death metal bands have a hard enough time surviving in places where freedom of expression is a reality; I would imagine the challenges are much greater in a country ruled by a repressive theocratic dictatorship. Give this a listen:
If you liked this song, go show these dudes some love and “like” their Facebook page — which is here.
THE SCHOENBERG AUTOMATON
This band is from Brisbane, Australia. They list their influences as Ion Dissonance, Sikth, Meshuggah, Fantomas, Dillinger Escape Plan, and Psycroptic. This is a good list, (a) because these are all bands I like, and (b) because it’s actually a pretty good clue to the music of this band.
Of course, there’s no way any normal person could imagine what kind of music would be the outgrowth of all those influences rolled into one. You really have to hear it to understand the connections. It’s psychotic and it’s groovy. It’s a beaker of acid in the face and it’s a hardcore throwdown. It’s an avalanche of djent crowbars hitting a concrete floor and it’s a burst of prog noodling.
The band have produced a 2010 demo and have also just put up a new instrumental demo track on their Facebook page (here) which is available for free download. I’m going to play you that song first. It’s called “Ultimate Whirring End Machine”. I like the comment posted by one of their fans about this song: “Ultimate Fucking. Whirring Fucking. End Fucking. Machine. Fuck.”
And then, after that, you should hear a song from the 2010 demo called “Where Are We, In A Cube?”[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/ultimate-whirring-end-machine-test-mix-1.mp3|titles=The Schoenberg Automaton – Ultimate Whirring End Machine (test mix 1)]
Wrath Passion is from Lofoten, Norway. Their name is an anagram, which means you should rearrange the letters to spell the band’s true name if you have nothing better to do. The band was originally formed in 2007 as a one-man project by Daniel Markussen, but it now consists of Markussen, who plays all instruments, and vocalist Anton van Niekerk (Verkrag). The band have produced two albums so far, Careful Saint (2008) and A Visit in Hell (2009). The two songs they’ve now made available for free download are “From Hateful Visions” (a cover of a song by Judas Iscariot) and “King of Destruction”.
“From Hateful Visions” is a different kind of black metal song for me. The reverberating guitars sing, and the drums pound a simple rock beat — it’ a very catchy song musically. The distorted vocals, on the other hand, are frightening, the kind of black-metal demonic utterances that make the hair on your arms stand at attention.
“King of Destruction” creates a more menacing air instrumentally (the vocals are still scary as shit — though this time they include a wailing passage of clean singing). The whole thing vibrates intensely, with a submerged drum-and-bass providing a minimal amount of structure, and it’s nothing but venom.
Here’s “From Hateful Visions”:[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/WRATH-PASSION-From-Hateful-Visions-Judas-Iscariot-cover.mp3|titles=WRATH PASSION-From Hateful Visions (Judas Iscariot cover)]
The Facebook page where you can download the two new songs and listen to more from the band’s previous releases is at this location. You do have to share the song and provide your e-mail address to get the downloads.
According to The Font of All Human Knowledge:
Zeuhl means “celestial” in Kobaïan, the constructed language created by Christian Vander. Originally solely applied to the music of Vander’s band, Magma, the term zeuhl was eventually used to describe the similar music produced by French bands, beginning in the mid-1970s. Although primarily a French phenomenon, zeuhl has influenced recent avant-garde Japanese bands.
Zeuhl typically blends progressive rock, symphonic rock, fusion, neoclassicism, avant-rock, and vocal elements of African-American spirituals and Western military call and response. Common aspects include dissonance, marching themes, throbbing bass, keyboards including piano, Rhodes piano, or organ, and brass instruments.
The only thing missing from this description is the part about zeuhl causing mass liquefaction of brain cells.
I’ve only heard two songs by the zeuhl collective known as Kōenji Hyakkei. Both of them caused me to doubt my sanity, which was already in doubt to begin with. One of the two songs actually sounded pretty metal to me. That’s the one I’ve got for you right now.
Try to hang in there ’til the bitter end of the song, because I think it traverses interstellar wormholes before it finishes. If you get to the end, I think you’ll be in orbit around Andromeda. That’s the location from whence I’m writing this post. If you have any suggestions about how I can get back to our own solar system, please leave them in the comments.