When it comes to NCS, I have trouble making plans and sticking with them, because I have an impulse-control problem. I get distracted easily, which is a serious weakness for someone like me who enjoys a broad swath of metal. Every day, new music appears, often from unexpected sources, and I’m easily carried off in some unintended and uncharted direction. I offer this confession as a feeble excuse for allowing almost three months to pass since Part 2 of our series on metal from South Africa. I’ll go ahead and say right now that there WILL be a Part 4 — and I have no fucking clue when it will appear.
Now that I have that out of the way, let’s move forward with Part 3 before I lose my concentration and fly off again. As many of you longer-term readers know, we didn’t intend to create a series on SA metal. It just happened. We ran a post in April about three SA metal bands. That led to lots of recommendations about other bands, so we added a second post about three more bands, and that led to more recommendations, and so here we are.
In this installment, we’re focusing (in no particular order) on Riddare av Koden, Warthane, and Architecture of Aggression. I picked these bands in part because I got very enthusiastic recommendations about them from SA metalheads and partly because they’ve got songs that you can go get for yourself instead of being stuck solely with YouTube clips or other music players that keep you tethered to your computer if you want to listen. I also happen to really like what I’ve heard from all three bands. So, here we go . . . after the jump.
RIDDARE AV KODEN
This band was originally formed in 2006 under the name Elegy. They produced a self-titled EP in 2008 and released their debut album, A Voice Will Call, in 2009. In late 2009, they changed their name to Ridare av Koden due to copyright issues with the name Elegy. By October 2010, they had added a keyboardist and folk instrumentalist (Steven de Pina), and in the spring of this year, co-founder and drummer Daniel Wilson left the band and was eventually replaced by Nikolaos Hellas.
And along the way, their facebook “likes” have mushroomed to almost 30,000, a figure that’s more than triple what it was just two months ago, perhaps due in part to their decision to make A Voice Will Call easily and freely downloadable.
With that brief history behind us, let’s turn to the music. Two days ago, we posted a “Revisiting the Classics” feature about At the Gates and mentioned the many bands who have descended from the style of music they helped create. Riddare av Koden should be numbered among their progeny.
The band plays a thrashy, fast-paced brand of melodic death metal, packed with rapid-fire riffing, acrobatic clean guitar solos and dual-guitar harmonies, memorable melodies, and vocals that for the most part sound like a clash of jagged swords. The sound on some of the songs is strongly reminiscent of vintage Children of Bodom. A Voice Will Call is one hell of a galloping romp across a landscape riven by lightening strikes. Very good stuff. Check out “Elegy”:[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Riddare-av-Koden-A-Voice-Will-Call-01-Elegy.mp3|titles=Riddare av Koden – Elegy]
You can download A Voice Will Call and an excerpt from a re-recorded version of the song “Elegy” (with what appears to be a longer keyboard intro) via the RaK facebook page you’ll find through THIS LINK or at the band’s official site HERE. You can also stream more songs with this widget:
Our next subject is . . .
Warthane is a four-piece band from Alberton, Gauteng, and they describe their music as “black/thrash metal”. They released an EP called Day 13 in 2007 and their debut album, The Gallows Are Calling, in 2008 (which included the songs from the EP plus six new ones). Riding the interest in that album, they were able to tour in Europe during 2009, with shows in Switzerland and Germany.
More recently, they’ve been working on a follow-up to The Gallows Are Calling, which will be called Black Divine. It looks like five new songs, which presumably will be included on the next disc, are now available for listening, and so those are the tunes I checked out for this post. The band has made two of those available for free download.
That “black/thrash” description turns out to be damned accurate. The familiar tropes of black metal are front and center — the cracked-ice Nordic shrieks, the blurred streams of tremolo-guitar fire, the machine-gun drumming — but the music moves (most of the time) like a speed demon, and there’s a healthy dose of black ‘n’ roll in the mix along with a massive, booming bass underneath.
These dudes have a knack for writing dynamic songs with deep grooves, as well as changing tempos and time signatures, and there are some sweet guitar leads and solos in these songs, too. Whenever it’s finished, I predict Black Divine is going to turn a lot of heads, far and wide. It’s an interesting blend of styles that I think is going to stand out. Here’s “Enthroned Black Angel”:[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Warthane-Enthroned-Black-Angel.mp3|titles=Warthane-Enthroned Black Angel]
You can stream all five of the new songs plus the title track from Warthane’s debut album on the following widget:
You should be able to download “Enthroned Black Angel” and “Blood Beauty Divine” through the widget, but you can also do that through the band page at Warthane’s facebook site HERE.
And last (for this post), but certainly not least, we have . . .
ARCHITECTURE OF AGGRESSION
If I had approached this post more logically and less randomly, I would have put this band first, because they seem to be sorta the grand-daddies of SA extreme metal. Formed by two brothers, Van Zyl and Anton Alberts, they’ve been in existence for 16 years, creating their first demo album (Under Destruction) in 1997. That was followed by another demo album in 1998 (self-titled), a further demo in 2000 (Cruci-fiction), a 2004 EP (Manifest Destiny), and two albums: Democracy: Consent to Domination (2006) and Acts of God – 4000 Years of Phallusy (2009) (which is the album I listened to for this post).
AOA has played most of the major South African metal festivals and have opened in SA for bands such as Entombed and Carcass. From what I can tell based on my research (and audio samples that appear within the songs), they’re outspoken about their beliefs (as evidenced, for example, by some of those albums titles), they apparently put on a brutal live show, and they’ve developed a passionate and dedicated fan base in SA.
As for the music, think of a heavily armored tank propelled by a couple of jet engines. It’s massive and bone-grinding, but at the same time it flies. The riffing is technical and varied, the rubbery bass is bounding, the un-triggered drums are crushing, and on top of all that you get a variety of agile guitar solos that sometimes sound downright jazzy.
This is complex, technically demanding, and amazingly inventive death metal. Think of Necrophagist, Autopsy, Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, and Hate Eternal, but with avant-garde bursts of instrumental extravagance, and you’ll begin to get a sense of what AOA is all about. Let me use the word again — this music is amazing. Try to wrap your mind around this:[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Architecture-of-Aggression-Memetaphage.mp3|titles=Architecture of Aggression-Memetaphage]
Helpfully, AOA have put virtually all of their musical output on their facebook band page for free download. You have to like them and join their mailing list, and you have to download the songs one by one, but still it’s free and the download is legal.
Once again, we have a ReverbNation widget that will allow you to hear more AOA music:
For more info about the band, here are some links (the band have recently made their first two demo albums available for free download via their ReverbNation page):
Well, that’s it for this third installment. I’m floored by all three of these bands, which means I’ll definitely be going back to the well of South African metal again (without quite so much time passing before the next time).