Here we are with another edition of MISCELLANY, in which I listen to bands I’ve never heard before and report the results, whether they be good, bad, or indifferent. The ground rules: We keep a running list of bands who contact us, or who are recommended to us, or who seem interesting based on things we read. When time permits, I grab a handful of names off the list, I listen to at least one song per band, and I write about my reactions. Then, I let you listen to what I heard so you can make up your own minds.
Them’s the rules, and I usually (though not always) stick to them. For today’s post, I picked two bands who were recommended and one who contacted us: Illuminatus (UK), Arkona (Russia), and Satevis (US).
These bands turned out to be significantly different from each other, and the musical variety was a good reminder of the diversity that metal has to offer. The music also turned out to be quite good, though given my own tastes, I did have a favorite. So, with that preamble, follow along after the jump and please do let us know what you thought of this music after you’ve heard it.
Much earlier this year, I discovered this band through NCS writer Andy Synn, whose from the same town (Nottingham, England), though three of the four members of Illuminatus are originally from Spain, Germany, and Italy. I’ve had them on our MISCELLANY list ever since. Why I haven’t checked them out until now is one of life’s mysteries; perhaps not as mysterious as “where did we all those crop circles come from?”, but still inexplicable.
The band’s second album, Glasnost, was released in February 2011 on Headroom Records, and it has garnered a multitude of enthusiastic reviews. In searching for a song to hear for this post, I turned to an official video for a song from Glasnost called “Murdocracy”.
My first thought after pressing “play” was that these are very well-dressed metalheads. But that thought lasted about a nanosecond before the music knocked me flat. “Murdocracy” has an aura of crushing intensity, with a pulverizing bass line and hammering percussion, waves of ringing guitars, and righteously venomous vocals. But the damned thing is also virulently infectious because of the melodies that surf along atop the rolling tide.
As you know, my tastes run to the more extreme variants of metal, and “Murdocracy” isn’t typical of what I usually put on my personal play lists. For one thing, the near-clean vocal style is more what you’d find in a hard-rock band. But I do like a well-written song that succeeds in getting the adrenaline pumping and also includes a powerful hook or two that stays with you. Doing that isn’t easy; if it were, everyone would be doing it. Illuminatus does it.
By the way, I cheated and listened to a few more tracks from the album before moving along to the next band. Those song-writing chops I was telling you about? Yessir, this band has them in spades. For more info about Illumnatus, here are the links to their facebook page and their official site. Glasnost is available on iTunes and at Amazon.
NCS reader/commenter/band-name-creator Trollfiend has been urging me to check out this Russian, female-fronted, pagan/folk-metal band, and so I finally relented, deciding to make Arkona my second stop on today’s MISCELLANY tour. It’s not that I didn’t trust Trollfiend, but to be brutally honest, the words “female-fronted pagan/folk metal” don’t exactly trigger a Pavlovian slobber response in me.
Before listening, I poked around to see what I could find out about Arkona. For one thing, I found that they have 35,890 “likes” on their facebook page. Clearly, there’s a large pack of devoted dogs out there for whom this band does induce salivation. For another thing, I discovered that Arkona have produced six albums, the most recent of which — Slovo — will be released on August 26 by Napalm Records. For a third thing, I saw and liked the album art for Slovo (look rightward and you’ll see the art by Kris Verwimp). For a fourth thing, I found a song from the new album to hear, in addition to the video for an older song that Trollfiend sent me.
The new song is called “Incantation” (or at least that’s the English translation — Arkona’s song titles and lyrics are in Russian). If you’re expecting soft cheese and a sweet soprano, think again. The vocalist (with the fetching name of Masha Scream) has got an intense voice even when she’s singing cleanly, and she’s a good growler, too. Though the song includes a number of traditional folk instruments and melodies, it’s also a motherfuckin’ headbanger. The slashing tremolo guitar was also an unexpected and welcome addition to the mix.
The video I watched was for the title track to the band’s 2009 album, Goi, Rode, Goi!, which means “Hail, Rod, Hail!” — Rod being the Slavic Great God, Father of the Universe. There are some cool visuals in this, and we get to see what Masha looks like in skins and battle paint. We also get a much heavier helping of her growly vocals, which are damned good.
Check out “Incantation”, and then below that is the official video for “Goi, Rode, Goi!”:
Satevis is an unsigned, New York-based metal band who wrote us in July, asking that we check out their December 2010 EP, Centralia. Satevis is a new name for the band, replacing their previous moniker, Antares (and before that, the band called themselves Corsis). The latest name change apparently commemorated an alteration in the band’s sound, which I gather was previously more in the atmospheric-doom vein of metal.
Venturing forth for this MISCELLANY exploration, I decided to start at the beginning and listen to Centralia‘s first track, “Endless Perdition”. What a wonderfully varied song it turned out to be.
The dulcet sounds of a harpsichord in the intro transition to a thundering charge of heavy riffage and magnificently rancid vocals, which in turn transition to a piano-and-bass duet, which then eventually leads to an acceleration of the tempo and a variety of multi-toned guitar leads and solos, with changing keyboard accents — before the song changes again, a brief string instrumental serving as the prologue to an all-out rush to the end, led by pummeling double-bass and jets of heated guitar. The melodic chorus has a pagan-metal vibe, and the overall feel of the song strongly brought to mind Moonsorrow. Check it out:[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Satevis-Centralia-01-Endless-Perdition.mp3|titles=Satevis – Endless Perdition]
Having heard that song, I then perpetrated a massive cheat on my rules and listened to the rest of the EP. All my first impressions from “Endless Perdition” were confirmed — Centralia is brimming with intricately layered music, both savage and sublime, that’s both ambitious in its design and expertly executed. It has an epic, symphonic air and a sharp, blackened edge, and I still think it would be quite at home in company with the music of Moonsorrow. I highly recommend it. (The album cover is damn cool, too.)
Fuck it, I might as well play one more song. This one’s the title track, and features melodies that are carried as much by the bass and acoustic guitar as by the electric guitar and keys. It’s an often mournful but emotionally powerful journey:[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Satevis-Centralia-05-Centralia.mp3|titles=Satevis – Centralia]
Centralia is available for download at Bandcamp (here) for the entirely fair price of $5. Yes, there are “only” six songs on the EP, but they add up to more than 30 minutes of music, and it’s 30 minutes of time that’s very well-spent.
You can visit Satevis at facebook via this link, and their official site is at this place.
To sum up, I really enjoyed the hell out of this MISCELLANY expedition — three bands with very different styles of music but all good. I hope you find them to your liking, too.
As always, enjoy the rest of your fucking day.
Arkona was pretty good. I really have to compliment her ability to switch back and forth between the growlies and the singies.
Illuminatus was definitely pretty good, too…but a bit too grungy for me right now.
Illuminatus: Probably not something I would normally have in rotation either, but that song was fucking heavy as shit, and I ALWAYS appreciate that.
Arkona: You made my day. I hadn’t heard the new track yet.
Satevis: This totally caught me off guard. I think I was expecting something more techy/proggy, given their name choices. Yes, I know you said “Moonsorrow”, but honestly, I assumed you were drunk. That is some fucking good pancake, and $5 for 6 songs is a damn good deal. Better than iTunes, anyway. Gponna go download that right now.
Incidentally, while I haven’t read ALL of the Miscellany posts, I’ve read a bunch, and I’m starting to wonder if you ever DON’T cheat on the rules…?
This is so cool! I farted around and didn’t check out Arkona as soon as you first mentioned them (a comment about female singers, I think), but by delaying I found a new song! Positive reinforcement for farting around! Win!
Glad you liked Satevis. They surprised me, too. If I didn’t know they were from NYC, I would have guessed Finland or Sweden or maybe Germany. Very good pancake indeed.
Once upon a time I was really good about following my rules. I will have to discipline myself. Maybe force myself to listen to the new Morbid Angel album again.
Hey… go easy on yourself. no need for such extreme measures.
Normally, I’m into cock and ball torture for repeat offenders…
But, yah, that does seem a bit extreme.
(I haven’t actually heard their new album, but I gather that I probably don’t want to…)
You know, I have to say Morbid Angel has some monstrous brass balls for attempting some of the stuff they’ve pulled off… but I could just never get into them for some reason.
I wouldn’t say they have brass balls, I’d say they’re completely delusional…
My god, they actually seem to believe that no-one before them ever mixed death metal with industrial/electronic elements…
They’re just so out of touch it’s embarassing. Plus… they didn’t even have the good grace to at least do it WELL. And then they fall back on the usual “haters gonna hate/people just don’t get it yet” defence, as if it’s some sort of life-changing thing they’ve done.
Sigh. I haven’t been this embarassed by a metal band for a while now, and I’m not even a huge Morbid Angel fan.
You’re being much more direct than I was, but yeah, I agree with everything you said. “Embarrassing” pretty well sums it up.
I think part of the problem with the new album is how dramatically it defeated expectations. But even if you didn’t know the name of the band (and their legendary history) that created the album I think it would still be a disappointment. Yeah, I guess they’re due for some credit in the brass balls department, but it still doesn’t change the way the music sounds.
*Gponna = gonna. Google Translate, y u no work on my made-up language?
Now look who’s drunk.
You shup up you big jerfkace
That’s MISTER jerfkace to you! Troll…fiend…face…uhhhh…FACE!!
Boys, boys, boys, you behave yourselves. I can’t abide this foul language. We run a clean shop here.
I have a Massive Wall of Penis that disagrees with you.
Don’t make it angry…you REALLY wouldn’t like it when it’s angry.
Or horny, for that matter, so keep your sexy arms hidden….
I’ve spend like 15 minutes trying to come up with something to retort with…
All I’ve got is: “Your mom’s face is a troll.”
Oh, wait! I got something!
Your face is like the barf that I found at the back of the Greyhound bus after a fat pregnant woman gave birth while a stray dog throat fucked her with a giant cancerous dick.
no…i guess you still win. 🙁
I knew, given enough time, you would rise to the occasion. We start off with “jerkface” and we wind up with giant cancerous dog dicks.
“Barf That I Found At The Back Of The Greyhound Bus After A Fat Pregnant Woman Gave Birth While A Stray Dog Throat Fucked Her With A Giant Cancerous Dick” would be an awesome band name.
There wouldn’t be room for any more bands on our next tour shirt. Where would we put Vagina Dentata and Semen Howitzer?
I’ll tell you where you can put ’em.
Make it one word in comic sans at like 8pt font!
Fun for the whole family! Except cancerdick Fido.
Oh fuck, you re-registered again with a new name?!? But what’s wrong with hormone cream?
And I thought this couldn’t get any worse. Silly me.
I think I just heard my fat 58 year old neighbor fucking a young Hooker with a a ball massager.
I’m not actually sure…but now curiosity is keeping me up.
I extrapolated all that from vague voices, a whirring sound and him saying “oh, that’s good!” in polite Japanese.
Maybe they were playing with RC cars….
If you like Satevis, please PLEASE check out Exorbitance. They’re playing with Satevis next week at a local venue near me and they are great Melodic DM.
Will do man. Thanks for the tip.
I looked for Exorbitance on the Youtubes and found some shitty live recordings (“Demoness” etc) and one studio track (“Beneath the Storm”). A little rough around the edges, but not bad.
Yeah they need some better quality stuff up.
Oh duh they have a bandcamp.
Exorbitance are awesome. We’ve played with them twice now. Definitely check out the stuff on their bandcamp.
I’m sold — and will check them out. Thanks for the tips guys.
For some reason, I never really got around to checking out Arkona. I think I kept confusing them with Arkan (a different, but also-excellent, folk metal band who play more middle-eastern-style folk metal). I plan to rectify that now. Arkona remind me a bit of Eluveitie on the new song, although with some obviously very different folk influence.
Along these lines, I have to recommend Dalriada, a Hungarian folk metal band who are comparable. Again, the folk elements are different, but there are certain similarities. And Dalriada are AWESOME.
I nearly made an Eluveitie comparison in what I wrote! And I agree about Arkan — I REALLY enjoyed their latest album (self-serving plug: https://www.nocleansinging.com/2011/05/03/clean-singing-40-watt-sun-and-arkan/)
I just watched the Dalriada video for “Zách Klára (live)”, and enjoyed it. Kind of a whirling folk dance, with dueling fiddles and massive riffage. Their female vocalist is pretty easy on the eyes, too.
That link took me to a very interesting post about cockroaches. I’m not sure if that was the NCS version of rickrolling, or what. I eventually DID find the Arkhan/40 Watt Sun post… Arkhan is definitely coming into my playlist right away. About to go check out Dalriada… but I’m pretty confident I’ll like what I hear.
THAT IS FUCKING WEIRD! I have no idea why that is happening! The site is beginning to think and act for itself, it appears. I may have to bar Phro from the premises. It works OK when I copy and paste the URL, so I have no idea what’s causing that. I certainly didn’t intentionally create a re-direct.
Dalriada fucking kills it. Thanks, August. You got any more like that to share?
I typed “groverXIII” and somehow it ended up as August. NCS = SKYNET
“Roachrolled” is lulzy, but scary, too. I’m beginning to fear that all our posts will be redirected in the same way. SkyNet has arrived!
I am also going to start referring to grover as August, because I believe that is what SkyNet wants.
Heard Arkona a while back and enjoyed them quite a bit at the time. These ither two are new to me, though. “Murdocracy” totally sounds like a Dethklok song. The title I mean, not the actual song.
Definitely a Dethklok name! They also managed to make the song heavy, though not Dethklok-heavy. They’re better-dressed, too. And probably more intelligent. 🙂