I saw this stunning painting long before I knew what it was or that it had any connection to metal. Only yesterday did I find the connection. The artist is a New Zealander named Nick Keller, and the painting is the gatefold interior artwork for an EP named Hammer of Intransigence by a New Zealand band named Heresiarch. To see any even higher-res version, click on the image.
The cover art for the EP, also painted by Nick Keller, is also amazing (and you can again click on it to see a larger version):
Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about Hammer of Intransigence — though I’ll be coming back to Nick Keller shortly.
Hammer of Intransigence was originally released on November 3, 2011, by Colorado-based Dark Descent Records (they’re still selling it as a CD), and gatefold vinyl 12″ LP is selling at Hells Headbangers. However, dumbass that I am, I didn’t pay close enough attention to my e-mails last year and missed the chance to hear the EP in advance of release. I then missed it when the official release date came and went, too.
What finally hooked me up with the EP was the news I saw yesterday that Dark Descent had established a presence on Bandcamp. This is exciting news, (a) because Dark Descent is a label that serves up outstanding metal, and (b) because Bandcamp is awesome. Check out the Dark Descent Bandcamp site via this link.
They’re still populating that site with their releases, but one of them that’s there already is . . . Hammer of Intransigence! It’s not being offered as a download, but at least it’s available for streaming in full. So, stream it I did.
If I’d only known, I’d have stocked up on some radiation sickness medicine before listening. The music is definitely in the camp of apocalyptic death metal bands (a/k/a war metal, blackened death) such as Blasphemy, Mitochondrion, and Diocletian (who share two members with Heresiarch).
Warning comes in the “instrumental” opening track, which is wracked with the sounds of sirens, distant bomb bursts, and something bestial hovering over the battlefield. And then follow five generally similar sonic assaults. The guitar and bass tone really does remind me of massed Geiger counters going crazy because of the flood of gamma rays. “Fuzzed out” really gives the wrong impression, because the distortion levels convey something even more lethal.
Rapid-fire riffing creates a surrounding roar of bestial hostility, enhanced by the flensing shrieks and abyssal roars of Heresiarch’s vocalist. But maybe the best thing on the album is the drumming. The blast-beats are dominant, but the snare-tom rolls and unexpected rhythmic digressions, however brief, light up the music (like massed artillery vomiting their fire at night).
I also have to call out the flamethrower soloing that makes its searing presence known in most of the tracks. It’s radioactive, too, but the intensity immediately burns.
There’s not a lot of variety on the EP. The final track, “Intransigent”, is built around an atonal death-doom stomp (plus some squealing guitar slides), but in the main, Heresiarch’s EP is designed to provide unmitigated sonic violence, a thorough immersion in warlike atmospheres, and in that it succeeds in striking fashion. Thanks to Dark Descent establishing a beachhead on Bandcamp, we can stream the music here:
Learn more about Heresiarch at this place:
Now, back to Nick Keller. The art he created for Heresiarch isn’t the only metal album cover he has created. For example, there’s this one for the self-titled 2011 album by another NZ band named Beastwars. For this one, Nick was the winner of the Best Album Cover award at the 2011 Vodaphone New Zealand Music Awards last September (click to make larger):
And this is the artwork he created for the interior of the Beastwars album:
Amazing stuff, huh?
And a nice coincidence, too, because we’ll be having something for you in connection with the new Beastwars album in the not-too-distant future.
To learn more about Mr. Keller, visit his blog here.