Here’s another daily round-up of metal things I saw and heard this morning that I thought were worth sharing. Fair warning: there is clean singing in the first two items, but it’s counter-balanced by harsh vocals and an overlay of darkness.
I came to metal relatively late in life. I’ve devoted a lot of effort catching up on what I missed in the decades preceding my initiation. One of the bands I missed was Wichita-based Manila Road, though judging from the enthusiasm that greeted our report about the band’s scheduled appearance at MARYLAND DEATHFEST 2013, it seems many of our readers are quite familiar with them.
This item, however, is not about Manila Road. It’s about a side project created by Manila Road’s Mark “The Shark” Shelton. The band is called Hellwell, the album is named Beyond the Boundaries of Sin, and it will be released this month by High Roller Records and Shadow Kingdom Records — though it’s already up on Bandcamp. Shelton describes it as “like Manilla Road’s evil twin”, with a sound that resembles “a cross between Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, early Metallica and Manilla Road.”
The band is named after Ernest “Ernie” Cunningham Hellwell, who Shelton says is a writer of horror-themed fiction and plays keyboards, synthesizers, and bass on Hellwell’s debut album. I am somewhat skeptical about whether Hellwell is a real person as opposed to the alter ego of someone else, because I can find nothing about him in my net sleuthing, either as a writer or as a musician.
In any event, I was attracted to the music by the awesome cover art (above) by Alexander von Wieding, and this morning I listened to about half of the album on Bandcamp.
It is indeed a throwback of sorts, with a “classic” heavy metal vibe and a scratchy, distorted sound. But man, it’s a trip to hear. It’s heavy and dark — even when The Shark is singing clean, he sounds occult. The guitars also sound possessed, combining thundering chugs, prog-style acrobatics, and swirling/searing solos.
From what I’ve read, the songs on the back half of the album are tied together in a kind of Lovecraftian concept based on a short story by Mr. E.C. Hellwell. Lacking time to listen to the whole album before writing this, I jumped to the epic-length last song, “End of Days”, and it’s something. It includes an unexpected trumpet solo in the intro, and it is indeed atmospherically black. The Shark’s vocals are often abrasive and demonic, and the melodies are filled with dread omens. You can fuckin’ bang your head to it, too.
I can’t say that I know Manila Road’s discography well enough to draw comparisons between them and what I’ve heard so far from Hellwell, but just taking Hellwell on its own merits, it’s an epic romp that’s won me over.
Barely a week ago I posted a report about the next album from Sweden’s Shining, as well as two teaser videos from Shining’s songwriter and frontman Niklas Kvarforth. You may remember that in one of them, he has a rub-a-dub-in-the-tub using the favored lubricant of all trve black metallists. Well, Kvarforth is back with yet another lube-soaked video that was released today. This one is for for the track “Tillsammans Är Vi Allt” from Shining’s last album, VII / Född Förlorare.
“Tillsammans Är Vi Allt” is a fantastic song. Though it will seem out of character for me to say this, part of why I like it so much are the clean vocals of Swedish singer Håkan Hemlin (Nordman) in the song’s memorable chorus. Hemlin appears with Shining in the part of this video that was filmed during a live concert at the Club Nosturi in Helsinki, Finland.
The other part of the video is a kind of honeymoon scene (here’s where the gory lube comes in), which Kvarforth describes as “a binding story focusing around the themes of addiction and obsession”. The boobacious woman who swaps spit and other bodily fluids with Kvarforth is Swedish model December Wiklund. This is NSFW.
Late last week, based on some internet snooping, I reported about the existence of a band that hasn’t yet received any official press (that I’ve seen, at least). It’s an exciting development, because the band is composed of vocalist Mike Scheidt (YOB), guitarist John Cobbett (Hammers of Misfortune, ex-Ludicra), bass-player Sigrid Sheie (Hammers of Misfortune), and drummer Aesop (Fucking) Dekker (Agalloch, Worm Ouroboros, ex-Ludicra).
It appeared at the time I wrote that earlier post that there would be a Profound Lore release of the band’s debut album, and that’s now confirmed by this statement I saw today on VHÖL’s Facebook page: “VHÖL will be entering Earhammer studios in three weeks with Mr. Greg Wilkenson to record an album. Randall Dunn will be mixing. Release date is set for Spring 2013 through Profound Lore.”
Of course, that’s a long time to wait, though undoubtedly we’ll be hearing music at some point between now and then. Those in the vicinity of Portland, Oregon, will have the chance to hear the music sooner than others, because VHÖL is scheduled to make their first public performance on October 7 at Mississippi Studios during the Scion A/V-sponsored FALL INTO DARKNESS festival. That festival, by the way, looks awesome. Here’s the line-up:
Friday October 5
Saturday October 6
Sunday October 7