Between the time I’ve spent with family and friends over the holidays and pushing out the biggest year-end LISTMANIA series our site has ever published, I’ve been constricted in my ability to listen to new songs and forthcoming releases. But I keep lists. I keep lists like a hoarder of names. Never mind that actually making it through the lists is a frail hope, given that they keep growing, and growing, and growing…
But yesterday, I made a small dent in them and came away with four songs I’m really high on. Two of them are new tracks by bands whose past work I’ve admired, and two of them come from bands who I’d never heard before. Musically, the four songs have very little in common, other than the fact that they are all winners — and they all have darkness in their souls.
HAIL SPIRIT NOIR
Hail Spirit Noir’s first album, Pneuma (reviewed here), was unlike anything else I heard in 2012. It was exceedingly strange and yet brilliant, a splicing together of black metal, 60′s flower-power pop psychedelics, 70′s prog rock, 80′s New Wave dance beats, melodic doom, and even cool jazz. Each song was distinctively different from, though related to, the others, like cousins on a gnarled family tree.
I listened to Pneuma as often as any other album I discovered last year. Needless to say, I’ve been anxious to hear what this Greek duo would do next. And what they’ve done next is an album named Oi Magoi (“The Magicians”).
Last week, via Heavy Hard Metalmania, the band premiered an advance track named “Satan Is Time”, and it’s thoroughly captivating. It pushes and recedes like the tide, an eerie psychedelic ambience trading places with a pulsing rock beat, distorted guitar chords moving with blood-pumping bass and drum rhythms, soaring clean vocals in partnership with ugly harsh ones. The melody will get stuck in your head, and you may feel like chanting the song’s title right along with vocalist Theoharis.
Oi Magoi will be released by Code666 Records on January 20, 2014. Credit (and profuse thanks) to Andy Synn for alerting me to the debut of this new song.
Culted consists of three instrumentalists from Winnipeg, Canada, and a vocalist/lyricist from Gothenburg, Sweden. They released an album in 2009 (Below The Thunders Of The Upper Deep) and an EP in 2010 (Of Death And Ritual), both of which can be streamed via Bandcamp HERE but neither of which I’ve heard yet. Next month Relapse Records will release their second full-length, Oblique To All Paths, and last week one of the new songs debuted.
“Illuminati” is built around a fat doom riff that announces itself right from the start, and it’s a killer. So are the trilling lead guitar melodies that swim through the murk of the song like silvery eels in a black pool. Daniel Jansson’s vocals are pure acid, and so is the trip you take in the otherworldly finish to the track. This is a hypnotic union of doom and black metal that I’m finding powerfully attractive.
Oblique to All Paths will be out on January 21 in North America and slightly earlier in the rest of the world. It can be pre-ordered from Relapse here or on Bandcamp.
Almost exactly one year ago I came across this Philadelphia death metal band’s highly promising debut demo, Dragged Down To Hell (and reviewed it here). Now they’ve recorded a full album entitled Necronomic Warfare that will be loosed upon the world on February 18 by Unspeakable Axe Records. The fifth track on the album, “Sickening Devotion”, went up for streaming recently, and it’s a lovely brute.
The sound is powerful and crushing, the riffs highly magnetic and highly variable, with the pace moving between a battlefield charge and a slow stagger through the corpse-strewn aftermath of the conflict, and the morbid melody at the core of the song has staying power. The band itself identifies groups such as Asphyx and Bolt Thrower among their influences, and those two are indeed the ones that came to mind first as I listened to “Sickening Devotion”. This is a very strong teaser for what’s likely to be a very strong album.
Until yesterday the only Tasmanian metal bands whose music I’d heard were Psycroptic and Ruins. Now I can add Thrall to that very short list (though the band are currently located in Melbourne). In October Moribund Records released Thrall’s third album, Aokigahara Jukai, which is named for a forest at the base of Mount Fuji and is reportedly the most popular place in Japan for suicides. According to The Font of All Human Knowledge, “The high rate of suicide has led officials to place signs in the forest, in Japanese and English, urging suicidal visitors to seek help and not kill themselves.”
What hooked me yesterday was an official music video for the album’s title track. The video — an hallucinogenic layering of band performance clips, distorted imagery of the lead vocalist, and forest scenes of corruption and decay — is interesting to watch, but it’s the song that makes the most powerful impression. Like all the other music featured in this post, it’s quite memorable. It crosses genres, with black metal the most dominant, but with doom, sludge, and even post-metal in the mix as well. The song has a dark atmosphere throughout, but it rocks as much as it ravages. Did I say that I can’t get it out of my head?