(Austin Weber brings us another round-up of music and metal news, featuring The Conjuration, D’Arkestra, Divine Realm, Winter of Sin, and Posthumous Blasphemer.)
After a long wait, The Conjuration’s new album, Surreal, has finally emerged—and it’s a gloriously twisted avante-garde beast that lashes out in progressive and schizophrenic fits. This is death metal turned upside down. Corey Jason has proved once again that he doesn’t need a band, only himself. He composed all of it, played all the instruments, did the vocals, and handled the production himself, too.
On Surreal, Corey skillfully pushes the limits of what a one-man death metal act is capable of creating. Most acts of this nature that play death metal are lacking compositionally and all too often create music that is too samey in the songwriting, and too often lacking a vital creative spark. By contrast, Surreal really does sound like the work of multiple people whose different ideas and approaches led to a diverse group of songs.
As I mentioned a long time ago when first writing about them at NCS, The Conjuration experimentally bend the limits of death metal. They push it down creepy, wailing, mumbling, singing stairs to hell, and then pull it back up with proggy keys and synths—only to have it crumble again under the weight of the gleefully insane death metal at the heart of Surreal.
Many are fond of saying that all death metal sounds the same and that it hasn’t evolved. Clearly, such pontificators haven’t heard The Conjuration yet. I regret that I don’t have the time to give the album the full analytical review it justly deserves, because it’s a hell of a record. If you only give the album one chance to please and persuade you, check out the grandiose clusterfuck of closer “Overdose”, a monolithic and frightening journey that strongly exemplifies all of the odd and wonderful characteristics of The Conjuration.
This is an exception to the rule for NCS. It’s not metal, but it’s a shameless local plug of a very high quality band, so that should count for something. D’Arkestra are for fans of experimental and adventurous new music, which it seems a lot of metalheads are. They are from my hometown of Louisville, KY, and consist of 9 members who work in precise unison to craft jazz rock of the highest sublime order.
Their first album Ghost Town consisted of mainly jazz-focused compositions with snatches of rock, while Little Voices sees them merge their prior stylings with a lot more rock this time, to interesting and unique results. Some tracks still play out as largely jazz-fueled, such as “Unorthodox Juice”and their fantastic cover of Frank Zappa’s “Regyptian Strut”. However, most of the album gracefully combines jazz and rock with some funky and psychedelic flavoring for an all-around soothing experience, but quite a musically deep one, too. Their music works as both a fresh take on jazz and a fresh take on rock. It has a lot of crossover appeal, so you really should check out a track or two even though this is mainly a metal site!
Opener “Hold” is a great introduction to the electrifying and eloquent musical soup D’Arkestra feed into your ears, and “Cavalier Poets”/”Bricks” are likewise good starting points for new listeners. Vocals flit in and out on Little Voices, mainly consisting of ghostly female singing, but the band often stick to purely instrumental territory for large portions of the album. If you like what you hear, and are interested in learning a bit more about the band and their story, I recently conducted an interview with them for my other gig, which you can find via the first link below.
I’ve been hyping the release of Divine Realm’s new EP, Abyssal Light, for a while, and now the time has come for a full stream of it ahead of its April 1 release. In the interest of full disclosure, this is not an exclusive stream — another site (The Circle Pit) got that, but in working with the band we were told that it would be okay for us to stream it early as well, in the hopes of having more people check it out — and it’s up on YouTube.
Abyssal Light is beautiful and uplifting overall, but not in a lull-you-to-sleep-way. It’s more like watching delicious bacon slowly sizzle into perfection, or watching the tide roll in at the beach on acid.
To give you a sonic picture of what they do so well, imagine an instrumental Allegaeon, playing highly complex shifting music backed up by grooves, lit up by mechanically toned rapid-fire bass playing, and driven by demolishing drumming. There are frequent moments of fusion-esque playing that appear, as well as some licks that wouldn’t sound out of place on many a prog album. Sometimes they border on power metal melodies, and at other times they resemble technical death metal. Of course, the band wisely punctuate the music with periods of faster tempos and occasional spikes of furious fretwork to punch things up and add variety.
While this isn’t Conquering Dystopia, that’s not a bad reference point either, as Abyssal Light isn’t djent by any means — though that groove element works for them, acting more to support the music than as the driving force and focus. This is not an instrumental metal release to pass over, thinking it’s probably more of the same. Abyssal Light has a lot to offer and enjoy.
WINTER OF SIN
Since the comments to my review of this melodic black metal album indicated that people were interested in hearing it, here is a link to a full stream of Violence Reigns Supreme. For those who didn’t read the review, the band counts two God Dethroned members among their ranks — both terrifying vocalist Henri Sattler and former drummer Michiel van der Plicht. The music is shaped by longtime guitarists Schrat and Schmerz, who swarm you with an endless array of quality fast-paced black and death metal riffs.
As I stated in my review, Violence Reigns Supreme is one rabid, deathly, ripping track after the other all the way through, and a lot of fun to replay due to it’s outstanding consistency. Stream it at the first link below.
Posthumous Blasphemer are an intense death metal group whom I wrote about recently here at NCS, covering and highlighting the release of their monstrous new album, Exhumation Of Sacred Impunity. At that time, only one song was available to stream. Now the band have put the whole album up for streaming on Bandcamp, and I urge everyone to give it a listen.
They aren’t your average technical brutal band. Their songwriting is in a higher class than a lot of groups plying this sort of style. Unholy mindbending jams await. Hit play now, and absorb the tumultuous insanity within. (The new album can be ordered on CD or purchased as a digital download at the Bandcamp link below).