Here are a few things I spied over the last 24 hours that I thought were worth passing along. The last two items aren’t nearly as vicious as what normally tends to attract me, but they’re suiting my mood today.
ARORA LEIGH AND VALE OF PNATH
I’m guilty of inconsistent impulses about metal, in the same way as many other fans of underground music. On the one hand, I get cynical and even pissed off when I see metal being spread around in the mainstream, a feeling that it’s being polluted by rubbing shoulders with the uninitiated. On the other hand, I also get a little thrill when I see metal being used in a way that exposes the music to new listeners in new settings. I can’t explain it.
But anyway, I got that little thrill when I saw the following video this morning. It’s a performance by a woman named Arora Leigh at the 2014 Atlantic Pole Championship competition on April 12 in Washington, DC. As musical accompaniment for her routine, she chose an edited version of the song “Poisoned By Prosperity” by Denver’s Vale of Pnath — a band we’ve repeatedly featured and praised at this site.
Those of you who came here for a lascivious display of T&A will be disappointed. Arora Leigh’s performance is graceful and athletic, though she does put a metal edge on what she’s doing, as you’ll see. Needless to say, the music is also really good. In the words of the site where I found this, “Metal works for everything. EVERYTHING.”
On May 13 the German band Lantlôs will release their fourth album Melting Sun in North America via Prophecy Productions. Alcest’s Neige isn’t the vocalist on this new release, with the band’s Markus “Herbst” Siegenhort providing them himself this time (and they’re exclusively clean).
I haven’t yet listened to the entire album, but I have listened to an advance track named “Melting Sun II: Cherry Quartz”, which Prophecy began streaming on YouTube yesterday (and which premiered at NPR a day earlier); it was inspired by a cherry-tree “alley” in the woods near Herbst’s home. And from that inspiration, and some knowledge about the recent output of the band, you might make some guesses about the music.
It is indeed beautiful, shimmering, sun-dappled, often dreamlike. But it is also heavy and doom-shrouded, with low booming chords, grinding bass notes, and potent sledge-like drum strikes. It’s both of those things, both light and dark, and I’m really captivated by it as result.
The Parisian band Arkan have recorded a new album named Sofia that’s due for release by Season of Mist on May 23 (pre-order here). At least based on previous records, their music has been a fusion of melodic death metal and Eastern melodies and rhythms, especially ethnic music from Algeria and Morocco.
I haven’t written about Arkan since 2011 (here), but I’ve enjoyed their past music so much that I decided to check out a new song named “Wingless Angels” that premiered two days ago at Zero Tolerance. This song has less of an ethnic musical influence than I recall from previous works, and instead includes a jazz motif in one interlude, but the pairing of deep, ragged growling by Florent Jannier and the striking clean vocals by Sarah Layssac is still a winning combination, and the music in the song is quite memorable.
Go here to listen to “Wingless Angels”. Below I’ve also included a previously released track (“Hayati”) from Arkan’s Bandcamp page. In its style and use of ethnic instrumentation, it’s more like what I remember from previous releases (Sarah Layssac carries the vocals on this one buy herself). Digging it, too.