This is a collection of news and new music I discovered last night and this morning. When I use the “Shades of Black” title, it doesn’t always mean that everything in the post will be black metal, but it does today. On the other hand, most of the music in this post isn’t likely to conform to any preconceptions that most casual listeners may have about the sound of black metal. If one were to construct a bell curve of the genre, almost everything in here would be out on the edges.
Austria’s Abigor have finished recording their tenth studio album, entitled Leitmotif Luzifer — The 7 Temptations of Man. It will be released by Avantgarde Music on July 11. Despite Abigor’s long history, I’ve never listened to any of their previous releases from start to finish, and I’m not even certain I’ve ever listened to any individual songs. So this new album will be my first proper introduction to the band — and from what I’ve heard so far, it will be a very happy meeting.
Abigor have created a Bandcamp page on which they’ve uploaded two different teaser tracks, each of which contains excerpts from songs on the new album. They emphasize on that page that “no synthetic elements have been used” in the recording of the album — “the guitars are completely free of any effects, neither reverb nor any special effects edit were allowed to touch the string instruments on this album”, and “for vocals only reverb and delay has been used, no pitch or chorus or any other effect stained the purity and directness”.
The teaser clips collectively include nearly 18 minutes of music, though no complete songs. To say the least, the music displayed by these teasers is esoteric and eccentric, but it’s also fascinating and rich in its diversity.
The riffs are slow and booming; fast and flensing; serpentine and jackhammering; meandering and bouncing; rocking and rolling, The lead guitar lines flicker like flames, darting here and there unpredictably. The vocals are equally varied and include clean song reminiscent of Peter Steele, gang chants, screeches, yells, roars, and the more expected kind which sound like the vocalist is being strangled with barbed wire. The two musicians are obviously quite talented — just listening to the bass and the remarkable drum performance is its own reward.
This is head-spinning, avant grade black metal that has the potential to appeal greatly to people (like myself) who are hungry for music that’s off the beaten path. The album will be released as an A5 digiCD and on black vinyl (gatefold, with a 16-page A5 booklet). It can be ordered here. Those teaser compilations are below.
Season of Mist has officially announced the title and release date of the new album by Colorado’s Nightbringer. The album’s title is Ego Dominus Tuus and it will be released in North America on September 30 (September 26 worldwide). The album was recorded and mixed at Flatline Audio Studios by Dave Otero (Cephalic Carnage, Cattle Decapitation, Cobalt). The press release I received also included this statement from the band:
“Nightbringer is extremely proud to unveil our latest album, Ego Dominus Tuus, an undertaking almost exactly one year in the making, from first compositions to the final day of mastering. Ego Dominus Tuus represents the path of ordeal, from the transformative Fires of the Art within the crucible of the underworld, to the revelation of the Daimon to the Guardian at the Threshold and slaying Sun of Death, Light of Lucifer, all contained within the enigma of a sacred name.”
There’s a teaser of music from the new album on YouTube, and I’ve included that below. And here are dates for some live Nightbringer appearances in some very august company, two of which are coming right up:
7/11 in Los Angeles, CA @ TheBlack Castle w/SARGEIST
7/12 in San Diego, CA @ Til Two Club w/BEHEXEN
10/31 in Bogota, Columbia @ TBA w/ACHERONTAS
Like Abigor, featured at the top of this post, the music of Slagmaur is new to me — but what a wonderful discovery it has been. Their third album, entitled Thill Smitts Terror, is now scheduled for release in October, and two tracks have been made available for streaming. The press statement I read contained this intriguing description of the album:
“Thill Smitts Terror will continue where Von Rov Shelter left off, delving more and more deeply into the disturbing world that SLAGMAUR conjures up by combining modern and classical instruments with children’s nursery rhymes and fairy tales. It is a world where classically constructed melodies blend seamlessly with aggressive black metal to create a nightmare scenario straight from the pit of hell.
“All artwork for the album is by the band’s founder General Gribbsphiiser (guitars, bass, cello, keys) and, according to the band’s manager, art, as well as music, is an integral part of the whole that is SLAGMAUR. Each individual part of the artwork that will be used on the album will also be available separately as limited editions stand-alone pieces of art.”
Now, on to those two advance tracks. They are both pre-production versions of the songs, and so will change to some degree before the album is released. But even in their current non-final forms, both “The Drummer of Tedworth” and “Werewolf” are hugely appealing.
The big percussive opening of “The Drummer of Tedworth”, backed by grinding riffs and spooky ambient sounds, grabbed me immediately and only tightened its grip, ratcheting the tension with a buzzing swarm of rapid-fire guitars and strange melodies. Demented piano arpeggios join forces with extravagantly unhinged vocals to push the music even further into an ominous and surreal place.
“Werewolf” also makes compelling use of booming drums and eerie ambient sounds in its introduction, joined by equally eerie clean vocal harmonies. As the song continues, the aura of ominous darkness becomes more intense, but the driving rhythms and heavy riffs will succeed in getting your head moving emphatically. Extremely cool.
KULT OF TAURUS
Here’s yet another band who I discovered only recently. Their debut album Divination Labyrinths was released last October by Forever Plagued Records, and I finally decided to explore it based on a recommendation by KevinP in a recent article on Greek metal at Metal Bandcamp (here). It’s a very good record.
Let me tell you about only one song, which I would suggest you use as a test of whether the album might be your kind of thing. The song is “Channeling End”. It’s built around a series of dissonant melodies, which manage to be highly infectious despite their minor-key flights of fancy. The song is also a dynamic one, the tempos and time signatures twisting and turning like a sidewinder, the riffs hitting rock beats just as comfortably as they slash and burn. The vocals are never less than thoroughly impassioned (and never less than ravenous). This is creative black metal that follows its own tangled path.
In March of this year we had the pleasure of premiering a killer song from a two-track 7″ by a Baltimore band named Barbelith. At that time, the band had also released for streaming a song from a forthcoming album which then seem to be named Astral Plane, to be released by Grimoire Records, and I was reminded of it by a recent message from NCS supporter Utmu.
I had read that the production of the album was complete, but when I checked yesterday, “Astral Plane pt. 3” was still the only track that was available for streaming on Bandcamp. I do love that song — its combination of dreamlike guitar-and-keyboard melody, raking riffs, and searing vocal vehemence remains compelling. It’s lush, sweepingly atmospheric, and aggressively attacking.
Well, in the last 24 hours much has changed. The Bandcamp page has been revised to reveal that the album now has a final title — Mirror Unveiled — and new artwork, which you can see above. The album also now has a release date of November 1, 2014 — which makes me very happy.
Fortunately, you can still listen to part of “Astral Plane”, below.