Because the installments in this long-running series have become so widely spaced, I’ll begin with a reminder about how the MISCELLANY experiment works:
I pick bands whose music I’ve never heard, usually without much rhyme or reason. I listen to one song, though I sometimes cheat and listen to more. I write my impressions and then I stream the music so you can judge for yourselves. In this latest excursion I sampled the music of five bands from all over the map, both geographically and musically.
As mentioned, I usually pick bands randomly, but in the case of this first selection I followed the recommendation of “B” from the superb Siberian funeral doom band Station Dysthymia.
Metal-Archives tells me that Septic Mind have recorded three albums, the most recent of which is named Раб (Rab) and was released by Solitude Productions earlier this month. The album is available on Bandcamp, and the song I picked for testing was the title track. Given the source of the recommendation and the genre classification on M-A, I was expecting funeral doom.
And yes, it’s funeral doom, but with unexpected twists. It’s also a fantastic song, with an echoing lead guitar melody that seizes the attention from the first moments, followed by rhythmically jabbing riffs that eventually resolve into a jagged stomp, with hollow roars emanating from some deep cavern below the music.
And what’s that? Darting electronic notes? Odd, dissonant guitar scales, climbing up and down, over and over again? A lilting arpeggio slowly encircling the scales? A wash of strange electronic noise? Trippy, psychedelic funeral doom? Yes, I believe that’s what this is. Ultra cool.
The next band I selected also has a new album, a work entitled Hakmarjja that was released by Avantgarde Music about 10 days ago. More Metal-Archives research revealed that the band is French and named themselves for Stalin’s secret police organization in the Soviet Union. The new album is their second. It, too, is available on Bandcamp, so I ventured there and listened to the title track.
And it turns out to be a bleak, black, howling storm of distortion and imperialistic riffs, slow and infernally majestic, with an array of human and inhuman voices, including something very close to a throat-singing chant. It’s a strange and potent concoction of doomed, droning, industrialized metal that makes me want to hear the rest of the album.
Idensity are another French band, with two albums to their credit — 2011’s Serenity and 2013’s Chronicles. I discovered them through a live video of their performance at Stade Olympique in Albertville, France, in September of this year. I’ve already forgotten how I came across that video, but I watched enough of it to decide that I ought to include Idensity in this MISCELLANY edition.
Three songs from Chronicles can be streamed on Soundcloud, and the one I picked is “Over the Abyss”. This was a bit of a cheat on my self-imposed rules, because I had heard it performed live on that video and was so taken with it that I wanted to hear the studio track.
I confess that I’m in love with this song. It includes massively groovy, massively infectious riffs; gargantuan growls and pure clean vocals; slow, exotic, serpentine melodies woven by both guitar and violin; orchestral overlays; and a chorus that reminds me of something from Yes. It hammers and it soars; I do intend to visit the rest of the songs on the album, but so far I keep replaying this one.
Below I’m embedding all three songs from Chronicles that are on Soundcloud plus the professionally filmed live video I mentioned; “Over the Abyss” is the second song in the video.
I randomly chose New York City’s Enmerkar for this post based on a link to their only release that someone put on Facebook. It’s an EP named Starlit Passage, and I had zero idea what it would sound like. The EP is on Bandcamp and I started with the opening track, “Where the Mountains Will Hide Your Ghost” — but I didn’t stop there.
The opening track is a dreamlike, reverberating rendering of Spanish-styled acoustic guitar against a wash of low distortion and ethereal keyboard ambience (with bird song) — entrancing, and enticing. After that engrossing instrumental start I had to move on to the next track, “Pale Lord Pilgrimage of the Winter Born” — which is equally entrancing, though in a different way.
It’s atmospheric black metal that floods the senses with a storm of distorted riffs and blasting drums, with a ghostly melody that floats over the wall of sound and another captivating one that moves in the lower end of the range like ocean swells. Both sorrowful and transcendent, it’s dramatic music that builds to a riveting, keyboard-driven crescendo and then subsides before the storm resumes again in one last powerful torrent of sound.
I found Enmerkar’s Facebook page, which discloses that this is a one-man band whose sole member calls himself Morchiant and includes a recent post stating that the band is recording a new album — to which I say FUCK YES.
For the final selection in this MISCELLANY installment I again followed the recommendation of a Facebook friend, who explained that Idolum is the solo project of Alec Rozsa from the excellent Minnesota band Amiensus. So, this is another little cheat on the MISCELLANY rules because, with that reference, I can’t say this pick was exactly random. Still, I didn’t know what the music would sound like.
Idolum’s debut album is The Sacraments of Penance, self-released last month. The song recommended on Facebook was “Sathariel”, the album’s penultimate track. Anchored at first by a rocking beat, rolling riffs, and attention-grabbing bass notes, it’s a dark but thoroughly engrossing piece of black metal with a captivating guitar melody and excellent harsh vocals. As has been true of every song explored in this post, it’s so good that I’ll be returning to explore the rest of the album.
Idolum has also recorded a cover of a song by The Black Dahlia Murder named “When the Last Grave Has Emptied” (from Unhallowed), which includes backing vocals by James Benson from Amiensus, and I’ve included a stream of that one below, too.