Five days have passed since I compiled the last round-up of news and new music. I’ve seen and heard many things I would have preferred to write about as they were appearing, but I’ve been otherwise occupied with year-end lists — not writing them myself, of course, but doing the much more important work of embedding album art and song streams and currecting typoz. This takes time, and after doing it for more than a hundred different albums over the space of five days, my brain now has the consistency of porridge.
So, to give my brain a chance to gel again, I’ve taken a break from my immensely important editorial duties and collected the following items for your entertainment (and mine). Though these notices are not all timely, I believe they are all worthy of attention.
KEEP OF KALESSIN
What you see above is the gatefold album art for Epistemology, the new album by Norway’s Keep of Kalessin, which will be released on February 16 by Indie Recordings. The artwork was chosen by the band based on a contest in which more than a hundred artists submitted designs.
The winning entry was by Jean Michel (click the image above to view a larger version). More of his creations for the album booklet can be glimpsed in a video released by the band, which also includes a snippet of blasting instrumentation — and power metal vocals stylings. You can see and hear at the band’s Facebook page here. Album pre-orders have opened at this location. This is what the CD jewelcase looks like:
This next item caught me unawares. It’s the announcement of a festival called Psycho California, formerly known as Psycho de Mayo, which is returning in 2015 for three days (May 15, 16, and 17) at The Observatory in Santa Ana, California. And holy shit, would you get a load of that line-up?
I’ll list the bands in a minute for those who don’t want to squint at the flyer, but let’s just say it’s a heavy helping of doom, psych, and sludge — and the three headliners haven’t even been announced yet. Those names are coming on January 15. Discounted, early-bird tickets for the festival are on-sale now via psychoca.com.
The only drawback for your humble editor is that this is the weekend right before Maryland Deathfest, and I’m not sure I can swing that much time off from the old fucking day job. But damn, this sure is tempting. Here’s the line-up so far (festival interludes will be provided by Author & Punisher and there will be a vinyl DJ set from Bob Lugowe of Relapse Records):
Kylesa, Earth, OM, Russian Circles, Orange Goblin, Bedemon, Conan, Eyehategod, Indian, Earthless, Pallbearer, Crowbar, Stoned Jesus, Old Man Gloom, Cave In, Acid Witch, Truckfighters, Tombs, Bang, Electric Citizen, Coffinworm, SubRosa, Eagle Twin, Mammatus, True Widow, Anciients, Bellwitch, Lord Dying, Death By Stereo, Radio Moscow, Ancient Altar, Samsara Blues Experiment, Elder, Mothership, The Well, Deathkings, Wo Fat, Rozamov, Destroyer of Light, Highlands, Bloodmoon, Slow Season, Crypt Trip, Lords of Beacon House, Tumbleweed Dealer, Sinister Haze, Blackout, Red Wizard, Banquet and Loom.
Okay, so much for the news. Let’s have some music, shall we?
Two days ago Sweden’s Dark Funeral released a new song and video named “Nail Them To the Cross”. It will be released by Century Media as a limited-edition 7” single, and another new song will be released in early 2015. The new song features a new vocalist, recruited by the band to replace Nachtgarm, who departed in 2012, and he’s the star of the video, dripping with fluids. The band also have a new bassist — but so far I’ve not seen any official announcement of their identities.
I like the new song a lot — it has a grim, brooding atmosphere and a heavyweight low end, and when it storms it explodes in warlike fury. Whoever it is, the new vocalist can shriek and growl with conviction, too. Check it out:
Last May I wrote about a video I had just seen for a song called “White” by a band from Finland named Bonemechanics. Yesterday I caught a new Bonemechanics video for another new song named “Ludovician”, taken from their forthcoming Engine Of Dissent EP.
Like that earlier song, this one jackhammers you right down into the ground, with those big pulverizing grooves and spine-shaking drumbeats accompanied by a flurry of scything riffage, a slow-drifting guitar interlude, an enticing melody, and yet another impressively varied vocal performance. Can’t not headbang.
Okay, it’s time to accelerate the pace with the last two songs in this collection. The first one comes from a band named Gatekrashör from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I don’t remember where I first spotted their name, but I’ve had a link to their self-titled debut album (released in August 2014) squirreled away on a list of things to check out, and finally did that yesterday.
I only intended to listen to a song or two, but got so caught up in what their were doing that I let all 9 songs run roughshod, leaving me in the condition of flattened roadkill with a permanent rictus. The whole album is hot shit, but I’ve picked just one to share with you (all of them are on Bandcamp) — “Heavy Metal Rangers”.
This song flies like a bat horde with jet fuel for blood. The riffs are hooky as hell, the vocals are lycanthropic, the drums are blistering, the soloing will melt lead — and you really can’t help but try to sing along to the lyrics. Very sweet old school speed metal savagery.
MAZE OF TERROR
The final song in this collection comes from a band from Lima, Peru, named Maze of Terror. I gleefully reviewed their 2012 Skullcrusher EP in September (here), and now they’ve just released a new single from their forthcoming album Ready To Kill.
The name of the single is “Lycanthropes”. It’s driven by a mix of evil tremolo needling and head-hooking riffs, accompanied by raw, filthy vocal extremity. As the song rushes forward it grows increasingly frenetic, and then punches the afterburners with a couple of white-hot guitar solos. A smoking piece of infectious blackened thrash.
I didn’t really need any further inducement to become eager for Maze of Terror’s album, but this confirms it will be worth hearing when it arrives.