SHADES OF BLACK: URFAUST, IDOLATRY, ADDAURA
This is a collection of recent music I heard over the last 24 hours that I want to recommend. As the post title suggests, the music is loosely connected by elements of black metal — and I do mean “loosely”, especially in the case of the first song.
I first learned of the Dutch two-man band Urfaust when our long-time supporter Utmu wrote about them in a guest post two years ago, a post I would commend to people who are new to Urfaust. Even today, I’ve still only dabbled in the band’s previous recordings, but enough to recognize that their approach to black metal is highly distinctive.
More than four years have passed since their last album, but Germany’s Ván Records is now poised to release a new 12″ vinyl EP from the band. Entitled Apparitions, it features painted artwork by ThornyThoughts Artwork.
photo by Winter Schatten
I believe I mentioned that the band’s approach to black metal is distinctive, and that’s an understatement when it comes to the title track of the new release, which began streaming yesterday. If it can be considered black metal at all, it’s only because of a certain dark and borderline-occult aesthetic.
The music is slow and stately, with the pace of something like a swinging march. Until near the end it sounds as if the only instruments used were brass and timpani; near the end, some kind of unusual stringed acoustic instrument (ethnic, or perhaps medieval) picks up the melody and elaborates on it.
The voices are wordless male and female choirs, and a single solo performer (“IX“) whose own wordless voice wails and soars. It all sounds like it was recorded under the vault of some grand cathedral during the performance of a ritual.
So far I’ve seen nothing that explains how this song was created or what inspired it, but I’m certainly quite curious — and fascinated by the music. I also haven’t seen a track list for this release and therefore don’t know what else it includes (though it will apparently exceed 40 minutes in length). But if you’re the adventurous sort, Apparitions is available for pre-order here. I’m eager to discover what else it holds in store.
Idolatry is a relatively new entity from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, having existed as a full band only since April 2014 (although the band’s members have experience in other groups). They released a self-titled debut EP last November, although a wider distribution is expected from from Québec’s Death to Peace records.
I recently came across a link by someone on Facebook to one song from the EP named “The Stygian Creed”, and it’s so good that I plan to listen to the rest of the EP soon. But since I’m so short of time these days, I at least wanted to mention this song now.
“The Stygian Creed” is an interweaving of two musical strands. The first (and it appears first) is a dark, stately processional with an atmosphere of infernal majesty. The second part is more frenzied and warlike, driven by accelerated drum beats, grinding bass notes, and scathing riffs, and accompanied by jagged snarls that spit poison. Through both parts, a grim, foreboding melody moves like a serpent.
If you like what you hear, you can stream and download all the songs for free at this location (and all the tracks are also now up on YouTube):
You can find Idolatry on Facebook here:
This final item goes in the category of “albums I wish I had time to review properly but don’t, yet I’ll never live with my feeble-minded self if I don’t say something about it”.
The name of the album (or perhaps, EP) is ...and the lamps expire. It was self-released by a Seattle band named Addaura on January 19 and follows their debut full-length, 2012’s Burning For the Ancient. It was mastered by the awesome Tad Doyle (TAD). It consists of three tracks, listed here with their run-times:
“amid the tumult and the clamor (I look for the light through the pouring rain)” — (10:28)
“chambering things lost” — (1:37)
“The sun shines today also (on the oaks of That Bird Hill)” — (9:20)
If my investigations are correct, two of the songs were recorded in 2013 and a third was added more recently. The second track functions as an interlude; it sounds something like the reverberating tones of a gong mixed with discordant electronic tones and harsh shimmering noises.
The first and third songs are the meat of the matter. In those songs, Addaura perform the kind of atmospheric black metal that burns with passion and invokes passion in the listener. They move from passages of fiery intensity marked by intense drumming and the vocalist’s wild howls to slower, more subdued moments — grand, stately, keyboard-augmented segments that are no less enthralling than the huge, heaving melodies that move like tides through the maelstrom of the more super-heated movements.
This is well-performed, memorable music that I found gripping, entrancing, and ultimately inspiring. The album is available on Bandcamp for $1 (or more), and that’s a true bargain.
I feel like my life is measured in time between Urfaust releases; for as long as I’ve known them, all inspiration has always come from ‘drunken rituals’ and ‘rituals of the drink’.
“Drunken” and “drinking” do seem to be words frequently used by the band, but shit-faced debauchery is not at all what I’m thinking about when I listen to this new song. I’m worried instead that an inter-dimensional membrane is about to open and The Great Old Ones are waiting to come through. 🙂
I’d drink to that.
This is the first I’ve heard of Urfaust. It’s got my attention, I’ll be looking into them.
wow, Addaura is really, really cool! 🙂
That Addaura release is enticing. Gonna have to buy that one, especially since it’s only a buck.