Feb 092015


I’m so glad to be back home after three weeks in the bush, by which I mean Delaware. Finally, to sleep in my own bed, in which I woke up once an hour beginning about 2 a.m. and whined, because the time zone change is fuckin’ with me.  In other words, I slept like a baby. But it really is good to be home — although it appears I’m going to have to do this extended travel thing all over again in three weeks, which blows. But I’ll bitch about that more thoroughly when the time comes. For now, let’s discuss happier subjects….


This first item of news really cheered me right up — the marriage between one of my own most fervently anticipated releases of 2015 and one of my favorite artists. As you can see above (and click that image to enlarge it), maestro Paolo Girardi has created the painted cover art for the new album by Seattle’s Bell WitchFour Phantoms. It is beautiful, and I have no doubt that Four Phantoms will also be beautiful, in the way that the pale, cold skin of a bewitching corpse is beautiful.

The album will be released by Profound Lore in April. If you are new to the name Bell Witch, you should begin preparing yourself by listening to this:










The resplendent UK blackened death metal band Sarpanitum has a new album coming our way, their second, by the name of Blessed Be My Brothers… It will be released by Willowtip Records on February 17. Last week Stereogum premiered one of the new songs, a stunning piece called “By Virtuous Reclamation”. I so enjoyed Doug Moore’s introduction to the song that I’m going to paste part of it right here:

The squelching psychedelia and massive-sounding production artifice that Morbid Angel hit upon… constitute the groundwork for Sarpanitum. You can hear a lot of other contemporaneous death metal greats in their sound, too: Nile’s theatrical keyboards and grandiloquent song titles; the florid lead guitars of Vital Remains; Hate Eternal’s insane speed and deep, commanding vocals. The band Sarpanitum resembles most strongly is probably Mithras, which is fitting; Mithras main man Leon Macey drives this album’s rhythms with his impossible athleticism and clicky kick drums, while Sarpanitum guitarist Tom Hyde sometimes performs with Mithras live.

But while playing influence whack-a-mole with this album is fun, it doesn’t remotely convey the titanic physical presence that Sarpanitum brings to bear. Blessed Be My Brothers sports a combination of flashy speed and sheer power more commonly seen in blue-chip NFL defensive ends and 21st century war machines; it is a dazzling, mind-melting aural experience. And unlike many of this approach’s lesser practitioners, Sarpanitum can and do write nasty hooks aplenty. I count three on “By Virtuous Reclamation” alone, carefully positioned amidst a landscape of liquid-obsidian riffs and liquid-cheddar keys. Listen.

And so you should… and do it here, without delay:








In January I had the pleasure of discovering a band named Kjeld, who come to us from the Frisian area of The Netherlands (which includes part of northern Germany as well).  They released a debut EP in 2010 (available on Bandcamp), and their debut album Skym will be released on March 2 by Hammerheart Records (with lyrics in the Frisian language). In January I wrote about one wonderful advance track that had then become available for streaming, but now the entire album can be heard via Soundcloud. I hope to scribble more thoughts about the album after I recover my senses, or at least the ones I lost while away from home over the last three weeks (some are gone forever), but for now I at least want to urge you to give this a listen:









Our friend deckard cain sent me a link to the last item in this round-up. It’s a music video by a band named Lo! from Sydney, Australia (though the drummer lives in Hong Kong). The song’s name is “Orca“.

Some music videos attempt to create imagery that meshes with and enhances the music, perhaps by telling a story, perhaps by crafting imagery inspired by the fuel of the music. Other videos (e.g., bands playing in a warehouse) don’t have much to do with the music itself and as a result are “ho hum”. And then still other videos don’t have much to do with the music but are so visually arresting that they almost become a distraction from what you’re hearing. The following video is in that category.

I actually do like the song quite a bit, but I was only listening with half a mind the first time I watched this, because… well… you’ll see.

The song comes from the band’s new EP, The Tongueless, and features Lo!’s new vocalist Sam Dillon. It was produced by bass player Adrian Shapiro, who is himself a movie producer in Australia, and it was directed by Matt Divine. The Tongueless is available from Pelagic Records here.




  1. I will never understand why bands and people are so interested in using Paolo Girardi’s work. He uses the exact same beige palette and “general apocalyptic scene” for so many of his album covers. Compare the Bell Witch one to the most recent Inquisition, Lycus and Vastum records.

    The dude is clearly talented, he just needs to branch out a little more.

    • I personally love the madmans works and always delight whenever there is a new one.
      I love his choice of colors, even if they are limited across his entire works.
      They do whats needed for the image at the very least and often have plenty of hidden horrors to be found within
      Each one is a world unto itself.
      Of course, when I like something I’m usually all, “More of the same, please!”
      But, at the end of the day, to each their own..

      • I think Girardi’s work is awesome, but that it may have reached a saturation point, not unlike funeral doom as a subgenre. Fortunately, Bell Witch are not a generic funeral doom band. Really liked _Longing_, and didn’t know they had a new one on the way. Looking forward to it. Is the Flenser doing the vinyl again?

        Speaking of saturation points, that Lo! video makes for an, uh, immersive experience. Cool design on the packaging for the 2 x 7″ too. The music obviously has to come first, but, as someone who still buys physical media, I really appreciate it when bands take the time to craft something that is cool to hold and look at as the record spins on the turntable.

        • I was looking up Paolos work after I commented and I do have to say… the sheer amount thats out there is crazy
          And that said, it does start to look a bit same-ish.
          Still, great style, but maybe you guys have a point.
          I only see the occasional release due to what I buy and look into, but seeing it as a whole is a different experience

        • Love some Bell Witch, and also some Samothrace, with whom the Witch (damn, sounds like A Wrinkle in Time) share at least one member. Anyone know if Samothrace is working on anything new? Their last album is ridiculously great, a critical-mass fusion of hard rock and doom, aching solos and some of the more original drum work in any genre. Psyched to hear new work from anyone involved.

          • I’m totally with you on Samothrace. They’re definitely not dead. I haven’t heard that they’re working on new songs, but they do have a vinyl recording on the way which captures their live set at last year’s Roadburn festival. They say that a stream of the recording will be up soon at this location:


    • I can see what you mean, but almost every artist has a favourite colour palette and works within that.
      If you want to take a look at a great master that clearly influenced Mr. Girardi (BTW, I HAVE to pay him a visit someday), a german romantic painter by the name Caspar David Friedrich, you will see a surely wider palette, but with the same recurring themes.
      I can remember many of Paolo’s paintings with lots of reds and blues, so probably it’s just a “phase” for the artist or it’s a case of bands picking up paintings with the same palette because it’s the colours that are “hot” now in the genre.
      Or maybe your monitor is gone ^__^

  2. That Lo! video confirms that I never want to find myself in a pool of Pepto-Bismol.

  3. Bell Witch and Girardi, that is an amazing combination 🙂

  4. What an action-packed post:

    Sarpanitum – I have to admit half the reason I played this was the artwork. But holy fuck balls that’s good.

    Kjeld – Loving the first few tracks, will need to make some time to listen to this in full.

    Lo! – the best video I’ve seen in a long time. This really is a fascinating piece of work that not only holds your attention but really compliments and augments the musical experience. Gloriously twisted, and somehow all I could think of was the vocalist from Meshuggah.

  5. Hello Bell Witch! Hello Doom! I will definitely look for Four Phantoms. Did anyone else think of Ghostbusters II after watching that Lo! video?

  6. Lo! Was a bolt from the blue. The guys from the Ocean were sharing it, that’s how I came across it. And Sarpanitum’s record is one I am definitely looking forward to. Replacements for Mithras definitely.

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