(This post was supposed to appear yesterday, following Part 1 (here), but my trip to Baltimore for Maryland Deathfest and the pre-fest show last night derailed those plans.)
I think once upon a time I explained that when I use the title Shades of Black in posting about collections of new songs, it doesn’t necessarily mean that what follows will be black metal (though that’s usually what follows). Sometimes the music has strands of recognizable black metal instrumentation mixed with other motifs. Sometimes it’s a matter of shared spirit. Sometimes, the music is just bleak and crushing.
I’m reminding you of this because I doubt anyone would call all of the following songs “black metal”. But I sure as hell do like all of them, and hope you do, too.
It was almost two years ago when I last wrote about this two-man sludge metal band from Gothenburg, Sweden — July 4, 2013, to be exact. Back then, the subject was a song from their last album, Two Titans. Now they have a new full-length named Trail of the Serpent that’s being released on May 25 by Candlelight Records. (with vinyl coming in July via Pelagic Records). Thanks to an alert from Bandcamp yesterday I learned that a new song named “Stench of Prey” is now available for streaming. It is one hell of a song.
“Stench of Prey” has gone straight to my list of candidates for 2015’s “Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs”. The thick, sludgy riff at the core of the track reaches out with gnarled hands and puts your neck in an iron grip. I defy you to break the hold. And while it’s bending your head to its implacable will, the rumbling/tumbling drumwork will be doing a demolition job on your spine. And if all that doesn’t tear you down into your component parts, the scraped-raw vocals will at least leave your skin scarred and scabbed.
But you can’t build a really excellent 10-minute song out of sheer repetition, no matter how good the primary building blocks are, and so Galvano work some inventive variations onto the backbone of their doomy melodic theme that keep you rooted in place, including a sombre interlude that balances the loud with the soft. The time passes and you think, where did it go? May I have some more please?
Warning: Prepare for sore-neck syndrome.
This Belgian band released their debut album Acceptance/Rebuild two years ago, and they’re now following it with a release coming out on May 29 (via Consouling Sounds) named Shock/Deny. The new one consists of two long tracks, conceptually designed to express the first two stages of the grieving process after losing someone close to you — shock and denial. CVLT Nation recently premiered an exclusive stream of the first track “Shock” HERE, and the second one (“Deny”) is now up on Bandcamp — so you can check it out below (though it seems to be four minutes shorter than the version on my promo copy).
As you might imagine, there is no joy in “Deny”. There is instead an atmosphere of the deranged and the damaged, a musical summing up of emotional wreckage. Dissonant chords combine with unhinged shrieking in a slow drag through a lightless pit of despair, interrupted by frenzied bouts of swarming tremolo’d riffs and machine-gun drumming. The vocals change in the most bereft and hypnotic part of the song, less dismembering but no less freighted with woe.
It may not be a happy experience, but the intensity of the music impresses, and I don’t think your interest will wane despite the song’s unusual length, even as the music crumbles into an ambient drone in the final minutes,
The next song in this collection represents a huge change of pace and mood from the first two tracks. You can think of it as something of a breather before you get to the destruction in the final two songs below — but it is much more than a long, deep breath.
The name of the next song is “Flykt” and it’s the title track to a new album by a band from the Sudermannia plains of Sweden named Forndom. It’s a mystical piece of music, slow, simple, and drifting. It shimmers like northern lights, a distant metronomic drumbeat keeping time while the ethereal synthesizer melody swells and gradually casts an increasingly irresistible spell.
Forndom’s creator L. Swärd wishes to reach back in time, to an age when civilization had not yet bent nature to its will, when more primitive souls worshipped Norse gods and lived in a way more interlaced with the natural world around them. What I can tell you is that “Flykt” is sublime — and deeply sorrowful in its mood.
Flykt will be released by Nordvis on June 19, both as a digital download and in an A5/DVD-sized digipack that includes four art prints with photography by L. Swärd (Forndom). Pre-orders can be placed at Bandcamp. There’s also a music video for the song, and I’m including it below, along with the Bandcamp stream.
The final two songs in this collection come from a UK band named Caligula, and that’s basically all I know about them. I haven’t found any information about who is in the band or where in England they’re located, and they don’t seem to have any social media pages. On May 18 they released a two-song demo named Rust, the two songs consisting of “Rust I” and “Rust II”.
The two songs are a punishing block of black industrial noise that seem at odds with the title. If rust is a slow degradation through oxidation, these songs are a methodical and violent demolition, working not on a molecular level but at the scale of a wholesale municipal tear-down. The force of the pounding beats is enough to convert skyscrapers into craters and the discordant guitar excretions, grinding bass tones, and surrounding shroud of distortion are eerie enough to suggest an alien presence behind the decimation.
I would add that the riff in “Rust II” is making me think of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man”, which is just fine with me.
Rust is a name-your-price download on Bandcamp: