Once again, I decided to compile a group of new songs I discovered over the last 24 hours and liked a lot. As it happens, the ones I liked the best turned out to be in the poisoned vein of black metal — and so, we have another edition of Shades of Black.
It is true, as stated in the press release I received today, that Horna are a “Finnish black metal institution”. Their ninth album is named Hengen Tulet, and it’s now scheduled for release by W.T.C. Productions on September 22. I’m amazed by the cover art, which was prepared by Pahapasi.
The press release also states that the new album “carries forward a similar songwriting aesthetic” to the band’s last album Askel lähempänä Saatanaa, “but reinvigorates a foul, fetid primitivism”. Of course, I immediately searched to see if any music from the album was available for me to share with you, and discovered that, yes, there is — and that I somehow missed the song when it debuted in June.
The name of this new piece is “Amadriada“, and it’s the album’s opening track.
There is indeed plenty of feral ripping and tearing in this song, along with fusillades of blasting and rocking and strangulated vocal excretions. And man, there are some juicy hard-rocking riffs in here, as well as a grim march, to go along with the torrential savagery. And that’s really what makes this song so damned good — it isn’t all one thing, though in all of its variety it’s an homage to classic sounds (many of which this very band helped establish).
Here’s the track list for the new album, followed by a few links and the song stream.
2. Ajan Päättyessä
4. Tämä Maailma Odottaa
7. Ikuisuuden Kynnyksellä
8. Sodan Roihu
TEMPLE OF BAAL
The next music in this grouping also comes from a band who are veterans of the scene, the French band Temple of Baal. They also have a new album coming our way. Entitled Mysterium, it follows 2013’s Verses of Fire and will be released by Agonia Records on October 2. As with the new Horna album, it features very enticing cover art, in this instance created by David Fitt (Aosoth, Secrets of the Moon, Svart Crown) and Maria Yakhnenko.
According to the band, “Mysterium can be seen as a collection of meditations and prayers over the mysteries of Faith, directed towards the gods of the left hand path”. The first single from the album is now available. Its name is “Divine Scythe” and it includes guest vocals by Georges Balafas (Drowning, Eibon, Decline Of The I).
“Divine Scythe” begins as a slow bubbling cauldron of black metal and death metal poison, but then, with an electrifying riff, it takes off like Satan’s own Lear jet — still with a huge, powerful sound (more the roar of a jet engine fully engaged than the whine of turbines spooling up). To mix my metaphors, the song has the unbridled force and chaotic violence of a cyclone — but it’s also deeply atmospheric and haunting.
There are blasts of double-bass in the song that have put cracks in my walls. The riffs are exotic and transfixing. The song includes an extended guitar solo that’s worth the price of admission all by itself. And the finale is simply staggering and stupefying. Immediately, this is one of the best songs I’ve heard in months.
Mysterium will be released in a variety of formats (available for order here), and the track list is below, followed by a stream of the new song.
1-Lord Of Knowledge And Death
2-Magna Gloria Tua
6-Black Redeeming Flame
7-Holy Art Thou
8-All In Your Name
9-The Golden Walls Of Heaven (Bathory Cover, vinyl bonus track)
I’m very slow to discover this next piece of music. It’s a song named “Wera Wulfa” and it appears not on a forthcoming album but on one that was released earlier this month (though I didn’t know that when I heard the song yesterday). The album is Halfvergaan Ontwaakt, the debut full-length by a Dutch band named Wederganger, and it was released on CD and vinyl by Ván Records.
“Wera Wulfa” is like a musical tag-team. It moves back and forth between a mammoth staggering stomp with the air of a dirge for fallen frost giants and frenzied bouts of raking riffs and blast-beat munitions. Both parts of this dichotomy really hooked me, as did the skin-pealing shrieks that accompanied both of them — and there’s a third segment of the song that’s eerie and alien and just as interesting as the other two.
Below I’m including not only this excellent new song, but also a stream of the entire album from Bandcamp for those interested in exploring further.
Kaeck are a new Dutch band whose members come from the ranks of such other groups as Kjeld, Sammath, and Noordelingen. Their debut album Stormkult is being released next month by Folter Records, and this morning I heard a song from the album named “Akolieten van de nacht” that I thought was excellent. It melds implacable bestial ferocity and a harrowing array of anguished vocals (as well as somber spoken words) with a dark, emotionally moving melody that has staying power.
The atmosphere of the song becomes increasingly disturbed and disturbing, but I find its intensity charismatic and irresistible. Very eager to hear the rest of this album.
To finish this collection I’m turning to yet another album that is already out in the world, but that I only discovered recently. It’s the self-titled debut of a Greek band named Nightbreed. It was released this past March by Witches Brew. If you want to argue that it doesn’t exactly fit in a post about shades of black metal, I won’t fight you too hard about it. I just had to include a stream of this song someplace on the site without further delay.
I haven’t yet listened to the entire album, but yesterday I did catch a track from the album named “Pandemic” that’s available on Soundcloud, and it lit me up like I’d just stepped on a severed power line.
This song is quite unlike the others in this post — it’s pure, evil, blood-boiling thrash. Full of infectious energy and old-school spirit, it’s hard not to get caught up in its hell-for-leather, balls-to-the-wall, turbocharged attack. Of course, it also includes a shred-tastic guitar solo, and the vocals are pleasingly nasty, too.
The entire album is available for order on Bandcamp in CD form and as a download, and I’m including a full stream of the album after “Pandemic”.