Yes, I guess I’m still on a black metal kick, with this collection of new music being the third Shades of Black post in the last five days. I actually have listened to some new songs since the weekend that aren’t in the vein of black metal, and at some point soon I’ll throw that good stuff your way, too. But for now, moisten your lips with this poison….
Lots of friends who know of my liking for New York’s Krallice shot messages my way this morning to make sure I knew that the band had just released a new album — which did in fact catch me by surprise. This new six-song offering is entitled Ygg huur, a name “stolen from Scelsi” (in the band’s words). That explanation didn’t immediately make sense to me, but after a bit of googling I now know that Ygghur is both a Sanskrit word for “catharsis” and the name chosen by Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi (1905-1988) for a piece he wrote for solo cello. I found a description of Scelsi’s composition that included these words:
“In this work, the cellist must retune her instrument so that all four strings produce the same note. This opens the door to a tremendous variety of timbral and microtonal variations. The result, perhaps paradoxically, is music that is both spare and riveting in its variety and intensity.”
The music on Ygg huur is far from spare, but it is most certainly riveting in its variety and intensity. The songs are often dissonant, sometimes shrouded in a pall of gloom (“Idols”) and more often fierce and frenzied (e.g., “Wastes of Ocean” and most of what follows it), but all of them are extraordinarily intricate and engrossing.
When Krallice are operating at full speed on the album, the level of technical proficiency at which they function is jaw-dropping — but that will come as no surprise to people familiar with the talents of Mick Barr, Colin Marston, Nick McMaster, and Lev Weinstein. Listening is like eavesdropping on an exuberant debate between highly accelerated beings on a planet orbiting Tau Ceti, or witnessing the simultaneous cacophonous deconstruction of their cities and the hyper-speed erection of something else mystifying in their place — it’s alien, idiosyncratic, head-spinning stuff.
The four songs in the middle of the album are all exactly 6:41 long. That can’t be a coincidence, can it? It signifies something… but at the moment my brain feels like it’s been whipped around in a centrifuge for the last 34 1/2 minutes and I can’t even remember my birthday. So that puzzle will have to be left for another time.
Ygg huur can be purchased for download now, or pre-ordered on CD, at this location:
I discovered this next band through a Facebook post by the Dutch band Wederganger, whose music I featured in the last one of these Shades of Black collections. They described the sounds of Pox as “West Flandrian wretchedness”.
Pox is a great name for an extreme metal band, and one that’s especially appropriate for this Belgian black metal collective. In June of this year they released a self-titled EP on CD that includes four tracks, and Impious Desecration Records has recently made it available on tape as well.
I’ve only heard two of the songs on the EP so far: “Sacred Song of the Foul Fog” and “Door Den Holder Verrezen”, both of which you can hear below. I thought they were both outstanding. The thrashing riffs are hot as hellfire, the barbarous vocals are ugly as sin, and the drum progressions and rhythms are more interesting than the standard blasting fare of bestial black metal. I’ll be tracking down the whole EP.
I found out about this next band via a recommendation from a new Serbian friend, Miloš Anić. Though Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus is a Finnish name (which seems to mean “nihilistic barbarity”) and the band’s founder Mika Mage is himself of Finnish heritage, the band are based in Philadelphia. Their most recent album The Child Must Die was released in April by Infernal Kommando Records.
The music is atmospheric black metal, with sweeping, dramatic melodies carried by both ambient keyboards and rippling guitar chords. The music is definitely in line with certain strains of frostbitten, depressive-leaning Scandinavian black metal. Yet the music’s often downcast air is balanced by utterly savage vocals (frequently expressed like a chant) and by often intense instrumental performances.
Astutely, the band create pensive pauses in the strident torrents of sound with isolated guitar or piano arpeggios and drum-free ambient spaces, but the strength of the album lies in those panoramic melodies, which find beauty within the gloom and also venture into the realms of the mythic and heroic. And the entrancing acoustic closing track ends the album on a note that sounds almost… hopeful?
The Child Must Die is available on Bandcamp, both digitally and on CD (with a variety of related merch bundles).