The portal to the Abysscape is about to open again. Or in more prosaic terms, a new Ævangelist album is almost upon us. Entitled Enthrall To The Void Of Bliss, it will be released by 20 Buck Spin on October 9 in North America and October 23 in Europe. Today we are fortunate to host the premiere of the album’s first advance track, a transfixing torment called “Levitating Stones“.
With three albums in as many years and a trio of EPs, Ævangelist have already abundantly proven their ability to cast spells of nightmarish power and conjure visions of claustrophobic, otherworldly terror and despair. But listeners who have followed the band’s tortured path since 2012’s De Masticatione Mortuorum in Tumulis already know that their arcane creative inspirations have not left them rooted in a fixed place. “Levitating Stones” shows them moving again, navigating a new (and twisted) course within the alien hell they call home.
No one in their right mind would ever call the music of Ævangelist “accessible”, and that hasn’t changed. “Levitating Stones” still displays a senses-drowning storm of abrasive noise. Instrumentalist Matron Thorn again densely layers the music, interlocking a multitude of guitar parts, electronic effects, mystical keyboard overlays, and galvanizing drum changes, while dousing the entire auditory storm in a torrent of uncomfortable distortion. In its most intense phases, the song still merits the label “cacophonous”. It spins you around bodily, as if you’ve been cast into the maw of a whirlwind, at the same time as it doses your brain with hallucinatory poison.
And once again, the horrifying vocal talents of Ascaris make the music even more chilling. His cavernous roars and strangling howls are submerged just enough in the mix that they do not dominate the sound, but the unhinged, voracious quality of his rage is still palpable. It is said that ancient mapmakers used the phrase “Here be dragons” to mark the boundary to dangerous, uncharted territories. Ascaris‘ voice stands as that same warning.
Yet while none but asylum inmates might call “Levitating Stones” accessible, the song gives the orderly mind something to hang onto, and the way it does that makes it tremendously memorable, notwithstanding the ever-present hurricane of noise that looms over it.
It took me several listens to map out what I was hearing, and I’m still not positive I have it right (it would have been easier if I were a musician or had a better musical education). But what I think I’ve identified within the song are a grouping of four different but related musical themes, appearing one after another. That sequence of four themes is repeated twice in the first half (or so) of the song, and then two different themes appear (one of which is a quasi-industrial percussive rhythm accompanied by dissonant guitar notes), followed by a final appearance of the original quartet.
These melodies are sometimes dissonant; minor keys (and perhaps “blue notes”) are dominant. They are uneasy, and they do not move the overall sound of the music beyond the atmospheric boundaries of cataclysm and derangement. But they will get their hooks in you; they have drawn me back to the song repeatedly, like filings to a magnet.
I’ve found through hard experience that when I have an idea that even I think may be idiotic, it’s usually best to keep it to myself. But I’m going to violate that rule (especially because most of you will have already skipped ahead to the song stream by now) and say this: The mind often makes strange connections, and as I listened to this song, what I thought of was George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue” — if Gershwin had been one of The Great Old Ones inscribing the notes with massive tentacles across the ruins of a once-proud civilization.
There is nothing in “Levitating Stones” that is as jazz-influenced or as sometimes playful as “Rhapsody In Blue”, and there is more musical connection among the collection of musical themes that Matron Thorn has created here than the multitude of themes that Gershwin jammed together in “Rhapsody”. Yet something about Ævangelist’s juxtaposition of musical themes in “Levitating Stones” brought that piece to mind, perhaps in part because “Rhapsody In Blue” also captures (albeit in a much less catastrophic way than Ævangelist) the madness of urban existence.
Okay, there, I said it. Please be gentle with me.
It’s too soon to say whether “Levitating Stones” is representative of the musical directions explored in this new album, since I haven’t heard the rest of it yet. My guess is that more surprises lie in wait. Based on this first offering, I’m also guessing that the album will be one of 2015’s true highlights.
Enthrall To The Void Of Bliss will be released by 20 Buck Spin on the dates noted above, on CD and in digital form. Digital pre-orders can be placed now at this location. A vinyl edition will be released in December. The striking artwork for the album was created by Stephen Wilson/Unknown Relic (Sutekh Hexen, Godmaker, Demonic Possessor).
And in other Ævangelist news, the band will soon be appearing live at Hell’s Headbash in Cleveland (alongside Archgoat, Black Witchery, Inquisition, Deathhammer, and many more), with an additional appearance scheduled at California Deathfest in October (with the likes of Autopsy, Impaled, Dead Infection, Disma, Ghoul, Morbosidad, and many others).
9/06/2015 Cleveland Agora – Cleveland, OH @ Hell’s Headbash
10/10/2015 Oakland Metro – Oakland, CA @ California Deathfest
Enthrall To The Void Of Bliss Track Listing:
1. Arcanæ Manifestia
2. Cloister Of The Temple Of Death
3. Gatekeeper’s Scroll
5. Levitating Stones
7. Meditation Of Transcendental Evil*
* “Meditation Of Transcendental Evil” will not be included on the vinyl release, but will be as part of the included full album download.