In this post I’ve collected some songs I discovered recently that don’t fit our usual mold around here. As most people know by now, we no longer adhere strictly to the rule expressed in the site’s name — though I’m more faithful than some of our other writers. But the songs in this post are exceptions in more ways than simply the use of clean vocals; some of them aren’t even metal. But despite these departures from what I usually enjoy, all the songs have wormed their way into my head, and I thought you might enjoy them, too.
By the way, I spend very little time exploring music outside the boundaries of extreme metal, so these choices are hardly the result of some comprehensive survey. I came across all of them quite by accident.
Untold are based in Bern, Switzerland. Their most recent album (their fourth full-length) is named Towering and it was released in January of this year. The song that’s gotten its hooks in me is a track called “Voice Within”.
I learned of the song through a Facebook post by MaxR of Metal Bandcamp, and you can find a recent review of the album at his site (here). There’s a heavy, grinding, sludgy undercurrent in parts of the song and a layer of gritty distortion on the lead guitar melodies, but mainly the song is beautiful and dreamlike (if you have dark dreams). It’s also powerfully infectious, and it will get your head moving. The vocals (both clean and squalling) are great, too.
Towering is available on Bandcamp, where all the other songs are streaming. I plan to listen to them soon.
THE ORDER OF THE SOLAR TEMPLE
It’s been two years since I last wrote about Vancouver’s The Order of the Solar Temple. I learned that the band had just signed with I, Voidhanger Records for the release of their debut album and I wrote about an advance track named “Æon of Horus” (that first album is on Bandcamp here). Now, a new song has appeared. This one has been released as a digital single via Bandcamp, and it will appear on the band’s second album, to be released by I, Voidhanger early next year.
The name of the song is “Vessels”. Like a slow-acting drug, it gradually fogs your head, lulling you into a trance even though it includes passages of comparatively inflamed intensity and spooky psychedelic dissonance as it ebbs and flows. Like the first song in this collection, the vocals (which reach impressive falsetto highs) are a strong point.
UPDATE: I’ve also learned (and this is the first place you will read this) that the new album (as yet untitled) will also feature a cover of “Nightmare” (originally recorded by The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown in 1968) and a 5-track mini-concept inspired by Alucarda, the Daughter of Darkness, a cult horror movie from 1978 by Mexican director Juan López Moctezuma. This album should be very interesting…. Dig into “Vessels” below.
I came across this next video last night thanks to a another Facebook post, this one by a member of an excellent UK metal band. The video blew me away, and so I did some further research about the band.
Their name is Hanggai, they’re based in China, and their members are a mix of ethnic Mongolians and ethnic Han Chinese. Their music is based on traditional Mongolian folk music, though as you’ll find out, they combine other more modern styles of music, just as they combine both traditional folk instruments and the electrified implements of rock and metal.
The video shows the band performing a song named “Hamtlag” on a Chinese variety show called “Sing My Song”. The faces of the judges in the video are pretty accurate reflections of my own face as I watched the video.
By the way, Hanggai performed at Wacken Open Air in 2010. They’ve also recorded five albums, and below I’ve also included an official video for the title track to the last one, Baifang, which is also great. A lot more fascinating information about the band can be found at The Font of All Human Knowledge.
Once upon a time, decades ago, I was a big fan of post-punk, especially the more depressive varieties of it. After I eventually got into metal, I pretty much left it completely behind. But I do have a nostalgic attraction to the style, and so when I (infrequently) come across something that reminds me of it, I can get hooked — which is what happened when I found Jessica93 (though I hasten to add that post-punk is only one ingredient in the music).
I’ve forgotten exactly how I found the music — it happened a couple of weeks ago when some Facebook friend of mine posted a link. But since I’ve been returning to some of the songs after first hearing them, I decided that I kind of owed it to the band to say something about them — though it’s more accurately a “him” instead of a “them”, since the band is the alter ego of Parisian musician Geoffroy Lapporte.
Below I’ve included tracks from two albums, Who Cares (2013) and Rise (2014), both of which are on Bandcamp. The latter has just been released on vinyl for the first time in the U.S. by Seattle-based Not Just Religious Music.
When Noisey premiered a video for the song “Asylum” last year, they described Jessica93 as “a band from France who make songs that sound like they were written by Justin Broadrick, Kurt Cobain and Robert Smith during the Pornography era in a soggy basement in East Paris.” I’ve also seen references to “cold wave” and “shoegaze”, though I barely know what those terms mean. But I do know that these songs have really gotten stuck in my head.
To wrap up this out-of-the-ordinary playlist, I’m turning in a much more metal direction with a recently released song named “Menschsein” by the German band Atrorum. It’s the opening track on an album entitled structurae that’s scheduled for release by Apathia Records on November 16. It’s their first album in nine years. Apparently, it includes songs sung in six different languages (German, English, French, Spanish, Latin, and Russian).
“Menschsein” is strange but strangely attractive. It includes moments of spastic dissonance, rippling keyboard notes, rapidly-jabbing riffs, darting guitar arpeggios, black metal rasps and shrieks, jazzy piano interludes — and a chorus melody with clean vocals that’s ridiculously addictive. I’m sure I’ve left out other elements of this richly textured, avant-garde piece of music — but you really ought to dive in and stay under until “Menschsein” ends.