SHADES OF BLACK (PART 2): MAÏEUTISTE, THIS GIFT IS A CURSE, PYROMANCER, REBEL WIZARD, HUMM, GATEWAY
Yesterday I began a multi-part collection of new music in a blackened vein. I broke the post into two parts because I had so many new music streams I wanted to recommend. I probably should have broken this post into two parts as well, to make a total of three. But what the hell… As much music as you’ll find here, I hope you’ll find time to at least sample all of it, because it’s all very good and very diverse.
I’ve written before about individual songs on the new self-titled debut album by the French band Maïeutiste (and we premiered one of them), but now the album has been released (by Les Acteurs de l’Ombre Productions) and all the songs are available for streaming and acquisition on Bandcamp.
What has been true of individual songs is equally true of the album as a whole: attempting to cabin its sound within neat genre boundaries is a bit of a fool’s errand. One minute you’re caught up in a tranquil and thought-provoking acoustic guitar instrumental, the next minute you’re being blown off your feet by a black metal hurricane. The music can send your mind deep into a shadowed tunnel of despondency and doom, as if being slowly buried in the catacombs of a Gothic cathedral, and then cast you into the heart of a blazing inferno of blasting drums, rapidly maneuvering torrential riffs, and bestial vocal excretions. (Perhaps needless to say, the music includes tremendous vocal variety, too.) One minute you’re rocking out, the next you’re in the middle of a display of of theatrical bombast, the next you’re drifting within the droning sound of phantasms.
It really goes too far in the face of such extravagant dynamism to say that the album is “cohesive”. It would be more accurate to say that it’s a creatively imagined, carefully constructed, and beautifully performed musical kaleidoscope. Listening to any one song at random really isn’t going to represent everything else that lies within it — with the turn of the wheel, a whole array of new colors presents itself. But that’s exactly what makes the album so interesting.
I also have to compliment the incredibly dark and mesmerizing charcoal cover art by Laurence Léonard-Sytnik, even though it isn’t as kaleidoscopically colorful as the music.
And finally, I should add that for those who are content with a digital version of the album, it’s (amazingly) a “name your price” download on Bandcamp. Physical copies (on tape, CD, and a limited box edition) are available HERE.
THIS GIFT IS A CURSE
Last month we premiered a song named “We Use Your Dead As Vessels” from the new album by Sweden’s This Gift Is A Curse. It was stupefyingly heavy, implacably savage, and frighteningly eerie. Now another new song from the album named “Hanging Feet” has premiered at Metal Sucks. All those adjectives still apply — this band is making music that will take you apart and send what’s left of your mind into a very dark place. Go HERE to listen to “Hanging Feet”.
All Hail the Swinelord will be released on October 16 and you can pre-order it on vinyl and CD from Season of Mist at this location, as well as on Bandcamp via the link below. To check out one more track from the album, head over to CVLT Nation.
Pyromania is a two-man black/death project from Lexington, Kentucky whose members are also to be found in the awesome Tombstalker and in Apochryphal Revelation. Their 2015 demo is on Bandcamp and it’s also being released on tape via Philadelphia’s Grim Winds Records and in Europe by the underground Russian late From the Dark Past (links are below).
The demo includes five tracks of barbaric hellfire, mixing hook-laden riffs that will get heads moving with cyclonic bursts of acid-spraying, tremolo’d mayhem. The vocals are likewise a mix, of wretched shrieking and monstrous roars. And the drumwork on the album hits so hard that it will rattle the teeth in your head.
This is a throw-back style of metal that’s got more punk and thrash in it than northern darkness, more groove and bombast than “atmosphere”, but it’s still definitely poisonous to the core — and catchy as fuck.
Early last month I impulsively reviewed a fascinating collaborative release entitled Volume 13 by two Australian musicians who go by the names Nekrasov and The Horn. As a result of my interest in that album, I learned that Nekrasov has another project named Rebel Wizard. The style of the music is different from what you’ll hear on Volume 13 — “the new wave of negative metal” is the label chosen by Rebel Wizard — but I sure like what I’ve heard on the project’s recent EP, Negative Wizard Metal.
This thing is packed to the brim with electrifying riffs, one high-voltage thrashing jolt after another, and all of them geared to getting stuck in your quivering brain. The captivating melodies are indeed mostly dark and dismal, but the songs are shot through with so much energy (including Nekrasov’s unhinged vocal howls — something like a cross between an enraged panther and a torture victim) that it makes for an interesting and effective contrast.
The songs are also spiced with blistering guitar solos, unexpected instrumental digressions, harrowing bursts of distorted sound, eerie ambient keyboard segments, and other surprises that I’ll leave you to discover for yourselves. Suffice to say that this isn’t all one thing — but it’s all really good. Did I mention that these riffs are gold?
Negative Wizard Metal was released in July of this year and is available on Bandcamp.
Once again, I must thank my Serbian friend “M” for recommending the next two releases in this collection. This first one comes from a one-man project named Humm (the one man being Fabio Gatto) based in the Piedmont region of Italy.
Humm’s first album was last year’s No Empathy Before Doomsday, and Humm released a single in 2014 as well. The name of this new album is Sanctuary, and it came out via Bandcamp last month.
When you start the Bandcamp player for the album, the first thing you hear is the next-to-last track, “Weeping Hermione”, and if it doesn’t grab you hard within the first minute I’ll be surprised. The immediately catchy riffs with which that song begins are just a taste of the kind of riff magic strewn throughout this album. And the song also introduces you to Humm’s talent for combining diverse musical styles and changing tempos into songs that are cohesive, as well as mixing clean sombre vocals with hair-raising black metal snarls.
The songs are in many instances quite different from each other. You’ll discover that as soon as you move from “Weeping Hermione” to the long closing track, “Bird of Prey”, a piece that at first is slow, melancholy, bluesy, and entrancing — and then begins to rip, rock, and fly with the wind.
You’ll find out if you stick with the rest of this remarkably diverse album that these songs are also just two examples of the adept song-writing on display throughout Sanctuary. The songs are dynamic, they move, they cross genre boundaries, but they have a kind of orderliness to their structures and care in their craftsmanship that make them work — and they’re all really memorable.
It truly is astonishing that this is all the work of just one man, so good are all the instrumental performances. And I think a round of applause is also in order for Dario Gatto, too: He created Sanctuary’s wonderful cover art.
And finally I bring this massive collection of music to a close with a two-song single entitled Sights of Malevolence that was released in September by a one-man band from Bruges, Belgium, named Gateway. It consists of the title track and a cover of a song named “Mindscrape” originally recorded by Cianide in 1992.
This was a last-minute addition to this post, and it’s arguable whether it belongs in a Shades of Black installment, but I was so obliterated by these two songs that I felt a compelling need to include them on the site without delay. More in the vein of death/doom than black metal, the music is nonetheless black as hell, a dismal swamp of rot and pestilence that’s loaded with skull-cleaving grooves as much as night terrors, and vocals that sound like a giant crocodile being strangled. Ghastly, gruesome, foul, nightmarish… and magnetically attractive.
Sights of Malevolence is available as a “name your price” download on Bandcamp, where you can also order it on jewlcase CD with a CD-only bonus track and additional artwork. On that Bandcamp page you’ll also see links to other Gateway releases, including a full album released earlier this year. If you’re like me, you’re going to want to go exploring….
i’m definitely grabbing the Pyromancer demo, they sound killer 🙂
This. Also those Gateway vocals are insanely brutal. Finally, is anyone else curious for more information about the mysterious Serbian friend “M”?
Varg Vikerns ??
Pretty sure it’s not Varg. 🙂
All I can tell you as that as much exploring as I do for new metal, he makes me look like a slacker, and 90% of what he finds I’ve never come across on my own.
I’m totally in love with the vocals…
Every one of these items kills. Got a lot of Bandcamp downloads to comb through now 🙂
Cool — glad you liked all of it.
Damn! That Pyromacer demo just made my ears its bitch!
HA! I’ll have to remember this line….