Although rolling out our year-end LISTMANIA extravaganza has been a nearly all-consuming endeavor, I’ve stolen fragments of time here and there over the last week to explore new music. Especially because time has been short, I’ve resorted (with some guilt feelings) to the harried person’s old stand-by: Listen to the first track of an album stream; if it grabs you, listen to more; if it doesn’t, move along. The first tracks of the albums and EPs featured here all grabbed me. The first and last songs in this collection are single advance tracks from albums that aren’t out yet. They grabbed me, too.
As the post title signifies, all of the music is connected in some way to black metal (though perhaps more tenuously than is usually the case in these posts). Despite that loose connection, no two bands sound alike.
The first song in this collection is by a Russian band named Teitanfyre and it comes from an EP labeled Anno MMXV that’s projected for release by Inferna Profundus Records in February or March of next year. Metal Archives lists five Teitanfyre releases since 2008, including a 2011 debut album (Morbid Death’s Scepter), but this song has been my first exposure to their music.
It’s called “Seven Graves”. It’s part frenzied, industrialized demolition job, part skull-stomping thuggery, part full-on hurricane. Dissonant pulsing tones give it an alien atmosphere, brawny grooves hit at the base of your skull, acid-spewing vocals spread hate like a runaway plague. KILL!
Invidus are a two-man band based in Auckland, New Zealand. They released a debut EP earlier this year (which I missed), and within the last week they discharged their debut album Rays of A Black Sun.
“Lingering” is the first song set to play on the album’s Bandcamp stream, and it steamrolled me flat enough that I had no strength left to resist listening to the rest of the album. Not that I wanted to resist.
“Lingering” combines lethal riffs, hammering percussive rhythms, and choking vocal ugliness, laced with sinister guitar melody. That formula works effectively elsewhere on the balance of the album, but Rays of A Black Sun isn’t just the same song over and over again under different titles — far from it.
For example, the bass solos are one of the highlights of the title track, which also features some discordant, head-twisting guitar parts; “Jaws of Ignorance” combines jolting, pneumatic riffs with fluid, slithering guitar melody; and the instrumental track “Fields of Opaque Existence” flows queasily, like a polluted stream under a poisonous sky.
Many more twists and turns await you on this fascinating and persistently surprising journey, which creatively combines elements of black, death, progressive, and avant-garde metal.
(Thanks to my Serbian friend “M” for linking me to Invidus and the next two bands in this collection.)
Columbus, Ohio, appears to be home to the unidentified sonic butchers in Invultation. Their debut self-titled EP appeared on Bandcamp earlier this month.
There is no finesse in this music, nor any real semblance of humanity. You submerge yourself in this kind of metal (if you do at all) mainly for one reason: To be mauled, mangled, and consumed by beasts.
There are thundering grooves in the music, as well as sensations of being leveled by an earthquake. There are deranged shrieks and inhuman roars just behind the cacophony, eruptions of flame-throwing guitar, groaning melodies that ooze like fresh pus, and ever-present squalls of disturbing noise. It’s like a fusion of grind, industrial, death, and black metal, fed by an insatiable hunger for human flesh and a blind longing to smash big things into very small things.
I bought this on Bandcamp without having to think about it for very long. You’ve been warned.
Niðafjöll is an Icelandic pagan metal band, the solo project of multi-instrumentalist Sigurboði Grétarsson, and Endir is the band’s debut album. It was released via Bandcamp on December 14. I strongly recommend you play the eighth track on the album right after you listen to however much of Invultation you can stand, simply for the initial contrast. You won’t have to hunt for the song, because “Túndra” is the first one set to play on the Bandcamp stream — the one that hooked me.
You will find out that Niðafjöll has brewed a powerful concoction with ingredients that include beautiful keyboard melodies, orchestral strings, shimmering ambient waves, massively heavy riffs, jolting bass grooves, acoustic guitar, strangled, venomous howls made of barbed wire and charred skin, and impassioned clean song.
Some of the best metal marries beauty and the beast more strikingly that most (if any) other genres of music, and Endir does that very well. The songs capture many moods, and Niðafjöll proves to be equally effective both in casting long shadows of gloom and in mounting soaring journeys through the clouds. Yet the chill of northern winter is never far away.
I chose the next song as the final one in this collection because it is so different from everything else that comes before it. It’s a spellbinding track named “The Magick of Mirrors”, from the debut album Samsara by Shibalba.
The members of Shibalba are led by Acherontas V.Priest (Acherontas) and include Aldra-Al-Melekh and Karl NE/Nachzehrer. The music in this song isn’t metal in its outward manifestations, but it has a spiritual connection to the forms of black metal. “The Magick of Mirrors” melds angelic choral voices, echoing as if beneath a vault, and dark, abrading ambient music that seems to emanate with growing power from the depths of a crypt.
It’s not peaceful or placid music, but rather the kind of ritualistic sonic progression designed to shatter complacency. The rhythmic pounding and wordless voices in the latter half of the song are strong enough to split the earth, or your skull.
P.S. Only after I had completed this post and was ready to launch it, I discovered that the entirety of Samsara is now streaming at Heathen Harvest (here).