I had intended to post most of the new music in this collection on Sunday, hot on the heels of Saturday’s Shades of Black post. However, I was distracted by the sound of a passing car, chased it for a few blocks, and then forgot what I had been thinking by the time I found my way home (I also blame those squirrels for not stopping so I could lick them). Other distractions have materialized since then, including the death of Lemmy Kilmister.
On the bright side, I discovered more excellent new songs as the days have passed since Sunday; in fact, I heard the first three in this collection only after the weekend. The result is a rather humongous assembly of music, but please don’t let the quantity deter you from wading hip-deep into it, because there are a lot of gems to follow. And besides, it’s my last round-up of new music for 2015!
I really do hope you’ll like everything here as much as I have, and I hope you have a great New Year’s Eve too. As is often the case with these Shades of Black posts, I want to thank my Serbian friend “M” for linking me to much of what you’re about to hear.
Entropia are from Oleśnica, Poland, and Arachnophobia Records plans to release their second album, Ufonaut, on February 15, 2016. The band describe themselves as “zealots of Terrence McKenna’s futuristic vision of the world, demanding the restitution of tribal consciousness and discarding the materialistic civilisation that surrounds us”.
The Font of All Human Knowledge tells us that Terence McKenna was an “ethnobotanist, mystic, psychonaut, lecturer, and author” who “advocated the exploration of altered states of mind via the ingestion of naturally occurring psychedelic substances”.
Only one song from the album is available for listening now, but “Mandala” is one hell of a riveting song. I’m not sure what a psychonaut is, yet I felt like a psychonautical adventurer as the pneumatic grooves, twisted riffs, otherworldly guitar arpeggios, and quirky electronica pushed me past my comparatively drab surroundings and into this band’s inventive vision. It’s heavy, high energy music with the kind of mind-warping flair that defies easy genre classification.
Apart from this new song, I’m also really liking the eye-catching artwork for the album created by Kuba Sokólski Illustration.
Ufonaut will be released in standard and limited-edition CD editions, and on vinyl.
END OF PROCESS
Third Coming is the name of a debut demo by a Chilean band named End of Process that was released a couple of weeks ago by Anti-Cosmic Productions. At this writing, only one of the songs from the EP is available for streaming and download, but it’s tremendous.
The name of the song itself is also “End of Process”. I will say up-front that I love the guitar tone on this song. I will say, second, that the riffs have irresistible magnetic appeal (and our brains are mere iron filings in this metaphor). It’s an electric black thrashing transformer that fuels the head with metal megawattage. And those little bursts of shred in the song should put a big smile on even the stoniest of faces.
This next item is also another debut. It’s a song called “Dweller Within the Gulf”, taken from the self-titled EP by a Scottish band named Ifrinn, which will be released on 12″ vinyl in the first half of 2016 by Iron Bonehead Productions.
“Dweller…” is a powerful song, a tsunami of dismal, discordant riffs, unhinged howls, and gut-hammering drum and cymbal strikes, punctured with swarming, pestilential guitar leads. The band pull down the shades of gloom even further as they ease the pace after that tumultuous beginning, but just as you get the strong, suffocating stench of death in your nostrils, they take off again, clawing and gnashing their fangs like wolves at a funeral.
Apart from the grim savagery of the song, it also stands out because it sticks in the mind, like a spike.
Yesterday via Facebook I saw the news that Morbosidad have some kind of new release coming in 2016 via Nuclear War Now!. That elevated my pulse immediately, and then it shot through the roof when I heard the new song that accompanied this announcement.
For those who are new to Morbosidad, they have quite a storied history that extends back to the early ’90s. Their vocalist Thomas Stench has a voice that will put the hair up on your arms and the back of your neck, and possibly in your nether regions. The band’s current guitarist Dave Collier is a relative newcomer to this band, but he is the main man behind P.L.F. and is basically a one-person force of nature (as I can attest, having seen both P.L.F. and Morbosidad live for the first time at this year’s inaugural edition of California Deathfest).
This new untitled song comes across like a force of nature, too. It’s a terroristic assault of blackened death metal, shrouded in a mantle of inhuman malevolence yet so gripping that you have no power to resist. The drums are spine-shaking, and the racing, head-whipping savagery of the riffs is brutally compelling. And the vocals… holy shit.
Almost exactly one year ago we published Andy Synn’s review of the debut album by New Jersey’s Death Fortress. He praised Among the Ranks of the Unconquerable as “a visceral slab of pitch-black perfection, with its foundations firmly rooted in the old school, but with a vision fixed firmly on new horizons.”
We’ve now seen the news that the band’s second album, Deathless March of the Unyielding, will be released on March 31, 2016, by Fallen Empire Records (LP) and Endless Path Productions (CD). It features wonderful cover art by Raul Gonzalez.
Below you can listen to the first advance track from the album, a sonic scourge named “Scourge of Aeons”. If you want a tornado of manic drum blasting, threshing riffage, and a duet of banshee shrieks and bearlike growls — plus punishing grooves — you came to the right place. Sublimely savage metal, with a seductive little guitar melody that surfaces in the maelstrom long enough to get its hooks in you.
1914 are based in Lviv, Ukraine. Their debut album Eschatology of War was released on December 17 by Archaic Sound. As the band’s name suggests, they have devoted themselves to exploring the horrors of World War I in their music. That’s rare subject matter in metal, and for that reason alone I decided to give this album a spin. That proved to be a very wise decision.
I found the album fascinating in its blending of samples from period songs and punishing hellfire. “Gasmask” is the standout track on the album (though it has many close rivals) — a massively heavy, remorselessly bleak, and tremendously memorable song.
But the entire album manifests the same qualities, and the same agile balancing of musical elements from black, death, doom, and even progressive metal. It vividly captures the devastation and heartache of a conflict that destroyed a generation, while delivering some of the most pulverizing and dynamic metal you’re likely to hear this year. A truly fascinating and emotionally staggering musical journey, inventively imagined, ingeniously written, and expertly performed.
I turn next to a band named Neverending Winter (Бесконечная зима) from Tomsk, Russia. Their debut album Series of Decades (Череда декад) was released on December 13 and it’s available on Bandcamp.
The music is difficult to sum up with a neat genre label, since it combines melodic black metal, progressive metal, thrash, post-rock, acoustic folk music, and punk. When the band is in marauding mode, the gravel-throated bass and thundering drums get all the nerve ends firing, and the widely varying riffs and intricate lead guitar motifs are consistently appealing.
The songs alternately thrash, rock, rumble, rampage, and crawl — and all of them have the capacity to get their hooks in you, including the fourth track, which is entirely instrumental and may be my favorite piece on the album (with “Labyrinths” a close second). There’s a lot of crazy variety on this album, but I thought it was a very, very strong outing from beginning to end.
Like the album from 1914 reviewed above, Series of Decades was a huge late-year surprise for me. I hope the word of its quality will spread.
Somewhere there might be a band named “Mystic Mysteries”. I didn’t bother to check M-A to find out. I just combined those words based on the feeling I had while listening to the following songs yesterday. I’m not going to spill a lot of words over them, other than these: If you are in the mood to be transported beyond your physical surroundings, and to let your mind roam unpredictably where it will, these songs will facilitate that…
The bands are Barn Owl (with a song from their 2011 album Lost In the Glare) and Elm (from 2008’s Bxogonoas). Both bands include Jon Porras.
I know this isn’t really black(ish) metal, like everything else in this collection, and so maybe I cheated a little on the Shades of Black title. Also, the songs aren’t brand new. But I’m putting them here because if you’re like me, you may need them after you celebrate the New Year. Just hang onto them until you wake up tomorrow.
(Thank you Ralph Schmidt (ex-Planks) for posting a link to this Barn Owl track on Facebook, which in turn led me to discover the song by Elm.)