June 29, 2015. That was the date of the last MISCELLANY post. Pathetic. I can say that, because I’m saying it about myself — anyone else does that and there will be brutal repercussions, which are the only kind of repercussions we know at NCS.
You probably need a refresher about the MISCELLANY process: I pick a song or two from a release I’ve not heard in advance, usually chosen at random from e-mails or suggestions by readers and usually recorded by bands I don’t know much about. I write up my reactions, and then I stream what I heard so you can make up your own minds. Unlike all the other music-related posts we write at NCS, where we focus on what we’ve heard and want to recommend, this series is an experiment.
I admit that sometimes I pick from suggestions that come from pretty reliable sources, and that’s where most of the bands in this post came from (many from my Serbian friend “M“). But even then, it’s still a shot in the dark. Also, this post is obviously twice as long as most of the past episodes of MISCELLANY, and maybe I should have split it into two parts. But I figured that lots of our readers are as gluttonous as I am when it comes to new discoveries, so just get ready for a big fuckin’ feed.
Sargad are a foursome from Örebro, Sweden, and they released their self-titled debut EP three days ago. I listened to the first song on the EP, “Ur Jord”, and that was so damned good that I listened to the second one, too.
The pounding drums, grumbling bass, and fat, writhing riffs in “Ur Jord” put a jolt into the brain stem, and the melodic hooks are sharp, too. If that were all, it would be damned good — but there’s so much more. When you reach the entrancing guitar-and-cello duet, it’s a huge and hugely appealing surprise (credit to Ellen Hemström for the gorgeous cello performance).
The next track, “Låt Kriget Komma”, proves that “Ur Jord” was no fluke. It’s slower and dark to the point of bleakness, but also savagely riveting and memorable; no cello in this one, but the reverberating guitar solo is almost as attention-grabbing. Very eager to hear the rest of this genre-bending EP — so far, it’s an enormously appealing surprise.
For my next stop on this MISCELLANY tour I moved southeast from Örebro to Italy, the home of a one-man band named Suicide Emotions. The band’s new album, released only four days ago by the Mexican label Throats Productions, is named The Cold Burning Daylight (after listening to some of the album, I discovered that it’s Suicide Emotions’ third full-length overall).
The five songs on this album are long ones, and I decided to just go with the 10-minute title track, which comes first. The song’s main melodic motif is established almost immediately — it’s a melancholy refrain, but pulls hard at the heart-strings and is seriously infectious to boot. Some sublime solo guitar work in this song, along with a mix of bestial-but-expressive vocal proclamations and excellent clean singing, plus bursts of electrifying intensity. Beautifully written melodic black metal with a depressive air that’s very engrossing. Yet another find that I’m now eager to explore in depth.
Warsaw, Poland, is the home base for Sunnata, a band whose name I saw in my Facebook news feed along with some compliments by an acquaintance of mine. Their second album, Zorya, is set for release on April 11. Because it’s not out yet, my choice of a song to sample was easy — because there’s only one that’s currently streaming on Bandcamp, and it’s the title track.
In a nutshell, I was completely flattened by this song. And I don’t just mean flattened by the enormous pounding of the megaton riffs and lead-weighted bass and drum strikes. I mean the song’s emotional intensity is also crushing, with a mix of high clean wails and agonized shrieks that amplify the music’s building tension and feeling of increasingly inexorable doom. Cool psychoactive guitar soloing in the song, too. Want more.
This is another band whose name popped up in my Facebook feed thanks to a status by a friend. They’re from São Paolo, Brazil, and they recently put a single named “Terra Vazia” (empty land) up for streaming on Bandcamp. I later learned by looking at their FB page that the song is from their second album, O Sol Fulmina a Terra, which will be released later this year.
Turns out that being crushed by the doom of Sunnata was just a prelude to having my remains stomped into jelly by Abske Fides. Closer to the funeral doom end of the doom spectrum, “Terra Vazia” is another crusher, but it’s far more than the application of brute force to our fragile skulls. The song’s core melody is wretched in the immensity of its grief, but it’s also powerfully hypnotic. And the deathly vocals are of the truly cavernous kind (the pit beckons with a dead hand). The phrase “soul sucking” comes to mind.
When the song starts to really rumble in the back half, it becomes decimating, and the finishing couple of minutes (when the vocals become clean and ghostly) are chillingly beautiful. Oh yes, one more album that just vaulted onto our radar screen.
For my next test in this MISCELLANY experiment I chose music by a band named Eyestral from Rouen, France. The band released a debut album called Beware the Rat King on February 15.
The first song that’s set for streaming from the album on Bandcamp is “The Forest of Men”, and it’s absolutely wild — multifaceted, unpredictable, and kind of brilliant in its own crazy way. But it’s crazy like a fox.
In part, the song is a pulse-pounding thrash attack with some highly magnetic riffing, mauling drumwork, and attention-grabbing solo performances. In part, it’s a fleet flurry of progressive instrumental machinations and jolting rhythms. In part, it’s a gliding astral projection. In part, it’s a showcase for some arena-ready classic heavy metal chords. The high-pitched, almost deranged vocals sometimes seem a little out of phase with the song’s rhythms, but eventually I decided they really do fit the music like hand-in-glove.
So, I was really hooked by that first song and intrigued by what might come next. The title track comes next, and I’ll just say it’s equally electrifying, equally spine-shaking, and equally unpredictable, with even more eye-popping solo work. I’ll be returning to the rest of this album with bated breath.
Here’s a selection that I picked because of the involvement of a respected friend, Seattle’s Ryan Schutte, who is not only a phenomenal musician but also did the mixing for this album. The name of the band is Fermi, and I know virtually nothing about them. They’ve recorded an album named The Great Filter — which, as suggested by the band’s own name, seems to refer to one possible answer to the fascinating question posed by Fermi’s Paradox.
So far, three very long songs from The Great Filter are up on Bandcamp, and I gather that more will be coming as soon as Ryan finishes mixing them. What’s up there now can be downloaded for “name your own price”. I listened to the title track, “The Great Filter”, because that’s the song set to play first on the Bandcamp player.
The shimmer of a cymbal and the reverberating boom of the bass slowly and methodically begin luring your mind into the band’s imaginings, the looping measures casting an ominous kind of spell. The squall of feedback and the vibration of deep, droning tones begin to turn the spell in more nightmarish directions, as if to represent the speculation that there is indeed some potentially cataclysmic explanation for why, despite the unimaginable vastness and age of the universe, we do not yet have any uncontroverted evidence of extraterrestrial intelligent life reaching our own sphere of existence. Yet there are glints of eerie, cosmic beauty that shine through near the end.
I’m not sure where your own mind will roam as you listen to this potent spellcaster, but mine went to some very dark places and then began to surface in the glow of a transcendent feeling. Once more, I’ve found something I want to finish.
P.S. If you want to do a deep dive into the ideas that seem to have spawned this album’s concept, and have your mind blown while being entertained, I’d strongly recommend this article.
I’ve learned through experience that my friend Austin Weber has a taste for crazy in metal — unorthodox, schizophrenic, disorienting, genre-fusing, eye-crossing stuff — sometimes a stronger hungering for crazy than I have. So when he recommended that I check out the music of Dusk Chapel this morning, that’s sort of what I was expecting. Would I like it? I decided it was worth finding out, and so this band was a late addition to this MISCELLANY experiment.
Dusk Chapel come from Donetsk in Ukraine, and their new album Ascension (which seems to be their second) was released on February 7. Three songs from the album are streaming on Bandcamp, and I checked out the first of those, “Dangerous Puzzle”.
And Austin definitely did not lead me astray. After a slow, jolting, discordant intro, the song spins off into a whirlwind of flashing guitar work and hard-hitting grooves, and then turns into a thrasher accented by swirling guitar arpeggios. But more sharp twists and turns lie ahead on this inventive, expertly performed, galvanizing ride.
And so I reach the end of this MISCELLANY experiment with nothing but brilliant discoveries to show for it. My mind is truly boggled by the fact that everything in this post was released in just the first few weeks of a single month here in the still-early days of 2016.