I guess I went overboard with this collection of new metal in a blackened vein. Believe it or not, even though eight bands are featured in this round-up, I made a lot of hard choices, leaving behind many other new releases I also heard over the last week that I thought were good. But eight is still a lot for a single post. Hope you won’t be deterred by its length from giving everything here a listen.
I organized these songs with a quartet of full-throttle assaults at the start, followed by a trio of more ritualistic, strange and/or atmospheric selections, and concluding with one final head-crusher.
Norway’s Svarttjern signed with Soulseller Records for the release of their fourth album Dødsskrik, which our friend eiterorm tell us is Norwegian for “Scream of Death”. The song I have for you is the first advance track from the album, “All Hail Satan”.
I can’t decide what I like most about this song, the thrilling fret-work by the bassist, the ferocious drum assault, the electrifying riffs, the dynamic changes of pace, or the rampant savagery of the vocals. Of course, I don’t have to decide — all of it kills. Now repeat after me: “All Hail… All Hail… All Hail… All Hail… SATAN!”
Dødsskrik will be released sometime this spring.
April 8 is the date set by Pagan Records for the release of The Hammer Doctrine, the debut album by Poland’s Ragehammer. According to the band, the album was created “with cold hatred of the modern world and contempt for the values of love and humanity”. It was mixed and mastered by M. of Mgła fame and features cover art by Robert A. von Ritter (Outre, Bloodthirst, In Twilight’s Embrace).
The new song you can hear below is appropriately titled “Unleash the Dogs”. The pummeling introduction is damned cool, but the rip-roaring riff fest that follows it is a hell-raising electrocution. If you don’t spasm like a condemned person riding Old Sparky, there may be no hope for you. Really anxious to dive all the way into this album.
Next month, Ragehammer will also be participating in a 7″ vinyl split release with Sweden’s Turbocharged (via Godz ov War Productions and Mythrone Promotion) — really looking forward to hearing that one, too.
Now we move from Poland to Sweden, and a song from the forthcoming third album (self-titled) by Rimfrost, which will be released by Non Serviam Records on March 25. “Beyond the Mountains of Rime” is the song you can hear below.
The song is heralded by dismal chords at the outset, and then it transforms into a crushing tank attack of pile-driving riffs and machine-gun percussion, laced with a seductive melody and shredded with vocal malevolence. A massive headbang trigger for sure, the song also includes a racing, thrashing, hell-for-leather gallop as well.
IN OBSCURITY REVEALED
This next band is a three-piece from Mexico, and like the next four bands in this post, I thank my friend “M” for linking me to their recent releases on Bandcamp (along with many others). In Obscurity Revealed’s debut EP The Spell of the Seeker is available now as a digital download and will be released on tape in March by Portugal’s Caverna Abismal Records.
This four-track assault is perhaps more accurately classified as death metal, but it still beats with a very black heart. The massive grinding riffs hit with merciless force, the turbocharged drumming puts a jolt of adrenaline into the bloodstream, and the needling guitar leads are pure poison. Add in some convincingly ghastly vocals and you have a riveting explosion of sulfurous death metal that’s heavy as hell and highly addictive. At only about 11 minutes, it’s over way before you’re ready for it to end.
CULT OF ERINYES
I discovered this Belgian band in 2013 through their release that year of a fine full-length entitled Blessed Extinction. Since then, I had lost track of them until discovering that the same Caverna Abismal Records is releasing a three-track EP entitled Transcendence (all three songs are available now as a free download at Bandcamp). This new EP includes two songs originally written at the time of Blessed Extinction plus a cover of Mayhem’s “Pagan Fears” (from De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas).
“Degrees of Solitude” begins in galvanizing fashion, but once it gets your blood pumping it drops into an ominous, otherworldly crawl with demonic proclamations delivered from on high — and then it explodes again in an upheaval of black thrashing terror, with a frighteningly grim finish. “Transcendence” is similarly constructed with contrasting patterns, transforming from mid-paced rocking rhythms with bleak, magnetic riffs into a majestic (and mystical) occult processional. The cover song is largely faithful to the original, but really well done.
This is an excellent short release, well worth having if you’re a tape collector and a blessed gift for those satisfied with a digital version.
I’ve had a devil of a time trying to describe the music on this next album, which is by a band from Cádiz, Spain, named Kyryem. I haven’t been able to find much information about the band, though their Bandcamp page includes not only this new album (Oculta) but also a second one with a February 2016 date (ars oscura) and a 2015 EP.
The first song set to play in the Bandcamp stream (“loneliness”) grabbed me hard and fast with its blazing riffs and absolutely jolting drum-and-bass performance — and then it segued into something unexpected, with a chorus melody voiced by a woman that could almost pass for an indie rock song — yet the distorted male and female vocals that swirl through the song give it an infernal aura.
Let the stream continue to run and you’ll be rocked by the ridiculously infectious riffs and beats of “oblivion”, which also includes a couple of trippy guitar solos along with more of those disorienting vocals. “cult” follows that one, and it’s more steeped in an atmosphere of occult black metal, with the vocals taking a turn for the monstrous and bestial until those ghostly female vocals reappear — followed by an eerie, extended ambient passage. And that’s followed by a hellfire thrasher called “landfill”.
The cosmic ambient intro to the next song (“thule”), which is laced with infernal mutterings, provides a sharp contrast — but then it erupts in a deranged mix of head-rattling drums, hooky melody, and more bizarre vocalizations.
I’ll resist the temptation to continue trying to describe Oculta on a track-by-track basis, despite the fact that attempting to sum it up in a few pithy sentences is an impossibility. I’ll just say that it’s a strange, multi-faceted, often hard-rocking trip that kept me feeling unbalanced but enthralled all the way through.
Oculta is a name-your-price download at Bandcamp.
Sun Worshipper is the name of the latest album by Calgary, Canada’s Alder. It was my first exposure to the band’s music, which I gather has evolved from the style reflected on their earlier releases.
Sun Worshipper deserves a full review, but I fear I won’t get around to writing one. And so I’ll say only that it’s a dynamic and tremendously charismatic album of blackened post-metal, with beautifully dark, sweeping melodies, a deep, powerful low end, and flesh-scarring vocals that amplify its emotional intensity. Easy to get carried away by this blending of light and dark, heavy and ethereal sounds.
As promised, I’m closing out this edition of Shades of Black with a head-wrecker. It’s a song called “There Will Come Your Fall” off an EP named Wstręt/Repulse by the band Czoug from Żmigród, Poland.
Though the song has more connections to thrash and hardcore than black metal, it put a serious charge into my head. The pulsing riff in the song is really catchy, and the grooves hammer damned hard.
The EP will be released via Bandcamp on February 29.