SHADES OF BLACK (PART 1): SCHAMMASCH, UPRISING, ELFSGEDROCH, INVEHERTEX, THE HEXAGRAM
You might think that after posting a round-up on Sunday that included recent music from 39 bands, I would be all out of discoveries to write about. Nope, not even close. From Sunday’s flood of music streams I diverted some to which I wanted to dedicate closer attention, and since then I’ve found even more. All of it happens to be in the orbit of black metal, and so I’ve collected the music in a new edition of Shades of Black.
However, the volume of what I want to write about is so great that I’ve divided this edition into three parts. I will post Parts 2 and 3 tomorrow. Five excellent bands are included in this first installment.
We’ve already written quite a lot about Triangle, the new triple album by the Swiss band Schammasch, and until yesterday we hadn’t yet heard any of the music. But now we all have a song to hear, a long track named “Consensus“. According to the band, this is the first of three tracks that will be revealed prior to the album’s release.
Bleak and dissonant, the music has a hallucinatory quality, with the writhing riffs, tumbling drums, and increasingly inflamed vocals creating a disorienting sensation — something like falling head-first into someone else’s delirium. But the song has hard-driving power as well — mixing jabbing chords and pummeling drums into the vortex of sound and fury — and in places it also has the air of a ritual, with ominous atmospheric passages, booming beats, and perilous chants carrying the mind away into a sepulchral dream. Very impressive.
Triangle was recorded by V. Santura (Triptykon/Dark Fortress) and it will be released on April 29 by Prosthetic Records. We’re told that it encompasses 100 minutes of music in three distinct movements — “Part I : The Process Of Dying”, “Part II : Metaflesh”, and “Part III : The Supernal Clear Light Of The Void”.
Digital pre-orders are available now via iTunes and Amazon (and come with a download of “Consensus”). LPs, CDs, and merch bundles are also now available for pre-order here (UK/EU) and here (NorthAm) or through the band’s web site at this location.
Uprising is the name of a black metal side project of Winterherz, the central figure in the amazing German band Waldgeflüster (who recently participated in a wonderful split release with Panopticon). Uprising’s self-titled debut album was released on March 4 and is available on Bandcamp.
The album deserves a more thorough review than I’m able to give it, though obviously the music will speak for itself far more effectively than I can. It’s tremendously dramatic and powerful, the songs riding one gripping riff after another and propelled by jolting drum progressions and gut-punching bass lines. Once you get past the harrowing introductory track, it’s one viscerally engaging, hook-loaded song after another, all of them conveying a sense of imperial (and infernal) might.
Winterherz’s vocals range from skin-flaying shrieks and snarls to cavernous roars to stately clean vocals. The music is likewise dynamic, alternately surging in thundering gallops, howling like a hurricane, and stomping like a titan striding a plain of ice. And let me repeat — the riffs and guitar leads in these ferocious songs are all powerfully addictive.
Given the talent behind this project, it’s not surprising that it’s so good. What’s surprising is that it hasn’t exploded like fireworks across the metal landscape. But I’m guessing as word spreads, that will change. I sure as hell hope that we will have more uprisings from Uprising in the future. What a magnificent surprise!
P.S. The album includes vocal samples from “Mr. Robot”, “Spartacus”, and “Cosmos”.
In a round-up of new music I prepared in December, I included a song named “Gieselbaarg” from a forthcoming album named Op de beenderen van onze voorvaderen by Elfsgedroch from Groningen in the northern reaches of the Netherlands. I intended to keep an eye out for the release of the album, because that advance track was so damned good. And of course I forgot about it, until earlier today a friend linked me to another song from the album — “Van Helsdeur tot Duivelshoorn”. It’s also wonderful.
Propelled by attention-grabbing and rapidly-changing drum progressions and an equally intriguing bass performance, the song is an interesting blend of soaring melody and otherworldly dissonance. Though rhythmically quite dynamic, it has a dark and depressive quality overall, made even more anguished by the vocalist’s pained shrieks and wrenching proclamations. I’m even more curious now about who is behind this project, because it’s a very mature and imaginative piece of songcraft.
I’ve included the YouTube stream of the song below, but now both it and that earlier song “Gieselbaarg” are on Bandcamp (name your price), so I’m including that stream as well. I look forward to hearing all of the album some day; for now, Elfsgedroch are releasing them one at a time.
Invehertex are from Temuco, Chile. Last year they released a debut album named Hacia El Vórtice, which is now being reissued in June by Portugal’s Signal Rex (on LP, limited digipak CD, AND cassette tape) and by Atavism Records (limited digipak CD). I wasn’t aware of Hacia El Vórtice until learning about this reissue, but based on the one song that’s now streaming on the Signal Rex Bandcamp, I’m anxious to hear the album.
The name of this long song is “Encuentro con el Ave Negra”. In a word, it’s intense. Other words: incendiary, feral, frightening, haunting, mesmerizing. It’s a compelling blend of infernal savagery and alien atmospherics, with dissonant, needling, tremolo’d guitars and piston-driven drum blasts generating a haze of narcotic, sweeping sound. The vocals are positively demonic, and the dark, despairing melody stays with you. Wonderful stuff.
The great cover art for the reissue was created by Nox Fragor, who in addition to being a talented visual artist is also the band’s vocalist/guitarist.
The Hexagram is the name of a solo project by a Ukrainian musician (now based in Poland) who is the man behind another project I’ve written about before (e.g., here). In recent days The Hexagram released a two-song demo via Bandcamp that’s well worth your time.
The deep, droning tones and darting sounds at the outset of “The Ritual I” begin the process of unbalancing your mind, and then the process moves forward in storm waves of bleak guitar melody and pulsing percussion, with acid-drenched vocals conveying a sense of utter despair. As the drum rhythms slow, huge, booming chords and the gradual, shimmering drift of supernatural ambient waves come to the fore, with one final hurricane of sound waiting near the end.
“The Ritual II” burns with perhaps even greater intensity — engulfing the listener in a maelstrom of thundering drums and searing guitar vibrations, and an intense, rippling melody pierces the conflagration while gripping chords ring like distorted funeral bells at the end. I want more of these rituals!
I’m really liking The Hexagram!
I am currently preparing myself for an epic three-part review of the new Schammasch album, through a regime of ritual cleansing and scarification.
Soon I shall be ready.
So… you wet yourself listening to that preview, and now you need a shower and some self-inflicted punishment? 🙂
Can’t wait to get started with Schammasch’s Triangle myself, and the rest of the music in this post also hit the spot.
If you need any help with the scarification,you know how to reach me.
Uprising and The Hexagram are sounding fantastic.
Glad you like them! Such wonderful surprises.
Wow, that Schammasch is incredible huh? I can’t wait to hear the whole thing.
Loving all the rest too. And love the artwork for all of these.
It really is a nice array of diverse artworks.
I saw the pre order for Schammasch on facebook go up and it brought me to their website. I just ordered it there that second without realizing there was a US store. Probably wont have it for about 2 weeks after its release but its alright i guess. Whats done is done.
You can hardly call that a serious mistake, unlike most of the times when I realize “what’s done is done”. 🙂
Uprising.. is a great new find. Might as well buy it.
Might as well. It will come for you if you don’t.