SHADES OF BLACK: PROFANATICA, STILLA, VUKARI, MARE COGNITUM, AUREOLE, NUKE, NÉVOA, KRODA
As I explained yesterday, I’ve been off my game for yet another week, with less time than usual to collect new music worth hearing. In a (futile) effort to play catch-up, I collected some new things yesterday and a lot more in this post, which is again devoted to metal in a blackened vein.
New York’s Profanatica have deep roots in the underground, with a string of short releases beginning in 1990. The band dissolved in about 1992 before releasing an album, but re-formed in 2001, though the first album still wouldn’t appear until 2007. Their fourth album, The Curling Flame of Blasphemy, is now set for release on July 22 by Hells Headbangers, the music prepared by the band’s two core members, drummer/vocalist Paul Ledney and bassist/guitarist John Gelso.
The album’s first track, “Ordained in Bile”, appeared recently, and I really can’t get enough of it. The atmosphere is primitive and predatory, and its primal power owes much to its production (especially the drum tone, which you can feel right in your gut).
It’s almost entirely an instrumental track, punctuated here and there with Ledney’s protracted yells and filthy, regurgitative growls. Launched with the shriek of feedback, hammering drums, deep grinding riffs, and a gravelly bass rumble, the song soon changes as the snare hits begin to pulse and the riffs turn snake-like, rising and falling. Eventually, things get more violent and strange as Ledney starts blasting and Gelso turns in a frenzied, writing riff with a shrill needling melody that does indeed resemble a curling flame of blasphemy. As the drums return to a hammering cadence, the guitar churns out sounds that reverberate with unearthly eeriness.
The album can be pre-ordered in various formats here:
We have a long wait before the release of that Profanatica album, but an even longer one before the third full-length of Sweden’s Stilla appears on August 19 via Nordvis Produktion. I haven’t seen the album title yet, or the artwork, but a single has recently appeared — “Vårens sista önskan” (The Last Wish Of Spring) — which will be separately released through Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon.
This is an interesting song that becomes more multifaceted as it unfolds — a mix of beastly mayhem and bleak, ghostly ambience. It’s fast and furious from the start, with manic drumming, a haze of savage riffs, and high, poisonous vocal fury. But the beat transforms to a metronomic pulse and a gallop, joined by moving waves of cosmic keyboard and guitar melody. As the rhythm slows, the vocals become imperious proclamations. In the song’s back half, a slightly fuzzy, mercurial guitar arpeggio leads to a keyboard and guitar melody that resembles the sound of an infernal carnival over a mid-paced rocking beat — something like an old horror movie soundtrack. Very cool.
I first came across this Chicago band via their last EP, En To Pan (which I partially reviewed back in July 2014), thanks to a Facebook recommendation by Panopticon’s Austin Lunn — and now Vukari and Panopticon have become label-mates: Vukari’s second album Divination will be released by Bindrune Recordings later this summer.
Last week brought the first song debut since the announcement of the Bindrune signing, a blending of black metal and post-metal named “Invictus Mateo”. At first, it’s mid-paced, with vivid somersaulting drums, pealing guitars, and prominent bass warmth (with ghastly shrieks and barbarous growls providing contrast). A high, trilling melody appears, vaporous and mystical. And then the drums take off and begin to blast, the bass becoming more frantic, the riffing more urgent. It’s dark, gloom-cloaked music that’s both furious and enthralling, fading out with an unnerving ambience.
A previously released track, “Sovereignty Through Extreme Tyranny” (which I included in another Shades of Black post back in March) is also included below. It’s a longer song, more incendiary and hard-driving at the start and even more emotionally affecting, with a slow, flowing melody that’s wistful and beautiful. When the drumming eventually becomes less manic, the vibrating melody continues to embrace the listener, like a mantle of regret and joy somehow mixed together, followed by a final burst of electric exuberance to finish the track. This is a gorgeous song that signifies Vukari’s musical kinship with other members of the Bindrune family.
MARE COGNITUM / AUREOLE
Mare Cognitum is a one-man band conceived by Jacob Buczarski from California. Aureole is also a one-man band, the alter ego of Ukrainian musician Markov Soroka. Later this year the two bands will be releasing a 41-minute split under the title Resonance: Crimson Void (on CD via Avantgarde Music and on LP via Fallen Empire Records). It features two tracks from each band, “with each track also being molded by the bands collaboratively to most accurately present the visions received”.
I first noticed the news about the album thanks to the fantastic cover art by Nightjar Illustrations, and then this past week some of the music by each band appeared on Bandcamp.
The fury of the riffing, the drumming, and the caustic vocals on Mare Cognitum’s track (the second part of a piece named “Crimson Abyss”) together form a jet-fueled vehicle for a dire, surging melody, which gets stuck hard in the head — and when the song isn’t striking like a storm front, it rocks damned hard, too. A completely electrifying experience from start to finish.
The Aureole track that’s now available (a segment of the work “Void Obsidian”) is identified as a “preview edit”. The guitars buzz like a heartless hornet swarm over a slow drum rhythm, with equally slow melodic tones piercing the maelstrom (along with deranged shrieks). When the hurricane of sound briefly subsides, the strange, otherworldly atmosphere of the song becomes even more palpable. There’s an aching, anguished quality to the music, as well as a sense that you’re being carried off the earth and into another dimension.
Okay, it’s time for a change of pace and style. This next song is named “Nuke Me Baby” and it comes from the debut album Nuke by a Detroit band named Nuke. Are you beginning to get a clue about the music?
Nuke may be a newish band, but the line-up include Ritchie Riot from Shitfucker on vocals and other members who’ve played in Reaper, Borrowed Time, Perversion, and Anguish. “Nuke Me Baby” is an electrifying discharge of punk and speed metal, with enough grit on the riffs and more than enough rancid vitriol in the vocals to put a murderous edge on this nuclear mayhem. The riffs are catchy as fuck, the soloing soars and swoops like a dive-bomber and incinerates like a flamethrower, and the drum bursts operate as a sure-fire adrenaline trigger. Makes me want to get wasted and piss on a police car.
Nuke will be released by Hells Headbangers on July 22.
Time to switch gears again.
This Portuguese band’s last album, The Absence of Void, took the No. 3 spot on our contributor Wil Cifer’s list of 2015’s Top 10 Black Metal Albums — he called it “More than likely the best black metal album you didn’t hear this year”. Névoa have wasted no time in following up that release, with a new full-length named Re Un scheduled for release by Avantgarde Music on June 7.
The first advance track to appear from the album is called “III Conflict”. There’s a slow, processional gait to the drum rhythm in the song, but the distorted, grinding riffs buffet about you like a tornado filled with shards of metal and stone. As the vocalist howls like a slit-throat panther, the drumming and the riffs hit a lumbering, hammering progression, with a scintillating melody line that finds its way through the destruction into your bobbing head.
Deep, dark, intense music… more please!
To conclude this collection I have something very different from everything else, and from an unexpected source. This is a video trailer for a forthcoming DVD named Live in Lemberg II – Kalte Aurora by the Ukrainian band Kroda.
Kroda will be a familiar name to readers of this site, given how often I’ve praised their music over the years. But the music in this trailer is a piece of ambient music, performed live; it diverges dramatically from Kroda’s more familiar styles. It’s solemn, mystical, and entrancing in its darkness.
The visuals are also quite arresting — which bodes well for the DVD as a whole. The performance was filmed on January 23, 2016, and the DVD will include a metal segment as well as the ambient chapter, and I understand that an audio-only recording of the performance will also be made available in addition to the DVD.
By the way, this trailer is a collection of excerpts from the ambient part of the DVD rather than film of the audio performance you’ll hear, which is why the sound and the video aren’t synchronized.
It seems the coffers of great new black metal are ever overflowing, and constantly replenishing. New Vukari is a particularly exciting proposition for me.
These were all, for the most part, great selections – thank you. I am not sure if it is my favourite of the batch, but the most pleasantly surprising was definitely Re Un by Nevoa. Utterly hypnotic. Forget Cristiano Ronaldo, this may well be Portugal’s best export.
I love the soul crushing bass of Profanatica,really gets the blood pumping.
Really great post! Everything here is excellent and exciting!!
That new Mare Cognitum material is so…say satisfying..