Over the last week I’ve accumulated a long list of new advance tracks and recent releases that I’d like to recommend. As usual, it’s too much stuff for me to cover completely or in depth. What I’m planning to do is make two collections for this weekend, focusing on black (and blackened) metal, and then compile some additional releases for a Seen and Heard post on Monday. So here’s the first part of a two-part Shades of Black post; the second one will appear tomorrow.
Sol Sistere are a Chilean melodic/atmospheric black metal band composed of veteran members from other groups. Their debut album Unfading Incorporeal Vacuum (which follows a 2014 EP on the Pest Productions label) is set for CD release on June 6 by Hammerheart Records, but a digital version of the album has recently become available for download on the label’s Bandcamp page.
Hammerheart describes the music as a “combination of past elements such as Dissection, Vinterland and Dawn, completed by influences of today” — referring to such bands as Altar of Plagues, Drudkh, and Wodensthrone. These are all worthy reference points, and pretty accurate ones as well (though there’s also a noticeable post-metal ingredient in play as well). This album was intriguing on a first listen and my affections for it have only grown stronger with repeat spins. (The album cover by Misanthropic-Art is also fantastic.)
The music is richly textured, sometimes soft and enthrallingly beautiful, sometimes pulsing with vibrant, mythic power, sometimes wrenchingly sorrowful — and you’ll get a feel for the band’s disparate talents all at once in the multifaceted opening track “Death Knell”.
When I think of Chilean extreme metal bands, I tend to imagine unmitigated ferocity and/or blazing speed. Sol Sistere do not shy away from adrenaline-pounding surges of sound, but there is a dramatic, melancholy quality to the music even when it’s exploding like a thundering storm. And while the band are abundantly capable of firing all your nerve endings at once, they are such mature songwriters and performers that they richly seed the music with emotionally intense and highly memorable melodies.
As mentioned at the outset, the album is also dappled with passages of mesmerizing, almost transcendent beauty (including the mystical, violin-led instrumental interlude “Towards the Morning Star”) — though it tends to be heart-aching in its effect. And to cap off all of the album’s consummate strengths, it’s beautifully produced in a way that accentuates the music’s intrinsic power and provides the kind of clarity that suits the skills of the performers, and the savage vocals are as passionate, as extravagant, and as dynamic as the music that surrounds them.
As I thought about which of the songs was my favorite, another point was driven home to me: There aren’t any middling tracks on the album, and there’s fierce competition among all of them for a favorite; you could throw a dart at the track list and hit a winner regardless of where you landed. But having said that, if you want to dip your toes in these deep, glimmering waters, I’d suggest “Relentless Ascension”.
Oh hell, I’ll just say it: This is one of my favorite albums of 2016, and likely to remain so come December.
Terra Tenebrosa’s new album The Reverses is one I’ve been eagerly anticipating. It’s due for release on June 17 (July 22 in North America) by Debemur Morti; the digital version is now available for pre-order at Bandcamp.
Though I am fortunate to have the whole album in my possession, time has not smiled upon me sufficiently to hear all of it. What I’ve heard (and seen) is the first video in this collection, for the album’s third track, “The End Is Mine To Ride”.
If the The Cuckoo’s vile, cracked voice doesn’t give you the creeps all by itself, his masked visage surely will. But the music’s driving beat, dissonant waves of riffage, and eerie arpeggios are highly magnetic (and also creepy, as well as body-moving). This one goes on our growing list of Most Infectious Song candidates for 2016.
(via CVLT Nation)
More than two and a half years have passed since I last wrote about the Slovenian black metal band Cvinger, in connection with their excellent 2013 EP Monastery of Fallen. Their new album Embodied In Incense will be released by Art Gates Records on May 23 in Spain and May 30 worldwide. It was recorded, mixed, and mastered in Endarkes Studio Sweden by Magnus Devo Andersson (Marduk) and includes cover art by the maestro Paolo Girardi.
So far, two songs from the album have appeared — the title track “Embodied In Incense” and more recently “Pslam, Of A Hollow Man” — and I’ve included both of them below.
The title track comes with an excellent video that combines bloody animation and distorted visuals of the band performing. The dynamic song is as grim as cancer, a massively heavy bone-grinder that moans and groans, crushes and cremates, jolts and jabs — all of it shrouded in occult atmosphere. “Psalm, Of A Hollow Man” combines similar ingredients but is more tumultuous, torrential, warlike, and chaotic — though before it ends, it transforms into a hammering headbanger. Both songs are savage killers.
It’s been a long wait for something new from Colorado’s Velnias — their last release was the 2012 full-length RuneEater, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The long wait for another album is actually not over — it apparently won’t be ready until 2017 — but the band did record a single for their European tour in March, and it has recently become available on Bandcamp (name your own price).
The song’s name is “Absolution”, and it’s a multi-textured, galvanizing affair. There’s a great rhythm section driving the faster parts of the song like a road warrior’s machine across the wasteland, with writhing, intricate, rapidly darting guitar work flashing like heat lightning across turbulent skies above, and the the vocalist growling and yelling in alternating displays of ferocity and torment.
Just past the mid-point, the music’s head-spinning, hell-for-leather charge subsides, while continuing to twist the listener’s neurons, but the interlude doesn’t last long before the band pump a new dose of mercurial, electrifying energy into your head. A long jam, and a fantastic one that earns all of its minutes.
To conclude this first part of my weekend collection of charred music I have snippets from the new album by Thrawsunblat. Entitled Metachthonia, it’s scheduled for release on June 17 and is available for pre-order now on Bandcamp (linked below).
For those unfamiliar with the band, it was founded by two members of Woods of Ypres, David Gold (drums) and Joel Violette (guitars, vocals), who recorded the debut album in 2010. With Gold’s tragic passing, Violette forged ahead with bassist Brendan Hayter (Obsidian Tongue, ex-Woods of Ypres) and drummer Rae Amitay (Immortal Bird), and that line-up recorded the second album, released in 2013. The same trio are responsible for the new record.
No full songs have yet been released for streaming, but what you can hear below is a teaser reel of excerpts — starting with a beguiling excerpt from a song that features cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne. From there you get a brief dose of warlike barbarity and then something anthemic, with clean vocals. Really looking forward to Metachthonia.