SHADES OF BLACK (PART 1): HAIL SPIRIT NOIR, ROTTING CHRIST, KVALVAAG, INCULCATOR, DER ROTE MILAN
For almost two weeks I’ve been in the throes of Maryland Deathfest frenzy, taking time away from many of my typical blogging activities to attend the festival itself and then re-living the experience through a five-part recap all of last week. I missed a lot of new music, and of course when you check out for that long in today’s riotously fecund metal environment there’s no way to completely catch up. However, I have spent some hours making incomplete lists of what I missed and then listening… and from that I have some songs I want to recommend.
Many of the new songs I want to write about are connected in various ways to black metal, and I’ve collected some of them here, along with one recent piece of very enticing news. There will be at least one more installment in this blackened catch-up collection, and maybe two if time allows.
HAIL SPIRIT NOIR
I think of Hail Spirit Noir as sonic alchemists, highly adept at combining different stylistic ingredients and transmuting them into strange and wondrous sounds. They’ve proven those alchemical talents through two albums so far — Pneuma in 2012 and Oi Magoi in 2014 — and last month they announced that a third one is on the way.
Mayhem In Blue is the name of the new album, and it’s set for release by Dark Essence Records on October 14. The announcement was accompanied by this statement from the band, which should make all of us even more intrigued and excited about what’s coming:
“It’s been two and a half years since the release of our last album, and with Mayhem In Blue we have set out to express our more aggressive side, without sacrificing any of the psychedelic melodies that are an integral part of what we like to call Hail Spirit Noir’s ‘weird black sound’. If anything, in fact, the sound is more enticing and trippy than ever.”
The album was mixed by Dimitris Douvras (Rotting Christ, etc.) and mastered by Alan Douches.
The latest album, Rituals (reviewed here), by the remarkable Rotting Christ is yet another brilliant achievement by a band who could easily be resting on their laurels by now but show absolutely no signs of doing so — or of halting the evolution of their sound. The album consists of ten songs based upon a variety of globe-spanning rites and myths, and includes participation by a number of guests whose talents suited the needs of the songs to which they contributed.
I remember reading one review of the album which castigated the song “-देवदेवं- (Devadevam)” as “unnecessary” and “completely out-of-place”. I believe the word “boring” was also used in reference to this song. I respectfully disagree — strongly. This dramatic mid-paced march, which features guest vocals by Kathir of the wonderful Singaporean band Rudra, is dark, devilish, majestic, exotic, and hypnotic.
And I was reminded of that by the lyric video for the song which premiered yesterday:
The next song in this collection is a track named “I Mulm og Mørke”. It appears on an album called Malum, which is the second one recorded by the Norwegian one-man band Kvalvaag (with drums on the album performed by Telal (ex-Endezzma, Troll, Astaroth, Sarpedon).
When I first heard the song I didn’t realize that the album would soon be released, though as I was putting the finishing touches on this post I discovered that the album is actually now out via the Dusktone label. I’m including the full album stream below despite the fact that I’ve still only heard the one song mentioned above.
And that song puts the shivers in my spine, with a combination of rolling riff savagery, spooky keyboard enhancements, and a mix of drum blasting and d-beat rhythms. With grim intent, it creates an atmosphere both ghostly and predatory, while flashing like lightning through the gloom. The rest of the album is now well worth exploring.
(Thanks to my FB friend Jan for linking me to this song.)
Inculcator is another one-man band, the creation of G.D.C. from Liverpool, England, who is also the man behind the titanic death/black/doom project Abyssal. Inculcator’s first album (and I dearly hope it isn’t the last) is named Void Abecedary, and it was released on limited-edition tape by Caligari Records last month. For those who aren’t tape-heads, the album has also blessedly been made available for streaming and download via Bandcamp.
This really is a fantastic album. It does so many things so well that it’s a shame I don’t have more time to spill more words over it. At the core of the songs is an absolutely ripping, explosive, black thrash attack laced with classic heavy metal riffs, incendiary guitar solos, and arpeggios that fly as fast and unpredictably as a plume of bats startled from their cave. The tempos and time signatures turn on a dime, all the better to give your addled brain a turbocharged thrill-ride it won’t soon forget.
Oh, but there’s more. In addition to all the adrenaline-inducing and technically eye-opening instrumental frenzy, the vocals are convincingly rabid, ravaging, and as caustic as lye. Further, the songs also include segments of somber, ominous, yet spellbinding guitar melody (including a beautiful, wistful acoustic instrumental in the fourth track and an acoustic interlude in the fire-breathing fifth one), and that variation in style and mood is another part of what makes this album such a stand-out. A huge and very welcome surprise.
DER ROTE MILAN
To conclude the first part of this blackish round-up of new music, I bring you “Seelenasche“, a song that appears on the debut album Aus der Asche (“Out of the Ashes”) by the German black metal band Der Rote Milan. With lyrics inspired by such things as “the mysticism of nature, the enigmatic poetry of Charles Baudelaire and the freedom of the skies”, Aus der Asche will be self-released on July 1 (with distribution via Unholy Conspiracy Deathwork).
“Seelenasche” does indeed begin in mystical fashion, with a reverberating guitar melody that grows into an earth-shaking black storm of deep, powerful chords, booming drums, and scalding vocal acid. Dark, depressive, and dire, it’s the kind of dramatic song that makes an immediate impact, blending grim ferocity with melancholy beauty.
Der Rote Milan seems pretty amazing, I’ll be following this for sure, thanks for the great find
My pleasure. Glad you enjoyed it.
great releases all around. But that Inculcator kicked me sqiare in the butt. Riffs and solos like few can deliver. thanks for the info.
I’m having trouble sitting down too. It delivers a vigorous and expert butt kicking.
Things to do 1 July – get up, inject coffee, buy Der Rote Milan. Maybe not in that order.
Probably ought to include “evacuating” somewhere in that list, but after “buy Der Rote Milan”.
Great news about Hail Spirit Noir. One of the few really interesting metal bands out there.
this Kvalvaag is sounding mighty fine.
I’m drooling for that one and the debut by label-mates Svartelder, and that’s not the only stuff on this list I’m looking forward to.