I’ve been playing catch-up on new and newly discovered music this weekend. It’s been a very good series of listening sessions, and now I’m up to my eyebrows in tracks I’d like to share. I posted one round-up earlier today, and in this one I’m focusing on new music in a blackened vein. But this post won’t exhaust all the black(ish) music that’s now burning in my head, and so my plan is to compile a second installment of Shades of Black for posting tomorrow. As usual, I’ve tried to select the songs, and to divide them between Parts 1 and 2, in a way that would provide a diverse listening experience.
When I reviewed Kaeck’s Stormkult last year, I identified two aspects of the music that I thought made it one of the brightest stars in the firmament of 2015 black metal releases: First, even in a genre known for its extreme intensity, Stormkult is extremely intense. For almost its entire duration, it’s a raging hurricane of sound — bombastic, terrorizing, and chillingly grim. If you want to be electrified by music, this will do it, and leave your head smoking.
And second, Kaeck create atmosphere as well as bedlam. For Stormkult they wrote melodies that are hypnotic, menacing, and haunting, and those melodies seize attention even when everything else around them feels like a conflagration.
I’ve been thinking again about this band of Dutch metal veterans (who include members of Sammath, Noordelingen, and Kjeld) for two reasons. The first is that Heathen Tribes is releasing a cassette edition of Stormkvlt on July 1, limited to 100 copies and accompanied by a poster and lyric sheet.
The second is that Kaeck recently posted on YouTube an audio of the band’s live rehearsal of the song “De Kult” in preparation for a live assault in Berlin. In a word, it rips.
BLACK MASS PERVERTOR
The members of the Finnish band Black Mass Pervertor seem to be veteran musicians, with the seeds of this band having been sown almost 20 years ago, and now they have finally discharged a debut album. Bearing the title Phanerosis, it was released on June 17 by Barbarian Wrath in a CD edition, and a tape edition is available from the band.
I haven’t yet heard the full album, only the six songs that are collectively streaming on the Bandcamp pages of the label and the band. The music is pitch-black and savagely demonic — grim, ominous, and ritualistic in its more stately-paced sections and utterly blistering when it’s barreling ahead in a full-speed rampage.
There’s a lot of variety in the songs — with influences that include punk, thrash, and Motörhead-styled rock — and a full complement of killer riffs, militaristic drums, and vile vocal misanthropy. Really good black metal strongly rooted in the first wave.
Protean is the name of a Latvian black metal project that was launched in 2013. Their debut album The Burning Centuries was released in 2015 and won several Latvian metal awards, including best debut. I didn’t become aware of the album until this weekend, when I noticed an e-mail we had received announcing that Heathen Tribes (the same label mentioned above in connection with Kaeck) is re-releasing the album on July 1.
Once again, I haven’t yet listened to the entire album, but have been very impressed by the four dynamic and richly textured songs that are streaming through either Soundcloud or Bandcamp. The sound is heavy as hell and surges with ferocious power. The vocals are an immediate stand-out, with truly inflamed bestial growls serrated enough to cut raw meat and occasional deep vocal chants.
And while the deep, grinding, protean power (pun intended) of the music is almost physically arresting (thanks in part to a tremendous rhythm section), the songs also deliver sweeping, infernally majestic melodies as well as somber, eerie atmospheric passages, with very effective keyboard additions that don’t overwhelm the other instruments or become too bombastic. A tremendous new discovery….
Nox is a popular name among extreme metal bands, but this particular one hails from Columbia. Their new four-song EP Ancestral Arte Negro has been set for an August 28 release in a limited 7″ vinyl edition by Forever Plagued Records.
One song from the album is available for listening so far, and it seems to be the title track. It’s an explosive wave of pulse-pounding black metal in the orthodox Nordic style, both blood-freezing in its ferocity and in the chill of its grim melody and as fiery as that fire-breather on the EP’s cover. No molds were broken in the making of this song, but who cares? — because it’s hellishly good.
MIST OF MISERY
Sweden’s Mist of Misery are preparing for the release of their second album Absence on August 1 via Black Lion Productions, and the title track is now streaming via Soundcloud.
I’m not familiar with the band’s first album and therefore can’t draw comparisons, but I’m damned enthralled by this new advance track. It has a dark and depressive atmosphere, but it’s also sweepingly beautiful, with the heart-aching melody carried aloft by waves of shining synthesizer orchestration and brought home by piano measures that are by turns wistful, soulful, and sprightly. I was pleased to discover that the vocals are as emotionally powerful as the instrumental music — but also barbarically abrasive.
Absence will be released digitally as well as on CD (in both digipack and jewelcase versions limited to 250 copies each). The artwork was created by the Russian artist Alex Tartsus.
To conclude Part 1 of this collection, I have a stream of two tracks by a mysterious entity named SataNaamah from a forthcoming album entitled The Chalice of Pazuzu. I learned of these tracks only because the album was recorded, and is being mixed and mastered, by Sitra Ahra Studio (run by Semjaza of Thy Darkened Shade). The only details I have discovered come from these words that accompany the Soundcloud stream you’re about to hear:
Black metal in essence, we hereby present the two first tracks of a band that has been long in the making. The band called SataNaamah and the first album is ‘The Chalice of Pazuzu‘.
The band is experimental and avantgarde only Satan knows what the future will bring.
The only reason for the existence of such band is to serve as an avatar of the sinister gods.
The first album is dedicated to Pazuzu.
More details. label & release date will be announced soon.
Recorded, mixed and mastered at Sitra Ahra studio.
Hail to the sisters of divine blood Vamperess Imperium & E.T, the Akhkhar, Beelzebubian brothers, Acrimonious & Abigor.
Together we summon the unknown abyss.
The music in these two songs is a dramatic departure from everything else in this collection. It’s entirely instrumental, consisting largely of acoustic guitars (joined by the majestic tones of an organ in the first track and by piano and cello (at least I’m guessing it’s a cello) in the second one) — and it’s spellbinding. Close your eyes and listen….