SHADES OF BLACK (PART 3): HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY, ELLENDE, AZZIARD, NIRNAETH, ISGÄRDE, AKATHARTA
This is the third and final Part of a post that I began on Sunday focusing on black metal (and music influenced by it), thinking it would just be a two-parter featuring six bands instead of what it has become. As the days have passed, I’ve continued to come across advance tracks and full releases that I want to support, and the total has now reached 13 bands. Honestly, I could do this every day, but I’m going to make myself stop until next Sunday so I can devote attention to other things. Like eating and sleeping.
I’m going to begin with a couple of videos, one brand new and one not so new (but newly discovered), both of them created for Austrian bands. And then I’ll turn to a new split, a recent album, and a couple of new songs from a band with some famous names attached to it that aren’t really black metal but I want to mention them without further delay.
HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY
The new album by this Austrian band, III: Trauma, is fantastic. We’ve already featured one of the new tracks (here) and premiered a second one (here), and yesterday the band debuted a video for a third one.
The song is “The Traces We Leave”, which makes use in the lyrics of famous lines penned by John Donne, and the video was directed by Leafhouse Collective. The imagery in the video is transfixing and disturbing — a sequence of dead things, from insects to bones to rodents floating in preservative to other objects that can’t easily be identified. There is movement in the video — the flow of black ichor and the expansion and contraction of life-like forms that may simply be the movement of ferromagnetic fluids in the presence of a magnetic field.
As for the song itself, it’s wonderful… and I’ll leave it at that, because we have a review of the album coming very soon.
III: Trauma will be released by Art of Propaganda on July 22 and you can pre-order it via the Bandcamp page below. I’ve included the lyrics for this new song below the video stream.
(Thanks to our Norwegian friend eitororm for the tip about this new video and for the insights into the reactions of ferrofluids.)
I can’t remember why I left my hometown
And why I moved to this city, that got me stranded by the tide
I wonder who I was those days, who I’m going to be
But to secure peace is still the best way to prepare for war
This world made me an alcoholic
This world makes me wanna die in my sleep
This world made me a junkie, dyed-in-the-wool
This world made me a razoreater, a homeless fool…
No Man is an Island, entire of itself
Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main
I am involved in mankind, and so are you
Cause we are both part of this vast and moribund clutter
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls
Cause it tolls for you and me… …it tolls for you and me…
I didn’t believe you, as you once compared love to flames
But I guess you were right, cause both leave nothing but ashes
For me, love was never tied to conditions
In the end I loved you… …but I chose darkness…
I chose darkness…
My dear I lost you, as this city lost me
We lost our shelter, we even lost the sea
Day after day keeps elapsing, some day we‘ll call it years
I‘m on my own now… …but every stranger looks like you…
The traces we leave are vague, but they still catch sight
Sadly, I’m still lost in this city where I shouldn’t be at all
It’s hard to wake up from a nightmare, when your’re not even asleep
But this world breaks everyone, and afterwards some are strong at the broken places…
The next video was created for the title track to an EP named Weltennacht by the Austrian band Ellende. The video debuted last October, and the EP was released even earlier (in the fall of 2014), but I managed to miss both of them until yesterday.
The video, which was directed and produced by Dr. Winter (Teratogen), is completely engrossing. It’s an interweaving of historical film clips and footage made for the video (which includes nudity, so be careful if you’re at work — you can find a censored version here).
One of the clips includes film of the 1987 public suicide of a Pennsylvania politician (Budd Dwyer) at a press conference he conducted the day before he was to be sentenced to prison following a conviction for bribery. The full story, which is a bizarre and tragic one, can be found at The Font of All Human Knowledge.
The song itself is powerfully catchy, an atmospheric post-black-metal piece charged with chiming chords, shimmering tremolo work, and a mesmerizing solo, with interludes of softer acoustic strumming and plaintive violin melody. The drumming in the song really is its powerful beating heart, and the vocals are searingly intense. The song also includes audio from the TV coverage of Budd Dwyer taking his own life. I can’t get this song out of my head….
Below the video I’ve included a full stream of Ellende’s EP, which is available on Bandcamp.
Ellende – Weltennacht (Uncensored) from Teratogen on Vimeo.
AZZIARD / NIRNAETH
Now we turn to that split I mentioned at the outset. Thanks to it, I’ve been introduced to two French black metal bands I will now be keeping an eye on (and should have discovered sooner): Azziard and Nirnaeth. The split, which includes one exclusive song from each band, will be released in August on 7″ vinyl by Kaotoxin Records — the first 7″ ever released by the label. Here are a few thoughts about the songs, followed by a full stream.
Azziard’s line-up includes past and current members of The Negation, Moonreich, and Whispering Tears. They have released two full-lengths (2009’s 1916 and 2014’s Vésanie), with a third forecast for release next year, and the subject matter of their music focuses on World War I. Their song for this split is named “Unus Mundus”.
It’s absolutely ferocious, driven by a riveting, pummeling rhythm and laced with unearthly dissonant arpeggios. The vocals are barbarous and wild, while the darting, writhing guitar work is similarly perched on the brink of chaos. This is a full-throttle, spine-jarring, technically impressive thrill ride that’s also catchy as hell.
Prior to this split, Nirnaeth had also released two albums, Thrown Athwart the Darkness in 2006 and Splendour of the Abyss in 2009. Their contribution to the split is a track called “Nihil in Me”, which is one that was recorded during the pre-production process for a forthcoming album.
“Nihil in Me” makes a fine match with Azziard’s track — it’s a turbocharged assault of gut-punching percussion and fierce riff swarms, with poisonous vocal vitriol. The chaotic torrent of black metal savagery is broken by a head-bobbing, hard-rocking interlude before the hell-ride resumes and rockets toward its conclusion.
The split will be released on 7″ vinyl by Kaotoxin on August 12. If you like what you hear, you can pre-order it here or here (white vinyl). It’s also available as a “name your price” download at this location (though it will obviously sound different from the version mastered for vinyl):
Isgärde is yet another wonderful new discovery for me, and perhaps for you as well. The band has only one member — Somath — who lives on a Swedish island named Öland. From what I’ve read, he created Isgärde as a way of expressing lyrics inspired by Öland’s history and as a vehicle for music that would capture the solitude of life on the island as well as its raw and majestic natural setting.
Isgärde’s debut album is named Jag Enslig Skall Gå and it was co-released on June 26 by Symbol Of Domination Productions (Belarus) and Black Plague Records (U.S.). It deserves a more complete and nuanced review than I have time to give it — but my failure to sing its praises in a lengthier discourse should in no way be interpreted as a lack of enthusiasm, because I strongly commend this album to your ears.
The album begins with one of the more epic and transfixing intro tracks I’ve heard in a while, and what comes after is like the turning of a black metal kaleidoscope, the music ranging from mid-paced, bone-rattling rockers to bouts of whirling exuberance, from jolting gallops to soft piano interludes, from thrashing assaults of ruthless barbarity to segments of dreamlike reflectiveness. The music has massively heavy low-end power, but it also floats and glides like a collective of lost spirits in the void.
The songs are vehicles for a range of captivating melodies, some of them with a folk air, and most of them melancholy (or even tormented) in their emotional resonance. The vocals are bile-spewing and as corrosive as sulfuric acid — or like sharp nails clawing down a sheet of glass.
The fact that this multifaceted album is the work of one man makes it all the more remarkable. Do make time to give it a thorough exploration.
To order or download the album, go here:
And now, to finally conclude this three-part post, I’m turning to music that isn’t very “blackened” in the ways you might expect for this series — though it’s plenty black (and bleak) in other ways.
The name of this new band is Akatharta, and it ought to widen some eyeballs because its members include vocalist Kam Lee. In addition, one of the two songs you’re about to hear — both of which appeared on July 2 — includes guest vocals by none other than the resurgent Dave Ingram, formerly with Benediction and Bolt Thrower and now the frontman of Hail of Bullets, as well as Rogga Johansson’s collaborator in Down Among the Dead Men and Echelon.
When I last wrote about Kam Lee in May of this year, I was struck by how many projects he is now involved with, even after such a long and illustrious career. One that I mentioned back then was this one — Akatharta — though at that point no music had yet been divulged. Now we have two tracks, and Akatharta is now actively searching for a label to facilitate an album-length release.
The other members of Akatharta are guitarist/composer Aaron Whitsell, drummer Travis Ruvo, and bassist Chris Sabbath.
So, with that background, let’s turn to these two new tracks, both of which are free downloads via Bandcamp. One is an original song named “Pneumata” and the second, which is the one joined by Dave Ingram, is a cover of “Destroyer” by Twisted Sister.
“Pneumata” reportedly includes samples of ghostly Electronic Voice Phenomena and other audio of paranormal experiences — which suits the music, because it is ghostly and ghastly. The pacing is dirgelike, the melody is deeply mournful, and the surrounding haze of sounds is unearthly and haunting. Kam Lee’s vocals are monstrous… deep, gruesome, inhuman. It’s a kind of atmospheric-funeral-doom-death amalgam. More of this please!
The cover of “Destroyer” is largely faithful to the original — except of course for the beastly, sepulchral vocals, which are vastly preferable to the original. They help turn the track into a dire and dreadful death/doom skull-crusher.
Great post! Not sure if you have covered them but INTONATE -“The Swerve” and VOID OMNIA -“The Dying Light” are also a couple of good releases.
Thanks. Both of those are on my list of things to check out, but we haven’t covered them yet.
Budd Dwyer couldn’t get it out of his head either.
OUCH! (well-played sir)
III: Trauma sounds incredible, can’t wait for the release. Outstanding video as well, thanks for that!
Sounds like Harakiri for the Sky is gonna remain just as awesome as they’ve been since I’ve known of them.