In yesterday’s Part 1 of this large round-up, I said I would post Part 2 later the same day. Someday I will learn that part-time metal bloggers who have actual paying jobs and/or families who occasionally need their attention should not make forecasts of what they plan to do on the blog. Not even what they think they will accomplish later the same day, or even in the next hour. That’s just laying the groundwork for stepping on your own crank, so to speak.
Anyway, here’s Part 2, which unlike yesterday focuses on new or newish music that I wanted to recommend rather than simply announcements. One silver lining to the delay is that it enabled me to add the first item in this collection, which appeared late yesterday.
HEAVEN SHALL BURN
Our small band of beleaguered writers at NCS includes some ardent (perhaps even slavish) fans of Germany’s Heaven Shall Burn. I count my own self on the slavish end of the spectrum. And so yesterday was a banner day, because…
Century Media announced that on September 16 it will be releasing HSB’s eighth album, which is named Wanderer. AND they released an advance track from the album named “Downshifter“.
I should explain that the album comes in a multitude of formats and versions, one of which (called Too Good To Steal From) comes with a bonus CD that includes every cover song they’ve recorded since joining Century Media Records in 2003. That would be a nice thing to have. One would expect the new album to include a new cover as well, and the consensus seems to be that it’s “Agent Orange”.
I’m too lazy to provide further details about all the versions and bundles, and if I did it would look like a giant ad anyway, which makes me queasy, but you can see those details at this place, which isn’t as lazy as I am.
So let’s just get on to “Downshifter“, which I really LIKE. The way the song opens is a serious skull-splitter in sonic form, and the music just becomes more intense and fiery as it proceeds. Intensity is a big part of Heaven Shall Burn’s attraction, but this song also displays something else they do very well — they lace their head-battering, flesh-searing conflagrations with memorable melodies.
Heaven Shall Burn clearly decided to begin the ramp-up to Wanderer’s release with a fan crowd-pleaser, which is fine because I’m now a pleased fan. I’ll be curious to see what else they have come up with.
This next video premiered almost one week ago, and although some of my NCS comrades wrote some very complimentary things about it within our circle of friends, I still didn’t catch up to it until yesterday. It’s a group play-through video by the band Allegaeon (from Denver) for a song called “Gray Matter Mechanics” off their new digital Metal Blade single (which also includes as part of the same digital track an instrumental named “Apassionata Ex Machinea”).
Allegaeon have a new album coming out this fall, and presumably these tracks will be on it (or at least the one that’s featured in the video), but for now they’re releasing it on Bandcamp:
This new song and video feature the band’s new vocalist Riley McShane, who I liked immediately largely because he resembles a friend of mine (hey Matti!). He has a strong, vicious voice, too. And the song itself is immensely enjoyable, from Greg Burgess’ flamenco acoustic guitar performance to the way that opening acoustic melody is expertly elaborated and woven into the hell-for-leather gallop that follows it (including through brief instrumental interludes that resemble mambo music to my ears).
It’s a jolting, adrenaline-triggering song, but it has so much character and individuality! And the video takes a comedic turn as Michael Stancel continues shredding while being fed a sandwich and Corey Archuleta heeds nature’s call while continuing to punch out the rhythms.
I confess that I checked out this next song solely because the band (Seputus) includes metal writer and Pyrrhon member Doug Moore as vocalist; the band also includes two other Pyrrhon members, composer and multi-instrumentalist Steve Schwegler and bassist Erik Malave (who joined Seputus last year). And that would have been the end of that, except the song turns out to be terrifyingly good.
The track is “Two Great Pale Zeroes”, and it’s the first single from the debut Seputus album, Man Does Not Give, which will be released on October 21 (CD, LP, and digital). It’s a seething, savage, dissonant black/death onslaught, full of flashing, thrashing riffs and head-rattling percussive turns that eventually segues into a slow, staggering lurch with an even more pronounced otherworldly ambience. Through it all, Doug Moore alternates between deep, horrifying roars and skin-flaying shrieks.
I’m really looking forward to hearing more from Man Does Not Give. Physical editions of the album can be pre-ordered here, and the digital edition can be pre-ordered here:
In mid-June we had the pleasure of premiering a song called “Encased In A Higher Intellect” by the German death metal band Orphalis off their new album The Birth of Infinity, which will be released next month by Amputated Vein. Now the band have released a dual-guitar play-through video for another new song, “Hematemesis“.
Watching these dudes fly through their parts of the songs is a lot of fun, and the song is a blast, too — a dose of brutal death metal barbarity that both explodes in jet-fueled rampages and methodically clubs the listener senseless with pile-driving grooves.
The Birth of Infinity will be released by Amputated Vein on August 12. To pre-order, visit these locations:
I can’t go for very long without a fix of old school death metal, and today’s first injection comes from the Detroit band Centenary, which seems to be a new group but one with experienced musicians who’ve paid dues in other bands. The song is “Ghastly Graves“, and it’s now available on Bandcamp as a single.
Centenary call their music “Detroit Chainsaw Metal”, and “Ghastly Graves” certainly does pay homage to the likes of Dismember and early Entombed, while also bringing in elements of the old Floridian strain of death. Rhythmically dynamic, performed with technical flair, and with a suitably ghastly and ravenous atmosphere, the song is a hell of a fiery advent for these Detroit monsters.
I have my reliable source of underground recommendations “M” to thank for introducing me to the next band. Their name is Orthostat, they come our way from Jaraguá Do Sul, Brazil, and below you will find a full stream of their debut demo Into the Orthostat, which was released on July 15.
I didn’t know what the word “orthostat” meant, but I found this explanation at The Font of All Human Knowledge:
“An orthostat is a large stone with a more or less slab-like shape that has been artificially set upright (so a cube-shaped block is not an orthostat). Menhirs and other standing stones are technically orthostats although the term is only used by archaeologists to describe individual prehistoric stones that constitute part of larger structures. Common examples include the walls of chamber tombs and other megalithic monuments and the vertical elements of the trilithons at Stonehenge. Especially later, orthostats may be carved with decoration in relief, a common feature of Hittite architecture among other styles.”
Now that you have perhaps learned a new word, as I did, let’s talk about the music.
I got stuck on the opening track “Orthostat”. I listened to the song a half dozen times over the last week without ever making it to the other three. It’s so deliciously morbid, moving from a slow, doom-stricken start to a vicious, swarming main assault punctuated by some very infectious drumwork — and the gruesome vocals summon up images of an ancient horror rising from the abyss where it was entombed.
I did eventually make my way through the other three songs with a drooling, deranged grin on my face — because they’re just as good (and just as lethally pestilential) as the opener. Orthostat wear their influences proudly on their sleeves (including the mighty Incantation) — and they’ve honored their musical ancestors by turning out one of the best old-school death metal demos I’ve come across this year.
Okay, to wrap up this edition of Seen and Heard I have the creepiest song in the collection, accompanied by a beautifully filmed video (directed by Gil Chevigné) that makes it even creepier.
The band is Oldd Wvrms, and they’re based in Houffalize, Belgium. The name of the song is “Délétère“, and it appears on this band’s second album Ignobolis, which will be released sometime later this year by Grizzly Inc. It features cover art by Romanian artist Luciana Nedelea, whose work I’ve posted frequently on the NCS Facebook page.
I encourage you to listen to the song without watching the video at least once — because the video is so mysterious and so engrossing that you may not fully appreciate all the alluring aspects of the music. The song all by itself is also very engrossing, a tremendously heavy (and very catchy) rumbling, chugging bulldozer of a track, interwoven with spare, slower segments featuring hypnotically chiming guitars and ritual drumbeats.
Actually, the entire song is hypnotic, and the timbre of the doom-generating clean vocals enhances its occult atmosphere, which grows more penetrating and potent as the track rolls along.