Greetings from Seattle and welcome to another edition of Shades of Black. I wasn’t able to prepare one of these installments last Sunday due to fucking off, so I’ve accumulated an especially large list of recent discoveries that I would like to write about. From that list I’ve selected blackened music from six bands to recommend.
The name Windfaerer will likely be a familiar one to our readers. Last year we premiered two songs from the band’s marvelous second album Tenebrosum and named one of those to our list of 2015’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. What a nice surprise it was to discover that two days ago Windfaerer released more new music.
These new songs (three of them) appear on a three-way split by Windfaerer and two other Northeast bands, WolfCloak, and Dumal. The name of the split is Coniuratio Nigrum Atlantika. So far I’ve only listened to Windfaerer’s tracks, but they are predictably excellent.
The opener “O Insonho” is a sublime acoustic piece led by guitar and violin (with the occasional thunderous rumble of drums) that manages to be both somber and intense. “Comlech” ratchets the intensity even further in a rushing stormfront of slashing, jabbing riffs and stampeding percussion. The searing, scarring vocals explode with emotion, while a piercing guitar melody gets its hooks in your head immediately and becomes even more gripping as it evolves near the end.
The violin again assumes a prominent (and head-spinning) role in “Lord of the Twilight”, another fast-paced, pulse-pounding romp, bursting with vibrant passion. It’s a warlike, folk-influenced cavalry charge with only a brief, melancholy interlude to give you a breath before a truly explosive finale.
These three Windfaerer tracks are available as a “name your price” download on Bandcamp. The entire split can be ordered on limited-edition CD via the Bandcamp page as well. And I’ve also included links to the tracks of WolfCloak and Dumal — which I’m anxious to hear.
Mar Mortuum are a trio from Melbourne, Australia. Two years ago they released a debut album named Nihilistic Advance, which I haven’t heard, and on July 15 of this year the Australian label Impure Sounds released a new EP named Tomb — which is outstanding.
The EP includes two roughly eight-minute tracks separated by a two-minute instrumental piece. The longer tracks are wonderfully dynamic and thoroughly sinister. In part they’re ferocious — driven hard and fast by a blood-pumping rhythm section with gripping riff assaults and utterly savage, bestial vocal tirades — and in part (when the pace slows) they’re grim expressions of doom and damnation. Disturbing, dissonant melodies slither through the music like sidewinders or peal like funeral bells.
The shorter middle track is steeped in gloom, a dirge that’s both thoroughly ominous and haunting.
To repeat, Tomb is a gleaming obsidian gem, well-written and with impressive instrumental performances. Highly recommended.
Hiding are based in Eugene, Oregon. Their lineup includes current or former members of such groups as Cult of Unholy Shadows, Tormentium, Kaoxifer, Scrolls, and Rye Wolves. They released their self-titled debut EP in March, though I only discovered it during the past week through a recommendation by a friend of the band, who also sent me this statement by Hiding concerning their origin and mission:
“Hiding started with the intention of creating music that was true to ourselves and our wide range of influences. We decided to get together and jam to see if the three of us had musical chemistry as a unit. The jam went well. Hence, we decided to start writing, and the music kind of created itself, so to speak. We just wanted not to be hindered by adhering to any particular genre or style of metal. What came out naturally was a mix of funeral doom, black metal, death metal, art rock, and progressive. Our goal is to not over-think the music style-wise, but also try and push ourselves as musicians. We all have a deep love of dark and dirge-ridden music. So it’s natural that our sound is what it is.”
Hiding’s debut EP consists of two long songs, and the music is a gripping amalgam of diverse metal styles. In fact, the band’s skill in integrating such a diverse array of influences is a large part of what makes the EP so impressive (and engrossing).
“Saudade” moves from a chilling, ghostly instrumental overture that grows increasingly frenzied into a ponderous, dismal, but equally haunted passage that soon groans with the weight of distorted doom chords and claws at your throat with ghastly blackened shrieks and cries of wrenching agony. It’s a bleak, oppressive experience, eventually erupting in a torrent of blasting, galloping drums and deranged arpeggios.
The second song, “Ill Wind”, begins at the stalking pace of a night predator, surrounded by narcotic vapors of occult doom melody. From there, a hypnotic, reverberating, dual-guitar instrumental deepens the music’s bleak, hallucinatory atmosphere, with the band eventually catching fire again in a hornet swarm of sinister riffs and romping drums. Aided once again by those terrifying vocals, the song is deeply unsettling and saturated with poison, but the extended guitar solo that brings it to an end gives it a parting shot of electrifying vibrancy.
Hiding was originally released on cassette tape by Belief Mower Records; it appears that the tape is sold out, though the band are considering a second production of tapes. For now, you can download it via Bandcamp:
Anthro Halaust are an obscure four-man black metal band from Ukraine who will likely be given a bit more visibility through the release of a new EP by UK-based Hell’s Hammer Music. Its title is Правды Осколок, Кровоточит Живым, which the label says is roughly translated as “Shard of Truth, Bleed Live”.
The first song I heard from the EP was an advance track on Soundcloud called “The Chasm: Attracting In Uncertainty”, and it made a tremendously favorable impression. It turns out that the rest of the EP — now available on Bandcamp — is also excellent.
“The Chasm” is an overpowering feast for the senses — both majestic and demonic. The sweeping orchestral elements of the song send it into the stratosphere, while the strangled vocals are vile, vitriolic, and as ugly as the panoramic, melancholy melody is entrancing. And shortly after the 5:00 mark, the song becomes grippingly bombastic. When the gliding orchestral melody returns in the midst of those pulse-pounding sounds of battle, it’s an amazing feeling.
I’ll resist the temptation to heap more praise on a track-by-track basis, and say only that each song has its own distinctive identity within the general stylistic framework of hellish symphonic black metal. The EP draws blood like a lashing with barbed wire; it spawns images of wild dances at an infernal carnival; and it sends the mind soaring, like clouds passing the face of a baleful moon at midnight.
I learned of this Finnish black metal band through our friend SurgicalBrute’s year-end list of his favorite releases from 2015 (which included Aegrus‘ album Devotion For the Devil), and then in May our Norwegian friend eiterorm compiled a guest Seen and Heard post that included news about a new five-track Aegrus EP named Conjuring the Old Echoes. At that time, no music from the EP was available, but now one song has surfaced.
“Desolation Satan” is a thundering gallop; a hard-rocking, punk-influenced metal romp; a grim dirge-like processional; and a galvanizing riff-fest. And while it moves through all these dynamic stages of its progression, it’s laced with an intense but sorrowful melody that sticks in the head and it’s capped by absolutely searing, throat-shredding shrieks.
Aegrus pack a hell of a lot into just this one song; can’t wait to see what they do with the full EP.
Conjuring the Old Echoes will be released later this summer by Hammer of Hate. Watch this space for more news about the release:
To conclude this Shades of Black installment I’ve impulsively included a last-minute addition that I learned about only yesterday. Entitled Qualia, it’s the debut EP by Misanthropic Rage from Minsk Mazowiecki, Poland, which appeared on June 27 via Bandcamp.
Qualia consist of three songs: The 17-minute title track; a shorter song named “Katharsis”; and a cover of Satyricon’s “K.I.N.G.” from Now, Diabolical. There’s a lot of variety to be found in these three songs, and Misanthropic Rage prove their skill by doing all of it well.
Despite their name, which may led you to assume that you’re in for an onslaught of raw, bestial black metal, the band are more creative and more progressively inclined. The long title track functions as a kind of statement of intent, fully revealing the band’s instrumental talents and the scope of their compositional ambitions. Aided by a sharp, clear production, the song twists and turns along an unpredictable and often experimental course, ranging from violent, volcanic explosions of head-hammering power to eerie, paranormal hallucinations, with variations in the vocals that match the kaleidoscopic instrumental turns. It’s a wondrous trip.
“Katharsis” is more straight-forward, but a complete blast to hear — a rushing, roaring, ravenous rampage of black metal barbarity with a grim but epic air generated by a symphonic keyboard overlay. And the swirling, echoing guitar solo that comes near the end of this powerhouse track is well worth waiting for.
What can I say about “K.I.N.G.”? It’s a fucking great song, and Misanthropic Rage do a fucking great job covering it.
In a nutshell, this is an amazingly accomplished debut outing by a band we obviously need to keep a close eye on.