SHADES OF BLACK (PART 1): NEUROSIS, PROSTERNATUR, ARÊTE, MYSTICUM, SOLAR MASS, HORN IMPALER, HORSE DRAWN
On Friday I mentioned that I would be out in the woods over the weekend and unable to post a Shades of Black installment on Sunday. I said I would get it ready for Saturday instead. That obviously didn’t happen. Rather than wait until next Sunday, I’ve decided to do it now — and to double-down by making this a multi-part post. I’m not saying how many other parts there will be or when the rest of them will appear this week — because I’m desperately trying to remember the lesson that part-time, half-witted metal bloggers should never reveal plans that may fall apart immediately.
In this first part, I’m focusing on six individual songs and videos that have appeared recently. I’ll get to some EPs and full album releases in the next part. But first, a trailer for a highly anticipated new album…
This first item is kind of outside the bounds of what Shades of Black usually focuses on, but I got so excited about it that I didn’t want to delay spreading the word until our next Seen and Heard round-up. It’s a video trailer for the new eleventh album by the mighty Neurosis. It’s name is Fires Within Fires and it will be released on September 23 by Neurot Recordings.
The press release we received says that this trailer will be the only glimpse of the music before the album’s release. Directed and filmed by Thomas Hooper and Jimmy Hubbard, it’s a visual feast for the eyes that makes excellent use of the album’s cover art by Hooper. And although the trailer only includes a few minutes of musical excerpts, it’s powerful stuff — but who would be surprised by that?
The album can be pre-ordered HERE.
I’ve found very little information about Prosternatur. Their label Mercenary Musik/Symbolic Art Production says only that the band is “a mysterious secret order from across Europe” whose “four members wish to remain anonymous” and that they have “deep roots placed within 90’s subversive sects”. Their debut album Abyssus Abyssum Invocat was released on July 29, and a full stream can be found on YouTube. Although I haven’t yet listened to the entire album, I have seen and heard a new video for a song called “Eleusinian Mysteries“.
According to The Font of All Human Knowledge:
“The Eleusinian Mysteries (Greek: Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια) were initiations held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. They are the “most famous of the secret religious rites of ancient Greece”…. The mysteries represented the myth of the abduction of Persephone from her mother Demeter by the king of the underworld Hades, in a cycle with three phases, the “descent” (loss), the “search” and the “ascent”, with the main theme the “ascent” of Persephone and the reunion with her mother.”
The video is below, along with the full album stream and an index to the individual tracks.
The video suits the mysterious, ominous, ritualistic quality of the song. It’s slow, dissonant, and unnerving, though the band eventually coil the tension even further as the drums and the poisonous riffs accelerate. With ghastly demonic snarls spewing occult incantations, the music grows increasingly oppressive, unsettling, and hallucinatory as the minutes pass. I’m almost fearful of what the entire album is capable of doing… but I’m also eager to hear it.
I found a CD copy of the album on Amazon, and it’s also available on iTunes.
(My thanks to Krzystov for telling me about this album and video.)
1. Hydragyrum 00:00
2. Mortification of the Flesh 02:16
3. Zoroastrianism 09:44
4. Eleusinian Mysteries 16:35
5. Scrying Mirror 24:32
6. Heterodox 32:01
Arête is a new band whose members have produced excellent music in their other projects: guitarist Evergreen (Evergreen Refuge, Cuscuta), guitarist Chase Ambler (Deafest), and Paul Ravenwood (Twilight Fauna, Green Elder) on vocals and folk instruments. As integral parts of this project, author Nick Trandahl wrote the lyrics and Patrick of Infinite Forests Photography created visual accompaniment.
In April I wrote about Arête’s debut demo, and in recent days a song from their forthcoming album has also appeared. The name of the song is “Beneath the Pond” and it’s the opening track on Crushing Intolerance Volume IV, a name-your-price download on Bandcamp, the proceeds of which are dedicated to a charitable cause called No One Is Illegal. There are 20 tracks in total on this compilation, and it’s well worth exploring.
The haunting flute melody that opens “Beneath the Pond” spawns mental images of mist shrouding high mountain valleys, and as the song unfolds it becomes eerily majestic as well as spellbinding in its evocation of wistfulness and loss — and of the panoramic grandeur of isolation in a mountain wilderness.
The song includes many beautifully conceived nuances — sudden surges in the propulsiveness of the drumming, a sublime interlude of acoustic instrumentation and keyboards, an explosive, thundering eruption near the end, and a beautiful guitar arpeggio as the finale. Ravenwood’s vocals are also searing in their intensity. Great stuff.
Mysticum are a Norwegian black metal band originally formed in the mid-’90s, whose debut album appeared in 1996 under the title In the Streams of Inferno. At some point after that, the band either ceased to exist or went on indefinite hiatus, but then revived in about 2011. In 2014, Peaceville Records released their second album, Planet Satan, and it features the band’s original core triumvirate of Herr General Cerastes, Svartravn, and DrBest.
Within the last week Peaceville released a video of Mysticum performing “Fist of Satan” live at 2016’s edition of Inferno Festival in Norway. Wholly apart from the music, the visuals are fantastic, reflecting ingenuity in the design of the stage, the lighting, and the visual effects. “Fist of Satan” is also a hell of a song — a blazing inferno of cauterizing riffs, rocket-propelled machine-generated percussion, and wrenching yells. Completely electrifying….
Since the tragic demise of New Zealand’s Diocletian, the band’s vocalist/guitarist Atrociter (Brendan Southwell, also formerly in Witchrist) has been at work on a new project named Solar Mass, along with drummer Will Bellerby (Skuldom) and vocalist Nick (ex-Entropy). When I first wrote about the band in May, I had come across two sample mixes of songs from a planned demo cassette tape — “Weaponised” and “(Sgr A*) Exegesis”.
This morning I learned that the demo will be released on October 3 by Iron Bonehead Productions, initially on tape and later on MCD and vinyl. Entitled Pseudomorphosis, it includes the two tracks mentioned above and three others. Also today, Iron Bonehead put up a final version of “Weaponised” on Soundcloud, which you can check out below. As I wrote when I heard the previous version of the song, “Weaponised” is a furious, seething, thrashing rampage with some lethal riffs that eventually slows into a brutish stomp accented by deranged soloing.
Horn Impaler are a new black metal project from Poland. They caught my eye because of the wonderful cover art by Emil Laska you see above, which adorns their debut EP Deforming the Imperfection, and because their line-up includes drummer Paweł “Pavulon” Jaroszewicz (Hate, ex-Vader, Antigama). The other members of the band are musician Adam Goryszewski and vocalist Paulina Gołda (with Łukasz Wójcik and Adrian Pisarek as session musicians).
Horn Impaler recently released the first single from the new EP, a dynamic song called “Schismophrenia” that’s hard to pin down in simple genre terms. It’s a fiery track that rocks really hard, with highly infectious melodies and rhythms, as well as caustic vocal ferocity and a hell of a guitar solo in the second half — and in the slower parts of the song, there’s an aching, depressive quality to its emotional character.
A very impressive first taste of an EP that’s worth keeping high on the radar screen.
Horse Drawn is the current name of an Ohio band who formerly called themselves Horse Drawn Death Machine. They originally came together in 2007, went on hiatus in 2014 after two releases, and are now returning with a new EP planned for later this year. A couple of days ago they put one of the new songs on Bandcamp for listening. The name is “Lingering Death, Shuttering Cold”.
With soul-shattering vocal extremity, blazing-fast drumwork, and torrential riffing, it’s an explosive burst of venomous energy. But the song is also segmented with some very headbangable chords and a fluid guitar solo. It rocks as well as rips, and it makes the EP yet another one worth watching for.
Disappointed by Arete, the vocals patterns don’t fit right with the music and the drums are not mixed well. A lot of talent here though, but recording has always been an issue with Ravenwood’s projects.
Prosternatur is amazing. That’s what brought me here. The play on words in the band name hooked me and the music kept me. Great. The video is a little low production quality but I realize that’s not what it’s about. I found the nadir/zenith motif with the smoke direction very interesting. Whoever you are, thumbs up.