I wish I had more time to write reviews of new releases, not because anyone really needs them but because it helps ME to unbottle my enthusiasm and to offer public thanks to bands who brighten my days. Reviews may be especially unnecessary in the case of EPs and albums that have already appeared on Bandcamp, as these have, where the sounds are far more meaningful than any words written about them. But I suppose scribbling at least a few words may help guide a few souls to the music streams…
…and so here is some brief scribbling about four recent releases that can now be heard and acquired on Bandcamp. Apart from the quality of these releases and the breadth of the variety in styles they represent, I picked them out of the hundreds of worthy releases I haven’t written about this year because they happened to be the ones I’ve spent time with most recently.
Thanks to an e-mail from our Norwegian friend eiterorm (and several other friends on Facebook), I learned in August that the band Martröð would finally be releasing their EP, Transmutation of Wounds — on 12″ MLP via Fallen Empire Records and Terratur Possessions. I first heard about this project almost two years ago (and wrote about it here). The band’s eye-catching line-up reportedly consists of:
MkM – Vocals (Aosoth, Antaeus)
Esoterica – Guitars (Krieg, Chaos Moon)
H.V Lyngdal – Guitars (Wormlust)
Wrest – Additional Guitars, Ambiance (Leviathan)
D.G. – Bass, Additional Vocals (Misþyrming)
Thorns – Drums (Acherontas, Blut Aus Nord)
In August, a song from the EP called “Draumleiðsla” appeared on Bandcamp. It’s fascinating, even during the paranormal opening section when there’s not a single solitary riff in hearing range. And when the song does eventually erupt, it gives you a vibrant dose of arcane, electrifying energy. And then yesterday the other half of the EP appeared.
The title of this new track is “Draumleysa”. The rhythmic pounding in the song connects with the reptile brain; the dissonant, unearthly melodies, enhanced by sweeping keyboard ambience, seem like emanations from beyond our veil; the abraded vocals are bestial and terrifying; when the guitarists vent their energies in tremolo flurries, the music seethes; when the pace slows, the song becomes dreamlike and beautiful, but never entirely of our world.
Transmutation of Wounds is a masterful piece of dark, dynamic art that draws the mind from mundane surroundings and concerns and plunges it into a world that’s hostile, haunting, and transcendent. Do not miss this.
This next band is a true blast from the past. Way back in 2011 I premiered a song from the debut album (Nucleus) by the German band Vaulting. I had forgotten about them until receiving word from the band earlier this week that they had finally released new music, in the form of an EP named Vanitas. To be honest, I had also forgotten exactly what Vaulting sounded like, though I did remember being strongly impressed by what they had done before… whatever that was.
The band’s line-up has remained intact since the arrival of Nucleus. For the new EP they’ve crafted six relatively brief songs — but within those songs they pack in a lot of variety. The music is intricate and technically exuberant and veers rapidly around a landscape of shifting tempos and moods. The bounding/slugging drum and bass hit with pummeling force, while the lead guitar machinations are head-spinning and often dissonant. One moment the riffs are hammering nails into your head, the next they’re stripping flesh from bone in vicious tremolo-picked fury. The vocals are just as varied and off-the-wall — growling, roaring, shrieking, gurgling, and yelling.
I’m not sure there’s any simple genre label that captures what’s going on here. I suppose you could think of it as deathgrind with a healthy helping of freakish math metal and prog. Whatever you call it, it’s a wild ride.
Unlike the first two bands in this post, I knew nothing of Dagger Moon (who are from the Washington, D.C. area) or their music until I decided to dip my toes into their debut album after reading an e-mail from the band. Dagger Moon was apparently once known as Citadel, and that’s also the name of this album, which was independently released in July.
The album’s cover art is interesting, though if you’re like me it may send you off with expectations about the music that turn out to be misleading. I was thinking perhaps something in the vein of stoner rock with a boozed-up party feel and maybe some Motörhead in the mix. Nope. The riffs are plenty fuzz-bombed, and the songs will definitely get your head moving, but there the resemblance (mostly) ends.
What Dagger Moon do quite effectively is meld bleak, pile-driving, steamrolling, rampaging doom with spectral keyboard melodies that sometimes sound like extracts from an old horror movie or sci-fi soundtrack. You can wrench your neck headbanging to these songs, and the shrieked vocals are caustic enough to leave acid burns on your flesh, but the spooky, dramatic melodies have a spellbinding, narcotic effect on the senses. Visions of a desolate, post-apocalyptic wasteland spring to mind, one menaced by mutated creatures, restless wraiths in the shadows, and a blood moon rising on the horizon.
This is just a broad summary of what the album holds in store, and there’s more variation among the songs than I’ve managed to capture. It’s well worth a full run through these six strong tracks, but to get a sense of the variations, listen to “Wolfpack” and then “Terminus Est”. Damned good — and damned.
MASTER BOOT RECORD
Like Dagger Moon, Master Boot Record (hereafter, “MBR“) was also an unknown to me before I decided to sample a song from the new MBR album C:\>CHKDSK /F. One song was all it took — I was hooked.
Like the album title, the song titles refer to digital file names for executables and other computer files. MBR’s description of its music on Bandcamp reads like this: “I am a 486DX-33Mhz-64mb processing avant-garde chiptune, synthesized heavy metal & classical symphonic music. 100% Synthesized. 100% Dehumanized.”
All in all, not being a big fan (or even a medium-sized one) of electronic music (except occasionally in its most eardrum-rupturing configurations), I wasn’t prepared to fall for this. But I have. It’s extremely catchy music, full of vibrant, irresistible energy and addictive hooks, but it’s also plenty heavy. You can rock the hell out to this stuff, but you can also drift off into waking dreams that are dark and ominous. As icing on the cake, I found that monotony never set in — the songs aren’t clones of each other, and part of the album’s many attractions is the fun of hearing what comes next.
MBR is a one-man project of an Italian creator who appears to live in Japan. The album is available here: