Over the last week, as I sporadically checked our e-mails and scanned my Facebook feed, I made a growing list of new black metal songs and a few full releases that I wanted to check out this weekend as candidates for this Shades of Black series. As seems to happen fairly often, I found so many excellent tracks when I worked through the list that I couldn’t bring myself to leave many of them behind. And so I’ve got another two-part Shades of Black for you. It’s a grey, dank day outside here in the Pacific Northwest, so the odds are that I’ll be able to get Part 2 written and posted later today.
Four years on from their last album Cold of Ages, California’s Ash Borer (whose members have also kept themselves busy with many other musical projects) now have a third one on the way. The new one is The Irrepassable Gate and it’s set for release by Profound Lore on December 2, adorned by excellent cover art created by Glyn Smyth (Stag & Serpent).
The title track opens the album, and it was revealed a few days ago. Like almost every other song the band have released, it’s a long and sprawling one — but the sound is more powerful than I remember from previous releases, while still exhibiting a grimy veneer. The music has an unnerving quality from the beginning, in part due to the ghastly howls and in part the result of the repeating interplay of eerie guitar notes and groaning bass riffs. Chaos breaks loose eventually, with blasting drums and seething riffs and the overhang of ominous keyboard droning, pierced by gripping lead guitar flurries.
As the frantic pace slows, the song becomes immense and majestic, almost symphonic in its sweep and bleak grandeur — and it retains that sense of sweeping power as it begins to burn again before a finale that’s both solemn and anguished.
I know some black metal freaks don’t have much use for songs of this length, but I think this one earns the extra minutes.
Dunkelheit Produktionen has set New Year’s Day next year as the release date for Ons Vrije Fatum, the new album by the Dutch band Laster. This is their second full-length, preceded by De verste verte is hier in 2014. Laster also released a split with Wederganger earlier this year.
The title track is now up on Bandcamp for streaming. It’s a fiery and furious track at first, with a prominent pulsing bass line and shrieks of boiling extremity in the vocal department. But the song branches off the black metal path with a very catchy and danceable melody with post-punk and post-metal connections and a propulsive drum rhythm, as well as different vocal stylings and a light, lilting guitar motif near the end (at least I think that’s a guitar).
Unlike the first two band in this post, I was unfamiliar with the music of Deus Mortem before listening to the songs I’ve embedded below. Deus Mortem are from Wrocław, Poland, and their new EP Demons of Matter and the Shells of the Dead was released on September 30 by Malignant Voices. Metal-Archives reports that Deus Mortem’s discography also includes a debut album from 2013 named Emanations of the Black Light and a 2011 EP called Darknessence.
There’s tremendous blazing energy in the EP’s opener, “The Higher Sun”, and like the other two songs it’s packed with gripping riffs, scorching lead guitar explosiveness, eye-popping drumwork, and wild, barbarous vocals. After that pulse-pounding start, “Penetrating the Veils of Negativity” changes course at the beginning, launched by soaring choral voices and a slow, grim, poisonous guitar measure. Eventually, it also begins to race and thunder. Although it nears the 10-minute mark the catchiness of the riffs and the jet-fueled intensity of the music keep a firm hold — which isn’t broken even when the band slow down for a solemn, occult march in the song’s second half.
The final song “Olam haBeriah” falls in between the first two in length and moves with growing intensity from a slow, rocking pace with a bleak but stately air to a warlike fury — and back again. Unsurprisingly, given the quality of the first two songs, this one also proves to be interesting and memorable.
This is a strong EP that holds up well to repeated listening. I hope you like it as much as I do.
To close the first part of this Sunday’s Shades of Black installment I have a song named “Serpent Oracle” by the Australian one-man band Ignis Gehenna (the lone perpetrator being Nihilifer, who is also the vocalist in Erebus Enthroned). The song will appear on Ignis Gehenna’s debut album Baleful Scarlet Star, which will be released by Séance Records on January 9, 2017.
I was drawn to this song by the fantastic cover created by Misanthropic Artworks, and the song is fantastic as well. The intro is mid-paced and dramatic, and it remains grand and bombastic even after the eruption comes. There’s magnetic bass work in the song as well as extravagant vocal viciousness, and the savage riffing is heart-swelling stuff with a triumphant, panoramic sweep. The fallen angel rises in terrible glory through this song.