SHADES OF BLACK: DRAUGSÓL, SROGOŚĆ, CANCER, LASHBLOOD, SHRINE OV BELIAL, INFAMOVS
Once again I find myself drowning in attractive new black metal. I’ve assembled some of my new discoveries in this post and have in mind pulling together a second round-up for tomorrow — but yes, I do remember how foolish it is for part-time, half-witted metal bloggers to make forecasts of what they’ll do in the future. I’ll just say… maybe.
This is one of those times when all of the underground bands featured here are newcomers to our site, and I’ve bent the framework of this series a bit with the last band, which is more in the vein of death than black metal. Hope you find something to like…
Oh look! Another Icelandic black metal band! There seem to be more of them than there are snowflakes in Iceland, but on the other hand, I haven’t yet been disappointed by any of them. I was particularly unable to resist the lure of Draugsól (as if I wanted to) when I saw the fantastic cover art by Moonroot Art for their debut album, Volaða Land.
The album will be released early next year on CD and LP by Signal Rex, and as a sign of what’s to come we have an advance track called “Váboðans Vals” that’s very good.
It’s also very grim… and it’s also almost bright. Rather than immersing themselves in the esoteric, alien, and murky atmospherics of many of their fellow Icelandic BM bands, they seem to have more in common with such U.S. bands as Falls of Rauros and Panopticon. The music is vibrantly intense and dramatic, but multifaceted and dynamic. It thunders and threshes with a will, but is transportive, too.
Volaða Land is set for release on January 13, 2017. Pre-orders can be placed here:
Srogość is the name of a two-man band (musician Dariusz ‘Erebos’ Łukasik and vocalist/lyricist Grzegorz ‘Susurrus’ Nowak) from Paterek, Poland. The band was formed in 2013 and have produced an initial demo (Nicość) and a debut album in 2014. On November 30 the Via Nocturna label will release another Srogość album named Umbra Mortis / Nicość, which includes both the demo material and three new songs.
“Apostles of Hate” is one of the new songs, which you can stream below. Bleak, savage, and heavy, the largely mid-paced song features a dismal trilling melody that’s memorable, as well as a phalanx of killer riffs and head-hammering drumwork. And when Srogość do kick into rampaging gear in the song, they give you a strong dose of ice-coated barbarity, too.
You can pre-order the new release through the Via Nocturna site.
Cancer are an Australian band, and their five-track debut EP named Terminal was released via Bandcamp on October 25. Three qualities in particular made this EP stand out for me.
First, the vocals are absolutely maniacal. The first minute of the first track includes a couple of shrieks that seem to go on forever, and the expressions that follow burn with wrenching agony, carnivorous bestiality, and unhinged passion (there are some ghostly clean vocals here as well).
Second, the songwriting is top-notch; the melodies are magnetic; the sludgy grooves can be felt down to the soles of your feet; and the energy is in the red zone, even when the music sinks into black pits of despair. The band do an excellent job of melding physical punch and haunting atmospherics, scathing attacks and hallucinatory dream states, depressive beauty and the beast.
And third, there are no weak links in this five-track chain. All the songs are strong, and each has enough individual character to avoid any hint of monotony in a straight run through all the tracks.
You can download Terminal as a name-your-price offering on Bandcamp. I’ll be very surprised if this isn’t picked up by one or more labels for a physical reissue — it richly deserves to be spread around far and wide.
P.S. I’m also adding a music video released by the band for one of the songs on the EP.
Lashblood are from Stavropol, Russia, and have been active since 2007. Beginning under the name Lash they released a 2010 demo by that name and then a 2011 split. After changing their name they produced a 2012 debut album entitled Philosophy of Self-Flagellation: Being and Nothing, and a 2015 EP called Plasticine People.
I discovered them through a stream on Soundcloud of a track called “Эхо Пустоты (Echo Of The Void)”. The Soundcloud stream is about one month old, but the song is described as one that was “recorded at a rehearsal on January 25th, 2010 for a demo disk, but not included in it”. A version of a song with the same name also appears on the Philosophy of Self-Flagellation album. I’ve got both recordings for you below.
The shorter version is loaded with infectious, driving power and absolutely bestial vocals right from the start, but the prominent bass line hints right from the start that Lashblood have more in mind than causing convulsions in the reptile part of your brain. As the song unfolds, it becomes more and more interesting without losing an ounce of its intensity, venturing with a sure hand into avant-garde and prog territory, leading you into an increasingly hallucinatory and infernal trip while keeping the voltage coursing through your body at a high level. And man, I do love the exuberant and increasingly inventive bass work in this song…
The fact that the song was recorded six years ago at a rehearsal makes it all the more impressive.
I will add that Lashblood have recorded and are in the process of mastering a new full-length called UnBeing, which they are planning to release next year. They recently uploaded a demo version of a track from the album called “To Rest…”, and you’ll find that below as well. It’s a 10-minute trip down Alice’s rabbit hole, exhibiting many of the qualities that make “Echo of the Void” so compelling, except even more so. The vocals are magnetic; the guitar work is both crazed and powerfully infectious; the low end is massive; and the song is a kaleidoscope of dynamic and wildly inventive movement.
And hell, dat bass work is still a huge highlight — and they’ve added a saxophone as well, which nearly steals the show. I can hardly wait for Unbeing to come into being!
SHRINE OV BELIAL
Soweto may seem an unlikely place for the birth of a black metal band, but that’s where Shrine Ov Belial is located. It’s currently a one-man band consisting of Thronumgoroth Diabolus Antikristus.
As I would guess many of you know, Soweto is a predominantly black township of the city of Johannesburg. Harshly victimized by apartheid, it still includes some of the poorest areas in South Africa. It’s credited with being one of the birthplaces of popular South African forms of hip-hop called Kwaito and Kasi Rap, but as I’ve learned, it also has a growing rock, punk, and metal culture — including black metal.
Earlier this month Shrine Ov Belial released a split with a U.S. one-man band named Goatswarth that’s available for free download. And there are a couple of other songs available on ReverbNation. One of those, “In the Absence of Light” is the first Shrine Ov Belial track that I heard after receiving an e-mail from the band. Keyboards play a prominent role in the song, giving it a chilling, panoramic sweep. But the song also includes very earthy rhythms — and by “earthy”, I mean heavy and hard enough to smash bone into dust — as well as wild, tortured vocal extremity and penetrating guitar melodies that add a spectral cast to the despondent atmosphere of the music.
Below you can listen to “In the Absence of Light”, as well as the second track available at ReverbNation, “Pandemonic Yelp of Mephitic God”, which is also very bleak and unearthly, but also hammering (and it includes a change in the vocal styling as well). And to get a free download of the Shrine Ov Belial split with Goatswarth via Mediafire, go HERE. The tracklist for that release is as follows:
01 – Many Rivers to Cross – 05:05
02 – Ancient Beauty – 05:31
03 – Gazing Upon the Moon – 03:56
Shrine ov Belial (RSA)
04 – Splinter – 04:12
05 – Shrine of Light – 06:22
06 – The Harrowing – 05:13
Total play time – 30:20
One more note. Through Shrine Ov Belial’s Facebook page I discovered a short film about metal (and black metal in particular) in Soweto. It’s called Black Black Metal, and it’s an eye-opener. I’ve included the video below and encourage you to watch it.
Black Black Metal from Picture Tree on Vimeo.
To conclude this collection I’m moving somewhat beyond the admittedly expansive boundaries of black metal with a song by a band from Coquimbo, Chile, called Infamovs. They have an album named Under the Seals of Death that’s due for release on January 23, 2017, by the Spanish label Memento Mori, and the song is a track from that album named “Dawn of the Black Dance”.
I was unfamiliar with Infamovs before hearing the song, but they do have a previous EP named Emanation of Impure Heresies that was released last year by LMDT Records. They claim influences by such bands as Incantation, Dominus Xul, Dead Congregation, Imprecation, Immolation, Sadistic Intent, early Deicide, and early Morbid Angel.
“Dawn of the Black Dance” is both sickening and enlivening, both primal and propulsive. It’s heavy as a rain of lead and brutally primitive at one level, but the soloing in the song is like a flight of furious wraiths who have lost their minds but not their hunger for human flesh. And the riffing and lead guitar arpeggios become both more frenzied, more intricate, and more interesting as the song moves ahead like an unstoppable juggernaut capable of crushing everything in its path. Very, very impressive!
That vocalist for Cancer–holy cow. Really good songs and video!
truly incredible vocals!
Yes wow those vocals from Cancer are killer…This band is amazing. Another Aussie band & album to check out is Advent Sorrow – As All Light Leaves Her, much in the same realm as Cancer…equally depressive!
Hell yes, we’re big fans of Advent Sorrow around here and have spilled quite a few words about that album across four posts, collected here:
Damn, Cancer! Great discovery, thanks for sharing! Lashblood also sound promising.