When you confront a truly daunting task, sometimes the result is paralysis; the magnitude of the effort discourages effort. Experience teaches that sometimes the only way to overcome that paralysis is simply to make a start, no matter how small the step may seem. Usually easier said than done, but that’s what I’m doing today.
I’m sitting on a ton of recent music and videos I want to write about in the time I have left before our year-end LISTMANIA extravaganza inevitably begins monopolizing my time. I haven’t figured out how I will get everything out and before you that I think you should check out. But this is a start, selected in fairly random fashion, but with an effort to cover a range of styles.
Early last month we enthusiastically premiered a stream of the new album by the French black metal band Sordide. Entitled Fuir la lumière, it is now available through Avantgarde Music and from the band. And as a further reminder about how good Sordide’s music, they’ve now released a live performance video. It was recorded on October 23 at White Noise Studio.
In the video the band perform four tracks, divided between the new album and their previous one, La France a peur. The set list is: “Pauvre Histoire”, “Révolte”, “Gloire”, and “Fuir la lumière”.
I described the new album as “a musical bonfire”, “an absolutely exhilarating experience”, one that ranges from exuberant and electrifying rampages to unnerving, dissonant, and dismal hallucinations. And I referred to the vocals as “equally eye-popping in both their variety and their incendiary intensity”. All of that is on display in the video, and if anything the experience is even more intense because you can see how fully the band’s three members throw themselves into the music.
This proved to be an outstanding way to start my own Saturday — I hope it lights up yours as well.
The next piece of music is by a Moscow band whom I last wrote about in a MISCELLANY feature nearly four years ago, when they released their first 3-track single. A couple of days ago, after that four-year hiatus, they released a new single named “Tailpieces” as a “name your price” download at Bandcamp.
I’ve listened to this song once a day for the last five days. It hasn’t yet ceased to amaze me. It’s an exception to our “rule” about vocals, but the voices in this song are transfixing. They’re performed by a combination of the band’s vocalist (Ravengris), who is also one of the group’s three guitarists, and two guests — Valeria Reine (Animacorpis) and Tim Zhdanov.
The music is also riveting, even if it’s not as savage as my usual fare. It’s atmospherically dreamlike, but also vibrant and heavy — medicine for sour souls.
Earlier this week, Dallas-based Power Trip released a single named “Firing Squad” from their new album Nightmare Logic. As you can see, the album is emblazoned with Paolo Girardi cover art; he just never disappoints. “Firing Squad” doesn’t disappoint either.
In my case, listening to the song generated a sensation close to what I felt the last time I got a rude electric shock messing with a fucked-up power chord — except in this case the electrification lasts for more than three minutes. And it’s not fucked up. It’s fucking excellent — a turbocharged, head-clobbering rush of metal, punk, and hardcore that’s fiery and hard-hitting enough to reanimate the dead. And you better loosen up your neck muscles before you play this one.
Nightmare Logic will be released by Southern Lord on February 22, 2017.
When I listened to this next song, I knew exactly what the band were doing to me. It’s been done many times before — rank manipulation. But I fell for it again, because Trollwar are skilled manipulators.
You’d think Trollwar are ensconced somewhere in Scandinavia or Finland, but they’re from Alma, Québec. The song below, “Omens of Victory”, comes from Trollwar’s new EP The Traveler’s Path, which will be released sometime in 2017. It was produced by Chris Donaldson (Cryptopsy) and Marco Fréchette, and it follows the band’s 2011 debut EP Bloodshed Forges and their 2013 album Earthdawn Groves.
The band explain that “Omens of Victory” was inspired by the legend of Ragnarok, “the struggle of the end of the world” and “catches the feeling of despair and brotherhood”. It’s definitely an invigorating, warlike gallop. The vocals are abrasively savage, and the swirling keyboard melody is like ear heroin. I can’t help myself — the song pushes too many buttons for me to resist.
Two weeks ago in another one of these Saturday round-ups (here) I included a single (“Minotaur Awaken”) by a one-man Portuguese post-metal band named Crosta that I had just discovered. And now Crosta has released a second one, named “Replica”.
Both tracks will be included on Crosta’s debut album I, which will be released on December 6 via Bandcamp. It was “inspired by the 1755 Lisbon’s Great Earthquake: a display of Mother Earth’s power, a lesson about our fragility”.
“Replica” proves that “Minotaur Awaken” was no fluke. It transmits a bleak feeling of grim catastrophe, but does so in a way that’s both physically jolting and melodically exotic. The song lasts for more than eight minutes, but it transitions through several movements, all the while maintaining a firm grip on the back of your neck. When the vocals eventually emerge, they’re on fire with agony. The drumming also seizes attention and never lets go.
The Crosta Bandcamp link is below, and there you’ll find Crosta’s first release, 0.
TEMPLE OF DEMIGOD
For the final tracks in this collection I decided to move toward something more horrifying and ferocious. The two songs below are “Embodiment of Chaos” and “The Great Old Ones”, and they will appear on an upcoming album called The Great Old Ones by a Lovecraft-inspired Armenian band named Temple of Demigod. The one man is Mark Erskine, a guitarist/songwriter of the group Ghoulchapel, who claims musical (if not lyrical) influence from the likes of Behemoth, Emperor, Dark Funeral, The Wicked, Crionics, and Vesania.
In genre terms, this could be considered symphonic black/death metal, with the synthesizer used to build an atmosphere of malignant grandeur and sweeping, horrific power. The encroaching, dark terrors are given added definition through the bestial ugliness of the vocals. But the music isn’t wholly devoted to generating a Lovecraftian atmosphere. “Embodiment of Chaos” is packed with jolting riffs, punishing drumwork, and frenzied keyboard melody. While “The Great Old Ones” is at first more saturated with doom, it also catches fire in a way that gets the pulse racing.
The Great Old Ones will be released on December 24 by Black Lion Records.