Lots of people are starting to make year-end lists, and we’re continuing to gear up for our own LISTMANIA extravaganza (we invited our readers to begin sharing their lists here earlier today), but time hasn’t stood still for all that: New songs and new albums continue to roll out, and I continue to make lists of what I come across.
Here are new songs from seven bands among the many that grabbed me over the last week. I decided to use a different title for this collection than the usual “Seen and Heard” heading, for reasons that will become evident as you listen.
Aksaya are a French band whose new album Kepler will be co-released by Satanath Records (Russia), More Hate Productions (Russia), and The Ritual Productions (The Netherlands) on December 15. Two songs are now available for listening, the first of which is a free download at Bandcamp: “Anomalie, Prélude À La Découverte” and “Non Morietur”.
The band describe the music on Kepler as a “dive into a Cold Universe… a perfect harmony between man and machine….” “We oscillate in a journey to interstellar worlds to these exoplanets, reflects our only salvation, to discoveries that will change everything, to these numbers and equations that remain mystical to some, and to the ‘technomedecine’ that will change humanity!”
“Anomalie, Prélude À La Découverte” combines enormous, heaving chords, black storms of seething tremolo riffs, and warped, dissonant arpeggios. Bereft guitar melodies slither through the songs hypnotically; the drums periodically erupt in blazing fusillades; the vocalist snarls and growls vehemently. Yes, the music is often eerie and chilling, but there is a human warmth here as well.
More dystopian and machine-like, “Non Morietur” pounds, jabs, and swarms, but the recurring, buzzing guitar pulse in the music becomes addictive, and like the first track it’s a dynamic piece that gives you a twisting, turning ride.
Thanks to a tip from Grant Skelton, I discovered “Encumbered By Vermin“, an advance track released a few days ago from the new album Extinct by the German one-man project Frowning. This song also includes guest vocals by Hekjal, who is involved along with Frowning’s creator in the band Ad Cinerem as well as the band Hatul.
“Encumbered By Vermin” is titanically heavy funeral doom, with the kind of massive, groaning chords you can imagine shaking the earth, punctuated by the pneumatic drive of giant pistons. The vocals are ghastly, of the cavernous, echoing kind. And specters haunt the song as well, whispering their forlorn, blood-chilling laments through reverberating guitar melodies. A well-tailored heavy mantle of misery to drape over your shivering shoulders as winter comes….
Extinct will be released on February 17, 2017, and can be pre-ordered on Bandcamp:
DDENT is a Parisian band whose debut album will be released on February 13. The name of the album appears to be written in Arabic: “آكتئاب“. The album was recorded at Skyhammer Studio in Liverpool and mastered by James Plotkin. What you can hear below is a single from the album named “Arzel“.
This song makes a nice follow-on to the last track in this compilation, since it comes across almost like a hybrid of funeral doom and post-metal. It blends ethereal melody and slow, earth-cracking hammer blows, creating an atmosphere of encroaching, unstoppable catastrophe. Yet the sinuous melody that glides through the monolithic weight of the fatalistic riffs and wall-shaking drum beats becomes increasingly spellbinding. Don’t be surprised if the music is still coiling ever more tightly around your head even after you’ve reach the song’s end.
Time to shift gears, but without reversing our downward course into darkness.
Unlike the first two bands in this collection, I’ve written about Portugal’s Monte Penumbra on three previous occasions focusing first on the 2013 album Heirloom of Sullen Fall and then on their 2014 split with Half Visible Presence. For those who may be new to the band, one of the two members is W.uR, who is also in Israthoum (and other groups).
Monte Penumbra’s first release since that split I mentioned is a three-song EP named The Black Realm Vigil, which was just released in September by Altare Productions. All three tracks are below, and in my most humble opinion they represent a further step ahead for this band.
There is undeniable ferocity in this black metal, verging on the psychotically unhinged at times, but also head-spinning athleticism and hallucinatory ambience. The songs move in unpredictable directions, veering from bursts of weird dissonance to cosmic ambient drifts, from cyclonic riff swarms to swirling arpeggios that send up fireworks behind your eyes, from tirades of fury to near-majestic passages of deep melancholy. The songs rip, lurch, and soar, without ever casting off the dominant sensation of unease that comes from being in the presence of something that doesn’t feel like it’s from the world we know.
The vocals are also varied, ranging from gasping horrors to explosive cries of heated passion and much else in between, while the inventive drumwork does as much to keep the listener off-balance as it does to provide a rhythmic anchor. All in all, with this riveting EP Monte Penumbra have hit their high water mark so far — an excellent achievement.
(Thanks to starkweather for making me aware of this release.)
Roots of Darkness is the second album by the Spanish band FamishGod, which features Avulsed’s Dave Rotten as the vocalist (and his label Xtreem Music has now released the album).
When I first learned about the album and began writing this post days ago, only two songs were up for streaming. As of today, the entire album has been released, but I haven’t yet heard it. Those two song, however — “Abyss of the Underworld” and “Lost Language of the Dead” — are damned strong. The first one opens the album, and the second one is the penultimate track.
In these songs FamishGod lash together the leviathan immensity of doom, moving like mountain crags given a a spark of animating life, and the arcane power and diseased aura of rotting death metal. Dave Rotten’s abyssal horror of a voice amplifies the music’s crypt-born atmosphere, while the spectral guitar melodies that shimmer through the murk add a mystical element to the songs’ often pile-driving physicality.
This stuff will get your head moving, but it will also make you feel like you’ve been staked at the bottom of a pit that’s slowly filling with congealing tar, and maggots are your only companions, getting their final tastes of you before all the air is gone.
The next item in this collection is an official video for a track called “Som Var“, which is a song that appears on Frå døden fødes liv, the second album by Norway’s Uburen. The album was released on October 31, 2016, by the Polish label Via Nocturna. I regret to say that I haven’t yet listened to the whole album, though I’ve included the Bandcamp stream right after the video.
The video pulled me in, curious to find out what would happen to the man carrying his shovel toward the base of an ominous monolith of rock. I won’t give away how the story ends, but it doesn’t end well. The song itself is damned bleak and unsettling as well, combining a wild kind of black metal barbarism, which continually coils the tension, with some mighty grooves.
The last song in this collection — “Cenere” — comes from another black metal band whose new album has just been released by the Via Nocturna label. This band is Italy’s Derhead and the name of the album is Via.
This is another situation in which I began writing this post when the only song available for streaming was “Cenere”, but then the whole album was released (yesterday) by the time I had finished writing — which means I again haven’t heard the whole album, though “Cenere” is an irresistible invitation to do that (I’ve included the full stream below).
For much of the song, the music is propelled by a fiery urgency, with vocals that sound like the manifestation of a mind that has tortured itself beyond the tethers of sanity — or has perhaps reached a point of ravenous ecstasy — and in part it’s dreamlike, with the darkness of an opium dream. Similarly, the guitar melodies are in part warped and unnatural but in part weirdly entrancing. In fact, there’s a paranormal quality to the entire track, even as it changes pace and mood. In a word, it’s fascinating.