Once upon a time everything seemed to slow down during the holiday season… or at least everything other than the consumerist frenzy of gift-buying. But now in many ways the final weeks of the year seem as busy and eventful as all the other weeks, both at work and almost everywhere else. This year we even got announcements of a new nuclear arms race that no one asked for — what better way to celebrate peace on earth and good will to men!
I did notice a fall-off yesterday in the flood of messages arriving in the NCS e-mail in-box, but there were still a lot of new-music announcements, and I found even more in my Facebook news feed. There’s a risk that much of what I saw and heard will be overlooked, with many metal-oriented sites and blogs taking time off and many fans diverted from their phones and computers by holiday activities. So I decided, for the hell of it, to devote this Christmas Eve round-up exclusively to news and music streams that appeared (or that I discovered) for the first time yesterday.
Mind you, what follows isn’t everything I noticed, or even everything I enjoyed. I’ve made these selections to provide diversity of sound, and I’ve saved a few nasty things for tomorrow because NCS always does its best to reduce Christmas Day to a smoldering ash heap — praise and glory to Sol Invictus!
I stopped dead in my tracks yesterday when I saw this artwork, not only because it’s fantastic (created by Stefan Thanneur) but also because it was accompanied by the very welcome news that Century Media will release the new album by the French black/death band Svart Crown on March 3 in Europe and March 17 in the U.S. The album’s name is Abreaction.
The announcement also included the news that the first single from the album, “Transsubstantiation”, will premiere on January 13 and become available for download at the same time. That’s on our calendar now.
As a reminder of why this is exciting news, here’s a stream of the band’s last album, Profane.
Next I’ve selected two tracks from Spawn of the Fallen, which is the new album by Italy’s Daemoniac. It will be released on New Year’s Day via the Spanish label Xtreem Music. This blurb from the Bandcamp page for the album tells you almost all you need to know:
“Debut album by this italian that plays the purest swedish Death Metal from early 90’s in the vein of NIHILIST, CREMATORY, early NECROPHOBIC, CARNAGE… Recorded & mixed at Sunlight Studios!!”
I’ll add one more thing you might want to know: This is a particularly barbaric and rampaging form of old school Swedish death. The vocals are especially filthy, the riffs are especially maniacal, and the rhythm section is particularly demolishing. When I heard the songs it felt like someone had stabbed my brain stem with a live power line.
Last November we were privileged to premiere a video for a song called “Zuiverheid“ that appeared on the debut album (Dor) by Turia, a wonderful Dutch black metal band. To repeat some thoughts from my review of the album, much of the music (which was recorded live) could be characterized as propulsive atmospheric black metal with teeth — barbed with melodic hooks and relying on sequences of repeating movements that drive the music into your head like railroad spikes. But the album revealed other dimensions as well, including slower and gloomier ones, all of them equally seductive.
Yesterday I discovered that Turia have recorded a second album entitled Dede Kondre that will be released in limited editions on January 20 by Altare Productions (12″ vinyl) and Haeresis Noviomagi (cassette tape). I was fascinated by the description that appeared in the press release we received:
“Dede Kondre is the title of the trio’s second endeavor, a conceptual venture that delves into the missionary chronicles of the Maroon (escaped slave) communities, inhabitants of Suriname, a former colony of the Netherlands. Land of the dead in sranan tongo, the main language of Suriname, Dede Kondre was the moniker used by the natives to describe the jungle interior, surroundings from which the clergies recounted pagan, unhallowed and demonic forces.”
I became even more fascinated when I heard the next song in this collection, which is the new album’s title track. The first three minutes of the song greet you with a raw, abrasive gale of riffing and blood-freezing shrieks, but through that maelstrom the bass-and-drum tandem get a grip on your pulse and drive it hard, while flickering melodic tones ride the rhythm and get caught in your mind.
And then the song switches to a rocking beat and a slashing riff and only the dead could fail to move to them. That hypnotic melody doesn’t go away, but only becomes more alluring as it evolves. What a mesmerizing piece of music this is.
The clock on the wall tells me that it’s time for you to thrash your nuts and ovaries off. How fortunate that I have a new song from the Argentinian band Tóxica that you can use for that purpose.
Actually, I have an entire album of Tóxica songs for the enjoyment of your reproductive organs. Its name is Ahogados En Contamanicion (“Drowning In Pollution”), and it was released on December 9 by those connoisseurs of thrash and speed metal at Germany’s Witches Brew label.
I’ve only brushed the surface of this album, but I really like what I’ve heard so far. The riffs are electrifying and catchy as hell, but the music has low-end heft as well, all the better to hammer your skull with the songs’ potent grooves and turn-on-a-dime tempos. And the vocals (with lyrics in Spanish) are awesome — feral, rough, and blood-lusting. There are, of course, guitar solos — and they’re as white-hot as everything else.
Absolutely killer stuff that I’m anxious to spend more time with.
Destriers got my attention in a hurry because of the cover art for their new EP Cynosure. It’s a beautiful piece by the Polish master Zdzisław Beksiński (used with permission). My curiosity was further peaked when I saw that the band cited as influences such bands as Old Man Gloom, Napalm Death (post-2000), Dead In The Dirt, and Godmother.
It will take you less than 15 minutes to run through this, and I think you’ll find it time very well spent. When Destriers are moving at full speed, the music will tear you apart limb from limb. When they’re at half-speed, you’ll take a serious bludgeoning from the top of your skull down to the soles of your feet. And when they downshift even further, the music becomes utterly bleak and soul-crushing.
Regardless of the pace, the vocals are ugly as sin and as furious as a bull seeing red, and these demolition jobs also include melodies (and bursts of discordance) that hang onto you.
Cynosure was produced, recorded, and mixed by the band at Sun Studios in Dublin, and it was mastered by Brad Boatright from AudioSiege. It’s a “name your own price” download at Bandcamp.
I’ll add that Destriers will be playing shows with the excellent Slidhr in Limerick and Dublin on February 3 and 4. I wish my teleportation device weren’t malfunctioning.
To conclude this musically diverse round-up I have for you the first advance track from Battle Through Time, which is the debut album of North Carolina’s Undrask. It will be self-released on January 27 and (according to a press release) it tells “the story of a man lost to eternity — forced to fight and die repeatedly throughout time and alternate realities.” The music is recommended for fans of bands such as Amon Amarth, Carcass, and early In Flames.
Yes, it’s melodic death metal, a vein of musical ore that’s been thoroughly mined over more than two decades. But for me it still holds appeal, perhaps in part for nostalgic reasons. Beyond nostalgia, “Conscripted” gets the blood pumping, the vocals are bestial and boiling, and the darting riffs and swirling melodies are highly addictive.
Battle Through Time is available for pre-order on Bandcamp; the cover art is by Jan Yrlund.