SEEN AND HEARD (IN THE FORM OF A VERY METAL MUSICAL SANDWICH): MANETHEREN, MISERIST, CRESCENT, QUASARBORN, MAHAKALA, LETHE, VERMIN LORD, WRATH FROM ABOVE
As I made my way through the enormous list of new songs and videos that I’ve been compiling since last weekend, a certain shape began to suggest itself to me — the shape of a tasty metal sandwich. And with that shape in mind (and a gnawing hunger in my guts), I selected and organized the following 8 songs.
For this playlist of mostly brand new things we begin harsh and heavy, then segue into a block of Exceptions To Our Rule (the one about singing), and then move into the other side of the sandwich where total war on the senses lies in wait again. You’ll also find some very eye-catching videos in here, along with a broad assortment of music that struck my fancy — with only truncated commentary from yours truly.
According to a press release, “The End is a concept album about a human being travelling across the lands as the world begins to end…. Each song represents different events during the ending process, and as they unfold the being feels as himself is becoming god, or death itself. By the end of the album this being by all means becomes god and rules over the wasteland left behind.”
On this new work, Manetheren’s creator Azlum. is joined by the superb drummer Thorns, whose resume includes performances with Acherontas, Blut Aus Nord, Darvaza, Martrod, and Enepsigos (among others) The song below is “The Ritual”, a fine rendering of atmospheric black metal that whets the appetite for The End.
Album: The End
Release Date: Feb. 22, 2017
Label: Avantgarde Music
For impressions of the music on Miserist’s self-titled debut EP, I invite you to peruse Todd Manning’s NCS review in full, but will excerpt this part:
“For the most part, Miserist alternates between devastating yet obscure slabs of blast-beat-driven Death Metal, often reminiscent of the mighty Portal, and more mid-paced Industrial-fueled sludge. Without vocals, the music becomes both inhuman and weightless; even the most straightforward riffs become atmospheric. And there is a layer of grime and filth overlaying the whole affair as well. The listener is invited to imagine all sorts of post-apocalyptic futures stimulated by their assault.”
Today’s news is that one more song from the EP has been revealed. It bears the title “VIII” — and it’s very good.
Release Date: Feb. 13, 2017
Label: Krucyator Productions
I received a communication from Crescent recently, and it led me to the video you’re about to see and hear. Crescent are an Egyptian band whose first demo dates back to 1999 and whose debut album from 2014, Pyramid Slaves, is an offering of blackened death metal. In that same year, the band performed at Wacken Open Air, receiving a top 1o finish in the Wacken Metal Battle. They played Inferno Fest in 2015 and at the Rockstadt Extreme Fest in Romania last year.
The video is for the first album’s title track, and I really liked the song — it’s a thunderous, bleak, skull-cracking barrage, both majestic and barbaric, with an exotic melody redolent of the band’s ancient homeland.
Crescent are working on a second album called The Order of Amenti, and I’ll be watching for it now.
Album: Pyramid Slaves
Release Date: April 2014
When I try to explain to non-metalheads why I enjoy metal, the first word that usually pops into my head is “energy”. This next song is simply pure, electrifying energy.
The song is a single called “Danse Macabre”, and it’s from a new Serbian band appropriately named Quasarborn, whose members have histories with other Serbian groups. Thematically, “The song deals with a man thrown into a dungeon cell who while waiting to be tortured and executed finds comfort in thoughts about the inevitability of his tormentors’ and captors’ eventual death, thus making them all equal in the end.”
The song by itself is a real thrill ride, but the experience is made even more thrilling by the photography, editing, and video production by Đorđe Stojiljković. This song is also the beginning of our entry into the middle part of this metal sandwich, with vocals that are… sort of… clean.
(Thanks to TheMadIsraeli for the tip on this one.)
Album: Not yet titled
Release Date: Unknown
Label: Looking for one
The striking cover artwork designed by Dimitris Protopapas caused me to check out the next video. As a great admirer of artwork of Gustave Doré, I probably would have enjoyed the video (created by Manthos Stergiou of Manster Design) almost regardless of the music it accompanies. But I found the song and the lyrics (written by bassist/vocalist Jim Kotsis) very appealing, too.
The song is “Purgatorium” by the Greek sludge/doom band Mahakala, and it’s a well-earned exception to our Rule — Jim Kotsis has a hell of a voice.
Album: The Second Fall
Release Date: March 2017
The distinctive artwork again was the first draw. In this case its creator is Romanian artist Costin Chioreanu, whose name will be familiar to visitors at our site. The song is the title track to an album by the group Lethe, a collaboration between mastermind Tor-Helge Skei and Anna Murphy (Cellar Darling, ex-Eluveitie). The album also includes some noteworthy guests:
Eivind Fjøseide (ATROX, MANES) on guitars; Fredy Schnyder (NUCLEUS TORN, ELUVEITIE and TRIPTYKON) on piano; Tor Arne Helgesen (ATROX) and Rune Hoemsnes (MANES) on drums; Asgeir Hatlen (MANES) on vocals; K-Rip on rap voice; Shir-Ran Yinon (ELUVEITIE) on violin; Ivo Henzi (CELLAR DARLING) on additional guitars, “and a few others”.
“Melancholic, introspective, and ethereal” are the words used in the press release we received — all accurate, judging by this dark, entrancing song. It’s another Exception to our Rule, and exceptional in other ways, too.
Album: The First Corpse On the Moon
Release Date: Feb. 24, 2017
Label: My Kingdom Music
Now we’ll start to work our way out of the middle part of this musical sandwich with a new track by Seattle’s Vermin Lord, whose 2016 album Anguish I praised in a review here, and which I urge you to check out if you haven’t.
The song is a single that begins with with a gothic, post-punk vibe and clean vocals, and becomes much more sinister and savage, with those clean vocals replaced by ugly, strangled, caustic snarls. The song moves between these states, and like everything else by Vermin Lord that I’ve heard, it gets its hooks in the head.
Single: She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not
Release Date: Jan. 26, 2017
WRATH FROM ABOVE
With Vermin Lord providing a transition of sorts, now we’re out on the other side of our sandwich with a new song from the debut album by Wrath From Above, who are originally from Moscow but now apparently dwell in Nantes, France.
“They Came At Night” is total fury, total war, a black metal lightning strike that’s as galvanizing as it is savage. There’s a brief change just before the 3:00 mark, the pace relenting (but not the grimness) and the vocals morphing from clawing shrieks to hollow death metal roars — and then, of course, there’s a berserker finish. Good stuff!
Album: Beyond Ruthless Cold
Release Date: Feb. 3, 2017
Label: Apathia Records
If anyone should attempt to out-nile Nile, it better be an actual Egyptian band. They are coming pretty close. Killer song! Production packs a nice punch, too.
I think Crescent hit the nail right on the head. They could have gone really over-the-top with the local Egyptian/Arabic music influences like some other bands from non-European/Western countries occasionally try and it would have likely sounded forced and cheesy. I’m thinking here specifically of Tengar Cavalry and that Israeli band whose name escapes me at the moment. The Crescent track simply hints at the roots lightly while packing one hell of a blackened-death punch. I also like how the song seems to almost fall apart in places before striking back with that killer riff. Great fucking song!
It really is a great fucking song. As soon as I can catch my breath this weekend I’m going to see what else that album holds in store.
It reminded me of Melechesh (a high compliment).
In addition to Nile’s authentically Egyptian counterpart (kudos to brklyner’s comment), the warmongers of Wrath From Above blows my brain out.
There was a lot i liked in this collection but the standouts for me were definitely Crescent and especially Quasarborn, love the thrash technicality and energy blended with a great mix that keeps the vocals battling to keep pace and be heard. Oh, and gang vocals? Fuck. Yes!
Pyramid Slaves is amazing! Waiting for a review of Crescent’s new album now..