Here we are at the 18th Part of this list. Once again, I ran out of time yesterday before I could post a further installment of this series, so I’ve included more songs than usual in this one. To browse through the other songs that have appeared on the list previously, click HERE.
I grouped these four songs together for a couple of reasons. First, they all include elements of black metal to varying degrees, but you probably wouldn’t call any of them “black metal” in any conventional sense. Which leads me to my second point: in addition to being genre-benders, all these artists have blended and bent conventional genres in ways that lead to some very strange and even unsettling results — and the fact that all of these tracks also manage to be addictive is a further testament to their creativity
I assume it comes as no shock that I’m adding a song from The Xun Protectorate to the list. We published not one but two laudatory reviews of the album, along with an interview of Khonsu’s mastermind S. Gronbech. Everyone at our site loved the record.
On the other hand, there may be more dissension in the ranks over the song I picked for our list. “The Observatory” was a leading contender, but I chose “A Jhator Ascension”, perhaps because it was just that bit more extreme and aggressive, though it too includes the dramatic, expressive clean vocals of Rune Folgerø of Manes/Atrox fame.
To quote from Andy Synn’s review, the song “former marries the nuclear intensity of Keep of Kalessin at their most blistering with the relentless, cyberdyne grooves of Thorns to thrilling effect”.
Terra Tenebrosa’s The Reverses is another 2016 album to which we gave significant attention and praise, again publishing not one but two reviews, along with premiering a full stream of the album. To quote myself (always a pleasure):
“The Reverses is as heavy, as dense, and as radioactive as a cache of transuranic elements. It’s a visit to a nightmare realm where the shadows have teeth, the surreal musical equivalent of a Hieronymus Bosch landscape, a vision of hell, or perhaps the exorcism of hellish visions. It sinks its talons into the twisted nightshades that grow in the darker corners of the human psyche and shakes them until they quiver with fearful and fearsome excitement.”
I also separately wrote about the track I’m adding to the list when it first appeared:
“If the The Cuckoo’s vile, cracked voice doesn’t give you the creeps all by itself, his masked visage surely will. But the music’s driving beat, dissonant waves of riffage, and eerie arpeggios are highly magnetic (and also creepy, as well as body-moving). This one goes on our growing list of Most Infectious Song candidates for 2016.”
Enjoy “The End Is Mine To Ride”:
HOWLS OF EBB
The cover of Cursus Impasse: The Pendlomic Vows, the 2016 album by the idiosyncratic Howls of Ebb, was created by the marvelous Italian artist Agostino Arrivabene (originally under the title “Theoin II”), and it remains one of my favorite album covers of the year. The music is equally fascinating and distressing.
“Cabals of Molder” is the track I’m adding to our list. It pulses with arcane energy and bursts of wild echoing howls and growled incantations. Guitar solos rise up in shrieking exclamations of derangement. The pacing turns from a thundering gallop to a disorienting stomp-and-stagger laced with discordant notes and alien moans and screams.
I found the song transfixing from the first time I head it, and in its own strange way, very catchy.
BLACK HOLE GENERATOR
To round out this quirky collection of infection, I have the title track to A Requiem For Terra by the Norwegian band Black Hole Generator. The album appeared 10 years after the band’s debut EP Black Karma, and perhaps not surprisingly reflected some changes in stylistic strategy. Given the caliber of talent involved in making the new album, it’s also unsurprising how good it is:
First, there is the creative force behind Black Hole Generator, Vulture Industries’ main man and long-time Taake and Helheim producer Bjørnar E. Nilsen. And then there is guitarist Arve Isdal (Ice Dale) of Enslaved and Audrey Horne, plus Gjermund Fredheim (Taake/Orkan) contributing lead guitars on three tracks, as well as additional guitars by Dag Terje Andersen. The distinctive Romanian artist and musician Costin Chioreanu made the cover art.
It happens that we had the pleasure of premiering the song that I’m now adding to our list. “A Requiem for Terra” begins as a crusher and builds to a massively headbangable crescendo. You listen, and you can imagine a desperate soul being pushed over the brink of madness — and thereby finding freedom. When the intensity eventually diminishes, the melody becomes even more seductive, the magnetic notes continuing to ring out across your skull long after the song reaches its eerie and unsettling conclusion.