Those of you impeccably tasteful metal aficionados who follow my Shades of Black posts know that I was too incapacitated to get one done for last Sunday. So I’m doing one now, although none of the songs collected here was included in what I planned to write about for last Sunday. I discovered all of these since then. I do still plan to complete the write-up I had originally conceived, perhaps later this week or at least for this coming Sunday.
Yesterday, I was reminded about a German label named Einheit Produktionen by seeing their release schedule for the spring. I would have discovered these plans sooner if I’d been paying closer attention to our daily e-mail flood.
In April, Einheit will be discharging the self-titled debut album of a German black metal band named Ferndal, whose influences are described by Einheit as “reaching from Darkthrone to Windir, from Beethoven to Arvo Pärt and from baroque grace to romantic melancholy, within a veil of pure black metal aggression”. Is it any wonder I paused in my scurrying to have a listen to the first teaser of music?
Ferndal come from Münsterland in German Westphalia, with a line-up that includes Alboîn (drums) and Abarus (guitars) from the band Eïs, whom I’ve written about before at NCS, along with main composers/lyricists Sorathiel (bass and vocals) and Lestaya (violoncello), as well as guitarist Sethras. Ferndal’s debut is scheduled for release on April 21, but we have an advance track named “In die Freiheit” to enjoy now.
Did you notice that one of the members is a cellist? The cello does make vibrant appearances in the song, interspersed among slashing and blasting metal instrumentation and clawing vocals — and among other passages that include a swinging, dancelike air and even slower movements drenched in melancholy. There’s a folk-like flair in the song’s melodies, which are expressed in part through clean vocal harmonies, and they get their hooks under the skin quite effectively. But this multifaceted track is a heavy beast, too.
Ferndal includes seven songs, including a classically orchestrated version of Windir’s “Arntor”. “In die Freiheit” is available now as a single through iTunes and Amazon.
Mystagos is the new name of a Spanish band formerly known as Chains Ov Beleth. The new Mystagos album is entitled Ho Anthropos Tes Anomias (with cover art by Jose Gabriel Alegría Sabogal) and it will be released later this year by the U.S. label Clandestine Faith. It’s described as telling the tale “in the archaic, elder century biblical tongue” of a creature called the Wordbearer “as he attempts to elevate his disciple’s spirits unto descent”.
Two songs from the album can be heard now, “The Baptist” and “Trial of Flesh”. A grim and brooding air pervades the music, its bleak and ominous aura enhanced by the cracked and croaking ugliness of the vocals and the corrosive distortion applied to the riffs.
The music also has an occult, ritualistic atmosphere that proves to be unsettling, but it draws you into its grip. I’m especially gripped by “Trial of Flesh”, which begins as a slow, depressive expression of agony and then becomes a harrowing frenzy of dissonance and destruction.
For updated release news, check these links:
Now we come back to another future release by Einheit Produktionen. This one is an album named The Whitecrow by the Czech band Hypnos, whose roots go back to a founding in 1999. This is the band’s fifth full-length and the first one since 2012’s Heretic Commando — Rise of the New Antikrist.
Further down you’ll find a lyric video for the new album’s title track, directed and edited by Marek “Frodys” Pytlík. I’m not quite sure how the video’s imagery connects to the song, but I found it fascinating nonetheless, including the inventive way in which it reveals the lyrics on the screen.
I found the music fascinating, too. It’s kind of quirky, meshing together some head-moving heavy metal riffs and jolting rhythms (coupled with bestial growls) with strange, hallucinatory passages and scintillating solos. An inventive and unpredictable song, it exerts a strange but compelling hold on the mind.
Last October I reviewed the excellent split release of Bathory cover songs by the German bands Ultha and Morast. That was Morast’s second release overall, following a self-titled demo in 2015 (released last year on tape and vinyl by Totenmusik). Now Morast have a debut album on the way. It’s called Ancestral Void and it will be released on March 31 by Totenmusik and Ván Records.
The advance track below is “Crescent”. It took all of about three seconds for the compulsive drum rhythm and the swirling fog of vibrating riffs to seduce me. The song’s dismal melodic strains prove seductive as well, and the wrenching violence and cries of agony (or rage) in the vocals are another stand-out aspect of the music.
As the song unfolds, it crosses back and forth among genre lines, bringing in elements of skull-hammering, sludgy doom and death metal within its black metal framework. I really like this and look forward to more Morast soon.
Ancestral Void was recorded and mixed by Laurent Teubl (Chapel Of Disease) and was mastered by Brad Boatright at AUDIOSIEGE.
The next item in this collection is a nearly complete stream of an album named Vaitojimas, which appears to be the first release by a Lithuanian band named Erdve. I understand that the album will be released in physical form later this year by GHIA Records.
The Bandcamp player below is set to begin with the album’s third track “Prievarta”, and about 20 seconds in, it hits a jackhammering, steamrolling groove that put my head in a hammerlock. Meanwhile, the palpable red-eyed fury of the vocals proceeded to sink its teeth into my jugular while the desolate melody of the song dragged my emotions into a pit of desolation and fear.
It really is a fantastic song, even though it’s as dire as a sucking chest wound. I hoped the other tracks now available for listening would be as strong, and so they are.
Erdve turn out an effective alchemical amalgam of negative hardcore and black metal, with well-written songs that are atmospheric, pulverizing, and memorable. They also shift gears in ways that keep you glued to what they’re doing, slowing down to drag listeners through troughs of crushing, blood-congealing doom and lacing the songs with psychoactive guitar perversions, while also regularly pulling the headbang trigger.
They even provide relatively quiet (but still disturbing) breaks in the bludgeoning and soul-slaughtering of their main mission, just long enough for you to catch a few gasping breathes but without really allowing you to come up for air.
In a word, devastating.
Next I want to recommend a new two-song EP named Asthenia by the prolific one-person French band Misery, which was released just yesterday in a very limited CD edition by the French label Distant Voices.
The two tracks on the EP, “Severed” and “Nerves”, are both long ones, but they still don’t overstay their welcome. Instead, their length simply deepens the mesmerizing effect of the music.
This isn’t pretty music, to be sure. It has a raw lo-fi quality, the emotional resonance of the songs is depressive, and the vocals are mainly the wrenching shrieks of a tortured soul. Yet the infectious quality of the drum propulsion and the penetrating effect of the looping melodies still manage to cast long, dark, immersive spells.
Perhaps paradoxically, the music also displays vibrancy and passion despite the tear-stained mantle that cloaks it. The lead guitar and somber clean vocals of “Nerves”, in particular, fashion a kind of dark beauty within a framework of emotional collapse.
EDEN WEINT IM GRAB
To conclude, I’m returning again to Einheit Produktionen and the new concept album Na(c)htodreise by the German band Eden Weint Im Grab, which Einheit will release on March 31. It’s described as “a journey through the hereafter and the underworld”, and each song “stands for a station on an imaginary afterworld map”.
This is the band’s seventh album since 2004, but as best I can remember, it’s my first exposure to their music. What I’m going to do is stream both a song from the new album (“Der Exitus der Schlangen”) and a video for a track called “Die Jenseitsflugmaschine” from the band’s 2014 album Geysterstunde II.
“Der Exitus der Schlangen” is highly infectious and highly twisted and demented. You can feel the booming, sludgy riffs deep in your core, just as the mercurial vocal madness puts the hair up on the back of your neck and the soaring keyboard melodies and violin motifs get stuck in your head. I’ve quickly become addicted to it.
All I’ll say about “Die Jenseitsflugmaschine” (which I happened upon in exploring other things the band has done after I found the new track) is that it’s every bit as addictive and infernally delightful as “Der Exitus der Schlangen” — and I love the video.
I’ll mention that the band have also launched a crowdfunding campaign for the production of yet another video, this time for one of the new album tracks. To learn more about that, go here: