SEEN AND HEARD: SVARTSYN, DIG ME NO GRAVE, WEAPÖNIZER, NEVERENDING WINTER, THE WHITE SWAN, PLAGUEWIELDER
Due in part to yet another mini-vacation this past weekend, an entire week has passed since the last time I was able to compile a round-up of new songs and videos, though my comrade DGR helped fill that gap with a compilation of notable death metal yesterday. As a consequence of so many days passing, I have a massive list of new things I’d like to recommend.
Confronted with such a daunting task, I just gave in to impulse, which is par for the course. And today’s impulse was to focus only on some of new music I heard for the first time today — which means that massive list is no shorter than it was before I started writing this post. With luck, I’ll have time during the balance of this week to do some picking and choosing from it for another edition of SEEN AND HEARD.
As previously reported here, the Swedish black metal band Svartsyn have a new album named In Death that’s scheduled for release by Agonia Records on June 9th. The first single, which I wrote about in that earlier post, was a stunner named “Seven Headed Snake“, and this morning brought a second track — “Black Thrones of Death“. It’s left me even more excited about this new album.
Svartsyn has become essentially a one-man band, with Ornias as the vocalist, guitarist, and bassist on the new album, accompanied by Hammerman on drums.
As a trained medical professional (not really), I have to caution you that listening to “Black Thrones of Death” brings a high risk of neck sprain. Yes, the song is seething and poisonous, bleak and blasting, ripping and lurching (and the vocals are incinerating), but the riffs have mighty hooks embedded in them. Resistance is futile.
The eye-catching cover artwork was created by Chadwick St John (Arckanum, Horna, The Piper graphic novel).
DIG ME NO GRAVE
This next song is a very pleasant surprise (i.e., a very ugly and brutal surprise) named “Cursed Acheron“. I don’t recall ever hearing this band’s music before, but since their new album is coming from Satanath Records, I made time for the song after receiving a Bandcamp alert about it this morning.
The band is Dig Me No Grave and the members were all born and live in Vologda, Russia. Their debut album Cosmic Cult was released in 2014, and that was followed by several shorter releases. Their new album Immemorial Curse is set for a joint release on June 15th by Satanath, Sevared Records (U.S.), and Wings of Destruction (also Russia).
“Cursed Acheron” is another neck-breaker, squealing and jabbing and chugging with murderous intent and moving like a big heavy death metal juggernaut. It’s a dismal and destructive slab of hungering darkness with deliciously cavernous growls, massive grooves, and a slithering, exotic solo that’s mesmerizing. Killer old school marauding here….
… and, if you dig that song, then move right on into the previously released track “Ritual Slaughter“, which I’ve also included below.
A Bandcamp alert was also responsible for my discovery of this next song, the name of which is “Hellbound“. It comes from an album called Lawless Age by the Denver band Weapönizer, which will be released by the esteemed 20 Buck Spin on June 30.
Like the last band in this collection, Weapönizer was unfamiliar to me despite their having released a debut album in 2012 as well as other shorter releases — but I’m damned well sold on this new song. With a backbone in black metal, the music moves in its riffing and rhythms from reptilian slithering to ferocious rampaging to electrifying bursts of thrash, and they rock out with a swagger, too. And like the last song, this one also features attention-grabbing soloing with an exotic air. A hell of a good song, and a hell of a good herald for this album….
In a SHADES OF BLACK feature almost 18 months ago I lavished praise on a Russian band named Neverending Winter and their debut album, Series of Decades (Череда декад), which came as a great late-year surprise in 2015. I wrote then:
“The music is difficult to sum up with a neat genre label, since it combines melodic black metal, progressive metal, thrash, post-rock, acoustic folk music, and punk. When the band is in marauding mode, the gravel-throated bass and thundering drums get all the nerve ends firing, and the widely varying riffs and intricate lead guitar motifs are consistently appealing.
“The songs alternately thrash, rock, rumble, rampage, and crawl — and all of them have the capacity to get their hooks in you, including the fourth track, which is entirely instrumental and may be my favorite piece on the album (with ‘Labyrinths’ a close second). There’s a lot of crazy variety on this album, but I thought it was a very, very strong outing from beginning to end.”
For those who haven’t heard that album, you can do so at Bandcamp (the link is below). But the main point of this feature is to share a teaser video for the band’s next record, Хиус (Heeus), which apparently is a word for “a very strong kind of a wind that is mostly common for the winter seasons”. The record will be released on tape by the Russian labels They Live Records and Slow Snow Records (and the band are hoping for cooperation with other labels to release the music in other formats as well).
This teaser provides very short snippets of a half-dozen songs, and to say that they reveal considerable variety would be an understatement. But each snippet is damned enticing, and I guess that’s exactly what you want in a teaser.
THE WHITE SWAN
The White Swan come our way from London, Ontario, Canada, with a line-up that includes Mercedes Lander from Kittie (drums, vocals, keyboards, guitar), guitarist Shane Jeffers, and bass-player Kira Longeuay. They released a debut EP named Anubis and are now poised to release another one on June 9th entitled The White.
Of the three tracks on the new EP, the opener “North Carolina” has debuted recently and has quickly gotten its hooks in me. Although Mercedes Lander’s voice will undoubtedly be heard on the EP, you won’t hear it on this track, which is instrumental. But man, the riffs in this mid-paced bruiser of a song are fat, fuzzed-out, and as narcotic in their seductive effect as they are desolate and doomed. Combined with those heavy hammer blows is a freakish, shimmering melody that rises up in the midst of the methodical pile-driving and a thoroughly compelling extended solo that’s made of psychoactive chemicals. And… you also get yet another neck-snapping drum performance to add to the others in this collection of songs, too.
The artwork for The White was created by Colin Sinclair. Pre-orders are now available, and include a limited 12″ vinyl on purple wax that combines both Anubis and The White, as well as a digital version.
By Plaguewielder‘s own account, they’re “a blackened sludge/doom outfit from a dying mill town in Ohio”, with a line-up that includes guitarist/bassist/vocalist Bryce Seditz (also in Horse Drawn) and drummer Cody Cooke. Their debut album Succumb To the Ash appeared in 2015 via Dullest Records, and today they released a new single named “Writhing in Mental Torment“.
This is an interesting song, which transforms about halfway through. It moves with exuberant energy at first, propelled by a galloping drum rhythm and vibrant guitar work that’s bright and boisterous, although the vocals are bestially furious. But the song changes — the pace slows, and a dark undercurrent that was always in the music becomes more undeniably gloomy and oppressive.
I was already looking forward to the new Svartsyn, but the Dig Me NoGrave and Weaponizer tracks are new to me. Am I wrong to hear a heavy Bolt Thrower influence in Ritual Slaughter? Maybe just wishful thinking.
I hear it too. 🙂