Not for the first time, I had a discussion with a few of my NCS comrades at Maryland Deathfest about how much stuff I post most days. I think their feeling was that 4 posts a day at NCS should be considered adequate, and that more tends to result in reader/listener overload. While I think this is good advice for my exercise of editorial discretion, and undoubtedly would help relieve the frenzied stress levels of my daily existence, the sad fact is that I… just… can’t… fucking… help myself! I see or hear something that gets me excited, and I feel an apparently irresistible compulsion to share it.
And so, while today I’ve already posted an album review and plan to post three premieres (one of which is a full album, accompanied by a review), I also decided to compile this round-up. On the bright side, two of the following 10 items(!) only consist of artwork and news — and I could have made this soooo much longer, but I’m saving some new discoveries for this weekend.
I was gob-smacked the first time I saw Eliran Kantor’s artwork for the cover of Incantation’s new album. Even now, seeing the piece with the band’s name and the album title on it, my gob is still smacked. The first single from the album has also proven to be a gob-smacker. But before we get to that, here’s Eliran Kantor’s explanation about the inspiration for his painting on the cover of Profane Existence:
“Chuck Sherwood (bass) showed me the lyrics he wrote and went into details about the themes behind each song. There was one song dealing with the natural habits of locusts and one about a deity who’s wearing flayed human skin. I imagined it having a monster-like body made of tar, with the locusts draping it with skin parts they pick from a pit full of human sacrifice.”
It turns out that the album’s first single is the one that inspired the artwork — “Rites of the Locust“. It recently debuted in the form of a 360-degree visualizer video, as well as on Bandcamp, and both streams are below.
“Rites…” is a compact barrage of buzzing and battering, a cross between being caught in a hornet swarm and having all your molars drilled at once by a maniacal dentist while another maniac busts all your joints with a hammer at high speed. John McEntee’s voice is as monstrous as ever, and the music is plague-like in its infectiousness.
Profane Existence drops on August 11th via Relapse Records.
Above is the artwork for the next Paradise Lost album, Medusa, which will be released on September 1 by Nuclear Blast. The album artwork was created by Branca Studio. As the band’s Greg Mackintosh explains, “What they have come up with is a blending of colourful yet retro styling”. It does indeed have a retro look, though for that very reason it’s not as visually striking as (for example) the Incantation artwork above. But this will be an eagerly anticipated album in these quarters regardless.
I found Nick Holmes’ comment about the album title interesting:
“I was intrigued about a greater meaning and thinking more along the lines of what Medusa represents metaphorically. Medusa as a title works in many ways. From a nihilist perspective, when I read the description of ‘medusa’ on the wikipedia page: ‘Attempts to avoid looking into Medusa’s eyes represents avoiding the ostensibly depressing reality that the universe is meaningless’ – the title was pretty much in the bag!”
Now we’re back to some truly striking visual art in the form of the cover for the next album by the Finnish death metal band Desolate Shrine. Its name is Deliverance From the Godless Void and it will be released by Dark Descent on a date to be revealed later. The artwork was created by the band’s multi-talented sole instrumentalist, Lauri Laaksonen. Here’s the full piece:
This is a reminder that some people are blessed with a multitude of artistic gifts. The band’s last album, Heart of the Netherworld, rightly received a lot of praise at our site two years ago, and the new one has been heralded by a memorable visual piece. I have very high expectations for the music, too. We’ll be watchful for the first excerpts from it.
The new Schammasch EP The Maldoror Chants: Hermaphrodite will be released this Friday, June 9th. We’ve been big fans of this Swiss band around here, but for whatever reason never received an advance promo of this release, which is the only reason you’ve seen no review of it here. No advance tracks were released either. But the entire EP was released for streaming two days ago.
I haven’t yet listened to all of the EP, but I’ve listened to enough of it to be fascinated already. You can listen to it here and pre-order on Bandcamp:
Governance is the name of the new album by the Birmingham-based death industrial/doom experimenters, KHOST, a duo consisting of Andy Swan (Iroha, Final) and Damian B (carthage, Gauge, Techno Animal). The promotional press describes the album as music written “during times of unease and sickness for the band, including one near-death experience” — and you might guess that even if you weren’t told.
The record features a guest spoken-word passage from Oxbow’s Eugene Robinson on the track “Cloudbank Mausoleum,” and guest cello by Jo Quail on “Defraction,” and it closes with a remix of the track “Coven” by Tel Aviv artist Adrian Stainburner. It was released on June 5 by Cold Spring Records.
Because the album is now available for you to hear for yourselves, I won’t attempt a review, but instead limit my comments to the last three songs (chosen somewhat randomly) — and encourage you to listen to everything else on this bleak but engrossing album yourselves.
The grim, cold, methodical boom and bass-led brain-scraping of “Defraction” summon visions of death, while the eerie moan and wail of the cello combine with the hiss and rasp of the vocals to send chills down the spine. When the music finally hits a head-moving rhythm, it seems to shake the earth.
And that’s followed by a soft, fragile voice and morose notes in the opening of “Stockholm Syndrome”. But lest you think that intro sets the pattern for the whole song, it becomes catastrophically destructive. The album concludes with that Adrian Stainburner remix of “Coven”, which puts a gripping drum performance inside your head, along with the roar of a sludgy grinding undertow, anguished howls, and assorted other accents that enhance the disorienting and disturbing aspects of this spine-shaker.
Here’s another eye-grabbing piece of cover art. It adorns Lycanthropic Burrowing, the new album by the occult USBM band One Master, which will be released on July 14th by Eternal Death. The art was created by Dave Fogg (Fog Palace).
The song below is the first advance track, “Will of the Shadow“. As far as I can recall, this is my first encounter with the band’s music, despite the fact that this is their fourth album, but clearly won’t be the last — because “Will of the Shadow” is a real grabber. The intro is marked by a majestic, ritualistic kind of ominous grace, but the music becomes a cyclonic fury, laced with bursts of pulse-pounding thrash riffing.
Prepare to be seized by the throat and shaken like a rag doll.
The Ukrainian black metal band KZOHH includes members of such other excellent groups as Khors and Reusmarkt, among others. I wrote more than once about some fantastic tracks from their second album, 2015’s Rye. Fleas. Chrismon., but neglected their most recent one, Trilogy: Burn Out the Remains.
I was reminded of that oversight by the appearance a few days ago of a video for the edited version of a song named “Maruta” (Logs, in English), which is a previously unreleased bonus track that appears on the just-released vinyl edition of that album. According to the band, the song “tells about Unit 731 and its lethal human experimentation during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) of World War II”.
A haunting, depressive beauty shrouds the song, which moves at a stately pace, yet it’s an intense and dramatic track nonetheless, with vicious vocal vehemence (and agony) accompanying more subdued vocal expressions, and a heavy, booming, head-moving rhythm matched against a spectral keyboard melody. Mesmerizing… and disturbing.
Speaking of disturbing, be prepared for some disturbing photographs in the video — the documentation of some little-known horrors perpetrated in WWII.
The vinyl edition is available from Osmose Productions, here.
Now I’ll turn to yet another band whose music I didn’t know about until two days ago. The band here is Párodos, described in an e-mail we received as “Progressive Avantgarde Black Metal from Salerno (Italy)”. What you’ll find below is a lyric video for the title track from the band’s forthcoming debut album. The video was produced by EstremArte VideoProduzioni (Hour of Penance, Impaled Nazarene, Scuorn).
There are many things I like about this song — it rushes and rocks in a rhythmically compulsive way; it includes a very catchy lead-guitar motif in addition to hook-laden riffing; the piano melodies are equally attention-grabbing and memorable; and the soaring, heart-swelling clean vocals provide a surprising but very effective contrast with the abrasion of the bestial growls that dominate in most of the minutes. It’s a long song, both grave and grand, but doesn’t overstay its welcome.
SUBLIME CADAVERIC DECOMPOSITION
I’m far from finished recommending things, but sadly must bring this episode of my uncontrollable obsessiveness to a close. And so, for this penultimate item, I have a video for a song called “The Day They Dissect Me“. It will appear on Raping Angels in Hell, the new album by the French death/grind band Sublime Cadaveric Decomposition, which will be released later this year by Animate Records. This is the band’s fifth album and their first since 2011.
Unless you’re already familiar with this band, you may not be expecting the superbly-crafted heavy metal riffs in this song, which is far more than just high-grade slashing and slaughtering — though there’s plenty of that, along with electrifying tempo changes, rabid vocal nastiness, and turbocharged energy.
I’m far from finished recommending things, but sadly must bring this episode of my uncontrollable obsessiveness to a close (really, this time), and I do so with a last-minute add-on.
I had the great good fortune of witnessing Oranssi Pazuzu’s performance at Maryland Deathfest not long ago. It was among the very best I saw, as much fun to watch as it was to hear. I haven’t yet searched for video of that show, but I was excited to discover late yesterday that their immediately preceding performance at Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus bar on May 26th was captured on film — and captured in typically vivid fashion by unARTig. And that video is what you’ll find below.
Unlike the band’s MDF set, this one was a long one, and so it begins in slow, gloomy, paranormal fashion. But the band’s real strength begins blazing to life at the 6:25 mark.
And with that I’ll bid you farewell for now. Enjoy Oranssi Pazuzu live.