I began writing this post on Tuesday, intending to finish and publish it the next day. Events conspired against that plan, and I was defeated again yesterday by technical problems ironically created by malfunctioning software installed in our web-host server by the company we pay to armor us against malware.
I’ve resisted the temptation to make this burly collection even bigger by including more new music I’ve spotted in the days since I started it. I also resisted the temptation to just shove this column into its usual place on Sunday, especially because I’ve taken a few liberties with the usual configuration of SHADES OF BLACK. Posting it today will also me to harness different new audio assaults to char the coming Sabbath.
I stay away from metal message boards for fear of losing IQ points, which as you well know are meager enough already. But I could guess that the people who think they are the trve keepers of the holy black flame are gnashing their teeth all over again because Myrkur has released a new song and soon enough will release a new album. Based on experience, I presume that the readers of this site will take the music as it comes and assess it on its own merits, which is what I’ve done — and I do like what I hear.
Mareridt, which apparently means “nightmare”, is the name of the new album. It was written at a time when Myrkur’s alter ego Amalie Brunn was “plagued by insufferable nightmares and sleep paralysis”, and represents a kind of exorcism of those tortures, while also drawing upon old Nordic folklore and fables. It is said to include “lyrics in multiple languages, an unforgettable collaboration with Chelsea Wolfe and an array of special instrumentation including violin, mandola, folk drums, nyckelharpa (an ancient Swedish key harp), and Kulning (an ancient Scandinavian herding call)”.
“Måneblôt” is the new single released earlier this week. It is described by Ms. Bruun as “a tale which portrays a nightmare engaging a woman, girl, animal, violence, sun and fire worship and the pagan ritual, Blót”. The song storms in grim and grand fashion from the start, but even then Amalie Bruun’s voice rises above the torrent with spectral beauty… and then the music transforms into an entrancing instrumental section in which a folk melody is expressed by violin and other acoustic instruments. As the intensity revives, carrying the dark melody in a surge, that voice also surges in its vibrancy. I found myself mesmerized.
Mareridt will be released by Relapse Records in a variety of formats on September 15.
Kosmogyr is the name of a duo consisting of Shanghai native Xander Cheng (The Arcbane) and Ivan Belcic, formerly of Shanghai’s The Machinery of Other Skeletons and Death to Giants. Ivan now lives in Prague, but we are told that he and Xander collaborated by long-distance to record the song you’re about to hear, which is the first offering from a forthcoming album, projected for release this summer.
“Quiescent” is a multifaceted piece, beautiful and meditative at the beginning but soon scathing and vicious. There’s a heavy undercurrent in the music, and a furious drum track to drive it ahead with headlong abandon. The writhing and ripping riffs are themselves heavy and ferocious in their buzzing intensity, while the vocals are absolutely scorching.
However, unchained ferocity is not all the song transmits. A haunting melody floats, flickers, and soars above the conflagration, and an especially catchy riff arrives after a slower interlude. As the power of the song reaches into the red zone again, all the ingredients come together in a striking crescendo.
Count me very excited to hear more from Kosmogyr.
WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM
Not long ago I found myself subsumed in the intensity of Wolves In the Throne Room, storming the Neumos venue in Seattle as a headliner at the first edition of Northwest Terror Fest. It was good timing, because that was soon followed by the official announcement that a new WITTR album named Thrice Woven (which includes cover art by the great Dennis Forkas) will be released on September 22 (by the band’s own label Artemisia Records).
The press release we received included this statement:
The album begins with “Born From the Serpent’s Eye” a true thrashing black metal epic that is bisected with a haunting northern lament sung by Swedish star Anna von Hausswolff. The band worked with metal documentarians Peter Beste and Nico Poalillo to create a video for this track which captures a bonfire-lit performance in the forest near their Olympia compound. More on this very soon; to tide us over, check out a trailer that hints at what’s to come.”
And that trailer is what I’ve included below. I’ve also included a video of Anna von Hausswolff singing and performing on a pipe organ, which was introduced to me by one of my Terror Fest comrades during the festival. It makes quite a strong impression.
P.S. That press release we received also discloses that Steve Von Till (Neurosis) appears on one track; that Anna von Hausswolff returns in a duet with Turkish harpist Zeynep Oyku on another; and that new guitarist (and backing vocalist) Kody Keyworth also participated in the recording of the album.
1. Born from the Serpent’s Eye
2. The Old Ones Are With Us
4. Mother Owl, Father Ocean
5. Fires Roar in the Palace of the Moon
“Theta is loud noise for mentally weak people. Be or don’t be afraid. LISTEN AT EXTREMELY LOUD VOLUME ONLY.”
Those are some of the statements you will find on the Bandcamp page for the new album by Theta from Milan, Italy, the name of which is Obernuvshis’. It is one of the heaviest albums I’ve heard this year, and one of the most striking as well. And yes, you must listen at extremely loud volume, and yes, it’s your choice — you may indeed be afraid, but it may also help you to be unafraid. I suspect that even if, unlike me, you’re not mentally weak, you will like it anyway.
I’ll only comment about the album’s closing track, and its longest composition, “Concrete and Foundation“, because I think it will be enough to induce you to explore the rest of the record on your own. It’s a long track, launched by a grim but immediately catchy riff and then unfurling like a mammoth black flag blotting the sun and twisting in the wind.
The music moves from titanic, slow, craggy, doom-sodden plodding into a beautiful, haunting guitar instrumental, and eventually into a powerfully head-moving, pile-driving jolt of energy. Still more changes lie ahead — the guitar slithers like a huge python, moans like a desolate phantom, pounds like a truck-sized sledgehammer, dishes out doses of narcotic melody that would make a stoner doom band drool with desire.
It’s a raven-dark crusher of a song, yet a sorrowing and soulful one as well. And although there are no band vocals, a scattering of vocal samples from various sources meshes very well with the atmosphere and emotional resonances of the music. Powerful, memorable stuff — and so is the album as a whole.
Obernuvshis’ was released on June 28, 2017.
As a long-time fan of Norway’s Vulture Industries, I was very happy to learn that they will release a new album via Season of Mist on September 22, one named Stranger Times. As you can see, the multi-talented Costin Chioreanu created a memorable piece for the cover art.
The first advance track (premiered by DECIBEL) is called “As the World Burns“, and it comes packaged in a wonderful video that was also created by Costin Chioreanu. The band describe the song as one that “represents the rockier side of our new album”.
Bjørnar Nilsen’s chameleon-like voice — sometimes gritty and bluesy, sometimes theatrically camp, sometimes beautifully arcing and aching — meshes with the mercurial nature of the song, which is a fiendishly good piece of music. Its melodic hooks are sharp as scalpels, and it includes not only the sonic textures of a saxophone but also an extended concluding guitar solo I guarantee you will have a hard time dislodging from your head.
1. Tales of Woe
2. As the World Burns
4. The Beacon
5. Something Vile
6. My Body, My Blood
7. Gentle Touch of a Killer
8. Screaming Reflections
9. Midnight Draws Near
In January of this year I haphazardly encountered (and then wrote about) two tracks — “Black Triangle Temple and Transformation” — which appeared to be the lone finished recordings by Asagraum, which is a two-woman band — Dutch guitarist/vocalist Obscura and drummer Trish Kolsvart, who is Canadian but lives in Norway. They founded Asagraum in 2015, though both women have performed with other groups (Trish, for example, has been a live drummer with the likes of Craft and Isvind, and Obscura is also a member of Draugur). I reported at that time that they had ambitions to release a debut album this year.
That encounter came back to me when I saw the news earlier this week that a label named KVLT will release Asagraum’s debut album Potestas Magicum Diaboli on September 29. It includes artworks by Depravarts and Khaos Diktator Design. That news was accompanied by the release of an album track called “Black Sun Prayer“.
The dissonant, ringing melodies in the song are alien in their aura, enhancing the cold, poisonous, and inhuman perils that lurk within the amalgam of furious drum blasting, scalding snarls, and slaughtering riffs. It’s a pitch-black torrent of derangement, destructiveness, and exultation, one that nevertheless glows with an eerie cosmic sheen. Highly infectious as well….
2. Black Triangle Temple
4. Gospel of Ignition
5. Daar Waar Ik Sterf
6. Black Sun Prayer
7. Carried by Lucifer’s Wings
8. I Burn within the Devil