VIDEOGRAPHY: AMENRA, MONARCH, CANVAS BLACK, DE PROFUNDIS, FJORDS, CONCRETE AGE, RAW IN SECT, TEETHGRINDER
Amenra photo by Stephan Vanfleteren
As I mentioned in yesterday’s Overflowing Streams round-up, my plan was to pull together another compilation of recent recommended music under the SEEN AND HEARD header. By the time I finished, I realized that almost everything I had picked came in the form of a video, and the one exception was close enough that I decided to change the heading for this post.
I arranged these videos to achieve a kind of flow, or an arc — not seamless, to be sure, but in a way that made sense to me. Things begin in very dark fashion with the first three videos, then we have some death metal necrophilia as a transition (necrophilia is always a good transition, right?), and then a trio of high-energy tracks that have ethnic musical elements mixed in with otherwise diverse sounds, and then we go out in an explosive bonfire. And with that, let’s begin…
(P.S. My usual Sunday SHADES OF BLACK feature will be posted on Monday.)
The Belgian band Amenra are returning with a new mass, five years after the last one. Mass VI will be released on October 20 by Neurot Recordings, a date that seems very far away, but at least it’s on the calendar now. The video below isn’t a full song (sadly), but it’s a very effective teaser for the new album nonetheless.
This song excerpt is slow and apocalyptically heavy, the vocals agony incarnate, the seething and writhing lead guitar a semblance of despair and derangement. It sounds like the beginning of a very dark descent. I would like to go deeper into this abyss.
Staying in the vein of sludge, doom, and in this case drone, I’m following that Amenra teaser with a video for a track from Never Forever, the new album by the French band Monarch. This is their eighth album overall, and it will be released on September 22 by Profound Lore.
The name of the track is “Song To The Void“, and that’s a well-chosen title for this spine-tingling, skin-shivering music. The voice and the haunting vocal melody put me in mind of something Crosby Stills and Nash might have recorded in the grip of strong hallucinogens, while driving in the very slow lane. The ominous drum pounding and the backing squall of abrasion become a death march into… yes indeed… the void.
The artistically conceived and beautifully executed video is also an excellent companion to the music, because it’s also skin-shivering to watch, with the band’s vocalist and electronics artist Eurogirl performing as the protagonist (at least I think it’s her).
Death loomed over that Monarch song and video, and the contemplation of suicide is the subject matter of “Selfdestruction“, which is the song that’s the focus of the next video. It comes from an album named Destructive Herd Mentality, which was released by the Norwegian progressive death metal band Canvas Black on May 26. I wrote about another song from the album on another Sunday in June, unaware that this video also existed.
Despite its gloomy subject matter, “Selfdestruction” is a heavy, hard-charging piece of music with battering rhythms, a potent bass pulse, some highly infectious guitar melodies surfacing throughout the track, and mad-dog vocals. It cranks the spigot open on the listener’s adrenaline glands, and sticks in the head like a spike.
While the lyrics to the song address the drowning of sorrows and sins in booze and pills, “down the crooked road towards selfdestruction”, the video tells a somewhat different tale, but not a happier one (and it does involve a drowning).
2015’s Kingdom of the Blind was the last album by the British band De Profundis, and Andy Synn reviewed it for us here. 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the band’s first album, Beyond Redemption, and to celebrate the milestone they’re releasing a retrospective compilation album entitled Decayed: 2007 – 2017. The album will include nine remastered tracks from across the band’s discography and one exclusive new track. The album will be included in issue 079 of Zero Tolerance Magazine (and apparently nowhere else), with cover art on the sleeve by Gary Ronaldson.
The one new song on the album is “An Orgy Of Grotesqueries“, and it’s the subject of the next video in this collection, a lyric video created by Andy Pilkington of Very Metal Art. The lyrics are… how to say this?… vividly rendered. They’re also funny, at least if you have a taste for utterly disgusting and twisted black humor.
As for the music, it’s fast-paced and jolting, a big juggernaut that’s also constantly firing off flashes of lightening-bright, head-twisting guitar acrobatics and shimmering melody while the main force of the song plows ahead on its mission of destruction. After just a few listens, I’ve become highly addicted to it.
The aforementioned Andy Synn was the source of this next recommendation, a video for the debut single of a band named Fjords, who are from Andy’s hometown of Nottingham, England. The song’s name is “Ode to the Albatross“.
The last song in this collection had its own kind of progressive ingredients, but this one goes further into prog territory, though without sacrificing a strong rhythmic pulse or the anchoring of jolting riffs. The music crosses through shades of light and dark, periodically softening the power surge to pave the way for crystalline guitar melodies, both darting and fluid, and clean vocal crooning that are quite seductive. The craggy harsh vocals are also potent in a different way.
An air of melancholy hangs about the song, even in its brightest moments. It tugs at the heartstrings, and it proves to be very memorable as well. With this first song, we may be witnessing the emergence of a bright star in the metal firmament.
This, by the way, is the one clip in this collection that probably doesn’t qualify as a video, even though it moves. But I really couldn’t leave this song to another day.
My NCS compatriot TheMadIsraeli recommended this next song and video. The band is Concrete Age, a group fronted by Russian vocalist/guitarist Ilia Frosty (J) Morozov. Although the band originated in Russia, Morozov moved to London in 2014, and that’s now the home base for Concrete Age.
The band’s latest album (their fourth) was released just two days ago. Entitled The Totem of the Great Snake Pt.1, it includes a song named “The Black Wings of Shamam“, which is the song in the next video.
Concrete Age plays in the style of thrash-fueled melodic death metal, but incorporate traditional instruments and ethnic musical traditions from different parts of the world, and especially Tibet.
This particular song grew on me more and more as it ran its course, to the point that I was fully in its grip (and exulting) by the final minutes. It’s fiery in its passion, blood-rushing in its rhythmic drive, and exotic in its array of vibrant melodies. Morozov has a good harsh voice (that briefly edges into clean-singing territory), and puts on a real show in his soloing, but in a way that integrates beautifully with the song as a whole.
RAW IN SECT
I reviewed the debut album of the Greek band Raw In Sect back in 2011, but overlooked their second full-length, Blue Haze, in 2014. I don’t intend to overlook their new one, based on how much fun I’ve been having watching and listening to this next video.
The name of the song is “Therion“, and it’s a single from that new album Kitro, which will be released in September. The song is anchored by a highly infectious melody that’s rooted in traditional Greek music, and the lyrics are in Greek as well. It’s a dervish-like dance, and listening to it is like edging close enough to a circle of dancers to be pulled into their intoxicated and intoxicating whirl. The vocals (which aren’t harsh) are also great.
As I’ve made clear, the song itself is tons of fun, but this video is going to launch the band into the arms of a much bigger audience than probably otherwise would have embraced the music — in fact, with more than 20,000 views so far, it already has. Hats off to director Peter Scott Lee at London’s Black Island for creating such a wild and eye-catching rendition of the band performing the song. The band says the video is meant to reflect the transformation into Therion, which is to “find inner power in a primitive way getting in touch with your instincts.”
The single is available on iTunes, Spotify, and Google.
Okay, now it’s time for that explosive bonfire of a finale that I promised you, as a kind of bookend on the other side of the dark and doomy numbers with which I began this post.
This is a video for “The Pain Exceeds The Fear“, which comes from the most recent album (Nihilism) by the Dutch band Teethgrinder, released last fall by LifeForce Records. The video was directed by Joost Nevels, and includes lots of worms.
This is rampant death/grind, pure piston-driven fury with vitriol as the fuel. When it’s not rampaging or seething in a vicious boil, it only grows more black-eyed, bleak, and ultimately head-smashing.
That Teethgrinder record came out at a perfect time last year and Pain exceeds the fear is one of the highlights for sure, I constantly have the line about ‘the pain of existence, exceeds the fear of death’ stuck in my head. The Soil Has A Thirst For Blood, Isolation, Sicarius, and Pale Flowers are also excellent tracks.
That line you quoted is great. I need to listen to the rest of the album someday soon.