SEEN AND HEARD (BY DGR): BELPHEGOR, SEPTICFLESH, INANIMATE EXISTENCE, AMON AMARTH, INCANTATION, THE LURKING FEAR, ABHORRENT DECIMATION, THENIGHTTIMEPROJECT
(DGR takes over round-up duties again, with this collection of new songs and videos from eight bands.)
The end-of-the-week news flood was insane, as we have settled well into summer now and a lot of bands are either gearing up to hit the road or are already out making numerous loops on the festival circuit. Of course, this also means that there are a lot of albums in the hopper, getting ready to come out within weeks, or you’ll start seeing a lot of press for albums set to hit when the first leaves of fall drop.
That’s how you wind up with posts like this SEEN AND HEARD that helped kick off the weekend — not even counting our own fuel that we added to the fire, and the one that you’re reading now, which is basically just a gigantic dragnet for bands that had premieres elsewhere throughout the tail end of last week, or just blasted that thing right out to the world to see.
This episode of SEEN AND HEARD is eight (!) bands deep and skews death-metal heavy, so prepare yourselves for a lot of gigantic grooves, growled vocals, enough blasts to reach gunfire status, and enough chainsaw guitar destruction to fuel the planet.
Belphegor – “Baphomet”
The long-running heretics of Austria’s Belphegor return to us once again on September 15th this year with their new disc Totenritual. The band unleashed a lyric video for the song “Baphomet“, and I figured it would be a good lead-off to a round-up dense with terrifying displays of death metal; Belphegor do an excellent job in making “Baphomet” massive.
It’s a display of expert craftsmanship from a band who’ve long made blasphemy their bread and butter, and almost five minutes of stomping black/death metal hybrid in dedication to Baphomet is what people have come to expect from the band.
Belphegor have been standard-bearers for a sort of leviathan-esque evil sound, much larger than what one would hear from a gathering of mere mortals. The Belphegor crew spend “Baphomet” showing that they can make the earth quake with one section of blasting drums and huge strums on guitar.
Totenritual marks the eleventh full-length from the band, and although only “Baphomet” and a live rehearsal video for the song “Totenkult – Exegesis Of Deterioration” have arrived so far, we can probably rest assured that the Belphegor crew have another fueled by the goat ritual resting up their sleeves.
SepticFlesh – “3rd Testament”
Okay, at this point we can now consider the hype-thrusters fully engaged. I tend to be a little conservative when it comes to reacting to new releases, and usually new singles will be met with a shrug until they grow on me, but I’d be damned if I didn’t say that so far the two releases from SepticFlesh’s upcoming Codex Omega disc, out on September 1st, have really left an impression.
Dante’s Inferno and now the newly released “3rd Testament” have shown that SepticFlesh are really leaning into the death metal element of their symphonic death metal sound this time around. The band have been fighting a battle between those two elements across their releases — especially as the symphonic work has really come into prominence more recently — with The Great Mass and Titan feeling like two separate takes, in which one side wins out over the other, and Codex Omega seems to continue that battle.
It’s still a massive and bombastic song but one that is high-energy and more guitar-driven than the previous Titan work. If you’re one who thought there was a little too much symphony on Titan, then perhaps you should start getting ready for Codex Omega, because with just two songs out so far it seems the SepticFlesh team are ready to contribute to the soundtrack to the apocalypse. The wait until September is going to be a long one.
Inanimate Existence – “In Moonlight I Am Reborn”
An album a year still seems like a crazy idea, and an artist proving to be that prolific still tends to drop my jaw in wonder, yet that’s what the Bay Area tech-death group Inanimate Existence are aiming to do after their last album Calling From A Dream, with a new label backing them for The Artisan Era and a new disc coming in the form of Underneath A Melting Sky. Now just a three-piece band, the slimmed-down group have released their first single from Underneath A Melting Sky, a three-and-a-half minute atmospheric blinder named “In Moonlight I Am Reborn“.
Now four albums deep into their work, it seems the Inanimate Existence crew are turning inward a little bit. After putting out two pretty big tech-death bricks in the form of A Never Ending Cycle Of Atonement and the aforementioned Calling From A Dream, the band are returning a little bit to the sound of Liberation Through Hearing, still deeply philosophical and still frighteningly fast when they want to be, but returning a little of the groove chug to the overall sound.
The first minute and a half of “In Moonlight” is a massive stomping monster and it is only after a huge succession of low, gutteral growls that the band speeds it up into the more recognizable no-notes-left-behind style of death metal that they’ve dealt in for two discs. Calling From A Dream flew a little bit under the radar here at NCS in the massive mudslide that was 2016’s musical releases, but maybe in 2017, slimmed down and a little scrappy with something to prove, Inanimate Existence will unleash a monster upon us all.
Amon Amarth – “The Way Of Vikings”
I kid you not, I actually included this as something of a “lighter” break.
A year and some change out now from the release of last year’s Jomsviking, Amon Amarth have seen fit to release a music video for the sixth song on the disc, “The Way Of Vikings“. As a band who’ve achieved something of an Iron Maiden status, Amon Amarth have become one of those groups whose name has become synonymous with all things Viking — even when you stretch the comparison to the breaking point by filming a prohibition-era underground gambling den and boxing-club-themed music video.
We actually didn’t do too much with Jomsviking last year, as Amon Amarth have long since found a very consistent sound — much like Arch Enemy, who also released a music video confirming that yes, they still sound like Arch Enemy — and you kind of know what you’re in for with Amon Amarth if you have any familiarity whatsoever with the Viking wrecking crew + one former October Tide drummer. They write big, catchy melo-death with a hint of tribal war-cry songs, filled with huge gallops and multiple situations in which they get to circle headbang and have tons of fun doing so.
They remain one of the best bands in the world to throw a whole discography on shuffle with. Even when they write a concept album such as Jomsviking, it didn’t stray from the path one bit. It was about Vikings, but this time they told a story. Amon Amarth remain firmly committed to spreading all things Viking to the world, even when it means shooting your analogous Viking in the back after he wins a fight. It’s a well-shot music video and it’s good to see the Amon Amarth team having fun with their budget.
Incantation – “Messiah Nostrum”
If you appreciated the “lighter” break of Amon Amarth, it’s time to return to the worlds of all things dark and abyssal, with a new music video for the song “Messiah Nostrum” from Incantation’s upcoming album Profane Nexus.
“Messiah Nostrum” is the ninth song on Profane Nexus and follows the song “Stormgate Convulsions from the Thunderous Shores of Infernal Realms Beyond the Grace of God”, which sees Incantation giving the Nile team a run for their money on the alphabet-exercise as song-title front.
“Messiah Nostrum” starts out with a slow crawler of a riff — making the song reach funeral-doom levels in its opening minute before the band kick things into high gear with some sewage murk-soaked death metal.
At this point, Incantation have become experts in the old-guard branch of abysall death metal. and “Messiah Nostrum” shows that there hasn’t been a huge shift for the band in the three years since 2014’s Dirges Of Elysium. They write big, frightening bears of death metal songs and then drag them through the mud — the guitar section starting about a minute-forty-five in is just off-kilter and gross — just to make sure they remain as disgusting as when they started.
“Messiah Nostrum” is four-and-a-half minutes of a weight crushing your chest, one that makes the whole experience of Profane Nexus seem like a massive journey to undertake.
The Lurking Fear – “Infernal Dread”
The August 11th release date for The Lurking Fear’s debut album Out Of The Voiceless Grave is coming up remarkably fast. The throwback death metal band with a packed lineup have even seen fit to release a video for the song “Infernal Dread“.
The live performance clip clocks in at three-and-a-half minutes and further confirms the theory that the people behind The Lurking Fear aren’t fucking around with just how “old school death metal” they want Out Of The Voiceless Grave to sound, with guitars tuned to sinister level and the rhythm section in outright assault mode.
With both Vortex Spawn and Winged Death also having been unleashed upon the world, it will be interesting to see how the heavy metal world reacts to the crew’s reveling in the guts and glory of the past. I’ve liked what I’ve heard so far, but I get the sense that the album may be one that you need to take in as a full release, because the individual tracks have been very quick blasts; if we’re going to get the evil that The Lurking Fear are selling, we might just need it in one massive dose. We shall see come August 11th.
Abhorrent Decimation – Granted Indulgence
Echoes And Dust grabbed the premiere for what is probably the most up-front song explainer of what Abhorrent Decimation’s new disc The Pardoner is about. “Granted Indulgence” details the idea of paying the local clergy to be freed of your sins, and does so over a roiling swath of massive, thudding guitar riffs.
The three advance songs so far from The Pardoner have shown that Abhorrent Decimation are going to be dealing musical beatings in spades. Conspire was built around one huge riff, with enough melody to keep things going, but much more interested in a neck-snapping chug, and The Scythe In The Dark proved to be just as ferocious. “Granted Indulgence” lines up nicely with its siblings, though a little bit more death-meta- focused — built around a massive blasting section in its opening and a little quicker-moving.
The Pardoner will be out on July 28th, and if it keeps up this level of ferocity it may be my go-to meatheaded beatdown album this year.
Thenighttimeproject – “Anti Meridian”
Here’s your actual light break, because I figured it might be fun to tack on a song that is likely to grab our fine, glorious, incredibly attractive readers by the shoulders and throw them so hard in the opposite direction, genre-wise, that it’s likely to cause more than a few broken necks.
This video is actually three months old now, but I’ve just come across it, and lo and behold, we haven’t gotten the chance to post it. So, I submit to you, Thenighttimeproject.
The clean-sung and melancholic project of October Tide’s Fredrik Norrman released a song entitled “Anti Meridian” a few months ago, one that wasn’t included on the band’s self-titled debut album from last year. It features In Mourning/Antarktis vocalist Tobias Netzell, with Mattias Norrman on bass and Nicklas Hjertton on drums. It continues with the sound they found on their debut, largely ambient, and constructed around a couple of real strong melodic leads. But “Anti Meridian” also fills out the space a bit and feels more like a full band inhabiting the sort of cold melancholy that Fredrik Normann has long been a master of.
Give it a spin, let it lift all the massive death metal that has filled out this post off of your shoulders, and sit around and be moody instead. Thenighttimeproject are perfect for it. Then check out Caustic Reflection from their debut as well. It’s another fantastic song that has a similar mood to “Anti Meridian”.
Too bad Belphegor, just like Amon Amarth, is on a label that doesn’t know (or care about) how to reply to an e-mail. At lest I’m drooling forward to sinking into Incantation, The Lurking Fear and Septicflesh, in particular.
PS, Thenighttimeproject, whatdoyouguyshaveagainsttheusageofspacebetweenwords?
I’ve actually never faulted labels for getting back to us, a lot of the time we might not even be a blip on the radar and other times I tend to go for the benefit of the doubt that they’re incredibly busy. That’s fine. We’ll cover something else in the meantime, it just means that the review won’t be the most timely thing in the world. I know I have a couple on here where I’ve bought the CD and had it show up in the mail, and then reviewed it. Interviews on the other hand, I couldn’t speak to, I’m awful at those to begin with some I’m fine hiding in my little corner of the internet hoping noone notices me.
TheNighttimeProject is actually an October Tide song, but the type setting thing is up to them. I just want that project to keep going so I get my melancholy alongside my utter despair in both of the Normann team projects.
I can relate to business and forgetfulness, and I see how somebody who receive amounts equivalent to the written words of a thick Russian novel in the mail every hour might easily overlook a mail. I may have come off as somewhat bitter. I’m not though, but at times it saddens me to see awesome (or very interesting) releases pass me by.
I have quite a few purchases of none-promos, but mostly, they remain down-prioritized in favor of promos.
Of all the promo inquiries I’ve sendt over the past 3.5 years, I’ve encountered absolute silence quite a few times. They say that “silence means consent”, but my experience tells me that deafening silence simply doesn’t. I actually only think I’ve received one rejection with proper justification. It caught me off guard, and I was actually rather positively surprised at such a respectable refusal.
We’ve been lucky to get to the point where we no longer have to beg for promos, but I do remember those days quite well. I also know the discomfort that comes with explicitly rejecting a request. It’s easier, though not very respectful, simply not to respond, which is a path I’m afraid I’ve followed more than once.
Great roundup! Pleasantly surprised by Belphegor’s new track. Getting a strong Goatreich vibe from it. Gotta say though, I’m a bit underwhelmed by the new Incantation track. Sounds to me like the band is all out of ideas and are just going through the motions at this point.
Belphegor are kind of a known factor at this point, yet they still manage to surprise me every time whenever there’s new songs. Its like I forget that they have a churning engine of hellfire as a vocalist and the first words out of the guys mouth are the reminder that I’m a fucking idiot.
All these sound great, especially Septicflesh!
I’m a sucker for symphonics + extreme metal, which I blame in part on six years of orchestra during my schooling (percussion section) – and it seems like the SepticFlesh team have been playing with the balance again and leaning more towards the metal side.
These are great, I hadn’t heart of Abhorrent Decimation before, but they’re a pleasant surprise. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to an Amon Amarth song, but like you say: dependable.
Truth be told, I only picked on the the Abhorrent Decimation crew after Andy’s coverage of their last disc – which I thought was good but clearly something I would take alongside five other bands of a similar ilk when I’m in a meatheaded mood. The new one really makes it seem like they’re stretching their wings a bit concept wise, and covering ground you normally wouldn’t see covered in the sort of chuggy-core death metal segment and that’s been exciting.
Good read !