Another Sunday, another edition of SHADES OF BLACK, and this time I’ve chosen advance tracks by six bands from forthcoming releases. Two of those releases are reissues of earlier works, but the bands were new to me despite the existence of those earlier efforts, and perhaps they’ll be new to you as well.
In the fall of 2015 the Slovakian band Malokarpatan released their debut album Stridžie dni (“the witching days”), which turned out to be one of the biggest and best surprises of that year, even though I didn’t tumble to it until early 2016. With lyrics written in a local dialect, the album was based on the grotesque myths and folklore of Western Slovakia, based on “rural witchcraft, drunkenness and also national pride.” As I wrote then:
“In listening to this album you do sometimes get a sense that you’ve been transported into a world of fairy tales made real — the frightening kind of tales. The songs are rough, raw, highly distorted, heavy as hell, and hard to pin down in simple genre terms. They storm, they rock, they dance like dervishes, they crawl like dying soldiers.
“They include electrifying flashes of classic heavy rock riffs; piercing, arena-ready soloing; first-wave black metal brawling; doomy dirges; slow, mesmerizing instrumental interludes; trumpet fanfares; flickering flute flourishes; thoroughly bestial vocals (and impassioned clean ones); and a lot more (I’d be here all day if I tried to catalog everything).”
Malokarpatan are returning with a highly anticipated second album named Nordkarpatenland, which will be released on Halloween of this year by Invictus Productions in Europe and The Ajna Offensive in the US. The song below from the new album is “V hustej hore na stračích nohách striga chalupu svoju ukrýva” (“Within the Dense Woods, the Witch is Hiding her Hut on Magpie Legs”), and it features a guest appearance by Necrocock of Master’s Hammer.
Not surprisingly, the new song is surprising. Launched by an excerpt from a symphonic soundtrack, it follows an ever-changing gait, with harsh vocal proclamations and a burbling bass rising above abrasive riffs. You reach an interlude suggestive of witchy fantasy, with clean vocals, and then the music thunders, the storm pierced by swirling melody, and then it rocks, with the flickering of clean guitar suggestive of a sorcerous dance around a woodland bonfire.
The Chilean band Lascar have also completed work on their second album, Saudade, which will be released on September 15. Though I never mentioned their first album, Absence, at our site, I really enjoyed it, and the early signs are that Saudade will also be captivating.
“Tender Glow” is the first advance track, and it’s an honest title. The stately music, while wistful and sorrowing in its atmosphere, often glows with the glint of dappled sunlight through a forest canopy as crystalline notes echo in the spaces between the shrouds of guitar abrasion and the thump and rumble of percussion. And while the vocals are cries of intense despair, the music becomes panoramic in its sweep, and it frolics as well as storms.
The captivating music ebbs and flows, juxtaposing meditative daydreams of precious things lost with wild, headlong rushes of pounding energy. Easy to lose yourself in this one….
My mouth and vocal chords are unable to make the shapes and sound necessary to pronounce Grifteskymfning’s name. Typing it isn’t any easier. Finding information about the band is almost as difficult. All I can tell you with confidence is that they have a debut album named Själslig Död that will be released later this year by Darker Than Black Records, and that the first excerpt from it is very good.
I could also guess, based on the album’s title, that the band is Swedish (Google Translate renders it as “Spiritual Death”). Metal-Archives also says they are from Sweden, with a 2009 full-length named Djävulens boning and a 2011 album-length demo called Likpsalm in their sparse discography, and one of the members (Sir N.) is also a member of the more prolific Svartrit.
The song below is “Själslig Död – III“, which suggests that the album tracks will only be identified by Roman numerals. It took almost no time at all for this song to seize my imagination and spirit me away into some fantasy realm, one that presents vistas both glorious and euphoric — and also threatening.
The drumming is a near-ceaseless blasting drive (often punctured by a cracking, lashing sound) and the vocals are acid enough to etch glass, but the soaring, cascading melodies are mystical and transcendent. I suspect this will appeal greatly to fans of such bands as Summoning.
(Thanks to Milos for providing a link to this track.)
In 2013 the Mexican black metal band Precaria self-released their debut demo on tape in an edition limited to 25 copies, though it seems the songs were recorded much earlier. Now the Spanish label Nebular Carcoma Records is re-releasing those demo tracks in a new tape edition, with this version including remastered versions of the tracks as well as the original recordings, plus translated lyrics. They plan to quadruple the volume of the original pressing — all the way up to a still minimal 100 copies.
So far I’ve only heard one of the remastered tracks, which is the song below, named “La Obra Negra Deicida“, but I’ve really fallen into its grip, strangely addicted to the absolutely staggering, powerfully hammering, highly accelerated drum assault and the deep, grinding onslaught of the riffs.
Folk-like melodies dance and dart within this destructive maelstrom of sound, and the jaw-dropping percussive torrent briefly relents to let the cold, oppressive weight of gloom sink deeper into your skin — but this is mainly a stunningly intense adrenaline surge that strikes with overwhelming power. Very anxious to hear the rest of this release….
Though I’ve grown into quite an intense fan of black metal over the last decade, I’m still constantly discovering bands with significant histories that I’ve never encountered before, and Australia’s Nocturnes Mist is the latest such discovery. Their inception dates back to 1997, though their first album, As Flames Burn, didn’t arrive until 2009. Two more albums have followed that one, including last year’s March To Perdition and Diabolical Baptism, which will be released on September 15th by Seance Records.
From what I’ve read, the earlier works were a form of symphonic black metal in the style of early Emperor, Satyricon, Abigor, and Nazxul, but the band’s Satanic inspirations (including the creation of a song based on the film score of The Omen trilogy of movies) have led them away from that on this most recent album and turned them more toward the raw, rapacious, and feral energies of early ’90s black metal.
The song from the album that you can stream below is “Barbs of Sadism“, which includes a sample from Ken Russell’s film The Devils. This doesn’t fuck around — it’s a barbarous display of frenzied savagery — but it’s magnetically attractive, too, thanks to pulsing chord grooves and swirling keyboard melodies that lend an air of grandeur to the bloodlust.
To close this Sunday’s collection I’m turning to another band with a significant history that I’m only just now discovering.
The first demos of the Norwegian band Perished were released in 1993 and ’94, followed by a self-titled EP in 1996 and then the band’s first album Kark in 1998. Another EP came in 2000, and a final album named Seid arrived in 2003 — and then the band perished.
In late June of this year, the Italian label ATMF released a new digipack CD edition (and a digital edition) of Perished’s first album, Kark, which includes a retrospective of the album concept and musical inspiration made by the band as well as three bonus tracks: the previously unreleased song “A Landscape of Flames”, and the two tracks from the Perished 7” EP from 1996, “Kald Som Aldri Før” and “Gjennom Skjærende Lys”.
The Bandcamp player below includes three tracks from the Kark reissue, and they’ve lost nothing in the passage of almost 20 years, blending warlike charges, ebullient waltzes, and episodes of brooding majesty, combining incandescent swirls of guitar melody, sweeping ambient vistas, and lilting keyboard textures with furiously blasting drumwork and waves of fierce riffing.
The music has a mythic, pagan air and a widescreen kind of grandeur — and it gets the blood rushing like a gallop toward glory or death. It’s no understatement to call this magnificent, and given the year of its birth, to call it ageless as well.