SEEN AND HEARD (PART 2): ENSLAVED, ANTARKTIS, AETHERIAN, CLARET ASH, SATOR
In this post I continue an end-of-week round-up that I began here earlier today. I’ll post a third installment on Saturday. In this one, we have new music from five favorites of our site, all of whom are returning this year with new releases.
I’ve already published two previous posts about the new Enslaved album, E, even without any music to share with you. Now we finally have an advance track, “Storm Son“, which arrived today in the form of an animated music video designed by Josh Graham.
The song is a 10-minute beguiler, described as follows by songwriter/guitarist Ivar Bjørnson:
“‘Storm Son’ deals with the duality of man and nature, how important and basic that relationship is. Everything we do and create are imitations of nature; as we evolved from nature, that is how it must be – yet modern man thinks he and she is independent of nature, that we somehow are so superior that we do not have to take nature into consideration other than as a backdrop for shitty movies. Or festivals. Losing touch with nature is basically to lose touch with being human.”
As crystalline as icicles glinting in the sun, as airy as drifting clouds — that’s how the song begins. And even as the guitar begins to jab and the drums begin to push, even as the snarls interrupt the crooning, the song remains light. It does evolve into something more proggy and a bit heavier and darker, as well as rhythmically punchier and increasingly urgent — and eventually it gallops and booms and swarms as the band’s black metal facets turn toward the light. The clean-sung chorus and the shimmering keyboard melody also get stuck in the head as they continue to reemerge.
Antarktis is the new name of a quartet who used to call themselves Majalis, two of whom are also current members of In Mourning: guitarist/vocalist Tobias Netzell, guitarist/vocalist Björn Pettersson, bassist/vocalist Daniel Jansson, and drummer Jonas Martinsson. The first and only Majalis release was the wonderful 2013 EP, Cathodic Black, reviewed here. Now, under the Antarktis name, they’ve recorded a debut album named Ildaante, which Agonia Records plans to release on October 6.
The album’s track list includes a song called “Notes From the Underground”, and back in 2015 my comrade DGR wrote about a live video performance of that song, when the band was still named Majalis. Now another track from the album has appeared, also in the form of a live music video, split between the studio and the stage.
“Svalbard” is a powerful piece, a blending of post-rock and doom elements that packs a heavy, sludgy punch, with a dark and entrancing melody that worms its way into the mind and wrenching harsh vocals that amplify the song’s despairing atmosphere. A soulful, spellbinding interlude (still emotionally dark) gives the spotlight to a saxophone (or a guitar that sounds very much line a sax), and the song’s contrasting segments come together beautifully in the finale. Makes me very anxious to hear the rest of the album.
The record was mixed and mastered by Karl Daniel Lidén (Katatonia, Cult Of Luna, Draconian). Artwork was created by Emy Rojas of Arrache-toi Un Oeil.
(Thanks to DGR and to Milos for telling me about this new song.)
Like Antarktis under their previous name, Aetherian is another band we’ve admired before at our site, beginning with their first single in 2013, their second one in 2015, their debut EP released the same year (and reviewed by DGR here), and their amazing single and video from last year, “The Rain”. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that we’ve pounced quickly on the next song in this round-up.
“Seeds of Deception“, presented yesterday through a lyric video, will appear on this Greek band’s debut album The Untamed Wilderness, which will be released by Lifeforce Records in November. The beautifully written song gets under the skin damned fast, pulse-pounding yet gloomy, ravaging yet heart-aching, majestic and intensely memorable. Amazing vocals too. If you’ve been missing the old Insomnium, this will be food for your soul.
“Seeds of Deception” is available on iTunes and Spotify.
Claret Ash are yet another group whose past music we’ve praised and who are returning with new music. Their second album, The Cleansing, was the subject of a review by Andy Synn in 2015, which included these words:
“As solemn and melancholy as it is scathing and misanthropic, as electrifying and as powerful as it is regal and majestic, The Cleansing is an absolutely fantastic album from start to finish, and one which rivals the brilliance of Der Weg Einer Freiheit’s phenomenal Stellar as one of this year’s most perfect examples of the art of Black Metal in all its unabashed and unrelenting power and glory.”
High praise, eh? Well, there’s more where that came from, because this Australian band have just released a new single named “Plague Bearer” (featuring the distinctive artwork of Sam Nelson), which will appear on their third album. Andy’s words continue to ring true — “Plague Bearer” is a gripping, blood-rushing piece, equal parts soaring grandeur and despairing frenzy, arcing clean vocals and lacerating snarls and shrieks, instrumental extravagance and brute-force pounding. It builds and builds, to a breathtakingly intense climax. Very impressive (and no surprise there).
And finally, I come to the Italian sludge band Sator. Their second full-length, Ordeal, is set for a September 1 release by Argonauta Records. In June of this year we premiered a striking song from the album named “Heartache”. And now they’ve released a second single from the album, this one called “Soulride” — and man, is it a ride.
The song drives very hard, fueled by a neck-breaking bass line and riveting drumwork, and by thick, sludgy riffs that spiral upward in swirls of blazing intensity. The vocals are no less intense, manifesting excruciating anguish (or anger). The whole song is shot-through with electrifying energy, even when the juggernaut rampaging lessens in intensity and a bereaved rippling lead guitar melody rises through the operation of all the demolition equipment at work around it.
It took me all of one listen to decide that the song belongs on my list of candidates for this year’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs (and it’s not the only such candidate included in this post).
I had completely forgotten Enslaved was still around. I haven’t listened to them in years. If you hadn’t told me that song was them before hitting play, I would have thought it was Between the Buried and Me.
Love the direction Enslaved has gone with the last three releases.
Great stuff in this selection.
Thank you, devil. I just posted a Part 3.