SEEN AND HEARD: SPECTRAL VOICE, RITES OF DAATH, DRUJ, PNEUMA HAGION, FUTURE TERROR, COMPLETE FAILURE, THE FIVE HUNDRED, PROFUNDUM
Up to a point, you may detect a pattern in the arrangement of the music I’ve selected for this eight-band Monday round-up.
The new Spectral Voice song put me in a certain frame of mind, and that influenced the next three selections after it (my ever-burgeoning list of good new things to write about is so mammoth that I look wherever I can for inspiration to overcome the agony of having to make choices). And then I made a radical change of course for the fifth item, and it in turn inclined me toward the sixth one.
And then we have a video for a song that’s off on a different tangent that was inspired by the writing of our own Grant Skelton, followed by a finisher that’s off on another tangent again (but has a connection to something that precedes it in this collection).
The debut album by this Colorado band (with the same line-up as Blood Incantation, apart from the drummer) is entitled Eroded Corridors Of Unbeing. Based on their previous releases (a sequence of demos and splits) and the staggering live performance I witnessed at California Deathfest in 2016, this album has been on my personal list of most eagerly anticipated 2017 releases for a long time. It’s now set for release by Dark Descent on October 13.
Two songs have been presented for public streaming so far, a mammoth track that first appeared on Dark Descent’s summer sampler — “Visions of Psychic Dismemberment” — and a new one revealed late last week, “Thresholds Beyond“.
As I wrote previously about the first one, a sense of grim, ominous majesty rises up in the opening minute of this nearly 14-minute monolith, and then the song jets ahead in a burst of thundering drums, nasty scything riffwork, and cavernous proclamations. More twists and turns lie ahead, including bouts of glacially slow, oppressive slogging and paranormal eeriness, as well as frenzied eruptions in which the band vividly display their abundant technical skills. It’s utterly foul, shiveringly creepy, morbidly doomed, and vibrantly electrifying.
The ringing notes that launch the new track, “Thresholds Beyond“, do indeed resemble a spectral voice, the ghostly tones announcing a slow, frigidly grim, bone-rattling lurch that itself forms the prelude to the destructive race of a juggernaut, which then transforms into the rabid ripping and tearing frenzy of a demonic horde.
As if that weren’t enough variation, the music slows again, with the craggy doom titanism of the chords counterbalanced by a mystical, moaning guitar solo, followed by a final surge of galloping obliteration and an outro that sounds like battering rams bringing skyscrapers to the ground.
No, it’s not too soon to proclaim that Eroded Corridors of Unbeing will be one of 2017’s highlights.
RITES OF DAATH
Rites of Daath are a Polish death metal band with a debut EP named Hexing Graves that has recently been announced for an October 13 release by Godz Ov War Productions. But although Rites of Daath is a new name, the band has recorded before under the name Cemetery Whore. With the change of name also comes a change of sound, as displayed on the EP’s first single, “Bitter Entrails of the Earth“.
Man, this song had me by the throat from the opening seconds, its oppressive buzzing riffs and pummeling rhythms augmented by the sheer terror of the vocal horrors. As the song slows, it becomes a thing of crawling disease and noxious putrefaction, a rotten formation of death/doom that eventually finds its eldritch energies again for one final onslaught. Damned good.
Rites of Daath:
Godz Ov War:
The foursome who make up Druj make their home in Anchorage, Alaska, and their first EP, The Malignant Dweller, was released on September 2, with artwork by Warhead Art.
I learned of the EP through an e-mail that contained nothing but a Bandcamp link. I’m usually in such a hurry that I might have skipped past it, having been given so little information about the music or the band (the subject line did say “Alaskan blackened doom”). But I paused long enough to click the link and saw the artwork, which by itself induced me to press play. I’m so glad I did, and you will be too.
The two tracks are “Invoke Part 1” and “Arcana of Ahriman“. The former, which is an instrumental piece, is launched by a ritualistic drum boom and a bleak and seething riff. It stomps and slogs ever deeper into a pit of suffocating cruelty, with the crushing gloom of the music pierced by deranged fanfares and dismal guitar moaning, as well as a boiling lead that bespeaks both misery and derangement.
It’s an unsettling but impressive start to this short EP, but “Arcana of Ahriman” is the real highlight here. It’s ponderous, massive, and heartless, laced with eerie chiming guitar emanations, with vocals that come in both gruesome, cavernous roars and insane snarls and shrieks. When the music begins to rumble and pound in the mid-section, it’s a head-moving (and skull-cracking) experience — but thanks to the unnerving buzz of the lead guitar you can still feel the disease spreading through your system.
This is a hope-crucifying manifestation of horror and death — very impressive and primally compelling stuff.
We have been persistent fans of the solo work of San Antonio-based Ryan Wilson under the name The Howling Void, as well as his work in the two-man group Endless Disease (whose excellent 2017 EP I reviewed here). Yet Wilson is also the creative force behind other projects, including this next one (and one more you’ll come to later in this post).
Pneuma Hagion is another Ryan Wilson solo project, named with the Greek words that are most commonly understood as “Holy Spirit”, but which in the Gnostic context can be understood as referring “to the Divine Spark of human consciousness that is imprisoned, perhaps hopelessly, in this material universe,” and it is this latter interpretation that inspired the birth and the musical approach of this project.
The new Pneuma Hagion EP, released on September 4, is Rituals of Extinction and consists of three tracks. They very effectively meld together utterly desolating death/doom and utterly mind-splintering, bestial black metal savagery. Funeral bells toll behind lurching, plague-bearing summonings of mortification and misery. And on the other hand, the music also provides electrifying expressions of total war, with conjoined chords and drum strikes that go off like bombs, as well as frenzies of murderous black/death violence that take the breath away.
The vocals are also monstrously good — a mix of utterly abyssal gurgling gutturals and wild banshee howls that you can feel flying, teeth bared, for the blood in your throat.
Now it’s time for that radical change of direction I mentioned in the introduction, driven by the latest EP by Future Terror from Richmond, Virginia. They chose the title We’re All Fucked, and seriously, who can argue with that? If the hurricanes don’t render a big chunk of the country into a wasteland, you’ve got a long list of other terrors to choose from.
We’re All Fucked was digitally released in May, but has also just been released on tape by a new label, Black House Industries (which in the interest of full disclosure was founded by an occasional valued contributor to our putrid site, Neill Jameson (of Krieg and Poison Blood).
Future Terror’s music is a fire-brand of harsh punk that’s recommended for fans of such bands as Doom, Anti-Cimex, Driller Killer, and Extreme Noise Terror. It sounds like war in the streets, a completely ferocious barrage of attacking riffs, gut-punching bass, cranium-splintering drumwork, and thoroughly blood-raw manifestations of vocal fury. It’s the kind of stuff that fills body bags. And I found it irresistible.
But as feral and ferocious as the music is, the riffs are loaded with hooks (meat hooks), and the compulsive rhythmic drive of the tracks will not leave you sitting still. Yeah, you may want to beat a motherfucker after you hear this violence, but we’re all fucked, so don’t hold back.
The cassette is limited to 100 copies, appropriately manufactured on urine colored tape. It comes with a 1.5″ pin.
Black House Industries:
Having had my mood changed by Future Terror, I was motivated to choose some music by Complete Failure as a follow-on. You’ll find two songs below, both of which appear on this Pittsburgh band’s new album, Crossburner, which will be released by Season of Mist on October 27.
The two songs are “I Am the Gun” and “Fist First, Second To None”, which was revealed just days ago. And what they deliver is music that the band characterize as “suicidal brutal hardcore”, which is no exaggeration. The music is as bleak as a mass grave of children, sightless eyes crusted in lye, and yes it’s plenty brutal too. And when the band kick the pace up, it’s like a surge of pure adrenaline — mixed with pure boiling fury, and a complete disregard for your sanity.
THE FIVE HUNDRED
And here I pause in my own writing to make way for our contributor Grant Skelton, who introduces the next item in this round-up:
UK metal band The Five Hundred have released a new music video for their track “Ghost In The Flames.” This song appears on the band’s latest EP The Veil, which first saw light back in April. The Veil marks the band’s second with producer Justin Hill.
“Ghost in The Flames” is a truly malevolent track in which the vengeful acrimony of the band’s previous output fully manifests. This song, along with the other songs on The Veil, prove that EPs should be taken just as seriously as full-lengths.
All cards on the table, I must confess a bit of bias on this track, and especially the music video. In January, my first short story “Outer Darkness” was published in an anthology. I have the delightful privilege of announcing that my short story was credited by band guitarist Mark Byrne as the inspiration for the music video. This quote comes from the video’s premiere at Metal Hammer last week:
‘”Skelton’s story about Malcolm Colt, an exorcist with a reality television show, and a very sinister secret, jumped out at us for its modern take on how men of the cloth look to make a profit from people’s beliefs.”‘
As a writer who regularly derives inspiration from heavy metal music, (forgive the cliche) it is humbling to see that something I wrote had anything to do with a metal band’s creative output. Thanks again to Mark Byrne and The Five Hundred for reading my scrawl.
Read a sample of “Outer Darkness” here. If you like what you read, get it in The Book Of Blasphemous Words anthology here from the publisher or from Amazon here. The Kindle version is only $2.99.
Time to change directions again, but as I wrote at the outset, these next tracks connect back to something earlier in this post.
Like Pneuma Hagion, Profundum is another project of the multi-talented San Antonio creator Ryan Wilson. In this group, formed in the summer of 2016, he is the sole instrumentalist, with vocals provided by LR. Their debut album Come, Holy Death was originally projected for release in early 2017 by Heathen Tribes Records but is now estimated for release sometime this month or in October (or so says a press release I received not long ago).
From that album, “Unmoved Mover” appeared very early in the year. Two more songs are on Bandcamp in the form of an EP entitled What No Eye Has Seen, which could be considered a further preview of the album.
I’m completely enthralled by these three songs, which could be characterized as a conjoining of symphonic black, death, and doom metal. It draws inspiration from the early works of Emperor, but there are obviously other ingredients in the mix as well. There is chilling beauty in the music, as well as heart-wrenching grief and pulse-pounding tumult.
The sweeping symphonic overlays and grim chords convey sensations of bleak majesty, while the spectral keyboard notes resemble the crying of lost souls. When the music surges, the effect is gripping. And so are the vocals — which are the kind of cavernous expressions of agony and cracked, strangled manifestations of torment that would be at home in funeral doom and black metal, respectively.
spectral voice / pneuma hagion / profundum
Perfect mix of bands with different sounds
Comments like this keep me going. Many thanks… and I know the bands will be grateful too.