SHADES OF BLACK (PART 1): SUMMONING, AORLHAC, GREAT VAST FOREST, HYRGAL, EVIG HAT
One thing led to another. I knew I wanted to start this SHADES OF BLACK post with the Summoning news, and then as I made my way through my seemingly endless list of new or newly discovered black metal, the thoughts of that band influenced the other choices. I don’t mean to suggest that any of the other four bands in this collection sound quite like Summoning, but they do all create visions in the mind that don’t seem real, invoking either vistas of a distant past or perhaps mythic narratives of a past we wish had existed.
Having gathered these particular songs together, I was left with a bunch of others that didn’t seem to fit the flow I was looking for. And so my aim is to gather those in a second installment. I know it’s dumb of me to forecast something that isn’t finished yet, since Mondays always seem to disrupt my plans (but I never learn)… and for that reason I’m going to try like hell to wrap up Part 2 today.
I found a couple of the items in this collection myself, but for the rest I’m again indebted to my Serbia-based source of underground intelligence, Miloš.
The last album by the Viennese wizards in Summoning was 2013’s Old Mornings Dawn. In early August Summoning updated their profile picture on Facebook with a new image suggestive of new activity, but without comment or explanation. Their Facebook page has only existed since late June, and there have been few posts since then, but one in mid-August included these words:
“‘And in the glade a light was seen …’
“The past years have been a time of troubles, setbacks, disputes – and of resulting frustration.
“And then, the summonings faded and silence arose …
“Yet, it hasn´t been the end that was dawning.
“But in the ashes still a dim light was gleaming. The dying embers were set ablaze by ongoing dedication and new inspiration.
“And from the ashes fire was flaring to heat the forges again …”
Sure enough, Summoning have a new album on the way. And a couple of days ago they revealed the cover art at the top of this post and the title — With Doom We Come — and the release date (through Napalm Records): January 5, 2018. I think the word I’m looking for is “hyped”.
And now we move from news to music, but not new music. Roughly a month ago I followed the lead of my friend Miloš and discovered a remarkable four-way split released in 2011 named La Maisniee Du Maufe – A Tribute To The Dark Ages. It includes songs by Darkenhold, Ossuaire, Ysengrin, and the band who created the next song in this collection, Aorlhac. They are from the commune of Aurillac in the Auvergne region of south-central France.
The entire split is marvelous, but this Aorlhac song in particular still blows me away. “Les Charognards Et La Catin” is glorious in many ways. It’s gloriously incendiary. It’s gloriously rifftastic (wait for the riff at 0:37 if you doubt me, and then listen how it morphs into something else equally glorious). It’s gloriously cruel, gloriously rampant in its soaring excess, gloriously clever in the way it interweaves different melodic textures… and man, when the headlong pace abates just a bit near the middle, and the lead guitar rears its head, it truly becomes epic.
And just when you think it can’t get any better, they bring in a wisp of an acoustic guitar as a prelude to launching an even more heart-rupturing lead-guitar crescendo that you could put in any song of any metal genre and make people raise their fists in the air. The vocals will also open the veins in your wrist.
As is obvious, I love the song, but part of the reason I’m including it here is because it gives me an excuse to pass the word that Aorlhac are very close to finishing the recording of a new album, which they’ve named L’esprit des vents.
GREAT VAST FOREST
You would never know from their music that Great Vast Forest are from Brazil. They have embraced a sound that is much more at home in western and central Europe. But inspiration knows no geographical boundaries. What really counts is the quality of the creation, and based on what I’m hearing now, Great Vast Forest have impressive talents.
The band’s origin dates back to 1995, but there has been a long silence since 2006. And indeed it appears from Metal Archives that although the vocalist Surgath has been in the band since the beginning, every other member of the current line-up has joined since the band’s last recording in 2006. Their second album, From the Dark Times to the Black Metal Legions, is now set for release on October 31.
“In the Deep Forests of Transylvania” is the first advance track from the album. I think there are vampires and werewolves feeding in the opening seconds. And after that the song becomes a thing of transfixing savagery and grandeur. It rips and blasts and scalds like boiling water thrown in your face, but the array of buzzing, emotionally intense riffs are wondrous. And the true criminality of the song is that it ends just shy of three minutes. It reaches rarified heights of tragic but defiant passion, and then it’s just gone. I wanted something more vast, something that would carry that incandescent feeling on forever.
The members of the French black metal band Hyrgal are guitarist/vocalist Clément Flandrois ( Pillars, Oorthian, ex-Svart Crown ), bassist Quentin Aberne ( Carchol, ex-Sun Preachers, ex-Marble Chariot ), and drummer Emmanuel Zuccaro (Oorthian, ex-Karne, ex-Sulphureign). Their new album Serpentine will be released by Naturmacht Productions on October 28.
Based on the two songs I’ve heard so far, which I’m sharing below, I’m very interested in it, and I suspect you will be, too.
“Mouroir” (released within the last couple of days) is the proverbial cyclone of sound, immensely powerful and dense, with an intense storm of dark, tormented melody and caustic abrasion that shakes you all the way through. The voice is a thing of terrible torment and heartless ferocity, and the light-speed drumwork is itself something you’ll need to go back and listen to a second time, because it changes in ways that you don’t expect. And then about halfway through, the music flips you on your head, drawing you into a ghost realm, or a place where vistas of nebulae in the void mesmerize the mind… which makes what comes after that even more shocking.
The other song, “Représailles“, was released in July. It deploys similar elements of stupefying violence and mystical sorcery, though in a different sequence. The vocals in this one burst into a torrent of mad proclamations, as if your life depended on hearing what he has to say, and solemn choral voices rise through the terrific tornado of sound. About four minutes in, things take yet another twist that gives the music an even more apocalyptically grand aura. But it really does sound like the end of all things in the finale, the sound of souls flaring like exploding stars in the void.
What a stunning pair of songs.
Evig Hat from Stavanger, Norway, is a stunningly prolific band. Their new album Utbyrd, which was released on September 26 by the band’s own label Bad Noise Records, is their 18th album released since 2014. But for me, it might as well be the first one, since I’ve heard none of the others.
And I will admit that I’m not going to do this album justice. I only want to comment on the first song, which should be enough to draw you into the album (I’m speaking of the the music… not what I’m about to write).
The sounds at the outset of “I Hedren Vandre“, the medieval lilt of mandolin and jaw harp, distinguish the song immediately, and the way that Evig Hat integrate those vibrant tones with the brick-cracking abrasion of the ensuing riffs and the turbid drums and the flesh-carving vocals is wondrous. Things get weird and dissonant, warping your hold on reality, but the song never loses its grip on the melody that launches the song, and makes it even more fiery and fierce when the solo comes in.
You’ll have to search far and wide to find music that more organically integrates the archaic and the modern than what Evig Hat does on this album. Every song is a marvelous surprise, a linking of arms between ancient instruments and 21st century tones in a way that works so very well. And even the modern music isn’t all one thing. There’s a vibrant corcnucopia of metal ranging across decades that the band’s mastermind Satan has pulled together and tethered to other traditions that are centuries old. Bravo! (And applause is also due to his drummer Harjar and lead guitarist Ole Sønstabø.)
I can’t think of very many bands who have attempted this particular kind of hybridization, and fewer still who have done it this well.
Eternal Hat? WTF LOLZ
Eternal Hat has med giggling non-stop, even though hat obviously translates into hate.
By the way great deathmetal by Ossuaire on the 4-way-split