SEEN AND HEARD: CODE, AOSOTH, DEGIAL, PILLARS, BOUND TO PREVAIL, GRITTER, CHALK HANDS, UNTIL THE SKY DIES
It occurred to me that the tag I came up with for these round-ups of new tracks — “Random Fucking Music” — could be misconstrued. The idea wasn’t that this would be random music you could actually fuck to, although I guess you could fuck to some of it if you were like certain members of the non-human animal kingdom who pound away in a frenzy for a few minutes (or less) and then go off to find more food or take a shit, leaving the female of the species looking either confused or bored and wondering, “Is it in yet?”
Yeah, don’t remind me, I know human males do that too. I guess maybe an album-length funeral doom track could provide some reciprocal coital benefits, but I assume most people like to shift into a higher gear at some point, except for those who pass out somewhere along the way. I’ve never seen a sloth have sex. Might be worth investigating.
Anyway, sex wasn’t the point of the tag. Back in the dark ages of the site about 8 years ago I just assumed that you had to use the words “fuck”, “fucked”, “fucking”, and other permutations on the verb “to fuck” in order to be metal, so I used them everywhere I could, including in this tag. Who knew what the future would bring? (And if you haven’t been paying attention, I’ve just used permutations of that verb 8 times and we haven’t even reached the music yet.)
There’s another ambiguity in that stupid tag. It’s only random in the sense that on any given day I could write about a dozen or more new songs that are worth hearing. But on the other hand the selections aren’t entirely random, because I pick what I like, and hope most of you will like, and on most days when I do this — today being one of them — I make an effort to ensure that no two songs are in the same style.
You could probably also fuck to some of this (that makes 9 times) if you put it on a loop, though I’m offering no money-back guarantees on that, and I definitely don’t want to hear your stories if that works out for you.
< code >
To begin, I have a track called “Plot of Skinned Heavens” from the excellent UK avant-garde black metal band < code >. It appears on their new EP, Under the Subgleam, which is set for release on November 3 by Apocalyptic Witchcraft.
The band comment: “This track feels to us like the missing link between the first two < code > albums. It combines the pitch black darkness of Nouveau Gloaming and the angular attack of Resplendent Grotesque. After the bleak, anaesthetic wash of our last album Mut, we felt the need to reconnect with the bleak yet ornate darkness of our earlier releases and we feel that ‘Plot of Skinned Heavens‘ captures this perfectly.”
I like that phrase “bleak yet ornate darkness”, in part because it suits the song. Bleak it definitely is. The voice alone is decimating… though it changes from the sounds of excruciating agony to wailing clean song, just as the music alternates between boiling delirium and episodes of swirling, pulsating, and soulful melody, underpinned by jarring and jolting drumwork. There’s a hallucinatory quality to this frequently changing, genre-blending music, but it’s physically arresting as well.
The eagerly anticipated new album by Aosoth is V: The Inside Scriptures. The first single from that album, “Her Feet Upon The Earth, Blooming The Fruits Of Blood“, provided beautifully dissonant devastation, a vivid summoning of mind-mangling chaos and blood-chilling peril, with the atmosphere of a sacred rite within a sepulcher of flame. And now there’s a second single, “Silver Dagger and the Breathless Smile“.
The song is deeply unsettling, full of sensations of unearthly peril and arcane mystery, and wholly transfixing. It ratchets tension like the coiling of a winding spring, but relieves the tension only through passages of doom-cloaked sorrow, cold desolation, and blood-chilling euphoria. You my wonder where the hell you’ve been after the song ends, and what spells have been implanted in your mind.
The album will be released by Agonia Records on November 17.
1. A Heart To Judge
2. Her Feet Upon The Earth, Blooming The Fruits Of Blood
3. The Inside Scriptures
4. Premises Of A Miracle
5. Contaminating All Tongues
6. Silver Dagger And The Breathless Smile
Most of us would spot the handiwork of Paolo Girardi in an instant, and it is indeed another of his distinctive paintings that adorns to the new album by the Swedish blasphemers in Degial. Given the strength of their first two albums, Death’s Striking Wings and Savage Mutiny, I’ve had high hopes for this new one, Predator Reign, and early indications are that those hopes will be fulfilled.
Released with a music video, the song below is “Thousand Spears Impale“. Rocket-fast, chaotic, and barbarous, it’s a technically accomplished, death-thrashing rush that gets its hooks in your head at the same time as it mainlines a big dose of adrenaline straight into the blood-stream. And the soloing is flat-out wild.
Predator Reign will be released by Sepulchral Voice Records on November 24.
Musical devastation comes in many forms, as the French band Pillars demonstrate through their new album Pyres and Gallows, which Seeing Red Records will release on November 17. For example, consider the first advance track from the album, “Green Magik Ritual“.
The song is a doom crusher, which happens to feature trippy clean vocals and thick, mind-warping riffs, but while there’s a heavy element of psychedelia in the wailing vocals, the melodies, and the squalling solo work, this isn’t pretty music. The massive guitar distortion gives it a toxic, corrosive sound, the drumwork feels like slugs to the solar plexus, and the overall atmosphere of the song is one of encroaching horror and unavoidable agony. I bet your head will move to it, too.
BOUND TO PREVAIL
I rarely have time to check out all the music that comes our way on a given day via e-mails from bands, but when I saw that Bound To Prevail hail from Malta, I made time to sample their debut EP, Omen of Iniquity, and then stayed engaged for the full ride.
I wish I had time to write a decent review of the whole thing, but have to limit myself to one song — and it’s the closer, “Irreverent Progeny“. There are elements of brutal death metal in the song (including the gruesome guttural vocals), but this generally abrasive and highly destructive turbocharged torrent of sound not only includes some punishing grooves but it’s also technically accomplished, rhythmically dynamic, and laced with filaments of seductive (though queasy) melody as well as white-hot soloing.
A merciless, morbid, and monstrous piece of music, to be sure, and there’s more where that came from in the other songs on this eye-opening debut.
Omen of Iniquity features cover art by Etienne Bugeja, and it was released in August.
Gritter from Richmond, Virginia, are another band whose new release I decided to check out based on an e-mail they sent us recently. They’ve been around for almost a decade, with two previous albums on their resume. The new one, Nobody Cares, is set for a December 1 release, but the whole album recently become available for streaming on Bandcamp.
The members of Gritter apparently come from different musical backgrounds and collectively claim influences from across a divergent spectrum that includes ’90s punk/hardcore, prog, metal, and stoner rock. They also name-check the sonds of such bands as Down, Lamb of God, Clutch, and Mastodon.
When I first decided to explore their music, they had only one song up for public streaming, a track called “Diamonds For Teeth“, and that’s the one I’m focusing on for this mid-week playlist, though I’ve installed the full album stream below as well.
The buzzing, warping guitar melody in “Diamonds For Teeth” got its hooks buried in my skull from the very beginning, and the vocals are so crazed and violent that it felt like they had their teeth in my throat, too. This is a thoroughly bleak and bone-battering piece but one that’s full of attractions (including the electrifying drumwork), and it compels movement as you hear it. Damned infectious, too.
And for the third selection in a row I’m again including some music from a band who recently wrote to us. This one is a relatively new group from Brighton, England, named Chalk Hands. In August they released a debut EP called Burrows & Other Hideouts via Future Void Records.
The two songs on the EP combine elements of screamo and post-rock, creating dramatic contrasts in mood and energy. There are some soaring, though heart-aching melodies within these well-written, well-performed songs, as well as soft passages of glimmering, ethereal, wistful beauty, but they equally contain explosive surges of hard-hitting, head-battering force driven by a rhythm section that fires on all cylinders, the intensity amplified by the tortured, scalding sound of the vocals. I found it very easy to get caught up and carried away by both songs.
UNTIL THE SKY DIES
To provide one last (and very big) twist along the musical path of this particular round-up, I picked a song by Until the Sky Dies from their debut full-length The Year Zero Blueprint.
This band is a duo consisting of Clint Listing (Grizzle, Long Winters Stare, As All Die, Broken Hands For Brilliant Minds, Black Depths Grey Waves), who handles vocals, guitars, bass, and effects, and Ryan Michalski (Cosmic Punch), who performed all the lead guitar parts as well as drums. Because I’m unfamiliar with the other projects of these two men, I didn’t know what to expect here.
The eight songs on the album are titled with Roman numerals. “I” is on Bandcamp; “VII” is currently streaming at Svbterranean (here).
I’ve never learned any form of ballroom dancing, but if there’s a school in Hell that teaches how to waltz, I can imagine that “I” would be the music they use for instructional purposes. I found myself wanting to swing and sway as I heard it, though the deep, craggy horror of the main vocals and the gritty distortion in the music made me think I probably shouldn’t listen to the song in a pitch-black room where I couldn’t see what might be coming up behind me. There’s something kind of unsettling about the second voice heard on the song, too (which reminded me a bit of Neil Young).
“VII” isn’t as lively at first. It has a more doomed and apocalyptic atmosphere in its opening segment, with that craggy voice elevating in range, but no less capable of scarring the mind. And then the song starts to rock, but it still sounds like something unearthed from a deviant record collection in Hell.
I have no idea what to call this highly idiosyncratic and unpredictable music, nor have I heard anything quite like it. But I quite like it.
The Year Zero Blueprint will be released by Cimmerian Shade Recordings on November 3.
Chalk Hands is really good.