SHADES OF BLACK (PART 2): SUMMONING, WENDING TIDE, ZEIT, OVER THE VOIDS, CALLIGRAM, BLOT & BOD
Welcome to Part 2 of this Sunday’s SHADES OF BLACK column, which I divided into two parts because of its considerable length (Part 1 can be found here). In this second installment you’ll find a mix of advance tracks from forthcoming albums as well as full releases.
I’ve already written two posts since August about Summoning’s new album and I didn’t even have any music to share, which I suppose is a sign of how hyped I’ve been about the prospect of something new from these Viennese wizards. I guess the third time is the charm, because now there finally is a song I can share. But first, allow me to excerpt a quote from the press announcement by Napalm Records — who will be releasing the album on January 5, 2018:
“Ever since the release of their debut album Lugburz (1995) SUMMONING have proven themselves to be the true guardians of Middle Earth!… Five years after Old Mornings Dawn, Protector and Silenius have turned over a new leaf in their bottomless saga. Over eight tracks, With Doom We Come indulges all things sublime and majestic, while grandiose keyboard backgrounds and mystical intros weave pure atmosphere contrasting with raw black metal.
“Opener ‘Tar-Calion‘ is a fitting ode to the last king of the island of Númenor, while ‘Carcharoth‘ tells the bloodthirsty tale of Arda’s mightiest wolf. Sagas and myths culled from J.R.R. Tolkien’s vast universe are the black blood that courses through SUMMONING‘s veins, and With Doom We Come the ultimate soundtrack to a fantastic journey!”
As you can see, With Doom We Come is the name of the album, and the single we now have is the similarly worded “With Doom I Come“, which arrived with its own cover art.
The stately chords and dappled keyboard notes that begin to loop in the song’s opening minutes quickly establish a mythic atmosphere, one damp with gloom yet glimmering with magic. The changing, vibrant voices and keyboard interludes in the song enhance both aspects of the music, and the massed voices near the end add a further feeling of solemn yet soaring and larger-than-life grandeur. And good luck trying to get this thing out of your head once you’ve heard it (you don’t have to be a Tolkien nerd like me to become entranced by it).
I have my Serbian acquaintance Milos to thank for recommending The Painter. That’s the name of the debut EP by a New Zealand project called Wending Tide. It will officially released by Naturmacht Productions on November 25, but the entire EP has recently become available for streaming on Bandcamp.
Four tracks are encompassed by The Painter. They are a prime example of a strain of atmospheric black metal alloyed with post-metal that is so bursting with intense feeling and so filled to the brim with glorious, panoramic melodies that the word which leaps to mind first is “transportive”. The music picks you off your feet, spins you into the sky, and carries you away on the jet-stream of its heart-repturing emotional power. The vocals are equally intense, bridging the forces of shattering anguish and explosive euphoria.
There are really only two places on the EP where the music’s tremendous fervor cools. The first is an unexpected and beautiful piano solo that ends the first track, and the second is the beguiling acoustic guitar melody that starts the final track. Having said that, I’ve found that “Cascading Autumn II” is my favorite of the four songs — though it’s a close call. It gets me in the feels like an arrow in the bullseye every damned time I hear it.
In June of this year we premiered the debut album (Konvergenz) by a band from Leipzig, Germany, named Zeit. As I wrote then:
“As before, Zeit’s music is an intertwining of genre ingredients, wrapped like blossoming thorns around a scaffolding of black metal, this time with elements of sludge, doom, post-metal, and a bit of punk (among others) in a vibrant and evocative mix. More reminiscent of such bands as Harakiri For the Sky or Falls of Rauros than anything in the second-wave black metal tradition, it’s nevertheless fiery in its intensity as well as moody and atmospheric, and guitarist Fur’s savage, strangulated goblin snarls are caustic enough to etch glass.
“The hallmarks of the album, and of each track, are the dynamism of the song-writing and the earnestness and memorability of the melodies. Marked by dynamics of rhythm, pacing, and mood, the music ebbs and flows seamlessly, moving through slow passages of grim and grieving melancholy, mid-paced hammering and jabbing, and full-on surges of incandescence. And maybe the most infectious song on an album filled with irresistible skull-infiltrators is an ominous piece of head-moving devil rock named ‘Boden’”.
This weekend I got a chance to revisit songs from Konvergenz, except this time as performed live. On October 15th, the band performed a live set that was broadcast on the “Nightfall” program of Leipzig-based Radio Blau. A videotape of the performance is on YouTube, and the band have also released the audio on Bandcamp. The Bandcamp release, Live Session at Radio Blau, includes the live recordings of five tracks from Konvergenz, one from the Gram EP, and one from the Trümmer EP — plus a brand new, as-yet-untitled song that seems destined for a new Zeit release sometime next year.
I’ve made clear how much I enjoy Zeit’s music, and it’s very nice to see and hear that they put on a good live show as well. It’s also very nice to hear a new song, especially such a powerful head-mover as this one — though it does catch fire and begin to rip and romp after its mid-paced, head-nodding, doom-dominant beginning.
OVER THE VOIDS
Over the Voids is a Polish one-man project whose self-titled debut album (recorded and mixed by M of Mgła) will be released by Nordvis on November 17. On Friday, Bardo Methodology premiered a track from the album named “Never Again Will They Hunger“, accompanied by an interview of the music’s creator (Michał) — who is also a member of Mgła’s live line-up.
As usual for Bardo Methodology, the interview is a most interesting read (which you can find here), and the song captured my interest as well. Michał explains in the interview that he was inspired to create the album by a nostalgia for certain classics of Scandinavian black metal, such as Ulver’s Bergtatt, Darkthrone’s Panzerfaust, Bathory’s Blood On Ice, and Satyricon’s The Shadowthrone. With respect to the song I’ve included below, I’ll quote this excerpt from the interview:
“To me, this album could be interpreted as spiritual preparation for dying. ‘Never again will they hunger…‘ is about the moment of death – it’s a positive song in my opinion and speaks of embracing mortality in silence and dignity, accepting your equality with everything that’s died in the past and all that shall die in the future.”
The pneumatic drive of the song is pretty irresistible, and the jagged edges on the harsh vocals are abrasive enough to leave scars (though the haunting and solemn clean vocals are also quite good), but it’s the entrancing effect of the cold, gliding guitar melodies and the bleak oppressiveness of the song’s slower movement in the second half that form the heart of its appeal. The music seeps under the skin, chills the blood, and moves the mind into visions of a desolate winter.
From Over the Voids, I’m making something of a sharp course change with this next song (and video). It comes from Askesis, the debut album of a genre-bending band named Calligram — whose members include Italian, Brazilian, and French nationals but who are based in London. It will be released on November 24 by Basick Records.
“Scourge” is a very dark but quite multi-faceted piece of music. On the one hand, it’s a bruising, battering, and jackhammering rush, with an incinerating vocal performance and piercing guitar parts that both seem right on the edge of violent derangement. On the other hand, it’s infiltrated with moody yet memorable melodies that have an almost spectral feeling about them. And on the third hand, it becomes slow, nightmarish, and hallucinatory… just before the band do their damnedest to pound the listener right into the ground near the end.
BLOT & BOD
We reach the end. If you’ve managed to stay with me through both parts of this week’s mammoth SHADES OF BLACK collection, thank you (and I’m sure the bands would thank you too).
To close, I’ve chosen the stream of a debut album named Ligæder, which was released by the Danish band Blot & Bod on October 16th. If you like what you hear, a digital version is available for download on Bandcamp, and a cassette tape can be ordered from Fallow Field.
I deeply regret that I ran out of time today before being able to write as much about Ligæder as I hoped I could. All I can do is provide the briefest of previews.
First, there is an introductory track at the beginning — do NOT miss it. Second, what comes after the introductory track is music that’s as harrowing as a slaughterhouse and as bleak as a sucking chest wound — and damned electrifying, too. Blot & Bod entwine ravaging black metal and skull-slugging punk (and a few more ingredients) and stitch their creations with blighted melodies and hooky riffs and rhythms that give the songs a memorable character. Did I mention the vocals are mainly terrifying?
And third, although this is a relatively new band, they’ve already proven they’re good songwriters and performers. Although everything has a connective tissue, the songs don’t all run together into an undifferentiated mass of murder and putrefaction. But yeah, it really is very fucking apocalyptic, mind-scarring music. That phrase “not for the faint of heart” comes to mind.
(Thanks again to Milos for linking me to this album.)
Summoning; I think I have my Album of the year for 2018 picked out.
I’ve been in love with Summoning since Minas Morgul and I am ecstatic that they are still making music.
You’ve summoned my own thoughts too. 🙂
And bad puns.
I can’t wait for that new Summoning either, the single is quite amazing, the percussions sound great and the album cover is glorious.
Over the Voids and Blot & Bod sound really good too.
That statement by Michat of Over The Voids is memorable: “To me, this album could be interpreted as a spiritual preparation for dying. ‘Never again will they hunger…‘ is about the moment of death – it’s a positive song in my opinion and speaks of embracing mortality in silence and dignity, accepting your equality with everything that’s died in the past and all that shall die in the future.” As i get older, and ever more despondent inside this fucked world, i think about death more and more. So that perspective on death is really helpful. Less afraid now. Great song. And this guy is in Mgla too? (I can hear Mgla clearly in this music.) I gonna check this out for sure. Thanks NCS for finding this gem.
My pleasure. And I have a similar reaction to his eloquent explanation of the song (I’m also far along in years, and also thinking much more about death than ever before, as it has claimed both parents, most aunts and uncles, all grandparents, and an ever-growing number of old friends).