SEEN AND HEARD (PART 1): PORTAL, VALDUR, WALTER FORNICATION, DÖDSRIT, TERRA MATER
I started writing this round-up of new music two days ago, but was unable to finish it. It is now somewhat dated. But I’ve resisted the impulse to make it dramatically longer by adding everything I’ve discovered in the intervening days — I only added two new things. But since the collection has now ballooned up to music from 10 bands, I divided it into two parts
I really don’t believe that there is a higher or lower power organizing the events of my life, but I can understand why other people do believe that. Sometimes the shit rains down so hard and chokes the throat so completely that I think to myself, “This can’t possibly be a matter of chance!” And sometimes everything flows so shiny and chrome that I think I have done something right and some force recognizes that and bestows a blessed reward. Take last night, for example.
In making my usual rounds, in which I surf the effluent of the internet and our own in-box looking for musical revelations, I came across the following gems gleaming among the sewage. And it’s all pretty damned filthy, yet still gleaming, in the way that the best filth shines with a preternatural vibrancy.
And while I don’t believe in higher or lower powers, I do appreciate synchronicity, and so it proved to be that almost everything here was a form of death metal (though my later additions diluted the death a bit), and the excursion began and ended with scarecrows, which seemed so fitting less than one week before Halloween.
I do think that the popularity of extreme metal has shifted. I have the intuition, without any kind of scientific survey evidence to back it, that more people are more receptive to musical terrorism than ever before. How else do you explain the fact that a mere wisp of music from the next album by Portal went from zero YouTube views to almost 13,500 in roughly48 hours? I wasn’t keeping careful track of Portal streams in 2003 when Seepia came out, or in 2007 when Outre’ appeared, but I’m not that senile. Something has changed significantly.
The further proof of this shift is that Profound Lore didn’t do one damned thing to promote this clip (as far as I could tell) other than post a link to it on Facebook, without comment, and it still exploded. Which I guess is pretty good proof that PL can smell the putrefaction in the wind, and it’s so strong that they know it will corrupt the mind and the will, as well as the nostrils: They know that so many of us will welcome our new Portal overlord on bended knee.
The first thought I have when I think of Portal is their performance at Maryland Deathfest in 2015, the last set of the festival, when they refused to stop playing even when the house lights came up and the PA system was shut down. Somewhere in the early stages of that hour of horror I looked over my shoulder, eyes wide, at the shocked visage of my friend Joseph Schafer, and remarked, “You look like someone who’s just seen a baby ejected through the windshield of a car.” Or that might have happened during Knelt Rote’s performance right before Portal. The two of them back-to-back produced PTSD.
Anyway, I guess there’s a new Portal album coming. I don’t know any other details. But I will observe that the disturbing images accompanying the following snippet of music includes scarecrows… as well as crows… as well as the photos of dead children… and other grotesqueries. And I’ll be coming back to scarecrows at the end of the second part of this post.
If you don’t know about Valdur (but I’m guessing most of you do), you need to get acquainted, and you’re about to have a timely meeting.
Roughly two years after their last album, Pathetic Scum, this group from Mammoth Lakes, California, are returning with a fifth full-length, the name of which is Divine Cessation, with cover art by Farronloathing, It’s due for release on December 1 via Bloody Mountain Records, and the title track is the next item in today’s collection.
This song is just goddamned immense in every respect, from the roaring, reverberating horror of the vocals to the cyclonic shroud of distorted, pestilential riffing, from the merciless (and utterly magnetic) battering of the drums to the deeply ominous groaning melody that heaves through the tumult like the movement of a leviathan. The lead guitar ejects tendrils of music that sound like alien emanations from the void, adding to the frightening, frigid, otherworldly atmosphere of this assault. I felt like one of those tiny, terrified humans on the album’s cover, quaking before the presence of a mountainous apocalyptic entity.
Yeah, it’s an odd name, and only slightly less odd even when you know that this band is the solo project of a Dutch man named Walter. There was a demo released last year, and last month Walter Fornication released a substantial album named On A Journey Through Time and Space.
I haven’t heard the entire album, but I decided I ought to include this next video here. It’s for a track from the album named “History Misanthropy” and it appeared just a few days ago.
The sound of this song is harrowing, corrosive, and thoroughly demented, It resembles the rampage of a massive demolition machine smashing and chewing up derelict buildings at high speed, leaving rubble and choking clouds of toxic fumes in its wake. Meanwhile, Walter spins out twisted arpeggios that sound queasy and freakish, and ejects a burst of equally demented, white-hot soloing, while growling the lyrics in the manner of a cross-bred hybrid between grizzly bear and demon.
Am I going to listen to the rest of the album as soon as I can? You’re damned right I am.
Less than two weeks ago Bloodsoaked Records and Alerta Antifascista Records released the self-titled debut album of a Swedish band named Dödsrit, which appears to be the solo work of Christoffer Öster (ex-Totem Skin). There’s a full stream available on the Bandcamp pages of both labels.
As often happens in these round-ups, I’m failing to give this release the full lavishing of praise that it deserves, hoping instead that a paltry few words will be enough to induce you to explore the stream. In genre terms, the music could be considered a hybrid of crust and black metal, but there are other ingredients as well. The album displays considerable dynamism on multiple levels — in tempo, in mood, in its changing melodic accents. It hits tremendously hard, with a massive, HM-2-like sound in the riffs, gut-rumbling bass tones, and drumwork so powerful that it threatens to rupture internal organs, but it is also beguiling in its expressions of loss and grief.
There is raw fury and wrenching anguish in the music (thanks in part to the incinerating intensity of the shrieked vocals), but also thoroughly bleak, dramatic passages that are solemn, stately, even ethereal (and which manifest the influence of post-metal as well as DSBM). For music that’s so dark and so often savagely destructive, the melancholy melodies can become entrancing. But the trances don’t overstay their welcome… there’s almost always a flood of adrenaline and a bout of bludgeoning and bruising right around the corner.
In a word, this is excellent.
Holocene Extinction I is a single 17-minute-long song released earlier this month by a band from the vicinity of Brisbane, Australia, named Terra Mater. They describe their music as melodic crust. They consist of four men and one woman, who plays the violin as well as contributing to the vocals.
And it is the sorrowing sound of the violin, and the slow, somber notes of an acoustic guitar, that you hear at the very beginning of this expansive song. It’s a beautiful opening segment, and the current of mourning that it introduces persists even when the music detonates in a surge of battering drums and jolting riffs. As the vocalist shrieks with skin-flaying intensity, the music becomes a punk-fueled romp… yet the band continually pull back, letting their bloodied knuckles (and the listener’s hammered head) heal, with additional offerings of vibrant violin melody (both moody and dancing) and/or the weight of sludgy, staggering, doom-influenced dirges.
Holocene Extinction I is obviously an ambitious undertaking, but a beautifully realized one. Those 17 minutes passed before I knew it, and the first thing I wanted to do after it ended was listen again.
I really liked the Dödsrit album. I kind of wish it was 5 minutes or so longer but the songs are simply great, especially “The Void”.
That’s my favorite track too. They’re all very strong but that one really shows the great breadth of the band’s talents.
That artwork for Portal: another entry in the Year of the Big Stupid Fish or Manatee Looking Thing Artwork. See also: Squalus, Cryostasium, Ursinne, etc.
🙂 I guess I’m unsure whether that’s any part of the actual album artwork. Time will tell.
I’m so excited for a new Portal album! Vexovoid went from being a creepy oddity to one of my all time favorite death metal albums, and one that I still listen to regularly. While I understand why some Portal fans view that album as a more easily digested, mainstream version of the Portal sound, it’s the one that hooked me in and led me to their outstanding earlier albums. I love it, and I can’t wait to hear what new audio horror they’ve concocted. 🙂
Vexovoid is what hooked me too. 🙂
I think Vexovoid sounds best and captures the depths, better than the other recordings. I love it.
Great selection here. Really liked Valdur, Dodsrit, and Terra Mater. Dodsrit reminded me of Winterfylleth. (you can guess the musical style by the misty forest album cover!) Valdur is wonderfully heavy as granite. And Terra Mater, well, not what I expected from the initial somber violin notes. It becomes raging crust, then later integrates more violin. Very good. And they have a great song title “Holocene extinction”. Lets hope so (for humans).