SEEN AND HEARD ON A SATURDAY: CRUCIAMENTUM, KAUNIS KUOLEMATON, RABID DOGS
I have a big bulging list of new music I’d like to recommend, but rather than try to stitch them all together, which would probably take all day, I just picked one new EP and two singles. As usual, the selection of these three bands off the list was pretty random. But as usual, I like the music a lot and I wanted to provide some variety, and as you’ll discover, there sure as hell is some variety here.
I wrote no fewer than four posts about Cruciamentum’s 2015 debut album Charnel Passages, including one in which I picked a song from the album called “Piety Carved From Flesh” for my list of 2015’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. Cruciamentum have now returned with a new EP called Paradise Envenomed, which was released digitally via Bandcamp and other platforms (and on 7″ vinyl by Profound Lore) just two days ago.
The EP includes the title track, which was the first song written and recorded with their new lineup (drummer J.F. (Sheidim) and bassist D.R. (Vacivus, Bone Tomb) joined the band since the release of the debut album), and the second is a cover of Absu’s “Descent To Acheron”.
“Paradise Envenomed” is a dynamic track, with (among other things) alterations in pacing and in types of vocal harshness — but it’s drenched in darkness throughout, and the deep, drilling, central riff oozes poison and pain. Destructive chaos ensues when the band accelerate in the song’s mid-section and lace the rampaging with eerie wisps of guitar melody, and there’s a fiery yet skin-shivering solo at the finale.
“Descent To Acheron” originally appeared on Absu’s 1993 debut album Barathrum: V.I.T.R.I.O.L., and if you’ve heard it, you’ll understand why it was a natural choice for a Cruciamentum cover. The original is absolutely grim and pestilential, though bursting at the seams with an electric drum performance and grandiose vocal madness. Cruciamentum largely stay faithful to the original, and they too add vibrancy to this plague-bearing piece of morbidity with a jaw-dropping drum performance and utterly maniacal vocals.
Both songs are well worth having, and mark the very welcome return of a very talented band.
Paradise Envenomed was recorded and mixed by Greg Chandler at Priory Studios. The cover art was once again created by Daniel Desecrator.
This next song is an Exception to Our Rule (the one in the site’s title), and what a glorious one it is. Released on October 13 along with a music video, it’s a single called “Palava Maa” (Burning Ground) by the Finnish band Kaunis Kuolematon, of whom I’ve become a devoted fan.
This song is quite different from what I’ve heard from the band in the past (their usual style could be considered a form of doom-influenced melodic death metal). It’s not what anyone would consider a metal song, instead more of a ballad tinged with sorrow, but it’s absolutely beautiful, beginning with the melancholy melody performed in the introduction with acoustic guitar, violin, and cello (the latter two instruments played by Raymond Cox and Laura Bucht). And it turns out that the music here is performed entirely with acoustic instrumentation. Mikko Heikkilä’s pure singing of the Finnish lyrics is wonderful, and when he sends his voice soaring, it gives me goose-bumps.
Unlike the first two bands in this little Saturday collection, I hadn’t encountered Rabid Dogs before listening to this next track. They are based in Atessa, Italy, and this song — “The Lodge” — comes from their third album, Italian Mysteries, which will be released by Eclectic Productions in the coming months (I haven’t seen a precise release date).
Stylistically, the song is a traveler that goes places you might not expect from the way it begins. It begins as a brawling, battering headbanger with a beefy, catchy-as hell riff, a hammering groove, and raw, blood-red vocals — and then it switches gears and romps at high speed, with the vocalist dropping his voice into a hoarse bray… and then things really change.
The music drops into a dismal, spine-shaking, doom-soaked crawl, eventually accented by a long, bluesy, narcotic guitar solo matched against a head-snapping snare beat and a tumbling tom progression. When the band kick into a higher gear again, the closing riff is another sure-fire headbang trigger.
In a nutshell, the song is a real genre-bender — part grindcore, part punk, part sludge, part stoner, and part good old rock ‘n’ roll — and it all works really well.