You can go long or you can go short. You can pound your musical erogenous zones or you can shrivel up and go dry from something far outside the rim of your bullseye. You can fragment your mind or feel it coalescing in configurations that become receivers of new visions. Every day there are new opportunities.
I’m speaking of metal, of course. I got doses of all those experiences this week, but bit off almost more than I could chew with this week’s flood of premieres, and got squeezed by my fucking day job on top of that, so I failed to compile a round-up until now, and hence it’s a big one.
Catching up is an impossibility, of course, and this time it happens that my choices (all the way up to the last one) are mainly indulgences in a particular mood rather than my usual effort to throw darts all over the metal dartboard. The one thing I haven’t done is incorporate black metal, because I have tomorrow’s SHADES OF BLACK column for that.
We’ve been writing about this Greek band for years, beginning with their first single in 2013 and including their second one in 2015, their debut EP released the same year (and reviewed by DGR here), their amazing single and video from last year, “The Rain”, the first single (“Seeds of Deception”0 from their debut album, The Untamed Wilderness, which will be released by Lifeforce Records on November 24th, and the second one (“Shade of the Sun”). And now there’s a third, accompanied by a video.
The video for “Dark Earth” is quite well done, intertwining visions of the glories, violence, and solitude of nature with film of the band throwing themselves into the performance of the song, and of a questing man who may be a metaphor for us all. Like the imagery, the song itself is glorious, violent, and beautiful, but also wrapped in shades of sorrow and anguish befitting the darkness of its lyrics.
The Untamed Wilderness will be released on CD (November 24) and double-LP (on January 12).
We started singing the praises of Bloodshot Dawn’s last album, 2014’s Demons, since the first advance track appeared, culminating in an enthusiastic review of the album by TheMadIsraeli, who called it “the pinnacle of what melodic death metal could still strive to be, but seems largely unwilling to be at the moment”.
Not surprisingly, we’re been very interested to hear some music from the band’s new album, Reanimation, especially since only one person (vocalist/guitarist Josh McMorran) remains from the line-up that recorded Demons. The current line-up now also includes Canadian guitarist Morgan Reid, drummer James Stewart (also of Vader and Divine Chaos), and bass player Giacomo Gastaldi.
A few days ago we got that first taste of the new album, a song called “Survival Evolved“, which was presented through a lyric video. It thunders and hammers and jolts, but the real grabber is the little flickering, swirling melody that surfaces early and resurfaces repeatedly. The sublime melodic soloing in the song, which occupies a significant portion of its length, is another clear strength.
Reanimation includes guest appearances by Jeff Loomis (Arch Enemy, Nevermore), Paul Wardingham, Ken Sorceron (Abigail Williams, The Faceless), and Mendel Bij De Leij (Aborted). It will be released by Hostile Media on January 12.
And this makes three bands in a row who became favorites around the putrid NCS compound based on their past releases, and who now have a new one. In this case the band is Arizona’s Gatecreeper, whose debut album Sonoran Depravaton was a highlight of 2016 and the source of a song (“Craving Flesh”) that I put on our list of that year’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs.
The new Gatecreeper emission is a two-song EP named Sweltering Madness, which was released yesterday on vinyl by Closed Casket Activities and is also now on Bandcamp. It was mixed by Kurt Ballou with artwork by Yuri Kahan.
The title track proves to be part doom-drenched crusher and part rampaging slasher, with that massive Swe-death-style guitar tone giving the music monstrous power, a piston-driven snare rhythm lighting it up like lightning, and a pile-driving segment near the end that almost guarantees neck sprain. The song’s bleak, oozing solo (which erupts in a fit of shrieking) adds a memorable melodic accent.
“Mastery of Power” harnesses similar ingredients to similar good effect, meshing together dismal, stomping brutality and maniacal, earth-shaking obliteration in a way that sets fire to the blood. The grooves are staggeringly heavy, the buzzing riffs palpably pestilential, the roaring vocals convincingly heartless.
Okay, this makes four bands in a row who are already favorites of mine based on their past work and now have new music headed our way.
This Chicago band’s last album was 2013’s Evolve, about which I vomited many words in my review, but still failed to capture the breathtaking and breathless variety of music in that album. In a nutshell, I loved it. And their new album will be released by Cimmerian Shade.
In the run-up to the release, Of Wolves have been releasing video teasers, two of which I’ve written about previously, and now I’m disclosing yet another one — the fifth one overall — for the first time. Based on the video, the lyrical theme of this excerpt seems to pertain to brainwashing and propaganda, which certainly seems like a timely subject in our current milieu. The music is as hard to pin down in genre terms as most things this band have created, and it only continues to heighten my interest in what this album will bring us.
A release date hasn’t been set yet, nor do we yet have a title, track list, or album art to share… but I’m reminding myself that patience is a virtue.
Of Wolves on Bandcamp:
Of Wolves on Facebook:
Okay, yes, this makes five bands in a row that I’ve written about before, though it’s been a few years. Decaying’s excellent last album, One To Conquer, was released in 2014. F.D.A. Records has now announced that their new one, To Cross the Line, will be released on January 19, with cover art created by the italian artist Roberto Toderico (Sinister, Pestilence, Mefisto, etc.). Along with this info, F.D.A. released the title track as a digital single.
Decaying’s music has been recommended for fans of Asphyx, Bolt Thrower, and Hail of Bullets — which is a good and accurate recommendation. This new song is mainly a turbocharged rush powered by highly infectious riffing that’s tailor-made for headbanging and features a vocal tandem of bestial, serrated roars and raw howls. In the song’s back-end, when the music stops charging ahead like a big demolition machine, it becomes a methodical piledriver laced with a grim and ghoulish melody, the sound of death and suppurating decay.
To Cross the Line will be available on CD, LP, and digitally.
Andy Synn reviewed this Sacramento band’s debut album, Funeral Winds, for us in February of this year, and they’ve been a favorite of my colleague DGR, who is a fellow citizen of Sacramento. It was he who told me about this next video, which was released two days ago to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Funeral Winds’ release. The song featured in the video, which was filmed and directed by James Thornton at the dearly departed Starlite and was premiered by Capital Chaos TV, is “Fleshwounds“.
As the band’s John Abernathy says, “Lyrically the song is a big fuck you to any outside negativity that comes from doing music – especially extreme music – such as online trolls, critics, judgement from family, etc. At the end of the day ’tis just a fleshwound!'”
As Andy noted in his review, there’s a similarity in this electrifying music to The Black Dahlia Murder, but hardly a slavish cloning. It features impressive technicality, though not in the sense of pointless excess, and an appealing (and sometimes seductively jazzy) melodicism to go along with all the explosively surging energy. A good reminder of what a good album Funeral Winds is. The video is fun to watch, too.
At last we come to a band not previously covered at NCS. VoidCeremony is a California duo with two demos (2014’s Dystheism and 2015’s Cyclical Descent of Causality) on their resume. On February 16th, Blood Harvest Records will release a new EP by the band named Foul Origins of Humanity.
The EP consists of three tracks, and one of them — “Through the Woe of the Dismal Pandemonium” — was debuted by Blood Harvest yesterday. It proves to be a fast-paced onslaught that mixes ingredients from black and death metal, but it’s not at all the kind of murky war metal that such genre amalgams sometimes produce.
This is intricate, exuberant, technically jaw-dropping music with rapid changes of tempo, and produced with the kind of clarity that allows the listener to fully appreciate the way these complex moving parts all fit together in what proves to be a kaleidoscopic, mind-bending, adrenaline-fueling trip.
Foul Origins of Humanity will be released on digipack CD and 12″ vinyl formats, as well as digitally.
This is a last-minute addition to the post — so last-minute that I’ve barely begun to listen to the music. But I obviously decided to include it anyway.
This is a new three-song EP by the great Norwegian band Ulver, the name of which is Sic Transit Gloria Mundi. It was just released today, and videos have been provided for two of the songs. I’ll quote what appears on Ulver’s Bandcamp page for the EP:
The sad remains from our Caesarean banquet. Two songs we kind of left on the drawing board but resumed work on this summer. Additionally, a cover of a childhood favourite – one we actually started some twelve–thirteen years ago – from the time we first started thinking about making “pop” music. This EP was finalized in our new studio in the old town of Oslo in September, and sent off to Youth’s (Martin Glover and Michael Rendall) in London in October, for imperial sound quality. Mastered this week by The Bricoleur.
Cover shows Francis Bacon’s Study After Velásquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X (1953), used with kind permission of Des Moines Art Center. Design by Paschalis Zervas, +wolframgrafik.
Thanks to David Hall and Vivek Venkatesh for their wonderful work on videos to accompany these two new songs, using footage from our concert at Labirinto della Masone, Italy, June 3rd. Also in order is a big shout out to Birk Nygaard, BN Visuals, for his general laser dementia and documenting this special occasion. Birk will join us on the road this November, and we hope to see some of you out there. Also with us, as usual, best FOH in the West, Chris Fullard.
A physical version is likely later. There’s simply no time to prepare one right now, we have a tour to get ready for. But please keep an eye on the House of Mythology.
The Sic Transit Gloria Mundi EP is available from us on Bandcamp now. Spotify, iTunes, etc. in a few weeks or so, depending on industry bureaucracy. Please spread and share at will, we don’t have the patience to wait for the music machine hubbub. This is the age of the internet, innit?
Thank you for listening.