The year is supposed to be barreling toward the end, with a deep breath and a gasping look backward, but it’s obvious that the life pulse of metal takes no breaks. If you spend too much time reflecting on the last 11 months, you will inevitably miss a lot in the 5 weeks yet to come. I’m going to have to take that break, but not quite yet.
I intended to post this particular collection yesterday in its usual Sunday spot, but couldn’t finish it before departing for some Thanksgiving weekend festivities with friends. Since then it has grown a bit, but could have become much longer.
Yesterday the brilliant Austrian black metal band Abigor announced that their new album, Höllenzwang – Chronicles of Perdition, has been sent off to the pressing plant. They made clear that the release will not be preceded by “any fancy youtube video, tons of merch or other promotion campaigns”. But the band did provide a few insights into the music, as well as a stream of song excerpts, which I’ve included below.
Here are Abigor’s words about the album:
The only noteworthy information to pass on is the underlying musical / technical concept of the album: there is no – not one single – additional guitar track recorded. No additional melody, no solo, no doubletracks. Instrumentally, we limited ourselves to record a rather natural and direct album consisting of 2 guitars, a bass and “blastbeat” free drums. To remember the original idea of early 90s Black Metal which always meant both – TRADITION and at the same time INNOVATION. The past is alive, the black flame burns bright – all hail darkness and evil!
The five-minute excerpt you can hear below is indeed true to these words — a furious and palpable evil seems to emanate from every note, every fractured voice, every drum strike, every fevered frenzy and reptilian slithering of the guitars.
For further info about this highly anticipated release, watch the spaces linked below:
In April of this year Sliptrick Records released an album named The Art of Human Decadence by the Italian black metal duo Obscura Amentia. I managed to overlook the album, and can’t comment on it as a whole, but I thought I would include the following remarks about it from the band before turning to a new video they’ve just released:
“[Man] chases the benefits of progress but at the same time, he is suffocated by it. Away from the embrace of Nature, he contemplates his malaise, his seed. This seed digs and grows in the bowels of the human race, bringing it to a silent despair. Then it blooms arriving at the peak of apathy; all because Man has forgotten the his quiet footsteps, no longer feeling his roots, no longer sharing his sighs with the waves of the ocean. This is the core theme of the album, Man’s whole experience, inspired by the literature of the last centuries, plus feelings and excerpts of our own lives.”
The video is for the album’s title track. Again in the words of the band, it “tells about the journey of a single person and, at the same time, of the whole of mankind: a mental and physical evolution from innocence, purity and life (visually expressed through the use of light colours and lush nature) to corruption, artifice, doubt, and then in the end, death.”
The song’s principal melody represents an interesting array of emotional shades. There is tension and gloom in the music, and glimpses of beauty and hope as well as misery and derangement. It’s an intense experience, made even more so by the barbarism of the harsh vocals, and those melodies are damned hard to forget (though I’m certainly not trying to forget them).
In February of this year Black Plague Records released a split by the Sacramento band Defecrator and Nevada’s Ritual Genocide, entitled Anti-Human Deathcult / Death Exalted. I had written previously about Defecrator’s 2015 demo (Tales of Defecration) and their 2016 EP (Satanic Matyrdom), but managed to overlook the split. Fortunately, Defecrator uploaded their three tracks from the split to Bandcamp last Friday, and I learned of that thanks to a Bandcamp e-mail alert.
Of their previous EP, I wrote:
“This is a massive, bruising, tyrannical death march. There’s plenty of explosive savagery in the music, combined with horrific vocals, but the band also succeed in constructing dynamic songs (with an emphasis on songs) that stomp, crawl, and thrash, while preserving a thoroughly pestilential atmosphere throughout.”
I could easily say the same thing about these three songs, all of which hit with megawatt power and extreme ferocity but also display an astute attention to songcraft. Their morbid and infernally majestic melodies get stuck in the head, and the rhythm section not only doles out immense, skull-cracking punishment but also executes razor-sharp course changes that keep you on the edge of your seat. As before, the vocals are terrifying.
Pittsburgh’s Taphos Nomos is another band I’ve been following for several years and have written about before, most recently in a review and stream premiere of their album-length split with Iceland’s Urðun in March of this year. Among many other words, I wrote these about the Taphos Nomos side of that split:
“The music in these three songs is definitely morbid and horrific death metal, but as brutal, as deranged, and as vicious as it is, the music is also mind-bending, with a degree of complexity, unpredictability, and technical proficiency that keeps the listener rooted in place. In part because it’s so intricate and so well off the usual beaten paths, it’s also the kind of music you want to listen to repeatedly — not just for the adrenaline rush but so you also have a better chance of deciphering what the hell you just heard”.
And with that prelude, I now want to highlight a new Taphos Nomos three-track EP named Mortales Delendi Sunt that was recorded live in a rehearsal setting and distributed on tape during the band’s recent east coast tour with Tomb Mold. I haven’t heard all three tracks, just the one that was recently uploaded to Soundcloud, which I’ve embedded below. That track is “Disarticulated Remains“.
It’s a fascinating song, one that’s full of twists and turns, racing in an electrifying and eviscerating fury, lurching with cold, malevolent intent, and darting about in displays of unsettling insanity. There’s a solo in the song that at first sounds almost like the dismal moaning and wailing of a saxophone and then simply goes berserk, as well as truly monstrous vocals.
I’m not sure whether the EP will be made avalable on Bandcamp, but the tapes remaining from the tour can be ordered from Our Ancient Future.
On December 1, the Polish black metal band Cień will release their second album, Fate, through the Old Temple label, and it became available for listening on Bandcamp last week. I was tempted to listen to it after I saw the cover art by Bart Kurzok.
It’s a substantial album, roughly 50 minutes in length, and most of the songs are themselves longer than average but don’t feel at all excessive. I’ve only just begun to explore it, and so am not in a position to give it anything like a thorough “review”. But from what I’ve heard, it definitely warrants in-depth exploration.
Produced with a clear and powerful sound, the compositions are intricate and richly nuanced, displaying a progressive instrumental bent and elaborations on the main melodic themes that become quite intriguing. The changing energies, rhythmic patterns, and emotional colors of the music prove to be another significant attraction, as the band move among feelings of ominous and oppressive gloom, shattering pain, and glorious expressions of defiance. The harsh vocals are expressive and provide a fine match for the music’s changing moods.
The music rips, rocks, and crawls… it’s brooding and anguished… and there are surprises waiting around each twist and turn (don’t miss the bass solo in “Highest of Humanity”, for example, or the beautifully moody acoustic picking that guides “Okowy Szalenstwa” to a close).
The Finnish band Väki define themsleves as “a musical act embodying the profound manifestations of death, impurity and chaos, dedicated to capture the darkests aspects of reality”, examining “aspects of our existence that revolve around suffering, depression, hate and melancholy”.
The band’s two-song demo, Kirous, was digitally self-released in mid-October, but it didn’t take long for Redefining Darkness Records to become enamored of it, and that label has now reissued the demo in the form of a limited edition cassette that features individually silk-screened packaging created by Primeval Vision. As a result of that announcement, I was drawn to the music, which I’d previously missed.
The two songs here are both ice-cold in their displays of grim destructiveness AND fierce and fiery. The strains of dissonance that infect the melodies often give the music an eerie, supernatural cast. The harsh vocals are harrowing in the unchained intensity of their agony and rage, although the clean vocals that appear in the soaring, majestic finale of “Kuoleman Sakeet” are just as intense in their own way.
And yes, I did say “soaring and majestic”. Both of these songs take you to many different places before they’re finished — there is bleak grandeur as well as crushing desolation and blinding ferocity in these compositions, and that’s part of what makes them so powerfully attractive. I should also mention that the intricacy and frequent changes that occur in the music are matched by the obvious technical skill of the performers.
This EP leaves me hungry for more Väki, and hopefully the wait for more won’t be too long.
To close this day-late installment of SHADES OF BLACK I have a digital single named “Follow” released in August by a duo from Troy, New York, who call themselves Diplegia. This single comes on the heels of their 2017 EP Squander, and is the first excerpt from a forthcoming album that’s now in production.
I’ve already forgotten how I found the single, most likely through a post about it by a Facebook friend, but it didn’t take long for me to become enthralled by it.
It’s an intense, full-throttle rush for the first couple of minutes, with the kind of cauterizing vocal shrieking that characterizes DSBM and a gripping, sorrowful melody that courses through the tumult. After that powerful start, there’s a beautiful acoustic interlude with a still-sad but introspective feeling, followed by a head-hammering groove that’s infiltrated by a comparatively slow and soft clean guitar motif.
These movements between thundering and meditative passages continue, and as they do, this emotionally evocative song only tightens its grip.