We’re rushing toward the end of the year like an out-of-control car speeding toward a precipice. And I find myself getting a similar panicked feeling, as if it will be a world-ending event for a metal writer and I only have four weeks to finish spouting off about 2017 releases, a task made even more daunting by the fact that I’m leaving on a 12-day vacation tomorrow (as explained here), and by the prospect of all the LISTMANIA stuff we will be doing between now and December 31 as well.
Of course, this is a completely irrational feeling. There’s no law which prevents us from continuing to write about 2017 releases after New Year’s Day, and no doubt we will. Nevertheless, I’m still feeling a feverish compulsion to give as much attention as I can to recent releases (and a few forthcoming ones) before “time runs out”. So I’ve crammed music from five bands into this post, without nearly enough time to say what I want about them, and I also have some hopes of finishing a SHADES OF BLACK post for tomorrow before beginning my 12-day hiatus. Don’t know if that will work out or not….
Thanks to a message from Conor O., and then a subsequent e-mail from the Dutch label Hammerheart Records, I learned that after a 22-year hiatus, Inquisitor have returned with a new album, and it’s an explosive resurrection for sure.
Originally formed in 1991, Inquisitor released their debut album, Walpurgis – Sabbath of Lust, in 1996… and then sunk beneath the waves. Hammerheart reissued that debut album a few years ago, and then delivered the second full-length just yesterday. Its name is Stigmata Me, I’m In Misery. I, however, am not in misery as a result of this album — quite the opposite.
After a gorgeous introduction (a classical suite that’s just out of reach of my memory), the album’s opening track “Castigate Into Divine Apostle” provides a prime example of what you’re in for — absolute ravening turbocharged insanity. Every musician goes flat-out from the start, pulling back on the throttle slightly after that blistering start, and the screaming vocals are stunningly vicious (and also insane). But while you’re trying to avoid an adrenaline-induced stroke, you can also marvel at the band’s skill at crafting a hooky piece of music, as well as one that succeeds in dropping jaws because of the performers’ instrumental skills.
And there’s much, much more where that came from. The whole album is a nearly breathless rocket-ride of wild, incendiary death/thrash, loaded with instrumental acrobatics, deftly placed tempo changes, and irresistible melodic hooks. It includes flame-throwing covers of tracks by Merciless and Sabbath, and more solid-gold riffs than the law allows. Close your eyes and throw a dart at the track list — you can’t go wrong wherever it lands.
I love this album with the heat of a thousand suns. Perhaps because it scorches with the heat of a thousand suns.
A great and loyal friend of our site, Derek Neibarger, has just released a new fourth album in his guise as Godless Angel. Entitled They Lurk, it’s a name-your-price download at Bandcamp and is the successor to Year One (2013), Dying Dead Undead Unholy (a 2014 EP), Harvester of Shadows (2015) (released by Inverse Records), and The Conjuring of Four (2016), all of which are also available on Bandcamp.
It has been fun (and interesting) to listen to Godless Angel’s progression since that first album, and this new one is yet another step ahead.
The album is organized like a novella, with a Prologue at the beginning, four “Chapters” that come next, and an Epilogue at the end. The song that’s set to stream first on the Bandcamp player, “The Abduction“, is actually the album’s third track, and the second Chapter. It’s launched by a fast, militaristic drum cadence, but right from the start it also treats your ears to an incandescent guitar solo, and there’s a lot more fiery, head-swirling soloing yet to come, along with a strong dose of full-throttle rhythmic pummeling and a savage, teeth-bared vocal attack.
Near the middle, however, the song detours from its eerie yet brutal ravaging with a softer, mesmerizing interlude made of acoustic picking and flickerings of ethereal melody. When the energy level surges again, there are still more swirling, soaring starbursts of guitar pyrotechnics to come.
If you then pull yourself away from the temptation to continue being carried away by the album’s progression from that point forward and go back to the beginning, the Prologue (“The Arrival“) proves to be an effective foreshadowing of what’s to come, even though it begins at a more subdued pace than the rampaging juggernaut speed that’s dominant across most of the album. From there, the music is in line with “The Abduction” — a combination of hard-charging, head-battering drum rhythms; layers of scintillating, technically impressive guitar reverberations that soar, swoop, and sear, with a shine that generates a supernatural aura; and macabre vocal abominations.
After that interlude in “The Abduction“, you don’t really get another break in the action until the beginning of Chapter Four (“The Sacrifice“), but that slow, doom-like, acoustic-accented intro doesn’t last long before you’re pulled into the fray and the phosphorescent fireworks again. The Epilogue (“The Survivor“) has a haunted beginning, as well as moaning chords, a wailing lead guitar, and spoken words that could themselves come from the throat of a wraith (but are instead the contributions of Derek’s wife Chrissy).
The entire album indeed has an overarching atmosphere of horror and supernatural possession, even though it is usually surging and savaging at the pace of death/thrash. It proves to be a weird and wondrous ride.
Many of you (including long-time NCS visitors) will be well familiar with the name Demonstealer, which is the nom de guerre of Sahil Makhija (Demonic Resurrection, Reptilian Death) as well as the name of his solo music project. He has been teasing a new Demonstealer album (to be called The Last Reptilian Warrior) for some time now, but yesterday we finally got to hear a complete song — “The Grand Collapse of Humanity“.
Based on advance reports, it has been disclosed that the new album will include guest appearances by members of such bands as Aborted, SepticFlesh, Benighted, De Profundis, Necrophagist, and Nervecell, and this just-released song includes session drums by Kévin Paradis (Benighted’s live drummer, among many other accomplishments). As you will see, he’s incredible.
The song is presented in the form of a video that shows Paradis going at 270 bpm and Sahil Makhija usually flying at the same tempo. Predictably, the results are electrifying, yet the song proves to be a multifaceted one. When Sahil breaks from his monstrous roaring and into a clean vocal chorus, it made me think of Anaal Nathrakh… and the mesmerizing melody that swirls through that segment proved to be equally arresting.
The Last Reptilian Warrior is projected for release in February 2018 and can be pre-ordered via the link below. Further singles will be released between now and then, and the pre-order will allow you to download each single as it’s released.
Explosive death/thrashing energy has been a common feature of the music featured in my first three selections for this post, but now we’re about to make a dramatic musical course change, and I’m indebted to starkweather for pointing me to it.
This is a two-song EP released in September by a Brooklyn group named Ghostbound (vocalist/guitarist Alec A. Head and bassist Noah Shaul), who were aided on the EP by talented session musicians on drums (David Richman), cello (Valeriya Sholokhova), and violin (Natalia Barnaby Steinbach). It seems that the EP is an extract from an as-yet-unreleased album, All Is Phantom.
“Roof and Wall” caught me by surprise, even with starkweather’s brief preview words to prepare me for the surprise. It combines dark, racing black metal riffing, furiously driving drumwork, nimble bass lines — and slowly gliding and soaring clean vocals in a gothic style (along with a cacophony of howling and muttering voices that surface at one point). What a beguiling song it is.
“Night Time Drowning” is maybe even more beguiling, and even more haunting, though it has a soaring crescendo with different emotional evocations. The vibrato vocals are again clean, and again very good, and the ghostly reverberations of the lead guitar and the strings (together with the lyrics) put a chill on the skin. It’s a head-nodding, melodically memorable song, flavored with elements of post-punk and deftly constructed with ebbing and flowing energies.
Four of the five selections of music in this post came my way through personal tips from friends, and this is the last of those. In this case, I give thanks to Seattle musician Ryan Schutte (Lb!).
This album, Fourth, was released in early October by the Roman band Lento. It is an instrumental-only album. As Ryan remarked when he sent me the link, “It’s like if Meshuggah wrote a sludge record”.
While you’re pondering that possibility, let me add that the album twists and turns among stark contrasts, with little allegiance to genre conventions but with a coherent vision.
On one end of the spectrum of Lento’s ingredients, the music is titanically heavy and remorselessly destructive, incorporating jolting grooves deep enough to reach the mantle, bursts of riffing that bring cyclones to mind, deranged, mercurial guitar flurries and eruptions of dissonance, and fanfares of melody that seem both majestic and thermonuclear.
On the other end, the music is convincingly unearthly. There’s something unearthly about everything present here, but that feeling that you’ve left the world we know is most pronounced in the third, fifth, seventh, and ninth tracks, which rely to a greater extent than the other songs on a kind of cosmic ambient sound — though those tracks are intensely gripping and, at their core, disturbing as well as hallucinatory. To be clear, those tracks are NOT filler.
To get a full picture of Lento’s very dark vision, and to experience the full impact of their conception, set aside the time to listen from beginning to end. I think you’ll be glad you did.