(This is the second part of DGR’s round-up of selected new songs and videos that appeared over the last couple of weeks. You can find Part 1 here.)
Inferi – Behold The Bearer Of Light
Right now, the hyperspeed tech-death, melodic-death, black-death, everything-kitchen-sink-and-broken-down-freezer-in-the-backyard metal crew of Inferi are out on the road, touring with Aethere, Alterbeast, and Grindmother as part of Alterbeast’s Feast album release tour. It’s been four years since the group’s last incredibly packed album The Path Of Apotheosis, but those moments of silence shall soon wane as the group have an upcoming April 21st release in the form of Revenant.
They celebrated the news with a track premiere over at MetalSucks for the song “Behold The Bearer Of Light“, which also features Trevor Strnad of Black Dahlia Murder fame — further hastening us toward some sort of Strnad-singularity in which all albums before, currently, and in the future not yet imagined will include some sort of appearance from the famed and incredibly prolific vocalist.
In Inferi’s case, his appearance adds one more layer to an already structurally stacked tower of a song, picking up right where Path Of Apotheosis left off. In what will likely be an echo of the forthcoming review, “Behold The Bearer Of Light” covers a lot of ground and does so at an increasingly fast pace. The fact that the song is close to seven minutes long isn’t shocking, as one of Inferi’s musical marks is to write these adventurously long songs, many of them as mini-concept epics. “Behold The Bearer Of Light” casts the band as Luciferian-storytellers in that regard.
What is interesting is that throughout “Behold”, the band actually subdue themselves for a few seconds and allow room to breathe, giving the song a more melodic focus in between its multi-storied structure of high-speed death metal. Revenant will be an interesting one to dive into, especially if it is anything like its earlier siblings. It’s a good thing we have a month and a half to prep for that undertaking.
Alkaloid – Azagthoth
The Dark Fortress/ex-Obscura tech-death collective of Alkaloid finally revealed to the world some music from their upcoming release Liquid Anatomy, due out in May via Season Of Mist. Metal Injection were given the honors of premiering the new song, “Azagthoth” to the world.
“Azagthoth” has the Alkaloid crew continuing their trek into the realms of all things bizarre and off-kilter, continually contorting their explorative blend of death metal and prog into newer and weirder shapes. “Azagthoth” is a strange collection of parts and pieces, all jammed together into a machine that somehow still manages to move.
Given the absolutely massive body of work credited to the members that Alkaloid comprises, it’s good to see that the band make no compromises in favor of convention. If they want to fill the song with a billion different guitar demonstrations, then they absolutely will; in between all the screeching guitars to close out its more percussive segments, “Azagthoth” gets up to a range of six or seven different guitar solos, not to count the multitude of differing tempos and rhythmic grooves that the group yank the listener into throughout the five-and-a-half minutes you get with them.
Liquid Anatomy looks to match the group’s previous release, The Malkuth Grimoire, in terms of run-time, clearing the hour-mark easily, although Liquid Anatomy comes in at eight songs, which one can only imagine will be stuffed full of things to discover.
May 18th is still a ways off — the month as a whole is already looking pretty stacked. release-wise — and Alkaloid have just made it so that the wait will seem even longer.
Vale Of Pnath – Unburied
We’re a little under two years since the release of Vale Of Pnath’s second album, II, and the last week of February saw the Colorado death metal group premiere a music video for II’s mammoth closing song “Unburied” over at MetalSucks, who have struck some sort of Satanic agreement to line up a whole string of premieres from the hyper-speed modern tech-death underground recently.
One of the first things that stands out in the live-shot video, featuring the group jammed onto the stages of several venues, is a couple of new faces, reflecting the band’s recently shifting array of musicians in its lineup, with a healthy majority of those having found their way into the Pnath-fold (or pit, should we choose to remain on brand) in 2017.
“Unburied” closed out an album that was already chock full of a wall of music with seven-and-a-half minutes of gleeful “fuck everything” songwriting, throwing in even more guitar- and blast-work than one could’ve expected. “Unburied” — like much of II — is a showpiece on top of being a quick-moving death metal song, so if you’re a fan of watching guys get some serious mileage across a fretboard and destroy a drumkit (like I am), then watching this lineup of Vale of Pnath tear through “Unburied” is a fun way to spend some time.
II was a vastly underrated album that had the unfortunate fate of coming out in 2016, a year that was somehow a torrential downpour of heavy metal releases, so much so that year-end lists were a bloodbath with little commonality between them, everyone seeming to have twenty or thirty of their own discs to unite around. If you haven’t gotten the chance to dive into the group’s second release you can do so here.
Ihsahn – Arcana Imperii
One of the best realizations I ever came to in regard to Ihsahn’s solo work over the years is that I don’t have to like a lot of it and that fact isn’t going to bother the master musician one bit. He’s going to remain adventurous and strange, giving in fully to progressive-rock weirdness whenever he wants, building avante-garde structures that are as alien as one might expect from a musician for whom creative boundaries were dismissed long ago.
When he wants to be heavy, that’s great, but there’s rarely a song these days where Ihsahn remains “heavy” throughout; instead, he pokes and prods at his own heavy metal creations with the glee of a mad scientist. It’s because of that recognizable no-compromises approach that I still will give a new Ihsahn release a glance each day, even when I know there’s a fifty-fifty shot that my caveman brain will either enjoy it or give it a bemused “well, at least he’s keeping it weird” shrug.
The latest adventure in that saga comes courtesy of MetalHammer and their premiere of his new song “Arcana Imperii” from his forthcoming May 4th release, AMR, via Candlelight Records. The video focuses largely on the three members now making up Ihsahn’s solo band — the master musician himself, a beautiful dog, and a sick-ass chair — in a room bathed in red light, interspersed with plenty of landscape porn that will forever make me rue the day we turn this planet into a nuclear hellscape.
The song itself is built around a massive and bizarre guitar tone bent into a grooving and off-kilter riff. It’s the focal point of the heavier segments of the song, showing how “Arcana Imperii” took one idea and let it grow from there. There’s plenty of clean vocals throughout, too, but “Arcana” is for the most part a heavier song, and that main groove — alien as it is — keeps finding ways to worm into one’s skull.