I returned to Seattle last night after more than a week in Iceland, which was glorious in all sorts of ways, from the music at Oration Fest to our day trip on Sunday around the Golden Circle (which included stops at the Þingvellir National Park, the geothermal area in Haukadalur, the Kerið volcanic lake, and the stunning Gullfoss waterfall pictured above).
I’m trying to get back into the usual swing of things at NCS, but it hasn’t been an easy transition. I catch myself just staring into space and day-dreaming about the trip. The fact that metal didn’t obligingly stand still while I was gone makes the transition even tougher. I think it’s hardly even worth trying to catch up with all the new music that emerged since I left Seattle roughly 10 days ago. I decided it would be less stressful just to focus on some of the music I discovered this morning.
I’m leading off this collection with the song I heard most recently this morning out of all of these — a new track by the Mexican death metal band Zombiefication, who have been favorites of ours around here for many years. The new track is “Blood Falls“, and it comes from a new album entitled Below the Grief, which will be released later this year by Doomentia.
What a riotously exhilarating track this is! Jolting, galloping, and seething right from the start, it explodes with savage energy… and the vocals are wildly explosive as well. In the moments when the hard rush of energy retrenches, dismal, sinuous melodies surface, and following a bridge in the middle, the riff locks into a groove (later repeated) that will get your neck working like a piston.
In no time at all, I’ve become a glutton for the song, from the riveting drumwork to the firebrand vocals, from the changing array of infectious riffs to the bleak but alluring melodies. I somehow missed the fact that a new Zombiefication album would be headed our way this year, but that is very good news indeed.
To continue this round-up, I’ve chosen the two songs currently streaming from the forthcoming fourth album by the Italian band Deadly Carnage. Entitled Through the Void, Above the Suns, it will be released on March 30 by ATMF.
I will have much more to say about this multi-faceted album in the near future, and so I’ll save most of my thoughts until then. For now I’ll say only that I’ve found these two tracks enthralling. They’re emotionally powerful, mixing feelings of wrenching despair and wistful, heart-aching beauty. The vocals are equally multi-hued. At their zenith, the songs are soaring and grand. In less surging passages, the music becomes meditative and dreamlike, but veils of darkness cascade around the songs throughout.
The following song isn’t new, merely my discovery of it. What prompted that discovery was receiving a promo from Ván Records this morning for an album named Death Crown by a band from Austin, Texas named Škan.
We get so many advance promos of new releases that I don’t automatically download all of them, even when they come from a label as careful in their selections as Ván Records. But having heard a couple of the songs available through a private stream that seized me in a vice-like hold, I went in search of something already available for public streaming that I could play for you now. I found nothing available from the album (yet), but did find the video I’ve included below.
This is for a track called “The Eye“, which appeared on the first of two EPs that Škan released through Ván Records in boxed-set editions during 2016. And man, it’s a gripping track — a vibrant mixing of furious black metal savagery, thundering death metal power, and doom-like cadences and melodies. The video itself is also really well done, just as gripping to watch as the music is to hear.
(Yes, I’ve now downloaded the new album and look forward to hearing all of it.)
I learned of this next song through an e-mail from the band, the name of which is Exesa. This is a one-man black metal project from Warsaw, Poland, whose debut self-titled EP was released via Bandcamp on March 4. The EP consists of six tracks, and the first one set to stream at Bandcamp is the last of those, “VI“.
So far that’s the only track I’ve heard, but was so impressed with it that I made a place for it here. Mainly mid-paced in its movement and grim and grieving in its atmosphere, the song includes a kind of chiming, lilting guitar melody that proves to be very beguiling. Indeed, the whole song proves to be a sorcerous piece of dark art. (The vocals are downright bestial, too, providing one of many contrasts with that entrancing melody.)
I’m guessing that anyone who could make a song like “VI” has made others well worth hearing on this EP, and I plan to find out very soon.
Both this next track and the one that follows it in this post feature instruments other than guitar in leading roles, and I suppose that’s one reason why I chose to present them back-to-back, even though the two songs are far apart in genre terms.
The first of these is “The First and the Last Prayer” by the Russian band Dominia. The song originally appeared on the band’s last album, Stabat Mater (2017), but I’ve been reminded of it through this new video, which was directed, produced, and edited by Dominia lead vocalist and bassist Anton Rosa. The lead instrument in this song is the violin, beautifully and soulfully performed (as always) by Dmitry “Casper” Rishko.
The song as a whole, from Rosa’s anguished, gothic vocals to the deep, moaning riffs, from the darting lead guitar accents to the head-locking work of the rhythm section, burrows deeper and deeper into your mind as the song moves forward… and I found it stuck there long after the song ended.
In other news, Dominia are at work on a new album — which will include a guest vocal appearance by Sakis from Rotting Christ.
For the final song in this collection I’ve chosen one where the lead instrument is the saxophone… and although my memory is hardly razor-sharp, it’s the first death metal band I can remember hearing where the saxophone performs that function, rather than being used merely as an accent.
The band here is Wound Collector (from Belgium), and the song — presented through a just-released performance video — is “Divine Music, Unholy Flesh“. It will appear on the band’s debut album Eternal Bloodcult, which is set for release by Profane Records on May 24.
The saxophone lends a freakish, discordant quality to this battering, barbaric, turbocharged death metal rush. And when the band lock into a repeating groove, it becomes the underpinning for a hell of a jazz-influenced saxophone solo that should put a big smile on your face… unless you’re one of those poor souls that has no use for the instrument. I should add that all of the performers seem on top of their game, and the song turns out to be a catchy beast despite its absorbing intricacies (or perhaps because of them).
The video, I might add, is lots of fun to watch, too.