SEEN AND HEARD: THE KONSORTIUM, VARATHRON, DEATHWARDS, FISTULA, HOMEWRECKER, THE EVER LIVING, MUN
Here we are just past hump day for this week, and I have a big mountainous hump of music to choose from for this round-up. Much has been left on the cutting room floor, but this particular collection of recent songs and videos by seven bands felt like a good musical trip, one with changing moods and varied forms of intensity, and of course I quite enjoyed all of it. If you find just one thing that gets you excited, then my time here will have been well spent.
“Who Is The Konsortium?” That was the title of a post I wrote back in May of 2011 after coming across a striking track named “Lik Ulven” by a mysterious Norwegian group whose line-up included guitarist Teloch (from Mayhem and Nigingr) but was otherwise masked and shrouded in secrecy. I still didn’t know who was in the band when I reviewed their self-titled debut album the following month, but the music spoke for itself in quite charismatic tones.
Roughly a year later, still masked, The Konsortium played Inferno Fest in Oslo, and yesterday I enjoyed re-reading Andy Synn’s comments about their performance:
“The Konsortium, playing the smaller stage, were a distinctly odd proposition. Avant-garde blackened thrash with a taste for weird rhythms, off-time black metal barks, and drawled, punk-y vocal refrains. The almost entirely anonymous group performed the whole set clad in featureless white masks, staying largely static while grinding out riff after riff of freaky black-metal-influenced thrash-prog, their faceless drummer laying down some heavy back beats with unflinching accuracy. Their enigmatic singer performed the entire set with what appeared to be a bible in his hand, leafing through the pages in an almost laconic manner, finally setting the book ablaze to bring the set to its climax.”
In the years that followed, The Konsortium were largely invisible — no new music was forthcoming — but they began publicly showing signs of life last year, prompting my friend Andy to name their expected forthcoming album as one of his most anticipated releases this year (and it has been one of mine as well).
Now the secrecy has been peeled away and left behind. We know now (because Agonia Records has publicly disclosed) that The Konsortium (at least in its current incarnation) consists of the afore-mentioned Teloch on bass; drummer Dirge Rep (Orcustus, ex-Enslaved, ex-Aura Noir), “founder and mastermind” Fredrik G. Fugelli (vocals, guitars), and guitarists T. Jacobsen and B. Waldejer. Their new album is Rogaland, named for a county in western Norway, and it will be released by Agonia on June 1st in Europe and June 8th in North America.
Following all this news, the band revealed a song yesterday (and a video by Stein Erik Aulie of Cicknave Media) named “Arv“, which includes guest vocals by Cpt. Estrella Grasa (Nidingr). It’s a hard-driving, head-hammering song, but one that’s technically impressive, especially in the execution of intricate rhythmic interplay. The interplay between the raw, braying vocals and the soaring, melodic clean ones is also interesting (and effective), and the riffs and leads are fiery, wild, pleasingly strange, and thoroughly invigorating. Would you like a face-melting solo as well? Well then, you’re in luck there too.
Forgive me for introducing the next song with something I’ve written before, back in January to be precise:
“Anyone who has even a thimbleful of knowledge about Greek black metal probably has the name Varathron in that thimble. Their origins date back to 1988. Along with Rotting Christ and Necromantia, they probably have more to do with the foundation of Greek black metal traditions than any other group. And this year they will deliver their sixth studio album, Patriarch of Evil, with cover art by the wondrous Juanjo Castellano.
“The band have described the album as ‘one of the finest pieces Varathron has ever unleashed’”, ‘a true heavy, blasphemous and unique masterpiece with Necroabyssious delivering his best performance ever’. We have become used to such self-professed accolades by metal bands in advance of new releases, and have been taught the hard way to become skeptical of them. Time will tell, of course, but I am hopeful that every word will prove true.”
Back in January we had only a teaser of the new music, which I found very promising, and very sinister and sorcerous, too. Now we have two complete songs, one of which arrived with a music video: “Into the Absurd” and “Ouroboros Dweller (The Dweller of Barathrum)“.
The former is a diabolical, blood-rushing, communicably infectious thrasher with arcane melodic accents, while the latter is a more elaborate and more mystical track, more reverential in its pacing (eventually interspersed with eruptions of fiery, jolting riffs) and more ominous, magisterial, and exotic in its atmosphere and melodies. In both, the vocals are indeed frighteningly impressive.
Patriarch of Evil will also be released by Agonia Records, on April 27th.
Thanks to a Bandcamp alert I learned that on June 8th Invictus Productions will be releasing the debut demo of a band named Deathwards, described on the Bandcamp page as follows:
“DEATHWARDS formed in 2017, comprising veterans of the metal underground, and within five months had recorded their very first demo, Towards Death. As aptly titled as their moniker, DEATHWARDS’ Towards Death is a timeless, trend-bucking slab of thrashing Metal of Death. Across the five furious-yet-finessed songs here, the band conjoin the primal essence of ’80s Slayer, Slaughter Lord, Van Drunen-era Pestilence, and Voivod’s early work, but tweak it with a more technical aspect ala Sindrome, Sadus, and Obliveon, etc.
“It’s a classic-yet-fresh blend between influences and authentic ideas, instead of mere copycat-ism or rote rehashing of older, better ideas. Altogether, including a reverential cover of Infernal Majesty’s “Overlord,” DEATHWARDS‘ opening salvo is as furious as it is catchy, iron-clad in its approach yet bespeaking more development to come.”
I quote all that, when I usually don’t just repeat PR material, because it does provide an accurate tease for the music, at least insofar as what’s revealed by the one song that’s now streaming: “Epitaph From the Underworld“.
It’s an ugly beast, with instrumental tones abrasive enough to sandpaper mountain crags down to smooth, shiny paperweights, and vocals that are just as rough and raw, and rampantly unhinged to boot. As big and vicious as this beast is, it’s also fleet of foot, fast enough to run its listeners to ground and trample them into the dirt. Blaring melodic notes shoot off like crazed warning sirens as this brute bears down on you, the soloing is superheated, and fans of songs that allow bassists to take center stage will get some extra enjoyment from the track.
This is pure hellfire in musical form, hot enough to elevate the temperature of your blood. It makes me slobber with hunger for more.
I haven’t found any disclosure of who is in Deathwards, though I’m certainly curious. The Bandcamp page for Towards Death also tells us that the band are at work on a debut album that will also be released by Invictus.
So bludgeoning… so bruising… so damned bleak! That was my first impression of the Fistula track “Contusion” that was made the subject of a new music video, which premiered at Revolver last week. The track appears as Fistula’s side of a split with Come To Grief that was released on 7″ vinyl by Patac Records in December.
Perhaps needless to say, since this is Fistula, the track is a dismal crusher, with vocals that claw at your sanity. Until about the 3:30 mark, it’s a recipe for a slow headbang and a compulsive body lurch, and then you’d better be ready to move more violently. The song will give your psyche a contusion, and leave your heaving head and torso wrung out and limp.
P.S. There are some images in the video that might not be safe for your workplace. And apart from the band’s performance, there’s some nudity too.
P.P.S. Fistula will be touring with Come To Grief. The schedule is below the video and the stream of the split — which I’m including so you can also listen to Come To Grief’s stupefyingly heavy track.
FISTULA / COME TO GRIEF TOUR
5/01/2018 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA
5/02/2018 Strange Matter – Richmond, VA w/ Cough
5/03/2018 Maywood Tavern – Raleigh, NC
5/04/2018 529 Bar – Atlanta, GA
5/05/2018 Vino’s – Little Rock, AR
5/06/2018 Fubar – St. Louis, MO
5/07/2018 Rock Island Brewing Co. – Rock Island, IL w/ No Funeral
5/08/2018 Eagles 34 – Minneapolis, MN w/ No Funeral
5/09/2018 Reggie’s – Chicago, IL w/ No Funeral
5/10/2018 Black Circle Brewing Co. – Indianapolis, IN
5/11/2018 Mohawk Place – Buffalo, NY
5/12/2018 The Irish Wolf Pub – Scranton, PA
5/13/2018 Geno’s Rock Club – Portland, ME
6/16/2018 Austin Terror Fest – Austin. TX w/ Exhorder, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Buzzov-en, Come To Grief, more
I was drawn to Homewrecker’s new music not only by the strength of the band’s track on the 2016 split with Gatecreeper, Outer Heaven, and Scorched (which was all I’d heard of their music up to now), but also by Paolo Girardi’s artwork for their new album, Hell Is Here Now, which will be released by Good Fight Music on April 27th.
The first discharge from that album is “Fade To Oblivion“. The song takes a while to really get in gear. You think it’s in gear right from the get-go, but they’re just playing with you. They’ve got some other tricks up their sleeve, some of them capable of shaking listeners like rag dolls. When the song really does lock in, it’s a seriously vicious mauler… but the truth is that the song never completely locks into any one thing for long at a time. It just stitches together changing forms of sonic violence, all of them transfixing.
My only complaint about the track is that I wish it were longer. They could have made entire songs out of most of these segments, and I wanted more repetition, strange as that might sound. On the other hand, there are 11 more tracks on the album. Collectively, they might satiate the thirst for punishment that “Fade To Oblivion” ignites.
THE EVER LIVING
The Ever Living are a London-based quartet whose debut album Herephemine will be released on May 4 by Chromism Records, who recommends the album to fans of Cult of Luna and Isis. Tempted by that recommendation, and by PR references to the band’s alleged combination of “melody and dissonance, chilling screams and lush atmospherics, intensity and space”, I decided to check out their recent video for a track off the album named “Interrotron” — and found the song compelling.
Whereas Homewrecker might not repeat things enough, The Ever Living make effective use of repetition. In this tormented, gut-punching track, they deploy slow, huge, granite-heavy bass and guitar riffs and a repeating keyboard motif to powerfully good effect. The tortured vocals underscore the music’s grim and hopeless intensity, while the drum rhythms are potent body-shakers.
CD & 2XLP: https://goo.gl/TrzpcA
Sadly, I have to bring this round-up to a halt. To do that, I decided to turn toward something that’s more mind-bending and transportive than everything else preceding it.
This is an album named Opia released on March 18 by the Polish band MuN. It was recommended to me by someone (Michal) who knows the band, sat in on their rehearsals, and has seen them play live
So far, I’ve only listened to the opening track, “Oracle’s“, and the very long closing track, “Apathya“. I will make time for the rest of the album eventually, based on the strong impressions left by those two pieces, but felt it best to say something now rather than risk time passing without any mention of Opia.
MuN harness killer rhythmic progressions anchored by craggy, pavement-cracking bass lines and head-snapping drum work, thick fuzzed-out riffs, trippy reverberating vocals that wail and soar, harsh and harrowing growls, and flickering and swirling guitar harmonies that don’t seem tethered to this earth. The music is equal parts a psychedelic trip inside your head and a cosmic voyage out into the space lanes, swooping into gravity wells and surging out again.
Because it’s a long jam , “Apathya” is more deeply immersive in its effect, and it’s also more dramatically varied. By turns it’s pulverizing and destructive, tension-ratcheting and disturbing, alien and disorienting, and kaleidoscopic in it changing array of vivid colors, some of which are definitely not found in nature. In fact, the whole song is hallucinatory… yet no normal, physically healthy human being could sit still while in the grip of its convulsive grooves. Especially for a 13-minute track, I found it massively infectious, and the time seemed to fly by.
I knew you’d like MuN! Thank you, Islander!
Thank you very much for introducing me to their excellent music.
UROGENITAL FISTULA >>>>>>>>>>
That DEATHWARDS track was really REALLY good!
Wish I could hear more…
You and me both. Very anxious to hear more.
Interesting as it is. Poland seems to have a kickass stoner metal scene. What with Sunnata, Dopelord and Spaceslug. Mun is fun.