I’m deep in the heart of Texas today for my fucking day-job, and will be deep in the heart of Philadelphia tomorrow for the same reason, but in the meantime I’ve managed to cobble together some streams of new music from the black realms, and some thoughts about each selection.
It may be my imagination, but it seems that more and more bands who have a devout following are choosing to spring their new releases without much warning or PR assistance. That’s what Leviathan did one week ago, with the release of Unfailing Fall Into Naught through Ascension Monuments Media.
This new album is a compilation of tracks previously released in other formats. It includes Leviathan’s contributions to a 2004 split CD with Xasthur (released by Profound Lore Records) and a 2006 split with Sapthuran (released by Battle Kommand Records, and then later released by Southern Lord in 2007 as a stand-alone Leviathan EP called The Blind Wound).
All of the tracks, amounting to about 47 minutes of music, were remastered by Ken Sorceron (Abigail Williams, Chrome Waves, ex-The Faceless). The artwork above is temporary; the final piece is being completed by Wrest (and when it’s revealed, I’ll substitute it).
I’m not going to attempt to write a thorough review; the main point here is simply to urge you to listen to the stream below.
The rhythmic drives of the songs display a visceral, punishing physicality; the warping riffs and reptilian leads often radiate a sense of alien origin, but are strangely beguiling as well as disorienting; you can feel the big, bass lines (sometimes craggy in tone, sometimes warm) deep down in your bones; the vocals are frighteningly intense.
Bleak grandeur and somber beauty emerge from the music; it also channels dread, delirium, and pain. It’s capable of moving your head like a pumping piston, making you feel like you’ve been punched in the gut, and sending your mind off into perilous dreamscapes. It rocks out; it rips; it hypnotizes; it bares its soul; it attempts to devour yours. In a word, this compilation is amazing.
The record will be released on CD, tape, and vinyl. Pre-order through the Bandcamp link below:
The music of Deiphago fuels a certain kind of rhetoric among fans of bestial black metal, an inflamed praise of the band’s take-no-prisoners assault, of their slaughter-the-weak ferocity, of their split-the-skulls-and-drink-blood-from-them-like-chalices vehemence, and of their single-minded dedication to uncaged violence.
And if you listen to their newest three-track demo, you can understand these reactions. The music channels the flames of chaos in an amazingly electrifying way. It’s so torrentially fast and so vicious that it creates the effect of a vacuum, sucking the breath from your lungs. The sound is like what you might imagine hearing if transported without warning inside a cyclone, with the charred and broken remnants of human habitation and sundered flesh spinning around you, and rocketing upward in a spiraling gale of abrasive sound.
The thing is, as stunningly destructive and as totally devoted to mayhem as the music is, it’s also wildly ingenious. It twists and turns, starts and stops, jolts and jars, in electrifying fashion, with extravagant displays of instrumental excess executed with razor-sharp precision and bleeding-edge technical proficiency.
The freakish soloing is so explosive all by itself, and so unpredictable, that it’s capable of popping your eyes open even though you don’t think they can open any wider after you’ve just been propelled through a war-zone gauntlet made of plundering low-end obliteration, groaning and howling riffs, and voracious vocal savagery.
If it’s possible for bestial black/death to be “avant grade”, this is it. It truly is head-spinning in its intricacy, and machine-precise in the interlocking of its parts, and the production is just clear enough that you can detect that. Yet this neuron-twisting, brain-warping brilliance all works in a way that somehow never detracts from the stunningly barbaric main line of the attack. There aren’t many bands who can pull this off (or even try to), but Deiphago do.
This 2018 demo, The Devil Is My Name, is a precursor to the band’s forthcoming fifth album, I, The Devil, but it seems from Deiphago’s statements that these particular recordings won’t be reproduced in exactly the same way on the album (at a minimum, the vocals are exclusive to this demo). On the other hand, I don’t know how you can get it; the pre-orders sold out in one day.
I have one track stream for you below.
1. Chaos Protocols
2. Neuro-Satanic Circuit
3. Quantum Death
I discovered the Seattle duo Hoth (David Dees and Eric Peters) through their second album, Oathbreaker, released in 2014. After impetuously listening to just the first track and the last one, I wrote: “Multifaceted, meticulously executed, epic in its ambitions and its achievements, this is really impressive.” I became even more impressed after hearing the whole album, and ultimately chose one track (“Serpentine Whispers”) for our list of 2014’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs.
Four years later, Hoth are bringing us a new album named Astral Necromancy, which will be released on June 15. They describe it as follows:
“This is a concept album – but one of a somewhat different sort. Oathbreaker was a concept album that lead the listener down a darker and darker path; it was a linear journey. On the other hand, Astral Necromancy already exists in the crushing, unforgiving darkness. There are no paths. There is no light and no hope — just an exploration of cosmic mysteries and black magic – a journey in infinite directions.
“It is a concept album in the sense that there is a common thread through each of the songs that bind them together as each individually explores an aspect of this darkness. The eleven tracks on the album explore themes ranging from corruption of the self to what lies at the end of all time; from journeys through frostbitten wastelands to the acquisition of forbidden knowledge, and more.
“We hesitate to be any more specific than that because the meaning of the album is best expressed through listening to it. The experience itself brings its own meaning to each listener”.
Hoth have also explained that the new album reflects improvements over Oathbreaker in the quality of both the compositions and the production (“we acquired new software, new instruments, and learned new techniques”). The first advance track from the album is powerful evidence of that.
The lead riff in the torrential surge of “Vengeance” is absolutely incendiary; it’s paired with a deeper, more grim and murderous riff, and the song further includes a vibrant melodic guitar refrain that merits the well-worn term “epic”, further accented by an electrifying guitar solo. And speaking of electrifying, the frighteningly ferocious vocals are, too.
“Vengeance” does a great job heating your blood to a boil; I’m anxious to hear the rest of Astral Necromancy. And by the way, as you can see, the album artwork is as striking as the music. It was created by Dusty Peterson.
Like Hoth, the Swedish band Grá have completed work on their own third album. Entitled Väsen, it will be released on the 27th of April by Carnal Records. The first excerpt from the album is a lyric video for its fourth track, “Krig“, which the band describe as the longest of the eight songs and one of the slower ones.
Grá set the hook almost immediately with a brooding, depressive, and abrasive riff and a mid-paced drum rhythm that, working together, will get your heads moving. The echoing savagery of the vocals is enough to send shivers down the spine, and the soaring astral reverberations of the lead-guitar melody might make you shiver even harder.
The mood of the entire song is as cold as ice, even when the guitar begins to vibrate in a frenzy and the vocals become the ravings of a madman. Grá take that hook which they set in the opening and just dig it in deeper and deeper, until the blood begins to flow. “Krig” is utterly bleak, lurching along the borderline of derangement, and very difficult to forget.
1. Till Sörjerskorna
2. King Of Decay
3. Hveðrungs Mær
6. Dead Old Eyes
7. The Devil’s Tribe
The Hungarian band Tomusz digitally released their third record, Tél, in December 2016. On April 7th of this year, it was given a CD release by NGC Prod, Red Truth Records, Narcoleptica Productions, and More Hate Records, and that’s how I learned of it. All the instruments were performed by M; Tubák performed the vocals.
As a short-hand reference, Tomusz describe their music as an amalgam of Neocrust, D-beat, and Black Metal. The first six tracks are compact, while the last two are longer (the closer exceeds 19 minutes all by itself).
I was pulled headlong into the album by the searing emotional power of the opening track, “Cycles of Nature“, whose intensity builds and builds… and with just enough room for a gasp, the tension boils over and becomes even more explosively powerful on the next song, “Fekete Föld“. By then, I couldn’t tear myself away if I had wanted to… but I didn’t want to.
The songs flow from one to another in a way that makes escape even more difficult. Although Tomusz vary the pacing and the degrees of primacy given to the genre ingredients they’ve braided together, hopelessness, despair, and rage flow through these songs almost relentlessly. Those moods of anguish and fury are given added emotional force by the stunning fervor of Tubák‘s vocals; he seems to be tearing himself apart from the inside out.
However, shredding the listener’s emotional well-being and channeling the wreckage of your lowest moods isn’t enough for Tomusz; they also do a very effective job battering your head and bludgeoning your body; the hard-slugging rhythms are just as compelling as the magnetic force of the riffs.
That 19-minute closing track takes as its inspiration a landmark poem named “Apokrif” (“Apocrypha”) by the Hungarian poet János Pilinszky (1921-1981). Even without Tubák‘s shattering vocals, the track’s first 12 minutes represent a crescendo of the devastating emotional intensity that burns in every preceding song. If you’re like me you’ll lose track of time, and the music’s cataclysmic power will leave you stunned and wrung out. The song’s closing portion appears to be a solemn recital of the poem, set against a backdrop of beleaguered ambient music.
(Thanks to Miloš for linking me to this extraordinary release.)