As you may have noticed, I compiled another round-up earlier today, though I was just following instructions with that one, all the choices having been urged upon me by my comrade DGR (and Andy Synn, in part) to suit a What Year Is It?!? theme. I haven’t completely escaped the urgings of my comrades in this collection either, since three of the songs and videos were pressed upon me by Mr. Synn.
However, although I’m less the curator of this particular gallery and more like the slovenly dude who frames the stuff and hangs it on the wall, I did include music of my own choosing at the end (and for better or worse, I’ll be picking everything for our Independence Day round-up tomorrow).
But before we get to all the music, I have a couple of news items (and even the second of those was brought to my attention by my colleagues).
How could I resist the opportunity to brandish (extra-large) the painted artwork of Eliran Kantor at the top of our page again? Obviously, I couldn’t. It will appear on Krisiun’s new album, Scourge of the Enthroned, marred by text, as follows:
Krisiun have explained the meaning behind this stirring vision, with some hints about the music as well:
“Based on Sumerian mythology, it shows 3 ancient gods transcending the beginning of creation, represented by the incredible art of Eliran Kantor.
“The sound of this record came out very complex and organic, unlike many of the super edited/digital albums these days, the songs are faster and more brutal than the previous records. Pure relentless Death Metal in your face!”
My face is ready. We’re told that pre-sales will be online next week, and that a first song and digital pre-order will kick off on July 12.
What you’re now looking at is the creative work space of Steffen Grønbech, the man behind Khonsu, a favorite of all the longest-standing writers at NCS. This photo appeared on the Khonsu Facebook page a few hours ago, accompanied by these words: “New Khonsu album, day 1.”
And what a pleasant surprise that message was. For a time, it appeared that there wouldn’t be a third Khonsu album. In a 2016 interview at our site (conducted by TheMadIsraeli in the aftermath of The Xun Protectorate), S. Grønbech revealed:
“Actually, right now I’m not even sure there will be another album, because I’m so busy with my full-time job and other concerns. Since I do almost everything myself, I’ve used countless hours on evenings, weekends, and in vacations on this new album, and to be honest, it’s been absolutely exhausting. I’m not sure I’m up for it again. At least I don’t think I would try to do something so epic as Anomalia and The Xun Protectorate, and I would need a proper label.
“This is not to say that I haven’t thought about it, and the ideas I’ve had for a new album is that it would maybe be even darker, dirtier, and more horror’ish. More Alien than Blade Runner.
“But we will see what the future holds for Khonsu.”
It seems the future is now, and Khonsu will live again, and that makes all of us here very happy… and now very curious to discover whether the thinking reflected in that quoted passage from our 2016 interview will carry forward into the new record.
Now I’ll turn from news to music, and the first of the three items that Mr. Synn recommended for this round-up. It’s a fairly new video posted by the Denver-based band Mire, whose debut album Shed was the subject of unusually effusive praise in Andy’s review. The song in the video is “Lightless“.
I tend to follow a “division of labor” strategy at NCS, and so when I see that one of the other writers has chosen to review a particular release, I often don’t immediately listen to it — not out of perversity, but so I can spend the time exploring something else that might be worth writing about. And so until I saw this video, I hadn’t yet listened to anything from Shed. Now I understand why Andy was so enthusiastic. But still being inclined toward division of labor, I’ll just parrot Andy’s words about the track rather than concoct my own:
“Opener ‘Lightless’ is as strong a statement of intent as any I’ve heard in quite some time, galloping out of the gates in a fearless display of chunky, chugging riffage and subtly progressive melodic touches, all arranged in an extremely dynamic form which balances hooky heaviness and subtle technicality in equal measure, and topped off with an intriguing blend of barking harsh vocals and moody clean-sung melodies which reminds me quite a bit of God Forbid at their best.”
BIRTH THE WRETCHED
This next single by a North Carolina band named Birth the Wretched is another one of Andy Synn’s picks for this round-up. I hadn’t heard of them before; they’re not yet on Metal-Archives, despite releasing a self-titled EP in June; and I don’t know how Andy came across them, nor did he explain why he liked the track. But since the band’s Bandcamp page says it’s “A song about eating babies“, I had a feeling it would be in my wheelhouse. So it is.
However, “Procreation Annihilation” isn’t entirely what I was expecting from the name and the baby-eating references. It certainly has a full-throttle, annihilating quality to it, but it’s wonderfully freaked-out, too. Everybody, including the growly, gagging, barking vocalist, is going at about 1000mph, and flying in about 1000 different directions from second to second, periodically pulling back on course (for seconds at a time) only to go crazy again. It’s an impressive display of technical fireworks and unhinged energy, while also being meaner than a rabid dog.
One more track and I’ll have exhausted Andy Synn’s latest urgings. Unlike Mire and Birth the Wretched, the Norwegian trio Endolith is a known quantity to me, thanks to Andy’s review of their 2016 album, Voyager, which he described as coming across “like the bastard spawn of Meshuggah, Arcturus, and early Devin Townsend, melding booming, bombastic guitars and prowling, low-end grooves with a variety of dramatic, extravagant vocal styles and swathes of abstract synthetic sounds”, and his 2017 interview of the band.
That interview revealed that Endolith were at work on a second album, described as “a full concept album with a theme that we don’t think many bands have ever explored,” but one that “lends itself ridiculously well to Metal.” So, they said, “expect something growlingly animalistic!”
The first single from that second album, the name of which is “Rex“, debuted just a few days ago. Before listening to the song and watching the video, I saw a credit to The Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra for “ensemble strings”. Growlingly animalistic? However, I also found a press release by the label that will release the as-yet untitled album (Rob Mule Records) that included these words — which meshes with the cryptic conceptual references disclosed in Andy’s interview:
“The true king of beasts, Tyrannosaurus Rex, is the perfect analogy for these tumultuous times. Endolith captures this, and encases it in furious blast beats and vitriolic, sarcastic lyrics… The song deals with the hypothetical situation in which the most powerful creature in its own world possesses significant and insurmountable shortcomings. “
Yes, there are indeed animalistic growls in “Rex”, and it is indeed an earth-shaker, but there’s a whole lot more going on in the track, too (both instrumentally and in the vocal department), including darting strings, whining and swirling fretwork, morphing rhythms, and general exuberance and insanity.
Now I’ll close with some music from a new EP that I chose without any urging or assistance from my colleagues. It’s by the Austrian sludge/doom band Kielkropf. According to a note at Metal-Archives: “In Germanic mythology, a Kielkropf refers to malformed offspring fathered by chthonic creatures of myth or even the Devil which replaces a stolen human child, somewhat similar to a changeling.”
This new EP, entitled Ignorance Is Bliss, will be released on July 6th by Sludgelord Records. I have the whole thing but haven’t yet listened to anything from it other than the two songs below. However, before hearing those two I did listen to the band’s first EP because of it’s hilariously perfect title: Step back, I´m ´bout to dance. When you listen to that EP (which I strongly recommend), you’ll get why the title is so great.
The two songs below, “Lost” and “Blissful Ignorance“, will loosen the fillings in your teeth. If you’re young enough that you have no fillings, they’ll just loosen your bowels, so make sure you’re close to a toilet. The vocalist’s raw, wretched, acid-scarred brays might give you nightmares, too. And while both songs are oppressively dismal, that’s only part of what they are. They’ll also put you in the throes of a full-body lurch, especially “Blissful Ignorance“, which has got some lumbering stoner doom influence in the mix.
UPDATE: I’ve also now included the just-released official video for the song “Loss”.