I really wanted to end this week with a big fat juicy round-up, overstuffed with new songs and videos that I’ve latched onto over the past week but couldn’t cram into other round-ups over the last two days. Alas, I’ve run out of time. But rather than just scuttle morosely out of sight, head down and small tears dribbling down my cheeks, I thought I’d at least give you a couple of quick hits.
Today the Irish band Senzar, which rose from the ashes of Coldwar and embraced a name reportedly based upon the works of different philosophers, including Ernst Cassirer and Russian occultist Helena Blavatsky, released their first EP, which has their name on it but has no title, through Hostile Media.
After seeing a press release I had made a note a few days ago to check out a new video the band had released, but it wasn’t until receiving encouragement from starkweather’s Rennie today that I did so, and then moved from there to the EP as a whole.
The video is for the first track on the EP (none of which have names, just alpha-numeric designations that look sort of like chapters). It had me by the throat in short order, even before the song kicked into driving gear at the 50-second mark, when it becomes a thundering, electrifying torrent of boiling, lashing, brutalizing black metal, which also includes doses of grim yet vibrant melody and tumbling, hammering drum rhythms, and the kind of fiery riffs that will get your head pumping hard.
I can’t say enough about the absolutely livid vocals. They’re so full of frightening passion that they put the hairs up on the back of my neck.
There are more wonders to be found within the EP, which interweaves other ingredients around the thorny vine of black metal that more or less forms the core of the music. “CII” is irresistibly catchy and crazed, and it rocks damned hard without surrendering its almost wrenching intensity (the flickering guitar leads in the song, which push it in the final minutes, are capable of putting a match under all your nerve endings).
Tension-ratcheting intensity and dire bleakness are hallmarks of “CIII”, where the vocals reach new heights of shattering pain (or fury, or both). But there’s an almost shocking diversion of moody softness in the song before the band resume torquing the garrote around your neck, and occasionally easing the pressure, albeit without offering any hope.
By this point in the EP, you will have realized that Senzar are such accomplished songwriters and performers that they’re not going to stay on one well-beaten, straight-ahead path, and they don’t. They move through mid-paced minutes of perilous, hallucinatory, doom-shrouded menace (“CIV”); near-overpowering surges of blazing, battering violence, speared by fanfares of dark melodic grandeur (“CV”) or laced with feverish, swirling, pulsating leads that seem to channel lunacy (“CVI”). And you better loosen your neck muscles before you get to the latter half of the last song, because the jackhammering groove that takes over at that point will give it a vigorous workout.
In truth, every track will get your damned head moving, even though most of the time the music sounds like you’re one of the damned, on a tour of the circles of Hell. And in every track, those vocals will give you goosebumps.
Can you tell how enthralled I’ve quickly become to the power of this music? What a tremendously good surprise it is.
As I recall, we wrote about every single that San Francisco’s Ontogeny released from their last album, 2015’s Hymns of Ahriman. But I’d lost track of what they were up to until learning about this next video, which is a prelude to their next album, Antisocial Media. The featured song is “Living Witness“, which got a mastering job by Colin Marston and includes additional vocals by Chazz McConnell (Sol Asunder).
The video was made by Tsunami Films. As I said about the last Ontogeny video I wrote about in the run-up to their last record, if this one doesn’t put a big smile on your face and a laugh in your belly, your butthole is way too tight.
The music is a hell of a lot of fun, too — a turbocharged rush of technical death metal that veers and vaults sharply, but sticks the landing every time. Over this thoroughly head-spinning nine-and-a-half-minute trip you’ll encounter mesmerizing flurries of proggy guitar-and-bass work, doses of herky-jerky rhythm, bursts of white-hot fret-burning, episodes of beautifully fluid soloing, loads of gravel-chewing bass craziness, and enough exuberant energy to power giant turbines, not to mention the howling madman behind the mic.
There’s a lot more in the song that I haven’t mentioned. Suffice to say, it will light up the average brain like a fireworks extravaganza on the Fourth of July. What a welcome return this is!
Antisocial Media doesn’t have an official release date yet, but can be pre-ordered via the crowdfunding link below.
holy fuck was Hymns Of Ahriman three years ago already? That’s such a packed and chaotic album it just feels like it has always ‘been’. Feels like no time has passed.
Fucked me up too. Time is speeding by… but these dudes sound like they’re way on top of their game, instead of just emerging groggy from hibernation.