EDITOR’S NOTE: Roughly one week ago NCS patron HGD, who has been kind enough to send us recommendations of new music from time to time in the past, prepared a SEEN AND HEARD round-up of new music that we happily presented along with his own introductory comments. And today we’re doing it again, but this time HGD’s recommendations fall within the focus of our Sunday SHADES OF BLACK posts. Once again, the words of introduction are his. We’ll have a second SHADES OF BLACK post a bit later today.
Archemoron (translated as “beginning of death” from Ancient Greek) are a black metal band from Athens, Greece. They formed in 1999 as a thrash/heavy metal band under the name Ancestor before changing their style and eventually their name in 2008. Their third album, Year of the Harvester, was released on June 20 through Bowels of Noise.
Archemoron’s sound owes much to the style of Hellenic black metal popularized by Rotting Christ, Varathron, Necromantia, and others.They also have a penchant for long compositions, as over half of the songs on this album eclipse the eight-minute mark, with four exceeding ten minutes.
Luckily, Archemoron have the skill and songwriting ability to more than justify the long track lengths: They incorporate a variety of tempo changes, hooky riffs, and soaring melodies along with some excellent soloing and varying vocal deliveries to keep things fresh. On a song such as the opener “Somewhere Beyond North” they transition from vicious blasting and relentless double bass to calm, atmospheric passages in the blink of an eye, throwing in some shredding solos and dual-guitar heroics on the way. The vocals have just as wide a range: On the album closer, “Those of the Suffering“, you can hear everything from throat-shredding snarls to semi-clean singing.
Year of the Harvester:
Svartmálm are an atmospheric black/doom band from The Faroe Islands who released their debut self-titled album two days ago through Vendetta Records. Svartmálm write music that is as meditative as it is crushing. There are riffs on this album whose only purpose is to grind the listener to dust, but at the same time there’s a hypnotic quality to them that leaves you transfixed.
Perhaps the best example of this is the fourth track “svartideyði I:tað ónda“, the first in a trilogy of similarly titled songs and the longest track of all. It begins with reflective, melodic guitars that create a contemplative atmosphere, building slowly until the 3:00 mark where Svartmálm decide they’ve gone on long enough and decide to cave your head in with an absolutely massive riff. Caustic, blackened vocals make an appearance and signal the beginning of another slow build that continues until the song explodes around the 6:45 mark.
“svartideyði I:tað ónda” is a microcosm of what you can expect from the rest of the album and perfectly illustrates Svartmálm’s balance of light and dark.
It’s been a while since the last time we heard from Ultha, but the German black metallers haven’t been idle. They recently signed with Century Media Records and have a third full-length planned for release in October, but before that they’ve released a new single titled “Vitrescent” through Vendetta Records. The single comes off of the Dismal Ruins Pt II EP and was originally intended to be part of a split with Woe (which is still planned to be released at a later date).
While “Vitrescent” shares some similarities to the music found on Ultha’s second full-length, Converging Sins, it presents a more immediate and direct sound. The band start out the song with a gallop and keep the pace up while still weaving spectral melodies, atmospheric passages, and ever-shifting riffs throughout it’s 11:30 runtime. They also employ some different vocal styles: Along with the tradeoff between Chris Noir’s high shrieks and Ralph Schmidt’s lower-pitched growls there are some spoken words towards the end.
Dismal Ruins Pt. II: