This is the completion of a post I began yesterday, collecting new songs and videos that by coincidence all happened to fall under the vast umbrella of death metal, or were at least close enough in sound or spirit to merit the “DEATH RITUAL” heading of this post. Between yesterday and today, one more track appeared that I couldn’t resist including, and I also decided to begin with a review of a new EP that I should have posted sooner — but better late than never.
Our history with Dire Omen goes back to 2011, when I came across their second promo and wrote it up in the 27th MISCELLANY post (and I’m wondering yet again why I let that series die of neglect). Since then, they’ve released a 2012 EP (Severing Soul From Flesh), a 2014 debut album on the Dark Descent label (Wresting the Revelation of Futility), and now a new EP (also through Dark Descent), Formless Fire Embodied. Obviously, these Canadians from Edmonton haven’t been prolific in their releases, but the care they’ve taken hasn’t been for naught, as you shall see.
Apart from growing in strength over time, Dire Omen have also moved in blacker directions. The roiling, dissonant guitars, battering, booming drums, and roaring vocals that assault the ears in “Null” partake of both black metal and death metal to create sensations that entwine eeriness and chaotic violence. The drummer and bassist give the music a potent physical compulsiveness as they move among changing rhythmic patterns and create grooves to hold onto, while the fret-leaping freakishness of the guitarists’ chords and notes both chill the mind and spin it like an airborne top. The combination is electrifying, but also more than a little unnerving.
There’s no real break before the band continue their devilish machinations in “Geburah”, providing more opportunity to marvel at the speed, dexterity, and twisted inventiveness of the guitarists as they engage in continued torture of their instruments, ringing out murderous drilling vibrations and eruptions of squalling, shrieking vulcanism, and the rhythm section continue to engage in other escapades that are well-tuned to trigger reflexive muscle reactions. The band pull back on their red-lining exuberance near the end, giving the music a cold, oppressive, and even more ominous edge.
The final track, “Malkuth”, is one that first surfaced as a rough mix back in 2016 and then appeared in a fantastic summer sampler from Dark Descent in 2017. It’s in line with the first two tracks, one final opportunity to be whipped around in a vortex of madness — and to be knocked off balance when the band lock into a sequence of rapidly somersaulting drums, warm bubbling bass notes, and a weird mewling and moaning arpeggio that carries the EP to a close.
In sum, this is an excellent short release from a band we’ll continue to watch closely. I’m repressing my greediness, and trying not to be too frustrated over the fact that it’s not longer — because more would be most welcome.
Formless Fire Embodied was released on July 13th and is available digitally and on 7″ vinyl, here:
Order via Bandcamp:
This next song is one that premiered yesterday at DECIBEL, and I couldn’t resist adding it to my previously chosen selections. In part that’s because these dudes are among my hometown heroes (and in fact everyone in Seattle I’ve encountered who knows them, and their music, seems to be fiercely loyal to them as people and musicians), and in part because this song from their new album Sentiment is so immensely powerful.
Guitarist/vocalist Monte Mccleery introduced the song at DECIBEL with these words:
“‘In Its Absence’ is a song about battling depression and mental illness. It’s from the perspective of a person who believes that they would be incomplete without their emotional traumas and hardships. This thought process triggers a sense of panic in the person and causes them to further retreat within themselves rather than seek out help from healthy support systems. This song in particular is very personal to me and I think that a lot of other people in our community will find it relatable as well.
“While so many of our contemporaries choose to focus purely on the grim aspects of mortality, Sentiment is meant to serve as a token of gratitude in spite of the struggles of daily life. It is a deeply personal and intimate thing to share your art with the world, and we hope that everyone who holds this album or hears these songs feels like it was written specifically for them.”
For those of you who may have anticipated (not without grounds for doing so) that this post would be nothing but flavors of death metal, “In Its Absence” dwells in the land of funeral doom, but I didn’t want to wait to write about it, and the long shadows of death do seem to loom behind this towering monument.
The song is a long trip, but a completely beguiling one. Its slow, gleaming, ethereal melodies are haunting, and beautiful, while the low-frequency strings and the rhythm section’s detonations are simply massive — the music as craggy and granite-heavy as ancient, looming mountain peaks, resting cold, scarred, and imposing after the violence that birthed them eons in the past. The vocals seem to well up from lightless places deep beneath the earth, seemingly both heartless and anguished. The beautifully executed solo that comes near the end, in which two guitars eventually participate, is a particularly soulful expression of deep sorrow.
What a masterful piece of dark sorcery this is.
Sentiment was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Dave Otero at Flatline Audio (Khemmis, Primitive Man, Cattle Decapitation), and it includes spectacular cover art by one of my favorite artists, the Brazilian visionary Cauê Piloto. Sentiment will be released on CD and LP vinyl on September 28th, thanks to Translation Loss Records.
My decision to include Un‘s new track may have been impulsive, but it actually pairs well with this song I chose two days ago. This next one is “The Silent Static“, off the new album by another old favorite of mine, the UK band Binah. The album’s name is Phobiate and it will be released by Osmose Productions on September 28th.
“The Silent Static” is almost as long as Un’s new track, and a kindred spirit in its opening minutes, in that it’s slow and massively heavy, and laced with a riveting lead guitar appearance. But there’s no question this is death metal — not too much time passes before the music charges ahead in a tank-like attack of HM-2 riffing, warlike drum assaults, vicious growls and howls, and a flamethrower of a solo. It gets the blood rushing through the veins damned fast.
And yet even though the frenzied leads and lunging, scything barbarism of the main attack are eye-popping in their galvanic effect, the dark shades of doom never completely disappear — the spectral guitar solos, which seem to bespeak grief and anguish, make sure of that, and the band even more powerfully raise the edifice of doom not long after the mid-point. And it is indeed an edifice of sound, majestically imposing and almost apocalyptic in the scale of the catastrophe that it seems to narrate, building to a crescendo on the wings of an absolutely dire but scintillating solo before the final collapse, which is both dirge-like and eerie.
Phobiate was recorded by Binah, mixed and engineered by Aort, and mastered by Greg Chandler. The artwork was created by Mmonsterbrush. And, sadly, I’m unable to embed the stream of the song, because for now it’s only available on the Osmose pre-order page for the record. Go listen to it there:
I’m going to take a radical turn with the next song and video, as compared to the music of the preceding three groups in this post. I’m leaving crushing doom and lethal evisceration behind, mounting a charger, and going for a melodeath gallop.
This song is “Once And For All” by the German band Parasite Inc., and it comes from their second album Dead and Alive, which will be released by Reaper Metal on August 17th. Its addictive properties exert themselves immediately — the darting and swirling lead guitar arpeggios that surface early, and over and over again (with soaring keyboards too) get their hooks in and don’t let go. And the riffs are absolutely head-hammering; when coupled with the changing drum patterns, they make the song a headbanger’s delight. Thankfully, the vocals are vicious as hell, and amplify the savagery of the song’s blood-pumping charge.
No doubt, this kind of music has been done before (done to death, some might say), and perhaps its nostalgic appeal is part of its overall appeal, but it makes me feel so happy when I hear it!
Check out “Once And For All Below”, and if that one puts a smile on your face as it did mine, I’ve also included another advance track named “Headfuck Rollercoaster“. I bet you can guess what that ride is going to be like.
It’s obvious by now that I’m foisting a lot more twists and turns on you in the second Part of this round-up than I did in the first one, and I’m about to radically shift gears again, with a song off the second album by the German brutal death metal band In Demoni. The album’s title is The Grand Slam, and it was released on July 20 by the Chilean label Rotten Cemetery Records.
Yes, it’s true that this entire album is out now and available for streaming in full (and yes it’s true that we now have a good idea how zombies play tennis), but I’m just writing about a song called “Cockslamming” because I don’t have time to do more.
I’m afraid the other song titles on the album aren’t any more cerebral than this one; the name of the 11th track kind of sums things up: “Exercises In Stupidity“. But while the title of “Cockslamming” might make you snicker, the music hits like a hurricane… with a gruesome, gurgling monster riding the front wave of the blast attack. It’s a big mainline adrenaline rush, and has the benefit of fiery, deranged leads that light up the brutal demolition job that’s being so murderously executed by the band as a whole.
To close out this very long round-up of deathly sounds, I invite you to listen to Crossing the Lugubrious Plateau by the twisted Oregonian duo Gash, who provide these thoughts about the EP on their Bandcamp page:
two death movements run through with the sinew of twisted, nerveless heaving. dionysian cum upon the gash.
INK OF INTERMINABLE NIGHT
SMEARED ACROSS OUR MOUTHS
It makes me wonder whether our President somehow managed to hack Gash’s Bandcamp page and reveal his innermost thoughts instead of roaring hilariously over-the-top threats at Iran in order to distract people from all the other embarrassments. But he probably didn’t.
Caps excesses aside, these two tracks — “Bone and Frozen Pus” and “Crossing the Lugubrious Plateau” — are ugly, poisonous, freakish, inhuman things, but both of them are also really hard to resist. By turns, they’re thuggishly brutal, maniacally frenzied, tremendously queasy and crawling, delightfully scampering, and demonstrably capable of making your head move with a will.
The levels of distortion in the stringed instruments are enough to choke your windpipes; the cavernous, gurgling vocals are monstrous; and the drumming (which hits with terrifically vivid clarity) is often completely off-the-hook (breathtakingly so). The guitarist’s technically impressive exuberance goes off-the-hook, too, and the energy is highly infectious when it happens.
The music is highly unpredictable in its dynamism, but even on a first listen, you discover that these songs hang together — there are bouts of near-chaotic explosiveness within them, but the songs themselves aren’t some kind of big churning mess. All of my opening jokiness aside, this has proven to be a very welcome surprise.
The Gash EP was released on Independence Day by Glossolalia Records, and you can get it digitally or on tape here: