(Today we have a rare weekday edition of SHADES OF BLACK for you, and once again we’re turning the column over to NCS supporter HGD, who has selected some black gems for your listening pleasure.)
While there’s not necessarily any real stylistic theme to these releases (as they all cover different aspects of black metal), there is an thread of finality that runs through all of them.
ONE TAIL ONE HEAD
The first item in this list is a new song from Nidarosian black metallers One Tail One Head. They announced recently that they would be relasing a debut album, Worlds Open, Worlds Collide, through Terratur Possessions on October 5. More importantly, this will also be the only full-length released by the band, as they have decided to go their separate ways after their upcoming European tour, with a performance in their hometown of Trondheim in December being their last.
According to the band, the music for Worlds Open, Worlds Collide ranges from “the rabid, unruly primitivism of our early days to the ominous, slightly surreal atmospheres we began to explore later on” and includes material “as old as ten years and even more, as well as what would be considered brand new (by us, anyway, Trondheim time applies)”.
The song they’ve chosen to premiere, “Rise In Red“, holds true to those words and showcases the breadth of the sound One Tail One Head have shaped over their many years of existence.
Starting with an unearthly wolf’s howl, the song erupts into a blistering assault upon the senses. Frenzied, unhinged vocals accompany drumming that alternates between equally frenzied blasting and a stomping mid-paced groove which is also accented by the prominent bass work on display. At the midpoint the song shifts gears, slowing down to a crawl while the howls from the beginning return to usher in a much more surreal atmosphere.
While this atmosphere persists throughout the rest of the track, the more subdued pace doesn’t: The band slowly ramp back up before launching another attack after the three-minute mark. “Rise In Red” ends with some good old fashioned rock and roll swagger, the bass taking center stage once again.
Worlds Open, Worlds Collide may be their swansong, but if this is any indication it looks like they’re going out with one hell of a bang.
By now anyone’s who been following Fallen Empire Records is aware of their decision to close up shop at the end of this year. Before that happens, though, the label still has some new releases in store for their loyal supporters. One such release is the new full-length from Ohio-based black metal punks Slavehouse, titled Taste In Pain, which came out on August 5 in cooperation with Knife Vision.
Slavehouse play a raw, primitive form of punk-infused black metal that might appeal to fans of bands like Bone Awl. On listening to Taste In Pain it’s clear that they have no intention of doing anything other than going straight for the listener’s throat from the get-go.
Opener “Self Punishment” races out of the gate with blasts aplenty and never lets up even as it settles into a rocking groove over its last 30 seconds. The following two songs, “Fresh Meat” and “Spent”, employ more of a dirty black and roll approach, with “Spent” deploying some eerie melodies to great effect (I’m almost reminded of a rawer, stripped-down version of Tribulation or Cloak here).
Tracks like “Scorpion Whip” and “Sacred Flesh” take this melodic approach even further and really showcase Slavehouse’s ability to contrast dirty riffs against something a bit more atmospheric. Finally, the album closer “Putrefactio”n shows that the band are as comfortable working at a slower, sludgier pace as they are when going full-throttle.
Taste In Pain showcases an economy of form that’s refreshing. With only one track exceeding the three-minute mark it’s clear that Slavehouse aren’t interested in taking any more time than absolutely necessary to tear your face off. The fact that they do it while still managing to cram enough interesting ideas into each song to keep listeners engaged is what makes this album a success.
Knife Vision Bandcamp:
My discovery of Slavehouse also led me to explore some of Knife Vision‘s other releases, and one of the ones that caught my attention was this single from a project called Luring from Pennsylvania, titled Interitu Caret Devotione Ad Coronam Satanas, which was released on August 3.
It seems that the force or forces behind Luring are interested in keeping the project anonymous, as I have yet to find any information on them aside from the Bandcamp link I’ve included here. Ultimately though, the music is all that really matters and Luring demonstrate with this track that they’re worth keeping an eye on.
The music presented over the near 17-minute runtime of Interitu Caret Devotione Ad Coronam Satanas is atmospheric in the truest sense: There is a sense of despondency that starts from the opening seconds and never leaves you until the last note of the song rings out. There’s something captivating about the vocals as well: They ring out like desperate cries from an accursed netherworld, perhaps from cursed souls who have long been forgotten. The melodies that are laced throughout the track only serve to heighten the dread one experiences when listening to it. They are beautiful to be sure, but along with that beauty comes a sense of overwhelming sorrow that you can’t quite shake.
Luring have managed to make quite an impression upon me with Interitu Caret Devotione Ad Coronam Satanas and I have the feeling that they’re only getting warmed up. The quality of this track augurs well for the future and I’m definitely interested in hearing what they come up with next.
Knife Vision Bandcamp:
SAINTE MARIE DES LOUPS
This last item also comes to us courtesy of Fallen Empire Records, who released the self-titled album from the French black metal band Sainte Marie des Loups on August 5. As with Luring, I have little in the way of information about Sainte Marie des Loups, who seem to have no internet presence outside of their Bandcamp page. Nonetheless, the group’s seeming desire for anonymity has no bearing on the quality of their music, which is well worth a listen.
Overall, the style of the album is probably best classified as raw black metal, but upon repeated listens you’ll find that there’s more going on than what that genre descriptor suggests. One element that sets Sainte Marie des Loups apart is their use of eerie synths that add a medieval and, at times, psychedelic vibe to their sound. This is perhaps best captured in the spacey, synth-assisted break that happens midway through “Progéniture” or it’s triumphant introduction at the end of “La Fin de l’hiver” along with marching drums.
Synths aren’t the only trick the band has up its sleeve, either: Ghostly clean vocals pop up around the 2:30 mark in “Sermons Sanglants”, and almost choir-like cleans arise at the 3:05 mark in “Insolence”.
All of these sounds only serve to enhance what Sainte Marie des Loups are doing instrumentally. They’re able to vary their pace, going full throttle one moment and then dropping into a dirge the next, all while maintaining continuity. There’s also an interesting contrast between some of the more melodic guitar work that crops up every now and then and the more abrasive sound that’s typical of raw black metal. The band is no slouch in the vocal department either: Some absolutely ferocious roars and snarls are to be found here.