This MISCELLANY series is one of several that I started at NCS in the early days, but it has become moribund in recent years. In the case of this series, I posted the first edition on July 5, 2010, and the last one (No. 77) in June 2016, and the series had become very irregular even by then. So a refresher on the MISCELLANY game is probably worthwhile:
On a fairly random basis, I pick releases I’ve not heard before, usually by bands I’ve not heard before; I listen to a song or two (usually without much or any advance idea of what the music will sound like); I write my immediate impressions; and I then stream what I heard so you can make your own judgments. I should add that I have some ambitions to revive this series going forward, though I know myself too well to promise that it will happen on any kind of predictable basis.
I decided to sample the music of these three bands based solely on an e-mail we received from a Chilean metalhead whom I don’t know, recommending these three releases. All three groups are from Chile.
Of the three bands in this collection, Kizin have the most recent release, a 2018 debut album named Abstraction (released on July 17th), which includes cover art by Nox Fragor. Metal-Archives also lists three demos and a compilation in the discography of this group from Temuco going back to 2012, none of which I’ve heard. Abstraction is on Bandcamp, and on that page there’s a written prologue for the album:
“Waking up under a cold zenith, without humanity and too much divinity; comes in the instinctive and visceral mind a true animal. Something changes, something new. Thoughts run through every tangled thread of that that is called conscience, is like being born again, but first you must leave the cold, dry womb; leave without contractions, leave by oneself.
“A long walk from a fortress that seemed indestructible that now they are just ruins, to a destiny that only the spirit can recognize. Over a mountain more than just rocks rises, a travel of the conscience to tortuous roads guider by the will of power; a voyage from the too human…”
Of the ten tracks on Abstraction, the one I chose for this MISCELLANY test is the title track. It closes the album and, at 11 minutes, it’s the longest track by a significant measure. I thought, for those reasons, that it might be the most all-encompassing example of whatever talents the band might have — and those talents turn out to be prodigious.
The song’s instrumental intro is sublime and entrancing… and what comes after is more like a progressive death metal fireworks display. The melodic currents of the song have an exotic flavor, and they run through an eye-popping thrill-ride of technically impressive instrumental exuberance. Tempos change without warning; attention-grabbing solos leap from the music in equally surprising fashion; the riffs are cold and cruel in their tone, but also ecstatically exhilarating; and there’s warmth in the bass and a crystalline quality to some of the ringing leads.
The vocals provide a dose of savage ferocity, but the song is mainly devoted to creative instrumental extravagance, and man, it really is very impressive. And kudos to the band for reprising the intro at the end.
Unfamiliar with this band from Santiago, I again resorted to Metal-Archives, which lists seven releases dating back to 2001. It shows a compilation and a live album in 2016, but the most recent release of new music was a 2012 album (the band’s second one) entitled Transfigured In A Thousand Delusions. Like Kizin’s latest release, this one is also on Bandcamp. And like Kizin’s album, this one’s longest track closes the album — but this time, on a whim, I decided to start at the beginning as a way of sampling the record.
The opening track, “Ancestral Raging Tides“, absolutely blew me away. Like the intro to that Kizin track, the one that launches this song is sublime — bright, swirling, and almost immediately mesmerizing. And like Kizin‘s intro, it provides no real clue to what’s about to happen. And what happens next is downright explosive — a turbocharged flurry of blizzard-like riffing, full-throttle drumming, and fanfare-like melodic chords that sound almost like horns and give the music a glorious and exhilarating fieriness.
Perhaps needless to say, the vocal combination of horrid roars and chilling shrieks is almost as rampantly wild as the music. That electrifying wildness doesn’t extend to the technical merits of the performance, however; quite clearly, the musicians are highly skilled, and their twisting and turning, vaulting and veering machinations are locked together with machine-like precision. Their song-writing creativity is also quite amazing — as you’ll discover in the song’s mid-section, when the band ease back on the throttle and spin your head in different directions before a truly flamboyant finish.
At times as I listened to this stunning track I found myself thinking this might be what the George Gershwin who wrote Rhapsody In Blue might have created had he been an extreme metal musician born many decades later. There are jazz-like influences in the music, an unusually fine appreciation for the challenge of creating a coherent piece of music out of so many varying moving parts, and an unusually impressive capacity to surmount that challenge.
Soulrot are based in Valparaíso, with five releases listed at Metal-Archives. The two most recent ones are from 2017, a five-way split from last December that includes two Soulrot tracks, and a debut album released by Memento Mori in the spring of 2017 entitled Nameless Hideous Manifestations.
I do remember this album — how could you forget that cover art by the great Spanish artist Juanjo Castellano Rosado if you’ve seen it even one time? And on top of that, Memento Mori has an American publicist who vigorously promoted it in the run-up to its release, and I know I added it to one of my seemingly endless lists of things to check out last year. Why, then, didn’t I listen to it? No fucking idea.
Anyway, the e-mail I received which launched this MISCELLANY excursion included this album, and reminded me of my oversight, not too late to correct it. Having chosen the last song and the first song from the other two albums in this collection, respectively, I decided to pick one in the middle of Soulrot’s record as a test of the music. That song is “This Putrid Canvas“.
Wow, this song punches so many of my buttons — that massive, smoking, chainsaw guitar tone; those huge, gravel-chewing bass tones; those monstrous roaring vocals; those neck-snapping snare rhythms and hell-for-leather gallops; those rapidly twisting leads and skull-busting chugs…such a gruesome but wholly electrifying romp this is.
Dismember comes to mind immediately, but the song is so dynamic, so embedded with putrid hooks, so ass-kickingly heavy, that it’s far from some kind of middling paint-by-numbers copy job. If the rest of the album is in the league of this track, it belongs on the top shelf of modern Swe-death practitioners.