This was hard. I spent more than an hour yesterday just going through all the e-mails that had landed in the NCS e-mail
septic tank in-box since I left on vacation last Friday and, from what I found there, adding to the endless list of new music and videos I thought might be worth checking out. And then I started going through what I’d added to the list, listening and watching until I had to make myself stop.
I found a great many dramatically different things I thought would be worth sharing, so many that I picked 10 of them for this post. And that’s not counting such things as Revolver’s exclusive song premiere for Devouring Star, the just-released split by Ragana and Thou, Terror’s new track, or the new track by Minsk that premiered at DECIBEL, among others. (You see what I did there?)
We’ve got three premiere features of our own today that I need to finish, so I’ve got to keep my own commentary in this post a bit briefer than usual.
First up is the title track from At the Nexus of All Stillborn Worlds, the new album by the Boston death metal band Zealotry. It will be released on December 7th through Unspeakable Axe Records.
This track leaves me aghast in wonder. It’s a genuine mind-boggler — and a ferocious mauler. It features the kind of instrumental dexterity and turn-on-a-dime changes that ought to please fans of tech-death, but it’s so inventive, so intricate, so explosively exuberant, so rich in sonic textures (including surprise choral vocals near the grand ending), that it ought to appeal equally to fans of progressive metal.
Metal-Archives identifies Falgar as a one-man band that originated in Puerto Rico and is now based in Vermont, once playing black metal and now creating neo-folk. Falgar’s third album, La Dama Del Alba, was first released by Nebular Winter Productions on cassette tape in 2013. Now, ATMF will be releasing the album on CD and digitally on November 16th.
The two tracks streaming at ATMF’s Bandcamp, “Renacimiento” and “Fango y Frío“, make clear that this album was created during Falgar’s black-metal phase. These heavy, mid-paced, Burzum-like songs have a gloomy atmosphere, suffused by feelings of deep melancholia (the second one crossing from sorrow into wrenching desolation), and both are absolutely mesmerizing. The haunting clean vocals that emerge in “Renacimiento” are a great touch, as are the soaring and somber ones in “Fango y Frío”.
If you’re a persistent lurker at our site on Sundays, you will have seen the name Raat multiple times before. And if you’re not, Raat is the solo project of Sushant Rawat (aka Nium) from New Delhi, India, who is also the man behind the experimental black/doom project Nightgrave, about whom I’ve written even more frequently.
Any time I get a Bandcamp alert that either project has released something new, I get to it very damned fast, as I did with this new Raat single, “Dark Matter“. I placed it here within this post because I thought the song followed so well from the Falgar tracks. This one, like the Falgar tracks, is mostly very heavy and very dark. The atmosphere of grief and pain is penetrating and powerful. The gleaming, ethereal guitar and keyboard reverberations are also beautifully sad, and as is always the case with Raat, the interweaving of stylistic textures from across different musical genres is deftly done.
I should add that the music gradually transforms as the minutes pass, ending in a place different from where it began, and the transition is so seamless that you may not even realize it’s happening until the song is over.
The music of this West Virginia duo truly is something rare and wonderful. Even seeing the name Heart of Akamon, their last album, sends me into a kind of mystical reverie. It is thus very good news that to celebrate their tenth anniversary, Nechochwen will be releasing a compilation called The Ancient Pulse, which is described as “a collection of unreleased and rare songs from the past decade”, plus “cover songs from Rotting Christ and Ozzy Osbourne as well as reworked songs from the excellent OtO LP”.
The song from the album that debuted recently, “Winterstrife“, begins in the vein of Appalachian acoustic folk music and treads into much heavier territory before it ends — and it’s fantastic in both dimensions. The instrumental section at the outset (moody at first and then more lively) is thoroughly beguiling; so are the wistful clean vocals that eventually join in. At about the 4:30 mark, the music briefly becomes much heavier and more hard-hitting, and more grim as well.
This next track won’t take me long to introduce — because I’ve done it before. The song is “Suicidium, The Seductress Of Death“, which will appear on Kult of the Raven, the debut album by Nattravnen that’s set for a December 7 release by Transcending Obscurity Records. But it also appeared on a massive Transcending Obscurity sampler released in January of this year, and it floored me then, as it still does. To quote myself (always a great pleasure) from what I wrote in January:
“[T[his new one by Nattravnen strikes with shuddering power. The jarring riffs and booming drum rhythms are skull-rattling, and when the blast-beats start and the riffing turns cyclonic, the music becomes a maelstrom of destruction. Kam Lee’s voice is as immense as a very immense thing, and the song’s melodic ingredients are frighteningly ominous, while also creating an atmosphere of fearsome grandeur.”
Nattravnen combines the talents of Jonny Pettersson (Wombbath, Heads For the Dead, Ursinne, etc.) and vocalist Kam Lee (ex-Massacre, ex-Bone Gnawer, ex-Death, The Grotesquery, etc.). The artwork was created by Juanjo Castellano.
The last time I wrote about Nihilo was way back in 2014 when I featured a track from their second album, Dum Spiro Spero. Now this Swiss death metal band have recorded a new album named Doom that’s coming our way on October 26th via Art Gate Records.
“Death Prevails“, the first single extracted from Doom, reminds me of why I was so impressed by this band four years ago. The music includes skull-busting grooves, poisonous tremolo riffing, freakishly unhinged soloing, and blood-freezing vocal malignancy. It’s a menacing and marauding track that will get your head moving, and it’s a catchy piece of viciousness too.
Here’s a BIG twist. It’s also the only track in this collection that isn’t brand new, and it’s also the only track I’ve heard (so far) from an album named Nemesi that was released on May 31 by Visionaire Records. That album is the creation of June 1974, the solo music project of Italian composer Federico Romano in collaboration with a slew of big-name guests from the world of metal. A new e-mail from Visionaire Records led me to it.
One of those guests is Jørgen Munkeby of Shining fame, and for reasons I’m not sure I can reconstruct, I picked the song on which he participates as saxophonist as a way of getting a taste of the album. The song (sans vocals) is “Nothing Man“. Because I’m hurrying, I will say only that I found it extremely cool — the punchy rhythms, the astral keyboard layers, and the saxophone extravagance combine to create a beautiful spell.
From here to the end of this post I’ve chosen new videos, beginning with the most recent one by the Taiwanese band Chthonic for a track off their new album Battlefields Of Asura, scheduled for release on October 10.
The music in the video is billed as an acoustic track, though that’s only true in part, because it builds into something different. The song is “Millenia’s Faith Undone“, and features the wonderful voice of Denise Ho; and if you’d like to see Chthonic without their make-up and stage costumes, the video will show you that, too. In addition, the video tells a story based upon the decades-long repression in Taiwan called The White Terror.
And if this song is too soft for you, I’ve also included a video for Chthonic’s much louder and more ferociously extravagant and theatrically dramatic version of this same song; Denise Ho is in this one, too, and she really gets to cut loose; and the same story from the more recent video appears here as well, but in more traumatic form.
OK, here’s another BIG twist. It’s a video for a track named “Fooled” by DRH, a French jazz metal quartet, who are described by their label as “like a daydream born of the crazy spirit of Frank Zappa, King Crimson and Periphery“. The track will appear on their debut album Thin Ice, which will be released by Apathia Records on October 12th.
The animation in the video isn’t original, but man, it really works beautifully as a backdrop for this twisted, hallucinatory, and thoroughly intriguing piece of music. Some of you may recognize the animation in the video, but I didn’t. It seems to be a montage of scenes from a sequence of shorts created by Tim Burton called The World of Stainboy. According to The Font of All Human Knowledge: “In the shorts, Stainboy works for the Burbank police, and at the start of each episode he is ordered to investigate and bring in social outcasts.”
I guess “social outcasts” is one phrase for the characters in this video, and certainly they would be outcasts, but it’s not the phrase that will come to mind when you see this.
Are you ready for one more BIG twist? Ready or not, that’s what’s next.
“Mazedaar” isn’t even metal. Daira, from Mumbai, India, describe their sound as “Avant-garde / Psychedelic / Art Rock”, and that’s about right as I hear this song. I do like the track (it’s wild and idiosyncratic, and hooky and heavy), but it’s the video that was the main reason I decided to close this post with it. The video is just fucking brilliant (and the band dudes do look pretty metal in it, even if the music isn’t).
Prepare to enter the Mazedaar Clinic — “The only place in this world where You can be Yourself”.
(The song is part of Diara’s upcoming third studio album, Itni Jurrat?, which will be released on September 28. The video was written by Fahad Sheikh and Ashwyn Warrier, and directed by Ashwyn Warrier, and more power to them.)