You may have noticed that we had no new posts at the site this past weekend — no Waxing Lyrical interview, no Shades of Black column, and nothing else. But rest easy — we are, in fact, still alive and well.
Mr. Synn played Mammothfest with his band Beyond Grace, and I spent the weekend in southern New Mexico at an annual outing of the business I work for when I’m not doing NCS stuff, and so neither of us had time to handle our usual weekend responsibilities. I guess I should have said something about these plans, in order to avoid the severe anxiety and heartbreak that our absence must have caused among the millions who looked for us and found nothing but the final post from last Friday.
My own activities not only prevented me from writing anything this weekend, they also prevented me from listening to as much new metal as I usually do on the weekends. I’ve got a shitload of catching up to do, which I’m thinking is a practical impossibility since I’m sitting here looking at the schedule of 11 song and album premieres I need to write this week, including the two coming today. But I will at least do this Shades of Black post, even if a day later than expected and even if the reviews are pitifully brief for music of such blazing power.
Banier fan Frisia is the new EP by the black metal band Kjeld from the coastal region of Frisia in the Netherlands. Although the EP is a new CD and digital release (by Heidens Hart Records), the three songs on the EP previously appeared on a split with the Dutch band Wederganger that was released in late 2016 by Ván Records. Those three tracks followed the band’s 2015 debut album Skym and a 2015 split with Cirith Gorgor.
I wrote about thesetracks soon after they appeared on the split with Wederganger, and the music remains just as fantastic today. To repeat what I wrote before: These songs are fierce and fiery, augmented by a maniacal vocal delivery and riveting drumwork, and the surging riffs are equally attention-grabbing, ranging from venomous and barbaric in their atmosphere to sweeping and majestic, with the melancholy grandeur of the latter passages enhanced by waves of soaring, mystical ambience. The music is a great blend of frenzied intensity and compelling, evocative melody.
If you missed these songs when they first appeared, or need a reminder of how good Kjeld are, dive into the stream below. You can pick up the EP now via Bandcamp,
I owe thanks to Daniele Serra, whose cover art played a large role in my decision to listen to Homselvareg’s new album, and to Homselvareg for my discovery of Daniele Serra‘s talents. The new album, Rinascita, was released on October 7th by the Mexican label Throats Productions, and it’s this Italian band’s third full-length, but my first exposure to their powers.
And this music really is very powerful, as you’ll discover immediately through “Rivelazione”, the track that’s set to play first in the Bandcamp stream below. Homselvareg’s music here is ravaging. Waves of melody that portray bleak grandeur soar over torrential, blasting drums, and the riffing also boils in a furious, rippling and flesh-rending fever. The fretwork is usually fast as lightening, but when the drumming shifts to a more head-nodding gait, the chords hammer and chime.
There’s as much scorching fire in the vocals as in the most intensely fierce musical bonfires. And while the explosiveness of the music is almost breathtaking, it’s also impressively dynamic and melodically memorable, making the track an unusually gripping thrill-ride.
The rest of the album is just as riveting, just as emotionally powerful, and just as dynamic, sweeping the listener through passages of heart-wrenching melancholy, shattering desolation, and terrible glory. The production has given the music clarity and power, and the instrumental performances are as impressive as everything else. This is a real gem.
On October 5th Hells Headbangers released Chained to Hell, the fourth album by the Norwegian duo Deathhammer. It’s a superb addition to this band’s already impressive catalogue of work.
It will come as no surprise to fans of the band that these songs are faster than bats shot straight out of Hell, and loaded with eye-popping instrumental athleticism. The rapidly veering guitar work, electrifying solos, nimble bass lines, and rapidly changing drum rhythms are astounding. You’ll have to look long and hard to find anything that provides such immediate and persistent triggers for the release of adrenaline.
Apart from the rocket-fast pacing and jaw-dropping dexterity, the songs are also rabidly vicious and highly addictive. And speaking of rabid, the vocals are utterly, demonically, wild.
Deathhammer know how to do one thing very, very well, and they’re content to stay in their black-thrashing speed lane straight through, with only one break in the action in the mid-paced sixth track. But while their dedication to their chosen style is single-minded and unrelenting, they’re so gloriously good at it that this album doesn’t wear out its welcome.