SEEN AND HEARD: AGRYPNIE, DEAD SOUL COMMUNION, GREAT FALLS, VOID, DEADLY CARNAGE
I can guarantee you this won’t last, but for the fourth day in a row I’ve had enough time to compile a round-up of new songs, two of which are presented through extremely cool videos.
I can also guarantee you that you won’t see where this collection is going. No two songs sound remotely alike. Sometimes there’s a flow or a connection between the songs I pick for these posts that just feels right as I hear the music, even if I’m not always able to explain it. This time I just fuckin’ liked all the songs and videos, and the only other thing that feels right is imagining how the movement from one to the next will throw you off balance.
Way back in January of this year my comrade Andy Synn identified Agrypnie’s fifth album as one of his “most anticipated” releases for 2018, relishing the prospect of “some seriously intense blastery, brilliantly moody melody, and artfully applied aggression… along with a heaping helping of brooding atmosphere… and a bevy of unpredictable twists and turns designed to expand the band’s already expansive ‘Post’ Black Metal sound”. At last, that album is upon us. Actually, two of them are upon us.
Grenzgænger is the name of the completely new album. It was originally scheduled for release on October 12th by Supreme Chaos Records, but has been pushed to this coming Friday (although it seems to be available now in digital format through Amazon and iTunes). The second album, Pavor Nocturnus, which is being released at the same time, is a compilation that includes re-recorded versions of songs from Agrypnie’s 2005 split with Fated, some new material, and orchestral versions of other tracks from Agrypnie’s back catalogue. Together, the albums feature performances by a bevy of guest artists, in addition to drummer Moe (Graveworm, Mammon) and of course main-man Torsten, who does everything else.
As far as I can tell, only one song from Grenzgænger is up on a free public streaming platform, and that’s the one I’ve picked to start this collection — though I’ll keep my impressions brief, because Andy tells me he’ll have a review of the album for us by Friday.
“Die Längste Nacht” (which includes a guest vocal performance by J.J. from Harakiri From the Sky) is a heavy-grooved number guaranteed to get your head moving, with vocals guaranteed to feel like a blowtorch is being applied to your face and eruptions of blasting that get the blood pounding through your veins. On the other hand, the song’s swirling, gleaming, soaring melodies are ethereal — and sublime.
DEAD SOUL COMMUNION
Now we come to the first of the two excellent videos I’ve chosen for this post. Released yesterday, it was created for a track called “A Puppet Without Strings” off the debut album MMXVIII by Dead Soul Communion from Lowestoft in the UK. As good as the video is, it’s even more impressive considering that it was conceived, filmed, and edited by the band’s Daniel Finch (vocals, guitars), with additional camera work by band guitarist Paul Jensen.
The first sign of the video’s eye-grabbing inventiveness comes in the very first seconds, when the simple pinging tones of a music box are paired with a rapid flurry of images of the band, who already seem to be in full-throttle performance mode. The rest of the video maintains the flickering, fast-cutting sensations and unusual visual effects of those opening moments, which, together with the impressions of a band who are really throwing themselves into the performance, complements the powerhouse energy of the track.
Dead Soul Communion‘s Facebook page characterizes their music as “Groove Progressive Industrial Epic Metal”, and based on “A Puppet Without Strings”, that hodge-podge of genre terms makes pretty good sense. The rhythmic grooves in the song are downright pavement-cracking, and often explosive, with much of the song’s alluring melodic elements provided by keyboard notes, blaring guitars, and clean vocals (there are some unhinged harsh vocals in the track as well). There’s a dark and dangerous atmosphere to this highly addictive song as well.
MMXVIII was released on September 14th, and you can pick it up on Bandcamp.
Great Falls are a well-known and well-liked quantity in the Seattle area where I live. They’ve previously released albums through Hell Comes Through and Init Records, along with numerous splits with such groups as Thou, Dephosphorus, Heiress, and Throat (and another one on the way with The Great Sabatini). Their line-up includes vocalist/guitarist Damian Johnston (ex-Undertow, Nineironspitfire, Kiss It Goodbye, Playing Enemy), bassist Shane Mehling (ex-Playing Enemy), and drummer Phil Petrocelli (ex-Jesu, Jarboe).
On December 21st Corpse Flower Records will release a new Great Falls album entitled A Sense of Rest, and the first advance track to be released from it — “The Accelerationist” — is the next item in this collection. You won’t find Great Falls in Metal-Archives. I guess their use of hardcore, noise, ambient, and other experimental strategies and ingredients overbalances the metal in their music too much for the sensibilities of MA’s administrators. But nevertheless, the brooding heaviness and destructive power of this particular track are as obliterating as a die-hard metalhead could want.
The music is also prone to causing spasms of physical convulsion, while also also seething with incipient derangement, and the vocals are searing in their intensity. In a nutshell, this track will swallow you whole, puree your brain, and crunch your bones to get at the marrow.
VƆID is apparently this French band’s preferred way of rendering their name, but that lettering stands for VOID, which is easier to pronounce and less likely to make you knit your brows in perplexity. VƆID’s debut album, Jettatura, was released on October 5th by Les Acteurs de L’Ombre Productions, who proclaim: “WHEN TURBO NEGRO MEETS TAAKE!”
“Black ‘N’ Roll” is another appellation for what VƆID kick out on Jettatura, and holy hell, do these dudes know how to rock. It’s simply not possible to sit still during these anthems. The glorious riffs and primal rhythms are just too damned potent. The “blackening” comes largely from the incinerating, shrieking viciousness of the vocals, and from the perilous atmosphere of infernal darkness that shades the melodies.
I should add that I didn’t pick the word “anthems” in off-hand fashion. There is indeed an anthemic quality to the songs, which often makes you feel like closing your eyes, throwing your head back, lifting your open hands to the skies, and maybe even screaming right along with the vocalist. And as hard-rocking as the music is, the band make well-timed decisions to drop the tempo and intensify the mood of being in the presence of demonic, occult forces at work, and also to light the bonfires of chaos through blast-beat fusillades, double-bass flurries, and gales of guitar ferocity. The appearance of moody, melancholy melodies adds further diversity to the sounds.
In other words, this album isn’t exclusively devil rock, and the dynamic changes of pace, mood, and style across these five tracks make it a record that’s persistently intriguing, and a huge and very welcome surprise.
One more twist in the musical road charted in this post. In March of this year I had the pleasure of reviewing and premiering a full stream of Through the Void, Above the Stars, the fourth album by the Italian band Deadly Carnage. Conceptually focused on “the sacred geometry” of the Cosmos, the band drew together musical ingredients from post-metal, black-metal, and doom to create a dynamic flow across the album that is soft and loud; ethereal and spine-shaking; bright and brooding; mysterious, meditative, and mortifying. To repeat what I wrote in my review:
“As the power and intensity of the music ebbs and surges, they employ lead-weighted bass lines, jabbing riffs, and jarring drum blows — but also soaring panoramic melodies, glimmering celestial guitar reverberations, and vibrant, swirling leads (almost everything drenched in reverb to help create an atmosphere that’s consonant with the subject matter). They build harrowing tension to the breaking point and then subside into beautiful, dreamlike interludes. They allow the music to take deep breaths but also send it toward towering crescendos, both wondrously grand and crushingly dark”.
Recently, Deadly Carnage released a video for a track from the album called “Ifene“, and its imagery is a beautifully executed companion to the music. And with that, I’ll leave you to it.
The etymology of the word “anthem” provides an interesting overview of world history: the meaning has morphed from a strictly religious plainsong sung before and after psalm readings, to a song of nationalism and the “sacred secular,” civil religious, to the completely secular and current tribal, ethnic, or even football rousers!
The entire joint Agrypnie joint, “Grenzgænger” is up on Spotify.
I’m not on Spotify, but I guess that makes sense because of the digital release on Amazon and iTunes — though it’s not yet up on Bandcamp. Maybe that will happen when they do the physical release (hopefully this Friday).