As explained on Sunday, the surprise release of the new Kriegsmaschine album de-railed my plans for the regular SHADES OF BLACK column, causing me to move the music I’d originally picked into the second part of what had suddenly become a two-part post. And for other reasons I won’t both you with, I couldn’t finish Part 2 on Sunday. Once the whirlwind of Monday began, I couldn’t finish it for yesterday either.
There was a lot of new music I had planned for Part 2, including three full releases — and I still haven’t finished writing about those, given the volume of premieres I’ve been writing about yesterday and today. Rather than delay further, I’m just going to include the individual tracks and videos from Part 2 here and come back to the full albums as soon as I can.
My interest in folk metal, which many years ago was once eager, became nearly moribund when I felt like I was hearing very similar Celtic melodies over and over again, regardless of what country they were coming from. Granted, the original Celts spread their culture over a wide swath of Europe, from what we’d now call “The British Isles” to what we now call Turkey. Still, the sameness of the music began to grow tiresome, or maybe I just wasn’t exploring as much as I should have. I still prize ethnic melodies when they’re less familiar to my ears, but in general I’m at the point when I’m hard to win over.
Rauhnåcht’s music is an exception. It’s less easily categorized as “folk metal” than that of other bands I can think of, but old traditional strains of melody indigenous to Alpine regions are a significant influence on the sound.
The project’s sole creative force, Stefan Traunmüller (who has been a presence in many other projects over many years, including Golden Dawn, A Portrait of Flesh and Blood, and Wallachia) resists genre capsules. As he explained in a recent interview, if forced to choose he might characterize his output as “Atmospheric music with inspiration from black metal and folk”, and he understands why people refer to it more succinctly as “Alpine black metal”. “But actually,” he says, and there’s truth in the words, “Rauhnåcht contains more colours, so maybe I will be successful in bringing in the term ‘mountain metal.'”
Rauhnåcht’s new album, Unterm Gipfelthron, will be released by Debemur Morti Productions on December 7th, and late last week the first advance track appeared — “Zwischen den Jahren” (“between the years”, according to Google Translate).
The style of the folk-influenced melodies in the song isn’t wondrous and new to these ears, but they’re damned infectious, and the way the mood of the music changes as the song moves along increases its appeal. At first it’s a whirling dance, with head-moving rhythms, a vibrant, flickering, flute-like melody, and vicious snarls mixed with ecstatic cries.
After a bridge, the music takes a darker turn, romping and brawling with a more moody and perilous variation of the flickering melody, and choral vocals that match the change. It becomes even more sinister and savage — and then begins to dance and whirl again. I liked this the first time I heard it, and I’ve liked it more and more with each listen, and that’s not common, is it?
Earlier this year the venerable and justly venerated Greek black metal band Varathron released their sixth album, Patriarchs of Evil, through Agonia Records. As a reminder of the album, they released in recent days an official lyric video for “Luciferian Mystical Awakening” off that new record.
The fiery and ferocious vocals of Necroabyssious are astonishingly good; the song rocks hard and also rips; its occult atmosphere is enhanced by a sinister, exotic melody; and there is majesty and grandeur in the sound as well, as befits the subject matter of the words.
And now we move to a song about a different kind of evil adversary.
Illum Adora is a German black metal band founded by Zarathustra’s vocalist, Hurricane Hellfukker, and Folter Records recently announced that it would be releasing the band’s debut album, …of Serpentine Forces in February 2019. The first advance track, recently released through a lyric video, is “Hic Sunt Dracones“.
Like that Varathron track, this one also rocks hard, and it includes nasty vocals and strains of melancholy in the music as well as moods of defiance and savage praise for the fearsome Vlad the Impaler. The lyrics aren’t exactly eloquent, but the song is such a strong head-mover that I still yelled the title of the track in my head every time Hellfukker exclaimed them.