For reasons that I’ll explain in a subsequent post today — reasons that will also probably diminish the volume of content at our site over the next two weeks — I’ve written this week’s edition of SHADES OF BLACK hurriedly. As is always true, I picked this week’s selections because I really like them and believe most of you will too, but today I don’t have as much time to explain why. The bands, however, convincingly speak for themselves through their music.
CHAPEL OF DISEASE
This German death metal band established themselves as a force to be reckoned with through their first two albums, Summoning Black Gods (2012) and The Mysterious Ways of Repetitive Art (2015). Their new album, …And As We Have Seen The Storm, We Have Embraced The Eye, will only elevate their already-respected status.
The album (which features great cover art by Timo Ketola) was released by Ván Records on November 23rd following a full stream premiere a couple of days before at Invisible Oranges, and a couple of preview tracks that were released before that. I’ve bent the normal contours of this column a bit in order to include this new album because death metal is the backbone of the music, but I didn’t want to delay recommending it. And besides, the band have drawn from certain black metal traditions in the sounds they’ve created — along with other traditions.
And that is a big reason why this new album is so startlingly good — because Chapel of Disease do such a stunning job of braiding together so many hallowed metal styles across four decades of evolution, from “classic” heavy metal to death metal and black metal, as well as rock traditions that are even older, and doing so in ways that create dynamic yet cohesive and compelling songs.
Every song is packed with surprising changes, spanning a wide spectrum that ranges from absolutely vicious and pitch-black sonic assaults to sublime instrumental jams that would have given guitar gods from the ’70s a run for their money. I haven’t lived with the album nearly long enough, but it’s so beautifully conceived and executed, and so damned exciting, that my impulse is to claim that what we have here in the twilight of 2018 is one of the year’s best metal albums regardless of genre.
Terratur Possessions seems to have struck gold again. On November 30th the label will release the self-titled debut album by an entity called Misotheist. Apart from the fact that the band is from Trondheim, Norway, I’ve found no other information about them, which is by their own choice. The album consists of three lengthy tracks, and one of those, “Beast and Soil“, is the next item in today’s collection of recommended sounds.
In the NWN forums, Terratur describes the music on the album as “a filthy offspring of a Deathspell Omega/old Drudkh/Flesh Cathedral bukkake gangbang”. If those references peak your interest, I’ll say that it’s not false advertising — and I’ll further say that those references don’t exhaust the varieties of style that Misotheist masterfully work into the album.
“Beast and Soil“, standing alone, is absolutely electrifying — a whirlwind of fire that’s savage and ecstatic, esoteric and exotic. For more than 11 minutes, it’s almost relentlessly incendiary and incandescent, but the guitar performance in the final two minutes drives the song to even more glorious and blazing heights. Clasp your hands over your chest before you get there, or your heart might burst through it.
There will be no pre-order opportunity for this album, which will be released on CD and in vinyl editions (limited gold and regular black), so check back at the Terratur Possessions sites on the release date; I have a feeling this album will go fast. (Misotheist will also be distributed by Ván Records).
It further appears that Misotheist is already near completion of a second album, which should be high on everyone’s list of 2019 albums to anticipate eagerly.
(Thanks once again to eiteorom for urging me to check this one out.)
Haustið is Icelandic for “autumn”, but Metal-Archives identifies the band as the solo project of a Brazilian who uses the name Draug. Haustið has released three demos so far, all of them in 2018. The most recent one, Howling, the Sol Above, Nothing Below, surfaced one week ago on Bandcamp, where the other two are also available. The new one consists of two songs — “Howling” and “Yet All We Grasp Is Black Void“.
Like the Chapel of Disease album at the outset of today’s collection, these songs are constantly surprising, albeit in different ways. There is a surreal quality to the music as it flows along its twisting course, with outbursts of dark, dissonant, thorny permutations interwoven with soulful, gliding, and sinuous instrumental passages, both moody and mystical, that sometimes partake of traditions other than extreme metal.
The result is completely captivating, even though the music is also more than a little unsettling. It’s a riveting experience to follow along, but also a very dark, often desolate, and sometimes agonizingly demented trip.
(Thanks to Rennie from starkweather for recommending this music; he wrote that it reminds him of “a cross of Emanation and Wolok on a suicide mission”.)
The vowel-averse CNTMPT hail from Leipzig, Germany, and on December 17th they’ll release their new album, Towards Neglect, with memorable cover artwork by A. Kavtea. Two songs are currently up for streaming on Bandcamp — “Gravity” and “Fire Theurgy“.
Dark and heavy currents of storming sound undergird “Gravity“, yet the voices and the riffing soar in a way that’s majestic (and you’ll also quickly notice the remarkable vibrancy of the bass, which is one of many admirable features in these tracks). The song also becomes immensely intense, straddling a line between warlike ferocity and deep melancholy, as if we’re hearing the soundtrack to a charge of warriors giving their all, as memorialized in some great saga, rushing toward their certain doom. You might imagine different scenarios as you listen, but there’s no denying the song’s emotional explosiveness.
Although “Fire Theurgy” begins in a brighter mood, it too becomes a blood-rushing and exalted experience. Essentially one extended instrumental performance, save for some caustic shrieking near the end, it begins in a fleet-fingered and fast-footed rush that will send your pulse into overdrive, and ends in much the same way. But the music also works through different changes, slowing a bit for a short time, and becoming even more richly textured. I’ll venture to say that few people could resist becoming wholly enveloped by what’s happening, and equally fewer could reach the end without becoming wide-eyed and grinning from ear to ear.
Towards Neglect is available for pre-order on Bandcamp, and physical editions will be released by Endless Chaos Records.
(I owe thanks to starkweather’s Rennie yet again for suggesting CNTMPT to me.)
Anders Eriksson is the principal creator behind the self-titled debut album of the Stockholm band Vananidr, writing the music and lyrics and performing guitars, bass, and vocals. Credit goes to Karl Thunander for the drumming performance.
As mentioned at the outset, I’m in a hurry, and especially hurried as I’ve reached the end of my writing for this post. And so I’ll cut to the chase and say that these 8 tracks are home to some intensely gripping and memorable riffs of considerable variety and great emotional resonance. Vanninidr also prove themselves capable of venting immense, hard-charging typhoons of pure hostility, but even then, the riffs and (mainly melancholy) melodies are just as immensely powerful.
As a further preview I think most people will be hooked immediately by the opener, “Raging Blizzards“, and there are more songs like that one ahead of you, but some more dramatic changes of pace and mood are also to be found, e.g., “Projections” and “Enter Eternity“, as well as the gorgeous yet grieving (and classically inspired) closing organ instrumental “Psalm till döden“). In a word (and it’s a word I try not to use too often), this is epic.
(Thanks to Miloš for linking me to this album.)