Against my expectations I found time to do some further listening while on vacation, and to write this column. As in the case of yesterday’s round-up, I haven’t been able to cast the listening net as widely as usual, but nevertheless found some very appealing music to recommend, including a just-released new album, which is the first item in today’s collection.
Preview: Synviljor is the new fourth album by the Swedish band Stilla, which was released by Nordvis Produktion on November 30th.
Synviljor is like a dark spinning gem suspended in mist above the earth, revealing different brilliant and bewildering facets with each partial rotation. You’ll encounter eruptions of intricate, progressive black metal extravagance; bleak and brooding excursions accented by shining and soaring melodies; blazing orgies of delirium and dissonance; soft and sorrowing hallucinations; barbarically harsh vocals (both cruel and wild) and clean singing; and even the plaintive tones of flute and violin.
These are elaborate, ingenious, meticulously crafted compositions, performed with razor-sharp skill and often explosive exuberance. The melodies seem to gleam, radiating otherworldly light, thanks in part to silvery guitar tones and to keyboard accents that include the warm but weird sounds of what might be a theremin. There is an air of mystifying grandeur about the album as a whole, even in its most violent and unhinged frenzies, and in its gloomiest digressions.
Once again, I think we have here an album that’s likely to up-end a bunch of year-end lists. I say that based on only a single bewildering spin through the record, but sometimes that’s all it takes to convince you that you’ve found something very special.
Details: Synviljor is available now through Bandcamp. The cover art was created by H. Larsson of Solfjáll Design.
Preview: As a fan of all of Astrophobos‘ past releases, many of which I’ve covered at NCS, I expected to enjoy “Fire of Catharsis“, and found no reason for disappointment. Like the Stilla album above, the song is a multi-faceted and absolutely electrifying affair.
Undeniably savage, it’s also majestic. It rips with flashing claws and takes flight on broad wings. It dives into shadows of gloom and despair, and just as quickly spins like a column of fire. It will get your lungs pumping like bellows and put a spell in your head at the same time.
Details: This new song is one of nine on Malice of Antiquity, the new album by the Stockholm-based black metal band Astrophobos, which will be released on January 18.
SE LUSIFERIN KANNEL
Preview: The next song I’ve chosen is “Ilmestys Myrskystä“. It’s just shy of 17 minutes long. Black metal is only one ingredient in this sorcerer’s cauldron of sound. It wastes no time completely engulfing the listener’s senses in a storm of abrasion through which chanted vocals and methodical drums can be dimly detected — but what can also be detected are shining waves of grand, mystical melody, the kind that lift the heart as they crest, even as almost everything else puts you in a cyclone of fear, and sink your heart in despair as they descend.
The music is relentlessly intense but so damned gripping that listening is like being nailed in place, unable to move, overwhelmed by the unchained extravagance of an emotionally shattering experience. At the end, it casts you into the void without a backward glance.
Details: “Ilmestys Myrskystä” appears on Valtakunta, a 71-minute debut album that was originally self-released in digital form by the Finnish band Se Lusiferin Kannel in October 2017, and will be re-released on February 1st (CD and double-LP vinyl) by Signal Rex, with cover art by Heresie Graphics.
The reissued version was remastered by Stephen Lockhart at Studio Emissary in Iceland, and features new cover art. It is recommended for fans of such bands as as Paysage d’Hiver, Darkspace, Evilfeast, and Bekëth Nexëhmü.
Preview: Nasheim is the solo project of Swedish multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Erik Grahn, and Jord och aska is Nasheim’s second album, on which he’s accompanied by drummer David Ekevärn. The one song that’s now available for listening undoubtedly has a title, but at the moment it’s just labeled “Album sample track” on Bandcamp.
With this song, we return to another multi-faceted and completely mesmerizing experience. In its opening movement it’s both gloomy and grand, freighted with melancholy but spellbinding. It begins to build in energy and intensity, becoming brilliantly vibrant — and soaring in shining waves of glorious melody even as the drums begin to blast and a harsh howl makes its only appearance.
A jabbing riff and a compulsive drum rhythm will give you a chance to get your head moving harder, and there’s a lot of fun to be had in following the bass-line, too, but the music remains persistently inspiring.
P.S. To find out what “Album sample track” really is (and it isn’t a complete song at all), take a look at HGD’s detective work in the Comments to this post.
Details: Jord och aska will be released by Northern Silence Productions on February 22nd in a limited digipack, a planned jewel-case CD reissue, and two different vinyl editions. The song revealed so far seems to be a kind of blackened post-metal in its style, but we’re told that the record as a whole also includes elements of Doom Metal, Gothic Rock and Nordic Folk music.
(Thanks to Miloš for pointing me to the new song.)
Preview: To close, I’ve chosen a song named “Musmahhu, Rise“. I’ve bent my own rules for this column a bit, since this song is branded as death metal, but it seems to me to have a clear kindred spirit with the shades of black metal to which I normally devote myself in this series.
The music is tremendously powerful (thanks in part to a knife-sharp but explosive production), and tremendously disturbing — to the point of being mind-warping in its hallucinatory savagery. The music puts you in the presence of an infernal eminence that radiates pestilence and danger, and it spills over into frenzies of gruesome violence. The vocals alone are gargantuan enough to put the fear of death into your reptile brain.
But there are eerie tonalities in the music that create a weirdly rapturous feeling, and the music frequently rises to summits of terrifying magnificence. It left me breathless.
Details: “Musmahhu, Rise” is off the new album Reign of the Odious by the Swedish band Musmahhu, whose 7″ EP Formulas of Rotten Death was released earlier this year and was reviewed here. The album will be released on January 18th by Iron Bonehead Productions (CD and 12″ LP).