If today is a holiday for you, we hope you’re enjoying it, regardless of whether it has any ecclesiastical meaning to you. If it’s not a holiday for you, we hope it will be a good day for you, too.
We don’t observe any holidays at NCS, not because we’re against them, but because from our first year the goal was to post something every day of the year, a goal we’ve kept with very rare exceptions. I can’t exactly remember why I set that goal (come on, it was 9 years ago!), but probably because I thought our best chance of getting readers was to be out there on days when there was no competition. Now, we keep doing it out of sheer stubbornness.
Since it is Christmas Day, I thought about exclusively going with metal that has some kind of holiday theme, but with a trio of exceptions at the end of this giant new-music round-up, I tossed that idea out the window, unless you count the introductory music from Rotting Christ. And why wouldn’t you?
My NCS colleagues and I seem to be having a disagreement about RC‘s new album The Heretics. One of us, who shall remain unnamed, thinks it’s repetitive and boring, a distillation of the sound of the last three or four albums but lacking in dynamic peaks and troughs. A couple of us (including me) acknowledge that it’s basically Rotting Christ firmly in their established groove, but is nonetheless a whole lot of fun.
The second “single” from the album, “Heaven and Hell and Fire“, was introduced last week through a lyric video that begins with a quote from John Milton and ends with one from Thomas Paine, and I’d have been inclined to like it for that reason alone — but I like it for many other reasons as well. It has an imperious and barbarous mien, befitting its title, with a big booming refrain accompanied by sober chants, as well as feverish leads, caustic howls, and alluring bits of aching melody.
It’s also a neck-wrecker, and I found it immediately addictive, and I’m fine with the fact that it doesn’t come close to breaking the Rotting Christ mold.
SWALLOW THE SUN
I know a lot of people have already discovered the new single and video by Finland’s Swallow the Sun — entitled “Lumina Aurea“, it has already racked up roughly 53,000 YouTube views since it debuted on December 21st — but if you haven’t, you’re in for a surprise.
The video (made by Vesa Ranta and Aapo Lahtela at Kaira Films) is absolutely gorgeous, with a cold and haunting beauty, and the music seems more like a soundtrack composed for those sights than something intended to stand alone. But the two together create a dark and dismal spell that’s quite captivating.
The music, which composer Juha Raivio describes as “an open, bleeding black wound from the last two and half years of my life”, features a performance on the bukkehorn by Wardruna’s Einar Selvik, Latin spoken parts by Marco I. Benevento, and Latin choir by Marco I. Benevento and The Foreshadowing.
Swallow the Sun do have a new album named When a Shadow Is Forced into the Light that’s set for release on January 25th by Century Media, but this new song isn’t on it. Raivio explains:
“If I would go any deeper on that road with the album as I did with ‘Lumina Aurea,’ the path would not end well. So, I quickly realized that instead I will write an album that will manifest loud and clear that after all, ‘Love is always stronger than death.’”
Before I decided to start this collection with the first two videos above, I had listened to the music of the next four bands right in a row as I was making my way through a list of possibilities. They struck me as a good progression of music, so I’ve kept them together here, and this new track from the Swedish dungeon synth artist Örnatorpet seemed like a great way to begin a Christmas Day playlist.
This new piece of music, “Hymner Från Snökulla“, is the first one to be revealed from an album named Hymner Från Snökulla, which will be released on January 11th by Nordvis. It’s a stately and yet wondrous piece that channels the ice-bound beauty of a northern winter and allows the mind to wander, and I only wish it had been longer.
Three songs have been released so far from the new album by Los Angeles-based Deathchant. The one I heard first (“Control“), through a recent premiere at Cvlt Nation, by happenstance seemed to create a great segue in its opening moments from that Örnatorpet track — but then becomes something very different.
Like the other two tracks you can check out below, “Control” combines a potent rhythmic drive with mind-twisting, soul-pleasing psychedelic leads and wailing, echoing vocals with a gothic tinge (and thankfully, for me, don’t soar into falsetto range, which I half-expected might happen). “Control” also uses an effusion of abrasion as a bridge into a crushing doom stomp that’s as dark, as ominous, and as narcotic as the song’s first half is ebullient.
The other two tracks, “Pessimist” and “Hex” are also damned good, combining the wooziness of stoner metal with gleaming psychoactives, body-moving rhythm work, and some more unexpected eruptions of chaotic noise similar to that bridge in “Control”. Deathchant definitely know how to write a good song, and the shit is highly infectious.
Dickens‘ ghost of Christmas past always makes an appearance this time of year, and I thought of him when I listened to Mortal Scepter‘s new song (presented through a lyric video), “Where Light Suffocates” — not because it’s Christmas-y, but because it’s such a fine a throwback to metal’s past.
Well, you say, which past? And I would answer by pointing to this French band’s self-professed influences — the likes of Massacre, Sodom, Possessed, Dark Angel, Kreator, and very early Sepultura. This new song, which is the title track to Mortal Scepter‘s debut album, is a raw and raucous death/thrash rush that’s packed with feverish fret-work and ferocious vocal tirades, with turn-on-a-dime tempo changes to boot. It’s an electrifying experience — and you can hear another one at the Bandcamp page for the album if you dig this one.
Where Light Suffocates will be released by Xtreem Music on January 22nd.
Poughkeepsie aren’t from Poughkeepsie. They’re based in Los Angeles, but they chose the name to commemorate a series of brutal murders that took place in Poughkeepsie, New York, in the 1990s. Their new EP, Macrocosmic Demise, is damned brutal too, a death/grind onslaught that’s pitched toward fans of Insect Warfare, PLF, Putridity, Hatred Surge, Cattle Decapitation, Guttural Secrete, Cephalic Carnage, and Dystopia.
It doesn’t take long for this EP to wreck heads and maul bodies — it’s absolutely ferocious in every respect, from the thundering, skull-cracking drumwork to the gruesome, grinding riffs and drilling leads, from the gut-punching bass-work to the vocalist’s wild howls and tortured squeals.
This is a Grade-A demolition job. It was released on December 21st by Horror Pain Gore Death Productions.
Having been put in a grindcore mood by that Poughkeepsie EP, I decided to insert this EP next. I discovered it thanks to a message from our old pal Phro, who wrote: “Pissed off queer grindcore is good grindcore”. And Outed do indeed present themselves that way: “A queer, pissed off powerhouse hailing from Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale, and San Francisco, Outed is the product of the connection of queers from across the nation who share a love for fast, heavy, unrelenting music”. They’ve never been in the same room together, but were nevertheless “brought together by a common anger and frustration with the state of the world.”
And yeah, Phro is right, their new EP Fucked is really good. It packs crushing heavy-weight punch, pure punk fury in the vocal department, and the kind of vibrant dynamism that keeps you on the edge of your seat, waiting to hear what happens next, even as it sets your hair on fire and beats the living shit out of you.
A SECRET REVEALED
Now it’s time for another musical change of course, with a song off the second album, Sacrifices, by A Secret Revealed. This band hail from Würzburg, Germany, which is (or was) also home to Der Weg Einer Freiheit, Omega Massif, and Phantom Winter. I haven’t heard their first record, but we’re told that the second one features a new frontman — Michael Heim (ex-Necrotted).
Not having heard that debut album I’m in no position to compare the two, but this new song, “Empty Throne“, is a keeper — and the video through which it’s presented is quite good, too. There’s considerable emotional intensity in the fiery tremolo’d riffs, gleaming leads, incinerating vocals, and the battering percussive drive. The intensity of the song changes as it goes, subsiding and then surging again. Mixed with the sensations of frenzied anguish and fury are strains of moody, melancholy, and ultimately haunting and ethereal melody that do pluck at the heart-strings just as effectively as the band hammer your pulse.
Sacrifices will be released by Lifeforce Records on January 25th.
“Snake Tongue spits out chaotic music where the energetic pulse from punk and hardcore, the rotten breath from grindcore and the bloody broken bones from metal all melts together.” I read that description of the band’s new EP, which also makes reference to a collision among the stylings of All Pigs Must Die, Tragedy, Skitsystem, His Hero Is Gone, and Martyrdöd, and couldn’t resist checking out the one song that’s now available for streaming.
I do think “Derailed” will appeal to fans of the afore-mentioned bands. It sure as hell appealed to me. Its bruising, battering, barbaric hardcore barrage will loosen your teeth and uncork whatever organ stores all the adrenaline. With vocals that vent super-heated rage, riffs heavy enough to fracture concrete, braying, brawling melodic accents, and a drum performance that’s damned impressive, the song is intense enough to leave you gasping for air after only two minutes. More please!
No Escape No Excuse is the name of this Swedish band’s EP, which is set for release on February 15.
Okay, now we come to the exceptions to our “it’s just another day” attitude, which I mentioned at the outset. I’m not going to preview the music, but just tell you who’s doing what.
The first stream is a cover of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” by the very talented Seattle duo, Hoth, whose 2018 album Astral Necromancy is well worth your time. The cover carol, along with that album and other Hoth sounds, is available HERE.
The second stream is a two-track Xmas Charity release by Ursinne, recorded by the Ursinne duo of Dave Ingram and Jonny Petterson, with all proceeds going to the UK-based animal rescue foundation Many Tears Animal Rescue. Both of the songs are covers, one originally recorded by Slade and the other originally recorded by Wizzard. It’s available HERE.
And finally, in what has become something of a tradition around here, I’m recommending Volume XI of Misantrof ANTIRecords‘ HOLY FUCK ANTIChristmas compilation. All 21 tracks, which range from black metal to electronica, from ambient to rock ‘n’ roll, and a lot more (including a closing track from label boss Vrangsinn, of Carpathian Forest), are available for free download HERE.
And with that, I’ll leave you to the music, with best wishes to all of you from all of us at NCS for a merry fucking day.