I’m not going to pretend that this selection of five new songs is well-rounded, or that it’s going to appeal to a broad range of tastes. To borrow a pungent phrase from my friend Andy’s Altarage review yesterday, some of it probably qualifies as war crimes under the Geneva Convention. The most deviant extremists among you will probably lap up all of it; others may pick and choose, or just run for the hills.
If you’re in the mood to get your neck wrecked and don’t care how filthy you have to get, or how mentally traumatized, you’ll probably be fine. Probably.
If there’s a pinnacle in this post, before the descent into increasingly horrifying, visceral, and viscera-strewn trauma, it’s this new song by Sinmara, who are certainly one of the brightest beacons in the rich star-field of Icelandic black metal. However, to be clear, this isn’t easy listening, even for those whose brains have been thoroughly marinated in the poisonous broth of metallic hostility.
“Mephitic Haze” is indeed a haze of sound, and a mephitic one. The drums thunder away, and the vocalist gives his best impression of a fanged and blood-drenched demon emperor, but the guitars generate a hallucinatory shroud of swirling sound, speared by spiraling aural emanations that gleam with unearthly light. Melodies soar and drift through the often cacophonous assault, creating sensations of wonder, majesty, ominous peril, rampant fear, and hopeless misery.
The song is a tremendously powerful experience, and for all its disorienting, disturbing, and electrifying effects, it casts a deep spell, one that becomes even deeper and more lasting due to the way the band chose to close the song.
“Mephitic Haze” is one of six on Sinmara’s new album Hvísl Stjarnanna. Sinmara’s own statement tells us that “Hvísl Stjarnanna is bound together thematically by myths relating to sirens, ghosts and malevolent spirits beckoning from beyond”:
“To heed the whisper of the stars is to be transfixed by a dreamlike connection and melancholic yearning for the realm beyond the stars, to be guided by the mediators between the world of the living and the nightside of the dead.”
The album will be released CD, LP and digital through Ván Records on March 8. Pre-orders will become available on February 12th. It was produced (of course) by Stephen Lockhart at Studio Emissary in Reykjavík.
2. Mephitic Haze
3. The Arteries of Withered Earth
4. Crimson Stars
5. Úr Kaleik Martraða
6. Hvísl Stjarnanna
Technically, Testimony Records wrote me first about the debut album by the German/Bangladeshi death metal band KHNVM (pronounced “khoo-num”), but it was my friend Conchobar’s e-mail just a few hours later that I spotted first, because I know he won’t steer me wrong, and so his name tends to stick out in the digital froth.
I’m really gob-smacked by the title track to Foretold Monuments of Flesh, which is all I have so far. It pushes a whole bunch of buttons within my addled mind. The malignant drilling riffs and horrifying growls are convincingly evil; the song’s heavy-weight low-end frequencies cause the bones to hum; the potent snare rhythms maketh the head to move; the segments of rampant pile-driving maketh the head move harder; and the fiery and flickering guitar solos are a joyful (and demented) thing to behold.
The song as a whole is demented, savage, and relentlessly brutal. The extravagantly twisted leads that surface here and there enhance the feeling of serial-killer lunacy, and the moody and morbid atmosphere that descends when the band slow down a bit make the trip even more ravishing.
You’ve heard this kind of thing before, of course, but KHNVM are so damned good at it that the song stands out anyway. Testimony Records will release Foretold Monuments of Flesh on March 29th.
There might be a few out there who actually read the majority of things I write (and bless your sloped foreheads). Those will know that I tend to say something about almost every band that bears the mark of Rogga Johansson, and Odin knows that keeps me busy, because he leaves his mark as often as a dog wandering through a forest of fire hydrants.
Megascavenger is one of the Lord of Gamleby’s numerous projects, and three years after its last release (which we were fortunate to highlight through a song premiere), there’s a new album on the way: Boneyard Symphonies. As before, this Swedish riff machine has lined up a pantheon of guests, and I assume most of these participated by growling and screaming the worst and best of their feelings, or providing guitar solos:
Sven Gross (FLESHCRAWL)
Ralf Hauber (REVEL IN FLESH)
Jonas Lindblad (PUTERAEON)
Michael Andersen (THORIUM)
Mattias Parkkila (BLOOD MORTIZED)
Tommy Carlsson (ENTRAILS)
Adde Mitroulis (BIRDFLESH, GENERAL SURGERY)
Dany Deranger (DEAD)
Jens Johansson (MEGA SLAUGHTER)
It happens that Jens Johansson, who was the vocalist on Mega Slaughter‘s lone 1991 album, Calls From the Beyond, before that band split up, is the guest on “Back To The Ancient Again“. I think it’s probably impossible to understate the impact of his contribution. His echoing demonic vocals are unhinged enough to freeze the blood in your veins. The riffing is, of course, magnetic — and just as ferociously berserk as the vocals. The soloing is off the hook, too. You’ll also have plenty of opportunities to bang your head.
Boneyard Symphonies was mixed and mastered by Jonny Pettersson (Wombbath, Ashcloud, Just Before Dawn, Ribspreader). The artwork was created by Ironworx Gravefix (Bone Gnawer, Paganizer, Those Who Bring the Torture). It will be released on February 1st by Selfmadegod Records.
The descent continues, and honestly, we might be hitting rock-bottom with this next song, with a slight bounce of our lifeless corpses on the final song. Or not, but you can be the judge.
The next track is “Urine of Abomination I“. Actually, the album is named Urine of Abomination, and the songs are all identified by Roman numerals, I-IV. Among the words on the Vrasubatlat and Invictus Productions Bandcamp page for the album are these: “Urine of Abomination is the amalgamation of aural hell and fetishistic indignation – admonish the godhead and drown it in piss.”
That, and the horrid, priapic figure on the cover (rendered by Abomination Hammer), are pretty good clues that this Portland band decided to indulge their ugliest impulses, and really didn’t give a fuck who might be repulsed.
Of course, this isn’t the first aural abomination this band have conceived, but this sounds like an even more extravagant step down into the sewer of their souls (and our own). Hell, the first minute of the song is just an abrasive torrent of apocalyptic noise. When the snare finally comes in and the imperious riffing begins, the sound is still frighteningly toxic. So are the ghastly roaring and screaming vocals and the rabid shrieking and skittering leads. But there are also massive grooves in the song that make industrial pile-drivers sound like a child’s toys.
It’s an overpowering experience — like being caught in an earthquake, just as a nuclear blast front reaches you, while on acid.
We might have hit rock bottom with the last track, with maybe a slight bounce of our stiffened and glassy-eyed forms on this final song. Or maybe it’s just the remnant electrical impulses of your gangrenous limbs that will respond, as if you’re running and twitching like headless chickens.
“Spell of Black Pestilence” is a track off the debut album, Sulphurous Northern Bestiality, by the Norwegian deviants in Goatkraft. The music is decidedly crude, rude, and primitivist, just as the press material claims. They pray at the altar of Blasphemy and genuflect toward Black Witchery, and they seem to have schooled themselves in hypnosis, too.
Yes, there’s a creepy mesmerizing quality to this song. The dismal, sadistic melody generated by the tremolo’d riffing methodically rises, falls, and morphs into increasingly miserable and mangled forms. The chords come in dense waves, in contrast to the thoroughly maniacal drumwork and the equally maniacal vocal expulsions. It is indeed a sulphurous spell of black pestilence, and leaves me hungering for more.
Sulphurous Northern Bestiality will be released by Iron Bonehead Productions on March 22nd. IBP doesn’t indulge in pre-order links, so you’ll have to put the date on your calendar and wait.