One consequence of agreeing to present so many premieres (four of them yesterday alone!) and persisting with my Infectious Song list (even though it’s already 40 tracks long) is that I have much less time to round up new songs and videos. As a consequence, my list of new things to listen to and write about has become so vast that it resembles a paper version of this scene from a beloved movie.
With more premieres to write for today and another installment of “Most Infectious” as well, I don’t really have time to catch up today, but I did want to quickly mention the music below before turning back to those other labors.
Because of the conditions described above, I’ve barely scratched the surface of Alast, the just-released new album by the Iranian band Integral Rigor, but have had a very warm reaction to what’s gotten under my fingernails so far.
Reading that Iran is indeed home to Integral Rigor, and that their goal has been to use Eastern musical elements while making use of modern musical tools and a death-metal compositional bent, are the factors that led me to begin scratching, out of curiosity.
Alast is an instrumental album, and one of the tracks (“From Dust To Human“) is the subject of a new guitar play-through video, performed by the three current members of the group — Reza Rostamian (founder, guitar), Shahriar Rajabpour (bass), and Masoud Moghaddari (guitar).
The song combines cold, hard-edged, heavyweight jolting and jabbing, flurries of scintillating, darting and swirling fretwork on the edge of delirium, soaring and shining mystical tonalities, and repeating melodic motifs that do have an Eastern flavor — and that make the song memorable as well as sorcerous. The allure of this track is certainly strong enough to warrant further investigation of the remaining album tracks.
This six-man progressive metal band from central New York released their new album Of Conviction on January 25th, and I confess that, as in the case of the first album above, I’ve only scratched the surface of this one. Once again, what I’ve heard so far is very appealing.
The production credits on the Bandcamp page for the album include choral voices (human, not synthesized), glockenspiel, shaker percussion, piano, and acoustic guitar — in addition to the usual heavy-metal instruments. But the first song set to play on that Bandcamp page, “Terminal“, seems to include only the keyboard among those more ancient musical instruments — and it’s “Terminal” that hooked me.
The glistening opening notes of the song reminded me of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, and the band’s gradual layering of bass, drum, and guitar over that pattern very effectively draw the listener into what turns out to be a glorious experience — gloriously head-moving (and pleasingly heavy, thanks to that bass tone) as well as gloriously soaring and scintillating.
There’s some nice, funky bass work to be found as the music moves along a changing path, as well as plenty of sparkling, head-spinning fretwork and gripping drum patterns. The song packs a punch, too, especially when the band lock into a jolting, slugging rhythm near the end. Some of the vocals here are an exception to our Rule about singing, but I think they earn an exception, and for those who like vicious growls, you’ll find those here, too.
P.S. If you want a taste of some of those choral vocals and more exotic instrumental accents, check out the wonderful opening track, “Human Supremacy Illusion”.
For those of you fiends who might now find yourselves wanting something more crude and visceral, and yearning for someone to shriek in your ears after those preceding performances, I have a song from the Hellenic black metal band Akantha.
For the third time in this post, I’ve again (regrettably) only scratched the surface of an album. This one, Baptism In Psychical Analects, was released on January 18th. It’s the second full-length by this Greek duo, following last year’s Apocalyptic Psalms. Both are available on Bandcamp.
Here, I scratched the surface through a track named “Heroic“. It’s “crude” in the sense that the opening drum rhythm is stripped-down and metronomic, and the opening riff is likewise uncomplicated — but that riff, and others to come, do have visceral impact. There’s a bleak and desolate resonance to the music, even when the riffing moves higher in range, alternating with the more cold and cast-out sound of the opening riff.
But lest you be lulled too much by such miserable tones, the song does eventually burn, with a new riff that becomes feverishly intense, backed by manic drum blasting. The sound is still edged by desperation, but is so electrifying that it’s likely to stay in your head for a while after the song ends (as it did in mine).
Though I haven’t yet made my way through the whole album, what I’ve heard so far demonstrates that it’s a riff-driven powerhouse, which manages to meld barbaric savagery with heart-piercing emotional reach. And man, the riffs really are great.
(Thanks to Jan K. for introducing me to Akantha‘s new music.)