AN NCS EP PREMIERE (AND A REVIEW): BLACK ANVIL — “MILES”
On March 4, 2014, Selim Lemouchi took his own life at the age of 33. As the founding member and guitarist of The Devil’s Blood, in which he was joined by his sister Farida, Lemouchi created emotionally powerful occult rock music that was beautifully evil and haunting, a combination of darkness and grandeur that reflected and channeled Lemouchi‘s Satanic spiritualism. The music made strong and lasting connections with many listeners, and led to friendships among fellow musicians, among them, members of New York City’s Black Anvil. Their new EP, Miles, was created as a tribute to him.
Initially, Miles consisted of just the title track and a cover of Mercyful Fate‘s “A Corpse Without Soul”. Work on it was put aside for a time while Black Anvil focused their efforts on their 2017 album, As Was. After returning to Miles, the band wrote and recorded one more original song, the opener “Iron Sharpens Iron”, and recorded a cover of The Devil’s Blood‘s “Everlasting Saturnalia” to round out the EP. Working with their friend Steve Macioci of STB Records, the band have readied Miles for release in March, in remembrance of, and dedication to, their lost friend Selim Lemouchi. We have a full stream of the EP for you today.
With knowledge of what inspired Miles, it won’t come as a complete shock to say that the music across the EP is a departure from what Black Anvil have given us before, though the opener “Iron Sharpens Iron” still displays the band’s ability to flood the senses with dangerous ferocity. It rips and roars, with deep drilling tones paired with high shrieking and gleaming ones, and a mix of harsh and clean vocals. Later, though, it slows and the song’s melody becomes moodier and more esoteric, though the vocals are no less extravagant, and there’s a hell of a guitar solo that caps a final surge.
There’s an atmosphere of Luciferian grandeur, as well as poisonous threat, in that opening black metal track. The second original song, “Miles”, provides the listener a different kind of exhilaration, and seems even more clearly to be a remembrance of Lemouchi. It’s an undeniably vibrant and impassioned track that rocks hard, and soars, though still trailing mystery and darkness in its wake. The singing in the song is a clear highlight, along with the kind of hard-driving, heavyweight rhythms that electrify the pulse rate, and a darting, swirling guitar solo that propels the finale to anthemic heights.
“Everlasting Saturnalia“, a track from The Thousandfold Epicentre, was a fine example of the ability of The Devil’s Blood to mesmerize and mystify, creating haunting, fragile melodies in which Farida‘s ethereal voice seemed to beckon from beyond this world — though the music crashes open near the end into a hint of hellish hostility. Black Anvil‘s cover of the song manages to retain the song’s otherworldly atmosphere and mystical allure, while making it an order of magnitude more heavy and powerful, and shrouding it with visions of a looming supernal eminence. In place of Farida‘s wraith-like, waif-like voice, the male vocals here are more gothic and gloomy, but still seductive, and there’s yet another great solo in this track.
You could hardly find a sharper contrast than the one between that cover and the second one that ends the EP. It will yank you out of a dreamstate and get your blood gushing through the veins immediately, giving Mercyful Fate‘s “A Corpse Without Soul” a faithful homage with great instrumental skill and powerhouse sound. The original is of course a hellaciously good song, and so is this one (including the vocals — and how many people can even come close to King Diamond?).
This EP is much more a collection of quite different singles than anything else, but the very differences among the tracks (and the fact that they’re all damned good) is part of what makes Miles so enjoyable, and it also showcases just how much talent Black Anvil bring to the table. They seem capable of doing just about anything they set their minds to.
Miles will be released by STB Records as a digital download on March 4th, with a vinyl release (in different handsomely crafted editions) to follow on March 9th. For more details and to pre-order, check the links below: