There might be one or two people out there who landed on the second part of yesterday’s SHADES OF BLACK column within the first 60 seconds after I posted it, before I realized I’d forgotten to delete links to the music of two more bands I had intended to include in that segment. I ran out of time yesterday before I could write about those other two releases, but I’ve decided to go ahead and do that now, on this Monday morning.
And, because most of you probably don’t live by black metal alone, or at all, I’ve added a couple of other things I’ve been meaning to recommend from other genres. But before we get to all that, I couldn’t resist beginning this round-up with something I discovered at the last minute. Perhaps you’ll understand my impulsiveness once you’ve heard it.
Fans of medieval black metal (of which I’m one) have a lot to be thankful for this year, though we haven’t even reached springtime yet. February brought us Par le Sang Versé by the French band Véhémence, which I described in my review and premiere as “one of the most thoroughly entrancing and gloriously vibrant metal albums I’ve heard in years”, and in May Debemur Morti Productions will release an exceptional new album by Sühnopfer (if you pay attention to us this week, you might get to hear something from it). And in April the same label that released Par le Sang Versé (Antiq Records) will bring us a new album by Grylle.
Grylle is a solo project of Hyvermor, who also played a role in that wonderful Vëhémence album (contributing vocals, flutes, and psalterion) and who has also been involved in releases by Hanternoz and Régiment, among other bands. The new Grylle album is Les Grandes Compagnies, and it will be released on April 20.
Both of the songs that are now streaming, “France, qui te veult mal?” and “Wir Zogen in das Feld“, are quite enthralling. The first of those beautifully melds ancient music and instrumentation with the more harsh and harrowing tonalities of black metal (including scathing vocals). The old melodies move seamlessly from one mode into the next, becoming more and more memorable as the interweaving continues and as the melodies evolve. The second seems to include no modern instrumentation at all, though the male voice (paired here with a female voice) is still harsh.
Both songs are also powerful head-movers, and although there’s a shadow of darkness across the music (especially in the second track) they’ll also make your mind swirl (don’t miss out on the rippling stringed instrumental melody over hammering drums near the end of the first track).
Litany Of Dissonant Souls is the first of the two albums I intended to include in the second Part of yesterdays SHADE OF BLACK before running out of time. Released on February 26th, it’s the debut full-length by the Indonesian duo Kala. But before commenting on the music, isn’t this LP edition of the album a gorgeous thing?
Rennie from starkweather, who recommended the album to me, nailed it, as he usually does: “The intro has a weird psyche vibe, the vocals on that remind me of early Melvins or Scrog, would love to hear them incorporate this druggy haze into some of the more crazed stuff… the rest of the album launches into Aosoth meets Gorguts territory”.
As he also forecast, both the vocals and the riffs are really nasty, the former a ravaging horror of shrieks and roars, the latter an unpredictable and disorienting display of discordance and derangement (with occasional doses of imperious pounding, gloomy slithering, freakish fanfares, and nightmarish ambient segments). The drums are nearly submerged in the mix, and are in blast mode most of the time, and that just makes the brain-lacerating impact of the very-up-front guitar work all the more severe.
In retrospect, it turns out that the psyche vibe in that introductory track is a decent harbinger of things to come, because everything is extravagantly weird and mentally destabilizing. Yet this vicious lunacy is also perversely transfixing, for all its mind-mangling idiosyncrasies.
DREAMS OF THE DROWNED
Now to the second album I had intended to include in yesterday’s black metal column. This one, to be released for the spring equinox, is the self-titled debut album by the French band Dreams of the Drowned, a solo project of multi-instrumentalist Camille G., who has also been a participant in two other bands we’ve covered (here and here), Smohalla and Stagnant Waters.
Camille describes the music of Dreams of the Drowned as “melancholic, dense & psychedelic ‘avant’ black metal meets anarcho post punk, inspired by bands such as Ved Buens Ende, Killing Joke, Blnd Idiot God, Emperor, and Amebix.” With a list of inspirations such as those, perhaps you can understand why I was anxious to learn what this hybrid might sound like. Interest was further kindled by the news that the album includes a cover of a song by Dødheimsgard (“Midnattskogens Sorte Kjerne”), with vocals by Aldrahn himself (ex-Dødheimsgard, Urarv, Thorns).
Two of the album tracks are available for streaming now, “Conciliabules” and “Danced“.
The first of those is hallucinatory, combining strange blazing, gleaming guitar melodies (which get stuck in the head real fast), attention-grabbing rhythmic permutations, and clean vocals with a haunted, gothic air. Eventually the song takes wing, the spectral, skin-shivering moods replaced by an instrumentally extravagant and increasingly riotous tumult. The riffs sear and soar; the voices cry out in passion, the bass moves like a creature possessed; the drums become a battering juggernaut — and yet the music remains otherworldly.
“Danced” is in some ways just as bewildering and bewitching, though it begins in a full-on assault. Here, clean male and female voices combine in dramatic fashion, their voices seeming to channel both agony and ecstasy, while the bass-and-drum performances race at the speed of a runaway train and the vibrating guitars assault the senses like a cyclone of shimmering lights. Slow, piano-like melodies surface as well, and the rhythms begin to veer in unpredictable and often jaw-dropping directions, even as the densely layered guitars continually morph into increasingly fantastic shapes of sound.
Honestly, just these two tracks left me out of breath and wide-eyed in wonder at such exuberant and distinctive creativity and such remarkable instrumental skill. I’ve been given the chance to listen to the other 7 tracks on the album, but have deferred doing that just to make sure I’m mentally and emotionally prepared to take it in — though I have a strong feeling that if the rest of the album is anything like these songs, being adequately prepared is an impossibility.
Dreams of the Drowned will be digitally released on March 20th by Drowned Anthem Records, and Cult of Nine Records will release a CD edition on June 15th. At some later point the album will receive a vinyl release by Duplicate Records.
To conclude this Monday round-up I’m moving away from black metal and into other styles. Actually, you’ll still detect the influence of black metal in the songs of Dispyt, but other sounds (crust/punk) are more dominant.
Dispyt was formed in 2016 by members of Finntroll and Ondfødt. They released a debut album named Den Ständigt Närvarande Ångesten in November 2017, and on March 29th of this year Immortal Frost Productions will re-release it on CD and digitally — which is what led me to discover Dispyt’s music.
Below you’ll find official videos for two songs — “Va Fan Vill Du?” and “En man I sina bästa år“. The latter is a newer song than those on the re-released album, and more rampaging than the first one. The video for that second song surfaced last September, and I understand it will be on the band’s next album.
Both songs are immensely heavy and bruising, thanks in part to titanic bass and guitar tones that are at least close cousins to what comes through an HM-2 pedal. On top of that, the drumming will chop you right in the neck and pummel your guts. The feeling of the music is as bleak as the tones are bruising, and the vocals are downright incinerating, but these bone-breaking, soul-plundering songs will get your head moving hard, too.
THREE DEAD FINGERS
And finally, I bring you some music by Three Dead Fingers, a young Swedish melodic-death/thrash band formed in 2015, whose debut album Breed of the Devil will be released on April 5th by Bleeding Music Records. And by “young”, I do mean YOUNG — their ages are reportedly between 13 and 14.
What you’ll find below are streams of two tracks from the album, “Into the Bloodbath” and “Celestial Blasphemy“, plus a video for the first of those songs. Both of these gallops are damned catchy, as well as plenty heavy and plenty headbang-able. I didn’t even mind the clean vocals in the choruses, to go along with the growls and gang shouts. Has this kind of thing been done before? Well of course it has. Is it whole hell of a lot of fun anyway? Damned straight it is.