SEEN AND HEARD ON A SATURDAY: POSSESSED, ALLEGAEON, EMPLOYED TO SERVE, IDLE HANDS, WASTE OF SPACE ORCHESTRA, SHEOL BLANC
I’ve gotten dramatically busier at my fucking day job over the last week (and unfortunately it’s going to get worse in the weeks ahead). I’m way behind in crawling through the hundreds of e-mails we get each day (no telling how many indie pop masterworks and ED treatments I’ve missed), and have had no time to do the other things I usually do in an effort to discover new music that isn’t being plumped by press releases.
Fortunately, a cadre of faithful allies had left messages for me, which collectively gave me the six songs and videos you’re about to see and hear. And so, I’m grateful (in order of their recommendations which appear below) to Rennie (starkweather), DGR, Andy Synn, eiterorm, Miloš, and Rennie again.
On May 10th Nuclear Blast will release the first album from Possessed in over three decades.They lined up Peter Tägtgren to mix and master it, and enlisted Zbigniew Bielak to create the cover art. And, as Rennie wrote in his message to me, it sounds like they didn’t miss a beat, 33 years after Beyond the Gates.
Granted, there have been a few songs released by the band since that second album in 1986, but the release of a new full-length is undoubtedly a landmark event. After all, there’s a decent argument to be made that this band started Death Metal (which was the name of their first demo in 1984). The name of the new album is Revelations of Oblivion.
Yesterday, the first “single” from Revelations… surfaced, “No More Room In Hell“. What a completely electrifying speed demon of sound it is, an explosive rush of frenzied strings, tumultuous drumming, and raw, howling vocal extremity, capped by a jaw-dropping guitar solo. If this song doesn’t leave you glassy-eyed and drooling, I’ll be surprised. I’m still mopping the saliva off my shirt.
P.S. In case you’re wondering, here’s the current line-up:
Jeff Becerra | vocals
Daniel Gonzalez | guitars
Emilio Marquez | drums
Robert Cardenas | bass
Claudeous Creamer | guitars
Becerra is of course an original. According to Metal-Archives, most of the others have joined since 2011. Two of them (Marquez and Cardenas) are also members of Coffin Text and Engrave, while Creamer is a member of From Hell and Gonzalez is in Gruesome.
There’ve been a few branchings in the Death Metal thorn tree since Possessed help plant the roots (well, more than a few), and Colorado’s Allegaeon are certainly at the forefront of the more technically extravagant and melodically flowering limbs. Their latest album, Apoptosis, will be released by Metal Blade on April 19th.
A couple of Allegaeon songs from the new album are now out in the wild. The one that appeared most recently, through a music video, is “Extremophiles“, and based on the lyrics it seems to be an ode to those extraordinary little water bears called tardigrades, which are “among the most resilient known animals, with individual species able to survive extreme conditions that would be rapidly fatal to nearly all other known life forms, such as exposure to extreme temperatures, extreme pressures (both high and low), air deprivation, radiation, dehydration, and starvation” (per The Font of All Human Knowledge).
I don’t know about you, but this song makes me feel… happy. It’s ferocious enough to do a fair share of mauling, but the high-speed, high-flying instrumental performances and melodic currents in the music are gloriously exuberant, and that exuberance is highly contagious. (I don’t particularly understand the reason for the very brief clean-sung interlude in the middle, but that’s probably just me.)
Check out the new video below, along with a stream of the album’s first “single”, “Stellar Tidal Disruption“.
EMPLOYED TO SERVE
Andy Synn considered Employed To Serve‘s last record (The Warmth Of A Dying Sun) to be one of 2017’s GREAT ALBUMS. As he wrote in a review of a live performance, “their sound melds the primal fury of Hardcore at its most feral and ferocious with the crushing, down-tuned weight of some truly massive, metallic (and surprisingly technical) riffs, liberally interspersed with clever progressive touches and unexpected splashes of melody – plus the occasional apocalyptic breakdown and/or deluge of blazing blastbeats – in a manner that doesn’t so much break the mould as it does fill it to overflowing with molten cathartic fury, before dumping the whole scalding torrent into your unprotected eardrums”.
The new Employed To Serve album, Eternal Forward Motion, will be released on May 10th by Spinefarm Records. The latest song to be released from the album is about suicide. As the band wrote, “Lyrically ‘Harsh Truth‘ is an anthem for the ill represented masses who are struggling behind the veil of positive social media posts. The world is a better place with you in it, so please seek help as it’s always there”.
Justine Jones’ vocals are intense enough to split skin all the way through the song, which alternates between bleak, stripped-down, clanging and tension-building segments and passages where the band bring the sledgehammer down with crushing and mind-abrading power. The video is well-done too.
“This song is so damn infectious!” So wrote eiterorm when he sent me the link, and holy hell is he right! I knew about Idle Hands before this (they’re based just down the highway in Portland, Oregon), and had put this new song “Give Me To the Night” on my listening list, but hadn’t gotten around to it until seeing eiterorm’s message.
It’s an obvious exception to our Rule, and a very well-earned one, because Gabriel Franco‘s vocals are great, and a big part of what makes the song so damned catchy. But the hard-driving rhythm of the track and the flickering, gleaming leads are equally vital to the song’s head-hooking appeal.
The song is on the band’s new album Mana, which is set for release on May 10th.
WASTE OF SPACE ORCHESTRA
In late February I led off another one of these round-ups with the first song and video off the debut album by Waste of Space Orchestra, and now there’s another. If you still haven’t heard of this band, it’s a collaboration among the ten combined members of Oranssi Pazuzu and Dark Buddha Rising. Their album Syntheosis will be released by Svart Records on April 5th.
Like the first video, the new one is a mind-bender, but no less mind-bending than the song, “Wake Up the Possessor“. There’s an overarching hallucinatory, psychedelic quality to the music, but it transforms as it unfolds (as do the vocals). Eerie and dreamlike at first, with wailing and falsetto vocals, it begins to claw at your sanity, using a couple of big, head-moving bass-and-drum patterns which loop through the music as the anchor points for a changing overlay of vocal and guitar madness. The music reaches a crescendo of harrowing intensity, and then becomes very dark… until the band decide to just mercilessly fuck up your head at the end.
Near the end of 2018 I did something I do only a couple of times a year — impulsively write a review of an album I had just heard. I did that because I happened to have some unexpected free time and because the album floored me. It was Solitaire Dépravé by a French one-man blackened-death machine named Sheol Blanc. I spilled a torrent of words about the record, but I’ll excerpt only these:
“Much of the music’s appeal derives from the ingenious array of powerful and devilish tonalities in the sounds, which combine in a way that constantly rocks you back on your heels as if punched, and swirls the brain in dizzying fashion at the same time….
“Physically arresting and mind-altering throughout, Solitaire Dépravé is the kind of album that won’t quickly leave you, and won’t leave you as it found you either. It is a harrowing experience, but perversely and poisonously seductive.”
Thanks to Rennie, I discovered that on March 11th Sheol Blanc released a new single named “Shallow Path“. It consists of the full song as well as an instrumental version.
As discomfiting as it is, the wraithlike and agonized guitar lead that helps introduce the song gets under the skin damned fast, joined by a potent bass rumble, a snapping drum beat, and scalding vocals. The song becomes increasingly intense thanks to a desolate buzzing riff that becomes more and more demented the longer it burrows through your brain pan.
Lots of other things happen in the song, including explosive detonations, the shimmer and swirl of windy ambient tones, thunderous drum fusillades, and soft reverberating guitar melodies. The vocals don’t stay locked in place either. The unpredictability of the music is a hallmark of Sheol Blanc‘s mercurial machinations, and one reason I keep coming back to this track, magnetized by it, even after knowing what’s going to happen.
This isn’t Possessed, this is Jeff B & Mercenaries Ltd. With The Name & Logo of Possessed for Branding & Merchandising Purposes. Where is Larry LaLonde ?
Very impatient for Waste Of Space Orchestra, this track is mad.
Jeff B & Mercenaries Ltd or not, the track is still awesome!
Goddamn, I’m so excited for the new Possessed album! The single is badass! 😀 \m/