SHADES OF BLACK: ENTHRONED, ÁRSTIÐIR LIFSINS, VALE, DAUÞUZ, AKRAL NECROSIS, SUICIDAL MADNESS, CORNIGR
I’m assuming everyone knows that Darkthrone will be releasing a new album named Old Star through Peaceville Records on May 31st. Fenriz says that he and Ted will be continuing in the style of Arctic Thunder — “BLACK OLD HEAVY METAL with slow thrash, classic doom and slow death metal” — which is just fine by me. The album is available for pre-order HERE.
With that piece of news out of the way, I’m devoting the rest of this post to things we can hear right now.
Cold Black Suns is the new album by the almighty Enthroned, their 11th full-length in a career that stretches back a quarter-century. Their new label Season of Mist will release it on June 7th. The first song in today’s collection, “Silent Redemption,” comes from that album and premiered a couple days ago at Ghost Cult Magazine.
The band introduce the song by saying, “we take you along to Aokigahara, the infamous Suicide Forest in Japan, to walk amongst the Yūrei”. Consistent with that introduction, bleak, haunted reverberating tones begin the song, and that eerie atmosphere remains even after the music becomes more ravaging. The song thrusts and rocks, but also spins off into thundering gales of blazing intensity and subsides into a chilling, dreamlike interlude. Persistently shattering vocals and soaring waves of terrible majesty add further dimensions to a strikingly powerful track.
The cover art was created by Neraath.
01. Ophiusa (03:42)
02. Hosanna Satana (02:16)
03. Oneiros (06:26)
04. Vapula Omega (04:55)
05. Silent Redemption (06:07)
06. Aghoria (04:14)
07. Beyond Humane Greed (05:01)
08. Smoking Mirror (07:07)
09. Son of Man (09:08)
On April 26th the part-German, part-Icelandic band Árstíðir Lífsins will release a fourth album named Saga á tveim tungum I: Vápn ok viðr, through the good graces of Ván Records. The appearance of the Roman numeral I in the album title is suggestive of the fact that this album is the first of a two-part sequence, and the second part, entitled Saga á tveim tungum II: Eigi fjǫll né firðir, will be released later this year.
The first of the two albums is described as “a journey to the brutal power attempts of (in)famous Norwegian king Óláfr helgi Haraldsson in the early eleventh century as it is portrayed in the vernacular medieval Scandinavian sources”. The track below, revealed last week through a lyric video that vey few on earth will understand, is “Morðbál á flugi ok klofin mundriða hjól’”.
As we’ve come to expect from this band, the song is a multi-faceted work. It channels chaos and bitter fury with breathtaking intensity, surging to heights of frightening grandeur through sweeping symphonic layers. Solemn, deep, chanted vocals and grim recitals are interwoven with terrifying shrieks, giving this dramatic onslaught a narrative quality — it indeed seems like the portrayal of a saga drenched in blood. And it will hammer your head with tremendous force, too.
The artwork for the album was crafted by Christopher Duis.
(Thanks to both Miloš and Rennie for recommending this song to me.)
I think I’ll introduce the next song by quoting from the press release for the album that includes it:
“On their debut album Oakland, CA’s Vale channel visions of a grim future in which the world is barren and destroyed, where agents of opportunity consume everything they can get their hands on. Titled Burden Of Sight, the album can be seen as an expression of outrage felt at the pervasive exploitation and avarice that has taken root in the band’s own backyard. From rampant homelessness to the overindulgences of the upper class, it’s all too easy to imagine the harsh reality of decomposing landscapes fraught with cannibalism and religious zealotry that Vale depicts across six tracks of roaring, death-infused black metal.”
It turns out that although Vale is a new entity, it shares members with bands such as Ulthar, Void Omnia, and Abstracter. The first single from Burden of Sight, “Final Flesh“, premiered at Revolver Magazine last week. The inspiration of outrage and anger expressed in the quote come through loud and clear in the sheer cyclonic ferocity of the song and in the scorching, flesh-flaying intensity of Kate Coysh‘s vocals.
At the same time, the melodic currents in the music express suffering and hopelessness as well as riotous rage. It’s an unrelentingly intense and dramatic song, even in its slowest and most dismal moments, all the way up to the haunting ambient music that brings it to a close. I’m suddenly very eager to find out what the rest of the album is like.
Burden of Sight will be released on May 24th by The Flenser. The eye-catching cover art is a creation by Matt Lombard named “Dementia XLIX”. The album was recorded by Greg Wilkinson at Earhammer Studios in Oakland.
The last time I wrote about the German duo Dauþuz (here) I began with an explanation of the old Norse letter called thorn, which appears in the band’s name — a name that itself means death in old Norse. The letter is pronounced something like the “th” sound in thorn. And now that we’ve got that out of the way (again), let’s turn to the title track to the new Dauþuz album, Monvmentvm.
It’s a long one, nearly 10 minutes in duration, and like the other songs that precede it in today’s collection, the music is dramatic and intense. There’s an air of tragic, sweeping grandeur in these powerful sounds — and I emphasize tragic, because the melodies are so relentlessly agonized and mournful, and the harsh vocals are so strikingly tortured. There are striking operatic vocals in the song, too, but they also seem to be the product of a tortured soul, and so wrenching to hear that I felt on the brink of tears.
I can’t imagine anyone could listen to this song and not be tremendously moved by it. I hate to use that grossly overused word “epic”, but that’s the word that continues coming to mind. And the keyboard instrumental that closes the song seems the perfect way to end it.
Monvmentvm will be released by Naturmacht Productions on April 12th.
“Man in the Cauldron” is the title of the new Akral Necrosis single, which was released last week through a video directed by Costin Chioreanu (Twilight13Media). The single is described as “part of the concept belonging to the third studio album” by this Romanian black metal band, which is planned for release later this year. It is further described as “a crude portrayal of profanation – an implicitly reflexive act”.
The tale told in the video doesn’t end well for the unsuspecting bastard who is kidnapped by the protagonist. Hard to tell whether revenge is the motive or simply the impulses of a serial killer. The music is certainly vicious — so superheated in its viciousness that I’d lean in favor of revenge as the motive. But while Akral Necrosis clearly know how to bring the hellfire, it’s the swirling little finger-tapped bass accents and the moody, tension-laced, and eerie melodies that cascade through the song which really make it stand out.
The next item I selected for this collection is a new album (released by Wolfspell Records on March 21st) named Dégénérescence. It’s the third full-length by the French depressive black metal band Suicidal Madness.
As often happens in these columns, I’m too short of time to provide a more fulsome review of the album, which I do think it deserves. At a very high level, it moves from moments of quiet sorrow (with gasping whispers and acoustic picking) to passages of ravishing extremity, all blasting drums, frenzied riffing, and scalding, snarling vocal ugliness, as well as movements somewhere in between those extremes in which the tension-ratcheting effect of high, whining guitar vibrations lure us into feelings of oppressive misery and inconsolable despair.
The band also lace these movements, even the most intense ones, with moody basslines and the melancholy trill of a lead guitar or ethereal keyboard notes that create more elaborate textures of sound. I also haven’t given an exhaustive list of all the variations in the vocals (which include vampiric shrieks, harsh growls, and ghostly wails), but suffice to say that they’re all unnerving. Nor have I exhausted the list of differing rhythms to be found, or all the moods that the band tease from their instruments (though all the moods are dark ones).
The third song on the album, “Corridor“, is the one that’s set to play first in the Bandcamp stream. It’s such a heart-breaker, and a good example of the band’s ability to create moments of beguiling alabaster beauty while also freezing the blood in your veins. It might be the best song on the album, but I think it’s safe to say that if you like it (it certainly hooked me), you’ll find a lot more to like in the rest of the album.
To close today’s collection I chose a full stream of Relics of Inner War, the sole album released by a one-man Finnish black metal band in 2011 (through Final Agony Records). Although the project seems to have ended in 2015, Terratur Possessions will be releasing a mastered re-press of the record at some point this year. A digital edition appeared on Bandcamp on March 19th.
The lone creator behind Cornigr was at one time a member of Horna, Sargeist, Saturnian Mist, and Neutron Hammer, and is currently the man behind Adaestuo. He seems to have mainly been a drummer in those aforementioned bands, and man, he turns in a tour de force performance behind the kit in this Cornigr album. But he proves himself very good at a lot of other things, too. He’s a nimble bassist. His twittering, flickering leads have a brain-searing quality. His voice is a terror. He manages to create an atmosphere of Luciferian majesty while at the same time striking like a demon horde in the throes of violent ecstasy.
If the opening track, “Shroud of Satan“, doesn’t suck all the air from your lungs, and you’re able to continue, be forewarned that the intensity is unrelenting. Every now and then, Cornigr will pull back on the throttle just long enough to raise ominous visions of apocalyptic doom, but that doesn’t happen often. Mostly, you just get more and more of what happens in that opening track. So, hyperventilate now… get your breath back at the end.
(Thanks to Miloš for sending me the link to this electrifying album.)
Re. Enthroned: Cool interlude, nicely coming back to mid- and fast-paced song elements.
Really digging Árstíðir Lífsins’s layered depths and subtle tempo changes; will go through their back-catalogue on BC!
Thanks for this post. The CORNIGR is very good. I will get right to the ÁRSTIÐIR LIFSINS also of interest. Each also have brilliant artwork.! Besides the music.
Arstidir Lifsins is some of the best stuff around these days, it’s good to see them get some recognition. Their harsh vocals are by the same guy who does the harsh vocals for Helrunar, who are another project worth checking out.
Now I need to check out these other bands in this post!