NCS isn’t really a “metal news” site, unlike some places that dutifully copy-paste press releases every day, with announcements of new tours, forthcoming releases, line-up changes, etc. About as close as we come are the SEEN AND HEARD posts, but those are devoted almost entirely to streams of new songs and videos, and commentary about them. If the recommended tracks happen to come from records that are on the horizon, we’ll include that info. In other words, the music is the main thing. Trying to keep up with every day’s newsy announcements is just too daunting a task, given the limited time that the NCS slaves have to devote to their slavery.
But here we have both an announcement and new music, which are connected. Normally I would have included both in a SEEN AND HEARD post, but my fucking day job has been slamming me hard this week, and I haven’t had time for one of those round-ups. But I do have just enough time for this before turning to today’s premieres. It concerns both a new EP by the U.S. black/death band Suffering Hour and a U.S. East Coast tour that begins tomorrow, which combines the talents of Suffering Hour and the Icelandic black metal band Sinmara. As you probably know if you’re a regular NCS visitor, both bands are favorites of our putrid site.
I’ll turn first to Suffering Hour‘s new EP, Dwell, which premiered at DECIBEL earlier this week and which is being released today by Blood Harvest. This is Suffering Hour‘s first release since the band’s stellar 2017 debut album, In Passing Ascension.
Though it’s presented as a single 18-minute piece of music, Dwell proceeds through multiple phases of sound, beginning with the gloomy yet gleaming clarion call of a guitar, slowly creating a mood of intense anguish through alluring tones, which becomes more mesmerizing yet no less bleak as the full band join in. The rumble of the bass and the snap of the drum will get heads moving, even as the guitars begin to writhe and boil with increasing dissonance.
The movement into a new phase is seamless, the drums mounting a gallop, the vocalist venting a grim and cavernous roar, the riff lasting like a barbed flail. There is still something of a clarion call in the spearing melody, and an almost magisterial air in the sound when the drumming becomes less frantic. Yet the fieriness of the fretwork and the persistent dissonance of the squalling chords, together with the ghastliness of the vocals, create an unnerving atmosphere, which becomes more haunting and harrowing as the drums tumble, and then more dauntingly miserable as the tremolo’d riffing transforms.
The music continues to change over the course of the song’s last half, with passages of electrifying tumult (driven by fast-jabbing and pulsating guitars and riveting drum fills) leading into a kaleidoscopic finale that is glorious, mystical, moody, and ultimately devastating.
In a word, Dwell is fantastic. It still isn’t streaming in full on Bandcamp (though that may change later today), which means you will still need to visit DECIBEL to give it a complete listen:
You can order the EP on vinyl, CD, cassette, and digitally, here:
Now, let’s turn to that tour. It will be Sinmara’s first U.S. tour, and runs from April 6th through April 12th. It’s a prime time to catch Sinmara on stage, since just last month they released a new album via Ván Records, Hvísl Stjarnanna (Icelandic for “Whisper of the Stars”). My compadre Andy Synn reviewed the album for us, finding it a “shift towards a more haunting and ethereal style – albeit one still heavy with venom and vitriol”, as compared to the band’s preceding album Aphotic Womb. I’ll pull a few more excerpts from his review:
“[W]hile waves of decadent dissonance and bristling blastbeats still abound in all their plenty, these are tempered – in the same way in which steel is tempered and strengthened – by a glittering cascade of striking melodies and spectral harmonies whose purpose is not so much to soften the rough edges of the band’s blackened brilliance, but rather to sharpen them to a gleaming point.
“Fittingly, for an album whose name translates as “Whispering Stars”, Hvísl Stjarnanna is also a much more pensive and patient record than you might have expected, one built around the hypnotic ebb and flow of light and shade, sorrow and serenity….”
Below you’ll find a full stream of Hvísl Stjarnanna, in case you haven’t yet given it your time. I will add that having seen Sinmara perform live on two occasions, once at Maryland Deathfest and once at Oration Fest in Reykjavik, I can assure you that their performance on this impending tour will be more than worth whatever effort it may take for those of you on the U.S. East Coast to make one of these dates:
04/06 Chicago – Cobra Lounge (w. Wormreich, Empyreus)
04/07 Columbus – The Summit
04/08 Pittsburgh – The Smiling Moose
04/09 Richmond- Wonderland
04/10 Washington – Atlas Brew Works
04/11 Worcester, Ralph’s Rock Diner
04/12 New York -Saint Vitus (w. UADA, Wormwitch)
As you can see, there are some other excellent bands playing with Sinmara and Suffering Hour at some of these stops, as if further inducement were needed.
And with that, here are some links for further info about both bands and any updates that may surface about the tour, followed by that promised stream of Hvísl Stjarnanna.