Wow, 16 days since I posted the last of these new-music round-ups. And that one came 10 days after the one before it. Not a good track record, but my job has been a jealous mistress lately, or more like a starving wolverine hungry for my flesh. It’s unlikely things will improve in the near future, but for different reasons.
In two days, for the 6th year in a row, I’m flying to Baltimore with a bunch of Seattle friends to take in Maryland Deathfest. My NCS comrades Andy Synn and DGR will be there, too, and I doubt they’ll be spending their free time banging out content for NCS either. And then the week after that I’ll be spending a shitload of time helping to put on the third edition of the NCS-sponsored Northwest Terror Fest in Seattle. My day job probably won’t leave me alone over the next two weeks either.
So, it won’t surprise me if another 16 days pass between today’s round-up and the next one. Or maybe I’ll throw together a round-up that just consists of one new song. Or maybe two, if I skip showers and breakfasts. But today I have five, because I woke up at 3 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep.
Although I’ve made an (incomplete) effort to add to my endless lists of songs to check out over the last couple of weeks, the songs I chose for this Monday round-up didn’t come from those lists. I just didn’t have time to dig into those. Instead, three of them came via recommendations from friends that arrived this past weekend, a fourth I just randomly happened to spot last night, and the fifth grabbed my attention just this morning.
What has happened to the Polish black metal band Batushka since the release of their stunning 2015 debut album Litourgiya is not a pretty story. The condensed version is that band founder and guitarist Krzysztof Drabikowski (who says that he composed and recorded almost all of Litourgiya himself) and the vocalist he recruited for Litourgiya (Bartłomiej Krysiuk) have gone to war.
Krysiuk has claimed ownership of the band name and other properties associated with it, and his version of Batushka has signed a deal with Metal Blade Records for the release of an album named Hospodi on July 15th (there’s a new song from that album you can check out here). Drabikowski has sued him in Polish court and hopes to establish his own legal rights to the band’s name and related intellectual property interests. The Drabikowski version of Batushka has also recently released a new song, and that’s what you’ll find below.
For now, the track is simply entitled “Песнь 1” (Song 1), and it comes from an album named Панихида (Panikhida), which is apparently the name for “a liturgical solemn service for the repose of the departed in the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches, which follow the Byzantine Rite”.
The music begins in haunting, mystical tones and then rises up in daunting, gloomy, and gleaming magnificence. A jolting pulse and bursts of blasting intermittently drive the song, which also soars through clean, reverent vocals which alternate with harsh, raking snarls. What a wonderful song it is….
(Thanks to eiterorm for linking me to this song. He says the one released by the Krysiuk/Metal Blade version of Batushka is boring. For reasons explained in the intro to this post, I haven’t had time to check it out yet, and the fact that I trust eiterorm‘s tastes also has something to do with that.)
I thought this next song was damned exciting even before I reached the 2:30 mark in the video for it. And then it blew the top of my head clean off, which is just further proof that I don’t need a head to do what I do for NCS.
Before I lost my head I was hooked by the rhythmic interplay between the bassist and the drummer, by the flashes of darting and delirious guitar, and by the alternation between caustic Finnish howls and clean vocals (which thankfully aren’t too pretty). The song is a fireball of riotous, infectious energy that’s difficult to pin down in genre terms, but it reaches new fever-pitch heights when the guitarist delivers a jaw-dropping solo. Man, this song is so damned much fun — and the video is lots of fun to watch too.
The song’s name is “Mantsurian Kätyri“, and it was the first single from Veritas, the debut album from the Finnish band Kolossus. The video below was released in April, and the album is actually out now (released on May 15th). I’m very eager to hear the rest of it.
(Thanks to my NCS colleague TheMadIsraeli for recommending this song; he compared Kolossus to a Finnish version of Byzantine.)
One week ago I had the great pleasure of premiering a new EP by the Swedish death metal band Mordbrand. It consists of two songs, and each one — “Döden” and “Efter Döden” — uses a poem by the great Swedish writer Gustaf Fröding as the lyrical text. Now, Mordbrand have released a video for the second of those songs, which I watched this morning.
“Efter Döden” rocks soooo damned hard, and it also simmers and vibrates in a way that might make you uneasy, as if channeling a form of psychosis. Speaking of which, it may help in your understanding of the video to know that Gustaf Fröding struggled with his own mental illnesses. According to The Font of All Human Knowledge:
“The latter part of his life he spent in different mental institutions and hospitals to cure his mental illness and alcoholism, and eventually diabetes. During the first half of the 1890s he spent a couple of years at the Suttestad institution in Lillehammer, Norway, where he finished his work on his third book of poetry Stänk och flikar, which was published in 1896. He wrote much of the material at a mental institution in Görlitz, Germany”, and he was also later institutionalized in Sweden.
Döden / Efter Döden is available now on 7″ vinyl via De:Nihil Records:
DÖDEN / EFTER DÖDEN:
I’m staying with Finland but moving back to black metal with some new music by Kalmankantaja. They’re prolific, to say the least, with roughly three-dozen entries on Metal Archives — so prolific that I overlooked the fact that they released another album (Kaski) since the last time I wrote about them in January. I haven’t had time to check out that album, which came out on April 30th, but since then (on May 6th) they also released a split entitled Essence of Black Mysticism with Drudensang (Germany) and Hiisi (Finland).
Now it turns out that the Kalmankantaja track on that split is a single they previously released named “Ruumiinvaellus“, which I wrote about in January of this year. It’s a great song, and because of the release of the split, it’s now available digitally only as part of the split. That was the first cause I had to mention it again here, but I’ve also become enamored of the songs I’ve heard by Drudensang and Hiisi (I haven’t heard all of their tracks yet, but the ones I have heard are very good). Here’s what I wrote previously about the Kalmankantaja track:
“The solitary reverberating notes of the song’s introduction have a sorrowful and introspective mood; and the music’s melancholy mood persists as it stalks ahead in a stately pace as the vocalist shrieks in scalding pain and sweeping waves of lush, rippling melody swirl through your mind.
“Periodically punctuated by heart-hammering blast-beat eruptions, the song’s melodies have a way of seeping in deeper and deeper, becoming increasingly hypnotic (and intense) as they loop through the song, without losing an ounce of the desolate grandeur that is their chief hallmark. Near the end, when the drums become silent, we’re carried away into a dream of terrible loss.”
Like the last item in this round-up, the next one is just an excerpt from a longer release. In this case, the band is Dark Plague, a French black metal group, whose fourth album Be More or Fade Away was released on May 18th.
The one song I’ve heard so far, because it’s set to play first on Bandcamp, is “Plague“. There’s something about the song that seems almost dreamlike in its midnight darkness, despite the fact that the vocals are frighteningly savage and the drummer periodically launches into hammering fusillades. The shimmering melodies that cascade through the song like cold dark seas have a despairing emotional resonance, yet are absolutely captivating.
As I write these finishing words for today’s collection I’m listening to the song which follows “Plague“, and it convinces me that this album will be well worth my time — and hopefully yours as well.
(Thanks to DaNasher for pointing me to this album.)