There’s no hope of catching up. The flood of new metal is unrelenting; the torrent certainly did not pause for me while I spent a week in Iceland and then much of the next week trying to get the rest of my life back in order while paying homage to the Iceland experience (and honoring a bunch of premiere commitments I had made before leaving the country). Although I can’t listen to everything that surfaced during those two weeks, much less what had accumulated in the weeks before those, I’m going to attempt a two-part post today, in an effort to cover more rather than less of what I managed to find over the last 48 hours.
Today’s blackened selections are a mix of advance tracks from forthcoming albums, a couple of complete short releases, and a few excerpts from recently released (or re-released) full-lengths. For both Parts, I decided to end them with performances that diverge from the general wildness of everything else.
ARS VENEFICIUM / ULVDALIR
On June 21st Immortal Frost Productions released In Death’s Cold Embrace, a new 7″ vinyl split by two bands whose previous music we’ve praised at NCS. The split is also deserving of praise — and your close attention.
The first of the two bands here is Ars Veneficium, a Belgian collective whose most recent release (before this split) was their 2016 debut album, The Reign of the Infernal King. It prompted these thoughts by our long-lost friend Gorger in one of his “Beneath the NCS Radar” features (here):
“Belgian Ars Veneficium are ready to conquer the world with bestial black metal consisting of a hellish drive, and a frenetic unvarnished inferno of foul contempt. Like black smoke from a tire fire, The Reign of the Infernal King fills the chamber with choking black nerve gas and rumbling fury that makes the room shake and its foundations to creak ominously at the seams. The prominent bass helps create this effect. Rather than cold black metal, they exhibit the extreme warmth from Dante’s infernal flames.”
Their song on this new split, “A Thousand Weeping Angels“, storms from the gates, and the storm rarely abates. The drummer blasts, hammers, and pounds in breathtaking fashion, while the prominent bass underscored by Gorger is just as furious, and the riffing is pure raging fire — with delirious swirling leads that spin the mind off into the skies. In keeping with everything else, the vocals are insane.
The second band on In Death’s Cold Embrace is the Russian formation Ulvdalir, who released their fourth album (…Of Death Eternal) through Iron Bonehead Productions this past January. When we premiered a track from the album, I rolled out such lavish adjectives as “magnificent”, “spectacular”, and “electrifying”, while confidently predicting even in the early days of this year that the record would be vividly remembered during year-end Listmania season.
I feel equally enthusiastic about the Ulvdalir song on this new split. “Litany of Death” marks a contrast with the Ars Veneficium conflagration, delivering a carnal, swaggering, compulsively neck-wrecking romp. But while the song may wrack your whole body into motion, the riffing nonetheless has a frequently cold, murderous quality, as do the hateful, blood-thirsty vocals. On the other hand, the guitar solo is a wild and wondrous creation, and the energy in the music is uncontainably explosive. And so the song manages to be both the kind of thing that would work up a steamy sweat in a packed club, and also a nasty, lethal piece of work. I fuckin’ love it.
As mentioned above, Immortal Frost is releasing the split in 7″ vinyl editions, and it’s also available as a digital download.
(no official FB page)
The Turkish triumvirate Undoer released their debut EP, Survival Is A Myth, last October. I discovered it only two days ago — after seeing that it will be released on CD by Sun & Moon Records on June 25th — and it’s so damned good that I resisted the usual pull of focusing on what’s hot off the presses or what looms on the horizon ahead.
The three tracks are all of substantial but not excessive length, and together they produce a massive 23-minute surge of adrenaline. The blood-rushing effect of the music is due in part to the fire-bright frenzy of the performances — the maniacal speed of the drum-blasting, the unchained fury of the riffs, the crazed blazing of the leads, the feverishness of the bass lines, and the scorching balefulness of the vocals.
But the electrifying effect of the music (which is produced with clarity as well as power) is also due to penetrating melodic hooks that come swirling through the furnace of guitar-work, and to the bleak and brooding feelings that Undoer manage to seamlessly interweave even in the midst of such berserk savagery; there is profound misery and despair to be found here, as well as madness. They also manage to reach anthemic heights of dramatic power, especially in the middle track, aptly named “A New Anthem”.
Here’s another record I failed to notice when it was first released by Ketzer Records — 10 years ago. In that span of time they split up following the death of their drummer, and posthumously released one more album following the one you’ll find below.
The one below, Tenebris Obortis, was re-released by Heidens Hart Records on June 20th (CD, cassette tape, digital), and the Bandcamp alert I received about the re-issue is how I came to discover it so long after it first appeared. I’ll comment only about the song “Schnee und Eis“, which is configured to play first when you activate the Bandcamp stream.
In a word, that song is simply glorious. It shines with brilliance from the first moments, thanks to a scintillating lead that leaps into the mind like a fire elemental (and is no less thrilling each time it returns). There’s also a sweeping and soaring quality to the song as a whole, even though it plays out like an epic tragedy, with an atmosphere that’s as grim and beleaguered as it is extravagant.
That atmosphere becomes emotionally wrenching when the raging fury of the music abates just past the half-way mark to make room for an instrumental digression that proves to be absolutely enthralling — before the band deliver a hurricane-strength finale.
I wish I had time to write more about the album as a whole, because it’s tremendously good (and dynamically varied). But perhaps “Schnee und Eis” will be enticement enough for you to check out everything else in this very well-written and beautifully performed album.
P.S. There have been many bands named Pest. This one was located in Germany (Lower Saxony) and they released their first demo in 1998, followed by three albums and an EP preceding Tenebris Obortis.
This makes the fourth time I’ve written about the music of Raat, the solo project of Sushant Rawat (aka Nium) from New Delhi, India, who is also the man behind the experimental black/doom project Nightgrave, about whom I’ve also written frequently. Raat’s newest release, which emerged on June 20th, is a single from a forthcoming five-track album.
This new song, “Cave of Stars“, merits Raat‘s description of the album as a whole: “…an avant-garde endeavour which journeys the cosmic ocean in its quest for uniquely refulgent and entrancing melodies that breathe like clouds swaying with dark, ethereal movements over infinite depths of an incisive atmospheric aura around the omnipresent arcane fire.”
“Dreaminess” isn’t in the lexicon of many black metal adherents, and there are many moments of glimmering, dreamlike beauty in this cave of stars. In their mood, these moments seem to convey both heart-aching wistfulness and a sense of yearning. As the intensity of the music swells, the guitars enveloping the senses and the vocals pouring out feelings of soul-wrecking torture, the song becomes blinding in the brilliance of a mystical brightness. Like so much of what Nium does, the song unabashedly wears its emotions on its sleeve as the power ebbs and flows, and the lilting yet often haunting melodies linger…