Man, I have so much new black metal to write about this week (like what else is new?), but not enough time to write about all of it (that’s not new either), in part because of the time I spent on a rare Sunday premiere (which you really should go listen to if you haven’t already), though it’s a shade of black too.
Despite the temptations, I know better than to call this post Part 1. We know what the Scottish bard said about best-laid plans. Better to just see what happens, better to be pleasantly surprised than disappointed by another broken promise.
When the first song in this collection appeared last week my friend Mr. Synn quipped on FB: “Like Nachtmystium but worried that by doing so you’re in danger of having your canoe stolen and sold for drug money? Well, worry no longer!”
Yes, the first song here is a Nachtmystium song, as covered by one of our perennially favorite bands, the Australian black metal group Deadspace. “In the Absence of Existence” originally appeared on The World We Left Behind (2014), and for me was one of the high points of that album. The Deadspace cover is also great. It’s still recognizably “In the Absence of Existence”, but the Australians made some changes, including a more consistent, steadily rocking drum tempo and the subtraction of a prominent darting keyboard motif from the original.
Gone too are the bursts of frenzied guitar, and a lush (and even romantic) keyboard layer, moving in slow waves, makes the song a more fluid, more panoramic, and more dreamlike experience — all the better to create a contrast with the heavy low-end thrust and the wretched torture of the vocals. The guitars ripple and soar, lending the music a gleaming (yet perhaps also anguished) vibrancy.
P.S. Don’t be surprised if you see this song on my year-end list of Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. Click the link in the player below and you can download the song for a price you name.
The cover of “In the Absence of Existence” wasn’t the only new Deadspace music to surface last week. Two days ago they also premiered a song from their next record, The Grand Disillusionment. Presented through a video, “As Time Moves Backwards“, is a much more ferocious experience than the band’s Nachtmystium cover, its majestic introduction giving way to a needling, hammering, howling assault. Bleak in its atmosphere and dramatic in its presentation, the song is both desolate and searing, full of tension and torment but also explosively powerful.
Watch the band’s Facebook page for an announcement of the new album’s release date and how it will be provided to the yearning masses.
UPDATE: Deadspace have now announced that the album will be released on August 15th, and pre-orders are now open at Bandcamp, where there’s another new song streaming (“Lungs“).
When I saw the name Mur in an e-mail press release we received two days ago I thought it was the Minnesota one-man band whose albums I’ve really enjoyed. Turns out this Mur is a sextet from France, whose line-up includes members from Mass Hysteria, Glorior Belli, and Comity. As displayed on the first advance track from their debut album, the music of this Mur is quite different from the other as well, in addition to the differences in geography.
The wobbling, pounding electronic sounds of the introduction to “I See Through Stones” are surprising, and a hammering industrial rhythm carries forward, joined by heated writhing guitars and equally scorching vocals. Twisted, blaring melodies combine with gigantic grooves; dissonant spearing tones emerge from eruptions of razoring chaos; bursts of guitar frenzy seethe, simmer, and reach heights of lunacy while the rhythm drives your head like a piston. It ends abruptly, leaving only the sound of your own heavy breathing.
Exciting stuff — and immediately addictive, too. More please!
Mur’s debut album Brutalism will be released on the distant date of October 25th by Les Acteurs de l’ombre Productions. The cover art is by Alex Michaan. Pre-orders haven’t been announced yet.
This Portuguese one-man band made its first appearance at our site more than four years ago when I discovered a song from the then-forthcoming third album, Mysteries, a song I found to be an unusual piece of fire-breathing raw black metal, one I described as “highly seductive and as hypnotic as the slit eyes of a swaying cobra”. The rest of the album was just as appealing. Another full-length, Banished From Time, followed that one in 2017, but I stupidly never found the time to dive into it. Now, another two years later, Iron Bonehead Productions will be releasing a fifth Black Cilice album, Transfixion of Spirits.
Iron Bonehead‘s publicist describes the music on the new album as “in-the-red rawness to a superlative degree, surging second-wave black metal to the bone”, but asserts that “underneath those layers of filth ‘n’ fatalism lies a melancholic majesty that’s truly a splendor to behold”, with “a more spectral expression” in the sound than was manifested on the last two records.
The first song revealed from the album, “Outerbody Incarnation“, bears out those descriptions. The echoing vocal wails do indeed have a blood-freezing spectral quality, as do the moaning melodies that drift slowly through the maniacally hammering drums and the skittering freakishness of the guitars. The combination of grand but chilling gloom and super-heated chaos make for a classic melding of ice and fire. When the fury of the drumming briefly subsides into a stately march, the music takes on the air of a medieval dirge — and the stench of plague somehow persists even when the rhythm becomes a rocking beat. Yet all of the movements are shrouded in that atmosphere of ghostly allure and melancholy majesty — the song is well-named, for sure.
Transfixion of Spirits will be released on September 6th.
I included a stream of this Chinese band’s debut demo (Emblem of the Desecrated) in a gigantic SHADES OF BLACK round-up on the penultimate day of 2018, but didn’t have time to write any impressions of it. Their second recording, an EP named Nonentity of Anguish, was released by Pest Productions on June 9th, and this time I do have some enthusiastic words to offer in thanks for the music.
There are only two songs on this EP, but they’re both of substantial length, and both are tremendously engrossing. “Offerings” blends riotous savagery, weird lunatic leads, and long doomed chords. The drumming is an extravagant show all by itself; the vocals are rampantly berserk; and the music is such a dense, dynamic, multi-textured experience that it’s easy to be caught up by it — to become mesmerized by the almost symphonic grandeur of some layers and to become disturbed by the crazed wildness of other permutations.
Not to be outdone by the mercurial extravagance of that first track, “Bestowal” is no less intense and no less multi-faceted. In another rapidly veering performance, the drummer pulls out new patterns, despite how many he used in the first track, and the band again demonstrate their propensity to create a hybrid sound of gloom-shrouded majesty and tormented insanity. Deep groaning tones interplay with swirling, glistening filaments of discordance and dementia that create mounting tension, and the sweeping keyboard panoramas are dauntingly ominous. As before, the vocals are thoroughly unhinged and hateful.
These two tracks really are wonderfully immersive, even if both sound like fanfares of the apocalypse.