I have mixed feelings about the Fourth of July, especially this year, and I’m not the only American who’s feeling torn today. While there are migrants in the midst of a humanitarian crisis on the southern border, the country’s most famous Independence Day celebration has been turned into a taxpayer-funded militaristic political rally for a man who not only could care less about what’s happening to people in Texas detention camps, but actively tries to score extra political points among his supporters by doubling down on the prisoners’ misery. And that’s just today’s most visible one-two punch to the nation’s ideals. There will be more battering tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that.
On the other hand, I still feel fortunate to have been born here, and still take pride in much of what the country has achieved, and in much of what it stands for when it’s at its best. I also recognize that even though I’m not feeling particularly celebratory today, the Fourth is for many Americans a day of joy, even if it’s just because the day is a good excuse to be in the company of good friends or family, to gorge on comfort food and too much beer and booze, and to watch pretty explosions in the night sky. To all those people, I wish them a fantastic fucking day.
To be clear, my mixed feelings about this particular holiday in this particular year have nothing to do with why I’m still posting metal on the Fourth. It’s not intended as a sign of disrespect (it might even be viewed as a way to make a celebration day a bigger blast). It’s more a consequence of the fact that we’ve taken pride around this site in never observing any holidays. or weekends either. Well, almost never. I used to be able to count on the fingers of one hand the number of calendar days over the entire life of NCS when we didn’t post about new music. It now takes more than two hands, but in the 9+ years we’ve been around, you could still count the number of missed days on two hands and two feet. I’m not going to grow any more toes, so the show must go on.
Also relevant is the fact that roughly half of the people who visit our site, day in and day out, don’t live in the U.S. It’s no holiday for the vast majority of them (although today is also Republic Day in the Philippines), and maybe those of you outside our borders would miss our recommendations today if we took the day off.
Anyway, we’re not taking the day off. Here are some Fourth of July metal recommendations for you — quite a lot of them, actually.
ROTTING CHRIST / VARATHRON
Hells Headbangers calls the release of a 7″ split by Rotting Christ and Varathron “a truly momentous occasion”, and who could argue with that? It’s the first time these two paragons of Greek black metal have ever joined together in a single release. Entitled Duality of the Unholy Existence, it includes one track from each band, specifically recorded for this split. On a daily basis since learning of the release, I’ve been checking the Bandcamp page for the song streams to appear, and finally they have.
In my humble opinion, both songs are tremendously good, each of them channeling much of what makes each band distinctive. They’re also both gloriously fiery, irresistibly pulse-pounding, and catchy as hell. Rotting Christ‘s song (“Spiritus Sancti“) also manages to be mesmerizing and grand (and vocally varied), persistently building tension with a jittery riff and then breaking the tension in extravagant ways.
Interestingly, Varathron‘s song, “Shatan“, also has a jittery riff within it and also creates a glorious atmosphere, but it rocks hard too — and the melodies have an exotic Eastern resonance. Of course, the vocals burn with fervor and fanatacism, and there are some killer heavy metal chords to be found within as well.
FORAY BETWEEN OCEAN
My NCS colleague TheMadIsraeli recommended this next song and video to me. When I saw that the video had more than 26,000 YouTube views after four weeks I nearly skipped it, because I figured they didn’t need any extra help. But I checked it out anyway — and became transfixed as if suddenly frozen.
The visual images and disturbing (yet mysterious) narrative in the video (beautifully written and directed by Toni Kristian Tikkanen) are a big reason why this froze me in place, but the power and intensity of the music is at least as great a cause.
The song in question is “Visions of an Epileptic Eye“, taken from this Greek band’s forthcoming second album, As Serenity Drowned. Drawing elements from both death and black metal (and deathcore), the song often unleashes all-enveloping, symphonic-level force and dramatic intensity, creating harrowing, tension-torquing storms of dissonance-laced delirium and skull-plundering destructiveness. Near the end, the vocals shift from guttural roars and throat-splitting shrieks to agonized clean singing, pushing the song to an almost operatic finale.
As Serenity Drowned will be released worldwide on July 6th through Miasma Records. There are two more songs and videos from the album that have also been released, and you can find those by perusing the band’s Facebook page.
The new album by the Catalan atmospheric metal band Foscor is one we’ve been eagerly awaiting here at our putrid site. Entitled Els Sepulcres Blancs (“The White Tombs”), it’s the second installment in a conceptual trilogy that began in 2017 with Les Irreals Visions. The new record has now been set for a September 6 release by Season of Mist, and the first advance track from the album, “Cel Rogent,” premiered just yesterday at Overdrive Magazine.
The song’s combination of contrasts is a big part of its appeal. Anchored by an electrifying drum rhythm and seething riffage, chiming chords ring out slowly; together with the surfacing of formless ambient shimmer, they create a mystical atmosphere around the primal blood-rush of the rhythms. The singing in the song (both haunting and soaring) is another big part of the song’s appeal, along with the vibrancy of a darting new riff and the soulful sinuousness and scintillating sparkle of the guitar solo.
Darkness shades the music, but it also shines with a feeling of transcendent hopefulness, and that’s a further contrast that accounts for the song’s spellbinding allure.
A friend remarked that the song inspires thoughts of Killing Joke and ’90s-era Swans, and he’s not wrong.
Corridoré hail from Madison, Wisconsin, and they characterize their music as “atmospheric black / post-metal”. They describe the conceptual narrative of their self-titled debut album, which will be released on August 2nd, as follows:
“D.H. Lawrence’s poem ‘The Ship of Death‘ anchors and inspires the music and lyrics of the album, which tells a tale of a sea voyage gone awry. During a perilous voyage of oblivion, a band of seafarers struggle to discern between good and evil, ultimately seeking refuge in a place that offers no respite from their peril, no warmth for their chilled and weary bones. In the end, all is swallowed by the sea, which is as indifferent to the tale of their voyage as it is to life as we know it.”
“For the Voyage of Oblivion Awaits You, Pt. 1” is the album’s 10-minute opening track, which is the first of four substantial compositions on the album, and the first one revealed for streaming on Bandcamp. As a long song, it’s predictably variable in its movements but consistently gripping. It starts with a tremendously powerful surge, then segues into a slower and more eerie passage whose wailing, warping melody rings out above the band’s sludgy, lead-weighted low end — and then the pace diminishes even further into a groaning crawl, which in turn leads into a soft, haunting instrumental. And that all happens before you reach the four-minute mark.
As the song proceeds further, it morphs again and again in its moods and in its intensity, becoming searingly desperate and catastrophically destructive, dramatically tragic, wistfully beautiful (and crystalline in its guitar tones), pleading and angst-ridden, and ultimately panoramic in its portrayal of sorrow. Throughout almost all these variations (in which shrieking vocals appear infrequently), the music is massively heavy, thanks to a rhythm section whose sounds you can feel in your marrow.
This is an enormously promising start to an album that I’m suddenly very eager to hear in full.
Corridoré was recorded by Spenser Morris (Vukari, Panopticon, Saor) at Decade Music Studios in Chicago. The album is recommended for fans of Amenra, Falls of Rauros, Inter Arma, and Neurosis.
This next song and video is another recommendation from TheMadIsraeli. It’s from a forthcoming Unique Leader release, and I usually check out advance tracks from that label’s output but overlooked the press releases for this one (the size of our in-box has become horrifying), which arrived on July 2nd.
This particular song is the title track to Omophagia‘s forthcoming album 646965. It’s a hell of a dynamic song from this Swiss death metal band — a ravishing amalgam of high-speed drum mania and berserker riffing; darting, demented fretwork and explosive drum detonations; massive jolting grooves and rhythmically compulsive vocal roaring; and slow chord fanfares that create an air of dramatic grandeur.
646965 will be released on September 6th.
(Pre-orders for 646965 will be available via Unique Leader on Tuesday, July 9th.)
Time to shift gears, and move to something more catastrophic and cataclysmic — which are among the first adjectives that came to mind when I listened to the new EP by the Finnish black/death formation Pnakotic Vision.
Azathoth is the name of this overpowering onslaught. It consists of four tracks that shift from ravages of thunderous barbarism to cold, oppressive, magisterial marches. The vocals veer from imperious roaring to maniacal shrieking, and the even more variable drumming is especially impressive. The riffs range from dissonant and dismal to brutally eviscerating and ominously majestic.
The songs are also laced with otherworldly, glimmering filaments of melody that spear, spiral, and slither through the maelstroms and miasmas, creating sensations of skin-shivering grandeur and terrible loss. For music of such horrid power, those melodies prove to be quite emotionally involving and memorable, especially those in my favorite of these tracks, “Disciple of Cognition“. You’ll also encounter haunting astral ambience following a bout of pile-driving pulverization in “Descension“.
If you want a comparative reference, both Mitochondrion and Auroch came to mind more than once as I listened to the EP.
(Huge thanks, once again, to Rennie of starkweather for pointing me to this excellent release.)
To conclude today’s Independence Day round-up I decided to throw a bit of a curveball at your head, in the form of a two-track EP by Pierre Noir, which was released on June 26th by the Spanish label Grabaciones Autobombo. I’ve forgotten how I came across this EP, and I wish I could remember, because my googling has yielded no information about the artist or anything else about the release other than the meager info on the label’s Bandcamp page for the EP.
The EP’s title is Licantropia is the relationship of the barbarized mankind, and it consists of two tracks — “Licantropia is the relationship” and “Barbarization of mankind” — which are devoted to a condemnation of “so-called capitalist globalization”. Stylistically, you could think of it as a hybrid of raw black metal and techno. The spine-shaking beats are viscerally compulsive (remaining still when you listen isn’t an option); the distant echoing wails and shrieks are utterly wretched; and the guitar leads, which are flickering, skin-flensing, depressive, and delirious, have a way of getting stuck in the head.
I think it all works really well, but judge for yourselves. And if anyone knows anything more about Pierre Noir, please share it in the Comments.