We missed a day yesterday, dammit. I spent too much time listening and not enough time writing — so much time listening that I have many things I want to recommend across many heavy genres. I liked the way the following four tracks flowed together, so I’ve collected them here. The plan is to post a second installment of this round-up tomorrow. It goes in very different directions than this one. I’m not posting it today because I want to make time and room for the usual SHADES OF BLACK column, which will arrive soon(ish).
I spent an hour yesterday listening to Mizmor’s new album Cairn, which is how long it takes to proceed through the record’s four long tracks (they range from 10 minutes to 18 in length). It’s an emotionally overpowering experience, as stunning as the Mariusz Lewandowski painting (“Time Immemorial”) that Mizmor’s alter ego A.L.N. commissioned for the record. Of the album’s four tracks, the opener “Desert of Absurdity” is the first one out in the world, and the first one in today’s collection.
All of the songs I’ve chosen for this post cover a lot of territory, but this one perhaps the most of all — from a soft, entrancing acoustic melody to an emotionally searing storm of sound in which widely spaced, uber-deep bass tones mix with rampantly hammering drums, blistering vocals, and waves of agonized chords; from groaning doom crawls and tear-streaked leads to the whirr of pained riffing and the gleam of a gorgeous, soulful guitar lament. This song won’t leave you where you were when you began listening. I have trouble leaving it alone, but it cracks my heart every time I hear it.
Cairn will be released on September 6 by Gilead Media. In time, we’ll have more to say about the album as a whole. It deserves more thought than a fast first impression.
Qaalm are a relatively new six-man band from Los Angeles, whose members have experience in many other groups. They are at work on a debut album but on July 14th released a single-song demo named “Reflections Doubt“, and it’s tremendously good.
Qaalm bring crushing doom — and I do mean crushing — but leaven it with ethereal, mesmerizing guitar arpeggios. The sensations are vast and otherworldly, as if we’re being transported to witness vistas on Mars, or carried to the Olympus of ancient gods. The principal vocals are gargantuan — and they would have to be to keep company with such extravagantly titanic music. The band also bring the kind of giant, chugging riffs that are capable of bending you at the waist, the kind of wrenching shrieks that feel like knives carving skin, and the kind of stricken, moaning and wailing, melodies and wild cries that awaken memories of shattering grief.
This is such an intense and haunting piece of music that it sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it. Truth is, I can’t listen to it back-to-back, but need to give it space (and give myself time to recover) before returning to it. It’s that powerful.
(As on many other occasions, I owe thanks for this discovery to Rennie of starkeather, who compared the style to Eyes of Fire and Mindrot.)
Massed modern-day field howitzers couldn’t kill these drum beats. They’re so goddamned riveting. But so is everything else Wrvth wrap around those rhythms.
Four years after their last, self-titled, album (a multi-faceted work reviewed at length here) this California group have a new one named No Rising Sun, which is set for release by Unique Leader on August 23rd.
A song from the album named “Eventide” premiered on July 19th through a bleak lyric video. In the space of six minutes it also covers quite a lot of territory. Over those tremendous drum rhythms they layer darting, chiming, evanescent guitar notes, gleaming melodies that lift you off your feet and sear your brain, pulverizing chords, body-moving bass lines, and incinerating vocals. It’s a remarkable melding of contrasts that makes a stunning impression.
THE FIFTH ALLIANCE
The Depth Of The Darkness is the third full-length by the Dutch band (from Breda) The Fifth Alliance, but it is my own first encounter with their music. Actually, all I’ve encountered so far is a track named “Black“. It not only makes a great companion to the first three songs in today’s collection, it’s just fucking great all by itself.
It seemed to flow so well from the first three songs in this collection. It amalgamates giant, heaving, low-end tones and bone-cracking drum beats; glinting guitar notes and wailing clean vocals; haunting atmospheres of shivering moodiness and building tension; and a thundering eruption of black-metal ferocity that takes the seeds of pain in the music and makes them flower in thorns. In that eruption, the riffing buzzes and boils in a grim torrent of sound as the drums and the bass leave wreckage in their wake, and the vocals vent scarring torment.
The music becomes spectral and chilling after that storm of sound (the vocals are particularly insane at this point), but it’s seductive as well as disturbing. Those ringing notes you hear at the end don’t go away even after the silence falls. What a brilliant song….
The Depth Of The Darkness will be released on vinyl by Burning World Records (EU) and Init Records (US), on CD by Consouling Sounds, and on cassette by Bharal Tapes.