In a rare showing of restraint, I didn’t slaughter millions of brain cells last night in celebrating the end of the work week. Consequently, I woke early this morning without feeling like I’d contracted the plague while asleep, and spent a block of time making my way through many new songs that had come my way over the last couple of days. From those I picked this collection.
Today, in addition to emphasizing stylistic diversity, I decided to focus even more on lesser-known names than usual, though it’s always our standard practice to make sure we’re not just writing about what everyone else in the metalverse is writing about. Having said that, I couldn’t resist beginning with a name that’s undoubtedly been on the lips of vast throngs since yesterday’s song reveal. And that name is…
In his review of 2016’s Winter Thrice, my friend Andy remarked that “it only takes a quick glance at the Membership Timeline on the band’s Wikipedia page to see how many different members and line-ups the group have gone through over the years, while somehow still retaining the same creative drive and overarching musical identity that first brought the band together”. That list will become longer now, with the impending release of Borknagar’s 11th album, True North, which features new drummer Bjørn Dugstad Rønnow and new lead guitarist Jostein Thomassen. Missing this time around are Vintersorg, Jens Ryland, and drummer Baard Kolstad, who had made his first appearance on Winter Thrice.
On the other hand…
…mastermind Øystein G. Brun continues to anchor the band, and True North again includes vocals (and bass) by ICS Vortex and vocals (and keys) by Lars Nedland. It’s Nedland’s wonderful singing that carries the bulk of the vocals in the song that debuted yesterday, “The Fire That Burns“, though ICS Vortex makes his own presence vividly known through the spine-tingling higher expressions of the song’s title and the harsh shrieks, as well as the vocals in the bridge.
The melodies in the song, both the vocal ones and the instrumental ones, are enthralling, and the song reaches zeniths of burning intensity, too. Not surprisingly, it’s also a dynamic affair, with beautiful, soft moments accented by keyboards, and later by a melancholy solo, contrasting with soaring, searing glory and craggy gloom.
True North will be released by Century Media on September 27th. (Thanks to Andy for confirming my identification of vocal roles on this song.)
Vocally, Borknagar is obviously a big and well-earned exception to our porous rule about singing, and I decided to follow their new song with another exception. This one, “De Dincolo de munte“, is the first track revealed from the debut album by Sur Austru, a Romanian band whose line-up includes members from the now defunct Negură Bunget (vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Tibor Kati, Petrică Ionuţescu (who performs traditional instruments), and bassist Ovidiu Corodan). The line-up is completed by flautist Ionut Cadariu, guitarist Mihai Florea (Grimegod), and drummer Nadaban Sergiu.
The flute carries the melody in the song’s haunting opening, joined by solemn choral voices, magisterial drum beats, and the nearly-submerged vibrations of a guitar. Tibor Kati’s singing is strong, and when he transitions into gruff spoken words the melody takes an exotic turn. You might think the entire song will be this kind of mystical, dark neo-folk, but at the 3:40 mark things become much heavier and more intense. Kati transitions again, this time into a bestial growl, and the heavy chords arrive. The drummer kicks into a sequence of rocking beats and the guitars rise in splendor, joined by the flute once again. The music is both enthralling and pulse-pounding, and I’m quite taken with it.
Sur Austru‘s debut album is Meteahna Timpurilor, and it will be released on September 10th by Avantgarde Music.
The three cosmic beings of Triangle Face (Gary Midnight, Mr Krippling, and The Leper) hail from the Flat Triangular Universe, and somehow made their way to our benighted planet, which they find perplexing, vapid, and degenerate. Stuck here, they decided to create musical expressions, which perhaps might be a manifestation of where they came from, or perhaps a cry for help to get back. They disclose that “if your organic eyes were to ever witness these sentinels of the Flat Triangle universe together like this, then prepare for death. painful resurrection, semi-cremated butter-pastry goods and then ultimate judgement. In that precise order”:
More amusement is to be found on the FB page of Triangle Face, where they have introduced themselves one by one since the First of May. Their first single and video, “Ðü Plåman“, is also highly entertaining, and difficult to classify.
It is, among other things, jolting and jarring; ominous and crazed; booming and brazen; savage and swirling; rocking and queasy. The vocals are also varied, ranging from vicious blackened snarls to extravagant yells. The track is physically compulsive, quite capable of getting your head moving vigorously, but it has strange, hallucinatory qualities as well, and the dramatic melodic refrain that both opens and closes the song conveys a feeling of perilous majesty.
This new song will be included on the trio’s debut album, Sentinels of Pseudo-reality: Interpretations of Maelstrom, which will see the light of day on the 29th November through Apocalyptic Witchcraft. The surrealistic cover art is by Frank Heller.
(Thanks to Rennie from starkweather for pointing me to this band, who actually seem to be based somewhere in the UK until they can find their way home.)
Grouch appears to be a solo project, at least for the time being, and Perth, Australia appears to be home base. Not having read anything else about Grouch before listening to the band’s first single, “Your Soul Is Mine”, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it left the biggest damned smile on my face!
After listening to it, it came as no surprise to see such bands as Dismember, Bloodbath, Bolt Thrower, and Entombed on Grouch‘s list of influences — though it’s Wolverine Blues-era Entombed that came to mind more so than Left Hand Path.
That big HM-2-powered guitar tone and the hammering cadence of all instruments when they sync up is compulsive enough to rock your whole body (and crack your skull); the drums pummel away quite effectively; the fiery, reptilian leads are quite enticing; and the guitar solo is a scintillating spectacle. The man behind Grouch also has a tremendous growl and a monstrous roar. Put all that together and you get an electrifying, hook-filled song that’s virally infectious.
“Your Soul Is Mine” is available now on most digital platforms.
Mount Vernon, Washington, is located in the beautiful Skagit Valley to the north of Seattle, and Mount Vernon is home to Wet Temple, a powerhouse trio who released their self-titled debut EP on July 20th.
The EP has gotten under my skin damned fast — and fractured the flooring in my home. Which is a way of saying that these dudes are heavy as hell, utilizing bass and rhythm-guitar tones that sound like massive earth-moving machines and a drummer who hits hard enough to fracture stone. They’re also riff-writing machines, with each song concocted around behemoth-like, fuzz-bombed riffing that quickly becomes damned addictive. The pulsing and slithering leads are narcotic, which contrast with the scraped-raw, braying intensity of the vocals and the flares of brazen melody.
As you move through these six tracks, you’ll encounter episodes of neck-wrecking juggernaut momentum as well as moments of abysmal, dragging misery. The combination of bone-bruising, wrecking-machine power, opium-pipe wooziness, morbid wretchedness, and blood-red vocal fury works well here. As they say in the trade, no molds were broken in the making of Wet Temple, but they’re very good at what they’ve chosen to do.
In short, this is an extremely promising debut of sludge-heavy stoner/doom.
To make one more stylistic shift in closing this Saturday selection of new music I chose Love Died At Nightfall, the new single by the Finnish funeral-doom/ambient band Grimirg. It was released through Kalmankantaja just yesterday.
The use of shimmering and droning ambient textures in the song give it an ethereal and unearthly atmosphere. But while the music gleams with cosmic, otherworldly splendor, the glacial, crushing weight and the groaning and slowly wailing melodies in the music also exert imploding gravitonic force and feelings of soul-scathing grief. The vocals are impressively cavernous, and also emotionally wrenching.
There is cold, alabaster, moon-lit beauty in the song, but it’s also capable of tearing you down, body and soul. It’s easy to become immersed in Grimirg‘s haumting and harrowing world over these 13 minutes, and difficult to rejoin the one around us at the end.