Writing today’s column was tougher than usual. While listening to my long list of music candidates last night and planning what I would write about, the news about the massacre in El Paso broke. And when I woke up this morning, planning to inhale coffee and begin writing, I was greeted with the reports of what happened in Dayton, Ohio overnight, when 9 more people were executed and more than two dozen were injured. Those tragedies brought the number of mass shootings in the U.S. this year to more than 250 (defined as 4 or more people shot or killed in a single incident, not including the shooter), and the number of deaths in mass shootings to 51.
I guess depression and rage are among the chief emotions channeled through black metal, but these events still didn’t put me in the best frame of mind for this project, despite being wracked by that same mixture of feelings over the last 24 hours. I do have plans for a second installment of new music in this series, but the best I can hope for is to finish it in time for posting on Monday.
For many of us, Unaussprechlichen Kulten have become one of those bands whose every release is mandatory listening. And so it will be with respect to the fifth album from this Chilean cult, Teufelsbücher, which will be released by Iron Bonehead Productions on October 18th.
The public relations material accompanying the album’s announcement characterizes it as “the band’s densest and most dissonant work to date”. The album’s German-language title, literally meaning “The Books of the Devil”, refers to texts circulated in Europe in the late 1500s and early 1600s by theologists and inquisitors with the intent of denouncing sins they attributed to the powers of Hell and putting forth the means of combating the Devil’s arts. As the press material tells us: “Through hundreds of pages, prodigious, fantastic, wonderful, and scary stories were included, as well. However, along with revealing their own perversion finally instead of warning men, they ended up causing fascination and unleashing morbid fascination regarding superstition and witchcraft”.
The first advance track from Teufelsbücher, “Cranquiluria“, creates a violent and hallucinatory atmosphere, blending queasy, dissonant melodies with bursts of savage chaos. Rapidly veering, angular fretwork, thunderous drumming, plundering basswork, and ferocious growls combine with rampantly skittering riffage and freakish, screaming solos to create a mind-warping, mentally destabilizing thrill ride. The clarity and power of the production reveal the bewildering intricacy of the music in detail, but it takes more than one trip through this mad whirlwind to decipher more than fleeting glimpses of all the adventurous nuances.
The fantastic cover art for Teufelsbücher was created by Rodrigo Pereira.
The music in this next selection was not actually created by a band named “A Mystery”. Those are my words, chosen because I needed a heading-divider for this track but didn’t know the name of the band. In fact, the band’s name has not been disclosed. Terratur Possessions simply launched a Soundcloud stream of a nameless song by an unnamed band, accompanied only by this statement: “Brand new project to be announced, debut LP/CD coming early 2020”.
Having heard this ravishing piece of music, I’m left very curious about who created it, and so if Terratur Possessions‘ aim was to tease us, they have certainly succeeded. The overarching sensation is one of delirium, chaos, and uncompromising malevolence. The brazen chords that blare above the militaristic, lightning-fast drum fusillades create a feeling of violent exultation, while sheer madness is the mark of the unhinged screams and the dense, roiling riffage. There are moments when the drummer switches to snare rhythms that will wreck your neck, and the vocalist drops into a horrid roar, adding elements of dynamism to this full-throttle dose of electrifying insanity.
To become enlightened by more info about this release in future days, or perhaps to simply be teased further, watch these spaces (and I thank Rennie once again for telling me about this music stream):
2019 is proving to be a banner year for the Icelandic/American label Mystískaos. So far they have released (or announced plans to release) albums by Andavald, Serpent Column, a collaboration by Wormlust and Skáphe, a vinyl release of the late-2018 album by Délirant, and the self-titled debut album by the Finnish band Arnaut Pavle. That last album is the source of the next selections in today’s column.
The two songs from Arnaut Pavle now streaming on Bandcamp are “Unholy Black Balsam” and “True Power from Below“. Both are relatively short. Both sound like punk rock processed through a pitch-black (metal) prism, and both are hell on wheels.
The music has an abrasive, lo-fi rawness, and the vocals are as raw and deranged as you could want. “Unholy Black Balsam” switches into riotous blasting as the lead guitarist delivers a shrieking solo, and the song often has the feeling of a violent orgy. “True Power from Below” isn’t quite as hell-for-leather in its pacing, and creates more of an occult atmosphere, but is just as venomous, and just as head-hooking. The latter song also includes strands of melody that convey a kind of bleak grandeur.
Arnaut Pavle will be released by Mystískaos (CS, LP, and digital) on September 9th. The cover art was created by H.V. (Wormlust, and Mystískaos co-owner). Thanks to Conchobar for reminding me to check out these tracks.
Metal-Archives lists many bands named Sovereign, some living and some dead. But the Sovereign who created the two songs on what appears to be a debut EP that I’ve chosen to stream next is not to be found there (yet). And so far as I can tell, this Sovereign (which is a one-person project) hasn’t disclosed his location or any other info about the band’s origins.
The EP, entitled Transmissions From The Kingdom Ov Ice And Bone, was just released on August 3rd. “Speaking With Silence” is immediately vibrant, thanks to a darting guitar arpeggio at the outset that’s absolutely scintillating, and the song becomes increasingly bewitching as it races ahead, with waves of grand, gleaming melody cascading over the heavyweight rhythms and scorching howls. The song is a dynamic affair, with plenty of rhythmically compulsive movements in the mix, but holds together beautifully as Sovereign takes us through variations on that opening melody.
“Transmissions From The Kingdom Ov Ice And Bone” creates an immediate contrast, proceeding at a deliberate and stately cadence and creating a mood of crushing sorrow through its melody. The vocals are at least as ferocious and tyrannical as before. But a thrashy bridge about two minutes in forms the prelude to a full-throttle, high-voltage charge, in which the drum rhythms gallop and blast. “Speaking With Silence” displayed a gift for irresistibly head-moving riffs and a penchant for grand and glorious (but sinister) melodies, and those talents are on display again in this title track when Sovereign punches the pedal to the metal.
What a pleasant surprise this turns out to be — and it’s available as a name-your-price download at Bandcamp.
UPDATE: There is a Metal-Archives page now for this Sovereign (here) and it discloses that the creator is based in the UK.
Gravatus is a Romanian one-person band whose name roughly translates as “sick” or “burdened”. In 2016 I briefly reviewed the band’s second album, LI_E. I was enthralled by the music’s dark, haunting air, which persisted even in its most frenzied bouts of agony and despair, and by the beautiful integration of classically influenced symphonic ingredients. I wrote: “Though complex and unpredictable, and as often discordant as moodily melodic, the songs have a way of seizing and holding attention, coiling and uncoiling the tension in your head like a winding spring”.
At the end of last month Gravatus released a third album — Et Omnis Insipientia Aperuit Os Suum. It too proves to be multi-faceted tapestry of sound. It doesn’t take long for the music to begin sending chills up and down the spine, thanks in significant part to the terrifying, inhuman power channeled through the vocals, but also due to the heavy-weight force of the drum-and-bass tandem of sound and the frenzied yet otherworldly quality of the melodies, which blend discordance and eerie, wailing melodiousness.
All of those qualities come through in breathtaking fashion through the opener “Vitam Impendere Desperatio”, which also includes a shocking eruption of percussive violence and feelings of torture-induced insanity — and ends in a mystifying and menacing cosmic drift.
The chills don’t stop there, as each song takes us through labyrinths of blood-freezing gloom, soul-sucking misery, raging lunacy, and panoramic visions of hideous occult powers ascending to skull-thrones of death. The classically influenced symphonic ingredients of the last album aren’t as prominent in this one, which instead includes haunting ambient passages (and one eerie piano outro in “Nulla Salus”) that in their own way are as frightening as everything else.
In its essence, the whole album is frightening, but so immersive that we become willing participants in its alarming ministrations.
Like the Sovereign EP above, Et Omnis Insipientia Aperuit Os Suum is also available as a name-your-price download at Bandcamp.