Although you can’t tell from the title of this post, it’s the first part of another two-part installment of this column. I didn’t call this “Part 1” because I dusted off a long-dormant strategy for the second one, which has its own long-dormant Category tag, and I’m using that instead of Part 2. All will become clear when I’m able to finish and post the second segment, hopefully later today but possibly on Monday morning.
Here, I’m beginning with a notable news item and then marching ahead with the music, which includes an EP, a new song and video, and advance tracks from forthcoming releases.
BLUT AUS NORD
Part of the thrill afforded by a new Blut Aus Nord album is the process of discovery, because BAN has rarely followed a straight and steady path from one record to the next, and predicting how their path might twist and turn requires a crystal ball. In the case of their new album, Hallucinogen, Debemur Morti Productions has announced that it “begins a new era,” “ending the cycle of clandestine industrialised dissonance that culminated with previous transmission Deus Salutis Meae and moving skyward into freshly melodic territories of progressive clarity”.
What might those new territories sound like? Again from the label: “Interweaving dreamlike choirs, inimitable harmonic developments, reflective clean guitars, palpable organic drumming and a welcome rock and roll swagger, Hallucinogen is a spacious, emotionally wide-ranging record that finds Blut Aus Nord more open than ever, full of life and revelling in the element of surprise”.
No doubt these words have inspired intrigue in some quarters and dismay in others. How radical is this promised alteration? How successful is the transformation? How appealing are the results? We will have our own thoughts to share about the answers to such questions when the time is right. And of course everyone will have the chance to begin this new process of discovery when the first excerpt from the album surfaces, which should be soon.
Hallucinogen will be released by Debemur Morti on October 11th. Pre-sales have begun, and some editions have already sold out, which is a vote of confidence. The cover art is by Dehn Sora.
EU shop: bit.ly/blutausnordEU
US shop: bit.ly/blutausnordUS
The self-titled EP of Marw was released in March, and I can no longer remember how I found it, or when. Someone probably sent me the link, and whoever you are, thank you.
If Metal-Archives is correct, the band’s line-up consists of current or former members of Exhumation, Dragged Into Sunlight, Kryocell, and Cranial Disgorge. The same source reports that the band’s name is pronounced “ma-ru”, and is Welsh for deceased or dead.
However long I had the link to the EP in my queue, I didn’t actually listen to it for the first time until about 10 days ago, but have returned to it several times since then. These Liverpudlians (or should we call them Scousers?) have made a very fine first statement, creating music that sears the senses with the broiling intensity of its riffing, the frequently frenzied drum tumults, and the extreme, tortured sensation of the vocals.
The band also veer from scourging delirium to suffocating gloom, which feels unhinged in a different way, creating through its discordance and unstable rhythms an atmosphere of emotionally fracturing abandonment, despair, and mental breakdown.
One might be tempted to insert “experimental” into the multiply-hyphenated genre description of the music, because it’s so unpredictable, and so willfully bent on hurling you out of your comfort zones, even though Marw do throw head-hooking sequences in your direction (particularly in the electrifying closing track, “Propagation”, which I think is the best of the three), like life rafts in an emotional maelstrom.
Overall, Marw is a disorienting and disturbing experience, but a thoroughly gripping one.
It was only last month that I reported about the latest song and video by these men from Leipzig, who traffic in an amalgam of black metal, sludge, and doom. The song released then was “Stirn”, and this past week they’ve revealed another one. Both will be included on Zeit‘s second album, Drangsal (“distress”), which will be released on August 30th.
Like “Stirn”, “Menschmaschine” has been presented through a music video, filmed and edited in Leipzig by the band’s vocalist/guitarist Fur, whose talents are clearly not limited to making music. Like the first video, this one is completely engrossing to see. The music, meanwhile, is deeply unsettling in its opening minutes, especially the vocals, which are almost unbearably intense. There’s a dismal quality to the boiling riffs that back those scorching vocals, and a grim and brutish oppressiveness in the sound of the craggy bass and the pounding percussion when the song segues into gloomier territory.
But there are more changes to come, when reverberating guitar tones and syncopated percussive sounds lead into a livelier and bouncier experience, which almost seems joyful — almost. When the band kick back into high gear after that unexpected interlude, the intensity mounts again as the riffing creates a mood that’s sorrowful and then desperate. A final bout of grim pounding and hammering chords affords a last chance to pump your head like a piston before an abrupt halt.
THE EMBER, THE ASH
I paid attention to this next song in part because it’s from an album that will be released by Avantgarde Music (a label that I’ve found is a dependable source of quality selections) and in part because The Ember, The Ash is another project by the Ottawa-based artist 鬼, who is also responsible for the music of Unreqvited. I discovered the latter band’s music through its second album, Stars Wept to the Sea (discussed here last year).
As revealed through the two tracks now up for streaming from the first album of The Ember, The Ash, it’s perhaps a darker and more depressive formulation than the sounds of Unreqvited, which are difficult to pin down but include moments of uplifting beauty.
One of those two songs, the title track to Consciousness Torn from the Void, creates an eerie yet seductive mood in its first minute, and there’s a feeling of dark, astral magic at work even when scampering drums and cauterizing shrieks arrive to light a flame under the music. However, the otherworldly eeriness and celestial brightness of the music, which become most evident in the middle of the song, doesn’t mask the strains of depressiveness that course through the song, nor the lacerating pain of the vocals. Even the soft keyboard interlude in the song’s back half doesn’t completely dispel the emotional darkness — though it’s certainly enthralling.
The other song, “He who Wove the Stars and Moons“, begins creating pulse-pounding tension immediately. It will get heads moving, but the unease in the melody is palpable, and boils over into hysteria as the riffing swirls into an overheated frenzy and the drums hammer at breathtaking speed. In the background, darting piano tones lend a different, ethereal dimension to the experience, a feeling of melancholy introspection in the midst of a cyclone. Like the title track, this one also includes a beguiling instrumental segment (which functions not as an interlude but brings this song to a close). An acoustic guitar performance takes the lead this time, its reverberating tones creating a haunting spell.
Consciousness Torn from the Void will be released by Avantgarde Music on September 5th.
The Faceless Divine is the third album by the German black metal band Totengeflüster, which will be released on October 11 by Black Lion Records. The first track put up for streaming from the album is a promising inducement for the album as a whole.
The opening riff of “The Hollow Wanderer (Cursed)“ has an ominous, gothic quality, and there’s an air of chilling majesty in the rising waves of symphonic sound, leavened by bright, darting keyboard tones. The band intersperse these haunting but seductive passages with bursts of potent, thrashy chords that give the listener’s pulse a jolt before the band continue guiding us through an un-real netherworld, with a vicious screamer providing the vocal narrative. The calliope-like quality of the melody in the closing crescendo, coupled with harsh chants, seems to usher us into a demonic carnival where unspeakable evils invite us to join them in their revels.
Vorum‘s last EP, Current Mouth, delivered five tracks of feral, furious, electrifying death metal. That EP was pretty much full-bore from start to finish, with little room to take a deep breath, but the music was so thrilling, so venomous, and so nasty in its accelerated savagery that I became a big fan of this Finnish band (as reported in this 2016 review).
But that really was Vorum‘s last EP. What became of them? Well, for reasons unknown to me they ceased to exist, yet Vorum members have now embarked on a new project named Concrete Winds. Their debut album under that name, Primitive Force, will be released by Sepulchral Voice on the 16th of August.
“A total of 25 minutes of pure blasphemy, sadism, and dystopia crash through the listener and leave either earbleeding disgust and horror or divine fulfillment and broken furniture.” So says the PR material. It also says: “Primitive Force is evil speed metal riffing and death metal heaviness combined with a black metal performance & attitude”.
“Infant Gallow” and “Tyrant Pulse“, the two songs now streaming at Bandcamp, fulfill those promises. Both of them are wild, both of them vicious, both of them electrifying. The vocal tandem of shrieks and roars keeps pace with the unrestrained lunatic savagery of the instrumental performances. However, all is not chaos, because the songs include both rhythmic grooves and fretwork accents that will get their hooks in your head, even in the midst of such hellfire-fueled deliriums of sound. The dervish-like riffing that cycles through the closing part of “Tyrant Pulse” is especially contagious, like a mad, spinning dance we’ve been pulled into, moving faster than our limbs can manage, but so ebullient that we don’t want to be cast away from it.