It’s an eclectic mix of sounds that I’ve chosen for today’s round-up; an authoritative but not infallible source doesn’t consider any of them metal. As on other occasions, I’ve benefited from recommendations received from Rennie (starkweather), which are the first two bands in this selection. The first of those, Wells Valley, was already a known quantity to me, though I didn’t know they had a new album set for release. The second one (Indus) was a new discovery, as were the next two, which I learned about in other ways.
Hektik‘s new EP seemed to pair up very well with the recent Indus EP, which is why I’ve put them back-to-back in the middle. The music of Burden Limbs is a different breed of cat altogether, but I’ve found myself hooked on the song I’ve included here, and by the forthcoming EP from which it comes.
In June of this year Black Lion Records released a compilation CD (also available as a name-your-price Bandcamp download here) named Afterlife In Darkness I. It includes songs by 29 bands taken from past and future releases by Black Lion. I should have paid closer attention to it, because one of the five tracks from forthcoming albums on that comp is the new song (“Paragon“) by Wells Valley that I’ve picked to start today’s collection, which is also now streaming on a recently established Bandcamp page for their new album.
The music of this Lisbon trio is a genre hybrid that pulls from the traditions of black metal, doom, and post-rock (among others) and could also warrant the label “avant garde”. Apparently, though, it’s not metal enough for Metal-Archives, which refuses to list the band. Perhaps the gurus there should listen to “Paragon” and reconsider.
The discordant wailing guitars, the oppressive drone in the low end, and the skull-busting drum blows which open the song create a harrowing impact, and the music only becomes more harrowing and anguished when the guitars become a wall of deleterious sound and the vocalist begins shrieking. The feelings of tension and peril in the music continue to build. Chant-like voices can briefly be heard in the distance; the guitars flicker, scream, and ring out in hallucinatory fantasias; the bass clangs like a crowbar as the drummer erupts in rapid-fire bursts; the vocalist vents larynx-lacerating screams.
The song is a mind-mangling, bone-fracturing experience right up to the feed-back drenched finale. Call it what you want, but it sounds heavy as hell to me.
Wells Valley‘s new album, Reconcile the Antinomy, will be released by Black Lion Records on November 15.
As mentioned at the outset, Indus is a new discovery for me. Indus isn’t listed on Metal-Archives either. Apparently a one-person project from St. Louis, Indus has made three releases this year alone and two more in 2018 (that’s what I see on Bandcamp). The only one of those I’ve heard is the newest one, an EP named Bloodstains released on August 18th (which has very cool cover art). Rennie tells me that of the three records from 2019, each one is different from the others:
“They all have an industrial lean. This newer one, Bloodstains, has a Crowbar/sludge edge; Post Truth is more experimental (plays with drum machine patterns going from almost club/edm to Scorn-esque deep noise); and Avskum has old-school Godflesh 808 beats and Fear Factory sci-fi trappings.”
Definitely a Crowbar/sludge edge to the music on Bloodstains. In its slower movements, it’s as bleak as a sucking chest wound and as pulverizing as a pile-driver. At full speed, it’s absolutely vicious, erupting in bursts of high-BPM drumming or surging gallops, coupled with riffing that’s blizzard-like in its frenzy or braying in its lunacy. The roaring, shrieking, and muttering vocals straddle the line between deranged fury and blood-red torture.
Rennie‘s right that most of the song’s also have an industrial lean, of an especially punishing variety (check out “Mental Asylum”), and some include surprising twists (especially the title track, which becomes dreamy, and includes goth-inflected singing, but will also beat you senseless). It ends with an Acid Bath cover that’s a mental and physical demolition job..
This makes three bands in a row that you won’t find on Metal-Archives. I guess in the case of Berlin’s Hektik it’s because they’re viewed as more of a hardcore band than a metal band, but there’s more going on than hardcore in their latest EP, Honest Disdain Is a Face of God.
Among other things, Hektik are goddamn bone-smashers. Like Indus, there are industrial influences in the mix. They also meld cavernous low-end undulations and bullet-spitting snare attacks, gigantic stomping grooves and gales of tremolo’d savagery, rock-crushing bass tones and throat-shredding screams. At almost all times, the music is overpowering, either in the sheer senses-shattering density of the sound or the titanic destructiveness of the grooves.
Disturbing injections of electronic sound, coupled with the often unhinged frenzy of the riffing and the terrifying extremity of the vocals, make most of these songs frightening experiences — but you’ll never be far away from another opportunity to be remorselessly pounded to smithereens.
Honest Disdain Is a Face of God was digitally released in May of this year, but I learned about it because Lower Class Kids Records will be releasing it on cassette tape on September 15th. Of note, it was mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege.
Now we come to the fourth band in today’s collection that you won’t find at Metal-Archives. Their music is quite different from everything else in today’s collection, and also diverges from most of the music we tend to cover at NCS.
The band in question is Burden Limbs from London. Armed with two bassists, two guitarists, a synths manipulator, a drummer, and a vocalist, they make “miserable bastard music”. Their debut EP, There Is No Escape, will be released by Glasshouse Records on September 6.
One song, “How Many Times Must I Reset“, is available for streaming now. I first noticed it through a lyric video. The chilling lyrics riveted my attention, as did the mysterious, collage-like visuals (which become strobing and frenetic by the end). And the music, coupled with those lyrics and the way that Chad Murray sings them, made a harrowing impact from the first listen. And yes, Murray sings; this is an exception to our Rule.
It is a dismal and disturbing song in many ways, but as it swells in volume and power, channeled through the impact of the prominent bass pulse and the wall-of-sound nature of the riffing and the searing shimmer of the synths, it becomes an adrenaline kick too. The song ebbs and flows, but climbs ever higher in its harrowing surges, reaching its zenith when Murray sends his voice soaring in agony, splintering into screams. And man, those lyrics….
As for the other three songs on the EP, which I’ve had a chance to hear, they are every bit as disturbing — and every bit as transfixing — as the one you can hear now. Murray has a great voice for communicating despondency and despair, and every time he rockets his voice into the stratosphere it sends chills down the spine. The rhythmic drives in the songs are potent, and the waves of guitar and synth have a powerfully immersive (and often narcotic) effect, with through-lines of desolating melody that have a way of sticking in the head.
The emotional intensity of the music is non-stop, save perhaps for the opening to the final track (which shares the band’s name), where the sound of strings creates a sense of moody introspectiveness before the synths swell and spear the brain, long with Murray‘s angsty wails. That final song is still “miserable bastard music”, but it’s also transcendent — like a blinding sunrise of pain and regret — and spellbinding.