SHADES OF BLACK (PART 1): THE DEATHTRIP, DYSANGELIUM, SHRINE OF INSANABILIS
I was in Utah over the weekend for my job and didn’t have a lot of free time. I did have enough time to do some listening and make these selections, but not enough to finish this column and post it in its usual place on Sunday before I had to go to the airport for the trip back to Seattle.
As you can see, there will be a second Part later today. For this first Part I’ve chosen songs that mark the return of bands whose previous work we’ve praised and promoted. The second Part includes a number of new discoveries.
My tumble into the music of The Deathtrip began in July 2016 when Neill Jameson included these words about the band’s 2014 debut album Deep Drone Master in an NCS post about black metal:
“The Deathtrip is an Aldrahn project (who you should know from Dødheimsgard amongst others). Two demos that were primitive and degenerate as hell were enough to keep my interest, but the realization of the building blocks they represented which came together on this release is startling and welcome. Aldrahn has always had one of the greatest voices in black metal and it has felt like far too long since it’s been heard. Hopefully this is a project that will continue and grow.”
It has indeed continued, as evidenced by Demon Solar Totem, an album that will be released on November 15th by Profound Lore in North America and by Svart Records in the EU. But The Deathtrip has continued in altered form.
In the Fall of 2016 we published an interview by our occasional Greek collaborator John Sleepwalker that included a dialogue with Aldrahn about The Deathtrip. In that discussion Aldrahn said:
“On the new album, it’s almost done, the songs are already finished. The thing is, that I need to learn how to make my own home studio thing. I need to put down the patterns for the demos, it’s something I always do at home, but every time I go through the manuals for the home studio, I feel something itching me. It’s something that’s very boring and I have neither the patience, nor the interest. So, that can take a while, because it’s what needs to be done. I know, of course, it’s not fair for Host, the guitar player, he wrote more than just those songs for the new album in fact. He has so much new material written I guess we’ll have to exclude certain songs.”
He further said: “The new material differs in a somewhat… Burzumish way. That’s why I’m very sceptical about the whole thing. Some of it sounds so much like Burzum that it’s almost like a blueprint.” He remarked that he would need “to finish the vocals and hear the result. Then maybe we can make a smooth change to the whole thing.”
Something happened in between that interview and the recording of the new album, though we don’t know exactly why. Aldrahn disengaged from The Deathtrip, and was replaced by Kvohst, who had a hand in the founding of The Deathtrip with Host, and was also at one time a member of Dødheimsgard. The new album also features the drumming of Storm (ex-My Dying Bride, Blasphemer) and the bass playing of Thomas Eriksen (Mork).
Regarding the material that Host had created as of 2016, Aldrahn identified the influence of Burzum, but the advance press for Demon Solar Temple instead asserts that the record “captures the spirit of ancient Darkthrone, Thorns and Beherit imbued with old-English occultism and the chanting of sacred sound formulas. Otherworld Black Metal eeriness for a deep dive into spectral realms”.
As revealed on the first song released from the album for listening, “Abraxas Mirrors“, Kvohst also has a distinctive and unusual voice, and the music does indeed begin in a display of cold, spectral, void-like eeriness, but those sensations give way to the ravishing sounds of glorious exultation. As the music swirls and flashes like lightning, powered by relentlessly surging rhythms, chant-like choral voices rise up in tones of solemn and sorrowful reverence. The contrast between them and Kvohst‘s absolutely vicious and tyrannical proclamations is striking. The whole song is striking!
Credit for the memorable cover art goes to Luciana Lupe Vasconcelos.
Five long years ago we premiered the terrorizing second demo (Leviaxxis) by the German black metal band Dysangelium, and then had some very positive reactions to their debut album Thánatos Áskēsis, which followed later that same year. Now, at last, a second album is on the horizon.
Death Leading will be released by W.T.C. Productions on October 8th, and “Homo Larvalis” is the song from the album you’ll find below, released through a lyric video. Vocalist Sektarist 0 once again demonstrates his own frightening vocal abilities (not the commonplace shrieking), and the music is just as fearsome. But it’s a dynamic experience, at first creating a mood of imperious yet terrifying grandeur, then descending into a slow rocking cadence in which the ringing chords resonate with anguish and doom, then accelerating again into an electrifying frenzy that combines rapturous delirium with cold-hearted ruthlessness, and also ascending again to heights of cruel majesty.
Apart from the emotional power of the riffs and melodies, the vocals really are tremendous, and the work of the rhythm section is also due a deep bow.
(Thanks to eiterorm for alerting me to the release of this track. Since then, we accepted an invitation to premiere another song, so keep your eyes and ears open for that.)
SHRINE OF INSANABILIS
We were fortunate to premiere a full stream of Disciples of the Void, the 2015 debut album by this German band, which I acclaimed as “one of the strongest black metal albums of the year” — “the kind of black metal that burns like a flaming sword and yet casts an aura of pitch black darkness”, with melodic components that were “as dark as indigo, ranging from moving waves of doleful beauty to booming dirges of cold disdain to frenzied warlike anthems” (and there were hypnotic moments of chilling ambience within the album, too).
Given the strength of that debut, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of a second album by Shrine of Insanabilis, and at last it’s on the way, set for release on October 17th by W.T.C. Productions. Its title is Vast Vortex Litanies.
The first advance track, “Vertex“, doesn’t take long to hurtle into motion on the back of a powerful rhythmic drive, and also doesn’t take long to get a listener’s blood surging and all nerves firing. The riffing is crazed and ecstatic; the vocals are as vicious as a rabid panther; the bass and drum pulses are turbocharged and thunderous, but slow things down just enough to add to the riveting quality of the song — and it really is riveting. “Vertex” throws us into a vortex, plunging us into a cyclone of extravagant flickering and darting flame, and immersing us in the heady rush of wild yet highly perilous exultation.
I loved Dávid Glomba‘s cover art for Disciples of the Void, and he has again done masterful work for the cover of Vast Vortex Litanies.
(Thanks again to eiterorm for alerting me to this song before the press releases arrived.)
SHRINE OF INSANABILIS:
Big bummer about Aldrahn leaving Deathtrip. He is one of my very favorite vocalists, having loved his work with DHG, Thorns, and currently with Urarv (who are awesome – thanks to NCS for covering them). I am still super into hearing the new Deathtrip album and very much like the posted track (thanks)… Good stuff. I hope Aldrahn is using the “extra” time to get a new Urarv album out.