I had originally planned to post most of this collection (all but the opening song) nearly two week ago. I obviously didn’t get it finished then, and other obligations and ideas have kept pushing it side in favor of other posts since then. As the days have passed, a couple hundred other interesting songs have surfaced, from which a more “hot off the presses” round-up might have been assembled. But I decided just to pull this one off the shelf instead, brush off the light coating of dust, and present it on this Saturday.
In different ways, the second through fifth songs in this collection are off the usual beaten paths here at NCS, different in different ways from the kinds of music we usually focus on. The first one, which is more recent, is more in the main line of our usual interests, but I’m so excited by it that I didn’t want to defer recommending it. It’s also surprising, and not completely out of place in a post devoted to deviations from the mean.
It’s not an overstatement, at least among those of us who toil at NCS, that whatever groups Greg Mackintosh becomes involved in (in addition to Paradise Lost) will be worth checking out, sooner rather than later. With Vallenfyre now ended, he has turned to Strigoi, a group he created with the aid of Extreme Noise Terror and Vallenfyre bassist Chris Casket, and so far, no one else aside from drummer Waltteri Väyrynen, who did studio session work on Strigoi’s first album. That band name, we’re told, refers to “the troubled spirits in Romanian mythology who could rise from the grave and assume an entirely different form”.
Strigoi’s debut album, Abandon All Faith, will be released by Nuclear Blast on November 22nd, and to begin the run-up to its release the band and their label have premiered a video for a track called “Phantoms“.
Ostensibly devoted to death metal and grindcore, Strigoi don’t hew strictly to those genres, as “Phantom” clearly demonstrates. The music is ferocious, but Mackintosh‘s vaporous and gleaming leads are eerie — eerie enough to turn the blood in your veins ice cold. Elements of doom enter the mix (not surprisingly), when the pummeling assault of the drums relents and Chris Casket‘s bass becomes an even more titanic and skull-splitting presence.
As suggestive above, the music includes some surprising changes, none more so than what happens at the 2:30 mark. All I’ll say is that you should be prepared to bang your head with the vigor of a crazy person. And then be prepared to marvel at Mackintosh‘s solo.
The occult-themed video is fantastic, by the way. (They find the key, but the work required is… wet.)
Those among you with sharp eyes, extreme addiction to NCS, and eidetic memories will recognize the name Pierre Noir, because I did write about another release from this group at the very end of a very long new-music round-up on July the Fourth of this year. Back then the subject was a new two-track EP named Licantropia is the relationship of the barbarized mankind. Today the subject is yet another two-track EP, this one entitled The Wolf Is At Home. Like the previous one, it was released by the Spanish label Grabaciones Autobombo (on September 8) .
I described the earlier release as a hybrid of raw black metal and techno, though I wasn’t entirely satisfied with that nomenclature. I’m still not, but I still don’t have a significantly better short-hand to give you for this new EP, though now I realize I should add “nightmarish” or “death-dealing” to those other adjectives.
The long lead-in to the title track, which does seem to include the baying of a wolfish voice, is supernatural and nightmarish, and the pounding, timpani-like drum beat has a ritual aura. Blackened guitar vibrations gloriously soar — and then the electrifying electro beats arrive to produce physical convulsions in the listener. As the guitars continue to boil and ring out, the song becomes a disturbing miasma of sound, anchored once again by the ritual pounding and other low-frequency spine-shakers, and accented again by wretched howls. Another episode of convulsion lies in wait before the song ends, along with a guitar harmony which delivers a frantic pulse that’s searing — and demented.
The riff at the outset of the second track, “Walking between black sands”, sets the hook very quickly and then digs it in through repetition, as Pierre Noir begins to layer in a cornucopia of other percussive and mind-scalding sounds, which are plainly designed to put your teeth on edge, to send shivers down your spine, and to keep you up at night when you’re trying to find rest. Eventually, you’ll get a big floor-shaking dose of convulsive beats (and crazed, flickering and spiraling arpeggios), but no relief from the wash of nightmare noise.
I still don’t know who is in this band or where they are located.
Don’t know why it has taken me so long to listen to the new album of Alfahanne, entitled Atomvinter, since I’ve been enjoying and writing about the releases of this Swedish band since early 2014. But so far, all I’ve managed to check out is the one publicly released single, which is the new record’s title track. It includes a guest appearance by none other than Hoest (Taake).
If you’re new to Alfahanne, their music is a changing blend of rock ‘n’ roll, black metal, punk, and goth, with a post-apocalyptic aesthetic (and that list of ingredients isn’t exhaustive). And I can virtually guarantee you’ll rock out to “Atomvinter“, moving to both its potent rhythms and its bright, recurring keyboard dances and flickering guitar leads. Yet while there’s a lot of electrifying vitality in the song, death also seems to preside over it, especially in the wild and often demon-like vocals.
And so “Atomvinter” becomes a weird, wondrous, and perilous fling — and a highly infectious one, too. You can dance to it, but your dance partners will be skeletons and poltergeists.
Atomvinter will be released by Indie Recordings on October 4th.
The next song might be the furthest off our musical beaten paths of everything I’ve collected here. It’s from the new album Fantasmi by the Italian project Dolore, which is the solo effort of Italian artist Giorgio Trombino (Haemophagus, Assumption, Elevators To The Grateful Sky). The album is described by the releasing label (Horror Pain Gore Death Productions) as music “inspired by soundtrack maestros such as Fabio Frizzi, Morte Macabre, Goblin, Hermann Kopp and many others”. Check out the “for fans of” list provided by HPGD:
“Bruno Nicolai, Carpenter Brut, Claudio Simonetti, Elsio Mancuso, Ennio Morricone, Fabio Frizzi, Goblin, GosT, Hermann Kopp, John Carpenter, Morte Macabre, Perturbator, Piero Umiliani, Riz Ortolani, S U R V I V E, Tangerine Dream and other masters of horror & giallo”
Now that you have those ideas in mind, here’s “Registri Dell’Incubo (Nightmare Registers)“. The bass riff you’ll hear at first just goes and goes, with a few slight variations, and it’s such a gem that sitting still isn’t an option. And while that head-nodding pulse cycles over and over again, Dolore layers in a variety of melodic keyboard notes that ring like xylophone keys, as well as mystical ambient clouds. The combined effect is spellbinding.
Fantasmi will be released by HPGD on October 31st (digital and CD).
If you think about it after listening to this last song (presented through a video), Hellhookah is a pretty good name for this Lithuanian band, formed in 2012 by Arnas (guitars/bass/vocals) and Gintarė (drums). The music has the pungent aroma of Sabbathian stoner doom but it’s damned hellish, too.
“Greed and Power” is red meat for a riff lover, especially fuzz-bombed narcotic riffs. The drumming isn’t extravagant, but gets the job done (and Job One is to get your head into the slow headbang groove). The song’s main riff is oppressive but golden, and there’s a gloriously infernal quality to the music as well. The lead that surfaces about mid-way through has a potent psychedelic flavor, and turns out to be the prelude to an even more irresistibly head-moving segment that steps up the pace. Arnas‘ vocals are rough but fervent, and in my estimation suit the music to a Tee.
It also occurs to me that there’s dual meaning to the “hookah” part of Hellhookah‘s name, because man, this song has some sharp hooks in it along with everything else.
The song is a new single that will appear on Hellhookah’s second album. A release date hasn’t yet been announced.