SHADES OF BLACK (PART 2): OBSEQUIAE, RAGNAROK, ANOTHER TERRATUR MYSTERY, ZATYR, VESPERITH
Yesterday my compadre Mr. Synn began a review with a few reminders about how we operate NCS. I’ll add an addendum, which is also a corollary or consequence of the points Andy mentioned: We are not a well-oiled machine. Advance planning is virtually non-existent. Chaos rather than order is usually the hallmark of the days.
And so, although I planned to post a seven-band second Part of this week’s SOB column yesterday, it turned out that I bit off almost more than I could chew with yesterday’s posts without even considering another SOB installment. It will come as no surprise that since then new songs from two more bands have appeared that I can’t resist recommending without delay. Since you have ten fingers you can calculate that these would increase the total number of bands in Part 2 to nine, which even I will concede is too many. So, I divided the original (and now swollen) Part 2 into two parts, which means there will now be a Part 3.
However, because planning is not our strong suit, I’m not sure when I’ll finish it, particularly because more exciting new songs will undoubtedly surface between now and then. As always, we’ll just have to take things one day at a time.
Two of the new songs that appeared since I first conceived this second SOB installment are from the new album by Obsequiae, which I’ve been very eagerly awaiting since learning last year that it was in the works. The new album is The Palms Of Sorrowed Kings, and it will be released on November 22nd by 20 Buck Spin, who may have to be investigated for attempting to corner the market on hot-shit releases this year.
The two new songs from the album are “L’autrier m’en aloie” and “Ceres in Emerald Streams“. When you hear them you will understand why the two were premiered together, rather than the more typical roll-out of one advance track at a time.
The first rings with the dulcet reverberating tones of Vicente La Camera Mariño‘s medieval harp, which was a key feature of Obsequiae’s last album, 2015’s Aria of Vernal Tombs. As the opening track, it again positions Obsequiae in another age, long lost to time, while casting a beautiful and mysterious spell.
The second track yields the floor to Tanner Anderson‘s ringing guitar and scalding voice (and the drumwork of Eoghan McCloskey). The song’s physical low-end pulse and occasionally rampant blasting are potent, but it’s those glorious rippling and winding melodies that have the starring role, rooting the music in that same lost age as Vicente’s harp, and sending the heart soaring along with them.
This next song is another of the new ones I wasn’t expecting when I compiled the original version of this column. Entitled “The Great Destroyer“, it’s the first single from the forthcoming ninth album by the Norwegian black metal band Ragnarok. The band explain that the album’s title, Non Debellicata, refers to a phrase used as the motto for their home town of Saropsborg in older times, and seems to mean “never give up”.
Certain kinds of orthodox black metal spawned well-used adjectives like “ice cold” and “wintry”. Other kinds are fiery and ferocious. Ragnarok’s new song is incandescent. It’s a fierce and even warlike onslaught, to be sure, but the whirling melodies are so vibrant, so defiant, so glorious, so triumphant, that they banish frigid climes far from the mind. The song does turn darker and heavier, more ominous and menacing, and more despairing, and that change is part of what makes the song so gripping, but it’s the sheer savage ebullience of the music that makes it such a tremendously exciting experience.
The song is also very memorable, and the clarity of the production and even-ness of the mix, which allows all the instruments to shine and the voice to strike so powerfully, are to be applauded as well.
Non Debellicata will be released on November 15th by Agonia Records. The cover artwork is by Nestor Avalos.
ANOTHER MYSTERY FROM TERRATUR POSSESSIONS
In early August Terratur Possessions launched a Soundcloud stream of a nameless song by an undisclosed band, accompanied only by this statement: “Brand new project to be announced, debut LP/CD coming early 2020”. I was quite skinned alive and exploded by that song (as described here), and now Terratur is playing the teasing game again, posting another nameless song by an anonymous band on Soundcloud 12 days ago. For obvious reasons I can’t swear it’s the same band as on the first mysterious song, but it sounds like it.
The first word that comes to mind in listening to this track is “unchained”. The drumming and bass work are fast as lightning and as violent as a hail of bullets. The vocals range from the most off-the-hook shrieks to the most hollow-hearted roars and blood-freezing incantations. The riffing drowns us in searing yet queasy cascades of poison and derangement. This typhoon-like assault is punctuated with grand fanfares and thunder-blast drum detonations, creating a sense of terrifying eminence rising from within this manifestation of pure chaos. Take deep breaths before you listen.
(Thanks to Rennie [starkweather] for alerting me to this new mystery. I’ve included the earlier mystery track along with this new one.)
The next item in this collection is a complete EP, and something of an outlier for this column, even considering that I tend to range pretty far and wide as it is. The EP is Ornament of Proposition (released on September 20th), and it marks the recording debut of the Swedish band Zatyr.
It’s a bit of an outlier, because Zatyr traffic in classic heavy metal, though it’s a patently infernal take on the style to be sure. The vocalist Set has a powerful set of pipes, and proves himself capable of veering from clean song that soars to bestial growls that come for your guts and screams that sound downright demonic, though the emotional fervor he expresses is red-hot at all times.
As for the music, it’s immediately infectious, and deliciously dynamic. The riffs are damned compulsive, the melodies are full of hooks, the soloing is fantastic, the rhythm section know what the hell they’re doing. It’s the kind of stuff that makes grown men lift their invisible oranges to the heavens. In short, Zatyr are a huge surprise, a bolt from the blue. It hardly seems possible this is their first release. I doubt it will take long for the word to spread and the fans to come thronging.
Ornament of Proposition is a name-your-price deal at Bandcamp. The excellent cover art was made by Uduun Art.
To close Part 2 of a perhaps-three-part SHADES OF BLACK for this week, I’ve chosen “Fractal Flesh“, the first advance track from the self-titled debut album of Vesperith, which is the solo work of Finnish experimental black metal artist Sariina Tani, who happens to be a woman. I was intrigued enough to listen, in part because I’m always intrigued by female creators in black metal and in part because I saw that the album was co-produced by Oranssi Pazuzu‘s mainman Jun-His.
I’ll preface my own thoughts about the song with these words from Sariina Tani:
“This new album is a pilgrimage to the abyss. For many, shadows, darkness, emptiness, or void are almost stigmatized as evil, bad, or scary but I see almost heartbreaking beauty, light, and infinity there.”
I inserted that quote because you can hear all those sensations in this song. I hesitated to write about it in too much detail, because doing so will spoil some surprises. On the other hand, I didn’t want you to think that the opening of the song — which is ambient music that seems both fascinating and dangerous, evanescent and ominous — is all there is to it, though I don’t mean to suggest that the opening is ho-hum. To the contrary, it’s an effective blend of contrasting sensations, and as it swells in volume and abrasiveness it portends something violent… and that’s when the surprise arrives.
The music explodes in a dense, all-enveloping torrent of inhumanly fast drumming, earth-shaking low-end rumbles, utterly wild and cosmically wondrous riffing, and shrieking that burns hot enough to cauterize wounds. It’s quite an astonishing onslaught of sound, yet has an otherworldly ringing and wailing quality that unites it with the unearthly sensations of the opening. Honestly, I was left wide-eyed and near gasping.
Vesperith will be released by Svart Records on November 23rd.
(Thanks to Miloš for linking me to Vesperith.)
Those tracks from Terratur are insanely good. I’m really curious to find out who it is.
Agree with you here!
That new Obsequaie is so good! I have their last album but haven’t spent enough time with it apparently. That was amazing!