I did promise there would be a third Part to the SHADES OF BLACK column I began last Sunday. Only thing is, I made the promise three days ago. It’s been one of those weeks.
Since I originally chose the music for what evolved into this Part 3 (choices I made last weekend), a lot more worthy black metal has surfaced, creating some decision-making difficulties. To cut that Gordian knot I just decided to stick with my original choices and add only one thing that emerged this week, which is the first item below. I’ll save everything else for the regular Sunday SOB feature this weekend, and do my best to keep that one from morphing into another multi-part week-long form of musical cell division.
Perennial NCS favorites Schammasch are following their titanic 2016 album Triangle with a new one named Hearts Of No Light. It’s not as sprawling an album, and undoubtedly will present other signs of change, since that’s been one of the band’s hallmarks as they’ve evolved. I suspect we’ll have a review in the near future, but today the subject is the first “single”, “Rays Like Razors“.
Eerily dissonant and jolting, the song builds tension and an occult atmosphere of perilous foreboding. Rumbling drums and a sheen of soaring melody heighten the sensations of threat and fear, while blaring chords and fervent vocals create a feeling of terrible eminence, and skittering fretwork and thundering percussion lend the electricity of derangement and exaltation. Long dismal reverberations and flaring fieriness, matched against a timpani-like tumble and pound, create a hellishly grand finale to this otherworldly extravaganza.
Hearts of No Light includes guest contributions by classical pianist Lillian Liu (on two of the tracks), vocalist Aldrahn (formerly Dødheimsgard, Thorns) on “I Burn With You”, and Dehn Sora (Treha Sektori, Throane, Ovtrenoir) on the album’s final track, “Innermost, Lowermost Abyss”. The album will be released by Prosthetic Records on November 8th.
I’m reaching back into the spring with this next release, contrary to my usual forward-looking compulsion. It’s an album called When My Blood Runs Cold by a band named ChernotA from “a godforsaken place called Udmurtia (the city of Izhevsk), almost lost in the wild Russian woods” (the band’s words). The band’s members consist of Leo Odintcov (composing, arrangement, mixing, and mastering) and Marina Kuznetcova (vocals, lyrics).
ChernotA‘s compositional techniques created a bracing hybrid of brake-neck momentum, flesh-stripping vocal hostility, and exotic, intensely charismatic melody. Some of the melodies move in grand symphonic waves across the turbo-charged rhythms, while others leap forward in dire and dismal arpeggios, momentous pounding and groaning chords, or beautifully executed solos (both fiery and soulfully sad). The music is persistently dramatic (even theatrically so), and spine-tingling in its amalgamation of cold cruelty, wolfish ferocity, supernatural mystery, and whirling euphoria.
I would have preferred that the programmed drums not be so forward in the mix, detracting somewhat from the power of the rest of the music. Having said that, I still found the album, in a word, intoxicating.
(I discovered this rough gem thanks to a recommendation by Rennie [starkweather], who commented on the weird production, the great bass runs, and the reminiscence of Marina Kuznetcova‘s vocals to those of the singer for The Corona Lantern.)
P.S. Though digitally released in April, the album has recently gotten a physical release through Blasphemous Records. (via Plastic Head/Code 7).
“Fayenne is a horde that promote female liberation and supports all kind of violent destruction of the male society”. So says this Swedish female duo, and therefore I’m apparently hastening my own violent destruction by spreading the word about their latest demo, Ancient Womb of Mercury (released on September 1). So be it.
In these three tracks, Fayenne come for your throat, teeth bared and blood boiling. But while the light-speed drum blasting, beautifully vibrant bass, wild, spinning riffs, and howling, hate-filled vocals burn like a wildfire out of control, there’s a lot more going on in the songs than a soundtrack to the Wild Hunt.
The reverberating leads (both darting and sinuous) are exhilarating, and have the sorcerous feel of black magic incantations, and there’s both classic heavy metal bombast and blood-pumping thrash in the riffing. The songs also manifest rhythmic dynamism as the momentum turns from racing to d-beat-like gallops or the stateliness of a grim but solemn procession.
Ancient Womb of Mercury is a great blend of styles, black metal being only one of them, and even at only three tracks it will kick your adrenaline into overdrive.
(Thanks again to Rennie for inducing me to hasten my own destruction.)
Next up is “No return“, a track from Darkness Devour, the debut album by the black metal band Flukt from Vennesla, Norway. Without meaning to oversimplify the song, in part it’s a thrilling devotional to the caustic barbarism and blizzard-like, blood-freezing sensations of certain strands of ’90s Norwegian black metal. But on the other hand the song also includes episodes of swaggering, carnal rocking and the lush, wondrous sound of a rippling guitar melody that shines like the brilliance of an aurora borealis, creating a finale to the track that’s just fantastic.
“No return” was also released as a standalone digital single. The album as a whole is set for release on October 25th by Dusktone.
KALT || WEISS
When I first decided to include the music of Austrian KALT || WEISS in this collection, the focus was to be on a single named “Lichtgestalt” from their then-upcoming debut album Serotonin. However, because of my delay the entire album is now out, having been released on September 20th. But I’ll start with “Lichtgestalt” as originally planned.
The song was presented through a video that’s a serious attention-grabber, and an unnerving one — and I won’t spoil the experience with any other description. The music is also attention-grabbing, and unnerving. With vocals that range from abrasive shrieking and howling to desolate and disturbing wails, moans, and frightening whispers, backed by waves of symphonic melody that are shimmering, searing, and grandiose, flares of guitar discordance, groaning low-end weight and pulverizing quasi-industrial rhythms, and a variety of other weird warbling vibrations, the song has a deeply hallucinatory atmosphere.
It’s like a drug-induced nightmare, whose deviant twists and turns create a challenge for people wedded to genre descriptions (and for people who would like to hang on to their sanity). And there are three more tracks on the album that are even longer than “Lichtgestalt“, and they’re no less disturbing. The angst-ridden, misery-sodden, goth-leaning singing may take some getting used to, and the overarching doomed, demented, and depressive atmosphere (driven to heights of intensity by explosive blast-fests and savage riffing) will take an increasingly heavy toll on your well-being as the songs flow from one to the next, pulling you ever deeper into the emotional abyss these Austrians have created through their narcotic reveries.
If you give “Lichtgestalt” a try and become enamored of it, you’ll dig everything else. If you don’t get the attraction, it’s best you move on to a different band, because the other tracks are a lot more of the same. I found myself fascinated by its chilling perversions.