SEEN AND HEARD: WOLFBRIGADE, KING, PNEUMA HAGION, WOUNDVAC, IDLE HANDS
Well, I had every intention of compiling a round-up of new metal to post on Halloween, with music suitable to the occasion. Unfortunately, life got in the way and left that plan in tatters. Now that I’m a day later, I’ve made a few adjustments in the original plan, although there are a couple of holdovers from what I originally conceived, including the opening song below. As now formulated, this round-up is quite a stylistic smorgasbord.
Be sure to come back to NCS tomorrow and Sunday, because this post doesn’t come close to exhausting all the new music from the last week or two that I’m eager to recommend. Unless life gets in the way again (always a strong possibility) I’ll have another round-up on Saturday and then the usual blackening of Sunday.
I still have amazing memories of Wolfbrigade’s explosive show at Northwest Terror Fest in Seattle earlier this year, and of getting to spend time with the members off-stage. It was therefore doubly exciting to see September’s announcement that Southern Lord would be releasing the tenth album by these Swedish Lycanthro Punks — The Enemy: Reality — on November 8th. There’s only going to be one “single” from the album in advance of the release, and it was presented yesterday through a music video directed by MeANkind and edited by Henrik Norsell.
For obvious reasons, the song could be considered Halloween-appropriate, but we’re told that it is actually based on the theme of a harrowing childhood nightmare (which involved a vision of a tree full of white wolves) related to, and interpreted by, Sigmund Freud by one of Freud’s most famous patients (the Russian aristocrat Sergei Pankejeff), who became known as the “Wolf Man” because of the nature of that dream. I’ll quote here from the press release we received:
“The video is an incredibly stark, prime example not only of WOLFBRIGADE’s long-established but ever progressing sound, but of the band’s political message, beliefs, and outlook on humanity. A visual amalgamation of Orwellian overwatch by governmental powers, lessons unlearned from the nuclear arms race of the mid-1900s, and our current state of worldwide socio-political unrest serves as a backdrop for the band’s raging d-beat angst and scathing vocal detestation.”
The raw, wounded fury of Mikael Dahl‘s voice is a force of nature and very much in evidence in this new song, and his bandmates (guitarists Erik Norberg and Jocke Rydbjer, bassist Johan Erkenvåg, and drummer Tommy Storback) push this hard-driving song to heights of battering power and incendiary, anthemic extravagance. A hell of a good sign for the new record, but of course we expected nothing less.
I’m thinking I should be horse-whipped for neglecting the music of Australia’s King, even after Andy Synn made their debut album (2016’s Reclaim the Darkness) the subject of a haiku review, or maybe because of that review, because I’m gob-smacked by the three songs now up for streaming off their new album Coldest of the Cold.
Those three songs — “Star” (which recently debuted through a lyric video), “Mountains Call” and “Beyond the Exosphere” — live up to the advance billing of King’s music as an intersection of Scandinavian melodic death metal and the stylings of Immortal, Satyricon, and Dissection.
Of those three, “Star” is perhaps the most vibrant and electrifying, a galloping rush that’s full of fire and swagger, while “Mountains Call” (my favorite of the three) integrates darting and jabbing high-octane firepower within music that’s sweeping and glorious, with melancholy melodic solos that are absolutely gripping. And finally, “Beyond the Exosphere” launches in a dervish-like swirl, and then it too becomes a thrilling rush, propelled by rapidly pulsing riffs and rampant drumming — but the song also soars into the heavens on waves of cold melody that are symphonic in their grandeur and ultimately heart-breaking in their sorrowfulness. Throughout, the vocals are themselves a thrilling and wonderfully varied performance.
Coldest of the Cold will be released by EVP Recordings on November 22nd.
For those not in the know, Pneuma Hagion is one of the many projects of the prolific Texas-based vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Ryan Wilson, whose other bands include Intestinal Disgorge, The Howling Void, Endless Disease, and Excantation. Under the guise of Pneuma Hagion he has released a handful of demos, splits, and an EP since 2015
Stylistically, the music of Pneuma Hagion has been massive, ominous death/black/doom metal in the vein of early Incantation, but while abyssal, sepulchral manifestations of despair and degradation have been dominant, a new song released just a few days ago — which will appear on a debut album to be released by Nuclear War Now! Productions — is a bit of a departure.
“Timeless Darkness” has a cold and cruel feeling, leavened with sensations of disease and decay, and it hammers with a will, but the grinding, whirring riffs and frequently jet-propelled drumming also give it a maniacal quality, like cruelty delivered in a frenzy. Wilson‘s bestial bellows and roars add to the song’s feeling of monstrous menace. It’s a pulse-pounding piece of remorseless savagery, and definitely gets me eager for this album.
I’ve sung the praises of Arizona grindcore unit Woundvac before, first in a review of their 2017 EP Infamy and then again after hearing their 2018 debut album Terrorizing the Swarm. They followed that with a new EP two months ago (via Corpse Flower Records) named The Road Ahead, which is hellishly good, and the next item in today’s round-up is a video directed by Dillon Vaughn for one of those new tracks.
This video is the other one in today’s collection that’s a holdover from yesterday’s planned but unconsummated Halloween round-up. You’ll understand why when you see it — it’s terrifyingly violent and gory, and creepy as hell. As for the music, it once again proves Woundvac‘s ability to deliver crazed and brutish mayhem along with melodic hooks and punishing grooves. Damned good!
BUY THE EP:
The music of Portland’s Idle Hands is a well-earned exception to our rule about singing. Their debut album Mana was released by Eisenwald five months ago, and there’s one song in particular on that album which I’ve returned to repeatedly. You can count on it being included on my list of this year’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs, even though it’s not really extreme metal (more like gothic heavy metal), because it’s my list and I can bend the rules a bit when I feel like it.
I think that’s all I’ll say by way of introduction to this video (which premiered within the last week at Invisible Oranges, along with a big interview). The song is “Give Me To the Night“.