Happy Friday to one and all. Although I continue to be distracted with personal obligations (I’ve become a caregiver to an injured family member, which is something that will persist for at least another month), I found time to do some scattered listening last night and this morning. Even with a lot more listening yet to do, that yielded a cornucopia of good finds, six of which you’ll find below.
The reference to “Part 1” in the post title is more a sign of optimism than a present reality. And if I can get it done at all, it might not arrive until Saturday.
To get your motor running hot and fast before moving into everything else in today’s compilation, I picked a new song and video by Sepultura, which is the one item in this collection that I caught this morning. It sure as fuck got my motor running, and the video is kind of spectacular too.
The video was filmed during the band’s performance at the Rock in Rio festival last October. The song is a punchy, hook-heavy, full-throttle track called “Isolation“, which will appear on Sepultura‘s forthcoming concept album Quadra. It’s set for release on February 7th by Nuclear Blast. And with that, I’ll leave you to check it out below.
PRE-ORDER AND PRE-SAVE:
Wes Benscoter strikes again, with a fantastic piece of macabre cover art for Infinite Regress, the highly anticipated sixth album by the Japanese death metal band Defiled, whose combination of brutality and technicality has already made them a name to swear by, but whose new album shows that they are not simply walking back over your mangled bodies in the same cratering footsteps as before. Witness the first advance track, “Tragedy“.
The swirling, flickering guitar sounds at the outset made me think of a sparkling fountain lit from all sides. An interesting way to start, because the song soon becomes massively heavy and considerably more gloomy and ominous — and remains so for a while even when the drummer kicks things into high gear. But the music becomes a fast-swiveling, mainly turbo-charged attack, full of tempo changes, punishing grooves, and bursts of blaring chords and maniacal soloing. It’s an intricate, head-spinning, kaleidoscopic experience — a real thrill-ride that gets me even more amped for the album.
Infinite Regress will be released on January 24th by Season of Mist.
OATH OF CRUELTY
After a trio of shorter releases culminating in the Hellish Decimation EP five years ago, Houston-based death/thrashers Oath of Cruelty have roused themselves and recorded a rousing debut album named Summary Execution at Dawn. Based on the “singles” released so far, it’s likely to deliver summary execution regardless of the time of day when you listen to it.
Vocalist Dave Callier calls the album “a culmination of spastic, frenetic riffs and urgent blasting energy, punctuated by sadistic, harsh lyrics delivered via barbarous, grating vocals.” Of course he’s not objective, but he’s not wrong. Collier also name-checks Sodom, Kreator, and Repulsion among the influences, and that sounds right too, based on the pair of tracks now out in the world.
“Stabbing Forth With Invincible Damnation” is a blazing, battering, high-voltage assault that is indeed frenetic and urgent, and just when you think it’s already a hell-for-leather attack, the band kick it into an even higher gear that becomes breathtaking. But they also ease back on the throttle, creating a sinister mood, in order to pave the way for an eye-popping solo.
“Victory Rites of Exsanguination” is also in furious attack mode right from the start, once again displaying the band’s high-velocity instrumental dexterity. The song flies like a bat out of hell with its ass on fire, and is as vicious as rabid wolverines (also on fire), but tightly executed. Like the previous song, this one sounds like its about to fly off the rails but is held together with potent grooves, and includes some tempo dynamics as well.
Dark Descent Records will release Summary Execution at Dawn on December 9th (CD, digital, black vinyl, gold vinyl). Credit for the violent medieval cover art goes to Daniel “Sawblade” Shaw.
Almost five years ago we premiered Kaiserschnitt, the last album by the German avant-garde black metal band Porta Nigra, preceded by Andy Synn‘s review, in which he memorably characterized the songs as “sounding like the bizarre, mutated product of some horrible military experiment designed to weaponise weirdness”. For my own part, I wrote: “It’s raw meat for those listeners who hunger for metal that’s off all the beaten paths, yet still strikes enough familiar chords that it shouldn’t be a turn-off to fans who recoil at the words ‘avant garde'”.
I wasn’t sure what had become of Porta Nigra — five years IS a long time — but happily they were just biding their time, working toward a new album (which includes the performance of new vocalist Tongue, who’s the guitarist and creator of the German black metal outfit Chaos Invocation) that’s now set for release by Soulseller Records on January 17th.
Its title is Schöpfungswut, the pronunciation of which is a challenge to drawling Americans like me, and doesn’t seem to be a word in any German dictionaries. The closest I can come is “Schöpfungsweg“, which is the name of a nature trail in Italy, and that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with this album. On the other hand, “schöpfung” means “creation”. I’ll let you take it from there.
Soulseller avows that Schöpfungswut is “musically not comparable to its eclectic predecessors”, but instead “leads them back to the roots of more straight-forward, furious and monumental Black Metal art of the glorious era of the nineties”. Does this mean they’re going to sound like everyone else?
Well, no. The album cover is your first clue. The first advance track “Die Kosmiker” is your second one. On the one hand, it is indeed furious, propelled by a powerful, adrenaline-fueled rhythm section and cold, slithering and swirling riffage. On the other hand, the varying vocals aren’t all standard second-wave black metal, and the fire-bright lead in the song, which surfaces and re-surfaces, as well as the glorious soloing, sounds like the accompaniment to a wild dervish-like dance. By the end, the dancers would simply collapse, ringing wet, with ear-to-ear smiles. Speaking of the end… it’s weird.
I suppose the song is more “accessible” than much of what Porta Nigra have done before, but it’s no less exciting for that.
Prosthetic Records released Sorxe’s new album The Ark Burner on October 11th. It’s one of scores of albums that I meant to check out this year but failed to do so. I confess that I didn’t prioritize listening to it because while Sorxe are very good at what they do, their hybrid of sludge and psychedelia isn’t right in the middle of my usual wheelhouse.
On the other hand, I did check out the new video for an album track named “Dependence Day“, which is a commentary on the current state of our Union. The video premiered at DECIBEL this week, and man, I’m really floored by the music.
The song is a shape-shifter, more precisely a two-part experience. As frontman (and one of the band’s two bassists) Tanner Crace has commented, “it’s one of the faster/ nastier songs at the beginning, then it goes to full on meditative drone doom that feels very oppressive then uplifting .” Accurate.
The fast and nasty part of the song, which comes first, is calamitous — and highly addictive. There’s a weird yowling and pulsing riff that becomes a long braying moan over clobbering drumwork, and that sets the hook, but the song mutates into even more beleaguered and catastrophic sensations, which are nevertheless powerfully seductive. The second part of the song, as forecast, is much slower, more oppressive and crushing — and much more hallucinogenic and chilling. There’s a gorgeous wailing solo near the end, and the song rises in gloomy grandeur. A hell of a trip.
Jason Cakebread made the video, which combines (in Crace’s words) “Arizona desert oppressive heat and night time trippy Phoenix city stuff”.
The Ukrainian band Обрій (Obrij) hail from Uzhhorod, a city located in western Ukraine, at the border with Slovakia and near the border with Hungary. Metal-Archives states that their name is Ukrainian for “horizon”. M-A also reveals that they have five releases to their credit so far, including a five-track EP named В залізних обіймах лещат (In Severe Stranglehold) that was independently released on October 29th.
As you know, I have a weakness for underdogs in the musical world (and in the broader world, Ukraine is on my mind every day, given current events in the U.S.). I also have a weakness for Bolt Thrower, Morgoth, Paradise Lost, and Crowbar, all of whom are bands that Обрій cited as influences when they wrote us. Put those two weaknesses together, and I understandably made time to listen to their EP, and to watch their video for one of the new songs, “Beyond Horizon”, both of which you’ll find below.
The song in the video is heavy-grooved death metal — heavy-grooved enough to leave your spine in fragments — but laced with melancholy melodic accents and a scintillating solo that give the song more dimensions than simply piston-driven neck-wrecking punishment. The bellowing, barking, growling vocals are cold and cruel, and a good match for the mountainous and mutilating rhythms.
The other four songs on the album display a similarly clear and powerful production, as well as similarly skilled song-craft and execution. In part they’re mauling, bone-smashing juggernauts, intent on beating you with iron cudgels until you beg for mercy, but with a knack for triggering the good ol’ headbang reflex. Yet the band continue to inject the songs with enticing melodies and sparkling solos, and to switch gears into gloomy, pulverizing stomps.
There’s not a lot of variety among the songs — they all follow a similar formula — but it’s a damned good formula, and it makes this EP a lot of fun to run through.