SHADES OF BLACK (EXCERPTS): HELL’S CORONATION, DIMHOLT, BOREAL HYMN, SOVEREIGN, MINENWERFER, CAÏNA, NEBULA ORIONIS
Some of you might remember that in the regular Sunday edition of this feature two days ago I mentioned that I had an idea for quickly highlighting a bunch of new albums that I didn’t want to neglect. I referred to it then as a collection of “teasers”. What I meant by that, as you’re about to see for yourselves, is a strategy that’s less satisfying than writing everything I’d like to say about these albums, but better than by-passing them altogether. What I’ve done is to pick just one song from each release as a jumping-off point, in the hope that you’ll go ahead and jump all the way in without further persuasion.
The first album I’d like to highlight is Ritual Chalice of Hateful Blood, the debut full-length by Hell’s Coronation, which was released on October 31st by Godz Ov War Productions. The song I’ve picked as a teaser for the album is “Fullmoon Is the Sinister Light of Providence“, which also happens to be the song that’s set up to stream first at the album’s Bandcamp page, although it comes fourth in the running order.
As demonstrated by the following song, this Polish duo make music that’s heavy as hell and as frightening as night terrors. The song stomps and staggers, shrieks and claws, moans and wails, combining elements of crushing doom and blood-freezing black metal to powerful effect — and the vocals are terrifying all by themselves. The morbid riffs in the song are also killer, and the gothic keyboards and weeping leads are astute additions to the music’s unearthly atmosphere. The scarily occult closing sequence, which includes chant-like singing, will also give your neck a good workout.
“Death Comes First” comes first on the album Epistēmē, which was released by the Bulgarian band Dimholt on October 26th, and I developed an addiction to it from the very first listen. Its combination of driving industrialized rhythms, hornet-swarm riffing, pestilential melody, and scarifying vocals reminded me of Kriegsmaschine, which is a very good thing. The music is not only fiercely ravaging and skull-plundering, but also glorious — the kind of demonic glory that might shine when the throne of Hell becomes the throne of Earth. My only complaint is that the song is too short. Fortunately, the rest of this album feeds us additional wondrous poisons and body-shaking rhythms.
Tundra is the name of a debut demo released on November 8th by Boreal Hymn from Vancouver, BC, and the song I’ve chosen with which to tease you is “Labrynthian Graves“. The song is a wonderful amalgam, with sensations that range from cold and dismal to fiery and majestic. The vocals range as well, mixing excellent clean song (both deep and soaring) and lycanthropic howls. The song benefits from a big sludgy bass, light balalaika-like strumming, and forceful drumming with a pagan inspiration. The song is undeniably bleak, but it’s damned enchanting.
SOVEREIGN (or TRVESOVEREIGN)
I’ve written previously about the British one-man band Sovereign (who also goes by the name TrveSovereign, perhaps to distinguish from the scads of other bands named Sovereign), reviewing his debut EP Transmissions From The Kingdom Ov Ice And Bone in August of this year. I found it a very pleasant surprise, and thus was eager to hear the band’s debut album, Midnight in Anthemoessa, which was released on October 31st.
“Anthem For A Dying Sun” is the album track I chose in an effort to seduce you, though I could easily have picked any of the other 10 tracks that Korvus Blackwood included in this full-length. It provides a great example of the dynamism in TrveSovereign‘s songwriting. While the belly-deep vocals are monstrous and there’s an air of ominous peril in the song, the music seems to swing and dance in vicious delight. The melodies and the witchy spirit in the music are contagious, and the largely acoustic interlude is sorcerous all by itself. Really catchy song, too, which is emblematic of the songwriting prowess displayed on the album as a whole.
Finally, I’ve made time (though not as much as I wish for) to help spread the word about Minenwerfer, a duo from Sacramento who are also members of Denunciation and former members of Lycus and Chronaexus (among other bands). In this band, whose name refers to a type of mortar used in World War I by the Imperial German Army, they’ve combined “the atmosphere of brutal life in The Great War (1914-1918) trenches with raw old school black metal celebrating militarism” (as they say on their Bandcamp page). Their newest album (Alpenpässe) specifically deals with “the brutal winter fighting in the extreme altitude of the alps on the Italian Front of The Great War”.
“Kaiserjägerlied“, the multi-faceted track I chose as a teaser, is a serious pulse-pounder, thanks to hammering drum and bass rhythms that will bend your neck to their will and swirling leads that take flight like flares in a night sky. The multi-layered melodies channel sensations of warlike vigor, war-stricken fear, looming death, and the sweeping splendor of alpine vistas. There’s also an acoustic instrumental passage which is quite beguiling, and introspective in its feeling, like the final haunted reminiscences of one who faces death the next day, or perhaps the quiet wonder that the mountains generate even during lulls in the death-dealing, and that is followed by a glorious finale. The diverse vocals are also strikingly powerful.
It’s easy to get caught up in these changing moods, and the song sticks hard and fast in the memory.
(Thanks to eiterorm for first encouraging me to check this out, though he wasn’t the only one.)
I’ve already commented about “No Princes In Hell”, the first advance track from Gentle Illness, the long-awaited new album by Andy Curtis-Brignell in his guise as Caïna. I found the track as multi-faceted and surprising as it was unnerving (and it was very disturbing indeed), but that didn’t come as a shock. The shock, given Caïna’s previous output, would have been if the song had been straight-forward and uplifting.
Having already offered some reflections about that song, I picked a different one as a further introduction to the album. “Your Life Was Probably Pointless” is an interesting title. Since you’re reading this, you probably think you still have time (fleeting though it is) to make a point with your life, unless you’re convinced you’ve already done so, but the title isn’t addressed to you. As Andy has written: “The track is written from the perspective of my own intrusive thoughts, which in this case mock me about both on the pointlessness of my own life and the pointlessness of life itself”.
A lyric video was released for this track, which, as he says, “deals with the latter aspect of the above; a whistle-stop tour of biological life’s inherent and total ugliness.” The music is itself like needles burrowing under the skin, the vocals no less torturous and intense. The low-end frequencies rumble like an avalanche, while the twittering high-frequency tones become hallucinogenic.
Once a pulsing beat establishes itself as the rhythmic drive of the music, however, a slow, eerily gleaming guitar instrumental makes the music dreamlike. Somehow, the mesmerizing effect of that sequence persists even after the bounding drum cadence, the acid clouds of searing guitar, and the scalding vocals return. The tinkling tones of the keyboard within all that storming even sound… hopeful.
The whole album is an ingenious tapestry of debilitating and defiant sensations, and well worth experiencing straight through.
Gentle Illness was released by Apocalyptic Witchcraft Recordings on November 1st.
Last in today’s collection is a song I selected from the new album Plague by the Russian instrumental project Nebula Orionis, which was released on November 1st. “Modern Conjuring” is the name of the song, and I picked it because I’ve thought of the entire album as a kind of modern conjuring. The shimmering and flickering keyboards do sound magical, as they shape wondrous but chilling beauty out of cold mist. Meanwhile, the bass-and-drum tones hit like sledgehammers, and quickly become provocateurs of movement — even more so when the pacing of the song picks up, those beats become jackhammers, and the music begins to sound deranged and even catastrophic.
What, no snowflake commentary on Minenwerfer? I’m impressed.
Well, it’s about WWI instead of the next war. 🙂
At least you know the difference. Respect.
Many years ago I went on a binge reading histories of WWI. Such immense slaughter, so many terrible decisions by generals and governments, a great deal of heroism on all sides, and such a dramatic re-drawing of national boundaries. So many consequences that laid the foundations for the modern world. So I’m always drawn to bands who are inspired by that conflict. There aren’t many (1914 is another clear example), but I’m glad there are some.
Yeah for sure. I still think WWI is unsurpassed for absurd, needless loss of life. Any books or bands you’d recommend? Maybe I haven’t heard of them.
From memory, the best histories I read were John Keegan’s “The First World War” and Barbara Tuchman’s “The Guns of August” (which won the Pulitzer Prize in the U.S.). That war also produced some amazing poetry written by soldiers (and I don’t read a lot of poetry). From what I read, I though Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon were the best. And while I’m thinking about it, if you haven’t seen Stanley Kubrick’s “Paths of Glory” or Peter Weir’s “Gallipoli”, I recommend them too.
As for other metal bands who have been inspired by WWI, this article by Andy Synn mentions the ones I would have named off the top of my head: