“I spent most of my life believing a gauzy, kindergarten version of Thanksgiving, thinking only of feasts and family, turkey and dressing.” So wrote a New York Times columnist today, near the end of an essay in which he explained in gruesome detail why, in this view, he “was blind, willfully ignorant, I suppose, to the bloodier side of the Thanksgiving story, to the more honest side of it”. His reminiscences of childhood Thanksgiving might have been my own words, but whether you remain among the blissfully blind or have become hardened by the truth, I still wish you a Happy Thanksgiving on behalf of all of us at NCS. Regardless of the reason for the occasion, happy days are hard to come by and wishes for more can’t hurt, can they?
Of course, one of the long traditions at this site has been to ignore holidays in our labors. Taking days off from posting just subtracts from the opportunities to spread the word about new metal, which continues to arrive every day, heedless of holidays. So I’ve picked some of the new arrivals to recommend. Maybe they’ll make this Thanksgiving Day a happier one for you.
BLAZE OF PERDITION
The Harrowing of Hearts is the new fifth album by the Polish black metal band Blaze of Perdition, and their first one on the Metal Blade label. A comment from the band’s vocalist Sonneillon accompanying the announcement refers to the music as a continuation of the ideas in 2017’s Conscious Darkness “but in more energetic and catchy form” — “perhaps more approachable and listener-friendly”. He continued: “Although some gothic rock influences could be heard on Conscious Darkness, here we took them out of the shadows and let them shine in the spotlight”.
I remembered these words when checking out the video for the first single, “Transmutation of Sins“, as well as the words of my Norwegian friend eiterorm, who notified me of the video by writing, “I hope your immune system is good, because this track is infectious like the plague.”
And oh yes, the song is indeed an infectious one. It scorches and hammers, but once the band shift gears after the first minute, it becomes a serious head-moving rocker, even as the melody soars, sears, and becomes more mysterious and haunting. The rapturous, reverberating, tremolo’d melodies in the mid-section and again near the end are also completely seductive and spellbinding. All the many facets of the song work beautifully well together, and the vocals ensure that it remains intense throughout.
The video is beautifully made and fascinating, but the female nudity means you’ll probably have to be careful about who’s looking over your shoulder.
The video was directed by Łukasz Barański and Rafał Rudzki. The artwork for the album was created by Izabela Grabda. Metal Blade will release it on February 14th.
Blaze of Perdition are not the only veteran band who will be ushering in the New Year with a new album. A long six years after their last one, the Danish extremists Horned Almighty will present their sixth album on January 17th via Scarlet Records and Strange Aeons Records (on digipack CD and LP, respectively), with cover art by Ahot. The title is To Fathom the Master’s Grand Design, and based on the album’s themes, that design would seem to be the destruction of humankind by both nature and our own hands.
Horned Almighty fashion their representation of never-ending death and destruction through an amalgam of furious punkish black metal and heavy crushing doom, and thus the label references such names as Celtic Frost, Motörhead, Mayhem, and Autopsy. The first single, “Antagonism Eternal“, was released through a lyric video accompanied by footage of the band’s live performances.
It’s a multi-faceted song, often swaggering, carnal, and pulse-punching, but also dark and furious, packed with highly infectious riffs and gut-slugging rhythms, but also bursts of blasting mayhem and a moody guitar instrumental that leads into a segment of lumbering, doleful gloom. It’s great to hear Horned Almighty again, and this new song bodes very well for the strength of the new album.
Mæntrə are a new band out of San Francisco consisting of Rudy Pina (guitar, vocals and programming), Adam Houmam (drums and vocals), and Paul Ryan (bass and vocals). Among those three, their resumes include Cyanic, Ion, Terrorizer LA, and Origin — and those names are reason enough to check out Mæntrə, don’t you think? I certainly thought so.
The band’s professed inspirations, which are unusual — especially when you hear their music — provided another reason: “Mæntrə’s inspiration from day one thrives on transforming negative energy into a self-healing power to expand consciousness, restore balance and conquer fears. Our first single ‘Ramadasa‘ taps into the energies of the sun, moon, earth, and the infinite spirit which ultimately forms the process of self love and self healing within, but also can be projected to anyone with whom you choose to share it.”
The cynics among you might roll your eyes, but “Ramadasa” (which premiered at DECIBEL) through an official performance video) might cause your eyes to roll back in your heads for a different reason. It’s an absolutely wild, high-octane thrill-ride, one that’s as destructive as a war zone in its bursting rhythms — part bullet-spitting drumwork and part megaton detonations — and thoroughly freaked-out in its fretwork frenzies and shrieking/roaring vocals.
Technically impressive and thoroughly exuberant in its composition and execution, the song is a guaranteed adrenaline jolt. It may not conform to everyone’s expectations of music designed to facilitate self-love and self-healing, but it sure as hell made me feel happy.
“Ramadasa” is just a single, but hopefully more will come. You can download it at Bandcamp for One U.S. Dollar.
Alayna Coral Gretton is a woman of many talents. Before I knew that she was the lyricist and vocalist of the Calgary death/doom metal band Vaaltovashe (formerly named Vaalt), I had posted this piece of artwork as one of our near-daily artwork posts on the NCS Facebook page. Only many months later did I learn that she also has a terrifically ravaging voice, thanks (once again) to Rennie of starkweather, who introduced me to the new Vaaltovashe album as a “doom/death hybrid of the highest order”. Rennie also made sure I noticed the following photo of the band (by Shayna Banaag), which he said looked “as if they stumbled off the set of Quest for Fire“:
It’s a great photo, and sure enough, the music on Time Foul Constellation is also great. It is introduced by this prayer:
O Star of Heaven, beloved of the Lord, drive away time foul constellation that has slain the people with
the wound of dreadful death. O Star of time Sea, save us from the poison-breath that kills, from the
enemy that slays in the night. AMEN
The four songs here are long ones, but none of them wear out their welcome. Their sound is explosive and extravagant, titanically brutish and oppressive in their skull-stomping power, horrifyingly berserk in their more frenetic assaults, and constantly accented by soaring, slithering, and quivering supernatural melodies. Horror and degradation are indeed the dominant sensations that flow through the music like black ichor, but often it is the horror of grand soul-sucking monoliths rising above endless desolated landscapes that comes to mind, and the degradation of bodies broken by tragedies on a vast scale.
The music is both blood-freezing and blood-boiling, exciting to hear but also scarier than the appearance of sky-spanning alien fleets over earth’s metropolises, which then waste no time beginning to ruthlessly and methodically scour the planet of life. That sense of terrifying, otherworldly power, inhuman menace, and catastrophic loss enshrouds the entire album. But it truly is exciting to listen to — and the vocals are a huge part of what makes the music so spine-tingling. As Rennie wrote, they’re “just ridiculous” — in the best way.
Seriously, if you’re in the mood for the sounds of ruination on a planetary scale, don’t miss this. It was released in August and is available for download on Bandcamp.
Compelled To Repeat is the name of the debut album by a London quartet named Beggar. It will be a long wait for the release, which isn’t projected to happen until next April (via APF Records). But I think it will be worth the wait if the new single released by the band is a good indication of what it might present.
The name of that single, “Nine Atmospheres“, is an interesting one. As vocalist Charlie Davis has explained, it “refers to the amount of pressure measured in atmospheres that the human body can withstand underwater before it begins to rupture”, and is a metaphor for the pressures inflicted by “the aggression of the contemporary world and the struggle to reconcile yourself to social and economic norms and to the destruction of nature”. However, he says, “it’s also about the moments in which you can see straight through that world to something a bit older and darker (‘liquid magma lakes’, blistering lava’, etc.)”.
Musically, the song is a genre-bender in which elements of sludge, stoner, death metal, and hardcore all play a role. The riffs are thicker than redwood trunks and move like the winding permutations of hungry pythons. The music also often has a queasy, narcotic quality, and a mood of crushing bleakness, which is driven to greater depths of despair by Davis‘ unhinged shrieks and heartless roars. Yet the soloing gives the music a kind of psychoative ebullience, and the hard-hitting rhythm section will give your neck a good workout — all of which contrasts with the chest-caving, suffocating heaviness the band deliver as they increasingly slow the pace at the end to the momentum of primordial ooze.
The artwork here is the work of No Master Studio.
Days like this, you might wonder what the hell I’m good for, and why I haven’t already just completely turned the selection of SEEN AND HEARD music over to Rennie. Because, yes, I wouldn’t have discovered these next songs but for his recommendation.
The music, which Rennie referred to as what you might get if Rosetta were cross-bred with Glassjaw, is the work of a group named Lyra, though neither Rennie nor I have been able to find out anything about their back story or membership. The tracks come from an album called Verity, which is available on many streaming and download services (all of them collectively linked below), but sadly not on Bandcamp, which is my go-to for streaming and downloads, not being a member of such things as Spotify, Amazon Music, or the iTunes streaming service.
Anyway, what I’ve heard so far are the tracks in the YouTube videos below. The drumming is fantastic on all of them, and the vocals are relentlessly intense and harrowing. The music is also often bleak and black-hearted, but nevertheless tremendously thrilling, thanks to the explosive dynamism of the compositions and the high level of technical skill demonstrated by all the performers.
I love the way that “Purge” unexpectedly goes crazy after relentlessly pounding the listener into goo, with all the instrumentalists engaging in wild, eye-popping interplay. I’m also a big fan of the terrific vitality of “Verity“, whose main drum-and-bass rhythm is absolutely irresistible and whose chameleon-like guitar solo is equally riveting.
All of the songs are possessed of their own distinctive character, and so “After” is a heavy-weight body-mangler and mind-bender, intertwining flares of sparkling and seductive guitar in the midst of a tour-de-force performance by the rhythm section that’s capable of setting all your nerve endings alight (there’s another fantastic solo in this song too, which puts me in mind of ’70s prog and psychedelia).
All the songs take you through so many changes of mood and momentum, and are so expertly performed, that the lure of them is powerful. Easy to go back to them again and again. And I’ve only heard three so far.
Of course, I’m intensely curious about who is behind this project, because they are clearly very experienced. If I find out, I’ll update this post.