Welcome to the second Part of this week’s foray into black and blackened metal. I’m hurrying to get this done, so I’ll dispense with any further introduction — other than to encourage you to check out the music in Part 1 (here) if you haven’t already.
CULT OF ERINYES
I’ve been following and writing about this Belgian band since just before the release of their second album in 2013 (Blessed Extinction), but I’ve fallen down on the job since I failed to yell at you in advance about the impending release of their latest album Æstivation (which now features the prolific Déhà as a full band member, along with members of Wolvennest and LVTHN). But now the album is out — having been released just yesterday by Amor Fati Productions. The benefit of my foot-dragging is that (after a bit of yelling from me) you can dive right into the entire record on your own without delay.
The full album stream premiered last week at Invisible Oranges, preceded by a brief introduction from Jon Rosenthal, who characterized the sound as “all-encompassing darkness” — “so primeval, it simply oozes obscurity and fear… mighty in its sorrow, harrowing in its darkness, and masterful in its art.”
I’ll echo the sentiments of Mr. Rosenthal: the music is VERY dark indeed (just like the band photo above). Frequently, it’s also frighteningly intense, combining searing melodies with an unearthly sheen and vocals that embody madness and murder, as well as equally maniacal drum-and-bass tumult. And, also frequently, the music becomes dreamlike and magically entrancing, though it’s a chilling trance the music pulls us into. Add it often sounds discordant and deranged.
You’ll actually experience all those sensations in just the first track, “Death As Reward“. It sets the template for an album that is itself a perpetually morphing and mutilating experience. It ranges widely (and abruptly) across a scale of intensity, from sonically dense, hurricane-strength paroxysms, hot as blast furnaces, to slow blood-freezing drifts through mystifying paranormal dimensions and psychotic dream states. Some of the experiences are awe-inspiring in their grandeur and sublime in their unearthly beauty, even when manifesting what one might imagine as a convocation of Lovecraftian terrors. Others seem to embody the irretrievable loss of sanity, a devolution into delirium, or the abandonment of all hope.
The album is a relentlessly stunning sensation, and a vivid reminder about the perils of making year-end lists too soon.
Nordarikets strid is the debut album by the Swedish duo Greve, whose main member Swartadauþuz has 19 active bands on his resume at Metal-Archives, including several I’ve written about before in these columns — and five of those bands and projects produced releases this year! This one, however, won’t be out until January 31st, via Purity Through Fire.
So far, I’ve discovered one track from the album, the name of which is “Offerbål till Gudarna“, which debuted just a few days ago. Google Translate renders the title “Sacrifice to the Gods”. The words of the press release we received accurately (and evocatively) characterize the music as classic, second-wave Swedish black metal, combined with with a “spectral ‘n’ stargazing style of black metal mysticism”. While the bass has a warm tone and exhibits almost playful meanderings, and while the drums shift gears frequently (themselves also seeming playful at times), the vocals are frighteningly tortured, like the screams of someone being skinned alive, and the near-constant cascades of synths do indeed give the music a chilling spectral sheen.
I found it very easy to be caught up and become enthralled by the juxtapositions of sound.
Two-and-a-half years ago we premiered the debut EP (Sychodžańnie) by Ljosazabojstwa, a black/death metal band from Belarus. That EP made such a strong impression that I wasted little time checking out their second EP, Lszb, which was released just yesterday. I admit that in addition to having good memories about that first EP, the band’s name is such a remarkable jumble of consonants and vowels that there’s little chance I would have forgotten the appearance of it, even though I couldn’t pronounce it if my life hung in the balance (the EP’s title might just be a contraction of the band’s name)
The new EP consists of two tracks. The first of those, “Pradbačańnie“, is a long one, and a multi-faceted one. With a powerful and penetrating sound, it presents a range of riffing, from senses-suffusing walls of deleterious sound to more head-moving chords that are dolorous but also become savage, and also move the song into a kind of primitive war march. The vocals are heartless, barbaric roars, while the guitar leads that surface are exotic, yet also underscore the misery that lurks within the music. Last but not least, the drumming (whose sound you can feel in your lower intestines) adds a further element of eye-opening dynamism.
The conclusion of “Pradbačańnie” generates a surprise, dropping into a semblance of gothic-horror, led by a keyboard — but then explodes in a riveting display of sheer mayhem. And then the second song, “Śliady wajny jak śliady isnawańnia“, which is much shorter than the first and seems to be a cover of a song by the Belarusian black metal band Deofel, picks up where the first song ended, launching a brazen, full-throttle assault of sheer savagery — but introducing elements of melancholy melody that make a big impact.