SHADES OF BLACK (PART 1): DARK FORTRESS, TULUS, YOTH IRIA, CULT BURIAL, KALT ‖ WEISS
Five individual tracks. That’s what I’ve combined into this first installment of our usual Sunday expedition into the black realms. The second Part includes a few complete records, recently released, that I’d like to recommend. I haven’t written it yet, and may not finish it in time to post it today. Astonishingly, I have some other activities planned, and they may push Part 2 into Monday.
Last week brought another advance track from Spectres Of The Old World, the eighth album by Germany’s Dark Fortress. I’ve already provided some background details about the album when writing about a previous single, “Pulling At Threads” (here), and won’t repeat it. That previous song, although quite welcome, was a very short one for Dark Fortress, ending abruptly and without offering much in the way of unorthodox, progressive, or challenging permutations, which is what we’ve come to expect from the band as they’ve evolved. So, what of the new one, “Isa“?
It’s certainly longer, and is more in line with all those adjectives mentioned above. It changes course and speed frequently, features singing as well as infernal howling in the verses, and is mesmerizing as well as savage, sinister and mysterious as well as marauding. It also includes a pair of wonderful extended guitar solos that add to the music’s thoroughly engrossing effect. In short, although I enjoyed “Pulling At Threads”, “Isa” is the superior song, and much more in line with what I was hoping (and expecting) from the new album.
In the 10+ years NCS has been in existence we have somehow managed never to write about the music of Tulus, which is kind of amazing in light of the band’s significant history.
From 1993 through 1999 this Norwegian group released three demos and three full-length albums, after which Tulus became dormant. Two of its members (Sarke and Blodstrup) went on to form Khold and recorded six albums under that name from 2001 through 2014 (the last of which was Til endes). When Khold temporarily went on hold in 2006, Sarke and Blodstrup revived Tulus and released Biography Obscene in 2007, as well as Olm og bitter in 2012, even after Khold itself had been resurrected.
There may now be something of an alternation occurring between Khold and Tulus, because the latter has a new album named Old Old Death set for release on March 6th by Soulseller Records (rapidly to be followed by Tulus appearances at Turku Saatanalle, Inferno Metal Festival, Karmøygeddon, and Netherlands Deathfest). And FINALLY, that has become cause for us to write about Tulus.
More precisely, “Jord” has become the cause. That’s the first song released for streaming from the new album, and holy hell is it a catchy piece of work (already on my list of candidates for our 2020 Most Infectious Song list). A mid-paced, hard-rocking number, with compulsive punch in the bass and drum performances, it’s also a devilish experience, with twisting arpeggios and demonic vocals as well as ominous and evil riffs giving the song a perilous and predatory feeling. My only complaint is that it ends too soon.
I decided to include Yoth Iria in this column on the basis of a video released early last week for a song called “Sid Ed Djinn“. I didn’t realize at the time (and in fact didn’t realize until this morning) that the entire three-track EP that includes it would be digitally released last week as well. So, while I’m including a stream of that EP — Under His Sway — I’m focusing on “Sid Ed Djinn“.
But before I get to that, you should be aware that the line-up of this Greek band includes Jim Mutilator, one of the founders of Rotting Christ and the first bassist of Varathron, and a participant in the recording of both Thy Mighty Contract and His Majesty at the Swamp, and The Magus, well-known for his collaboration with bands such as Necromantia, Rotting Christ, Thou Art Lord, and many more. Under His Sway is their first release under the Yoth Iria name, but hopefully not the last.
Yoth Iria describe their music as “a grand blend of heavy/doom and epic black metal”, and those are well-chosen words. The opening of “Sid Ed Djinn” is a heavy, neck-bending stomp laced with reverent choral voices and eerie, exotic melody. Following a short acoustic guitar interlude, however, the song catches fire, intertwining battering bursts with the kind of classic heavy metal chords that’s a hallmark of classic Greek black metal.
Scalding vocal venom, booms of timpani, grand symphonic swells, and sorcerous soloing help further lift the music to epic heights before a reprise of the song’s mountainous and majestic opening, and eerie Arabian wailing tones, bring the song to a close — and underscore its occult inspirations.
Under His Sway includes another original track (the title song) and a cover of Rotting Christ‘s “Visions of the Dead Lovers”. Both are well worth your time. The EP is available now as a digital download, and Repulsive Echo Records will release it on vinyl and cassette in March.
(Thanks to Miloš for pointing me to this one. The ravishing cover art is by Harshanand Singh.)
As is our want around the NCS
hovel headquarters, I’m turning from a lot of well-known names to include a debut release from a band whose name will be unknown to most of you. The band here is Cult Burial, a one-person project from London. That debut release, which appeared just yesterday on Bandcamp, is a single track named “Consumed“.
The lyrics for the track, which you can see on Bandcamp, are incredibly bleak and desperate. The accompanying music, which is a fusion of black, death, and doom metal, creates similar sensations, but it’s also electrifying. Grand hammering chords, searing shimmering leads, and head-hooking drum patterns lead the way, and then the music segues into a compelling drum-and-bass interplay which anchors clean guitar tones that ring out in mysterious and seductive fashion.
The vocals are dim at first (like a demon whisper) but become more intensely noticeable (and frightening) during that instrumental interlude, developing into a combination of abyssal roars and demented shrieks as the guitar melody itself morphs into something more feverishly anguished. The music’s intensity ebbs again, casting its sinister spell again, but builds once more to another calamitous crescendo, capped by a guitar solo that begins in a yowling moan but rises to a scream of pain.
“Consumed” is a hell of a first strike by Cult Burial, and leaves me eager to hear what comes next.
OTHER CULT BURIAL LINKS:
KALT ‖ WEISS
Last September I reviewed Serotonin, the debut EP of an avant-garde black metal band from Austria named KALT ‖ WEISS. I was induced to do so by a disturbing video for a track from the record called “Lichtgestalt“. Not long ago KALT ‖ WEISS released a video for another track off Serotonin, “Übermensch“, and that’s what I’ve chosen to include as the last offering in Part 1 of this column.
In case you’re not familiar with “Lichtgestalt“, or with Serotonin as a whole, I’ll repeat a bit of what I wrote in that review last fall:
“With vocals that range from abrasive shrieking and howling to desolate and disturbing wails, moans, and frightening whispers, backed by waves of symphonic melody that are shimmering, searing, and grandiose, flares of guitar discordance, groaning low-end weight and pulverizing quasi-industrial rhythms, and a variety of other weird warbling vibrations, “Lichtgestalt” has a deeply hallucinatory atmosphere.
“It’s like a drug-induced nightmare, whose deviant twists and turns create a challenge for people wedded to genre descriptions (and for people who would like to hang on to their sanity). And there are three more tracks on the album that are even longer than “Lichtgestalt“, and they’re no less disturbing. The angst-ridden, misery-sodden, goth-leaning singing may take some getting used to, and the overarching doomed, demented, and depressive atmosphere (driven to heights of intensity by explosive blast-fests and savage riffing) will take an increasingly heavy toll on your well-being as the songs flow from one to the next, pulling you ever deeper into the emotional abyss these Austrians have created through their narcotic reveries.”
That description applies to “Übermensch“, whose music is bewildering and disorienting, but also transfixing. The video (which includes English translations of the lyrics in subtitles) is also bewildering and disorienting, even though almost all we see in it are images of the band performing on a visually arresting set (plus “the long-teased immolation of the quasi Icon Lilith”, as the band say). Part of what makes the video disorienting is the unstable speed of the film. The song unfolds just as it does on Serotonin, but the film of the band, enhanced by a variety of visual effects, unpredictably speeds up or slows down, and is rarely in sync with the music. To really focus on the music, you might have to listen to the video a second time, with your eyes closed — or just go listen to the song on one of the streaming and download services linked below.
KALT ‖ WEISS: