I see that the last time I posted one of these new-music round-ups was on January 18th. After that the series became a casualty of my work on our Most Infectious Song list and our daily schedule of premieres, plus some other distractions. Now that I’ve finished the rollout of that song list I’m hoping to get back to a more regular featuring of newly revealed songs and videos, beginning with this post.
While SEEN AND HEARD was on hiatus, of course, a ton of new stuff surfaced, and catching up isn’t realistic. I haven’t even been very good about watching what has come out, though I did notice new songs from Vader (here), My Dying Bride (here), and The Black Dahlia Murder (here), among the bigger names out there. Please feel free to share your thoughts about those in the Comments, or about anything else I’ve overlooked, but I’m going to re-start this column with a few bands less-heralded than those.
Last December we published an interview by Comrade Aleks with Kari Kankaanpää, vocalist of the Finnish doom-death band Solothus, that occurred just a few weeks after the band had finished their third album, which follows by four years their tremendous 2016 full-length No King Reigns Eternal. In that interview Kari summed up the essence of the band’s sound as “Candlemass meets Bolt Thrower“, and offered some hints about what the new album would present: “What you loved in No King Reigns Eternal is there, but with an even more refined and heavy sound! There is a lot more variation, but yet we keep the same recipe as always. I am very proud of how our upcoming third album sounds — it will be a blast when you hear it!”
Just yesterday we got more details about this eagerly anticipated album, as well as the first preview track. The album’s name is Realm Of Ash And Blood, and it has been set for release by 20 Buck Spin on March 27th. I enjoyed these lines from the press release:
“Realm Of Ash And Blood… drops a dripping broadsword of Cimmerian carnage and staggering death-soaked doom delirium on the scorched landscape from which only mounds of skull dust and obsidian shards shall remain… Solothus‘ oppressively heavy mid-paced slaughter maintains a sense of unstoppable momentum even when slowing into the glacial. Yet the land of a thousand lakes has also infused Solothus with an ear for eerie melodic sorcery and tastefully ripping guitar solos to compliment the riff after riff of hammering granite.”
That first preview track, “The Watcher“, bears out all that verbiage. It’s a mammoth and merciless crusher that features macabre roaring vocals, spleen-rupturing drums, and gargantuan gut-gouging riffing. In addition, the leads ring out like eerie magical chimes, and the band also set loose flurries of gut-punching, head-bobbing sonic jabs, while the vocals occasionally segue into fearsome screams. A shrill, shrieking solo helps propel the song into an increasingly devastating surge of destruction.
The album’s cover art was recognizably created by Adam Burke. 20 Buck Spin is going all-in, with plans to release it on CD, LP, cassette, and digital formats.
Springtime will also bring us a third album by yet another excellent band whom we haven’t heard from in many years — Perdition Temple. Their last record, The Tempter’s Victorious, was released in 2015, but now Hells Headbangers is projecting a March release for the band’s new album Sacraments of Descension.
For the new album Gene Palubicki (co-founder of Angelcorpse) again makes hellish and harrowing guitar sounds but also returns to vocals, and he was joined by bassist Alex Blume (a longtime member of Ares Kingdom and also Palubicki’s bandmate in Blasphemic Cruelty) and drummer Ron Parmer (of Amon and Brutality). That’s a lot of veteran talent, and it shows on the first advance track, “Desolation Usurper“, which surfaced on January 28th.
The song is indeed desolating — and berserk. The riffing savages the eardrums with frenzies of high-speed and rapidly changing fretwork, while the rhythm section assaults the cranium like massed artillery blasting at hyper-speed. It’s an electrifying but completely barbaric attack, accented by a demonically hysterical solo and by Palubicki‘s unhinged vocal cruelty. The song delivers a fair share of spine-shaking grooves, but its most lasting impression is one of crazed, full-throttle mayhem — yet all that chaotic ecstasy is delivered with a technically razor-sharp execution. Damned exciting stuff….
The album’s striking cover art was made by Slaughtbbath’s Daniel Corcuera. Hells Headbangers expects to release the album on CD and cassette in March, and hopes an LP edition will be ready by around June.
And now we come to the third band in this round-up for whom we’ve been waiting a long time to release new music. My NCS colleague DGR sang their praises to me about five years ago, which was the last time they let us hear what they were up to (it was a single named Diverging Mortal Flesh). At last, this group from Stockton, California, have finished a debut album named Emergence that’s set to drop on April 10h via The Artisan Era. The press release we received included these comments from the band:
“Emergence is a concept that was developed over the last 8 years, bringing our ideas and inspirations to life through an auditory epic of sorts. The music itself was written over the span of the last decade, some songs being written back in 2010 all the way up to 2018 for others. All guitars, bass, vocals, and orchestrations were tracked by guitarist Allen Burton while drums, mixing, and mastering has been handled by Zack Ohren.
“Lyrically, this album is a tale of an individual who embarks on a journey of self-realization, death, and rebirth. It begins as an idea of infinite possibilities but with only one outcome. Sonically, the music flows seamlessly from chapter to chapter, implementing symphonic and neo-classical ideas along with a call and response structure that will guide you through the story as you go. Focusing closely on strong melodic passages it has been designed to carry the listener through an emotive and memorable experience, leaving them with a unique and long-lasting connection.”
The album track below, “Invoking Oblivion” (presented through a lyric video), got my friend DGR pretty excited. He exclaimed in our private NCS group, “that’s a whole lot of guitar work but it’s also surprisingly off-kilter and just a straightforward blast assault for four minutes”.
And that pretty much nails the essence of the song. But I’ll add that there’s a freakish, calliope-like quality to the swirling melodies, which contrasts with the relentless blasting and battering from behind the kit and the sheer fury being ejected via the two-tone vocal tandem. In addition, the song becomes grand and glorious, and the soloing is absolutely scintillating as it spirals and dives. The fretwork is mercurial and mesmerizing, the rhythms are galvanizing, and the song as a whole is a huge, vicious delight.
The Artisan Era recommends Emergence for fans of groups such as The Black Dahlia Murder, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Mors Principium Est, Behemoth, Dimmu Borgir, Jason Becker, and Necrophagist.