A VALENTINE’S DAY MASSACRE: PERCHTA, HELFRÓ, ULVER, PHOBOS MONOLITH, ISHVARA, VMTHANAACHTH
On Valentine’s Day 2011 (here) I provided a 600-word history of the holiday going back to the Roman celebration of Lupercalia, interspersed with efforts to explain why Valentine’s Day is metal. Re-reading it this morning, I nearly passed out from the tedium.
On Valentine’s Day 2012 (here) I posted an NCS “lonely hearts” column in which I answered a variety of e-mails from women offering to video-chat with me (soapy and fresh out of the shower), people trying to sell me products that would give me “robust bone-ons”, others who wanted to have my children (I proposed to send ampules of love juice and suggested names for the kiddos), and a few broken-hearted people looking for help (I told them to just go ahead and kill themselves). The Comments were funnier than what I wrote. I’m more grown-up than that now (yeah, right).
As far as I can tell, I haven’t made an effort since then to organize any kind of holiday-related theme for the music I’ve posted on Valentine’s Day, though I’ve usually make some kind of (usually snarky) comment about the day, typically related to how commercialized the holiday is. In case you were wondering, this year the National Retail Federation reports that those celebrating Valentine’s Day in the U.S. plan to spend a record average of $196.31, up 21 percent over last year’s previous record of $161.96, and that total spending is expected to total $27.4 billion, up 32 percent from last year’s record of $20.7 billion.
Isn’t that heart-warming?
Just confirms that nothing says “love” like spending money, and nothing measures the depth of your love more accurately than the amount of money you spend. Single people getting off easy… except for the ones who feel lonely and decide to expensively self-medicate.
Well, anyway, I made no effort to pick music for this round-up that has anything to do with
Vaseline Valentine’s Day. If you want that, go listen to “something” from Anal Cunt’s Picnic of Love (for the 1000th time). Instead, I just grabbed the first six songs I heard that caught my fancy while trawling through the new music I discovered over the last 24 hours. The first three of them come with videos.
And remember, if you’re feeling un-loved, that’s not true. The slaves at NCS love you. Until you stop coming here, and then you’ll be dead to us.
I can take a hint. My Norwegian friend eiterorm sent me this message:
“Prophecy Productions recently announced the signing of Perchta, from Tyrol, Austria, whose band name is that of a pagan goddess from the same region. Their debut album is scheduled for release April 10, but a music video for one of the songs is already available for streaming on YouTube. I usually find music videos to be quite nondescript, but this one is anything but, with its Alpine vistas and veiled dances presented in a monochrome aesthetic. The music is also intriguing, with a curious blend of folky strings, ritualistic chants, breathy whispers, steadfast drum rolls, and wailing guitars.”
How could I resist?
The song in the video is “Åtem“, and it’s from Perchta’s debut album Ufång. The only thing I’ll add to eiterorm’s description is that in addition to the ritualistic chants and the breathy whispers, the song (which I found transfixing) includes unexpected blasts of bestial snarls and goblin shrieks (as well as piano, flute, and some pleasingly heavy riffage).
(Thanks to Milos as well as eiterorm for the recommendation on this one.)
The next video depicts the two hooded men in Helfró (Ragnar S and Símon Þ, both of whom are also in Ophidian I) striding across some wintry and desolate Icelandic landscapes. I hope they won’t pick today to do it again, since the forecast in Iceland (reported here) is damned scary — sustained winds of greater than hurricane force and whiteout conditions in some locations, including sustained winds in excess of 70 mph in downtown Reykjavik.
The video, which does include some indoor film of the band performing, is for a song called “Afeitrun” off Helfró’s self-titled album, which will be released by Season of Mist (CD and vinyl) on April 24th. I’ve actually briefly reviewed the album already — because it was self-released in December 2018. So I think I’ll just repeat what I wrote before:
“The most thrilling and chilling parts of this album (and they are very thrilling and chilling indeed) come about when Helfró unleash unholy storms of eye-popping drumwork and spearing shards of gleaming, dissonant melody that give the music an atmosphere of unsettling grandeur. However, the thrills don’t end there. The band switch gears rapidly, inflicting bursts of grim, drilling riffery and freakish, swirling and skittering arpeggios; settling into more solemn (and dismal) moments in which somber, reverential clean vocals sometimes emerge, as a contrast to brazen cries of fury and the more predominant unchained violence of all the shrieking and roaring; and soaring to heights of frightening magnificence.
“The songs are intricately plotted, and the technical proficiency of the performers is beyond question. Explosive, dramatic, deliriously exuberant, often ‘epic’ in its sweep, and just as often brain-scrambling in its labyrinthine, avant-garde permutations, the album is intensely gripping from beginning to end. Icelandic extreme metal never ceases to amaze; Helfró, coming out of left field at the vanishing end of the year, is just the latest in a long line of astonishing albums from this tiny nation, and one that seems entirely in keeping with the land’s vaunted geography of fire and ice.”
About this next song, “Russian Doll“, which Ulver released today, my pal DGR wrote in our private NCS group (did he really think it would be private lol?):
“New Ulver song should thrill the people who liked the first few albums and have disliked them since.
“Just kidding, its more synth pop. I enjoyed it so I don’t care, Those folks can die miserable”.
And I have nothing to add to that, other than to note (about the video) that Annija Raibekaze has some good moves, and that the song’s inspiration (according to Kristoffer Rygg) “actually began with some images and memories from the movie Lilja 4 ever by Lukas Moodysson; a dark and disillusioning film about human trafficking in the Baltic.”
For those who just really are not into what Ulver are doing these days (i.e., the people that DGR wants to die miserable), let’s turn to something much heavier — and also miserable.
“When the Light Will Fade” is the title track to the debut EP of Phobos Monolith, a band founded in 2018 in the Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo, Tamulipas (where yours truly spent many a happy day and night back when I lived in Texas). Among their influences they name bands such as Amorphis, Tiamat, Katatonia, Anathema, Edge of Sanity, and Paradise Lost, which gives good clues to the nature of their doom-cloaked melodic death metal.
The title track is a dark crusher, and its gloomy, moaning central riffs are damned addictive too. Augmented by harrowing roars, tormented shrieks, wailing leads, and a bit of violin and piano at the end, the music will put jolts into your spine, sorrow into your soul, and crackles of electricity into your nerves.
When the Light Will Fade will be released this coming summer by Pest Records.
“Relativity of the Absolute” is a quirky piece of metallic extremity, which is big part of what I found attractive about it. As it unfolds you’ll encounter abrasive noise; industrial-metal rhythms; hammering and blasting drumwork; ghastly shrieks, vehement bellows, baritone recitals; and actual (trippy) singing; writhing, skittering, and mewling riffs; wraithlike leads; bits of potion-like bass bubbling; and a lot more. It will get your head moving and twist your brain. The video is a mind-fuck as well.
The song was just released as a digital single a few days ago (along with a lyric video), but it will eventually appear on the debut album of Ishvara, an Italian band whose members are so far anonymous. Entitled Shape to a Void to Come, that album will be released at some point later this year by Dusktone Records.
Since I’ve already ventured a little way off the usual beaten paths with that last song, we might as well go all the way off into uncharted territory.
We’ve written about Texas-based Vmthanaachth before, even if none of us can pronounce their name. Of their 2016 debut album Fit Secundum Regulam, erstwhile NCS contributor Austin Weber wrote:
“As you might expect from a bizarre name like Vmthanaachth, the music is fairly off the beaten path, somewhere in a dungeon where tormented classically trained musicians are forced at gunpoint to play spontaneous odes to death and horror. Across three sprawling multi-part tracks, Fit Secundum Regulam offers a strange modern classical music influenced experience, aided by the band’s self-admitted influence from death metal, as well as an eerie atonal/drone sensibility that fans of doom metal should love.”
When the band released a second work, Mr. Weber again provided his thoughts:
“Inferotemporal is otherworldly noisey chaos wrapped in layer upon layer of stark dissonance. The songs continually ooze forces nastily in motion like a living wound trying to replicate its own horror in order to force its pain on others. This isn’t easy-listening music, but through and through, Inferotemporal is highly fascinating and unique stuff that fans of modern classical music, film score music, or metal inspired by classical music would probably really enjoy.”
Now, Vmthanaachth have readied a third release, the title of which is La finale de la vie — la résistance faible de la chair est terminée, and they told us this about it:
“Inspired by Sofia Gubaidulina, Luc Lemay, Mournful Congregation, Hildegard von Bingen, and Dmitri Shostakovich, and it’s dedicated mostly to the memory of composer Scott Walker, who was a huge inspiration for most of us. HUGE. 7 tracks, four pieces: one arrangement for string quartet and voice (the title piece), an arrangement for acoustic-electric setups and instruments, a spoken poem, and a piece (dedicated chiefly to the death of Scott Walker) for string orchestra and voices drawn from the choral traditions of the Late Middle Ages….”
Are you not intrigued?
Well, perhaps the first track to be revealed from the record will help intrigue you — even though it’s less than a minute long. SO short, in fact, that I hesitated to include it here, but it’s a fascinating little teaser… and kind of horrifying, when the deep croaking vocals take over.