Six songs and videos yesterday, tracks from six more bands today. If I can manage six more tomorrow, we’ll have a sequence that marks that bestial number so near and dear to the hearts of metal fans. It’s good to have goals.
BENEATH THE MASSACRE
My, my, has it really been eight years since the last Beneath the Massacre album? Such a lot has happened in the world at large and in the narrower world of extreme metal in all those years. What has this Montréal band been up to in the meantime, and more importantly, what has happened to their musical proclivities? We are learning the answers now, as the clock ticks down to the release of their new album Fearmonger on February 28th, almost exactly eight years after Incongruous.
There’s a new drummer in the line-up (Anthony Barone), but otherwise Elliot Desgagnés (vocalist), Chris Bradley (guitars), and Denis Bradley (bass) remain in harness. The extent to which they’ve changed, or carried forward with their core sound, is a subject I’ll leave to Mr. Synn, who is planning a review of Fearmonger. I’ll just focus on the song they released yesterday through a music video.
“Treacherous” is simply wild — an eye-popping combination of light-speed fret-mania and equally jaw-dropping drum munitions, overlaid by enraged guttural roaring. It’s impossible not to feel the thrill of all that technically spectacular craziness — and it’s also kind of thrilling to be beaten senseless at the two-minute mark when the band abruptly shift into a bludgeoning breakdown.
For a further glimpse of what Fearmonger holds for us, you can also check out “Autonomous Mind“, a Fearmonger track released released in December.
I really like the cover art, and credit for that goes to Alexandre Goulet.
I’m now jumping across the vast expanse of Canada, moving from Montréal to Vancouver to check in on Ahna. Over the last dozen years they’ve released a bushel-full of short records but only one full-length, 2010’s self-titled album — but that’s about to change. On March 6th Caligari Records will present the band’s second album, Crimson Dawn, on cassette tape.
Pigeon-holing Ahna’s music has been a challenge already, but will become more challenging with this new album. The PR material for the record describes the sound as covering many bases, from “drawing out Bolt Thrower‘s latent Sacrilege UK influence to the hammering throb of mid ’80s Discharge, from bestial burl to wild crossover thrash and even strange-yet-subtle hints of gothy post-punk”.
You wouldn’t expect to hear all of these ingredients in a single track, yet “In Death’s Grip” (the first song released from the album) is still a multi-faceted affair, moving from a slow, dismal, doom-shrouded stomp into a rampaging juggernaut of jabbing guitars, bludgeoning rhythms, and scorched-earth shrieking and howling. Tumbling drums and bleak chords combine with fiery trilling leads, and the song channels grim grandeur and fierce ecstasy to go along with its battering, bruising aggression.
The atmosphere created by this next song is what really gripped me. The ethereal synth reverberations and slow, ghostly guitar leads at the outset create an eerie, chilling sensation, which never completely dissipates even after the rhythm section moves into a slow-rocking, head-moving cadence and the vicious, cracked-ice vocals make their demonic appearance.
The song does shift gears into tumultuous drumming, rapidly pulsing bass, and scintillating chords, becoming mystical and mesmerizing, but even then the atmosphere of the song is somehow still chilling (as well as stirring).
The song in question is “Traverse the Tonal” by the international black metal band Thokkian Vortex. It’s the second single from their new album Thy Throne is Mine, set for release on February 28th by Non Serviam Records. I’ve also included a lyric video for the first single, “Banishing the Lion of Kutha“.
The wonderful album cover is by Moonroot Art.
This Verona-based band named themselves for a genus of prehistoric giant, ground-dwelling sloths that may have been the largest and heaviest mammals ever to walk the land. Given the heaviness of their amalgam of sludge and doom, they do a pretty good job living up to the name. But the music isn’t just heavy, as you’ll discover from the next song I’ve chosen for today’s collection.
“The Eye” is a drug overdose of primitive, stalking stoner-doom with wailing semi-clean vocals, and that creeping, predatory grimness is accented by eerie skittering tones, distant roars and screams, and (at the beginning) by exotic arpeggios (which sound like something from the Indian sub-continent). The music is chilling and narcotic, ritualistic and wraithlike. It’s almost too unnerving to headbang to. If I’d been in bed when I first heard it, I’d have tried to hide under the covers.
The song comes from an album named GOD (Megatherium’s second full-length), which will be released on April 10th via Argonauta Records. It’s a 50+ minute work that includes five songs and three interludes.
I was definitely intrigued by all the things that happen in the first 3 1/2 minutes of this next song, but it’s what happens in the last two minutes that sealed the deal.
But before we get to that, I’ll share a few other details about the song, not all of which I understand. I do understand that it includes guest vocals by Kelly Shaefer of Atheist, and his vicious singing is part of what’s intriguing about the amalgam of sensations delivered by the song’s first 3 1/2 minutes. But I’ve also read that some of the tracks within the song “feature 8 dimensional audio, making it the first ever metal release to use this effect in this particular way “. “The 8 Dimensional Audio effect (or Ambisonics Audio) is a full-sphere surround format that, in addition to the horizontal plane, covers sound sources from above and below the listener”. Headphones are recommended.
The song is “The Headless Horror” by the Mexican avant-garde one-man metal project The Outsider. In those opening minutes, creepy synths combine with skull-cracking drum rhythms and macabre, channel-shifting death growls to create a feeling of predatory menace. When Kelly Shaefer comes in, his voice is backed by a sequence of weird guitar permutations. In the closing minutes, electrifying Latin drum-and-bass rhythms take over, but the clear, jazz-influenced guitar accents and keyboard slitherings keep things feeling strange. It’s an absolutely wonderful way to close a multi-faceted and fascinating track.
Even though the song is presented by a lyric video (displaying words influenced by Lovecraft), The Outsider explains that the name of the ancient evil god being summoned is not written (except in indecipherable hieroglyphics), because it is too terrible to invoke.
“The Headless Horror” will appear on a new album by The Outsider to be released in April. Another single featuring Kristian Niemann (Sorcerer, ex-Therion) will be released in March.
Last, but most definitely NOT least, I’ve chosen to recommend a new two-track single released on Valentine’s Day by Damian Master, best known for his project A Pregnant Light, though he released these two tracks under his own name (not for the first time) rather than APL or any of his many other projects.
The first track is a reinterpretation of “Cop Killer“, a song by “avant-pop” musician John Maus off his album entitled We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves. For reasons that will become obvious when you hear Damian Master‘s version, I prefer it to the original’s post-punk vocals over icy synths and mid-paced cadence. The naked aggression in Master‘s scorching vocals and more fevered drumming and riffing seems more in tune with the song’s lyrics, and his translation of the melody into guitar parts lends it greater vibrancy and visceral magnetism.
The second track,”LOOKIN4LUV” is even more pulse-pounding. It could have been called “Cop Killer”, with the percussive strikes sounding like gun shots in the opening and Master discharging the vocals in a raw punk howl. The song’s bass lines punch hard, but it also has an anthemic quality, plus plenty of compelling melodic hooks — and a creepy conclusion.
What a nice Valentine’s Day present.