Here we go again. I decided not to alphabetize the bands today, but focused instead on structuring this a bit like a playlist of new music, with some ebb and flow and movement among genres as you go through it. I also threw in a curveball, as you’ll see.
BLACK CURSE (U.S.)
Chaotic, violent black/death with mutilating levels of distortion and explosive skull-busting rhythms, coupled with an amalgam of malevolent roars, grotesque growls, unhinged shrieks, and freaked-out, ear-shredding leads. The music also devolves into massive doom stomps saturated by musical misery and accented by gouts of splintering pain.
For music of such extravagant ferocity and terrorizing derangement, the riffs are abundant, the grooves are spine-shaking, and the atmosphere of inhuman malevolence and ecstatic evil is palpable. The album has spread mainly by word of mouth, but it won’t be surprising to see this record land on lots of year-end lists. It’s that good.
The album is Endless Wound, which was released on April 1st by Sepulchral Voice, with artwork by Denis Forkas. The core members of Black Curse are drummer Zach Coleman (Khemmis), guitarist/vocalist Eli Wendler (Spectral Voice) and guitarist Jon Campos (Primitive Man). For more info about the band’s history and goals, read the interview that accompanied Metal Injection‘s premiere of the album stream.
HORNWOOD FELL (Italy)
On March 3rd Hornwood Fell digitally released an 80-minute, two-part concept album named Cursed Thoughts. Now it has been picked up by Kadabra Music for a June 26 CD release. I’ve been meaning to write about the album for weeks, but haven’t yet found/made the time. I’m still hopeful that will happen, but for now will comment on the only only song that now appears on Kadabra‘s Bandcamp page for the album.
The first part of Cursed Thoughts explores Les Fleurs Du Mal by Charles Baudelaire, and the second part takes the poems of Edgar Allan Poe as its inspiration. “The Joyous Defunct” comes from Part I. It wastes no time throwing the listener into a maelstrom of deep, drilling riffs and electrifying drumming. Twisted leads flare, squirm, and peal within the earthquake heaviness of the low-end tumult, while the barbaric growls seem lit from within by blood-lust and madness.
A lot happens within this multi-textured, elaborately plotted song as it hurtles and stalks. It has moments of unearthly eeriness, segments of crushing brutality, passages of bewitching entrancement, periods of musical dementia, and plenty of opportunities to work your neck like a piston.
After a spooky, ominous intro this new track delivers massive grooves that will shake you all over, cold-hearted granite-heavy riffs, and gruesome roaring vocals. The music erupts in spasms of scything guitar mayhem and obliterating percussion but also drops into staggering cadences laced with mournful, hopeless melody and underscored by tumbling and slugging drum-work so hard and heavy you can feel in your marrow. Gripping stuff for sure….
From an album named Zgliszcza, which will be released by Selfmadegod Records on April 17th.
LESSER GLOW (U.S.)
Groaning, bone-fracturing sludge/doom with post-metal embellishments. Lyrics voiced by livid, serrated-edge howls and throat-rupturing yells — but with spectral and somber clean singing and shimmering arpeggios that add an unearthly (and even beautiful) dimension to this über-bleak, body-mangling bruiser, as well as a soaring voice that provide a moment of intense yearning (and perhaps even uplift).
From the album Nullity, out on May 29 via Pelagic Records.
(Thanks to Rennie for the tip on this one.)
TERRESTRIAL HOSPICE (Poland)
In the first track below, absolutely vicious vocals are paired paired with equally vicious and brutally dismal riffing that comes in dense waves. As the drumming moves from metronomic blasting to a head-moving backbeat, the riffing becomes more wild and whirling, charging the music with electricity. You wouldn’t call the song a “slow burn” because it’s intense right from the start, but it definitely becomes more and more fiery and thrilling, more fueled by a sense of abandon.
The second song proves to be just as thrilling. There’s a sense of extravagant and savage exultation in the music, like the Wild Hunt, and that’s intertwined with a sense of perilous black magic enchantment in the flickering leads. But the music has its primal, carnal appeals, too — a swaggering and powerfully head-moving quality to go along with the feelings of mystery and menace. And it becomes ominously majestic at the end.
From the wonderfully titled debut album Indian Summer Brought Mushroom Clouds, which has an April 20 digital release date and a June 8 physical release via Helter Skelter Productions (with Shadow Records and Regain Records).
AEONIAN SORROW / CLOUDS COLLABORATION
Some time ago Daniel Neagoe and Mike Dinuta from Clouds and Gogo Melone from Aeonian Sorrow decided to work on covers of some classic songs. The first fruits of that collaboration were recently shared through a music video. The song that chose is Madonna’s “Frozen“.
Slow, heavy, mystical, and steeped in sorrow, the cover is spellbinding. Gogo Melone‘s beautiful ethereal singing is in the spotlight, and she carries the day. Hope they’ll follow through in doing more covers during these shut-in times
THE COMET IS COMING (UK)
My friend Miloš from Serbia sent me a link to this next track. I had no idea what it would be like, and I was blown away.
This is the curve-ball I mentioned at the outset. It’s not metal, and it’s entirely instrumental, but I fell prey to the hugely compulsive electro and drum rhythms, the funky bass, and the spectacular saxophone performance. And yes, if you don’t like the sound of inventive, dynamic, jazz-styled and psychedelic sax (which here is subjected to some interesting forms of processing), you might as well just skip to the next band in this collection.
I’m just focusing on “March of the Rising Sun“. It’s from the EP Death To the Planet, which was released in May 2017, and I haven’t yet listened to the rest of it. The Comet Is Coming have since released two albums, Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery and Afterlife.
The off-planet, New Age-ish intro to the first of these songs is engrossing, and so is what follows. As the music becomes heavier and more desolate in its mood, it maintains that feeling of cosmic mystery and wonder. The vocalist has an impressive, belly-deep growl, and the song-writing proves to be attuned to dynamism as well as the creation of strong atmosphere. It becomes even more mysterious and haunting as it unfolds (a choir of wailing ghosts makes an appearance), though peppered with massive drum explosions. But the song will also feed you some primal, head-moving rhythms.
The second song is in keeping with the first, amalgamating melancholy melody, mystical shimmering reverberations, cavernous growls, and variable drumming that races, hammers, and rocks. The song immerses the senses, reaches spectacular heights, briefly includes certain elements reminiscent of post-punk, and in general has an enthralling impact.
Balkarnin is a two-song, genre-bending EP digitally released on March 27th by this Tunisian duo (also released on tape by Dead Red Queen Records and Bad Moon Rising 惡月).
An absolutely electrifying and dynamic death metal attack — bone-breaking, bestially savage, and doom-stricken. The vocals, which combine abyssal growls and lunatic shrieking, are in keeping with the freakish leads and the pile-driving grooves. The song erupts in roiling chaos, but is also methodically dismembering, and features a big array of fast-changing riffs and riveting drumwork. Makes me suddenly very excited for the album.
And that album is Enthroned By Persecution, set for release by Hells Headbangers on April 24th.