I wondered whether the words “pandemic” and “pandemonium” were linguistically related. So I did some research.
“Pandemic“, a word that originated in the 1660s in reference to disease, means “incident to a whole people or region” and derives from the Late Latin word pandemus, and in turn from the Greek pandemos, meaning to “pertain to all people; public, common” (from pan– “all” and dēmos “people”).
On the other hand, “pandemonium” was coined by John Milton in 1667 in Paradise Lost (though he spelled it “Pandæmonium”) as the name of the palace built in the middle of Hell, “the high capital of Satan and all his peers,” and the abode of all the demons. He built the name from the Greek pan– “all” and the Late Latin daemonium (“evil spirit”), which in turn derived from the Greek daimonion (“inferior divine power”) and daimōn “lesser god”.
So, although pandemics often produce pandemonium, as we’re witnessing, the words aren’t very closely related.
Now that we’re finished with your home-schooling for the day, let’s move on to the musical pandemonium I selected for this round-up. By coincidence, all the music comes from bands who are established favorites of our site.
The Greek black metal band Enshadowed, whose roots go back to 1998, are returning with their fourth album Stare Into the Abyss, with a release date projected for sometime in June via Odium Records.
In thinking about the first advance track, “The Great Animist“, Milton‘s palace Pandæmonium did indeed come to mind. The roiling riffs, the speedy drum blasting, and the terrifying vocal reverberations sound authentically hellish, while the gleaming supernatural leads raise chilling visions of spectral grandeur in a terrible place. The music is frenzied, cruel, and tormented, but horrifyingly splendid as well.
Thanks to Rennie (starkweather) I learned about the release of this new Karmacipher song earlier today. If that name happens to be new to you, you could get some quick history by reading these two previous posts at our site about this Hong Kong group’s previous releases. The song below is the first single from the band’s new album Introspection, which features drumming by Kevin Paradis (Benighted) and cover art by Manifeste.
The song, “None“, is a maelstrom of wild drumming that sounds like it’s happening right inside your head, freakish, fret-leaping dissonance, and macabre abyssal growls. It has a queasy and hallucinatory quality and a mentally destabilizing effect, yet it’s also transfixing to follow (or attempt to follow) its deranged permutations. Technically lights-out, blood-freezing in its atmosphere, and maniacally inventive, it’s the kind of song you can’t leave alone after just one listen. As Rennie wrote to me, it’s a “great foil for Ulcerate and Pyrrhon.”
Introspection will be released by Infree Records on April 30th.
Now we come to Exgenesis, the project of two talented Swedes (Jari Lindholm of Enshine and Christian Netzell of Vholdghast and Volturyon, who joined the band in 2017) and one talented Colombian (Alejandro Lotero). Our own Andy Synn had good things to say about the band’s debut EP, 2015’s Aphotic Veil, and to follow that Exgenesis have now completed work on a debut album named Solve et Coagula, which will be released on May 15th by Naturmacht Productions.
The first advance track, “Where the Hope Ends“, continues the band’s “fantastically fresh and frankly rather ferocious take on Melodic Death/Doom metal” (to quote from Andy’s review of the EP). Here, the ferocity comes later, after a mesmerizing but unsettling guitar instrumental and a long march of crushing heaviness and majestic but hopeless atmosphere. The drums do eventually begin to thunder, and the riffing increases the intensity of the song’s bleakness, while the vocals break from gargantuan, cavernous bellows into skin-splitting shrieks.
The tension in the music builds, as does the feeling of helpless agony in the melodies, and that feeling persists even as the rhythms slow and accelerate, and even when the band lock into the administration of sledge-hammering punishment. The guitars ripple and peal, voices bounce back and forth, the drumming works on your spine, but the intensity never really relents… and the tension never really breaks.
It is always welcome news to see that Gruesome have prepared a new release. This terrifically talented group of veterans (guitarist/vocalist Matt Harvey, guitarist Daniel Gonzalez, bassist Robin Mazen, and drummer Gus Rios) started a very good thing by so vividly channeling the spirit of early Death, and thankfully they are continuing to do so. Their latest effort is a split release with the also-terrific Exhumed, which will be released by Relapse Records on June 5th.
Entitled Twisted Horror, the split includes three tracks by Exhumed and two from Gruesome, and one of those gruesome Gruesome tracks — “A Mind Decayed” — in the first to be revealed from the split, and man is it delicious.
Get ready to do some vigorous air-guitar, air-bass, and air-drumming and to pretend you can growl like Matt Harvey. Don’t be embarrassed, no one will see you, and you need the exercise. Also prepare to get down on the floor and crawl like a fat maggot while wallowing in the morbid riffs, but be ready to bounce back up again and gallop and bang your head and work your fingers across the phantom frets like frantic spider legs.
JUST BEFORE DAWN
And to conclude I have something of a last-minute addition from another old favorite, Sweden’s Just Before Dawn. What you’ll find below is a stream of “They Shall Not Grow Old“, a new single and one of two songs that will appear on a new JBD tape release. For these two tracks, JBD mastermind Anders Biazzi (guitars, bass) enlisted the aid of vocalist Robban Karlsson and guitar soloist William Persson Öberg from Creeping Flesh, as well as steadfast drummer Jon Rudin. Dave Ingram from Benediction also makes a guest appearance on the release.
The particular track is crushing, not merely in its truly massive sound and but also in its doomed emotional resonance — and the lyrics (voiced in spine-tingling growls) fit the music, recounting the depredations of war that prevent young men from ever growing old. The riffing accelerates to rapid jabbing and vicious cutting tones, lighting a fire under the listener’s pulse and creating a sensation of tension and fear, but always returns to the slow staggering stomp and grim tone of men marching to their deaths, accented by moaning leads that channel hopelessness and grief.
The vocals are tremendously powerful throughout the song, and the guitar solo is fluid and forlorn, just as effective in transmitting beleaguered and broken emotion as everything else. And Dave Ingram‘s spoken words at the end create a perfect finale for the tragedy that the song so movingly captures.
As mentioned, “They Shall Not Grow Old” is appearing on tape along with a second track, “Into the First Wave“, but it’s also available to download now as a digital single:
JUST BEFORE DAWN on FACEBOOK: