SHADES OF BLACK (PART 1): IMPIETY, AKATECHISM, SLIDHR, EAVE, GOLDEN LIGHT, HEILUNG
You may have noticed that I didn’t post anything yesterday, a rare missed Saturday opportunity. I participated in three virtual happy hours on Friday afternoon and evening and somehow didn’t understand that I wasn’t required to drink straight through all of them. Saturday taught me that lesson, brutally.
I’ll try to make up for lost time today with two installments of this usual Sunday column.
Versus All Gods is the ninth full-length by this famous Singapore band, and the first one since 2012’s Revenge & Conquer. In those seven years two new guitarists joined the line-up, and something happened to the song-writing as well — something that seemed to convey rejuvenation, a return to the thermonuclear energies that fueled earlier releases, coupled with the mastery that comes with experience, sort of like a barbarian horde that has learned through decades of successful conquest how to decimate even more powerfully and brutally.
Our own Andy Synn briefly reviewed the album last November when it was digitally released by Shivadarshana, and Evil Dead Production gave it a limited CD release in January. But now Hells Headbangers is providing wider distribution, on both CD and LP, with a May 29th release date.
It really is one hell of a ride, and worth another mention at this time. Check out the one track from the album that’s now up on the Hells Headbangers Bandcamp page, “Reigning Armageddon“, which is a sure sign of the band’s resurgence. Apart from the kind of blazing and blasting ferocity that may knock even veteran listeners back on their heels, the song offers plenty of head-twisting shifts among the riffs and rhythms, which are executed with technically surgical precision, and a pair of eye-popping solos that are completely crazed. Absolutely electrifying stuff
AKATECHISM / SLIDHR
Amongst The Lost Light Of Misaligned Stars is a new 7″ vinyl split that Ván Records released on March 20th. I received no news about it but discovered a couple days ago that each band’s track has been streaming on YouTube. Both are very good.
Germany’s Akatechism, in only their second official release, provide “Amongst the Lost Light“. The song’s atmosphere is one of esoteric mystery and menace, which is hallucinatory and at times nightmarishly oppressive. It also features interesting and dramatically different changes in tempo and drum patterns, a brief acoustic interlude, and strikingly ravenous vocals. The music often swirls and gleams in entrancing fashion, but it’s relentlessly uneasy, creating a sense of peril from unearthly sources. A fascinating track that should leave us all eager to discover what comes next from these German mystics….
To complete the title of the EP, Slidhr contribute “Of Misaligned Stars“, which follows this Irish/Icelandic band’s last album, The Futile Fires of Man (2018). The song fits so well with Akatechism‘s track. It too features rhythmic dynamism, shattering vocals, and an otherworldly atmosphere. The music is soaring and sweeping, creating a feeling of awe-inspiring wonder laced with sensations of turmoil, fear, and encroaching disaster. Clean vocals and shrill, vaporous tones rising up through the enormous waves of sound add to the song’s chilling, spine-tingling grandeur.
Phantoms Made Permanent, the second album by Maine’s Eave and their first for Bindrune Recordings, is well-named, at least judging from the title track, which was released for streaming a couple days ago.
The distant shrieking vocals themselves sound like poltergeists driven mad, and the trilling and strummed chords create a haunting and harrowing feeling. There’s a depressive cast to the ringing melodies, with the kind of vibrancy that bespeaks anguish. The music sinks into desolation and flares into despair, reaching a crescendo of splintering grief and then locking into a fast-thrusting cadence that becomes the foundation for a riveting tremolo’d lead, and then a head-moving rhythm that enlivens the pulse beneath a guitar melody that sounds almost hopeful, almost beautiful.
Bindrune will release Phantoms Made Permanent on September 4th of this year, far enough away that there’s hope the world will be a more welcoming place by then. Pre-orders aren’t up yet, but news of them will become available here:
Golden Light is a new band formed by E. Henderson (also of Njiqahdda), who handles all instruments and sounds, and vocalist Meghan Wood (Crown of Asteria). As recounted in the Invisible Oranges premiere of one of the two tracks now publicly available from their debut album, it was intended to be a continuation of Henderson’s now-defunct Oaks of Bethel project. That debut album, Sacred Colour of the Source of Light, will be released by Iron Bonehead Productions on April 24th. William Blake‘s painting “The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun” makes for a perfect cover, given the nature of the music.
Those two songs, one long and one much shorter, create an intriguing union of sensations. The shorter one, “Sceptre of Solar Idolatry“, relentlessly hurtles, propelled by a rapidly pumping percussive piston and a buzzing guitar tone, while gleaming melodic vapors waft above it, cycling through the song in mystical and mesmerizing fashion. Somewhere far away, horrid shrieks can be heard. At the end the music becomes glorious, and then celestial.
The longer song, which is the title track and closes the album, has a modest ambient opening but then leaps ahead, much as the first song does. As the drums hammer and the mesmerizing bass-pulse rises and falls, surrounded by a raw haze of sound, the synths sound like an angelic host clothed in blinding light raising their voices in reverence and praise. There is one brief break in the racing momentum this time, and the sensations of the music also change, creating feelings of derangement and horror. The repetition of slow, pealing tones intertwined with ghastly whispers and far-away roars also create an atmosphere of ghostly, magical gloom that contrasts with the turbocharged rhythm, which creates its own kind of viscerally-sourced trance.
Iron Bonehead will released the album on CD and LP. A digital edition is available for pre-order now.
It seems unnecessary to give this final item much of an introduction. It’s a rarity in these columns, in the sense that it comes from a multinational band who are very well-known and whose appeal extends far beyond the kind of people who listen to black metal. But perhaps someone will come across this column and discover Heilung for the first time, though their popularity has increased exponentially in a relatively short time. Or maybe it’s possible that already-devoted fans will discover their new video for the first time.
But mainly I just want an easy way to find the video again for myself, for those times when I want to fall into the kind of mysterious primeval trances that Heilung create so well, and to gaze upon their fascinating visages as that happens.
The song in the video, “Norupo“, is off the band’s most recent album, 2019’s Futha.
Pacing, sir, pacing. We missed you; glad to hear you survived!
Thank you. As much as I hate 24-hour hangovers, the lesson of pacing is one that it seems I will never stop learning, unfortunately. I do feel much better today.
I do hope they were online sessions…I find that I just cannot get into them. I remain too aware Im sitting there, alone, with an alcoholic beverage in my mitts. I hardly drink at home anyway–living alone as I do–aside from the two vingers of whisky once and a while or a stray beer here and there. Around me I heard that some drink too much perhaps to compensate–not saying you did, Islander. I just keep wondering whether I should not spend the time doing something useful alone, like reading a book, watching a movie, do some running.
In a sense I salute you for being able to participate the way you did! Perhaps Im just not flexible enough. I want to hug, shake a hand, toast in person, hear everybody talk at the same time, instead of having to wait their turn.
fingers*! Darn that intruding Dutch
I should re-read before I post. Sorry, people. Too bad I cannot edit ex post facto.
Yes, they were all Zoom sessions, not in-person. Different groups of people. They are definitely some big steps down from being able to be together in person, but it’s still good to see faces as people interact. So it’s bittersweet — enjoyable, but a reminder that life is not normal, and makes me miss people even more. The drinking is another issue… I definitely did not need to do that for the entire 7 hours that those three happy “hours” lasted. 🙂 So far, I haven’t touched a drop since Friday night.
Heilung continues to makes entrancing music and videos.
I don’t know if anyone would be interested, but Kai Faust (founder of Heilung) did an interview with Mathias Nordvig, a scholar/professor of pre-Christian Scandinavian myth and religion, last year that I thought was pretty neat.