Here we come to the end of this alphabetized selection of new music from a dozen bands that I began yesterday with Part 1 and Part 2. Of course the flow of new metal didn’t stop after I picked these 12 earlier in the week, so it will soon be time to start over.
Because this is Friday, with three Zoom happy hours on my calendar, it will also soon be time to see how well I learned my lesson from last week, i.e., that if you drink for 7 hours straight on Friday night, Saturday will be a vast wasteland. But while I’m still able to write semi-coherently, let’s finish this round-up:
“Resolving Origin” is a single released on April 20 by the band Slaghead from Hampton, Virginia. Per the band, it’s “a song about how to use rabies and car crashes to travel in time and become a God (do not try this at home)”. I’m not sure I would have interpreted the lyrics that way without insight from the band, but regardless, the lyrics are great — and you should go read them at Bandcamp on the way to buying this single (for one U.S. dollar or more) — because it’s well worth having on your hard drive.
Rennie (from starkweather), who tipped me to this song, succinctly summed it up as “melodic sludge, Mastodon in a tar pit”. Not the La Brea bones of that shaggy behemoth, to be clear, but the vigor of the beast in motion.
The guitar tone is great — scratchy and screechy but not too filthy, not filthy enough to obscure the hallucinatory radiations of the melody or the twisting and turning permutations of the riffs. The song is also strengthened by a dynamic, hard-punching rhythm section and by vicious snarling vocals that wouldn’t be out of place in a black metal band. The ringing guitar solo enhances the song’s sorcerous and sinister moods. This one gets under the skin….
THEMS THAT WAIT (U.S.)
I don’t often pause in my usual racing through black, death, and doom metal to check out bands whose music is compared to the likes of Black Sabbath, Clutch, and Kyuss, but for some reason I did that in sampling some songs from the new album by Thems That Wait, a stoner rock power trio from Portland, Maine — and I’m damned glad I did.
I suppose it goes without saying that this style of music depends very heavily on riff-craft, and guitarist Craig Garland is a fucking fuzz-toned riff machine. The album is packed with immediately addictive riffs, laced with trippy solos, alluring melodies, and nuanced bass work. And while I find myself getting bored quickly while trying to wade through most stoner albums, that didn’t happen with this one. Each riff-driven song has its own hook-laden, addictive appeal.
But to be fair, there are other reasons why I didn’t lose interest, besides the power of the riffs. The gut-punching, skull-busting rhythms of bassist Mat Patterson and drummer Branden Clements have a lot to do with that, too, and they amplify the vibrant, muscular energy of the music, which really is usually vibrant rather than slow and syrup-thick. When the band do ease back on the throttle (as in “Dugout” and the surprising, mesmerizing “Vascular”), the moments are well-chosen to create contrast and an opportunity to catch your breath — though the spectacular extended guitar solo in “Paragon” may leave you breathing hard instead.
And last but not least, Craig Garland has a savage, growly voice, the kind you’d find in a death metal band, all the larynx vibrations coated with grit and venom. That’s especially appealing to someone like me, who as you might know has a low tolerance for crooning.
The name of the album is Stonework, and it was released on April 20th.
“Releasing at a time where our own world has devolved into a surrealistic nightmare of viral trepidation and encased solitude, Ulthar’s ‘Providence’ becomes a prescient view into the strange paradoxes that only months ago seemed unbelievable but now all too possible. Where horizons cease, where grace is dead, where nothing lives, so be it amen”.
Those words are part of the introductory PR material accompanying the announcement of the new album by this powerful California band, whose formidable line-up includes Shelby Lermo (Vastum, Extremity), Justin Ennis (Void Omnia, Vale), and Steve Peacock (Mastery, Pandiscordian Necrogenesis, Pale Chalice).
The song below, “Through Downward Dynasties“, makes for a highly alluring teaser for Providence. After a mysterious and menacing overture, which itself grows increasingly intense, the song builds into an electrifying surge, with sharply executed drumwork accented by start-stop bursts, wild whirling fret-leaping riff frenzies, and scorching vocals. The song’s tempo is in constant flux, and the instrumental performances are constantly head-spinning, and executed with top-shelf technical skill. It popped my eyes wide open and left a bit of drool oozing toward my chin….
Providence will be released on June 12th by 20 Buck Spin. The eye-grabbing cover art was created by British illustrator Ian Miller.
The last song in this gigantic round-up, “Acquainted with the dead“, wastes no time getting to business, and the business is jamming high-powered electrodes into your neck and watching you spasm and jerk under the power of the voltage. The fast-paced drumwork combines a hammering rat-tat-tat and booming detonations. The riffing creates a wild, exultant sound — fiery, whirling, soaring, and completely unchained. By contrast to the full-throttle explosiveness of the instrumental work, the vocals are a slow, measured expression — of distorted, demonic, blood-freezing cruelty.
I confess that I’ve become mildly addicted to the song. It’s such an ecstatic yet frightening rush, and I’ve found myself needing a fix of it several times a day since encountering it. It’s from an album entitled W by the Italian black metal band Wiking1940, and it’s coming out on April 28.