In making my way through the continuing flood of new music over the last 36 hours I hit a stretch of high-energy, technically impressive music with pronounced melodies, albeit with a lot of different embellishments and stylistic intersections (most involving elements of death and black metal). I decided to put those together here, and then veered way off the rails at the end with a trio of songs that make me smile when I imagine your reactions.
To begin, let’s consider “Strange Nebula“. You won’t need a telescope, merely your ears and an open mind.
The music melds jolting thunder-punches and eerie swirling melodies, electrifying bass-and-drum work and equally head-spinning guitar pyrotechnics, as well as gritty, throaty vocals that are vividly distinctive. The ringing guitar solo does sound stellar, and the song as a whole has the mind-blowing explosive power and eye-popping impact of a supernova. One of the most spectacularly thrilling death metal songs I’ve heard this year (and it’s a neck-ruiner too).
From the new album Dimensions, coming out on June 24 via Dark Descent.
Following up on a very impressive debut album (Lore of the Lakes) released by Gilead Media in 2018, Inexorum will return with a new full-length named Moonlit Navigation on June 26th, again on the Gilead Media label.
Inexorum began as the solo project of Carl Skildum, a member of Obsequiae’s live line-up (among other endeavors), but he was joined on both the debut album and this new one by Matthew Kirkwold (bass, vocals, keys). The new album also includes guest vocals by Sarah Roddy and Obsequiae’s Tanner Anderson, and cover art by Crypt Sermon’s Brooks Wilson.
Among the extensive comments found on the Bandcamp page for the new album is this one by Carl Skildum, which makes reference to the title track: “In so many ways we are fumbling in the dark, but even there we can find elements of beauty. The title track represents that nocturnal journey to moments of clarity and calm, framed in reverence for the beauty of our natural world. The overarching theme is personal transitions through hardship towards some degree of recovery.”
On the one hand “Moonlit Navigation” is absolutely beautiful, in the way that shooting stars in the midst of a twinkling night sky are beautiful. On the other hand, it has the kind of visceral, physical impact that puts an electric jolt into your pulse rate. The gliding melodies shine overhead with an ethereal gleam, and soar in spectacular fashion, but the fast-twitching guitar work and vivid bass pulse, together with the savagery of the vocals, give the song irresistible surging momentum. It’s wonderfully dynamic and elaborate, but cohesive and charismatic. It has its unmistakably dark moments, but its overarching feeling is one of triumph.
KHTHONIIK CERVIIKS (Germany)
Just when I had learned, after years of practice, to type “Khthoniik Cerviiks” from memory, they cook up an album name like Æequiizoiikum. Back to the drawing board I go.
Cutting and pasting may be the life preserver of first resort for the title of the new album, but there’s nothing cut-and-paste about the music in the first advance track, “Δt (Recite The Kriitiikal Mæss)“. There is a crazed, exultant, unpredictable quality about the song. It’s bursting at the seams with wild and sometimes unnerving arpeggios and riotous drum escapades that shift gears without warning, but it’s also threaded with swirling filaments of exotic and mesmerizing melody, and the vocals sound downright demonic and tyrannical.
I might have made a better choice to put this song right after the Lantern track, because this one is also a supernova-level musical spectacle, one that’s ingenious in its conception and eye-popping in its technical execution.
I’ll add the words of Rennie (from starkweather), who called the song to my attention: “Not as Voivod as the past, though it is still there in spots. Makes me think of old school Nocturnus (sans keyboards) meets Nile to work on some black metal riffs before leaning into their usual tendencies”.
Æequiizoiikum which will be released on July 17th by Iron Bonehead Productions
NEW HELL (U.S.)
The next song, “Ashes“, is named for what will be left of you after you hear it. The song is a super-heated race, thanks to the head-long galloping and battering fury of the drums, the fever in the riffing, and the flesh-scorching temperature of the shrieked vocals.
But there’s more to the song than a searing adrenaline kick. The simmering and blaring melodies in the music have a gripping effect and leave a vivid afterimage. There is a feeling of tension and angst in those sounds, as well as a level of oppression and bleakness that seems like surrender — or perhaps just grim and gritty determination.
“Ashes” is one of five tracks on an EP named Phosphorus by New Hell from Providence, Rhode Island. It will be out on May 2nd. Very eager to hear the rest.
Everything in this collection so far has been fast and fiery, and “Isolated Dumping Grounds” is in the same vein. It blazes, powered by fleet-fingered fretwork and high-speed, tightly-executed drumming. The scraped-raw vocals, expelled in lacerating screams, keep the heat in the music at a boil, and so does the acetylene-hot soloing.
But as fast and furious as the song is, you’ll see how beautifully constructed it is — segmented my skull-busting grooves, sharp shifts in riffing, and the creation of a certain kind of coherent atmosphere — one of awe-inspiring grandeur mixed with feeding-frenzy ferocity. Yes, it’s vicious, but these dudes from Indianapolis have a flair for infiltrating the assault with melodic accents that leave a mark.
From the album The Inhabitable Dark, coming on June 12th via Blood Harvest.
You might be ready for a breather at this point — but you’re not getting one. This next song is just as white-hot and as emotionally intense as everything that has come before. It rockets out of the starting gate in a torrent of percussive fusillades and utterly unhinged vocals, which sound something like a man who has just watched his family slaughtered before his eyes, while being burned alive. Waves of trem-picked riffing wash over this unsettling scene, and they too are intense in their feeling of desolation.
The band do briefly slow the surge, and inject doses of rapidly jabbing fretwork, but as much as this will get your head moving, the music remains emotionally devastating in its sound, thanks in part to the miserable wailing of the lead guitar. By the end, the melody becomes a manifestation of wrenching, grief-stricken delirium.
The song is “Tungetale” and it will tear you down at the same time as it fires you up. It’s one of four on an EP named The Great Dying, which will be released on May 1. You can listen to the complete EP at Invisible Oranges, which is hosting the EP premiere. The rest of the music will also send spikes into your heart.
At last, we pull you (very briefly) out of the boiling pot. The opening of the next song is slow and introspective, a beautiful little piece of melancholia. But you’d better suck some air into your lungs quickly, because this Australian band punch the accelerator after about 35 seconds and blast that meditative moment into smithereens with sharp bursts of automatic weaponry and whirring, circle-saw riffing.
The jet-fueled, piston-pumping grooves in the song are a huge thrill, and the howled vocals are fucking rabid. But Nemesium have a talent for melody too, and as much high-powered intensity as this song delivers, the trilling melodic hooks are sharp as hell. And the guitar solos, no matter how expected they might be, are still beautiful things to hear, the kind of fluidly mounting fret-melters that will get invisible oranges hoisted into the air.
“Relive This Nightmare” is the latest single off a debut album by this Australian melodic death metal band. The new album, Continua, will be released on June 5th by Black Lion Records. You can check out the other singles from the album by following the pre-order link.
WHERE’S MY BIBLE (Finland)
Up next is a video for “Werewolves of Ghost Town“, a new single by this Finnish band. Metal-Archives brands the band’s music as “Deathcore / Death ‘n’ Roll”, but I think that’s now out-of-date based on this new song.
What I hear is a jolting juggernaut of melodic death metal mixed with crossover thrash. The song gallops hell-for-leather with a tortured, howling madman on the back of the steed (who occasionally drops his voice into a guttural growl). The melodies in the song are both flame-broiled and gloriously panoramic, and shaded with grief in their more sweeping passages.
There’s a brief break in the music’s intensity, when the bass gets a moment to noodle in moody fashion, and it’s a good digression, because as the music’s intensity builds again, it picks up that mood and becomes even more sorrowful and emotionally penetrating.
The video is a gripping thing to watch, and carries you in a way that intensifies the mood of sorrow that descends by the end, capped by the dedication to a lost friend.
MORA PROKAZA (Belarus)
And now here’s a tale of a bloody-mouthed man and his little dog. And his pony and some goats. And his friends, including one special friend with a bobbing head. I did warn you we were going off the rails at this point.
The song in the video, “Check It“, comes from an album named By Chance, which will be released by Season of Mist on July 3rd. The label describes the music as a combination of “the ferocious sounds of black metal with the street vibes of trap, tinges of industrial, and out-of-the-box instrumentation”.
C TRIP A (U.S.)
I’d be the last person anyone should contact for recommendations of new hip-hop. I paid attention to this next song because it’s from an album named Ozzy Nights, and in addition to that title it features guest collaborations with ex-Dalek member Alap Momin, and Colin Marston of Krallice, Gorguts, and Dysrhythmia. Liz Ndichu of Ndichu also appears on backing vocals. The two principal members are rapper Anthony Adams and Christian McKenna (of End Christian) on electronics.
The song I checked out is “Thought Streams“. The thrumming pulse of the song got my head and feet moving. The pinging and warbling tonal accents felt like a trip. The mix of vocals was intriguing (and also trippy). The kind of thing that makes you swim inside the murk of your head while your legs are bouncing.
The track premiered exclusively at PopMatters, so you’ll need to go here if you want to listen. Ozzy Nights will be released by Translation Loss on June 26th.
TALE OF TWO (U.K.)
“Demons” isn’t metal either, nor are the vocals harsh. That much was evident even from the e-mail introduction to the song that I read. I only checked it out because this description made me curious:
“This song is about how we strive through life believing the lies fed to us by the powers that be and how we rage against the tide that tries to hold us in our place. The song is about anger. Anger with the world and its lies and greed. What do you do when the captain jumps ship long before all the rats? Come on a journey with us through the murky wine dark waves for a taste of melancholy and despair”.
I’m obviously glad I checked it out, or I wouldn’t be sharing it. I got seduced by the melody and the vocals, all of which bounce, swing and soar, but what really hooked me were the lyrics. The video goes with all that perfectly too. Together, they seem just right for these plague times.
Tale of Two are a songwriting duo consisting of Alfie Jackson (ex-Holloways frontman turned songwriter/producer) and writer/performer Gemma Rogers. “Demons” is the fourth and final single from a debut EP. Looks like all the tracks are on Bandcamp.