I spent some time yesterday and more time this morning trying to figure out what to include in this week’s SHADES OF BLACK column. It shouldn’t have been an anxious experience, but it has been, because there is so much I wish I could write about and recommend. Though I know no one will live or die based on the choices I have to make, it’s still painful to leave anything good behind.
At one point I took a break from mentally wrestling with myself over black metal and listened to other things. By pure chance I happened to listen to the first three songs in this collection right in a row, and thought they went together beautifully. I added the fourth one as a wake-up call, and as a transition to whatever I wind up including in SOB.
Minnesota’s Amiensus should need no introduction to faithful visitors to our site. We’ve been writing about their music, and occasionally hosting premieres of it, since 2013. Obviously, we are fans, and you should be too. If you happen to be newcomers, you’ll soon have a chance to get on board because Amiensus have a new album named Abreaction that will be released this summer by Transcending Records.
Photo by Josh Fields
Interestingly, the first track from the album that Amiensus chose to reveal is an acoustic version of a song called “A Convocation of Spirits” (they say they will be releasing the full-band version of the song near the end of this month). Some people may reflexively blanch when they see “acoustic version” as a label for a metal song, but once you listen to the track, I don’t think you’ll feel disappointed at all.
This recording featured three four guitarists (Kelsey Roe, Alec Rozsa, James Benson, and Chris Piette) as well as Todd Farnham on bass — and, significantly, guest musician Kakophonix on cello. The sound of the cello gives a sense vastness, mystery, and wonder to the early phase of the music, while Farnham‘s bass adds depth, and the cello also provides a beautifully sad and soulful complement to the introspective mood of the layered guitars that come later. The piece is immersive and entrancing, and also provides an element of intrigue about what the second version of the song will sound like. Stay tuned….
“A Convocation of Spirits” is available now on Bandcamp.
Ezio Bosso was an Italian composer, pianist, double-bass player, and conductor who died two days ago at the age of 48 from a neurodegenerative syndrome. In part because I am not a very good student of classical music, I was unaware of his existence until watching Bosso perform in this next video and listening to the sublime music.
The piece he is performing is “Following a bird “. It appeared on his first major studio album as a piano soloist, The 12th Room, which was released in 2015. According to The Font of All Human Knowledge, the album is a collection of Bosso‘s piano works, including his Piano Sonata, as well as music by Bach, Chopin, Gluck and John Cage’s In a landscape.
You know it when you see a performer who is really “feeling” the music they are performing. You can see that here, in no uncertain terms. It seems as if Bosso is inhaling or exhaling pure spirit as he plays. I’m thankful to Miloš for linking me to this.
When last we visited this Italian post-metal/doom band it was through our premiere of a transfixing video for an equally transfixing and immensely powerful song (“Decidua Trauma Catharsis”) off their then-forthcoming album Porrima, which was released in February of this year by Sludgelord Records.
By surprise (at least it took me by surprise), Postvorta released a new album named Sidereal Pt. One on May 14th. They explained that it was inspired by the current strange and sad period we’re living in under the shadow of the pandemic. The members of the band who were able to participate did so from their separate homes. And the music represents a sharp change from what fans of Postvorta will expect. As Andrea Fioravanti has explained:
“If you expect growls and heavy riffing, don’t bother opening the link and prepare your #makepostvortagreatagain hashtags. What you will find instead, are graceful harmonic melodies with enchanting female vocal lines and a massive electronic-influenced experience.”
By chance, I listened to the first song on this new album right after watching the Ezio Bosso video above, and thought it made a wonderful follow-on to that wondrous piece, in part because the song also includes piano. “Through 4K Lenses” also features the spellbinding voice of Agnese Alteri, as well as trumpet, trombone, and many other sonic textures. It’s mesmerizing — I’d go so far as to say that it becomes celestial — and it will get your head moving before it ends.
As for the rest of this album… it’s still waiting for me. I will get to it. It’s a name-your-price download at Bandcamp, and Postvorta state that all proceeds are being donated to the Red Cross.
I’m grateful to Bandcamp alerts and Rennie (starkweather) for the link to this.
ASBJORN DAEMONIUM DE NOCTIS
If you have been lulled into a reverie by now, I’m about to shatter the dream-state like a hammer to a mirror. But a different kind of dreaming may also emerge.
As I mentioned at the outset, this last track is intended not only to get your blood racing but also as a segue into today’s SHADES OF BLACK column. The name of the song is “Moonlit Æther“, and it’s the second track on Primordial Forest, an album released on May 8th by Asbjorn Daemonium De Noctis. This is the solo project of Asbjorn, the guitarist and vocalist for the Welsh black metal band Black Pyre.
This synth layers of this particular song give it a cold and menacing atmosphere at first, but it catches fire and blazes to the heavens. The feeling channeled by the riffing seems to be a hybrid of frenzy and fear, and the vocals have a similar shattering impact, while the synths mutate into a mood of soaring, ominous majesty. The writhing and rippling riffs really are riveting, and their sharp hooks will dig into your brain to the more you listen. The song also drifts again into the aether, an unearthly place that’s frigid and frightening.
As for the rest of the album, it also waits for me. I’ve only gotten as far as this second song (the first one is also excellent). But I wanted to say something about the album now, given the likelihood that I may never get back to writing more about it.
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