On Sunday I mentioned that I had a big block of time over the weekend that I was able to spend listening to new music. Almost everything I’ve selected for the following set of recommendations came out of that listening session. I resisted the impulse to replace a lot of those selections with things that came out this week, but I did add three of the tracks that surfaced during this week. Hopefully I’ll get to more of those in tomorrow’s round-up. The music today is presented in alphabetical order by band name.
I’m starting with something that’s not entirely new. It’s a debut album by Anopheli from Oakland, California (and other places), that was originally released in 2o15 (and I wrote about it here at that time). But the band had the album re-mastered by the same man who mastered the original release — the veteran producer Jack Shirley at Atomic Garden. He explained the changes: “”Things to listen for. It’s less overloaded and everything is more articulate. The overall low end is deeper, the high end is clearer. The drums snap better and interfere less with the other instruments.”
The original album was released under the name A hunger rarely sated. The re-mastered version is entitled A hunger never sated. The cover art is also different. And Anopheli have committed that all donations from this new download will go to BYP100 (Black Youth Project 100).
This was a wonderful album in 2015. The revised version is even better. “Cello driven emo crust” is the band’s shorthand for their music, but like most shorthand descriptions, that leaves a lot out. This is a richly multi-faceted album, vocally as well as instrumentally. Do yourself a favor and give this a listen, even if you’ve already heard the 2015 release. And keep your fingers crossed that Anopheli will bring us something new in the near future. I’m very intrigued to find out what might have been brewing over the last five years.
CIRCLE OF SIGHS (International)
Shame on me, I’ve only listened to the two songs in the YouTube clips below from the debut album of this multi-national doom band. That album, Salo, was released last Friday. I hope I have time to listen to the rest of it, to find out if it’s as good as the two tracks I have heard.
“Burden of the Flesh” and “Hold Me, Lucifer” are out of the ordinary. The melodies of the former are sinister and menacing, the vocals wailing, and the heavy rhythm potent enough to put you into a full-body lurch.The main line is broken by interludes (some of them accompanied by the sound of orchestral strings) that are alternately mysterious, feverish, and bereft. The latter goes off in a very different direction with piston-pumping beats, spectral leads, and airy post-punk vocal melodies. It has its own entrancing interlude anchored by a prominent bass line. Both songs bring in other vocal accents; both of them get stuck in the head damned fast.
The album’s Bandcamp page recommends it for fans of Yob, Tubeway Army, Pallbearer, Opeth, Depeche Mode, Neurosis, and Drab Majesty. Interesting collection of references, don’t you think?
By coincidence, the next song is another one from an album that was released last Friday that I haven’t yet heard in its entirety. That album, NÍU: Blood of the Amali (Ásaland Metal Cut), is the debut full-length by this Swedish band, who describe themselves as “a musical, cultural, and historical project whose boreo-pagan folk sound blends traditional Scandinavian instruments and arrangements with Eastern influences such as ancient throat-singing and sky father shamanism”. The album was “inspired by Scandinavian and Eurasian history, shamanic philosophies of the great steppes, and last — but certainly not least — by Norse and Gothic sagas and myth, and also by Slavic and Scythian chroniclers”.
The one song I’ve heard so far, “Wolfclan Rising“, comes with its own detailed description by the band, which you can find at YouTube, and I’ll just excerpt this part:
“Wolfclan Rising is a warsong dedicated to the Heruli, an ancient tribe said to have lived in Scandinavia more than 2000 years ago, but were expelled by the Danes and moved to ancient Scythia, more specifically they roamed the marshes near the Sea of Azov (where they befriended the Goths of Aujum.) The Heruli thought of themselves as wolf warriors….”
“Shamanistic” is definitely the right word for this music. The percussive rhythms do have a ritualistic resonance, but they’re tremendously vibrant. The gritty, growled vocals, which do incorporate throat-singing, proceed in a fervent chant, accompanied by clean cries. A dancing violin enters the ritual, and becomes a magnetic presence. Wolves sing their song as well. It’s an entrancing experience.
Wonder of wonders, here’s yet another brand new album from which I’ve only listened to two songs, but they’re again both so good that I felt it best to provide some reactions now, for fear that I won’t be able to provide a complete review later.
Both of those songs — the two that open the album — are anchored by heavy, sludgy riffs and neck-cracking drum beats. Against those viscerally compelling low-frequency backdrops, Hum spin out shimmering celestial tonalities and enthralling vocal melodies that are beautifully sung. It only takes one listen for these tracks to set up a home in your head. Make the bed in your mental guest room; set out fresh towels; pour a smoky alcoholic beverage as a welcome. You’ll want your new guest to stay a while.
The album is Inlet, and it was just released a few days ago by the Illinois band Hum. It’s their first new music since 1998, a period that included the elapse of 15 years after the band broke up before re-uniting.
I’m late catching up to the latest release by this part-Danish, part-Turkish death metal band, who’ve already establish themselves as a group whose every release is worth paying attention to. Excreted From the Flesh came out in late March. It consists of two original tracks, covers of songs by Cannibal Corpse and Darkthrone, and a new version of a previously released song.
The original tracks further cement the pedestal on which this band have elevated themselves, delivering dynamic, skull-busting grooves, roiling and fret-leaping riff-savagery with a gnarly tone, crazed and spectral soloing, and abyssal, blood-freezing growls. Both covers are terrific too. And lest you think Hyperdontia are testing the waters of black metal, the Darkthrone track they chose is off of Soulside Journey — Darkthrone‘s death-metal debut album.
In a world that has been massively destabilized by a perfect storm of history-making crises, there’s comfort to be found in stability, in the reassurance that some good things persist and can be counted on. Like Incantation.
And yes, their new song “Propitiation” is really good — a miserable and morbid staggering beast at first, and later a hammering and flesh-scissoring charge, accented by little swirling wisps of preternatural melody that have a hypnotic quality. Dismal but delectable music….
Incantation’s new album, Sect of Vile Divinities, is coming on August 21st from Relapse Records. The terrific artwork is by Eliran Kantor. Couldn’t resist sticking it in here.
Jupiterian have released a second advance track from their upcoming album Protosapien, which Transcending Obscurity Records has set for release on September 11th. “Mere Humans” is its name, and musical apocalypse is its game.
The pile-driving percussive blows are earth-shaking, oppressive, and imperious, and the feverish leads channel fear and despair. The cavernous growls sound tyrannical; the crazed shouting seems to come from within asylum walls; the skittering fretwork combines sensations of derangement and desolation. A hopeless and unnerving experience….
The next pair of songs are the first ones to be revealed from a forthcoming record. The music is calamitously crushing; the drumming is riveting; the guitar leads are wraithlike; and the larynx-lacerating vocals are the sound of mind-mutilating agony. When the band shift into higher gears, they create bunker-busting chaos. In “Osmosis” they also shift into a diversion that’s hallucinatory despite the gripping drum pattern, and “Sinapsi” includes another diversion — one that’s downright nightmarish.
These two punishing tracks appear on the debut album by the Italian sludge/stoner band Katastah, which is set for release on August 15 by Narcoleptica Productions. I suspect it will appeal to fans of such bands as Bongripper.
My introduction to this black metal band from the Gelderland province of the Netherlands was through their 2017 split with Asgrauw (reviewed here), and a very happy discovery it was. Therefore, it was stupid of me to overlook their 2019 debut album Niets en niemendal. I’m going to pay closer attention to their new album, Geketend in de schaduw van het leven.
The opening of the first advance song, “Inktzwart“, isn’t remotely black metal — the shimmering synths, forlorn spoken words, and moody arpeggios are beguiling and wistful. The song does catch fire, driven by hammering drums and a warm bass pulse. The screaming vocals are damned intense, but the melodies still have a wistful, yearning, heart-felt quality, though the emotions in the music are more urgent. There’s a digression after the mid-point in which the music has a bright, lilting quality despite the wretched despair in the sound of the vocals.
The song is like a war between abandonment and hope, between collapse and resilience. It reaches thrilling heights, and the ending is mesmerizing.
Geketend in de schaduw van het leven includes fantastic cover art by by Maya Kurkhuli. It will be released on September 4 by Babylon Doom Cult Records.
OTTONE PESANTE (Italy)
The next video is a fascinating thing to watch, and of course the music of Ottone Pesante is fascinating too. The song is a slow build, at first proceeding like a stately dirge. The sounds of the brass instruments are themselves stately, but pulse with the unquenchable breath of life too. Shimmering tonalities lend an air of mystery and mysticism to the music, and the song also grows heavier and more pulverizing, to the point of becoming ruthlessly obliterating. The co-equal star of the song is guest vocalist Sara from the excellent Italian doom band Messa, whose voice itself is a slow burn of mounting intensity.
The song is “Tentacles” and it appears on a new album named DoomooD (great name), which will be out on September 18 via Aural Music.
SIEGE COLUMN (U.S.)
Siege Column‘s debut album Inferno Deathpassion made our friend SurgicalBrute’s 2018 year-end list at NCS, and that’s how I discovered this New Jersey death metal band. Nuclear War Now!, the same label that released the debut, has now set August 15th for the release of their second full-length, Darkside Legions.
The song below, “Funeral Fiend“, provides an enticing first taste, and a good sign that the band are following up a strong debut with a strong second LP. Spooky at first, it begins to pound and bound in a devilish frolic, and then to rip and ravage, scampering with a punk cadence while the guitars whine and whirl, boil and burn. The vocalist’s reverberating bellows and exclamations are ghastly, and the quivering leads give the music an atmosphere of gangrenous disease. At the end, everything goes nuts.
VOIDOATH (Costa Rica)
Last, but by no means least, here’s Illumination Through Necromancy, the debut EP from Costa Rica’s VoidOath, which was independently released on May 15th. I’m not familiar with the previous musical experience of the four members, but this doesn’t sound like a first effort, because it’s so tremendously good — and really fucking heavy.
The three songs are long ones, especially the first and third. The band use the extended time well, creating both brutally powerful atmospheres and bone-smashing physical impacts. “Begetter of Swelling Ache” is a dismal doom-crusher that becomes apocalyptic, a measured descent into a pit of de-oxygenating desolation and ultimate madness. Heartless, cavernous growls trade places with insane wails as the music swells in intensity. The intensity is broken by a beautifully harmonized but unmistakably bereft instrumental interlude, and then becomes even more catastrophic thereafter. The finale is downright titanic, and a great opportunity for you to bang your head like a piston.
“Keeper of the Perennial Torment” is a bit shorter, and immediately more torrential in its immensely destructive depredations, operating like a giant excavating machine gouging and punching its way through the listener’s skull. The mauling gives way to more measured operations, and also collapses in on itself in an effusion of dense, abrasive noise — right before the band deliver a pulverizing beating. As before, the vocals are terrifying. As before, the band introduce guitar machinations that seem the stuff of gibbering madness. As before, they change the tempo a lot — but in this song they really move into a tumultuous high gear.
The closer, “The Remnants of Asphyxia“, tops 14 minutes, and cements the impression that this is a tremendously impressive debut. It amalgamates the same ingredients displayed in the first two songs — immensely destructive pounding, equally destructive mangling chaos, sanity-shredding vocals, and demented and despairing leads — but there’s an air of terrible majesty that hangs about the gigantic heaving riffs in this song, as well as an off-the-hook drum performance.
Let me repeat: This EP is really fucking heavy.