Ars Magna Umbrae
This is a great day for metal fans to support bands with their money. It’s a harrowing day for metal bloggers like myself.
It’s a great day because Bandcamp is again waiving its share of revenues from sales on its site, which means more money generated from purchases and donations goes directly to bands and labels, some of whom are in turn donating proceeds to charitable causes.
It’s a harrowing day because bands and labels have been releasing a HUMONGOUS AMOUNT OF MUSIC to take advantage of the occasion. Beginning yesterday and continuing today, my in-box has exploded with Bandcamp alerts and press releases, and that’s on top of the usual flood of other new music appearing earlier in the week. There’s no way I can sample all of it. But I’ve sampled some of it, and you see the results in this post — or at least some of them.
What I’ve done here is to collect individual songs and videos for new releases (and a few older ones), arranged in alphabetical order by band name. Many of those releases, but not all, can be purchased or pre-ordered on Bandcamp to take advantage of the revenue-share waiver. In Part 2 I’ll quickly throw out recommendations for complete new releases that would also be good candidates for your Bandcamp purchases.
ARS MAGNA UMBRAE (Poland)
We begin with a powerfully dark song, magisterial and ominous, unearthly in its quivering and flaring melodies, both stately and tumultuous in its drumming, and scalding in its malignant vocal extremity. It sends chills down the spine and rockets the pulse, yet is spellbinding, especially in the magnificent extended dual-guitar solo that consumes much of the song’s latter half. The band calls its music a “Manifestation of Chthonic forces of Death and a sonic portal to the Nightside” — and this song proves those are not empty words.
“Oracle of Luminous Dark” is from the album Apotheosis, which will be released by I, Voidhanger Records on August 21st.
I might have included this next piece of music even if it had been mediocre, because of the fantastic cover artwork by Mariusz Lewandowski. But the music isn’t mediocre — at least so far as I can tell from this mere excerpt of a longer song — which creates an atmosphere of apocalyptic majesty. It ‘s a hybrid of shuddering, hopeless gloom and celestial wonder, with blood-freezing vocals to boot.
The album is Stygian and it will be released by 20 Buck Spin on August 21st.
Next is yet another dynamic single from Bedsore‘s new album, which again proves how inventively and adroitly they entwine dramatically differing ingredients, from slow, majestic bleakness to thrilling, fret-leaping mayhem, from excursions into realms of spectral hallucination to running us through gauntlets of throat-scissoring savagery. The solo in the song is a mesmerizing head-trip, and the vocals range from the most cavernous gutturals to the most crazed screams.
“Cauliflower Growth” is the third single from Bedsore’s album Hypnagogic Hallucinations, set for release by 20 Buck Spin on July 24th.
DAWN OF A DARK AGE (Italy)
These next two songs are terrific. I’m especially enamored of the first one — the combination of organ melody and bursts of rambunctious drumming in the introductory part grabbed me immediately, and I stayed grabbed when the drumming began to pump like pistons and the guitar started to flicker like a Roman candle. Even though the barbarically roaring vocals are savage as hell, the song sounds… joyous… and the darting and pealing riffs, the thumping and bubbling bass notes, and the sinuous and sinister soloing are as compelling as all the other seductive ingredients.
The second track is slower, moodier, and more menacing in some of its phases, but it also spins up until it becomes just as electrifying a whirl as the first one. And it includes some additional extravagant musical textures that weren’t present in the first one, which I won’t spoil for you — but wait for the solo in this one (it’s not a guitar). For the second time, I was left with eyes wide and mouth open in a big smile. Just fucking brilliant….
The two tracks are among five on La Tavola Osca, an album that’s set for a July 10 release by the fascinating French label Antiq Records.
THE INFERNAL SEA (UK)
Man, the main riff in this next rocking and romping song is really damned seductive, and as it evolves the riffing becomes gloriously thrilling too. The variable vocals (screaming and bellowing) are scorching, and imperious, lending even more fight to a song that’s as defiant as a gauntlet across the face. Terrific song, but we expected nothing less from this band.
“Negotium Crucis” is the title track taken from this UK band’s new album, which will be released on September 18th by Apocalyptic Witchcraft.
My NCS comrade TheMadIsraeli unearthed this next gem, a new video for a song from the third album (Light in the Abyss) of this Australian band, which is being released today. “One With the Abyss” is a form of doom-influenced melodic death metal that combines gloomy heaviness and heart-swelling panoramic sweep, pulse-pounding rhythms and jolting chords, as well as an array of ferocious growls, strangled snarls, and forlorn singing. The music operates on a grand, dramatic scale, and builds to a crescendo of intensity that’s despairing and disturbing, and on the other side of that it becomes crushing in its feeling of emotional desolation and funereal bereavement. Great video, too.
THE OCEAN (Germany)
Next up is a prog-metal pageant, a richly textured panorama of heavy-weight rhythmic interplay, sweeping melodic overlays, tribal percussive accents, darting keyboards, pile-driving riffs, sorcerous arpeggios, emotionally variable singing (including a guest vocal appearance by Jonas Renkse from Katatonia), and more. It mesmerizes and puts your heart in your throat, threatens sore-neck syndrome and fires the imagination. Quite a spectacle, but no surprise there, because this is The Ocean.
This is a new single from an album that forms the second half of The Ocean‘s Phanerozoic series – Phanerozoic II: Mesozoic | Cenozoic – which will be released by Metal Blade on September 25th.
Here’s a new video for a song that’s been out in the world for a while. The music is a high-speed tech-metal extravaganza that’s anthemic as well as head-spinning and neck-cracking — which is a tough combination to pull off, but this band do it with ease. And I’m including it here not only because the song is so memorable but also because the video makes for such a great complement to it.
“Beyond the Black” is taken from Psycroptic’s latest album, As The Kingdom Drowns, which was released by Prosthetic Records in 2018.
Next up is an official video that captures the performance of “Son of the Moon” by these progenitors of Greek black metal, filmed live in São Paulo, Brazil, last August. I don’t suppose anything more could be said about the song, which is a classic track off a classic album (1993’s His Majesty At the Swamp). It’s a sinister, glorious, and massively head-moving manifestation of arcane art, and a fantastic example of the distinctiveness of old-school Greek black metal. Seeing it performed live in this video is a real treat.
This recording is taken from Varathron’s 30th anniversary live album Glorification Under The Latin Moon, out September 25th via Agonia Records. The album was recorded in its entirety at that same show in São Paulo, which was the final show of Varathron’s “30 Years Of Darkness Tour”.
VOID ROT (U.S.)
And finally we come to the title track from the debut album of this Minneapolis band. It’s eerie, haunting intro creates a feeling of dread and disturbance, and the music does indeed become even more calamitous — a crushing juggernaut that delivers leviathan stomps and skull-excavating chords, vertebrae-cracking beats and vicious circle-saw riffing, horrid roaring vox and queasy, dismal leads. An abominable monster of sound to be sure, with phantasmagoric qualities to go along with its heartless brutality and sense of incurable pestilence.
This new song comes from Void Rot‘s new album Descending Pillars (with cover art by Timo Ketola), which will be released on September 11 by Everlasting Spew in Europe and by Sentient Ruin in North America.