Two old favorites released new singles yesterday, and not just bands who’ve been personal favorites for a very long time but bands whose music has continually evolved, which added a big curiosity factor to the experience. I’m beginning the round-up with those two tracks. As we’re want to do around here, I’m then moving into music from bands I’d never heard of before yesterday, bands whose profiles are buried far deeper in the underground than the first two.
The beautiful animated video for Gojira’s new song is sufficiently engrossing that it pulled my focus away from the song when I first saw it. I definitely had impressions of the music, but needed to listen to it again without watching the video to better appreciate what the band were doing. The video is indebted to a certain work by the French author Pierre Boulle, but it’s especially haunting because of the perils of our current existence.
As for the song, my friend Andy ventured the opinion that “Another World” demonstrated clear growth and development of Magma’s more melodic bent while also recapturing much of what made From Mars To Sirius and The Way of All Flesh so great.
It does have the potent groovesomeness, swirling guitar motifs, and currents of brooding heaviness that recall From Mars…, but it also soars and shines, and concludes with a passage of mesmerizing cosmic drift.
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I admit to a possible lack of objectivity about the music of Sólstafir: I have never felt disappointed by their albums, even as the music has evolved and grown further and further away from the kinds of extreme metal that are this site’s usual bread and butter. And I’m always curious to hear something new from them because the ways in which they draw inspiration from different musical wellsprings and bind them together aren’t safely predictable.
The single released yesterday, “Akkeri“, begins in a fashion that wouldn’t make it out of place among the moodier pieces on Ótta but also brought back memories of “Fjara” from Svartir Sandar, but the song dramatically erupts without warning, becoming a thunderous gale-force surge in which Addy Tryggvason uses the full wrenching intensity of his voice. But the torrent of sound ebbs, and the music becomes mystical and haunting. Lonesome guitar reverberations reminiscent of something from a Morricone score then meld with somber singing. The dynamic song follows that interlude with a fiery, skull-busting romp, yet the music seems edged with feelings of regret and pain.
The song comes from a new album named Endless Twilight of Codependent Love. The cover art is a watercolor called The Lady of the Mountain, which was designed in 1864 by artist Johann Baptist Zwecker and is regarded as the female personification of Iceland.
Now I’m turning to a band I knew nothing about before yesterday. I still know very little about them because they prefer to conceal their identities and locations. They do disclose that their inspiration is to explore “the obscure realities behind and beyond the physical dimension”. Brucia Records, which will be releasing Teratolith’s debut album Eclipse on September 25th, recommends it for fans of Blut Aus Nord, Skàphe, and Aosoth.
The song titles on Eclipse are numbers, some of which also include words. The opening track, for example, is “One. Death.” The second track is merely “Two“, and that’s the one you can listen to at Bandcamp now.
The music has an immense heaving intensity, unmistakably dark, cold, and cruel. Those waves of deep, all-enveloping sound are segmented by bursts of drum mania, yet those spurts of intensity evaporate as the song flows into an eerie, void-like path accented by strange ringing arpeggios and what might be grim demonic snarls. As the drums return, blasting away, the riffing suffocates the senses again with undiluted poison, creating an atmosphere of other-dimensional malignancy. Poltergeist howls and weird, wailing tendrils of melody infiltrate the music like a fatal fever. By the end the song is generating a horrid aura of deeply chilling yet still awe-inspiring grandeur.
I have a bad habit, but a necessary one, when it comes to checking out new music that I might want to include in these round-ups: Most of the time (though not all of the time by any means) I’ll give a song about 60 seconds to see if something happens that makes me want to find out where it goes. Sometimes I figure out pretty fast that the song is worth paying attention to, and I move on to something else. Upon first listen I stayed with this next song all the way through, not because it was easy to do that but because I couldn’t pull myself away from its epic weirdness, even though I wasn’t at all sure that I liked what was happening.
“Monkey Brains” did something to my inner ear, or at least the parts of the inner ear that are important for balance, the parts that if thrown out of whack will make you feel dizzy or queasy even when you’re standing motionless on solid ground. Near the end the song locks into a less vertiginous form — heavy, hammering, and imperious. The song is definitely heavy and rhythmically mauling before that — heavy and hard-hitting enough to inflict spinal trauma — but the adventurous guitar manipulations are dissonant and destabilizing, and the vocals sound like wailing and screaming madness.
I found myself fascinated and transfixed from beginning to end, and continued to feel that way as I listened to it again (and again). I have no idea how you will react.
Sheenjek are from Portland, Oregon, and “Monkey Brains” is off a debut album named Unclever. It will be released by Seventh Rule on August 28th. There are two more songs from the album on Bandcamp. I’ll put that player below so you can check out both of those too.