For me, this past work-week was much like the one before (and the one before that, and the one before that), i.e., I had to devote so much time to the fucking day job that I couldn’t keep up with the usual flood of new metal, much less pull together any new-music round-ups. This morning I spent some time trying to catch up, at least a little, and from that exercise I picked the following nine new songs and videos.
I arranged things in a particular way — beginning with something that’s rousing, then going down into sadness (verging on despair) with a block of songs that happen to include clean singing, then beginning to pull out of that mood with reminders that not not everything is horrible (and with music that’s more extreme), and then concluding with something that ought to perk you up again.
Six months ago my Serbian friend Miloš pointed me to “Pjevanija prva” (“Cry of Yore”), the fantastic first song released by the Serbian band Gavranovi (a word that means “ravens”). I still know very little about the band, though now I know a bit more than I did then.
Gavranovi’s frontman is Nefas, who was the vocalist for the great black metal band The Stone for almost 20 years. A second member, Janković, who seems to be the principal instrumentalist, plays the gusle, a traditional horsehair-string instrument that dates back to the 9th century. And there are three more members, all of whom also perform vocals — Matković (who’s also credited as a guitarist), Sokolović, and Rančić.
Two days ago Gavranovi released a second song, accompanied by another feast-for-the-eyes video. This one, “Pjevanija druga“, is also destined to appear on an EP named Crni. I’m also happy to say that both this song and the earlier one are now available for download at Bandcamp.
The exotic wailing tones of the gusle again make the song stand out, but it stands out for other reasons too, including the savagely roaring vocals (and the heroic singing ones), the jolting and writhing riffs, and the blistering drumwork. This one will get your blood rushing. Damned catchy too,
(Abundant thanks to eiterorm for tipping me to this new Gavranovi song.)
I had already heard this next Sölstafir song (“Drýsill“) before noticing that it had been released a couple days ago with a music video, but when I saw that the video featured the artwork of Kim Holm (animated by David Hall), I elevated it on my list of things to check out today.
There’s a plaintive, aching, haunting quality about this beguiling song, which tells the tale of a woman fighting off the demon who seduced her with a tapestry of lies. You can feel the graveled hum of the bass in your guts and the snap of the drums against your neck, and you can feel the fight rising in the music too. It sounds like a fight for life.
The song is taken from the band’s upcoming album Endless Twilight Of Codependent Love, which will be released through Season Of Mist on November 6.
CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX (UK)
No matter how awful we may think our lives are, there’s always someone else out there who’s existence is much worse, indeed catstr0phically worse. It’s human nature to not want to be reminded of that, or to be reminded of the capacity of human beings’ for shocking cruelty toward each other and the other creatures who cohabit the planet.
But like it or not, this next video is an extremely painful reminder of all that. Much of it is very hard to watch, because the images are all too real. Maybe I’m just a softie, but watching it tears my heart out.
The song, which features tremendous guest vocals by Anathema‘s Vincent Cavanagh in addition to the voice of Belinda Kordic, is an anthem of rage and despair over the willful ignorance of humankind, or at least that’s how I hear it. It shares with that Solstafir song a heavy low end and an ethereal quality, as well as a lot of emotional intensity in the vocals and rhythms that go down into the bones.
Credit for making the shattering video goes to Guilherme Henriques. The album that includes this song, Ellengæst, will be released by Season of Mist on October 9th.
The next video has some imagery that’s similar to the one above from Crippled Black Phoenix, and some similar themes, but it also includes reminders of the Edenic nature of the world we’ve been fouling for so long. The song also has an anthemic (and indeed panoramic) quality, though you can feel the pain in it. It reminds me less of Ancst’s earlier music than it does Heaven Shall Burn, though part of that connection probably derives from the social consciousness of both bands. This one dug into my head and stayed there.
The song is “Razed Eden“, and it comes from Summits Of Despondency, out September 18th via Lifeforce Records.
I inserted this next track here because, as I mentioned at the outset of this collection, it’s a needed reminder that not everything is horrible. It picks up on the idea visualized near the end of that Ancst video that the natural world is still in many ways an Eden, despite humankind’s best efforts to turn it into Hell, and will outlast us. The music, in all of its meditative and soaring variations, is spellbinding. It may have been inspired by the wonders of the earth, but it is otherworldly and mystical.
Antuco is the work of a French musician (Franck) who now lives in Chile, with cello performances by Raphael Verguin. The landscapes of Chile are featured in the video, and the poetry at the end is by Antuco.
This instrumental, “Araucaria” seems to have been inspired by the genus of evergreen trees which bear that name and are found in Chile (and elsewhere). The piece appears on an evolving EP named Kimün. So far, three tracks from the EP have been revealed and are on Bandcamp, and the other two are also well worth hearing (and I’ve included a stream of them for you). Ultimately there will be five tracks in all, and each one is being presented with its own video.
It’s been a while since I last checked in with the Polish band MuN, but did happen to notice yesterday that they had released a new single named “Scowl” in late August — and what a piece of sonic sorcery it is. Its primal grooves will get you moving; the vocal variations create wonderful contrasts and complements; and the music is both carnal and hallucinatory, both sinister and scintillating. Easy to get captured and carried away by this one (and the solo in the jolting finale is a hell of a head-trip).
“Scowl” is taken from MuN’s third album Presomnia, which was just released on September 4th by Piranha Music (I only discovered that the album was out while writing this post, so I haven’t yet heard it).
Now’s the point when I begin turning to music that’s more extreme than the block of songs that began with Sólstafir and ended with MuN, and less sad than most of those. Granted, the first of these tracks does include a fair share of doomed moods, but it also breaks out and becomes maniacal.
The opening riff is a sinuous and kind of frightening thing, but gets its hook in damned fast, and the song becomes a manifestation of misery when the guttural growls join in. But, driven by an outburst of riotous drumming (the drumming is great at all points) and crazed chords, the song rips and ravages too, as chaos reigns.
The song is “Statues In Mourning“, a single by the New York death metal band Thevetat, which was just released yesterday via Destro Records.
Similar to this Cleveland band’s name, this next song is a noxious slab of death metal, but it’s more than simply a deep plunge into foul and disgusting muck. For one thing, there’s a spooky piano piece at the outset, and in that opening you’ll also get a hint of the heaviness in the bass tone. And when the song kicks into gear, that heaviness becomes a titanic, bone-smashing experience.
The riffing is definitely putrid and the growls are ghastly, but the band constantly shift gears, the drumming is completely off-the-hook, and the song plays with your mind as much as it attempts to beat you senseless and leave your eviscerated guts splattered all over the walls. Hellishly good stuff!
The song, “Dream Infested“, is from Noxis‘ debut EP, Expanse of Hellish Black Mire, which will be released by Pulverised Records and Rotted Life on October 30th.
Finally, as promised, I’m wrapping up this collection with a new song that ought to perk you right up, and not just because it comes from the first new murder metal album from Macabre in nearly 10 years. Yes, it’s true that the song is about the hidden bunker that Leonard Lake and Charles Ng had where they tortured and killed young women with tools and filmed it all, but the music… the music is full of zest and zing!
Okay, it’s the zest and zing of madmen cavorting in glee, but it’s hard not to link arms with them and be swung about until you get dizzy and fall down in the pools of blood and viscera they’ve already made for you. So many things to enjoy about this song, including the interesting basswork, the head-grabbing riffage, and the lunatic serial-killer vocals, but the guitar solo is my favorite.
“The Lake of Fire” appears on Carnival of Killers, which will be released by Nuclear Blast on November 13th.