TOMBS (photo by Dan Higgins)
EDITOR’S CONFESSION: Is it possible? Could I have actually failed to post the second installment of this series by our contributor Gonzo on Friday, just like I was late in posting the first one? Even though it’s called NEW MUSIC FRIDAY? Hell yes! It’s true! I fucked up two weeks in a row! But I’m risking covid to visit a tattoo parlor today to have NEW MUSIC FRIDAY tattooed on my forehead so I’ll never forget again. Of course, when looking in the mirror it will read YADIRF CISUM WEN.
The show must go on.
Given the quality output so far in a year otherwise mired with seemingly every kind of imaginable strife dominating the headlines, you’d think those words were the mantra of every working band out there.
Some of those themes of the year, as it turns out, make for excellent and timely material to write songs out of. I have no doubt that we’ll start seeing more and more of it start to emerge as we trudge on through this supremely uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing timeline we’re living through. This week [Editor’s Correction: last week!] has dropped a few hints of what’s to come, with spectacular results.
It’s always a good day whenever we get new music from Brooklyn’s Tombs. Everything that made past releases like Savage Gold and Path of Totality so fucking solid are on display here; most notably Mike Hill’s throaty howl sandblasting the backdrop of piercing guitars and savage blast beats.
The track is taken from the band’s forthcoming album, Under Sullen Skies, due out November 20. If “Barren” is any indication of what’s to come, look for this one to be a staple in Listmania this winter.
OCEANS OF SLUMBER: “PRAY FOR FIRE”
It seems like an eternity since this band last released anything, but that was mostly because 2018’s The Banished Heart had nothing on 2016’s Winter. And since 2016 was actually 86 years ago, the concept of time is probably eluding me at this point.
All that aside, Oceans of Slumber have released a masterpiece with their self-titled album that’s finally now out. “Pray for Fire” encapsulates everything I love about this band – ethereal vocals from Cammie Gilbert leading into a crushing crescendo of prog and post-metal. Gilbert’s voice has never sounded better, and the band’s songwriting is absolutely at its peak on this record.
For those who still subscribe to the print version of Decibel magazine, Gilbert’s interview focusing on being a Black woman in the world of metal is also a must-read.
ZEAL & ARDOR: “VIGIL”
I won’t lie – this one hit me the moment I heard it. Hard.
The imagery of two police batons forming an upside-down cross on the artwork for this single tells the story pretty plainly: It’s a vigil to those who have been unjustly murdered by police. Try not to let the lyrics “I can’t breathe/it’s a cell phone/please don’t shoot” haunt you. I, for one, have failed in that endeavor.
Zeal & Ardor aren’t afraid to step way outside the listener’s comfort zone, both lyrically and musically. To refer to this song as “metal” would be a misnomer, but it’s dark as hell and compels another listen when its final moments fade from earshot. Beautifully done, through and through.
“Vigil” is taken from the band’s upcoming EP entitled Wake of a Nation, due out October 23.
FORETOKEN: “THE RETRIBUTION”
For something less topical, Virginia Beach’s Foretoken are happy to offer some respite. Channeling everything from Mors Principium Est to Children of Bodom and Arsis, these released a debut album on Friday that absolutely slays.
“The Retribution” is a standout track, with infectious, thrashy riffs giving way to bursts of warp-speed vitriol. The keyboards offer an air of complexity under vocalist Dan Cooley’s raspy snarl, and the orchestration throughout the song makes it a very full 5 minutes and 31 seconds. There’s a lot to unpack here, not the least of which being whatever the hell brand of musical steroids Cooley and guitarist Steve Redmond are taking to make Foretoken a mere duo.
An impressive debut, to say the least. Keep an eye on Foretoken when touring becomes a thing again.