I got a late start on the day and therefore have had to adjust my plans for this week’s column. Running short on time, I’ve had to postpone brief reviews of some recently released albums that richly deserve attention and instead focus on new singles and advance tracks from forthcoming records. But they richly deserve attention too.
I’ve arranged these tracks in a way that provides a flow that made sense to me, starting off one way, taking a turn in a different direction, and then changing course one more time at the end. Coincidentally, one thing these tracks have in common (and they don’t have a lot in common) is that blast-beats are in short supply.
The title of the first song, “Eviscerate My Withered Soul“, tells you a lot about the mood of the music. Launched by ritual drums, ominous symphonic swells, and grim, seething chords, it stalks forward in a way that leaves feelings of oppressiveness and despair in its wake. Augmented by bestial growls and withering screams, the music’s intensity mounts, creating tension and tragedy in equal measure. There’s a sense of horrible grandeur in the music, commingled with fever and pain.
Photo by Anett S Caedes
The genre-hybrid track, crushing on multiple levels, is presented through a video that only magnifies its emotionally eviscerating impact.
“Eviscerate My Withered Soul” is the first advance track from a debut album named Ad Personam by Germany-based Exitium Sui, the new project of Chris Gebauer, formerly of Deadspace and a fixture in Humanitas Error Est and Lebenssucht as well. Ad Personam will be released by Rain Without End Records (a sub-label of Naturmacht Productions) on November 27th.
The next song also begins with a ritualized, primitive drum beat amidst swirling ambient mist. It lulls the mind, which makes the sudden eruption of hammering percussion, roiling chords, and fervent howls a shocker. The waves of fiery melody and the scratchy, mercurial arpeggios have their own mesmerizing aspect, but coupled with pulse-pounding energy. The vocals are vicious to the point of becoming unhinged, even when the pacing becomes less pummeling and the timbre of the melody grows less wild and more forlorn and wistful.
It’s easy to become immersed in this dynamic but persistently engrossing experience, following where it leads, and ultimately falling into a kind of magical dream, until the hide drum pounds again.
“Arla i urtid” is a new single by the Swedish band Bhleg. It was digitally released via Nordvis on October 23rd.
As in the case of the preceding song in this collection, but perhaps even more so, this next one is also spellbinding — but it’s also heart-breaking. The violin melodies that cascade through the neck-bending rhythms and the swaths of slashing and sinuous guitar are beautifully soulful, but unmistakably sad, and the vocals are incinerating in their pain.
There’s an interlude in the middle, in which the crackling sounds of a campfire mingle with acoustic picking and shimmering synths. Even that experience conveys a sense of loneliness, but it’s a brief reprieve before the music (and those terrifyingly intense vocals) bring you back down into grief. The extended solo that draws the song to a close, which seems to be a violin and guitar duet, is utterly gripping and intensely memorable — shattering in its emotional resonance, but again, spellbinding.
The song is “Behind the Halo Nomore Lights” by the powerful Ukrainian band Ezkaton (whose most recent album Sheen and Misery we premiered and reviewed here last year). The track appears on a forthcoming album-length split named Campfire of None with a band called Solitude.m. The split will be released by Wolfspell Records on October 31st. (Be aware that Ezkaton’s digital release linked below only includes Ezkaton’s tracks from the split.)
I can’t resist: Grabunhold grab and hold. They affix their grip quickly in this next song and then begin to whirl the listener around in a glorious display of melodic ecstasy. The swirling leads and cascading chords, the scampering beats and throbbing bass, all convey a feeling of wondrous spirit — though maybe you can still sense a shadow of melancholy even then, a shadow that briefly grows longer as the song evolves.
The vocals are intensely savage at all times, and when the drummer begins to hammer, the music becomes a brazen display that soars to even greater heights of heart-swelling splendor. By the end, I realized I’d been holding my breath and had to shake myself to remember where I was.
The song is “Flammen und Schatten“, the first advance track from a debut album entitled Heldentod by this German band. It will be released by Iron Bonehead Productions on January 22nd.
I thought this song made an excellent follow-on to that last track, because it also whirls like a dervish, catching up the listener in the throes of a wild spectacle of thunderous drums, blazing chords that go off almost like trumpets, and electrifying leads. When the music begins to jab and jolt, and the snarling vocals become grim pronouncements, the song takes on a darker cast, but it’s not long before a screaming solo and a new eruption of frenzy spins the music up into the sky again, and you along with it, on fire.
“Far From Human” is the second and final single from Our Wretched Demise, a new album by the Norwegian black metal band Keiser. It will be released on November 27th by Non Serviam Records. I’ve also included a stream of the first single, “Scourge of the Wicked“.
To conclude, I’ve picked a song that surprised me — and what a happy surprise it turned out to be. Based on the band’s name and their nation (Brazil), I was expecting raw and ripping black thrash, but “Midnight Vampire” turned out to be a much more multi-faceted experience.
The song strikes with tremendous sonic power. There’s thunderous, gut-punching force to the bass drive, and the skipping drum beat chops at the neck like a spring-loaded ax. The riffing is undeniably sinister, and the vocals are those of an enraged lion, but there’s equally a display of rapturous grandeur in the song. The feeling of infernal euphoria intensifies, thanks to the reverberating tones of a shrieking and wailing solo, but with a dramatic, pounding fanfare the song morphs into a manifestation of thrillingly seductive black magic, with the supernatural incantation cast by yet another wonderful solo.
In a word, fantastic.
The song is the title track to Speedkiller’s debut album, which is set for release on December 11th by Edged Circle Productions (vinyl and digital) and Helldprod Records (cassette and CD).