Today we begin our 12th year of existence, having celebrated our 11th birthday yesterday. It just so happens that we begin the next circle of the Earth around Sol on a Sunday, and an opportunity to blacken the sabbath again.
After doing some searching I was surprised to learn that I’ve never previously written about the music of Ondskapt at our site, though I do see one (very old) mention by a guest contributor in a year-end list. This absence puzzles me. It is definitely more a regrettable oversight than a sign of disinterest. But now, finally, I can check that box, and do so enthusiastically thanks to the song I’ve picked to open today’s playlist.
I know less about musical engineering than I do about brain surgery, so I don’t know what magic makes the audio power of “Animam Malum Daemonium” so tremendous. But when it begins to pulsate with immense booming tones within a sulfurous guitar miasma and bouts of maddened screaming near the beginning, I thought it would shake my teeth loose.
That skull-smashing opening paves the way for a fascinating and completely transfixing trip, which morphs from sounds of feverish, clattering madness into passages of immense, body-moving beats, lofty ambience, and glittering arpeggios that create feelings of mystery and exaltation, and from there into a furnace of blast-beats and searing, surround-sound terror.
The changes continue to come, and the thrills build higher and higher as the band create changing moods of dread, panic, sorrow, cruelty, and fear, all of it overlaid with an atmosphere of vast eminence and fueled by a remarkable drum performance that you can feel in your core, and with a fear factor that’s magnified by ranging vocals of continually ravaging intensity. The ringing guitar melody near the end will put you on your knees beside a lake of grief in a finale that remains haunting even after the song ends.
The whole thing is stunning. It comes from Ondskapt‘s fourth album, Grimoire Ordo Devus, which is due for arrival on November 27th via Osmose Productions.
SAINTE MARIE DES LOUPS (France)
“Interdit et oublié” makes for an excellent follow-on to that astonishing Ondskapt track. The tone of the opening guitar machinations that swivel and swirl around the bullet-spitting drums and tyrannical growls is strange and unsettling, like a dismal yet dangerous hornet swarm in the mystic halls of hell. As the timbre of the riffing changes, it becomes more searing and exultant, coming in soaring magisterial waves, but also shifts into sounds of febrile misery and pain-driven dementia.
Eventually, the drums stalk instead of blast, the guitars become queasy and diseased, and the vocals change first into a kind of drugged-out wail, and then into a sequence of horrifying proclamations, right before a final otherworldly paroxysm that crescendos in screams and explosive detonations.
This piece of audio terror comes to us courtesy of the French wolves in Sainte Marie des Loups and their eagerly awaited second album, Funérailles de Feu. On November 25 it will be jointly released on LP vinyl by Amor Fati Productions and Mare Cognitium’s Extraconscious Records (in the US), with Amor Fati exclusively handling the CD release.
To listen to a full stream of the album (which I shamefully haven’t yet done), it recently premiered at Invisible Oranges and you can find that here.
As we have definitively learned from previous investigations of the music of Totalitarian, their name doesn’t signify the glorification of totalitarian regimes but instead a condemnation. Their lyrics take from the pages of history episodes of the most horrific of abuses visited upon the innocent by vile regimes, and their music brings forth in riveting fashion the cruelty and pain of such episodes, and the disgust and fury they should spawn in all of us. As my friend Andy wrote here of their last EP:
“[O]ne of my favourite things about Metal in general is its willingness to peer into the darkest corners of the human heart, to expose and explore the very worst aspects of our shared history, and that’s exactly what the music on Bloodlands does, delving deep into the true horrors of war and man’s inhumanity towards his fellow man over the course of twenty-six terrifying minutes”.
On November 19th, this Roman black/death band followed Bloodlands with a new EP named Kulturkampf / Los Von Rom, via Barren Void Records, with the CD version officially distributed through Lavadome Productions. This time their subject matter concerns Eugenio Pacelli (Pope Pius XII), who led the Catholic Church throughout almost all of World War II, and his neutrality (and worse) with respect to the Third Reich. The elaborate and evocative lyrics to the two songs on the new EP are well worth reading, and are available at Bandcamp.
As for the music, both songs are of significant length, and reflect a more experimental approach than Bloodlands. Both are astonishing in their power and savagery, immense in the scale of their crushing, pile-driving grooves and grim, sweeping melodies, which groan and heave in devastating fashion. In both songs, the band also intersperse riveting, swirling and wailing guitar motifs as well as assaults of storming viciousness and thunderous war-zone brutality, as well as vocals that are as savage as the music.
However, this isn’t all. “Kulturkampf” includes vocal samples against a backdrop of terrifying noise that’s both abrasive and spectral, and vocal permutations that channel both vehement outrage and incinerating pain. The vocals make the song even more emotionally shattering, and the long wild and wailing guitar solo that jets above the immense stomp of the music is spine-tingling. After that, the guitars sound like a tormented trumpet fanfare, adding tremendously to the song’s devastating effects.
In addition, “Los Von Rom” launches with a disturbing gale of abrasive electronics and guitar mutilations, punctuated by bombs going off. The guitars scream in agony and groan in misery as those bunker-busting explosions continue. The music is oppressive and apocalyptic, tortured and traumatic. The misery channeled by the mewling leads is unmistakable, and so is the horror in the distorted vocals and the earth-quaking immensity of the surrounding sounds. But the most terrifyingly violent eruptions are still to come, when the drums begin blasting, the chords writhe in their affliction, and the vocals reach new heights of suffering and rage.
Seriously, this is breathtaking stuff, and well worth all the minutes these two tracks ask of you. As they unfold, you won’t be able to think of anything else, and they’re so intensely unnerving that you probably need to set aside some time to get yourself back together and calm down after they’re over.
Waerloga‘s debut demo, released on November 16th, merits the terms “raw” and “lo-fi”, which these days describe a level of abrasiveness that’s an aesthetic decision rather than the result of lack of access to decent recording technology. It does scald the ears, and the heavily reverb-ed vocals enhance the horror that already lives within the maniacal riffing. But the riffing really is magnetic, even if deranged, and the eerie, glistening and swirling keyboard tones that emerge from within the sandblasting chords and rumbling drums make the songs witchy as well as barbarically savage.
Those mesmerizing organ melodies and whirling, flickering leads become ascendant, conjuring images of devilish, dervish-like ceremonies around blazing bonfires in dense woods far away from the bonds of civilization, and the absolutely bestial vocals and possessed howls signify the presence of a demonic power exhorting the participants to ever-greater heights of wild frenzy.
Both songs are fantastic and fantastical, but “Enemy” especially stands out, thanks to a poltergeist guitar solo, which erupts into a scintillating spectacle over hammering grooves, and to the fervent singing that precedes the tolling of bells that ends the escapade.
The membership of Waerloga is a mystery, though I did find a Facebook group page which says the band was “formed in the USA, with the only clue to their identity being an appearance on the recent Vigor Reconstruct Soroka benefit compilation album.” That album includes tracks from 35 bands, and was released in October to raise money for the family of Markov Soroka (Tchornobog, Aureole, and more) who were saddled with mountainous medical bills following a severe heart attack suffered by Markov Soroka‘s father last summer.
Until seeing that post I was unaware of this album, and it looks like a spectacular assemblage of music. You can find it HERE. And Waerloga‘s Demo MMXX is available at the Bandcamp page linked below.
(I owe thanks to Jon Rosenthal for making me aware of the demo.)
I paid attention to Ravenoir when I saw a press release which reported that its line-up includes two members of the great Czech band Root — guitarist and frontman Alesh AD and bassist Igor Hubik — and that Ravenoir‘s debut album The Darkest Flame of Eternal Blasphemy includes a guest appearance by Root‘s frontman “Big Boss“, who contributed lyrics to two songs and lent his voice to the record’s Prologue. And as if that weren’t sufficient enticement, I also read that Andy La Rocque of King Diamond performed a guitar solo for the title track.
That solo turns out to be a piece of heavy metal glory, but it’s not the only thing that makes “The Darkest Flame of Eternal Blasphemy” (the song) such a thriller. Leading up to it, Ravenoir deliver a fiery and ferocious onslaught of neck-snapping beats, vicious fret-melting riffery, jolting chords, and blood-freezing howls, augmented by soaring keyboards that build upon the feeling of eerie and terrible majesty within the music. Loosen up your neck for this one — and prepare for a few chills to run up and down your spine.
There’s a second song from the album that’s now also out in the world. Entitled “In the Sign of the Horns“, it too is made for headbanging — maybe even more so than the title track — and it’s perhaps even more sinister and menacing. The mixture of booming, hard-slugging grooves, frenzied fretwork, and uproarious vocal blasphemy is electrifying, and this song is home to a scintillating solo of its own.
We should also give credit to drummer Patrik Sas and guitarist Jakub Önslaughter Maděryč, who round out Ravenoir‘s line-up. The Darkest Flame of Eternal Blasphemy will be released on February 21st by Slovakia’s Gothoom Productions.
NEIGE ET NOIRCEUR (Canada)
I do enjoy including surprises in these collections, and in the other new music roundups we do here. I should do it more often. Today, the surprise comes from Neige et Noirceur, thanks to a Bandcamp alert that arrived yesterday from Avantgarde Music.
The 16-minute track I’ve chosen as a closer to this playlist is an invention — “Invention 9 F” to be precise — which accompanies four minor preludes, all of the pieces dedicated to J.S. Bach, on a just-released album named Bach – Preludium Minor. Accompanied by a painting by Bruegel the Elder, it is described as “five pieces of baroque dark ambient with a touch of métal noir québécois”.
On this album, Sion Daus (aka Spiritus) is accompanied on vocals by Schimaera, but the notes state that “the heart of this album is marked by the arrival of Cynthia who performs with grandeur, organs and other keyboards”.
She does indeed make a magnificent contribution to “Invention 9 F”, which lends symphonic sweep and power to a towering piece of pitch-black music. The tones of celestial choirs ring above flesh-razoring chords and stately yet bone-breaking percussion. The music heaves and harrows, creating an atmosphere of paralyzing fear and crushing despair on a vast scale, and it rises up like an awe-inspiring but dire monolith. Schimaera‘s growls and howls are imperious but also tormented, underscoring both the cruelty and agony as well as the frightening majesty within the music.
In the track’s softer moments, the keyboards completely take over, creating a blend of ambient and symphonic sounds that are ethereal and mesmerizing, yet with an undercurrent of ominous, oceanic immensity. The music fades away into near-silence, but the track isn’t over. The chant-like pronouncements that follow might be the scariest segment of the track, and the layered keyboard performances that come next, the most spellbinding and haunting.