I was able to devote much of Saturday and this Sunday morning to music-listening. The result was not only yesterday’s gigantic round-up but also a two-part SHADES OF BLACK that I’m beginning here. I realize it’s too much to expect that any normal person would listen to all of this, but my enthusiasm often triumphs over practicality. It also often triumphs over my capacity to write, resulting in more hurried consideration and fewer words than the music deserves. That’s especially true today.
I devoted a big portion of the listening time to two of the five (!) full-length releases issued on November 18th by ПРАВА Коллектив (Prava Kollektiv). I’m beginning Part 1 of this post with one of those, and starting Part 2 with the second one. The other three look just as exciting, but I’ll have to get to those another day. This Part also includes another album, an EP, and an advance track. Hopefully you’ll have time to at least sample everything. Part 2 will be even longer.
Based on past experience with this mysterious entity I would have eventually checked out Hwwauoch’s new album without any other encouragement, but the fact that three of my most trusted recommenders of music — Rennie (starkweather), Miloš, and eiterorm — all urged it my way elevated it on my listening list. The name of the album is Protest Against Sanity, and it’s one of those five Prava Kollektiv releases that emerged 10 days ago.
The new album is a firestorm of wild, abrasive riffing, mind-warping dissonance, hammering drums, and unnerving shrieks and roars of such intensity that it’s surprising whoever did this survived the recording session. Chaos rages through the songs, but the hallucinatory atmosphere of petrifying dread, paranormal peril, and rampant disease is equally powerful.
Mercurial bass tones bubble and meander through scalding shrouds of sound; quivering guitars mimic the eeriness of mellotrons, wail like tormented spectres, and become jittery spasms; drum patterns change with a mind of their own; and the vocals continually morph through a range of horrifying expressions. The vicious, sandstorm quality of the sound is often overpowering, as are the heaving and pounding undercurrents, all the better to enhance such a frightening, no-holds-barred assault on the listener’s sanity — which is exactly what this is. The album’s title tells the tale.
Perhaps unexpectedly, there are songs that become mesmerizing — the title track in particular has that effect — but more often the music’s transfixing impact is the result of how alien and terrorizing it is. In that respect it has few peers this year.
The next item in this collection is “Der Kreuzweg“, which is off a debut album by this Polish band (whose name seems to translate to “Kingdom Hall”). Entitled Witnessing The Dearth. It will be released by Cult Of Parthenope on December 12th.
Reportedly influenced by the likes of Kriegsmaschine and Deathspell Omega, the band’s approach, as manifested in “Der Kreuzweg“, is multi-faceted. They layer dissonant, ringing notes and eerie slithering melodies over methodical beats and moody bass tones — the effect of which is dreamlike but disturbing. They put dismal clanging chords and wailing leads over ritualized pounding, and exotic, ringing harmonies over lo-frequency hums. The music feverishly vibrates in stomach-churning ways and segues into stomping, quasi-industrial grooves. A voice issues proclamations as if through a megaphone, (when it’s not roaring like a ravenous beast).
Come to think of it, the whole song is dreamlike and disturbing — and ingeniously inventive. You can check out a second song from the album, “Ladder To Ego“, at Bandcamp. It may give you nightmares too.
I learned of this next album, which was released on November 16th, through another recommendation from Rennie (starkweather), who described it as a “One argentinian man black metal battering ram”.
The long title of the album, Through Ancient Rites to the Finest Architecture of Extinction, is suggestive of the music, because it is often driven by a kind of world-ending fire, and just as often it sinks into end-of-world hopelessness, but its architecture is indeed fine — indeed, its grandeur is immense.
That opinion probably requires some explanation. To be clear, the music is intensely desolate, devastating, and delirious in its moods, with shrieking and growling vocals that are ravaging in their torment, but the beautifully crafted, piercing riffs — which are persistently charismatic — channel those harrowing moods in a way that seems larger than life. The music is so dramatic, and sometimes so elaborate, that it begins to seem like a display of grand pageantry, albeit one that’s tragic at its core.
I found all the songs gripping and each of them distinctive — it’s the reason I stayed rooted in place for the whole album after thinking I’d just give the opening song a quick inspection — but if you’re just going to sample it quickly yourself, I’d recommend “Abismo Sideral“. There’s a yearning and glorious quality that comes through in that song, in a way that really tugs at the heartstrings.
To conclude Part 1 of today’s collection I’m turning to the latest work of a Danish band whose debut EP Unavngivet (released earlier this year and reviewed here) made such a striking impression that I wasted no time diving into the new release — which just came out today. It’s another EP, the name of which is simply Demo.
As on that previous EP, Glemsel again demonstrate the ability to quickly carry the listener away. The songs are all dynamic and they create beguiling twists and turns. They marry discordant yet seductive melodies to hurtling drums and vicious vocals, and ominous, otherworldly guitar-chiming to dirge-like marches. They race and ravage in displays of ferocious ecstasy and paint panoramic portraits of heart-rending melancholy. All the while, they embroider the music with accents (such as the soulful and sorrowing bass performance that takes the lead near the end of “Ved Graven”) that make the experience even more riveting.
These new songs solidify the impression previously created — this is a very good band. I’ll be eager for a full-length when it comes.
P.S. Vendetta Records picked up that Unavngivet EP, which had been digitally self-released by the band, and put it out on CD and vinyl in September, here.