SHADES OF BLACK: ISSOLEI, CAEDES CRUENTA, EGO, THE AMENTA, CULTED, VØIDWOMB, SUNNATA
Sometimes fortune smiles and these Sunday playlists just fall into place as if directed by some devilish
higher lower power. In those times I move through songs I might be interested in, and by serendipity the music just flows in a way that makes sense. That didn’t happen today.
I had sorted out what I wanted to recommend, but had no good idea how to order them. I made an effort, but it’s still a pretty twisty and turny trip, made even more twisted by a last-minute addition prompted by a recommendation from my comrade DGR.
This episode is also different from most, in that it includes no complete releases, only advance tracks from forthcoming records. To spice things up, a few come with videos that will likely make you sit up and pay even closer attention.
I decided to begin with a song called “King Apophis“, though I have very little information about the band or the release. Issolei apparently come from Trondheim, but beyond that they are a mystery. Terratur Possessions will release a debut Issolei record that includes this song, but hasn’t yet announced the title or a release date.
If criminally charged for making this song, Issolei will have a powerful insanity defense. Yes it is certifiably insane, from the wild screaming vocals to the wild and wailing dissonance of the riffing and the flickering effervescence of… whatever is making those flickering effervescent sounds. On the other hand, the song does settle into a carnal, rocking movement that proves to be quickly compulsive — though soon enough it again becomes a typhoon of electrifying derangement.
(I’m grateful to Rennie (starkweather) for putting this song on my radar.)
CAEDES CRUENTA (Greece)
Of Ritual Necrophagia and Mysterious Ghoul Cults is the enticing title of the forthcoming third album by this Greek black metal band, primed for release on February 9th by Helter Skelter Productions in partnership with Regain Records. It’s more than an hour long; it was recorded live; and it includes re-recorded versions of previously released tracks as well as new material.
“Aura of Immortal Souls” is the new album’s first single. It originally appeared on the band’s second album, 2014’s Ερείπια ψυχών. I wanted to put it here, right after that maniacal Isollei track, because the speedy skittering riff, pummeling drums, and shrieking vocal intensity that kick off the song are themselves maniacal. The song also blazes like a frenzied sunrise, and it includes some grand heavy metal chords, spitfire soloing, shades of sinister gloom accented by voracious guttural growls, persistently visceral rhythms, and touches of supernatural keyboards. Glorious old school Greek black metal!
Let’s say you have something of value and you need to scare other things away from that thing. All you have to do is surround that thing with speakers and play “Malice Aforethought” through them. You probably wouldn’t even have to play it that loud for it to do the job. In fact, playing it really loud might cause your speakers to spontaneously combust.
The main thrills of “Malice Aforethought” come from the high-speed, hyper-violent nature of the onslaught — a torrent of pummeling drums, thrusting bass, blistering berserker riffing, and lunatic vocals. But it turns out that there’s more to the song than all that murderous riot. Contorted leads channel feverish pain in attention-grabbing ways, and the music also includes tyrannical stomps and glorious blaring melodies, as well as a finale that might rocket your head into the heavens. 100% pure adrenaline, and by my lights a fantastic surprise.
The song comes from an EP named Predation by this Anchorage, Alaska duo, who individually go by the names Piss and Shit, and whose mantra seems to be “NO PRIDE – ALL HATE”, which is clearly borne out by the graphically murderous lyrics of this particular song. Predation will be released by the Lycaean Triune (digital and tape) on December 25th. What a wonderful way to ruin Christmas.
THE AMENTA (Australia)
Now we come to the last-minute addition I mentioned at the outset, which made this collection even more twisted. A new song from The Amenta, it comes packaged with a flamboyantly macabre video, the most sedate scenes of which consist of a clean-faced, black-gloved, red-tied Cain Cressall screaming his lungs out. Macabre imagery is nothing new to The Amenta, but this video may now sit at the pinnacle.
As for the music, “Sere Money” is a sign that in the seven years since their last album the band have moved in new directions. It begins with a sinister and swaggering riff over a rocking beat, followed by an almost cinematic melody accompanied by Cressall‘s wailing vocals (his vocals change almost constantly and unpredictably during the song). And then things start to get increasingly strange and disturbing. As one of the band’s members commented, it becomes a “collapse into entropic disarray”. The drums pound and pound, but all the elaborate audio textures around them are hallucinatory and alien. Fascinating stuff….
“Sere Money” will appear on an album entitled Revelator, which is embellished by the artwork of Metastazis and is set for release on February 19th by the band’s new label Debemur Morti Productions.
EU shop : https://bit.ly/theamentaEU
US shop : https://bit.ly/theamentaUS
AU shop : https://www.nervegas.com.au/revelator
Bandcamp : https://bit.ly/revelatorBC
The next song, which also comes with a video, is a bit of a mind-bender as well, but one that also sets some sharp hooks and digs them in. Launched by whining leads that bleed misery, coupled with heavy growling guitars that radiate cold menace, it suddenly shifts into gloomy post-punk with a bouncing beat. Scorching screams generate hateful heat as those ominous chords chew on your bones, but the music also chugs, blares, and darts in a kind of disturbing ecstasy. As you’ll discover, the drums also thump in a way that provokes reflexive muscle twitches.
The name of the track is “Lifers“. It will be on an album entitled Nous, set for release by Season of Mist on February 26th.
Now we come to “Altars Of Cosmic Devotion“, the title track to a debut EP by this Portuguese band. The drums tumble and rumble while the riffing creates an immediate mood of heavy menace and encroaching disease. But the drumming will then get your head moving as the riffing slithers with reptilian threat and the vocalist roars from abyssal depths and screams from elevated heights. The whirring chords move in phases, predatory and then dismal, triumphant and then devastated, ravishing as well as hopeless (though not necessarily in that order). And as the changes occur, the drums will keep your pulse jumping. A damned enticing teaser for this new EP….
Altars Of Cosmic Devotion will be released by Iron Bonehead Productions on February 19th.
To close, I picked a song, presented through a lyric video, that’s outside the wide range of black and blackened metal to which this column is usually devoted, but still seemed in keeping with its spirit. And besides, I’ve become a bit addicted to it and didn’t want to wait until I could find some other way of sharing it with you.
Mysterious and seductive chords reverberate over a thumping drum and vibrating bass at the outset of “Crows“. Somber singing expresses the intriguing lyrics, and rises momentously — with just a moment of silence separating that from a much more harrowing segment of discordance and tormented roars and screams. Back and forth the music goes, softening and seducing, and then crashing in calamity. until the two strands become intertwined in electrifying fashion, anchored by a granite-heavy bass and taking wing through a magical solo and blazing vocals. That closing part of the song is unnerving, to be sure, but also spectacular.
“Crows” is the track that opens Sunnata’s fourth album, Burning in Heaven, Melting on Earth, which will be released on February 26th.
Man that Caedes Cruenta is so good…
Ego is great too
Caedes Cruenta is gold !
Indeed! And I’m happy to say that we’ll be premiering a full stream of the album in February (assuming the world hasn’t ended by then).