Dec 272020


Today’s column is a collection of substantial musical mood swings. I didn’t plan it that way, it’s just how it came together. I enjoyed the twists and turns and hope you will too.

INHEIN (Russia)

Suffering for iron-poor blood? Ass dragging like there’s a load of bricks in your stained shorts? Sinking like a stone beneath an endless ocean of listlessness? The first song in this playlist furnishes the remedy for all that, at least for six minutes.



В Глубинах Бездны” is also highly infectious. It boils and burns like a torrent of acid as the drums batter and blast and the vocalist screams with teeth bared, but the song is also home to a fast-pulsing riff and a piston-driven beat that really get their hooks under the skin. The song hammers and hungers, but also includes a spooky, attention-grabbing wail (can’t tell if it’s a voice or an instrument), darting and slithering melodic accents, bruising bass work, and a vocal change that approaches singing (but not too close).

If a remedy that lasts only six minutes seems too temporary, take heart: The song is from an album named Богопадение that includes 9 more terrific tracks (and an intro piece). The fire-breathing music continues to meld sensations of ferocious madness with compelling hook-laden riffs and to anchor that with neck-popping drums and bone-gnawing bass.

The band also continue to throw in other embellishments, whether they be soaring, spine-tingling fanfares of glorious melody, scintillating leads, spiraling solos, ominous choral voices, or the cascades of ghostly ambience and ringing notes that make up a pair of spooky interludes named “Northern Lights” and “Evig Natt”. Somehow the songs manage to occupy an intersection of frightening savagery, jaw-dropping magnificence, piston-pumping groove, carnal swagger, blood-hot lust, and supernatural menace. Just fucking fantastic from beginning to end.

It was released on December 9th. The cover art is by A.Held.

(Thanks go, as they often do in these columns, to Rennie (starkweather) for this first entry today.)









TRUP (Poland)

I confess that I’m about to undo the remedies I prescribed in the album above. This next song is a sucking tar pit of misery. With each punishing blow of the drums, each wave of grotesquely distorted chords, each alien shivering of the guitar, and each maniacal scream and horrid roar, the music pulls the mind into an ugly, suffocating sinkhole. And Trup haven’t a moment to spare for remorse or reprieve. The punishment of body and mind goes on and on, until all the air and light are gone.

The song is named “Nie” and it was released as a single on December 24th. Guess who gets the thanks for this piece of crushing darkness? Rennie again.










As they say in the trade, the next song is often as bleak and desperate as a sucking chest wound. The vocals alone sound like a man raging at the light that’s about to leave him, surrounded by pain. The riffing rages too, like a delirious fever that can’t be quenched, while the destabilizing rhythms add to the feeling of mortal distress.

There comes a moment when the pace slows, making room for glinting notes, mesmerizing organ chords, peals of gleaming melody, and gloomy, reverent singing. Hopelessness and grief ascend the music’s throne, but by the end the throne blazes again in wondrous celestial light, and it casts a brilliant spell.

Drawing inspiration from Revelation 19:15, the band named this song “The Sword That Came Out Of His Mouth“. It’s from Omination’s upcoming album NGR, to be released by Hypnotic Dirge Records on February 5th.










After the last track, the flickering guitar at the outset of the next song may keep the spark alive in your dying embers. But full disclosure is warranted: Those frenzied yet mesmerizing notes are surrounded by bleak and frightful seething sounds, by berserker shrieks and catacomb roars. In its cadence, the song is a grim march, interrupted by electrifying percussive spasms and hell-bent gallops.

Even in its most cruel and poisonous passages, there’s a feeling of terrible supernatural grandeur in the music, and its atmosphere of terrifying eminence swells as the riffing soars in a kind of blood-lusting, lunatic ecstasy.

As the song title tells you up-front, this is vampyric music, a combination of raw black metal and dungeon synth, and the band’s name tells you the same thing: Wampyric Rites. If you’re in the mood for nightmares, listen to this just before sleeping.

The song is the title track to this Ecuadorian band’s debut album, which will be released by Inferna Profundus Records on February 1st.










Now I’m turning to a trio of one-man bands to close out this collection, beginning with the wonderful dervish whirl of “Von Fels, Wald und Sturm“. There’s an exotic ethnic flavor to the song’s joyous spinning melodies, which are executed with fleet-fingered fiddle performances as well as vibrant guitar, and the bouncing and hammering drums add even further electricity to an already heart-poundiung experience, while the ferocious snarls give it an edge of savagery. Just imagine yourself whirling around like you used to do as a child until you fall down from the dizziness, smiling from ear to ear.

It’s a long song, and so there is one break in the romp, but it’s also gripping. The fiddle grows more melancholy, while the rhythm section get a chance to move you in a different way. Yet it’s a short interlude, and then it’s back into the ebullient fray.

The song is off an album named Verse that will be released on December 31st. It is so-named because it’s a tribute to German-Austrian romantic nature poetry of the 19th and early 20th century. This particular song includes lyrics drawn from the poetry of Emmi Lewald, Leo Greiner, and Emanuel von Bodman. Huge thanks to Miloš for suggesting this song.











Now we come to Starer and this solo project’s mesmerizing song “First Morning Light“. There’s a feeling of moodiness and wondering in the vibrantly ringing guitars and the deep humming bass, a feeling of torment in the scarring voice and the hurtling drums. The music grows increasingly desperate in its mood, but also yields to panoramic yet harrowing vistas of grandeur as well as signs of emotional collapse.

The song is the opening track from a debut album by this Kentucky project named 18° Below the Horizon that’s set for release on January 29th.










It hasn’t happened yet here in the Puget Sound region of the PNW, but it will: Snow will fall. And because it will be beautiful before it gets ugly, I’ll think of this final song, a cover of Agalloch’sFalling Snow” (from Ashes Against the Grain) by Portland’s Crusty Old Toad. It’s a beautiful, sparkling take on the song — one that rocks and dances, — and even though the Old Toad has a grim and savage growl (as well as a decent singing voice) and the lyrics are very bleak, it’s uplifting. And the music is yearning and haunting as well, because we all still want to know: when will good times ever come again?

This cover is available as a pay-what-you-want download at Bandcamp.




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