SHADES OF BLACK: MALIST, KJELD, OGASAWARA, SUR AUSTRU, FIRE MAGIC, HUSH
I had more time this Sunday morning than I did yesterday to check out new music, focusing as I usually do on the blackened arts. Unfortunately for me, if not for you, I still didn’t have time to write as much as I would like about what I’ve selected for this column. For much of it I resorted to fragmentary impressions rather than more complete reviews, or even complete sentences. But I bet you’ll enjoy the music anyway.
…blazing and boisterous… thrusting and thunderous… moody, melancholy, and mysterious at times, but mainly explosive and exhilarating (and highly addictive)…
(Thanks go out to Miloš for passing me the link to this.)
Song: “Timeless Torch”
Album: Karst Relict
Label: Northern Silence
Release Date: March 12
…howling vocal madness and machine-gun drums (which eventually become more varied)… heaving low-end darkness… swirling melodies that sweep in grand waves, creating feelings of fervent buoyancy, haunting bleakness, mesmerizing grandeur, and solemn reverence (especially when joined by deep choral voices)…
(Gratitude to eitororm for alerting me to this song.)
Label: Heidens Hart
Release Date: February 15
One hell of an electrifying trip by this one-man army from Cincinnati… remarkably multi-faceted and dynamic… wild and ravaging; maniacal and magnificent; ecstatic and exotic… packed with turbocharged riffs (both head-moving thrashers and fire-breathing scorchers) and crazed vocals, but also marked by descents into freezing gloom and keyboard-assisted ascents into realms of shining celestial wonder and unearthly peril…
(Thanks to both Rennie (starkweather) and eitororm for recommending this EP.)
Release Date: January 7
SUR AUSTRU (Romania)
An immersive 13-minute blackened folk-metal saga… majestically beautiful, but beleaguered in its moods… a mix of sublime singing, grim growls, tortured screams, and solemn words… continually mesmerizing in its evocations of ancient sounds, mythic climes, and yearning spirits (the prominent use of dancing flute and vibrant drumming often stands out)… builds to a sweeping, heart-pounding crescendo… and it comes with a gorgeous video, too.
Song: “Cel din Urmă”
Label: Avantgarde Music
Release Date: February 12
FIRE MAGIC (U.S.)
In the first track, the band marries towering symphonics to possessed vocals and primal snare rhythms, creating a feeling of vast sweep and power, as well as terror. But as you move through the EP, you’ll also find heart-felt melodies (both ebullient and bleak) with the atmosphere of Americana. Swaggering, hard-rocking riffs also lie in wait, as well as accents of dark acoustic folk and gravel-chewing bass, all of it presented a very natural sound, like a live recording in a rehearsal room. The contrasts and the connections between the last two songs are particularly striking. Very easy to get caught up and carried away by these songs.
I missed this when it came out in October, and owe thanks to Miloš for discovering it now. After listening, I discovered that Decibel’s Dutch Pearce succeeded in interviewing this anonymous Virginia duo, and through that you can learn a bit more about them here (good to know more music is on the way).
EP: Burning Gold
Label: Stygian Black Hand
Release Date: October 2, 2020
A one-woman black/death band straight outta Reykjavík, elucidating themes around anti-sexism, anti-racism and anti-homophobia. The methods of elucidation on their newest album include ravishing screams and roars, skull-busting and bullet-spitting percussion, riffing that’s savage as hell (and reaches heights of maniacal derangement), darting and twisting arpeggios galore… and some surprising leads that shiver and glitter in their tone, like sprites dancing in the midst of a brutal war zone. A furious discharge, and there’s no real time to catch your breath until the eerily glimmering sounds that begin the closing track.
(Hearty thanks to Rennie, again, for recommending this one.)
Release Date: January 8