Jan 302021


I picked a half-dozen songs for today’s round-up, most of which I paid attention to based on friends’ recommendations. It was easy to do that because I was already a fan of every group included here. If you don’t immediately recognize all the names, I’ll forewarn you that there’s a lot of whiplash in this playlist, which is to say that the music diverges sharply from song to song. On the other hand, the variety increases the odds that you’ll find something to like.


I was so excited to find out that Aetherian would be releasing a new song and video yesterday. For a band that only have one EP and one album to their credit since the release of their first single in 2014 we’ve written about them literally a dozen times, including reviews of that EP and album. They earned all that attention because their brand of melodic death metal is so very good. Their melodies (which tend to lean on the melancholy side of things) are beautifully crafted and moving; when they charge hard, they’ll give your pulse rate a swift kick in the ass; and they always seem to have a few surprises up their sleeves as well.



The new song, “Primordial Woods” (“ΑΡΧΕΓΟΝΑ ΔΑΣΗ” in Greek), is built around a message, explained here in Aetherian’s own words:

“These past few years our planet is experiencing a rapid change of the global climate. The extent of fires in Australia, the Amazon rainforest and the Siberian boreal forest, shows us that the worst-case scenario is right on our doorstep. The destruction of wildlife’s natural habitat diminishes biodiversity and is disrupting the balance of every ecosystem. The damage we now cause might as well be irreversible. ‘Primordial Woods‘ is a song about our world’s forests. Preserving their magic and passing it over to the next generations is our duty. Let’s not make the same mistakes as those before us did.”

The urgency of the message is matched by the urgency of the music, and, like the feelings provoked by the message, the song seems to be a union of sorrow and rage. It’s the kind of song that will put your heart in your throat (f the last rotten 12 months haven’t yet turned your heart to stone). It surges with jolting, jittery, hard-charging aggressiveness, fueled by spine-tingling vocal intensity, but the melodies glitter and soar — and the acoustic and symphonic accents are beautiful.

The song is accompanied by a gorgeous and moving lyric video by Christian Duris. The song was produced, engineered, and mixed by Fotis Benardo (ex-Septic Flesh), and it was mastered by George Nerantzis. It also includes a guest vocal performance by Rotting Christ’s Sakis Tolis. It’s available on Bandcamp:









AARA (Switzerland)

I was a bit of a late-comer to the music of this unconventional Swiss black metal band, having missed their 2019 debut album So fallen alle Tempel and their follow-on EP Anthropozän. However, I did jump on board when their second album En Ergô Einai was ready, both premiering an advance track and then premiering and reviewing the album as a whole last year. I was stunned by it, and in particular by Aara’s adroitness at integrating melodies of stirring emotional power (often with a pronounced connection to the era that inspired the album), assaults of harrowing ferocity, and passages of wondrous, soaring glory.

It’s now even more clear that Aara’s creative juices never stop flowing, because they’ve already recorded a third album in as many years. Entitled Triade I: Eos, it begins a trilogy dealing with the 19th-century Gothic novel Melmoth The Wanderer by the Irish writer Charles Robert Maturin. Like the last album, it will be released by Debemur Morti Productions (on March 26th).

The first advance song, “Naufragus“, is a fascinating musical kaleidoscope that’s both chaotic and sublime. Among the shifting pieces are blasting drums and blazing riffs, glorious melodic cascades and terrifying screams, massive apocalyptic detonations and crystalllne celestial voices (whose appearances might be the most striking aspects of all). It harnesses sensations of madness and magnificence in incredibly stirring fashion, right up to the frightening maelstrom of sound that brings the track to a close.

I hope to find time to listen to the rest of the album this weekend. The prospect of doing that is an exciting one.









KOLLAPSE (Denmark)

I wrote about this genre-bending Danish group repeatedly in 2017, eventually sharing an advance stream of the debut album Angst that they released that year, along with scatterings of laudatory words about the music. So, as in the case of the first two bands in today’s collection, I was delighted to learn that they’re also returning with a new album this year, the name of which is Sult.

In between Angst and Sult, Kollapse lost two members and made the new album as a trio. The music doesn’t seem to have suffered, based on the first advance track “Byrd“, which is now available along with an attention-seizing music video. The ringing guitars create a feeling of unease and tension, while the wild braying vocals channel fury and pain and the craggy bass gnaws at your bones. The unnerving distress in the music is palpable, and it’s a heavyweight bruiser too, inflicting a clobbering beatdown at the same time as those freakish guitars and shattering screams are disemboweling your sanity.

Sult will be released by Fysisk Format in cooperation with Maniyax Records, Dingleberry Records and Virkelighedsfjern on April 9th.

(Thanks to Rennie of starkweather for pointing me to the new video even before I noticed a press release for it.)









7.5 TONNES OF BEARD (Northern Ireland)

This next song, which I’ve waited way too long to get to, is a megaton crusher capable of methodically hammering your skull down into your colon. Along with that bone-smashing brutishness, the harsh vocals are a blast furnace of harrowing intensity, and the eerie feverish leads seem to channel anguished madness. But in addition to being frighteningly calamitous, the song also includes a combination of shimmering melody and wailing vocals in the chorus that give the experience a further dimension, one that’s mysterious and seductive (but grieving).

Through the Looking Glass” was released last October. Ryan Schutte of the fabulous Seattle-based Pound recommended it to me long ago: He wrote: “Their album Denied the Basics is one of the heaviest albums ever made. This new song is a bit of a new direction, but still crushingly good.” And so it is.









SOEN (Sweden)

The next track, “Lumerian“, is the opener on Soen’s new album Imperial. It’s a gigantic exception to the rule in our site’s title, and basically the band is too (Metal-Archives, for example, still doesn’t see fit to include them in the Encyclopaedia). I chose the song in part because my comrade DGR already wrote a few words about the album in a Facebook post. I didn’t ask him if I could share the words with you, but hell, he put them on Facebook so I figure that’s fair game.

“Have only made a couple cursory listens through the new Soen disc so I don’t know where Imperial ranks as a whole yet, but I will say that it has some massive – GIGANTIC – chorus hooks. I’ll probably be singing along to it a ton. Reminds me a lot of Lykaia in that many of the songs have similar guitar riffs between them in their openings, but Imperial uses a whole lot of doubled vocal work and the bass is strangely quiet in the mix. It’s more hard-rocking though and man, does Martin Lopez sound like he’s having a fucking great time behind the kit on this one. He gives the double bass drum-work a hefty workout this time around.”

P.S. The YouTube player below will lead you right through the rest of Imperial if you let it continue to run.









SHEVILS (Norway)

Last but certainly not least I decided to include a new single from Shevils, a band I’ve written about often even though their brand of hardcore punk and noisy rock is off on a tangent from the kind of metallic extremity we usually traffic in. The new single, “Monsters on TV“, is a good example of why I continue to get hooked by what they cook up.

Anders Voldrønning has a hell of a voice (though his bandmates all throw in with him too), and he gives this song a searing intensity. Along with that, the fuzz-bombed riffing and gut-punch drumwork will get you moving. As they’re want to do, the band also insinuate sharp-hooked melodies. Here, those give the song an emotional resonance that’s both sorrowful and anthemic, which somehow blends seamlessly with the music’s visceral, defiant, pulse-pounding energy.

Monsters on TV” was released on January 15th and is available on Spotify and Bandcamp.




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