Happy Valentine’s Day to one and all (a day early, as Mr. Synn reminds me), including those of you who’ve had all the romance beaten out of you by life’s misfortunes. With black hearts and wilted flowers, I bring you the following musical gifts, some of them nastier than rabid wolves, some of them as beautiful as an alabaster corpse, some of them wilder and more destructive than a cyclone.
I started the day as usual, venturing onto my outdoor deck, bleary-eyed and clutching coffee, yearning for a couple of smokes. What greeted me was the sight of the forest around our island home blanketed in about five inches of snow that had fallen overnight, quiet, grey, and cold. The next thing that greeted me on my phone was a message that gave me the way to launch this round-up.
The message waiting for me on my phone as I smoked and caffeinated was from my Norwegian friend eiterorm. He wrote: “Can you please do a review so that this album cover is the header image for the blog? There is so much going on in that artwork, but my favorite thing is obviously the five-nipple pentagram chain”. I replied: “Your wish is my command.”
I had a little niggling worry about promising to lead off this round-up with a song I’d never heard, but I need not have worried. It’s fucking great. And by “great”, I mean “ugly and hammering”.
Featuring a tandem of grotesque roars and nasty screams, it delivers big, noxious chords and bursts of violent tremolo’d swarming, as well a mix of rocking snaps and jackhammering booms in the drum department that will ruin normal necks. It’s further accented by a bit of dismal, slithering melody, and a morbid but increasingly deranged and supernatural guitar solo, which climbs to heights of swirling magnificence.
In a nutshell, the song is as ornery and brutish as a syphilitic bear, but man, it’s also highly infectious.
“Daemonculaba” is off this Polish band’s debut album, Blightmarch (great album name to go along with a great band name), which will be released by Godz Ov War Productions on February 27th. The wild, multiply nippled cover art, by the way, was created by Wilson Germán Arrieta.
A NOEND OF MINE (Ukraine)
Warning: Switching from that last song to these next ones may give you audio whiplash.
Three tracks from the new album by a noend of mine are currently up for streaming now, which are three parts of a piece named “Des chemins crépusculaires“. They collectively present a dark, mysterious, and mesmerizing experience — which includes glimmering, spell-casting ambient melodies, melancholy piano arpeggios and sorrowful, silky singing, metronomic electronic pulses and glittering pings, haunting panoramic cascades over stately beats, swelling crests of grand and gleaming yet gloomy sound, chilling funereal symphonics, quivering sounds of yearning mixed with deep gothic intonations, and romantic lunar fascinations. In the right mood, you may feel yourself drifting away….
a noend of mine is the solo project of Les Vynogradov (Vin de Mia Trix, Kauan). The new album, Sanctuaires, is described by Hypnotic Dirge Records (who will release it on March 12th) as follows: “Drawing inspiration from sources as varied as Bark Psychosis, Bohren & Der Club of Gore, Dead Can Dance, and Olivier Messiaen, the album offers an unexpected mix of post-prog, funeral jazz and sacred music”.
NANGA PARBAT (Italy)
I couldn’t resist including this next video, because the band are playing in the midst of falling snow — as the snow falls outside my own window right now. There are other attractions in the video, too, as you will see.
As for the music, the song (“Blood, Death and Silence“) will elevate your pulse rate after those three tracks that immediately precede it in this collection. There’s some singing in it, for those who want to be forewarned of such things, but also some deep, savage snarls and sky-high screams. The synth-accented song also delivers plenty of rapidly darting fretwork and spine-shaking rhythms, as well as sinister and soaring melodies, moody guitar picking, and proggy, fire-bright soloing.
The song comes from an album named Downfall And Torment, which was released by Sliptrick Records on February 12th.
For those of you who have now had enough singing to last you the rest of the day, here’s “Onwards She Rides To A Certain Death” by Ungraven (the solo project of Conan’s Jon Davis). The song includes an invigorating snare pop, and gruesomely distorted, grinding riffage, as well as turbulent screaming vocals (you can’t really call this singing, but man, I’ve always loved this sound of Davis‘ voice)), skittering guitar frenzies, and bowel-loosening low-end upheavals.
The song seems to have previously appeared on Ungraven’s 2019 album, Language of Longing, but caught my attention because it’s also now included on a forthcoming split with Belfast’s Slomatics, which will be released by Black Bow Records on March 5th. And having compared the earlier release with the current stream, the newer version does sound a bit different from the earlier one (mainly the drum tone), though maybe that’s my imagination.
MIASMATA (New Zealand)
There’s a big bass hum in this next song, which contrasts nicely with all the maniacally swiveling and shining guitar work and the turbocharged drumming. The goblin-like vocal howling, coupled with the fieriness of the seething riffs, creates an air of diabolical menace, but the song vibrantly dances and whirls too, and the organ tones that surface and then help the dual-guitars carry the song to a heart-pounding crescendo, are a very nice touch. Hearing this made me happy as hell.
The song, “Caverns of Malachite“, is off Miasmata’s new album Unlight: Songs of Earth and Atrophy, which will be released by Naturmacht Productions on March 14th. Miasmata is the new solo project from New Zealand musician Mike Wilson, also of Sojourner, Lysithea.
For those of you who’ve now had all the happiness you can stomach for the rest of the day, let’s turn to Altarage and their new song “Magno Evento“. Prepare for a storm of obliterating drum assaults, crazed, roiling dissonance, and enraged shrieking. The song spins at tornado speed in a violent paroxysm, intermixed with fretwork bursts that sound sadistic but get their hooks in your head too, plus mountainous stomps, imperious chords, and a screaming solo. The whole thing is breathtaking.
The song appears on a new Altarage album named Succumb, which is set for release on April 23rd by Season of Mist Underground Activists.
For those of you who now no longer care about breathing, let’s stay in the maniac lane by closing with Cibola’s death metal cover of Misfits‘ “Skulls” (off 1982’s Walk Among Us). As Toni Åkerman roars “I NEED YOUR SKULL!” (I laughed, but I love it) the music batters and brawls, brays and blares, jolts and jackhammers, skitters and spasms, and caps the escapade with a mewling and wailing guitar lead that adds an element of misery and pleading to this tyrannical but highly infectious discharge.
Great cover by this solo Swedish project, and it’s available as a digital single on Bandcamp.