I guess it’s usually true that I try to put a lot of variety into these Sunday columns, but today’s selections seem to be even more divergent than usual. As a result, I had a devil of a time figuring out how to arrange the tracks, and I don’t think I succeeded in creating any kind of rational flow, probably because all the songs resist that. However, I do think I succeeded in creating a whiplash effect at the end, so there’s that.
There’s only one full release to be found here. The rest are either singles or advance tracks from forthcoming records. Enjoy!
夢遊病者 (SLEEPWALKER) (Russia, Japan, U.S.)
I decided to begin with the most head-spinning track of everything you’ll find here. Although my head has been spun around before by the escapades of this multi-national avant-garde collective, they’ve really outdone themselves this time.
This new track, “Boundless Love / Resilience“, is one of two long pieces on a new EP named Noč Na Krayu Sveta (Night at the Edge of the World). It creates a hallucinatory (and sometimes nightmarish) vortex of macabre voices, tidal abrasion, eerie incandescence, and free-jazz experimentation. Compelling rhythms surface and resurface, providing a bit of order to the ebb and flow of the music’s mad machinations, which include jazzy and funky beats, heaving low frequencies, bursts of mangling noise, and shimmering keyboards.
A trumpet enhances the feelings of derangement and ebullience; a clarinet provides a dreamlike narrative, and then sends fractures through the dream. The instrumental credits also list bouzouki, quray, violin, flute, oud, and baglama, though I’m not sure which of those feature in this track. The music sounds improvisational — it coheres and de-coheres without warning — and this audacious musical adventure is all the more exhilarating and captivating precisely because you don’t know where it’s going from minute to minute.
(I spotted this release while perusing starkweather’s Facebook page, where it was described as “surrealistic madness and metalmorphogenesis”. Last Rites premiered the song (here) along with an excellent review and a fascinating interview.)
The EP will be released by Sentient Ruin on April 2nd.
Next up is “À Cul de Grève“, a new song off the forthcoming second album of this Bretagne pagan metal band. It launches with a piston-pumping drum-drive and a gripping, glorious riff that has the resonance of ancient music. The song further includes vibrant flurries of darting fretwork over head-moving beats, plus vocals that mix together soaring song and vicious snarls.
There’s a feeling of savage, whirling joy and irrepressible defiance in the song — and man, the opening melodic riff sinks deeper and deeper into the mind every time it returns, and the variations on that theme (which give it a darker shade) are beautifully made.
The track includes collaborative appearances by Spellbound (Aorlhac), Cervantès (Darkenhold), and Géraud (Borgia). The album, Au Fleuve de Loire, was made as a tribute to the longest, largest of French rivers, the Loire. It will be released by the Antiq label on May 3rd.
As I’ve written in the past, I’ve been very taken with the music of Kassad, and was thus excited to learn about the release of this new single, “The Maze“. It was originally recorded in the sessions for 2020’s London Orbital. As the Bandcamp page explains: “‘The Maze’ continues to explore the idea of a malevolent, decaying city. The listener is trapped. There is nowhere to turn. And something is coming towards you through the tunnels of the maze.”
The music forms a melding of swirling ambient tones, distorted chords that are bleak and oppressive, and harrowing screams, all of it set to the pace of a funeral procession under sodden skies — until hell breaks loose in an assault of thundering percussion, dense guitar abrasion, protracted shrieking, and filaments of spectral melody. The rhythm steadies to that of a beating heart as a collage of ethereal tones shimmer with an unearthly glow. A murmuring bass appears, and then it boils as the music blazes again with nova-like intensity and panoramic sweep.
Next up is “Englemakersken“, a just-released single by this Norwegian band, which will appear on their debut album of the same name, set for release by Dusktone on April 16th.
This is a deeply diabolical track, one that intertwines cold, sinister riffs and strangled snarls, rocking rhythms and bullet-spitting blasts, and a gloomy lurching march that oozes gothic horror. The song revels in evil, and as it does so it digs its claws in your head.
The Bandcamp page includes these words: “Conjuring a frigid funeral landscape, the track explores the infamous ‘Angelmakers’ which killed 17 infants in one year in 1899/1900. A gaze into the abyss.” I did not know about these murderous Hungarian women, but discovered more about them at The Font of All Human Knowledge.
Take a few deep breaths before you embark on “Deathmass Extasis“, the next song I’ve picked for this collection. Trust me, you’ll need the air.
What you’ll experience is an uproarious upheaval of hurtling percussion, roiling guitars, and the reverberation of throat-shredding howls and rapid barks. The sensations are wild, all instruments going full-bore in a semblance of exultant chaos. The pace segues a few times into less maniacal and more menacing momentums, stalking and hammering, and includes some slashing, head-hooking riffs, but the music persistently returns to eruptions of electrifying madness, pushed into the red zone by flamethrowing leads and those completely possessed vocals.
The song is from the album Black Vitriol & Iron Fire, set for release by Living Temple Records and LVX MorgenStern on May 21st.
BLACK CEREMONIAL KULT (Chile)
And now we continue the crazed audio pillaging that began with Thanatomass.
“Chariot of the Sphinxes” unleashes an unhinged assault of plundering drums, dense miasma-like riffing, and bestial roars. The swarming guitar vibrations simultaneously create sensations of frenzied feeding and sickening queasiness. The rhythm section eventually prove themselves capable of triggering head movement in the listener, and bursts of chugging riffage have the same effect, but the music also does a very good job of assembling sounds of the apocalypse.
The song is from an EP named Crowned In Chaos, coming out on June 14th via Godz Ov War Productions.
(Thanks to Miloš for linking me to this.)
And now it’s time for the one complete release I promised in the introduction, as well as the whiplash effect I also promised.
What you’ll find below is a stream of the four tracks from Stworz‘ side of an album-length split with Wapentake, which was just released yesterday. The name of the split is Duchy ziemi (Ghosts of the Soil), and the music suits the title. Inspired by the Polish peasantry, these four tracks of entrancing neofolk are melancholy but mystical, earthy yet celestial. Acoustic guitar melodies are complemented by measured drum beats, occasional classical strings, and trilling ethereal tones. The moods are often downtrodden, but the music also lifts with a rising shine that seems to convey hope.