In yesterday’s round-up I burrowed deeply into the underground and surfaced with a collection of six songs that I thought were insane and unnerving in different ways. Today I’m on a different tack, leading off with some bigger names and then tunneling into underground depths again.
In addition, all of the following tracks were recommended to me by NCS colleagues and other friends. They didn’t let me down; hopefully you won’t feel let down either. There’s so much genre-spread here that you ought to find at least something that strikes a chord.
(I should mention that my friends didn’t just send me music. They also made me aware of the news that Meshuggah is recording a new album, and that it will feature the return of Fredrik Thordendal, trading places with Per Nilsson. They also passed along an announcement, accompanied by the photo of Peter Tägtgren above, that Hypocrisy’s new album has been completed.)
Yesterday Gojira released another song from their next album Fortitude. I hadn’t seen that until DGR mentioned that it was out in the world, which caused my pulse to tick up a few notches, because I really do love this band.
Part of what I admire about them is that despite increasing fame and, if not fortune, at least a lot more money than they used to have, they haven’t stuffed their social consciousness in a closet along with the old clothes. The new song, “Amazonia”, is further proof of that. The band stated: “Proceeds from this song will benefit The Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) who advocate for environmental and cultural rights of indigenous tribes in the Amazon who have suffered immensely – victims of deforestation, land loss, forced labor, violence, and harassment.”
In an almost primitive and ritualistic way, the music batters, clangs, and spookily wails, then becomes ferocious. It’s a bone-smasher and a neck-wrecker, and it soars in its fury (there’s a bit of throat-singing and a jaw-harp in the mix too). The beautifully made video gives us lots to be furious about.
Fortitude will be released by Roadrunner Records on April 30th.
Staying in the vicinity of high-profile bands, I’ve chosen the lyric video for “Abyss Rising” as the next item in today’s playlist. Released yesterday, it’s the title track from a new album by the Greek/Swedish melodic death metal band Nightrage, which completes a trilogy of records that began with The Venomous and continued with Wolf to Man.
According to the PR material: “Inspired in part by Dante’s Inferno, the album explores man’s continual destruction of the world we live in until the abyss opens up to consume all before it. The abyss has risen from the depths, and hell has now turned outside in to be able to rise to earth to claim us”.
The title song is a jolting, hard-charging affair that intertwines scorching screams and rising clean song, as well as swirling lead-work and glorious soloing. Sitting motionless through it would be a tough challenge, and the chorus melody is definitely an ear-worm.
“Abyss Rising” was released as a single on March 26th by Despotz Records. The album won’t be ready for release until the coming fall (I mean the season).
STREAM / DOWNLOAD:
SHADE OF SORROW (Finland)
Ex-NCS contributor KevinP pointed me to this next song, and by way of background pointed out that Tuomas Saukkonen of Wolfheart was in the producer’s chair for both the music and the video you’re about to see, and that the man behind Shade of Sorrow (Mika Juhani Kankainen) has been a long-time friend of Wolfheart and also contributed some backing vocals on that band’s latest EP, Skull Soldiers.
“No Return” is this project’s first single, and it’s available at places like Apple Music, Deezer, and Spotify. As you might have already deduced, it brings “a new embodiment of Finnish darkness, gloom and beauty”. Those are Tuomas’ words, and they ring true.
The song definitely plows the ground that Saukkonen’s various projects have tilled before, but that doesn’t make it any less captivating. Kankainen has a mighty growl and a wrenching howl that rises into tormented singing, as well as a knack for crafting glittering yet melancholy melody and pile-driving grooves. The solo that slowly wafts through the head-moving bass-and-drum work creates a haunting experience, and the emotionally intense chorus refrain turns out to be one that sticks in the head like a spike.
AGELESS OBLIVION (UK)
Andy Synn pointed me to this next new song, “From Ash and Sulphur“, which comes with a video. It’s from this UK band’s third album (and their first in seven years), Suspended Between Earth and Sky, which uses “the cold and despair of a volcanic winter as its concept”. It’s set for an April 30 release by the UK label Apocalyptic Witchcraft Recordings.
This song would have worked quite well in yesterday’s round-up, because it’s an intense example of audio madness. The constantly changing drum patterns and rhythms will keep you off-balance as the music spins your mind through a kaleidoscope of quivering seizures, blaring dissonance, jarring doses of bludgeoning, episodes of anguished derangement, and panoramas of heart-rending sorrow. The intensity of the wide-ranging vocals is stunning. The overall impact of the music, in all its extravagant and intricate permutations, straight through to its dismal finale, is breathtaking.
DGR advised me of the next item, which is the second track and video by  from their split album with the project Maupoger. The song is “Zero-Sum Game“, and it again features Marcin Brzeźnicki from Mass Insanity on vocals.
The song takes as its subject (used as metaphor) a pair of six-game chess matches between the world chess champion Garry Kasparov and an IBM supercomputer called Deep Blue. In the 1997 match, Kasparov lost. In the musical narration,  set up jackhammering and skull-cracking rhythms and spin the listener’s head around with big doses of freakish fretwork and blood-thirsty screaming. The lead-weighted grooves are immense; the madness in the music is palpable; and the layered trumpet soloing near the end is a thing of mind-blowing brilliance.
I wrote about the first song and video here, and am including that one too in case you missed it. I still haven’t seen a precise release date for the split.
VICTORY OVER THE SUN (U.S.)
To wrap this up I’ve chosen two tracks that came my way via Rennie (starkweather), both of which may rattle your head to pieces.
The first of those is a single named “Nowherer“, the latest release by Victory Over the Sun, which is the solo work of Vivian Tylińska from Portland, Oregon. It is an experimental piece. which Rennie described as: “Microtonal angularity of the highest order. A Jute Gyte-Gorguts collision in dimension hatross”.
How can I improve on that? Well, I really can’t. I’ll only add that the song is also often a savage race, whose brutal, bludgeoning, and barbaric aspects (including the wild, bestial vocals) make for a fascinating complement to the music’s weird, wondrous, and hallucinatory features, which seem capable of severing your cranial neurons and re-wiring them into bizarre new configurations that might make new visions possible (or might simply leave you gibbering in an asylum corner). The phrase tour de force comes to mind….
“Nowherer” was released on March 26th and is available on Bandcamp, along with the two full-lengths released to date by VOTS.
And to wrap up today’s playlist I have a track named “Trinity” by the Philthydelphia-based band Uranium.
This track also would have fit well in yesterday’s round-up. It has its ice-cold and punishing features, hammering and smashing like a giant machine, but the twisted fretwork is also more than a little berserk. The intricate and ever-changing drumming nearly steals the show, but the buzzing and cavorting strings have their own way of stealing back a listener’s attention — and there’s no way you can ignore the nightmarish screams (though it takes a while for them to make their revenant-like appearance). When the drumming becomes less of a scene-stealer, the glimmering ambient textures that eventually surface give the music a “cosmic” aspect that I didn’t see coming, and it was a captivating surprise.
“Trinity” is a single released in early March from an album entitled An Exacting Punishment. From my googling it appears that the album was initially self-released on March 21st, but has been pulled off the “airwaves”, which often happens after a label deal has been cemented. Hope that’s the case. Based on a review I found at Tape Wyrm (“so caustic in nature I fear I will contract a disease or some sort of radiation burn… a world of nightmares which blink like strobe lights in dark warehouses”), I’d like to hear the rest of it.