This round-up includes seven bands, which is a lot. But except for two, there’s just a single track per band (in the remaining cases there are EPs). I included a curveball at the end.
Two days ago Dordeduh premiered a beautiful English-subtitled lyric video for “Descânt” (“Disenchantment”), the second single from their new second album Har, which will be released by Prophecy Productions on May 14th. The previously released single is “Desferecat“, which translates to “unchained”. It was accompanied by a fascinating music video of its own. Both songs have a visceral “physicality” but also quicken the imagination as you listen. Here’s what former NCS contributor KevinP wrote me about them:
photo by Alexandru Moga
“Most album singles released I will only listen to 1-2x. I generally want to experience those songs in the context of the whole album, otherwise everything feels unbalanced in my brain. Hearing a few songs more than others means those tracks end up ‘standing out’ more, simply based on their familiarity (and not necessarily their quality).
“But the 2 songs Dordeduh has released so far are so damn good while showing two different sides of the band. Yet they both strike that incredibly difficult-to-capture, delicate balance of catchiness and artistry. How does something grab me this quickly yet continue to have layers to discover each listen?
“So far I’ve been playing this on loop for the past 30 minutes. Wish me luck trying to stop prior to the May 14th release date.”
One thing about Dordeduh, maybe the main thing, is that they’re not going to let us forget where they come from, and where we all come from. Primitive people who could feel the blood of the earth and whose minds furnished answers to mysteries they couldn’t answer in other ways. We have more answers today, fewer mysteries, but music like this still strikes a primal chord, a reminder that maybe we’re not as far along as our conceits make us think we are.
The next song, by the Lithuanian “dark metal” band Juodvarnis, is a cover of a song called “Trys” by the Lithuanian rock musician Andrius Mamontovas. The original is from a 1998 solo album named Šiaurės Naktis. Pusė Penkių. The band explain that the cover was recorded during a live performance (captured in the following video) at “one of the oldest Lithuanian alternative and baltic music festivals called Mėnuo Juodaragis.”
I’m not familiar with the original, but this cover is sad, haunting, and heavy. The repeating instrumental refrain of the music is simple, and so it’s the voice of Paulius Simanavičius that carries it, and his voice is the reason why it’s so moving. On this song he makes me think of an intersection of U2’s Bono and Sólstafir’s Addi Tryggvason. As you’ve guessed, it’s a big exception to our “rule” about singing, and a well-earned one.
After that last song, I decided it might be a good idea to turn up the aggression and the energy (I know what you fiends really come here for), and to do that I’ve chosen “Aufbruchsignale” by this relatively new band from Würzburg.
I’ve read that the EP which includes this song was inspired in part by “the vast landscapes and the captivating forces of nature, which have been experienced in the most extreme way by some daredevils through past, historical expeditions to the most extreme landscapes of the world”. And thus it’s no coincidence that the band’s main composer and guitarist calls himself Robert Falcon Scott, or that the band’s name was inspired by a term (“antric light”) coined by mountaineering legend Reinhold Messner.
As revealed by “Aufbruchsignale“, the band’s formulation of atmospheric black metal makes use of glittering, star-like ambience and menacing spoken words, but also explodes in blistering percussive blasts, frantically flickering guitars, and vicious, scorching screams, as well as booming bass, jolting chords, bell-like reverberations, and panoramic melodies. The music’s morphing movements are captivating, channeling a changing array of dark and devastating moods quite powerfully.
The song is from a five-track debut EP named EXPEDITION I : Dissonanzgrat, which will be digitally released on April 8th.
ACAUSAL INTRUSION (U.S.)
Now that we’ve spun up the turbines with that Antrisch track, let’s put them on a rocket with a faulty gyroscope (or whatever it is that keep rockets roaring in a straight line).
You could consider Acausal Intrusion a technical death metal band, but the fact that their debut album is coming out on I, Voidhanger Records should tell you that it’s not quite that simple. The first advance track, “Nexious Shapeshifters“, tosses your brain into a blender and pushes “puree” (yeah, I’m still hunting for the right metaphor).
The tendrils of screaming melody in the song are dissonant and weird; the snare has a sharp, popping tone as it clatters at light-speed; the low-end is in near-constant upheaval; the abyssal gutturals move slowly through the words as mayhem reigns around them. There’s a pause in the middle, when mania is replaced by heaving heaviness and eerie misery, building feelings of menace and oppression. As the music spools up to speed again, the sensations are feverishly unhinged.
The tensions and turmoils at the core of this intricate labyrinth of sound never really relent, though it achieves a kind of frightening magnificence as it maneuvers through its twisting and turning course. Absolutely fascinating… and perhaps even more impressive because it’s just the work of two crazed adventurers, who go by the names Cave Ritual and Nythroth.
“Nexious Shapeshifters” appears on Acausal Intrusion‘s debut album Nulitas. The release date is May 21st.
Now we go to the first of the two EPs I mentioned in the introduction, a three-track affair named Psychic Devastation by the North Carolina quintet Rale, which I thought would make a fine follow-on to that Acausal Intrusion track. I reviewed (and really enjoyed) Rale‘s 2020 demo after it was recommended by Rennie (starkweather), and therefore had high hopes for this new one — and haven’t been disappointed in the slightest.
The EP opens in a jarring, mind-mangling barrage of sound under the name “Drown“. As a savage maniac vents blackened snarls, the music shifts gears repeatedly, veering among sensations that are grim, cruel, despondent, hallucinatory, violent, and unearthly, with all the riveting machinations held together (until near the end) by neck-snapping drums and gut-churning bass lines.
Rale follow that unsettling but exhilarating kaleidoscope of sound with “Eyes of Pripyat“, which turns out to be equally unpredictable, but maybe even more deranged at top speed. It also includes unforeseen bass-and-drum interplay that back dolorous guitar leads, as well as spasms of rapidly quivering fretwork, prominent, grumbling bass, and an exotic (but unsettling) dual-guitar arpeggio that leads into a berserk solo (and a dose of perilous occult grandeur at the very end).
And to close, Rale bring us “Swarming Skies Ravenous“. It doesn’t swarm at first, instead dragging the listener into a poisonous, crushing pit of hopelessness. But soon enough, the band go on the attack, brutally bludgeoning and cutting with whirring circle-saws of sound as the vocalist screams like a wounded panther. They also deliver episodes of jackhammering riffage and frenetically darting dissonance, but ultimately slow again, immersing the listener in narcotic fumes that spawn terrible visions.
These songs are so eccentric and intricately plotted that I’m tempted to call them “avant-garde”, but “progressive death metal” is also certainly suitable (and you might be tempted to stick “blackened” in there as well). Whatever label you might want to attach, it’s an exciting new work from a band that just get more and more worthy of very close attention.
SLITHERING DECAY (Belgium)
After a pair of well-received demos, the Belgian death metal band Slithering Decay will be released their debut album Aeons Untold through Testimony Records on May 21st. “Metaphysical Iconoclasm” is the first advance track, and the next audio assault I’ve selected for today’s round-up. It will feed your need for HM-2-powered grinding of bones — but that’s not nearly all it delivers.
For example, you barely get 15 seconds into the song when a guitar soloist pops your eyes wide open with a thoroughly insane (and thoroughly electrifying) performance. And from there, the drummer hammers like a big piston, the riffing squirms like a nest of vipers on fire, and the savage, leonine vocals put their own shivers down the listener’s spine. Those humongous chainsaw tones do reappear, and that soloist goes crazy again.
In general, this is a brawling, battering paroxysm of madness — and it’s delicious. (And by the way, the album was mastered by Dan Swanö, with cover art by Wesley Dewanckel.)
PAN KUBUŚ (Poland)
Now for the curveball I promised.
What you’ll find below is a music video for a sublime “cover” of Satyricon‘s “Mother North” — performed on the piano. I put “cover” in quotes because it’s not really an effort to re-create the original. Instead, this classically trained artist borrowed the melody from the original and then created a variation on the themes.
And he didn’t stop with “Mother North”, but instead did something similar with well-known tracks by Immortal, Marduk, Darkthrone, and Gorgoroth. All of these variations are collected on an EP named Black Metal na Pianinie that was released last December (and which I recently discovered thanks to Miloš). I’m including the full stream after the video.
If you’re a fan of classical piano, I think you’ll enjoy this, whether or not you try to figure out what Pan Kubuś has done to the original music — what he has done really stands alone. And he says on Bandcamp that all proceeds will be donated to charity. I’ll leave you with this Google translation of something else he wrote on Bandcamp:
“These are variations on my favorite Scandinavian anthems, not a manifesto that black metal is melodic and cool. Nevertheless, there was a lot of fun and fulfillment in what black metal excels at – the desecration of holiness.”