SEEN AND HEARD: INFERNO, WITHERED, CIRCLE OF SIGHS, SEPUTUS, KOSMODEMONIC, HUNDRED HEADLESS HORSEMEN, GADGET, CVLT OV THE SVN
I made the choices for this large round-up after a long listening session on Wednesday, with the idea of writing it up and posting it the next day. But we had so many other things to post that day and Friday that I deferred. Of course, in the meantime a lot of other worthy new songs and videos surfaced, but I decided to just stick with these selections rather than go back to the drawing board, which would have taxed my already over-taxed brain.
I couldn’t really figure out a good way to organize these songs, though I think I picked most of them because they have a through-line of being unsettling and mind-bending, albeit in different ways. I did include a bit of a curveball at the end.
As I wrote here only a week ago, I was blown away by the first advance track from Inferno’s new album, Paradeigma (Phosphenes of Aphotic Eternity), which will be released by Debemur Morti Productions on May 7th. Given the prodigious power of this band’s previous output (which now encompasses a quarter-century of releases), I can’t say I was surprised, but I was still bowled over. And now it has happened again.
The second advance track, released last week, is “Ekstasis of the Continuum“. In announcing this new song, Inferno encouraged people to read the “Third Sermon To The Dead” by Basilides of Alexandria, to “fuel the imagination with its words, and then surrender yourself to ‘Ekstasis Of The Continuum’.” It took a little searching before I realized that this sermon was part of “The Seven Sermons to the Dead” (Septem Sermones ad Mortuos) written not by Basilides (whose writings have not survived) but through the imaginings and visions of C.G. Jung. He included the Sermons as part of the Red Book, which Jung kept private during his lifetime.
I eventually also located the text of the “Third Sermon“, which I found frightening but thought-provoking. You can read it for yourself here, and if you scroll to the top of that page you can learn much more about the Red Book and the Seven Sermons; the other six are also included on the linked page.
Like the referenced writing, the song sounds like it is grasping for the infinite, like it’s translating a vision that’s both glorious and menacing. Almost everything rings and reverberates, including the pop and boom of the drums, which (along with the lead-weighted bass lines) compel visceral movement while the ethereal guitars swirl and soar and the mad voices roar and scream. (I’ll add that the drumming at the finale is jaw-cropping.)
Five years on from Grief Relic, these talented and unpredictable Georgian explorers are returning with a new album named Verloren, and last week brought us a video by Guilherme Henriques for an advance song named “By Tooth in Tongue“. Watching the video, I thought of the title of Harlan Ellison‘s famous post-apocalyptic short story, “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream”. If the sight of blood makes you queasy, even when you know it’s not real blood, you might want to just listen and not watch.
The song itself is a challenging listen, one that would knock most people way out of their comfort zone. It struck me as an intense audio exorcism, a cataclysmic hybrid of black, death, and post-metal whose turmoil and turbulence is capped by a riveting guitar solo near the end. When I later read that Verloren focuses on loss — on the traumas inflicted by the many things (and people) who go missing from our lives as time passes, never to be replaced — the music made even more sense.
Verloren will be released by Season of Mist Underground Activists on June 18th.
CIRCLE OF SIGHS (International)
The video for the next song is a mind-fuck, but so is the music. Driven by an electrifying drum performance, the guitars execute a multitude of mad contortions — raking and roiling, blaring and screaming, accompanied by savage vocal proclamations. And then, without warning, the mauling, exhilarating madness ceases… and we’re then delivered into a smoky jazz lounge with opium fumes in the air. Enjoy the sunset.
The song is the title track from Circle of Sighs‘ sophomore album Narci, which will release on June 4th via Metal Assault Records. Narci is described as “a quasi-concept album about an eschatological event caused by a digitally communicable mental disease”.
CIRCLE OF SIGHS:
The line-up of Seputus (Stephen Schwegler, Doug Moore, and Erik Malave) pulls from the ranks of Pyrrhon, Weeping Sores, Glorious Depravity (and more), augmented by guests from the likes of Artificial Brain and Replicant. That info alone should clue you in that their new album Phantom Indigo (set for release on June 4th via Willowtip) will bewilder and bamboozle you. Add to those clues the fact that the album was inspired by the book Hallucinations by the great neurologist, Oliver Sacks. And then add the album title track revealed last week through a DECIBEL premiere.
Maddened hornets swarm around bubbling bass tones and riotous drum acrobatics. As the vocals roar and scream in explosions of unhinged ferocity, the music discordantly blares and brutally batters, and the hornets are driven to new heights of frenzy. Cacophony reigns supreme, and the multitude of rapidly moving parts constantly seem on the verge of flying completely off the rails in a bonfire of ebullient madness. The effect is breathtaking, and since this goes on for nearly ten minutes with no real relent until near the end (when things get trippy), hyperventilating in advance wouldn’t be a bad idea — you’ll need the oxygen. You’ll also need some time afterward to get your mind functioning again.
I’ve also included a stream of the first advance track from the album, “Learned Response“. The amazing cover art was created by Alex Eckman-Lawn.
The next song, “Moirai“, was also premiered last week by DECIBEL, through a lyric video.
Like other songs preceding this one in today’s collection, the drumming here is riveting, and the music around it is a head-twister, from the braying discordance of the riffs to the wild, wailing cries and rabid snarls in the vocal department. But in addition to flipping your head upside-down, the song punches hard too, in jackhammering flurries, and when the mayhem briefly subsides it becomes hallucinogenic.
This song is off Liminal Light, the forthcoming second album by this NYC collective. The cover art was made by Aleksandra Waliszweska. It will be released by Transylvanian Recordings on May 7th.
HUNDRED HEADLESS HORSEMEN (Finland)
My next selection is “Echoes“. I predict it will make you move while messing with your mind — the movement triggered by a granite-heavy bass, a sequence of muscle-triggering beats, and pulsating riffs, and the psychic ministrations composed of both dreamlike synths with a sinister yet wondrous celestial aura and eerie, flickering leads. The caustic howls are set back in the mix, but they still have their own effect, contributing to the music’s diabolical menace.
I’ll share these words found below the YouTube stream for “Echoes“: “Innumerable waves of destruction sweep through our minds, soon to be decomposed. Only few of us count the rhythm of the steps to annihilation. The end comes not in the form of a rapid strike of a blade but through a slow succumbing to the oblivion. Remember your mortality. HIC SUNT DRACONES”.
The song is from a concept album named Apokalepsia (named for a bizarre neurological condition that includes seizures and hallucinations), which will be released by Inverse Records on May 21st. “Echoes” is available as a single now.
We welcome the return of Gadget. The next song and video is “C.O.N.T.R.O.L.“, a track off a forthcoming split with Swedish grinders Retaliation that includes four new songs with five different vocalists. For “C.O.N.T.R.O.L.“, Ethan Lee McCarthy (Primitive Man, Many Blessings, Vermin Womb) appears as the guest lead vocalist.
All I can say by way of warning is to prepare for a furious barrage of obliterating percussion, mauling and grinding riffage, and enraged vocals — just the kind of thing you may want if you need to bleed off some rage of your own.
The new split will be released in mid-May on Sweden’s De:Nihil Records, Make Way! Tapes & Records, and Triumph Beast.
CVLT OV THE SVN (Finland)
And now, to close, I have the song I characterized at the outset as “a bit of a curveball”.
The first time I wrote about this band’s music, in late 2018, I introduced them this way: “Finland’s Cvlt Ov the Svn brand their music as ‘Occult Murder Pop’, an amalgam of ‘black metal, pop and stoner rock with an aggressive touch’. The members remain anonymous, though they are rumored to be names of some renown in their homeland. One thing is evident: They have a Midas touch when it comes to riffs and melodic hooks”. Based on this next song, they haven’t lost that Midas touch.
I know the lyrics of “Hellbound” are big metal cliches (just like all the v’s in the band’s name), but the impulse to sing along with the demonic vocals is still damned near irresistible. And the music (which to my ears includes some gothic post-punk ingredients) is obscenely infectious. Being hellbound has rarely felt so good.
“Hellbound” comes from a new album named We Are the Dragon. Napalm Records will release it on May 7th. I’m also including the stream of a previously released track, “My Venom” — which has a more soaring, anthemic quality but is no less diabolical, hook-laden, or addictive.
CVLT OV THE SVN: