Much like yesterday I got a very late start this morning, having enjoyed a long night of virtual carousing with a big group of co-workers at my fucking day job. Like yesterday I thought I’d just pull together a couple of things for this usual Sunday column so I wouldn’t be too late in posting it — and again reconsidered. Just too much stuff I want to share.
This two-part post thus provides a lot to take in. I’m confident that few people will enjoy everything I’ve chosen — though I’m equally confident you’ll find at least something to enjoy if you at least taste-test everything I’m recommending.
I organized this collection by beginning Part 1 with two singles that I thought were great companions for each other and then following them with a stylistically very different EP. Part 2, which I’ll post tomorrow, will include streams of five complete releases that I will only have time to introduce briefly.
Like the cover art for Djevel’s new album Tanker som rir natten, the second advance track released last week is lunar in its atmosphere, a wintry nightside excursion that’s deeply immersive. In its manifold sensations it’s dreamlike, depressive, menacing, and I’d go so far as to say romantic. But it’s as visceral as it is mesmerizing, thanks to Faust’s gripping drum performance (the vibrant timpani-like booming is an especially nice touch) and the warm companionship of the bass, performed by new member Kvitrim (Vemod, Mare), who also handles the harsh vocals.
But the lion’s share of the credit must go to Trond Ciekals, whose ice-shine riffs and sparkling leads are magical in their channeling of wonder, yearning, and melancholy, and whose deep, reverent chanting enhances the mysticism in the music. The song also includes an interlude of ringing acoustic guitars that have a medieval aspect but are equally moon-like in their allure — and the riffing that follows that beautifully carries the melody forward while also creating a forlorn mood.
To extend the metaphors I’ve already offered, the track made me envision rolling, moon-lit waves that crash on jagged shores.
The name of the song is a mouthful — “Maanen skal være mine øine, den skinnende stierne mine ben, og her skal jeg vandre til evig tid“. Tanker som rir natten will be released on May 14 via Aftermath Music.
NIGHT CROWNED (Sweden)
Last year we heaped praise upon Night Crowned‘s early-2020 debut album Impius Viam, little suspecting that they would be returning less than 18 months later with a new full-length. Its title is Hädanfärd, and the first single from it is “Nattkrönt“.
The song premiered through a subtitled lyric video (will metalheads ever tire of songs about wolves in the night, or a call to the wolves within us?), and as noted above I do believe it’s a great complement to the first track in this collection. It’s quite a multi-faceted piece, which includes vibrant (and moody) piano melodies and sweeping synths as well as blazing drumwork, fast-darting guitars, and scything riffs. The vocals, both harsh and clean, are also wide-ranging. The ringing guitar melodies are big ear-worms, and the song as a whole is a riveting, heart-in-your-throat experience, but (at least for me) also brings to mind the full moon at night.
Hädanfärd will be released July 9th on the Noble Demon label.
As promised at the outset, you should now brace yourself for a radical change in style — and a chance to pump your adrenaline into overdrive. What you’ll find below is a full stream of Habitat, a new EP by the Argentinian band Medium. It follows their 2018 self-titled debut EP, which I thought was an excellent first effort by this hell-raising quartet.
“Radar Horns” jump-starts the EP in a burst of riotous speed-metal, coupled with the contrasts of wailing, supernatural melody and moments of sinister menace. The vocals are so savage that they push the blood-rushing effect of the track to even higher levels. “Darkspeed” keeps the music in the fast lane, but is even more dangerous and vicious in its mood, and also more grandiose and steeped in misery, and the soloing is deranged but magnetic. While the drumming in both songs reminds us of the band’s crust-punk influences, it’s just as varied as the music’s morphing moods.
As if Medium understood that you might need to take some big gulps of air after that opening one-two punch, they begin “Wake up Screaming” with stately (though frightening) organ chords and mesmerizing (though dolorous) ringing guitars over steady beats. A beautifully felt solo begins to stoke the fires right before the drums switch into a vigorous tumble, and a second solo makes the song seem even more supernaturally haunting. (And yes, as the song title seems to promise, there are sounds of screaming at the end.)
“Renegade Device” closes this too-short EP with a brazen attack, the drums pumping hard again like pistons and the music cascading over them in moody yet wondrous tones, while the vocalist comes for your throat with fangs bared. Fevers burn in the music, too, and the riffing jabs and slashes.
All of these tracks are very well-written, all of them incorporating changing moods and stylistic ingredients (including crust, death metal, and black metal) within cohesive frameworks, and all of them demonstrating the band’s knack for creating memorable melody and delivering hard-hitting punch at the same time. If Medium aren’t on your radar screen yet, this EP ought to put them there.