Part 2 of this week’s Shades of Black isn’t as voluminous as Part 1 was. I had two objectives in making it: First, to give some early attention to a four-way split many of us have been eagerly awaiting for a very long time; and second, to follow through in recommending an album I had originally intended to include in Part 2 of last week’s column, but had to cut because I ran out of time.
SAMAELILITH: A CONJUNCTION OF THE FIREBORN
The long-awaited split is SamaeLilith: A Conjunction of the Fireborn, and it combines the prodigious talents of four groups we’ve been writing about with admiration for years: Thy Darkened Shade (Greece), Amestigon (Austria), Inconcessus Lux Lucis (UK), and Shaarimoth (Norway). It will be released on June 30th by W.T.C. Productions.
Each band contributed multiple tracks to the split, ranging from three to five, for a total of more than an hour and a half of music spread across 15 songs. Although I’ve been fortunate to recently receive the complete album, this isn’t something I want to rush into just in order to publish one of the first reviews. Just counting the minutes alone, there’s a lot to take in, and if past is prologue, one hurried listen to what these bands have done here won’t do their efforts justice either.
On the other hand, I do want to help spread the word, because I know we have a lot of ardent fans of these bands among our regular visitors. Hence this post, in which I’m confining myself to what’s available to all of you now. And what’s available for listening now are previews of what each band recorded. These aren’t complete songs, but medleys, but they are so interesting on so many levels (and so viscerally potent) that they are quite effective in building even greater anticipation for the complete works.
The excerpts from Thy Darkened Shade are wide-ranging, encompassing sounds of mystery and reverence as well as full-bore fieriness and whirling exultation, and they reveal a multitude of fascinating instrumental and vocal textures.
As I hear them, Amestigon‘s excerpts combine moments of exotic Eastern melody, fearsome grandeur, incendiary aggression, chilling madness, and eerie yet inviting mysticism.
A grand symphonic overture opens the medley of Inconcessus Lux Lucis, which then moves into a phase of pulse-pounding, ebullient savagery (accented by beguiling bass-work), and further provides a light and beautiful instrumental interlude followed by a compulsively head-moving (and head-spinning) finale.
Shaarimoth‘s excerpts begin in an unbridled surge of wild instrumental adventurousness and then becomes spellbinding (though the drumming is still wonderfully riotous). Through the use of electronics, the music grows ominous and frightening, but then the rapidly changing energies of a final segment creates moods both venomous and mesmerizing.
Vamperess Imperium created a beautiful and evocative piece of art to adorn the cover of the split. World Terror Committee will release it on Digipak DCD, Gatefold DLP, and digital formats. It’s up for digital pre-order now, and presumably pre-orders for the physical editions will surface in the near future.
And now we come to the recently released album that I would have included in Part 2 of last week’s Shades of Black if time had permitted.
Miloš introduced me to Vaina in 2017, which led me to review their debut EP Viisikärki. He is again responsible for pointing me to Vaina‘s latest release, a substantial new EP named Futue Te Ipsum, and I’m grateful again. (The failure to comment on Vaina‘s intervening debut album, 2019’s Purity, is my own fault.)
I haven’t discovered or deduced the meaning of the track titles or the incomplete sequence of their numbering. Simply taking them as they come, they provide a cold and often frightening immersion in diabolical nightmare realms, while also twisting and turning in ways that will keep listeners off-balance.
A chilling air of the supernatural surrounds everything, thanks in part to lunar ambient textures and haunting piano chords that create hallucinatory and ritualistic atmospheres of mystery and menace. The music becomes inviting, especially during the piano-centric piece within “Track 04”, and even spellbinding, but more often it puts a cold sweat on the skin and shivers in the spine. The vocals are generally scary as hell — until you reach the sung chants in “Track 10”.
This definitely won’t be for everyone (does “futue te ipsum” mean “go fuck yourself”?). The stopping and starting that occurs in the tracks almost makes them feel like found fragments unearthed from some archaeological excavation. That’s part of what makes these tracks sound improvisational. The mechanical tone and rhythmic deployment of the drums may also be off-putting for some. I still think it’s worth recommending, because it is so creepy yet unexpectedly enthralling.