SHADES OF BLACK: MAYHEM, DARKTHRONE, NECRONAUTICAL, EXITIUM SUI, SEA MOSQUITO, HAPLESS WRETCH, UNDERDARK
I nearly didn’t include the new Mayhem and Darkthrone songs in this column, because I thought anyone who would visit us today would have already heard them. Plus, as is generally true of NCS as a whole, I tend to focus on less-heralded bands than the ones whose names are household words. On the other hand, those are two of black metal’s most influential bands, and getting new songs from both of them in the same week seems like something especially noteworthy, especially for a column like this one. So, they’re both here.
After that I shifted the focus to more obscure names, and by coincidence almost all of them are UK groups.
Atavistic Black Disorder/Kommando is a Mayhem EP that will be released on July 9th by Century Media. The dual title signifies that the EP includes three original tracks (“Voces Ab Alta,” “Black Glass Communion,” and “Everlasting Dying Flame”) as well as covers of classic punk tracks from Discharge (“In Defense Of Our Future”, Dead Kennedys (“Hellnation”), Rudimentary Peni (“Only Death”), and the Ramones (“Commando”). The song that emerged last week is one of those original tracks, which was initially recorded during the band’s Daemon sessions.
Photo credit: Ester Segarra
The music of “Voces Ab Alta” is eerie, ominous, and vast in its sound, a grand sonic summoning of imperial demonic forces, with multi-faceted vocals that are just as preternaturally frightening as the music. And the drumming… it’s electrifying.
Costin Chioreanu created the video for the song.
The Darkthrone duo must have been chuckling when they picked the name for their 19th album. As one of my NCS comrades remarked, the album title is “the awkward opener to every website solicitation email”.
The new song, however, is not comical. “Hate Cloak” is the first and only track to be revealed ahead of the release of Eternal Hails. It’s a long one, and the others must be long as well, since the album consists of only five tracks but 41 minutes of music.
Darkthrone travel backward in time with this song, unearthing roots of primitive, devilish doom, effectively conjuring visions of witches and goblins proclaiming incantations around a midnight bonfire, passing goblets of blood among themselves. Anyway, that’s what I imagine as I move along to the song’s big chugging and slithering riffs, bubbling bass tones, and primal rhythms.
P.S. For the nostalgic among you, today is the 26th birthday of Panzerfaust. What a difference 26 years make.
Slain In the Spirit is the fourth album by these UK death explorers. As you can see, it’s adorned by terrific artwork (the work of David Thiérrée). The new single from the album, released with a video, is “Hypnagogia.”
Armed with a potent, head-moving rhythmic drive, and jolting fretwork, the song sends waves of symphonic synths in majestic cascades high above. At the harrowing zenith of sound, operatic vocals join in with the caustic snarls. We see levitation in the video, and the music levitates as well, leaving the earthly plane — and then (matched by the form in the video), it convulses in a booming fever.
Slain In the Spirit will be released on August 20 by Candlelight/Spinefarm Records.
EXITIUM SUI (Germany)
We’ve devoted quite a lot of attention to Exitium Sui since its genesis last year, and for good reason. The next song in this collection, “V – The Oracle Eyre“, is a new single which the band’s alter ego E.S. has described as part of a series of demos he recorded with Ahephaim (Lebenssucht, Humanitas Error Est, and more), who provided backing chants and dark ambience.
Those dark ambient textures create a chilling introduction (there might be choirs of ghosts in those perilous swirling mists). Thereafter, searing, seething, guitars create a taught and penetrating mood of pain and misery while the vocals veer from terrifying screams to abyssal roars. An unearthly wash of gleaming and flickering sound flows around gravel-chewing bass tones and riveting drum progressions, creating sensations of apocalyptic upheaval, torn sanity, and crushing despair on a vast scale. It’s a frightening and soul-shattering experience, almost overpowering at times. Even when the music begins to drift into astral lanes, the low-frequency impacts are explosive.
SEA MOSQUITO (UK)
Fire, Magic & Venom is a 23-minute song that was digitally released in early March by this UK duo. I found out about it much more recently, thanks to a press announcement that it will be released by Onism Productions in a cassette tape edition on July 2nd and a vinyl edition later in 2021.
I freely admit that I tend to steer away from songs of such length, but I was curious enough about this one to at least start listening — and I easily stayed with it to the end. It sets the hook immediately with a feverishly skittering riff, a metronomic drumbeat, and shrill tones that (magically) glitter and slither through the surrounding tumult.
Using that jittery riffing and the primal rhythms as a viscerally gripping foundation, the band begin to introduce wild and weird variations in the high end of the range, plus distorted manifestations of scalding vocal madness and scary spoken words. As the minutes pass, the band insinuate new motifs, varying the (always compulsive) rhythms and creating sweeping swaths of devastating sound, or needling the listener’s brain in channel-shifting spasms, or introducing demented keyboard emissions, or inflicting doses of pile-driving punishment– but almost always with a cataclysmic or mind-altering impact.
Near the end, the music becomes dreamlike, cosmic, and glorious, paving the way for a transfixing saxophone solo.
The song is absolutely, stunningly, mad. It makes you quiver and dance like a puppet on a string in a hellish theater, manipulated by a team of demon princes. (Given more time, I would come up with a dozen more metaphors, but maybe the song title says all that needs to be said.) It left me wide-eyed and jaw-dropped.
SEA MOSQUITO – FACEBOOK:
HAPLESS WRETCH (UK)
I’ve consistently enjoyed the releases of Cursed Monk Records, and so I didn’t have to think twice about checking out the debut EP of Hapless Wretch, which Cursed Monk is releasing on CD on July 9th. — though the full EP is already now streaming.
Vol. 1 is a swift shock to the senses, running through four tracks in roughly 10 minutes. In the opening track, “Natrium Myr”, the EP hits like an obliterating black/death juggernaut that also spins like a tornado thanks to the crazed guitar work and even more deranged vocals, but the jolting grooves and head-butting drumwork simultaneously make it highly contagious. “Necrotizing Fasciitis” is an order of magnitude more oppressive and crushing (though still deranged), while “Vomica” spews heated toxic gas through a phalanx of rock-crushing bass and spine-tingling screams — before it starts to jackhammer your spine.
The closer, “Kuru“, seems more like a really bad LSD trip, or a trip into one of the lowest levels of hell. Eventually, it reveals its own jabbing and jolting grooves, but the riffing also sounds like a flesh-eating contagion. It might be the nastiest song on an extremely nasty EP. For the sake of our sanity, it’s for the best that it’s as short as it is (but I do very much hope to hear more from this maniacal project).
To close this week’s SOB chapter I’ve picked “Coyotes“, the first single from a debut album wonderfully named Our Bodies Burned Bright on Re-Entry. It will be released on July 30 by Tridroid Records (US/CAN), Surviving Sounds (UK), and Through Love Records (EU). It features new vocalist Abi Vasquez, who joined in 2019.
I wasn’t familiar with this Nottingham band’s previous releases before listening to this track, which concerns the ongoing humanitarian crisis at the Mexico/US border, though I did read a press account of their music as a “mixture of black-metal, post-metal and shoegaze”.
Accompanied by a video, the song is a continually morphing experience. Ethereal, ringing, and seductive at first, it becomes significantly heavier and more harrowing when the riffing and the goblin shrieks arrive — still carrying the opening melody forward, but in ways that make it much more dismal. And then the hammering begins. The riffing becomes anguished in its mood, and gruesome roars join the screams. Finally the song explodes in the breathtaking paroxysm of turbulence and torment where it was always headed, and ends in a trilling melody that powerfully channels heartbreak, and in one last dose of brutal pounding. A thoroughly gripping piece of music.
The eye-catching cover art was created by Adam Burke.
UK – https://survivingsounds.bandcamp.com/album/our-bodies-burned-bright-on-re-entry
Europe – https://shop.throughloverec.com/products/underdark-our-bodies-burned-bright-on-re-entry
U.S. – https://tridroid.bandcamp.com
new Night Crowned music video made it out towards the end of the week as well, for those who might’ve enjoyed them after they popped up in my year-ender and a previous round up.