photo by Terje Johansen
You might have noticed that I didn’t publish the usual Saturday round-up yesterday. I’ll spare you the reasons, but will say that I spent hours going through dozens of new songs and videos that I’d added to my enormous listening list over the last week. Some of those were black metal songs of different styles. I made some hard choices about which of those to include in this usual Sunday column, but still wound up with enough for a two-parter.
What you’ll find in Part 1 are four new videos, two of them for songs from releases that have been out in the world for a while and two of them for tracks off forthcoming albums.
I learned about the first video through a press release by Peaceville Records that arrived yesterday. I had to scroll through lots of text and photos about Darkthrone’s new album before coming to the Mork news, and I haven’t yet seen any reports about the video on social media or elsewhere. Maybe I’m jumping the gun a bit in writing about it, but the press release treated the video as something that had already premiered, so it seems fair game. I assume word will spread further on Monday.
The song featured in the video, “Født Til Å Herske”, happens to be one of my favorites on Mork’s newest album, Katedralen, which is packed with strong songs. “Født Til Å Herske” includes a guest vocal appearance by Kampfar’s Dolk (who also appears in this video), and the additional tonal texture and feeling he adds to the song is one reason why it stands out to me.
photo by Terje Johansen
In that press release I mentioned, Mork’s main man Thomas Eriksen explained the themes behind the track: “‘Født Til Å Herske‘ is about power. A pompous and arrogant power that elevates you above the lesser beings that surround you. I create a lot of songs based around sombreness and dark themes, but this track tells you to stand tall and embrace your own and your fellow brothers’ combined strength and anger.”
In my humble opinion, the video is excellent. A great deal of credit goes to filmmaker Trond Atle Bokerød and his team for the lighting and editing of the performance, and the animation adds to the atmosphere of the music and reinforces its themes. But the lion’s share of the credit goes to the performers themselves, especially Eriksen. There is such penetrating intensity and frightening charisma in his visage, all the more remarkable because he was staring into a piece of machinery rather than another human face.
Of course I have no way of knowing whether the effectiveness of the performance was a result of Eriksen being a naturally talented actor or emanated instead from the spirit that moved through him in playing this barbarous music, but I would guess the latter — because it really is a viscerally powerful song. Everyone else you see in the video seems to be feeling it as well.
The next video is devoted to “Verwüstung“, the second single from the forthcoming sixth full-length by this German post-black metal group. The band have made this comment about the song: “‘Verwüstung‘ is a trip into a deep, dark and cold Abyss. There is no way to escape. Reality fades away into a blurry memory and the only truth is devastation.”
You’ll see how the video represents that concept — in the mental and emotional splintering of a man trapped within prison walls, frantically scrawling words in chalk (a clever way of revealing the song’s lyrics). The ringing and glittering elements of the music sound more mysterious and enticing than abyssal, and even when the power surges, the sound is sweeping, and even magisterial. But the vocals are shattering and the mood does darken, revealing shades of hopelessness and frenzy.
Agrypnie’s new album is named Metamorphosis. It will be released on July 30th via AOP Records.
Last November this Roman black/death band released an EP named Kulturkampf / Los Von Rom, via Barren Void Records, with the CD version officially distributed through Lavadome Productions. The subject matter of the songs concerned Eugenio Pacelli (Pope Pius XII), who led the Catholic Church throughout almost all of World War II, and committed sins of neutrality (and worse) with respect to the Third Reich. The elaborate and evocative lyrics to the two songs on that EP are well worth reading, and are available at Bandcamp.
I wrote a long review of the EP’s two extra-long songs, and tempted though I am to copy/paste the whole thing here, I’ll instead just leave this link and let you choose whether to read it.
The video below (made by Massak Art) is devoted to “Los Von Rom” from that EP. Brace yourselves, because this music is oppressive and apocalyptic, tortured and traumatic, and so intensely unnerving that you’ll probably need to set aside some time to get yourself back together after it’s over. (I confess that I did just do a bit of copy/pasting.)
I decided to begin investigating this Swiss band’s new album Opprobrium last month when I saw the album art created by Elijah Tamu, and then read that the album is based on the mythic tale of Persefone, and was in fact “composed in the form of a play, where the Chorus serves as an expository narrator alongside the characters of Hades, Zeus and Persephone”, and that “each of the seven tracks on the album encompasses a short act, or rather a significant sequence of events driving the plot”.
The song that premiered through the following lyric video is “The Whorish Arrogance of Immortals“. I think it’s worth quoting this passage that appears along with the video on YouTube. It concerns the album as a whole, but informs this particular song too:
“When the lust of immortals becomes insatiable, it is frequently the realm of mortals that serves as the spring from which all desire can be quenched and any thirst satiated. Such is the fate of Persephone, who is – according to some tellings – the victim of a cruel ploy, a conspiracy incarnate, whereby her flesh is beset by the desire of the deity Hades. In his arrogance, appearing before her on a gilded chariot, treachery allows Hades to abduct the seed.”
In portraying this act of the play, Lykhaeon create musical pageantry of monstrous, harrowing power — sensations that are dismally oppressive, frighteningly unhinged, and as cold as the netherworld. It’s so heavy and hard-hitting that it will loosen the teeth in your jaw, and so poisonous, so violent, and so desolate that it may disturb your sleep (the vocals in particular are terrifying). But the song also has the scary, sweeping grandeur of an epic that suits the mythic scale of this horribly tragic tale.
Opprobrium is set for release on July 21st by Repose Records and the band on July 21st (DLP, CD, and digital).